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Health Experts Say Contact Tracing Critical For Safe Reopenings & Warn Of Resurgence Without It; Scientists Investigate Why COVID-19 Affects People Differently; Coverage Of Trump & Coronavirus Task Force Press Briefing; Coronavirus In New York City; Beaches In Jacksonville; Small Business Loans Run. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 18, 2020 - 17:00   ET


ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. And we begin this hour with breaking news. Multiple health officials confirming to CNN that contamination at a CDC lab was likely behind those critical early delays in rolling out testing for the Coronavirus here in the United States. We'll have more on that in just a moment.

But we also have this just in. "The Washington Post" is now reporting that U.S. manufacturers, with encouragement from the federal government, shipped millions of dollars of face masks and other protective medical equipment to China in January and February, despite the warnings about the pandemic and the growing threat in the United States.

And consider where we are right now in the U.S. The staggering numbers. The U.S. has more than 700,000 known cases and a death toll that has surpassed 37,000. In New York State, an order is now in effect requiring everyone aged two and older wear a face mask in public, from the subway to the sidewalk to the grocery store. Governor Andrew Cuomo warning the state is barely in a stable public health position.

But, in Florida, we are seeing attempts at reopening. You are looking at live images right now from Jacksonville. The beaches there are reopening, although the mayor is urging people to still take social distancing rules seriously.

Nationwide, the governors of 30 states have either ordered or recommended their public schools remain closed for the rest of the academic year. We are also learning the border between the United States and Canada will remain closed at least for another month, except for essential traffic.

And overseas, Spain will keep its very strict state-of-alarm rule in effect until well into May. The prime minister there says it's just not possible yet to back off containment measures. This extension will prolong Spain's lockdown to eight weeks.

I want to get more details now on our breaking news, that contamination at a CDC lab was the likely cause of critical early delays in rolling out testing. CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray is with us here. Sara, what are you learning? SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there was

this sort of dark spot in February, when the CDC shipped out its first test. The tests were not working for these public health officials in the states who received them.

And it turns out that, internally, sources are telling us the CDC was also struggling to figure out what was going on. They didn't know if it was a manufacturing problem. They didn't know if it was a problem with the way they had designed their test.

So, eventually, in mid-February, an official from the FDA goes down to Atlanta to look at these CDC labs. And an administration official tells me that what this FDA official found was that the labs, where the CDC was manufacturing this test, were contaminated. And that's, essentially, what was most likely causing these tests to malfunction, when they went out to the states.

So, it took a little bit of time after that for the CDC and the FDA to work together to figure out how they were going to remanufacture some of these tests so that they weren't contaminated. And how they were going to advise states to be able to use some of the tests that they already had on hand.

You know, in this period, Ana, this was a really critical time. It was a time, when you talked to public health officials, where they knew, especially out west and places like Washington State and California, they knew that it was most likely true that the virus was spreading in their communities. It was potentially spreading person to person.

And they kind of felt like sitting ducks, because they had this very limited ability to test. And, you know, this was an issue that, essentially, continued until the end of February, when they got some of this testing up and running.

And it's still an issue, Ana. The access to widespread testing is a key issue the administration is still facing as they try to reopen the economy.

CABRERA: And it's such a key part of being able to reopen. Sara Murray, thank you for that reporting.

So, that was February, when contamination at a CDC lab was the likely cause of the critical early delays in rolling out testing. This was the president in early March when he visited the CDC in Atlanta. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody that needs a test gets a test. We -- they're there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.

I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand. Every one of these doctors said, how do you know so much about this? Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: To be clear, a month and a half later, everyone who wants a test still cannot get a test. I want to go now to the hardest hit state of the nation, New York, where Governor Cuomo warns that while hospitalizations and ICU admissions are going down, the state is still not in a good position, as he puts it.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is joining us now. And, Evan, the governor is calling on the federal government to help. What is he asking for, specifically?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Well, look, since the beginning of this pandemic, we've had this sometimes bewildering conversation about what's the state's role?


What's the federal government's role? If you're an American sitting at home and worried about this virus, you just want somebody to do what needs to be done. Here in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo says he needs testing capacity to be ramped up. He needs a of -- a lot more tests and a lot of people to do the contact tracing needed to make testing work.

In order for that to happen, he says he needs both a supply chain of the chemicals needed to make the test work -- he says he needs the government to do. And also, he needs money which is something he says he can't get without federal help.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: And I'm not asking for the federal government to come in and do any more than they need to do. But we need their coordination, and we do need their partnership. And we also need, from the federal government, we need funding. I get that we have to fund airlines. We have to fund this business. We have to fund small business. Yes, I agree 100 percent. But you also have to fund state government. If you want us to reopen, we need funding.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, there's some new parts of this and some old parts of this. The new part of this is that the governor says he needs that federal help to get that supply chain open. To get these reagents, the chemicals needed to make the tests work. He says it's hard to get them because everybody in the -- everybody in the world wants them right now. And they're just hard to get ahold of.

But the old thing is this notion that he needs federal help to bolster state finances. States across the country have been hurt by the pandemic. And New York and other states who have been really hard hit by this have especially been hard hit. And the governor says he needs a federal influx of cash to help bolster his efforts to try to get this state back open as this pandemic rolls on -- Ana.

CABRERA: We know billions of dollars have been lost. Evan McMorris- Santoro, thank you.

New this week in the city of Jacksonville, Florida. Reopening beaches as cases in that state continue to rise. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry making this call, reopening his city parks and beaches for certain activities, like running and parks. But no public gatherings, he says.

I want to bring in CNN's Randi Kaye in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. And, Randi, what are you seeing and what are you hearing from people there on the beach this weekend?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ann, people are very happy to be back on the beach. In fact, I talked to many people, and they all used the same word, therapy. For Floridians, this water, the ocean, the beach, this is their therapy. I talked to people who were coming from neighboring counties where their beaches are still closed. They're now coming here to Duvall County, where Jacksonville is, to use the beaches.

So, I can tell you, though, the hours are limited. And they're so anxious to get out here, though, that they reopened tonight at 5:00 just when we were on the air. But I was out here a little bit earlier to get ready to talk to you, and people were already on the beach.

So, that's how anxious they are. They're letting that slide a little bit. They're open from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. And just from 6:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the morning. And closed, then, during the day. And they are restricted to those essential activities, as the mayor calls them, running, swimming, exercising your dog, fishing, surfing. Those are considered essential, as long as people social distance.

But I asked folks on the beach, are you seeing social distancing? And here's what some of them told me.


KAYE: When you look around, do you think people are social distancing around here?

ROBERT GLAESEL: No, sadly. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't last very long. But I'm just hoping people are, kind of, smart about it and just try to stay as far apart as they can and not ruin it for the rest of us.

KAYE: How does it feel to have the beach open?

IAN CHERRY: Oh, it's great. We live just over there, and we've been waiting for this day to happen. Now, I just hope that it will stay open. There's so many people standing around. Everyone is so close together. I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. But it can't be any worse than being on a golf course or being in the grocery store.


KAYE: People certainly are close together. We saw a lot of that yesterday. They seem to behaving -- be behaving a little bit better today. But they're not supposed to have coolers and sunbathing and sitting on their blankets. We have seen some of that. I've also seen a lot of stepped up patrols today. So, I think they are trying to make sure that people don't congregate, and that they do keep social distancing here -- Ana.

CABRERA: I've been keeping a close eye on the backdrop of your live shot, Randi. And, you're right, it looks like people are, kind of, just hanging out. And we did see police car drive by, in fact twice, during the course of your live shot. But are they actually enforcing social distancing? And has the mayor had any response to how this is going so far?

KAYE: They have been enforcing it somewhat. I mean, they're certainly here, and even all during the day while it was closed. A couple of stranglers came on the beach and the police came out with a mega phone saying, please clear the beach. It's closed. But those who are, sort of, hanging out on their towels with their families, they have tried to nudge them along in a few cases. Not many cases. And certainly not everyone.


KAYE: But I did call the mayor's office to say, how do you think this is going? Since we're hearing so much feedback from everyone here on the beach. And I got a statement from the mayor saying that people are taking social distancing seriously. He's pleased that so many people are following guidelines at the beaches.

But he does go on to say, we need everyone to follow the rules. Clearly, that's not happening. He did ask, once again, to please stay six feet apart and only hang out with people who are in your household on the beach. And only to use the beach for exercise purposes which, once again, all of that is not exactly happening -- Ana.

CABRERA: Well, you are definitely giving them some space. So, it's good to see that. Randi Kaye, thank you for your reporting. Do stay well.

Breaking news. We've just learned, schools there in Florida will continue with distance learning for the rest of the academic year. The governor, Ron DeSantis, says it's not the ideal situation. But given where they are in the school year, he felt it was the best decision going forward.

And so, add that to the list of now, I think, it's 30-plus schools that are ordering -- the governors in those states ordering schools closed for the rest of the year, or at least providing recommendations to those school districts to be closed.

Now, in just four weeks, 22 million Americans filed unemployment claims. That is a number never before seen in American history. I'll speak live to the former secretary of labor, Robert Reich, next.



CABRERA: Two weeks, just two weeks, that is how long it took for the $350 billion Congress allocated for forgivable small business loans to run out. And for the businesses who couldn't get the money, it's now just a matter of time before their entire livelihoods are gone. That is leaving employees without paychecks and families who are now struggling to put food on the table. CNN's Kyung Lah reports.


TOM SOPIT, OWNER, EMPLOYEES ONLY RESTAURANT AND BAR: We have served several hundred. Over a thousand for sure.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tom Sopit and his team load 100 meals, bound for the USC Medical Center. Sopit, the owner of Employees Only Restaurant and Bar, donating, even though he is in need himself. A month ago, fear gripped Sopit, as Coronavirus shut down Los Angeles restaurants.

(on camera): Are you scared?


LAH (voice-over): Now, that has turned to anger, as the married father of a toddler waits for a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, from his bank, Wells Fargo.

SOPIT: And I was calling basically almost every day. I'd wait on the phone for about an hour. So, every day, we're just looking at our bank account just waiting for the money.

LAH: But, now, the small business administration says the PPP program is out of cash. It is a lifeline, a forgivable loan, that gives businesses two and a half times their monthly payroll; 75 percent of that must go to workers. It's been a battle to get the available money.

ALEX HARTUNIAN, CO-OWNER, STUDIO METAMORPHOSIS: We're desperate for this -- for this relief from the government. And if we're just --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have some patience. Just bear with me.

LAH: It's been call after call to the bank for Alex Hartunian and Jen Yates, owners of Studio Metamorphosis, a fitness center in Los Angeles. Shut down for a month, unable to pay bills or staff. Until, finally, this notification.

LAH (on camera): What does this now mean for you guys?

HARTUNIAN: This means we have hope. We know we're assured at least to pay our staff now.

JENNIFER YATES, CO-OWNER, STUDIO METAMORPHOSIS: That was the number one thing for us, is to take care of our team.

HARTUNIAN: OK, guys, we have something to announce. LAH (voice-over): On a staff call, the owner shared the news, the PPP

loan will help cover the payroll.

HARTUNIAN: So, it looks like we're going to get some money for you guys.

LAH: Until the end of May.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's amazing.


LAH: Cheering here is Matt Wood, Studio Metamorphosis employee.


LAH: And new dad to two-week-old Lavender.

WOOD: I understand there's so much that has to happen to get a bill passed. But it's very scary waiting for that money to come through.

LAH: These funds stop after eight weeks. Their message to Capitol Hill, arguing now over the next stimulus bill, the clock is ticking.

WOOD: Oh, there we go.

YATES: We need the funds now. We cannot wait.

HARTUNIAN: Put partisanship aside.


HARTUNIAN: You know, who came up with it. You guys all come together for us. We need it.

LAH: Sopit has even less time. His business and donations to hospitals have only days before he's completely under water. Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


CABRERA: Those are just two of the families impacted from all of this. I want to discuss with the former labor secretary, Robert Reich. Good to have you with us, Secretary. The Treasury Department has requested an additional $251 billion for the small business loan program. The businesses impacted, and some of the other economic analysts CNN has been speaking with, believe the real need is around $1 trillion. What's your number?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Well, I'm close to one trillion. Because, remember, we're dealing with something in the order of 45 to 50 million small businesses in the United States. And if you -- if you count very small mom-and-pop businesses, you're really dealing with a huge need. And there's no way that that's going to be fulfilled just with another $250 billion. Again, the most important point here is that we have, still, an ongoing pandemic. People should be, to the extent that they can be, sheltering at home.


REICH: And that means they need some sort of income, during that period of time. The easiest way of getting them that income is to keep them on the payrolls, so they also, in many cases, have health insurance through their employer.

CABRERA: I do want to put this into greater perspective for our viewers, because there are around 30 million small businesses in the U.S. And small business -- these small businesses employ just under half of all American employees.

So, how much does the wellbeing of the small business industry contribute to the overall wellbeing of the U.S. economy?

REICH: Hugely, Ana. In fact, really, the generators of most jobs in the United States continue to be small businesses. When we come out of this pandemic, small businesses are going to be absolutely critical to getting the economy going again. And our small businesses really are the life blood of the American economy.

So, we've got to do everything we can for those small businesses. And that means doing everything we can for the employees of these small businesses. Because these employees depend on the small businesses for their paychecks.

CABRERA: In the last month, 22 million Americans filed for unemployment claims. These are numbers this country has never seen. Yes, Americans are starting to get their stimulus checks, but many say that money is not nearly enough. How much worse could this get?

REICH: Well, it, obviously, could get substantially worse. One of the biggest problems with the unemployment system is it's not geared to providing the kind of support that people need right now.

And even though that Congress did enact legislation, providing an additional $600 a week for the next couple of months, that's not really coming through for most people. They -- you know, they -- unemployment offices, unemployment state organizations, they are overwhelmed with claims right now.

The claims that you've heard really understate the extent of the joblessness. Because a lot of people can't even get through the switchboards. They can't get through the Web pages. The Web pages are crashing. I'm getting reports from all over the country that our unemployment system, really, is nowhere near up to what is being asked of it.

CABRERA: Wow. So, if they're still under-reporting the true level of joblessness out there, I mean, and we're still seeing claims going up by the millions every week, will that continue? What will do you see as the ceiling on this? REICH: Well, I don't know think there's necessarily a -- necessarily a ceiling that can be predicted, Ana. I do suspect that we're going to get up to around a 15 percent unemployment rate, which is high.

Well, it's extraordinarily high. I mean, when you consider that, during the Great Depression, it was 25 percent. Some people who are forecasting -- it's very tricky because we've never been here before. But some people are forecasting a see of 25 percent to 30 percent unemployment.

I'm not quite that pessimistic right now. But it's going to be big. We are hemorrhaging jobs and we continue to hemorrhage jobs. This is a huge problem for most people and most families, because 78 to 80 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

CABRERA: You've been outspoken, obviously, about where the bailout money is going. There was criticism that the bailouts, after the 2008 economic crisis, that the money went to big corporations rather than everyday Americans and the employees. Do you think Congress has learned from that this time around?

REICH: Well, I hope so. There are conditions that are attached to the bailouts of the big corporations. But here's what concerns me. The administration is not being very transparent about how it is making decisions as to those conditions. How those conditions are actually going to be enforced.

And, also, you have some big corporations, like the airlines, almost every airline, that, for years, have taken advantage of low interest rates to borrow heavily. And most of that borrowing has been for buying back their shares of stock.

And that, artificially, has propped up the Stock Market. They are getting bailed out. They're getting bailed out, even though, had they not made all of this borrowing for the sake of simply infusing their shares of stock with an artificial sugar high, they would have been in a much better position right now to with stand this economic downturn.

CABRERA: So, you should just let them fail? Should they not be bailed out, the airlines?

REICH: No, I don't think that -- I think that, right now, it's too late. I mean, we really do have to. For the sake of payrolls, we've got to continue to put this cash into the economy. And not only the Treasury, but also through the Federal Reserve Board. But I think we should be aware that, in the future, we just have -- we can't keep on bailing companies out when they get into trouble.


REICH: We should make sure that they can't get into this level of indebtedness, simply to buy back their shares of stock. You know, before 1983, stock buybacks were illegal.

CABRERA: OK. Secretary Robert Reich, always good to have you with us. Your insight and expertise -- REICH: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: -- is really important. Thank you.

For those who test positive for Coronavirus, it becomes a race to identify who that person could have come in contact with recently, to try to slow the spread. We'll bring you a report that goes into contact tracing, next.


CABRERA: The White House has announced a major part of the reopening strategy will rely on contact tracing. A way for officials to investigate where Coronavirus patients have traveled to determine who may have been exposed. As CNN Sara Sidner reports, health experts are saying this tracing is critical to avoid a resurgence in cases.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, we all want to see the country be able to open back up. But in order to do that, health experts say there are two things that must be done. One, testing, like you're seeing the drive-up outside the forum in Los Angeles. And two, contact tracing.

We explain exactly how that works and what it is.



SIDNER (voice-over): Amy Driscoll says coronavirus had her in a vise grip that wouldn't let go for weeks.

DRISCOLL: Every breath, every movement, every raising your arms, rolling over in bed, every single thing is painful.

SIDNER: Less than two hours after arriving home from the hospital, her phone rang. It was the county health department, asking lots of questions.

DRISCOLL: Who have I seen in the last two weeks, where was I in the last two weeks, who was I in contact with, where do I work.

SIDNER: The Health Department was doing what is called contact tracing.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You have to trace every person who comes up positive. Trace means investigate. Investigate all those prior contacts.

SIDNER: Driscoll traced her steps. She had gone to work. Her boss and staff had to be contacted.

She went to a restaurant for lunch. She went to her hair salon. They had to be contacted. She went to a Cleveland Cavaliers game. All the family members who sat

with her were contacted.

This kind of contact tracing is happening across the country and the world.


SIDNER: From those suffering through the deadly COVID outbreak in New York to those connected to the first major U.S. outbreak in Washington state, to California, the first place where a statewide stay-at-home order was announced.

Experts say without contract tracing and enough testing, America and the world cannot reopen safely.

JOSHUA MICHAUD, KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION: We're going to be at risk of resurgence of this disease not just in the fall but going into next year.

SIDNER (on camera): So you're saying without contact tracing a massive amount, without testing a massive amount, we could find ourselves right back where we started?

MICHAUD: I think we could find ourselves very much at risk of another resurgence.

SIDNER (voice-over): But the U.S. does not have enough people to do the tracing. State health officials estimate there are about 2,000 people doing this work now, but Johns Hopkins University warns we need at least 100,000.

(on camera): For now, contact tracing is only as good as your memory. This is hard. I mean, before stay-at-home orders, can you remember all the people you had close contact with over a two-week period, say, at the coffee shop? Or at the grocery store? Or at a restaurant? Or at your child's school?

(voice-over): And that's where big tech like Google and Apple are jumping in. They will soon have an app you can voluntarily download, built with health departments, so they can see detailed location data from your cellphone.

But the public may be skittish about it due to privacy concerns.

Still, contact tracing requires serious legwork. L.A.'s mayor is pushing for federal help.

ERIC GARCETTI, (D), LOS ANGELES MAYOR: We're probably going to need hundreds of thousands of people who would be put to work. It should be funded by the feds by enacted locally.

SIDNER: As for Driscoll, her contacts have been found. The Health Department tells her that none have symptoms so far. But testing is still a problem.

DRISCOLL: I've had no additional testing.


SIDNER: Amy Driscoll told us that she was supposed to get two more tests to make sure that she was negative. She hasn't gotten either because they simply don't have enough tests. And she doesn't know whether or not she's still contagious. She's afraid to go back out in the community.

The contact tracing aspect of this is so important that the CDC said this week they're sending out protection teams as part of a pilot program to eight states to try to ramp up contact tracing -- Ana?

CABRERA: Sara Sidner, thank you.

Some people who get coronavirus have no symptoMs. For others, it's a mild sickness. But for some, it is deadly. Why does this virus affect people so differently? Dr. Gupta investigates, next.


You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Doctors and scientists are still trying to understand what makes some people more susceptible to coronavirus than others and all the factors that might put someone at risk. The ability to survive isn't as simple as age or being healthy. Some people don't even show symptoMs.

CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, takes a closer look.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These were some of the first heartbreaking images we saw of the coronavirus in the United States. It was an outbreak at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, a nursing home.

At the time, it made sense. Earlier studies had shown the disease was more severe and more deadly among people who were older and had underlying conditions.

Yet, all along, we kept hearing stories of young, healthy people also becoming extremely sick, like 30-year-old Ben Luderer.

BRANDY LUDERER, BEN LUDERER'S WIFE: He came into our bedroom where I was laying and he said, I got to go. I have to take myself to the hospital. I said are sure you want to go there, like are you sure. He said yes, I need to.

GUPTA: Or 39-year-old Conrad Buchanan.

NICOLE BUCHANAN, CONRAD BUCHANAN'S WIFE: That day, he was starting to decline because he did not have a horrible cough this whole time and then 20 seconds when I brought him to the hospital.

GUPTA: Young couples, husbands and wives all infected. Yet, in these cases --


CABRERA: We're going to take you live to the coronavirus task force briefing and Dr. Birx.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: I know you are watching carefully. The numbers have shifted over the last few days. That what happens when nations -- when states change the reporting from confirmed to probable. So now all probable cases are included. They had to add them back in. Even though the cases may have been from March, they were added over 14th, 15th, and 16th of April. And states may continue to be adding them.

Eventually, we're hoping that those get accounted for on the day when the presumptive cases or the probable cases were counted. But right now, they're added in, in one fell swoop.

So, this is New York and New Jersey, I think we all know how difficult -- and what a difficult time both New York and New Jersey have had. I call your attention to the axis. It goes up to 250,000 cases, so you can get a frame of how we're talking about some of the other metro areas.

Next slide.

These are the 25 metro areas, the top 25 metro areas. And you can only see the New York metro area in this slide. Again, the axis goes up to about 300,000. It includes the New Jersey part of the metro area as well as part of southern Connecticut.

Next slide.

But if I take New York out, and the reason I wanted to do that, now the axis is 1/10th of the previous axis. So, that previous axis, the previous slide, 300,000, this slide, 30,000. So, that will give you a frame of reference for some of these other metros.

The reason I wanted to show you this is, is this is cumulative cases, and we're still tracking very closely the issues in Chicago and Boston. But on this slide, I hope you can see the yellow line, that is Detroit. And Detroit -- and as mayor of Detroit has really done an extraordinary job and the people of Detroit have done an extraordinary with their social distancing.

The other line I want to call your attention to is the line here. This is New Orleans. And I think, frankly, I was concerned about New Orleans because they had a lot of pre-existing comorbidities. They only -- they have two or three major hospitals, but a large -- cover a very large area, a geographic area. And that other blue line that you can see that's down on the right here, that's the Seattle line. And you can see that -- their response because of the nursing home alert, they were one of the first states and the first metro areas to really move to social distancing, and so, they really never had a peak like many of the other metros.

Next slide.

Now, I just want to take you through some of these new case graphics. That was cumulative cases, this is daily case. And obviously, there's a lot of variability and variability in reporting, but you get a sense over time when you look at daily cases.

So, New Orleans is on the panel on your left and Baton Rouge on your right, but you can see clearly New Orleans, about a month ago, very low levels, probably less than 50 cases, large peak and spike around the beginning of April, and they have come down, and they have it down to very few cases.

Again, I showed you before how both their syndromic cases have come down, as well as their actual number of cases.

Next slide.

This is Seattle. So you can see they had a much lower peak, and this is when we talk about flattening the curve, this is what flattening the curve looks like. It becomes a longer, slower decline, but it never gets very high. And then goes back down.

Next slide.

And then this is Detroit, and we always look at the metros as a consolidated. So this is both Wayne and Oakland in Michigan, and we really want to thank the mayor for the incredible job that they have done to really ensure that everyone is receiving the adequate health care and testing, and they've done quite a good job with testing in Michigan.

But all of these states, Louisiana and New York have tested 30,000 per million inhabitants. Those are some of our highest numbers across the board.

And next slide.

And so, the president talked about the case fatality rates, and we really -- we've lost a lot of Americans to this disease, and we pray and hope for each one of them that are in the hospitals and the excellent care. What that this graph illustrates is the amazing work of the American people to really adhere to social distancing.

This was some -- this is nothing we had ever attempted to do as a nation, and the world hadn't attempted to do, but they were able to decrease the number of cases so that in general, most of the metro areas never had an issue of complete crisis care of all of their hospitals in a region.

And so, you can see our case fatality rate is about half to a third of many of the other countries. And --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Excuse me, does anybody really believe this number? Does anybody really believe this number?

BIRX: I put China on there so you could see how basically unrealistic this could be. When highly developed health care delivery systems of the United Kingdom and France and Belgium and Italy and Spain, with extraordinary doctors and nurses and equipment have case fatality rates in the 20s, up to 45. And Belgium has extraordinarily competent health care delivery system, and then, China at 0.33, you realize that these numbers, even -- and this includes the doubled number out of Wuhan.

So I want really to put it into perspective, but I wanted you also to see how great the care has been for every American that has been hospitalized, the now extraordinary work of our doctors and our nurses and our laboratorians on the front line who have been doing an excellent job.

Next slide.

And then we also wanted to show --


TRUMP: Closer to the number of Iran. Does anybody really believe that number? You see what's going on here. Does anybody -- put that slide back if you would.

Does anybody believe this number? Does anybody believe this number?

BIRX: And this is why --

TRUMP: These are more (INAUDIBLE) television than that.

BIRX: This is why the reporting is so important.

And I think you remember almost six weeks ago, maybe a month ago, I was telling you what Italy was showing to us and what France was telling to us, and the warnings that they gave to us and said, be very careful, there's an extraordinarily high mortality among people with pre-existing conditions.

And we use their information to bring that to the American people. That came -- that alert, that alert before we even had significant cases, came from our European colleagues on the front line, and that's why we keep coming back to how important in a pandemic and in a new disease, it's really critical to have that level of transparency because it changes how we work as a nation. It allowed us on -- over March 15th to make an alert out there about vulnerable individuals and, really, the need to protect them.

And my call out to millennials to really protect their parents, protect their grandparents and get that information out to everyone, that there were pre-existing conditions that put people at greater risk. That information came from our European colleagues who were in the midst of their battle themselves. And so, there's never an excuse to not share information. When you are the first country to have an outbreak, you really have a moral obligation to the world to not only talk about it, but provide that information that's critical to the rest of the world to really respond to this credibly.

And I really want to thank our European colleagues that worked so hard to get us that information even in the midst of their own tragedies. And I think that really shows how important transparency is.

And we go to the next slide.

We're going to show you this really encouraging and great news. So, we know that fatalities will continue to lag because people are in hospitals still and some are still in intensive care units. But these COVID-like illnesses, this is our hospitalizations that are related to flu per 100,000 Americans.

This is this year's flu season and you can see our COVID-like illnesses and this is all of them, probable and confirmed cases, our hospitalizations are declining.

Now, I showed you metros that have made tremendous progress, and we've been up here many times talking about it being 6, 10, 15 additional cities. And now we're really just focused on Chicago and Boston and Massachusetts and really some issues that -- Providence is starting to improve now, their relationship to the two large outbreak cities. But this is really reassuring to us and the progress we're making across the country against this disease.

And I just really want to conclude by thanking, again, the American people for making these type of graphics possible, thank the data team who puts these together for me. So they are working until about 3:30 every morning to make sure that we have the most up-to-date information. That's the data that goes to our supply chain individuals to ensure that every hospital and every state and every community has what they need based on data, and to make sure that we're serving the needs of the American people as effectively as possible.

Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

The fact is we've been learning a lot about Deborah, and Tony and so many of the professionals, the director.

PEPFAR, we're spending -- the United States, without help to the best of my knowledge, mostly in Africa, $6 billion a year, and that's on AIDS. What we've done for AIDS in Africa is unbelievable. We spent $6 billion a year.

That's been going on for a long time. Nobody knows that. You've never heard that. I've never heard that, $6 billion a year.

Millions of people are living right now and living very comfortably because of the fact that we have found the answer to that horrible, horrible plague. That was a plague, but we spent $6 billion a year.

And from what I hear it's very well-spent, done by professionals including this great professional right here. That was a thing you worked hardest on and something that was very close to her heart. So it's -- you know, it's something that I think people should start hearing.

The World Health Organization, we're just finding more and more problems, and we spend this money really well. There are other ways we can spend the $500 million -- that's $500 million, this is $6 billion, but we can find other ways to spend it where people are going to be helped we think in a much greater -- in a much greater way.

We're doing some research on certain people that take a lot of credit for what they do. And NIH is giving away a lot of money, a lot of money. We give away for years -- for many years, they give away a lot of money, and some people complain and some people don't. Some people are extremely happy. So we're looking into that also.

They're giving away approximately as I understand it, basically more than $32 billion a year -- $32 billion. And so, we've been looking at that for a while and we're going to be having some statements to be made about that.

Thirty-two billion dollars a year, it's a lot of money, and we want to make sure it's being spent wisely, and we've been doing that, by the way. We'll have some statements on that. And those are much bigger numbers than what we're talking about with national, if you'll look with our friends from -- wherever they come from.

You know, $500 million is a lot of money but it's not a lot compare today the kind of money we give out. I think over the years it's been averaging about $32 billion, $32 billion. So we've had our eye on that one for a while.

We also talk about the lab in China where I guess $3.7 million was given some time ago, and we're looking at that very closely. The chief of staff has that pretty much under control, but it's money that too bad it got spent there.

But that was spent -- what year was that, Mark? It was four, five years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the last six years.

TRUMP: Six years ago approximately. So we're looking at that.

And that's the lab that people are talking about.

All right, so we're looking at a lot of things. There's tremendous waste in our government, w found it in many different ways and many different forms. And this is one of them. This is one of them.

We can spend -- I was talking to Dr. Birx, we can spend $500 million, using all of it in a much more efficient manner if we're -- if we choose to do that. And it'll be to the good of many more people that aren't getting it right now.

But you look at the mistakes that were made -- I mean, so late, long after I said we have to close off our country. They were actually against our closing off our country to China when I did that in January. They were against that. They didn't like the idea of closing off our country.

They said it was a bad thing to do actually, and they've since taken that back. But it was a very lucky thing that we did it, very lucky. We would have had numbers that were significantly greater.

Tony Fauci said that. He said it would have been significantly greater had we not done that. So we made a lot of moves that were good moves, but it's still a depressing subject because it's a lot of deaths and it was stopped very early on at the source before it started flowing into these proportions.

You have 184 countries that would have been in a lot better shape, but our country is getting back. And I expect that we're going to be bigger, better and stronger than ever before.

I will take a few questions.


REPORTER: Mr. President, you've mentioned and the doctor mentioned China a few times today that's clearly suggesting that the data has not been good --

TRUMP: You tell me do you think the data is good when you see that? Do you think that -- do you think that's correct, OK? Do you honestly believe that's correct?

REPORTER: It's a dramatic contrast. So, my question for you, sir --

TRUMP: Dramatic? Yeah, I'd say it's dramatic.

QUESTION: So my question for you, sir, is...

TRUMP: Why didn't the -- why didn't the press -- why didn't you people figure that out, though? Why do we have to put up a chart?

It's -- the number's -- it is an impossible number to hit. But why haven't you come up and said that?

QUESTION: The question, sir, is, is China now cooperating with the United States to figure out what happened?

And what do you want from them now?

TRUMP: Well, they said they're doing an investigation -- that they're doing an investigation. So let's see what happens with their investigation. But we're doing investigations also.

Yeah? Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

You've spoken -- we heard Dr. Birx a moment ago say that every country has a responsibility to tell the rest of the world what's going on. You've talked repeatedly about how this could have been stopped in the past.

I know you don't want to telegraph what you would do, but do you think that there should be some consequences if, in the end, you know, China was responsible for all of this?

TRUMP: Well, if they were knowingly responsible, certainly. If they did -- if it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah. Then there should be consequences.

You're talking about, you know, potentially lives like nobody's seen since 1917. And, you know, the other thing, had we not done what we did in terms of closing --because there is that concept of "let's let it ride," but I'm -- at some point, I'm gonna have to. I don't want to embarrass countries that I like and leaders that I like. But you have to see some of these numbers.

In my opinion -- so we're talking about maybe 60,000 or so. That's a lot of people. But that's 100,000 was the minimum we thought that we could get to. And we -- we'll be lower than that number -- anywhere from 100,000 to 220,000 people. But I really believe it could have been millions of people had we not done what we did.

We made a lot of good decisions, but -- one of those things.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Have you ruled out that this was a -- an unknowing situation? Have you ruled out that there was...

TRUMP: I haven't ruled out anything. I want to look at the fact as they come in. No, I -- I want to look at the facts.


QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Last week you claimed that you were in charge of everything. Yet the American people don't understand why you're unwilling to use the awesome powers of your presidency to make American companies manufacture the PPE and also the testing equipment that you...

TRUMP: Who are you with?

QUESTION: ... need to implement -- implement your recommendations...

TRUMP: I know, but who are you with?

QUESTION: ... on how to -- I'm with TMN.

TRUMP: TMN -- what is TMN?

QUESTION: Talk Media News.

TRUMP: What?

QUESTION: My name is Doug Christian with Talk Media News. Yes.

TRUMP: Talk Media News.


TRUMP: Go ahead, keep reading your question.

QUESTION: The thing is, how to make companies build these testing equipment so that you can do what you -- what you're recommending?

TRUMP: Well, we're doing that right now. We're doing it. We're doing it right now with ventilators. We have General Motors. We have General Electric. We have 11 different companies, great companies building them for us all over the United States. We're starting to make our own gowns, as they call it. We're making some incredible things.

And as far as the testing is concerned, most of that now is done in the United States. We're doing it in the United States on different platforms. And so I just don't think you were listening.

QUESTION: Well, senators were complaining to...

TRUMP: Which senators?

QUESTION: ... to Vice President Pence yesterday...

TRUMP: Which senators? Which senators?

QUESTION: Well, independent Senator Angus King.

TRUMP: He's not an independent, OK? Angus King is worse than any Democrat. Go ahead.

QUESTION: But he said that he was -- he was livid, actually.

TRUMP: Of course he said that.


TRUMP: ... because he's a Democrat, OK? Angus King is not an independent. He uses that term for whatever reason. It's a waste of time.

QUESTION: But he's not a very emotive type of senator.

TRUMP: Oh, yes, he is. You haven't seen him. OK? You haven't seen him. No. Angus King is a Democrat and that was totally staged. I heard that. And it was totally staged. Just like you read the question, he read his question.

Yeah, please, in the back?

QUESTION: Mr. President, I wanted to ask you about one of your re- tweets, that you...

TRUMP: Which one?

QUESTION: The one you re-tweeted from Paul Sperry, "Let's see if authorities enforce the social distancing orders for mosques during Ramadan like they did churches during Easter. I'm wondering -


TRUMP: I would like to see that. And I just spoke with leaders and people that love mosques. I love mosques and I'm all in favor of that. But I would say there could be a difference and we'll have to see what will happen.

Because I've seen a great disparate in this country. I've seen a great disparity. I've seen a very strong anti-Israel bent in Congress with Democrats. It was unthinkable seven or eight or 10 years ago and now they are into a whole different thing between Omar and AOC. I say AOC plus three. Add them on.


You have -- I mean, the things they say about Israel are so bad. And I can't believe it.


TRUMP: Now -- just a minute. So I would be interested to see that.