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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 782,000; Deaths Surpass 41,000; Frustrated by Lack of Testing, Maryland Gov Secures 500,000 Test Kits from South Korea; Pence Tries to Reassure Governors About Helping With Test Supplies Even as Trump Says "Testing is Local"; Georgia and Tennessee to Begin Easing Restrictions; Neither has Seen 14-Day Decline in Cases, Per WH Guidelines. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 20, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Mr. President. Something you talked about your meeting tomorrow with Gov. Cuomo that you mentioned, is there a reason he's coming all the way down here?
TRUMP: I don't know. He wanted to and ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) travel with special ...
TRUMP: ... we, believe it or not, have - we get along, OK? He was very generous yesterday in particular, said we did a 'phenomenal deal'. I don't know if anybody wrote that, but he said that and I appreciated it because it's not about me, it's about these people and thousands behind Mike and the Admiral and all of the other people that are working with us.
I mean, and you'll see, look, I don't understand when I see polling and approval ratings for the job. I mean, this group should get 95, they really should and we're really helping the governors a lot. And the governors call me, the ones I know or the Republicans, but the ones I know and they say it's incredible the job you're doing. Again, not me, the job this group is doing.
And you sit here, I'm watching from the corner and I'm just saying, boy, this is incredible stuff when you watch the General get up. General Sam (ph) and I didn't talk about boom, boom, boom, you don't see that. You don't see that when you hear the Admiral speak about the testing and how good it is and yet people don't like to say it.
But remember, it was all about ventilators a month ago, ventilators, ventilators, then we then we fixed it. You don't hear about ventilators, where is the ventilators, Jeff, you have an ask about ventilators recently, what's going on? What about ventilators?
We're helping other countries now, because they can't have it. They're very hard to come by and they take a long time to make like years. It's incredible the job they've done, that our people have done and also private companies have done.
You talk about the act, we don't like to use that unless we have to. But a lot of times just the fact that you have it, get you everything you need. So we don't want to embarrass any of the companies, but we have used it on a number of occasions and it worked but it works just as well before you have to use it, because they don't want to be embarrassed and I don't want to embarrass them because they've done a great job.
Please, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
TRUMP: No. I think right behind you, I promised. I cannot tell a lie and we will get you next, OK? We'll get to you next.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) me.
TRUMP: No. No. You.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me? OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, thank you so much, Mr. President. My question, I have two questions, the first one is on testing. You talked about the idea that first it was ventilators, now it's testing. You seem to maybe possibly be implying that talking about testing as a personal attack on you.
Can you explain why you think talking about testing is a personal attack given that the access to testing has been an issue for a long time? There's bipartisan outcry still today that there's not enough testing. Why do you think it's a personal attack on you?
TRUMP: Well, it's not a bipartisan. It's mostly partisan, but more importantly than mostly partisan. It's incorrect. You have the experts. Look at these maps, I mean, you have the maps with so many different locations.
In the case of, as an example, Gov. Hogan. He didn't really know. It was very obviously to any of those listening on the call today, even though you weren't supposed to be on it, I'm sure that some of you were or representatives were. He really didn't know about the federal laboratories. Would you say that's correct, Mike?
He didn't know. He didn't know. And Mike doesn't like getting into this stuff. He's less controversial than I am, but he didn't know about it. And if he did know about it, he would have been happy. No, we've done a really good job in testing.
Now, with that being said, we have tests coming out perhaps over the next two weeks that will blow the whole industry away. Now, a lot of people love the Abbott tests, so do I. The Abbott test is great, because it's boom, they touch. They put it in and five minutes you have it.
The problem is that doesn't do massive numbers like the big machine. But the big machine takes a day, takes a day and a half with delivery and everything else. But we have tremendous testing, tremendous testing capability.
Remember this, we've tested more than any country in the world by far. In fact, I think I read where if you add up every other country in the world, we've tested more. But remember this, we're dealing in politics, we're dealing with a thing called November 3rd of this year. Do you know what November 3rd represents? Right? You know better than anybody in the room.
November 3rd of this year, it's called the presidential election. No matter what I do, no matter where we go, no matter how well we do, no matter what, if I came up with a tablet, you take it and this plague is gone. They'll say Trump did a terrible job, terrible, terrible, because that's their soundbite. That's their political soundbite.
They know the great job we've done. But with all of that being said and also there is a thing that somebody could talk to if they want, but I don't want to bore you with it. Not everybody believes we should do so much testing. You don't need so much.
We're talking about maximum, maximum. The reason that the Democrats and some others may be because they don't know, they want maximum because they want to be able to criticize.
Because it's almost impossible to get to the maximum number and yet we've been able to do it already. But with that and you'll be seeing this over the next, I think over the next couple of weeks or sooner, we have a test if it comes out, it'll revolutionize the whole world of testing. It'll be something really special.
So I don't view it as personal at all. What I do say is it's something that's not fair to thousands of people that have done such a good job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The second question is about your language and how you approach the coronavirus at the beginning. I interviewed someone who said that his family got sick. They went to a funeral in mid March and they said mainly because the President wasn't taking it seriously.
He said if the President had a mask on, if he was saying we should stay home, then I would have stayed home, instead, I have family members ...
TRUMP: Well, I know ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... he said his family members were sick and because they were - but they were listening to you. Do you feel like or are you concerned that downplaying the virus maybe got some people sick?
TRUMP: Yes. And a lot of people love Trump, right? A lot of people love me. You see them all of the time, right? I guess I'm here for a reason. To the best of my knowledge I won and I think we're going to win again. I think we're going to win in a landslide.
But just so you understand, you're talking about March, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TRUMP: And yet, excuse me, excuse me, I know, I understand. And yet in January, a certain date, you know the date better than I do, we put on a ban of China where China can come in. And before March, we put on a ban on Europe where Europe can't come in.
So how could you say I wasn't taking it seriously. I put on a ban on China before anybody in this country died. I put on the ban and so you tell me. Nancy Pelosi was having - she wanted to have a street party in Chinatown in San Francisco at the end of February, that's a month later. And then they tell me it's only a political talking point, but you feed into it because you're too good of a reporter to let that happen. Really you are a good reporter.
You're too good of a report to let that happen. Remember this, so at the end of January, I put on a ban. People that were in that room will tell you, I think they were 21 people. I was the only one in the whole room that wanted to do it. Fortunately, I was the one that counted for that purpose.
We put on a ban, because I was reading bad things about China. World Health Organization should have told us, but I was reading it with or without them. They should have known. All they had to do is read it. They didn't have to even be there. But they tried to cover up for China, World Health covered up for China.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) ...
TRUMP: But, no, no, wait, but you can say this ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... in March.
TRUMP: ... look, I put on a ban. In other words, I stopped China from coming to the United States. I stopped Europe from coming into the United States long before the March date that you're talking about. So people should say I acted very early. That was a very hard thing to do. Doing that was a very hard thing.
I didn't want to do that. But I did it because I thought and Dr. Fauci said that by doing it, President Trump saved 10s of thousands of lives. So I did take it very seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You held rallies in February and in March and there are some (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: Oh, I don't know about rallies. I really don't know about rallies. I know one thing ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) rallies in February.
TRUMP: ... I haven't left the White House in months, except for a brief moment to give a wonderful ship, the Comfort.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You held a rally in March. TRUMP: I don't know. Did I held a rally, I'm sorry. I hold the rally.
Did I hold a rally? Let me tell you, in January, when I did this, you had virtually no cases and no deaths and yet I put it on. So how could I not? Why was Nancy Pelosi, right, Nancy Pelosi is holding a street fair. She wants a street fair in San Francisco, in Chinatown to prove, you know what the purpose of it was, to prove that there's no problem.
Many other politicians did the same thing. They want to prove. While I was ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) ...
TRUMP: ... no, of course not. No. No. No. I've been - people are amazed at how early I acted and I did act early. With that being said, it's very hard to say. Let's close down the greatest economy in the history of the world. I had it closed down. I and everybody else that works with me and close to 350 million people built the greatest economy in the history of the world, best employment numbers, best stock market numbers, best numbers in virtually every category, even good manufacturing numbers. The previous administration said manufacturing was dead for a country, even great manufacturing numbers.
And you know what? I did that and somebody walked into my office and said, sir, you're going to have to close down the economy. You're going to have to close the country. But you know what I say to you, we're going to rebuild it and we're going to rebuild it better and it's going to go faster than people think. I built it once, I'll built it the second time. Please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, thank you, (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: Please. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have and going back to the topic of friendship and bipartisanship, Americans, with the exception of Pelosi, Schumer and even Romney, Americans have seen an unprecedented chapter of bipartisanship in cooperation on the political landscape.
On a personal note, what has been the most significant signal that your relationship with Democrats (inaudible) both the leadership level have changed for the good of America?
TRUMP: I think it's a great question, because there is bipartisanship. Look, we're getting the paycheck plan. It's already 350 billion was approved essentially unanimously and we have another 250, which I think you're going to find out is going to be a higher number than that, OK, I won't say it now, because I don't know if they've released it or not, but it's going to end up being more than 250 billion. And this is going to small businesses and it's going to workers.
And these are really bipartisan plans. It's a great thing that's happening. So I think the fact that we're able to do all of this in a bipartisan way is great. Now, the tax cuts that the Republicans did, we had no help from the Democrats, so you can't say that's my partisan.
But this whole thing getting our country back and Nancy Pelosi has been - she's very nasty. She wasted a lot of time on an impeachment hoax. It was a total hoax, went nowhere and that was not good. And Schumer, I guess, it's the same thing, but he sort of accepted it. He just did what he was supposed to do and they didn't do very well with it.
But that was not appropriate. That was a bad thing for our country. But it was fine. I mean, I understand the game. They have a little bit of a majority, so they say let's do something and let's try and stir it up. But they wasted a year, they wasted tremendous - we could have been doing things that would have been great for our country.
They could have been looking into China. They should have been looking into China as an example. A lot of people are blaming the Democrats for wasting all of that time, but it was during that period of time, as you know, that it was fomenting.
But I think we've had a great spirit of bipartisanship in a certain way. I wouldn't say we're going to set records throughout the world, but things are happening that are very good. The country is coming together.
And I'll tell you what, the people are coming together. The people are really coming together. I think you're going to find that our country is much more unified. I do think that the press, the media foments a lot of anger, I really believe it. It foments tremendous anger.
For instance, I'll be asked a tremendously hostile question from somebody and then I'll answer it in a hostile way, which is appropriate, otherwise, you look foolish. Otherwise, it looks like just walk off the stage and bow your head. I can't do that. I just can't do that.
But a lot of these questions that are asked from certain networks are so hostile and there's no reason for it. There's no reason for it. We are in a war. This is a World War II, this is a World War I, where, by the way, the war essentially ended because of a plague. That was one of the worst ever. We lost almost a hundred million people, but we're in a big war.
And I'll say one thing about it because I think it's important. The last person, I did it early, but I was the last person that wanted to close down one of the great economic - you can't call it an experiment, but everything, I guess, in life is an experiment. So let's say experiment, but one of the great economic stories in history.
I'm the last person to wanted to do it, but we did the right thing. Because if we didn't do it, you would have had a million people, a million and a half people, maybe 2 million people dead.
Now, we're going toward 50, I'm hearing or 60,000 people. One is too many, I always say it. One is too many, but we're going toward 50,000 or 60,000 people. That's at the lower, as you know, the low number was supposed to be 100,000 people. We could end up at 50,000 to 60,000, OK, it's horrible.
If we didn't do what we did, we would have had, I think, a million people, maybe 2 million people, maybe more than that. And you look at this one country in particular that decided let's wing it, let's just keep going. They are being inundated with death. Now, if you take a look at some of the hospitals where one of them I knew growing up in Queens and I'm looking at the bodies laying in the hallways being brought into refrigerated trucks, the trucks, these massive trucks bodies going in, multiply that times 10. It's not sustainable.
And many of the people that have this theory, oh, let's - maybe we could have just gone right through it. I was somebody that would have loved to have done that, but it wouldn't have been sustainable. You can't lose a million people. That's almost double what we lost in the Civil War. I use that as a guide, Civil War, 600,000 people died.
So it's not sustainable, but it could have been much more than a million people. I mean, if you took a number and cut it in half, and in half, and in half again, you'd end up with 500,000 people, OK? If you want to make a very conservative guesstimate, 500,000 people is not acceptable. Is that a correct sort of an analogy?
So I mean I see it all of the time by friends of mine, by people that I have great respect for. Well, we could have done this. We could have done - and remember this, when we say 50,000 and they compare 50,000 to the 35,000 of the flu, because it's averaged 35,000, 36,000 over a 10-year period. It's a lot. Who would think that?
But we're not talking about with the flu, that's just - it just goes. We're not locking ourselves in our units. We're not locking ourselves in our apartments and not moving and not touching anybody and just saying the world. In this case, we are and we're still going to lose between 50,000 and 60,000.
But if we just kept it going on a normal basis, which is really the only thing standard that you can compare it with the flu. Because that was a normal basis. You get into an airplane, you travel to Florida, you go to Texas you go wherever you're going.
But in this case, if we didn't do anything, the number would be 50,000 to 60,000. The number would be a million people dead. It would be a million five, a million two, maybe 700,000. It would have been a number in like that and it's so important because I see so much, oh, well, you can't compare it.
Because I'll tell you what, the people of this country, what they've done, they've gone out of their - the way they've lived, it's not great, it's terrible. Maybe the first three days then all of a sudden - you see what's going on. They want to get going and I get that fully. But I just say this, if we would have done that, we would have lost anywhere from a million to more than 2 million people.
Now, with all of the deaths that we've seen and 50,000 or 60,000 people heading toward, right now it's at 40,000, but 50,000 or 60,000 people, probably over 54,000, I see. But that's with our guard up. If we took our guard down and just said, OK, we're just going to keep this open, we would have lost millions of people.
Can you imagine? Look how bad it looks now when you look at the bodies, when you look at Hart Island in New York where they have the mass grave and all of the things that you see. Can you imagine if we had the guard down, if we didn't do anything and we just said, let's ride it out. It would not have been sustainable in any way. It would have been an atrocity.
So we've done the right thing. We've really done the right thing. And the people that have worked so hard and dangerously, I'll tell you, again, I say it but I watched those doctors and nurses and medical people running into those hospitals and they don't even have their gear on. Forget about gear, whether it's great gear or not and we're bringing in the best gear in the world.
But they're running in with open everything and they push - I mean the job, they're like warriors, the job they're doing. But if we didn't do the moves that we made, you would have had a million, a million and a half, 2 million people dead. So multiply that times 50, you're talking about - you would have had 10 to 20 to 25 times more people dead than all of the people that we've been watching. That's not acceptable.
The 50,000 is not acceptable. It's so horrible. But can you imagine multiplying that out by 20 or more? It's not acceptable. So it's a very good question. I appreciate it. We'll see you tomorrow. We'll see it tomorrow.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
You have been watching members of the coronavirus task force, giving the latest update on the pandemic. You were just listening to the President there. And this comes, the President is making the argument that it was right to do the shutdown or the death toll could be 10 to 25 times more than it is now comes as Georgia's Governor is just announcing he's ready to go and ready to go ahead of the White House and is doing so. A very aggressive plan to reopen the economy there gyms, salons, massage therapists can reopen this week, even as Georgia reports hundreds of new cases. Tonight, the death toll in the United States has doubled in the past week. Now, more than 41,800 people.
John King, Jim Acosta, Daniel Dale, Dr. Sanjay Gupta join me now.
Sanjay, I want to start with you just because the President was just laying out this case. And one thing that he was basically saying, obviously, that this would be 10 to 25 times worse if the shutdowns weren't happening. I'm not asking a question looking back in history as to whether they'd happened earlier and how much better this could be than the situation we're in now. But I want to ask you the number I just gave. We're at almost 42,000 people in this country who have died in the past month or so from the coronavirus. [19:20:04]
And they're still sticking by numbers that by August, it will only be 50,000 to 60,000. Does that make sense to you?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Those numbers, they don't make sense. And we've been following these models very closely and I think up until now, the model sort of tracks, I can't remember exactly what the University of Washington model had around this time, but I think it sort of tracks.
But as you mentioned, the numbers doubled, Erin, over the last week. The numbers of deaths, I think they predicted around 60,000, 63,000 or 64,000 by August 4th and we're in April 20th right now. So I think it's a little bit hard to reconcile that, obviously, different places in the country are - have different sort of waves and different peaks as people have described it.
So we are going to see numbers come down in some places, but maybe still go up in other places. So it doesn't track right now going out to another couple three months from now, especially, Erin, if places reopen prematurely. It was really striking to me. I picked up on the same thing you did, near the end of that press conference.
The President really seem to acknowledge just how significant these physical distancing measures have been in terms of the impact. I mean, we are going through something unprecedented. People say, well, we didn't need as many ventilators, not as many cases.
What we're doing right now in the country is unprecedented. We have to really acknowledge the impact of having most of the country essentially staying at home in terms of curbing this virus. Had we not done that as the President has just said, as many public health officials have just said, as you just said, Erin, the numbers would have been significantly, maybe up to tenfold higher. So that is an important component that we need to put into the equation of every question that comes up around this.
BURNETT: Right. And of course now with states reopening, I want to ask you about Georgia in just a moment. But the President did, Jim Acosta, make a point here of picking on certain governors and one of them that really stood out tonight was the Republican Governor of Maryland. Basically, the President calling him incompetent multiple times.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes. I mean, I think at one point, the President said that Larry Hogan who we should mention is not only a Republican Governor of Maryland, but also the chairman of the National Governors Association. This is somebody who is working with all governors across the country, that he needed to get more knowledge in terms of where testing can be done in his state.
And Gov. Hogan was on with Wolf earlier this evening and said he knows where testing can get done. And yet, Erin, the Governor of Maryland went out on his own and purchased the capacity to run some 500,000 tests in the State of Maryland. He went to South Korea to get those testing kits and it just goes to show you what a mad scramble is underway right now not dissimilar from the mad scramble that was on for ventilators for a period of time.
Now, it's on for testing capacity and it seems that governors are now going to have to do this on his own. Vice President Mike Pence tried to step to the podium at one point and clean up things a little bit and say, well, we're working with the governors to make sure they know where the testing can be done in their individual states. But make no mistake, this was the President of the United States taking a swipe at a fellow Republican governor because Governor Hogan had the audacity to criticize the federal response.
And you could tell from this press conference over and over again, Erin, that the President is taking this deeply personally. He said at one point that it's not about him. He made it very clear, he thinks it is about him. He said that this is all about November 3rd, referring to the November election. And at one point, he talked about how he thinks people still love him.
And so he wants these press conferences, he wants the coronavirus response to be a love fest, when people just want to make sure that lives are being saved at this point.
BURNETT: Well, it's an interesting moment, one moment that really stood out to me, John King, was when the President acted like he didn't remember holding a rally in March, which sort of, oh, did I, did I, as he was trying to basically take credit for shutting the economy and saying had I not done that you could be looking at 1 million to 2 million dead Americans and now you're looking at, well, the number continues to go up, but about 42,000.
So as he was trying to take credit for that and saying he had shut down the economy, when presented with the fact that he was still holding rallies, he basically was saying he didn't remember.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, if you watch these briefings, you come away with a parallel universe sense in many ways. If the Trump administration gets to write the history of 2020, it will erase February and half of March. That's what you get when you listen to these briefings.
Yes, the President did ban that travel from China. But go through February, we have no problem with testing. It's going to quickly go away, we're at 15 cases, it will soon be down to zero. The President refuses to acknowledge that, yes, he took one bold step early on, but then he didn't do a lot of other things. And then you see it representing this team as well.
Look, it was great when the admiral got up today and said in the middle of March, we had this military airlift. We went to Italy. It's locked down, but we got a military jets to go in there to get a bunch of those swabs and bring them back to the American people for testing in the middle of March. That's great. People were screaming about testing all throughout late February and
early of March. Why (inaudible) ready then? They bring out those maps. The President loves to show and tell these briefings. He (inaudible) you only watch today, here's the President's team, we have these maps for every state, (inaudible) if they have this information (inaudible) missing a little (inaudible) and just one last point, as they say, as Jim said, he questioned the intelligence of the Governor of Maryland, he questioned the intelligence of the Governor of Illinois.
The Republican Trumpy Governor of South Dakota said in her press conference today, yes, I have the machines. Yes, I have the labs. I don't have the supplies and I need federal help. All of the governors are not lying. That's what the President wants you to believe. Every governor gets up every day and finds a reason to pick a fight with the Trump administration in the middle of a pandemic. No.
BURNETT: Daniel Dale, and that's the point the President is trying to say. Well, first, it was ventilators. He's saying that was political and now he's saying it's testing. But as John points out, but numbers on testing show a stall and they can point to whatever point on the supply chain, whether it's interpreting the tests or doing the tests.
But tonight, it sort of sounded like they were actually trying to say, well, give us credit because all of these tests have been done. We've taken all the blood or the saliva, whatever form it may take. But don't blame us for the fact that no one can actually read them.
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: That's right. And the President said that people who criticize him or others on the issue of testing are trying to get him and when he was asked why he thinks this non-partisan issue is a personal attack. He said it's not non-partisan. It's partisan.
Erin, it is both bipartisan and non partisan. We've heard for months from both governors of both parties and from non-partisan experts that there is not enough testing being done to slow the spread of this virus and to let us get out of this crisis by lifting restrictions. We hear from people like Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts about testing concerns, from Governor Hogan, from governors around the country and from former Trump FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
These are not foaming at the mouth leftist. There are people accurately describing the situation on the ground. And so we heard a number of repeat false claims from the President again today saying that he had banned travel from China and Europe when his restrictions were laden with exemptions. He absurdly again claimed that he hadn't left the White House in months when he was leaving in March, but I think this claim that the testing complaints are some sort of anti- Trump conspiracy was the most important piece of dishonesty we heard this evening from the President.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, it just doesn't add up. And it's not just Republican Governor Hogan, Republican Governor of Ohio, DeWine, also has said that, said to me the other day his issue is he doesn't have a reagent to interpret the test and that they need help. I know he's now talking to the Vice President about that, but it's not a partisan issue. It's just a factual issue.
Sanjay, to this point on reopening you know have Georgia and I want you to talk about this. Obviously, you are in Georgia right now, but the Georgia Governor is going to allow this week fitness centers, bowling alleys, tattoo studios, barbers, nail salons, hair, massage therapy to open. And by the end of the weekend, theaters and restaurants.
That's ahead of the White House's plan. I just want to be clear. They're not early. They're off the chart early. How dangerous is it?
GUPTA: I'm really worried about it, Erin. I mean, I know that there's a lot pressure from these businesses to want to reopen. I hear that as well and I'm sure the Governor is feeling a lot of that pressure. But, I mean, this is worrisome.
We know that the virus is still out there. We know that it's a contagious virus. That is the constant in this entire equation. We put together a graph, Erin, let me just show you. If you look at testing overall, in a place like Georgia, you see that over the period of time, we've done some 84,000 tests roughly, some 19,000 or so people have been diagnosed with this. That's where we are right now.
I mean, anybody can look at that graph and say that that is still accelerating. We're not doing enough testing. So the numbers are likely even worse, 23 percent of the people who are tested come back positive, that number needs to be closer to 10 percent to sort of get a sense that we are testing enough.
There has not been a 14-day downward trajectory, which is part of, again, the guidelines that came from the federal government to your point, Erin, showing that that's what they needed to sort of hit before starting to think about reopening things.
Look, I think it goes without saying that, you know, there's certain of those activities -- you mentioned, massage therapists, nail salons, hair dressers, how do you -- how do you maintain a physical distance there? These are tough calls and these are unprecedented times. Sometimes it's hard to recognize the impact of the physical distancing.
It's kind of like telling people to eat right. You tell them to eat right and they're like, well, I feel no different. What did that do if I ended up eating broccoli instead of chocolate and I feel the same? Well, actually, it does make a difference.
And, you know, you can extend the analogy to the country here with regard to these things. It's good for us. I may not be -- it's painful, I get it, it's painful for everybody, but in the end, it'll be good for us. In the state of Georgia or the entire country.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Right, and just to make your point here, as you said, if 24 percent of the test kits are coming back positive, we just heard the admiral say, the number they want is 10 percent. So that is -- that is obviously off multiples.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, this is where the inconsistency of the president plays right up. Remember when he announced his guidelines, he said if he saw some -- he wants to reopen. The president very much wants to reopen. We all do, we get that.
He also said if he saw governors doing things he thought were wrong, he would say, well, stop. Let's see if he says a thing about the governor of Georgia. You just outlined, the state is nowhere near meeting the president's own guidelines, but the president has shifted again to Jim's point at these briefings and the president is thinking much more about his political standing than about fighting the coronavirus, at least at key moments in time here.
Look, he's a president up for re-election. His economy went from a boom into a bust recession. He understands the dynamics heading toward November. However, today, tomorrow and the next day should be pandemic before politics.
And, look, we'll see what happens in the state of Georgia. Maybe this will go breathlessly well and the governor will set an example. But as you watch these things play out, we're all going to count the case count.
The president said, follow my guidelines, let's see if he speaks up about Georgia, because look at what he's done in recent days encouraging the protesters. What are the protesters doing? They are complaining about governors who are doing what the president has asked them to do, and the president is supporting the protests.
So the president's own instincts are to reopen, and Georgia and to a degree Jacksonville, the beaches, some of the business in South Carolina. We will have -- we have before us, like it or not, a test now for the doctors and we'll watch the case numbers in the next ten days or two weeks and we'll get a better sense who's right.
BURNETT: All right. All, thank you.
And more on that big announcement, Georgia governor's very aggressive plan to reopen his state. It is a big move today, and Erica Hill is OUTFRONT.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): gyms, barbershops, hair and nail salons, massage therapists all clear to reopen in Georgia on Friday.
GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: This measure will apply statewide and will be the operational standard in all jurisdictions.
HILL: Theaters and restaurants can open April 27th. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed for now. Some businesses in neighboring Tennessee will also be back on Monday.
The state's stay at home order will now end April 30th. Neither state has seen a 14-day decline in cases which the president recommended before moving into phase one of reopening.
South Carolina giving some retail stores and beaches the green light. Four coastal communities, however, will keep existing restrictions in place noting there is, quote, no evidence from medical professionals that indicates the threat has diminished setting up a stark contrast across the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the worst is yet to come for a lot of people.
HILL: Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia singled out by the White House task force as potential new hot spots. Ohio, the latest state to close schools for the remainder of the academic year, as experts caution a rush to reopen could backfire.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Unless we get the virus under control the real recovery economically is not going to happen. So what you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you're going to set yourself back.
HILL: Beaches in Jacksonville, Florida, now open with limited hours and what appears to be limited social distancing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jacksonville is right across the border from Georgia, and it tells you that one state can't make a set of decisions that are inconsistent with public health and science because it's going to affect another state.
HILL: As states and cities look for a path forward, testing continues to be key.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: The question is how fast can you increase the volume of tests? Because the more tests the better. That is the axiom. The more tests the better. Test nursing homes, test schools, test teachers, test prison facilities, but you need the volume of tests.
HILL: The city of Detroit now testing its essential workers. Amazon using thermal cameras to screen for fevers. New York state began antibody testing today, but officials stress we still don't know how effective those antibodies are.
HILL: And, Erin, just to give you a little bit more background what we're hearing from Governor Brian Kemp in Georgia, he was asked about concerns whether it may be too soon to reopen and he acknowledged the fact there would likely be more positive cases in the wake of this reopening, but he said he felt the state had what was needed in place to deal with that. He also stressed, Erin, that a lot of this had to do with his decision, that is, had to do with small businesses and needing to help those small businesses get back to work.
BURNETT: All right. Erica, thank you.
And I want to go to the Democratic mayor of Savannah, Georgia, Van Johnson.
Mayor Johnson, I appreciate your time and, you know, we were going through for people some of the things that are going to happen here Friday of this week. It is by far the most aggressive reopening plan yet. It is not in line with the White House guidelines, gyms, hair, nail salons, bowling alley, body art studios open on Friday, as your case count is rising, not declining, theaters and restaurants open by Monday.
Is this the right call?
MAYOR VAN JOHNSON, SAVANNAH, GEORGIA: Absolutely not. I am beyond disturbed. In my mind, this is reckless. It's premature. It's dangerous. It's not based in any type of science or any best practices.
Our reality here in Savannah is our numbers are still going up. We still have not done expanded testing, and we do not have the 14-day decline.
So this just -- it blows our minds that here in Georgia, that we would have these types of rules and being lifted in a time when people are still suffering.
BURNETT: So, the governor -- Governor Kemp just admitted with more people going out that cases will go up. I mean obviously it's -- that's a fact and he's admitting it. But do you think he's not aware of the fact the deaths may go up, or what metric is he basing this on, do you think?
JOHNSON: I don't have the slightest idea. He has not spoken to anybody here in the city of Savannah and several mayors across the state. I mean, we certainly have the best information here on the ground. We have 15 million visitors that come to Savannah every single year and enjoy Savannah. Regardless people don't feel comfortable, they're still not coming.
BURNETT: So the governor does say his ruling overrides any kind of a local decision. As in you could say that you think this is reckless and these businesses shouldn't open, but they still will, right? I mean, is there anything you can do to stop businesses opening in your city where cases are still going on?
JOHNSON: Well, the strange and sad part about this is the governor on two occasions has specified that no local municipality can do anything more restricted than his order, and that, again without discussing anything with these local municipalities. What we can do and we're doing here in Savannah is we're encouraging people to follow common sense. The fact of the matter is the data is there, people can see it for
themselves. We want them to keep the faith, but we want them to follow the signs. This is still a dangerous time, and it's not the time for people to take their feet off the gas. It's not the time to think we're lulled into some sort of a false sense of security. This is still a dangerous world and COVID is still killing people.
BURNETT: So, why do you think Governor Kemp is doing this to begin with?
JOHNSON: I'd have to be in his head to know. Certainly I think politics are in play, and understandably. Small businesses have suffered across our state, but I contend that businesses are made of people.
And so not only the small businesses are suffering but what about those people who have to work in those businesses that now have the opportunity to become infected and take it home to people? This virus has exposed everything that's wrong with our socioeconomic system not only in Georgia but across the nation.
People who have been suffering before suffering now, those that are black and brown, those that are economic issues, those that are less educated match that is a fact, and until we can get that under way we're not even doing expanded testing here in Georgia. So, then, why would we even think it's safe to say let's go back to life as normal? That just does not compute in my mind.
BURNETT: So, Mayor, Governor Kemp said on April 1st, that he only enacted the stay at home order to begin with because he said that it had just been found out that a symptomatic people could transmit coronavirus. Again, this was back on April 1st. Here's how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEMP: Finding out this virus is now transmitting before people see signs. So, what we've been telling people from directives from the CDC for weeks now that if you start feeling bad stay home.
Those individuals could have started infecting people before they even felt bad. But we didn't know that until the last 24 hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What is troubling about that, Mayor, is that it is -- it is obviously something that is not true and the governor's health experts certainly would have known -- should have known. We have reported that six weeks 6-1/2 weeks before he said that that you would have people transmitting before they were symptomatic.
What do you think is behind this, and do you think the governor has all of the facts from his health officials?
JOHNSON: Well, I have great respect from Dr. Toomey and their professionals of the Georgia department of public health. Even here in our coastal health district, the information that the governor said he did not know we received from his health professionals. You know, the facts have been undeniably and unmistakably clear throughout this process, that this was an airborne illness and it can be transmitted in a variety of different ways.
I don't know why he didn't know, but the fact was we knew here in Savannah which is why we took preemptive and proactive action in canceling the second largest St. Patrick's parade in the country, and I think we were very early in the game in terms of just telling people we had to social distance. So the fact the governor did not know and did not ask is really beyond me.
BURNETT: All right, Mayor, appreciate your time. Mayor Johnson, thanks.
JOHNSON: Thank you for all you're doing. Thank you.
BURNETT: And I want to go now to Dr. Jonathan Reiner who advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush, currently in cardiac cath lab at G.W. Hospital.
So, Dr. Reiner, you just heard the mayor, you know, he just said Governor Kemp in Georgia who I want to say not just the first state to do this but weeks ahead of where the White House would say he should be by their own recommendations, he says it's reckless and premature. Would you use those words?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CARDIOLOGIST, ADVISED WHITE HOUSE MEDICAL TEAM FOR EIGHT YEARS: No, I would call it a dereliction of duty. There were 800 new cases of COVID-19 posted in Georgia today. This is -- this crisis has not abated in that state. And this is akin to spiking the ball on the 50-yard line.
Look, we know that the virus lives in asymptomatic people. And you heard Sanjay Gupta mention the positivity rate in Georgia is an enormous 23 percent. In places around the world where the virus really has been tamped down, places like Germany, the positivity rate is 7 percent. So, we know we're not testing nearly as many in the state of Georgia as need to be -- as need to be tested.
A report came out in Los Angeles today. They did some antibody testing, and they've estimated the prevalence of the virus in Los Angeles County is 4.1 percent. That's 50 times higher than what has been tested. So, we know, we haven't tested widely. In Georgia the virus is still very, very active, and this behavior is frankly reckless.
BURNETT: And it comes as you are -- your deep concern about testing and they were going on about this at the briefing, right, saying it's a political problem is what they're saying even though, of course, governors of both parties have said they simply can't get the testing done, right, whether they don't have the test or reagent to interpret it or something in between, it matters a lot in terms of getting it done, but it doesn't matter in terms of the bottom line which is there has not been the testing. You use the word stalled to describe the testing in this country.
REINER: Yes, yes. Since April 1st, this country on average has done about 150,000 tests per day. We've been stalled at that level. It doesn't matter how many machines we have or how many alcohol preps we have, it is very difficult for the average person who doesn't feel well or is simply worried they may have contracted the virus to get tested.
I got a call this weekend from a colleague in Arizona, a physician who could not find an open place to test her husband. This problem is rampant around the United States. The governor of the state in which I live, Maryland, just had acquired 500,000 tests from South Korea. Whatever the problem is, it is translated into an inability to test enough people in this country. That's the basic really irrefutable problem.
BURNETT: All right. Dr. Reiner, thank you.
REINER: My pleasure.
BURENT: And one place where they have been doing the testing and testing so many as you heard Dr. Reiner just say it, that they get that 7 percent rate is Germany.
Germany could be a road map of what happens when you get this right. Germany allowing some small stores to reopen just today, but officials are warning that if there is a second wave of infections, there could be another full shutdown.
Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The first seals finally have an audience again as Germany gradually emerges from lockdown allowing some zoos to open up and giving both parents and children some reprieve.
The children need a distraction, this woman says, it's been so hard on the kids, all the playgrounds are closed. I'm a single mother, I still have to work and schools remain closed.
And schools will remain closed until at least May 4th just like bars, restaurants and gyms. But believe it or not this is what many German towns look like today as shops smaller than 8,600 square feet were allowed to open for the first time in weeks.
The Germans say they are pushing the coronavirus outbreak back, thanks to massive and early testing now up to around 700,000 tests per week, the government says. And a drastic increase in ICU capacities.
The outbreak has become controllable and manageable again, the health minister said. That's allowing Germany to even fly in patients from hard hit countries like Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands. And Germany is going even further. The country's center for disease control announced a series of mass antibody tests for studies to determine what part of the population has already come in contact with coronavirus.
For one study in Munich, testers are even going door-to-door.
We want to discover how many people get infected by the coronavirus without having symptoms or with only very light symptoms so they're not even aware of having the virus, the head of testing says.
Still, many physical distancing measures remain in place in Germany, and Angela Merkel warns the gains made are fragile.
It would be tragic if we knowingly relapsed and if we knowingly endanger these first successes, Merkel said today.
As Germans enjoy the lifting of some of the lock down measures, their leaders are already warning stay vigilant or the lockdown might return.
PLEITGEN: And, of course, Erin, that antibody testing is becoming more and more important around the world. And the U.S., of course, it's New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who says his state will be the most aggressive at antibody testing.
The Germans moving one step further as well. Angela Merkel saying today they're going to extend contact tracing. The thing she says is to know who exactly has the virus right now, to be able to combat the virus effectively, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much from Berlin.
And I want to go out front now to Bill Hanage. He's the professor of the evolution of epidemiology and infectious disease at Harvard.
And, Professor, I appreciate your time.
So, Angela Merkel, you know, her big fear and her warning is there could be a second wave of cases, and obviously they're trying to open up bit by bit. But as you fully reopen, is it a question of if when it comes to a second wave or is it really a question of when?
BILL HANAGE, EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Thanks for having me on, Erin. It's a pleasure to be here. I want to start by saying how great Germany's response has been so far. It's truly impressive. It's another federal nation and it should be an example to the world.
Now, if you relax too early and without sufficient testing, you do risk a second surge. I prefer the word surge to wave because it's a surge that overwhelms health care which is what we have to account for. So, the thing which is great about this is that they have testing so they would hopefully be able to detect it early enough and then maybe make adjustments to what they're doing in order to prevent it.
BURNETT: So, when you look at what they're doing, one, just very basic thing they've been doing since the beginning, the United States is not is testing, right? I mean, when you -- the point that you're making here obviously we're not there and we're not even close to there.
When you go through the numbers, Professor, you say the U.S. is just at the beginning of this crisis and how do you come to that conclusion?
HANAGE: This is pandemic and a pandemic operates in this way which is somewhat different because nobody has any immunity to it. And in order to get to the point where you would be able to see the levels of immunity that would be -- even bringing the reproductive number one, you'd have to see that over half the people in the country had been infected.
BURNETT: So, when -- in that context, I want to ask you about where the United States is right now, and for this, I just want to explain -- compare the United States to South Korea. James Fallows "The Atlantic" I thought had a great point today.
He looked at on February 20th, you had nee deaths in the United States, no deaths in South Korea which also, of course, has been doing a lot of testing just like Germany. March 20th, 100 deaths in South Korea, 150 deaths in the United States. Today, 236 total deaths in South Korea, 42,000 deaths in the United States.
What do you attribute this to?
HANAGE: I attribute it to inaction. I attribute it to the fact that knowing that -- even though that we know that there's a pandemic threat and there's a virus on the scene, which nobody has immunity to, we just kind of sat around and waited for it to show up.
And the thing is one of the things this very unpleasant about this, is that, like you were saying, the majority of people who get it don't show sufficient symptoms probably that they even know they have it, which means they transmit it and transmit it and it ends up in a nursing home and it goes crazy.
Now, I want to put a couple of things to rest here. This is not the flu. This is absolutely not the flu. There have already been more than 10,000 deaths in the city of New York alone. In order to get that kind of mortality from a virus that was like the flu, literally everybody in New York City would have had to have been infected.
And as we know, the deaths are still rolling in in New York. This is a very serious pandemic virus, which is currently hitting different parts of the country hard. And if it hasn't hit a part of the country hard yet, chances are it will unless we maintain our vigilance.
BURNETT: And that's I don't when we keep hearing peak, there is the whole perception you get to the peak, the mitigation, if it works, it works, and then, you know, you kind of plateau and you start to come down. And then you open up a little bit.
BURNETT: And then you're OK. You're saying it's misleading. It's more appropriate perhaps to look at this like a mountain range.
HANAGE: Yes, correct. The reason I'm saying that is because of the fact that when we're seeing what's happening in New York at the moment, you know, you've heard the phrase "flatten the curve." New York is what flattening the curve looks like.
Imagine if it was worse. Imagine if it was continuing to grow exponentially. Imagine how many more lives would be lost outside of COVID alone from other people not receiving the care they need from things like heart attacks.
So that is flattening the curve, but it's not the virus that's doing that, that's humans. Every single infection averted at this stage, even if it's just delayed, is a victory over the virus and a victory for us. Now, when it starts coming down, it is not coming down because of immunity. It's coming down because of stuff that we did.
And when we stop doing that stuff, chances are it's going to start doing again and ticking up. If we don't have the testing, we ain't even going to know. First, we're going to know when people start dropping dead in nursing homes. And then, again, it will be too late and we'll go through the whole wary cycle and we'll do the stuff we're having to do now.
You can do milder social distancing if you do it early enough.
BURNETT: Professor Hanage, I appreciate your time. And I appreciate those words. Thank you so much.
HANAGE: Thank you very much.
BURNETT: And I want to go now to an incredible story of survival in this. Francis Wilson is 29 years old, went to a hospital in Virginia last month with coronavirus after struggling to breathe. Now despite being young, again, I want to say it, 29 years old, and having no preexisting conditions, he ended up spending ten days on a ventilator.
In fact, his condition was so dire that doctors told his family he likely would not survive, and he was given his last rites. But then there was a last-ditch effort by his doctors. His condition improved, and he is here today to tell his story.
Francis Wilson joins me now.
This is an incredible story, Francis. I know one that hopefully give people a lot of hope. I mean, you are so young and you were so healthy. I know never in a million years could you have thought this would be you.
How are you feeling right now, first of all?
FRANCIS WILSON, RECOVERING FROM CORONAVIRUS: I'm doing very well. Thank you, number one, Erin, for having me on. Today has been awesome. I feel great physically, mentally. I do recognize that every day is different. And it's a good step in the right direction for me.
BURNETT: So, you know, I mean, I can't imagine the sort of trauma of what you experienced, having to go through 15 days in the hospital, 10 days on a ventilator, in an induced coma. I mean, the physical toll is hugely traumatic, I'm sure, and you will be dealing with that.
What about the psychological toll of that?
WILSON: I'd say the psychological toll has unexpectedly been the harder part for me. When I was under, I didn't remember most of the stuff that happened to me, which is pretty expected. They have you on pretty high sedatives.
But on March 26 is when my condition got to the lowest point that it had been. That's when I was -- that's when my family was called in for last visitation purposes when I received last rites and I was transferred to George Washington University Hospital. And at that point for some reason I was able to remember everything that was happening as far as my dreams and what I was understanding. I was also able to perceive stimuli around me.
And at that point, I believed I had died and thought that I was being processed for burial.
It was a really tough thing. I mean, I even heard my family speaking to me at that point. That was really tough. It's been hard to come back from that.
BURNETT: I mean, just to -- your family came in and read you the last rites, and you actually could hear them? Is that true?
I mean, what -- can you even at this point even kind of put words around what that was like, that you're separated from this by this glass panel and you know that they've been told and then you are now aware that you're going to die?
WILSON: Yes, that was, that was tough. I mean, so, at that point in my dream or hallucination or whatever you want to call it, I had already thought that I had died. And at that point, you know, there's like this pinkish purple light that spoken to me and told me I had 30 minutes to speak with all my loved ones.
At that point, I heard my family. So they were on the other side of a glass panel and there was a nurse inside the room with a phone that they held up to my ear so they could speak to me. And I remember in this dream state hearing my family say, you know, we love you, Francis. You need to pull through this for us. Keep fighting.
And I remember feeling frustrated because in my dream state, I thought I was in China. That's a long story, but I remember being frustrated that I couldn't go back and tell my loved ones back in America what I needed to say because I was stuck there. That was a really, really hard moment for me. And it was one of the most frustrating parts of this all. And it's really shaped the way that I've moved on and some of the lessons I've learned from this whole experience.
BURNETT: And now, you know, you sit here as a 29-year-old young man, and thank goodness recovering -- and I use the present tense here because I know it's going to be a process. But again, you're the kind of person people wouldn't think could get sick from this. Now, we see protests, people want to reopen the country and you're hearing about in Georgia, you know, they're opening this week and the beaches in Jacksonville, there have been protests in your state of Virginia, Francis.
After everything you've been through, what do you say to people who are pushing to reopen quickly?
WILSON: I mean, this is tough because I caught this from a friend who at the time I believe was asymptomatic. I was asymptomatic for a few days before things really just completely fell off a cliff for me.
So, there is always that risk. And especially when more people are going out and not taking the same precautions that we're taking now that are as effectively as possible are limiting the spread and the impact of this virus, I mean, whenever we lift those measures, whether it's now, whether it's in the future, there is going to be a risk of a second wave or another peak of this. And it's important for us to make sure that we have advanced to the point where we're able to respond to whatever that second wave is.
I'm not qualified to speak as to whether we're there now, but I would -- that would involve, you know, having developed a quarantine, understanding how this virus or its various strains affect humans. It's so novel at this point I don't think we're necessarily there yet.
BURNETT: Before you go, Francis, what's been the hardest part physically for you in recovery?
WILSON: Physically in recovery, just -- there's been -- my lung capacity is completely shut. I mean, I was playing soccer before this and now I'm getting winded kicking the ball against the wall. I love singing and can't really do it as well as I wish. But it's coming back. Yeah, the breath is coming -- so, we're getting there.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Francis, thank you very much for being with us and sharing all this with everyone. Thank you.
WILSON: Thank you.
BURNETT: And we'll be right back.
BURNETT: Thank you for joining us. Our coverage continues now with Anderson.