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U.S. Death Toll Tops 41,000 and Georgia to Open Business on Friday; Governors Hit Back at Trump on Passing the Buck Testing Claims; Some States Also to Reopen; Trump Supports Protest Challenging His Own Guidelines; Gov. Mike DeWine is Interviewed About Reopening Business in Ohio; Boston Brace for the Worst as Being One of the Hotspots of the Pandemic in U.S. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 20, 2020 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Fred Pleitgen in Berlin. Thank you so much. The White House coronavirus task force briefing starts in just a few minutes. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay at home.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." We're following breaking news. We're standing by to hear from the health experts on the White House coronavirus task force.

Also, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has just announced the reopening of certain businesses in his state this week, including gyms, bowling alleys, body art studios, hair and nail salons among others, starting this Friday.

Meanwhile, President Trump and governors, they are squaring off over testing. In a conference call today, the vice president, Mike Pence, tried to reassure the nation's governors that the administration is working to get them testing supplies as soon as possible while the president insists there's no shortage of testing and that it's largely the responsibility of the states anyway.

Tonight, the U.S. death toll has now surpassed 41,000 with more than 770,000 confirmed cases. Worldwide there are more than 2.4 million cases right now, confirmed cases, probably a whole lot more, and about 169,000 deaths, probably a whole lot more than that as well.

Let's begin this hour with the big news out of Georgia right now. Let's go to our national correspondent Erica Hill. Erica, very dramatic statement from the governor of Georgia.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is dramatic and it also just makes you stop for a minute. When you look at the businesses that Governor Brian Kemp has actually pointed out, so signaling out, and you went through the list of some of these; gyms, fitness centers, body arts studios, barbershops, hair and nail salons, estheticians and massage therapists, will all be allowed to reopen starting this Friday. He goes on to say that restaurants can open on Monday. No bars,

nightclubs or music venues, however. What is really remarkable is that the governor says all of these businesses need to continue with their best practices including social distancing.

That is incredibly difficult to do when you look at the list of those businesses that will be given the green light on Friday. These are some of the most intimate connections you can have with someone, when you go to get your nails done, if you're going for a massage or to get a tattoo. Think about how close you are to those people.

The other thing, Wolf, that really stood out to me is the governor said very clearly, no local ordinances can restrict the openings, making it clear that these are statewide orders. He wants this to be in place across the states.

And that's something that we've seen of course in Florida. We're also seeing a little bit of this in South Carolina as well, where you're seeing some local leaders push back against state orders because they are not sure that their areas are ready for that.

The other thing that Governor Kemp noted is that employers will need to test their employees. That brings up another issue hat we're hearing, as you just pointed out, from governors across the country. Testing still remains an issue. It is key to any reopening.

And researchers at Harvard are saying the U.S. is far behind where it needs to be for any safe reopening, that they would need to more than triple the number of tests done daily, Wolf, to more than half a million, and that's not the only issue states are facing.


HILL (voice-over): As states and cities look for a path forward, testing is at the top of their list.

ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF 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 (voice-over): The president invoking the Defense Production Act for desperately needed swabs, as governors push for more help accessing supplies.

ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR: I think until we have a national strategy and that everyone is working together for a good supply chain, we're going to have problems here.

HILL (voice-over): It's not just diagnostic testing that's needed. New York began antibody testing today. But officials stress we don't yet know how effective those antibodies are.

ANTHONY FAUCI, MEMBER, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: There's an assumption, a reasonable assumption, that when you have an antibody that you are protected against re-infection. But that has not been proven for this particular virus.

HILL (voice-over): Businesses adding new measures to keep workers safe. Amazon using thermal cameras to screen for fevers, as the city of Detroit begins testing its essential workers. Early hotspots like New York City starting to see a decline in cases, as others hit a surge. The White House task force singling out Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago.


MARTY WALSH, MAYOR OF BOSTON: I think that the worst is yet to come for a lot of people.

HILL (voice-over): Meantime in South Carolina, the governor giving some retail stores and beaches the green light to reopen. Four coastal communities, however, will keep existing restrictions in place, noting there is, "no evidence from medical professionals that indicates the threat has diminished."

CELINE GOUNDER, NYU CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE: No matter what, we're going to see an increase in transmission when we lift social distancing measures. It's really a question of how prepared are you to handle that resurgence in transmission.

HILL (voice-over): Despite President Trump insisting governors should decide what's best, he continues to encourage protests.

LARRY HOGAN, GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND: I don't think it's helpful to encourage demonstrations and encourage people to go against the president's own policy. The president's policy says you can't start to reopen, under his plan, until you have declining numbers for 14 days, which those states and my state do not have.

HILL (voice-over): A reminder that any reopening is not just about the economy. It's also about public health and safety.


HILL (on camera): And when you think about that public health and safety, Wolf, just as we go over this again because this news is just breaking out of Georgia, I know we have that list of businesses that the governor, Brian Kemp, has said can reopen on Friday.

If you're talking about social distancing, if you're talking about keeping a safe distance from one another, whether that be with a face covering, wearing gloves, you look at some of these businesses and again, these are some of the most intimate interactions that you can have when you go into a business.

When someone is cutting your hair, they have to be very close to you. Obviously, a massage therapist, body arts, and the bowling alley in that list had some people scratching their heads as well.

Again, the governor saying that for all of these businesses, they will need to continue with what he said are best practices including social distancing and also that there will need to be testing of employees, which of course calls up new questions about who will be doing that test?

How will they get the test? How will those tests be processed? A lot of questions here that we have that we're going to do our best to get some answers on for you, Wolf, as we dig a little bit deeper into this latest -- what the governor called a small step forward. And again, just a reminder, the governor saying that no local ordinance can supersede this, so this is statewide.

BLITZER: Very, very important information. Erica Hill reporting from New York. Erica, we're also getting word that the governor of Georgia is not the only governor making major decisions. We just got a statement from the governor of Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee, announcing that Tennesseans, the order for them to remain at home, that will expire April 30th.

The vast majority of businesses in the 89 counties will be allowed to reopen on May 1st. He went on to say that some businesses could reopen as early as a week from today, next Monday.

And the governor of South Carolina is announcing that as of 5:00 p.m. today, retail stores selling furniture, books, music, flowers, clothing, accessories, as well as department stores, sporting goods stores, flea markets, will be allowed to reopen at 20 percent capacity or five people per 1,000 square feet.

Beaches will reopen in South Carolina, Governor McMasters says, tomorrow at noon. So there are a lot of developments unfolding right now. Let's go over to the White House right now. Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us. So Jim, some more mixed messages, some more misleading statements from the president about testing. What's the latest?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDEMNT: That's right, Wolf. President Trump is still clashing with some of the nation's governors over the issue of testing. A frustrated Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland just went out on his own and purchased thousands of testing kits from South Korea.

Meantime the president is still egging on protesters to demonstrate against stay-at-home orders in certain states even though the experts warn these statehouse rallies could actually make people sick.


ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump is all but declaring mission accomplished on testing for the coronavirus, even as he's punting the issue to governors across the U.S.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATESL: We'll be doing testing at a level, already we're doing testing at a level nobody's ever done before but we'll be doing testing at a level that the biggest tester in the world will be very happy. Testing is a local thing. And it's very important, it's great, but it's a local thing.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Both Democratic and Republican governors are pushing back on the president's claim that there is sufficient testing as nonsense.

RALPH NORTHAM, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: That's just delusional, to be making statements like that. We have been fighting every day for PPE and we've got some supplies now coming in. We've been fighting for testing. It's not a straightforward test.

ACOSTA (voice-over): One state leader who's fed up, Maryland's GOP Governor Larry Hogan who along with his wife went out on their own and secured enough equipment from South Korea to perform a half million tests.


HOGAN: I want to sincerely thank our Korean partners for assisting us in our fight against this common hidden enemy.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Even one of the president's top medical advisers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says federal and local governments need to work together.

FAUCI: We need a partnership between the federal government and the local people including the governors, to help them get to things that they maybe not have any access to. So it really does need to be a partnership.

ACOSTA (voice-over): One reason for the frustration in the states, administration officials had been promising nearly 30 million coronavirus tests would be on the market by now. But only more than 4 million tests have been conducted.

BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH: So, I'm going to answer your question and then try to persuade you to stop asking about a specific number, okay? So from March 2nd to March 14th we have put over 10 million laboratory tests into the U.S. commercial market and we expect that by March 28th to be well over 27 million into the market.

ACOSTA (voice-over): New polling shows a large majority of Americans don't believe the president took the threat seriously enough. Yet the president is actively encouraging pro-Trump protesters to gather in large demonstrations outside state houses across the U.S. to sound off on stay-at-home orders that largely follow the administration's own guidelines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to work! Open our states!

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump has complained some states have gone too far even though he's told governors they now call the shots.

TRUMP: I've seen interviews of the people. These are great people. Look, they want to get -- they call cabin fever, you've heard the term? They've got cabin fever. They want to get back. They want their life back. Their life was taken away from them. People feel that way. You're allowed to protest. I mean, they feel that way. I watched the protest and they were all six feet apart. ACOSTA (voice-over): But that's not true. At many of the protests,

the participants are not social distancing. A concern that Mr. Trump's own top doctors.

FAUCI: 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. So, as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it's going to backfire. That's the problem.


ACOSTA (on camera): And the White House is also keeping a close eye on the financial markets and a dramatic plunge in oil prices. If you recall, the president claimed he was on top of that situation and was working to stabilize the oil market earlier this month.

Mr. Trump tweeted he was speaking with his, "friend," Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin about moves he said would be great for the oil and gas industry, but Wolf, that industry is struggling tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly is. All right, Jim Acosta at the White House. Thank you very much. Joining us now is the governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine. Governor, thanks for spending a few moments with us. I know you're incredibly busy over there.

I don't know if you heard the top of our show this hour, but the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, has just announced that some businesses in his state including nail salons, barbershops, gyms, among others, will reopen as early as Friday.

We're hearing similar things from the governors of Tennessee and South Carolina. Do you think these are appropriate moves right now? I know you don't want to criticize your fellow governors, but is Ohio, your state, anywhere near making those kinds of dramatic decisions?

MIKE DEWINE, GOVERNOR OF OHIO: Well, Wolf, what we've done is we put a business group together, CEOs of not only big companies but smaller companies in Ohio, and charged them with charting a course for us, you know, who could open first and what would be the best practices to follow as these companies do it because it's important for us to move the economy forward.

But if we're going to do that, we've got to move forward steadily. What we don't want is a spike where three weeks later, after something opens up and then we see the spike go up like that and then we've got to retrench, because what businesses told me, particularly small businesses, they said, look, we want to get back in as soon as we can, but the worst thing would be for us to start back and then stop and we would have to close again.

So we want to do this in a way that is, frankly, consistent with what the president's guidelines are. I think he outlined a good plan. We're consistent with that. Beginning May 1st, we're going to start easing out. We hope to be in a position where we're never going to go back. And we just slowly move forward. And we've learned a lot. We've learned from businesses that have been

deemed essential. And we've seen what they have done in the last four weeks. And some of them have done just a phenomenal job. They've been really, really careful.

They've had the social distancing. They've put barriers where they need to put barriers. They've had people wear masks. And that's the new reality. I just got off the phone with a group of businessmen and women from Cincinnati and one of the things I said to them is, look, we want to move forward. We want to get people back working. That's very, very important.


But we've got to do the other things as we do it. We've got to keep the social distancing. People need to -- when they're in the factory or they're in their business, retail business, they need to wear a mask. So, these are all things that, you know, that we need to do. So we've got to do it very carefully, and that's how we advance the economy.

BLITZER: A mask and gloves too, I should add.

DEWINE: Yes, gloves too, absolutely right.

BLITZER: What do you believe -- Governor, what do you believe will be the first things that you'll be able to reopen in Ohio or whenever you start to do so?

DEWINE: Well, I think one of the things we're going to do is ease up on our hospitals. You know, we had to cut off elective surgeries. We're going to ease back, maybe not with elective surgeries at first but maybe other procedures that have been curtailed, let them do that.

Stuff that does not use up too much of the personal protection equipment, which was our real concern, we're going to do that. We're also looking at businesses that are very, very similar, manufacturing companies for example, that are very similar to ones that are open.

One was essential we allowed it to be open, the other was not as essential, but they're really doing the same type of stuff and the ability to keep the social distancing might be the same. So, we're going to look to those things that have the best opportunity to keep the social distancing, open them up, see how that works, and we hope not look back.

But the reality is, this virus is still with us. It's going to be with us for a long time. We have to be very careful. We have to keep the social distancing.

BLITZER: We know, governor, that testing is really the key to reopening the state economy, to reopening the United States and getting back to some sense of normality.

The president says testing for coronavirus, in his words, is a local thing. Did you hear a different message from the vice president earlier today? I know you and your fellow governors had a lengthy conversation with the vice president.

DEWINE: We did. You know, those are always good conversations -- very, very open and very nonpartisan. The vice president is great about taking the information, also trying to get out information. Great exchange.

I actually talked to the vice president on Sunday about the testing issue. One of the things that I was concerned about is one of the things that keeps our capacity from going up in Ohio, at our labs, where they have the capacity, but they don't have the reagents.

And that's being rationed not by the federal government. It's being rationed basically by the market. There's just not enough reagent. So what I encouraged the FDA to do is to approve some of these plans, some other companies that are trying to come on the market. They've got a little different recipe for the reagent.

And so if we can get those to move forward, that will help open that up. I talked to the vice president about that and he certainly understood that.

BLITZER: I know a lot of the governors say they have very smooth, very strong conversations with the vice president, not necessarily with the president. But that's something we can discuss down the road. Governor, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to everyone in Ohio.

DWEINE: Wolf, thank you. Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Up next, I'll speak live with the mayor of Boston. His city is one of the coronavirus hotspots right now. He's warning, in his words, the worst is yet to come.

We're also standing by to hear from the health experts over at today's White House coronavirus task force briefing which we will be monitoring.



BLITZER: Al right, so we're standing by to hear from the health experts over at the White House coronavirus task force. We're looking at live pictures coming in from the briefing room. The U.S. death toll, by the way, has now surpassed 41,000.

Joining us now, the mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. The news we had, once again, at the top of the hour, the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, saying some businesses in his state including nail salons, barbershops, gyms, among a lot of others, will reopen as early as this coming Friday. When your city of Boston emerges from this surge, how will you prioritize reopening?

MARTY WALSH, MAYOR OF BOSTON: You know, I think that, you know, a lot of people are anxious about getting the economy back and running and people going back to work, but I'm really proud of Americans and Bostonians for really looking out for each other and looking out for their loved ones.

I think when we think about going back to work, we'll be having conversations about prioritizing what's important and how do we help each other -- each industry. You know, we're thinking the hospitality industry is going to be a little while before we see tourism coming back here at the city. That's a big piece of our economy.

But really thinking about how do we institute social distancing. We're looking here at city hall to be a model when we finally open our building up and all of our buildings. How can we have our workforce come into work safe because the coronavirus is still going to be here?

And we're going through that right now, having these different conversations with department heads and cabinet folks in my own administration and really setting a guideline for how we can open up the economy in the private sector.

BLITZER: You warned earlier this afternoon, mayor, in your words, the worst is yet to come for a lot of people. Your city of Boston is a hotspot right now for this virus. What are your residents, health care workers, and others facing tonight?

WALSH: I mean, I think right now in Boston, I had the numbers from today. We're about 55, almost 5,600 cases of coronavirus in Boston. We went up 233 from yesterday. We went up some deaths here, I think 14 deaths from yesterday.


So we're at -- almost 190 people have lost their life due to the coronavirus here in the city of Boston. And then our hospitals are somewhat regional hospitals, Boston hospitals are some of the best in the world and a lot of people want to go to them.

So, we're still working to keep those numbers down, to try and keep our hospitals available for the most sick of the sickest when it comes to the virus. We also have a hospital built over at the convention center where we have 170 guests on the homeless side of it and the hospital side of it.

So, it really is, we're still in the battlegrounds here, if you will, to use an analogy, to keep the spread of the virus down and try and keep capacity in our hospitals open for folks.

BLITZER: What are you asking Boston residents, mayor, to do right now to help get this surge under control?

WALSH: We're asking people to stay at home. We're asking people to physical and social distance. We're asking people to wear masks. If you go for a walk, we're asking you to stay at least six feet if not, further away from people around you.

In the city of Boston from 9:00 at night until 6:00 in the morning, we have a curfew. We recommend a curfew. A lot of people are paying attention to that. And we're asking people to be very disciplined. And the folks that aren't paying attention, we're asking you to think

of your loved ones, think of the people around you that you could bring the virus into your home potentially.

And you have older parents or older aunts and uncles or your kids get the virus. And it really is still -- we're still very much in the prevention phase here, trying to prevent as much spread as possible.

BLITZER: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us. Good luck to everyone in Boston.

WALSH: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, what reopening looks like. Some states, cities, and towns, they are already taking the first tentative steps on the road back to some sort of normality. We're going to give you an update.

I'll also speak with the mayor of Detroit. It's been one of the hardest hit cities. Is the worst over there? What's going on? We'll be right back.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We've great new out of Georgia where the Republican governor just announced businesses such as gyms, fitness centers, barbers, they can reopen this Friday with theaters and restaurants able to open a week from today. Brian Todd is keeping track of other states and municipalities taking their first steps toward reopening. What are you learning, Brian, tell us more.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, governors in the south are clearly taking the lead tonight in reopening businesses, parks and beaches. Public health experts are watching those moves closely and hoping that they're not coming too soon.


TODD (voice-over): In Jacksonville, the city's mayor reopens the beach and some parks with limited hours and some strict rules. People are allowed to run, walk and swim but not to sunbathe, no chairs, towels or coolers allowed. Despite distancing requirements, many people were initially seen in close proximity to each other after the beach first opened.

IAN CHERRY, JACKSONVILLE BEACH RESORT: There's so many people standing around, everyone's so close together. I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.

TODD (voice-over): But since Friday, city officials say, beach crowds have thinned and people seem to be taking distancing more seriously. In North Carolina, Wrightsville Beach also open today, again, for exercise only. Today the governor of South Carolina announced the state is not only allowing its beaches to open if local officials want to, but it's also making plans to allow retail businesses like clothing, furniture and sporting goods stores to open if customers are limited to a few at a time.

GOV. HENRY MCMASTER (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If you can imagine a race we want to be able to slingshot around the competition and get back up to full speed as soon as we can.

TODD (voice-over): Despite stay at home recommendations still in effect, some governors and mayors tonight are allowing their residents to take those baby steps toward reopening and trusting people to be responsible. Texas open state parks today, but people have to socially distance, wear masks and make reservations to go to parks.

MONICA ADAMS, VISITING SHELDON LAKE STATE PARK, TEXAS: I felt like it was a way to feel like we're on the track to being back to normal to being able to just see that things are going in the right direction.

TODD (voice-over): In addition to opening state parks, Texas Governor Greg Abbott says restrictions for some nonessential surgeries will be loosened on Wednesday. On Friday, retail stores can operate to go services but customer still can't go inside. And next Monday, Texas officials will let people know about the next steps of reopening.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: They will consider the possibility of opening more venues, venues like restaurants, movie theaters and other gathering places that can provide safe distancing practices.

TODD (voice-over): Officials in Georgia also eyeing first steps toward reopening, but health experts have a warning about opening venues even to a slow trickle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we don't want to do is recreate the conditions that led to us all having to stay home in the first place, and having our healthcare systems be overwhelmed. And so that's why it's so important that we move cautiously and thoughtfully about how and when to reopen.

TODD (voice-over): Some states and cities moving more cautiously. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says temperature checks in the workplace could play a key role in reopening some places.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: The temperature checks are a great way to see if someone might be starting to show symptoms.



TODD: But Mayor de Blasio also says that right now the city does not have enough thermometers for effective temperature checks and groups representing places like medical manu --

BLITZER: All right, we just lost the connection with Brian Todd but you get the gist. He's watching what's happening all over the country right now and there are dramatic developments unfolding. Joining us now, the Mayor of Detroit, Mike Duggan. Mayor Duggan, thank you so much for joining us. I know that starting today in Detroit, your city is offering coronavirus testing to all essential workers. How will this work?

MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN, DETROIT: So we're dealing with the same issue as everybody else's and in Detroit we've knocked this thing down by just sticking strictly to the science. And so we have been running a huge drive-thru testing site is handling 1,000 people a day based upon people who have symptoms. Now that the volumes are way down in our hospitals.

I want to us to start to get ready for when we reopen. And so now for every business that's open, we're offering drive-thru testing no matter what. So whether it's a grocery store, a gas station, a drug store, all of the businesses that are open, I'm saying, schedule an appointment. Come on in. We'll test your folks.

And ultimately, I think it's going to be a step toward reopening because I think when we reopen, I don't know when that'll be, but it'll be you'll test your employees first, make sure they're negative, you will do temperature checks every day as they come into work, you will wear masks in the workplace. That's the way it's going to be for a while. We're trying to get a head start.

BLITZER: How many essential businesses, Mayor, have already taken you up on this testing so far?

DUGGAN: So as of 10:00 this morning, I had 5,000 employees worth and well I haven't had an update since then. But we just ramped up our capacity and before long we'll be doing 1,500 a day. But my thing is eventually everybody should get tested. And we all know about the limitations.

But for those people who can't shelter in place, they have to go to work every day. Because they're doing a job, is important. I thought they deserved to be first in line to make sure --

BLITZER: Yes, I was going to say -- Mary, you say people are showing some symptoms, checking their temperature, for example, but there are a lot of people apparently out there who show no symptoms at all, yet are already infected. What do you do about them?

DUGGAN: No question about it. In fact, we just tested thousand people in nursing homes and we found is high and infection rate of those without symptoms as those with symptoms. And so, I go to work every day in the 11th floor of City Hall. Everybody here is tested to make sure they're negative, everybody wears masks, everybody has regular temperature checks. And this is what it's going to be, it's going to be all of those things.

Three weeks ago, we had 600 people quarantined at the Detroit police department. We put everybody through the 15-minute Abbott test, got health care for those who are positive, those who are negative go back to work. And when we started going to social distancing and temperature checks to masks, we've now had one quarantine a day for the last seven days in a 2,500 person department. This can be managed if you stay away from the politics and just stick to the science.

BLITZER: What goes through your mind, Mayor, when you hear the news and we been reporting at this hour that the governor of Georgia is now prioritizing the reopening of gyms, hair salons, and he wants to do so later this week?

DUGGAN: You know, I think, again, the science does not support that, at least certainly not in Michigan. Our governor has done a great job. But in the city of Detroit as Dr. Birx mentioned today, we have knocked down the rate of this dramatically. We did it without closing parks, we did it without curfews by making a commitment as a city to care for each other.

If you come through our parks today, you'll see people walking in ones or two socially distancing, enjoying the parks in an appropriate way. And so I've been very fortunate that the 700,000 people in the city of Detroit have taken this very seriously.

BLITZER: Mayor Duggan, good luck to you, good luck to everyone in Detroit. Thanks so much for joining us.

DUGGAN: Thanks for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, an update on the push for a reliable antibody tests which experts consider essential to returning the United States to some semblance of normality. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Today, the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his state is rolling out widespread antibody testing, which experts consider a key to reopening normal business. Let's get an update from our Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us. Tell us why antibody testing, Elizabeth, is so critical.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So antibody testing is not the test that tells you if you currently have COVID, it's the test that tells you, hey, you had it sometime in the past and you recovered and your antibodies are present because they fought that disease off. This is super important to know, Wolf, from both a personal and on sort of a public health level.

On a personal level, if you know you have antibodies, and if it means that you're immune to COVID, it could mean that you could go back to work and sort of re-enter society. On a larger level, if enough people have antibodies, and if it means that they're immune, that it means that we could start opening things back up again. But there are several big problems with the antibody tests.


First of all, there's a lot of them out there that aren't good, the FDA loosened to the rules and they allowed all of these tests out there that just simply don't work. So that's a problem. Secondly, the tests need certain chemicals and other ingredients to go with them. And it is very, very tough to get those. And Governor Cuomo spoke about that in his press conference today.

Third of all, you've noticed, I said, if you're immune, it is possible that people could have antibodies and not be immune, they could get infected a second time. This is a new virus. Viruses are very tricky. Doctors are trying to figure that out right now. If you have antibodies, does that mean that you're immune.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a critically important issue. Elizabeth, what more do we know about drug treatments, potential drug treatments, like hydroxychloroquine, for example, the trials that are underway to determine how effective they might be?

COHEN: You know, so hydroxychloroquine is interesting because there are more than 25 actually, I think, at this point, more than 30 studies in the United States alone, looking at hydroxychloroquine. We were expecting results from a very big study that's going on in New York that's very well respected done by a good group of researchers. We were expecting their results today. But the Governor said -- told us in the press conference that that's not going to happen, so we're still waiting on those.

And so, also Novartis has joined the groups that are doing hydroxychloroquine studies. But we should keep in mind, there are lots of other drugs out there being tested. This is the one that Trump talks about a lot, and he seems very fond of it. But there are several other drugs out there that are being tested. But all of these are in testing. We don't know if they're going to be the answer or if they're going to be useless.

BLITZER: Yes, they're also looking at a drug called Remdesivir as well. We'll see if that is effective. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for that report.

Coming up, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he's standing by. He will answer your questions about the coronavirus and the pandemic when we come back.



BLITZER: We continue to get lots of questions about the coronavirus pandemic. We got our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta with us, he's got the answers to these questions. And our viewers have tons of good questions, Sanjay, here's one. If beaches in my state reopen, is it safe to go?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, as long as you can maintain physical distance here, Wolf, I mean, the guidance and the advice remains the same. I mean, there is a virus out there. It is a contagious virus, it can spread from person to person. I mean, I'm all for getting people outside, I'm a little worried. As soon as these things open, you know, beaches, you may get large crowds of people and, you know, that's going to be a concern. We just have to use, you know, common sense here, Wolf. One thing to also keep in mind and, you know, I think we've talked about this from the beginning, is that, you know, the risk is not only to yourself, but if you do get exposed to the virus and infected and don't even have any symptoms, and then you go home to somebody in your house who is vulnerable, you could potentially spread the infection to that person. So you've got to use common sense. People are going to like say I want to follow the rules to the tee, that's fine, but just consider the fact there's a virus out there, it can spread. If you're going to do this, still make sure to maintain your distance.

BLITZER: Yes. Right, that's good advice. Here's another question from a viewer. What kind of masks should I buy, a paper mask or a cloth mask?

GUPTA: Well, the types of masks that you want to reserve for healthcare workers are the N95 masks and the surgical masks. What the CDC has said is that when you go out, if you have to go out again, I think people should pretty much stay at home but if there's something essential that you have to go out for, then wearing a cloth mask is OK. It's really to protect other people from you. You're trying to basically protect the virus from getting out of your nose or mouth and spreading it in the environment.

One of our medical contributor Celine Gounder sort of had a good analogy, she said, think of it like a hose. If you put the mask right next to the hose, you're going to stop more of the water. If you put the mask further away, you're not going to stop as much. So having a cloth mask is going to be useful. A true surgical mask is going to be a better mask. I mean, that is what they're designed to do, no question about it.

So it becomes a question of I don't want to take away masks from health care workers, they need them. A cloth mask is certainly better than nothing. Primarily I should stay at home. But if I do go out for some reason, then I'm wearing the mask to protect other people from me.

BLITZER: All right, Sanjay, we got more questions. We'll do more that's coming up. Thank you very much. Dr. Sanjay Gupta always helping --


BLITZER: -- us understand what's going on. Coming up, one state announces plans to reopen gyms, bowling alleys, hair and nail salons and more as early as this coming Friday as the U.S. coronavirus death toll now tops 41,000.



BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room" We're monitoring the coronavirus briefing over at the White House as Georgia's governor just announced a surprising plan for reopening his entire state. He's allowing a wide array of businesses that usually involve very close physical contact to reopen as soon as this coming Friday, including gyms, hair and nail salons, massage therapists.

Also breaking right now, the coronavirus death toll here in the U.S. has climbed to above 41,000 as President Trump has been battling with the nation's governors over the need for additional testing.