Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Wash Post: Possible Second Wave Of Infections This Winter Likely Worse; Wash Post: CDC Dir Says Possible Second Wave Of Infections This Winter Likely Worse; CDC Directors Says Possible Second Wave Of Infections This Winter Likely Worse; Senate: Approves New $84 Billion Package To Help Small Businesses; Director Of Key Trump Admin Vaccine Agency Suddenly Departs; Abbott Labs Warns Its Rapid Coronavirus Tests Can Produce False Negatives Under Certain Conditions. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 21, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The company added an astonishing 16 million new subscribers last month alone, that's over twice what have been predicted.

The pandemic is obviously forcing people to stay home and to tune in, binging on hits such as "Tiger King" or "Love Is Blind" or "Ozark". Netflix at 183 million subscribers worldwide.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room."

We're following breaking news. "The Washington Post" is now reporting that a possible second wave of coronavirus infections this coming winter, according to "The Washington Post," will likely be worse. We're getting details on what the director of the CDC has just said to "The Washington Post."

We're also standing by this hour to monitor the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. President Trump has just finished a meeting in the Oval Office with the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, whose state has been hardest hit in the pandemic and who has frequently clashed with the President. Governor Cuomo says they discussed testing and state funding. He describes the meeting as, quote, productive.

As of this hour, by the way, the U.S. death toll now tops 43,000 with more than 800,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States. Globally, there are now more than 2.5 million known cases and 175,000 deaths. But as the world searches for an effective treatment, a new study shows the drug often touted by President Trump, the hydroxychloroquine, provided no benefit to patients and actually a higher death rate.

Also tonight, more states have announced controversial plans to reopen despite not meeting the Trump administration's own requirements.

CNN's Nick Watt is joining us from Santa Monica, California right now. Nick, some very disturbing developments, this latest statement from the CDC director specifically.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is stunning, Wolf. As you mentioned, "The Washington Post" is reporting that the CDC director says that a second wave could be even worse than the one that we are still going through. And why? Well, if it comes back in the fall, he says, it could coincide with the start of flu season. So you would have two respiratory outbreaks, as it were, putting an unimaginable strain on the health care system. And of course this news hitting as many states are right now figuring out how they're going to reopen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Right now I feel like we're in a good spot to move forward.

WATT (voice-over): But some mayors in Georgia don't feel the likes of tattoo parlors, nail salons, and barbershops should reopen Friday, or restaurants Monday.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, MAYOR (D) ATLANTA: I really am at a loss as to what the Governor is basing this decision on.

KELLY GRITZ, MAYOR (D) ATHENS CLARKE COUNTY: I'm exhorting everybody in this community to continue to shelter in place, do not reopen at this point. It's not the time to do it.

WATT (voice-over): But their hands are tied.

KEMP: Local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive.

WATT (voice-over): The White House guidelines say you should start reopening only after, among other things, a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period. Not so in Tennessee. But they plan to reopen some businesses Monday. Not so in South Carolina, but they opened beaches and retail stores today.

STEPHEN BENJAMIN, MAYOR (D) COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA: And the reality is that South Carolina has not peaked yet according to our own health care professionals.

WATT (voice-over): Myrtle Beach, defying the governor, will keep beach parking closed. How about Georgia?

KEMP: We are on track to meet the daily criteria for phase one.

WATT (voice-over): A downward trajectory over two weeks? Not really. Monday, April 6th, 1,099 new cases. 14 days later, yesterday, just one less.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad I'm not an immediate neighbor of Georgia because I think all you're doing is potentially throwing some gas on the flames there. WATT (voice-over): Connecticut, not there yet. New York State, its baby steps. Elective surgeries are now allowed in some upstate hospitals.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D-NY): The when is data-driven. It's not when do you want. Of course, when do you want, my answer is I want it yesterday.

WATT (voice-over): California also not ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we all pull back, we could see a second wave that makes this pale in comparison.

WATT (voice-over): The state shipping out 70,000 laptops and tablets to kids. At least 30 states have now closed, schools for the rest of this academy year. Testing, of course, is required to keep track of the virus as we reopen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't have the data, we don't know what we're up against.

[17:05:02]

WATT (voice-over): The FDA just approved the first mail-in test we can take it home with a doctor's order. And New York's governor is in D.C. today to talk testing with the feds.

CUOMO: From my point of view, I think the federal government has to take that national manufacturer supply chain issue.

WATT (voice-over): The continued lack of testing partly what's making some in Georgia so anxious about reopening.

GIRTZ: We need testing, we certainly need work on treatment and we need contact tracing of the sort that we just don't have in this state yet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: And it is fascinating to watch what is happening down there right now. So gyms are going to be allowed to reopen in Georgia. But SoulCycle says they will not reopen. Congregations will be allowed to gather again but one bishop telling his flock, please don't do that. The mayor of Savannah says he'll tell businesses in his city to remain closed. And we've just heard that Georgia Democrats are asking the governor to rescind his executive order laying out the plans for reopening, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, lots of legitimate concerns in Georgia right now, and neighboring states, I should say, as well. Nick Watt, thanks for that report.

By the way we're going to hear more from the Connecticut governor, Ned Lamont, in just a few minutes. He'll be joining me in "The Situation Room". I want to go to our White House -- our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta right now. New developments tonight, especially from the CDC Director Robert Redfield, just telling "The Washington Post," Jim, let me read specifically what the head of the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now saying. This is alarming. There is a possibility, he says, that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through. And he then added this. And when I've said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean. He elaborated, he said, having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health care system here in the United States. It's very alarming, that statement from the head of the CDC.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is very alarming, Wolf. And we've been hearing that from public health officials for weeks now, that there is that possibility, that you could see a return of the coronavirus during the upcoming cold and flu season. That obviously would throw a monkey wrench in the plans of several governors around the country trying to reopen their states.

Some prematurely we should note Wolf, in just the last several minutes President Trump just wrapped up his meeting with the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this afternoon. They talked testing, they talked about aid money for the states. That meeting came after both leaders have battled over the federal response to the coronavirus. One big question for the President is whether he will criticize other governors who appear to be rushing to reopen their states ahead of the administration's own guidelines.

As a source close to the Coronavirus Task Force told us, states that open up prematurely run the risk of running up the number of dead in the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump's own estimates for the number of Americans killed by the coronavirus are running into a new reality.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: But we're going to toward 50 or 60,000 people. That's at the lower -- as, you know, the low number we're supposed to be, 100,000 people. We could end up at 50 to 60. OK, it's horrible.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Those expectations of 50 to 60,000 dead based on modeling estimates embrace by the White House could be jeopardized by states that are racing ahead like Georgia, where Republican Governor Brian Kemp is ready to reopen.

KEMP: This measure will be the operational standard in all jurisdictions. This means local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive.

ACOSTA (voice-over): A source close to the Coronavirus Task Force warns those kinds of announcements could backfire, telling CNN if some states jump prematurely into opening, we certainly could surpass 60,000 deaths. But Attorney General William Barr is accusing some states of going overboard in their social distancing measures, arguing some governors may be violating the constitutional rights of their constituents.

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: When a governor does something that intrudes upon or infringes on a fundamental rights or a constitutional right, they're bounded by that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The President has yet to come down hard on states favoring speedy reopenings, despite his warnings last week that he would go after governors who don't follow his administration's guidelines that recommend steady declines in coronavirus cases.

TRUMP: We're recommending, as you see in the charts, we're recommending certain things. They'll be in place dependent on what the governor wants to do. If we see something wrong, we will be expressing ourselves very strongly.

ACOSTA (voice-over): With new polling finding most Americans are unhappy with the President's handling of the pandemic while pleased with their own state governors, Mr. Trump is turning to his pet issue, immigration, tweeting, in light of the attack from the invisible enemy as well as the need to protect the jobs of our great American citizens, I will be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States.

[17:10:10]

The President has already boasted he's taken tough action on the borders in response to the virus at a rally last month.

TRUMP: We have strong borders and really our tough and early actions have really been proven to be 100% right. We went out, we're doing everything in our power to keep the sick and infected people from coming into our country. We're working on that very hard. We closed our borders very early.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The President could be facing another setback in the battle against the virus as a new study found that hundreds of patients at veterans care facilities saw no health benefits after taking the drug hydroxychloroquine. The study even revealed patients who took the drug had a higher death rate. The President had touted the drug as a game changer.

TRUMP: I feel good about it. That's all it is, just a feeling. You know, I'm a smart guy. I feel good about it. You're going to see. You're going to see soon enough.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, up on Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have reached a deal for another half trillion dollars, approximately a half trillion dollars in coronavirus relief for small businesses and hospitals and funding a billions of dollars in funding for coronavirus testing. That also appears to be in the bill, the President is signaling he will sign that legislation as rescuing the tanking economy seems to be one of the few areas where both parties can find agreement these days.

And in the meantime, we should also report, the director of the agency responsible for developing vaccines for the Trump administration is no longer in charge of that office. Dr. Rick Bright had led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority up until this point. An acting director has now taken over that position. Wolf, we're trying to get more information as to what led to that departure. Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, interesting development, let us know what you find out. Jim Acosta at the White House for us, thank you very much.

Joining us now, governor of Connecticut Ned Lamont. Governor, thanks so much for joining us. I'm sure you heard the news right at the top of the hour, the director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, now saying that a second wave of the coronavirus in the winter will likely be far more deadly than this current outbreak. How does that warning inform your decision making right now as other states are beginning to reopen their economies?

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): I think the overwhelming majority of governors from both sides of the aisle are going to err on the side of caution. We're only going to let people get back to work when you can do it absolutely safely. And one of the things we really worry about is the possibility of that second surge which the CDC was warning us about. And you see that in Singapore, you see that in India. And I don't want to see that here in Connecticut. That would be a body blow to our economy and our confidence. We're not going to let that happen.

BLITZER: Yes, there's not going to be, according to Dr. Fauci, a vaccine, at least a year from now, so if there is a second wave in the fall or in the winter, that could be so deadly, as Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is now telling "The Washington Post." Have you started, by the way, Governor, preparing for a second wave? Or are your efforts basically consumed right now on the current wave, which is so deadly?

LAMONT: Look, we're really focused right now on testing, making sure that we can get back to work safely as possible. Antibody testing as well as just the basic PCR testing. That's what we've got to do and we're thinking about the next wave going forward, doing everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen.

BLITZER: Yes, so alarming, so disturbing, this warning from the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You've also said, Governor, you're glad your state doesn't border or neighbor Georgia as the governor there, Governor Kemp has announced plans to reopen some businesses there this coming Friday, a lot more on Monday. Do you worry about the impact though potentially that those decisions could end up having on Connecticut, let's say?

LAMONT: His priorities are the opposite of mine when it comes to opening up. We're opening, you know, key manufacturing, we're opening up businesses where you can keep good social distance. And a massage parlor is -- doesn't fit any of those criteria for Connecticut. BLITZER: Yes and I assume you agree a tattoo parlor for that matter at the same time, you know, it's pretty disturbing to a lot of experts out there, what the governor in Georgia has been doing. You've been critical of the governor's priorities and we've mentioned what he's doing this Friday and next Monday. When it comes time in Connecticut, which businesses do you believe will reopen first?

LAMONT: Critical manufacturing, those never closed. We're getting people the masks and testing we need so they can stay open. We make submarines, we make jet engines, we make helicopters. You know, secondly, those where you can socially distance. We kept all those stores open, we never closed those, we make sure you didn't have to go in, you can pick up your product right outside. So those are the ones we're going to focus on first, doing those safely.

[17:15:12]

BLITZER: You got a lot going on, Governor, good luck to you, good luck to everyone in Connecticut right now. We'll obviously stay in touch with you.

LAMONT: Thank you Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks for joining us.

All right and to our viewers, stay with us. We're standing by for the health experts over today's White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. We're going to be monitoring that. You see basically one reporter there, sitting there at least so far.

Plus more on the new study that casts doubt on a drug the President keeps touting potentially to treat the virus. We'll have details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:11]

BLITZER: We have breaking news coming in to "The Situation Room". The CDC director is now warning a second wave of coronavirus infections this winter will likely will be worse than what all of us are going through right now.

Joining us in "The Situation Room", the American Medical Association President, Dr. Patrice Harris, and CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Dr. Harris, let me read to you what the CDC director has just told "The Washington Post", "There's a possibility that the assault of the virus will be more difficult than the one we just went through". He adds, and when I've said this to others they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean".

And clearly, Dr. Harris, you understand what he means.

PATRICE HARRIS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: I do, Wolf. And that is important information coming from Dr. Redfield. I think physicians are always worried about a second wave, and certainly we knew that if this virus acts like other viruses, we could see a resurgence in the fall. But I have to tell you, I'm also worried about a second wave to come sooner. I'm really worried about those states who are relaxing some of the stay at home regulations earlier. We could get a second wave even earlier than the fall. That's very concerning.

BLITZER: And you're talking about Georgia where you live, that's also where Dr. Sanjay Gupta lives. I want to get to that in a moment, Sanjay. But the concern is what happens when the coronavirus, according to Dr. Redfield, coincides with the outbreak of flu season here in the United States. How do we use these next few months to prepare, God forbid, for that possibility?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in some ways it's the same things that we were -- have been talking about for the last few months, Wolf. You know, we've talked about making sure hospitals are adequately prepared in terms of beds and surge capacity and possibly breathing machines. We have to make sure we have enough personal protective equipment. I think there's two things that Dr. Redfield was really pointing out, and he has said this sort of thing before. I think it's taken on a new sense of urgency as people have learned more about the coronavirus.

But the constant is the virus. The virus is still out there, it's still very contagious, as Dr. Harris said, that's why she and a lot of people are worried about a resurgence even sooner. But this time around the coronavirus, you know, outbreak in the United States sort of came as flu season was starting to wane down. If it comes at the same time as flu season, and flu season can oftentimes require, you know, a lot of patients end up going to the hospital, and you need a lot of those same resources that you would need for a coronavirus outbreak in this country.

So both those things coinciding would be of concern and they would both, you know, make us really feel the need for all these same things, the testing, the ventilators, the hospital beds, respiratory therapists, all those things again, and do we have enough. Right now we sort of feel like, hey, we got through this, the numbers may wane over the summer. But if they come up again in the fall, we have to be prepared.

BLITZER: Yes, we certainly do. Dr. Harris, the CDC Director Robert Redfield also weighed in on the protests that we're seeing at least in some states against the stay at home, the social distancing orders, saying in his words that, quote, not helpful. We hear a different line from the President, obviously. You're in Georgia, as I said. There are some businesses that are going to start reopening this coming Friday. What's your biggest concern about this decision by the governor of Georgia?

HARRIS: Well, I think that I am very concerned about loosening these restrictions too soon. We are sending nonessential, nonurgent workers back, and it's really not safe to do so. Questions I would have is, those folks going back to work, do they have the equipment that they need, will they be able to physical distance? Will they have masks and gloves? Not having that really increases the risk of infection. Of course severe hospitalization, severe consequences of having COVID-19, and unfortunately even death. So I'm really concerned about Georgia and other states loosening these restrictions too soon.

I understand people wanting to get out. And certainly in public spaces, where you can make sure you're six feet apart, you might be able to do so. Also, we should not look at Georgia or any other state in a one size fits all approach. We know there have been hotspots in Georgia and we may need to continue those restrictions in those areas. So I'm quite concerned about loosening these restrictions.

BLITZER: And I know a lot of people are. You know, and Sanjay, you live in Georgia as well, and starting next Monday you can go out to a restaurant, but a study, very intriguing study from China shows just how easily the virus can spread when you're out to dinner with family or friends. Explain what we learned from this study.

[17:25:15]

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, I want to show you this graphic. This is sort of an overhead shot of a few restaurant tables, this is on the CDC's website. I don't want to alarm people, I want to educated them with this. So three family clusters, three families having a meal at a restaurant. The middle table is table a. There is a person at that table who subsequently tests positive for the coronavirus infection, doesn't know it at the time, feeling fine. But look what happens there, Wolf. The red circles represent people who then become infected by this one person. Four people at that person's table, table a. Three people at the table behind this person, two people at a table, one table over. Nine additional people overall become infected from this one person.

This is the concern. I mean, you're sitting in a restaurant, you have more prolonged contact with people as a result of that. I think they said the average was around an hour that these people were in contact with each other. But you can -- it's just a reminder of how contagious this is, and the concerns, if you start to open restaurants again.

BLITZER: Yes, the ventilator says moving things around and it's obviously very hard to eat dinner if you're wearing a face mask, it's not that easy, obviously it's going to have a significant impact. I want both of you to stand by, we have a lot more and we need to report on.

But there's other news we're following including as well including some breaking news this hour, problems with a highly touted rapid test for the coronavirus. I want to bring in our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin. Drew, what are you learning?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: This is the rapid ID test out from Abbott. Abbott had a machine that they modified so that it could rapidly detect Covid-19 cases in about five minutes or less in some cases. The Cleveland clinic, scientists there did some tests on that procedure and found under certain circumstances there was a failure rate of more than 15%, meaning in more than 15% of the samples they did not detect COVID-19 when in fact it was present. This was when those samples were actually -- the nose swabs were actually placed into vials or viral transport media and stored or moved for a little bit before they were place into the machine.

Abbott says as soon as they learned about this, they notified the FDA, they also notified all its customers. Presumably, Wolf, that includes the White House which uses this very machine. And is now advising all those customers to no longer use any kind of storage material or viral media transport, just to put the swabs directly into the machine to increase the positive rate on these samples, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Drew, thank you very much. More disturbing news coming out as we speak.

Also this, as states ease restrictions and allow businesses to reopen, something called contact tracing becomes vitally important and a major challenge. We're going to take a closer look, that's next.

I'll also speak with Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Stay with us. You're in "The Situation Room".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:33:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: This hour's breaking news, the CDC Director now warning that a second wave of coronavirus infections this winter likely will be even worse than what we're going through right now. Joining us now, the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser. Mayor, thanks so much for joining us. What's your reaction to this warning for the CDC Director, Robert Redfield? How do you prepare for a second potentially even deadlier wave when you're still bracing for the worst of this wave?

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Well, I think that we are learning from how we're flattening the curve now with social distancing, but also preparing our hospital systems, Wolf, for surges of people who have infection and are going to be the most critically ill. And that's going to be very important. I think the lessons that we learn about slowly turning on our economy will also help us better prepare if there is a next wave of an infection.

BLITZER: Some of the southern states, as you know, Georgia among them starting to open up as soon as this Friday, but the death toll for the D.C. metropolitan area, D.C. suburban Maryland, suburban Virginia has now passed 1,000 as of today. When do you expect cases to peak here in the D.C. area?

BOWSER: Well, we are -- we're so happy with how our residents are reacting to our stay at home orders and all of our directives for social distancing because we actually have fewer infections today than what all of the models suggested that we would. We still think that we're going to hit a peak of cases in mid to late May and see a surge in hospitalizations follow that. So we still have many, many more weeks of working to flatten the curve, make sure our medical surge capacity at our hospitals is ready so that we can save lives here in Washington, D.C.

[17:35:15]

In D.C. proper, we are now over 3,000 cases and sadly we've lost over 100 Washingtonians and the disproportionate impact on African- Americans in our city -- in our city county state, I should say, is substantial. So how we'd continue to focus on vulnerable populations is our focus.

BLITZER: We've also seen, Mayor, that jails and prisons across the United States, across the country are highly susceptible to coronavirus outbreaks. Here in Washington, D.C., inspectors found that social distancing wasn't being enforced that inmates in isolation hadn't even been allowed to shower or change their clothes and masks. You've now been ordered by a federal judge to take action on this. What's going on? What steps are you taking? What steps need to be taken?

BOWSER: Well, I think we're working in an unprecedented environment and our focus has been on protecting our inmate residents as well as our staff at our jail and containing the spread of the infection. So we've worked with the inspectors, we agree with some of the findings that the judge put in place, many of the changes we have already undertaken. Making sure we've trained our staff, the inmates on the proper wearing of PPE, on cleaning protocols, on distancing around televisions and other entertainment and telephones. All of those things that we're working with staff and the inmates to make sure we're affecting there.

BLITZER: Yes. So many coronavirus cases in prisons and jails, nursing homes, elsewhere.

BOWSER: Well congregate settings are tough. Yes, absolutely. And we did have a CDC team come in from Atlanta to work with us all of last week are nursing home facilities, some hospital facilities and they even gave us comments on our jail. So the infection control in these congregate settings is really troubling for a lot of us but we have worked on our protocols to quarantine people who have been come infected and isolate others and we're going to continue to work very hard on that.

BLITZER: All right. I'm happy to hear that. Happy to hear you that you continue to work on it. It's so critical right now. Mayor Bowser as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

BOWSER: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, in state after state, they are among the most vulnerable places as we just mentioned, nursing homes. They are such a huge risk for coronavirus outbreaks. We'll tell you why.

We're also standing by for the health experts at today's White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. We're monitoring that, the reporters are now there. We'll see what happens, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:42:33]

BLITZER: The coronavirus pandemic is ravaging nursing homes around the country. Our National Correspondent Sara Sidner has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better same or work (ph).

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Family members from across the country.

KAREN BRINKERHOFF, MOTHER DIED FROM COVID-19: She was an amazing human being. She didn't deserve to die like this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just so fast.

SIDNER (voice-over): All experiencing the same tsunami of grief after their parents contracted COVID-19 in a nursing home.

DENEEN BARR, FATHER DIED OF COVID-19: Well, I bet it's bad. By himself and not -- this hurts much hard.

SIDNER (voice-over): Deneen Barr says her father was a retired fire captain who worked hard to help others only to die alone at a hospital.

BARR: He was a certified lifeguard, and he couldn't breathe. It is hard to admit (ph) to my heart. And I'll never see him here again.

SIDNER (on-camera): So sorry.

(voice-over): Nursing homes across America are taking the brunt of the outbreak. This is just a small sample of states that publicly report coronavirus cases at nursing homes for more than 10,000 in New Jersey to 1,700 in California. Now, a federal agency that oversees nursing home says they must report their coronavirus deaths and infections directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(on-camera): What's causing the problem inside of nursing homes when it comes to COVID-19?

MICHAEL DARK, STAFF ATTORNEY, CALIFORNIA ADVOCATES FOR NURSING HOME REFORM: It's really two things, Sara, understaffing and infection control and the two things go hand in hand.

SIDNER (voice-over): In New Jersey at Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, police discovered 17 bodies pile in its morgue. Thirty-six people have died from coronavirus there. In Richmond, Virginia, 45 residents dead from COVID-19 at this facility. In Massachusetts, Holyoke Soldiers' Home, coronavirus killed 47 veterans, including Patricia Cowden's husband, a 38 years. She said she believes the administrator there may not have initially taken the virus seriously enough.

PATRICIA COWDEN, HUSBAND DIED OF COVID-19: And, you know, he's a military person, the commander in chief was saying it was nothing, you know.

SIDNER (voice-over): The very first major outbreak in all of America happened at a nursing home just outside Seattle. One hundred twenty- nine people linked to the facility infected with COVID-19, 35 people died.

IZABELA IVANOVA, LIFE CARE CENTER OF KIRKLAND NURSE: So all of a sudden, there were so many patients, everybody needed medications, everybody needed treatment.

[17:45:03]

SIDNER (voice-over): Their facility was fined in part for not doing proper infection control. But watchdog groups say that is one of the most common citations for many facilities. Life Care Centers disputes the finding.

TIM KILLIAN, LIFE CARE CENTERS FOR AMERICA MEDIA LIAISON: What went wrong? An unprecedented viral outbreak, which we did not know enough about entered our country. And because we have a vulnerable population, it entered our population. That's what went wrong.

SIDNER (voice-over): He stands by the frontline workers, saying they were the first in America to heroically battle a new and invisible enemy. Representatives of many nursing homes warn the government's failure to provide enough testing and the scarcity of personal protection equipment can be a lethal combination.

(on-camera): What is the nursing staff having to do? I mean, can they even self-distance from the patients? Don't they have to clean them and lift them and help them rehabilitate?

DARK: That's exactly right, Sara. That is the problem. Many of these patients have to be fed. So nurses are touching and handling patients all the time. They can't avoid it. They have literally no way of protecting themselves.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Case in point what happened here in Riverside, California, the nursing home behind me here, 83 patients, officials say, had to be evacuated because for two days, more than a dozen staff members fail to show up to work. A few were positive with coronavirus. The others, official say, are too afraid to come to work. Wolf?

BLITZER: So sad, so sad indeed. All right, Sara Sidner reporting for us, thank you. Coming up, contact tracing, how it works and why it could be key to containing the coronavirus pandemic. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:41]

BLITZER: As more states take steps right now to reopen businesses, experts say, not only will testing for the coronavirus be of utmost importance, so will what's known as contact tracing. Brian Todd has a report on that, we're going to get to it shortly. But Steve Mnuchin is taking questions, the Treasury Secretary, from reporters. Let's listen in.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. Harvard's going to pay back the money and they shouldn't be taken. So Harvard's going to -- you have a number of -- I'm not going to mention any other names, but when I saw Harvard, they have a, one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe in the world, I guess. And they're going to pay back that money.

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: And I just want to clarify, because certain people on the PPP may have not been clear in understanding the certification. So we will give people the benefit of the doubt, we're going to put an FAQ out, explain the certification. If you pay back the loan right away, you won't have liability to the SBA and to Treasury, but there are severe consequences for people who don't attach properly this certification. And again, we want to make sure this money is available to small businesses that needed people who have invested their entire life savings. We appreciate what's going on and they're hiring people back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how are you going to ensure that those small businesses, the small restaurants, cafes, bars, who did not get the money last time around, they're going to get at this time?

MNUCHIN: Well, as I said, you know, there are million -- a million of these companies that did get it that are very small, working with the banks were extremely pleased that the small banks did great. 20 percent of the loans were made by banks of a billion in last 60 percent by 20 billion in last. And the big banks also, we want everybody to participate. There's now a lot of money back in the program. And we look forward to all these small businesses getting access to funds.

Brett (ph), it's great to see you here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And do you know estimate how long this is going to take that other pot of money obviously went quickly to assume this is going to go quickly as well?

MNUCHIN: Well, let me just say, I mean, you know, kind of we're pleased with the success of this program and how quickly this got up operationally. We've, we've put out more money in these SBA loans than in the last 10 years of SBA. So I want to thank all the banks that have worked really hard.

We knew that when we pass this originally, if there was full take out, we wouldn't have enough money. That's why we've worked with Congress for more money and this is going to, you know, we've already impacted about 30 million workers. There'll be a lot more. So we look forward to this having a big impact on the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday, the President said he looked into the issue of felons, those who have criminal convictions getting access to some of these programs. Well, if you can update on that. MNUCHIN: Sure. So we worked with the White House on this, there were actually much more onerous restrictions in the SBA program. There were people who had misdemeanors that weren't allowed to access the program. It was much longer than five years. And, you know, we very much -- because of the criminal reform legislation that was passed and the work that's been done in the White House by Jared and others, we specifically designed the program, and the five years was significantly shorter than what had been done before. So we had already taken that into account -- consideration.

For now, we're not going to do that. But I want to just emphasize, we did take this into account. There were a lot of people that wouldn't have access previously, and we changed those regulations.

[17:55:01]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Secretary, the President talked about a phase 4. I know we all understand the circumcises in why businesses need this, but how many more phases can we afford to have or can businesses expect to have? Do you see a phase 5, a phase 6, a phase 7? What's your thinking on this?

MNUCHIN: Well, first of all, I very much appreciate the presence support for phase 4. He put out a tweet. As the President said, we would look forward to phase 4, it would be infrastructure. The President's been talking about infrastructure since the campaign, roads, bridges, broadband, especially broadband now to rural America is very important. We've talked about incentives for restaurants, sports, entertainment, because these businesses have been impacted. The President has talked multiple times about a payroll tax cut.

And we've also -- were talking about in the case of states, the states, we've heard from the governors and the fiscal issues of the states. I think phase 4 will most likely be what we need. I think based upon what we're seeing and the reopening of the economy and the amount of money we're putting in and working with the Federal Reserve on 13(3), I think you're going to see a lot of liquidity. And we look forward to business rebounding, especially later this summer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just real quick to follow-up in the PPP program. Is this the last tranche of money you think you're going to need for small businesses?

MNUCHIN: Well we would expect this as the last tranche but, obviously, we can always reconsider that. But this is a lot of money going out again. Let me just be clear, you know, it's another $310 billion here and another $300 billion of loans. That's over $600 billion, putting into small businesses, which are the backbone of the economy. 50 percent of the private payroll.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you say phase 4 will cost and it will include all of those things, payroll --

MNUCHIN: We pretty make sure for us to comment what the cost is, we'll work with Congress on that and we'll consider it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Infrastructure --

MNUCHIN: Infrastructure could be a big investment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's could be --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Secretary, doing the size (ph) of the taxpayer dollars that are going out the door, you fulfill this kind of a different way of thinking about the need for oversight, independent oversight on behalf of the taxpayer.

MNUCHIN: We have independent oversight. We supported in the last legislation. Let me be very clear, we have a new inspector general, the President has already picked someone for that position. We look forward to the person being confirmed. We have an oversight committee of Congress that many of them have already been appointed.

And let me just say, we put up last week for full transparency, we have no obligation to do this. We put up, you can go to treasury.gov, full transparency on the money that had been sent out on the PPP across states, showing all the big lenders how it was distributed. No one lender did more than 4 percent showed the businesses.

So again, the President and I very much believe in full transparency. We're spending a lot of money, and we want to make sure that it's done effectively and fairly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Secretary, thank you. You started by thanking the leaders in the House in the Senate. Can you tell us more about how easy or hard it was to deal with both sides?

MNUCHIN: Well, we've been working around the clock. I think there's been very good bipartisan support to get this done. The Congress is coming together understanding the importance of this. And we've been working around the clock for days. So this is important legislation. It was a lot.

We spoke to a lot of people. Mark Meadows has been fantastic. As I said, it's great to have him here in the White House. I couldn't have done this without him working on this with me and the President and Vice President have been available to us around the clock. So this was a big team effort.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Collaboration of the Democrats?

MNUCHIN: Absolutely. We couldn't have done this today without unanimous consent and the Democrats being on board and we look forward to this being passed on a bipartisan basis tomorrow. This is a real example of the country coming together to fight this virus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your best understanding of what Mitch McConnell wants from an infrastructure package?

MNUCHIN: Again, I think we're not at the point of designing that like every other bill. We will work with senators on both sides on a bipartisan basis. I can tell you, there's a lot of support, particularly for things like broadband, and especially what's going on today. But the President has talked about -- you know, I was on the campaign with the President, we've been talking about bridges and tunnels and rebuilding this country for years. So the President wants to make a big investment in this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Mitch McConnell --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary, what would we say to the $17 billion portion of care is reserved for a company's being critical for national security. And also will oil companies fit into that at all according to the President's tweet?

MNUCHIN: So we're in the process of putting out guidance. That part was really designed for national security companies that are either major suppliers to the Department of Defense, or companies that have top secret clearance. So this -- that national security provision was very clear when we did that. The President has asked me to work with the Secretary of Energy.