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U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 47,000; Antibody Tests Suggest 1-in-5 NYC Residents May Have Had Virus; Model: Hidden In Outbreaks In U.S. Far Earlier Than First Thought; Science Vs Politics In Trump Admin Coronavirus Response; Model: Virus Spread Earlier, More Widely; Drug Maker Days Remdesivir Trial Posted Online Prematurely, Showed "Inconclusive" Results; Key Coronavirus Model Updates Projections, Now Says Some States Should Wait Even Longer To Open. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 23, 2020 - 17:00   ET



ERNEST LATIKER, TYSON FOODS EMPLOYEE: And they told me I will have a better chance of catching the coronavirus going out to Walmart than in Tyson. Come to work. You're safe.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): And did you believe them?

LATIKER: I want to believe them and again I needed that money at the same time, so I went to work.


TUCHMAN: That man, Ernest Latiker has been tested COVID on Monday. He hasn't gotten his results back yet. He's very scared, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Gary Tuchman in Waterloo, Iowa. Thanks so much. 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.

And we're following breaking news. We're standing by this hour to monitor the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing and looking at live pictures, as a key model often cited by the White House is now changing its projections, saying now that some states must wait even longer to safely reopen and that includes the state of Georgia which the model now says has to wait until at least June 22nd, June 22 to safely reopen, but the state plans to start reopening unless that changes overnight tomorrow morning.

Also breaking the Association of Public Health Laboratories just said public health labs still can't meet demand for Coronavirus testing due to supply chain shortages. And Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist says and I'm quoting him now, not oh -- he's not overly confident right now, he says, with test capacity here in the United States. The U.S. coronavirus death toll, by the way now tops 47,000 people with more than 850,000 confirmed cases. Worldwide there are more than 2.6 million cases and 187,000 confirmed deaths.

Let's begin this hour with CNN's Nick Watt, joining us from Los Angeles. Nick the University of Washington model that's frequently cited by the world White House now says Georgia still about two months away from being able to safely reopen.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf, they just tweaked their model and pushed Georgia three days further down the line to June 22, which, as you said, is two months away. But Georgia plans to start reopening tomorrow. Florida was also pushed three days down the line to June 14. Interestingly, both of those states these researchers say should be opening well after New York, which they say can open May 27.

And in the meantime Wolf, we are also getting some more data from New York that will hopefully give us an indication as to where we've been, where we are, where we're going and how we should get there.


WATT (voice-over): The number of people infected by this rampant virus in New York State, the global hotspot, might actually be a stunning 10 times higher than we thought.

DR. AMESH ADALJA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: It tells us that this virus is much more widespread than we thought.

WATT (voice-over): Phase One of an antibody testing program suggests that as many as 2.7 million New Yorkers might have already been infected, but the state's current confirmed case counters, just under 270,000.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): 13.9 percent tested positive for having the antibodies, they had the virus, they developed the antibodies, and they are now "recovered".

WATT (voice-over): New York's death toll of around 19,500 is almost certainly also too low.

CUOMO: That number is going to go up. Those deaths are only hospitalization or nursing home deaths. That does not have what are called at home deaths.

WATT (voice-over): Nationwide, the death toll continues to climb as well. The Philadelphia Inquirer just published these disturbing pictures of bodies stacked in an open pick-up on route to the medical examiner's office, the Department of Health calls it an appalling breach of protocol.

Now, a higher infection rate could mean this virus is actually less deadly than we thought, kills fewer of those who get it. And?

ADALJA: We are developing some immunity to this. There are people that have mild illness that don't even know that they're sick. And those individuals may be part of how we move forward as we start to think about reopening.

WATT (voice-over): But New York's not opening up, not yet.

RICHARD BESSER, FMR ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: We need to see how this is playing out in each community and have the ability to test thoroughly and protect citizens before we think about opening up.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We absolutely need to significantly ramp up. I am not overly confident right now.

WATT (voice-over): Governor Brian Kemp still thinks it's right to open gyms, tattoo parlors and the like tomorrow, restaurants Monday. Some business owners just won't do it.


DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE, OWNER, DDP YOGA INC.: I'm going to err on the side of caution, because first of all, I'm 64. You know, so I definitely don't want to be, be out there working with people and putting my hands on people.

WATT (voice-over): Wherever whenever we open cases will likely rise.

CARLOS GIMENEZ, MAYOR (R) MIAMI-DADE: We're never going to come up with something which is gives you a zero probability or possibility that you're going to spread the virus but what we want to do is make sure that you reduce the possibility.

WATT (voice-over): In Miami-Dade, despite a new case count that is not consistently coming down in accordance with those White House reopening guidelines. Apparently they're planning to open marinas, golf courses and parks with twists.

GIMENEZ: You will be able to play tennis, singles tennis but not doubles tennis. You have to jog in a certain direction. So there are a lot of differences.


WATT: Now here in Southern California, we are still being told to stay home, the beaches are still closed. But this weekend we are expecting temperatures in the 90s and officials in Los Angeles are concerned that seniors perhaps stuck at home without air conditioning might actually die in that heat. So they are looking into opening up what they are going to call cooling centers where people can sit in AC while obviously, maintaining a social distance. Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, who would have thought? All right, Nick Watt reporting for us. Thank you very much.

Let's go to the White House right now. Our Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta standing by. Jim the President did change course and he publicly denounced Georgia's plan reopening tomorrow morning. You have some new information from your sources on that. What are you learning?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We are learning new details about how members of the Coronavirus Task Force tried to persuade President Trump to come out against Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's plans to reopen businesses in his state tomorrow. It's just one example of what appears to be a battle between the President and his own scientists.


ACOSTA (voice-over): It was a major reversal as President Trump came out against Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's move to reopen businesses and estate on Friday.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines. He must do what he thinks is right.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But sources tell CNN the administration's top doctors were trying to convince the President to make that shift as Mr. Trump was sending signals, he was backing cap and other governors racing to reopen their states.

TRUMP: He's a very capable man. He knows what he's doing. He's done a very good job as governor, Georgia. A lot of states are in really great shape. You're going to see a lot of openings.

ACOSTA (voice-over): At a Coronavirus Task Force meeting before Wednesday's news conference, Dr. Anthony Fauci said of Georgia's reopening plans, I cannot defend this publicly. Members of the task force then urged Dr. Deborah Birx to try to convince Mr. Trump during a private meeting to come out against Georgia's proposal. At the briefing, Fauci caution camp publicly.

FAUCI: If I were advising the governor, I would tell him that he should be careful. And I would advise him not to just turn the switch on and go, because there is a danger of a rebound.

Going ahead and leapfrogging into phases where you should not be. I would advise him as a health official and as a physician not to do that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The battle over Georgia is just one of several flashpoints between the President and a scientist, Mr. Trump insisted that the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield had been misquoted by "The Washington Post" when the health expert warned a second wave of the coronavirus could hammer the U.S. during flu season.

TRUMP: He was misquoted. Totally misquoted.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But Redfield said he was quoted accurately.

ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CDC: I'm accurately quoted in "The Washington Post" as difficult. But the headline was that. ACOSTA (voice-over): When Mr. Trump double down.

TRUMP: We may not have even have corona coming back.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Fauci disagreed.

FAUCI: There will be coronavirus in the fall.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Then there's the sudden too Dr. Rick Bright from a key agency working on the coronavirus vaccine. Bright said in a statement I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus science, not politics or cronyism has to lead the way, part of his beef appears to be the President's touting of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus.

TRUMP: What do you have to lose? In some cases they're in bad shape. What do you have to lose? It's been out there for a long time and I hope they use it.

I may take it. And I have to ask my doctors about that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump claimed he didn't know Bright.

TRUMP: The guy says he was pushed out of a job. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. I did have to hear the other said I don't know who he is.

ACOSTA (voice-over): On the issue of testing for the coronavirus, more contradictions. While the President claims the U.S. has tremendous testing capacity, Fauci tells "Time" magazine that's not really the case.

FAUCI: I am not overly confident right now at all that we have what it takes to do that we're getting better and better at it as the weeks go by. But we are not in a position where we say we're exactly where we want to be with regard to testing.


ACOSTA (voice-over): The infighting comes as another 4.4 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week for a whopping 26.5 million over the last five weeks.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is blasting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said he didn't want coronavirus relief to become a bailout for states.

CUOMO: New York puts in more money to the federal pot than it takes out. His state takes out more than it puts in. Senator McConnell who's getting bailed out here. It's your state that is living on the money that we generate. Your state is getting bailed out, not my state.


ACOSTA: Now as for the President's reversal on Georgia's reopening plans, the White House is insisting Mr. Trump's mind was never changed on the issue adding that his mind was already made up. But our sources tell us the President initially supported the governor's decision to reopen and ask for Dr. Bright his attorney say in a new statement that they will be filing a whistleblower complaint on behalf of their client and said that the administration has been spreading falsehoods about their client. Wolf.

BLITZER: Very strong words indeed, coming from the attorneys for Dr. Bright. All right, Jim Acosta. Thank you very much.

Joining us now, the governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy. Governor, thanks as usual for joining us.

This new model that the White House often cites now state shows that states need to wait even longer than we originally thought to reopen. For example, Georgia is going ahead as you know, tomorrow morning opening up some businesses. You say New Jersey is still weeks from reopening. Could the rush to get back to work by some of these states set the whole country potentially back.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Wolf, good to be with you.

I certainly hope not. I can't I don't have insight into the data in Georgia, but we try to call every shot we can hear based on science, fact, data. I want to open up as much as the next guy, by the way. We're not there yet. We're just not there yet.

Now, that doesn't mean we're not preparing and war gaming for that trying to get the right level of advice, which we are, but the house is still on fire. We lost overnight 307 people in New Jersey, our death toll is now 5,368. A lot of the other metrics have begun to stabilize, which is good, but they're stabilizing, are not going down yet. And so I hope that doesn't happen as a national matter.

It certainly means I think any state needs that robust testing and contact tracing infrastructure in place before you reopen. So you could quickly snuff out hotspots but we're not there yet.

BLITZER: The Association of Public Health Laboratories now says it's still struggling to meet the demand for testing due the shortages that are still out there. Can any state safely reopen without widespread testing?

MURPHY: Again, my lens is New Jersey and Wolf, I don't think any state can. We have -- and by the way, we've cobbled together basically given the fact as a nation, we weren't ready for this as a testing matter, we've cobbled together and now up to 86 different sites. And I think we're the fourth highest tested state in the nation. But we're still not there yet. We do have potential big up here. Our flagship, University Rutgers has developed a couple of different testing protocols, including a saliva based one that feels like it can be scaled meaningfully.

It's early, but it looks promising. And that's one we're going to continue to ride hard and hope that it in fact turns into just that.

BLITZER: As you know, a top official working on vaccines in the federal government, Dr. Rick Bright says he was pushed out because of politics. The CDC director and Dr. Fauci have had to clean up by their comments based on the President's reaction. How concerned are you, Governor about public health officials being sidelined in this response?

MUPRHY: Listen, I don't have any insight, Wolf, again into what's going on, on those situations. Dr. Fauci, in particular, has been a very important, both public and private adviser to us along with other folks. I think this is -- we can't have any biasies politics, we got to check at the door here. We've got to make decisions.

And again, New Jersey's what I know best based on the science, the facts, the data, whether we like what they tell us or not in this is pretty ugly, and you don't have a loss of life that we've had in the state with facts that are pretty right now, but I think we've got to stick to making calls based on those facts and the science and like if you do you, you have at least your best chance to break the back of this and get through this faster than otherwise.


BLITZER: As you heard Governor Cuomo of New York, he slammed the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for suggesting that states go what McConnell calls the bankruptcy route rather than get more federal funding. Governor Cuomo calls this one of the really dumb ideas of all time. I wonder what your reaction is.

MURPHY: Yes, believe me, I completely support Andrew on this one. I teed off on this as well. I said two things. One is at the height of the biggest health care crisis in the history of our country, it was incredibly irresponsible, and I hope it was just a sloppy statement, please God, that's not in fact, the policy he plans to pursue. That's number one.

But number two, he's dead wrong. States aren't going to declare for bankruptcy, but I'll tell you what will happen. We will gut the very services that our citizens need, will have gone choice will get first responders, teachers and the like, at the exact moment when our people need us the most.

And by the way, if that isn't enough, we'll take that unemployment rate that you referred to earlier by doing so, and it will then go through the roof. So it's completely irresponsible, he's dead wrong, and I pray that we get to our senses, and that the federal government injects what I think needs to be at least a half a trillion dollars or more directly into states.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens on that front. But you make a very strong case as usual.

Governor Murphy, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck to everyone in New Jersey.

MUPRHY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And stay with us. Once again, we're awaiting today's White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. We'll be monitoring that. Looks like it's been delayed a bit.

Also ahead, disturbing new questions about whether science or politics is guiding the Trump administrations coronavirus response. Much more of our coverage right after this.



BLITZER: Tonight there are disturbing new questions about how much of the Trump administration's coronavirus response is guided by science and how much is dictated by politics.

Joining us now, two doctors who served in the Obama administration. Dr. Boris Lushniak was acting U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Nicole Lurie, an assistant secretary over the Department of Health and Human Services.

And Dr. Lurie, I want to ask you about Dr. Rick Bright, he was removed from his government position after urging caution on hydroxychloroquine, the drug President Trump has been often pushing as a possible treatment for coronavirus. We just got this statement from the attorneys representing Rick Bright and let me read part of it. The administration is now making demonstrably false statements about Dr. Bright, one of the leading vaccine drug and diagnostic experts to deflect attention from its retaliatory removal of him. What's your reaction to that?

NICOLE LURIE, FMR HHS ASSISTANT SECY OF PREPAREDNESS & RESPONSE: Well, I've known Dr. Bright for about 10 years. He's a terrific scientist. He's a great strategist. He's thoughtful. He's mild mannered, but firm. The one thing I'll say about Dr. Bright is he has a strong moral compass. And at some point he'll tell you what's wrong. And if he thinks that he is being asked to do something wrong, he'll stand up against that.

And I believe that that's what really happened here. I don't think it was just about hydroxychloraquine. I think it was about a whole slew of requests he was asked to spend money on that he felt were not scientifically grounded.

BLITZER: That's a strong statement. Dr. Lushniak, we've seen people like Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield of the CDC, walk a rather fine line is -- as I'm sure you've noticed as well. They need to inform the American public, but they don't want to necessarily get on the wrong side of the President. Too much is at stake. How vulnerable are these public health experts and career public servants?

BORIS LUSHNIAK, FORMER U.S. ACTING SURGEON GENERAL: You know, Wolf, as a person who served, you know, humbled to serve at the United States government level at the highest levels as a commissioned officer U.S. public health service, when you're serving at that level, you realize politics plays a role in public health. But really what we really talking about here is making sure that science actually overwhelms the politics. And I think the fine line that they're all walking is really quite a fine line, which is you have to be truthful. You have to come out and have you to be able to use data, real information and to influence decision-making, despite the pressures of politics.

BLITZER: Yes and they all want to be on the inside, because it's so important they influence the President and if they were to leave, they would, obviously, not be able to do so. And who know who's might replace them.

Dr. Lurie, a handful of states are starting to re-open. Georgia, for example, wants to open as early as tomorrow morning. How crucial is it for these experts to be able to speak candidly on the potential risks here for example the risk to the people in the Georgia and the neighboring states?

LURIE: But right now, the virus is calling the shots. I think we all know that. Science needs to lead the way and public health expertise needs to be able to be counted on so people can make decisions. Whether it's going to be about reopening, the activities you are going to engage in or whether the vaccine is ready, whether you're going to have confidence in what the scientists and public officials are telling you about whether it's safe and you should take one.


BLITZER: You know, Dr. Lushniak, we know that President Trump dismissed the initial warnings from the experts who were there in the government. He felt they were being overly alarmists. As the death toll now approaches 50,000, is over 47,000 Americans right now, only five weeks ago, only five weeks ago, there were 149 confirmed deaths in the United States now approaching 50,000.

How essential is it that he set aside that distrust?

LUSHNIAK: Well, I think that's critical. You know, Nikki and I were part of another administration and we spent the brunt of our careers. I spent 28 years in government service, and a lot of it was spent what, was planning for this type of event? What I think really perplexes me is I'm not sure where all those plans have gone to, right? They've not been fully implemented. And in essence is we have to rebuild the trust, right? Rebuild the trust in science, and you have to be able to kind of disengage the politics from this, right?

You know, I kind of stopped watching the evening coronavirus presentation, because I think there's two goals that are trying to be achieved there. One is a political, one is the scientific and two aren't meshing very well.

BLITZER: Yes. A lot of people agree with you on that point as well. Dr. Lushniak, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for what you're doing. Dr. Lurie, thanks to you, as well, we're grateful to both of you for joining us here in "The Situation Room".

Coming up, we're going to have more on a new model showing the coronavirus likely spread earlier and more widely here in the United States than anyone suspected.

And we'll also try to clear up some of the confusion around and apparently leaked study about a possible treatment for COVID-19. Stay with us. You're in "The Situation Room".


BLITZER: All right. You're looking at live pictures from the White House briefing room, the Coronavirus Task Force briefing expected to begin fairly soon. We are now told unfortunately, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert here in the United States, we are now told will not be participating in this briefing. That's unfortunate. We always want to hear what he has to say, we learned from Dr. Fauci as I've often said he is a national treasure. Unfortunately, he won't be at the briefing today.

We have more now on the effort to retrace the spread of the coronavirus here in the United States. A brand new model suggests it was spreading much more widely and much earlier than we knew.

Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this new model is chilling. It basically shows that for several weeks. U.S. officials had no idea of the scale of what they were dealing with, and that they missed an initial case, which could have given them a much better jump on this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ' TODD (voice-over): Patricia Dowd had been in good health. The 57-year old had a nutritious diet according to her brother and took no medications. Rick Cabello told CNN, "She was an athlete in her high school days. She was always active." Tonight, she's believed to be the first coronavirus related fatality in the United States.

We previously thought the first COVID-19 death had occurred in Kirkland, Washington on the last day of February, but we now know based on a posthumous test, that it killed Patricia down in Santa Clara County, California more than three weeks earlier.

DR. SARA CODY, SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA PUBLIC HEALTH DEPT.: That indicates that the virus was probably introduced and circulating in our community again far earlier than we had known.

TODD (voice-over): There is indeed jarring new information tonight on how early coronavirus may have struck inside the United States, and how many cases there could have been what amounts to a hidden explosion of the virus right under America's nose. A new model from researchers at Northeastern University shared with "The New York Times" says that on March 1st, when New York City confirmed its first case, and there were only about two dozen confirmed cases in five major American cities, there could actually have been some 28,000 cases in those cities at the time.

PROF. ALESSANDRO VESPIGNANI, NETWORK SCIENCE INST. NORTHEASTERN UNIV.: We call these the cryptic stage of an epidemic is that the moment in time in which we have the transmission of the disease from individual to individual, but we don't know yet. So what we have is that the epidemic spread silently until it reached a critical mass and at that point, we start to see the tip of the iceberg.

TODD (voice-over): At the time of Patricia Dowd's death in February, the virus was thought to be mostly concentrated in Wuhan, China where it originated. This is what President Trump said about the virus just four days after Dowd passed away.

TRUMP: But I think it's going to work out. We only have 11 cases and they're all getting better.

TODD (voice-over): Not long after that, U.S. officials thought coronavirus cases were bottled up on cruise ships, thought that scanning incoming travelers could keep the virus out of the U.S. And the CDC said to only test people who had been to China or had been in contact with someone who had. One expert says the new model from Northeastern points to disastrous early responses to the virus by U.S. officials and an opportunity lost.

ADALJA: This whole testing issue has been mismanaged from the very beginning. And if we weren't identifying these cases, they were going basically out into the community able to spread this virus to other individuals.


And then we ended up in the situation that we're in today using very blunt tools like mass shutdowns and extremely social distancing. It didn't have to be this way.


TODD: But experts say the new model can also help us going forward. They say that it can help hospitals plan on how many ICU beds and ventilators that are going to need. And it can help U.S. officials plan for the second wave of coronavirus in the fall, is they can help them understand what kind of resistance the virus is going to have, and which parts of the country are going to have more widespread cases than other areas. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you, Brian.

I'm joined now by the former city health commissioner of Baltimore, Dr. Leana Wen. She's also an emergency room physician. Dr. Wen, what are we -- what do these early hidden coronavirus outbreaks that Brian was just reporting on indicate to you about the spread of this coronavirus?

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Well, it's very concerning because the timeline is such that we know that we now have coronavirus in our country much earlier than we expected, because it takes about two weeks from the time that someone is exposed to -- when they show symptoms. And it could take a couple more weeks between somebody become severely ill and unfortunately succumb to the illness. And so we're looking at potentially early January or even late December, when coronavirus could already have been spreading within the US.

And I'm worried that it's not just in California, there might be actually communities spread in many other parts of the country that we're not detecting because we simply don't have the testing. And we could be seen explosive thread or explosive spread in many parts of the country. Out of the blue, there could be many more epicenters in a way that we had not anticipated because of the widespread and also of the early nature of COVID-19 in the U.S.

BLITZER: Is there any potential good news, Dr. Wen, to glean from this realization, perhaps some encouraging signs of immunity that might be out there?

WEN: Well, you're right, Wolf. It is possible that maybe there are many more people that we thought who are asymptomatic or had exposure and had mild symptoms and didn't know that they had COVID-19. And so if it's true that people develop immunity, perhaps there are plenty of people out there who have immunity to COVID-19 and can then safely re- enter society, and also would get the personal reassurance that they have immunity to COVID-19. The problem though, is that we still have a long way to go.

If we look at the data from New York that came out today showing that about 14 percent of New Yorkers may have the antibodies to COVID-19, that may look like good news but it may also mean that there are many more people out there who are still yet to be infected. And that could still really overwhelm our healthcare system in the second, third and other multiple waves of infections that are still yet to come.

BLITZER: Because, as you note in January or February, maybe March, there were people who had some stuff symptoms, they thought they may just have had a cold or a bad flu. But it didn't even suggest to them that there was some new coronavirus out there. They just went through it and that they're fine right now, right?

WEN: That's right. And I think a lot of us were saying at that time that coronavirus is not in the U.S. We thought that it was localized to China because we didn't -- as it turns out, it's because we didn't have the testing to do that in the U.S. at that time. The testing criteria by the CDC was limited to individuals who had traveled to Wuhan. And as it happens, because that time coincided with flu season, it could well be that people who were diagnosed with having colds or flus actually had coronavirus.


WEN: And just to know it, and again, I think that underscores the importance of testing.

BLITZER: Now, will they be immune? Do they have some opportunity now to check out to see if they can catch it again?

WEN: Well, this is why that antibody test, the blood serology test is so important because it could give information about whether somebody has immunity. But I will also caution that there's a lot about the immune response that we don't yet know. It may be that some people may be immune for a short period of time, it may also be that some -- that unless you have a severe illness that you don't have full immunity. I think these are all questions that we need more answers to because the last thing that we want is to give people false reassurance that they're actually immune, when in fact they're not.

BLITZER: We always appreciate having you here in "The Situation Room". Dr. Leana Wen, thank you so much for everything you do. Thanks for joining us.

Coming up, we're going to try to clear up some of the confusion over an apparently leaked study about a drug that possibly could be used to treat coronavirus. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: CNN has received a statement from a major pharmaceutical company about results from a trial of a drug to treat coronavirus infections. Our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is working as part of the story for us. Elizabeth, there seems to be a lot of confusion around this Remdesivir trial. There was apparently leaked what exactly happened, what did the trial show?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So what happened was that the World Health Organization posted some data about a clinical trial of Remdesivir and then immediately or very quickly took it down. But someone took a screenshot and sent it to STAT which is a health news website. And that's where it starts getting weird, Wolf.


So STAT is reporting that the screenshot shows that the drug did not work for these patients in China who were taking Remdesivir. But then Gilead which makes the drug quickly put out a statement saying no, no, no, the results were inconclusive because the study was too small. It's really hard to know what to think here. You would have to see the data, which we can't see. We don't have it now. But at the end of the day, Wolf, what this means is that we all have to be patient for all of these trials to end and for the data to be reviewed, not only by the people who are doing it, but by outsiders to see if these drugs work or not.

BLITZER: So what they got to do, they got to do it right. In terms of this large scale, hydroxychloroquine study in New York, if the results have been submitted, as the lead researcher says they have been, why haven't they been released yet? Everybody wants to know.

COHEN: Right. So these are preliminary results that the researcher says, I did it, I gave it to the state of New York and the state of New York said -- the Governor said in a press conference to the media, April 20th, we will have those preliminary results. April 20th came and went, there's no results.

He said something that was very strange. No one had said this before. He said, the FDA and the CDC need to review the results. We called those agencies. And essentially, they didn't know what we were talking about.

So it's unclear what's going on here. It's very mysterious because this is a long awaited study. When these results come out, it will be the biggest trial that has announced study results on hydroxychloroquine. Of course, we all know this drug as the drug that President Trump has said is a game changer. He's a real cheerleader for this drug.

BLITZER: Yes, we all want to know, are these two drugs effective or not effective. And we got to know soon. Elizabeth Cohen --

COHEN: Right.

BLITZER: -- thank you very, very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

BLITZER: Coming up, states prepare to start reopening as soon as tomorrow even as researchers say they're still weeks away from being able to do so safely.



BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, a key University of Washington model often cited by the White House is changing its projections now saying that some states must wait even longer to safely reopen. Let's go to CNN's Ed Lavandera. Ed, Texas is among the states moving toward reopening businesses, some of them at least as early as tomorrow. How far is Texas planning to go?

I don't think Ed is hearing me. Ed, are you hearing me? Ed is apparently -- we've lost connection with Ed, that's kind of stuff happens.

Just important note to our viewers, be sure to tune in later tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern for a live CNN Global Town Hall Coronavirus Facts and Fears. Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, they will be joined by special guests including the FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. The New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the chef Jose Andres, along with a special performance by Alicia Keys. That's later tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

More breaking news coming up just ahead. We have new details emerging right now about why public health labs still can't meet the demand for coronavirus testing. We'll be right back.



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 and we're following breaking news. A key model was just updated, and it's warning that some states should wait even longer to reopen than the dates projected only 24 hours ago.

The model now says, for example, the Georgia, the state of Georgia should wait until at least June 22nd to reopen even though the state is allowing hairdressers, massage therapists, tattoo artists and others to go to back to work tomorrow. Also breaking right now, public health labs in the United States report they are still unable to meet the demand for COVID-19 testing. Dr. Anthony Fauci is expressing his concern as well saying he's not overly confident about test capacity in the United States. This as the U.S. coronavirus death toll climbs even higher, surpassing 47,000 tonight.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Martin Savidge, he's joining us from Atlanta right now. Martin, this new model says Georgia, where you are, should not reopen for another two months. But some major businesses are reopening according to the governor tomorrow morning.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. This just shows you, Wolf, the confusion, the chaos and the questions that still exists. We're now just about 12 hours away from some businesses reopening in this state. The governor is going against just about all medical advice, going against the President of the United States, and clearly being motivated by deep economic pressure as the unemployment numbers show today.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): The wider pain of a pandemic, the economic turmoil for roughly 16 percent of the entire workforce out of work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a small business owner and my business was shut down forcibly on the 17th of March and I have yet to see any unemployment, any money come through from the government, and I'm sitting here without a paycheck with no definitive answer on when I will be returning to work and I don't think that's right.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): The staggering unemployment numbers pressuring a number of states to begin easing stay-at-home measures, allowing some non-essential businesses to reopen. Tomorrow, Georgia will allow businesses like salons, gyms, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys to open their door.