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THE SITUATION ROOM

Trump Takes No Questions at Coronavirus Task Force Briefing; Interview With Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Mayor David Holt; Interview With Brookhaven, Georgia, Mayor John Ernst; U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Pass 50,000; Trump Refuses To Take Questions After Dangerously Suggesting Internal Use Of Disinfectant To Treat Virus; Texas Retailers Reopen For Curbside Pickup; Dr. Sanjay Gupta Answers Questions About the Virus. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 24, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:01]

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we're going continue to increase testing dramatically in the weeks ahead.

So, we want to thank our governors for the progress that we're making on testing and for their role in urging their citizens to practice the kind of mitigation and social distancing efforts that are really making real progress.

We're one team, one mission. And that's to save lives. And because of all of the efforts that have been made at the state level and the strong guidance that's come from the federal level, because of the amazing health care workers across this country and our first responders, but, mostly, I believe, because of the cooperation of millions of Americans who have put the guidance into practice, their cooperation and their prayers have set us on a path where we are slowing the spread, we are protecting our most vulnerable.

And I truly do believe the day will soon come when we will heal our land, and we will be able to reopen America and put this great nation back to work.

Thank you, Mr. President.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. President?

QUESTION: Mr. President...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Is now the time for sarcasm?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. Well, that's a surprise.

After the vice president speaks, after Stephen Hahn, the head of the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, speaks, the president makes brief opening comments, they simply walk out and refuse to answer questions, presumably because the president knew he was about to be bombarded with very serious, important questions about what he said yesterday, which turned out to be a flat lie, as far as ingesting and -- various products that could kill you, potentially.

And the president said he was simply being sarcastic, when, of course, if you look at the videotape, and those of us who covered it yesterday, know he was not being sarcastic at all. He was being very, very serious.

Gloria Borger is watching all of this unfold.

Clearly, the president was afraid of the serious questions he was about to be asked by the journalists who were there at that briefing, the first time this has happened. He's refused to answer questions. He's probably afraid to do so.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, when he did answer a question earlier today, and he lied, and said he was being sarcastic about what he said about disinfectant in your body and perhaps light in your body being able to somehow cure coronavirus, when he suggested that, he got himself into a lot of trouble.

He knew he was going to be asked about it again. And he doesn't like being asked tough questions.

So, what I would raise here is, well, if the president is just going to read something that someone wrote for him an hour ago, and pick it up and read it, then perhaps these coronavirus briefings should be going back to the people who are the scientists, and Mike Pence, who runs the Coronavirus Task Force and who is on the conference calls with the governor.

And perhaps that is the way they ought to be, rather than having the president at the podium dispensing rumor and false scientific information.

BLITZER: I want to bring in Jim Acosta, our chief White House correspondent.

Jim, has that ever happened before, the president comes into the Briefing Room -- it's supposed to be a news conference, he's supposed to answer questions -- and refuses to do so, simply walks out?

By the way, Dr. Fauci was not there today. Dr. Birx was not there today. They simply refused to answer reporters' questions.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

BLITZER: It was very, very awkward.

ACOSTA: It was very awkward, Wolf.

And I don't think we have seen anything like this from the president during this coronavirus pandemic. He has appeared in the Briefing Room briefly from time to time, and then ducked out again. But this is a whole different kind of experience, Wolf. And I think you're right on the money on this. This is a president who is feeling the heat big time, after he made that outlandish, ridiculous comment yesterday that people could inject themselves potentially with household disinfectants as a cure for the coronavirus, and then tried to walk it back today by saying he was being sarcastic.

That was obviously a lie. Earlier in the day, the White House press secretary put out a statement that didn't mention anything about sarcasm, just accused the press of taking things out of context.

But I will tell you, Wolf, just a couple of things, just to put all of that to the side for the moment. I think the fact that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx were not in this briefing today is important.

And my colleague Kevin Liptak and I have been doing some reporting on this. He -- the president has been making life difficult for the medical experts on the Coronavirus Task Force. I can tell you -- and Kevin can say from talking to our sources -- that some of the experts on the task force are just very reluctant to publicly disagree with the president on camera.

And some of this dynamic goes to the extent that there are times when these experts don't want to stand behind the president. They'd rather be off to the side of the room, because they don't want the camera to pick up the expressions on their face when the president is making these sorts of comments.

[18:05:11]

And you saw what happened yesterday in the Briefing Room. As the president was talking about sunlight therapy and disinfectant therapy, all of which is hogwash, the camera, the cutaway camera on the side of the Briefing Room was zooming in on Dr. Birx to get her reaction.

I can tell you from talking to our sources, Wolf, the experts on this task force are highly aware of those cameras, and they're very concerned about their expressions being picked up. They don't want to be seen as publicly disagreeing with the president or perhaps laughing at the president when he makes these sorts of claims.

And what you end up with, the end result of that is a lot of the experts that the public are -- is relying on can't really give the American people the truth because they're worried about the president lashing out at them or making some kind of scene that has to be cleaned up later.

And, to some extent, Wolf, it may just be -- it may just be better off for everybody that the press conference ended so early today, despite the fact that we would like to pepper the question -- pepper the president with lots of questions, he wasn't given the opportunity today or didn't take the opportunity today to put out a lot of junk science and a lot of poppycock ideas that just aren't going to hold up when scientists take a look at it.

So, perhaps the public might have been spared in that respect, Wolf. BLITZER: Yes, mostly -- it was only about 20 minutes that the

president was there. And most of that time, Dr. Hahn was speaking or the vice president was speaking.

The president made a brief five-minute opening statement, as Gloria points out, that he simply read.

Sanjay Gupta is with us.

So, Sanjay, it's pretty extraordinary. Yesterday, 24 hours ago -- these briefings sometimes go an hour, hour-and-a-half, sometimes even more than two hours. This one was about 20 minutes.

The president specifically suggested that potentially injecting some sort of disinfectant into your body might be a possible way to deal with coronavirus.

And today, in an extraordinary development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a formal statement saying this.

And I will read it to you: "Household cleaners and disinfectants can cause health problems when not used properly. Follow the instructions on the product label to ensure safe and effective use."

On every one of these disinfectants, it says for external use only. It's not that -- you don't have to be a brilliant scientist or doctor to understand you don't inject this in your mouth. You just use it on your hands. And that's about it.

It's pretty extraordinary that the CDC had to issue a statement today telling the American people, don't inject this in your body.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They were worried enough, Wolf, about this that people might misinterpret and hear the comments that were made by the president, and not sort of immediately walked back by his scientific experts, and maybe do something that's dangerous to themselves.

So, I think that's why the CDC did that. I guess manufacturers of some of these products also put out statements today. It's a -- it's one of these things that I think most people already knew just in the bucket of common sense not to do this sort of stuff.

I'm sure most people knew that. Even kids knew that. But, nevertheless, here we are having this conversation about this, whereas there's really important stuff going on around this story in terms of these drug trials, vaccine trials, new developments in that area.

I will say that, over the past 24 hours, in addition to the shenanigans around injecting disinfectants, there was also now some new guidance from the FDA, saying to slow down the role on hydroxychloroquine, saying, right now, there seems to be significant side effects with that medication.

You may remember, Wolf, at one point, the FDA said, we're going to start trialing this, but we're also going to make it available off- label use for physicians to use as they see appropriate.

Now the FDA is saying, we will continue the clinical trials, but, based on side effects, based on the early data showing that there's not efficacy, effectiveness, here, we're not suggesting people use this outside of a clinical trial anymore.

And also these antibody kits, Wolf, there's been lots of tests that have come out into the market, understandably. There's a real rush to try and get some of these tests out there to improve testing overall for the virus, as well as for antibodies.

But many of them, Wolf, were not validated. They were not showing accuracy that was high enough to give people confidence in those results. So, you also heard the FDA commissioner talking about how they're going to improve the validation around these tests.

So, significant things going on, but not overwhelmingly good news in some of these areas. Still a lot of work to be done.

BLITZER: And it is extraordinary, Sanjay, when you think about it, not only the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has to issue a statement trying to clean up what the president said on these disinfectants, maybe you should inject them into your body.

[18:10:01]

As you correctly point out, the Food and Drug administration has to issue a statement today saying that this drug that the president has touted now for a few weeks, although he's been silent on it over the past few days, hydroxychloroquine, is potentially very dangerous.

Let me read a couple sentences from the formal statement publicly that the FDA issued: "The FDA is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin or other Q.T.- prolonging medicines."

It then says: "We would like to remind health care professionals and patients of the known risks associated with both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19."

And then it winds up by saying: "Patients who have also had other health issues such as heart and kidney disease are likely to be at increased risk of these heart problems when receiving these medicines."

That was another slap at the president of the United States, what he and some of his supporters have been touting about this treasure trove of hydroxychloroquine.

GUPTA: Yes.

I mean, Wolf, it's too bad, right, because we need to have an effective medicine. I mean, everybody wants that. You want that. I want that. Everybody on the planet wants that. We're in the midst of a pandemic. So, it's terrible news always, or not good news, when these trials don't work there. There are many trials that are going on around the world on all sorts of different potential medicines.

The hydroxychloroquine, which is one that's obviously gotten a lot of attention, there's been a drumbeat now of news and early studies, I will add, small studies. But these early studies are not promising at all, Wolf, in terms of showing effectiveness. Some of them have shown some harm, as you pointed out, Wolf.

That's why the FDA is making this statement. There was a study that came out of France that showed, in higher doses, this medicine could cause some -- these heart rhythm abnormalities. So that's obviously a significant concern.

Last night, we asked Governor Cuomo about this, and the reason being that many of the doses that were purchased went to the state of New York, and were being given in New York at five different hospitals as part of a clinical trial.

We're going to await the final results there. But we did ask Governor Cuomo, what did the early results show? And he said, basically, the headline was, they did not seem to be any more effective in treating this COVID infection vs. a placebo, vs. taking no medication at all.

Again, that's not good news. I mean, we all want a successful therapeutic, regardless of who's endorsing it or supporting it or whatever. But this hydroxychloroquine so far, Wolf, doesn't appear to be the way out.

Again, there's other medicines that are being studied. We will wait for the final results on hydroxychloroquine. They should be coming by the end of the month, we hear. But, so far, it doesn't look promising.

BLITZER: And we will see what this other drug, remdesivir, to see how that works out. There's some trials involving that, a whole bunch of other drugs as well.

Daniel Dale, you're our fact-checker. And, normally, we come to you after a briefing like this. This was a 22-minute briefing, most of the briefing that Dr. Hahn and the vice president were speaking, only a few minutes, the president.

This was the shortest briefing that there's been so far.

You don't have to be one of the best fact-checkers in the world, as you are, to know that what the president said earlier in the day, that he was simply being sarcastic yesterday, that that was a lie.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: It's just a lie, Wolf. There's no beating around the bush. You can check the transcript. You can watch the video. It was a lie in two ways.

The president said that he was being sarcastic. He plainly was not. And he said that he was addressing this question about injecting

disinfectants to reporters, when, in fact, he had clearly been addressing Dr. Birx and Bill Bryan, the Department of Homeland Security health official who was present.

I think this is notable, Wolf, because it's the president being willing to lie to Americans about something we all saw on camera less than 24 hours prior. And it's not the first time.

He said, for example, about his famous, Russia, if you're listening comment in the 2016 election, in 2019, more than two years later, he started saying that that had been a joke, that he'd been in an arena at a rally and made that comment also sarcastically, when, again, it was on camera. He was plainly serious.

With this president, we get serial lying, and we get lying that's brazen, that's about stuff that we can tell is not true with our own eyes.

BLITZER: And this was the first time -- it's only a 22-minute briefing -- this is the first time that the president has been afraid to answer questions from reporters.

Reporters were all there. They were sitting in the White House Briefing Room. That's their job, to ask serious, important, tough questions.

The president clearly, shall we say, was chicken today. He didn't want to answer questions that the reporters had prepared.

All right, we're going to have a lot more on all of the breaking news.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:19:28]

BLITZER: We're following the backlash from President Trump's dangerous suggestion that disinfectants might be consumed or injected as a potential treatment for the virus.

He cut short a White House briefing just a few moments ago, refusing to take any questions at all from journalists, after trying earlier in the day to act as though he never said what we all heard him say on live television only 24 hours ago, the president falsely claiming he was simply trying to be sarcastic yesterday.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appears to be taking what he said seriously, warning all Americans to use disinfectants properly.

[18:20:04]

Now let's get the latest on the spread of the coronavirus here in the United States, as some states are beginning to reopen. Our senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah, is in Los Angeles for us.

Kyung, more people are dying in California, where you are, and indeed all across the United States. More than 50,000 Americans have died over the past seven or eight weeks in total.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is absolutely a grim marker.

And we are seeing something else tonight. In real time, we are seeing states on this push-pull, open, don't open. Well, we're not seeing any significant movement on that here in California right now. That is certainly not the case in other states across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAH (voice-over): As the U.S. death toll process 50,000 lives lost, some businesses reopen. Donning masks, barbershops are back.

Defying public health warnings, Georgia and Oklahoma allowed doors to open at some businesses like salons. In Texas, curbside retail is open.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I walk out to their trunk, put them in there, go in the front seat. Thank you so much for your purchase for helping us.

LAH: The state push to restart the economy happening from the South, the Midwest, to Alaska, a real-time experiment of the virus vs. state policies.

In South Carolina, department stores are now open with some restrictions, Wisconsin, golf courses and some retail open curbside. Alaska, restaurants allowed to open at a quarter of capacity. Into the weekend and next week, more states open up.

Tennessee will be allowing restaurants to open at half-capacity on Monday, saying, it's time.

GOV. BILL LEE (R-TN): Our approach to rebooting the economy, it must be steady and methodical and empower opening in a way that doesn't jeopardize all of the strides that we have made so far in attacking COVID-19.

LAH: But other local leaders say that's exactly what governors are doing by opening now.

BEE NGUYEN (D), GEORGIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: This is a premature and reckless decision behalf of the governor. We know those risks are great, and we expect that we're going to see another spike.

LAH: From the White House, a reinventing of yesterday. President Trump now says he was being sarcastic in the White House briefing suggesting the public consider ingesting disinfectant.

But the makers of Lysol didn't think it was in humor, issuing a public warning, stating: "Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body through injection, ingestion or any other route."

New York's governor warned, the country must learn from our very recent history, as testing continues to be inadequate, says the National Governors Association.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): What is the lesson? An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.

LAH: That's why Michigan's governor, facing small, but vocal right- wing protests to reopen, is extending the stay-at-home order for her state until May 15.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): As hard as this moment is for us right now, as isolated as we feel, and as stressed as we are about getting back to work, reopening up businesses, we know that, if we do it too fast, a second wave is likely and would be even more devastating.

LAH: In Los Angeles, California, a grim announcement that highlights the toll of this virus.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-CA): And another dark threshold that we crossed is that COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in Los Angeles County. Deaths are doubling every seven to eight days here in Los Angeles still.

Across the county, in our general emergency hospitals, we continue to be very resilient and strong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: So, given those numbers, given the amount of fear there is still out here in the various communities, regardless of what state you're in, what is reality look like as states open?

CNN was across the state of Georgia as the state reopened. And, Wolf, we actually found a lot of these businesses decided to stay closed, that these openings were more sporadic. They either couldn't get enough bleach wipes, couldn't get the bleach. The costs were too much to try to meet state guidelines.

But we also did find hair salons open, bowling alleys open as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kyung Lah, good reporting. Thank you very much.

Joining us now, mayors from two states moving forward with reopening plans today.

John Ernst is the mayor of Brookhaven, Georgia. That's just outside of Atlanta. And David Holt is the mayor of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma,

Mayors, to both of you, I know you're incredibly busy. Thanks so much for joining us.

And, Mayor Ernst, let's start with you.

The president, as you probably saw, just walked out of tonight's briefing without answering any questions from reporters about his suggestion the day before that people may actually benefit from injecting certain chemical disinfectants to treat coronavirus.

Do you worry about the impact these kinds of dangerous claims could have on your community?

[18:25:05]

MAYOR JOHN ERNST (D-GA): Thank you, Wolf, so much for having me.

And, of course, I'm very worried about those kinds of issues, and the fact of having -- of being told one thing one day and being told something else another day. It really causes a lot of the confusion.

And, obviously, drinking Clorox is very, very dangerous.

BLITZER: Very...

ERNST: And I'm shocked that my first national interview is -- first lines is, I have to tell -- remind people not to drink Clorox.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm shocked that I even have to ask a question like that.

And, Mayor Holt, given these mixed messages that we're hearing from the president, some of the public health officials, where are you turning for, for critically important public health advice as you try to fight this pandemic?

MAYOR DAVID HOLT (R-OK): Well, we have a fantastic Oklahoma City County Health Department here.

I turn to our local public health officials in the state level. And, honestly, the White House guidelines throughout this that have come from Dr. Fauci and his team have been useful to our community.

We closed bars and restaurants and gyms when they advised us to. We put shelter in place here in Oklahoma City through the month of April, when that was the date that the White House proposed.

So, when it's been thought out, and it's been presented as a unified plan from Dr. Fauci, we have found that to be useful.

And we're looking at the White House gating criteria now for reopening as well.

BLITZER: Yes. And as I have pointed out, he's a national treasure, Dr. Fauci. I was disappointed he wasn't there today, he wasn't there yesterday.

And that's a source of concern, because we rely on him for his expertise. Mayor Ernst, at the direction of your governor, residents in Georgia can now visit nonessential businesses, salons, gyms. What are you bracing for? Are you bracing for a spike, potentially, God forbid, in infections, as a result of what so many health officials are warning is premature reopening?

ERNST: That is my concern, and with this aggressive reopening, that we could have, which actually ends up hurting our economy.

And because we have this spike, businesses close down, or people don't go out, and use those businesses, and it actually -- it's a false start, which then will require people to hold back again, and then when it's time to go, will be a lot less able to do so or feel fearful that they do so.

And I agree with Mayor Holt. The guidelines, when presented unifiably in -- are very, very effective, and as a way to move forward. Unfortunately, in Georgia, when -- the governor has to follow those guidelines, which is causing a lot of the mis -- concerns.

BLITZER: Yes, and we were told by the mayor of Atlanta, among other mayors from Georgia who we have spoken to, he didn't consult with any of the mayors before issuing his new decision.

Mayor Holt, in parts of Oklahoma, which is a great state, as all of us know, personal health care businesses reopened today, despite health warnings. Your city's shelter-in-place order does remain in effect until the end of the month.

Would you have preferred that the governor there wait longer to begin to reopen the economy?

HOLT: We strongly felt that nothing should even be considered before May 1.

And so, here in Oklahoma City, personal care services are not opening today. We held -- we just left our shelter-in-place order in place, as it was already, through the month of April.

My gut says that May 1 is too early, but that's when everything sort of opens here in Oklahoma. But it certainly put us, as a local community, in a tough position, because, like most metros, I'm only the mayor of about half the people in my metro area.

And so if you have a patchwork of regulations that aren't statewide, or at least regional, it really doesn't serve any public health purpose for one community to try to do things differently than all the others.

And so we made a very tough decision that we're going to try to align with the state, but it's with very mixed emotions that we do that, because we're very concerned. I recognize that we can't shelter in place for two years, but we're just all trying to muddle through, find the right date.

I gave a press conference today for the people of Oklahoma City. And my message is, the virus doesn't know that it's May 1. We have got to stay on task. We have actually been pretty successful here in Oklahoma City.

And even though some things are opening, we have got to keep that same mentality in place. And let's continue to save lives.

BLITZER: You have got a great city, Oklahoma City. I was there 25 years ago to cover the bombing of the Murrah federal office building. My heart goes out to all the families and friends of those innocent people who were killed in that terrorist attack.

HOLT: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Mayor Holt, Mayor Ernst, good luck to both of you. Good luck to everyone in your cities. Appreciate your joining us.

ERNST: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we will talk more about whether it's safe for some states to be reopening nonessential businesses.

I will speak to the president of the American Medical Association when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: And joining us now here in The Situation Room is the President of the American Medical Association, Dr. Patrice Harris. Dr. Harris, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

As you we're watching, and you we're with us, you're watching this, we just saw the president refuse take questions after making some dangerous assertions yesterday about potentially ingesting disinfectant. How essential is it, that the president of the United States be upfront with the American people and something that is literally a matter of life and death?

[18:35:00]

Why can't the president simply say, I was wrong yesterday, and I apologized?

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT: Well, I certainly can't speak to why the president says or doesn't say certain statements. But it is unbelievable where we are today, that all the health experts are telling people not to ingest or inject disinfectants. And that is why, Wolf, it is so important to have the public health experts out front, giving the message, giving us the facts, letting the American public know what we know and what we don't know, and certainly their expertise and their information should be free from political influence.

BLITZER: You saw the senators for the Disease Control Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the commissioner there, they all have to come out today to try to clean up some of the president's comments. But it's the president who has the loudest and most important voice in all of this. What kind of public health risk potentially does it post to have these mixed messages coming from the administration?

HARRIS: Well, words do matter. And we know that it's important to get accurate information out to the public. As I said before, I spent the first two weeks of this pandemic dispelling myths and rumors that are out there. So it's very dangerous.

One of the early rumors for me, was that that African-American could not become infected with the novel coronavirus. And so it is very important that we get accurate information out there, no matter who is giving the information. But I think it's even more important that public health officials, physicians, and scientists, and other public health officials be out there on front, giving us the information. That's where we should begin and end, so that everyone knows and science and the evidence are priority and not politics.

BLITZER: The FDA also had to issue a formal public warning today about hydroxychloroquine, a drug the president has painted as a possible cure. How hard is it for medical professionals to get the right information to the American people when the president is putting out information that potentially, at least according to the Food and Drug Administration, is deadly.

HARRIS: Well, Wolf, medical professionals actually do read our medical journals and we do read the latest scientific evidence and follow all the of the studies that are coming out. And, really, that's why -- that's where the information should come from. We should always rely on the science and the evidence. These medications, we want there to be controlled trials, peer reviewed, literature about this trials. And that's where the information should come from. It should not come from elected officials.

BLITZER: Obviously, the president's public health advisers on this task force, they're in a very, very difficult position. What advice would you give them, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, Dr. Hahn, among others? They have to walk a very, very narrow line.

HARRIS: It is tough, and I do have to walk the line. But I think that they have and should continue to rely on the science and the evidence and push hard to make sure that the public receives accurate information that is based on data.

BLITZER: If you have one message for the president tonight, and let's say, he's watching, what would that be?

HARRIS: Well, I would just say to any elected official actually what I said in an address that I gave a couple weeks ago that please let science and the evidence hold the day and let us make all of these decisions about COVID-19. This is a public health pandemic and crisis, and it requires a public health focus.

BLITZER: Dr. Patrice Harris is the President of the American Medical Association. Dr. Harris, thanks so much for everything you do. Thanks for joining us. HARRIS: You're welcome. Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: And just ahead, we are going to go live to Texas where the governor there is now allowing retailers to reopen for curbside pickup. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: Today, Texas is taking its first steps towards reopening businesses. The governor there allowing retail shops to open for curbside pickup. CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us from Dallas right now.

So, Ed, what are you seeing there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf. Well, you know, thousands of businesses across the state trying to figure out how to make all of this work as this phased reopening of the Texas economy starts really in earnest today. We're outside of a Good Records vinyl record store. This is one of this little funky jams in East Dallas.

And the owner, Chris Penn, has been coming out the curbside. He's in' a hat, face mask, gloves, for calling in orders, he's walking them out to their cars. But he says he's doing all of this with the sense of apprehension. He is concerned. He has two other employees that he's not letting come to work yet. And he's concern that his customer might be infected. He might bring the coronavirus home. He's doing this with the apprehension but at the same time, he feels the need to have to reopen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS PENN, GOOD RECORDS OWNER: I want us to take care of our citizens first and foremost. You know, the economy, we can figure it out later. But, I just don't want to -- we open everything back up fully and then we're shut down in another month or two and we've lost a lot more lives.

[18:45:05]

But if they are smart and listen to science and roll things out slowly, then it can work. But we may remain closed to public until I feel good about it, you know?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, Chris Penn has taken a financial hit. You know, he kind of jokingly says the road to becoming rich is not through a record vinyl store in the digital age. He has applied for the small business loans from the stimulus package, none of that has come through yet.

So, there is a sense of apprehension and concern about how all of this is going to unfold. Many small business owners like Chris concern that opening up too soon will cause a resurgence of the coronavirus here in Texas. But the governor here in Texas not only opening up retail stores across the state today, he's also saying that on Monday, he's going to make an announcement that will allow many other types of businesses to open up as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera in Dallas for us -- Ed, thank you.

Just ahead, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he's getting ready to answer your questions about coronavirus. We'll be right back.

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[18:45:49]

BLITZER: We're tracking all the late breaking developments in the coronavirus pandemic, but I want to bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Gupta right now. He's back to answer some your questions about the virus.

Sanjay, we've been getting a lot of questions.

One of the -- a lot of questions on this, for example. It's important to address.

I tested positive for antibodies. Does that mean I'm most likely now immune?

GUPTA: I think the best answer to that question, Wolf, is presumably you are immune. We don't, we don't know for sure. I mean, this is a novel coronavirus. The reason I say presumably is because if you look at other infections, including other coronavirus infections, people do develop antibodies and thus immunity for some time.

Other coronavirus like SARS or MERS which are both coronaviruses, you had immunity for several months if not a couple of years, Wolf. So we have to make sure with this coronavirus, but you should. We'll figure out that soon I'm sure.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure we will.

Here's another question. Should I donate blood if I had coronavirus?

GUPTA: Yes. This is a good question. So, it kind of builds on the first question. We still want to prove that the antibodies that you develop as a result of the infection are actually going to be protective, but the idea is that if you've had the infection, you have antibodies now in your blood, if you donate that blood, you can help protect other people.

Dr. Stephen Hahn, who's the FDA commissioner, said the other day that one person could potentially donate to four other people, help them give them their antibodies through what is known as convalescent serum.

So, the answer is, yes. Obviously, check with your doctor, your blood bank, but this might be a good option. BLITZER: Here's another question that we got. My doctor prescribed

hydroxychloroquine to treat me. Should I still take it in light of the FDA warning?

The FDA issued a strong warning today against hydroxychloroquine.

GUPTA: Yes, I would be careful on this. I might want to check with your doctor again. You know, the information does change and evolve, especially with a fast moving, you know, new coronavirus like this.

Here's the things to keep in mind. There can be significant side effects. You know, we were suspicious of that for some time, but now, that's sort of panned out in some of these warnings.

And what the FDA is saying is that if you're not part of a clinical trial or in a hospital setting, you shouldn't be taking this. So taking it as an outpatient, at your home, that's not a good idea.

Obviously, check with your doctor first. Don't stop it without talking to your doctor, but that's the guidance we're hearing from the FDA.

BLITZER: Here's a common question we keep getting, and I'm anxious to get your answer. What are the risks of getting a haircut if everyone wears masks and gloves?

GUPTA: So if it's a good question. Very hard to physically distance yourself when you're getting a haircut so then you say you're wearing a mask, the other person is wearing a mask. If it's an N95 mask, or if you have an N95 mask, that is going to be more protective.

The problem is, you're entering an environment when you go in there that is going to have a lot of unknowns, whereas the other person in front of you, did they have the virus? Is the surface you're touching going to be contaminated? You know, that's the risky part here. Are other people in the barbershop also potentially harboring the virus?

So, yes, wearing a mask would decrease your like likelihood of spreading virus yourself if you're wearing an N95 mask, which is the airtight, air-fitted mask, then you're going reduce your risk of contracting the virus, but it's a risk, Wolf. It's a risk.

I mean, right now, everything is a risk reward proposition. How do you determine that? Is it worth getting a haircut and potentially exposing yourself to the virus? Then harboring that virus in your body, taking it home, potentially exposing others?

That's why we say only essential businesses should be open right now. I mean, I don't know, Wolf. Everyone is going to have their own value proposition on something like this.

Now is a good time, as I did, Wolf maybe Lynn will do this for you as well, but I got a little help cutting my hair and I think it turned out OK. I think it's all right.

BLITZER: No, you look good. I'm going to let mine grow for a while, and see what happens. [18:55:01]

All right. Sanjay, thank you very, very much. We got more news just ahead.

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BLITZER: There are all sorts of ways you can help people in need during this global pandemic. If you're looking for ideas, be sure to visit CNN's "Impact Your World" page. Just go to CNN.com/impact.

And for those of you with young children at home, CNN is partnering with "Sesame Street" for a special town hall. Elmo, Grover, Abby, Big Bird and others, they'll join our own Dr. Gupta and Erica Hill to answer questions from kids and parents on the coronavirus pandemic. The ABCs of COVID-19 airs tomorrow morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

To our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.