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Governors Divided On When To Reopen; New Study Shows Coronavirus Went Undetected In U.S.; White House Officials Discussing Plans To Replace HHS Secretary Azar; Republicans Divided Over Soaring Cost Of Coronavirus Aid; Louisiana Has Fourth Highest Coronavirus Death Rate In U.S.; Interview With Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA); Trump Repeatedly Predicted Virus Would Be Gone By April; Inside Wuhan, China After Lockdown. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired April 26, 2020 - 08:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): A death toll rivaling the Vietnam War, the divide now over reopening.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: We will get Georgians back to work safely.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: This is no time to act stupidly, period.

KING: Plus, new clues of earlier cases. And reminders this fight is hardly over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The volume is down, but the patients coming in is very sick.

KING: And the president's advice takes a dangerous turn.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I see the disinfectant, if it knocks it out in a minute, is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside?


KING: Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your Sunday.

This is a nervous global moment. There is more talk of plateaus and flattening the curve, accompanied by an important but for now discordant debate over coronavirus is corralled enough to open the doors to our homes and our workplaces.


CUOMO: Just when you think you're going to have a good day, this reality slaps you in the face, 437 deaths yesterday, which is actually a tick up. KEMP: We laid our plan out to meet the phase one criteria. I think it

is the right move at the right time.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R), MASSACHUSETTS: One of the biggest challenges with respect to coordinating our efforts is where you are with respect to the surge, OK. We in Massachusetts are in it, we didn't want people to think they were going to be reopening tomorrow or the day after, the day after.

GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R), WEST VIRGINIA: Our country cannot endure the engine not running. We will ultimately drift into a depression and we will lose 100,000 times as many as we're losing now.


KING: One frustration is that there is still so much we don't know and so much to do to get testing up to speed. One new study suggests there may have been thousands of cases here in the United States at a time officials were estimating just a couple dozen.


ALESSANDRO VESPIGNANI, DIRECTOR, NETWORK SCIENCE INSTITUTE AT NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: Most internationally connected places are the ones that started the epidemic first. So we are talking about New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, those places we're talking about thousands of infections by early March, and end of February.


KING: This pandemic is a testing time for all global leaders. And this past week, the American president set an erratic and then dangerous example. He embraced Georgia's reopen plan and then warned it was too much too soon. Yet he had no such caution when it came to dispensing medical advice, thinking out loud if you choose to accept how his aides like to rationalize it about using light and bleach as coronavirus treatments.


PRES. TRUMP: Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous -- whether it is ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do, either through the skin or in some other way. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?


TRUMP: There is new word the president's unhappiness with the key cabinet member could be reaching a boiling point. The Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was in charge of the White House coronavirus task force when it was launched at the end of January. But the vice president took the helm a month a later. And the president of late has blamed Secretary Azar of media reports detailing missteps in the administration's pandemic response.

CNN's Sarah White -- Westwood, excuse me, live at the White House this morning with more.

Sarah, Secretary Azar, shaky standing.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, John. Sources tell us there are discussions under way about potentially replacing Azar as head of HHS. We're told that's not necessarily imminent. There are some around the president who think a staffing shake-up of this magnitude could just add to the chaos surrounding the coronavirus response. There are others who are discussing potential replacements for Azar.

There have been signs there were internal problems with the HHS secretary for a while now. There has been some finger pointing about some of the infighting, some chaos, disarray that characterized the early days of the coronavirus task force when Azar was in charge of it.

Some of that blame fell back on Azar and President Trump privately fumed about the fact that Azar kept the White House -- kept the president out of the loop on some of the key early decisions involving the response to COVID-19. And sources tell us even before the coronavirus crisis came on to his plate, he was on thin ice because of his handling of other issues, like efforts to undermine Obamacare from the Trump administration.

And, of course, there have been signs more recently that his standing was on shaky ground, for example, installing Michael Caputo, a long time Trump loyalist, a former 2016 Trump campaign adviser, as a spokesman at HHS, and, of course, as you mentioned, Vice President Pence taking over the helm of the coronavirus task force, taking that away from Azar a couple of months ago.

KING: Sarah Westwood at the White House, thanks so much. We'll watch this turmoil in the middle of a pandemic.

OK. More on the president's mind set in just a bit.


But, first, the debate over reopening and the numbers central to it. Let's take a look and go through the numbers. First, just look here, a map of the cases in the United States, the bigger the circle, the higher the number of cases. You see obviously the epicenter here in New York, in the Northeast, but this is the virus touching the entire country.

This is the saddest chart you look at this, April has just been a devastating month, approaching 54,000 deaths, approaching the death toll of the Vietnam war. A lot of it just in the last month here.

And yet nine states this week ahead, an experiment in reopening. Different, in Alaska, most businesses are opening, Montana, just retail businesses, Colorado, retail for curb side pickup beginning tomorrow, Minnesota, non-consumer businesses. It's different in each state.

Georgia is the most aggressive. Hair salons, gyms, tattoo parlors already reopened. Starting tomorrow, movie theaters and restaurants can reopen. So, you see these experiments playing out.

Let's look at the numbers behind them. Montana, sure, you can make a case, big drop in cases. Maybe time to experiment with reopening. Alaska, same, you see the curve. The doctors talk about flattening the curve and sending it down, Alaska getting down. Georgia, Texas, Colorado, is a more dicey picture. If you start at the high point in Texas, you can make the case you're coming down. But you see the roller coaster, very similar, Georgia is yellow.

You can make the case this is down from here, but you see the bouncing, that's what has many public health officials, many mayors worried. Then in Colorado, lower case number. Seems flat. Not really going down at the moment.

So, other states, not ready. Look at Wisconsin, you're going up. Look at Arizona, heading up. Here's the State of Virginia, still heading up. One more, Arkansas, flat for a long time, spike, we'll watch this number in the week ahead.

But the thing to watch is to keep a look at this map, Georgia is the most aggressive. The president, a week or so ago, called the governor and said, go for it. His public health official said too much, too soon, and the president pulled back.


PRES. TRUMP: But I'm saying let the governors do it. But I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp. Spas, beauty parlors, tattoo parlors, no. But I'm letting you make your own decision. But I want people to be safe. And I want the people in Georgia to be safe and I don't want this thing to flare up because you're deciding to do something that is not in the guidelines.


KING: Consistency is not this president's strong suit. On Saturday, without mentioning Georgia specifically, he was again leaning into the reopening theme, tweeting: Remember, the cure can't be worse than the problem itself. Be careful, be safe, use common sense.

The week ahead offers a very important test, just how comfortable we are emerging from isolation. Georgia is America's eighth largest state, the population of nearly 11 million people. Step two in its plan as I noted, it allows movie theaters to open tomorrow. Restaurants can also resume dine-in eating as long as they follow some new state safety rules.

Governor Kemp insists he's following the science. A model often cited by the White House, however, suggests Georgia's peak deaths and hospital demand will come this week. That model also suggests social distancing needs to stay in place there for two more months.

The governor of North Carolina is worried his neighbor's plan is too risky.


GOV. ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: The virus doesn't respect state lines. We know that if you just turn on the light, then you're going to have a real problem. We're going to use a dimmer switch. We know we have a lot of visitors from Georgia. We love our friends in Georgia. But we're really concerned about how quickly this is happening.


KING: Also concerned, mayors of Georgia's major cities who worry the governor is going too fast. They also complained he did not consult them as he made these plans.

Among them is the mayor of Augusta, Georgia, Hardie Davis.

Mayor Davis joins us this morning.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for your time and especially thank you on a Sunday morning. You're the mayor. You're also a pastor. I know this is a special morning for you. We appreciate your time in these very busy times.

You don't like what is the governor is doing here. Can you tell me what you're seeing? Some businesses are obviously allowed to reopen in recent days. More tomorrow, including movie theaters, and some restaurants, dine-in restaurants. Are you seeing participation or you're seeing hesitation?

MAYOR HARDIE DAVIS (D), AUGUSTA, GEORGIA: John, thanks so much for having us.

We're seeing a great deal of hesitation. I think the keyword here is apprehension. People are concerned that they don't know who may be infected with the virus. They don't understand the science and certainly without question, you know, John Q. Citizen is not reading the governor's executive order.

And so, we've got to have a great deal of education and communication on the ground as we open things back up in the state and certainly here in Augusta.

I think that's been the mantra that I've shared with our EMA director and others in the community that this is a time where we have to be very adept at communicating, particularly to those underserved communities that have been the hardest hit by this.

KING: Right. They have been the hardest hit, and the number of civil rights organizations urging African-Americans to stay home, urging African-Americans who might run small businesses in your town, whoa, whoa, take it slow.


Don't follow the governor's (INAUDIBLE). I just want to put up the 14-day trend in reported cases in the state

of Georgia. And you look at it again, if you start at the high point, you can make a case you're going down from April 20th, to 24th. Here's the cases here.

You go back to April 17th, you could make a case it is going down. But there is some bounces there which is what leaves people like yourself nervous. You'd like more time to flatten this curve and come down more.

Just your sense, again, I know you wish the governor didn't do this. In Augusta, as you go around to the businesses that are reopening, are you confident at least those that are taking this chance are doing what is necessary from a safety standpoint?

DAVIS: Well, to the degree there are some businesses that opened up, my caution or concern is that they don't have PPE, they're not able to, one, provide their customers with masks, and then, of course, their inability to move as quickly as possible in terms of putting their business in a place where people can safely social distance.

I think that's a challenge that we see today. That's a challenge that we'll see certainly on in the next week as you see more businesses opening up, particularly restaurants and then movie theaters where, you know, these are facilities that seat hundreds of people at a single time. And so, those are things that I'm extremely concerned about as we move forward.

At the point of time that the announcement was made, we're going to open up Georgia, we're at 19,800 or so confirmed cases. Today, we're almost at 24,000 confirmed cases. And, again, just stating the simple facts as they are, those numbers continue to rise. We're not at our peak yet and I think just a few more days, maybe a couple of more weeks, we could have seen our progress in terms of flattening the curve and stopping the spread of the virus. We could have seen the fruit of that and I'm not sure we're going to see that at this point.

KING: Well, the question is, Sunday, or probably two Sundays from now, look at the numbers. You think of it intubation period -- incubation period of 10 days, two weeks. We'll see in a couple of weeks.

But I just can't -- what happened in the sense that we have 50 states in the United States. That's the magic of the republic. It can also cause a great deal of confusion when one governor is ready to reopen and one governor isn't. But within a state when people are anxious, you would hope whether it is a Republican governor and Democratic mayor, that everybody could at least mostly on the same page. You clearly don't have that in Georgia.

Most of the mayors are saying, governor, no, slow down, stop, you went too fast.

Where was the breakdown in communication and coordination? Did the governor just simply go on his own?

DAVIS: Well, again, I think the governor has the right to make decisions for the state of Georgia. He's vested with great responsibility. We certainly respect that.

At the end of the day, this isn't a matter of being Republican or Democrat. This is about the health, welfare and safety of Georgians, and certainly in that case, Augustans, some 202,000 people that we've got to be concerned about and make sure that we're taking every preventative measure and taking the necessary precautions to inform, to educate and in this instance, we've got to make sure that we're testing, we're tracing and that we're treating and we probably need to add a fourth one, and that is isolate, and after having tested and traced.

KING: We'll keep in touch in the days and weeks ahead, sir, and watch how this plays out.

Mayor Davis -- Pastor Davis, on this Sunday morning, thank you so much for your time, sir.

DAVIS: Thanks, John.

KING: Thank you. Good luck.

Up next for us, the latest on the medical fight including new word on how early the virus reached the United States. And this reminder as we go to break, the isolation is most difficult on those who have to say good-bye.


DR. ZEVY HAMBURGER, ANESTHESIOLOGIST, MT. SINAI HOSPITAL: Towards the end, one of the important things that we had to do is make sure that they could actually say goodbye to each other. I'm holding the phone trying to speak between mother and son and other family members who might be there the last words to each other, that they can remember, trying to help them through this horrible moment.




KING: There is a constant blur of coronavirus medical news as scientists around the world rush to find treatments, developed vaccines, get a better sense of when the global spread accelerated and get a better view of how widespread the infection is right now as governments debate easing restrictions on movement and on work. Two studies in particular forced a bit of rethinking this past week.

Look at this from Northeastern University. Back on March 1st, when the official count in Boston, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and New York was 23 cases, researchers believe in reality the case count was nearly 28,000. And consider this, from New York, tests of some 3,000 New Yorkers suggests 14 percent of state residents have had coronavirus. That estimate jumps to 21 percent of those living in New York City.

So what new are we learning and what critical pieces are we still missing?

Dr. Ashish Jha is the director of Harvard's Global Health Institute, Dr. Megan Ranney is an emergency room physician in Rhode Island and a researcher at Brown University.

Doctors, thank you both for being back with us this Sunday.

On the question of the New York numbers, Dr. Jha, to you, if 14 percent of residents of New York have had coronavirus, obviously 14 percent have not showed up at a hospital, what does that tell you?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, so good morning, John. Thanks for having me back on.

Those numbers are completely in line with expectations. We know that because we have been able to test so few people, there are more folks out there who have the disease, and we've all estimated about 10 to 20 times the numbers were actually identifying and it turns out whether you use 21 percent from the city or 14 percent for the state, that's about 10 to 12 times the number of people we have identified.

It means also there are a lot of people having mild symptoms, which we expected or no symptoms at all. But still about half to 1 percent mortality rate, much, much worse than the flu. So, I think nothing here has changed except we kind of expected that there were a lot of folks out there who are getting infected.

KING: Now, we know, as people -- as governors start to send people back to work, do they have a good sense, or they're flying a little bit blind about how many of those people have it.

To that point, Dr. Ranney, I want you to listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci. We talked about the new study out of Dr. Jha's institute at Harvard saying we need to double, triple, get it 5 million tests in the United States and even Dr. Jha said some people think that's too conservative.


Listen to Dr. Fauci saying some progress.


FAUCI: We don't want to get fixated on how many tests you need. Right now, we're doing about 1.5, 2 million per week. We probably should get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks. Testing is an important part of what we're doing, but it's not the only part.


KING: He says the numbers are going up. But does that leave you confident they're going up enough?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: Not yet. I mean, first of all, if we're not testing, then it is easy for states to say, hey, my numbers are going down or flat, and you may reopen too early. Secondly, the more important thing to me is the number of people that are showing up at my hospital, and that are being admitted to my ICU. Testing is part of it. But it is also having adequate protective equipment for us as doctors, and having adequate treatments for our patients, right?

And then the third part is those antibody tests you just talked about, we don't yet know what percentage of the United States is protected, even if we know that people have been exposed, we don't know they're actually ready to go back to work.

KING: Explain to me, Dr. Ranney, one of your cautions about governors reopening, you say give us more time in the sense that your day to day work, is this the way to put it, you're better at this today than you were a month ago because, you've learned more about treating COVID-19 patients. So, part of your argument is, governors, keep people at home, keep social distancing in place, limit restrictions -- keep the restrictions in place a little bit longer because we, doctors, are getting smarter. Is that correct?

RANNEY: That's absolutely right. Remember, we had never seen this virus until about four, five months ago. We had no idea how to treat it. And this is a really unusual virus in a lot of ways.

In the last couple of months we have learned so much. One great example is proning. We're putting patients on their stomachs on high flow oxygen instead of immediately intubating them when their oxygen levels are low. This is something we don't do for other diseases built we're seeing that it works here for COVID-19.

The more people can stay home, the more time they can avoid getting infected, first of all, it gives us time in the healthcare space to be protected, to keep ourselves safe. Second, it keeps us from getting overwhelmed. But, third, we're doing a better job treating people, we're more likely to save your life if you get infected now than if you got infected two months ago.

And two months from now we'll have even more information, even better treatments. So social distancing helps you to stay healthy and helps us to save you.

KING: And, Dr. Jha, following up on that, what is the next key piece here? We talked about more diagnostic testing. There's been a lot of talk in recent weeks about an explosion of approve antibody testings. I assume some will work better than others.

What to you, we're in this reopening debate and you doctors are more skeptical you think it should be more cautious. What is the key piece from the medical perspective you think is the next key -- has to be done to get to the next level?

JHA: First of all, I think we're all feeling more cautious about -

KING: We lost the shot there.

Dr. Ranney, I let you finish the thought.

JHA: I think that's great.

RANNEY: Yes --

KING: We're back. Go ahead.

JHA: We need to focus from a -- I should say, from a medical point of view, I think what we really need to focus now is on developing treatments, we heard a lot about various therapies. My hope is over the next four to six weeks, we'll get a lot more scientific data about which treatments work and which ones don't.

KING: Dr. Jha, Dr. Ranney, appreciate your time. Appreciate you helping us through these technical issues. It's part of our new normal as well. Thank you, both, very much.

Up next for us, a senator with a unique take on the pandemic, a Republican who is a doctor, from a state very hard hit by COVID-19.

And it was "SNL," not a movie, but Dr. Anthony Fauci gets his casting wish.


BRAD PITT AS DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Good evening! I'm Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Yes, the president has taken some liberties with our guidelines. So, tonight, I would like to explain what the president was trying to say. And, remember, let's all keep an open mind. When he said everyone can get a test, what he meant was almost no one. And when I hear things like the virus can be cured if everyone takes the tide pod challenge, I'll be there to say, please don't.




KING: The ghost of the Tea Party are suddenly a new factor in Washington's coronavirus response.

President Trump signed the fourth coronavirus spending plan this past week, most of it aimed at helping small businesses stay afloat. Its price tag, $484 billion. Total emergency coronavirus spending now approaching $3 trillion.

There will be more, billions more. But the Senate majority leader is suddenly cool to more spending, especially to help state and local governments.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: My guess is the first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don't have to do that. That's not something I'm going to be in favor of. (END AUDIO CLIP)

KING: Little history is instructive here. The Tea Party was born of the bailout supported by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama after the 2008 financial collapse. Leader McConnell lost Senate friends to Tea Party challenges in 2010 and again in 2014. He now sees some signs Republicans are ready to attack their own party again for big spending.


Take the former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who tweeted: I disagree that states should take federal money or be bailed out. This will lead to taxpayers paying for mismanagement of poorly run states. States need to tighten up, make some cuts and manage.

That's Governor Haley's perspective.

Our next guest is a Republican who takes issue with Leader McConnell and Governor Haley and comes at this from a unique perspective.

Senator Bill Cassidy won his seat in the 2014 Tea Party surge. He's a medical doctor and represents one of the states hardest hit right now, Louisiana. Senator -- thank you for your time on this Sunday morning.

So, you might not be outnumbered because you have Democrats on your side in this "let's get money to the states". I just want to put up the highlights of your plan.

You propose, along with Senator Menendez of New Jersey $500 billion to state and local government rescue fund and you see how it would be awarded there based on population size, based on COVID-19 cases, based on state revenue losses.

With Democrats, maybe you're not outnumbered, but you're outgunned at the moment. Leader McConnell in the "Washington Post" today, the number two and the number three Republicans in the Senate leadership are saying let's slow down about all of this spending.

How do you convince your leadership you need to do this?

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): I can promise you, fellow Republicans support me. Fellow Republicans in my state support me. And I can tell you all those small business folks who we hope vote Republican support me.

Why do I say that? We spent $500 billion or so supporting small businesses. Your restaurants -- small business. Your state -- I'm sorry -- your city is going bankrupt because they rely upon sales tax, hotel bed tax, tourism to support -- to keep the police, to keep the fire, to keep the sanitation. The city's bankrupt because a federally- ordered lockdown has happened and one federally-encouraged. And now you don't have the police, the sanitation.

What is your restaurant going to do? It's going to close its doors because garbage piling up in front with rats running in the garbage is not what brings people through your doors. This is about supporting the small businesses by supporting the cops, the firemen, the sanitation workers who allow those small businesses to stay in business.

We have an ecosystem. We need to support it.

KING: Are you confident you can convince Leader McConnell? Look, I get it. But this is not the Tea Party. Our friends here are not going to get beat in Republican primary challenges, we have to do this?

CASSIDY: What McConnell is concerned about is the state of Illinois dumping all of its unfunded accrued liability on the federal taxpayer. That is wrong. We should not, as a federal government, as federal taxpayers take responsibility for mismanagement.

By the way, it's also, I think -- "The Chicago Tribune" is also calling out the people in Springfield for making that suggestion.

It's a real thought out there. This is not about unfunded accrued liability and pensions. This is about police officers, about fire, about sanitation being operative so small businesses that we've invested $500 billion or so to keep them afloat, so that they actually have a place where they can reopen.

KING: You're a senator, but you're also Dr. Cassidy. And I'm interested in your perspective. If you look at Google searches this past week, after the President talked about sunlight and possibly using disinfectant, you see a spike in searches there for "inject yourself with disinfectant".

One of the highest states for those search spikes was yours -- sir, the state of Louisiana which has been incredibly hard hit by COVID-19 and where the President has a very loyal base.

We're in the position this past week where the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Surgeon General had to put out public statements essentially saying -- this is my translation -- don't listen to the President. Be careful here.

As a doctor, what goes through your mind when the President dispenses medical advice and have you ever of picking up the phone and saying, "Sir, please, don't"?

CASSIDY: The President speaks in such a way, people are not going to inject themselves. And when I hear this kind of conversation around that, I think to myself, we should be talking about how do we use data to guide where we can reopen the economy. Not about what the President said on Lysol because, really, no one is going to inject themselves with Lysol.

KING: I'm sorry -- I just need to interrupt there. I hope you're right -- sir. But if you talk to the Maryland -- on the Maryland --


KING: -- on the Maryland hotline, they got a lot of phone calls. You see these searches here. He at least puts the nugget in people's minds. But if he hasn't mentioned it, those searches don't happen. Those phone calls don't happen. The time is not wasted and we can get to the very point you're trying to make.

CASSIDY: So we can talk about Lysol, if you want to -- John. We really can. What we should be talking about is how do we use data in order keep people safe and reopen an economy.

Now, when you talk about searches, we can talk about it or not -- are not is the rate of transmissibility of a virus. If we lower it less than one, then we can reopen an economy safely.

Now, that's not Lysol and maybe that doesn't kind of light up a headline. But it is what reopens our economy. And frankly, that's what I focus on.

KING: Sir -- that's what I'd love to focus. But we also do have to cover the President of the United States when he says things.

But let's focus on another very important issue in your state. You came to office in 2015. As you know, this state has disproportionately hit your state and disproportionately hit the African-American community in your state.


KING: If I live in the Lower Ninth Ward, I'm saying on this Sunday morning, "I've heard this before, the politicians saying we will not forget. We will get to these disparities that the pre-existing conditions, if you will, that are making this worse in the community."

How do you plan on getting at that? We started the conversation about there's a lot of money going out the door in Washington. There will be and there has to be a conversation at some point about slow down, we can't keep adding money to the deficit. We have to be careful about this.

How do you make sure those economic disparities, whether it's education, whether it's access to food, whether it's access to better health care -- they do get dealt with when this passes and this does not become another post Katrina a year to refocus and then sadly too many people forget?

CASSIDY: Yes. So first, this seems more related to obesity, diabetes and hypertension than it does to race. If you control for those three, race as a factor, I think, goes substantially away. Unfortunately, my state has a high rate of obesity. And you can see across that obesity is the major risk factor. And African-Americans I think are 60 percent more likely to have diabetes, for example, which is related to obesity.

Personally, I have entered with a bill with Tom Carper, Democrat from Delaware, on a Treating Obesity Act. We have got to treat the underlying problem of obesity which is driving health care expenditures and death from COVID virus across the country.

As a physician I've been committed to that. Hopefully we'll be able to make progress as we go forward.

KING: Do me a favor. As people start to maybe get distracted and move onto other things, pick up the phone and call me and come right back here and we'll talk about it when you get that, so that we make sure we can try to get it some attention as we go forward.

Senator -- I appreciate your time this Sunday morning.

CASSIDY: Thank you -- John.

KING: Thank you -- sir.

Up next, the President has predicted coronavirus would be gone by April; now says his briefings are a waste of time. Remember, at one of them this past week, he wondered, as we just discussed, if disinfectants might somehow be injected as a treatment.

And as the death toll climbs, America's nursing homes are in crisis.


DENEEN BARR, FATHER DIED OF COVID-19: -- my daddy to just die by himself. It hurts my heart.

He was a certified lifeguard. And he couldn't breathe. It just hurts me to my heart. And I'll never see him here again.




KING: This is our last Sunday in April, the month the President repeatedly predicted would be the month the coronavirus met its match.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, in April, supposedly it dies with the hotter weather and that's a beautiful day to look forward to.

Based on all signs that the problem goes away in April.

There's a theory that in April when it gets warm, historically, that has been able to kill the virus.


KING: That, of course, didn't happen. There are five more days, but the April U.S. death toll so far is more than 50,000. Now, one might think, one lesson of that lost February would be to choose his words more carefully.

But this president talks and tweets on impulse. Thursday, it took a rather reckless turn. The President taking evidence the sun and bleach break down the virus on surfaces like doorknobs and playgrounds to a dangerous place.


TRUMP: Then I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute -- one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning.


KING: White House correspondent of the "New York Times" joins us.

Maggie -- the President now over the weekend saying my briefings are a waste of time. There's talk he's going to replace his Health and Human Services Secretary. He is angry. He blames reporters and their tough questions at the briefings.

No one asked the President a question there. He just started musing about sunlight and disinfectant somehow ingested or injected into the body.


And look, I think his tweet yesterday about how the briefings are a waste of time are because his advisers have all been urging him, almost all, to stop doing these briefings. They are becoming a form of self-sabotage, as my colleague Jonathan Martin and I wrote this weekend.

The President doesn't like the appearance that he's being managed. That he's described that this is something that he's doing on his own. But I think you can expect that at least for a while, the briefings are likely to be pared down.

Will they go away entirely? I think that's a big open question. It depends on what his travel schedule looks like going forward. We do expect him to start traveling again in as soon as a week, obviously not to rallies but to other events.

But look, these are self-inflicted wounds. You know, these briefings in reality should be about informing the press and the public about what is happening with this virus, deaths, closures, efforts to try to protect the health and safety of the public. And instead they've just become these grievance airings for the President for up to two hours at a time.

KING: and I want to show the headline of your story because it's a very -- it's an excellent story and I want people to read it, about the President's mindset, but also the nervousness now spreading throughout the Republican Party that if the President keeps this up, he's not only going to cost himself reelection but he may take the Republican Senate with him as well.


KING: One of the -- you can understand the President's frustration, the timing here, pandemic in an election year. You can understand the President's frustration. Yes, tough questions and accountability about the administration's response. What I call a lost February here.

But you also note -- look, President -- you know this better than anybody, you've covered this president for so long -- he likes to be in charge. He likes to have control. If he doesn't have control, he likes to take control.

But he's learning that biology and a virus does not listen to tweets and bullying. You can't sway it. And it has to have hit him this week that if you look here, the Centers for Disease Control and the Surgeon General, both essentially having to contradict the President of the United States on his favorite platform -- Twitter. Telling people, please, follow your doctor's advice -- this is my translation -- listen to your doctor, not the President.

HABERMAN: Right. But the argument of the White House was, the President was taken out of context which is actually something that they often say. In this case, it was he was taken out of context because he was asking whether it could be checked out.

Sure, that's true. He did look at Dr. Birx and say is this something that, you know, it could be done. But even musing about that, as president, in the middle of a health crisis is going to be heard as a suggestion by a number of people for whom -- his are the only words. There's a large segment of the population that only believes what he says. And presidents do have responsibility to be careful about what they say in public. That is not something that he has tended to think about.


HABERMAN: And to your point about his frustrations, there's no question he's frustrated that this has happened. There's no question he's frustrated with what the economy has cratered into. But as frustrated as he is, there are millions and millions of Americans who are out of work. There are tens of thousands of Americans who have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands who are sick.

And people are not going to care as much about the President's emotions right now. George W. Bush was probably pretty frustrated on 9/11, but that was not the operative discussion about his emotions. And yet every day we are discussing how the President feels about this. That's just of lesser importance right now.

KING: How he feels about it and at times -- and you make a very important point. Some people say, well, why do we cover him? Why do we spend so much time fact-checking him. He has convinced a slice of America, his base, not to trust the experts, not to trust the media, not to trust the experts.

So we see, and here's just a snippet of his constant disagreements with his own scientists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're not in a situation where we say we're exactly where we want to be with regard to testing.

TRUMP: No, I don't agree with him on that. No, I think we're doing a great job on testing. I don't agree. If he said that, I don't agree with that.

Deborah -- have you ever heard of the heat and the light relative to certain viruses yes, but relative to this virus?



KING: This tension has been a constant -- and I was just talking to Senator Cassidy about this, there is a slice of America that listens very closely to this president. He has told them to only listen to him.

HABERMAN: That's correct and that is the problem here. The doctors -- and I think Dr. Birx has developed a better rapport with the President than Dr. Fauci has. But the doctors, and in terms of being able to get through to him, but the doctors have been very clear, this is a new virus. There's a ton we don't know about it. Of course, information is changing over time because they're learning more things about this virus over time.

But they are trying to phrase their statements, if you listen to what they say, the two of them will generally say things like right now, what we know, and they're allowing that things can change.

The President speaks in absolutes. The President speaks as if everything that comes out at a certain moment is definitive and then people get called out if their views change or their statements change.

The doctors -- look, they have taken a much more aggressive, and in the words of someone that (INAUDIBLE) alarmist view than I think some of the President's political advisors would like. And that's an understandable tension and there's going to be that tension because this modeling is an imprecise science, as Dr. Fauci has repeatedly said.

That said, doctors are the ones who are likelier to give the public better and more up-to-date advice than a politician.

KING: True point there. And we'll see what changes with the briefings in the week ahead and whether this dynamic changes.

Maggie Haberman -- appreciate your insights this Sunday.

Up next for us, the big global developments including a return to normal in Wuhan where it all began. And coronavirus by the numbers: 88 million stimulus checks, a

projected $3.7 trillion deficit, nearly 3.5 million Americans celebrating Ramadan in this new normal, and more than 15 million viewers for the NFL's virtual draft -- that a new ratings record.




FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: European automakers is trying to ramp up their production again. Volkswagen, as Europe's largest automaker, is opening two factories this week but workers there have to adhere to very strict physical distancing guidelines.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Parliament is back in session but a new temporary hybrid version. Only 50 lawmakers will actually be allowed into the chamber with another 120 members calling to join via video link.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The government is having a hard time getting people to comply with social distancing guidelines, even as this country enters the golden week under a state of emergency, amid increasingly dire warnings from the government that hundreds of thousands of people could die without social distancing measures.


KING: A flavor there of some of the big global developments and notice a common theme -- how to find the new normal balance between safety, work, and moving about in public.

In the U.K., one of the world's highest profile coronavirus patients is heading back to work. Prime Minister Boris Johnson due back at 10 Downing Street on Monday.

Our international perspective this Sunday also includes an only-on-CNN visit to Wuhan, China where this pandemic of course, began.

CNN's David Culver returns to find the city nervously taking the early steps to emerge from a long lockdown.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John -- being back here in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak three months after the lockdown took effect is a bit surreal. And at the same time you get a sense for life and its attempts to restart.

You see that folks while hesitant are also trying to get their businesses back open. And for many, that's a struggle. I mean we've spoken with small business owners here who quite frankly say they cannot recover from the financial crushing blow of a 76-day lockdown, being sealed inside their homes. And even if they were to reopen, many of them are concerned that they won't have the customer base, that their clients will be too hesitant to return to a place where they could potentially be exposed to the virus.

I asked about, perhaps getting some government assistance. But one small business owner we spoke with said it's possible that will come, but it's not going to happen any time soon. And he anticipates it will likely come far too late for him to keep his restaurant open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For private businesses like us, there's almost no subsidies. Considering the possibility of a second wave, very likely we will leave this business and find another job.

CULVER: It's interesting to see the security procedures that are still in place here. The health security ones in particular. Now, you can see, we wear a mask. Everybody that you'll see around me, if they're walking past, likewise wearing masks. It's mandatory, it's part of the law here.


CULVER: But even as we came into our hotel, each and every time we go in and out, they not only check your temperature, which is pretty standard, pretty much anywhere you go around here, but they also have decided to start disinfecting us from head to toe. They use a pesticide-like spray bottle and they have a sanitizer solution inside and they go up and down, not only on our clothes but also on our shoes and on any luggage that we're bringing with us. It's their way of feeling a bit more secure.

Then once you're inside, you can notice the elevator, the doors open and you'll see four sets of footprints on the floor, in the four different corners of the elevator. That's where they want you to stand to keep our social distance. They even have a tissue in there so that you can touch the buttons and not use your bare fingers. And then you can dispose of it in the trash.

Sanitation stations are pretty much all over the place as well. This is their way of trying to prevent this virus from spreading even further.

Now, once we wrap up, from here we will continue on. Now we've already had our own COVID testing. My team and I have all tested negative, which is a fortunate thing. But then it's also about getting around and tracing. And I'm going to show you the QR code that we rely on in order to do that.

It's done through the app that people use to make payments such as Ali Pay and We Chat. And once you have it, the QR will open up on your phone and from there you can then have access, if it's green, to pretty much any public place and other parts of the city. For us, it would be back in Shanghai.

A lack of privacy, no question. But it's also their attempt at tracking the spread of this virus -- John. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Our thanks to David Culver and our entire remarkable international team.

That's it for us. Hope to see you during the week as well, we're here at 11:00 a.m. and at noon -- Eastern.

Don't go anywhere, a very busy "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper up next. Jake's guests include the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, White House CORONAVIRUS COORDINATOR Dr. Deborah Birx, the Colorado Governor Jared Polis, and the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday in these troubled times. Stay safe. Have a good day.