Return to Transcripts main page

ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Dr. Fauci: U.S. Could Be In For A Bad Fall And A Bad Winter"; Mayor Bob Scott (I) Sioux City, Iowa Discusses About The Outbreak In His City Due To Dakota City Outbreak; Trump: U.S. Will Conduct Five Million Tests A Day "Very Soon"; Pence Explains He Didn't Wear A Mask During Mayo Clinic Tour Because He Wanted To Look Personnel "In The Eye;" CNN Investigation: Many Labs Facing Critical Shortage Of Testing Supplies. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 28, 2020 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci warning the U.S. could be in for a bad fall and winter as coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 1 million known cases.

Plus, Vice President Mike Pence defending not wearing a mask during his visit to the Mayo Clinic. As you see, he was the only one not following clinic rules.

And will colleges reopen in the fall? One university president who is also a doctor says, yes, students can return to their dorms in August. He's my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the U.S. could be in for a bad fall and winter. That is the warning tonight from the country's top coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci speaking as another have cases in the United States tops 1 million. Fauci warning the United States could see more than the just increased forecast of 74,000 deaths if countermeasures are not in place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It could be a rebound to get us right back in the same boat that we were in a few weeks ago. We could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: That's a stark warning from Dr. Fauci coming again as the key model cited by the White House increases its estimate of possible deaths from 67,000 to 74,000 people. Fauci's warning comes as the President is expected to sign an executive order that he says we'll keep food on grocery store shelves. That order requiring meat processing plants in this country to remain open, even as plants across the country have suffered coronavirus outbreaks, with some employees dying. We're going to have much more on that in a moment.

I want to go now to Nick Watt, OUTFRONT live in Newport Beach, California. Nick, the Governor today there now a pretty stark warning there, going to be months not weeks before businesses like salons and gyms even open where you're standing in California.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They are going to be among the last things on the list, Erin. Now, the Governor says that the process will begin in weeks and not months. He's trying to keep people's spirits up, obviously. Among the first things to open will be childcare, because what the governor says is, listen, very difficult to get people to go back to work if they have nothing to do with their children.

He is actually floating the idea of starting the next academic school year early, perhaps even as early as late July.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (voice over): As more states open up ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're ready to go. Enough is enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT (voice over): The number of Americans projected to die also goes up. One key model now suggests more than 74,000 of us will be killed by COVID-19 by early August. That's up from a projection in early April of just over 60,000.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: If we are unsuccessful or prematurely try to open up and we have additional outbreaks that are out of control. It could be much more than that. It could be a rebound.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT (voice over): Yesterday, Georgia allowed indoor seating in restaurants and assuming social distancing is relaxed Friday. One model projects the state's daily death toll could nearly double. These are only models. They differ and can ultimately be wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. KATHLEEN TOOMEY, GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: We didn't meet the full gating criteria, but we met several of them and we were approaching a plateauing which made us feel that it would be safe to move forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WATT (voice over): Today, Florida's Governor was in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: I've worked with the White House on kind of going to phase one. I'm going to make an announcement tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT(voice over): Meanwhile in Alabama ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. KAY IVEY (R) ALABAMA: It's now time that we also focus on our economic health.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT (voice over): Starting Thursday, all stores, beaches and employers can open up, but with some social distancing. Meat processing plants in many states have now closed after outbreaks. Tyson, we're told, was planning to close 80 percent of production. The CEO says the food supply chain is breaking. The President now expected to sign an executive order forcing the plants to remain open.

Now, 31 states, including Florida and Alabama, are just not testing enough to reopen according to Harvard researchers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH, HHS: So tests are absolutely important. They're critical. They will be expanded dramatically as we will reopen, but it's not the only tool we have in the toolbox.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT (voice over): Confirmed cases continue to rise but the economy is crumbling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN HASSETT, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think that we're looking at numbers between 16 percent and 20 percent.

[19:05:00]

The unemployment rate at that point will be something that's about as high as something that we haven't seen since the 1930s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: Now, here in Newport Beach, California right now the city council is meeting to try and figure out what to do with this beach. Over the weekend, it was hot here in Southern California. All the beaches in San Diego were closed, same with all of the beaches in Los Angeles, here in Orange County, they were open and they were packed. In fact, the Governor saw the pictures and said that is an example of how not to do it.

So the city council right now trying to decide whether they restrict access, close some roads or just close down the beaches for the next few weekends, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you and I want to go straight now to the mayor of Sioux City, Iowa, Bob Scott, an independent. There is a Tyson meat plant that is nearby in Dakota City, Nebraska that is still open with an unspecified number of coronavirus cases. Mayor Scott, I really appreciate your time.

As we're trying to understand, Nick is referring to Tyson saying that this country is at a breaking point in terms of food supply. Just a few days ago, The New York Times said the Sioux City area where you are had the highest daily growth rate of cases in the United States and you said you believe the outbreak in your city is connected to that Dakota city plant I just mentioned, why is that?

MAYOR BOB SCOTT (I) SIOUX CITY, IA: Well, because we've had two deaths and I think they were associated with that company and even our health director said that it's a meat processing plant in a state near to us in a large employer. I mean, that leads you to believe that.

And the other thing is, for some reason, Tyson's unwilling to share those numbers, which to me doesn't make any sense.

BURNETT: So you also have a Tyson plant in your city and given what you're saying, I know you've got to be really concerned. I mean, what is your reaction then into the President's expected executive order which would force meat plants to remain open?

SCOTT: Well, it's probably too late to do much for our community because we're on such a rise now. I just checked and we had our first case on March 22nd. We're over 1,300 cases in our tri-state area right now. So, by the time that anything can be done, I think it's too late for us.

We're hopeful now the curve will start to go down like it has in other places, but it's a - it's just a little bit alarming to see that kind of an increase in the potential for loss of life and for at least people being very sick in our community.

BURNETT: Well, yes, and I'm also trying to understand if these plants are open what would happen. I mean, obviously, there's been what nearly 200 cases linked to another Tyson plant in Waterloo, Iowa. These plants have become clusters for the Coronavirus across this country.

Workers there told are Dianne Gallagher, our reporter was there and she said - they told her it was impossible to stand six feet apart. That that's just not how it's done. Masks, they said, were not provided on a regular basis. The one worker who tested positive said, "Tyson owes a lot of people an apology. I love working with Tyson, but as I see it, Tyson has no morals for me or for my life. If they did, they would have shut it down, and I wouldn't be infected with this virus right now."

Have you gotten assurances from Tyson about how they're going to do this in a way that protects workers?

SCOTT: No. I mean, we get the same thing that everybody gets that has a Tyson plant that they're separating their employees, they're putting masks on their employees, they're checking temperatures and all that. And I don't think there's any doubt, I'm not accusing them of not doing that.

I think they are doing it. But is it a little bit too late to do some of that stuff, because I don't think they did it early on because I don't think anybody understood the magnitude of how quickly this could spread in our community, especially in light of the fact that we were way behind the rest of the country.

BURNETT: Well, you probably have a really good point there. But there's video from Tyson itself, this just shows what usual conditions are in their plants. So this is their video before the coronavirus. But the reason I'm showing it is to show people how to close these workers are standing, right? They usually wear gloves and hair nets. They're dealing with raw food that's going to be going direct to the grocery store.

But you can see how labor intensive this process is. Have they, in any way, explained how they would be able to have these people not standing side by side? I mean they're not socially distanced.

SCOTT: I've walked around packing houses because I've grown up in Sioux City, so I understand how the process works. Unfortunately, you'd have to cut your production (inaudible) and I'm not sure that they're able to do that or willing to do that at this particular time. I don't know how you can separate your employees that much and still get to production that you probably need to remain profitable. So I don't think it can happen in a packing house personally, but I could be wrong.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Mayor, I appreciate your time and thank you for explaining that. Because I know that the big question across the country is you want those workers to be safe, but people also don't know about their own food supply and there's this double fear. Thank you very much, sir. I appreciate your time.

SCOTT: Thank you. I appreciate it.

[19:10:01]

BURNETT: OK. And I want to go now to Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So Sanjay, it's interesting what the Mayor saying and that, obviously, you and I are not meat processing plant experts here, but what he's - it seems like he's saying is this is going to be very difficult to provide the protection that you would need to and have the production that you need to for the country at the same time. And now that the President, of course, is saying these plants have to stay open, does that carry a risk?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, the thing that really strikes me is even the CDC is sort of weighing in on these types of plants, specifically, trying to offer some guidance, which is not going to be surprising guidance in terms of trying to maintain the physical distance. Also making the point, which I think is an important point that it's distance, but it's also duration.

I mean, sometimes people are standing next to each other for 10 to 12 hours sometimes is my understanding from the CDC's website. When you have prolonged contact with people, that is also a risk factor, even if you maintain that physical distance.

The other point, Erin, comes back to the same issue that we've been talking about for a while now, regardless of what kind of industry or what kind of business ultimately, if you don't have adequate testing, because you do the temperature checks, that's important, but we know full well now that people who don't have any symptoms can still be harboring the virus.

So if you don't do the testing and the testing is not robust enough and I just looked it up, and that area, the positivity rate is around 16 percent. You need to have it below 10 percent to really know that you're doing enough testing, they're not there yet. So they have to have the testing to be able to pull the workers out right away, isolate them, trace the context, all of the stuff that we've talked about.

But you're right, I mean, there are some environments that are just going to be very challenging to guarantee that safety and they've had people who've gotten really sick and died there, so it's a huge concern.

BURNETT: Yes. And I just want to point out for people in that video, that was pre coronavirus. They wear all of that protection equipment before that and it was still spreading. So for people who think just wearing a mask means you can be next to somebody, that video should just explain to people why it is not that simple and that is not the case. So I hope in that case, it's a powerful message.

Sanjay, I also want to play for you what President Trump just said about what's going to happen to the virus. I showed Fauci saying that his deep concerns for the fall and winter. Here's what the President said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our experts believe the worst days of the pandemic are behind us. I think what happens is it's going to go away. This is going to go away and whether it comes back in a modified form in the fall, we'll be able to handle it, we'll be able to put out spurts and we're very prepared to handle it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Go away and modified form, I don't know what he's trying to

say with modified form. What do you say to that?

GUPTA: Well, I wish that were the case. I mean, I think that in the beginning when we started tracking the novel coronavirus, there was a question of will there be seasonality to this, so it have these ebbs and flows depending on the weather. And there might be a little bit of that but it's becoming clearer even in places where the weather got really warm and very humid, the virus continued to spread a lot. China, for example, even after weather there changed, it continued to spread in places in the southern hemisphere.

First, we thought maybe we're going to be a little bit protected, because southern hemisphere wasn't exploding with the number of cases, but it is. So it's a contagious virus and we don't have immunity to it. So those two things in combination means it's not going to go away.

As far as coming back in a modified form, I mean, perhaps this is good news in the sense that this doesn't appear to be mutating that much. People always worry could this mutate to something worse, that hardly ever happens, but it appears to be relatively stable, which might be good news for future vaccine. But unfortunately, it doesn't look like this is going away.

BURNETT: Right. Yes. And as you point out, generally speaking, a virus would get less virulent over time if it did mutate. But President Trump was asked today about testing and the 5 million tests number that he had put out there that he said we were going to be doing per day, he said we're going to be there very soon. How that?

GUPTA: I find it hard to reconcile what he's saying with what I heard from the briefing yesterday in terms of the White House's plan. I mean, when I did the calculations and anybody can do these calculations, they're talking about 2 percent testing per month, so 6 million to 7 million per month. Five million per day is what the Harvard School of Public Health said we need sort of by mid June.

They say we need to go up to 20 million a day in order to really be in a position where some of these industries, some of the ones that we're talking about, can start to reopen. You can take a look at the Delta here, Erin, significantly we're currently - this is how many we've done so far, 5.8 million.

The White House maybe 6 million to 7 million a month, but ultimately 20 million a day, I think that we can get there. The plan that was laid out yesterday didn't give me a lot of confidence that plan was going to get us there.

There's a lot of things that need to change. I mean, this really needs to be a priority. I still feel like, in many ways, there's a, you're responsible for this. No, you're responsible for this.

[19:15:02]

This is a national effort. It has to be a national effort at this point because we're all in it together. If a state fails, that's going to affect you. It's going to affect me no matter where that state is, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sanjay.

And next, why was Mike Pence today at a hospital without a mask, even though the hospital told his office that he needed to wear one?

Plus, a CNN investigation, begging for help. Hospitals and clinics say testing in this country has stalled or even stopped in some cases, how is this still possibly happening in the United States?

And 10s of thousands of students at a huge public university may be able to go back to campus, back to the dorms for the fall term. I'm going to talk to the President of the school who is also a doctor about why he thinks it's the right thing to do.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:19:36]

BURNETT: Vice President Mike Pence with an explanation that doesn't add up as to why he didn't wear a mask when visiting coronavirus patients at the Mayo Clinic. You can see the Vice President. Here he is the only one to state the obvious who is not wearing a mask, even though that is the policy of the Mayo Clinic which says it shared that policy with the Vice President's office and that when asked why he didn't wear one, well, here's what the Vice President said.

[19:20:01]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since I don't have the coronavirus, I thought it'd be a good opportunity for me to be here and to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible healthcare personnel and look them in the eye and say thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. Here's the thing, it's not about whether he has the virus or not. He's tested regularly. He doesn't have the virus. It's also not about looking at healthcare professional in the eye because obviously, you still can if you're wearing a mask, it's not a burqa. It's about setting an example. Instead of ignoring the rules that officials are asking people to follow.

OUTFRONT now, Dana Bash, Chief Political Correspondent and Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN Medical Analyst who also advise the White House medical team under President George W. Bush.

So Dr. Reiner, let me start with you. As a doctor here and also given the role that you had advising the White House, what's your reaction to the Vice President of the United States being the only one to ignore the formal policy of the Mayo Clinic which had been conveyed to his office and not wearing a mask DR. JONATHAN REINER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE MEDICAL ADVISER: Wow. So

wrong. So tone deaf. Look, first of all, on one level this is just another in a series of mixed messages that we've gotten from this White House about this crisis. On the one hand, we tell the public that we want you to wear a mask when you go out in public. And now the Vice President, shows up out of all places a hospital and refuses to wear a mask.

We saw today that JetBlue is now going to require all passengers to wear a mask. But yet the Vice President of the United States, again, goes to a hospital and doesn't wear a mask. I was in late last night for an emergency procedure and then again early this morning. And every second in the hospital, I wore a mask.

Most of the time when I wasn't even in the presence of a patient and I wore the mask and we wear the mask every time we're in the hospital all the time we were in the hospital to protect our colleagues. So when we tell the community to wear a mask, we're telling them to protect their neighbors, the old lady that lives next door, the man down the street. You wear a mask to protect the community.

We want that message to be perpetuated by the President and Vice President, yet they refuse to do so. They refuse to set an example. I think it's disgraceful.

BURNETT: Dana, to the point that Dr. Reiner is making, the Vice President didn't wear the mask today. President Trump, of course, has said he's not going to wear one. His messaging has been confusing to say the least here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Oh, I just don't want to wear one myself somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute desk, the great Resolute desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, Kings, queens, I don't know, somehow I don't see it for myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I mean, it's almost like saying, Dana, he's too important to wear one and then today the Vice President whether he realized that although he certainly should have was sending the same message and what does that tell people across the country that they should be doing?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Dr. Reiner was saying, it's one thing to not wear a mask in the Oval Office or at the White House. A lot of people aren't wearing masks who are tested it out and about who we see at the White House. It's not just the President.

But it's a completely different thing when a senior official, one of the most senior officials, particularly the head of the task force, goes to a hospital and goes to a hospital in order to get out a message about the work that the hospital is doing and I can tell you there's frustration inside the Vice President's office now because they understand full well that everything that they wanted to do to highlight the work that the Mayo Clinic is doing is getting - swept under the rug or overshadowed by the fact that he made a mistake and he should have worn a mask, because of the guidelines of his own CDC, because of the rules of the Mayo Clinic.

And as both of you have said, just common sense when it comes to optics and leadership, I think, that despite the Vice President defending himself and explaining himself, that the reality of the mistake is setting in as we speak.

BURNETT: And Dr. Reiner, Pence said this to reporters when they asked why he didn't wear a mask. Here's Pence's response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: As Vice President of the United States, I'm tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And obviously, Dr. Reiner, that's a good thing. But it's really beside the point, isn't it?

REINER: It's beside the point. First of all, his test is only valid at the moment he's tested and he comes into contact with a lot of people. So while he may have been negative when he was tested at whatever point during the week, he wasn't tested as he was walking into the Mayo Clinic.

[19:25:03]

But on the other hand, look, the Vice President wouldn't disrespect the synagogue and not wear a skullcap when he walked into it to a temple or he wouldn't refuse to remove his shoes when he walked into a mosque. Hospitals are our new holy places and he's completely disrespecting the sacrifice that the nurses and the docs and the staff in hospitals make by not wearing a mask. What is he saying to them?

BURNETT: I mean, Dana, I guess that that really is the question and also it was an opportunity to explain to people about when they should wear a mask, right, that when you're outside, if you're out alone or not in a social distance, distance with someone you don't necessarily need to wear it, but he was obviously very close with people and in a hospital environment. That's the opportunity to show people, that's when you wear the mask.

BASH: Yes. I mean, this is obviously a very different situation to tell you about. But I was with the Vice President at the DMZ, between North and South Korea three years ago. And he was incredibly attuned to the optics of what it's going to look like.

So given whether he was behind the glass or outside, all of that, so given that knowing him and knowing that he understands optics and what that means imagery, what that means for leadership, and how it's perceived, it is surprising that he, no matter what his staff said, no matter what the hospital said, didn't get that in intuitively, when he looked around and saw everybody else wearing a mask. It was surprising.

BURNETT: Yes. I mean, just on a human level, everyone else is wearing one and you're not. That's just basic psychology. You feel awkward. You notice you are not like the others.

All right. Well, thank you both very much.

And next, a CNN investigation revealing just why testing in the United States remains, as of this point, in the words of one expert, a disgrace.

And a huge public university hopes to welcome students back to campus for the fall semester. So the person making the call is the school's president who is also a doctor and he'll be OUTFRONT tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:57]

BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump claiming we'll be at five million tests per day very soon. That is, of course, far beyond current levels just to lay those out. Right now, we're testing 200,000 a day. So, 200,000 a day, and they say they are about to get to five million.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is very skeptical about the current timeline to ramp up production.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: I'm always the skeptic in the group and I always say, OK, I hear you. I believe you. But let's see what happens. Let's see what happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, one of the big problems some hospitals are facing now is a shortage in the critical supplies needed for the tests themselves.

Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT with this investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What the president says at his briefings --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Confident that we have enough testing to begin reopening and the reopening process.

GRIFFIN: -- is not the reality at labs across the country.

SUSAN BUTLER-WU, KECK SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Every day is a struggle. GRIFFIN: A CNN investigation find a critical shortage of COVID-19

testing supplies at many labs is delaying and halting testing and the supplies that are available are often distributed unevenly, leaving big commercial labs with everything they need while some hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities don't have enough.

MARY BOOSALIS, PRESIDENT & CEO, PREMIER HEALTH: I know we need a capability to do a thousand tests a day. And we didn't have that.

GRIFFIN: Mary Boosalis is CEO of Premier Health hospital system who sent a letter earlier this month to Ohio's governor saying, inequitable distribution of reagents, the chemicals needed to perform tests, was impacting patient care standards.

BOOSALIS: We kept running into anecdotal information from vendors that said they had reagent but they couldn't sell it to us. And so, that was a concern to me.

GRIFFIN: Different labs need different supplies. For some, it's swabs, others, pipettes or reagent. Multiple health care facilities tell CNN supplies they order either don't arrive or they only get a fraction of what they need.

BUTLER-WU: It's not usual to place a order and be told the order will be cancelled and it can't be filled or we only get 10 percent of what we order.

GRIFFIN: Meanwhile, the biggest commercial labs like Quest and LabCorp tells CNN they have the supplies they need. The White House Task Force even shared plans to prioritize supplies for commercial labs. The big labs make up more than half of all testing in the United States, more than three million tests so far.

But experts say the inequity is leaving critical health care facilities where sick patients go to tested without necessary supplies.

BUTLER-WU: I think it's a disgrace. So, to prioritize testing to be sent away from the hospital that may have the capacity to do in-house testing is basically contrary to all the principals of optimal patient car.

GRIFFIN: The heads of major lab associations have been writing directly to the task force asking for help, like Carmen Wiley, with the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, describing significant barriers to testing because of shortage of necessary supplies.

CARMEN L. WILEY, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR CLINICAL CHEMISTRY: We feel there's a disconnect between the theoretical capacity and what we're actually able to do.

GRIFFIN: Some state governments also complaining about lack of supplies. Washington, D.C.'s health director says the district is only able to do half the number of tests it could if it had proper supplies, and it's clear the task force knows. This document shared with governors obtained by CNN shows the federal government discussing barriers to testing, including insufficient laboratory personnel, funding and supplies.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we're we leasing additional guidance on testing to inform the states.

GRIFFIN: Monday, the White House released a blue print for change that critics say changes little. State and local labs fend for themselves for precious supplies, adding to confusion, scarcity and lack of tests where they are needed most.

Overall, testing numbers are inching up when experts say we need leaps. Harvard estimates 500,000 tests a day at minimum are needed to reopen the country. Current averages are less than half that amount.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[19:35:02]

GRIFFIN: And, Erin, on CNN, Dr. Fauci acknowledged the problem. He said the federal government needs to do a better job of connecting the dots, as he said.

But, right now, health care workers, facilities, labs have heard that before. Like Dr. Fauci, they're just going to wait and see if the federal government does anything -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Drew, thank you very much. You know, it's ironic especially as the president says the federal government is place to go of last resort, not with the states, how states feel.

All right. So, let's go straight now to Dr. William Schaffner, former CDC official, professor now of Vanderbilt University's division of infectious diseases.

And, Dr. Schaffner, I really appreciate having you back.

You know, Drew was talking about some of the shortages of all the various supplies, right, needed for testing. It isn't just as simple as the test, as we've been talking about. But a lot of people watch this at this point and they say it has been months since I've been hearing about reagent and how we don't have enough, right, various issues. How is this happening United States right now?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIVISION, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, Erin, it's a big wonder, isn't it? Why don't we have it federally organized so that all the manufacturers and all the components of the test are working overtime in order to supply this need? It's a bit of mystery to lot folks out there and it's a bit of a mystery to me also.

I would think that with more federal direction, we could solve this problem. The aspirational goal of having many, many more tests is there. But we're not there yet. I will tell you that in some parts of the country, things are getting a little better --

BURNETT: Yes.

SCHAFFNER: -- including in my own state. We're testing more now this week than we did the week before that. So, we're making steps in the right direction.

BURNETT: What's your reaction, though, Dr. Schaffner, though, when the president sort of basically says, it's up to -- I mean, he's repeatedly, governors this is on you. It's not my problem. We're the place to go of last resort. That doesn't seem to match with what you're saying and with other experts are saying, which is that there should be -- to do this right, you need it to come from the federal level.

SCHAFFNER: Yes, far be it from me to make a political statement, but nonetheless, it appears straightforward that federal coordination would work best. It's the orchestra conductor keeping all the instruments in tune, all playing the same music. And I would think that more federal direction would be a great help.

BURNETT: So, then, let's get to how much testing is actually needed, because you're saying directionally, it's going the right way in several places. Obviously, we need directional, but also need exponential I guess would be the right way to describe it in terms of the increase. So, they're saying -- the White House says their goal is to have each state test 2 percent of residents. Doctor -- over a month, over a period of a month.

Dr. Jha from the Harvard Global Health Institute last night was just making the point to me that that would take four years to test every American and was categorically not going to be acceptable in terms of reopening the economy.

Do you agree that goal does not cut it?

SCHAFFNER: Well, I'm not sure about numbers but we certainly need to test many more people. That will allow us to know where the virus is active in all parts of the country where there's more, where there's less, that will help us to find the public health problem. And, then, of course, we need to have testing so that we can make the most diagnosis in the most people and test all the people who are exposed.

Those are the reasons we need the tests and every one is saying we need more tests for those quite legitimate both clinical and public health reasons.

BURNETT: All right. Dr. Schaffner, thanks again. Good to see you.

SCHAFFNER: Good to be with you.

BURNETT: And next, the University of Arizona is planning, right now, to reopen for the fall semester to nearly 46,000 students. The president of the school who is a medical doctor is OUTFRONT.

And as Joe Biden gets a big endorsement today, new questions about a serious allegation from his past.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:43:11]

BURNETT: Tonight, coronavirus presenting a difficult decision for colleges across the United States and that is whether to reopen campuses in the fall, to allow students to go about such a crucial time of their lives as scheduled.

But one university president who is also a doctor says he is cautiously optimistic that his 46,000 students can safely return to school and those in dorms, dorms in August.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Robert Robbins. He is the president of University of Arizona, also a cardiac surgeon.

Dr. Robbins, I really appreciate your time.

So, you come to this as an academic and medical professional. As a medical professional you know the risks. You know the risks about reopening a college campus with nearly 46,000 students for the fall. What makes you optimistic? Do you believe fundamentally you'll be open in the traditional sense of people being on campus?

DR. ROBERT C. ROBBINS, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA PRESIDENT; CARDIAC SURGEON: I do, Erin. Thanks for inviting me onto your program.

I think that it will be a combination of face-to-face classes and continuing what we're doing today which is a remote distance learning online mode. I think we're going to have to offer both, but we're excited about having our students come back to campus.

BURNETT: And, look, I'm sure there's a lot of them thrilled. I mean, I'm sure some are nervous but many want to continue with their education in the traditional sense. So, Dr. Robbins, Harvard announced yesterday that it will open in the fall. That was the headline, but then the real headline to me was not that, it was the warning from the provost which was, quote, we will need to prepare for a scenario in which much or all learning will be conducted remotely.

What do you say to those institutions that are explicitly, you know, saying most or all of their learning could just be online in the fall?

[19:45:00]

ROBBINS: Well, we think we can safely get people back to campus. As you know, we're -- when all this started back in mid-March, we began immediately to develop our own testing kits, swabs for the RT-PCR test for the viral load, and then in parallel, we began developing this Eliza antibody test that we're going to offer to all 60,000 of our university community -- all of our faculty, staff, and students.

BURNETT: Well, so you'll be able to test everybody?

ROBBINS: Yes.

BURNETT: Which is -- there's -- I don't know anyone else anywhere who has that sort of optimism or even able to do that. So, with what frequency? And does this allow people then in your theory, Dr. Robbins, to be back in dorms, actually?

ROBBINS: Yes, we think so. Obviously, we're going to have to use the precautions for mitigating this virus until as everyone has been talking about, we get the ultimate herd immune immunity, which is a vaccine, which is still at least a year away. But we think frequent testing, tracing and then to isolate our students will help us to safely navigate through this.

The governor, Governor Ducey of the state of Arizona found out that we were doing this and developing this all in-house at the University of Arizona and asked if we could be willing to scale up and test all front line health care providers and first responders in the state of Arizona. So, we begin that testing tomorrow.

BURNETT: And so on this crucial question, do you have everything you need because you developed it in-house whether it be reagent or you've got everything to actually conduct and read the test?

ROBBINS: Yes. We think we have everything we need. We're working on supply chains. But we feel confident that for our student population, our faculty and staff, we'll be -- we'll be all set for that.

And then the health care providers, we're planning to get that done in the next month or so. I would like, of course, to see it, to expand the test all 7.3 million residents of the state of Arizona. So, we're working with public entities, with philanthropic dollars and with our private partners to try to raise the money to accomplish this.

BURNETT: Well, Dr. Robbins, thank you very much. I hope you do accomplish that. I hope if you're able to reopen, you go at it with these plans, if you can. I know for a lot of kids, that will -- that will make a big difference. Thank you, sir.

ROBBINS: OK, thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, Joe Biden gets a major endorsement today. This as accusations of a sexual assault in the 1990s hang over his campaign. Our reporter has new details tonight.

And coronavirus deaths in the U.S. now surpass the number of American casualties in the Vietnam War. This as President Trump continues tonight to contradict his health experts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:52:12]

BURNETT: Tonight, Hillary Clinton officially endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I am thrilled to be part of your campaign to not only endorse you, but to help highlight a lot of the issues that are at stake in this presidential election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: The party uniting behind their presumptive nominee as a cloud looms over his campaign tonight. We are hearing tonight from a former neighbor of Joe Biden -- Tara Reade, a woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Joe Biden in 1993. This neighbor's account is the first on the record and detailed corroboration of Reade's assault allegation, an allegation that the Biden campaign vigorously denies.

M.J. Lee talked with this woman and is OUTFRONT.

And, M.J., before we go to that, I want you to walk us through if you could what Reade is alleging about Biden.

Can you hear me, M.J.?

Looks like she can't hear me, so we'll work on getting that shot back up if we can here.

In the meantime, bear with us. We'll take a brief break. We'll come right back. We'll have M.J. and we'll see you in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:16]

BURNETT: The party, the Democratic Party as I was just saying, you had Hillary Clinton endorsing Joe Biden before the break. And we were talking about allegations about Joe Biden from a woman decades ago.

I want to go to M.J. Lee. She said she had new reporting on this.

I wanted to start, M.J., by asking you about this woman Tara Reade. What is she alleging about Joe Biden?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tara Reade is a woman who was an aide in Joe Biden's Senate office back in the 1990s. What she has previously told CNN is that in 1993, she was asked to deliver a duffle bag to then Senator Biden, and that somewhere in a corridor on Capitol Hill, she had an interaction with him where he had her up against a wall, spread open her legs with his knee and put his fingers inside of her.

Now, the Biden campaign has vehemently denied this allegation and we'll talk about their full response in just a few minutes. But one thing to note is that Reade publicly said last year that there were interactions, physical interactions with Biden that had made her feel uncomfortable, like him touching her neck or her hair, but now she says that the full story is that she was sexually assaulted by Joe Biden as well.

BURNETT: So, you spoke with Reade's former neighbor and she's going on the record. What is she saying?

LEE: That's right. Lynda LaCasse was Tara Reade's neighbor in 1990s in California. And we spoke with her yesterday on the phone. This is after "Business Insider" first broke this story. LaCasse says that in the mid-1990s, maybe 1995, maybe even 1996, she had a conversation with Tara Reade outside of their homes and that Reade told her details of this alleged assault from around two years earlier. And that when she was telling the story, she was crying, she was emotional, she was sort of grappling with what she said happened to her.

And LaCasse remembers telling Reade she should file a police report. Now, Reade said she didn't do that at the time. Now, this account purportedly told to LaCasse within a few years of this alleged assault is the first time that we are hearing on the record in detailed corroboration of Reade's allegation against Joe Biden.

Now, Reade's brother has told us that there was an incident at the time that he was aware of. He didn't know the full details. And a friend has told CNN she was told about the alleged assault at the time, but she is not willing to go on the record.

BURNETT: So, M.J., do we know why LaCasse is choosing to speak out now?

LEE: Well, LaCasse says that she and Tara Reade lost contact for many years after the mid-1990s and that that conversation she actually hadn't thought about all those years, a few years ago she says they got back in touch. And last year, when Tara Reade mentioned Joe Biden, LaCasse said, I remember that conversation we had in the 1990s.