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U.S. Surpasses One Million Coronavirus Cases; Interview With Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Interview With Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D), Atlanta, GA; Fauci Says, Feds Need To Connect The Dots With States On Testing; California Governor Says, Some Schools, Businesses May Reopen Within Weeks; JetBlue First Major U.S. Airline To Require Face Masks. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 28, 2020 - 18:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM with a grim new measures of the coronavirus pandemic here in the United States.

More than one million cases and now has been reported, more than one million. And more than 58,000 people have died here in the United States over the past two months.

Tonight, new statistical models warn that thousands more may die, as some states rush to reopen. One model often cited by the White House now projects 74,000 U.S. deaths by August 4.

Also breaking right now, California's governor says his state is likely weeks away from reopening retail businesses and schools, with the number of coronavirus deaths and cases in California appearing, at least for now, to stabilize.

As social distancing is eased in parts of the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN that the federal government still is trying to -- quote -- "connect the dots" with states to expand coronavirus testing.

Let's go to our National Correspondent, Erica Hill. She's in New York for us.

Erica, even as more people are getting sick and dying, several states now are taking new steps to reopen.


It seems like, not just every day, but every couple of hours, we're learning more about what states are doing.

You pointed out California. Wolf, California has this four-stage plan for a phased reopening. They're already in phase one. For phase two, that would allow some -- what are called low risk of businesses to allow to reopen in some form. That includes retail, manufacturing, also offices where folks aren't capable of teleworking.

What you will not see reopen in stage two, though, would be gyms, spas, all the things that we saw open in that first wave in Georgia, the governor saying that third stage that would involve gyms, spas in- person religious services and sports without a live audience, that is actually months, not weeks away, saying there will be no return to normal anytime soon, until there is a vaccine and until they can get immunity.

But each state, as we are seeing, has its own plan.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: Globally, it's exploded in a way that's been unprecedented in a compact period of time, and everyone is at risk.

HILL (voice-over): More than a dozen states pushing forward, as new models followed by the CDC suggests the country could face a major setback if change comes too soon.

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR OF HEALTH METRICS, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Our forecast now is 74,000 deaths. There's a lot of unknown factors there, but our best estimate is going up.

HILL: That updated model, often cited by the White House, predicting the country could see longer peaks if restrictions are eased too soon.

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 to get us right back in the same boat that we were in a few weeks ago.

HILL: Alabama, citing a stabilization in cases, will begin a phased reopening on Wednesday.

GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): All retail businesses will be allowed to open with a 50 percent occupancy rate and not allow customers to congregate within six feet of one another.

HILL: State beaches are also included, Governor Kay Ivey urging residents to continue with social distancing and face coverings.

South Dakota announcing a back-to-normal plan, a set of guidelines which relies on individuals to maintain social distancing plan.

GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): The plan I'm unveiling today puts the power of the decision-making into the hands of the people.

HILL: Parks, waterways and golf courses set to reopen in the Miami area tomorrow. In the skies, JetBlue says all travelers must wear face coverings beginning Monday.

Air travel is on the rise, images of this crowded American Airlines flight raising concern. SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: There needs

to be a coordination and a requirement across the board, across aviation, like all other aviation policy that's federally mandated, and complies with the rest of the world.

HILL: Students in 39 states won't be back in the classroom this year, California considering a return this summer.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We're concerned about that learning loss even into the summer.

HILL: Meantime, the CDC updating its list of COVID-19 symptoms to include chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell.

At hospitals, grocery stores and on the streets of America, front-line workers push ahead, regardless of the changes being made. Along the East Coast today, grateful cities pausing for a flyover to honor their sacrifice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a beautiful tribute. And what better place than New York City for them to do this?


HILL: Wolf, a beautiful tribute.

And I can say that, here in New York and I would imagine in Washington, as well around the country, we are also still hearing those nightly tributes at 7:00. I even hear them in my neighborhood in the suburbs, as people come out to once again recognize those front- line workers, not just in health care, but folks working in grocery stores, delivering across the country every single day, keeping this country running, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Erica Hill in New York for us, Erica, thanks very much.

And, unfortunately, a very, very grim milestone has just occurred. More Americans have now died over the past two months from the coronavirus than died during the U.S. Vietnam War. That was over almost a couple of decades.

Right now, if you take a look at the screen, 58,365 Americans have died so far because of the coronavirus. During the Vietnam War, 58,220 Americans died. Once again, that was over several years of that war, a very grim milestone, indeed.

Let's go to the White House right now, where President Trump is issuing a new order to protect the food supply here in the United States during the pandemic.

Our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us.

Jim, the president wants meat processing plants to stay open right now, despite some serious problems of coronavirus in several of those plants.


President Trump is expected to sign an executive order using the Defense Production Act to instruct meat processing plants to remain open. This move comes amid worries, as you were just saying, that the pandemic could result in food shortages across the country, as the U.S. has hit another grim milestone today, one million cases of the coronavirus.

The president is pointing the finger at others when asked why he once predicted that the number would be down to around zero by now. The president is also saying the worst of the pandemic is behind us. But that's not a sure thing.


ACOSTA (voice-over): With the U.S. hitting one million cases of the coronavirus, President Trump is refusing to admit he got it wrong by predicting back in February the number would be down to zero.

(on camera): You predicted that the number of cases would go down to zero. How did we get from your prediction of zero to one million?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it will go down to zero, ultimately. And you have to understand, when it comes to cases, we do much more testing than anybody else. The experts got it wrong. A lot of people got it wrong. And a lot of people...


ACOSTA: Did you get it wrong?

(voice-over): The president is insisting the U.S. has a handle on testing.

TRUMP: The only problem is, the press doesn't give credit for that, because, no matter what tests you do, they will say, oh, you should have done this. You should have tested 325 million people 37 times.

No, the testing is going very well.

ACOSTA: The president is complaining about media coverage of the administration's testing woes, even though he made this promise to Americans back in March:

TRUMP: Anybody that needs a test gets a test.

ACOSTA: The White House is straining to ramp up testing as new modeling shows a rising estimate for coronavirus deaths in the U.S. approximately 74,000 by August, up from 67,000 projected last week.

Even the president appears to be embracing the new estimate.

TRUMP: Yes, we have lost a lot of people. But if you look at what original projections were, 2.2 million, we're probably heading to 60,000, 70,000. It's far too many. One person is too many for this. And I think we have made a lot of really good decisions.

ACOSTA: Coronavirus Task Force Dr. Anthony Fauci said the virus has become a global nightmare.

FAUCI: What keeps me up at night is the emergence of a brand-new infection, likely jumping species from an animal, that's respiratory born, highly transmissible, with a high degree of morbidity and mortality. And, lo and behold, that's where we are right now.

And the reason it's so unprecedented, it exploded upon us.

ACOSTA: Still, the White House is making more missteps, Vice President Mike Pence touring the renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota without wearing a mask.

That's despite the clinic's policy that visitors were masks. The head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn, wore a mask, but Pence didn't.

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 to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you.

ACOSTA: When the president was pressed on some of the early warnings he received on the potential for a pandemic:

TRUMP: I would have to check. I want to look as to the exact dates of warnings.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump tried to point the finger at Fauci, calling him Anthony.

TRUMP: You go back and you take a look at even professionals like Anthony was saying, this is no problem. This is late in February. This is no problem. This is going to blow -- this is going to blow over. And they're professionals, and they're good professionals. Most people thought this was going to blow over.

ACOSTA: But hold on. Back in late February, Fauci did say it wasn't necessary yet for people to change their behavior, but he warned the outbreak could be serious.

FAUCI: It depends on the nature of the outbreak. I mean, this could be a major outbreak. I hope not.


ACOSTA: Similar to warnings from other public health officials.

NANCY MESSONNIER, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.

ACOSTA: Actually, at that time, it was the president who was saying coronavirus cases would vanish.

TRUMP: When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we have done.


ACOSTA: The president said the administration is looking to test passengers on international flights headed to the U.S. for the coronavirus, specifically targeting flights, as he said, coming out of areas that are heavily infected.

No final decision that. And as the president was wrapping up his remarks in the East Room, he said he would not have a news conference this evening, Wolf. That is a break from the practice of having those nightly briefings to the public about the pandemic.

And one other final note, Wolf. We did hear from the Mayo Clinic. They put out a brief statement to us, saying that the vice president's office was informed of the clinic's masks policy when he arrived for his visit today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, I think almost everyone agrees he should have worn a mask, like everyone else there was wearing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Joining us now, the mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Mayor, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Fauci is also warning that, if we prematurely try to open up, coronavirus cases could rebound. And there's one new model that projects Georgia's reopening could cause deaths in your state to double by early August.

How concerned are you about that loss of life potentially becoming a reality in Atlanta?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: I am extremely concerned, Wolf.

And when I look at those models, I, of course, think of people. And I think of my four children who have asthma. And I think of my mother and my mother-in-law, who are both senior citizens, and one has underlying health conditions.

And even when you look at our state as a whole, you look at our numbers and our rates with obesity, with high blood pressure and diabetes, they are all above the national average. Our asthma rates are above the national average.

And then you factor into the African-American community, which makes up 50 percent of our deaths, but only 30 percent of our population, I am extremely concerned. Since noon today, 15 more Georgians have died from this virus. And so how we could possibly, in good conscience, open up malls across this state and open up restaurants and gyms and nail salons, and we are not headed in the right direction, really is mind-blowing to me.


And, as we just reported, more Americans have now died over the past two months from the coronavirus than died during the many years of the Vietnam War, which is a very grim milestone.

What are you doing, Mayor, to prevent the projection that we just saw from coming to fruition? Are you asking Atlantans to resist the temptation to return to restaurants, gyms, hair salons, spas, at least at this point?

BOTTOMS: I am continuing to sound the alarm. And that's why I'm so grateful for the opportunity to appear on your show, because people are listening.

I saw that there was a poll, and the overwhelming majority of Georgians do not agree with our governor, and they believe that we are moving too soon. And so there's so many people across the state who said they will not go out.

I had a meeting with my advisory council today to advise the city of Atlanta on how we should go about reopening. We have representatives from across the business community and public health professionals.

The head of Grady Hospital, the largest trauma center in the Southeastern United States, said, over the past three days, we have seen the highest number of people coming in related to COVID-19 than we have during the entirety of this pandemic.

And so I think that the governor obviously is the governor and can issue whatever order he feels is appropriate. But, as individuals, we can make the choice to continue to stay home to save lives. And I hope that's what the majority of Georgians will do.

BLITZER: By the way, we have repeatedly invited the governor of Georgia, Governor Kemp, to join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. But, unfortunately, he's declined.

He has an open invitation whenever he does want to join us. We'd love to have him.

When we spoke last week, Mayor, you said Governor Kemp hadn't consulted you about his reopening plan. You have since told my colleague Chris Cuomo no mayor wants to be at odds with the governor.

And yet you're standing in -- you're still standing in outspoken opposition to what the governor has decided. Is that just a sign of how serious you think this is, because you're clearly opposed to what he is doing?

[18:15:05] BOTTOMS: Wolf, over the past few days, my mantra has been from the poet Audre Lorde: Your silence will not protect you.

At the end of this pandemic, when we get to the other side of this, because we will, I will have a clean conscience, and I will not have on my hands blood on my hands. And I won't have to second-guess whether or not I did the appropriate thing as mayor.

And, as I have said to you repeatedly, I look forward to coming on your show in a couple of weeks and hopefully being able to say, I was wrong, the governor was absolutely right, because, if he's wrong, people will continue to die in our state, and they're going to die at higher numbers than the national average.

And that's just unconscionable to me.

BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point.

The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, is now suggesting that schools out in California maybe should reopen as early as late July, very early in August, given the fact that they're shut right now, as they are in so many other places around the country.

Is that a good idea for Atlanta? Should schools maybe reopen earlier than scheduled, the next semester in the fall, maybe in late July, early August?

BOTTOMS: You know, we will have to follow the science on that.

I have four kids here, one who finished his senior classes today. They are all ready, of course, to get out of the house and go back to school. But, again, my kids have asthma, and so many kids across our state do. So I will wait and see what the public health officials recommend on that.

I know that we're all eager to get back to normal. And perhaps, if there is some way that we can separate our kids and keep our kids and our teachers safe, then I would support that.

But I'd love to see what the public health officials have to say about that.

BLITZER: It's certainly worthy of consideration.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, thank you so much. Good luck to everyone in Atlanta.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead: Did President Trump ignore warnings, serious warnings, from the U.S. intelligence community about the coronavirus in January and February?

I will speak to the former Defense Secretary, the former CIA Director Leon Panetta. He's standing by live. And we will also get the latest on efforts to revive the airline industry. Will passengers be required to wear masks and take coronavirus tests before they board?



BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, the number of U.S. deaths in the coronavirus pandemic has just surpassed the number of American lives lost during the Vietnam War.

As of this hour, the virus has killed 58,365 people here in the United States. And, tonight, that's more than one million -- there's also more than one million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States.

Joining us now, the former Defense Secretary, the former CIA Director Leon Panetta.

Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us.

So, what's your reaction? You lived through the Vietnam War. I lived through the Vietnam War. What's your reaction to this very sad milestone?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I served in the military during the Vietnam War.

And to go to the wall and look at the names of all of the dead that are enshrined there, and to now think that we have exceeded the number of deaths in the Vietnam War tells us an awful lot about the tragedy we're going through right now with this coronavirus.

It is killing people, and it hasn't stopped. And that is, I think, a threat for all of us.

BLITZER: Yes. During the Vietnam War, 58,000 Americans were killed, died in the Vietnam War over nearly two decades of warfare.

In this particular case, it's been two months or so that 58,000-plus Americans have died.

Over at the White House today, the president reflected on his response to the pandemic. He said he's -- quote -- "very proud" of his ban on some travelers coming in from China. He said they have done a really good job on testing. He said, overall -- and then he said this. "Overall," he said, "we're doing a job the likes of which nobody's ever done."

How do you square that with the reality that we're seeing right now?

PANETTA: I don't understand how a president could be proud of the fact that there are 60,000 -- almost 60,000 people who have died and a million people who have gotten this coronavirus. It is -- it's been a tragic period for the United States to go through

this pandemic. And I think the president ought to acknowledge the mistakes that were made at the beginning, not doing enough to prepare for this kind of pandemic.

As a former secretary of defense, we used to prepare plans for all kinds of contingencies with our adversaries. We prepared plans. We deployed forces. We made sure that we were ready to deal with that conflict.

Unfortunately, in this case, those plans were never put in place in order to adequately deal with this pandemic.

BLITZER: I want to get your reaction to what "The Washington Post" is reporting, Mr. Secretary, that the president was warned about coronavirus in more than a dozen daily intelligence briefings he received in January and February, whether orally or in written form.

Watch what the president said today when he was asked about this. Listen to this.


QUESTION: Were you getting warnings in your presidential daily briefs about...


TRUMP: Well, I'd have to check. I would have to check. I want to look as to the exact date have warnings.



BLITZER: Why do you think those warnings from the intelligence community to the president weren't acted upon?

PANETTA: Well, it goes to the basic problem of a president who doesn't have a high regard for the intelligence that is being provided.

I mean, the reality is that the purpose of these presidential daily briefs, the PDBs, is to basically put together all of the intelligence that we are getting from around the world that indicates the threats to our security.

And there's no question in my mind that the pandemic was included in those briefs in order to make the president aware of the threat that the pandemic would have, not only on our country, but on the world.

But this president has a short attention span when it comes to that kind of intelligence. And unless there's somebody there who's making very clear that the president has to act on this, that this is an important issue that has to be dealt with, he's going to take the attitude that these threats come in every day, and he's just not going to act on any particular threat until it explodes. This one has exploded.

BLITZER: Let me get your perspective on another sensitive issue. And I know you speak as a former defense secretary.

The president still plans to speak at the West Point graduation ceremony in June. That means calling back 1,000 cadets from all over the country, bringing them back to New York, which has been a hot spot, as we all know.

Does that create unnecessary risk in the middle of a public health emergency right now?

PANETTA: I cannot imagine a past commander in chief -- and I have dealt in one way or another with nine former presidents -- I cannot imagine any of those presidents demanding, at a time of crisis, where we're dealing with a pandemic, that these cadets ought to come back to West Point and reassemble, endangering themselves, endangering others, in order for him to be able to give a speech.

He can give that speech from the White House. He can give that speech anywhere. He can go to West Point by himself and give the speech. But to call those cadets back and put them in a situation that could endanger their lives and endanger the lives of other makes no sense whatever.

BLITZER: Secretary Panetta, thanks so much for joining us.

PANETTA: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Leon Panetta, the former secretary of defense, the former CIA director.

Just ahead: As more states start to reopen, the projected number of coronavirus deaths is rising.

Plus, the vice president, Mike Pence, explains why he was the only person not wearing a mask during his visit to the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

We will talk about that and more. Our medical experts are standing by.



BLITZER: Tonight, Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN that the federal government is still struggling to connect the dots with states to expand coronavirus testing. He's also warning about the possibility that the virus will rebound coming up.

Let's bring in our medical experts. Dr. Mark McClellan, he's the former FDA Commissioner, he's the Director of the Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University, and Dr. Ashish Jha is the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Dr. Jha, back in early March, the president claimed that everyone who needs a test can get a test, but Dr. Fauci just told CNN just a little while ago that he hopes they'll be able to reach that goal by the end of May or early June. How do you explain why the United States is still not where it needs to be on this critical issue of testing?

DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE DIRECTOR: Yes, Wolf, thanks for having me on. You know, I think it's simple pretty simple in many ways. The federal government just has not taken this seriously. We've been hearing almost on a daily basis from the president that we have enough testing, that we're testing more than anybody else in the world. The bottom line is that this is going to require priority from the federal government.

States are doing the best they can but they can't do it alone. And I'm happy to see that it looks like they're finally starting to take the testing issue seriously, but we have a long way to go.

BLITZER: Dr. McClelland, you signed on to a letter calling for a $46 billion investment in testing and contact tracing. What needs to happen that's not happening right now?

DR. MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I just want to reinforce what Dr. Jha said about the need to take the steps right now, to enable states that are reopening, to do so with better containment capacity. And at the federal level that includes building on the steps the administration announce yesterday in terms of making more tests available, also means working more closely with the states because, Wolf, it's not just to tests themselves but also the swabs and materials that are using the testing and getting all of those to the places where they need to be used in each state.

And then when you have the test results, having people and having a system in place that can contact -- reach out to and contact those who have been exposed by each individual case and contain the further outbreak. So the sooner we can get all those steps in place, the sooner we'll be able to reopen with more confidence and safety.


BLITZER: You know, Dr. Jha, Dr. Fauci says cases could rebound if we open prematurely or unsuccessfully. Do you see anywhere in the country that has all the measures in place right now to reopen successfully?

JHA: Well, I think there are states, Montana, Alaska, Wyoming as three that come up, where the case numbers are very low. They don't quite have this much testing as I would like but they have a good amount of testing. I still think they need to put somewhere in around contact tracing. So I wouldn't say anybody is completely ready. But you can see some states getting very close to that.

Unfortunately, places like Georgia are very, very far from it. They have a lot of cases. Their testing isn't up to snuff. So I'm really worried about what happens when states like Georgia really do start to opening up. BLITZER: Dr. McClellan, let's look ahead through the fall. President Trump, just a little while ago, he sounded very optimistic about what is going on. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: 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.


BLITZER: He also said at one point our experts believe the worst days of our pandemic are behind us. What's your reaction to that?

MCCLELLAN: Well, I hope that turns out to be the case, Wolf. And I hope that form of any new outbreaks in the fall or otherwise are much more contained. But in order for that to happen, we still have hard work ahead. We have to keep increasing the testing and contact tracing capacity, just like we already discussed, and Americans are going to need to get used to a new normal, where distancing is going to be part of their lives, like the grocery stores they visited. If we reopen other facilities, there needs to be more distance. Schools, other activities are going to have to take extra care.

We'll also hopefully have some better treatment by fall, but I think the virus is still going to be with us and the new normal for the fall that we need to prevent another outbreak is going to be very different from what we had before.

BLITZER: Yes, and you're absolutely right. Dr. Jha, I want your thoughts on this video from today. It's the the vice president on a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. You can see he didn't wear a mask. He says it's because he tested -- he's been tested regularly for the virus. Does that make sense when he was specifically told that everyone who goes to that coronavirus lab at the Mayo Clinic should wear a mask? Dr. Jha?

JHA: So, Wolf, yes, sorry I didn't know if there was a video coming. So, Wolf, here is what the way I would think about it. First of all, I understand he's tested regularly, but he's still might have picked up an infection since his last test.

Second and more importantly, it's really important for leaders to model good behavior. And if we expect other people to be wearing mask, I think it's extremely important. And we have seen other leaders, Governor DeWine, our leader today was wearing a mask. I think it's really important for the vice president to model leadership and wear a mask, it will help other people feel more comfortable wearing a mask.

BLITZER: Yes, I agree. What about you Dr. McClellan?

MCCLELLAN: When I'm indoors, Wolf, especially if it seen some proximity other people or places where other people congregate, I do wear mask. BLITZER: We'll we're grateful to both of you for what you're doing, for all your expertise. We'll going to need you back here in The Situation Room soon. Thanks very much to both of you for joining us.

JHA: Thank you.

MCCLELLAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right. Just ahead, California schools possibly reopening within weeks. So what would it look like? We'll ask an education expert.

Plus, one non-major will now require passengers to wear mask. Will others do the same?



BLITZER: In California tonight, the governor, Gavin Newsom, says some schools, as well as some businesses may be able to open up within weeks as coronavirus cases in the states stabilizes. President Trump has been urging governors to seriously consider reopening schools amid concerns about the long term impact in education.

Joining us now is Sal Khan, the Founder and CEO of the Khan Academy. That's a free online education resource, very popular indeed. Sal, thanks very much for joining us.

The president says, young people do extraordinarily well in this crisis as he pushes governors across the country to reopen schools. What do you anticipate education will look like when the students can finally return to the classroom?

SAL KHAN, FOUNDER AND CEO, KHAN ACADEMY: Yes, I think the big issue as we go -- if we assume that most students are going to go back to school during back to school season, August or September, you always have a summer slide. Every year, not only these kids not to go to school in the summer but they forget over the summer. This year you have, I guess, you could say, a protracted summer, it's going to be five or six months.

And what the data is telling us from some of our assessment partners is that's not only going to leads of six months of not learning, but it could also be six months of forgetting. So if kids aren't able to keep learning over this time period using Khan Academy or other resources, you could have a lot of kids showing up this back to school with very big gaps in their knowledge. Some kids might have been able to engage. Other kids might not have. So schools are going to figure out how to support this very large range of preparedness, which is always been an issue, but that's going that much worse this year.

BLITZER: So what do you recommend?

KHAN: So the ideal is, for students to continue learning, and that's were trying to do as a not for profit, everything we do is non- commercial or funded by philanthropy. So we're putting resources out there to keep folks learning in math, English language, arts and the science, as we've published schedules.


We're publishing learning plans, and not just to keep learning over the next six weeks or two months, and the regular school year, but try to leverage the summer to keep that learning going.

We're also trying to work with other philanthropists, foundations, corporations, to make sure students have access, device access, Internet access, that's important not just for things like Khan Academy (ph), that's crucial I think for even mental health right now to stay connected in a time of social distancing. And then that will mitigate a lot of the risk or the cost, but then as we go into back to school next year, I think districts and teachers are going to have to spend extra time for students to catch up.

And that's where online tools can be useful, because if you're teaching by yourself, it's very hard to cater to the needs of 30 different students who all have different gaps, and are learning at different paces and that's what we try to build our tools to do, to allow kids to fill in those gaps and for the teachers to be informed in where they might need extra support.

BLITZER: You wrote in "The Wall Street Journal", let me read to you. Online access has gone from nice to have to must have in a time of social distancing.

How concerned are you about the disruption in education for students who don't have this kind of resources right now?

KHAN: I'm very concerned. You know, we -- I've talked -- we're very close with many school districts, places like Clark County, which is Las Vegas. It's the fifth largest school district. They've done heroic efforts getting in devices to students, but there is a large chunk of their population that when schools closed fair quickly, it's hard to even keep track of where the students are.

And so, you can imagine that those students are disconnected from the world at some level. They have been philanthropists like Ray and Barbara Dalio who have donated 60,000 laptops to high need kids in Connecticut, we're trying to work with anyone to get more of that out there, because there's always been a digital divide, and this crisis is making it clear that it's that much worse.

The silver lining, I hope, is that all of the various actors, government, corporations, philanthropists are realizing that as we get out of this crisis, this isn't a nice to have -- as I wrote, it has to be something that everyone has access to.

BLITZER: And you've got to have access to Internet. Internet access is a problem in a lot -- still a large part of the country.

How will the coronavirus, Sal, and the sudden switch to online learning permanently change the education landscape moving forward? KHAN: Well, I think what's forcing is thinking about how learning does

not necessarily have to be bound by time and space. For younger kids, especially K through 12, the in-person environment is crucial. I don't ever want to pretend that online is somehow a substitute for that.

But in times of closures, emergencies, evacuations, whatever you might be -- whatever it might be that is where folks can learn more on the online and the ideal is that it's not an either or, that when schools back in session, I think we're already seeing a lot of indicators from this, a lot of districts reaching out to us, that they want to leverage online more, because as we talk about, kids have larger gaps. Teachers need to some way support these gaps that are all over the place as we go to the next school year, and we might have more closures. We don't know what will happen with flu season picks up, when we get back into the fall.

So, if in five, six, seven months, we have another round of closures, it's not going to be acceptable to have just kind of ad hoc plans. And if the schools are already using some of these tools, it's going to be easier for them to lean more heavily on them in times of closures.

BLITZER: Let's hope these schools reopen quickly and the kids can go back to school and learn, which is so, so important.

Sal Khan, thanks for what you're doing, and thanks very much for joining us.

KHAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, commercial flights here in the United States appears to be on a more crowded right now as the coronavirus restrictions are eased in at least parts of the United States. Should passengers be required to wear masks when they board the plane? At least one airline now says yes.



BLITZER: Tonight, JetBlue is first major U.S. airline to require face masks on board flights.

Let's go to our aviation correspondent Pete Muntean over Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

Pete, you had a chance to fly today. What do you see and you expect more airlines to follow JetBlue's lead?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, passengers tell me they would like to see that policy extend to other airlines. First, let's set the scene for you here a little bit, Wolf. This is Atlanta, typically the busiest airport in the world, especially hard to believe right now. Also hard to believe that TSA numbers show that passenger travel is actually taking up slightly since those levels created in the beginning of the month. I flew in from Washington earlier today and it is nothing like those

videos that went viral over the weekend. Passengers were well-spaced in the waiting area, on the jet way, the boarding process is actually changed. Boarding rows back-to-front first, and almost everybody is wearing a mask.

JetBlue becoming the first major airline today to require that passengers where masks on board flights, and suggesting that they wear those masks in the airport. The COO of JetBlue says this is the new flying etiquette, that cabin air is well-circulated, but it is a shared space and customers need to follow those CDC guidelines.

Now, the question is whether or not other airlines will follow suit. Flight crews say they would like it. The American Flight Attendants Association applauding JetBlue's announcement. United told me that its policies are evolving all the time. American says it will soon start handing out disinfectant wipes to passengers as they board.


So, we will just have to wait and see, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, JetBlue providing the masks or do you have to buy the masks, or do you just have to show up with a mask?

MUNTEAN: No clarity from JetBlue just yet, Wolf. It sounds like they just have to -- passengers as they show up here at the airport also have to bring a mask with them.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. We'll see what happens.

Pete Muntean, thanks very much, and welcome to CNN. Good to have you on board.

And to our viewers, stay with us.

MUNTEAN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: More news after this.


BLITZER: There are all sorts of ways you can help people in need, and there are so many of them during this global pandemic. If you're looking for ideas, be sure to visit CNN's "Impact Your World" page. Simply go to It's really important.

Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.