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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Upset Over Poll Numbers?; Vaccine Search; Interview With Mayor Jane Castor (D), Tampa, FL And Mayor London Breed (D), San Francisco, CA; World Central Kitchen Has Served Almost Four Million Meals; Trump On Testing: I Don't Know That All Of That's Even Necessary; Trump Offers No Specifics On How He'll Protect Workers In Meat Processing Plants He Ordered To Reopen. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 29, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It's a glimmer of hope, with more than 60,000 coronavirus deaths already here in the United States and about a quarter-of-a-million worldwide.
Also breaking, Florida's governor just announced moments ago that parts of the state will begin to reopen on Monday. But the state's three biggest counties, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, will be excluded from this first phase of easing restrictions.
About half of the U.S. states are now moving to reopen, apparently without meeting White House guidelines for a 14-day decline in cases.
Let's start our coverage this hour with Nick Watt. He's joining us from Santa Monica out in California.
Nick, there appears to be a good deal of optimism about this antiviral drug remdesivir.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there is a lot of, I suppose, hope being put on this drug, but it's interesting to note that, at this point, nowhere in the world is remdesivir approved to treat anything, not yet.
But the FDA tells CNN that they are in an ongoing dialogue with its maker to get it out to patients as soon as possible.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.
WATT (voice-over): Very early results from trials of remdesivir suggest this antiviral drug actually might treat COVID-19.
FAUCI: The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover. This is really quite important.
WATT: This is not a cure. In studies touted by Dr. Fauci today, it lowered mortality and shortened the duration of the illness.
DR. KATHLEEN NEUZIL, CORONAVIRUS VACCINE RESEARCHER: For an antiviral to work in a positive way in these very sick patients, to me, is indeed very good news.
WATT: Many states in this country now planning to reopen, and soon, despite dire warnings from Dr. Fauci for the fall.
FAUCI: It is more likely than not that we will see this again and again until we really stick the nail in the coffin of this outbreak by a vaccine.
WATT: Pfizer now says it will begin testing one in the U.S. shortly and claims it could supply millions by the end of the year.
Oxford University in the U.K. started human trials last week of its own possible vaccine. Still, America's biggest mall operator plans to start opening 49 malls across 10 states Friday.
Parks reopened in Miami this morning. Florida's governor, who was late to close, just unveiled his plan for reopening the state.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This new phase will start on Monday, May 4, and will for the time being exclude Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. These counties have seen the lion's share of the state's epidemic. We need to focus on facts and not fear.
WATT: But, tonight, there's concern that Florida's death toll may not be accurate. The medical examiner's commission stopped releasing its list of coronavirus death, which were often higher than official state tallies, after the Health Department intervened, this according to "The Tampa Bay Times."
They say the list might need to be redacted, hence the delay.
Right now, it does not appear that any state meets the vague advisory White House guidelines that call for a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period before any reopening.
Haircuts are already allowed in Colorado and Georgia. In California, we're told that's still months away by a governor now feeling pressure from those earlier openers.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): There's no question it puts pressure. I would be lying to suggest otherwise. I'm worried we can erase all the gains in a very short period of time.
WATT: Meanwhile, a new Marist poll shows 65 percent of Americans think it's also a bad idea for people to return to work without further testing, and 91 percent think we shouldn't be holding large sporting events yet.
FAUCI: I hope that there's some form of baseball. I mean, it's for the country's mental health.
WATT: Around 2,500 just attended the funeral of a popular rabbi in Brooklyn. Twelve summonses were issued for violating social distancing and refusing to disperse. The city's mayor called out the entire Jewish community on Twitter and was criticized.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: I regret if the way I said it in any way gave people a feeling of being treated the wrong way. That was not my intention. It was said with love, but it was tough love. It was anger and frustration.
WATT: And that model often cited by the White House says 74,000 will have died by August 4. It could be sooner. We're already nearing 60,000.
WATT: And, in fact, we have now passed 60,000.
Now, over in Florida, Governor DeSantis laid out his plan for what his state is going to look like Monday when they start reopening. He's been pretty bullish on reopening, but even he is not turning all the lights back on all at once.
On Monday, still closed will be movie theaters, schools, gyms, hairdressers, bars. People will still not be allowed to visit relatives in nursing homes. Retail will be open at 25 percent -- operating at 25 percent. Elective surgeries will be back across the state.
And this is interesting. Restaurants will be open, 25 percent seating capacity inside. Outside, you will be able to sit as long as you are six feet away from the next table.
The governor hopes that getting people back into restaurants might in fact ease the congestion in grocery stores -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, let's not forget, though, those three big counties, the three biggest counties in Florida, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, exempt. They will continue to be under the same restrictions as they have been. They are not reopening in those three counties, about 30 percent of the population of Florida right there.
Nick Watt reporting for us, thank you.
Meanwhile, President Trump is questioning whether the amount of coronavirus tests that are being produced will eventually really be necessary.
Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the president spoke out about testing just a few moments ago.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
Just wrapped up these comments a few moments ago. And on the critical need for more testing for the coronavirus, the president just told reporters -- quote -- "I don't know that all of that is even necessary."
The president said that just as he's been trying to reassure Americans that he is ramping up testing for the coronavirus, and most medical experts agree the U.S. will need a massive number of tests for Americans to safely go back to work.
In the meantime, even as the U.S. has reached one million cases of the coronavirus and 60,000 deaths, President Trump says he's ready to start social distancing measures to be turned down, to be faded out, as he described it earlier today.
The president's son-in-law went further. Jared Kushner is calling the administration's coronavirus response a great success, even though recent polls just don't show that.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Even as the number of dead in the U.S. from the coronavirus is surpassing recent White House estimates, President Trump is cheering on states that are rolling back their social distancing measures.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think a way of saying it, we will -- they will be fading out, because now the governors are doing it. I am very much in favor of what they're doing. They're getting it going.
ACOSTA: The president's son-in-law went further than that, dubbing the administration's response a big success.
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: The government, federal government, rose to the challenge. And this is a great success story. And I think that that's really what needs to be told.
ACOSTA: The president is sending signals to the governors to reopen just one week after he blasted Georgia for flouting the administration's social distancing guidelines.
TRUMP: I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump continues to tout his performance on the virus, even as the number of cases race past the one million mark and approach 60,000 deaths.
The president predicted in February the U.S. would be down to zero cases.
(on camera): How did we get from your prediction of zero to one million?
TRUMP: 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. So we could go to some of these other countries, as an example, China,
if you test, you're going to show many more cases. So we're testing. We're doing more testing than any other country in the world by far.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But hold on. As the president keeps saying, the U.S. is outperforming other countries in testing. Look at the numbers from this week. The U.S. has conducted between 16 and 17 tests per 1,000 people. That's fewer than Spain, Italy and well behind Iceland.
TRUMP: So, we reached a million cases. And that's a tremendous amount. And the reason is because of testing, because other countries don't test. So, if you don't test, you're not going to find cases.
ACOSTA: The president told reporters he thinks the U.S. will be able to test five million people per day.
TRUMP: Well, we're going to be there very soon. If you look at the numbers, it could be that we're getting very close. I mean, I don't have the exact numbers.
ACOSTA: But the U.S. has only conducted about six million tests so far.
A top administration official told "TIME" magazine: "There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day or even five million tests a day."
Still, there is one glimmer of hope, as Dr. Anthony Fauci said the drug remdesivir has now shown promise as a treatment for the virus.
FAUCI: The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover.
ACOSTA: But the White House is still sending mixed messages with Vice President Mike Pence. For in positive effect, with Vice President Mike Pence refusing to wear a mask as he toured the renowned Mayo Clinic. That's despite the clinic's policy that visitors were a mask, a reflection of the administration's recommendations to Americans, though the president has said masks aren't for him.
TRUMP: 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.
ACOSTA: Now, a senior administration official confirms the Trump administration is launching what's being called Operation Warp Speed to accelerate development of a coronavirus vaccine.
The operation's goal is to have hundreds of millions of doses available to Americans by the end of the year. And while that sounds great, we should note, medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have cautioned that it may not be possible to meet that kind of schedule -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It'd be great to get a vaccine, obviously. Great to get a treat. That would be wonderful news indeed.
All right, Jim Acosta reporting for us, thank you.
In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, we're also now just learning that President Trump has been fuming about the criticism he's been receiving involving his handling of the pandemic.
Let's go to our White House correspondent, Jeremy Diamond, who has been doing some important reporting on this.
So, what are you hearing, Jeremy, from your sources?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as this coronavirus pandemic has really upturned President Trump's economic gains under his presidency, the president is growing increasingly unnerved about his reelection prospects in 2020.
Republican National Committee aides, as well as the president's reelection campaign aides, have presented him with data in recent -- in the last week, actually, Wolf, showing that he is facing defeats potentially in some of the key battleground states if things don't change.
And it was after he received that information Friday that the president actually erupted, I'm told, at his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, berating him for his slide in the polls and even threatening to sue him.
Now, it's not clear exactly what the president was threatening to sue his campaign manager over or how serious he was about the threat. But, again, this really just underscores the extent to which the president is increasingly looking at this 2020 reelection with some unease and really that anger, Wolf, is beginning to boil over.
Now, look, the president is still working towards this reelection. He's eager to also get out of the White House more, but, already, Wolf, we are seeing those concerning signs, as far as the president is concerned. That's what he is seeing, at least, in his internal data from the RNC and the Trump campaign.
BLITZER: He's obviously very anxious to get out of the White House. In fact, he just said he might be heading soon to Arizona, among some other states.
All right, Jeremy Diamond reporting for us, thank you.
Let's get some more on the breaking news from Florida , where parts of the state will begin reopening on Monday.
Let's talk about that and more, how Florida's response compares to what we're seeing in California as well.
We're joined by the mayor of Tampa, Jane Castor, and the mayor of San Francisco, London Breed.
Mayors, thank you so much for joining us.
Mayor Castor, the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, you just heard him. He laid out his plan for reopening your state, excluding those three big counties in South Florida, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Can your city of Tampa safely follow his plan starting on Monday? What's your reaction to what he laid out?
MAYOR JANE CASTOR (D), TAMPA, FLORIDA: Well, I do believe that we can safely follow that plan.
The testing has been ramped up. We do have the contact tracing in place. We have a syndromic surveillance system, so that we will be able to map hot spots. But I think the best aspect of this opening up is that it is a very, very slow roll.
So, if we see an increase in cases, we will be able to tighten back down very quickly.
BLITZER: Well, that's important to know.
Mayor Breed, out in California, your Governor Gavin Newsom says your state is weeks away from rolling back the stay-at-home orders, still months away from opening some nonessential businesses.
Tell us why you think California is taking a very different approach right now than Florida, for example.
MAYOR LONDON BREED (D), SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: I think that we are really focused on making sure that, especially here in San Francisco, people think that, because they see the curve flattening somewhat, that we have accomplished something great here.
And we have, but we don't want to roll back these important gains. We are still not out of the woods. We have still not seen a decline in the curb. And we want to make sure that we're cautious as we start to reopen, because we also know that the need to move our economy forward is necessary.
Just today, we announced the ability to resume construction and to allow outdoor businesses, with specific conditions in place to still protect people. But we are also prepared, if things start to surge, to go back to being more restrictive.
So I think we're approaching this cautiously.
BLITZER: Well, you should be approaching it cautiously, because lives clearly are at stake.
Mayor Castor, Florida and California may be approaching the -- perspectives, but both states have seen relatively low, relatively low numbers of deaths compared to several other states.
What do you attribute Florida's lower death toll to?
CASTOR: I attribute it to the citizens, specifically here in the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County.
We put the safer-at-home order in place relatively early. And I have to give a lot of credit to my friend London Breed, because she talked about that, the significance of putting that in place, and was the best step that you could take.
And so I was able to convince our emergency policy group to put that in place, but it really is the citizens who took their personal responsibility very, very seriously, and adhered to that safer-at-home order.
And I think that -- with a number of other smaller steps, but that was the most significant one, was that our citizens did the right thing.
BLITZER: They certainly did.
Mayor Breed, I want you to listen to something the president, sanctuary cities, as he calls them, like San Francisco, receiving relief funding. Listen to this. Then I will get your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't think you should have sanctuary cities. If they get aid to the cities and states for the kind of numbers you're talking about, billions of dollars, I don't think you should have sanctuary cities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So what's your response, Mayor Breed?
BREED: Well, I still am trying to understand why we're still listening to what the president is saying.
We have real problems. Real lives are impacted. And it's important that we focus on all the people in all of our cities, because this virus doesn't discriminate against anyone based on whether or not they're an American citizen or not.
And we need to be focused on trying to make sure that we are supporting one another, we're uplifting one another, and we're keeping our cities and our country healthy.
That should be the focus of what we need to do. This is -- it's important that we come together now, more than ever before, because, even if California and San Francisco -- if we're doing OK and other states are not, that's a problem for all of us. We are all in this together, and we need to start...
BLITZER: Mayor Breed in San Francisco, Mayor Jane Castor in Tampa, Mayors, thank you so much for joining us.
Good luck to both of you. These are critical days that we're all following right now. Appreciate your joining us.
And just ahead: Dr. Anthony Fauci says the drug remdesivir has shown positive effects as a potential treatment for the coronavirus in early trials.
We're going to talk about that with our medical experts when we come back.
BLITZER: All right, let's get to more now on the breaking news we're following on a prospective coronavirus treatment.
The FDA reportedly is expected to issue an emergency authorization for the drug remdesivir to be used on COVID-19 patients.
We're joined now by our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Dr. Mark McClellan, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
Sanjay, do you share Dr. Fauci's optimism, his upbeat assessment about remdesivir?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's a significant thing that we have seen today. This was a good study.
It was a randomized study that's still relatively small and early, but I think better than the other data that we have seen. And as Dr. Fauci said, I think it shows some proof of concept now that there's a medication that can -- that can have an impact on this virus.
But I think we should be clear though as well. So here's a study, about 1,000 people. This was in several sites around the world. Half roughly received remdesivir. Half received placebo.
In the placebo group, it was a longer time to recovery, 15 days vs. 11 days. Now, that's about a 31 percent improvement in recovery time on the medication. So, that -- and that's significant, when you look at the overall findings.
As far as mortality goes, there was a trend towards improved mortality on the medication. But it wasn't significant enough in this group to be able to say convincingly that the medication itself is helping people live longer than not receiving the medication.
So it's early, Wolf, but there's been nothing else out there that has shown really any significant effect on this particular virus. So I think that part of it's optimistic. But this isn't a knockout, sort of. This isn't the big home run that I think a lot of people are hoping for, which is a high expectation, understandably.
But I think it could have impact. I think the question is, who should get it? When should they get it? And might it also decrease the amount of virus that people have in their nose and mouth, so as to reduce the spread of this infection as well?
BLITZER: Well, that's important too.
Dr. McClellan, according to "The New York Times," the FDA is planning to approve an emergency use authorization for remdesivir. You're the former FDA commissioner. Would you have made that call, based on the data you have seen so far?
DR. MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Yes, based on the data I have heard about.
I completely agree with Dr. Gupta that this is an important step. It is not a cure, it is not a home run, but this is how progress against viruses often takes place. You may remember, with HIV, we first had a drug that made some difference for patients, a real difference, when no other alternative treatments were available.
And we built on that. So, all of those further questions, what's the right dose, are there other treatments that we can add on, based on what we're learning here, we have a lot more we need to learn.
And that should happen while we're making this treatment available. So more studies, following patients who get the expanded access to this treatment, as FDA announced it was going to do, that's very important for making further progress, since we're definitely not done yet.
BLITZER: Yes, there's still a lot more work to do.
Sanjay, let me get your thoughts also on this effort to accelerate vaccine development. The Trump administration is working on what they're calling Operation Warp Speed. The goal is to have hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine -- there still isn't a vaccine, but to have some sort of vaccine available by the end of the year. Is that feasible? Is it possible?
GUPTA: Well, we have heard this now a few times. We heard it from University of Oxford, who said potentially a -- some type of vaccine for emergency use maybe by the fall.
We heard it from the NIH trial, Dr. Corbett, who said this as well, and then, obviously from Pfizer. It's accelerated. That's a fast timetable. And I always want to remind people that making a vaccine typically takes a long time, I mean, measured in years, even decades, not months like this.
And I think Dr. Fauci has been pretty consistent in saying, at least for the general public, this is a 12-to-18 month endeavor, at least.
A couple of things, Wolf. I mean, I think that the reason this type of timetable can be talked about even is because there was some building on knowledge from previous vaccine development for SARS and MERS. This is a different type of vaccine that we're talking about.
It's one that uses a genetic code of a part of the virus, messenger RNA. It's never been done before. If it works, it could be -- it could be faster, perhaps, than other vaccine trials.
But I still -- I would -- I hate to be the guy that's tempering expectations on this and also remdesivir. But I think we have to be a little careful here. There have been rushed vaccines in the past. And I know Mark can talk about this, but 1976, they rushed a vaccine in -- for H1N1 at -- or swine flu at that time.
And it ended up not being a good vaccine, caused a lot of problems. So, you got to trial it, and you got to make sure that it's safe and it's effective. And that just takes time, Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly does.
Dr. McClellan, we're going to continue this conversation with you down the road. Sanjay, as usual, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead: President Trump and Jared Kushner seem ready to declare a measure of victory over the coronavirus.
I will get reaction from former Obama National Security Adviser -- there you see her -- Susan Rice. She's standing by live.
BLITZER: Tonight, President Trump is casting doubt on whether the scramble to expand coronavirus testing will actually prove to be all that necessary. He and some of his top advisers are sounding ready to put social distancing and the pandemic behind them.
Joining us now Susan Rice, the former National Security Adviser to President Obama. She's also author of the book Tough Love, My Story of The Things Worth Fighting For. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us.
I want you, first of all, to watch and listen to what Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, senior adviser, had to say this morning about the Trump administration's response to this crisis. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER FO THE U.S. PRESIDENT: The government, federal government rose to the challenge and this is great success story.
We released the strategy document earlier this week. It was an eight- step plan. And seven of those steps have been completed.
I think you'll see by June a lot of the country should be back to normal, and the hope is that by July, the country is really rocking again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Ambassador Rice, what's your reaction to that? SUSAN RICE, FORMER OBAMA NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It's ridiculous. And it would be laughable if it weren't so deadly serious. I don't know how anybody with a straight face can call this a great success and declare this a mission accomplished moment when more than 60,000 Americans are dead, when more than a million are infected.
And this is the beginning, not the end of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Dr. Fauci's, whose judgment I trust implicitly, has just said that he believes a second wave in the fall is inevitable, and that's the pattern of pandemics in the past.
So we are far from being able to declare victory. And in any event, there's no victory when the losses on the battlefield in less than two months and exceed all of those through the entirety of the Vietnam War. 26 plus million Americans are out of work, the GDP is declining at a rate of almost 5 percent. That number is going to go way down. Our economy is suffering extraordinarily, and human beings most importantly are dying and suffering and losing.
So we need to come together, Wolf, with a realistic assessment of where we are. This is not the time for politics. This is not the time for victory laps. This is time to buckle up and realize that we're at an inflection point. We're either going to continue to take the steps that are necessary to keep Americans safe or we're going to prematurely declare victory, open everything before circumstances warrant, and we're going to be right back in the barrel in a worse situation in the months to come.
BLITZER: You've just written an article, an opinion op-ed in The New York Times, and you say it's not enough to just get back to normal. You also write this. The coronavirus has laid bare our domestic divisions on equal economy and glaring racial and socioeconomic disparities, as well as the fragility of our democracy. Ambassador, how should the United States use this crisis right now to address some of those problems that you mentioned fully exposed by the virus?
RICE: Well, Wolf, I say that going back to normal isn't acceptable because, as we've seen, what was normal has been extraordinarily costly and deadly for all Americans. And yet what we've also learned from this experience and for many of us it wasn't learning it, it was just making it very obvious to those perhaps who didn't see it, is that we have a society that remains extremely unequal, in racial and socioeconomic terms and so many other ways.
And yet as we have experienced throughout our history from, frankly, the -- look at the great depression, look at World War II, look at the 1960s. Out of every moment of crisis, we have found a way to do things differently and better. The works progress administration, the civilian conservation corps in the great depression, the G.I. bill after World War II, the great society and the expansion and insurance of voting rights for all Americans in the 1960s.
This is a moment not only of crisis, but inherent in that crisis is opportunity. And we need to take steps to broaden our social safety net to ensure that the most vulnerable have the healthcare, have the education, have the housing that they need.
But in the immediate term, because many of those things are going to take time and being ambitious, I recommend two critical steps that Congress could take in the next legislation that it passes. One is to ensure that every American has the ability to vote safely in our November election.
We saw the fiasco in Wisconsin, which has cost scores of lives. And we have a real challenge to ensure that voters are able to access the ballot by mail, by longer periods of early voting, by safer polling stations, and that is the job of congress to ensure.
And secondly, Congress can make a down payment on this effort to build a more equitable society by expanding national service. And in particular by creating something called a health force which can begin by employing unemployed Americans, students and the like to be contact tracers. At this moment, when a 100,000 to 300,000 of them are going to be needed for us to test, trace and open up safely.
BLITZER: Yes. We're going to continue this conversation, Ambassador Rice, thank you so much for joining us. We have a lot more to discuss down the road. I appreciate it very much.
Just ahead, concerns are growing right now about the strain the pandemic is putting on our nation's food supply as President Trump orders meat processing plants to reopen. I'll speak with the chef, Jose Andres, about his efforts to help feed those in need.
BLITZER: Many meat processing plant workers will soon be back at work after President Trump signed an executive order forcing the plants to reopen despite several recent virus outbreaks.
Let's bring in CNN's Omar Jimenez. He's joining us right now. Omar, what are you hearing from the plant workers where you are in Wisconsin?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. I've heard from multiple workers at Green Bay Area plants here that are dealing with coronavirus outbreaks among employees. One worker I spoke to who is recovering at home after testing positive himself, says, it's going to be difficult to get back working and doing so safely at these plants based on how closely these employees worked together.
And when you look at just three plants alone, they account for more than half of all the coronavirus infections in this county. And countrywide, we have seen thousands of workers either infected showing symptoms or hospitalized even at least 20 that have died and more than 20 facilities that have had to close as a result of this.
Now, when you look at this executive order trying to get those places back open, President Trump hasn't specifically said how exactly he's going to keep workers safe. But on the company level, Tyson Foods, for example, that had one of their plants close, says they'll be doubling benefits long term -- or I should say short-term disability as well as long as adding potential social distancing measures.
And then another aspect to keep in mind with this is to look at the exact populations that are affected in this. You look at the demographics of plant workers countrywide. More than 30 percent are Hispanic, 20 black. And when you add black, Asians and Hispanics together, that accounts for almost two thirds of all workers.
Now, on the Hispanic side especially here in Wisconsin, one worker I spoke to says many of them that he knows are undocumented, and so some of the same workers that have lived in fear of the administration at some points now are deemed essential, Wolf.
BLITZER: They are essential workers in those plants. Thanks very much, Omar Jimenez, reporting for us from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Just ahead I'll speak live with the chef, Jose Andres, the founder of an organization that has spent almost 4 million meals to those in need during the pandemic.
You see him right there. We'll discuss what's going on when we come back.
BLITZER: As many states are beginning to allow businesses to reopen, owners are trying to decide how many people they can safely serve while maintaining social distancing.
We're talking about restaurants. President Trump commented on the dilemma facing restaurants just a little while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We -- and one restaurant owner come up to me and said, sir, I'm going to be opening up, but if I distance too much, I have 50 percent of the restaurant I had. I said, and you'll also have a worst atmosphere. We want to be back where we can have -- we want it to be the way it was because --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Joining us now, the famed chef Jose Andres, the founder of the World Central Kitchen, which has served almost four million meals to those in need during this pandemic.
Jose, thanks very much for joining us. Thanks for all of the important work you're doing.
The president says he wants it to be the way it was. But based on everything you've seen over these past several weeks, Jose, is that realistic?
JOSE ANDRES, FOUNDER, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN (via telephone): Listen, I am not an expert but we are all following what has happened in China, more recently Italy, and Spain, where I am from, where I was born. And even with Europe, it is weeks ahead of us on the pandemic, they are barely reopening as we speak. So I believe that what we're trying to do in America is not -- it doesn't make a lot of sense.
I think we need to be patient. We need to be watching what's happening in places like Italy and Spain. I think we're trying to run (ph) this too quickly. It's OK to have a plan to reopen but we need to be following the experience of the health experts and listening closely to what they are telling us.
BLITZER: You created a plan, Jose, to feed communities while also helping restaurants, and it is regarded as such a success, that the governor of California, Gavin Newsom is adapting the same model to feed seniors in that state.
Can you explain to our viewers what you're doing and how others potentially can follow your lead?
ANDRES: It is very simple. Many weeks ago, World Central Kitchen, we saw that we are in an emergency, and a humanitarian emergency. And it's a lot of people that need to be fed.
In a moment that many NGOs are closing, because they don't have funds, or they're lacking volunteers. So if the restaurant industry is shut down, why we don't partner with the federal government, to make sure that we feed people in need.
What World Central Kitchen has done is we partnered with more than 500 restaurants, all across America, with one simple mission, let's feed the people that are in need. Let's feed the people that are hungry.
And I'm very happy that Governor Newsom, that he is very forward- looking, that he's been able to do that announcement in California, partnering with FEMA, who handles the emergencies, to make sure that elderly will be fed using private restaurants to cover that problem.
ANDRES: It's a brilliant idea when you bring NGOs, federal government and the private sector to take care of our program.
BLITZER: And, Jose, we're also hearing a lot about the supply chain issues and what's so heartbreaking, perfectly good milk, meat, produce, being wasted while so many Americans are hungry right now. As a restaurateur, an innovator, a brilliant thinker, how do you think we can better utilize our supply, or food supply chain, to help people in need, instead of throwing away the milk and the chicken and everything else? Why not get that to people who need it?
ANDRES: That is a good question and it has a very simple answer. The most important is that we recognize publicly that we have a humanitarian crisis. Our president, congress, they need to speak about the humanitarian crisis we are already facing.
Food banks are overwhelmed. Everywhere we are seeing is long lines. That's no matter what city we go. The number of unemployed is forever increasing.
So we have to solve this problem. How responsible, where we have farms throwing produce down the field, where at the same time, we have food banks that they are closing because they don't have enough food?
I do believe that the White House, Congress, they need to recognize the humanitarian crisis, and do everything in their power to activate creative ways to make sure the food will never be wasted and that the people who are hungry will be fed. This is a big problem that has a very simple solution. We need to put the support of the federal government behind recognizing the humanitarian crisis.
BLITZER: Yes, something has to be done indeed. We're going to continue this conversation down the road.
Chef Jose Andres, thanks for everything you're doing. We're grateful to you and your entire team.
We're going to have a lot more news right after this.
BLITZER: More than a quarter of a million people around the world have died from the coronavirus. Tonight, we want to tell you about two them and how they touched our SITUATION ROOM family.
Lois Ernestine Dixon was the adored grandmother of our associate producer Blake Jones. She was a high school valedictorian. She went on to become a loving wife and mother and active member of her church and a devoted U.S. government employee, for 35 years. She is survived by three daughters, Barbara, Bernadette and Diane, as well as four grandchildren, including Blake. Lois Ernestine Dixon was 84 years old.
Richard Thornell was the beloved uncle of our executive producer Emily Atkinson. He was a long time professor at Howard University Law School and a founder of the First Peace Corps operation with Sergeant Shriver back in 1961. He leaves so many loved ones behind including his wife Carolyn (ph), sons David, Paul, and Douglas, two grandchildren and their families. Richard Thornell was 83 years old.
We offer our deepest condolences to their families and all of the families, mourning loved ones tonight. May they all rest in peace, and may their memories be a blessing.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.