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THE SITUATION ROOM
More Than Half Of The Country Goes Into First Weekend With Loosened Restrictions; Health Officials Warn Of Looming Spike In Cases; Fauci: Without Mitigation, You're Going To See Another Peak; Former Homeland Security Secretary Says The Nation Needs To Sacrifice; Boris Johnson Names Son After Doctors Who Saved His Life; Biden Denies Sexual Assault Claim. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 2, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breakings News.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM. Coronavirus infections and deaths still on the rise both globally as well as here in the United States.
Despite that, many states here in the U.S. this weekend, more than half in fact, are either partially open for business or preparing to open. The number of confirmed cases around the world now topping 3.4 million with more than 240,000 people around the world dead.
To show you just how horrific depend has hit people here in the United States. Consider this in the month of April, one person died of the virus every 44 seconds. More than 66,000 people in America have passed away in just 9 weeks. Even though the number of new cases is beginning to level off and in some cases fall, public health officials insist that now is not the time to let up on measures designed to slow the spread of the disease.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: Because there's no doubt in my mind that when you pull back mitigation, you're going to start seeing cases crop up here and there and if you're not able to handle them, you're going to see another peak, a spike and then you almost have to turn the clock back to go back to mitigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Many people gathered here in Washington DC today. This was the National Mall, earlier this afternoon during a flyover by the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds to honor healthcare workers and first responders.
The mall crowded despite officials asking the public to stay safely away from each other and New York City Central Park also very busy today despite the stay-at-home order that is still in effect. Signs are up to advise visitors about safe distancing. The city says NYPD officers on foot and bicycles will be enforcing safe distancing guidelines.
The New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke to my colleague Ana Cabrera just a little while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: We expected this and prepared for this. NYPD is out in force.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: And what does that look like so far? Have people been following the rules?
DE BLASIO: I saw the enforcement numbers from hour or so ago and they looked actually quite good that the vast majority of people got the message but families have been doing that the right way and people are overwhelmingly abiding by that social distancing.
More and more people putting on the face coverings. We're giving them out for free today all over the city to make it easier for people so New Yorkers have been pretty amazing in following rules in a place where it's tough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Good to know that. First, this hour let's go do the White House where White House Democrats are in a tug of war with the Trump administration, Congressional Democrats I should say, over Dr. Anthony Fauci. Democrats requesting that Dr. Fauci testify on the House subcommittee hearing on the government's coronavirus response, next week.
But White House officials have blocked Dr. Fauci from appearing. Last night we learned the Dr. Fauci is expected to testify in front of the Senate committee just ten days from now. CNN's White House Correspondent, Jeremy Diamond is joining us right now.
So Jeremy, what's the latest on this fight over Dr. Fauci between the White House and Democrats in the House of representatives.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the White House is denying the House Appropriations Committee's request to have Dr. Fauci come testify during a subcommittee hearing, this coming week. Yesterday though Wolf, the White House said that it would be counterproductive to have Dr. Fauci come and testify before the committee in the middle of this pandemic.
But today the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany focusing on a different explanation as to why the White House is not allowing Fauci to go and testify, saying instead that the House Appropriations Committee hasn't offered the full details of why exactly they want Fauci to testify and what the subject matter would be that he would be covering. McEnany also saying that this request for Fauci to come testify is a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're working in good faith. We're working good faith and yes, we want to work with the House to ensure that they do get the witnesses that they're asking for but these need to be request that makes sense and not publicity stunts which is what this was as. It was leaked that we were blocking Dr. Fauci which just simply was not the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: Wolf, one of the reasons for so much controversy is because Dr. Fauci has been one of the most forthcoming members of the Trump administration in terms of describing some of this administration's failings in the response to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly on the issue of testing, Dr. Fauci has acknowledged that the White House and the Trump administration had some early failures that put the administration behind the curve in terms of responding to this.
But Wolf, as you mentioned Dr. Fauci will be testifying on May 12 before a Republican led Senate committee but Democrats on that committee will also have an opportunity to question Dr. Fauci during that hearing.
BLITZER: The President is spending the weekend right now. He's up at Camp David. He's been busy also at the same time on Twitter. What's the latest that he's saying?
DIAMOND: He's certainly has been Wolf and I think it's particularly notable because White House officials have repeatedly described the President's weekend at Camp David as a working weekend saying that he is meeting with some of his top aides including the National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows but the picture that we are seeing of the President on Twitter is the President focused on anything but this coronavirus pandemic.
The president has issued 38 tweets, almost none of them focused on coronavirus. Instead the President is focusing his attention his energy on attacking news anchors, accusing FBI officials of treason and retweeting praise for himself.
Wolf, that is what we are seeing of the President on Twitter and again 38 tweets or retweets is the count so far. Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, he's spending the night at Camp David. He'll be back at the White House tomorrow. Jeremy Diamond, we'll get back to you. Meanwhile Michigan's governor is denouncing the heavily armed protesters who filled the state capital in Michigan this week.
They're demanding an end to the shutdown there. The President is depending on the demonstrators saying they're "very good people." But a state of emergency remains in effect. Just today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended safety rules for grocery stores including mandatory face mask for most shoppers.
CNN's Ryan Young is in the capital city of Lansing for us, right now. Ryan, it appears the governor is in no rush to follow the example of states, let's say like Georgia and Texas.
Ryan Young, CNN National Correspondent: Yes, absolutely. That stay-at- home order will extend to May 15. The state of emergency through the end of the month but you understand why when you look at the numbers, here in the state of Michigan. 43,000 people testing positive for Covid-19, over 4,000 people have lost their lives.
But it's the pictures from that protest that stand out. Of course, a lot of people wondering whether or not you can open carry inside the capital, you can't. You can't bring signs indoor but you can understand why people here are so upset up in terms of the conversation.
You have lawmakers wearing bulletproof vests as they try to cast their votes and there was a lot of conversation about how to move forward but when you think about flattening the curve here when this state ranks number 3 for those Covid-19 numbers, you understand why the governor, Governor Whitmer is pressing so hard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Yesterday's scene at the capitol was disturbing to be quite honest. Swastikas and Confederate flags, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders. This state has a rich history of people coming together and we're not in a political crisis where we should just negotiate and find some common ground here. We're a public health crisis. We're in the midst of a global pandemic that has already killed almost 4000 people in our state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Yes Wolf, you can tell those numbers have been updated in terms of the number now about 4000 with the people who've died. I can also tell you though construction will begin to open apparently around May 7 so you'll start to see the state get back to work. We're in Lansing, Michigan.
You know Michigan state is here. Today was supposed to be graduation. That did not happen. We've seen a lot of kids with cap and gowns but obviously you can't bring all those people to one location for graduation. So high school graduation and obviously college graduations across the state have been canceled but the governor still feels like they have to flatten this curve as the numbers still remains very high in the state. Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, those graduation ceremonies are canceled in most of the country as well. Ryan Young in Lansing, Michigan for us. Ryan, thank you. As Michigan clearly struggles with the decisions about reopening, the questions are even more troubling for Detroit where density is greater and the coronavirus has spread quickly.
As an acknowledged hotspot, the Detroit health department has counted more than 9300 confirmed cases and nearly 1100 deaths as of today. The Mayor of Detroit, Mike Duggan is joining us right now.
Mayor Duggan, thanks so much for joining us. I know you've got a lot going on. Detroit has seen some success with flattening the so-called curve but are you worried that progress could be lost if you reopen Detroit and the rest of the state too soon?
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN (D), DETROIT, MI: Well, we've made enormous progress. Two or three weeks ago, we were losing 40 or 50 of our residences a day, hospitals were overwhelmed, with people in the hallways in gurneys. Now there's 700 or 800 empty hospital beds in Detroit and the deaths are down 70 or 80 percent.
So we have made enormous progress as what Dr. Birx has pointed to so our focus now is how do we bring back those jobs that can't come back safely and so this week we're bringing back our road crews, our water and sewer crews under very strict guidelines where every employee is tested before they come in. Their temperature, we are taking each morning. But - but we are now starting to move I think in a rational way because we've - we've made some significant progress.
BLITZER: Yes, you certainly have. As you say, you're sending some city workers back to their jobs in the coming days up but you've also put in place those safe work - workplace standards. For example, let me put it up on the screen for our viewers. Workers must first test negative for the virus. The city is paying for those tests. They have to have a temperature and health check each day before work.
There are new workplace distancing and hygiene protocols. Mandatory use of masks, other PPE as needed. Workplaces have to stockpile PPE and sanitizing supplies. All of that of course Mayor costs a lot of money. How is the city's budget right now? Are you concerned about possibly having to cut any of those services to pay for what's going on?
DUGGAN: Well FEMA is reimbursing us on those expenses by and large but I go to work every day in City hall and the administrator takes my temperature as I walk in the door as they do for everybody who comes in and - and no standards, we learned the hard way.
Three or four weeks ago, we were having 80 or 100 police officers quarantined each day and it was really difficult but we got our instant testing in, we started putting in these protocols for masks and daily temperature checks and I think we had 4 or 5 officers quarantined all of last week.
So we're moving to the fact that we're going to have to live with this virus in our country in our community for months, a year, who knows until there's a vaccine and we believe there is a way not for sit-down restaurants or movie theaters but - but for a number of jobs where you can space out. We think there's a way to bring people back and we're bringing them back under the strictest medical protocols in the country.
BLITZER: So it's good that FEMA's reimbursing you for a lot of those other expenses but what help - financial up specifically do you think you might wind up needing from the federal government?
DUGGAN: Well, there's no question about it. I mean Detroit you know was in bankruptcy five or six years ago. We've been running good surpluses. We've been in good shape. We built enough of a rainy day fund that we're doing $350 million of productions but we have a lot of reserves built up.
But if - if we continue to have businesses shut down, there's no income tax revenue, Detroit could see no tax revenues, our big piece of it, there are going to be serious cuts and I'm hoping that in the next round of the Care's legislation. I went to cut $350 million but then I saw Bill de Blasio add a cut $10 billion so I guess everything is relative but - but local governments all across the country definitely under enormous pressure.
BLITZER: You certainly are. Hearing it from mayors all over the country. Democratic mayors, Republican mayors, they all need financial help right now given what's going on. What about schools in Detroit? I assume they're closed for the rest of the academic year but will there be summer school? What are you thinking about in the fall?
DUGGAN: Wolf, all of the inequalities in the country are but exacerbated by this. The wealthiest school districts closed down schools even before the governor issued the order because they are so engaged with laptops and online learning and homework on there - on the internet at night, it was an easy transition.
In the Detroit public schools, you probably don't have more than 20 percent of the children that have both a laptop and internet connection at home but I was really pleased with the corporate leadership in this town. DTE energy, quickened loans and a number of others came forward with $23 million.
They're buying 52,000 laptops for children and paying for internet connections and the Detroit public school teachers are transitioning and I know Dr. Vitti, the Superintendent is doing an outstanding job, envisions that by July there will be real online learning and this is something we probably should have had done years ago.
People talk about the digital divide but it's real and the corporate community's coming behind the school system to address that and I think you'll see at least online learning start in July.
BLITZER: Good for that. We're - we're grateful to all those corporate sponsors. Thank you so much Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit. Appreciate your joining us. Will continue these conversations down the road.
DUGGAN: Thanks for having me on Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you and as many states are relaxing their stay-at-home requirements, some experts have some serious medical concerns. We're going to talk live with two doctors about the health risks of perhaps opening or reopening too soon. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Take a look at this. These are live pictures you're seeing from Hollywood beach in Hollywood, Florida that's in Broward county, right north of our Miami Dade County, south of Palm Beach county. All three of those counties, the three largest counties in Florida still pretty much under social distancing, locked down guidelines as opposed to the rest of the state of Florida.
Normally at this time a beautiful day like this you would see a lot of people walking down that area in Hollywood beach, Florida. Area I know really well but look at this empty, right now. Hollywood beach Florida in Hollywood. So sad to see that. This weekend by the way, for the first time in weeks, many residents across the United States got at least a small taste of what life was like before coronavirus.
Once again a small taste. Depending on the state, some Americans could actually go visit the movie theaters, gyms, hair salons, state parks but experts say the complete lifting of all the measures could potentially be deadly. Joining us now to discuss this and more, the epidemiologist and public health expert, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed and physician and professor at George Washington University hospital, Dr. James Phillips. Dr. El-Sayed, how risky are these moves from your perspective and you worked in public health in Michigan for a while, how risky potentially are these moves by some of these states?
DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, FMR DETROIT HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Look, I think they're quite risky and you know all of us have seen a horror movie where the protagonist finally faces up to their antagonist and fights them and they think they've won and then when they turn their back, the antagonist comes back and we're in that situation right now.
We've done great good with social distancing, however painful it has been for our economy and so much of our lives but if we let up too soon, there is a real risk based on the evidence and based on what experts are telling us, that we're going to see a resurgence in this disease, that could be worse than the one that we just came out of.
And so we've got a responsibility to protect each other and I think there's a real risk here and I just don't think it's the best idea to let up too soon.
BLITZER: You know, Dr. Phillips, there's still apparently a pretty serious lack of testing around the country, it should be apparently a lot more robust than it actually is. Do we have the tests right now to catch a possible resurgence of cases as Dr. El-Sayed just suggested? DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they were just
getting to the point where on - I emergency departments right now, I think we're just getting to a point where we're able to test robustly enough for those who are coming to see us. Earlier today, I saw several patients that came in that were Covid positive that we were able to get a test turnaround in a couple of hours.
We have an even faster test now for a patient that came in with a cardiac arrests and before he went to the Cath lab, we were able to get an even faster result from a different platform. Now that's different than the general public where we're starting to talk about surveillance.
If you take a look at the President's blueprint for testing for reopening America, it involves state plans with Sentinel sites in places where we're going to do surveillance testing and I just don't believe that we have that in place yet.
You know here in DC our group is working with the Department of Health to do some robust outpatient testing and it's good here but it needs to be much better and it's not one size fits all even though we're doing a good job here in DC, every state is different.
BLITZER: It certainly is. You know, Dr. El-Sayed, this week we saw the protesters and we just reported on it in your home state of Michigan rush the legislature if you will, demanding the Governor Whitmer relax those stay-at-home orders. When you saw the pictures there, what was your reaction, who's someone who lives in Michigan and knows this area well?
EL-SAYED: Yes, I spent a lot of time at that state capital and it was just a sad sight to seeing, I'm just saying generally when the guy with the Confederate flag shows up, you know it's bad news bearers. You know you're on the wrong side of history and to see those folks, folks bringing weapons of war into the halls of - of power in Michigan, I think it's really concerning about exactly what might happen in this scenario when people are unwilling to just take science and public health policy seriously.
The challenge has been for a long time that we've had this epidemic of misinformation underlying the greater pandemic of coronavirus and you're starting to see exactly how dangerous that can be with - with these quote/unquote protests.
I don't even think that that's the right word because protests are supposed to be peaceful in a civil democratic society and these folks, there's an implicit threat of violence when you bring a weapon of war into a hall like that and so it is - it is devastating to see. It's a sad reality of the infodemic that - that is occurring underneath this pandemic.
And - and really side comment on the polarization that we're seeing people wanting to play politics with public health.
BLITZER: Yes, I was surprised Dr. El-Sayed that they can go into the state capital with those weapons of war, is that normal? EL-SAYED: No Wolf, it is - I'll just say this. I'm - I'm a Muslim man
and if I were to walk in to any building with a weapon like that, I would have been treated very, very differently. The question what we call normal in our society doesn't apply for everybody and I think we have to be honest about that fact and let's also say that this same hall where those folks were able to walk in with weapons of war, they're barred from bringing in - people are barred from bringing in posters or boards.
And so you think about this, right? And you sort of say we're defending the second amendment but what about the first amendment? And shouldn't we, in a peaceful democratic society be able to use our words to make arguments rather than having to bring an implicit threat of violence for something we disagree on.
BLITZER: Yes, I was - I was pretty surprised to see all those weapons in the state capital. Dr. El-Sayed, we'll continue this conversation. Of course Dr. Phillips, same to you. Don't go too far away. Unfortunately the story is not going away. We've seen many, many images of stay-at-home protesters in Michigan as I said, carrying those rifles.
Now a former Republican governor says those aren't protests, they are an insult to America's veterans. We'll talk to him live. That and a lot more coming up. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Take a look at this. Live pictures coming in from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. A little traffic but very, very little. Normally this would be heavily trafficked on a day like today but there's a few cars there as well.
Meanwhile we've seen rather shocking images of protesters, some of them armed calling for their states to reopen. The President on Friday said these are very good people who simply want their lives back. Our next guest has a very different perspective.
Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania, the First Secretary of Homeland Security, writes this and let me read it to our viewers, "In recent days, we have seen images of Americans carrying weapons as part of their protest to immediately reopen society. What are they planning to do? Shoot the virus with with their AR-15s? These self-absorbed and selfish Americans complain. They are irritated, anxious, bored, upset, unhappy that their lives have been affected by this temporary restraint on their freedoms."
Tom Ridge is joining us right now. Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. And as I said, you're a veteran. You say these protests dishonor the sacrifices that veterans have made. Tell us why.
TOM RIDGE, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, obviously, you detected I was more than irritated with this, simply because, in times of crisis, we've got 330 million Americans who really have to pull together and they're not wearing a traditional uniform. It's red, white, and blue. We're in this together.
And for a small -- a very selected group, to be so self-absorbed, whether they're inconvenienced or upset. That's not the point. We are resilient country. We've demonstrated that time and time again. And the fact that they would use this opportunity to kind of flex whatever muscles they think is important.
They're not heroes. They are not courageous. And frankly, walking around with weapons at your side, I find it unconscionable, vile and frankly, it's not American. We're in this together. Same team, same fight.
BLITZER: Yes, strong words. You also cite the example of the late Senator John McCain, as we all remember who spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.
So far, Americans have been the social distancing -- what -- for about two months or so. How does this challenge, from your perspective, compared to the sacrifices that Americans have made throughout our history?
RIDGE: When you think about prisoners of war, particularly, I think of John McCain, 55 months, his buddy, his dear friend, Everett Alvarez was like eight years.
So, let's go juxtapose two months, maybe 10 weeks in your home, refrigerator, you've got your internet, couple of books you can read, a little TV, put a mask on, go outside.
Now, let's compare and contrast that with the men and women who have been prisoners of war in this country in support -- in defending this country for literally decades. It pales.
I mean, there is absolutely no comparison and it's just -- it's just so inappropriate. I don't know what they expect to accomplish. And the notion that you would show up in a legislative body to try to intimidate in the United States of America, to intimidate political figures.
You know, in this country, we don't formulate and execute policy at the point of a gun, and these individuals need to be reminded that. This is not who we are as a country. We'll get through this.
BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure we will eventually. And you know, not only people in the United States are watching what's going on. People all over the world are wondering what's going on in the United States right now.
When they see these kinds of images, you know, Mr. Secretary, we've seen Americans pull together through enormous hardship such as the aftermath of 9/11, for example, you saw that very up close as the Secretary of Homeland Security. But now some of these protesters are even -- and it's hard to believe
challenging the doctors and nurses on the frontlines, some of them are making fun of people who wear masks to protect themselves and to protect others. What do you believe has changed?
RIDGE: Well, I still think the good news is, is that they are a very, very small minority and I guess the First Amendment allows them to protest although all of us would prefer a different form of protest and showing up with a sidearm doesn't mean you're any better or smarter.
But the good news is, Americans have I think, by and large, responded beautifully. The good news is that Americans are trying to help one another. The good news is -- and here's what I would say to these protesters -- you think you're tough, you think you're smart. You're courageous.
How tough, smart, and more importantly, how heroic and courageous are you? You want to put on a hospital garb, you want to put on a face mask, and you want to walk into a ward that has a couple of dozen people with this contagion. Those are the heroes. Those are the heroines.
They're driving ambulances. They're taking them to the hospital. They're treating you as nurses and doctors. Those are the heroes and the heroines.
And so instead of focusing on some of these folks -- the distant edges, I think we ought to be grateful. We have so many Americans who have said, your life is important to me, even though I'm at risk. I'm going to do all I can to save your life and your community's life.
Those are the heroes and heroines, we ought to be very proud of them.
BLITZER: Well, they are the heroes and the heroines and they're risking their own lives to save other American lives, and we're so grateful to all of them.
When President Trump says some of these protesters, as we saw in Lansing, Michigan, the State Capitol, in his words are very good people and tells Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan to make a deal with them. What was your reaction when you heard that?
RIDGE: Disbelief. I mean, the notion that my President would show up and say it is okay for people armed with firearms who would try to intimidate, regardless of Republican and Democrat to try to intimidate people in order to affect that change in the life because they're inconvenienced or unhappy.
Don't do me wrong. There's a lot of economic pain out. There's a lot of suffering. I don't think that motivated most of those people there.
So, I thought it was absolutely unconscionable that we would embrace that kind of tactics, that kind of approach. Listen, everybody is -- everybody is doing their part in order to work
our way through this. From folks at C.D.C. and N.I.H. to the hospitals across the board, they are doing their part.
It was a disruption. It was more than an injury -- it was a disruption and we don't need this. I just don't quite understand why we would -- anybody -- anybody would view that as anything heroic or courageous, as a country we go about combating this pandemic.
BLITZER: Very quickly because we've got a run, but you were Governor of Pennsylvania. Could protesters armed with AR-15s, for example, assault weapons show up in the state capitol and protest?
RIDGE: Well, again, I think there's different states, as you know, Wolf, allow people and individuals to do that. The Second Amendment, we've protected it for a long time. But it's so selfish. It's so self- absorbed.
It's like, it's kind of this macho image we're going to show. What are they going to do? They're not going to defeat coronavirus. They're not going to deal with the pandemic that way.
They're trying to intimidate -- they're trying to intimidate. I dare say, I don't think the Michigan Governor was intimidated. I doubt about other legislators will be intimidated.
I think we just ought to just put them aside, focus on the good work that so many million Americans are doing and just ignore that extreme fringe and shame on them for being so disruptive.
We've got more important things to worry about their egos being inflated because they show up carrying a firearm.
BLITZER: And I'll leave our viewers of the segment with your words. This is what you wrote, "Politics, be damned. No time for it. We can sort it out later. Same team, same fight. Let's get on with it." Strong words. Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania Governor and former Secretary of Homeland Security as usual. Thanks so much for joining us.
RIDGE: A great pleasure, Wolf. Thank you and God bless you and your team.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. We have a lot more news on the coronavirus pandemic, but I want to show you right now before we take a quick commercial break. These are live pictures coming in from Laguna Beach, California. More protesters there as well. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Once again, now look at these live pictures coming in from Laguna Beach, California. Protesters there. Actually, these aren't live. This is just moments ago. Protesters complaining about the social distancing rules in Laguna Beach, California.
People want to go back to work. They want to, clearly, go to the beach as well. It's been closed for a while as you can see. We'll have more on that coming up.
There's another story we're following right now, and we're learning new details today behind the name of the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's newborn son, Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson, this is honoring the families of both the Prime Minister and his fiancee. His middle name Nicholas is a tribute to the two doctors who recently saved Prime Minister Johnson's life while he was battling coronavirus.
Our CNN Correspondent Bianca Nobilo is joining us now. Bianca What more have you learned about the significance behind the name of this newborn son?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Wolf, Wilfred is for the Prime Minister's grandfather, Lawrie is for Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister's fiancee's grandfather and as you said, Nicholas is for the two doctors, Dr. Nicholas Price and Dr. Nicholas Hart, who helped nurse the Prime Minister back to health when he was in that life or death struggle against coronavirus.
The baby was born on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. and that day, the Prime Minister was meant to be addressing that raucous House of Commons chamber, the Prime Minister's Questions. He wasn't there. People were complaining, a little bit annoyed, and they found out the reason and swiftly forgave him.
But now the Prime Minister is back after several absences over the peak of this virus in Britain, and he's back to heavy scrutiny, Wolf, because now the U.K. is well and truly on the trajectory to be the second highest virus related death toll in the world, second only to the United States.
So, he is going to be facing questions about why that is, why did it take so long for the country to implement a lockdown? Why did the Prime Minister before sickness and before his newborn baby, why did he miss critical emergency meetings, the so-called COBRA meetings in the United Kingdom that took place in that preparatory period, Wolf.
Those were the meetings that would have stockpiled the PPE that would have assessed the hospital capacity. So, plenty of questions facing him now.
And here is a man changed by his own personal experience of battling this virus. He spoke to Britain's "Sun" newspaper and said that there was a Stalin-death type scenario in the works for him. Basically, acknowledging that this was so serious, they were preparing what to do if he died.
So, I'm sure Wolf, that will inform his position going forward about how he can lift this lockdown without risking a critical second peak.
BLITZER: Yes, as the Prime Minister himself says, he is lucky to be alive right now. And he thanks those doctors and nurses and healthcare professionals who saved his life.
Bianca Nobilo in London for us. Thanks very much.
We're going to have much more on the Coronavirus developments in just a bit. But I want to turn to the controversy right now surrounding the former Vice President Joe Biden.
Last night during a virtual fundraiser, the former Vice President again strongly denied sexual assault claims made by a former staffer saying the accusation in his words has no merit.
This echoes his first direct public statement on the matter from Friday morning when he said that the alleged incident from 27 years ago in his words never happened.
BLITZER: The Democratic National Committee circled the wagons around him today saying that the thorough vice presidential vetting process he went through in 2008 uncovered nothing about the allegation.
This, as the Trump camp has repeatedly commented on the story, despite the fact that the President himself has faced numerous sexual misconduct allegations over the years.
Last night, Biden ally and former Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I mean, it's interesting that the people who are trying to fan this thing are the very people who support Donald Trump and of course, who say nothing about the allegations that have been raised, I think very credibly against Trump for a number of women over a long period of time.
I mean, all of these allegations have to be taken seriously. People who raise them should be treated sensitively.
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BLITZER: CNN's Arlette Saenz is joining us right now. She is covering the Biden campaign. Arlette, you had a chance to speak to the person who ran Biden's 2008 vetting process when the then candidate Barack Obama was looking for a Vice President and went through a lengthy process to vet him. What did he say about the allegation?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Wolf, I spoke today with William Jeffress, he's the attorney who led the team of lawyers who looked into Joe Biden's records, and he told me that over the course of that search and investigation that they did not find any evidence of misconduct relating to sexual harassment or sexual assault.
He said that he had a team of about 10 lawyers that spent two months going through Biden's records and interviewing dozens of people who knew Biden and they asked one very specific question. They asked people if they had heard any complaints or allegations of unethical misconduct and not included discrimination and harassment.
And he told me that the answer was consistently no. They never found any evidence of misconduct of that type.
In fact, William Jeffress told me that Tara Reade's name never came up during the vetting process, and that is something that some of Biden's allies have been pointing to, that 2008 vetting process that he went through saying that it was a thorough process. They went through a lot of information, spoke to a lot of people and no information came up.
You've heard that from, for instance, David Axelrod, who was the chief strategist for President Obama back then. So, that is a point that Biden's allies have continued to raise as he faces these allegations.
BLITZER: Arlette Saenz reporting for us with the latest on that story. Thank you very much, Arlette. This special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM will continue in just a moment.
BLITZER: Earlier this hour, we showed you live pictures from Hollywood, California. These are live pictures you're seeing now from Hollywood, California. You see some traffic on the streets there, but clearly not as much as normal.
The days of casual air travel, meanwhile, are still far ahead at least the way we all remember it. Major airlines here in the United States including United, Delta, JetBlue, American and Southwest have all announced they're making facemask mandatory for all passengers boarding flights and that's not the only change in the works.
Our aviation correspondent, Pete Muntean takes a closer look at the flights and he was aboard a flight himself to see for himself the future of air travel.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A scene too similar to travel before this pandemic. New videos of packed planes, passengers bottled up in Rosen aisles raising new fears about social distancing when flying and new calls to restrict air travel even further.
This week, JetBlue became the first airline to require passengers to wear masks. Its COO calling it the new flying etiquette.
Now, all major U.S. airlines -- Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest and United have volunteered to do the same. But the leader of the Association of Flight Attendants goes further telling CNN there must be a Federal ban of leisure travel by air.
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SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS - CWA: Because the flights have been pulled down, we are seeing more and more full flights without policies that really address proper social distancing.
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MUNTEAN (voice over): But the nation's air travel is at a virtual halt. Nearly half of all commercial jet liners are now parked. The T.S.A. says only five percent of passengers are passing through checkpoints compared to a year ago.
I set out to see what it's like to fly right now traveling from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta and back.
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MUNTEAN (on camera): It's hard to find someone not already wearing a mask.
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MUNTEAN (voice over): Airlines are stepping up their use of electrostatic sprayers to disinfect passenger cabins.
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MUNTEAN (on camera): Crews handed out this Purell wipe as we got on board.
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MUNTEAN (voice over): Airlines are also not booking middle seats, hoping to keep up social distancing on board.
Industry groups say the average domestic flight is now carrying 17 passengers, up from 10 passengers just over a week ago.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the people that are traveling are probably healthy, they're not ill or critical or in a bad situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody should be wearing a mask.
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MUNTEAN (voice over): The Department of Transportation gave airlines permission to start scaling back service to small city airports.
Plane maker Boeing CEO is forecasting a year's long recovery for airlines. Even still, the industry is holding out hope that new measures will mean a new normal of flying again.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're hopeful that that will happen.
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MUNTEAN (on camera): From what I saw, passengers do seem keen on social distancing, not only on planes, but also here in the terminal. Delta and United have both done away with boarding by zone instead now boarding by row starting with the back of the plane first.
At Reagan National Airport, Pete Muntean, CNN.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Pete, for that report. Parts of America are reopening this weekend. But is it too much too soon? We'll have the very latest on what's happening around the country and the potential health risks. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.