Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Coronavirus Model Projects U.S. Deaths Doubling By August; Forty-Two U.S. States Partially Reopening; Coronavirus Task Force Members Blocked By White House From Testifying; Trump Points Blame On China On The Virus; Florida Allowing Restaurants, Retailers, Parks, Beaches To Reopen Except In Three Biggest Counties; Miami Beach Closes Park Due To Nearly 8,000 Social Distancing And Face Covering Violations; Texas Reopening As New Coronavirus Cases Drop After Four Straight Days Of 1,000-Plus. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: May his memory be a blessing. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching. Stay healthy.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM and we're following breaking news.

A new projection of 134,000 U.S. deaths by early August from the coronavirus model frequently cited by the White House. That new number is almost double its previous estimate and due to relaxed social distancing.

CNN has also confirmed that a Trump administration model projects about 3,000 daily coronavirus deaths in the United States by June 1st. At this hour, the death toll stands at more than 68,000 with more than 1.1 million confirmed cases.

Despite the rising numbers, at least 42 states around the country will be partially reopened by the end of this week. Let's begin this hour at the White House. Our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is with us.

Jim, very disturbing new numbers as the pandemic continues to grow.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. President Trump stayed behind closed doors as the White House pushed back on an internal projection for the coronavirus that estimates as many as 3,000 deaths per day by the end of this month. That's much higher. Nearly double what the nation is going through right now.

While the White House is pushing back on that report, one source close to the coronavirus task force says these updated projections should be taken seriously.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): As President Trump appeared to be raising his own estimate of the number of Americans expected to die from the coronavirus, new startling internal projections were circulating inside the administration, forecasting a sharp rise in lives lost.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, we're going to lose anywhere from 75, 80, to 100,000 people. That's a horrible thing. We shouldn't lose one person over this.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The Trump administration document obtained by "The New York Times" and confirmed by CNN estimates as many as 3,000 deaths per day by June 1st, up sharply from the current daily numbers.

One big reason for the rising projections, states ending stay-at-home restrictions and reopening businesses. Mr. Trump had been floating lower projections in the last few days, contradicting his own health experts.

DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: Our projections have always been 100 and 240,000 American lives lost, and that's with full mitigation and us learning from each other of how to social distance.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Aides to the president are pushing back on the new administration estimates saying, "This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting. This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzedd."

But a separate model often cited by the White House is upping its projections as well, forecasting 134,000 deaths from the virus, nearly double earlier estimates. The president, who has been backing governors racing to reopen is still pointing the finger at China suggesting without any proof, that Beijing mistakenly unleashed the virus on the world.

TRUMP: So, I think they made, personally, I think they made a horrible mistake and they didn't want to admit it. They knew they had a problem. I think they were embarrassed by the problem.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Other parts of the administration are hitting China as well with the Department of Homeland Security drafting a report that accuses Beijing of concealing the severity of the outbreak while stockpiling medical supplies.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was growing evidence that the virus somehow originated in a lab, though parts of the intelligence community say its possible COVID-19 simply began through contact with infected animals.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECERATRY OF STATE: There is enormous evidence that that's where this began. We've said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Even with the pandemic raging, Mr. Trump found time to take a swipe at former President George W. Bush who released a video message calling on Americans to come together to confront the virus in a message of unity.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president complained Bush didn't come to his defense during the impeachment saga tweeting, "He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest hoax in American history." At a town hall at the Lincoln Memorial, Mr. Trump also complained about the media, insisting he's been treated worst than Honest Abe, whom historians note was assassinated.

TRUMP: I am greeted with a hostile press, the likes of which no president has ever seen. The closest would be that gentleman right up there. They always said Lincoln, nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (on camera): Even though the president and other top aides have touted their response to the pandemic, sources tell CNN the White House is moving to limit coronavirus task force members from testifying at congressional hearings.

That means fewer hearings featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, although Dr. Fauci is scheduled to appear before a GOP Senate led committee next week.

[17:05:03]

Fauci had been requested over in the Democratic-led House, but that request was denied. So, Wolf, it does beg the question the president says he's doing a spectacular job with this pandemic and the response to the pandemic, why won't they let Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and others from the task force say that up on Capitol Hill? They're limiting what those doctors can say and how often they can say it at these upcoming hearings, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting indeed. All right, Jim Acosta, thank you. We're also just hearing that the California governor, Gavin Newsom, is clearing the way for some, some retail shops in his state to begin reopening this Friday. Our national correspondent Athena Jones is working the story for us. Athena, there are some big restrictions tied to these reopenings.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf, that's right. You know, people across the country have been clamoring for an end to stay-at-home orders, eager to get outside, eager to get back to some semblance of a normal life.

Well, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced today that retail shops including clothing stores, florists and book shops can begin to reopen on Friday for curbside pickup. They'll have to maintain social or physical distancing to keep their workers safe.

But this is another example in the list of states loosening restrictions from coast to coast.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES (voice-over): The reopening of America gaining steam. In Florida, restaurants and retail spaces allowed to open at 25 percent capacity. Elective surgeries once again allowed. Some state parks and beaches and popular spots like Clearwater and Panama City now open at least some part of the day.

CHRISSY MCLAUGHLIN, RESTAURANT OWNER: Wow. Just wow. It's been great to see people just really happy to just be released.

JONES (voice-over): But schools, movie theaters, bars, gyms, and hair salons still shuttered. For now, restrictions remain in place in the state's three hardest-hit counties.

RON DESANTIS, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Being safe, smart, and step by step is the appropriate way to consider that.

JONES (voice-over): In Georgia, Simon Malls opening their doors. In Colorado, nonessential offices can reopen today with increased cleaning and employee desks staying six feet apart, while Nevada began allowing curbside pickup at stores and expanded outdoor activities late last week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody's kind of been respectful of giving everybody their space.

JONES (voice-over): In northern California, two counties are now defying the governor's stay-at-home restrictions.

GARY BRADFORD, 4TH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR, YUBA COUNTY: If we see a large increase in hospitalizations, we will certainly look to go the other direction.

JONES (voice-over): By the end of the week, more than 40 states will have begun lifting restrictions meant to stop the spread of the virus. This even as the picture across the country is mixed with cases rising in more states than they are falling.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: So there are about 20 states where we see a rising number of new cases. Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, have a lot of new cases on a daily basis.

JONES (voice-over): And the number of new cases confirmed daily remains stubbornly high at around 30,000. With the nation's death toll surging past the 60,000 figure he estimated just two weeks ago, President Trump acknowledging the sobering reality.

TRUMP: Look, we're going to lose anywhere from 75, 80, to 100,000 people.

JONES (voice-over): Even that number may be low.

BIRX: Our projections have always been between 100 and 240,000 American lives lost. And that's with full mitigation and us learning from each other of how to social distance.

JONES (voice-over): In fact, an influential model cited by the White House now projecting nearly 135,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. That's nearly double their previous estimate.

And "The New York Times" citing an internal document reports the Trump administration projects about 200,000 new cases per day and some 3,000 deaths a day by early June. Nearly double the current total.

SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We're opening too early. I mean, I'm being honest about that. I'm not surprised at the projection. It's really based on how exponentially this virus can grow.

JONES (voice-over): And as warm, sunny weather brought crowds to parks in places like New York and Washington, D.C., and defiant sun seekers to beaches in California, federal health officials worry it is all too much, too soon.

Still, there may soon be promising news on the vaccine front with Oxford University scientists predicting theirs could be available by this fall.

JOHN BELL, OXFORD UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CHAIR: We're pretty sure we'll get a signal by June of both whether this works or not.

JONES (voice-over): And the drug company Roche saying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization for its new coronavirus antibody test that it says is nearly 100 percent accurate.

The FDA has not yet confirmed it gave emergency use authorization to the Roche test. Testing is critical to reopening safely in the northeast.

ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: If you reopen too fast, then you have to stop. And nobody wants to have gone through all of this and then start just to stop again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES (on camera): And a little more on those new projections. The model from the University of Washington cites of relaxation of social distancing and the increased mobility for the near doubling of the estimated death toll, Wolf.

[17:10:02]

BLITZER: Yes. It's a huge number indeed. All right, Athena, thank you very much.

Joining us now is the Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh.

Mayor Walsh, thank you so much for joining us. As you heard, these internal documents from the Centers for Disease Control, they forecast nearly double the number of daily deaths by the end of this month early June. Do you expect that daily death toll to double in Boston as well?

MAYOR MARTY WALSH (D), BOSTON, MA: I mean, certainly hope not. I think that it's hard to tell right now, looking at those, the numbers that came out today, privately, you know, it's certainly concerning. And there was a lot of different voices on the previous guests and segments you just played.

I think that for Boston, and I can only speak for Boston, we want to continue to move forward. We want to continue to practice physical social distancing. My concern is a second surge. My concern is a rise in deaths. But we've seen our numbers pretty consistent over the last several days here.

We've had, you know, 100 to 200 new cases every day. We've had, you know, anywhere from 10 to 20 deaths a day which generally seems like the number is somewhat low for a city of 700,000 people. But if the new projection show is accurate, clearly our deaths are going to go up significantly. Massachusetts is going to go up significantly and we're going to have some major problems again.

BLITZER: Well, let's talk about that because you've suggested that you expect Boston to surpass 10,000 confirmed cases today. Would a doubling in the death toll by early June overwhelm hospitals, emergency services, in Boston?

WALSH: It certainly will. I mean, it will affect emergency rooms everywhere. I think right now, I'm on a call every morning and the hospital capacity in Boston is steady. We built Boston Hope at the convention center. There's about 150 people there right now being treated.

So, we're seeing capacity - a little bit of capacity in our hospitals. But if the numbers spike the way they're going to and if we've kind of lift regulations and restrictions too soon, we're going to see our hospitals overwhelmed.

We can't keep this up, as Governor Cuomo just mentioned. You know, you can't -- how long can we keep Boston Hope open? How long can we keep all these additional places open? If we decide to open up our communities and our society, our convention center is going to want to open up.

We're going to lose a lot of grounds. We're going to lose a lot of opportunity here. And I think that right now is the time to double down. I know there are protests going on around the country. There was one in Boston today at the statehouse.

But I appreciate the people wanting to open up the economy. I want to open up the economy, but I also want to save people's lives. And I find that that's my job right now, and that's what every governor and every mayor in the United States of America's job should be right now, is saving lives and reducing the spread of the virus.

BLITZER: But if all these models that are surfacing today are accurate, mayor, should city's like Boston, a major city consider imposing even tighter restrictions, let say for another month or so rather than plan for reopening given the stakes involved?

WALSH: I think that that question has already passed us. I think we should have been stricter earlier across the board across United States of America. We lost that opportunity. I think that unfortunately right now, as states begin to open, people are going to have to answer to their constituencies when they start seeing the death tolls go up.

And these folks that want to open up society quickly, quicker, and with no restrictions, they really have to take a good look at what's happening in this country where we're going to lose hundreds of thousands of lives here and people are impacted by the coronavirus.

I mean, I quite honestly can't understand it. Watching your show at night and some of the segments I see, I scratch my head. I don't know what I'm missing.

BLITZER: A lot of mayors around the country, they're worried their residents, they are getting very tired, understandably so, of the quarantine, the stay-at-home measures.

Cities across the U.S. for example saw very large crowds in parks over the weekend, not necessarily everyone practicing good social distancing or wearing a mask.

What are you doing in Boston to enforce social distancing for example while still allowing people to get outside, the weather is nice, for some exercise, some fresh air?

WALSH: Well, the governor put in place on Friday a mandatory mask order so people have to start wearing masks in Massachusetts. And what I noticed this weekend as compared to last week at least in Boston, there were large groups of people walking out and there but I saw a lot better social distancing going on.

I would love to see more masks on people, but I saw people being more responsible, more respectful of each other by keeping that social distancing. Again, I think if we can do that respectfully, we're going to see people out, we're going to see people walking on paths and in beaches and in parks and things like that.

But as long as they continue to practice social/physical distancing, that's the way to combat this. And again, its incumbent upon each individual to understand, be aware of your surroundings and making sure that you're keeping yourself and your families safe and you're helping other people stay safe that way.

[17:14:58]

BLITZER: Yes. Let's not forget even the president suggested last night that right now, what, 68,000 confirmed deaths in the United States, he says that could go up to 100,000. Dr. Deborah Birx says it potentially could go up from 100,000 to 240,000.

Those are current projections right now. So this crisis is by no means over. Good luck, Mayor Walsh. We appreciate you joining us. WALSH: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. Up next, more on that disturbing new model that almost doubles the projected U.S. coronavirus death count. I'll speak with the doctor who leads the institute behind the new model.

Also, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he is standing by live. He's here to answer your questions. And there are significant questions about the coronavirus.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:00]

BLITZER: As President Trump encourages states to reopen businesses, new modeling from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests -- projects a surge in new coronavirus cases. This comes as the White House is moving to limit the ability of Congress to hear from members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

So, joining us now, CNN Special Correspondent, Jamie Gangel and our Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash. Dana, we're learning the White House is moving to further limit Coronavirus Task Force members like Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, among others, from appearing before committees in the House of Representatives.

How important is it to hear from these experts in that kind of a forum, a different forum, let's say, than the White House briefing room?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Incredibly important. I mean, that is one of the basic functions of Congress. And now that Congress is back for however long they are, they want to use the benefit of actually physically being in Washington to do that job.

And then that's one of the reasons why leaders in both parties insisted that they needed to come back despite the obvious risks of being in that building and being at work.

And so for Americans to hear from these very important historic individuals about where we are in time, for the record, never mind for the American people, it is really, really crucial.

Now, they're limiting it in general, we believe, that at least Anthony Fauci will still be able to testify before the Republican-led Senate. You know, they don't want these officials to be in front of the Democratic-led House, which is a whole other conversation, it's ridiculous.

But we should also remember that the committee that Fauci will go in front of, assuming that that stays the case, is led by Lamar Alexander who is no shrinking violet and he is, you know, not a partisan when it comes to these issues.

He'll ask the right questions and he'll lead a hearing that is really fair. Let's just hope that hearing goes on as planned next week.

BLITZER: Let's hope, good point. Jamie, as that key coronavirus model sharply raises its projection to 134,000 U.S. deaths by August 4th, what stands out to you about how the president is addressing the staggering loss of life still to come as a result of this pandemic?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, I think, Wolf, we have to say first of all, this is not a time to take a victory lap. And that's what the president seems to be doing every day. And he's been doing it from the beginning.

First, it was in control. Then, there was a miracle. Now, he's saying that there is a great success story. We are in the middle, maybe the middle, but we're somewhere in the first wave.

And the reality is this is not a time to be -- its magical thinking to be talking about it as a success story right now. We have almost 68,000 confirmed COVID cases. That number doesn't even take into consideration cases of people who may have died, but were not tested yet.

And the way the president talks about it, it's either magical thinking or I think more likely it is just about his political fortunes. This is about his getting re-elected. And there is very little empathy we hear, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Dana, the president is placing the blame of the virus spreading around the world squarely on China. What's behind the finger pointing because U.S./China relations are at stake right now and there are a lot of issues there?

BASH: Politics. I mean, you know, if there is some truth to it, I mean, this virus did start in China. But beyond that, all the polling internally and some of the public polling -- when I say internally, I mean the Republican polling -- shows that it is, in the words of one source, off the charts when it comes to how much people who they're trying to get to respond to them respond when the president and his allies say that this is all about China.

The question is to what end because China is not on the ballot. It's Joe Biden who is on the ballot. And so the question is how are they going to kind of turn that around and be sure that they are going to start to do that and look at the Obama/Biden history with China. Fair or not, that is going to happen.

But one thing that is really interesting and that we haven't seen very much with all of the kind of, you know, victory lap that Jamie was talking about, is the real honesty.

[17:25:04]

I talked to Chris Christie, the president ally, former governor of New Jersey for the "DC Daily Podcast" today, and he said point blank that the president and governors need to be much more clear that the economy needs to reopen and that they need to be much more blunt about what it means. And it means that people are going to die, but it's a sacrifice that

leaders say that Americans need to just make.

BLITZER: It's an important point as well. You know, Jamie, the former president, George W. Bush, he released over the weekend a really powerful, beautiful message calling for unity during this pandemic. Let me play a little clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH (voice-over): Finally, let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat. In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together and we are determined to rise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: In response to that, the president tweeted that Bush, in his words, was nowhere to be found during Mr. Trump's impeachment trial. Why do you think the former president chose this time to speak out and why do you think the current president really railed against him in that tweet?

GANGEL: So let me do the current president first. I don't think it's much of a surprise when Donald Trump attacks people in tweets. So this was another attack. He sees everything personally.

I think the question about why former President Bush did this now is interesting because as we know, he has really kept a low profile and has not wanted to speak out. But I think it's important to remember, he talked in 2005 about the dangers of a pandemic.

He and former First Lady Mrs. Bush, they care a lot about world health. He did so much for AIDS in Africa. And then let's face it. This is an unprecedented public health tragedy. So I think all of those things appeal to him.

I will tell you, I reached out today to his office to ask for a comment. They said they were not going to have any response to President Trump's comment and quote Freddie Ford, the president's chief of staff said, "I hope those covering it will resist the temptation to use it as a call to divide." So clearly they're trying to stay above it all, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie, thanks very much. Dana, thanks to you as well.

Coming up, a frightening new model almost doubling the projected U.S. coronavirus death count. I'll speak with a doctor who leads the institute behind the new model.

And later, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, she'll be here in "The Situation Room" taking our questions. That's coming up live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:33:03]

BLITZER: In a truly dire new update and influential model now projects 134,000 coronavirus deaths here in the United States. That's nearly double the previous estimate of 72,000.

Joining us now in "The Situation Room", the doctor behind that model, he and his team, Dr. Christopher Murray is the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Dr. Murray, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for all the important work you're doing. Why has the model so drastically been revised the death projection upward?

DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: Well, the big driver here of the big change is that we're taking into account the states that are relaxing social distancing. And we're also seeing in the mobility data that collected through anonymized cell phone use, people are already increasing their mobility even before the mandates have come off, even in states that still have mandates in place. So that's driving up, you know, transmission, and that's driving up our numbers. And that's the key determinant of this big shift.

We had previously assumed that the mandates were going to stay in place to the end of May, that was going to bring transmission really down to a very low level. Now that, you know, people are out and active, states are taking off the mandates. We're seeing a very different story --

BLITZER: Yes.

MURRAY: -- going forward.

BLITZER: 68,000 confirmed deaths in the United States right now. And you're now projecting it's going to go up to 134,000 by August 4th, which is not that far down the road. So the projections I take it have changed because the underlying assumptions of the model, the social distancing seems to be going away in a lot of states, but is there also an issue of new data you're getting?

[17:35:01]

MURRAY: Yes, there's other things driving some of the increases well. We're seeing many states reporting on presumptive deaths that were missed in the official death data. And now they're going back finding deaths that were in nursing homes, elder care facilities, and reporting, you know, large numbers of those deaths on a given day, which we then have to go back and try to figure out when they occurred in the past. But that just means that more deaths occurred, that means the trajectory of the epidemic is also bigger.

The third factor that's happening is we're seeing, you know, rising case numbers, these sort of small, but consequential epidemics, in meatpacking plants and other factories, a number of them in the Midwest with Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, even Nebraska showing increases and that's also feeding into some of the expected increases in those states.

BLITZER: So how do you think policymakers should interpret the updated forecast, the nearly doubling in the number of deaths by early August? I assume you believe, and it would only make sense that they should consider reimposing new restrictions.

MURRAY: You know, I think the challenge for us all, Wolf, is to figure out what's the trajectory of relaxing social distancing on a measured pace that will protect us from big increases or even a full scale resurgence, a New York style epidemic. And that's, you know, what every state needs to figure out, the things that are going to drive up transmission are people getting out and interacting more, people can protect themselves a bit by wearing, you know, cloth face coverings, masks, that will help. They can avoid as much contact as humanly possible.

But there are some things in our favor, states can scale up faster testing and contact tracing. The faster they do that, the more we can reduce the risk of these resurgences. So, you know, it's --

BLITZER: Go ahead.

MURRAY: -- it's just the balancing act between keeping people to reduce contact but also doing the proactive things like testing and contact tracing.

BLITZER: All right, Dr. Christopher Murray, thanks to you and your team, for all the important work you're doing, really are appreciative.

MURRAY: Thankful, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, coming up, thousands of social distancing and face covering violations as Miami Beach opens its parks, public spaces. We'll get a live update. And later, we'll talk about the pandemic and the government's response with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she's standing by live to join us here in the situation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:09]

BLITZER: So today Florida, the third most populous state in the country started the first phase of reopening its economy restaurants, shops, parks, beaches are opening up except, except in the state's three biggest counties. Let's get to CNN's Randi Kaye, she's joining us right now. So Randi, what are you seeing where you are?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're seeing new cases. That's what's happening here in Florida according to the Department of Health. We have seen 819 new cases of the coronavirus today in Florida and about 20 new deaths, yet the state is still reopening, phase 1 is happening. It's now underway. We're going to see the beaches reopen, very popular beaches like Destin, Pensacola and Clearwater.

But as some are celebrating the opening of some of these areas, there's also a grim milestone that the state has reached. That's more than 1 million new unemployment claims now in this state and they're having a very hard time paying out that money. The system has suffered a lot of snap foods, there have been a lot of delays, the online application has been very, very difficult and also there's been some understaffing. There's lawyers who are trying to get those payments made immediately. So lots of folks are trying to get involved.

But, Wolf, that's a big part of the reason why the governor has started with this phase 1 because a lot of the unemployed are restaurant workers. The governor wants to get the economy moving. He wants to have those restaurants open. They are now open to outdoor seating and limited capacity inside. The retailers are now open as well. The state parks also are open.

But the question is will people be social distancing, and that is required here masks are certainly required and expected in many parts of the state. And already, Wolf, one of the parks in Miami Beach has been closed down 8,000 violations for people who are not social distancing and not wearing the required masks. So already some trouble here.

But on a bright note, the governor is looking to ramp up testing during this phase 1, Wolf. Right now, they have about 15,000 tests a day. He hopes to double that to 30,000 tests a day by June 15th.

BLITZER: All right, we'll see what happens down in Florida. Randi Kaye, thank you very much.

Texas, meanwhile, of course, ranks second in population ahead of Florida behind California, it's reopening even though new coronavirus cases have been spiking. CNN's Ed Lavandera's in Dallas for us right now. So Ed, what are you seeing there? What's the situation like?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can get a sense here, Wolf, that the quarantine fatigue is really starting to settle in as you drive around here in Dallas, as we've done over the last few days. Many more people out on the streets, especially throughout the day than we have seen in the weeks previous. And as you mentioned, the reports of new coronavirus cases being reported here in the state have been over 1,000 per day the last four days except for today.

And so there's a great deal of concerned because when you look at those, that jump in the number of cases we've seen in the four days before today, that doesn't really take into account the effects of the reopening of the Texas economy, which many medical experts will tell you will take several weeks to really kind of get a full grasp of what this reopening will do to the flaring up of the infection throughout the state because it will take that amount of time to kind of see the effects of that.

[17:45:28]

So big city leaders here very concerned that the opening up of the economy is going to cause all of this to slide backwards. So there's a great deal of concern with that. But the state continues to plow ahead with all of this. And depending on where you are, you really kind of see a variety of reactions to how people are dealing with this.

If you look at Galveston, Texas, the beaches and Galveston area filled with cars over the weekend. And if you look at one of the popular shopping malls here in Dallas, NorthPark Mall, had just a fraction of the visitors that it normally has. So, you know, kind of a wide range of reaction to how people are handling all of this. But, by and large, you do get the sense that that quarantine fatigue is setting in.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera joining us from Dallas, and thanks very much for that update.

Coming up, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta getting ready to answer your questions about the coronavirus and the pandemic. And later, my one- on-one interview with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, we've got lots to discuss about the pandemic and the government's response.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:23]

BLITZER: All right, it's time for your questions about the coronavirus and the pandemic. Our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the answers for us. Here's question number one from a viewer, Sanjay. "Can I ask for an antibody test even if I never tested positive or showed symptoms of the virus?"

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well there's no guidance for antibody tests yet as far as who should get them. And I can tell you there's a lot of antibody tests out there having gone through this process that aren't haven't really been validated yet. So, yes, be a little careful. I mean, we're going to get better antibody tests out there.

But two important points. One is that you could have antibodies without ever having had any symptoms. You may have had the infection and not even known it, in which case you might test positive for the antibodies. The big question I think a lot of people will need to answer is once you have these antibodies if your test comes back positive and it's a good test, doesn't mean you're protected. It probably does, but the question is going to be how long are you protected and how strong is that protection? And hopefully, we're going to get those answers soon.

BLITZER: Well, do the antibodies protect you from carrying the virus or just from making you sick?

GUPTA: Yes, that's another great question. You can still potentially carry the virus even if you have antibodies. Think of the antibodies like your body's fighting cells. So if it comes in contact with the virus again, there might be a chance that the virus could enter your body, but it's less likely for you to get sick from that. That's the real protection that you get.

So you could potentially still be a carrier even if you have the antibodies, but we just don't know this yet. That's still what were researchers are trying to figure out. BLITZER: Yes, there's a lot we don't know. Here's another question from a viewer. "I have coronavirus but I'm only showing mild symptoms. Could I still contract the more severe form of the virus?"

GUPTA: Yes. You know, I hate to say that we don't know again but, you know, I want to be honest here. We're not sure -- there have been situations in the past where certain infections, the first one, you get a more mild illness and then the second one is more severe. Dengue fever is an example of that. Your body sort of gets sensitized. So the next time you're -- you encounter the virus, your body reacts even more strongly, and sometimes you get a little sicker as a result of that.

We don't know here yet. If this virus, this novel coronavirus, behaves like other coronaviruses, once you've been infected, even if you didn't have severe symptoms, you should have some level of protection. So the next time you encounter the virus, it should be a less severe illness, if any illness at all.

BLITZER: All right, here's another question. "Can the virus spread through water?"

GUPTA: Now here's some good news here. It doesn't appear to be able to spread through water. So swimming pools, hot tubs, you know, whatever water supply. This really appears to be primarily a respiratory virus that's in the air. People then either breathe in these droplets with the viral particles inside of them, or those viral particles go to a surface and people touch that surface and then touch their eyes, their nose, their mouth and become infected that way.

BLITZER: All right, Sanjay, don't go too far away. We have more questions for you in our next hour as well. There's a lot of news coming in --

GUPTA: OK.

BLITZER: -- on the coronavirus at the same time. Also coming up, a grim new projections of how many Americans will die in the pandemic. One model has almost doubled its estimate. We'll also talk about all the breaking news with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She's standing by to join us live right here in "The Situation Room".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:59:21]

BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room". With new forecasts of an alarming surge in coronavirus deaths here in the United States as more states reopen. The key model often cited by the White House was just revised. Look at this, it now projects 134,000 deaths here in the United States by early August about double its previous estimate.

And we're told the Trump administration is privately predicting that by June 1st, Americans will be dying at a rate of about 3,000 a day. At this hour, more than 68,000 deaths are confirmed in this country and nearly 1.2 million cases have been confirmed.