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THE SITUATION ROOM
U.S. Government Projects Massive Rise In Coronavirus Cases Ahead; Interview With Former U.S. Secretary Of Defense Leon Panetta; Interview With Speaker Of The House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Key Model Forecasts 134,000 U.S Deaths, Almost Double Last Estimate; Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) Is Interviewed About His State's Response To The Coronavirus Pandemic; Growing Concerns About Outdoor Crows And Lack Of Distancing After Warmer Weekend. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 4, 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: But states keep pushing and pushing ahead with reopening plans. More than 40 states will have eased restrictions by the end of this week.
Our guests are standing by with reaction, including the former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
First, let's get to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, these are very, very disturbing new projections. First of all, what are you hearing from the White House?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
President Trump stayed behind closed doors, as the White House, they are pushing back on this internal administration 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. And while the White House's pushing back on this report, one source close to the Coronavirus Task Force said the projections should be taken very seriously.
ACOSTA (voice-over): As President Trump appear 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 last.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, we're going to lose anywhere from 75,000, 80,000 to 100,000 people. That's a horrible thing. We shouldn't lose one person over this.
ACOSTA: 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, 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 estimates in recent days, contradicting his own health experts.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Our projections have always been between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives loss, and that's with full mitigation and us learning from each other of how to social distance.
ACOSTA: 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 analyzed."
But a separate model often cited by the White House is upping its projection 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: 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 the virus somehow originated in a lab, though parts of the intelligence community say it's possible COVID-19 simply began through contact with infected animals.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There's enormous evidence that that's where this began. We have said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China.
ACOSTA: 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: In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We're human beings.
ACOSTA: 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 worse than Honest Abe, who 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.
ACOSTA: Now, 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 or Dr. Deborah Birx, though he is scheduled to appear next week at a GOP-led Senate committee hearing. Fauci had been requested over in the Democratic-led House, but that request was denied.
So, Wolf, even as the president and other top aides have been touting their response to the pandemic, they're not allowing people like Dr. Fauci to repeat that up on Capitol Hill. It makes you wonder whether or not the White House is just trying to limit the opportunities where their top health experts are contradicting the president, as we have seen in other hearings in the past -- Wolf.
All right, Jim Acosta reporting for us, thanks very much.
Let's get to the breaking news on the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Let's go to CNN's Nick Watt. He's joining us from Los Angeles.
Nick, California's governor now says retail stores in the state can start to reopen this Friday.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he does, Wolf, but with some serious modifications.
I believe that that first wave will be pretty much pickup only, and he is working with experts to change the configuration of the inside of stores and restaurants, so that we can keep social distancing.
But, listen, Wolf, California one of the first to embrace this stay- at-home. Friday, when the restrictions begin to ease, will be 50 days since the governor signed that executive order telling us to stay home.
WATT (voice-over): Today, restaurants can reopen in Nebraska, bars in Montana, offices in Colorado. Yes, some social distancing restrictions remain, but, by the end of this week, more than 40 states will be partially back open for business.
ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: Well, we have been staying indoors, we have been slowing down the spread. But what we haven't done is gotten rid of the virus.
WATT: In Miami Beach today, they had to close the popular South Pointe Park again after police issued 7,300 warnings to people not wearing masks.
The experts still advise social distancing.
BIRX: It's devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because, if they go home and affect their grandmother or their grandfather, who has a comorbid condition, and they have a serious or a very -- or an unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of our lives.
WATT: The projected number of deaths for cost by early August in this country just nearly doubled to more than 134,000 in that well-known model from the University of Washington. The reason?
ALI MOKDAD, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: One of them is increased mobility before the relaxation, premature relaxation of social distancing. We're adding more presumptive death as well. And we're seeing a lot of outbreaks in the Midwest, for example.
WATT: In 15 of our states, the daily new case count is falling, among them, those Northeast hot spots.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You see the decline is, again, not as steep as the incline, but reopening is more difficult than the close-down.
WATT: But in 20 states, the daily new case count is still rising, among them, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois.
New York City now making its own tests. They say 30,000 will be available by Friday.
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: This is a first in our city's history.
WATT: In Los Angeles, free testing now for all, but heavy traffic reportedly causing some problems on the sign-up site.
The governor of California will now allow some retail to open Friday, with significant modifications. He says certain areas of lower concern can move even faster.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We will afford them that right with conditions and modifications that meet the health needs of the entire state.
WATT: Meanwhile, the White House is now focusing on 14 potential vaccines.
TRUMP: We are very confident that we're going to have a vaccine at the end of the year.
DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Miracles can happen. It could come together, but I'm certainly not banking on it.
WATT: The makers of that potential therapeutic, remdesivir, say they have had donated 140,000 courses to the federal government.
DANIEL O'DAY, CEO, GILEAD SCIENCES: They will determine, based upon things like ICU beds, where the course of the epidemic is in the United States. They will begin shipping tens of thousands of treatment courses out early this week.
WATT: Experts say most current antibody tests are inaccurate because of the high rate of false positives.
The FDA just granted emergency use authorization for a new test that Roche, its maker, claims is more accurate.
WATT: Now listen to this, our weird normal, today in D.C.:
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oyez, oyez, oyez, all persons having business before the Honorable the Supreme Court of the United States are admonished to give their attention.
WATT: That's the Supreme Court for the first time in history meeting by teleconference.
WATT: Now, just one more note from the University of Washington, where they produced that model that just nearly doubled the projected death count.
The director of that institute said that they believe that, for every one degree centigrade rise in temperature, the transmission rate of this virus drops by 2 percent.
Doesn't sound very significant, but the average temperature difference between March and July in New York City is about 20 degrees Centigrade. So if my math is right, that is a 40 percent drop in the transmission rate for this virus, which has to be significant somehow -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly does. All right, we will continue to monitor that as well.
Nick Watt reporting for us.
By the way, another grim milestone just now. The Johns Hopkins University study now says that there have been right now more than a quarter of a million confirmed, confirmed deaths from the current coronavirus around the world, more than a quarter of a million globally.
[18:10:05] Pretty sad situation unfolding.
Joining us now, the former Secretary of Defense, the former CIA Director Leon Panetta.
Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.
That University of Washington medical school model often cited by the White House, as you just heard, has revised its projected death toll up to 134,000 Americans by August 4. Their earlier projection was 72,000. About 68,000 Americans have died so far over the past two months.
Has the administration, the Trump administration, from your perspective, grasped the scale of this human suffering?
LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think those numbers, Wolf, are a giant wakeup call to the entire country that we cannot take this virus for granted.
This is -- this is the most serious crisis we have confronted since World War II. And the reality is, looking at the possibility of 134,000 dead by August and something like 3,000 dying each day, I think it is absolutely essential that we recognize the human cost involved with this virus.
And I think the president needs to understand that it is incredibly important now for this country to be unified in dealing with this threat.
BLITZER: Well, on that note, though, what does it say to you -- and you're a former member of the House of Representatives -- that the White House is now putting up barriers for Dr. Fauci, other key members of the Coronavirus Task Force, to testify this month before the House of Representatives?
PANETTA: Well, as I said, this is a major crisis.
And when we're in war, when we're in a military war, we ask the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, our generals, our admirals to come up before the Congress to testify, because they're the people that know exactly what's going on in war.
This is a health care war that we're in. And the people that know what is going are our health care officials, people like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx. They understand what's happening. And they have a responsibility to the American people, to the Congress, to the country to tell the truth about what is taking place with this virus.
They have credibility. And the Congress has the responsibility to act on behalf of the American people to find out the truth. So, they ought to testify, not just on the Senate side, but on the House side as well.
BLITZER: Yes, at least for now, maybe the Senate, but not necessarily the Democratic-led House. The president is denying reports that he was warned about the threat from coronavirus in early January. He says he wasn't told about it until the end of January and the intelligence agencies told him, he says -- and I'm quoting the president -- "It was not a big deal."
As the former CIA director, does that explanation makes sense to you?
PANETTA: No, it doesn't, because there were a number of presidential intelligence briefs that contained information about the potential for this pandemic going back into last year.
Those PDBs all stated the problem. His health officials warned him about the problem. There were others that made clear that we were facing the possibility of a pandemic.
Look, if this was just one warning somewhere in the past, then it would be understandable for him to say he doesn't really remember, but when you have warning after warning after warning after warning, there is no excuse for the president of United States not to take those warnings seriously.
BLITZER: Secretary Panetta, always good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for joining us.
PANETTA: Good to be with you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, I will speak with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, about the new projections for the U.S. coronavirus deaths and the brewing battle over the next stimulus package.
There you see her. She's standing by live up on Capitol Hill.
We will discuss when we come back.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news on a key coronavirus model that now is forecasting 134,000 deaths in the United States by August 4. That's almost double the previous estimate.
We're also told the Trump administration is privately projecting the daily death toll here in the United States will jump to 3,000 -- 3,000 -- every day by June, as more states are reopening.
Joining us now, the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining us. We have a lot to discuss.
But, first, what does it say to you that the White House is now revising the projected death toll upward, despite the weeks of social distancing?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, it's just sad. What we have to do is obviously work together to get the job done for the American people. This has to be something that is ethically-based. That is to say, everyone should be tested, so that we can find out in all of our communities the extent of the coronavirus.
We have to have the ability, when we have a vaccine, God willing, soon, but a cure maybe even sooner, that it is available to all Americans, and not a fear of, this is just for some, and we have a limited number of what the crisis is -- amount of people who are affected, because we're not testing enough.
So, this is about the lives, the livelihood, and the life of our democracy. And what it says is that we have not sufficiently acted upon the knowledge that we have had. We must insist on the truth.
Whatever went in the past is in the past. We can review that later. But, as we go forward, we must insist upon the truth. And the truth can only be gained by finding out how many people are affected by this.
That's why you see the disparity in some of the incomes of color in our country, because the testing isn't there.
Test, trace, treat, isolate, and then we can start to turn these numbers around. The numbers you -- you mentioned are just heartbreaking.
PELOSI: But people are hurting economically as well. We want to see, what's the key to putting -- ending this?
And the key is testing, testing, testing. That was our first bill on March 4. But it was not executed. It was our most recent bill, with $25 billion for testing. That was resisted by the other side, but we did get.
But we still need much more. And we will have it in this legislation CARES 2, that we are writing right now.
BLITZER: Yes, 68,000 confirmed deaths here in the United States over the past two months right now, but even the president says that could go up to 100,000.
Dr. Deborah Birx says the current projection is still between 100,000 and 240,000. So, these numbers are huge. These numbers could double over the next few months as well.
PELOSI: Just heartbreaking.
BLITZER: Let's get to some of the specific issues affecting you and the House of Representatives.
PELOSI: Right. BLITZER: This new White House memo that now says, among other things,
for the month of May, no task force members or key deputies of task force members may accept hearing invitations from the House of Representatives.
The new chief of staff at the White House may make some exceptions, we're told, but the administration says, this is so the task force can focus in on responding to the crisis.
What's your response to that?
PELOSI: Well, I was hoping they would spend more time on the crisis, instead of those daily shows that the president put on.
But the fact is that we need to allocate resources for this in order to do that. And the appropriations bill must begin in the House. And we have to have the information to act upon.
So, the fact that they said, we're not -- we're too busy being on TV to come to the Capitol is -- well, business as usual for them, but it isn't business that will be helpful to addressing this. We need to have the information. We must insist on the truth.
Now, it's interesting. They said, we're not going to the House, but Dr. Fauci can go to the Senate.
I guess Mr. Meadows, being, just until a week or so ago, a member of the House of Representatives, knows that we will be business, very, very strictly insisting on the truth, and they might be afraid of the truth.
BLITZER: You're talking about Mark Meadows, the new White House chief of staff, the former congressman, who's now at the White House.
Let's talk about what's coming up next in terms of another coronavirus stimulus package. I know you have been working on that with your Democratic colleagues.
The Republican leadership's -- leadership says there's no appetite for the type of relief bill you're pushing. The White House says there will be a pause right now before they consider spending any more money.
So, how far away are we from a possible fourth deal?
PELOSI: Well, I think we have to look to the base of support that we have for what we are proposing.
As I said, testing, testing, testing, tracing, tracing, tracing, treatment, treatment, treatment, isolate, this is the key to opening the door, crossing the threshold to bring this to an end.
The other part of it, though, is about our heroes, our state and local, our municipal, our county, our tribal, health care providers, first responders, police and fire, transit workers, Postal Service, all the rest of that. This is very -- they are essential workers for us to get the job done, medicine to seniors.
Really, some of the first responders are in the most dangerous situation, because they don't even have all the PPE, the personal protective equipment, that they need.
So, we have the support of Democratic and Republican governors. The chair of the Governors Association, National Governors Association, the governor of Maryland, Governor Hogan, he and the others have joined together and asked for the amount that they have asked.
It's not for one year. It might be two, maybe a little bit beyond, and the same thing with the municipalities, the League of Cities, the Conference of Mayors, et cetera, Association of Counties, and the rest, to get money down to the areas where delivery of service is.
So, that is all bipartisan. So, we think that there's tremendous support in the country for our heroes. The governors tell me two things that they are united on in terms of Democrats and Republicans. One is to protect our workers. They're our heroes. They're on the front line. They risked their lives to save other lives, and now they may lose their jobs.
And the other thing they're united one is another thing -- maybe it's not the only -- is that the -- this amount of money is what they need.
And the money would be used for two things. One is to offset the money that is already spent to address the coronavirus, outlays of money, and the other for revenue lost related to the coronavirus.
So, when the Republicans say, oh, we don't want this and that and their budget, it has nothing to do with anything, other than the coronavirus.
BLITZER: All right.
PELOSI: So, I think we have a very strong case. And I think they will come around to that.
BLITZER: Well, let me play for you what the president said about all your plans on Sunday.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, they want bailouts for the states, the Democrats. And, really, it's a number of states that, frankly, have not been managed well by Democrats over a long period of time. So, we have to be very careful about that, very careful.
But we will be doing infrastructure. And I told Steve just today, we're not doing anything unless we get a payroll tax cut.
(END VIDEO CLIP) PELOSI: You know what?
BLITZER: So, is a pay -- is a payroll tax cut OK, from your point of view?
PELOSI: No, it is not.
BLITZER: Or is it a nonstarter?
PELOSI: No, it is not. It is not.
BLITZER: And if it is a nonstarter, Madam Speaker, why is a payroll tax cut a nonstarter?
PELOSI: First of all -- first of all, this is all to be related to the coronavirus.
We have enormous, enormous costs, much of it incurred because the president was in denial early on, delayed a reaction to it, caused deaths. And so now we want to -- we want to say, OK, that was then. All right, let's start now and do things in a positive way.
Nobody's putting anything on the table and saying, unless we have this, we're not doing that. He shouldn't either.
But, apart from that, look at him saying, these states want to be bailed out. The state they used as an example was Illinois, which got into fiscal problems because of a Republican governor, who was governor there, until Governor Pritzker come to pull it out.
So, it -- what is -- we're talking about life and death. We're talking about people dying. We're talking about people risking their lives to save people's lives. They're -- we're not talking about red state, blue state. We're talking about all America.
BLITZER: But what's wrong with a payroll tax cut?
PELOSI: What is right is, we have -- we have $500 billion for state, $250 billion, maybe 300 billion for local.
This is a way for us -- this is a way for us to address the situation. There are other things we -- direct payment, unemployment insurance, issues like PPP. There's a great deal of money that is being put out there in a way that helps businesses stay open, but not only that, let them have customers when they're open.
So, this is something that has been -- we didn't just start this bill yesterday. This bill was what we were in the works with, with CARES 1. They did 150 for state and local. It wasn't enough. We're continuing that. And we did testing in our first bill March 4, and then testing last week, but we need more for that.
So, all of this are things that are agreed.
BLITZER: So, if the president -- Madam Speaker, excuse me for interrupting. If the president says you could get most of what you want, but he wants a payroll tax cut, otherwise, he's not going to sign it into law, what are you going to do?
PELOSI: Well, I'm not negotiating with the president on television right here.
And he didn't say that. He started denigrating governors who are fighting the fight in their states to save lives and save livelihoods for their people there.
And this, again -- let me say this. Let me tell you about the enthusiasm of our Democrats and the knowledge that our brilliant chairs have about how to meet the needs of the American people, instead of answering the thing of the day that spews forth from the White House.
BLITZER: All right.
PELOSI: This is about saving lives.
This is not about a political economic philosophy.
BLITZER: I totally -- I understand. I understand what you're saying.
And I want to move on to some other issues.
PELOSI: OK. I hope so.
BLITZER: But he did say -- he did say: As I told Steve Mnuchin yesterday -- he said, "We are not doing anything unless we get a payroll tax cut."
BLITZER: So, he's -- he's putting that down.
Let's -- let's move on. I understand you don't want to discuss that.
PELOSI: But it's not a question of discuss it. There's no need drawing any red line in the sand.
You -- you posed, if you got everything you wanted.
Well, did he say that?
BLITZER: I'm saying that.
PELOSI: I know.
PELOSI: But that's not what he said.
BLITZER: I'm saying, if you got everything -- most of everything you wanted, but he says he wants a payroll tax cut, would that be OK? PELOSI: He didn't say that. He said, I will give them anything they wanted for a payroll -- he didn't say that.
BLITZER: No, he didn't say that. I said that.
PELOSI: You're doing -- you're doing a hypothetical.
PELOSI: But let me just say this.
I can't spend a whole lot of time on the quote of the day from the president of the United States. We have worked in a bipartisan way. We have had four bills pass the Congress of the United States, each and every one of them bipartisan. And we're very, very proud of that.
We have worked together with our differences. We all didn't get everything we wanted. We had negotiations. We were proud to turn the CARES 1 from a corporate trickle-down to a workers-first bubble-up legislation.
We were pleased in this last interim bill to have it be not just about PPP, which we are all supportive of and were part of creating, but also to go to the underbanked smaller businesses who did not have connections with banks, and not only that, $100 billion for hospitals and for testing, testing, testing.
So, again, we went from 250 to 484. And all that additional was for lower-income, underbanked smaller businesses, minority, women, Native American, veterans, rural, smaller businesses who couldn't compete in the larger banking arena.
And that was a big improvement. We're going to see what the results are, but whatever it is, we made progress, maybe not enough. And we will just have to see where we go from here.
BLITZER: All right. Before --
PELOSI: But we had bipartisanship every step of the way. And we didn't do it by threatening each other, but by sharing values of saving lives, saving livelihoods of the American people.
BLITZER: All right, speaking of bipartisanship, you and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, you rejected an offer from the Trump administration of 1,000 coronavirus tests for members of Congress.
If your work is going to help pass relief, more relief for a lot of American workers, front-line workers and others, why not accept those tests?
PELOSI: Because they don't have them. The fact is, is that we have said that the tests should go to those on
the front line who have direct communication with -- contending with this.
Our physician, our Capitol physician, has said we don't need to have them in terms of exposure that we have. We are not -- the testing organization said to us, you're not next. We can bump you in line and push other people out of the way, but you're not -- you're not next in terms of essential workers for this.
So, if any individual member, in their own privacy -- I'm not going into their lives -- has a need for a test, then that's up to the doctor to determine. But we're not going to say -- we have -- we have custodians in the Capitol. We have people who work with thousands of people who make the Congress function, making this happen, again, protecting us, as well as keeping it safe in terms of this virus.
But outside, and our first responders and the rest, they should be getting this before we do. And I don't know there's one member of Congress who says, I want to have a test before my constituent who really needs one gets one because I should be more important than that.
PELOSI: I was very pleased that we were able to do that in a bipartisan way, House and Senate.
BLITZER: Yes, that -- that was certainly bipartisan, indeed.
I know you got a lot going on. Thanks so much for joining us.
And thanks also for that face mask you have around your neck. I know you just flew back from California. And you were telling me you wore that the whole flight; is that right?
PELOSI: The whole flight. I had to, like, sip water underneath, but, yes, the whole flight.
And everybody on the plane had on a face mask, including the crew. And that -- that's -- I highly recommend it.
But the thing is, is that it breaks your heart to see -- hear the stories, not -- and a matter of life and death, so sad, and, again, the heartbreak of people with a dream for a small business, an idea, and the rest, and then see it fade.
We want to make sure that what we do is for those who truly need it, and that we will get through this in a way that has ended some of the disparities. We have frozen access to credit for some people. And now, with this bill, we can open some of that up.
So, whether it's access to credit or access to care, we want to be sure that, as sad as this all is, that we make progress in terms of -- I will end where I began -- with the ethics of it all, that it's available to all Americans. BLITZER: Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining us.
I know you're incredibly busy. We're grateful to you for spending a few moments here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you very much.
PELOSI: Thank you. Take care.
BLITZER: You too.
PELOSI: And thank you to CNN for all you're doing to spread the word.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. And good luck.
PELOSI: Thank you.
BLITZER: Good luck to you guys up on Capitol Hill.
PELOSI: Thank you.
BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.
PELOSI: Thank you.
BLITZER: Meanwhile, a key model nearly doubling its projection of U.S. coronavirus test to a 134 000 by early -- 134,000, I should say, by early August.
And the FDA shift its policy on antibody testing. We'll talk about that and more with our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
BLITZER: So we are breaking down some alarming new predictions that coronavirus deaths will actually surge in the United States, as social distancing restrictions are eased in the months ahead. A key model now forecasts 134,000 deaths in this country by early August.
Let's bring in our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, there's this staggering increase in projected deaths. We're at about 68,000 confirmed deaths over the past two months here in the United States, take into account the reopening efforts that are already under way across the country.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it seems to, Wolf. I mean, these projections are all over the place. I think people who have been following this models closely have seen that these numbers have changed dramatically.
Part of it is the numbers were already going up from this IHME model from the University of Washington. Because, I think there's -- they realized that the plateau, sort of -- we've sort of come to this plateau in terms of numbers of new infections on a daily basis. And we haven't really come down, haven't really come to the backside of that curve. So the longer you're in the plateau, the higher this numbers are going to be.
But, Wolf, absolutely, you know, before now, they really hadn't taken into account the idea that re-openings are going to obviously lead to more infections and, sadly, more deaths. They're trying to now make a prediction and the numbers just about doubled, Wolf, when they did that.
BLITZER: As you know, Sanjay, the FDA has now shifted its policy on antibody testing to require more oversight. First of all, what led to the change and remind our viewers why antibody testing potentially could be so significant?
GUPTA: Yes. The reason that they did this, Wolf, is because there is a lot of bad tests out there. I get these calls all the time, people asking if they should be tested for antibodies. And they don't know what the specific test that they're getting and a lot of them just haven't been very accurate.
Two types of tests you need to remember. There's one that's the diagnostic test for the virus itself. That's looking for the presence of the virus in some way. What you'd really hate to get there is a false negative, right? I'm negative. But, in fact, you actually have the virus and you might go out in the public and you might inadvertently infect people. That's bad.
With the antibody test, what you're testing for is to see if you have any evidence that you've been infected in the past and now you have antibodies, which might give you some protection in the future.
Now, we don't know if those antibodies provide for protection or at least how long or how strong that protection is. But the bad scenario there, is that you get a false positive. Hey, hooray. I have antibodies, I'm protected, I can go out in public, when, in fact, you don't have antibodies and you could still be at risk of getting infection.
So the key to all this tests, Wolf, as you might imagine, is that they've got to good tests. They've got to be accurate tests. They've got to be easy to obtain as well and you've got to get the results quickly.
BLITZER: That is certainly the key. Sanjay Gupta, thank you very much.
Just ahead, I'll speak to the governor of Colorado about the new moves by his state to ease coronavirus restrictions and his concerns about a potential surge in deaths.
BLITZER: Let's get some more reaction to an alarming new forecast of U.S. coronavirus deaths surging to 134,000 by early August as more states reopen. We're joined now by the Governor of Colorado, Jared Polis.
Governor, thanks so much for joining us.
So, this model often cited by the White House has sharply raised its projected coronavirus deaths to -- I just said, 140,000 American by August 4th. That means some 68,000 are now confirmed. Another 66,000 people they're projecting will die between now and August 4th.
Are you comfortable with your plan to start reopening Colorado given this vastly revised projection?
GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Yes, that's not a model that we've used in our planning. We have a Colorado-specific model that the good folks at the University of Colorado School of Health had created.
But, certainly, I look at all models and I think that the general point of the 20,000-foot level is there could very well be as many losses ahead of us as are behind us. That's absolutely true.
This virus has not gone away. It was never a goal of any of the stay- at-homes, including Coloradans, to eradicate the virus. There's been a few nations like Taiwan, New Zealand, they're islands. They've largely eradicated it.
In the United States, over 1 million people have it, probably 2 million, 3 million, 4 million people have. A million that we know it.
So, the goal is really to make sure we don't overwhelm our hospitals and everybody who contracts has a fighting chance of getting better.
BLITZER: As you know, obviously, offices in your state were permitted to reopen today at, what, 50 percent staffing capacity. Retail businesses, salons are also allowed to open with some restrictions.
How did you determine this timeline for reopening what are considered to be nonessential businesses?
POLIS: You know, one thing the model showed us is that it doesn't matter so much what day the state home period ends, whether it was last month, this week, in two weeks. What matters is what takes in place -- what's the kind of social distancing that you can institutionalized for a period of months, a period of months. And so, it's all about what the precautions we're taking.
So, spacing at the workplace, half the office stuff going in. If they need the second half, different hours, staggered shifts, six feet apart, people in retail wearing masks. You know, it's how we can get through this over a matter of months, and people can support themselves and have the psychological and social fulfillment that humans need to live.
BLITZER: I know you're allowing individual mayors in Colorado to set their own restrictions, and that's understandable. Do you worry, though, that this could lead residents to travel, let's say, between economies to get services they can't access near their homes? POLIS: Luckily, we're mostly in tandem. First of all, Colorado is in tandem with most of our neighboring states, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas. But even within their own state, there's only about a one-week difference between some of the areas that have less of the presence of the virus were able to open a little sooner.
In Grand Junction, they opened their first restaurants in western Colorado. Other areas, the Denver metro area, hit a little bit harder, they're not even opening their stores for another four to five days just to be safe that we're in a plateau, that we can sustain in a safe way overtime.
BLITZER: As the weather gets warmer, though, what's your message to residents who are growing obviously and understandably tired of all these safer-at-home restrictions?
POLIS: None of us are counting on this hot weather as a deus ex machina saving grace, Wolf. I mean, if it helps, great. What we're counting is sustained social distancing, wearing masks when public, and all the extraordinary steps we're taking to protect the nursing homes, of most vulnerable, including increasingly screening asymptomatic employees to prevent additional outbreaks.
BLITZER: What's the status of the schools in Colorado right now, kindergarten through high school?
POLIS: They are not opening for this school year. We end the year early in the next two or three weeks. Most of the districts are finishing up.
Many districts are easing their sites, distributing meals, doing one- on-one. Some doing small groups 10 and under for shop and vocational and we want our districts to use those sites. But it's not yet time for those regular free-for-all that a classroom entails.
The school districts are getting ready to prepare for the fall, which is to implement a full schedule with social distancing parameters that help keep people safe.
BLITZER: Are you thinking of starting the fall semester, let's say, not in August or September, but maybe in July, as Governor Newsom of California is proposing?
POLIS: We start pretty early, anyway. Our start is mid August, late August. They should be good to go.
What a lot of schools are wondering about is what about their summer programs? Some have cancelled them already, but what we're advising them is wait, let's see. I think some of them, you can run with social distancing in small groups, you know, starting in June and July.
So, we're waiting on that guidance. It's not out yet, but we know that kids need summer programming, and we want to make sure they're not falling behind. BLITZER: Well, good luck, Governor Polis. I appreciate you joining us
as usual. Thank you very much.
POLIS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we saw some big outdoor crowds over the weekend, the lack of social distancing. Do Americans have coronavirus fatigue?
BLITZER: Many Americans are clearly eager to enjoy the outdoors sometimes though in violation of social distancing guidelines.
CNN's Brian Todd is joining us.
So, Brian, we did see some large crowds over the weekend.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPNDENT: We did see that, Wolf. And tonight, public health experts are issuing serious warnings about that behavior while at the same time acknowledging that millions of people are simply looking for a release from corona fatigue.
TODD (voice-over): The iconic Blue Angels and Thunderbirds staging flyovers over Baltimore, Washington and Atlanta Saturday to pay tribute to health care workers. Thousands flocked to landmarks, large city parks and other public spaces to catch them. Some calling it a relief from corona fatigue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been cooped up for the last few week and what an opportunity to come down and visit the nation's capitol than when you have the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds flying over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was really nice. It really makes you feel really good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, especially seeing other people out here.
TODD: But that much needed respite, experts say is also a big part of the problem.
PROF. ANNE RIMOIN, EPIDERMIOLOGIST, UCLA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: The problem is that the virus is still circulating in the population. We still need to have all of the social distancing measures in place, all of the personal hygiene measures in place.
TODD: But that didn't happen this weekend. Scenes like this at the National Mall showed that hundreds of people at a time were defying requests from public officials to stay home to watch the flyovers. Same for Central Park and other parks in New York, hundreds not distancing enough, not wearing face masks.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I said that I think it's disrespectful of people not to wear masks. You could literally kill someone because you didn't want to wear a mask. I mean, how -- how cruel and irresponsible would that be?
TODD: In New York, New Jersey, and Florida over the past few days, thousands of people were given warnings, summons and citations for not distancing enough or failing to wear face mask coverings in public spaces. Parks and beaches that had been reopened closed again.
A noted psychiatrist says what we've seen over the past few days is a release. People letting out pent up feelings of enclosure and anxiety.
DR. LISE VAN SUSTEREN, PSYCHIATRIST: What we are releasing now is simply the notion that we need to continue to worry at such a feverish pitch. People can't focus for a long period of time at really high anxiety. After a certain amount of time we get worn-out.
TODD: Public health experts say this could grow more dangerous as the weather gets warmer as more people clamor to get out, even though who do engage at distancing in parks may not be doing it the right way. Gathering in groups of six to eight people defeats the purpose experts say, and there are other nuances people are missing.
RIMOIN: It's very difficult to navigate that in an open setting where you have lots of people coming in contact with each other. And it's not just necessarily a direct line, my face to your face. When we talk about six feet distance, we're talking about it all -- at all angles here.
TODD: But there's clearly growing tension between officials who are enforcing face masks and distancing and members of the public who are going out. In Michigan over the weekend, a security guard at a Dollar Store was shot and killed by a customer after telling that customer to wear a state-mandated face mask, and, Wolf, there have been threats in other states against people like Walmart employees trying to do that very thing.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us, thanks very much.
And to our viewers, thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.