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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
As U.S. Deaths Top 75,000, WH Rejects CDC Recommendations; WH Rejects CDC Recommendations for Reopening; Senior Admin Official: Draft Document was Subject of Heated Internal Debate; 44 States Will Partially Reopen By Sunday as U.S. Cases Rise; JP Morgan Exec: Will Take 10-12 Years for U.S. to Return to Pre-Pandemic Employment Levels. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 7, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: To all those mourning tonight, may your loved ones rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thank you, Wolf.
OUTFRONT next breaking news, new cases climbing in nearly half of U.S. states. Even as the President's personal valet test positive for the virus. Trump is sidelining medical experts in the fight against the pandemic.
Plus, the U.S. bracing for what could be the worst jobs report in history. One top investor says it could take up to 12 years for the U.S. economy to return to pre pandemic levels.
And a stunning reversal tonight after two guilty pleas. The Justice Department drops its criminal case against Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Why?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, the death toll in the United States from Coronavirus now at 75,000, up more than 2,000 from this time yesterday. And it is more than what the White House had projected we'd have by August 4th which, of course, is more than three months from now. The number of confirmed cases tonight 1.2 million.
These stunning numbers come as the Trump administration is sidelining its public health experts. The latest example, the administration's decision to bury the CDC new draft guidelines for how these states and businesses can safely reopen.
A CDC official telling CNN that the agency was told that some of the suggestions in this report, it's 17 pages, were too strict. But frankly most of them are pretty fair - is fair. I mean if you read through it, you will see. Here's just one example, schools, that they say you should cancel field trips and encourage students to eat in their classrooms instead of the cafeteria. That's too strict?
I mean, that just seems to be common sense. It comes though, as there are new concerns about the President's possible exposure to the virus. Trump's personal valet has tested positive. A source telling us that the President was upset when he found out and now there is a scramble in the White House to test everyone who may have come into contact with the valet including, of course, the President.
Moments ago Trump claimed that valets at the White House wear masks. Even his officials tell CNN very few people inside the White House wear masks during the day including valets.
So why? Why reticence in wearing masks in the workplace? Well, because the President sets the tone. I mean, this video this week, visiting a plant that makes masks you see the president not wearing one. He doesn't want to wear one. Even as the people listening to Trump's speech at the plant, the people who actually work in the plant, look at them, every one of them masked, social distanced. That's what they did.
But it's not the example he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... especially on election ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(Charlotte Denas): There he is. Why?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think that wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know, it's somehow - I don't see it for myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Why doesn't he see it for himself? Maybe because we've learned the President is afraid that if he is seen wearing a mask, it might contradict his public message that the virus is waning. The President, obviously, is in denial on that.
Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live near the White House. Kaitlan, what more are you learning about why the White House rejected these CDC guidelines, which as we've read through many of them are very common sense?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And we should note a CDC official said that it was the White House task force that asked for those guidelines and so they had these public health experts compiled them 17 pages worth. But then an administration official told CNN they believe they were overly prescriptive.
And basically, they were saying that the guidance that is going to work in a rural area in Tennessee is not something that's going to work in a place like New York City. So basically they sent them back saying they want revisions made to that.
But Erin, the question really is going to be are they going to actually use those changes if they do make revisions to that and how would that work going forward, because these are much more detailed about how to open restaurants and schools and whatnot than those guidelines that we got from the White House were.
BURNETT: And Kaitlan, on the valet story. You broke the story today on the valet for President Trump testing positive. What more are you learning on that tonight?
COLLINS: Well, the question is what does it change inside the West Wing because the President announced earlier he said now they're going to be tested daily instead of weekly because these valets while not really well known to the public are really close to the President. They work very often with him. They're very close to the President and the First Family in proximity-wise.
So, of course, it's substantial the fact that someone this close to the President has tested positive given the fact that he's so often cites how he's tested and he's often tested negative and now we had someone who was on White House grounds works very close to the President in the West Wing, in the Oval Office that we are told was showing symptoms yesterday and that's what made this person undergo testing.
And so the question is does that change anything going forward and while the President said he is going to be tested daily now, they didn't really get into whether or not they're going to do a deep clean of the West Wing or whether he himself is going to self quarantine for 14 days as you know that public health experts have recommend it.
So this is notable though because it's the closest person to the President who interacts with him very frequently that has tested positive for coronavirus.
BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. It is a very significant and obviously also that the President now said he'll be tested daily, of course, it had been weekly before.
OUTFRONT now, Dr. Howard Koh. He's the former Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary under President Obama, now a Professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
I appreciate your time, so was it a mistake for the White House to reject these guidelines from the CDC? As we said, 17 pages, pretty detailed - a lot of common sense.
DR. HOWARD KOH, FORMER HHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH UNDER OBAMA: Well, thank you, Erin. Yes, as a physician and former Assistant Secretary for Health, I'm deeply concerned by these developments. At this moment everybody in the United States wants the same thing. We want society to reopen, but we want society to reopen in a safe, secure and healthy way. These guidelines are very detailed and everybody wants them; businesses, schools, houses of worship.
We've had broad principles put forward by the White House task force and that's important. But everyone is looking for the detailed guidance that will help us go forward. So this is a disturbing development and this is a time where everybody is looking for the best recommendations based on science and data and facts.
BURNETT: And Dr. Koh, as we're pointing out, the taskforce asked for these guidelines. It wasn't that they were just submitted, they asked for them and then they received them. And now an administration official tells CNN that one of the concerns about the guidelines is that they are overly prescriptive and then they elaborated saying guidance in rural Tennessee shouldn't be the same as for urban New York City. Do they have a point on that or not?
KOH: Well, if you read the draft guidance, just about every page of those 17 pages says please consult with your local or state authorities before implementing any recommendations. So these are recommendations and guidance to be considered and discussed wherever you are and implemented wherever you are.
And so there is a lot of emphasis on collaboration and coordination and tailoring them to where you are in United States. And businesses need this guidance, they want this guidance and schools need them too.
BURNETT: They do.
KOH: And business cannot thrive and move forward unless they have this guidance to help them move forward.
BURNETT: And to your point, I just want to say at the top of each of these categories, childcare programs just being one of them, they have a whole page first sentence before all decision about following these recommendations should be made locally and every single page says that to your point, right? The whole point was very clear, was not to have a one size fits all.
So that excuse certainly does not seem to add up. Now, according to that administration official, the task force asked for the document to be sent back to the CDC for revisions. Then, they weren't returned. They didn't know exactly why this ended up getting shelved at the CDC, whether this was at the CDC or not.
I mean, we do know Dr. Koh, that the CDC has had major missteps in responding to the pandemic, that the testing rollout with contaminated kits caused a huge issue on testing at the very beginning here. Do you have concerns about trusting the CDC?
KOH: Well, this saddens me because I've had the honor of working with the CDC through my whole career as a physician and public health professional. And this is a highly trusted agency. In fact, in time of crisis, all Americans turned to the CDC for guidance and recommendations about how to move forward. So we need the CDC in their pre eminent position to step up and have
their expert advice be listened to by the administration and we can only have businesses reopened and schools reopen and society reopen if the CDC plays its proper role.
BURNETT: All right. Dr. Koh, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
KOH: Thank you very much.
BURNETT: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta is OUTFRONT now. Sanjay, look, the confusion over these guidelines and obviously the White House's refusal to accept them comes as some states are going full steam ahead. This is an amazing thing.
At the University of Maryland, researchers did an analysis of smartphone data. They found one week after Georgia, your state, started opening restaurants, hair salons and other businesses. An additional 62,440 visitors started arriving each day. Most of them not from Georgia, most of them from other states where businesses were closed, so they were taking advantage of that.
So exactly this influx of people you didn't know where they were coming that they shouldn't have wanted. I mean, is there any guideline that can prevent this?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: A national guideline. I mean, that is the situation. I mean, so I live in this state. They opened up. We don't have adequate testing here. People came from other states. I guess, understandably because the restaurants are open and other things are open in Georgia, but many of those people probably haven't been tested either.
As we all know, I think at this point you could be carrying the virus in your body and not have any symptoms. So, yes, I mean that's why for something like this, I mean, I know the idea of federalism is very important, but when you have a contagious virus, something that doesn't respect boundaries or state lines sure it applies. I mean, we're all in this together and this is another good example of that.
BURNETT: Right. And the states that say that they wouldn't have a problem, maybe they wouldn't have except for when you get a rush of people coming into your state, you do. These are kind of the unforeseen consequences, perhaps, people don't always realize.
Now, on this issue of President Trump's personal valet, Kaitlan was explaining how important that role is and how close this person really was to the President. Responsible for his food when he travels, all sorts of things. So now the President says he's going to be tested daily. Previously, it was only once a week which this does raise the issue of, wow, it was only once a week. I mean, that is pretty incredible. We're now going to go to once a day, it was once a week. GUPTA: Yes. I mean, I don't know what the right latency period is. I
mean, at the time you get exposed to the virus, you're not going to test positive right away. So what is the likely sort of the interval period, we know it five days, people, on average, develop symptoms, but they can spread the virus even before they develop symptoms, so probably two or three days. We don't know. I mean, we're all dealing with this.
I think the larger point here is that if you have somebody who's that close of contact, first of all, they should be wearing masks because you don't want to spread the virus if you're in close contact with somebody. That's the guidance that you hear from every public health official and testing really is kind of beside the point.
I mean, the goal is to not get the virus in the first place. I mean, testing is important, don't get me wrong.
GUPTA: The goal is to not get the virus in the first place, so ...
BURNETT: But to your point, the valet - they say everybody that goes around the President is getting tested. The valet obviously had been sick for a period of some time. I mean, he was symptomatic, right? That's why they tested him. He didn't just catch it a symptomatically. He was symptomatic.
And so I don't know whether he was getting tested as regularly as they say they're all being tested or not. I do know the White House, the tests that they're using, that Abbott Labs test appears to have a 15 percent false negative rate. Is it possible was getting tested and it didn't pick it up? I mean, we just don't know.
GUPTA: Yes. No, that's very possible that 15 percent false negative is significant. That's not going to be an adequate test to really give people the absolute confidence that they're not carrying the virus or the people around them aren't carrying the virus. So he should have been wearing a mask.
First of all if he was symptomatic, he shouldn't been working at the White House or anywhere for that matter. Everyone needs to wear a mask right now if you can't keep physical distance.
BURNETT: All right. Sanjay, thank you very much.
GUPTA: Got it.
BURNETT: And Sanjay will be back top of the hour, global town hall on coronavirus tonight starting at eight.
And OUTFRONT next, the Governor of California revealing how the state's first case of community spread happen. It started at a nail salon.
Plus, with just hours before what could be the worst jobs report in history. President Trump says he's not worried. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's going to come back very, very strong and it's going to be a lot sooner than anybody would understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Is he giving Americans false hope?
And one state has launched a controversial program, tracking who you came into contact with and where you're going. Is that going too far?
BURNETT: Tonight, Gov. Gavin Newsom revealing California's first known case of community spread happened at a nail salon. The Governor saying that's the reason salons will stay closed at this point as other retail businesses in the state prepare to reopen tomorrow.
Nick Watt is OUTFRONT.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): In Three Forks, Montana this morning, kids walk back into school with tweaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have six foot distant marks on the playground so that they can play games at recess and stay six feet away from each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT(voice over): Montana hasn't suffered as much as most. Meanwhile, with Lady Liberty looking on bodies now being stored frozen in trucks in New York City, our epicenter, waiting for overwhelmed funeral directors to catch up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D) NEW YORK: If you're going through hell, keep going and that's what we're doing. We're going through hell, but what we're doing is working so we're going to keep going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT(voice over): Going slow on reopening even though New York's new case counts are falling, daily new case counts continue to climb in 19 states still every one of them among the 44 that will begin to reopen by this weekend.
In Texas, cases climbing but haircuts, manicures are a go as of tomorrow morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CROWD: Shelley free. Shelley free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT(voice over): The state Supreme Court just ordered the release of a salon owner jailed for operating under lockdown.
In Oregon, the trailblazers practice facility will also open tomorrow that so case as the NBA up to four players can train solo at any one time, as long as local restrictions are followed. And there are now different detailed directions in different places.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Restaurants outside only, you're 90 percent more likely to get infected inside than outside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT(voice over): More than 33 million Americans have now lost their jobs during the pandemic, depression era numbers. Others have worked on and paid the price. a meatpacking worker in Colorado couldn't afford to quit now she's infected and fighting for her life.
Three of the country's biggest pork processing plants partially reopening today, after outbreaks union and management working on how to keep workers safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYST: I really don't think the economy kicks into any kind of gear until we get a vaccine or some kind of therapy that everyone feels comfortable about. And even then it's going to take several years to get those jobs back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT(voice over): The FDA did just approve another potential vaccine moving into phase two testing, more than a hundred now in various stages of development, but you can only rush so much. Needs to be safe, needs to work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MARK MULLIGAN, LEAD RESEARCHER, NYU LANGONE VACCINE CENTER: I do really think we're talking about getting through to the end of the year and into early next year before we would have a definitive answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: Now, after some initial humming and hauling - hawing, I'm sorry, Los Angeles is on on board with the Governor's reopening timetable.
[19:20:03] So some stores will open tomorrow, curbside pickup only. It's going to
get busier. This could be the one, the only, the last time I'm ever allowed to park on Hollywood Boulevard. We also just heard from San Francisco, they say they're going to need a little bit more time, it could be 10 days or so, Erin, before they begin to open the door just a little. Back to you.
BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you very much.
And I'll find out Dr. Jonathan Reiner who advise the White House medical team for eight years under President George W. Bush, currently Director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at George Washington University Hospital.
So Dr. Reiner, today we found out that California says that first case of known community transmission was in a nail salon. Nail salons are opening now in many places, how big of a risk is this?
JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, think about it, in a nail salon you're literally sitting arm's length away from somebody. So it's no surprise that it would be easy to contract the virus. So now imagine that you open nail salons, we're going to rely on the masks, that's our entire plan. The mask that the manicurist is wearing and the mask that hopefully the client is also wearing, I doubt that either of them are wearing pressured, tested and fitted N95 masks.
So I think that that's the perfect environment to spread the virus. You're literally sitting close enough to touch the other person. So it seems like a high risk environment.
BURNETT: Right. And, of course, as we've all pointed out it, even some of the more effective non-N95 mask and only 60 percent is effective, so we can realize those are big risks.
REINER: Right. And when we tell people to wear a mask, we don't say then you can get as close as you want. We say please and also keep at least six feet of distance. So it's a tough environment to make safe. So let me ask you about the hydroxychloroquine. There's been a new study and this is a big study that came out, New England Journal of Medicine just published it.
People who took hydroxychloroquine didn't do any better than people who didn't. Obviously, the President repeatedly touted this as a game changer was the word he used. You though had been raising serious doubts about this drug all along, but given the size now this survey, does this pretty much put that drug aside?
REINER: Well, it's just yet another study that shows no evidence of benefit. I will say that even though this is a big study and it comes out of a great place, it comes out of Columbia University. It's also still not a randomized clinical trial, which is really the data we need to finally understand once and for all whether the drug works or whether it doesn't.
But in this very large over 1,300 patient observational study in which patients either received or didn't receive the drug, but not in a randomized way. There did not appear to be any benefit in favor of treating these fairly sick people with hydroxychloroquine.
BURNETT: Dr. Reiner, thank you.
BURNETT: And next one of the nation's top investors warning it will take 10 to 12 years for the economy to return to pre pandemic levels. The former Director of Trump's Economic Council, Gary Cohn, responds. Plus, he pleaded guilty twice, yet the Justice Department is now dropping its criminal case against Michael Flynn, why?
BURNETT: New tonight, 10 to 12 years that is how long the Chief Investment Officer for JP Morgan says it could take for U.S. employment to return to pre pandemic levels, 10 to 12 years. This as we are just hours away from the April jobs report which is expected to be and almost certainly will be the worst in our lifetime.
OUTFRONT now the former Director of the National Economic Council under President Trump, Gary Cohn. So Gary, you hear this from JP Morgan. How long do you think it will take for us employment numbers to recover?
GARY COHN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: So Erin, thanks for having me. The answer is no one knows. Remember, we went into this crisis at all time record low unemployment rates in the United States. So to return back to a 3.5 percent unemployment rate is a very low number. It's well below the historic average for the United States.
With that said, I'm fairly optimistic that we are going to recover, we are going to put people back to work and we're going to do it rather quickly in the United States. I would not underestimate the strength and the recovery of this economy. It may look different than the economy we had going into the crisis.
By that I mean we may have a different mix of jobs, but we will be very clever and very creative at creating new jobs and new opportunities in our economy. I think we're going to get back into the manufacturing business. We've seen the risk of having to import medical supplies and import some of the drugs that we're needing to fight the coronavirus. Those need to be manufactured here in the United States.
So those manufacturing facilities are going to have to start hiring people. We may lose some people in the travel and entertainment business, but we'll replace them with other opportunities.
BURNETT: All right. So you're more optimistic, the President is extremely optimistic and let me just play for you what he said earlier today. This is a video that he put out on Twitter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: It's going to come back very, very strong. We built the
greatest economy anywhere in the world, nobody even close. I did it once, we are going to do it again and it's going to be just as strong by the time we have it done and it's going to be a lot sooner than anybody would understand. We are going to have an incredible next year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Obviously, you make the point that just as strong, I mean, getting back to those levels of unemployment is not reasonable at this point. But when he says an incredible next year, do you think that's fair, the next 12 months are going to be incredible?
COHN: Erin, I think it's going to take longer than 12 months for us to evolve to where we're comfortable.
Unless something miraculously happens in the medical field and we get a vaccine or we - we get far substantial cure for the virus, so we're not scared. And we get rid of social distancing, and we're happy to be in tightly packed environment, it's going to take some period of time. I can see many parts of the economy coming back sooner than people think. But there's other parts of the economy, wide big arenas, big venues, ball games, concerts, it's hard for me to envision that part of the economy coming back you know overnight or quickly. It's going to be a long evolution for people to get comfortable to go to a football stadium with 100,000 people.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: So, you know, to that point, that this is going to take time, Congress has now approved $3 trillion in emergency spending for coronavirus. Democrats want another round and they want to help, you know, state and local governments, many of which would go bankrupt without that. Last night the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told me repeatedly that the plan needs to be big and bold. Do you agree we need to go bigger and bolder, when you already have a $3 trillion price tag out there?
COHN: So, we have gone big and bold. And what we need to do now is we need to execute on the big and bold plan that Congress has already enacted. So, I give Congress enormous credit for thinking big and thinking bold and acting quickly on appropriating the money.
The problem is that that money has not gotten into the economy yet. We're still giving out PPP loans. Main street lending program has not even started yet. The large companies that are able to go to the Federal Reserve and get loans, none of them have gone to the Federal Reserve yet to get loans. But some of them have chosen to go different directions and get loans in the capital markets because they come with less strings attached. But many companies would go to the Federal Reserve and get loans but they're not comfortable that that system is up and working. And so, we have to wait to the money that's been appropriated, and that Congress did a good job getting out, get into the economy and we see what the effects of the initial CARES act is. BURNETT: So, this is the question when you look at the PPP. And we've heard you know very - several personal stories of the challenges people have faced with that. But you're now on - you know, you've already done a round, you have another round, now the Trump administration says more than half of the current $310 billion round 2 has been distributed.
Marco Rubio, who is the chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, says Congress may have to add more money to the PPP. But when you look at that, it's been a few hundred billion dollars in a couple weeks, then a few hundred billion dollars than a few weeks, that's not a sustainable thing. Do you have concerns about how the program is being managed? Do we really even know who's getting the loans, who isn't, where the money is going? Do we know what's going on with all this money?
COHN: We - we -- I think we all have concerns with the program and how it's being executed. Again, we give Congress enormous credit for getting out there quickly. But now, as time has evolved and we're in program two of the PPP and we may be in program three, we need a lot more clarity on who's getting the loans, what the loans can be used for, and are those businesses able to actually hire back people?
You had another guest on earlier today, the governor of Rhode Island, she talked about an issue that I'm talking about a lot. Some of these companies are getting back PPP money. They're trying to hire back employees and they can't get them to come back because the unemployment benefits, they're getting are very high, number one, and number two, you know, they also have other issues. They have to stay home and take care of their kids, there's no school in session right now, there's no childcare available. So, they're legitimately stuck at home having to take care of their kids, even if they want to go back to work.
BURNETT: So, states across the country are beginning to reopen. Obviously, you know, none of them have met the guidelines that the White House put out. You're going to have 44 states partially reopened by May 10th. Are you worried at all that if any of these states have a second spike -- I don't know if you heard what happened in Georgia, right? That they reopened and they had almost 70,000 people come in days from neighboring states to come to places in Georgia, right? These are unforeseen consequences that might happen. Are you worried about what a second spike would do if you have to close things down again? Is that a greater risk than reopening?
COHN: There's risks in everything we do here. And I think we need to understand that. We also need to understand that prior to this healthcare crisis, we were not living in a zero-risk environment. We had risks every day. They were different risks and I could go through them, but every one of us understand the risks that we had in our everyday lives. And we assumed those risks. We cannot wait till we get to a risk-free environment, because that will never happen to get to a risk-free environment to open up different parts of the economy.
[19:35:04] COHN: That said, we need to be careful. We need to move slowly. We need to pick and choose what businesses open and we need to add to that gradually, to see what the intended consequences are, but as you said, what are the unintended consequences.
No, we don't want people flocking from one city or from one state to another city or state because they can get different services. So, you have got to have some coherency and some relationship between geographical areas on what you're opening so people don't move around. Because literally, the worst thing that could happen is infected people in one area who are geographically contained start moving around freely and spread the disease.
BURNETT: Absolutely. To places that you wouldn't have thought would even have a problem. All right. Thank you very much, Gary. Good to talk to you.
COHN: Erin, thanks for having me.
BURNETT: And next, Utah launching an app that goes beyond what any other state has done. Tracking residents through their cell phones, sending that data directly to public health officials. The state official who is behind that app is OUTFRONT. And Washington once had the most coronavirus deaths in the country, but not anymore. What did they do right?
BURNETT: Tonight, Utah about to do what few states have done, tracking people's movements to monitor and contain coronavirus, the state launching a voluntary app that uses your phone's location data to detect who a sick person spoke to, what stores or restaurants that they were in. It could be key to help controlling the virus spread but of course, you have to be willing to let the government to access your personal information.
OUTFRONT now is Angela Dunn. She's Utah's state epidemiologist leading the team there responsible for the app. So, Angela, let me just start off. We do obviously know contact tracing is incredibly important and we're saying and we're learning you know you have to hire hundreds of thousands of people across this country to do it. Technology could enable you to do a lot more - a lot more quickly. So, how does this work?
ANGELA DUNN, UTAH DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH STATE EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. I mean from the beginning we have been prioritizing contact tracing as a key element into stopping this pandemic. Recognizing that we can get quickly overwhelmed in public health with the number of cases. This app will certainly help with that.
So, people can voluntarily download it and they can voluntarily allow the app to track them by GPS or Bluetooth. And if they test positive, they can let the public health in that case investigator look at all their location data so that when we're doing the contact tracing, we can use it as a tool to help jog the memory of the case. And then we'll be able to more comprehensively identify all their close contacts and location.
BURNETT: So, when a person using the app tests positive for coronavirus, your Health Department gets that data immediately and then calls other people using the app who came in contact with the sick person, right? I mean, that's essentially -- tell me if I'm wrong, and then what happens?
DUNN: Yes. So, the app allows the individual to assess their symptoms and then connects them with testing. And the test results go through the app, and those results come to the Health Department and we give the individual a call. And if they have the app, that individual can allow us to see all their locations. So, at that moment the app prompts them to allow public health to see their location data. Then we have a public health portal and that case investigator can use the public health portal to look at their locations for the past several days and also identify individuals who are in close contact with them, which is less than 6 feet for over 10 minutes.
BURNETT: OK. So, to that point, though. And I understand as an epidemiologist you're not, you know, this is perhaps more of an enforcement thing, but this is a lot of what's going to determine whether people buy into this, part of it is privacy but I'm actually asking now logistical issue. Let's say that you have the app, you and I had a conversation, it was 10 minutes long. So, you know, we know each other, but - and you get it. And then all of a sudden, I get a call, does anybody force me to do anything? Do I have to quarantine myself and not go to my own job or separate from my family? Or you know, what sort of consequences are you recommending that people have who come into contact with infected people?
DUNN: So, what's great about this app is it's just supplementing our normal human contact tracing process. So, we still have that human element in there. So, if your name comes up as a close contact as someone who's confirmed positive for COVID, our public health investigators would give you a call and we would assess your risk. We would ask about your locations and relation to where the positive case was and if we determine for you to be at risk, it's the same process we use for all other individuals. We would recommend quarantine and if you're symptomatic, we'd recommend testing.
BURNETT: So, what do you say to people who are concerned about the privacy?
DUNN: So, we've taken this very seriously recognizing that privacy and trust is going to be huge in determining the success and usefulness of this app. So, all of the data resides on the app and it's all opt in. So, the individual opts in for location tracking, it opts in to give data to the Public Health Department. It is clear from the app every 30 days and it's a rolling 30 days or an individual can do it on their own manually and clear all their data as well. So, we've really made this a person-centric opt in process.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Angela. DUNN: Sure. Thank you so much.
BURNETT: All right. And OUTFRONT next, it was ground zero for the U.S. outbreak, but Washington has reduced the number of cases and is starting to reopen. How did they do it?
Plus, the Justice Department's stunning reversal. Dropping the case against Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
BURNETT: Tonight, Washington state ground zero of the U.S. outbreak now seeing far fewer cases and far fewer deaths. So, how did they contain the spread? What is it like there now? Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This E.R. in suburban Seattle was in the first U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
SIDNER (on camera): Describe what that was like.
DR. KEVIN HANSON, CHIEF OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, EVERGREENHEALTH: Yes, it was a little chaotic.
SIDNER (voice-over): Two months later, it's a symbol of how to contain the virus. Washington state has less than 1,000 COVID deaths, while densely populated New York has more than 25,000.
HANSON: We're down to probably 10 to 15 percent of what we were seeing with COVID. That's sort of the peak.
SIDNER (on camera): Wow.
SIDNER (voice-over): Washington state avoided the predicted COVID-19 search, partly due to its reaction to a discovery by Dr. Francis Riedo. In February, he tested two patients with no connection to infected countries. Both came back positive.
SIDNER (on camera): What did you think?
DR. FRANCIS RIEDO, MEDICAL DIRECTOR INFECTION CONTROL, EVERGREENHEALTH: It was a moment of recognition, realizing that now everything had changed.
SIDNER (voice-over): Then, the first known COVID-19 death in America occurred here. Washington Governor Jay Inslee took immediate action.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): I declared an emergency. And so, this was an all-points bulletin.
SIDNER (on camera): Three days after the emergency declaration, we were here. There was a noticeable emptying of the streets.
That's because the tech giants headquartered here in Washington, like Amazon and Microsoft, urged all their employees who could to stay home before any order. That was not by chance, according to Seattle's mayor.
MAYOR JENNY DURKAN (D-WA), SEATTLE: We include them in our plans and conversations from the beginning. The data is really clear. That first phase of having people telecommute and not come downtown really started breaking the back of the virus.
SIDNER (voice-over): The governor then banned gatherings of 250 or more, ordered schools closed, then restaurants and bars.
SIDNER (on camera): Why not say, all right, we're closing everything down right away?
INSLEE: If you're going to lead a parade, you have got to make sure someone is behind you. And if you go too fast and the public is unwilling to accept, then you have lost your connection to your community.
SIDNER (voice-over): It's a page right out of the CDC's pandemic handbook on communication.
Finally, the stay-at-home order came. We watched boards go up over businesses, and now, two months later, those boards beautified by artists commissioned to remind the public the city is not down and out, just on a break.
SIDNER (on camera): The world's most famous coffee shop, a Seattle original, is no longer just drive-through only.
SIDNER (voice-over): The state's largest private employer, Boeing, slowly taking off, but cutting its work force, empty parks now family playgrounds again, construction back in business.
Washington went from number one in U.S. COVID-19 deaths to 18th. Still, there's a slow march to reopening here.
INSLEE: And the pace of that will be dictated by the data. It will be based on what we learn every day. This is very important, because, as we move away from the blunt instrument of social distancing towards the smart weapon of testing, contact tracing, and isolation, we have to have that capability up and running.
SIDNER (voice-over): One thing Governor Inslee isn't being praised for, the nursing home at the center of the deadly outbreak went more than a week without any hands-on government help.
SIDNER (on camera): Should you have stepped in and said, we got to get people in there faster than this?
INSLEE: This corporation had a responsibility for the medical care of their patients. We couldn't just walk in on day one, without some coordination with them, to really understand the circumstance.
SIDNER (voice-over): But just like hospitals, it was struggling to get testing and worrying about securing protective equipment.
INSLEE: And we did not have enough PPE for nurses in many facilities, and still don't.
SIDNER: And the governor told us there is simply no way his state can fully reopen without a massive amount of PPE, a large ramp up of testing, or a vaccine.
And, Erin, I just want to give you a quick sense of what's happening here. This is Pike Place. It is the public market. And you can see that there are a few people here. It has basically been like a silent movie for weeks while we've been here. But when you go inside, you can see people are open, not everyone, but more people are coming to shop here. And that is a sign that people are starting to really want to ramp up and really want to be out. And the economy needs to be restarted like everywhere else. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, Sara, thank you very much.
And next, why is the federal government dropping its criminal case against Michael Flynn after he pleaded guilty twice?
BURNETT: Tonight, a stunning reversal. The Justice Department dropping its criminal case against President Trump's former National Adviser Michael Flynn despite two guilty pleas. Flynn was charged with lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. Moments ago, Attorney General Bill Barr defending the move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I want to make sure that we restore confidence in this system. There is only one standard of justice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you doing the president's bidding?
BARR: No, I'm doing the law's bidding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Evan Perez is OUTFRONT. Evan, he says doing a loss bidding. Of course, Michael Flynn did plead guilty twice. And you know, you heard Barr's defense. Obviously, the president who appointed him called Flynn today an innocent man and a warrior. How unprecedented is this move by Barr's DOJ?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is unprecedented. And I think -- look, Michael Flynn pleaded guilty twice before two separate judges, Erin, and not many defendants get the attorney general to come in, appoint a U.S. attorney to go through the files to look through FBI agent's notes and come up with evidence that the attorney general now says essentially means that the case should never have even been investigated. Michael Flynn did plead guilty twice. He said he lied. He also worked for the Turkish government while he was working as the incoming National Security adviser for President Trump. So, there's a lot here that the attorney general is not saying in dismissing these charges.
BURNETT: All right. And of course, the president said he - you know got rid of Flynn because he lied to the vice president. So, it was obviously an issue which bothered the president at one time. And now in dropping the case though the DOJ is saying they discovered new information. But it appears Flynn's legal team would've already had access to most of that if not all of it?
PEREZ: They had access to some of this, at least. There are some notes that perhaps they did not have, but keep in mind -- the Mueller team, the Special Counsel Mueller team did produce some of the information that the defense is now saying showed that the FBI was out to get Flynn. They also -- we also had the inspector general, Erin, that looked at these very documents as well as John Durham, another prosecutor, who is taking a look at the entire Russia investigation. So, this has been combed over multiple times before today.
BURNETT: So, what does it mean that the prosecutor withdrew from the case right before this went down?
PEREZ: That's one of the things we're trying to figure out. There are two prosecutors who are on this case. One of them withdrew from the case. The other one did not sign the document. So, we don't know why that is. We know Brandon Van Grack, the attorney who did withdraw from the case, he is still employed at the Justice Department for now.
BURNETT: All right. Evan Perez, thank you very much.
BURNETT: And thanks very much to all of you for joining us. CNN's Global Town Hall "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper starts right now.