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Interview With Mayor Marty Walsh (D), Boston; Fauci, Heads Of CDC And FDA Quarantining After Virus Exposure; Parades, Festivals In Boston Canceled Through Labor Day; U.S. Hits Worst Unemployment Rate Since Great Depression. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 9, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.

There is breaking news we're following. We have just learned the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, will be doing what some described as a modified quarantine for two weeks because of exposure to a staffer over at the White House who, in fact, tested positive to -- for the virus.

We have also learned that the director of the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, he will also inter self-quarantine for 14 days after being exposed to someone who tested positive also at the White House. We suspect the same person.

And the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Sr. Steven Hahn, began self-isolating yesterday for 14 days for the very same reason, because he was in contact with Katy Miller, the Press Secretary to the Vice President. Three top officials on the Coronavirus Task Force now quarantined because of deep concerns that the virus is spreading through the White House.

Let's go straight to the White House right now. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us right now. Jeremy, the heads of the three very important public health organizations so critical in the fight against this pandemic, they've all tested negative, fortunately, for now. What else are you hearing?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Well, as you said, three top doctors on this Coronavirus Task Force will now be working from home, doing some form, at least, of self-quarantine. Now, Dr. Anthony Fauci actually confirming himself to our colleague, Jake Tapper, that he will be doing a, quote, unquote, "modified quarantine" for the next two weeks, working from home, potentially going into his offices at the NIH where he would be alone. And, if necessary, coming to the White House while taking every precaution necessary.

That is similar to what we have heard from a CDC spokesman regarding Dr. Robert RedField, the head of the Centers for Disease Control. He also said that he will be teleworking for the next two weeks. And, if required, to come to the White House. He will take every precaution, including wearing a mask.

But, Wolf, this really just underscores to the extent to which this virus can quickly spread everywhere. Not that these officials, of course, are testing positive. But the fact is that this virus is -- has the potential to spread at the White House. We saw, earlier this week, two officials testing positive. One of them, a military personal valet to the president. A member of the U.S. Navy. And then, yesterday, the news that Katie Miller, the vice president's press secretary, also testing positive.

Now, we don't know exactly whether Katie Miller is the individual who was in contact with Dr. Hahn, Dr. RedField, and Dr. Fauci. They are simply saying that they came into contact with somebody working at the White House who tested positive. That it would be a pretty natural conclusion to draw that that individual is, indeed, Katie Miller. She is known to be attending many of the task force briefings. She has become one of the spokespeople for that task force in her role as Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary.

But, again, Wolf, as the rest of the country begins to open up, you know, even the White House, which has perhaps the strictest protocol for testing, including now daily tests, daily Coronavirus tests at the White House for anyone coming into contact with the president, we are seeing this virus present, even here.

BLITZER: Jeremy, our own Jake Tapper had a chance to speak with Dr. Fauci. And I want to -- and we're grateful to Jake. He just sent us all a note about the conversation. Dr. Fauci telling CNN that since it was determined he was, what he calls, low risk, regarding contact with the White House staffer who tested positive for the Coronavirus. Meaning he was not in close proximity to the individual. He's not necessarily doing a full quarantine but what he calls a modified quarantine.

He also tells Jake that this modified quarantine means he will stay at home, telework from home. Wearing a mask continually for 14 days. Though, he says he might, eventually, wind up going to his office at the National Institute for Health, where he's the only -- he's the only one there in that office. He says he also will be tested every day. He was tested yesterday and that came out, fortunately, negative.

This is a big deal, though. Because if these three top officials from the Coronavirus Task Force are now self-quarantining for 14 days, I assume others are probably going to have to do the same thing, out of an abundance of caution.

DIAMOND: Potentially, Wolf. But that is one of the things that we are not seeing at the White House, is a kind of uniform policy, uniform procedure, for how to deal with individuals who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus.


DIAMOND: You know, I asked the White House press shop earlier today whether there was, indeed, such a policy, and they declined to comment on that front, Wolf. And, instead, what we appear to be seeing is, kind of, a peace-meal approach where.

Each of these individuals who have come into contact with Katie Miller, or other potential White House officials testing positive for Coronavirus, they are making these decisions on their own, it seems, as to whether or not they should quarantine, what level of quarantine they should engage in.

We don't know what other White House officials are going to be doing. Katie Miller is someone who has been in numerous staff meetings over the last week. She has been traveling with the vice president. She has been alongside other members of the Coronavirus Task Force, including, most likely, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's Coronavirus Coordinator.

So far, though, Wolf, the White House is not saying whether or not the other officials will be quarantined. And we are simply learning from each of these individual agencies, each of these officials, that they are, indeed, taking these measures. We don't know, yet, what the White House is actually telling officials on the task force to do.

We do know, Wolf, though, that yesterday, the White House did send a memo to staff, noting some increased procedures, including these daily tests. Some increased cleaning of workspaces at the White House. But nothing in there about exactly what the protocol should be for individuals who, indeed, come into contact with someone who tested positive.

BLITZER: A very important development, indeed. All right, Jeremy Diamond at the White House for us. Thank you. I know you're working your sources. We'll get back to you.

Let's discuss the medical implications of all of this. Dr. James Phillips is a CNN Medical Analyst. He's a physician at the George Washington University Hospital here in the nation's capital. And Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is an epidemiologist, a former Detroit health commissioner. Dr. El-Sayed, what's your reaction when you see now three top figures in the White House Coronavirus Task Force enter a self-isolation, a bit of self-quarantine, for 14 days?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'll tell you, it is shocking. And I'll say a couple of things about this. First, you know, we have to reflect on this within the broader context of the fact that, a week ago, we were talking about this White House task force potentially being disbanded. And I think nothing shows how in critical it is and how important it is for the future as the fact that, now, we are seeing COVID-19 creeping into the White House, itself.

It is also shocking because, you know, you think that a lot of these folks have access to treatment and protection and, of course, have best available science. And the fact that it can go there says a lot about where our policy ought to go.

We are not over this yet. You're watching as states are making decisions to, quote, unquote, "open up." And I hope this forces people to take a second look at whether or not that's a good idea. Because if it's in the White House, it's going to spread through our communities. And we have a responsibility to put the science and best public health policy forward.

BLITZER: Dr. Phillips, how worried should the president, and the vice president for that matter, be about possible exposure from Katie Miller, the Vice President's press secretary, right now?

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I think there's a real concern. You know, as we've talked about this virus from the beginning, the risks of transmission, of catching this virus, are a function of both time and distance. And we know that her role within the White House is one that brings her within significant contact distance of all those folks. And now that there's multiple people testing positive, we have to be concerned that there's a cluster starting there.

You know, it's -- there's some irony to the fact, as was just alluded to, that the discussions about opening up the rest of the country right now and how simple nonpharmaceutical interventions, like social distancing and maybe wearing a mask, are enough to protect people. Yet, here we are in what is probably the most secure building in the world, where procedures are in place to protect the most important person in our country, yet the virus is still finding a way -- a way into the White House.

So, I'm concerned. You know, I just got out of the emergency department 30 minutes ago where I'm taking care of patients who are extremely anxious about this. And so, I think there is a reason for that anxiety within the White House right now.

BLITZER: There should be a lot of anxiety right now. You know, it's interesting, Dr. El-Sayed, that just a little while ago, the president was meeting with the top military brass. They didn't meet in the Situation Room at the White House. They met in the Cabinet Room, which was surprising to begin with.

But take a look at this. They are sitting around the Cabinet Room table. No one is wearing a mask at this meeting. They're sitting a little bit separated. But shouldn't they all be wearing masks, given the fact that two White House officials, Katie Miller and this U.S. Navy valet, have now tested positive? And both of them were exposed to a lot of officials over at the White House in the West Wing.

EL-SAYED: Well, I'll tell you, this indicative of a more frustrating attitude that we've seen. This bravado from the White House.


EL-SAYED: Whether it's Mike Pence or President Trump, who choose not to protect themselves. And, therefore, not to protect the people around them. And, you know, this is a moment where we have a country that is reeling under this crisis. And we're being asked to stay away from others. To stay home. To wear masks when we go out. To do things like buy groceries or go to the doctor.

And you've got the leaders who are asking us to do this. It seems like they're of two minds. And it's like the bravado of showing that there is this tough-guy attitude is more important to them than modeling the best practices and best behaviors.

And then, beyond that, there's just the concern about how far this will spread. Whether it's from the President to, potentially, the top brass in the military or from the top brass in the military to the president. It's already, clearly, in the White House. So, it just seems obvious that you should take steps to protect yourself.

BLITZER: Now, you know, Dr. Phillips, they all get tested when they come to the White House. Everybody gets tested. They do that brief 15- minute test. But there are concerns about how effective these tests are right now. There's -- apparently, there's, you know, a false rate for about 15 percent. That's a problem, right?

PHILLIPS: Absolutely. There's a problem with that test and its sensitivity, meaning what percentage of false negative tests do you get? So, let's say that test has a 15 percent false negative rate. If you test 100 people at the White House and they're all negative, 15 of them could actually have the virus.

That's what we struggle with in our -- in our hospitals and our emergency departments right now. There are more sensitive tests out there that take a slightly longer period of time to get the results back. And that's what we routinely use in our emergency departments. And we, typically, only use that very rapid test if there's a severe emergency that requires that patient to have an invasive procedure.

So, I hope that within the White House medical unit and the people that are advising them, they're able to ensure that the people there are getting the most sensitive tests. And able to have the luxury of getting tested every day and get those results interpreted correctly.

BLITZER: All right, Dr. Phillips and Dr. El-Sayed, I'm going to have you both stand by. There's more medical-related issues we need to discuss. Once again, we're following breaking news, important breaking news. Not one, not two, but three members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Steven Hahn, Dr. Robert Redfield.

Dr. Robert Redfield is a head of the CDC. Steven Hahn is the head of the FDA. Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH. The top infectious disease specialists, they are all in self-quarantine now for 14 days. Much more on the breaking news right after this.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. Three top members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force are now in self-quarantine for 14 days. The latest to make the announcement, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the -- at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

He tells our Jake Tapper that he will be in what he calls modified quarantine for 14 days. Meaning he, basically, will stay at home. Although, he may go to his office at NIH, he says he's the only one in his office, if necessary.

But he will be wearing a mask continually, he says, for 14 days. That's what he tells Jake Tapper. Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he's in self- quarantine for 14 days. Full self-quarantine. Dr. Steven Hahn, the Administrator -- the Commissioner I should say, of the Food and Drug Administration.

He's in self-quarantine also. All three of them are believed to have been in touch -- in contact with Katie Miller, the Press Secretary to the Vice President. The Vice President Mike Pence is in charge of the whole Coronavirus Task Force. And out of an abundance of caution, they've gone into self-quarantine.

I want to bring back to Dr. James Phillips, our CNN Medical Analyst. He's a physician at George Washington University Hospital. And Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, he's an epidemiologist, former Detroit Health Commissioner.

You know, with Dr. Fauci under what he calls now modified quarantine, wearing a mask for 14 days, staying basically at home, may wind up going to NIH. His office there, he says, no one is there. What do you think of -- and he's being tested, he says, every day so far. Thank God he's testing negative. What do you think about that?

PHILLIPS: Well, I think that the -- that the choices that he's making are good ones. You know, Dr. Fauci doesn't need me to tell him how to isolate or to quarantine. But when we take a look at the standard of care that we're recommending to our patients who come in with concerns that they've been exposed to someone or a family member has tested positive, especially in the days whenever we have that seven-day turnaround time for our testing, we would send them home with similar recommendations.

Now, if he's going to his office where he's able to distance himself from people, where those surfaces that he comes in contact can be disinfected, I don't think there's any problem with the way he's handling it. And, obviously, he knows that if you develop the symptoms, he's going to change his practice or if he was to test positive, he would change his practice.

BLITZER: So, Dr. El-Sayed, what can we presume to know about what's going on in the West Wing of the White House right now with these exposures? Katie Miller, she's got Coronavirus testing positive, the Press Secretary to the Vice President. A U.S. Navy valet, who served the president of the United States, tested positive. Do you expect we'll see additional positive tests emerging from that very small quarter called the West Wing of the White House?

EL-SAYED: Well, based on what we know right now, that is highly plausible. And the question we haven't asked yet, Wolf, is what does that say about Vice President Mike Pence and, potentially President Donald Trump? I know they're getting tested every day and everybody who comes around them gets tested.

[20:20:00] EL-SAYED: But as Dr. Phillips mentioned in the last block, we do know that 15 out of 100 tests that come back negative actually are positive, given the low sensitivity of these tests. And so, it's plausible that not only have they been exposed, which is almost certain, considering how tightly they work together, but that they could, potentially themselves, be developing a positive test, if not a symptomatic illness. And so, I think that's the story to watch.

And I think the fact that we've seen these doctors around them, out of an abundance of caution, self-quarantine should also indicate that that should be the expected behavior among everybody on that task force who potentially was exposed to that individual who tested positive.

BLITZER: And I want to go back to Dr. Phillips, and I want to show, once again, our viewers the video. Just about an hour or so ago, the president was meeting over in the cabinet room at the White House with the top military brass, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the generals and the admirals, they were all there. No one was wearing a mask inside that relatively small room. I've spent a lot of quality time in that cabinet room when I spent seven years as a White House correspondent. It's not very big.

You would think, out of an abundance of caution, Dr. Phillips, to protect the U.S. military leadership, they would all be wearing masks, maybe even gloves, because they're touching the table, they're touching other things as well.

PHILLIPS: Look, there's known disease in the building. Like -- and we're testing people every day in that building but we don't know the latency period between the time that you come in contact with the virus and how many days it takes before your test turns positive. And during that period of time, that virus is replicating inside your -- inside your body and potentially even becoming infectious.

And so, I'm nervous. And it's -- honestly, it's a missed opportunity for the president and his team to show the world how responsible people behave when they're in close contact like that. I know that there's a shortage of PPE. But I'm pretty confident that the president and the Joint Chiefs of Staff can come up with N-95 masks and maintain some social distancing while having those photographs taken and having those meetings.

It's an example that needs to be set for the entire country because as emergency physicians, doctors and nurses, we are growing increasingly frustrated. Seeing what we're seeing on T.V. When we're seeing the guidelines that have been recommended for face coverings in public and social distancing being disregarded not just by citizens -- and, mind you, most people are doing the right thing. But also by our leaders. It's so counterproductive to the education that we're trying to give to our patients and trying to keep them safe.

I wish that they would just come to our work, come to my emergency department and see how we protect ourselves and how we socially distance while sitting closely at work. I just wish they could use that as their own example. BLITZER: And what really worries me is Dr. Fauci is a national treasure. I've known him for many years. He's a friend. But he's 79 years old right now. And that's a source of concern. If you're over 65, you have to take extra precautions. That's, presumably, why he just told our Jake Tapper he's going to go into a modified quarantine period for 14 days right now.

Everybody stand by. We're continuing to follow the breaking news. Much more right here in THE SITUATION ROOM right after this.



BLITZER: We're continuing to follow the breaking news. Three leaders in the fight against the Coronavirus here in the United States, they are now in self-quarantine for 14 days, after being exposed to the virus in the halls of the West Wing of the White House.

The top infectious disease specialist, the number one expert on infectious diseases in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci; as well as the CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield; and the head of the FDA, Dr. Steven Hahn; all impacted.

We've also just learned that both RedField and Hahn will testify, but only by video conference over a Senate hearing about the Coronavirus next week.

In New England, some states are beginning to relax Coronavirus restrictions. But it's a different story in Massachusetts right now, which has the third highest number of cases in the United States. Gatherings of 10 or more people are now still banned. And the vast majority of non-essential businesses will remain closed at least, at least until May 18th. The governor's order mandating face coverings, that went into effect Wednesday. Yesterday, the Boston mayor, Marty Walsh, cancelled parades and festivals in the city through Labor Day.

Mayor Walsh is joining us right now. Mayor, let me get your reaction first, before we discuss what's going on in Boston to what's going on in the White House right now. Three top officials in the Coronavirus Task Force. They're in self-quarantine.

They've all tested, thank God, negative so far. But they're in self- quarantine because they were in contact with another White House official, the press secretary to the vice president, Katie Miller, who has tested positive. What's your reaction when you hear that?

MAYOR MARTY WALSH (D), BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I think you have to lead by example, when you talk about face coverings and social distancing. And whether you're watching a press conference at the White House or you're seeing images from different rooms in there. As you said earlier, it is -- it's -- the West Wing is small. A lot of those meeting rooms and those ballrooms even are very small.

And if you're not showing the American people what needs to be done, then you're sending the wrong message. And I think that, you know, this is -- we're talking the president of the United States of America and the vice President that we have to keep safe during not just this time but all times.


WALSH: And, often times, they're appearing together, which I think is another thing that I have some concerns about, as a mayor and as an American. But you know, I think that you know, having those three doctors, at least on their confinement right now can set us back here.

BLITZER: Yes, and you would think that they would want to send an example. I could imagine if instead of seeing the president in the Cabinet Room with members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of them sitting around the table without any masks. If they all would have been wearing masks that would have sent a very, very important message out to the American public how critically important it is out of an abundance of caution right now to be wearing masks.

Let's talk a little bit about what's going on in Boston right now. Is it going to be a normal summer? What's going on right now? When it -- what went into your decision, for example, to cancel all major city events throughout the course of this summer?

WALSH: Unfortunately, we're not going to have a normal summer here in America, but not in Boston, Massachusetts, as you mentioned we're the -- we're in the top three, we're the third highest state in the country for cases, we're the third highest state in the country for number of deaths as well.

In Boston, we're going to -- we're going to -- we're heading towards that 11,000 case in the city of Boston. We went over 500 deaths today. You know, for the foreseeable future, even we start to ease restrictions and go back to work, we're still going to have many, many people that that have coronavirus, and many more people will be testing positive as we ramp up testing.

So that -- what I thought of yesterday's rally give people false hope and promise as far as parades and festivals where large gatherings are going to go, you know, we can revisit it later in the summer if the numbers say that. But right now, just put -- putting those parades and festivals down, letting people know that we're taking this very serious in the city. We're going to continue to take it serious.

Even after we start lifting restrictions, we are going to take the virus very seriously track -- tracing and tracking it, increasing testing, all the things that we have to do.

BLITZER: So what about over the summer as far as going to school, going to universities, people going back to work, going to restaurants? What's the latest in Boston on those kinds of issues?

WALSH: Well, there's a lot -- we're working on all that right now, this task force. The governor has a reopening task force which the city of Boston sits on and we're doing our own -- our own investigations, if you will, through different tasks, watching conversations about what college looks like, what school looks like for Boston Public Schools, what all the other things, the restaurants out to our patios. All of those conversations are happening now to see how can we when we start to reopen Boston, which is will look like.

BLITZER: What about baseball? I understand there's a major league baseball team in Boston, a lot of fans over there.

WALSH: Yes, I've been staying in close contact with Sam Kennedy, the president of Red Sox, just as Major League Baseball starts to look at what they might do, Sandy Connect connection with Sam. And I've been talking to the other sports teams as well here in Boston. There's been a lot of talk about basketball and hockey, possibly trying to finish the season into playoffs.

So I've been in communication. I think a lot of them are waiting to see what happens as far as while they stay at home orders across the country get either moved out or lifted.

BLITZER: Could you imagine a baseball at Fenway Park without any fans in the stadium?

WALSH: It'd be complicated, it'd be difficult, but I'd love to see sports come back. I'd love to see baseball come back. I think people right now in America need a bit of a distraction. Even with it as it as their home confined and not going out, I think people need a distraction. I think baseball and all the other sports would be a great distraction for them.

BLITZER: Well, good luck to you, Mayor Walsh. Good luck to everyone in Boston right now.

WALSH: Thank you.

BLITZER: I know you got a lot of life and death decisions you got to make. Thanks very much for joining us.

WALSH: And I want to -- I want to wish all the mothers a happy Mother's Day tomorrow.

BLITZER: Yes, we certainly do want to do that as well, of course. Thank you.

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the U.S. economy right now, nearly 15 percent of Americans are now unemployed. But can the economy roar back to life as the president says? The former head of the National Economic Council under President Obama standing by to join us. We'll discuss when we come back.



BLITZER: We're continuing to follow the breaking news here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Three leaders in the fight against the coronavirus are now in self- quarantine after being exposed to the virus in the halls of the West Wing of the White House. The nation's top infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well as the CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Dr. Robert Redfield and the head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn, all impacted. They are now out of an abundance of caution for 14 days in self-quarantine, mostly spending time at their own homes.

We're going to have much more on this coming up. But the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, they have been devastating to the U.S. economy as well.

And just to remind you, the latest jobs report out Friday morning shows 20.5 million American jobs were lost in the four weeks of April alone. Nearly 10 years of job growth disappeared in just one month. And there are fears the worst may not be over yet.

Larry Summers is joining us right now. He served as the Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration. He was the Director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration. Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us.

I wanted to talk about the economy, the economic impact of all of this in a moment, but your quick reaction to what we just are seeing and hearing from the White House three top officials from the Coronavirus Task Force and self-quarantine because they were in contact with someone who's tested positive and the president meeting in the Cabinet Room with members of the Joint Chiefs nobody wearing masks.

LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER DIRECTOR NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL UNDER OBAMA: Stunning. Unbelievable, Wolf. First of all, when the President makes With the Joint Chiefs, he usually does it in the Situation Room. When he does it in the Cabinet Room, it's because they're trying to have a photo opportunity.


So they tried to have a photo opportunity of the President of the United States, and the most important military figures in the United States, violating the guidance we are all given, given for our own safety and given for the safety of others.

Understand this, Dr. Fauci and his colleagues, when they quarantine, aren't just doing it to protect themselves, they're doing it to protect everyone they might come in trance -- in a contact with.

The president of the United States, by not quarantining, everyone else in that room, by not quarantining, is failing to follow basic medical safeguards. People talk about contact tracing, they talk about that coming constantly, this is what contact tracing is. It's that those people should quarantine.

This idea that there are different rules for the leader of the country than for everyone else, that has not been the American way. I mean, it's the most basic concept of military ethos that generals live by the rules, they expect their troops to live by. I may not understand something. This is, as you say, breaking news, but this is inexplicable to me, and it's inconceivable to me that it would have happened in either of the administrations of which I was a part.

BLITZER: Yes, they should at least be wearing masks have an abundance of caution, if not gloves at the same time.

All right. Let's talk about the economy right now.

SUMMERS: One second, Wolf. I just want to emphasize my point, which is Dr. Fauci's quarantining is not just about his own protection, it's about the protection of all of those he might potentially meet. And so respectfully, I would suggest a question that you and other members of the press should be asking is why isn't everyone who came into contact with those White House officials who now have the virus?

Why isn't everyone quarantining? That's the question that I think needs to be asked and followed up on. Or are they putting people unknowingly, putting their fellow Americans, their at-work colleagues at risk?

BLITZER: Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield, Dr. Hahn, they're all in self- quarantine now for 14 days right there.

SUMMERS: They're doing the right thing.

BLITZER: Yes, they surely doing -- and they all say they will completely wear masks. They are absolutely doing the right thing. I suspect more members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force will be doing the same thing once again, out of an abundance of caution, but they got to do it to, not only protect themselves but to protect, as you correctly pointed out, others as well.

As far as the economy right now, it's a disaster by all accounts up. How quickly do you believe the economy here in the United States can rebound?

SUMMERS: The loss in -- the loss in jobs, Wolf, is about three times the loss that we had from the top to the bottom, in the great financial crisis of 2008. If we buy next winter, have taken back two thirds of what was lost this month, we will still be at the low from the financial crisis.

And I think if we can get back that far, in the next seven months, we will be doing well, given all of the uncertainties. Remember, there's enormous uncertainty that's going to hold back spending. Remember the white house itself is forecasting that the death rate is likely to rise from the virus. Remember that the experience with pandemics suggests that --

BLITZER: Looks like we just lost the signal, unfortunately, with Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary during the Clinton administration, director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration. We'll try to reconnect with him. But unfortunately that signal, stuff like that happens during a time like this.

Meanwhile, three top officials, as you now know of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, they are now in self-isolation after possibly being exposed to the coronavirus. Much more on all the breaking news just ahead, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news this hour, major breaking news, and I want to bring in our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. She's got some new reporting on all of this. Dr. James Phillips, the CNN medical analyst, the physician at George Washington University Hospital is still with us as well.

Dana, you got some new reporting. Dr. Fauci, and Dr. Hahn, Dr. Redfield, they're all supposed to testify, Dana, what this coming Tuesday before the Senate, a Senate committee looking into the whole coronavirus pandemic. What are you hearing based on your reporting?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a highly anticipated hearing because it's the only one we are planning to see and hear because the President has blocked all of these officials from testifying before the democratic-led House.


So what the chairman of this committee, the Republican chairman, Lamar Alexander, has said in his statement moments ago, is that Dr. Hahn and Dr. Redfield are already going to testify remotely. So they are going to do it by video conference effectively.

What I was just told by a committee source is that Dr. Fauci does plan to go and testify in person wearing a mask. That's as of now, but Dr. Fauci has told the committee that he reserves the right to testify remotely just as the others are, if things change, and so that is kind of a real world consequence of what has happened with these very senior, very important medical professionals who are helping to lead the country through the crisis, deciding that they are going to take the precautions that they are, that they are prescribing to everybody else in America based on the fact that they may have been, you know, near the people in the White House who have tested positive for this disease.

BLITZER: You know, it's -- Dr. Phillips, it's unusual that two of the three, they're in self-quarantine for 14 days, full quarantine, they're staying in their homes, and they're being tested regularly. Fortunately, all of them are negative right now, but Dr. Fauci says he's in modified self-quarantine, might go to his office in NIH, he says no one else is there besides him, and he says he might go to the White House, he might go to the Capitol Hill, if necessary.

Different standards for these three members of the Coronavirus Task Force and a fourth standard -- and another standard, if you will, for other members of the Coronavirus Task Force. All of them have been in some sort of contact with Katie Miller, the Vice President's press secretary worked very closely. Pence is in charge of the Coronavirus Task Force. So there's different standards right now, what do you make of that?

PHILLIPS: Well, I think that there's more information we need to learn. As we know, you know, the risk of you getting the virus is a factor of both time and distance that you spend in proximity to the virus.

And, you know, Dr. Fauci has made it clear that he had really just maybe a glancing contact with the person. What I was interested to hear is how much contact the other two doctors had with the people that have been infected. It could be that there's a different amount of exposure that is leading them to have differences in their decisions to isolate.

But I, personally, I wouldn't second guess Dr. Fauci. I think that he's going to do what is right and I think he'll also do it in a way that sends the right message to the American people. Because if I -- if I know him, like I think I know him from watching him on TV, he sees himself as sort of educator in chief of the country when it comes to this virus right now. So I trust him to make those right decisions.

BLITZER: Dr. Fauci of NIH, Dr. Redfield of CDC, and Dr. Hahn of the Food and Drug Administration.

You know, Dana, tell us what the problem is. Because I know you've been doing a lot of reporting on this as well. Why not show people that you're concerned about what's going on? If you're the president, or the vice president or other members of the Coronavirus Task Force, they go into meetings, why not wear a mask? What's the problem? Just out of an abundance of caution?

BASH: Well, it's so funny because you would think that they're politicians and they think about optics, you would think that the optics that they would choose to lean towards would be the optics that the doctor who's nodding his head right now has recommended and that we just heard from Secretary Summers and so many others who are on the political and medical sides of this who say the picture that we're seeing right now would be so much better if they were all wearing masks to lead by example.

But that's not how the President sees it. I mean, we have been reporting on this for some time, even before the positive cases, but even again, since the positive cases more importantly, that he's just -- it's not something that he wants to do. And it could be because it projects weakness, you know, it kind of the other side of the optics that any politician could be worried about in these circumstances.

The problem is that in a time like this, which is so unprecedented, people do see their leaders and do want to get a cue from their leaders as to what they're supposed to do, which is why we're seeing this news tonight of the medical professionals taking the abundance of precaution that they are to isolate themselves or in the case of Dr. Fauci, because I guess he had such minimal contact with these two individuals to have a modified isolation.

[20:55:00] BLITZER: For 14 days, all of them, everybody stand by. Dr. Phillips, don't go too far away. Dana is going to be with us as well.

We have much more reporting coming in on the breaking news, three leaders in the fight against the coronavirus here in the United States now in self-quarantine after being exposed to the virus by a senior official over at the White House.

We'll discuss what this means for the country's fight against the coronavirus, that and a lot more coming up in this special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.