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VP Mike Pence Will Not Self-Quarantine After Press Secretary Tested Positive for Coronavirus. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 10, 2020 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:15]

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.

We begin tonight as the number of people known to be infected with coronavirus around the world has now passed the four million mark, with more than a quarter of the infections right here in the United States. The country with the most known cases, nearly 80,000 Americans have died. Globally the number of people who have died from the virus more than 280,000.

Here in Washington, D.C., two confirmed cases of coronavirus at the White House. There are people who were face-to-face with President Trump and Vice President Pence. And this has prompted the heads of three major public care agencies, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the CDC's Dr. Robert Redfield and the FDA's Dr. Stephen Hahn, all to self-quarantine in various forms.

Meantime, more states are easing restrictions beginning tomorrow. You'll be able to eat inside a restaurant in Arizona, go to a barbershop or nail salon in Indiana, or visit a gym in Alabama. In New York, meanwhile, the governor announcing new rules for nursing homes which he calls ground zero for the disease. The state will now require staffers to be tested twice a week.

And Monday more major airlines will require passengers -- all passengers to wear masks. Spirit, Southwest and American getting ready to join JetBlue, Frontier and Delta. All of those airlines following stricter protocols for cleaning and boarding.

Let's get straight to the White House right now. Our White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond is watching all of these developments unfold.

What else are you learning? What else are you hearing this hour, Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, moments ago we just got a statement from the vice president's office, a spokesperson for the vice president, Devin O'Malley telling us that Vice President Mike Pence will not go into self-quarantine for 14 days after his press secretary Katie Miller tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.

In fact, Wolf, that spokesperson telling us that the vice president will be at the White House tomorrow. Let me just read you a part of that statement, Wolf, where the spokesperson says Vice President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House medical unit and is not in quarantine. Additionally Vice President Pence has tested negative every single day and plans to be at the White House tomorrow.

Wolf, the vice president's decision, though, is in contrast to the decision that we are seeing from three of the doctors on the Coronavirus Task Force. The head of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, all three of them entering some form of self-quarantine for the next two weeks after the vice president's spokesperson Katie Miller tested positive again for coronavirus on Friday.

So what we are seeing here, Wolf, is really mismatched and piecemeal approach from the White House in terms of how to address having been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. Certain you would expect that Katie Miller who is not only the press secretary for the vice president but also a spokesperson for the task force, she would likely have been in contacts more frequently for longer periods of time with the vice president rather than those three doctors on the task force who are entering self-quarantine.

But nonetheless, it appears that the vice president choosing not to go into self-quarantine at this hour. And Wolf, that likely is against what the CDC actually recommends for the general public. The CDC said that if you've come into close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, meaning being within six feet of somebody for a limited -- for an extended period of time, that you should self- isolate at home. That you should stay at home for 14 days after your last exposure to that individual.

The vice president at this hour, Wolf, choosing not to do that.

BLITZER: Well, because you correctly point out the vice president was spending a lot more time with Katie Miller than these three doctors were. They're all in self-quarantine right now, 14 days. He's going to be, what, showing up at the White House? Did they say whether or not he'll be wearing a mask full-time when he's out there?

DIAMOND: Yes, they have not said that, Wolf. We do know that the vice president after initially not wearing a mask during one of his visits to the Mayo Clinic about a week and a half ago now I believe it was, he did subsequently wear a mask during a visit to a manufacturing facility. But we have not seen him or any other top officials wear masks at the White House. And that is a big question here, whether or not they will do that, Wolf.

The White House keeps pointing us to the fact that officials are tested now on a daily basis if they come into contact with the president. Yesterday when the president met with some top military leaders and national security officials, none of them were wearing masks but they were tested beforehand. [19:05:05]

But we should note, Wolf, one of the concerns here is the fact that this Abbot test, this rapid five to 13-minute tests that the White House is using has a 15 percent false negative rating. Meaning that 15 out of every 100 people who are tested on this system test negative even though they actually do have the virus. So that certainly is a question. And again, Wolf, it begs the question why not take every precaution and have officials wear the masks. For now the White House simply staying its own course -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. The White House -- the Navy valet tested positive. The valet serving drinks and food to the president among others. Katie Miller, the press secretary to the vice president, she's married to Stephen Miller, the president's senior adviser. I assume he's going to be staying at home at least for the time being.

DIAMOND: That is the assumption, Wolf. But again the White House so far has been declining to confirm whether any officials are going to be changing the way to go about their lives for the next couple of weeks if they were exposed to the vice president's press secretary. So we have not heard any official confirmation about whether Stephen Miller will be doing that. And we also have not heard whether Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the other important doctors on that task force, whether she will be working from home for the next couple of weeks.

So, again, we'll wait to see whether we see them show up at the White House and participate in meetings. But at least for now, Wolf, we are hearing from the vice president's office that he will be going to the White House tomorrow. We'll see whether or not he chooses to wear a mask or take any additional precautions.

BLITZER: Very interesting. We'll see what Dr. Deborah Birx decides, what Secretary Alex Azar decides as well, the secretary of Health and Human Services. Lots going on.

All right, Jeremy, I know you're working your sources. We'll get back to you.

Right now I want to bring in Dr. Patrice Harris, the president of the American Medical Association, and Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Institute.

So you just heard what our reporting is, let me start with you, Dr. Jha. What do you think? Should the vice president, out of an abundance of caution, be in self-quarantine like Dr. Fauci is right now? Or is it OK for him to show up at work tomorrow at the White House?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, Wolf. Thanks for having me on. The CDC guidance on this is pretty clear and for good reason, which is that the best evidence suggests that he should be in quarantine. And that's because it takes a few days for the test to turn positive. As you heard in the report of course, one out of seven, one out of six times the test can be falsely negative, meaning it says you're negative even though you have the disease. And so the last thing we need is more people at the White House

getting infected. I think it is the better -- clearly the more prudent thing to do for him to quarantine for a while and watch for symptoms and continue to get tested.

BLITZER: Because clearly the vice president, Dr. Harris, spent a lot more time with Katie Miller than Dr. Fauci did or Dr. Hahn or Dr. Redfield did, you would think that he would want to take that extra precaution simply to be safe rather than sorry.

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, Wolf, I agree with Dr. Jha. These are CDC guidelines. There is a reason that these are public health best practices. Certainly you can't get the risk down to zero but when you wear a mask, when you stay six feet apart, it can certainly mitigate the risk of infection and certainly we want everyone to be safe and certainly this shows that no one is immune from becoming infected. So -- and also it would be a great example to everyone so I agree with Dr. Jha on this one.

BLITZER: Let me bring in our chief political analyst Gloria Borger who's also following these developments. It's pretty confusing right now, Gloria. What's your analysis?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, I agree with you, Wolf. I think it is pretty confusing. You know, on the one hand I think the White House is trying in some way, shape or form to enhance their own protocols that they are using which you can argue should have been done a long time ago particularly when the president and the vice president are involved.

On the other hand the president is out there encouraging the country to get back to normal as he puts it and to reopen in states, and to reopen businesses, et cetera, et cetera. So I think if you're sort of watching this, you're thinking, well, what is it? Do we need to enhance our protocols before we reopen? Do we have to make sure that there is enough testing, for example, for people, or can we reopen without that testing?

I mean, after all, the White House is saying now that they are testing everybody every single day who's around the president and the vice president? Well, if that's going on at the White House and we understand of course why the president needs to be protected, why should other people go back to work without having that kind of testing for themselves?

[19:10:03]

BLITZER: That's an important point. You know, Dr. Jha, should the president and the vice president, both of whom have been in contact with the valet, the Navy valet, as well as Katie Miller, the press secretary to the vice president -- should they be close together especially if they're not wearing masks right now?

JHA: Yes. So, Wolf, first of all, again, I think it's incredibly important for the country, for the president and the vice president to both be safe and healthy, and that's got to be priority number one in the White House. Much more than any messaging or really anything else. And so it seems to me very clear that the two of them should not be close in proximity to each other, that they should be wearing masks, and they should not be in close proximity to anybody else.

And everybody in the White House should be wearing masks because we know that that's how you reduce risk. Look, you can't get to zero but you can dramatically lower risk if you wear masks, stay apart, continue to get tested on an ongoing basis. And that's good enough for what America should be doing, it's what the White House should be doing, is what the CDC recommends. I wish we would all just follow the CDC guidelines on this because they're evidence based.

BLITZER: And Dr. Harris, you know, you could get a test, you can get a test every day and you could get Dr. Jha said a false negative, you're really positive but it's a false negative, 15 percent error rate apparently in this fast test, but it's interesting that Katie Miller on Thursday tested -- got a test, it was negative, on Friday she got a test and it was positive. It changed so dramatically in one day. And you can be contagious even if you're testing positive, right? Testing negative, I should say.

HARRIS: Absolutely, because we do know there is an incubation period. We also know there's a period where folks have been pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic meaning you don't need to exhibit the symptoms to be able to transmit to others. And so you really can't just rely on the test. That's one point in time and certainly it's good that they are able to be tested more than once. But it really is a matter of having layers of protection.

So having a test, a negative test or positive nest is one data point but that does not mean that you should not continue to stay six feet apart and wear masks, and quarantine and isolate as appropriate. Those are all measures that when layered upon one another they can dramatically decrease risks.

BLITZER: And it's interesting, Gloria, that the vice president, he was willing to be photographed wearing a mask when he went to that one facility. But the president, he's made it abundantly clear he doesn't want to be photographed wearing a mask.

BORGER: Well, and that's another example that's set from the top. I mean, Americans are now being told, for example, if you get on airplanes, you need to wear masks. And this question of why people weren't wearing masks in the West Wing is sort of remarkable to me. The West Wing, and you know this, Wolf, from covering the White House, the West Wing is a tiny place.

The real estate there is very, very close together. People share offices, offices are cubicles, and so they very -- often it's very difficult to socially distance. And so if you're going to be in and out of the Oval Office, and I'm sure now people are tested before they can get into the Oval Office, but if you're going to go see the president of the United States, you have to be sure that that is safe, Wolf.

And I think there has been a situation set by the president at the top who told us he, you know, he didn't think he was going to wear a mask because he'd have to meet with heads of state and remember of course he hasn't done that. But there is a sense that the president thinks he would look silly and didn't want to wear a mask. By the way, in the East Wing where the first lady's staff is, they are wearing masks.

So it seems to me that if the president wants to set an example inside the White House perhaps he ought to think about wearing a mask as well even though of course they're trying to protect them but just to give people the OK that he believes that it's actually the right thing to do.

BLITZER: And we know a few Secret Service personnel have tested positive for coronavirus at the same time.

BORGER: Yes.

BLITZER: I want all of you to stand by. We have a lot more we need to assess. There are a lot more developments on this story.

Once again the news right now, the vice president will not self- quarantine according to a vice presidential spokesperson. That news that another top official will. We got more information for you when we come back.

[19:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, so the breaking news we're following. A source telling CNN President Trump has expressed concern that aides contracting coronavirus would undercut his message that the outbreak is waning and should -- and states should begin to reopen. The source tells CNN that President Trump voiced frustration the two White House staffers, a personal Navy valet and a press secretary for the vice president, both tested positive and he was asked why his valets weren't ordered to wear masks.

He told people he doesn't want to be near anyone who hasn't been tested, and this just in. We are now learning the chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday came in contact with a family member who has tested positive for the coronavirus. Gilday is tested on Friday and although he's negative at this time, he still will quarantine for several days, the official says. The situation is why Gilday did not attend the White House meeting in the Cabinet room yesterday with President Trump. We saw that very interesting development.

Let's continue the conversation right now.

[19:20:02]

Also joining us is Kathleen Sebelius, the former Health and Human Services secretary under President Obama. She's also a former governor of Kansas.

So what's your analyst, Madame Secretary? Should the vice president who clearly was in close contact with Katie Miller, his press secretary, who's now tested positive for coronavirus, should he self- quarantine? Should he stay at the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, which is just, you know, a few miles away from the White House?

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, I think, Wolf, we're about to enter a phase of this virus where, as states gradually reopen, we need a couple of things desperately. We need the CDC guidance which has been developed in very graphic detail to be released and put out so we have a framework. But we're also entering a phase where all scientists tell us, all the medical doctors tell us we've got to test, we've got to trace and we've got to quarantine.

So modeling that behavior, we now have virus breaking out inside the White House. It's great that the president and the vice president can get tested every day or hourly or however often they're tested. That is not true for the rest of the American public. It's great that the president and the vice president can fly on private aircraft. That is not true for the rest of the public. What they can do is model the kind of behavior that we want everybody to do.

So if you're in contact with somebody with -- confirmed with coronavirus, you're part of the contact tracing operation, you self- quarantine. That stops the spread of the disease. We don't take the chance that you are a spreader. To have the vice president and the president refused to wear masks, the vice president goes to the Mayo Clinic, a hospital, greets patients and providers and refuses to follow hospital policy and wear the mask.

The president goes to a factory that makes masks and refused to wear a mask. They don't wear masks inside the White House or when they're traveling around. That is exactly what we don't want the public to do if they are released from the shelter in place, if we're going to do this safely, if we're going to contain deaths. We had about 2,000 deaths in the last 24 hours. That's a lot of people dying in the United States. A lot of people getting sick.

So we need the president and the vice president to first put out the guidelines and secondly follow the guidance that we're trying to get everybody to do.

BLITZER: And it's interesting, Secretary Sebelius, that the chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday, the top admiral in the U.S. Navy, wasn't at that White House meeting yesterday when the president met with members of the Joint Chiefs, the chief of Naval Operations is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because even though he tested negative, he was in contact with a family member who has tested positive and he will now self-quarantined at least for a few days. He's doing -- he's clearly doing the right thing as far as the CDC guidelines are concerned, right?

SEBELIUS: You bet, as in, you know, the CDC director and Anthony Fauci And Stephen Hahn. I mean, they are following the guidelines. That's really what we want our leaders to do. None of this is easy. Nobody wants to stay home. We've had millions of Americans lose their jobs. They're desperate to get back to work. But they also don't want to threaten their own lives, their family's lives, their neighbors and relatives' lives.

So we're on this very tricky balance. And what science tells us is wearing a mask and following the guidelines if you're in contact with somebody who tests positive, then you are part of the protocol to withdraw yourself. Make sure that you're not spreading that disease because as I say most of the people will not be able to be tested on a daily basis. All they will do is get a phone call saying, you know, your colleague at work just tested positive. You have been in touch, we need you to be part of this effort to make sure the virus doesn't spread.

And if people just ignore that or say I'm not going to do it, I'm not going to wear mask, I'm not going to -- refuse to gather in big groups, and I'm certainly not going to stay home from my job in case I might get the virus, that's a very dangerous time for towns and cities and families across this country.

BLITZER: You know, Dr. Jha, you're the director of the Harvard Global Health Initiative. If they called you over at the White House and said, what advice would you offer to the president, the vice president, other officials who may have been in contact with the vice president's press secretary who now has coronavirus, the Navy valet who was serving food and drinks to the president among others at the White House? What advice would you give them in the short term? What would that be?

JHA: Yes. So I would say follow the CDC guidelines. In your workplace, everybody should be wearing a mask.

[19:25:02]

I love the fact that people can get tested. If anybody has been in contact with somebody who's positive, they need to quarantine up to 14 days. It could be shorter depending on testing and all of that availability. But certainly right away while you're still in the incubation period and while you're in the period where you have a risk of getting a negative test. And people should stay six feet away from each other, and no handshaking and all the other staff we've seen.

So it's really a very clear set of protocols developed by this administration. Right? Like the CDC developed these guidelines based on the evidence and science. If they're good enough for all of us, it's good enough for the White House. That's what the White House needs to be doing.

BLITZER: And if it's good enough for the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Redfield, Dr. Harris, you're the president of the American Medical Association, it should be good for other officials in the White House who are in contact with Katie Miller, right?

HARRIS: Wolf, this is a highly transmissible disease and it's appropriate to worry and at any one time it's near impossible unless I guess if you live in a bubble to know who is close to you and who may be infectious, and so you really have to follow the CDC guidelines. You have to wear a mask, you have to stay six feet, no large gatherings, and that should be for absolutely everyone.

And it's really about health. It's not about -- I know wearing a mask may be a little uncomfortable, maybe folks don't like the look, but it really is what we need to do to decrease the risk of transformation and to keep ourselves healthy.

BLITZER: And Gloria, it would send a very, very strong message to the American public right now if tomorrow, when there's some event and there's a photo opportunity at the White House, in the Oval Office or someplace else, if the American people saw the president and everyone else in that room, unlike yesterday when he met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, if they saw everyone wears masks.

BORGER: Right. I think it would send a strong signal except I think it should have been done weeks ago. And at this point, I'm not quite sure what the president would think he ought to do. I'm going to -- I'm just reading a reporting from our Kevin Liptak here which you referred to earlier, Wolf, who said that in conversations over the weekend, President Trump was upset that this outbreak and these people having to self-quarantine undercuts his message about the country reopening, as we were talking about before.

So I think that is his -- the concern on his mind that if the White House looks like it's not invulnerable which of course it isn't then people may start thinking well, wait a minute, I'm not invulnerable either. And that might be a good lesson for the American public to have but not if you are in the process of saying to a lot of the country hurry up and reopen.

And so I think you have a president who sort of caught between his messaging and this virus, this very real virus, to which no one is immune.

BLITZER: Yes. It's a really excellent reporting from our Kevin Liptak, as well, among other things, he said -- he reports that the president has told people he doesn't want to be near anyone who hasn't been tested and has bristled when coming into contact with some people at the White House.

All right, everybody, stand by. There is more news we're following. We'll take a quick break, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:32:53]

BLITZER: We will have much more of our special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in just a few moments.

But first, there's a new development in a story CNN has been following closely, a shooting in Georgia that the victim's family is describing as a lynching.

Georgia's Attorney General, announcing moments ago that he has requested a Department of Justice investigation into the handling of Ahmaud Arbery's case.

I want to get right to CNN's Martin Savidge. He is in Brunswick, Georgia for us. He's been doing a lot of excellent reporting on this. So, what are the late breaking developments -- Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, ever since that horrific video came out on Tuesday, one of the questions that the public has been asking is, is there more video out there? Is there more imagery that might depict in some way the events of that day?

The G.B.I., that's the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has come forward and said there is, and in fact, what they say is that the video they are looking at is not new, it is stuff that has been in the police file for some time, but they say it is important and they are continuing to review it for the purposes of the investigation.

All right, now to a new video that has been made public, and it is video that shows Ahmaud Arbery on the day in which this whole incident took place. And it security camera footage that has been taken inside of a home that was under construction in that neighborhood.

We know it's Ahmaud Arbery because his family has seen the same video and they positively have identified him. And so he steps into the building or the construction site, he looks around a bit, and then he leaves and that's when he begins to run through the neighborhood.

Now, a lot of people have gone into homes under construction to sort of look around, so the greatest violation here would probably be trespassing. That is not a felony offense, and it would not justify the use of say, George's law that would allow people to try to make a citizen's arrest or hot pursuit.

But back to the video that everyone knows, that's the cell phone video. That footage was taken by a man by the name of Roddie Bryan. It's William "Roddie" Bryan. And that cellphone footage, there's two things. It is horrific, and everyone agrees had that video not bad released or taken, then you wouldn't have two people under arrest.

But here's the question that many people still have. Did Mr. Bryan in some way participate in the effort by the McMichaels to try to apprehend or detain the young man as he went through the neighborhood?

His lawyer emphatically denies that is not the case. The G.B.I., meanwhile, says it's still investigating and a possible arrest could be forthcoming. And then we also mentioned that there's been a request by the Attorney General of Georgia to have the Department of Justice step in and review all of this, to try to get some semblance of understanding of why did it take so long and then suddenly, why did things move so quickly -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, lots of developments unfolding. All right, Martin. Thank you. Thanks for the terrific reporting, as well.

Much more of our special coverage on the coronavirus pandemic right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: April's job numbers were the worst in U.S. history for one month, nearly 21 million Americans lost their jobs last month alone.

[19:40:08]

BLITZER: Just remember that during the entire 2008 financial crisis, 8.7 million Americans lost their jobs. But some of the top economic advisers at the White House say that any talk of another stimulus package, maybe premature. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: What the President and I are now saying is, we spent a lot of money. A lot of this money is not even into the economy yet. Let's take the next few weeks -- I'm having discussions with both the Republicans and the Democrats to understand these issues.

The President and I are having conversations with outside people with business. We just want to make sure that before we jump back in and spend another few trillion of taxpayers' money that we do it carefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's discuss with a former White House economic adviser under President Obama and the author of an important brand new book entitled, "Economic Dignity." There you see the front cover, Gene Sperling is joining us right now on the phone.

Gene, top economic advisers, they say another stimulus is not necessarily needed, at least not now. Do you agree?

GENE SPERLING, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA (via phone): That is one of the most disturbing analysis I think I've ever heard.

You know, we know that the job numbers are shocking as they were understated. We know that we're probably going to be down as many as 30 million jobs, over 20 percent unemployment.

We know that the projections are that unemployment could stay in double digits for up to two years. We know that states have been, of course hit by the shutdown. They have no income or sales tax coming in and are already laying off teachers and could be laying off first responders and state troopers that could have a $500 billion hole.

So, you have to have your head in the sand to think that we do not need a dramatic response and we need it to be tied to the health of the labor market.

We don't have to do -- you know, we shouldn't spend a penny we don't need that's not going to be well spent, which we've seen, unfortunately in the Small Business Program, but we should spend everything we can to make people whole, to save more jobs. This is a terrible, you know, economic almost a jobs depression that

we're going through and to see the administration poo-pooing that or talking about, you know, a payroll tax or a liability shield, or even meals and entertainment deductions, when we could have one out of five, one out of four Americans out of a job. It was a disturbing day to hear their comments.

BLITZER: The Treasury Secretary like the President says they would like to have another payroll tax cut included in any new deal if there is, in fact another stimulus package.

The President, even at one point threatened he wouldn't sign anything, unless it included a payroll tax cut. A lot of Democrats are opposed to that, even some Republicans are opposed. Where do you see a payroll tax cut?

SPERLING: Well, Wolf, I think that any anybody thinking about it can understand what an ineffective tool that is in this environment. I mean, think of a business, what's going to make them hire back? Confidence, testing, smart policies.

The fact that people have a Small Business that can keep the lights on, they can't even keep people on the payroll because the Small Business Provision doesn't actually go to the small businesses that are most hurting and to tell them, oh, we'll give you a little payroll tax cut. It's just -- you know, I don't know what the analogy would be, but it is so far away from the type of unemployment insurance and payroll protection and state relief that could make people whole and give people more confidence.

And you know, not to hock my book, but you know, when you talk about treating people with economic dignity, one of the critical issues now is whether the essential workers that we are putting -- that are putting their lives on the line for us.

Is it right that some are being paid $12.00 or $14.00 an hour, that's half as many home health nursing aides don't even have a day of paid sick leave for themselves, that half of farm workers don't have any health insurance, and now ordering meat workers back and talking about a liability shield, not even making their employers be responsible when we've seen some of the highest numbers have COVID testing positive in those communities, in those factories.

I mean, these should be the front issues for them, treating essential workers well, keeping them safe, making more small businesses and workers whole and to be talking about payroll tax cuts and liability shields is really -- you know, it's an insult to these workers who are on the frontlines.

But from a practical point of view, it is not talking seriously about the things that can help us weather the storm, save more jobs and save families from going through the loss of dignity of losing their healthcare, their home, by no fault of their own.

[19:45:19] BLITZER: Gene Sperling's new book, "Economic Dignity." We'll have you

back. We'll talk about that down the road, Gene. Thanks so much for joining us.

We're going to have much more on all the developments in the coronavirus pandemic when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:50:00]

BLITZER: There are important developments unfolding overseas right now. I want to go to CNN's Will Ripley. He is watching some serious developments unfolding. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As other nations track coronavirus with 21st century tech, Japan relies on a relic that peaked in the 1980s.

"We have to fill out paper documents by hand and send them in by fax," says Dr. Kyuto Tanaka. "Our system has not changed for decades."

Tanaka's Twitter tirade about his pile of coronavirus paperwork quickly went, well, viral, getting the attention of Japanese lawmakers, like Masaaki Taira, a Deputy Minister in charge of I.T. policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY (on camera): You are an I.T. guy.

Is it frustrating for you that this country still clings to Baby Boomer era technology?

"Yes. I'm frustrated," he says. "I think the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic exposed the problem of digitalization in Japan."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY (voice-over): Not just the government; most Japanese companies still rely on fax machines. Documents have to be hand stamped with traditional hanko seals.

Outdated business practices make working from home nearly impossible for most Japanese.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been trying to make the system more efficient. A challenge, says Japan economist, Jesper Koll.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESPER KOLL, ECONOMIST: Coronanomics is doing what Abenomics could not achieve, which is fundamentally change Japanese behavior. The reality is that the fax machine was a brilliant technology in the

early 1980s, but, you know now, it is the equivalent of the steam engine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY (voice-over): And this is Japan. They invented the bullet train. Nearly everyone has a smart toilet, not to mention all of the robots.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY (on camera): When I lived here there was this joke that Japan is going to invent a robot to carry your fax to you.

KOLL: Right. Right.

RIPLEY: Why are they still using them?

KOLL: Look, I mean, Japanese salary men are incredibly resistant to change. It is about time they start to embrace digital culture as passionately as Japanese teenagers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY (voice-over): He says the pandemic may be changing deeply entrenched rigid behavior, finally bringing futuristic Japan into the 21st Century.

Will Ripley, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Will. Let's keep you up to date on all the late breaking developments right now, a source now telling CNN's Kevin Liptak that President Trump has expressed concern that aides contracting coronavirus would undercut his message that the outbreak is waning right now and the states should begin reopening.

The source tells CNN that the President voiced his frustration that two White House staffers, a personal valet, and a Press Secretary for the Vice President both have tested positive that he has asked why his valets weren't ordered to wear masks, and he has told people, he doesn't want to be near anyone who hasn't been tested.

And this just in as well, a separate major development we're following. CNN has learned that the Chief of Naval Operations, a top Admiral in the U.S. Navy, Admiral Michael Gilday came in contact with a family member who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Admiral Gilday was tested on Friday and although he is negative at this point, he was still self-quarantine for several days out of an abundance of caution.

This situation is why Gilday, by the way, did not attend the White House meeting with other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Saturday over at the White House.

At the same time, the top adviser at the White House admitting to serious concerns in the West Wing.

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KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER: I knew when I was going back in that I would be taking risks that, you know, I'd be safer sitting at home at my house than going into a West Wing that even with all the testing in the world and the best medical team on Earth is a relatively cramped place.

We set up a big data operation in the basement when I got there, and we were interacting constantly with people who are going to and from F.E.M.A.

Right at the beginning, when we were there, there were some people who caught COVID at F.E.M.A., so we've all been exposing ourselves to risks, you know, under the best guidance we could possibly have to keep us safe, but we're willing to take that chance because we love our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. I'll be back tomorrow, 5:00 p.m. Eastern in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But before I go on this special Mother's Day, I'd like to salute all the wonderful mothers who are among our very, very special heroes, risking their own lives right now to save other lives.

Those mothers are helping and healing all of us, sometimes even staying away and isolating from their own children to keep them safe.

[19:55:08]

BLITZER: We owe them an incredible debt of gratitude. And I also want to thank the mothers of the doctors, the nurses, the healthcare professionals, the first responders, I can only imagine how nervous they are for their children who are working so hard to protect all of us.

Thank you for your strength, for enduring the truly extraordinary anxiety and for raising such wonderful children.

Thanks very much once again for watching. Good night and stay safe.

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