Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

L.A. County Likely To Remain Under Stay-At-Home Order Through July; Fauci's Blunt Warning; Trump Declares The U.S. Has Prevailed With Testing; Key Model Predicts 147,000 U.S. Deaths By Early August; Fauci: U.S. Death Toll "Almost Certainly Higher" Than Reported; South Dakota Not Under A Stay-At-Home Order; Wuhan, China To Test Millions After New Virus Outbreak; Russia Reporting 10,000 Plus New Coronavirus Infections A Day. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 12, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Matthew Chance, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching. Stay healthy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

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

Residents of the nation's largest county are likely looking at months more at home. The Los Angeles County health director just said she expects the stay-at-home order covering the county's 10 million people to be extended through July.

Also breaking right now, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic now approaching 82,000 people with more than 1.3 million confirmed cases. The U.S. now counts for more than one quarter of the world's 4.2 million cases and almost 300,000 people have died worldwide.

Meanwhile, a blunt warning from a top U.S. health official that stands in stark contrast from what we're hearing from President Trump. Dr. Anthony Fauci telling senators that ignoring guidelines on reopening creates the real risk of what he calls an outbreak that you will not be able to control, direct quote. And he's urging more testing, despite President Trump's claim that the U.S. has, once again, I'm quoting the president, prevailed when it comes to testing.

Let's get some more on all the breaking news. First, out of Los Angeles, our National Correspondent Erica Hill joins us.

Erica, 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. They're probably looking at months more at home.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, that's what we heard from the county public health director. What she said really coincided with what we heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci today, his concerns about moving too quickly, about possibly triggering a spike.

The public health director saying that her hope has always been that by using data, they could lift restrictions slowly over the next three months. Today, Wolf, she said very simply there is no way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILL (voice-over): An experiment in real time, as experts urge caution.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: I think we're going in the right direction. But the right direction does not mean we have by any means total control of this outbreak.

HILL: Retail stores opening their doors in Ohio today.

RANDY BENEDICT, GENERAL MANAGER, SECOND SOLE: We are going to stick to a strict two to one. If we have an employee, we can have two customers.

HILL: As more restaurants adapt.

JOHN HORN, OWNER, ANNA MARIE OYSTER BAR: We really felt we needed one more week to let people stay at home and not quite rush into it.

HILL: Beaches in Los Angeles County set to reopen Wednesday. For exercise only. As the county's public health director warns other stay-at-home orders will likely be in place for the next three months.

Broadway's iconic theaters won't be back before at least September 6, as the CDC reports there could be as many as 5,000 additional deaths in hard-hit New York City. The mayor warning any reopening is still weeks away.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: In the beginning of June, that will be the first chance we get to start to do something differently. But only if the indicators show us that. Only if they show that we've reached the kind of consistent progress we need.

HILL: That progress includes a steady decline in cases. Part of the White House's own guidance which no state appears to have met. Alabama, Texas, and South Dakota among those seeing an uptick. In Georgia, one of the earliest states to reopen, cases remain steady.

With nearly every state scheduled to be partially open by the end of the week, Americans are not convinced officials have the virus under control. More than half say the government is doing a poor job preventing the spread, according to a new CNN poll. While 52 percent believe the worst is still to come.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY: I think we're only literally in that very, very early inning of this. And what's really concerning to me is we're not planning for what could be a large wave of cases. FAUCI: There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you

may not be able to control.

HILL: The union representing many workers at the nation's meat processing plants says 10,000 members have been infected or exposed to the virus. At least 30 have died.

Outbreaks and deaths at nursing homes and long-term care facilities also a major source of concern. Dr. Anthony Fauci noting Tuesday the number of U.S. deaths may be far higher than the 80,000 plus reported. And while September may feel like a lifetime away, there is pressure for answers about school this fall. Dr. Fauci warning there is not a single solution and there also won't be a vaccine in time.

FAUCI: The idea of having treatments available, or a vaccine, to facilitate the reentry of students into the fall term, would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far.

[17:05:06]

HILL: Meantime, Disney now accepting July reservations for its theme parks, as baseball prepares for a shortened season with fans cheering from home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: There was some pressure on officials at the hearing, Wolf, for direction from the CDC. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut actually pressing CDC Director Robert Redfield saying are we going to get this guidance or not, my state is getting ready to reopen, I'd like to have the information. And Dr. Redfield basically making it clear, it will likely not be there in time for Connecticut at least, which is one of the last states until to set to reopen.

BLITZER: We'll speak to the governor of Connecticut shortly. All right, Erica Hill, thank you so much. Let's go to the White House right now, our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is on the scene, as he always is. Jim, some really stark testimony today by Dr. Fauci and other top health officials.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, president trump's rosy assessments about the pandemic were put under the microscope during that Senate hearing top administration health expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned senators not to reopen schools in the U.S. too quickly.

And even one of the president's fellow Republicans, Mitt Romney, tore into Mr. Trump's misleading statement that the U.S. is leading the world in testing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FAUCI: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Testifying remotely at a rare Senate hearing on the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the health crisis in the U.S. could be worse than what's already known. Telling senators the actual number of deaths may be higher than current estimates.

FAUCI: I think you are correct that the number is likely higher. I don't know exactly what percent higher. But almost certainly it's higher.

ACOSTA: Fauci and other health officials were grilled about some of President Trump's questionable comments about the virus. Ahead of the hearing the president twitted, our testing is the best in the word by far. But that's not true. Some of the latest data show the U.S. still lags behind other countries in testing. The administration has frequently compared the U.S. to South Korea, even though the two countries are far apart in deaths. A glaring contrast noted by GOP Senator Mitt Romney.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever. The fact is, their test numbers are going down, down, down, now, because they don't have the kind of outbreak we have, ours are going up, up, up.

ACOSTA: A clash over reopening schools, Republican Senator Rand Paul echoed complaints from Trump supporters that Fauci has been too cautious. Fauci fired right back.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): I don't think you're the end-all, i don't think you're the one person that gets to make the decision.

FAUCI: I have never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice in this. I'm a scientist, a physician, and a public health official. I think we better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.

ACOSTA: As the White House and some Republicans are clamoring for states to reopen, Vice President Mike Pence was spotted outside the West Wing, wearing a mask. Unlike last week, White House staffers could be seen in masks too. Pence is keeping his distance from Mr. Trump, officials say, as a precaution after the vice president's press secretary tested positive for the virus.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The vice president has made the choice to keep his distance for a few days, and I would just note that that's his personal decision to do that, as to how many days he does it.

ACOSTA: A new CNN poll shows a sizable majority of Americans don't approve of the president's handling of the virus, a measurable spike over the last two months. So the president is trying to distract the public from his record, taking credit for the positive poll numbers from many governors tweeting, Remember this, every governor who has sky high approval on their handling of the coronavirus, and I am happy for them all, could in no way I have gotten those numbers or had that success without me and the federal government's help.

The president is tossing out new bright shiny objects, coining the term "Obama-gate," to suggest former President Barack Obama somehow committed a crime even as Mr. Trump won't say what it is or produce any evidence. UNDENTIFIED MALE: What is the crime exactly you're accusing him of?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what the crime is. The crime is obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.

ACOSTA: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell complained about Obama's criticism of the president.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was not wearing a mask during her briefing with reporters earlier in the day. She said she took off her mask as she felt she was a safe distance away from reporters in the room. We should note nearly all of the journalists were wearing a mask during that briefing. And as for Senator Paul telling Fauci he is not the end-all, be-all on the pandemic, it should be noted the press secretary frequently cited the doctor and his expertise during his briefing. Wolf.

BLITZER: As she should, indeed, because he is Dr. Fauci, a national treasure, we've said it many times and we continue to say that. All right, thanks very much for that, Jim Acosta at the White House.

Joining us now, the Governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont. Governor, thank you so much for joining us.

[17:10:01]

The headline we're having this hour some residents in Los Angeles will probably remain under at least some form of stay-at-home order for the next three months. Your stay-at-home order in Connecticut expires, I understand, next week on May 20th. Are you considering, governor, a partially extension of two or three months like they seem to be doing in Los Angeles, at least now?

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): No, we followed Dr. Fauci's guidelines very closely in terms the downward trend in hospitalizations, upward trend in our testing, making sure we're doing track and tracing in a very serious way. We're going to have a very limited open on May 20. And I think we can handle it and handle it responsibly.

BLITZER: The Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a man you know well, had some rather tough questions for the CDC director about the lack of specific guidance on reopening from the CDC. In fact Senator Murphy called the guidance given out so far in his words, criminally vague. From your perspective as governor, does Connecticut have all the support and information you need from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

LAMONT: Well, Wolf, as soon as I heard there was some CDC guidance that the White House yanked back, I really scoured to see how we could get ahold of that guidance so he could see what they had to say. So we did get ahold of that guidance. But more importantly, I've got a business and scientific team that's put together guidance, store by store, business by business, so they know how to open safely.

BLITZER: The administration hasn't released that guidance publicly yet although it's available, it's been leaked, obviously. Do you have any reason to believe that the White House is deliberately suppressing that guidance as Senator Murphy suggested?

LAMONT: I have no idea why they suppressed it. You know, it was tripped. It really took the seriousness of covid to heart and made sure we open in a serious way. And I don't know why the White House would wanted to discourage us getting that information.

BLITZER: All right. So just bottom line on this point that you're satisfied what you're hearing from the CDC, the guidance you're getting?

LAMONT: Look, it was limited, it was not specific at all when it became to businesses. We did that ourselves. It was quite specific when it came to religious services, worship services, that was sort of interesting, discouraging singing because that spreads germs. So, it was specific where they wanted to be specific.

BLITZER: Dr. Fauci reiterated his warning that reopening too soon will risk triggering an outbreak that states won't be able to control. What metrics will you monitor to make sure that doesn't happen in Connecticut?

LAMONT: We're going to have extensive testing, number one. And number two, hospital utilization. Right now we have about 40 percent of our beds empty. So we have capacity to take a hit. But we're going to do that in a very careful way to make sure we always have the hospital capacity we need to keep everybody safe.

BLITZER: Admiral Giroir from the Department of Health and Human Services says, he said that he believes the United States will have 40 to 50 million tests per month by the fall. Are you confident that you'll have enough testing and contact tracing in place by the fall to reopen schools in Connecticut?

LAMONT: I am, Wolf. We're going to test everybody going back to college, especially those people in residence hall. We're thinking about selective testing how you do a K-12 as well. We're testing everybody going into the factory floor at electric boat on a regular basis. We're doing everything we can to keep people safe and see if we can cautiously get our economy moving again.

BLITZER: Thank you so much, governor, for joining us. I know these are really difficult life and death decisions you have to make. We're grateful to you for joining us. We appreciate it very much.

LAMONT: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, more on Dr. Fauci's blunt warning in sharp contrast to claims by President Trump.

Plus we'll have more on the breaking news, Los Angeles County now expected to extend its stay-at-home order through July.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:18:41]

BLITZER: Top health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci gave rather blunt testimony today during a Senate committee hearing on the coronavirus pandemic. Let's get some more from our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and our chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Sanjay, Dr. Fauci conceded today that the U.S. death toll is almost certainly higher than the official tally right now more than 81,000. Just how much higher could it be?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, if you look at this study that came out of Yale, looking at sort of end of March and early April, that study predicted the death toll during that time period was twice as high, Wolf.

So, you know, significantly higher. He was asked specifically by Senator Sanders could it be 50 percent higher. And Dr. Fauci wouldn't put a number on it, but he said definitely higher. I mean there's a lot of people who probably initially were not tested, maybe were thought to have flu or other respiratory illness, so did not count toward that sort of tragic internal death toll.

And then you had a lot of people obviously were at home, Wolf, they never made it to the hospital. You know, they were told to stay home, hospitals were pretty full, as you remember initially, especially in New York, I think the state that he was talking about most specifically, but probably all over the country, the death toll is higher than official projections, in some places higher than others.

[17:20:05]

BLITZER: So what does that mean, Sanjay, for how we should respond to future outbreaks?

GUPTA: Well, I think the lessons are the same. I thought that was sort of the most interesting thing. You know, if you look at countries that you would sort of hold up as models of success right now, they don't have a vaccine, they don't have a therapeutic. They don't have anything else that we don't have that any country can possibly, you know, get access to in some way. It's really a question of implementation and timing.

You know, I think part of the issue that we've learned here is that you can't get behind the curve on this. You can't get behind the curve at any step along the way because if you do, it's very hard to catch up. Even when we talk about testing, it is true we're testing a lot more, but it's not just how many tests you have, it's when the tests were performed. It's not just stay-at-home orders going into place, it's when the stay-at-home orders actually went into effect.

If you get behind, it becomes very hard to catch up. And that's what we're seeing now. So I think that's the biggest lesson learned. Really isn't really a lesson learned, we knew that. We just didn't act quickly enough.

BLITZER: Interesting. You know, Gloria, the president boasted yesterday about the gains the United States has made on coronavirus testing. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have a great testing capacity now. It's getting even better. There's nobody close to us in the world. And we certainly have done a great job on testing. And testing is a big -- is a very big, important function. By the way, some people consider it more important than others, to be honest with you. But testing certainly is a very important function. And we have prevailed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So you heard him say we've prevailed when it comes to testing, Gloria. But top health experts say we're still not doing enough here in the United States. What's your analysis of that disconnect?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, if you listened to the hearing today, it wasn't just the top health experts. It was also member of the committee, including Republicans. The chairman, Lamar Alexander, was talking about testing potentially for students who go back to college. Mitt Romney was talking about how we compare in a negative way to what's been done in South Korea. I think Sanjay was just probably referencing that.

And I think what you have is a president who right now wants to turn the page and is living in a very different world. He's talking about the light at the end of the tunnel. He is saying we're going to get back to normal. He is tweeting to governors that they ought to liberate their states, as Senator Chris Murphy pointed out today.

And what you have the scientists saying is, wait a minute, what Tony Fauci was saying today is, slow down. Look at our guidelines, because in the end, what you get if you don't pay attention to these guidelines could be even worse than what you have now. You don't want to get to something that is totally out of control.

He pointed out, look, I don't run the economy. He understands that everybody wants to get back to work. But he was really just saying to people, wait a minute here, and think about the consequences of what you're doing. And the question he didn't answer today, because he wasn't asked it, he said he gives the president his advice, Wolf, but he didn't say whether the president takes it.

BLITZER: Yes, that was an important point as well. You know, Dr. Fauci, Sanjay, also said it was a bridge too far, his words, to assume we'll have a vaccine in time for colleges to reopen in the fall. But he didn't say that that should stop them from opening altogether. Can colleges and universities reopen safely without a vaccine or an effective treatment? GUPTA: I think that it's going to depend on where some of these

colleges and universities are. I mean "safely" is going to become a relative term. I mean I think no matter what, when you start to reopen things, there are going to be -- there is going to be an increased number of people who become infected. I mean, we have a contagious virus out there, as we've said all along, that is the one constant in all of this.

I think if you're looking at communities where you don't have community spread, where it seems like you have adequate testing, you can quickly identify people who are carrying the virus and they can be isolated, I think you could open more safely.

Obviously it's going to look very different, as schools and universities this fall, no matter what. I mean maybe staggered as -- staggered start times, cafeterias, assemblies, things like that, you know, any kind of gathering, obviously those things are not going to happen for a while.

I think it's going to be on a case-by-case basis, although I've been talking to people including, you know, superintendent of L.A. United School District, they say their plan is to open. That's the second largest school district in the country. So they're going through that planning right now.

I don't think it's a question that we're not going to have a vaccine at that point, so all these plans need to be made with that in mind. Wolf.

[17:25:02]

BLITZER: And Sanjay, we're getting this in, this is breaking news. We're just learning that the model often cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the University of Washington Medical School mode, has just increased its projection of deaths by early August by 10,000. Now they're projecting, Sanjay, it's really going to be 147,000 Americans dead by early August, by August 4th. Right now, what, 81,800 Americans have died over the past few months.

GUPTA: You just hate hearing these numbers, Wolf, I mean, it gives me a pit in my stomach every time I see these models and see them going up. Part of me thinks, you know, this is a direct reflection of something that is happening right now, as states start to open and people start to become more mobile.

We know, all I see, sometimes, is I see that virus moving around from person to person and having a lot more hosts now to choose from. It's a sad state of affairs, Wolf. And, you know, I mean I think there's nothing worse in medicine than thinking about preventible deaths, people who could have been saved, who may not be as a result of this and I think it's tragic.

You know, I don't -- the models are the models. I mean, you know, they're often wrong but sometimes they're useful as is this one. So we'll see where these numbers sort of land. Hopefully, as a result of hearing from, you know, Dr. Fauci and the other doctors today, people start to think about the impact of some of these decisions right now.

You know, to Gloria's point earlier, I kind of liken this to antibiotic therapy. You know, you -- I think people know that if you're going to take antibiotics, you got to take the whole course, right? If you don't take the whole course, it could be worse than having started the treatment at all. And maybe that's a little metaphorical for what we're going through right now.

The treatment has been working to some extent. We've got to carry on with it, otherwise we could be back further than square one.

BLITZER: Shortly we're going to be speak shortly with the doctor who's in charge of that new projection, get his analysis of why it could be 147,000 Americans dead from coronavirus by early August. Sanjay, stand by. Gloria, stand by.

Much more on all of this coming up, including more on the breaking news. Some people in Los Angeles County likely will now remain under stay-at-home orders for months. And we'll also get an update from South Dakota which has reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases in the past few days alone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:32:24]

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news right now, very influential model now projects 147,000 American deaths by early August. Joining us now is Dr. Christopher Murray. He leaves the team behind this model from the University of Washington Medical School. Thanks so much, Dr. Murray for joining us. How did you get 147,000, that's 10,000 more deaths by August 4 than the earlier model?

DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: Yes, we're starting to see the effects of two things driving up the numbers. One is the consequence of the relaxing of social distancing, people getting out and about having more contact.

We're seeing, you know, upward trends in case numbers in a number of states, and big swings up in mobility. And then some further states have relaxed social distancing like North Carolina in the last few days as well. All of that, unfortunately, is combining to push the numbers higher as best we can assess in the data that's out there.

BLITZER: Because you've cited in the past, what would you call an explosive increases in mobility, at least in some states for the rising death toll, another 60,000 or so Americans are going to die between now and August 4th, according to your model. If this trend continues for increased mobility and a lot of these states, do you worry that death toll could even exceed your new estimate?

MURRAY: We do. We really worry that we're on an unfortunate trajectory. You know, when we started off, making projections, we had assumed that all the states were going to sort of follow, if you will, the New Zealand model, which is to keep social distancing in place until transmission gets to a really low level, and then you can open up much more safely.

We're not doing that. We're speeding towards relaxing social distancing, people are getting the message they're getting out. And I think we'll see the numbers go up, unless we see the benefits of people being cautious wearing masks and capacities to test, contact, trace and isolate go up faster than we think they may.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, let's hope that happens. And Dr. Fauci as you probably know, Dr. Murray, he said today that the official death toll now of more than 81,000 here in the United States, almost certainly, his words, almost certainly underestimates the true number of deaths this virus has caused. Do you agree with him?

[17:35:00]

MURRAY: I do. We've -- like many, we've been looking very carefully both in this country and in other countries at this notion of excess deaths. That is, you know, you look at all the increase in deaths compared to normal for a given week in the year. And in those analyses, we see many more deaths both here in the U.S. and abroad than the officially reported COVID deaths.

So I think once --

BLITZER: I was going to say does your new model, Dr. Murray, excuse me for interrupting, account for deaths that may be missed by official tallies.

MURRAY: Not really. We capture what the states are saying. So some states like New York are reporting on both confirmed deaths as well as presumptive deaths. But even then the total death count, once we have more time to look back at excess mortality is probably going to turn out to be larger. And I think when we, you know, look back a few months from now, we're going to understand that the consequences have been even greater than what we've been saying.

BLITZER: So I just want to be precise, Dr. Murray, your projection now 147,000 Americans will die from coronavirus by August 4th. But that's not the end of it. What happens after August 4th? Are you projecting how many more Americans will die the rest of the month of August and into September in October?

MURRAY: We are building up to be able to do that. Many people are asking us, you know, when is it going to be safe to open schools? What happens in September? So we are certainly planning to start making those longer term projections. The challenge there is we've got to understand two things to be able to do that in a reasonable basis. What is the true effect of temperature and seasonality and, you know, the next few weeks may tell us more.

And then the second one is the sort of almost intangible which is how will people behave in terms of social interaction wearing masks, and what will the states do in terms of mandates as the summer rolls on? And those are going to be as important in dictating the trajectory in the fall as any other of the drivers that we know about. BLITZER: Because coronavirus can spread so quickly. Exactly two months ago on March 12th, there were 38 deaths in the United States, now more than 81,000 confirmed deaths in the United States. Dr. Murray, thanks so much for joining us. We'll stay in close touch with you.

MURRAY: All right, thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, an update from South Dakota which has reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases in just the past few days.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:19]

BLITZER: South Dakota which is not under a stay-at-home order has become a new coronavirus hotspot. Hundreds of new cases have just been reported over the past few days.

Joining us now, the mayor of Sioux Falls Paul TenHaken. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. I know you got a lot going on over there. Out of every state in the country right now, South Dakota recorded the steepest week-over-week jump in new cases. Your city of Sioux Falls is already easing restrictions.

You heard from Dr. Fauci earlier today, warning against potentially triggering new outbreaks if you move too quickly. How do you respond to that?

MAYOR PAUL TENHAKEN (R), SIOUX FALLS, SD: Yes. Well, thanks for having me, Wolf. You know, the increase that we saw this past week and the number of new cases in South Dakota, and specifically in the Sioux Falls area, was largely due to the stand-up testing site that we put in place last week with the state -- with the CDC and the CDC actually called it the biggest stand-up testing operation they've seen today, where we ran 4,000 tests in the matter of three or four days, all of which were tied to a meatpacking plant that's been a real hotspot for us in our city.

So we knew we were going to see some increases based on that testing. People are calling for more testing, they want to see increase in testing. When you see an increase in testing, you can expect to see an increase in your numbers. And that's what we saw last week, you know, as a result of those 4,000 tests that we ran.

BLITZER: If South Dakota though does remain a national hotspot, and you see a continued growth in new cases in your city of Sioux Falls, are you prepared to maybe rethink your stay-at-home order and order a stay-at-home order?

TENHAKEN: You know, Wolf, we're -- I think we're the only state in the country that either at a city or a state level has not had a stay-at- home or a shelter-in-place order. At one point in this outbreak, I explored that, I brought it to my city council. There wasn't an appetite to do that here.

We have, however, without that freed up a lot of healthcare capacity. You know, the goal all along with the response of this is to make sure that there is adequate healthcare capacity to meet the demand that we'll see from COVID cases. And we have that in South Dakota, we have a healthcare systems that have said, hey, we're going to be OK, based on the curve we're seeing.

However, that being said, if things flare up, and we get to a point where we don't have that capacity, then we have to look at, OK, what dials do we have to now adjust again to try and flatten that curve even more. And, you know, we're an impatient state. We're an impatient country. You're seeing it all over the country people. People don't like this. They don't like to have to stay at home. They don't like the stay-at-home orders.

We want to get back to normal, a lot of time at the detriment of keeping other safe. So balancing this act of opening the economy and public health is just -- it's really an untenable act for mayors to try and do right now.

[17:45:04]

BLITZER: Well, as I keep saying, you know, Mayor, these are life and death decisions for the folks in your city, life and death decisions for the folks in your state. You see how quickly something like this coronavirus can explode.

And I just pointed up, there were 38 deaths, 38 confirmed deaths here in the United States two months ago on March 12th, today, May 12th, there are what, more than 81,000 confirmed deaths. You see how that can explode. And it's the source I assume a great worry to you?

TENHAKEN: Yes, of course. I mean, the number one thing that keeps me up at night on this whole response is, are we doing enough to keep people safe, and that means protecting them from coronavirus. That also means protecting people from the mental health ramifications, the unemployment ramifications, the small business closure ramifications. So you have the public health pandemic and then you have the ancillary pandemic that results, you know, from the economy and the other things that are happening.

So I'd heard of last week a small business owner in our city took his own life, just didn't see the other side of this. And so, you wonder, OK, did we do too much that we caused that and those are weighty things to have to think about when you're making a decision. A lot of times we talk about one seemingly good decision can have three or four spin-off decisions that you never anticipated.

BLITZER: Yes, these are really, really critically important life and death decisions. Mayor, good luck to you, good luck to everybody in your great state and your wonderful city of Sioux Falls. Appreciate your joining us.

TENHAKEN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, closer look at the coronavirus headlines from around the world. Wuhan, China takes a drastic step after a coronavirus outbreak. And the spokesman for the Russian President Vladimir Putin, he actually comes down with the coronavirus and he's now in the hospital.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:49]

BLITZER: CNN is now following very important coronavirus headlines from around the world. Authorities in Wuhan, China where the virus first turned up, just ordered everyone in the city to be tested because of a new outbreak. CNN's Ivan Watson is monitoring the situation from Hong Kong. Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Chinese authorities have reacted with serious alarm to a relatively small outbreak of coronavirus over the weekend in that original coronavirus epicenter city of Wuhan. Only six new confirmed cases, it appears to be community transmission. But there's been an emergency notice issued to city officials calling for a, quote, 10-day battle. We don't know when this will begin but they plan to try to test more than 10 million residents of that city for the coronavirus.

Now, Wuhan is the first place in the world where the coronavirus was identified back in December. It led to a massive outbreak that killed thousands of people. The authorities clearly don't want to take the risk of another explosion like that happening again there. Wolf?

BLITZER: Ivan Watson reporting, thank you.

South Korea is rushing to track down people who visited a Seoul nightclub district that reopened then became a coronavirus hotspot. CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Seoul for us. So Paula, give us an update on the contact tracing effort that's underway.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, more than 10,000 people have already been tested in relation to the outbreak in Seoul's nightclub district. More than 100 of them have tested positive for the virus. I spoke to Seoul city mayor earlier today and he told me that he's using all the tools at his disposal to try and figure out exactly who was in that neighborhood over a two-week period and test them.

He said that he is looking at mobile phone records, they're looking at credit card, usage records, CCTV and police cooperation. He also said this outbreak has taught him a lesson, the fact that we are not safe and an outbreak can happen at any time in any place, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Paula, thank you.

Germany, meanwhile, just reported a very dramatic surge in coronavirus cases, more than 900 in one day. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin for us. Fred, this appears to be a dramatic setback for Germany's plan to reopen.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Yes, the German government says it is very concerned about what could be a new acceleration of the novel coronavirus here in this country. Germany saw a spike in infections over a 24-hour period and the German Center for Disease Control says that the reproduction number for the novel coronavirus was above one for three days in a row. Now they say that means that the virus could be expanding again, rather than getting pushed back and they also say they're going to keep a very close eye on that situation.

One of the hotspots here in this country is Germany's meat processing industry. There's at least three meat processing plants in various places in the country that have seen a flurry of new infections, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Fred, thank you. Russian President Vladimir Putin's main spokesman has coronavirus. CNN's Matthew Chance is monitoring the situation in Russia from London. Matthew, what's the latest?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the main spokesman for Russia's President has been hospitalized with coronavirus, raising questions about the health of the country's leader, Vladimir Putin.

[17:55:08]

The Kremlin says Putin has been working remotely, but it's also had a few in-person meetings. Although a statement says his spokesman Dmitry Peskov has not seen his boss for over a month. Still, it underlines how pervasive the virus is becoming Russia, which is reporting more than 10,000 new infections every day, and there are signs of the strain.

Earlier, at least five coronavirus patients were killed in a place at a hospital ward in St. Petersburg. At the weekend, another was killed when a fire broke out in a Moscow hospital. Emergency workers say both incidents were caused by faulty ventilators bursting into flames, Wolf.

BLITZER: Matthew Chance reporting, thank you. There's more breaking news we're following. A grim new projection of 147,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by early August. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:00:00]

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- after the United States.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Matthew Chance, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching. Stay healthy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." We're following breaking news.

Residents of the nation's largest county are likely looking at months more at home. The Los Angeles County health director just said she expects the stay-at-home order covering the county's 10 million people to be extended through July.

Also breaking right now, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic now approaching 82,000 people with more than 1.3 million confirmed cases. The U.S. now counts for more than one quarter of the world's 4.2 million cases and almost 300,000 people have died worldwide.

Meanwhile, a blunt warning from a top U.S. health official that stands in stark contrast from what we're hearing from President Trump. Dr. Anthony Fauci telling senators that ignoring guidelines on reopening creates the real risk of what he calls an outbreak that you will not be able to control, direct quote. And he's urging more testing, despite President Trump's claim that the U.S. has, once again, I'm quoting the president, prevailed when it comes to testing.

Let's get some more on all the breaking news. First, out of Los Angeles, our national correspondent Erica Hill joins us. Erica, 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. They're probably looking at months more at home.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, that's what we heard from the county public health director. What she said really coincided with what we heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci today, his concerns about moving too quickly, about possibly triggering a spike.

The public health director saying that her hope has always been that by using data, they could lift restrictions slowly over the next three months. Today, Wolf, she said very simply there is no way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILL (voice-over): An experiment in real time, as experts urge caution.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: I think we're going in the right direction. But the right direction does not mean we have by any means total control of this outbreak.

HILL: Retail stores opening their doors in Ohio today.

RANDY BENEDICT, GENERAL MANAGER, SECOND SOLE: We are going to stick to a strict two to one. If we have an employee, we can have two customers.

HILL: As more restaurants adapt.

JOHN HORN, OWNER, ANNA MARIE OYSTER BAR: We really felt we needed one more week to let people stay at home and not quite rush into it.

HILL: Beaches in Los Angeles County set to reopen Wednesday. For exercise only. As the county's public health director warns other stay-at-home orders will likely be in place for the next three months.

Broadway's iconic theaters won't be back before at least September 6, as the CDC reports there could be as many as 5,000 additional deaths in hard-hit New York City. The mayor warning any reopening is still weeks away.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D) NEW YORK: In the beginning of June, that will be the first chance we get to start to do something differently. But only if the indicators show us that. Only if they show that we've reached the kind of consistent progress we need.

HILL: That progress includes a steady decline in cases. Part of the White House's own guidance which no state appears to have met. Alabama, Texas, and South Dakota among those seeing an uptick. In Georgia, one of the earliest states to reopen, cases remain steady.

With nearly every state scheduled to be partially open by the end of the week, Americans are not convinced officials have the virus under control. More than half say the government is doing a poor job preventing the spread, according to a new CNN poll. While 52 percent believe the worst is still to come.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY: I think we're only literally in that very, very early inning of this. And what's really concerning to me is we're not planning for what could be a large wave of cases.

FAUCI: There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control.

HILL: The union representing many workers at the nation's meat processing plants says 10,000 members have been infected or exposed to the virus. At least 30 have died.

Outbreaks and deaths at nursing homes and long-term care facilities also a major source of concern. Dr. Anthony Fauci noting Tuesday the number of U.S. deaths may be far higher than the 80,000 plus reported. And while September may feel like a lifetime away, there is pressure for answers about school this fall. Dr. Fauci warning there is not a single solution and there also won't be a vaccine in time.

FAUCI: The idea of having treatments available, or a vaccine, to facilitate the reentry of students into the fall term, would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far.

[17:05:06]

HILL: Meantime, Disney now accepting July reservations for its theme parks, as baseball prepares for a shortened season with fans cheering from home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: There was some pressure on officials at the hearing, Wolf, for direction from the CDC. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut actually pressing CDC Director Robert Redfield saying are we going to get this guidance or not, my state is getting ready to reopen, I'd like to have the information. And Dr. Redfield basically making it clear, it will likely not be there in time for Connecticut at least, which is one of the last states until to set to reopen.

BLITZER: We'll speak to the governor of Connecticut shortly. All right, Erica Hill, thank you so much. Let's go to the White House right now, our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is on the scene, as he always is. Jim, some really stark testimony today by Dr. Fauci and other top health officials.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, president trump's rosy assessments about the pandemic were put under the microscope during that Senate hearing top administration health expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned senators not to reopen schools in the U.S. too quickly.

And even one of the president's fellow Republicans, Mitt Romney, tore into Mr. Trump's misleading statement that the U.S. is leading the world in testing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FAUCI: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Testifying remotely at a rare Senate hearing on the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the health crisis in the U.S. could be worse than what's already known. Telling senators the actual number of deaths may be higher than current estimates.

FAUCI: I think you are correct that the number is likely higher. I don't know exactly what percent higher. But almost certainly it's higher.

ACOSTA: Fauci and other health officials were grilled about some of President Trump's questionable comments about the virus. Ahead of the hearing the president twitted, our testing is the best in the word by far. But that's not true. Some of the latest data show the U.S. still lags behind other countries in testing. The administration has frequently compared the U.S. to South Korea, even though the two countries are far apart in deaths. A glaring contrast noted by GOP Senator Mitt Romney.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever. The fact is, their test numbers are going down, down, down, now, because they don't have the kind of outbreak we have, ours are going up, up, up.

ACOSTA: A clash over reopening schools, Republican Senator Rand Paul echoed complaints from Trump supporters that Fauci has been too cautious. Fauci fired right back.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): I don't think you're the end-all, i don't think you're the one person that gets to make the decision.

FAUCI: I have never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice in this. I'm a scientist, a physician, and a public health official. I think we better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.

ACOSTA: As the White House and some Republicans are clamoring for states to reopen, Vice President Mike Pence was spotted outside the West Wing, wearing a mask. Unlike last week, White House staffers could be seen in masks too. Pence is keeping his distance from Mr. Trump, officials say, as a precaution after the vice president's press secretary tested positive for the virus.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The vice president has made the choice to keep his distance for a few days, and I would just note that that's his personal decision to do that, as to how many days he does it.

ACOSTA: A new CNN poll shows a sizable majority of Americans don't approve of the president's handling of the virus, a measurable spike over the last two months. So the president is trying to distract the public from his record, taking credit for the positive poll numbers from many governors tweeting, Remember this, every governor who has sky high approval on their handling of the coronavirus, and I am happy for them all, could in no way I have gotten those numbers or had that success without me and the federal government's help.

The president is tossing out new bright shiny objects, coining the term "Obama-gate," to suggest former President Barack Obama somehow committed a crime even as Mr. Trump won't say what it is or produce any evidence.

UNDENTIFIED MALE: What is the crime exactly you're accusing him of?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what the crime is. The crime is obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.

ACOSTA: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell complained about Obama's criticism of the president.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was not wearing a mask during her briefing with reporters earlier in the day. She said she took off her mask as she felt she was a safe distance away from reporters in the room. We should note nearly all of the journalists were wearing a mask during that briefing. And as for Senator Paul telling Fauci he is not the end-all, be-all on the pandemic, it should be noted the press secretary frequently cited the doctor and his expertise during his briefing. Wolf.

BLITZER: As she should, indeed, because he is Dr. Fauci, a national treasure, we've said it many times and we continue to say that. All right, thanks very much for that, Jim Acosta at the White House.

Joining us now, the governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont. Governor, thank you so much for joining us.

[17:10:01]

The headline we're having this hour some residents in Los Angeles will probably remain under at least some form of stay-at-home order for the next three months. Your stay-at-home order in Connecticut expires, I understand, next week on May 20th. Are you considering, governor, a partially extension of two or three months like they seem to be doing in Los Angeles, at least now?

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): No, we followed Dr. Fauci's guidelines very closely in terms the downward trend in hospitalizations, upward trend in our testing, making sure we're doing track and tracing in a very serious way. We're going to have a very limited open on May 20. And I think we can handle it and handle it responsibly.

BLITZER: The Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a man you know well, had some rather tough questions for the CDC director about the lack of specific guidance on reopening from the CDC. In fact Senator Murphy called the guidance given out so far in his words, criminally vague. From your perspective as governor, does Connecticut have all the support and information you need from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

LAMONT: Well, Wolf, as soon as I heard there was some CDC guidance that the White House yanked back, I really scoured to see how we could get ahold of that guidance so he could see what they had to say. So we did get ahold of that guidance. But more importantly, I've got a business and scientific team that's put together guidance, store by store, business by business, so they know how to open safely.

BLITZER: The administration hasn't released that guidance publicly yet although it's available, it's been leaked, obviously. Do you have any reason to believe that the White House is deliberately suppressing that guidance as Senator Murphy suggested?

LAMONT: I have no idea why they suppressed it. You know, it was tripped. It really took the seriousness of covid to heart and made sure we open in a serious way. And I don't know why the White House would wanted to discourage us getting that information.

BLITZER: All right. So just bottom line on this point that you're satisfied what you're hearing from the CDC, the guidance you're getting?

LAMONT: Look, it was limited, it was not specific at all when it became to businesses. We did that ourselves. It was quite specific when it came to religious services, worship services, that was sort of interesting, discouraging singing because that spreads germs. So, it was specific where they wanted to be specific.

BLITZER: Dr. Fauci reiterated his warning that reopening too soon will risk triggering an outbreak that states won't be able to control. What metrics will you monitor to make sure that doesn't happen in Connecticut?

LAMONT: We're going to have extensive testing, number one. And number two, hospital utilization. Right now we have about 40 percent of our beds empty. So we have capacity to take a hit. But we're going to do that in a very careful way to make sure we always have the hospital capacity we need to keep everybody safe.

BLITZER: Admiral Giroir from the Department of Health and Human Services says, he said that he believes the United States will have 40 to 50 million tests per month by the fall. Are you confident that you'll have enough testing and contact tracing in place by the fall to reopen schools in Connecticut?

LAMONT: I am, Wolf. We're going to test everybody going back to college, especially those people in residence hall. We're thinking about selective testing how you do a K-12 as well. We're testing everybody going into the factory floor at electric boat on a regular basis. We're doing everything we can to keep people safe and see if we can cautiously get our economy moving again.

BLITZER: Thank you so much, governor, for joining us. I know these are really difficult life and death decisions you have to make. We're grateful to you for joining us. We appreciate it very much.

LAMONT: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, more on Dr. Fauci's blunt warning in sharp contrast to claims by President Trump.

Plus we'll have more on the breaking news, Los Angeles County now expected to extend its stay-at-home order through July.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:18:41]

BLITZER: Top health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci gave rather blunt testimony today during a Senate committee hearing on the coronavirus pandemic. Let's get some more from our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and our chief political analyst Gloria Borger. Sanjay, Dr. Fauci conceded today that the U.S. death toll is almost certainly higher than the official tally right now more than 81,000. Just how much higher could it be?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, if you look at this study that came out of Yale, looking at sort of end of March and early April, that study predicted the death toll during that time period was twice as high, Wolf.

So, you know, significantly higher. He was asked specifically by Senator Sanders could it be 50 percent higher. And Dr. Fauci wouldn't put a number on it, but he said definitely higher. I mean there's a lot of people who probably initially were not tested, maybe were thought to have flu or other respiratory illness, so did not count toward that sort of tragic internal death toll.

And then you had a lot of people obviously were at home, Wolf, they never made it to the hospital. You know, they were told to stay home, hospitals were pretty full, as you remember initially, especially in New York, I think the state that he was talking about most specifically, but probably all over the country, the death toll is higher than official projections, in some places higher than others.

[17:20:05]

BLITZER: So what does that mean, Sanjay, for how we should respond to future outbreaks?

GUPTA: Well, I think the lessons are the same. I thought that was sort of the most interesting thing. You know, if you look at countries that you would sort of hold up as models of success right now, they don't have a vaccine, they don't have a therapeutic. They don't have anything else that we don't have that any country can possibly, you know, get access to in some way. It's really a question of implementation and timing.

You know, I think part of the issue that we've learned here is that you can't get behind the curve on this. You can't get behind the curve at any step along the way because if you do, it's very hard to catch up. Even when we talk about testing, it is true we're testing a lot more, but it's not just how many tests you have, it's when the tests were performed. It's not just stay-at-home orders going into place, it's when the stay-at-home orders actually went into effect.

If you get behind, it becomes very hard to catch up. And that's what we're seeing now. So I think that's the biggest lesson learned. Really isn't really a lesson learned, we knew that. We just didn't act quickly enough.

BLITZER: Interesting. You know, Gloria, the president boasted yesterday about the gains the United States has made on coronavirus testing. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have a great testing capacity now. It's getting even better. There's nobody close to us in the world. And we certainly have done a great job on testing. And testing is a big -- is a very big, important function. By the way, some people consider it more important than others, to be honest with you. But testing certainly is a very important function. And we have prevailed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So you heard him say we've prevailed when it comes to testing, Gloria. But top health experts say we're still not doing enough here in the United States. What's your analysis of that disconnect?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, if you listened to the hearing today, it wasn't just the top health experts. It was also member of the committee, including Republicans. The chairman, Lamar Alexander, was talking about testing potentially for students who go back to college. Mitt Romney was talking about how we compare in a negative way to what's been done in South Korea. I think Sanjay was just probably referencing that.

And I think what you have is a president who right now wants to turn the page and is living in a very different world. He's talking about the light at the end of the tunnel. He is saying we're going to get back to normal. He is tweeting to governors that they ought to liberate their states, as Senator Chris Murphy pointed out today.

And what you have the scientists saying is, wait a minute, what Tony Fauci was saying today is, slow down. Look at our guidelines, because in the end, what you get if you don't pay attention to these guidelines could be even worse than what you have now. You don't want to get to something that is totally out of control.

He pointed out, look, I don't run the economy. He understands that everybody wants to get back to work. But he was really just saying to people, wait a minute here, and think about the consequences of what you're doing. And the question he didn't answer today, because he wasn't asked it, he said he gives the president his advice, Wolf, but he didn't say whether the president takes it.

BLITZER: Yes, that was an important point as well. You know, Dr. Fauci, Sanjay, also said it was a bridge too far, his words, to assume we'll have a vaccine in time for colleges to reopen in the fall. But he didn't say that that should stop them from opening altogether. Can colleges and universities reopen safely without a vaccine or an effective treatment?

GUPTA: I think that it's going to depend on where some of these colleges and universities are. I mean "safely" is going to become a relative term. I mean I think no matter what, when you start to reopen things, there are going to be -- there is going to be an increased number of people who become infected. I mean, we have a contagious virus out there, as we've said all along, that is the one constant in all of this.

I think if you're looking at communities where you don't have community spread, where it seems like you have adequate testing, you can quickly identify people who are carrying the virus and they can be isolated, I think you could open more safely.

Obviously it's going to look very different, as schools and universities this fall, no matter what. I mean maybe staggered as -- staggered start times, cafeterias, assemblies, things like that, you know, any kind of gathering, obviously those things are not going to happen for a while.

I think it's going to be on a case-by-case basis, although I've been talking to people including, you know, superintendent of L.A. United School District, they say their plan is to open. That's the second largest school district in the country. So they're going through that planning right now.

I don't think it's a question that we're not going to have a vaccine at that point, so all these plans need to be made with that in mind. Wolf.

[17:25:02]

BLITZER: And Sanjay, we're getting this in, this is breaking news. We're just learning that the model often cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the University of Washington Medical School mode, has just increased its projection of deaths by early August by 10,000. Now they're projecting, Sanjay, it's really going to be 147,000 Americans dead by early August, by August 4th. Right now, what, 81,800 Americans have died over the past few months.

GUPTA: You just hate hearing these numbers, Wolf, I mean, it gives me a pit in my stomach every time I see these models and see them going up. Part of me thinks, you know, this is a direct reflection of something that is happening right now, as states start to open and people start to become more mobile.

We know, all I see, sometimes, is I see that virus moving around from person to person and having a lot more hosts now to choose from. It's a sad state of affairs, Wolf. And, you know, I mean I think there's nothing worse in medicine than thinking about preventible deaths, people who could have been saved, who may not be as a result of this and I think it's tragic.

You know, I don't -- the models are the models. I mean, you know, they're often wrong but sometimes they're useful as is this one. So we'll see where these numbers sort of land. Hopefully, as a result of hearing from, you know, Dr. Fauci and the other doctors today, people start to think about the impact of some of these decisions right now.

You know, to Gloria's point earlier, I kind of liken this to antibiotic therapy. You know, you -- I think people know that if you're going to take antibiotics, you got to take the whole course, right? If you don't take the whole course, it could be worse than having started the treatment at all. And maybe that's a little metaphorical for what we're going through right now.

The treatment has been working to some extent. We've got to carry on with it, otherwise we could be back further than square one. BLITZER: Shortly we're going to be speak shortly with the doctor who's

in charge of that new projection, get his analysis of why it could be 147,000 Americans dead from coronavirus by early August. Sanjay, stand by. Gloria, stand by.

Much more on all of this coming up, including more on the breaking news. Some people in Los Angeles County likely will now remain under stay-at-home orders for months. And we'll also get an update from South Dakota which has reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases in the past few days alone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:32:24]

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news right now, very influential model now projects 147,000 American deaths by early August. Joining us now is Dr. Christopher Murray. He leaves the team behind this model from the University of Washington Medical School. Thanks so much, Dr. Murray for joining us. How did you get 147,000, that's 10,000 more deaths by August 4 than the earlier model?

DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: Yes, we're starting to see the effects of two things driving up the numbers. One is the consequence of the relaxing of social distancing, people getting out and about having more contact. We're seeing, you know, upward trends in case numbers in a number of states, and big swings up in mobility. And then some further states have relaxed social distancing like North Carolina in the last few days as well. All of that, unfortunately, is combining to push the numbers higher as best we can assess in the data that's out there.

BLITZER: Because you've cited in the past, what would you call an explosive increases in mobility, at least in some states for the rising death toll, another 60,000 or so Americans are going to die between now and August 4th, according to your model. If this trend continues for increased mobility and a lot of these states, do you worry that death toll could even exceed your new estimate?

MURRAY: We do. We really worry that we're on an unfortunate trajectory. You know, when we started off, making projections, we had assumed that all the states were going to sort of follow, if you will, the New Zealand model, which is to keep social distancing in place until transmission gets to a really low level, and then you can open up much more safely. We're not doing that. We're speeding towards relaxing social distancing, people are getting the message they're getting out. And I think we'll see the numbers go up, unless we see the benefits of people being cautious wearing masks and capacities to test, contact, trace and isolate go up faster than we think they may.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, let's hope that happens. And Dr. Fauci as you probably know, Dr. Murray, he said today that the official death toll now of more than 81,000 here in the United States, almost certainly, his words, almost certainly underestimates the true number of deaths this virus has caused. Do you agree with him?

[17:35:00]

MURRAY: I do. We've -- like many, we've been looking very carefully both in this country and in other countries at this notion of excess deaths. That is, you know, you look at all the increase in deaths compared to normal for a given week in the year. And in those analyses, we see many more deaths both here in the U.S. and abroad than the officially reported COVID deaths.

So I think once --

BLITZER: I was going to say does your new model, Dr. Murray, excuse me for interrupting, account for deaths that may be missed by official tallies.

MURRAY: Not really. We capture what the states are saying. So some states like New York are reporting on both confirmed deaths as well as presumptive deaths. But even then the total death count, once we have more time to look back at excess mortality is probably going to turn out to be larger. And I think when we, you know, look back a few months from now, we're going to understand that the consequences have been even greater than what we've been saying.

BLITZER: So I just want to be precise, Dr. Murray, your projection now 147,000 Americans will die from coronavirus by August 4th. But that's not the end of it. What happens after August 4th? Are you projecting how many more Americans will die the rest of the month of August and into September in October?

MURRAY: We are building up to be able to do that. Many people are asking us, you know, when is it going to be safe to open schools? What happens in September? So we are certainly planning to start making those longer term projections. The challenge there is we've got to understand two things to be able to do that in a reasonable basis. What is the true effect of temperature and seasonality and, you know, the next few weeks may tell us more.

And then the second one is the sort of almost intangible which is how will people behave in terms of social interaction wearing masks, and what will the states do in terms of mandates as the summer rolls on? And those are going to be as important in dictating the trajectory in the fall as any other of the drivers that we know about.

BLITZER: Because coronavirus can spread so quickly. Exactly two months ago on March 12th, there were 38 deaths in the United States, now more than 81,000 confirmed deaths in the United States. Dr. Murray, thanks so much for joining us. We'll stay in close touch with you.

MURRAY: All right, thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, an update from South Dakota which has reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases in just the past few days.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:19] BLITZER: South Dakota which is not under a stay-at-home order has become a new coronavirus hotspot. Hundreds of new cases have just been reported over the past few days.

Joining us now, the mayor of Sioux Falls Paul TenHaken. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. I know you got a lot going on over there. Out of every state in the country right now, South Dakota recorded the steepest week-over-week jump in new cases. Your city of Sioux Falls is already easing restrictions. You heard from Dr. Fauci earlier today, warning against potentially triggering new outbreaks if you move too quickly. How do you respond to that?

MAYOR PAUL TENHAKEN, SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA: Yes. Well, thanks for having me, Wolf. You know, the increase that we saw this past week and the number of new cases in South Dakota, and specifically in the Sioux Falls area, was largely due to the stand-up testing site that we put in place last week with the state -- with the CDC and the CDC actually called it the biggest stand-up testing operation they've seen today, where we ran 4,000 tests in the matter of three or four days, all of which were tied to a meatpacking plant that's been a real hotspot for us in our city.

So we knew we were going to see some increases based on that testing. People are calling for more testing, they want to see increase in testing. When you see an increase in testing, you can expect to see an increase in your numbers. And that's what we saw last week, you know, as a result of those 4,000 tests that we ran.

BLITZER: If South Dakota though does remain a national hotspot, and you see a continued growth in new cases in your city of Sioux Falls, are you prepared to maybe rethink your stay-at-home order and order a stay-at-home order?

TENHAKEN: You know, Wolf, we're -- I think we're the only state in the country that either at a city or a state level has not had a stay-at- home or a shelter-in-place order. At one point in this outbreak, I explored that, I brought it to my city council. There wasn't an appetite to do that here.

We have, however, without that freed up a lot of healthcare capacity. You know, the goal all along with the response of this is to make sure that there is adequate healthcare capacity to meet the demand that we'll see from COVID cases. And we have that in South Dakota, we have a healthcare systems that have said, hey, we're going to be OK, based on the curve we're seeing.

However, that being said, if things flare up, and we get to a point where we don't have that capacity, then we have to look at, OK, what dials do we have to now adjust again to try and flatten that curve even more. And, you know, we're an impatient state. We're an impatient country. You're seeing it all over the country people. People don't like this. They don't like to have to stay at home. They don't like the stay-at-home orders.

We want to get back to normal, a lot of time at the detriment of keeping other safe. So balancing this act of opening the economy and public health is just -- it's really an untenable act for mayors to try and do right now.

[17:45:04]

BLITZER: Well, as I keep saying, you know, Mayor, these are life and death decisions for the folks in your city, life and death decisions for the folks in your state. You see how quickly something like this coronavirus can explode. And I just pointed up, there were 38 deaths, 38 confirmed deaths here in the United States two months ago on March 12th, today, May 12th, there are what, more than 81,000 confirmed deaths. You see how that can explode. And it's the source I assume a great worry to you?

TENHAKEN: Yes, of course. I mean, the number one thing that keeps me up at night on this whole response is, are we doing enough to keep people safe, and that means protecting them from coronavirus. That also means protecting people from the mental health ramifications, the unemployment ramifications, the small business closure ramifications. So you have the public health pandemic and then you have the ancillary pandemic that results, you know, from the economy and the other things that are happening.

So I'd heard of last week a small business owner in our city took his own life, just didn't see the other side of this. And so, you wonder, OK, did we do too much that we caused that and those are weighty things to have to think about when you're making a decision. A lot of times we talk about one seemingly good decision can have three or four spin-off decisions that you never anticipated.

BLITZER: Yes, these are really, really critically important life and death decisions. Mayor, good luck to you, good luck to everybody in your great state and your wonderful city of Sioux Falls. Appreciate your joining us.

TENHAKEN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, closer look at the coronavirus headlines from around the world. Wuhan, China takes a drastic step after a coronavirus outbreak. And the spokesman for the Russian President Vladimir Putin, he actually comes down with the coronavirus and he's now in the hospital.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:49]

BLITZER: CNN is now following very important coronavirus headlines from around the world. Authorities in Wuhan, China where the virus first turned up, just ordered everyone in the city to be tested because of a new outbreak. CNN's Ivan Watson is monitoring the situation from Hong Kong. Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Chinese authorities have reacted with serious alarm to a relatively small outbreak of coronavirus over the weekend in that original coronavirus epicenter city of Wuhan. Only six new confirmed cases, it appears to be community transmission. But there's been an emergency notice issued to city officials calling for a, quote, 10-day battle. We don't know when this will begin but they plan to try to test more than 10 million residents of that city for the coronavirus.

Now, Wuhan is the first place in the world where the coronavirus was identified back in December. It led to a massive outbreak that killed thousands of people. The authorities clearly don't want to take the risk of another explosion like that happening again there. Wolf?

BLITZER: Ivan Watson reporting, thank you.

South Korea is rushing to track down people who visited a Seoul nightclub district that reopened then became a coronavirus hotspot. CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Seoul for us. So Paula, give us an update on the contact tracing effort that's underway.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, more than 10,000 people have already been tested in relation to the outbreak in Seoul's nightclub district. More than 100 of them have tested positive for the virus. I spoke to Seoul city mayor earlier today and he told me that he's using all the tools at his disposal to try and figure out exactly who was in that neighborhood over a two-week period and test them. He said that he is looking at mobile phone records, they're looking at credit card, usage records, CCTV and police cooperation. He also said this outbreak has taught him a lesson, the fact that we are not safe and an outbreak can happen at any time in any place, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Paula, thank you.

Germany, meanwhile, just reported a very dramatic surge in coronavirus cases, more than 900 in one day. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin for us. Fred, this appears to be a dramatic setback for Germany's plan to reopen.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Yes, the German government says it is very concerned about what could be a new acceleration of the novel coronavirus here in this country. Germany saw a spike in infections over a 24-hour period and the German Center for Disease Control says that the reproduction number for the novel coronavirus was above one for three days in a row. Now they say that means that the virus could be expanding again, rather than getting pushed back and they also say they're going to keep a very close eye on that situation.

One of the hotspots here in this country is Germany's meat processing industry. There's at least three meat processing plants in various places in the country that have seen a flurry of new infections, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Fred, thank you. Russian President Vladimir Putin's main spokesman has coronavirus. CNN's Matthew Chance is monitoring the situation in Russia from London. Matthew, what's the latest?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the main spokesman for Russia's President has been hospitalized with coronavirus, raising questions about the health of the country's leader, Vladimir Putin. [17:55:08]

The Kremlin says Putin has been working remotely, but it's also had a few in-person meetings. Although a statement says his spokesman Dmitry Peskov has not seen his boss for over a month. Still, it underlines how pervasive the virus is becoming Russia, which is reporting more than 10,000 new infections every day, and there are signs of the strain.

Earlier, at least five coronavirus patients were killed in a place at a hospital ward in St. Petersburg. At the weekend, another was killed when a fire broke out in a Moscow hospital. Emergency workers say both incidents were caused by faulty ventilators bursting into flames, Wolf.

BLITZER: Matthew Chance reporting, thank you. There's more breaking news we're following. A grim new projection of 147,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by early August. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)