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U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 83,000; Leaders Named For "Warp Speed" Vaccine Effort; MI Gov. Says She Has Not Talked To Biden About VP Role; Trump Says Fauci's Answer On Schools Reopening "Not Acceptable"; D.C. Extends Stay-At-Home Order To June 8; Trump Says Fauci "Wants To Play All Sides Of the Equation" When It Comes To Reopening. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 13, 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]

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.

The coronavirus death toll here in the United States is now more than 83,000 people with almost 1.4 million cases. Globally, there are no more than 4.3 million cases and almost 300,000 deaths. But tonight, sources are telling CNN that the Trump administration that serious senior Trump administration officials are now questioning the accuracy of the U.S. death toll and whether the number is actually being inflated.

Just yesterday, on the other hand, Dr. Anthony Fauci told us lawmakers, the death toll is almost certainly higher, higher than what's being reported. But this coming Sunday, almost all U.S. states will be reopened, at least to some extent. At the same time, Washington D.C. is among jurisdictions extending stay-at-home orders and states including South Dakota, Delaware and Arkansas are serious -- are seeing serious Coronavirus cases, right now on the rise.

Let's go straight to the White House right now. Our Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us. Jim, a grim new death toll and frightening new projections. But the President and his team, at least some members of his team don't necessarily believe all the numbers.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Wolf, the tug of war has begun inside the Trump administration over whether the U.S. is over counting the number of dead from the coronavirus, well aware that the President's reelection prospects are tied to his handling of the pandemic. Pro-Trump forces are attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci who has advocated caution in confronting the virus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): In control of the coronavirus message coming from the White House, President Trump is giving the administration a pat on the back for the U.S. response to the pandemic. With the enormous weight of the pandemic hanging over the White House, sources tell CNN administration officials are questioning the accuracy of the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. and whether the number of dead is being over counted.

But that would fly in the face of testimony from top administration health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said deaths are likely being under counted as some residents and hard hitting New York died at home and we're never counted as COVID-19 fatalities.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: So in direct answer to your question, 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 (voice-over): The President suggested New York's number of dead was too high last month.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I see this morning where New York edit 3,000 deaths because they died and they're now saying rather than it was a heart attack, they're saying it was a heart attack caused by this.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Trump allies on Fox News have zeroed in on Fauci as an obstacle to reopening the country, blasting the doctors cautious approach to the pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this the guy you want to chart the future of the country? Maybe not. This is a very serious matter, the decisions we're making right now. Tony Fauci has not been elected to anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fauci to be very blunt is the face of this failed administrative title.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I totally agree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you've got a question. The entire premise of this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the chief buffoon of the professional has.

Dr. Anthony Fauci also seems to favorite what the Democrats want. And that is massive restrictions with no end in sight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With all due respect to Dr. Fauci his expertise, no one elected him to anything.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But there's one big problem for the White House, a CNN poll found a solid majority of Americans trust Fauci, not the President when it comes to the pandemic.

RICK BRIGHT, DIRECTOR, BARDA: Hospital Preparedness.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Another public health official to watch Dr. Rick Bright a top vaccine expert who was removed from his post he says an alleged act of retaliation. Bright, who is set to appear before a House Subcommittee Thursday warns the U.S. must prepare for the pandemic to get worse, saying in his prepared testimony, without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be the darkest winter modern history.

Mr. Trump is brushing off Bright as an unhappy employee.

TRUMP: To me he's a disgruntled guy and I hadn't heard great things about him.

ACOSTA (voice-over): With such dire predictions, the President's son- in-law, Jared Kushner, was asked whether the November election might be postponed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) elections will happen on November 3rd?

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISER: It's not my decision to make. So, I'm not sure I can commit one way or the other. But right now, that's the plan.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Kushner later released a statement saying, I have not been involved in nor am I aware of any discussions about trying to change the date of the presidential election. But the damage done to the economy is beyond question. According to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who has working Americans are taking a major hit.

JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD: Among people who were working in February almost 40% of those in households making less than $40,000 a year had lost a job in March. This reversal of economic fortune has caused a level of pain that is hard to capture in words, as lives are upended and made great uncertainty about the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[17:05:03]

ACOSTA: Don't worry, I got it. Now on the race for a vaccine, Moncef Slaoui, we're told the former head of the vaccines division at GlaxoSmithKline has been tapped as co-lead on the Warp Speed effort as the administration calls it to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

Another official says U.S. Army Four Star General Gustave Perna, has also been selected to oversee the project and the two will split responsibilities when it comes to overseeing that operation Warp Speed effort.

As for the November election, the White House is also stressing there are no plans to try to postpone the November election. The fact is the President can't do anything about that. Anyways, Congress ultimately controls when the election is held. And Wolf and just the last few moments.

The President has been asked questions by reporters about some of the comments that Dr. Anthony Fauci made yesterday, in that, in that hearing up on Capitol Hill that he zoomed into, I guess you could say, in which Dr. Fauci said, people should not be cavalier about sending children back to school during the coronavirus pandemic.

The President says he takes issue with some of the comments that Dr. Fauci made, says he disagrees with some of these comments. Dr. Fauci said, he thinks, according to the President, President says that these schools should be reopening in the fall and he believes Fauci has been, quote playing all sides of this issue.

And so Wolf, we're waiting for that video to come back. The press pool, as we call it, there with the President right now, but it sounds as though the president taking issue with some of these statements that Dr. Fauci made at that hearing yesterday. Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, we're looking forward to getting the tape and going through it and playing it for our viewers, as well. We'll see precisely what the President is saying about Dr. Fauci right now very sensitive material, I suspect. Indeed our Jim Acosta. Thank you very much.

Let's get the latest now on how the pandemic is actually playing out across the country. CNN's Nick Watt is joining us from Manhattan Beach near Los Angeles right now. Nick beaches, there are once again what they're open, but with some serious restrictions, right?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. The beaches opened this morning but it's exercise only and masks are mandatory. We've also just heard within the past hour or so that L.A. County is now allowing all retail to open unless you are located in an indoor mall and it is still curbside pickup only.

The public health director also clarified some of her words yesterday, people thought she was saying we were all going to have to stay home another three months. She's not saying that, she's saying that restrictions will be in place some kind of restriction. For the next three months. We will be wearing masks for a long time. And in actual fact, she said it's not really three months. There is no end date to those restrictions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (voice-over): The biggest spike in grocery prices since 1974 says the Bureau of Labor, one in four Americans will lose their jobs, says Goldman Sachs. But as states reopen trying to staunch that economic chaos, one models projected death toll for the U.S. more than doubled in just two weeks.

ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUE: The bottom line is our political leaders have not done enough to get us ready to open up safely. And again, a large chunk of that is about testing and tracing.

WATT (voice-over): In most states, new case counts are steady or falling for now, but rising in Arkansas, South Dakota and Delaware.

JEN KATES, KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION: We're seeing fatigue of staying inside and also some mixed messages. One state is doing one thing and other states doing something else, federal government has provided just very general guidelines. So I think there's also some confusion what is safe.

WATT (voice-over): Today New Jersey announced gatherings of people in cars are now allowed.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): If vehicles are closer than six feet apart, then all windows sunroofs are convertible tops must remain closed.

WATT (voice-over): While Washington D.C. reupped its stay home order.

MURIEL BOWSER, MAYOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Through Monday, June the eighth, and I should note that based on the data, I can revise this order at any time.

WATT (voice-over): A new CNN poll shows a 13% rise and those who say they visited friends or family in the past week.

ESTHER CHOO, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: We really did. We took comfort in the fact that our kids were largely safe. And I wonder if some of that is our comfort with relaxing social distancing measures.

WATT (voice-over): But now 15 states are reporting rare cases of severe potentially COVID related reactions in children.

JUAN DUMOIS, PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASES PHYSICIAN: Really high fevers, rashes, and sometimes drops in blood pressure causing shock.

WATT (voice-over): The CDC planning today to warn physicians to look out for such symptoms.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We have lost three children in New York because of this. Five year old boy, seven year old boy and an 18-year- old girl.

WATT (voice-over): Meanwhile, many states figuring out if and how kids could go back to school in the fall.

[17:09:58]

LILY ESKELSEN GARCIA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: Our fear is that people are just going to say this is the date and we'll all rush in and we won't be prepared and that children will be put at risk.

WATT (voice-over): The Cal State University system that's nearly half a million students already announced there will be nearly no in person classes. Even in the fall. They don't want to quarter a class sizes and have students come in from all over.

EDUARDO OCHOA, PRESIDENT, CSU MONTEREY BAY: We face the prospect of turning the campus into a cluster that would actually single handedly drive the infection rates in our county, we didn't really want to do that.

WATT (voice-over): They also have concerns about testing and tracing capability.

LATOYA CANTRELL, MAYOR NEW ORLEANS: Contact tracing is a priority.

WATT (voice-over): So this weekend when restaurants reopen in New Orleans, it's reservations only. And --

CANTRELL: Restaurants should retain a name and contact number for over 21 days.

WATT (voice-over): So contacts can be traced as we all mix more.

JHA: The CDC has not done enough. They had a contact racing force for a much smaller outbreak than what we have. And I wish we had spent the last two months building up that force.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: And of course, while we've all been focused on COVID, our other problems haven't gone away. California just said that wildfires in the state are up 60% so far this year, they're bracing for a bad fire season and figuring out how to continue social distancing. Do we evacuate people early? Do we put them in hotel rooms? Do they somehow figure out how to segregate school, gymnasiums and circulate the air?

And by the way, for those of you on the east and the Gulf Coast, the hurricane season this year is also forecast to be pretty bad. Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it is. All right, Nick Watt, thank you very, very much.

We're just getting this pool report in the TV networks. And Governor Gretchen Whitmer has with us. But I want you to listen to Governor Whitmer what the President is now saying, we're going to be getting the tape. We're going to be getting the tape shortly, but let me read what the pool reporter from the TV networks has just reported to us.

The President was asked whether he has concerns about reopening schools, as expressed by Dr. Fauci before his testimony. In the Senate yesterday, the President said I'm quoting now from the pool report. He wants to play all sides of the equation, referring to Dr. Fauci, he then said he believes the country will bounce back in the fourth quarter asked further what he meant by his comments regarding Dr. Fauci, the President said once again, I'm quoting from this pool report.

I was surprised by his answer. To me, it's not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools. We'll get the videotape by shortly from the -- from the pool, and we'll have that for our viewers.

But those are the President's comments about Dr. Fauci and his testimony yesterday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan is joining us right now. Do you want to give us your immediate reaction Governor to what the President is now saying about Dr. Fauci?

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Well, I can tell you is that the decisions that I'm making are based on our epidemiologists and our public health experts. We are talking to people like Dr. Jha, who was recently on and experts across the country because it's really important that we get this right. It can't be determined based on political pressure.

It can't be determined based on a desire to reengage or a feeling that our kids are going to be OK. It has to be driven by the best science and I have an incredible amount of respect for Dr. Fauci. I think he's been one of the consistent, you know, people on the national stage who has given us accurate information and an unvarnished way.

This is a novel virus where you're learning something every single day about COVID-19 that empowers us to make better decisions tomorrow and we have to keep listening to the science.

BLITZER: Yes, it's you're absolutely right. We look forward to hearing precisely what the President is saying once we get that videotape from the TV network pool reporter. What's your response Governor to the President and some of his aides now questioning whether the coronavirus death count here in the United States is inflated, it's being over, over counted?

WHITMER: Well, you know, I was with my chief medical executive today, and we were talking about the numbers that we're showing here in Michigan, we've had over 4,700 people die of COVID-19. And we think that the number probably is higher.

When people are dying at home, it's on our public health system to go through and look at all the death certificates. And a lot of these people maybe never got a positive test, but they died of COVID-19. And it is important that our records are reflective of that.

And so there is a lag between really collecting all of this information which is incredibly intensive, and making sure that the numbers are really, you know, accurate, and that's why I think that the numbers probably are not as high as what reality is in terms of COVID-19 deaths.

[17:15:06]

BLITZER: That's what Dr. Fauci said yesterday before the Senate Committee as well. The President apparently believes the numbers are inflated right now are too high. Dr. Rick Bright, the -- he used to be the top federal vaccine expert. He was ousted from his job, as you know, in recent weeks. He's expected to warn Congress tomorrow when he testifies that the U.S. could see in his words the darkest winter in modern history, with a ramped up coronavirus response.

Are you concerned that these late breaking developments that we're seeing what the White House is now saying is a potential signal that we could in fact see what he's calling the darkest winter?

WHITMER: Well, and then the change and what the expectations are in terms of what the modeling is showing nationwide? The one thing that we know with a certainty is that the best tool we have right now is social distancing. And we all are eager to reengage our economies and yet we have to be really smart about it. We have to have built up our public health expertise, our testing, our tracing our ability to isolate people, once we are determined that they are COVID-19 positive or around someone who has.

We also in the same time have to be developing protocols and building up our PPE and ensuring that we don't get overwhelmed when there is an outbreak that happens. All of these are critical components of this. And the fact that we still don't have a strategy that covers the nation, a strategy to get swabs which we are getting more of, and we're grateful to the federal government for their help on that.

But we should be producing these things in masses, because testing is going to be key until we get a vaccine and we're not doing enough of it as a nation. And we're all eager to do more. But we need these materials. Incredibly, you know, important.

BLITZER: We understand there going to be some more demonstrations in the state Capitol Lansing tomorrow. Governor, the last time we saw some of the protesters showing up with, with the weapons, with guns. What's going on -- what are you bracing for tomorrow in the state Capitol of Lansing?

WHITMER: Yes, so I'm sad to report that it does appear that there's going to be another demonstration where they're, you know, I'm hopeful they'll practice social distancing and wearing masks. But if last time was any indication, that's that might not happen.

And that's a problem. We're also seeing a lot of racist rhetoric around it, and misogynistic, and, you know, hateful, violent threats that are being made. And I think that's something that we have to keep our eye on. It's sad, because this is a small, relatively small group of people in a state of almost 10 million, where the vast majority are doing the right thing.

But we're going to focus on this because it is it's outrageous. And I think it's really important that we can observe someone's Second Amendment rights and the right to dissent is something I have a great deal of respect for, but we have to do it in a way that doesn't compromise other people's public safety. And these protests thus far, I have not done it that way. And I think it's very concerning.

BLITZER: And it's legal for these guys to show up with AR-15 in the state capitol, is that right?

WHITMER: Unfortunately, it is. And the state legislature could have taken some action this week, they chose not to the Capitol commission could have taken action this week. They did not. I think that it is really unwise that we have a policy where people can bring weapons into the state capitol.

I know that's not how it is in other parts of the country. And I believe that it's something that should change. No one should have to go to work and feel intimidated.

And that's what these state representatives and all of the staff who work there and the sergeants and the police that work in that building, they should not have to feel that way. And I think making our capital a gun free zone would be an important step toward giving people confidence that they can do their job and safety.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, Governor, as you know, you've been mentioned as a possible running mate for Joe Biden. Is that an offer you could accept given the very serious crisis this coronavirus pandemic that your state is facing right now.

WHITMER: You know, Wolf, honestly, the fact that my name is mentioned that in anything other than, you know, for focusing on COVID-19 is, is something I haven't devoted a whole lot of energy to. This outbreak in Michigan was one of the worst in the nation.

We have had the third highest number of deaths in the country, even though our population is the 10th largest. We've had to take a lot of tough actions. I've got to see this through and that's what's driving every thing that I'm doing as governor of Michigan.

BLITZER: I know you've been in the forefront in this battle, these are life and death decisions that you have to make. Governor Whitmer, good luck to you, good luck to everybody in Michigan. Thanks so much for joining us.

WHITMER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Still ahead, a new warning about the mysterious illness that's now striking children and most likely related to the coronavirus.

And later the Texas businessman said he offered to make millions of N95 to protect doctors and nurses, but the government never took them up on his offer. Why did the deal fall through? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:24:39]

BLITZER: The breaking news, we're following sources telling CNN that Trump administration officials are questioning whether the coronavirus death toll here in the United States is actually inflated.

Let's discuss this and more with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, the President also just says we're waiting for the tape that Dr. Fauci and his words wants to play all sides of the occasion when it comes to reopening schools, the President's in favor of reopening schools. How did you interpret that Dr. Fauci's comments when he testified yesterday before the Senate, that everyone should be really careful about opening schools?

[17:25:18]

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well I think that he, he was, you know, pretty clear about this. I mean, there was two things that sort of came to came out of that hearing. One is that the idea that a vaccine might be available by the fall, that's not going to happen. I mean, you know, Dr. Fauci, is always very careful about how he chooses his words.

He -- I think he referred to it as a bridge too far. But I think what he meant to say is, you know, that's not going to happen. I mean, and he's never said that there would be a vaccine by this fall. I think he's always sort of striking that balance between hope and honesty.

I think the other thing is, you know, look, Wolf, we are learning some more just over the past few weeks about the impact potentially of this virus on kids. You know, this Kawasaki like syndrome does appear to be rare thankfully, you know, 100 to 200 children maybe around the world that have this type of illness, but it is something that, you know, we are learning about and have to keep an eye on. I think that they also drew a distinction a little bit between colleges and universities versus grade schools in terms of reopening.

But, you know, I think Dr. Fauci is, is been humble about this. And I think he said that even in his testimony, they need to have a certain amount of humility here because we're learning along the way.

BLITZER: Yes, he said, we don't know a lot in response to questions from Senator Rand Paul himself as a physician who was promoting the idea of the kids going back to school, Gloria and Dr. Fauci basically said, you know, what, there's a lot about this disease, we still don't know. So let's be cautious.

He also testified, Gloria, that his relationship with the President was not confrontational in any way. He brings the President his best ideas and the president listens. But right now, it looks like the President is criticizing him suggesting he wants to play all sides of the equation.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think actually, it's not surprising coming from Donald Trump. I mean, you heard Tony Fauci yesterday saying quite directly also that yes, we may be under estimating the number of deaths as a result of the coronavirus because perhaps we didn't, you know, there were deaths that we that we didn't attribute to coronavirus from heart attack or stroke that we should have.

And although Fauci wouldn't put a number on it, that is also something the administration doesn't want to talk about. Their narrative is that we are overestimating, According to Jim Acosta's reporting that we're overestimating the number of deaths.

So when you look at what Fauci said yesterday, not only regarding it's a bridge too far to talk about vaccines or treatment, being ready for the fall, arguing with Rand Paul, about what we don't know about the coronavirus and its, its effects on children and then of course, the number of deaths as a result of COVID.

You can see that Donald Trump has well, this isn't my playbook. This isn't my narrative and say, you know what, I don't like this. And I think that's what we're hearing from the President today.

BLITZER: Yes. And what do you think, Sanjay overplaying the number when 83,000 confirmed deaths here in the United States right now? Dr. Fauci yesterday suggesting that number is probably too low. There are a lot of people who have died, but they weren't officially registered with coronavirus. But now White House officials, at least some of them suggesting that number is inflated?

GUPTA: No, I mean, the numbers are too low. And that that is not just Dr. Fauci saying that I mean, there was a Yale study that came out and did sort of put a number on it, at least from beginning of March, the beginning of April, saying it was under estimating by about 15,000 people, tragically, that and a lot of that has to do with the fact that we weren't testing enough at that point.

And I'm not harping on that point. It's just the fact that we weren't testing, so we couldn't possibly know they're in New York in particular, because the hospitals were getting increasingly full, there are a lot of people who were at home and sadly dying of this disease at home.

So is always the case with these types of things that you're the numbers are too low, because you're only talking about the confirmed infections, people who made it to a hospital or a clinic, people who got tested and could have that confirmed diagnosis. Of course, there's going to be a lot of people out there, even in the earlier days before we even recognize that, you know, really had robust testing in any of these places.

So the numbers too low. And that's just that's just a fact. I mean, you know, it's, it's, in some ways you can make the argument that it's lower than it otherwise would have been, had we not had stay at home orders. There's all these different ways of contextualizing the numbers. But the number that you see on your screen right now probably does not accurately reflect the number of people who've either been infected or have died from this.

BLITZER: Yes, clearly, those numbers are so, so disturbing, Gloria, there -- I'm sure there are some White House officials who would like to move beyond the coronavirus pandemic right now and focus in what their real priority, of course their major priority right now making sure that the President is reelected.

[17:30:03]

BORGER: Well, the narrative right now from the White House point of view is we -- they're saying that they did a great job of containing it and that they're moving on, and that the country is ready to open up. And that the higher those numbers go -- and by the way, we don't know, as Sanjay has been talking about now, for a long time, we don't know what's going to happen when the country moves up. The estimates of deaths have risen as a result of people perhaps not doing as much social distancing.

So I think what the White House wants to do is get ahead of this and say, we don't believe these numbers. These numbers are actually lower. We did a better job than you think we did, and therefore we're ready to move on to phase II of reopening the country and getting the economy moving again. And Donald Trump is the one to do that. That's just part of the narrative right now.

BLITZER: Everybody wants to reopen the country. Everybody wants to get back to the old normal. There'll be a new normal. Everybody wants that. But you got to do it in a very, very safe way and make sure things don't deteriorate and there's not a second wave or anything along those lines.

All right, Gloria, Sanjay, guys, thank you very, very much. Coming up, I'll speak with the Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. She just extended the stay-at-home order here in the nation's capital until June 8. Plus, the latest on the huge spike in coronavirus cases in Russia right now, top members of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle are infected.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:36:27]

BLITZER: Washington, D.C. is among those jurisdictions extending stay- at-home orders as almost all U.S. states are moving to reopen at least to some extent. Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is joining us now. Mayor Bowser, thanks so much for joining us.

Just today you extended the stay-at-home order here in D.C. through June 8. It was originally set to expire this coming Friday. As states across the country are reopening, what led you to decide that D.C. residents need to continue to stay home?

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Well, Wolf, throughout our response, we have been looking to the public health experts for metrics that suggests we're ready for safe and phased reopening. And all of those metrics point to a period of sustained decreases in community transmission.

And we think we're on the way. We've experienced four days so far, we will continue to look every single day at that data to see when the public health experts recommend a safe, phased reopening.

BLITZER: You're in a unique position running the city that houses the federal government and you've asked the federal government and that includes the Congress to continue teleworking, when possible at all. Are you getting good cooperation on that front?

BOWSER: Absolutely. We know that having people who can telework will allow us to continue to contain the virus. I -- in our own government, for example, about 60 percent of our employees are teleworking. We know that the Congress and the administration are doing essential work and they are exempted from a stay-at-home order. But we still know that many people can do their jobs by teleworking. So we're suggesting that they continue that process of teleworking.

BLITZER: Good to know. The President has been meeting in the White House in the Cabinet Room with the governors of North Dakota and Colorado and he let the press pool come in and there was some Q&A with the President. I want you to listen, Mayor, to what he's saying about a man you know, a man I know, Dr. Fauci. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation. I think we're going to have a tremendous fourth quarter. I think we're going to have a transitional third quarter. And I think we're going to have a phenomenal next year. I feel that we are going to have a country that's ready to absolutely have one of its best years. Next year with all of the stimulus and all of the fact that it's a pent-up demand like I haven't seen, and you see it right now. These two really professional good governors that do such a, you know, work so hard, I know both of them very well. One happens to be a Democrat, OK, but we've worked together and I think we've worked together very well.

And one, you would expect me to say that but it happens to be true, OK. Really good job too. But we've worked very, very well together. They want to get this states open. Some governors and some, perhaps partisans, maybe for election reasons don't want to have their states open. And then some shouldn't open them quite yet. You know, they're not ready. They went through a lot and they're not quite ready.

But no, we're opening our country. People want it open, the schools are going to be open. I was seeing the other day Purdue, great school, great college, university. And Purdue is opening and others are opening and they're all announcing it.

[17:40:04]

These are young people. These are students, young students. They're in great shape. They're in great shape.

Now when you have an incident, one out of 1 million, one out of 500,000, will something happens, perhaps. But, you know, you can be driving to school and some bad things can happen too. So now we're going to open our country. We want it open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you say, Dr. Fauci is playing both sides, are you suggesting that the advice he is giving to you is different?

TRUMP: Well I was surprised by his answer actually because, you know, it's just -- to me, it's not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And just to be precise, Mayor Bowser, that yesterday Dr. Fauci, I don't know if you were listening to his testimony. He says there's a lot we still don't know about the coronavirus, especially how it could potentially affect young people, affect children.

The President clearly disagreeing with him. Dr. Fauci was making the case that let's be careful, let's be cautious, let's not jump to conclusions. What did you think of what the President had to say about the nation's top infectious disease expert?

BOWSER: Well, let me just say, I'm Dr. Fauci's Mayor. I've had the great privilege of talking to him, and he's given some advice to our reopening committee. And I think his public health credentials are unparalleled. So certainly, we continue to rely on him for advice.

But I also hope that the President is right, that we will recover. All of us want to get open. We just want to do it in a safe way. The last thing we want, Wolf, is to be back here in the fall, having lost all of the gains from social distancing. And I think that's what's important for our residents in businesses who have made a tremendous sacrifice.

We are being measured. We're being focused on the data, but we're also planning like crazy to get open and to give our businesses guidelines to do it safely. And it's also important to know that we have to give customers' and consumers' confidence and workers' confidence in coming back to work, going back to restaurants, going to retailers.

And when the government can demonstrate that we've been very rigorous in working with all sectors about how to do that, then we will have a real reopening not just saying that we're open, but giving consumers and customers and workers the confidence to get back into the economy.

BLITZER: I know D.C. schools, public schools are closed this academic year. What about summer school? What about the fall?

BOWSER: We continue to work on that, Wolf. I feel very strongly that when kids can get back to normal, their parents can get back to normal. And we've been very focused on how to have a reopening plan for that. We won't be ready in the district to talk about summer camps.

We think until late next week and we're going to talk about summer school and summer camps in the Marion Barry Summer Youth Program all at once. What we hope is that we can get our kids back to in-person learning in their schools and it will be a modified setting in early August.

BLITZER: In early August, start the fall semester in early August. Let's see if that happens. All right, Mayor Bowser, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone here in the nation's capital.

BOWSER: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.

BOWSER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, the story of a missed opportunity. Why didn't the U.S. government take up a Texas businessman's offer to produce millions of N95 mask during the first stages of this pandemic?

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[17:48:20]

BLITZER: This week, Congress will begin looking into opportunities the Trump administration missed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the people they'll hear from is a man whose business produces masks that are vitally important protective gear for doctors and nurses.

Let's go to CNN's Ed Lavandera. Ed, the government apparently didn't ask for his help. What are you learning? ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as we well know, as the coronavirus began to explode here in the United States, medical teams on the frontlines were desperate in dire situation of needing this personal protection equipment. And all the while, one company here in Texas was sounding the alarm, but no one was really listening.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA (voice-over): As the coronavirus was quickly spreading around the world, Mike Bowen was inside this mask-making factory outside Fort Worth, Texas, firing off e-mails to federal government officials, letting them know his company could produce millions of masks. Bowen is the co-owner of Prestige Ameritech, one of the last American mask manufacturers in the country. For weeks leading up to early April, he was working to get the Trump administration detention in news media interviews.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What percentage of your orders come from the federal government? And I suppose I'm asking in part because we keep --

MIKE BOWEN, CO-OWNER, PRESTIGE AMERITECH: Zero.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Zero? It's all private customers, hospitals, and so forth?

BOWEN: Yes. It's hospitals and hospital distributors and dental distributors. We haven't done business with the federal government since 2010.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The saga of Prestige Ameritech's efforts to fill the demand for masks, highlights the early missed opportunities to equip frontline medical teams with supplies they desperately needed. The story is part of the whistle-blower complaint filed by Rick Bright, a former director with the Department of Health and Human Services, who says his early coronavirus warnings were ignored by the Trump administration.

[17:50:09]

On January 22nd, the day after the first coronavirus case was detected in the United States, Mike Bowen wrote HHS officials and said, "We still have four like new N95 manufacturing lines. Reactivating these machines would be very difficult and very expensive, but could be achieved in a dire situation and with government help". And HHS official responded, "I don't believe we as a government are anywhere near answering those questions for you yet".

Two weeks later was still no federal government orders for masks coming in, Bowen wrote again to Rick Bright, "Please ask your associates to convey the gravity of this national security issue to the White House". The Trump administration has repeatedly touted its effort to stock the PPE supply chain, even though it wasn't until early April that President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to produce N95 masks. MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've put a priority at the President's direction on making sure those that are providing health care services to America have the protection to keep themselves and their families safe.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): In an e-mail to CNN, White House Coronavirus Task Force member Peter Navarro said Prestige Ameritech was extremely difficult to work and communicate with. But few people understand this issue as well as Mike Bowen, few have been sounding the alarm as long as he has. We interviewed him 11 years ago during the H1N1 pandemic. Back then he warned that not enough PPE was being made at home.

BOWEN: America won't be able to supply its own needs because we're pretty much it. And all the other mask manufacturers have left the country.

LAVANDERA (on-camera): They're just no stockpile of masks available?

BOWEN: What I was told by government representatives in November of 2007 is that for a category 5 pandemic, they have only about a 1 percent stockpile on what they need.

LAVANDERA (on-camera): 1 percent?

BOWEN: 1 percent.

LAVANDERA (on-camera): But we can blow through that in a week probably I bet?

BOWEN: That's what we've been telling them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: And, Wolf, a government contract finally did come on in early April. Prestige Ameritech was awarded a contract from FEMA to make those N95 match more than two months after the first coronavirus case was detected here in the United States. On Thursday, Mike Bowen will testify before Congress. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much. Ed Lavandera, doing excellent reporting for us. Appreciate it.

And thanks to CNN's global resources, we're keeping up on the major developments in the global coronavirus pandemic. Russia now ranks second-only with United States in the number of confirmed cases. CNN's Matthew Chance is monitoring the situation from London. Matthew, tell us more.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight's more grim numbers out of Russia where authorities are reporting over 10,000 new coronavirus cases for the 11th consecutive day. Russia now has more than 240,000 cases, the highest toll in the world after the United States.

Earlier, a top aide of President Putin was hospitalized with the virus. Dmitry Peskov, who's Putin spokesman said he hasn't had a face- to-face meeting with the Russian president for more than a month. But it still raises questions about how shielded President Putin is from the pandemic in his country.

This has Russia suspends the use of ventilators linked to a spate of hospital fires. In the past few days, at least six coronavirus patients have been killed when the Russian made ventilators apparently keeping them alive simply burst into flames, Wolf.

BLITZER: Matthew Chance reporting for us, thank you.

Today brought some big changes in Britain including the return of rush hour in London. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh visited one of the underground subway stations. He's joining us, tell us more.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Wolf, this is the first day of eased restrictions in the U.K., notably one in which Britain were told to go back to work if they couldn't do their jobs from home. And here at Central Kings Cross station, staff say during rush hour, about 60 percent of the number of people came through the gates that they would normally expect.

But later in the day, have a look, this is a lot quieter than you would normally expect all those areas it was during lockdown. But it reflects what I heard one staff member say that people are perhaps still scared to come to work.

It is difficult to maintain that social distance on public transport here despite their best efforts and there's been confusion in the government's message. This is the old message. But now it is stay alert control of ours and save lives.

People not quite sure what that necessarily means and the government themselves anxiously looking to see if the infection rate picks back up again looking at countries elsewhere and aware that the U.K. now has the worst death toll in Europe. Wolf?

BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much. The breaking news coming up next, President Trump now taking issue publicly with Dr. Anthony Fauci on reopening schools in the fall.

[17:55:00]

We'll talk about that and more with the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. We'll find out what his plan is for New York City schools.

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