Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Video Shows How Easily Virus Can Spread in Restaurants; COVID- 19 and Children; Former Top U.S. Vaccine Expert Issues Stark Warning; Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort To Partially Reopen Saturday; New Orleans To Begin Reopening Saturday; CDC Issues Nationwide Alert Warning About Coronavirus-Related Syndrome In Children. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 14, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Also, tonight, as the U.S. coronavirus death rises to an alarming new high, exceeding 85,000, we're also now seeing a downward trend in the rate of new deaths and cases nationwide.

But, but there still are urgent concerns that infections may spike in the days and months ahead, as the country begins to reopen.

An ousted vaccine director and whistle-blower is warning that time is warning out for the Trump administration to improve its response to the virus, which he says is everywhere.

Rick Bright telling Congress that Americans must be told the truth and that there are not enough coronavirus tests, not yet.

Let's get some more right now on all the late-breaking developments.

Our national correspondent, Erica Hill, is in New York.

Erica, first of all, tell us more about this new alert from the CDC.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And this is something, Wolf, we have actually been waiting for, for the past couple of days, as we have been talking more about this multisystem inflammatory syndrome being seen in children.

The CDC issuing this health alert now, telling doctors to be on the lookout and to be on the lookout for some of these symptoms into children, still, but up to age 21. What should they be on the lookout for? Very clear. They're saying, if anyone presents with fever, evidence of inflammation that requires hospitalization in more than one organ or system, and where there's no alternative plausible diagnosis.

Remember, this has been presenting -- there are multiple cases, more than 100, being investigated just in New York state alone. At least 18 states and Washington, D.C., as well as countries in Europe, are looking into this.

This notice from the CDC also notes that this syndrome should be considered in any pediatric death that also had evidence of a COVID-19 infection.

And we learned that this may actually present weeks after that infection, if a child does test positive.

So, obviously, doctors focusing squarely on this, a number of states as well, as we mentioned, and all of this coming as more states look to reopen and as warnings mount from experts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to improve our response now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get worse and be prolonged.

HILL (voice-over): A stark warning for the ousted official once in charge of the nation's vaccine response, as the country moves forward.

In Orlando, the shops and restaurants at Universal's CityWalk are now open. So are beaches in Los Angeles County, though only for exercise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been going down Orange County a lot to get my fix, so it's nice to be at home.

HILL: New Jersey's will be back by Memorial Day.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): The Jersey Shore, after all, is where memories are made.

HILL: The Mall of America, the country's largest, announcing plans to reopen June 1. The Grand Canyon will welcome visitors starting Friday. And Yellowstone National Park will allow limited access on Monday, as more states show a decline in new cases.

In the epicenter, COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions are also down.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: Three for three, a perfect day, New York City.

HILL: Since reopening three weeks ago, new cases in Georgia are down 12 percent, Colorado's dropping 36 percent. In Pennsylvania, they have declined 14 percent, as the voices pushing to reopen that state grow louder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not sheep! We're people!

HILL: Packed bars in Wisconsin after state's Supreme Court ruled the stay-at-home order there was unlawful and unenforceable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back, America!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am more than happy to be back.

HILL: The governor warning the decision will set his state back. GOV. TONY EVERS (D-WI): We cannot let the court's ruling undo all the

work that we have done and all the sacrifices Wisconsinites have made over these past few months.

HILL: New findings from the National Institutes of Health show respiratory droplets could remain in the air for eight minutes, raising concerns about how long the virus may linger.

At least 18 states and Washington, D.C., are now investigating possible cases of a rare, but concerning inflammatory illness in school-aged children, which may be linked to COVID-19. Most of the children impacted, more than a hundred, are in New York.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The facts on this virus have changed. And I believe they will continue to change.

HILL: A reminder that, as the country reopens, there is still much to learn.

BRIGHT: Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: As we look at planning, we're also getting a little bit more information from the CDC when it comes to reopening businesses. They put up six decision trees, essentially one-page documents that will help employers decide whether they're ready to reopen.

Now, it's important to note, Wolf, this is not the guidance that we have been expecting from the CDC that we have heard so much about behind the scenes. These are one-page decision trees. They don't differ that much.

[18:05:01]

They talk about things like handwashing, the importance of cleanliness, perhaps facial coverings, and they address businesses, as well as communities, schools, camps, day cares, and mass transit, again, those one-page decision trees also just being posted at the CDC Web site.

BLITZER: Yes, I just got a copy of all six of them right here.

Youth programs, camps, what to do about that, child care programs, public health considerations, workplace considerations, one page, each one.

We will take a closer look.

Erica, thank you very, very much.

President Trump, meanwhile, responded to Rick Bright's very damning testimony today in familiar fashion, by attempting to discredit him.

Let's get to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, the president is at serious odds with several medical experts

once again.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

And President Trump brushed off that criticism from Dr. Rick Bright. And the White House says the president continues to have confidence in Dr. Anthony Fauci, even as Mr. Trump is criticizing one of the nation's most trusted medical experts during this pandemic.

The president appears to be setting up a choice for Americans to either trust his advice for reopening the country or the recommendations of top medical experts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Even as he declined to wear a mask during another factory tour, this time in Pennsylvania, President Trump is trying to send the message that he knows best when it comes to the safety of the American people during the coronavirus pandemic.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at you people, all spread out six feet. That's pretty impressive. But we like it the old way a little bit better, don't we?

ACOSTA: The president's appeal to be the nation's medical expert in chief now includes overt criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has urged caution in reopening states and schools.

TRUMP: I totally disagree with him on schools. And we will have, I call them embers, I call them spikes, and he called -- I notice he used the word spike. Well, you might have that, and we will put it out.

ACOSTA: The White House claims Mr. Trump still wants Fauci on his team.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes, he does. He takes into consultation the advice of Dr. Fauci, but there's a lot of voices, and, as Dr. Fauci noted, he is one among many.

ACOSTA: That cannot be said of Dr. Rick Bright, an administration vaccine expert who has been forced out of his job and become a Trump critic. On testing:

BRIGHT: We need a national testing strategy. The virus is here. It's everywhere. We need to be able to find it, isolate it, and stop it. There still are not enough tests.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Anybody who wants a test can have a test, is that true in the United States of America?

BRIGHT: No.

ACOSTA: And the lack of personal protective equipment for front-line medical workers. BRIGHT: I pushed those warnings to our critical infrastructure

protection team.

I pushed those warnings to our National Strategic Stockpile team, who has the responsibility of procuring those medical splice supplies for our stockpile. In each of those, I was met with indifference.

ACOSTA: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who was once on thin ice with the president over his warnings about the pandemic, is now slamming Bright.

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Dr. Bright is up there testifying today. Everything he's complaining about was achieved. Everything he talked about was done.

TRUMP: What do you have to lose? Take it. I really think they should take it.

ACOSTA: As for the drug hydroxychloroquine pushed repeatedly by the president, Bright says he raised questions about that, too.

BRIGHT: There were some attempts to bypass that rigorous vetting process that caused me great concern. Without that scientific vetting, that does increase the risk of a drug being evaluated or supported that could have safety concerns.

ACOSTA: Even though a National Institutes of Health panel recommended against using hydroxychloroquine, along with azithromycin, and said there was insufficient evidence data for hydroxychloroquine on COVID- 19 patients, Mr. Trump is still touting it.

TRUMP: This guy is fighting it. There's no reason to fight it. There's no reason. But, more importantly than that, we have had tremendous response to the hydroxy. To me, he's nothing more than a really disgruntled, unhappy person.

ACOSTA: White House officials are claiming the president all along has had a playbook for beating the virus.

MCENANY: In other words, the Obama/Biden paper packet was superseded by a President Trump-style pandemic preparedness response plan.

ACOSTA: That's despite his record of downplaying the pandemic for weeks and his questionable treatment ideas.

TRUMP: And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or -- or almost a cleaning? because you see, it gets in the lungs.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: The president also weighed in on GOP Senator Richard Burr, who stepped down as chairman of the Intelligence Committee, as the FBI investigates some of the North Carolina Republican's stock sales.

The president said he was not aware of the case and added -- quote -- "That's too bad" in reference to Senator Burr.

[18:10:03]

And on the dire news on the economy that we saw today, the latest jobless figures were released, and it shows another whopping three million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, bringing that total to more than 36 million since mid-March, Wolf.

This pandemic is just devastating the economy, a lot of suffering out there in this economy right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: There certainly is.

All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Dr. Nicole Lurie, the former assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Lurie thanks for joining us. We have a lot to discuss.

But, first, the CDC has just put out an alert on this rare inflammatory syndrome that they're seeing in children right now, especially in New York. What does this say to you about our understanding of this coronavirus and its impact on young people?

DR. NICOLE LURIE, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Well, this was a syndrome that was noted in Europe a couple of weeks ago.

And so I'm thrilled to see this alert. What it tells us is that there's still a huge amount about this disease that we really don't know. We have made assumptions that kids don't get sick. We have to question those assumptions, and continue to learn as much as we can about this virus.

BLITZER: It's certainly heartbreaking to see those kids suffering.

LURIE: That's for sure. Yes.

BLITZER: want to get to Rick Bright's testimony before Congress today. You have known Bright for, what, about a decade?

You have actually -- you actually hired him at one point. He's warning us now that time is running out to fight the virus. Do you see the Trump administration learning from the mistakes it made early on in this pandemic?

LURIE: Boy, I wish I saw better evidence for that. And I don't.

What I see instead is continuing to sort of fight against the science and to fight against the data and where it is taking us. And that's really concerning. We have all been talking about this huge rush to reopen. What's really concerning me right now is, I'm seeing no discussion about how we're going to plan for the fall. There's none of the thinking that's public about what are we going to

do to get ready for a second wave. And we all know, and ought to understand right now, it's the job of government to plan for the worst and then think about what we do to avoid that from happening.

That's where we need to focus energy and attention now as well.

BLITZER: Certainly critically important.

The president lashed out once again at Mr. Bright, calling him disgruntled and unhappy. We saw an effort to question his health and his commitment to his job during some of the questioning from some of the Republican members in the House.

You have known him for quite a while. What's your reaction when you saw that during the four hours of testimony?

LURIE: Well, you know, when I hired him, I hired him because he was a scientist, because he was a strategist, because I wanted somebody in that job who knew how to handle a pandemic.

And I wanted to be sure that there was somebody in that job that could stand up to political pressure. And so what I thought when I saw that testimony is, he's done all of those really well.

You know, when you sign up to work in public service, you don't sign up to work for a political party. You sign up to work for the American people. And you take an oath of office to defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Right now, the virus is the enemy. And what I saw in Dr. Bright was his making all the efforts he could to defend our country against the virus.

BLITZER: He warned the members today that, if scientists, in his words, are not allowed to speak up, it could increase the loss of lives.

So what do you fear is the impact of the president's attacks on experts like Dr. Bright and Dr. Fauci, for that matter, as well?

LURIE: Well, first of all, you fear that experts are going to continue to be afraid to speak up. And I have certainly heard from a number of them.

Secondly, when they do speak up, the public is confused, and they have a hard time sometimes understanding what the truth is and where it is.

And, finally -- and I'm really concerned about this -- when we finally get to a therapeutic or a vaccine that we think is safe, the public is going to be confused about how to listen to -- we need to have faith in our public officials. We need to have faith in our scientists.

And they need to be able to speak up and tell us the truth about what's happening now and about what might happen this fall. And if and when bad things start to happen, we need to know them, as individuals and as communities, so we can take some action.

BLITZER: Dr. Nicole Lurie, thank you so much for joining us. We will stay in touch with you. Appreciate it very much.

LURIE: A pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we have some more experts standing by as we break down these new CDC warnings about children who are getting mysteriously ill right now, possibly because of the coronavirus.

And a stunning experiment exposes how easily the coronavirus can spread from person to person.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:19:08]

BLITZER: And we're back with the breaking news.

The CDC just issued a new warning to doctors in the United States, asking them to be on the alert for a troubling new illness in children that may be linked to the coronavirus.

Let's bring in the former acting surgeon general of the United States Dr. Boris Lushniak, along with CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel.

Dr. Lushniak, this inflammatory syndrome, by all accounts, is rare, but clearly the CDC wants doctors to be on alert. How does this add to the understanding of the huge range of effects this virus can have on people and on kids?

DR. BORIS LUSHNIAK, FORMER ACTING U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, to a large extent, we keep learning new things about COVID-19 each and every day.

And when you look back at this, it's been four-and-a-half, five months since this virus appeared, right, as an entity. I will remind you, December 31st, right, as we were celebrating the new year, all of a sudden, we have a range of new diseases.

[18:20:03]

Starts off as pneumonia, and each and every step along the way, a brand-new virus surprises us. And this -- and these are one of these surprises, where, to this point in time, we thought the pediatric population, to some extent, was less affected.

Again, this is a rare phenomenon, but one that is very, very, very concerning.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

And, Jamie, the information is, of course, coming out as the president is continuing to urge schools to reopen.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And he's reopening, too. I mean, what we're seeing here is a real conflict between what the

president wants and what the experts and the scientists are saying. We saw the president go to Pennsylvania today. We all know from covering the White House, Wolf, that, when the going gets tough, presidents like to get out of Washington, D.C.

But the reality is, as the doctor said, we don't know a lot about this illness yet. And we have more than 85,000 Americans who died -- who have died. I think the real concern here from experts is that the president's message, open up, go back to school, is really going to endanger more people -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Dr. Lushniak.

I want your thoughts on the ousted vaccine chief Rick Bright's testimony before the House earlier today about when we could see a vaccine for the coronavirus. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGHT: A lot of optimism is swirling around a 12-to-18-month time frame, if everything goes perfectly. We have never seen everything go perfectly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Clearly, this virus is going to be with us, apparently, for some time, so how should that influence the planning that everyone is doing now?

LUSHNIAK: Well, again, you have to look at -- somewhat optimistically, right?

And the optimism here is that there's many, many different candidates that are being looked at from both a vaccine perspective, as well as from a therapeutic perspective. But the world is working on this. The reality is, much like Dr. Bright just said, is that the success potential is limited, right?

We have never been here before. We have never had a coronavirus vaccine, ever, right? We're good at doing influenza vaccines. We're doing well in terms of vaccines against other childhood diseases, HPV, things like that, but we have never done this before.

And I think we have to temper this optimism with a sense of a reality check, right? Twelve to 18 months, that's under the best of circumstances. Let's hope it works. I'm a public health guy, I want to be optimistic. But we have to be ready for it not working.

BLITZER: Certainly. That's so, so critical.

You know, Jamie, the president's focus is on trying to get the economy moving again. How is the president's message shifting as the country is, in fact, starting to reopen?

GANGEL: I think his message is about one thing, Wolf, and that's November and the election.

He was -- when he left for Pennsylvania today, which is a battleground state, what was he talking about? All positive things, opening up, I think there's going to be a vaccine by the end of the year, schools should open up.

But what did we see? We saw three million more Americans apply for unemployment insurance today. And, again, there is this reality. He wants to think about November and the election.

But when you talk to the scientists, the doctors, the experts, everyone is worried about a second wave, a third wave. So there's just going to be this push and pull between his message, happy talk, and the reality.

BLITZER: Yes, another three million lost their jobs, filed for unemployment this past week, 36.5 million over the past two months; 36 5 million have filed for unemployment over the past two months alone.

Dr. Lushniak, testing certainly will be a key part in a return to some sort of new normal here in the United States. And Dr. Bright emphasized that we can't just focus on the number of tests. We also have to focus on the quality of those tests.

And some of those new tests, 15-minute tests or so, they have come into some serious questions right now, haven't they?

LUSHNIAK: Yes, I mean, it's brand-new technology. It's new ways of trying things and doing things.

I'm always skeptical. Anything brand-new that comes out has to be really tested to the extreme, right? And we have to know, right, the idea of sensitivity, specificity. Does it work, right? Is it really telling me what I want it to tell me?

At the end of the day, Wolf, we have to be, you know, again, advancing the science here, but also have to be monitoring each and everything to find those successes. They are going to be out there. But we can't jump on every brand-new product, saying that this is now the answer for us.

[18:25:08]

It's got to be put into the field, it has to be tested, and we have to determine what's going to work and what needs to be cast aside.

BLITZER: We certainly do.

Dr. Lushniak, thank you so much for joining us. Jamie, thanks to you as well.

And to our viewers, be sure to tune in later tonight to CNN's global town hall, "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears." Join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta and their guests. That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

Just ahead: Florida's reopening is extending to new parts of the state, including President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

And I will talk to the mayor of New Orleans about what she's calling her city's slow reopening that begins this coming Saturday.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: We're following breaking news on Florida's reopening. President Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach now scheduled to partially reopen on Saturday, this as Miami-Dade and Broward Counties are preparing to lift restrictions on Monday.

Let's go to CNN's Randi Kaye. She's joining us from West Palm Beach. Randi, President Trump's push to reopen the economy is now extending to his new home turf in Florida.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. His own property, as you said, is going to partially reopen on Saturday. All of this information going out to members of Mar-a-Lago in an email. Now, this won't include the main building where the president's private residence is. That's also where the gyms are, the spa and the tennis courts, but it will include what's called the beach club. That's a patio and a restaurant area. There will be social distancing, we're told, between the lounge chairs there and there will also be social distancing in the pools and Jacuzzi, as well.

But the club also does plan, we understand, very intense cleaning procedures. They will be cleaning and sanitizing the bathrooms hourly, they told the members, and there will also be sanitation stations on the pool deck.

Now, beyond Mar-a-Lago, we have Miami-Dade and Broward County openings. Those are happening as of Monday. Those are the two last counties. They're both here in Southern Florida. They were two of the hardest hit counties in the state. They will reopen to Phase 1, starting on Monday. That will include restaurants.

And what's interesting, Wolf, is that the governor has signaled that he's going to allow restaurants in Miami-Dade to open up to 50 percent capacity. Meanwhile, the rest of the state is only open in terms of restaurants to 25 percent capacity.

And just one note about why they had to wait so long to open. 49 percent of the cases of coronavirus are in those two counties, Miami- Dade and Broward, 35 percent of them in Miami.

And one final note about Florida here and reopening, we have Universal, part of the Universal Theme Park and Studios is reopening today. Just a couple of hours ago, they opened, not the theme park, but an area called city walk. That's restaurants and entertainment. Those restaurants will have social distancing, tables will be six feet apart, limited capacity for patrons inside. And one other note about that, they will also reportedly be doing temperature checks at the gate for that area and facial masks, Wolf, will be required.

Back to you.

BLITZER: Now, it's good to know. All right, Randi, thanks very much.

Let's turn now to reopening plans in Louisiana right now. We're joined by the mayor of New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. As you probably heard by now, the ousted vaccine chief, Rick Bright, testified today in Congress, that time is running out to respond to this pandemic. Given that dire warning for him, do you still feel it's safe to begin, at least, to reopen your city on Saturday?

MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D-NEW ORLEANS, LA): Well, for the City of New Orleans, absolutely. We have seen a steady decline in new cases over 28 days when the guidelines are around 14 days. We have been testing more than countries in the City of New Orleans and able to sustain and exceed our testing capacity. We have gone into neighborhoods with mobile testing. Our hospitalization, in terms of beds and ICU's and ventilators, we are really in good shape there.

And so we're going to move forward on this Saturday starting at 6:00 A.M. It's a slow opening. We're calling it safest at home and encouraging people to, again, stay at home, come out for essential services, as well as the activities that we're allowing people to -- you know, to be provided.

And so this speaks to restaurants, opening 25 percent capacity. Also, as it relates to our zoo aquarium, again, reservations to therefore participate in those. The beauty and barbershops will be able to open with limited capacity, as well. And so we're following the guidelines. All businesses must register with our state fire marshal, and that is a component to where the City of New Orleans can aggressively enforce bad actors.

So we're going to turn on the faucet just a little bit and we will be able to, not only with our testing, but identify and isolate in the event of new cases.

[18:35:00]

Businesses with contact tracing, you know, that happens at the state, but we're requiring the restaurants to have reservations only, and be mindful, you know, that they have to play a role and a real responsibility of managing, helping us manage on things in the reopening process.

BLITZER: You going to take it gradually. The state is clearly enormous.

CANTRELL: Yes, we do.

BLITZER: You and I have spoken several times over the last few months. New Orleans, of course, was a hot spot for this virus, but the number of new cases per day, as you correctly point out, as decreased dramatically. Walk us through your plan for reopening and how you'll keep that case count down. CANTRELL: Well, in terms of reopening, and, you know, as you mentioned, we have been at 28 days on that steady decline. So we will continue to test at the capacity and even in an increased capacity, and that is essential. And we have been able to test again more than countries, greater than many different countries, just in our city alone.

And so we really feel confident that we're able to manage a slow and a phased reopening starting on Saturday. The biggest thing is to be able to identify and isolate. Because we do not want to regress, we want New Orleans to be the safest place to live, and that, of course, to visit. We're a destination city, we know that. And so requiring our businesses to, you know, play a major role in contact tracing is a step in the right direction as well.

BLITZER: We've got to run, but is it too early to start thinking about Mardi Gras next February?

CANTRELL: Well, you know what, we will live by the data and not the date. And that's why, and even in my proclamation that I'm issuing for the reopening, I'm not putting a date. We will let the data drive us. And people, our people have trusted data, they've trusted science and they've trusted their government. And so I'm going to keep focused on public health being that top priority.

BLITZER: Which is smart. Mayor Cantrell, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to everyone in New Orleans.

CANTRELL: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you so much.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead -- thank you so much. We're going to have more on the CDC's decision to issue a warning to doctors around the country right now about a new inflammatory syndrome in children, which may be linked to coronavirus.

Plus, we'll look at a pair of disturbing new studies revealing just how easily the virus can spread between people in restaurants and in the air.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: We're following really important breaking news. The CDC just issuing a nationwide alert to doctors, warning about a rare and dangerous inflammatory syndrome and school-aged children, which may be linked to coronavirus. 18 states and here in Washington, D.C., they are now investigating possible cases.

We're joined by Dr. Jeffrey Burns, the Chief of Critical Care at Boston's Children's Hospital. Dr. Burns, thanks so much for joining us.

You've been working with a global group of doctors to compare notes on this very new syndrome that we're learning about. What sort of symptoms should parents and physicians be looking out for right now? DR. JEFFREY BURNS, CHIEF OF CRITICAL CARE, BOSTON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Well, fortunately, for parents, they have all the information they need. They know their child better than anyone else. And this is not a subtle syndrome. The child will have a persistent fever for a day or more. But in addition to that, they'll often have abdominal pain or discomfort, they'll have a rash.

In short, they all look like they're very ill, as if they had the flu. And so parents will have time to see this. It doesn't come on in an hour or three hours, it will come on over time. And so, too, they'll recognize by these others symptoms that this is clearly different and be able to bring it to the attention of their clinicians.

The alert that just went out at 5:20 P.M. tonight is alerting colleagues throughout the country now and throughout the world to be prepared to see this syndrome and know to rule out other disorders, you should refer the child for care at the children's hospital to be worked out.

BLITZER: Yes, that's critically important. How clear, Dr. Burns, is the link to COVID-19?

BURNS: So that has not yet been established. But there's two things to keep in mind. By all epidemiological studies to date, COVID-19 remains among -- the children remain among the least effected from COVID-19. We believe that this is temporarily related to COVID-19 because first in Western Europe and now here in the United States, about four to six weeks after the peak prevalence of COVID-19 in the population, this has emerged. So it's not emerging when COVID-19 is emerging in the general population. This a multi-system inflammatory syndrome is emerging about four to six weeks later. And that's why research is now being underway, and research which has been connected really throughout the world in the last two weeks to rapidly try to understand what this is.

Most of the discussion in the medical community is that this looks like what we call a post-viral syndrome. That's not new to us. We've known about these for decades. But one of the possibilities that it suggests, because children who have these have antibodies against COVID-19, what it suggests is that a child likely may have been ill from COVID-19 four to six weeks prior and they fought it off successfully, so successfully that they had no symptoms and the parents didn't even know they were ill.

[18:45:20]

And now, if this is a post-viral syndrome, and again, I have to emphasize, this needs to be further studied, but if it is a post-viral syndrome, what it means is that the child's immune response is, in effect, accelerated and in effect, causing the fever and the inflammation that the child is experiencing.

BLITZER: So what advice do you have for parents who are understandably nervous about this? What advice do you have for them and what does this mean for schools that are planning to reopen? BURNS: Well, for parents, as I said, they should be reassured that

this is not subtle and that it does not come on quickly. They know their child. They'll be able to see this and that the child is ill, has a fever and these other signs that I spoke about.

For the schools -- you know, I'm an expert in the care of a critically ill child. I'm not an expert in the disorders -- wow --

BLITZER: All right, well, let's hope we all get -- resolve this matter. Dr. Jeffrey Burns, chief of critical care at Boston's Children's Hospital. We had a little technical issue at the very end, but thank you so much for all the critically important work that you're doing.

Just ahead, we're going to show you a very disturbing new video of an experiment using a black light to reveal how easily one infected person in a restaurant can spread the virus to others.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:51:32]

BLITZER: We're learning more right now about two unnerving new studies showing just how easily this virus can spread between people in restaurants and in the air.

CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this for us.

Brian, what are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, these two studies and the visuals that accompany them are jarring. They show how the virus can just take one momentarily lapse of judgment and exploit that to infect many people in seconds.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): A disturbing altered reality demonstration of how coronavirus spreads. Medical experts teamed up with Japan's public broadcaster NHK to gather ten participants. The setting, a simulation of buffet style eating in a cruise ship's dining area or restaurant.

The first participant rubs his hands with a special fluorescent liquid, only visible under black light. He's simulating an infected person who had coughed into his hands. Nine other people join him, put food on to their plates and proceed with a communal meal. After 30 minutes, the room goes dark. Ultraviolet light shows that fluorescent liquid the man had rubbed on his hands is on several surfaces, pitchers, tongs, his residue had spread to silverware, glassware, three people had gotten it on their faces.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Even some basic rules of dining, like buffet-style eating, we may have to reconsider that and go back to individual servings. TODD: After one round, the team in Japan did a second, cleaner

investigation of the same experiment. Had people wash hands, separated dishes and replaced utensils more frequently.

After 30 minutes of that test, no one had picked up the residue.

DR. MARK RUPP, CHIEF, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: If that initial event where the person had the contamination in their hand had used hand hygiene prior to touching that utensil, that would have prevented the whole line from becoming contaminated.

TODD: Another new study shows how this invisible enemy strikes when we talk to each other.

Researchers at NIH and the University of Pennsylvania found that one person talking loudly for one minute in a confined space could generate at least a thousand droplets into a dark box lit with lasers, a researcher speaks for 25 seconds, repeating one phrase.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay healthy.

TODD: Inside the box, thousands of droplets can be seen here as streaks in the air, stirred by a fan, which is then turned off. The clock up top shows how slowly the droplets dissipate. Some linger for more than 12 minutes. Those researchers say in real life, that's plenty of time for infected particles to be inhaled by others and cause new infections.

HOTEZ: You're in a loud restaurant where there's a fair bit of noise, people are speaking loudly, there's going to be lots of micro droplets of this virus in the atmosphere.

TODD: One expert says both of these studies show that for the foreseeable future, we'll have to build safeguards everywhere to ward off this unseen threat.

RUPP: Whether that's a flashing light or a piece of tape on the floor or a crossbar that comes down or what have you, you know, some sort of a reminder for somebody to say, you can't do this until you've practiced hand hygiene. You can't come into this establishment unless you have a mask in place.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Dr. Mark Rupp says these studies are also a reminder of how easy it is for all of to have that momentarily lapse in judgment, that instant where you haven't washed your hands before interacting with people or you aren't wearing a mask. He says they show how dangerous that lapse in judgment can be, because the virus will take that moment and exploit it in seconds -- Wolf.

[18:55:03]

BLITZER: Very dramatic studies.

Brian Todd, thank you.

Much more news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Finally tonight, more personal stories of Americans who have died from the coronavirus.

Leilani Jordan of Maryland was just 27 years old. She had cerebral palsy and worked as a grocery clerk, but her parents say she insisted on going to work to help the store's elderly customers.

Augusto Valderas of New York was 58. He came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1988. He was a social worker and youth basketball coach. His wife and three children say he was a loving family man.

May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

[19:00:00]