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CDC Director Forecasts 100,000 U.S. Coronavirus Deaths By June; House Approves $3 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill; At Least 48 States Partially Reopening Or Easing Restrictions By Monday; Florida Resort Implementing New "Safe Stay Guidelines" For Guests; Contact Tracing Effort Ramps Up Nationwide As Businesses Reopen; Trump Announces Ambitious Plan To Develop Vaccine By End Of Year. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired May 16, 2020 - 07:00   ET




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A nationwide experiment shifting to high gear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am excited it's -- but it's, it's, you know, like I said, I'm just -- it's just nerve wracking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's either open or close my doors for good.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Do not underestimate this virus and do not play with this virus.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, MEMBER OF THE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control.

TRUMP: It'll go away at some point. It'll go away.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. We're so grateful to have your company, I'm Christi Paul.


PAUL: So, this morning there are new developments we want to talk to you about in this high stakes ways for coronavirus vaccine. Researchers around the globe, they're just scrambling to develop a working vaccine. President Trump formally unveiled his administration's Operation Warp Speed. Take a look.


TRUMP: Its objective is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible. Again, we'd love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year. We think we're going to have some very good results coming out very quickly.


BLACKWELL: The President said, by the end of the year, maybe even sooner, this is an aggressive timeline that most health experts say that, at best is unrealistic; at worst, potentially dangerous. We'll talk about that in just a moment about why scientists believe that over promising could be detrimental.

But there's also this new warning about the number of deaths in the U.S. States are pushing ahead on plans to reopen and the Director of the CDC is now forecasting more than 100,000 deaths by the end of this month.

Let's go to Polo Sandoval, he's in New York. But we want to start with CNN's Kristen Holmes, she is at the White House. Kristen, outlining the White House's strategy, the President said, the country would return with or without that vaccine.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Christi. Well, that's right, and he really doubled down on this idea that a vaccine wasn't necessary. He said, that they hoped that the virus would just go away or that it would go away without a vaccine.

Now, this is something that the medical and scientific community has really pushed back on. It is largely believed that the key for us all to go back to our normal lives is that vaccine. But that wasn't the only thing that got pushed back from the President's press conference.

It was also about that timeline that you mentioned, Victor. President Trump, saying that they hope to have hundreds of millions of doses available to the public again of this vaccine by the end of the year.

Now, many scientists, health experts say, that is an incredibly ambitious timeline, and there's a lot of concern that that could actually be done without creating some sort of a problem without missing some critical test steps here. Take a listen to what President Trump said on how he hopes to achieve that.


TRUMP: Typically, pharmaceutical companies wait to manufacture a vaccine, a vaccine until it is received. All of the regulatory approvals necessary, and this can delay vaccines availability to the public as much as a year and even more than that. However, our task is so urgent that under Operation Warp Speed, the federal government will invest in manufacturing all of the top vaccine candidates before they're approved.


HOLMES: So, two things that I want to note here: one is about the manufacturing. We know that the White House has already signed contracts to help speed up that manufacturing. I'm talking about syringes and needles. However, scientists warn that it's not just about the manufacturing,

it's about the science, particularly when it comes to a virus like coronavirus, where we're still learning about the impacts of the virus on the human body. Now, the other point I want to make is one I've heard from multiple health experts who say that there is a big concern about meeting that timeline.

Dr. Fauci himself said during the U.S. Senate hearing, he was testifying earlier this week, he said that that timeline is possible, but there was no guarantee that the vaccine would work. Health experts are very concerned. If a vaccine is put on the market that doesn't work, we know that there's already an anti-vaccine movement here in the U.S.

There's a huge fear that if you put out a vaccine that doesn't work that that will grow, and they'll -- Americans will lose their faith in vaccines altogether.

PAUL: So, I want to talk to you really quickly about what happened last night. The House by this slim margin approved $3 trillion in further stimulus. We know Senate Republicans say this is not going to happen in its chambers, the White House has said it won't consider it. Are you getting any indication that the White House is in support of any future stimulus measures, or was there something about this one in particular?

HOLMES: Well, that's right, Christi, you know, the White House has actually issued a veto threat earlier in the week for this legislation, but the big question is whether or not there will be a phase four, will there be any other steps towards the stimulus?

And I've asked multiple White House economic advisors and they say that there could likely be something down the road. They're not going to shut it down. But that right now they want to pause. They want to see how the current stimulus really works its way through the system. They want to see how it benefits the programs.

However, there is a big problem with that. We have heard from financial experts and even the United States Federal Reserve Chairman himself appointed by President Trump, who said that it is dangerous to have a waiting period, this pause period, and that there is a chance that there will be irreparable damage done to the U.S. economy if Congress and the White House doesn't act soon to put more financial support back into the economy.


PAUL: All right, Kristen Holmes, always appreciate you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Let's go now to the states' reopening across the country. Millions of New Yorkers are still under Shelter in Place Order but Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that five regions across the state will be allowed to begin phased reopening.

PAUL: Let's go to CNN Polo Sandoval. He's in Binghamton, New York. He's got more on states reopening. And you -- I can see Polo, are very lonely out there on the street this hour.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At least for now, but I tell you what, Victor and Christi, is what many New Yorkers, millions of them can do is really look to these communities to try to get an idea of what that gradual reopening could look like. That's because some of these communities are able to enter that phase one.

We should point out it is a relatively small percentage compared to perhaps a more populated areas like New York City that do remain still in those stay at home orders after Governor Cuomo extended that to beyond Memorial Day, up until May 28.

And then of course, further assess that. But in the meantime, this is certainly going to give us an idea of what that would look like for example manufacturing, curbside retail, those are things that we will begin to see or we've been seeing already here. Construction projects as well. CNN hearing from one contractor just a few days ago saying that he's already taking calls.

However, it does come with that strict requirement for those local governments to choose to enter phase one of reopening to closely monitor COVID numbers, if there's any kind of uptick than that they do have to essentially push re-pause on that efforts.

And then, as well as maintaining that those business protocols and really what, what are they should be seeing that business compliance. But when you take a look at the national picture here, just think about it up to 48 states come tomorrow, will at least have some form of reopening.

In Texas where they saw a fairly significant increase in some of the cases that are particularly fatal ones, despite that they are considering expanding capacity at theaters. They're thinking about, or at least they should be come Monday, opening some of those exercise facilities. Ad then east of that in Florida, that is also very similar, similar steps that are being taken by the governor there, including some reopening happening there.

So, really that's what we're seeing, but in the meantime, here in upstate New York, there is certainly plenty of optimism. Christi, as you mentioned, yes, the streets are fairly quiet, but there are at least some sectors that are allowed to open.

And the governor making it very clear that at some point, even though that stay at home order remains for the entire state, if any of those regions are able to meet those requirements, then by all means, they could begin that slow and gradual reopen. What are those of requirements? Of course, declining in those new cases, more testing, and Victor and Christi, also hospital capacity as well.

PAUL: Yes, it's just so hard for these people who have businesses and these, these employees who just want to get back to work. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Polo. PAUL: So, we know the travel and tourism industry has just been

devastated by this outbreak. In fact, for the first time in 20 years, AAA says it's not issuing a Memorial Day travel forecast.

BLACKWELL: Yes, there are some hotels and resorts opening in Florida. We're going to talk about one now, the Pink Shell Resort in Fort Myers, yesterday started welcoming back workers and guests. The resort had furloughed 240 employees back in March, but now it's bringing back half of the staff based on 50 percent occupancy rates at the resort.

PAUL: Joining us now is Pink Shell General Manager Bill Waichulis. he's also Senior Vice President of Operations for the Boykin Management Company. Bill, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it. So, since you opened yesterday, tell us what it was like, how many people did you have? How did the staff react?

BILL WAICHULIS, GENERAL MANAGER, PINK SHELL RESORT: Oh, it was exciting. We had 87 arrivals, which is about 50 percent occupancy and every guest had a wonderful time checking in and getting out to the beach. We had a little rain yesterday, but today it's sunny skies and a high of 87. Can't beat that on the Florida beach.

BLACKWELL: Yes, sounds good. Hey, Bill, let me ask you about what the staff had to do to prepare for this. Of course, the guests are coming to have a good time. The staff has to leave this new, this new environment what training went into this and what differences will, will the guests see?

WAICHULIS: Extensive training. The staff had to go through; all of our staff are required to wear our masks. We have a disposal for the guest. We switched on hand lotion in the rooms, sanitizer. They have hand sanitizing stations throughout the resort. They went through an extensive deep clean of the resort, taking it even quicker. And that has been over the last month, we've been deep cleaning the resort just getting in preparation for reopening.


PAUL: I know Memorial Day is next weekend. There's usually 100 percent capacity. That's a big weekend for a lot of you there at the beaches. What are you eyeing right now? What are you paying real specific attention to, as you reopen, to try to determine what is going to be your new normal? You know, as Victor said, what our guests going to see from this point on, in your opinion.

WAICHULIS: The key for us is the social distancing. So, we will be operating the resort at 100 percent based out the chairs on the pool deck, the beach, sixth floor restaurants. That the governor has opened up starting on Monday, which we'll be making some adjustments. But those are kind of the new norms for us right now, it's just to ensure social distancing throughout the resort, and, and our guests are doing it and they're having a fantastic time.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about this fantastic time because Ping Shell is not just a hotel, it's a resort, right? Part of the experience is not, you know, going to the facility to then go out to another place, part of the experience is on property. How do you make this more than tolerable with all these new restrictions but enjoyable, so that people don't instead go to a hotel closer or further England, they can stay on property and still have a good time?

WAICHULIS: We still have a lot of our activities, wave runners, parasailing, paddle boards, the kayaks, all those are being sanitized after every use. Those are all available. Fishing charters are available. The pontoon boat rentals available. The (INAUDIBLE) open. The beach is open. We're providing food service down. We just had to make some changes. We're obviously going to more disposable items to ensure the safety of our employees and our guests.

PAUL: So, you mentioned all the training that your employees went through. Do you have any employees who decided not to come back? I'm just wondering about, you know, their mental state, their idea of whether they feel good coming back. We know a lot of people need it, but have they, have they shown you any sort of trepidation?

WAICHULIS: No, I will say 99 percent of the boys we call immediately came back. The small percent, they're caring for a family member or, or didn't have childcare. So, they were physically able back, but they will be coming back in the following month when they, when they can make those arrangements. But our employees were excited to return back to work.

BLACKWELL: Bill, one more for you here. I checked out your Web site and read about all the changes that are happening there. But there's one that I want to ask you about, and I'm going to preface it by this blacklight experiment that I don't know if people have seen out of Japan, where they had 10 diners sit down at a typical buffet, they put a fluorescent liquid in one person's hand and then everyone ate and discussed is normal, then flip the lights and that that's I guess what symbolized the virus was on people's faces on, on the utensils on all 10 people at the buffet. Now, you have limited buffet dining there but has -- you've not eliminated, why keep it?

WAICHULIS: Well, we honestly, we have eliminated the buffet. We've gone to ala carte for those reasons right now to where we could (INAUDIBLE) if we do a buffet. If we did go to a buffet, we would be most likely utensils that are not reused or actually having staff that are actually serving the food on the buffet. But right now, we are doing ala carte as we as we, as we work through this, this reopening.

BLACKWELL: OK, just checking your Web site this morning said unlimited buffet service but looks like you're going to go to ala carte. OK.

PAUL: Bill Waichulis, we appreciate you taking time for us this morning, Manager there at the Pink Shell Resort in Marina. Good luck to you and your whole crew there.

WAICHULIS: Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Bill.

PAUL: Thank you. BLACKWELL: All right. So, the testing, contract -- contact tracing, a vaccine three points experts say are essential to the reopening of the country. So, what happens when the President's words clashed with scientific reality? We'll examine that next.


PAUL: And it's help in previous epidemics, now thousands of Americans could soon join the fight against coronavirus as contact tracers. We're going to talk to a medical expert and legal expert about some of the challenges with tracking down people who may be infected.


BLACKWELL: The President's timeline for coronavirus vaccine may not match scientific reality but it is consistent with the ambitious optimistic message the President has put out since the start of the pandemic. Let's talk about this now. We've got with us Nicholas Johnston, Editor in Chief of Axios. Nicholas, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So, the President reiterated yesterday, next 235 some odd days eft in 2020, he wants a fully authorized vaccine to start to administer, but the conflicting context in which that was delivered yesterday, that sets the table for our conversation. Here's what the President said.



TRUMP: Another essential pillar of our strategy to keep America open is the development of effective treatments and vaccines as quickly as possible. Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back.


BLACKWELL: So, when he scripted, the vaccine is essential to keeping America open, when he's talking off the cuff vaccine or no vaccine, we're back. The, the instinct to declare this crisis over, how is that pervading the breadth of the federal response from this point moving forward?

JOHNSTON: Yes, we've dug into this a lot at Axios. I actually wrote about it this week in a story called "The Pandemic That Broke America." That speaks exactly to that kind of partisanship around the federal government and the state government response.

They see it like in the polling data when you ask Republicans and Democrats are you worried about the buyer or someone in your family or yourself getting sick. There's a sharp partisan split on what people say about that. Or even talking about like, do you believe the death counts? Do you think they're too high or too low?

On the survey, the Democrats mostly said the death counts are too low, which is in line actually, with public health officials say. While Republicans say, they think that death counts are too high, and that's something up to an including our reporting shows the President of the United States who believes that.

So we're seeing this kind of split between both two sides of a debate here, which is unfortunate because typically, these kinds of existential crises for the nation sort of brings both sides together -- and we're not seeing that this time.

BLACKWELL: You know, I read, I read that piece, "The Pandemic That Broke America," but as I read through it, what I found was, is that these are long standing trends, some, some divisions, rural versus urban that we've seen for some time. I mean, is it in fact that America's broken and the pandemic just fell into the cracks?

JOHNSTON: Well, that's an interesting point, sort of, it's like which came first, the chicken or the egg? Almost. We did write about it. There are these long-standing simmering splits United States between rich and poor in rural and urban and that typical partisan splits. And isn't the pandemic that has brought these into (INAUDIBLE).

What's interesting though I go back to September 11th, like I remember as a congressional reporter back then both parties coming together and singing "God Bless America" on the steps of the Capitol, as reported earlier in the hour. There's a little debate right now in Congress even about what kind of steps to take next for aid for the United States. And so, I think what we're seeing is kind of a sharpening of those kinds of divisions at a time and often that they go away.

BLACKWELL: You know, what's interesting is that you talk about the political divisions, but we see different results when we're discussing the federal response versus the state response, because there is the, the poll that came out, I guess about a week ago that shows that 71 percent of respondents approve of their respective Governor's handling of it -- wrong poll on the screen.

Seventy-one percent of people approved of their Governor's handling, but only 43 percent approved of the President's handling. There must be some bipartisan shift in the state numbers. Why are we seeing the difference?

JOHNSTON: Right, that's actually, that's actually a really good point. That's a number that really jumped out at us and how overwhelmingly most people support their governors, whether they're Republican or Democrat, versus how many of them support the national effort.

We see that actually in focus groups that we do when we talk to people like sort of, they look very sort of closely around in their community, they pay attention to what their public health officials say, they're paying attention to what their schools or what their grocery stores are doing.

They're following what their governor is saying. And so that's actually a very positive development. But what that means is that there's a lack of a unified national strategy where we can't sort of figure out sort of what are the plans for reopening? How should we more rural communities open versus more urban

communities open that shouldn't necessarily be in conflict? That can be part of a broader strategy, and we're seeing at the state level, but what people are telling if they're not seeing it nationally.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the numbers we had up on the screen, we're referencing people who said that they would be unlikely or not likely at all to participate in contact tracing, if certain entities were in control of it. We're going to have a contact tracing conversation.


BLACKWELL: Something you hit in your right, but we're going to dig into that a little deeper later this morning. Nicholas Johnston with Axios, good to have you.

JOHNSTON: Thank you. Have a great day.



PAUL: So, as more people head back out into public life, health experts say the U.S. needs to do more contact tracing. There are apps that could be a critical tool to help. There are also privacy concerns that may keep people from taking part. This is a big issue. We're talking about it next from the medical and the legal standpoint.


BLACKWELL: One hundred sixty-two cases of COVID-19 have now been linked to several nightclubs in South Korea in the capital there, Seoul. Now, the clubs are popular with the city's gay community. And now, they're facing hate speech. Now, there are some people who are afraid to say that they've gone to those clubs, and that is making contact tracing understandably tougher. The city has been unable to contact almost 2,000 people who went to those clubs.

PAUL: Experts around the world say contact tracing is essential as these businesses begin to reopen. Contact tracing involves tracking down anyone who might have been infected by a person who was recently diagnosed. Those contacts can then quarantine themselves, therefore preventing further spread.

Now, states across the country are starting to hire people to help with this, including New York City where the mayor says they can train as many as five to 10,000 people to help with contact tracing, but it does bring up some interesting medical and legal questions and two of the experts we have with us to answer them: Dr. Saju Matthew, a Primary Care Physician, Public Health Specialist, and CNN Medical Analyst, and Janet Johnson, a Criminal Defense Attorney. Thank you both so much for taking time for us. We appreciate you.


Listen, I want to show you a poll that was taken by Axios earlier about contact tracing, and they asked respondents: "How likely are you to use a cellphone-based contact tracing system established by and you can see who they listed: cellphone and internet providers, major tech companies, the federal government, the CDC.

The CDC and public health officials were the only ones that cracked into 51 percent. It's actually not on there. But CDC and public health officials, 51 percent said they would likely do contact tracing if it was run by them. Everybody else as you see there, only in the low to mid 30 percentage points, because a lot of people are concerned about privacy issues.

So, let me ask you first, Saju. Until there is a vaccine, can this virus be contained without contact tracing?

DR. SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Christi. It will be tough. Contact tracing, as we know, has been an old public health measure that's been in place for decades, and it has worked. Just like you said, it's tracing all the people that the infected person has been in contact with.

And then, if you will, you then quarantine the people that have been in close contact or isolate them if they have the infection. So, with the virus growing and with us really not having a control box on the virus, this is a good strategy to really decrease the number of people that are out there spreading the disease unknowingly.

PAUL: So, Janet, Senator Elizabeth Warren, along with some others introduced legislation this week, on Thursday, to establish a federal COVID contact tracing program. Now, this will require a couple of things from the CDC.

First of all, they'd have to develop a national contact tracing strategy within 21 days. They'd collaborate with state, local, and tribal health officials, and two, that this would apparently include provisions preventing misuse of patient data, ensuring auto data deletion, and prohibiting data sharing within the federal government except for the CDC and Indian Health Services.

As you look at this, the way that it is written, is this proposal -- is it legal? Is it constitutional?

JANET JOHNSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA: Good morning, Christi. It is, and I think that's why it was written so tailored because there is case law. I mean going back to the early 1900s. We done a form of this, and it's been held to be constitutional by the Supreme Court. It has to be safe, the tailoring has to be narrow.

But I think legally, the better argument is that states should be doing this under their police powers under the 10th Amendment. And I think it's smart for Elizabeth Warren, you know, she's famous for having a plan. I think it's a good plan.

But I really think it's going to be a state-level effort and I think that the states are going to have to implement what they're doing in New York. I think that's the smartest way to do it legally. PAUL: We've been doing this for a long time, you say. Saju, we're entering new territory here though when we talk about contact tracing apps. This is a whole new generation of this. How much credence do you put in those kind of apps that are being developed?

MATHEW: You know, Christi, unfortunately, with the pandemic being out of control, and with the case is rising in so many different hot spots, you will need a contact tracing application.

In fact, in South Korea, their technology was so advanced that that's how they were really able to contain and box the virus very quickly. In India, in a small state called Kerala, they did it the old- fashioned way, which was to actually have people go out there, call and use GPS.

Now, privacy issues is absolutely going to be a problem, but what I like about what Apple and Google are trying to develop, Christi, is to use a Bluetooth function which doesn't really capture the data, it just shows if your phone has been in close proximity.

So, to give you an example, Christi, if you've been out grocery shopping, and then, you went to meet a couple of friends, a contact tracer would have a nightmare asking you who do you think the cashier was? How many people were you in contact with?

It gets so out of control, so that's when I think you actually need the traditional contact tracer that interviews you and calls you, but you also need an app that works that can help.

PAUL: So, Janet, there are people listening to this that may say, I don't know if that person who called me is really somebody from a contact tracing company or whoever may be overseeing this.

Do you believe that there is a way to implement what this legislation that they're promoting? That it's possible to make sure that no data from anybody is shared in any way because there's a real distrust there.

MATHEW: Right.

JOHNSON: Well, and that's why I think Christi, it's interesting that, that poll said people trust the CDC. Because I think Google, Apple, companies like that are actually more likely to guard your information jealously because they have to have trust from their consumers. And we've seen that with warrants that they are very hesitant to give up that information.


JOHNSON: So, I think there's a trust factor. I also think we're seeing, you know, scenes. I live in Florida. People are out at bars and not wearing masks. If you can't get people to wear masks, what are the odds that they're going to sign up voluntarily to do this? And if they don't do it voluntarily, there is no enforcement mechanism. People aren't going to be put in jail for doing this.

So, someone has to sell this at the top to say this is important to save lives, like seat belts, like other things that we regulate.

PAUL: Saju, real quickly. When it comes to tracking and tracing, how is that enforced? Is there a possibility -- somebody asked me online, is there a possibility that they could force you into quarantine?

MATHEW: No, just as Janet mentioned that would be very difficult and possibly also illegal, Christi. I wouldn't know all the legal ramifications of that. But as a physician, I would hope that somebody would comply and realize that if you get a friendly call from a contact trace -- and by the way, the contact tracer needs to be a compassionate person that can earn your trust.

And if the contact tracer says, hey listen, you were less than six feet away from somebody who had COVID-19, that you'd like to believe that, that person will actually comply. And I realize that most people, to stay at home for 14 days that might be a daunting task.

You know, you may need to go out there and work and put food on the table. So, it may not be convenient for everybody. But I hope the whole concept works, which is to decrease the number of people that are transmitting the infection.

PAUL: Dr. Saju Mathew and Janet Johnson, we're so grateful that you're both here with us. We appreciate your insight and your perspectives. Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

MATHEW: Thank you, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, set to be fired by the president, and now an ally of Vice President Mike Pence will step in.

We'll tell you the potential reason for the dismissal that some top Democrats say must be investigated.



PAUL: So, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, is out this morning. The president gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi notice of his intent to fire Linick in 30 days. He's the third federal watchdog fired or replaced since April.

BLACKWELL: OK, so, the question is why? Well, this morning after the chairman of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee said that he had some information from someone that Linick had opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of course, some Democrats are calling for an investigation.

PAUL: CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is with us now. So, Sarah, are we getting any other reasoning for the president about why he made this decision other than what the president said that he just lost his confidence? SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Victor and Christi, there's still a lot we don't know about the reasons why President Trump decided to make this decision removing the State Department inspector general last night.

As you mentioned, he did so in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Friday evening saying that it was no longer the case that he had full confidence in his State Department watchdog, and already that move is prompting criticism from Democrats.

I want to read you part of a statement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacting to this. She said, "The president's late-night weekend firing at the State Department inspector general has accelerated his dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people. Inspector General Linick was punished for honorably performing his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security, as required by the law and by his oath."

Now, Democratic House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel claimed after the firing that Linick's office had opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And a Democratic Congressional source claimed to CNN that, that investigation was centered on allegations that Pompeo had improperly used a political appointee to perform personal tasks for him and his wife.

Now, a source close to Linick told CNN that they were not aware that such an investigation had been opened by Linick's office. The State Department and the Inspector General's Office did not return requests for comment from CNN, but clearly, the Democrats are skeptical about the reasons why President Trump removed Linick late last night.

BLACKWELL: And, of course, this is a trend we've seen over the last several weeks?

WESTWOOD: The answer, Linick is actually the third inspector general that President Trump has removed just since April. That's also included intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, the acting inspector general at the Department of Defense Glenn Fine, and now, Linick.

Now, Fine, sources told CNN at the time of his removal that Trump had long viewed him as an Obama holdover. But Atkinson, his removal was seen widely as retaliation for his role in the impeachment inquiry. And Linick also played a small, but important role in the impeachment inquiry as well. Linick briefed bipartisan staff on the committees in the House and the Senate of documents -- Ukraine related documents that had been provided to the State Department by the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

So, there is that connection in Linick's case as well. But again, still, a lot of clarity needed to be gained from the White House about why President Trump made this move, Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely. Sarah Westwood from Washington, thank you.

PAUL: Thanks, Sarah.

So, the hard-hit Navajo Nation is trying its harshest measures yet to stop the spread of the coronavirus. What their weekend lockdown looks like? That's just ahead. Stay close.



PAUL: We're eating at home more and it can get a little dicey because it could mean more processed foods if we're not watching what we're doing. Studies have linked those to a host of health problems.

CNN Health Contributor Lisa Drayer has easy tips for healthier options.


LISA DRAYER, CNN HEALTH CONTRIBUTOR: Ultra-processed foods are those loaded with salt, sugar, fat, and plenty of other additives. They're not great for you. So, here are my favorite tips to cutback.

First, supplement your meals with fresh foods. Try adding a piece of fruit to breakfast or add a salad to any meal. Ideally, half your plate should be fruits and veggies but you can start small. Choose whole grains over the refined kind. Swap brown rice for white rice and go for whole-grain bread instead of white.

And limit or avoid processed meats. That means bacon, ham, hotdogs, and sausage, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. You can also substitute highly processed foods for healthier options. Instead of potato chips, try non-fat popcorn. It's crunchy but has the benefit of being whole-grain and a good source of fiber.

And lastly, DIY. Try making homemade versions of traditionally processed foods. Bake your own kale chips, mix your own granola, or whip up your own salad dressing.




PAUL: 50 minutes past the hour right now and the coronavirus pandemic is just devastating communities around the country. The Navajo Nation is one of them.

BLACKWELL: So, to try to slow the spread of the virus, the nation is now under its broadest lockdown so far, and that includes essential businesses. Sara Sidner has more.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in the Navajo Nation, home of the World War II code talkers in Monument Valley, the vast beauty of this place masks the extreme difficulties they're having with COVID-19. It turns out they're being hit really hard here, even though people are spread across 27,000 square miles of space. They have one of the highest infection rates per capita. And the president of the Navajo Nation has put out a call for help. That call has been answered by several groups, including Doctors Without Borders, who now have several people here trying to train others on how to deal with COVID- 19.

But they also have the devastation of their economy. Things like tourism and the gaming industry, their casinos all shut down. And so, they're trying to balance these two things like the rest of the country.

But here it's even more difficult. Why? Partly because of the space, but also because this nation has an extreme difficulty with poverty. About 40 percent of the families here live under the poverty line. Sara Sidner, CNN, on the Navajo Nation.

BLACKWELL: Sara, thank you. To find ways to help your community during this pandemic, visit our web site,

PAUL: I don't know about you but I'm a hugger. And in this environment, as Victor laughs because he knows I am.

BLACKWELL: You can hear me next door.

PAUL: Next door. I am a hugger and it's hard not to hug people when I see them. There's a family that's getting creative though to find some contact in a socially distance world. We'll talk about it.



BLACKWELL: So, we've discovered that Christi loves a good hug, she's a hugger. So, a couple of months ago, it would have been unbelievable. Just sound crazy to hug someone through a sheet of plastic, especially your family.

PAUL: I know and here we are, pandemic times, calling for pandemic measures, and only one person could tell this story. The way Jeanne Moos can. Here she is.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Excitement builds, but her great-grandchildren never saw Nana quite like this.

CARLY MARINARO, CREATEDHUG TIME: Put your arms through the slots.

ROSE GAGNON, GRANDMOTHER: All right. Oh, my goodness.

MOOS: After two months of no hugs.

GAGNON: Oh, I love you. I love you.

MOOS: 85-year-old Rose Gagnon, finally got to wrap her arms around her kitties.

GAGNON: I wanted to cry because I couldn't believe that this was happening.

MOOS: And the kids too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wanted to hug Nana.

MOOS: So, Rose's adult granddaughter Carly Marinaro of Rockford, Illinois got to work.

MARINARO: I just thought how could I do this, not putting bags over my kids or her.

MOOS: For under 50 bucks, she build Hug Time, using PVC piping, plastic, and tape.

GAGNON: This is a group hug. Oh yes.

MOOS: It's very similar to what an Indiana elementary school teacher constructed in her doorway so she could give quarantine hugs to students. The rules say disinfect all surfaces before and after each hug since the students are unrelated.

Emergency room doctor, Leana Wen, wasn't crazy about the idea of kids doing the disinfecting and said the family would be better off.

GAGNON: Come on, I got seconds here. I got seconds here.

MOOS: Quarantining separately for two weeks and then hugging the old- fashioned way minus the plastic. But even a plastic-encased hug tug that grandma's heart.

GAGNON: My heart felt like it was going to burst.

MARINARO: We're not meant to be a part like this or be isolated.

MOOS: Carly had a trick. Up her sleeve --

MARINARO: Do you want to know what kind of gloves you have on your arms?

GAGNON: Yes, what is this?

MOOS: Those are livestock gloves used for examining livestock. But the kids were eager to examine their Nana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My turn. Hey, my turn.

GAGNON: Oh, this is so good. My best (INAUDIBLE).

MOOS: Their fingers may not fill the gloves, but their arms fit great with their great-grandmas.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

GAGNON: I love you.

MOOS: New York.

GAGNON: I love you.


BLACKWELL: That was wonderful.

PAUL: That wasn't that.

BLACKWELL: When you heard one of the kids say, I just wanted to hug Nana.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: And you realized how -- I mean --


PAUL: It's not just about Nana.

BLACKWELL: That's true. That's true.

PAUL: Everybody is missing the hug.

BLACKWELL: And they're so young. So, two months --

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: 2-1/2 months for them, and it seems like an eternity.

All right, top headlines right now. Next hour of your NEW DAY, starts right now.