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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Says He's Taking Hydroxychloroquine to Prevent Virus; Dr. Fauci in March: No Evidence Drug Works as a Preventative; Moderna Vaccine Trial Shows Promising Early Results; Participants Developed Antibodies Against the Vaccine; Volunteer on Vaccine Trial that Shows Promising Early Results. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 18, 2020 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, President Trump says he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, the same drug the FDA has warned against, why?

Plus, potential breakthrough, a vaccine trial showing early promise. This as coronavirus deaths in the United States top 90,000. A doctor and a patient involved in that vaccine study OUTFRONT.

And a new study says closing down restaurants help stop the spread of coronavirus, shutting down schools, not as much. What does that tell us about the path forward?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, a startling revelation from the President. Trump announcing he's taking the drug he's touted time and time again, hydroxychloroquine, to prevent coronavirus. Now, President Trump says he doesn't have the virus, he's taking the drug as a precaution.

But to be clear, there is no study which has shown the anti-malaria drug can prevent coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of good things have come out about the hydro. A lot of good things have come out and you'd be surprised at how many people have taken it and especially the frontline workers before you catch it. The frontline workers, many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: A lot of good things. We'll put a pin on that thought for a second, because when it comes to the other thing he said, taking hydroxychloroquine before you can catch it, that doesn't add up right now. I mean, listen to the President's own top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any evidence to suggest that as with malaria, it might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: No. The answer is no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: The answer is no. Well, the President was standing there, but he made it clear today that he was not listening to Dr. Fauci. He actually said he got the idea to do this from a doctor that he has never heard of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This is a doctor. He doesn't want anything. I don't know him, I've never heard of him. But he treats people that we're talking about and he said out of hundreds of people that he's treated, he hasn't lost one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So the President is taking hydroxychloroquine based on a recommendation from a doctor he doesn't know despite what Dr. Fauci said. So what about the risks?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A couple of weeks ago I started taking it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why, sir?

TRUMP: Because I think it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories. And if it's not good, I'll tell you right, I'm not going to get hurt by it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Well, actually, according to the FDA, Trump could be hurt by it. The FDA has said, "FDA cautions against use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems."

The risk of heart rhythm problems, of course, the President will be 74 years old in a couple of weeks and according to his 2018 physical, he has a common form of heart disease.

And on top of all of this, there is one more really important thing, which is that two major studies of hydroxychloroquine in patients who have coronavirus have shown no benefit, none. But to President Trump, the science doesn't matter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Here's my evidence, I get a lot of positive calls about it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Jeremy Diamond is OUTFRONT near the White House tonight. So Jeremy, what did you learn today about why the President is now taking this drug, which I understand is a recent thing, despite all of the evidence which exists and the studies I mentioned and others?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Erin. Well, as you just laid out, there is no evidence showing that hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment of coronavirus nor that it is effective in preventing coronavirus infection. So there are no scientific studies that the President can point to as to why he is taking this. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary, warnings about the problems, heart problems that could develop when taking hydroxychloroquine.

So instead, Erin, the President is pointing to anecdotal evidence talking about this letter that he got from a doctor in New York, suggesting that he is getting calls about the positive effects of hydroxychloroquine. The question, Erin, is still why the President began taking this. The timing is interesting, though. The President began taking this, he said about a week and a half ago, that is around the time when one of his personal military valets actually tested positive for the virus.

We do know, of course, Erin, that the President has been touting this drug for months now and when he touted it back in March, that was when he was beginning to talk about it from the briefing room podium prescriptions and demand for hydroxychloroquine across the country surged. So you can only wonder now with the President of the United States now taking this drug despite the scientific evidence to the contrary, despite the warnings from his own FDA, what will Americans do, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jeremy. And that, of course, is a crucial question here. I want to go out front now to our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Jonathan Reiner, who is the Director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at George Washington University Hospital and a former White House Medical Adviser.

[19:05:06]

So Dr. Reiner, you've been talking with me about hydroxychloroquine and risks associated with this drug. You raise the red flag very, very early about the possible heart impacts for some patients. There's a lot we still don't know about it, but we do know that it is not recommended for coronavirus patients who either have coronavirus or who have not yet contracted it.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right. So, let's review what we know and what we don't know about this drug. We know that it does not appear to work in terms of improving outcomes in sick coronavirus patients that are hospitalized. Multiple clinical trials have shown that.

In fact, some clinical trials have shown potential harm with the drug in that patient population. But the drug is also being evaluated for what's called post exposure prophylaxis.

Two big studies, one out of Columbia and other out of University of Minnesota, both of which should just about be done enrolling patients will answer that question. The University of Minnesota about a 3,000- patient study. And we don't know whether the drug works to prevent the development of disease in patients using it prior to overt symptoms or prior to testing positive. So it's a data free zone.

So I don't recommend doing this, but this raises a lot of interesting questions. First of all, we know that if the White House medical team approve this and my sources at the White House tell me that they did, then the patient's exposure must have been quite severe. He must have had a quite extensive exposure for them to go ahead and begin hydroxychloroquine.

It also raises questions about what to do for a person like the President with unusual job requirements, where the downside risks for having the disease include death and the risks for taking the drug also could be severe. It's a very, very complicated question.

BURNETT: And certainly, we talk about the heart risks, right, he's right in the middle of that as well.

But Sanjay, what do you make of what Dr. Reiner is saying that it appears that there was the perception that he had had severe exposure? Obviously, we know his personal valet had tested positive. We don't know the condition of that person or how sick they were, but obviously there was the feeling that the President was very much at risk of getting this, which may be made them more likely to do something unproven?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, we don't know what kind of exposure you had. That could be the justification maybe for his doctors prescribing it, although as Dr. Reiner said, as Jonathan said, the trials are for healthcare workers with these large exposures.

The President obviously is not acting as a health care worker. His own FDA says this should not be used outside of a clinical trial. I'm curious how he's being evaluated, what the sort of rationale there was. But he doesn't qualify for the clinical trial. There is no evidence that it works as of now. There are some potential harms in people who already have COVID and take this medication.

So it just it doesn't make sense, I think it's going to confuse people as it did in the initial days when people started going out and taking this early on, even causing shortages in some places with no evidence that it worked.

BURNETT: Right. And part of the reason they started doing that was because he started touting it, then he said, well, they started doing that, I mean we can all understand the chicken and egg scenario.

Dr. Reiner, he did say this was his idea to take the drug, that he had heard, gotten a letter or something from a doctor he'd never heard of that suggested it, that his doctor did approve it to the White House. But as I pointed out, right, his birthday is in a couple of weeks, he's going to be 74, his physicals have shown evidence of coronary artery disease, as Sanjay has pointed out and obesity. If you're the President's doctor, what would you do here?

REINER: So it's a very interesting question and having at least peeked into that world for a while, I can tell you that it's not so easy to answer. So let's look at it another way and look I've dumped on this drug for two months now. And I know, at least, from the clinical data that it doesn't work in sick patients.

I don't know if it works or doesn't work in this setting, but this is what I know, the President has a significant exposure to COVID-19, maybe from two people, from both his valet and from Ms. Miller.

We know because he's almost 74 and he has some evidence of heart disease and he's clearly obese. We know that he has a substantial risk of dying from COVID-19, maybe somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent. We also know that there are demonstrable risks to taking the drug, but because he's the President of the United States, because he has unparalleled access to 24/7 healthcare, on demand healthcare, basically stapled to him, his medical team can attenuate some of that risk by doing frequently EKGs, measuring is QTc interval, which is the EKG interval, which is increased by the drug and can create a problem.

[19:10:10]

So they can get an early warning, perhaps, that the general population can't get. Don't get me wrong, I agree with everything Sanjay says. We have no reason to suspect that this works and I do not recommend the public do this.

But if I were the President's doc and I know that he's been exposed to a virus that has a significant risk of killing him, and I also know that there's a big trial which is about to result in about a week, which will answer this question, do I wait for the trial or do I give him the drug and try to mitigate the risk, is the risk of him dying from this drug higher than the risk of him dying from the virus, it's a very complicated question and I feel for Dr. Conley. I don't know how I would have come down on it.

BURNETT: What's amazing about this, Sanjay, is that we're sitting here having a conversation about whether 15 percent to 20 percent chance of dying from coronavirus is greater for the President than his chance of dying from taking from hydroxychloroquine. It is pretty stunning that we're even at a moment where such a conversation is out there, that we're talking about that.

I mean, I just think this is a moment to kind of take a step back and have people understand the gravity of the exposure that he had and the situation that he is in.

GUPTA: No question and Dr. Reiner has some really interesting insights here that are going to be unique. He's been in this situation, he's taken care of the Vice President and offered these insights. It's complicated as he's saying, but you're absolutely right. I think the concern, I think, and I think Jonathan would agree with me is that what are people hearing tonight, maybe I had an exposure, I'm at risk. I'm going to go out and get this drug.

I mean, if it's good enough for the President, why isn't it good enough for me, why should I do this. Yes, Dr. Reiner makes a good point. He can get EKGs when he wants, he can be monitored very closely, but what's going to happen now as a result of what we're talking about on TV right now. There's no evidence still that it works. There will be this trials coming out looking at prophylaxis, which is different than taking it when you are taking it as a treatment, people will understand that those are two different scenarios.

As a treatment, it could potentially be harmful and there's no evidence that it works. It's a really dicey scenario and going to be a confusing one now that I think the American people are going to have to deal with here. Right now what we can say is, there's still no evidence that it works. We'll get some of that data as a prophylaxis standpoint. There is some potential concern that it could harm from a treatment standpoint.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both very much.

REINER: Let me just amplify what Sanjay said ...

BURNETT: Yes, go ahead, Dr. Reiner. Go ahead, yes.

REINER: ... and just amplify that. The American public should not take this, but I do understand the dilemma the White House had.

BURNETT: Right. Well, and given what you're saying I think at the very least, we all could have hoped that the President would have not discussed that he was taking it. That would have just been helpful. Thank you both very much.

GUPTA: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, early data from a vaccine study in the United States is showing promise in the fight against coronavirus. I'm going to talk to a lead investigator and one of the participants who just got a second dose of the vaccine.

Plus, a new study shows that social distancing is working in preventing the spread of the disease. But are Americans willing to do it much longer?

And the New York Stock Exchange about to reopen, President of the Stock Exchange is my guest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:59]

BURNETT: Tonight, promising new results and the race for coronavirus vaccine. A vaccine developed here in the United States by Moderna appearing to stimulate an immune response to the virus, which is according to early data. And in a moment I'm going to talk to one of the doctors working on the vaccine about what it means and one of the people who volunteer to be injected with it.

So much needed good news on a day where the number of Americans dead from this virus has now passed 90,000. Erica Hill is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): Gyms in multiple states are open today, including Texas where offices also have the green light as the state moves into phase two.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R) TEXAS: One thing that we all know, an important part of reopening is access to childcare. So starting immediately, child care services are able to open.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): Summer camps and youth sports can return May 31st. Bars and bowling alleys can open Friday, the same day restaurants can start seating at 50 percent capacity.

Texas posted its highest single day spike in cases over the weekend, two weeks after easing restrictions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. UMAIR SHAH, EXEC. DIR., HARRIS COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH: We do have more testing that's happening. But at the same time, we're also recognizing that we have reopened and people aren't mixing. And so we don't know how those two equations coming together how that really is impacting the overall equation that we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): More than a third of the new cases there are connected to meat processing plants in the state. Overall, Texas is one of 17 states seeing a rise in new cases over the past week, 18 posting a decline, including Massachusetts, which just announced its plan for phased reopening.

California's new cases are holding steady as the Governor loosens the criteria for reopening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D) CALIFORNIA: We recognize the conditions across the state are unique and distinctive depending where you are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): Churches may be allowed to meet in person in the next few weeks. In-person retail could open next month.

Automakers are returning to work in Michigan today with a few changes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN PANNEBECKER, UAW WORKER, FORD MOTOR CO.: I'm pretty comfortable with the precautions that I've heard that they're going to be taking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): While across the country, beautiful weather, cabin fever and more reopening made for a busy weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been really steady. Busier than I thought it was going to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am beyond excited to be shopping again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): In Scottsdale, Arizona packed bars and restaurants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no more fear than contracting the flu, a cold, a virus that they haven't named yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): Lines in the mall and outside this casino, though not everyone is ready for the crowds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you go to Wal-Mart and everybody is on top of each other and people in the bars are high fiving and people you don't even know and they try to get too close.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): The University of South Carolina will reopen its campus this fall. But after Thanksgiving, classes will move online over fears of a possible spike in cases in early December.

Purdue and Rice University is adopting a similar plan, while Creighton University will end the fall semester before the holiday.

[19:20:00]

One vaccine currently in the works is showing signs of promise. All eight participants in the small study developed antibodies to the virus. Moderna, which is partnering with the NIH says if future studies go well, the vaccine could be available to the public as early as January.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Everything I'm seeing so far makes me optimistic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: And, Erin, further signs of a push to reopen and bring back a little bit of life as we used to know it, the governors of California, Texas and New York today all saying they are ready for professional sports to start talking about coming back in their states. Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying New York is a quote, ready, willing and able partner. Any of those games though, of course, would be played without spectators.

BURNETT: All right. Erica, thank you very much. And Erica just mentioned the vaccine. Dr. Carlos del Rio is working on that Moderna coronavirus trial. He is the Co-Principal Investigator at the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit at Emory. It's good to have you back doctor. And I know we talked about the vaccine briefly before. I know you got these results from the initial eight participants, of course, that is a very small number when it comes to vaccine testing. Usually, you get thousands of participants tested. So how encouraged are you when you see these antibodies in the first eight?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, CO-PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR, EMORY'S VACCINE & TREATMENT EVALUATION UNIT: So, Erin, this is the first step, as you say, this is just the phase one. Phase one traditionally with any medication, including vaccines. A phase one is about safety, so we know the vaccine is safe and then it's about tolerability were people are able to tolerate the vaccine.

They also did, in this case, because of the speed that this needs to happen, they also check the presence of antibodies that are neutralizing against the virus and that typically will not be done in phase one, but surprisingly, they found that all participants had that. So now their decision is to come up with the appropriate dose in the next phase of the study, which was the phase two in which two different doses are going to be used to come up with the final dose that will be taken to a phase three.

The phase three is the one you mentioned where 30,000 people across United States will be enrolled and where the vaccine will and can be compared to placebo to show if really there's efficacy. So again, this is at the speed of light. No other time had a vaccine been developed so quickly.

So while this findings are encouraging, we're only at the beginning, we're not there yet. So let's be calm and let science take its time and do its right thing.

BURNETT: Now, I will say, though, when we talked before you had said, obviously, you were obviously cautious on the timing. You were saying we could be looking at the end of 2021 or by the time all this is done, but given what you're saying now, that you're able to detect antibodies at a time where you would really only be looking at safety. How much does this truncate your timetable by if things go as they should? And I know there's a big question mark about those 30,000 people, how many of them will really be exposed, but what's your timing?

DEL RIO: I think if things go as they should, maybe by January as it was said. We may have a vaccine approved, but then you have to obviously produce millions if not billions of doses of vaccine, right? And we don't have - we need those vaccine manufacturing capabilities and it's going to take a while to produce the millions of doses of vaccines necessary.

So to have a vaccine that you can then get into public to prevention, I still think is going to be, if all goes well, it's still going to be sometime next summer. I don't think honestly, we'll be able to be any anytime before that. That will still be an incredible record time.

BURNETT: So before we go, one final thing, I'm talking about the antibodies that you found in those eight patients, Dr. Peter Hotez, who's also working on a vaccine at Baylor College of Medicine told The Washington Post, obviously, that it would be very important to understand the level of antibodies in the patients because he was pointing to emerging evidence where people who don't have a lot of antibodies, I don't know whether they had a mild case or whatever that might be, if they don't have enough antibodies, they may, in fact, not be able to neutralize the virus, right?

Like the level of antibodies that you get is really important. Do you have any sense of levels?

DEL RIO: I have no sense of levels. I'm not involved in looking at those assays. But I can tell you that even getting some antibiotics in there, while the vaccine may not be a neutralizing vaccine. And again, producing a neutralizing vaccine against a respiratory virus is going to be very hard.

But even if you get some neutralizing antibodies that prevent disease, that prevent people from getting sick would still be a very effective vaccine. A vaccine that may not prevent infection, but may prevent disease and may even prevent transmission. That will be a very useful vaccine.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Doctor. That is very helpful. And I appreciate your time as also, Dr. Carlos del Rio.

And I want to go now to Sean Doyle, a volunteer in the Moderna coronavirus vaccine trial. Also a medical student at Emory. And it's good to have you back, I spoke to you when you got your first dose. You've now gotten two doses of the vaccine, so have you been tested for antibodies yet?

SEAN DOYLE, CORONAVIRUS VACCINE TRIAL VOLUNTEER: Thanks for having me again, Erin. As a participant, the investigators aren't sharing the specific results for each patient with those individual patients.

[19:25:00]

So unfortunately, I don't know whether I specifically have been able to generate antibodies against the vaccine.

BURNETT: Right. So I guess it's blind to you as in maybe you have but they're not going to tell you.

DOYLE: Yes.

BURNETT: But the part of the trial that you're technically and even though they're getting those important results, which would lead to whether it works is about the safety part of it. So now you're two doses in or two shots in, have you had any side effects?

DOYLE: I'm very happy to say that after the first dose, I didn't experience any side effects and the same has been true after the second dose as well. And I think this is consistent with the results. The moderna has released for safety for most of the participants in the low and medium dose groups and I was in the medium dose group. So hopefully this is a good sign for more folks moving forward in these phase two and phase three clinical trials to come for safety.

BURNETT: So what happens next for you? Now you've had two doses, what's next and when?

DOYLE: The excitement for me is largely over, so I was incredibly excited like a lot of folks across the country were to see that the initial results from this phase one trial indicated that there might be an immune response that's being generated that can neutralize the virus, at least in the laboratory setting. Now, I'll continue to go back and have blood samples drawn, so that the nature of the immune response that's been generated, if I have generated one can continue to be monitored over time.

But my involvement in the trial is kind of dwindling down at this point.

BURNETT: All right. Well, we hope that you continue to not have any of those safety side effects and stay well. And thank you, Sean, good to talk to you.

DOYLE: Yes. Thank you very much, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, a new study shows parts of the United States that did not adhere to any social distancing policies could have faced 35 times more cases of the virus and shutting restaurants works much better than shutting down schools.

Plus, open for business. The New York Stock Exchange getting ready to go. So what will the new normal look like? Really just (inaudible). The President of Exchange is OUTFRONT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:31:02]

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Tonight, quarantine fatigue. Crowds heading out of their homes across America to beaches, parks and bars this weekend. But it comes a new study published to the journal "Health Affairs" found that areas that did not have social distancing measures could have 35 times greater chance of spreading coronavirus than those that did have strict social distancing. OUTFRONT now, Professor Aaron Yelowitz, one of the researchers behind

that study and the professor of economics at the University of Kentucky.

And, Professor Yelowitz, it's good to talk to you again.

So, in your study, you looked at four different social distancing restrictions, which were tried in different ways across the country. Some more, you know, widespread than others. Shelter in place orders, which obviously weren't everywhere. Public school closures, which pretty were, bans on large gatherings, closures of restaurants, entertainment businesses.

So, which worked better?

AARON YELOWITZ, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY: We found that there were two measures that were highly effective at bending the curve. The first is the shelter in place measures, the ones that are fairly heavy-handed that were imposed in most but not all states, and the second one that really mattered a lot was the closure of entertainment-related businesses, which would include, for example, restricting dine-in at restaurants and as well closing of bars and gymnasiums, those sorts of thing.

What we also found is that there were a couple that didn't matter much at all in terms of bending the curve.

BURNETT: All right. So, I want to talk about those. And in your report you have a graphic which shows the impact closing restaurants had, which is one of the most effective, right, and sheltering in place and entertainment-like restaurants. And closing schools we can see the other line on that chart. Very little impact.

You know, how little and why do you think that is?

YELOWITZ: Well, we are able to think through reasons why any of these measures would bend the curve and the answer would be because they reduce human interactions with each other. Shelter in place where you or I were forced to stay at home really clamps down on how much we interact with each other. It also turns out that a great way to spread the disease is by staying in one place closely -- close to many other people so the restrictions on restaurants also intuitively make a lot of sense.

What's interesting is that if you think about the public school closures, then what that may have done especially in the absence of a shelter in place order was change where people congregate without actually reducing it too much.

For example, if parents take their kids to the park rather than kids interacting at school then it's very possible that the virus could spread just as easily. So that's part of our thinking on why that happened.

BURNETT: So, this weekend we saw massive crowds heading out of their homes across the United States. It was good weather and people were out. So based on your research and you see this, this isn't sheltering in place, and, you know, there are still some -- people are presumably trying to do something, stay away from all the people. There are some things that are still happening, but there are a lot of things that are not, right? People are out about and going to entertainment venues.

What do you see the impact being here?

YELOWITZ: Well, our study was able to show that these government imposed measures which are pretty heavy-handed and where there's a lot of fatigue really did matter in terms of bending the curve. Without those measures, people were taking other sensible measures but they didn't bend the curve enough.

And as you mentioned at the beginning of the segment, by the time we ended the study, which was on April 27th, there were about 1 million confirmed cases in the U.S. of COVID-19. Had the strong measures not been in place and had other things not happened, we could have seen as many as 35 million cases, so it would have exploded.

And so, with the voluntary measures that are going on, there is some fear that unless we have, for example, extensive testing and effective contact tracing, then we're going to be back to where we were before.

[19:35:05]

BURNETT: All right, which is big warning when you say we could have had 35 million cases versus the 1 million at the time when you -- when you did the research. I think that is something everyone can understand very tangibly.

Thank you very much, Professor. Appreciate your time.

YELOWITZ: Thank you so much.

BURNETT: And next, the New York stock exchange coming to life with restrictions after being shutdown for months, so what does it mean? The president of the exchange is my guest.

And an inspector general fired on a Friday night. Now we're learning the inspector general was look into Saudi arm sales which Secretary of State Pompeo refused to be interviewed about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Tonight, the New York Stock Exchange is getting ready to open. The NYSE will partially reopen next Tuesday, May 26th, after being closed for two months.

OUTFRONT now, Stacey Cunningham, president of the New York Stock Exchange.

And good to have you with me, Stacey.

So, under this plan I understand about a quarter of the trading floor will be able to return because you're going to be social distancing and things like that. And, you know, we're familiar with images of traders on the floor and at posts.

[19:40:00]

But you say and, you know, here it is, obviously, not what it looked like ten years ago or more, but people interacting and side by side. Not going to look like that.

But what will it look like, and what sort of precautions are you going to take?

STACEY CUNNINGHAM, PRESIDENT, NYSE: So, thanks for having me on, Erin.

The floor will look different than we're all used to seeing in pictures of the floor throughout the years for a couple of different reasons. And highlighted social distancing that's such an important way for us to protect ourselves, so that is something that runs through our plans from start to finish is the idea of having social distancing, so it'll be about 25 percent of the trading floor community that comes back, which is -- but less than that if you think about all the people that work in the building.

We have many of our other employees staying remote for now. We're focusing our efforts on the trading floor. We'll be less than 15 percent of the overall building, and we're also focusing on which traders we bring back in first. So, if you look at the floor, most of those people that work on the floor, many of them don't work for the New York Stock Exchange. They're either market makers or floor brokers representing customer orders.

Those floor brokers are small businesses, and for the past two months, they've been home and unable to service their clients. So much like many other businesses across America and many other cities and states will be thinking, how do we help those that are most impacted, and that's how we thought about our plan. So, we start with those small businesses and it allows us to make the lay out of it floor a little bit different than it is in normal times, so that we can have people social distance and change the ways they interact. So it won't be a lot of one-on-one contact in the initial phase.

BURNETT: So, you're telling people I know they can't enter the building if they've taken public transportation. I just was thinking about, you know, extrapolating that across any part of Manhattan for any serious number of people. But for you as first out of the gate here how are people going to be getting to work and how do you enforce the public transportation?

CUNNINGHAM: Yes. Let me -- let me explain that a little bit because I think it's important to understand. We're an essential business and we voluntary closed a couple of weeks -- a couple of months while we wanted to learn more about this. Given the fact that Governor Cuomo's pause order is still in effect and he's asking people to shelter at home, we're respecting that by asking people in the building to leave that social distancing, again, so important, that social distancing capacity for the health care workers that are taking the public transport right now. We don't want to add any strain on that system. So that component of our plan is tied to that shelter at home order.

And importantly, I mean, certainly as New York City goes to reopen and once the governor goes to lift those plans mass transit is such an important part of New York City and our employees as well that that would be lifted from our plans as soon as that shelter order restriction is lifted.

BURNETT: And so, why -- what do you do if a broker gets sick, I guess? I mean, do you have to reshut the whole floor? What's your plan for when there is what may be an inevitable infection?

CUNNINGHAM: Yes, one of the things that drove to our timing to reopen is what we've learned over the past few weeks and about layers of protection. It's also clear that this pandemic is going to be with us for a while. We're not close to having -- although closer today but we're still working on a vaccine. And until we have a vaccine, we know we're going to be living with this.

So the plans we have in place are not designed to prevent a single case. They're designed to prevent an outbreak, so that we don't have multiple cases in one place. So it's really about layering protections. We have temperature screenings for everyone coming into the building. Everyone will be wearing a mask on the trading floor. We've implemented social distancing, created restrictions around interactions, whether they be on peoples way to work or as well in food areas and how we'll be approaching each day.

All of those things together are part of the solution to limit the likelihood of an outbreak. Everyone's going to leave the trading floor at the end of the day, so it's impossible to limit a single case. We want to prevent any single case that comes into the building from spreading to many.

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE), yes. All right --

(CROSSTALK)

CUNNINGHAM: -- thinking about our plans when we reopened, it's such an important part to be cautious, slow and flexible because we may need to revert as conditions change and move back. So we have plans in place that allow us to scale and scale and scale backwards as well.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much and good luck with that opening.

CUNNINGHAM: Thank you, Erin. I appreciate you having me on.

BURNETT: All right. And next a probe into an $8 billion Saudi arm sale lead to the firing of the State Department's inspector general at the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's request. We have new details tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:48:26] BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump defending his abrupt firing of the State Department inspector general, saying it was Mike Pompeo who asked him to get rid of Steve Linick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know him at all, I've never even heard of him, but I was asked to by the State Department, by Mike. I offered -- most of my people, almost all of them I said these are Obama appointees and if you'd like to let them go, I think you should let them go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Linick was investigating the Saudi arms deal and also whether Pompeo had government employees doing personal jobs, personal errands, walking his dog, laundry.

Pompeo telling "The Washington Post" today he wasn't aware of those investigations, but he claimed Linick was not working to make the department better.

CNN political analyst David Gregory joins me now.

So, David, this story -- you know, this story keeps getting worse.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it does get worse because the whole point of an inspector general is to have some accountability over agencies. You don't get rid of people because you don't like them. You don't get rid of people because they were appointed by another president. The whole point is they serve presidents of both parties. The president appears not to get that.

The fact he's so transparent about the fact oh, yeah, the secretary of state said he'd like to get rid of him at a time when he maybe investigated himself, or whether the administration is being investigated just shows you this is not an administration that's interested in oversight.

BURNETT: And, look, this is the fourth inspector general, watchdog, the president has fired and replaced in the last six weeks, the numbers are pretty stunning. Senate Republicans haven't been willing to go against him, you know, with the exception of Mitt Romney who obviously very clearly called him out.

[19:50:05]

Trump supporters were saying, oh, there were 47 officials back in 2014, they sent a letter to President Obama saying he was hindering their work, and they're trying to say, we got essentially the same as what Trump is doing here by firing all of these individuals in the past month.

Why does that argument the conservatives are making not add up?

GREGORY: Well, I was going through that today and it's very clear why it doesn't add um. Number one, they did get that information they were looking for. Some of it was grand jury information. Some of it was other secretive information that was ultimately provided to those inspectors general.

But the big difference, they weren't fired. They weren't fired. So, this string of firings makes it very clear that this president is dead set against any accountability, wanting us all to believe in the myth of a deep state that's only out to get him.

Look, there's a lot of hypocrisy to go around. There's a lot of Democrats who don't like Republican watch dogs and it goes back and forth. But Republicans were silent on this, who want to pick apart these individuals or side with the president just have to get ready for the new reality.

And the new reality is that there won't be oversight. That there won't be watch dogs. There won't be a belief in someone who can act independently with credibility. And it's going to be a different Washington. It's fair to be cynical about Washington and partisanship and all the stuff that doesn't work, but this is a new line of demarcation.

And if Republicans are going to be consistent, they're going to -- when the next go around, when there is a Democratic president, they're going to have to go along with the fact that there will be no accountability because that's the standard that Trump is setting here.

BURNETT: That's right, get rid of that, get rid of filibuster, get rid of all kinds of things people are going to regret.

Thank you very much, David. Always good.

GREGORY: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, Navajo Nation ravaged by coronavirus..

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know where it came about. It just whipped through us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:55:18]

BURNETT: Tonight, the Navajo Nation now surpassing New York with the highest infection rate in the country per capita and a lack of basic infrastructure is complicating that community's efforts to contain the virus.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The beauty of the Navajo Nation masks the vengeance coronavirus has exacted on its people. In this household --

FELISITA JONES, NAVAJO MOTHER: I don't know where it came about and just whipped through us.

SIDNER: Felisita Jones is one of five people in her family who has contracted the virus that takes your breath away.

JONES: I could just --

SIDNER (on camera): How afraid were you when you realized that your mom had it, that your sisters had it, and then you had it?

JONES: I didn't want to leave my kids behind, because I had so much to do in life with them. I have altogether nine kids.

SIDNER (voice-over): She didn't want to go to the hospital because too many people she knows never made it back home alive.

(on camera): This is one of the hospitals where members of the Navajo Nation would be brought if they needed to be in an ICU, for example.

(voice-over): The nation is now reporting nearly 4,000 COVID-19 cases in a population of 175,000, which means they surpassed New York, and now have the highest infection rate per capita in the U.S.

This is partly because the Navajo Nation says it's tested more people than any other state, 11 percent of its population. But unlike New York, just getting to a hospital with these kinds of resources can take hours.

KELLY MANUELITO, NURSE, REHOBOTH MCKINLEY CHRISTIAN HOSPITAL: It's really hard for them to get the care they need if they need to be intubated. If they've got to have someone transport them from a facility to like Albuquerque, Phoenix is where we're starting to send people.

SIDNER (on camera): The Navajo Nation spans 27,000 square miles. There are no short distances here, which is one of the difficulties with getting resources to all of its people, with the exception of here. I am standing in the four corners where, with one step, you can walk into four different states.

(voice-over): But with the vast distances, self-distancing might seem easy. It isn't, because everyone shops at the same stores. The president of the Navajo Nation says infrastructure and resources long ago promised by the federal government were never realized, and now there's a perfect scenario for the virus to spread.

JONATHAN NEZ, NAVAJO NATION PRESIDENT: Thirty, 40 percent of our citizens here on the Navajo Nation don't have the luxury of turning on a faucet.

SIDNER (on camera): They don't have running water? NEZ: They don't have running water.

SIDNER (voice-over): Also, generations of families often live in one home, so if someone gets the virus, isolation is often impossible. Never mind frequent hand washing.

NEZ: We can change that with the help of the federal government.

SIDNER: For now, he's placed the strictest of measures on his people, 8:00 p.m. curfews on weekdays and on weekends a 57-hour lockdown. Not even the gas stations are open. And their lucrative tourism and entire gaming industry are closed down until further notice.

JT WILLIE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NAVAJO NATION DIVISION OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: We're talking more than tens of millions, not just amongst the gaming, not just amongst the tourism, but also all of our other enterprises throughout the Navajo nation.

SIDNER: The COVID-19 battle Native Americans are facing is just like the rest of the nation, except on their tribal lands the suffering is more acute. Forty percent of families here already live below the poverty line.

So when the tribal government traversed their nation handing out healthy food and bottled water --

(on camera): Why is this important?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me to eat and my family to eat.

SIDNER (voice-over): The lines seemed endless. Many were gathering items to help others survive like Felisita Jones still self- quarantining after a bout with COVID.

(on camera): How are you feeling now?

JONES: Right now, I feel great.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Sara, I know Doctors without Borders have been deployed now to where you are. What have you heard from them?

SIDNER: Yes, doctors without borders is here. You know, Erin, that they're normally an organization that's in war-torn areas and extremely poor countries, but they are here in a small group and trying to help after the president of the Navajo Nation did ask for help. They answered the call, but I should mention, Erin, the first place that doctors without borders went to help with the COVID response in the United States was actually New York -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. It says a lot.

All right. Thank you very much, Sara. Sara is live there from Arizona.

And thanks so very much to all of you for joining us. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" with Anderson starts right now.