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States Continue Reopening; President Trump Continues To Defend Taking Hydroxychloroquine; Interview With Gov. Ned Lamont (D-CT); City Of Miami And Miami Beaches Start Reopening Tomorrow; More Colleges To End In-Person Classes After Thanksgiving; Businesses Are Reopening, But Are Public Bathrooms Safe? Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 19, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:22]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight, as the U.S. coronavirus death toll is getting closer and closer to six figures, President Trump is spending valuable time defending his use of an unproven and potentially dangerous drug.

For the third time in 24 hours, the president sang the praises of hydroxychloroquine, defying an FDA warning and attempting to blame a negative study of the drug on his political enemies.

Health experts fear he's sending a risky message to Americans as stay- at-home restrictions are being lifted across the nation. Reopening plans will be under way in every state by the end of this week.

First, let's go to our White House correspondent, Jeremy Diamond.

Jeremy, the president took questions at a Cabinet meeting just a little while ago, and he tripled down on his defense of taking hydroxychloroquine.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president certainly did triple down on his defense of hydroxychloroquine.

The president is now taking a daily dose of that and has been for about a week-and-a-half. Today, the president insisting that it is an additional line of defense that he can have against coronavirus. He also attacked numerous studies that show it's not effective against the virus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump defiant, defending his decision to try and ward off coronavirus by taking an unproven drug, hydroxychloroquine. TRUMP: Many, many doctors -- doctors. Many doctors came out, and they

said, it's great.

Now, you have to go to a doctor. I have a doctor in the White House. I said, what do you think? And it's just a line of defense. I'm just talking about it as a line of defense. I'm dealing with a lot of people. Look at all the people in the room.

DIAMOND: The president ignoring an FDA warning against using hydroxychloroquine outside of a hospital setting, which said the drug has not been shown to be safe and effective for treating and preventing COVID-19.

TRUMP: But I think it's worth it as a line of defense, and I will stay on it for a little while longer. I'm just very curious myself, but it seems to be very safe.

DIAMOND: And rejecting a clinical study that found hydroxychloroquine ineffective against coronavirus.

TRUMP: There was a false study done, where they gave it to very sick people, extremely sick people, people that were ready to die. It was given by, obviously, not friends of the administration. And the study came out. The people were ready to die. Everybody was old.

That was a phony study. And it's very dangerous to do it. The fact is, people should want to help people, not to make political points. It's really sad when they do that.

DIAMOND: That study conducted on hundreds of patients at VA hospitals was partially funded by the government's National Institutes of Health.

Trump also falsely claiming the drug is risk-free.

TRUMP: What has been determined is it doesn't harm you. It's a very powerful drug, I guess, but it doesn't harm you.

DIAMOND: But clinical trials have shown the drug can cause serious heart rhythm problems, a heightened concern for a president who has a common form of heart disease, according to the results of his physical exams.

Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the president, revealing in a new memo that he concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risk.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND: And, Wolf, Vice President Mike Pence said that he is not taking hydroxychloroquine, so not taking the president's lead on that.

But, Wolf, as the president dives into this hydroxychloroquine pool, he is not taking the preventive step that most help experts are recommending, which is wearing a mask. The president was noncommittal today when he was asked whether or not he would wear a mask when he goes to this Ford facility, Ford manufacturing plant, in Michigan on Thursday.

Ford, though, Wolf, has said that it made the White House aware that it does require the use of masks when you are inside their facilities, but they will defer to the White House as to whether or not the president ultimately wears that.

But, Wolf, if the president is not wearing a mask on Thursday at Ford, as he has not during all of his other visits outside of Washington, he would be going against that manufacturing plant's policy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we will see what happens.

Jeremy, thank you very much.

Let's get the latest right now on reopening moves across the country.

Our National Correspondent, Erica Hill, is in New York for us.

Erica, part of New York state is reopening today.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

The sixth region, Western New York, reopened today, moving into phase one, so, again, bringing that to six regions here in New York state.

And as we're seeing openings around the country, what is fascinating some of the pictures that we're getting in, Wolf, make it seem like some areas never stopped.

[18:05:07]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILL (voice-over): A packed high school graduation in Norman, Oklahoma, looks like a flashback. But it's not.

MATT COX, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL, COMMUNITY CHRISTIAN SCHOOL: We had permission from anybody and everybody that we needed. And so we had the graduation.

HILL: The city manager gave the school the go-ahead; 600 people showed up. There were temperature checks, though masks were optional.

In Delaware, face coverings are now mandatory for anyone over 13 at church services. Meantime, one often cited model which just revised its predicted death toll down shows masks may be helping.

DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR OF HEALTH METRICS, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Forty percent of us wears a mask all the time. About 80 percent wears a mask sometimes. And that's probably helping separate out that impact of rising mobility.

HILL: As mobility and testing increase, states are monitoring new cases. Numbers over the past week are up in 17 states, including Florida, where Miami is preparing to reopen parks and businesses tomorrow. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just ready, ready to get back to work.

HILL: Nevada also seeing new cases rise, as the Venetian in Las Vegas says it's accepting reservations for June 1.

Hawaii, among the 16 states seeing a decline in new cases, just extended its mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors through the end of June.

The border with Canada will remain close to nonessential travel through June 21. In North Carolina, Tyson Foods closed this chicken processing plant for the second time in a week due to positive cases. A quarter of the confirmed cases in Nebraska have been linked to meat processing plants.

New York City offering a sober picture of those most impacted by the virus, new data broken down by zip code confirming communities of color and low-income areas have seen far more cases and deaths than wider, wealthier areas, mostly in Manhattan.

The mayor announcing today some of the city's more than one million public school students will continue online learning this summer.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Distance learning creates challenges, but it also creates a world of possibilities. And for so many kids, this summer will be a chance to keep learning.

HILL: A handful of universities will limit in-person classes this fall, some ending before Thanksgiving.

REV. JOHN JENKINS, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME: We have to be able to deal with this in a way where we can educate our students and keep -- make the campus environment safe and healthy.

HILL: As businesses large and small navigate their new normal people.

CHRIS CLEARY, OWNER, THE TREADMILL: People want to try clothes on. They want to feel them and see how they look in them.

HILL: Texas restaurants can increase capacity to 50 percent on Friday, but even that may not be enough.

ALEX BRENNAN-MARTIN, BRENNAN'S OF HOUSTON: It's going to be tough. Houston's going to lose some good restaurants.

HILL: Outdoor dining and in-person retail returns in Connecticut tomorrow. A planned opening for salons has been pushed to June, as concerns grow about how many small businesses will survive.

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): I haven't calculated it, but I'm afraid there could be a sea change.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy today announcing that all 18,000-plus licensed pharmacists in his state are now licensed to administer a COVID-19 test.

And he also said that, by the end of the month, at 50 CVS locations in New Jersey, self-swab kits will be available -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. All right, very important.

Erica, thank you very much.

Let's get some more on all of this.

Joining us now, the Connecticut Governor, Ned Lamont.

Governor Lamont, thanks so much for joining us.

Lots to discuss, but I want to get your reaction first. The president says he's taking this drug hydroxychloroquine that has potentially some serious side effects.

When it comes to public health, would you tell your residents to follow his example?

LAMONT: No.

I would tell them to wear a surgical mask. And I would tell the president, you want a line of defense that works, try a surgical mask.

BLITZER: Well, let me get your thoughts on this claim from the president when it comes to the very critical issue of testing.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So, when we have a lot of cases, I don't look at that as a bad thing.

I look at that as -- in a certain respect, as being a good thing, because it means our testing is much better. So if we were testing a million people, instead of 14 million people, we would have far fewer cases. Right?

So, I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it's a badge of honor. It's a great tribute to the testing and all of the work that a lot of professionals have done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAMONT: I think what he means to say is, the absolute number of infections is less the metric. It's the percentage of infections to the number of testing.

We are now down less than 10 percent. And that's a big plus. Let's face it. About a month or so ago, people were at 30 percent of all the people tested were deemed to be infected. Now that it's down to 10 percent, and, actually, today, it was less than 5 percent, I think that's what he meant to say. [18:10:02]

That's how you're making good progress.

BLITZER: Connecticut, your state, is moving into its first phase of reopening tomorrow.

The former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is advising you on this. And he says, transmission has come down dramatically. What metrics are you seeing that give you some serious confidence to move forward on reopening with these restrictions?

LAMONT: Yes, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Zeke Emanuel both spoke to the state today.

They said, the scientific community has followed our metrics very carefully. Our hospitalization is down. Fatalities are down. We got a lot of PPE right now. We have got the gowns and masks.

And, finally, we got the contact tracing in place. So they gave us the green light. This is the time to take a baby step and start cautiously reopening.

They also really emphasized, you're so much safer outdoors than indoors. So start with the outdoor eating, for example.

BLITZER: Hair salons were supposed to reopen in Connecticut tomorrow, but you -- I understand you have pushed that back to June 1.

What's going to happen in the next two weeks that will make those kinds of businesses any safer?

LAMONT: It's going to mean the salons have a little more time to get the plastic shields up and prepare.

It means a lot of the stylists have a little more time to get the day care and child care that they need. People were very anxious that they were going too fast. And they -- I think they really appreciated an extra 10 days.

BLITZER: Connecticut's beaches -- you have got a lot of beaches that are beautiful -- they have been open. What's your message to residents going into this holiday weekend as far as the beaches are concerned?

LAMONT: Be careful.

I know it's warm. I know it's sunny. I know this is Memorial Day weekend. But our beaches are beautiful. Keep your distance. Make sure you enjoy them, but don't love them too much. If it gets too crowded, we got a problem.

BLITZER: Certainly do.

All right, Governor Lamont, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in Connecticut. Thanks so much for joining us.

LAMONT: Right. Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead: President Trump suggests he knows better than medical experts about the pros and cons of hydroxychloroquine. I will ask CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta for his opinions.

And, as America reopens, we will focus in on a potential breeding ground for coronavirus, public restrooms. Are they safe?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:16:40]

BLITZER: President Trump is taking every opportunity to defend his decision to take an unproven treatment for coronavirus, despite potentially serious health risks outlined by medical experts.

Let's break this down, his insistence on using hydroxychloroquine, with our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman, the White House correspondent for "The New York Times,"

Sanjay, the president says he's taking hydroxychloroquine and he's back telling others to do the same thing. But his own administration over at the Food and Drug Administration put out this warning in April.

And let me read it to you and to our viewers. I went to the Web site to check it out: "Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause abnormal heart rhythms, such as Q.T. interval prolongation and a dangerously rapid heart rate called ventricular tachycardia."

That's very concerning. I don't understand what tachycardia is, but you can explain it.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

Well, tachycardia is just a rapid heart rate that can sort of sometimes flip into a more concerning heart rhythm, which is exactly the concern that the FDA was raising with that alert.

There's a history here, right? I mean, this is a medication that has been around for several decades. But they -- as they started to trial this, look at it in the context of COVID-19, they started seeing things that were concerning.

You will remember, Wolf, at first, the idea was that doctors could prescribe this off-label, as they call it. It's not approved, obviously, for coronavirus, but it could be approved off-label.

But as the FDA started to look at these studies that were coming in, they said that there's enough of a concern here where, outside of a clinical trial or outside of a hospitalization, they said this medication should no longer be used. I mean, again, that was sort of the history. Keep in mind, again,

we're talking about two things here. One is treatment of coronavirus, and the other is prophylaxis, or trying to prevent the infection after you have been exposed.

These side effects were primarily seen in these treated patients, where they found that it was not helpful and it could potentially cause harm. There's no evidence at this point that it can actually prevent the disease. Those trials are still under way.

So, we have no evidence that it works, potential harm. And then, as you point out, Wolf, the FDA's own concerns.

BLITZER: How do you explain, Maggie, that the president seemed to relish surprising everyone yesterday when he made this claim about that he started, what, a week-and-a-half or so ago to take this drug?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because I think, Wolf, the president, A, likes being the center of attention, B, likes revealing information to the media, and, C, I think wants to be proven correct in some way about chloroquine, because he's been banging this drum for quite some time.

Look, as I said, we have no idea whether this is meant to be treating active coronavirus -- we have been told that he's tested negative -- or that this is meant prophylactically, which is what the indicated is.

We know that the president's valet, who serves him, one of them, anyway, tested positive for the coronavirus, and was a cause of alarm around the West Wing, frankly, including to the president. The reason was very worried about it.

So the assumption among a number of folks at the White House is that this is why he started taking it. And that's fine, except he can say, I'm doing this in consultation with my doctor.

[18:20:01]

The problem is, he's the leader of the country, and there are people who are going to follow what he does and try to do the same thing. And that is the risk with something like this.

BLITZER: Certainlyis a significant risk.

Sanjay, the president was also very critical of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when he had lunch with Republican senators up on Capitol Hill today. But a lot of Americans need to rely on the CDC for critically important health information right now.

Do you worry that that trust in the CDC is now being eroded?

GUPTA: Yes, I do.

And I do have a lot of friends at the CDC. I will preface by saying that. I have known people who've worked there for decades. And they have always been at the forefront.

If you go back to Ebola, Tom Frieden was at the forefront. That's the guy you saw. You go back to H1N1, and Richard Besser was acting director at that time. They were at the forefront.

I mean, there's no question that CDC has been sidelined during this pandemic. I think people have seen that. We're hardly hearing from the CDC. And some say that this is punishment because the CDC did release a flawed test at the beginning of this going back to now January- February time frame.

But the thing is, Wolf, to your to your question, I mean, these are some of the best epidemiologists in the world. I mean, these are the doctors, these are the scientists and the investigators who other departments of health from around the world rely on for the information to take this virus and say, how is it going to behave in a real-world situation?

Can my kids go to summer camp? What about schools in the fall? I mean, all these are real-life questions people are asking. And who do you ask? Who can who can provide those answers? It's typically the CDC.

So, it's unfortunate. I mean, these -- I'm asking these questions. These are the guys I would normally go to. And it's harder to get information from them right now.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

And we don't hear from them barely anymore. They have been silent. Normally, they would be giving daily press briefings to inform the American public about what's going on. That hasn't been happening.

GUPTA: Yes.

BLITZER: Maggie, it's hard to keep track of who the president is really blaming for all of this. Sometimes, he blames, as he did today, the CDC. He often blames President Obama, the World Health Organization, Democrats, of course, China.

But for the first few months of this crisis, he had nothing but praise for President Xi of China, didn't he?

HABERMAN: He did.

Look, Wolf, I think there are legitimate reasons for him to be unhappy with the WHO. I think there are very legitimate reasons to be unhappy with and questioning the information that came from China in the beginning of this year or at the end of last year.

But the president was making many of those same statements earlier this year. He continued to play down the threat of this virus through the (AUDIO GAP). We have got lots of video of him doing that.

In a number of interviews, he accused the Democrats of using criticism of him as a new hoax related to the virus. So, I think that the president is still going to have to grapple with the fact that there is a long body of history of him making statements about the virus similar to what he is now blaming others for doing.

And, again, more than one thing can be true at once. But the president really doesn't allow that to be the case.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Sanjay, because, late last night, the president put out a letter to the World Health Organization threatening to permanently end all U.S. funding and even withdraw from the group altogether.

But how much of his criticism of the WHO is actually based on real fact?

GUPTA: Well, I agree with how Maggie sort of framed it.

I mean, I think I -- there was some surprises in terms of information flow, I think, at the beginning. As a journalist who's covering this, when do -- there were certain markers. Is this a humanly transmitted diseases? Is going human to human? Is it in the community?

Very important markers. And I think there was some slow information flow, the idea of waiting to call it a public health emergency of international concern. We called it a pandemic before the World Health Organization.

So, I think there's some concerns here. But I think what the truth is, we're in the middle of a pandemic, and the World Health Organization is integral to helping lead us out of this. I mean, some of it is the clinical trials that the World Health Organization performs by aggregating data from all these countries.

That really helps us get data on the effectiveness of some of these therapeutics much more quickly. And, frankly, Wolf, the United States, we're a wealthy country, but there's a lot of countries around the world that are very dependent on the World Health Organization to help bolster up their public health system in the middle of a pandemic.

If those health systems fail, it's going to affect the whole world. So, I think there's going to be and there should be a postmortem, if you will, at some point. I think now is just not the time. I mean, everyone gets punished right now by punishing the World Health Organization, everyone on the planet.

BLITZER: Maggie, it's a signature move for the president, making a dramatic, attention-grabbing announcement like all of this.

But how often does he actually really follow through, leaving the World Health Organization, and totally cutting off all U.S. funds? In recent years, it has been, what, $400 million a year, $500 million a year.

[18:25:01]

HABERMAN: Look, Wolf, he has a history of making these kind of threats and not following through, except for when he does, right?

So, I don't think we're going to know whether he's going to go ahead with this until we see it. It has played out as a typical sort of thought process that we have seen this president go through when he's debating what to do.

He tends to poll-test a lot of people. You see people make pleas through the media. There was Tucker Carlson on FOX News pleading with the president last week not to reverse himself. The president then made clearer tweets over the weekend that he wasn't sure what he was doing. And now he seems to have come back to his original position.

So, we will see where this does go. But it would be a dramatic move if he took it.

BLITZER: It certainly would be.

All right, Maggie Haberman, thanks very much. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as usual, thanks to you as well.

A quick programming note for our viewers. This Sunday, join CNN's Fareed Zakaria as he investigates the moment a pandemic was born. His CNN special report, "China's Deadly Secret," is Sunday night 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Just ahead: The city of Miami and part of the Disney World, they are just hours away from reopening. We will have a live report from Florida.

And I will ask San Francisco's Mayor London Breed how a new lifting of restrictions in her city, how is that going?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: The State of Florida may have been slow to shut down, but now, it's reopening in a big way with new milestones in the hours ahead.

CNN's Randi Kaye is joining us from West Palm Beach. Randi, Miami is now joining the rest of the state in reopening. What will that look like?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Miami is one of the last cities to reopen because it was one of the hardest hit, more than 9,700 coronavirus cases in Miami. But starting tomorrow, it will join phase one with the rest of the state. So retail stores will open to about 50 percent capacity, face masks required, fitting rooms will be closed.

Also barber shops, salons, spas and nails will also open. That would be by appointment only. And employees working very close to one another and to customers will have to wear those clear facemasks, we're told, also limited capacity inside. And they're going to be installing, if they can, the plexiglass barrier between seats in those salons as well.

Parks will be open just for mainly exercise, jogging, running, walking, they don't want people to congregate. And also office space, Wolf, in Miami, will be opening again. Tenants will have to wear face masks, they'll have to sanitize their hands when entering the building as well. And cubicles, we're told, will be at least six feet apart.

But interesting though, Wolf, gyms in Miami will remain closed because gyms around the rest of the state earlier this week did reopen to 50 percent capacity, as well as restaurants all across the state, 50 percent capacity, up from 25 percent capacity.

Now, just north of here, in Orlando, Disney World is taking its first step in reopening, Wolf, tomorrow as well. An area called Disney Springs, which is their venue for entertainment and food, that will be reopening tomorrow. The theme park itself will remain closed.

But guests at Disney Springs will have to wear face coverings and they're going to be doing temperature checks at the gates when you enter, and anyone, Wolf, with a temperature of 100.4 or more will be turned away. But that's a big step for Disney World Theme Park, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly is, we'll watch it closely. Good luck to everyone in Florida right now. Randi, thank you very much.

Let's go to California right now. Joining us, the mayor of San Francisco, London Breed. Mayor Breed, thanks so much for joining us.

Let me get your quick reaction to the president's decision to defend his decision to take this drug, hydroxychloroquine, despite the FDA saying it has not been shown to be safe and effective in treating or preventing the coronavirus. Should your residence follow the president's lead or the FDA's?

MAYOR LONDON BREED (D), SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Wolf, I just want to tell you, the people of San Francisco, we stopped listening to the president a long time ago. We have real problems. This is a world pandemic. And we need to be focused on the facts and not distractions. People are hurting financially. This is a public health crisis. And we have real work to do.

So the fact that he continues to be a distraction rather than focus on solutions in trying to protect the people of this country is just not something we should continue to allow, to distract us from what the real issues are.

BLITZER: The president did tweet today, Mayor, that more than $700 million in federal funds will be sent to San Francisco to support the airport and mass transit in your city. He says that money will aid in economic recovery as well. Is he right?

BREED: So we got that money some time ago through the CARES Act. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with Senator Harris and others who fought for that money, for the folks in this region. That money was received and we are grateful for that. But we need more and we definitely need something like the Heroes Act passed, so that we can get more money into the hands of the people who are suffering, folks whose businesses aren't going to be able to be open anytime soon. We are facing a huge budget deficit, over $54 billion in the State of California alone. And so it's going to be important that we continue to provide resources, that we work together, so that we don't have to deal with long-term economic impacts that will completely destroy the American economy.

BLITZER: I'm told that as of yesterday, Mayor, about 95 percent of the retail businesses in San Francisco were able to reopen for curbside pickup and delivery.

[18:35:07]

You've been cautious throughout this pandemic, and that's understandable. What led you to feel comfortable now in taking this step, at least the partial step to reopen?

BREED: Well, what I have said from the very beginning is we will look to our public health officials and their recommendations will be our guide. They have been great so far in helping us to really -- not only curb but slightly reduce the curve.

And so we're in a better place. And so we know that we can gradually reopen, provide opportunities where these small businesses that we know are really suffering. And we hope to do even more.

The people of San Francisco have been absolutely incredible. And because the majority of them are complying, we're able to take things a step further. What we've seen in this city, for example, 2,179 cases of COVID-19, 36 deaths, 62 people hospitalized. And so we see the numbers are gradually declining around hospitalizations. And so we're grateful for that. And it's because of the people of San Francisco that we're going to be able to get back to business sooner or rather than later.

BLITZER: As you, of course, know, other parts of California, they have loosened restrictions a lot more quickly than San Francisco. Are you comfortable with the speed at which the rest of your state is now reopening?

BREED: I think that each city is different, because they are dealing with -- we're a more dense city. We have different challenges than a place like Napa County and other places. And so I do think that there is not a one-size-fits-all here. And, again, it has everything to do with the data and what we're facing right here in San Francisco.

We have provided a guideline for what we need around PPE, around testing, around contact tracing, so that we can begin to gradually move into the phases of allowing San Francisco to reopen safely. The worst thing we can do at this time is move too quickly and then see that curve spike up tremendously, and then we not have the hospital capacity to handle it.

So I think that the pace of which we're moving, would I personally like to see it move faster? Yes. But I also have a bigger responsibility and that's the people of San Francisco, to make sure that we are cautiously moving forward so that we can protect the health of the residents of this city.

BLITZER: Yes, as I often say, these are life and death decisions that mayors and governors have to make, and it's critically, critically important. Mayor London Breed, thank you so much for joining us.

BREED: Thank you so much, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Just ahead, does it make sense for some colleges to reopen in the fall only to return to online classes after Thanksgiving?

And it could be one of the riskier things you do once you finally get out of the house. We'll take it close to look at the chances of getting the coronavirus in a public restroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: As state ease stay-at-home restrictions, some colleges are actually announcing they will reopen their campuses to students this fall, but will end in-person classes after Thanksgiving over fears of the virus resurgence.

Joining us now is Sal Khan, the Founder and CEO of the Khan Academy, a free online education resource. Sal, thanks so much for joining us.

So what do you think of these colleges considering bringing students back early in the fall so they can wrap up this semester before Thanksgiving? How can schools from college to kindergarten, utilize some online tools to supplement in-person education if the school year become so shorten?

SAL KHAN, FOUNDER & CEO, KHAN ACADEMY: Yes, I think that universities, they're in a real bind right now. Because, obviously, a lot of what they bring to the table is being able to be on the quad and sit in the dorm room and have those late night conversation. And now in a world, you know, I think where -- for sure when we get back to flu season, or whatever, it might be called COVID season now, November, you might have to close down again.

But most of the universities that I've been talking to, they are looking at this with eyes wide open. They are realizing that they might have to go straight to virtual, riding back to school or some hybrid. So they're all using the standard tools we're all using now, the video conferencing software. A lot of them are using tools like Khan Academy for those early entry level courses. A lot are using a MOOCs and those types of platforms and they're trying to digitize as quickly as they can.

But it is a tough scenario because there's four or five ways this could all go.

BLITZER: You're at the forefront of online education. As you know, the presidents of Notre Dame, University, Rice University, they both told CNN today they're prioritizing bringing students back to campus safely. Is there something about in-person education that simply can't be replace online?

KHAN: Yes. To be very clear, and I'm someone who, in some ways, represents a lot of online education, I would always take an in-person interaction with an amazing teacher over technology any day for my own children, and by that, pretty much anyone else's children.

And so pure online is never the way to go. You might have to go in that direction because of emergencies like this. The best world is you get the best to both worlds even during times of regular school. You can use online to -- so that learning isn't bound by time and space, so that students could learn at their own time and pace, fill in their gaps. And then the in-person should always be about interaction. How do we leverage the humans when they're in the room together?

And so if they do have to shut down physically, when they're using other tools, like video conferencing, I think that's the key element, how can you replicate as much of that person-to-person interaction as possible. But there're those intangibles of just passing, meeting someone at the dining hall, being able to talk to professor after class, that you're never going to get just pure online.

[18:45:03]

BLITZER: Yes, that's really important.

I spoke to Professor Scott Galloway of NYU the other day, and he predicts this pandemic will permanently change the landscape of higher education. Do you expect to do the same thing, for example, for elementary -- elementary school education?

KHAN: I think so. I just talked to the superintendent at Miami-Dade earlier today, and he was talking about his scenario planning for back to school, where he sees a world where certain students are going to want to be in that physical experience, the way it always was, well a lot of other students are going to need a hybrid experience where they actually are able to do certain things better from a home environment, and for certain kids, maybe their families moving around a little more, they might need a lot more than virtual.

And in that world when your starting to cater to these different use cases, even the physical experience has to be a little bit more blended with the technology. You're going to have to put a camera in the classroom, and especially this coming back to school, whether you're talking about higher education or K-12, people are talking about a shift based model. Some kids Monday, Wednesday, some kids come Tuesday, Thursday.

So, in order to support the kids who aren't in the room, essentially, you're going to have to be blended with virtual and physical all the time.

BLITZER: Sal Khan, good to have you back in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for joining us.

KHAN: Great to be here. BLITZER: All right. Just ahead, as Americans return to shared spaces,

will take a closer look at the steps being taken right now to keep public bathrooms safe and to allow for social distancing.

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[18:51:08]

BLITZER: As businesses and shared spaces across the country reopen, health experts are warning about the potential for public bathrooms to spread the virus.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us. He has details.

Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're told that public bathrooms with their commonly touched services and droplets flying around can be dangerous breeding grounds for coronavirus. So, a key question tonight is, how are businesses going to overhaul their bathrooms as they reopen?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, as more Americans clamor to get back to their favorite restaurants, movie theaters and malls, there's one element of the reopening process health experts are keeping a close eye on, the public restroom -- a place they say can be a Petri dish for diseases like coronavirus.

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, FORMER CDC DISEASE DETECTIVE: You may have many people who are not able to stay six feet apart and also, because in the bathroom, you have so many high contact surfaces. Things like taps, soap dispensers, door handles, flush handles.

TODD: And experts say some of those features in public restrooms that we previously thought were sanitary are now potential transmitters of coronavirus.

ERIC FEIGL-DING, SENIOR FELLOW, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: The hand drying blower is a wonderful machine to spread germs and aerosols and droplets throughout the room. And another key thing is that when you flush a toilet, the act of flushing a toilet is actually an aerosol generating device of fecal matter. And we know that there is viruses in fecal matters.

TODD: Bathroom safety is on the minds of proprietors and customers alike, as businesses start to reopen. The owner of the Aut-o-rama drive in theatre in Ohio told "The Washington Post" bathroom safety was the number one concern people had on our Facebook page. So I had to take action to make them comfortable.

A restaurant owner to Houston is enforcing bathroom distancing.

MATT BRICE, OWNER-OPERATOR, FEDERAL AMERICAN GRILL: I have an attendant where he or she stands outside the restrooms and only one person goes in at a time.

TODD: Other potential solutions, some of them being tried in Europe, touch free public bathrooms, where not only are the flush, the hand drier and the sink touch free, but when you exit, at least part of the bathroom automatically disinfects after each person, marking off sinks and toilets so that every other one is used to maintain distance.

Removing doors from bathroom entrances like many airports have done so people won't have to touch them. McDonald's has a new rule that bathrooms are going to be cleaned every half hour. Changes that many restaurant and store managers say will cost them a lot of money to make, but which could make the difference in whether their businesses survive.

One change experts say should be installing a simple feature which many public restrooms in America don't have.

YASMIN: Many public bathrooms have toilets that don't have lids which means you're pulling the flush and generating this mist of droplets without being able to contain that safely.

TODD: Should some establishments shut down bathrooms completely or should we all simply stop using the bathrooms in restaurants?

FEIGL-DING: The main reason people go to the bathroom in restaurants is actually to wash their hands and so I think we do not want to discourage people from washing their hands.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: But public health experts say many establishments could take months or years to overhaul their bathrooms to meet some of the new sanitation standards. So in the meantime, they're recommending people do things like bring their own toiletry kits to public bathrooms and restaurants. Maybe bring hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes and they recommend people wear masks when people go into public bathrooms -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a whole new world out there. All right, Brian Todd reporting. Thanks very much.

We'll have more news right after this.

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[18:59:11]

BLITZER: Finally tonight, we have new tributes to Americans who have died from the coronavirus.

Mike Derosa of Washington was 64 years old. His wife Peggy says he had such an innate mechanical ability that she would jokingly call him MacGyver. She says they had a wonderful life during their 48 years together. And Mike told her many times he would leave this world with no regrets. Martin Travelstead of Indiana was 81. He was an Army veteran, church

deacon and devoted husband to Shirley, a father and grandfather who kept his pockets full of candy for the kids. His daughter describes him as the kind of person everyone should strive to be.

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

To our viewers, thanks very for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNsitroom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.