Return to Transcripts main page


President Donald Trump Heading To Michigan To Visit Ford Factory; 2.4 Million Filing For Unemployment Benefit Again; Dr. Anthony Fauci: The Scientific Evidence Clearly Indicates That Physical Separation Has Worked; Attorney General Saying That If The President Doesn't Wear A Mask That Could Have Implications For Any Future Visits He Has. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 21, 2020 - 12:00   ET



FREDRICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's if not what they believe in. Instead, you have a lot of hand washing and hand sanitizing and since the schools have reopened there has not been a spike in new Coronavirus infections. Fred Pleitgen CNN, Copenhagen, Denmark.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. This is CNN continuing coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The President leaves for Michigan this hour. It's a key 2020 battleground state and a Coronavirus test case, fourth in deaths among the 50 states and very much in the leading edge of the economic fallout, too.

A morning reminder of that devastation in what is now an economic tragedy 2.4 million Americans say they do not have a job. The nine- week total, more than 38 million shoved to the unemployment rolls by Coronavirus.

A new study about the cost of waiting to tell Americans to stay at home is now stirring a debate over whether the President, most Governors and Mayors should have acted sooner? Where we are right now is another debate. The President plans things in military terms and says, "We have prevailed".

The urgent need now in his view is to reopen quickly to save American businesses and American jobs but the nation's top expert on infectious disease voices the caution we do not hear from his boss.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The scientific evidence clearly indicates that physical separation has worked, but not completely. If you look at the curves in our country, it isn't like everything is dramatically going down. Now is not the time to tempt fate and pull back completely.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: With the President about to head to Michigan with us to share her reporting and her insights our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash also in Michigan for us CNN's Omar Jimenez. Omar let's start with you. The President is making a trip that is about the pandemic but is also about the November election. What's the situation on the ground in Michigan?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John, a lot of actors playing into the President's visit here. He's expected to leave Washington shortly where he'll then make his way here to Ypsilanti, Michigan, specifically to the Ford Plant behind me.

Now, a big question in this trip is whether he will wear a mask when he steps inside this plant? Significant for health reasons, one, but also because it Ford's policy that everyone inside must wear a mask. Now Ford's reps have told us that they've communicated that with the White House but also say the White House will be making their own determination for the President.

And interestingly enough, the state has weighed in here with the Attorney General saying that if the President doesn't wear a mask that could have implications for any future visits he has.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he fails to wear a mask, he's going to be asked not to return to any enclosed facilities inside our state. I know that Ford has asked him to do the same thing. But if we know this, and he's not going to follow the law, I think we're going to have to take action against any company or any facility that allows him inside those facilities and puts our workers at risk.


JIMENEZ: Now, I've spoken to a source in the facility who says they would prefer the President wear a mask when he steps inside, specifically citing that when their CEO and when union leadership and others stepped inside, they want to see more of that leadership by example on that front.

But again, this visit is not happening within a vacuum. It also comes as President Trump has been going back and forth pleading state officials here specifically over the recent move by Secretary of State to send absentee ballot applications to all of their voters.

Now, he initially mischaracterized what was being sent out saying they're ballots, as opposed to applications. And saying this move was legal both claims untrue at this point. He also threatened to withhold some federal funding to Michigan. But again, these are the dynamics that are playing out as President Trump makes his way to Ypsilanti today, John.

KING: All right, it is more than little complicated, Omar, I appreciate that. And Dana, to that point, the President has been a contrarian when it comes to masks. He doesn't wear one even though his government tells people that you should if you're out in public especially if you're in close proximity.

He's also heading to a state that was absolutely critical to his map in 2016, and he is fighting constantly with a Governor who has giant approval ratings on how she's handling this pandemic? The President's numbers in Michigan are under water the Governor is getting high approval ratings, normally, that would convince you back off, don't fight, but he's picking the fight?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Because he can't help himself. This is not something that he's being encouraged to do by his political advisers according to people I'm talking to. It's that he sees the Governor as somebody who has challenged him which he doesn't like.

And we've seen historically that it's even more of a sore point for him when it's a strong, powerful woman. And then you take it to the next step where he does also see the visuals in the, you know, volumes of news that he consumes.

Of the protests in Michigan, specifically, saying those are my people. I want to encourage those people. I want to keep those people going because if I have a chance of winning in Michigan, they need to be electrified.


BASH: And they need to know that I have their back. It is a tricky political business, never mind health business, when you're talking about the President as Omar was just reporting going into a state, going into a plant that requires him to wear a mask. Will he wear one?

It may seem like we're talking about something that is trivial, but it's not. It is example-setting in a really, really important way even more so now, much more so now than at the White House, because this is a business that is saying please respect our policies.

KING: But the question, again, does the President side with the scientific experts? Or does he side with members of his base who think it's the elitists telling us to do this? We don't really have to do this. They're overstating the pandemic, they're overstating this.

BASH: Right.

KING: Who - what choice does the President make? Another thing that's been fascinating to watch is the President has traveled very rarely because of restrictions in place. When he has left Washington, it's been to go to Arizona, to go to Pennsylvania, and to go to Michigan, pretty obvious?

BASH: Totally obvious. They're not even trying to hide it. He's not going to blue states that he has absolutely no chance of winning. They are trying as much as they can to replicate a campaign event until every move that he makes.

And that's what Michigan is about. Even though, you know, it's unclear how it's going to play out, as you said, he would not be President of the United States without that surprise win in Michigan. But the fact that he is going there is 1,000 percent because it's such a politically critical state.

It does, in fairness to the White House also happen to be a hot spot. And had a very, very big problem, you know, historically, since the beginning of this crisis, that the Federal Government had been trying to work with more the Vice President working with the Governor than him. But there is a reasonable excuse for him to go to Michigan.

KING: And a good opportunity for him to be in that Ford Factory where as Omar noted they're making ventilators as well as parts of cars there and they'll now get to see some of the spacing that put in place to protect their workers.

BASH: And we should note that going to a Ford Factory, I mean, those are his people. If you look at the union leadership, what we learned in 2016 is that the leadership height behind their traditional party which is the Democratic Party. But it was the workers who turned out to be the Trump voters. And so that's not an accident that is the kind of place he is going to within a swing state.

KING: Truth, but many implications about the pandemic, about politics. More Dana Bash, appreciate it, and Omar Jimenez welcome appreciate that reporting as well. Moving on now to the medical fight here a $1 billion deal today for a vaccine that may or may not work, that deal involves U.S. tax dollars. The Trump Administration now working with the big drug maker AstraZeneca to manufacture a vaccine currently being developed at the University of Oxford. Here's the CEO.


PASCAL SORIOT, CEO, ASTRAZENECA: We're doing the clinical ride that used to be done. We're not the technical work, we're not doing phase one, two, we're going to do phase two, three, it's a completely styled program it just happens that it's done very quickly with a lot of resources involved a lot of passion, a lot of focus and great collaboration with the FDA and the U.S. and MHRA in the U.K.


KING: Let's talk this over Dr. Paul Offit is Pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases. He serves on the FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee. Dr. Offit, good to see you again. So we hear about all these developments almost by the day. This is the Trump Administration enter into a very expensive deal, essentially to have this company produce vaccines even before we know if it is the vaccine, smart, risky, somewhere in the middle?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE, FDA: Well, again, I think that these are very preliminary data. As you said earlier, we don't know whether this is safe. We don't know whether this vaccine works. We will know that, though.

I mean, assuming we do this the right way and this vaccine is subject to a phrase three trial which is say in a large placebo controlled trial where 20,000 people get this vaccine, and 10,000 people get the placebo, and you can see whether it's safe and you see whether it works then you know?

The proof is in the pudding and that's the pudding. Right now, it's just also sort of science by press release it's very - maybe we have a vaccine, but we don't know that yet.

KING: And so, in terms of the infrastructure, many of our viewers whether they're here in the United States or around the world, they see the depressing numbers on the right side of the screen the World Health Organization just this week reporting its single biggest day in terms of spike cases.

KING: I want you to listen to this conversation of Dr. Fauci here in this conversation with Julia Roberts. He is saying it's great that the United States government is leaning into this research but better be ready to do global delivery.



DR. FAUCI: We can't make a vaccine for ourselves and only know how well it works in ourselves? If you don't control an outbreak in the developing world, it's going to come around and bite you the next season. So unless you completely stop this, you're not going to wall yourself off from the developing world.


KING: You have a lot of experience in this. Do you see the international cooperation among the scientists and among the governments, to pull this off? That if whether it is in months or a year or month, when we finally get to that shot on goal that goes in and you have a vaccine?

Do you see the infrastructure being built, the political cooperation being built the bonds and trusts, if you will, to ramp up production in a way to get it to the world, as opposed to the wealthy nations?

DR. OFFIT: Well, there's certainly cooperation among the scientists. I certainly think there's political will in this world to make sure that this vaccine goes to all of the places. How much more information do we need to know that what happens in the rest of the world affects us?

And I think we have a moral obligation, frankly, to make sure that we're a good friend to this world. And if we're able to create a vaccine and I think it's going to be more than one vaccine if we get it out there not only to our country but also all of the other countries who can benefit. That's our moral and ethical obligation.

KING: Dr. Offit, again I appreciate you helping us through this with your expertise and your wise context, if will you. We'll continue the conversation and we wish all of those scientists luck, of course. Dr. Offit, thank you.

DR. OFFIT: Thank you. KING: Let's shift now to new evidence of the economic impact of Coronavirus. The Labor Department today reports another 2.4 million Americans, 2.4 million Americans filing first-time unemployment claims last week. That's now nearly 40 million people filing for benefits in just two months. CNN Business Correspondent and Anchor Julia Chatterley is here. You add up those numbers, Julia, it is just you get whiplash?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You do. It is nine weeks of devastation for American workers it's tough to say it any differently. The jobs market fell off a cliff and sub factors were still falling.

The numbers that we're seeing on a weekly basis are coming down but the trend is lowering but that's no comfort when we're talking 1 in 4 American workers that are struggling in terms of lost jobs, furlough or simply just afraid. It also underestimates based on the numbers that we got today.

How many were talking about, there were an additional 1.2 gig economy workers, sole traders, UBER drivers, for example, that also claimed for benefit help in the past week too. So we're just getting a sense of additional sectors that have never got benefits before. But you also have to look state by state because the differences here are quite drastic.

If you look at states like Kentucky, Georgia, we're now talking up to close to 40 percent of workers in that state, asking, filing for first-time benefits. If you have a state that's deeply reliant, close contact business, tourism, entertainment, you're looking at far worse than depression numbers here too.

What we're not collecting in this data is jobs coming back. And this is what the key focus is going to be on that even when I look at the number of people that were already claiming benefits, those numbers spiked by more than 2.5 million people.

So John, I'll keep coming back to the fact that two thirds of workers say look, this is temporary, my job is going to come back we're simply not seeing that in the data. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary said there's a strong likelihood that a further stimulus bill is needed. He's right.

KING: We'll watch that debate they play out, and the numbers tell us we can expect months and months of disruption ahead of us. Julia Chatterley, I appreciate that very much. We just heard the New York State Governor earlier today saying there will be no summer school in person this summer. So what will it take to get kids back into the classroom?

Join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a very special conversation tonight" Coronavirus facts and fears" you can watch that right here at 8:00 pm eastern only on CNN. Up next for us all 50 states now in some phase of reopening, more than a dozen of those states have seen their cases spike.



KING: All 50 states now at least partially reopen, many of them accelerating their plans this week. But at least 17 of those states recording a clear upward trend of average new cases this week. We look often at the states.

Let's take a look at what the map looks like when you look at it from a county by county perspective. Here in the United States, and you're looking at this map you hope where you live is lighter. The darker colors where the cases are hit the hardest here, confirmed cases by 1,000 residents.

If you're deep red, that means you have a big Coronavirus problem the light red areas, obviously, where there is not as much of a problem. You can look at it county by county in the case of deaths across the United States as well.

Have your concentration here New York stretching up into New England, Louisiana down here. It has been a problem in Midwest, out here in Navajo Nation. Other parts of the Western United States, again, if you're looking at this map, you would prefer the area where you live to be light, not deep into the red.

If you go county by county, you can look at - some major counties, across America. If you're Orange County, California, you are coming down into the middle of May. So one of area concern is why are we heading back up? Is this just - you know one time, is it one some cluster somewhere?

Is it just a quick couple of days of trouble or are you starting to climb up? You don't want that. Harris County, Texas one of the fastest growing counties in America Houston, Texas is in Harris County.

Again you see it come down, this is where officials start to think okay, we'll be ready to reopen and then you start to see this again, that is what makes people nervous. I just want to put the county map of cases just back up as we talk about a new Coronavirus model that warns areas of the country that open too quickly could see case spikes.


KING: The projection predicts a rapid uptick for example in places like Miami, parts of Texas, parts of Alabama and Tennessee. But it shows that in other states where restrictions were lifted more slowly and more selectively believe those states may escape an immediate resurges.

Joining us now is Dr. David Reuben he is the Director of Policy Lab at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia which is a big part of this study. Doctor, lay out when you look at this, and you say, okay, these places, we think they're on the right path, these places trouble us? How did you make those judgments? DR. DAVID REUBEN, DIRECTOR, POLICY LAB, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Our models are really sensitive to amount of distancing people do. And by and far, the most effective intervention to mitigate transmission of this virus is the distancing that people do.

I mean, we knew that as communities reopened what might set apart the communities that were doing well, versus those that weren't were not only how quickly they were going but how vigilant and cautious people would remain? And that means masking in indoor locations, restricting gathering sizes, a focus on hand hygiene and disinfection.

And the degree to which some areas have moved too quickly, or not have been vigilant with regards to individual behavior we're starting to see some evidence of resurgence, but we're also seeing some optimism in other areas that appear to be moving more cautiously. And they're opening as well, too, but we're not seeing the same resurgence risk there.

KING: So we're going to track these on a daily basis and certainly, on a weekly basis. I just want to show some of the grasps from your study for some areas that you believe are doing well. And we can walkthrough why in just a second, but you look at King County, Washington. You have the numbers here.

You can see it just on the chart there. If you figure it out, if you're up the top, that's bad. You're starting to trend down, you're projection is they continue to go down. Denver, Colorado, again you had a big spike in the middle.

When it came to Denver, Colorado, your prediction, now is they're at least flat may be that goes up a little tiny bit there. Franklin County, Ohio, you see a bit of - I'd call this a roller coaster I'm sure not what a statistician would call it?

But then you see a trajectory that starts to bring this down. Explain when you see the projection, that's the dots at the end flat or down, what's behind that? You believe it is policies that say we can reopen, but cautiously?

DR. REUBEN: Yes, we can observe directly what individuals are doing in these counties? But, you know, these are densely crowded areas as well, too. Particularly, Denver it's interesting, you you've got Columbus, Ohio, as well.

And what we see is that, you know, even though the counties for some of the reopening that they're doing, they certainly have some favorable temperature trends that are helping them. But our models are really flexible to what's actually happening in those counties.

And the degree to which we can't observe whether people are wearing masks, it's being revealed in their data in our predictions that our forecasts from them actually demonstrate less resurgence. Whereas in other areas that have moved too quickly, like in the south, their distancing practice has eroded more quickly.

But we also suspect, for the same amount of relaxation, social distancing, we're seeing much more worrisome forecasts. And we suspect that what we're detecting there is potentially the lack of digital inserts occurring in those communities.

KING: And that's the fascinating challenge here because you can look at different communities and you can track say anonymous cell phone data and you look at mobility, and you see similar mobility here than you do there.

And yet you could have a very different result and that's in part I believe what you're trying to get at is based on, A., are employers being responsible having safety in the work place as people come back?

B, are the individuals being responsible as they go out whether they are on their way to work? Whether on their way around neighborhood any way they're interacting? Just want to show the flip side of this where you see some evidence that things could go on the wrong direction.

Harris County, Texas, you see there that's not what you want to see? You just do not want a projection heading up like that. Miami-Dade, which is beginning to reopen right now, and you have a similar result there.

You bounce around a little that's the actual data and then the projection is the dots heading up in Montgomery, Alabama, a state that's reopened. And if you look at those numbers again, all three of those, Harris County, Miami-Dade and Montgomery, the right side of your chart is pretty similar, why? Why do you see these as potential danger spots?

DR. REUBEN: Yes, so we include the same factors like population density, the amount of distancing that people are doing. By and large, the most important contributor to those predictions is where your cases are going?

We factored in where yesterday's transmission rates were and what the magnitudes of cases were in your county? Take a place like Dallas, for example. They've seen an increase in hospitalizations and cases. Their forecast is worse because their cases are their cases. And we're seeing it in the actual evidence.


DR. REUBEN: However, I think the value of our forecast is that there's still time to modify behavior. And if you're a county leader or you're an individual family, and you view your forecast and see these worsened trends, the message there is what can I do today?

What can we do as a community this week to try to bend that curve back because if you wait too long, then the risk for some of this resurgence and this spike in cases becomes even higher?

KING: Dr. David Reuben, it's really interesting work. I really appreciate you coming on and explain it to us.

DR. REUBEN: Anytime. KING: Thank you, sir. Up next for us, as we noted President Trump heading to a key Coronavirus test case, the State of Michigan it also happens to be a key 2020 Midwest battleground.