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U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 93,000; Trump Says He Won't Replace CDC Director Redfield; CDC Director Warns Of Second Wave Of Coronavirus; New Model Predicts Cases Spikes In Some Early- Reopening States; Universal Orlando Presents Reopening Plan, Disney Holds Off; U.S. Investing $1 Billion In Potential Vaccine; Deal Secures Order Of At Least 400 Million Doses; Brazil Sees Biggest Single-Day Spike In New Cases; COVID Could Prompt Schools To Rethink Classroom Practices. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 21, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Wilson German was 91 years old. May his memory be a blessing.

The U.S. is about to reach a grim milestone, 100,000 deaths from coronavirus it's particularly devastating because this virus has deprived so many of us the ability to properly say goodbye so we're going to try to fill that need on Sunday, May 31st at noon, Eastern when CNN will host a special "We Remember A Memorial Service" for those lost.

Pease join us our coverage on CNN continues right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room", we're following breaking news.

On the coronavirus pandemic, which has now killed more than 93,000 Americans. The U.S. has more than 1.5 million confirmed cases. President Trump just wrapped up a factory tour of a Ford auto plant in Michigan, where he refused to wear a face mask in public, despite the company's policy and a very stern warning for Michigan's Attorney General that he's actually breaking the law.

This hour, I'll speak with the Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel about President Trump's decision to defy her order.

More states, meanwhile, are seeing new cases climb, even as all 50 states are beginning to reopen. The case -- the rate of new cases is trending up in 17 states as the new model predicts some of the states that reopened earliest will actually seeing the biggest spikes, especially in the south.

Let's begin our coverage this hour of details of the President's trip to Michigan and his refusal to wear a mask in public. Our White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond has the very latest information for us. So Jeremy, tell us more. JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, no mask for the President today during that tour of that manufacturing plants in Michigan that despite that warning from Michigan's Attorney General and a requirement by for that anyone who goes into one of these manufacturing plants must wear a mask. The President nonetheless defiance. And he said that one of the reasons he chose not to wear a mask, at least in public was in spite. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I did wear, I had one on before I wore one in this back area. But I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it. But know where I had it in the back area, I did put a mask on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have the goggles on (INAUDIBLE) sir?

TRUMP: I did. I had goggles, goggles and the mask, right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So why would you not --

TRUMP: And here's another one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would you not wearing it --

TRUMP: Because in this area --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would you bring it here for?

TRUMP: Not necessary here. Well, everybody has been tested and I've been tested. In fact, I was tested this morning. So it's not necessarily.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, that's a choice. I was given -- I was given a choice.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND: And you know, Wolf, it is remarkable to see the President still unwilling to wear a mask, particularly because it's just such an easy step that he could take and most public health experts would like to see him do it, not just for the safety of those around him and for, you know, for that aspect of things, but also just for the aspect of the example that it would set for Americans across the country who are beginning to go back in public or beginning to frequent businesses again, and public health experts would like to see them wear those masks not to protect themselves, but to protect others around them.

And Wolf, another note about the President's visit to Michigan. It came as the President was threatening to withhold funding to that state after it announced a plan to send absentee ballot applications to registered voters across the state. The President has falsely claimed that that was an illegal act by the Michigan Secretary of State. And he also claimed once again today, Wolf that it would increase voter fraud without providing any evidence for that claim. So that was also the backdrop today certainly of the President's trip to Michigan.

BLITZER: Yes, it's interesting all the Ford executives, the top executives of Ford, everybody there on that tour, they were all wearing masks. The only one who I saw who wasn't wearing a mask was the president of the United States.

You know, Jeremy, there also have been some serious questions about the fate of the CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield. I understand the President was just asked if he plans to replace him.

DIAMOND: That's right Wolf, the President was ask he -- he was asked that question quite directly, and he shot back with an emphatic no as he was walking away to the next part of his tour at that Ford manufacturing facility. Wolf that came, as we know that we've reported repeatedly over the last several days on these tensions between the White House and the CDC. But beyond those sanctions, we've also seen it spilling to the public view with top White House official Peter Navarro criticizing the CDC openly on Sunday. And then we also reported that the President was criticizing the CDC during a lunch with Senate Republicans on Tuesday.

But the President insisting once again today that he believes Dr. Redfield is doing a great job at the CDC. Despite all those reports that we've seen.

[17:05:02]

Dr. Redfield we should note is also trying to put aside any of those questions. He's done a number of interviews over the last 24 hours, perhaps trying to show that he's still there still working, and certainly not headed out the door, but it's certainly something that we'll continue to monitor. Wolf.

BLITZER: Well certainly we'll. All right, Jeremy Diamond to the White House. Thank you very much.

Let's continue the discussion right now with Michigan's Attorney General Dana Nessel. Attorney General, thank you so much for joining us.

This morning., you said right here on CNN that if President Trump doesn't wear a mask, he'll be asked not to return to any undisclosed facilities in your state. Is the President no longer welcome in Michigan?

DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I will say speaking on behalf of my department and my office, that's right. That's exactly right. I mean, today's events were extremely disappointing and yet totally predictable. And I will say that, you know, understanding of course, that his own doctor, Dr. Fauci, a zone medical expert recommends the wearing of masks in public enclosed spaces. The CDC makes that recommendation.

In Michigan of course now that is the law. I -- and fact a court just upheld that just upheld the governor's orders just hours ago. And even in Ford, it is their own policy. So the President is like a petulant child who refuses to follow the rules. And I have to say, this is no joke. I mean, you just reported that 93,000 people have died in the United States. He is in a county right now were over 100 people have died. I am 20 minutes away from him in Wayne County where we've had over 2,300 people die. This is not a joke.

And he's conveying the worst possible message to people who cannot afford to be on the receiving end of terrible misinformation. And it's very, very concerning.

BLITZER: You wrote a letter to the President earlier, before his visit. And you said this, among other things, let me put it up on the screen. Anyone who has potentially been recently exposed, including the President of United States has not only a legal responsibility, but also a social and moral responsibility to take reasonable precautions to prevent further spread of the virus.

So what message did the President of United States sent to the people of Michigan today, especially the workers there at that Ford plant, with his actions today, behind the scenes backstage, he put on a mask, there were no cameras allowed there, but publicly the whole time he was without a mask.

NESSEL: I think the message he sent is the same message since he first took office in 2017, which is, I don't care about you. I don't care about your health. I don't care about your safety. I don't care about your welfare. I don't care about anyone but myself. And he's continuously sent this message. And what I would say back is that even if you don't have a President of the United States, that cares about the residents of this state, fortunately, you have a governor, and you have an attorney general who do. And we are going to do everything in our power to protect you, even if you have a president who won't.

BLITZER: Because you actually have threatened action against any company or facility for that matter that allows the president inside without a mask. Will this Ford plant, for example, a face any consequences?

NESSEL: Well, I think that we're going to have to have a very serious consequence -- conversation with Ford, in the event that they permitted the President to be in publicly enclosed places, in violation of the order. They knew exactly what the order was. And if they permitted anyone, even the President of United States to defy that order, I think it has serious health consequences, potentially to their workers.

And this was a lengthy negotiation and discussion between the UAW, the big three auto manufacturers and our governor to ensure that people if they went back to work, they would be safe. And this was a promise, it was a commitment that was made by the beginning to our auto workers who have been getting sick, and who we just opened up these plants again, just on Monday, Ford already had a few plants that had to close down because people were testing positive again.

The last thing we want to see is for this particular plant now to have to close it stores and shuttered stores, again, because someone may have been infected by the President. And that is a real possibility. But it also sends a message that anybody can do whatever they want, because look, the President did it. So why can't I? It's a terrible message to send. It's incredibly disappointing. And it's very disrespectful to the people of our state.

BLITZER: You know, his explanation when a reporter asked them, why wouldn't you wear a mask? What's the big deal? Why not wear a mask? And his explanation and I want you to your reaction to this Attorney General. He said I didn't want to -- I'm paraphrasing a little bit. I didn't want to give the media the pleasure. The pleasure use the word pleasure of seeing me wear a mask. What's your reaction to that?

[17:09:59]

NESSEL: Well, it's my reaction to many of the things that we hear Donald Trump say and that's that he is a ridiculous person and I am ashamed to have him be President of the United States of America. And I hope that the voters of Michigan will remember this back in when November comes, that he didn't care enough about their safety. He didn't care about their welfare. He didn't respect them enough just to engage in a very simple task, the painless task, the easy task of wearing a mask when he was provided one. And so I hope that we'll have a new president soon enough, who does respect people more than this president does.

BLITZER: All the other people there that we saw, including all the top Ford executives, they were all wearing masks, which is the rule which is the law. As you put forward only the President, at least in the pictures we saw, refusing to wear a mask.

Attorney General Dana Nessel, thank you so much for what you're doing. Thanks so much for joining us.

NESSEL: Thanks for having me Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we've got more news. We're following -- oh to get a roundup of all the late breaking developments right now on the coronavirus development. CNN's Nick Watt is joining us from Los Angeles right now. Update our viewers on an all the details, Nick, they are expensive.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf here in Los Angeles, they're playing golf again. But everyone's got to wear a mask even in this near 90 degree heat and no one's allowed to touch the flagstick.

Listen, people are saying that this reopening is a gamble. I'm seeing it more as a game not, not golf. I'm talking about like a strategy game, like risk or monopoly. But here is the huge problem. We're playing this game. But we don't know all the rules yet.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (voice-over): Cities like Houston and Miami should brace for a COVID comeback. According to new modeling that monitors how well we're social distancing as we reopen.

DAVID RUBIN, DIRECTOR, POLICYLAB CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: The degree to which some areas have moved too quickly or have not been vigilant with regards to individual behavior. We are starting to see some evidence of resurgence.

WATT (voice-over): Largely in the sad face a Montgomery, Alabama just ran out of ICU beds.

RUBIN: We're also seeing some optimism and other areas that appear to be moving more cautiously.

WATT (voice-over): That early hotspot King County, Washington opening slowly and the new case count is still falling.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Now is not the time to tempt fate and pull back completely.

WATT (voice-over): On the front end, apparently 36,000 American lives could have been saved if our leaders had put social distancing policies in place just one week earlier. This according to a new study from Columbia University first reported in "The New York Times".

TRUMP: I was so early. I was earlier than anybody thought. I think it's just a political hit job you want to know the truth.

WATT (voice-over): Meanwhile, in Brazil, as winter begins a new record nearly 20,000 new cases in just 24 hours. And then when the southern hemisphere is over, I suspect it will reground itself in the north, CDC Director Robert Redfield just told the "Financial Times", says he can't guarantee there won't be another lock down this winter. And on the information needed contain this virus, he says the truth is regularly, the data is delayed, and it's incomplete.

At least four states say they're combining viral and antibody test results for their case camps, potentially muddying the picture of where and how this virus is spreading. Those Food Bank lines tell a different story. The impact of lockdown nearly half of adult Americans are now living in a household that has lost income, according to a census bureau survey. And 10% reported often or some of the time not having enough food.

NICHOLAS DIMARZIO, DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN: He's going to find out the pews and the confessional.

WATT (voice-over): Religious services are back today in New York Catholic leaders laid out their plan sanitizer at the door, online worship still encouraged.

DIMARZIO: So we will move slowly but surely, to get to maximum participation as quickly as we can.

WATT (voice-over): What happens next is largely up to all of us individually.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It does not happen has to be that increased activity means more cases. It tends to be true, but it doesn't have to be true. And if people take the right precautions, you don't necessarily need to see a rise in the number of cases.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: And of course, here in Los Angeles, Wolf, everyone wants to know when will film and TV production be back? Well, the governor says they are drafting guidelines right now. They might make some announcements early next week, but production is not likely to return to Los Angeles first. So who knows how they make that work? Maybe the Hollywood temporarily moves up to Modesto. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Nick Watt reporting for us. Thanks, Nick, very much.

Up next, I'm more on the medical and the political fallout of the President of United States, his refusal to wear a mask when he's on camera. Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta is standing by.

Plus, an experts words of caution amid the warp speed rush to try to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:19:22]

BLITZER: All right, breaking news, President Trump refused to wear a mask while he was on camera during this afternoon's tour of a Ford plant in Michigan. He says he did wear a mask when he was off camera back stage.

We're joined now by our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, along with our White House correspondent John Harwood.

Sanjay, here's how the President explained why he didn't want to wear a mask during this plant. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well I did where I had one on before, I wore one in this back area. But I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it. But nowhere I had it in the back area. I did put a mask on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:19:59]

BLITZER: So what's it sort example is the President of United States setting Sanjay?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: But he should be wearing a mask, Wolf. I think -- you know, I think most of the country sort of gets that by now, we recognize that he gets tested on a regular basis. So that does offer a little bit of comfort. But, you know, we know that someone can test negative at some point, then test positive the next day. We also know that, you know, it's interesting three of his top public health officials, the head of the CDC, the head of the FDA, the head of the Institute for Infectious Diseases, is all in some form of quarantine, because of potential exposure at the White House, the same exposure that President Trump has been worried about. Not only are they wearing masks, they're also in this form of quarantine.

So, I mean, it really, you know, I think it's not the wrong message certainly sends a confusing message to people. We know masks can work. We know the President has been concerned about an exposure, which is why he was taking that medication. We know his top public health officials are taking this very seriously. I mean, he should be doing that as well.

BLITZER: You know, John, you've covered the White House for a while. What does it tell you that he'll wear a mask backstage, he actually took it out of his pocket showed the mask to reporters, at one point had a presidential seal on it, but he just won't wear a mask in front of the cameras doesn't want to be photographed, doesn't want to be seen wearing a mask?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I think it tells you something very significant about Donald Trump, Donald Trump is a person governed by his impulses. And when he's in political trouble as he's in right now, his impulse is to play cards that are oriented toward his political base. So in within his base, it's become a culture war symbol of resistance to lock down to refuse to wear a mask and we all seen the videos on social media people saying no free country, let's get back to business. I'm not wearing a mask.

The second part of it is saying that I don't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it because part another part of that culture war is I don't give in to the press, they want me to apologize. They want me to change my behavior. I'm not going to do that. And the President is unable to resist those impulses, even when they're adverse to his own interest. And I say that for this reason, if you properly view the mask wearing, it's not a symbol of resistance to lock to opening up the economy. It's a ticket to opening up the economy in a sustainable way. People wear masks this, as Sanjay has told us time and time again, that reduces transmission, reduces the threat of a second spike.

Somebody today who did get that equation was loose. -- Nick Saban, the coach of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide who did a public service announcement wearing a mask saying we want to play football this fall and the way we can play football is if all of you are willing to wear a mask. So there you had Coach Saban willing to lead in a way the President is not.

BLITZER: Yes, very interesting indeed. You know, Sanjay, all this is happening is what all 50 states now are in different phases of reopening. How essential is wearing mass to a successful reopening of the country right now?

GUPTA: Yes, I think I think Jon Harwood's point is a really good one. Even over the last few months, we have gotten, we have collected more evidence on just the effectiveness of masks. And I think there's two things that are encouraging. One is that John is right, I mean, there's a lot of people out there who are not wearing this in defiance. But even as places reopen, a lot of people are still wearing masks, choosing to wear masks, recognizing the importance of them in terms of protecting the health of those around them. So it's not a binary thing open or not open. And we've seen that effectiveness.

I will say, Wolf, we've said all along that as things reopen, we know there's going to be a certain number of people who become infected that otherwise would not and we have some numbers now these projections that are coming out of the CHOC Children's Hospital looking at, for example, what would happen in Palm Beach County. I think we have some of those numbers, but basically in Palm Beach they say roughly 102 patients are becoming infected per day and for weeks 383. So significant jump, they say with these with these openings. They also looked at Houston, currently 205 cases per day, they think it could go to 2,400, almost 2,500 cases per day.

So, so obviously, these are projections, and we've seen so many models over the last few months. But those are obviously significant increases in the number of people who get infected. Many of those people may not even know that they become infected, they won't have symptoms, but there will be a percentage Wolf, as you know, who may require hospitalization, then sadly, a percentage who may die. So that is the -- that is the sort of risk reward proposition that is going on real time in America right now. Public Health versus economic health.

BLITZER: You know, John, the President says he just wants to get back to normal, but Dr. Fauci has been largely out of sight the past couple of weeks or so says it may be his words. It may be a new normal his words, but it's not the way we had it before. How is that disconnect impacting the White House's next moves?

[17:25:05]

HARWOOD: Well, I think that's a statement of reality. And I think despite the cheerleading aspect of President Trump's public facing remarks, the society has changed. There was a poll out yesterday shows 70% of the American people thought that it was respectful to others and beneficial to wear a mask. That tells you that this norm has gotten established in the country, sometimes more than the defiance rhetoric that we highlight on television would have you believe.

I do think one other thing is worth noting a bit of news the President made today in a Q&A with reporters, he said there is likely to be a fourth stimulus bill. He said one more big dose of financial aid. That is good news. If he follows through to state and local governments who are hurting, to individual workers who are hurting and maybe also to the vaccine race, because the testing tracing, vaccine development I think there's more money for that in Speaker Pelosi is bill.

There'll be negotiation, of course with Republicans. But I think that the President sent a signal that Republicans are not going to bury this bill.

BLITZER: You know, Sanjay, we just got a statement from the White House traveling press pool covering the President Michigan right now. Let me read it to you and to our viewers. Bill Ford encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived, he wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford GTS from over the years. The President later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit.

So he was actually encouraged by the leadership, the top executives, the chairman, CEO of Ford to go ahead and wear a mask he did briefly but without any cameras there. But then he refused to wear a mask, as you can see all the executives there. They're all wearing masks, he is not, Sanjay. And as you correctly pointed out, it sends a really significant message to the American public right now where the President is really defined not just what the Ford executives asked him to do. But what the Attorney General your hear her just a little while ago on this program --

GUPTA: Yes.

BLITZER: -- with the Attorney General asked him to do saying he was actually breaking Michigan's law by refusing to wear a mask.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, and, you know, it's a little bit at odds, I think with what how most Americans feel about it right now, I think people and you got to give, give the American people credit because this has been a rapid ramp up in terms of new learning. But just over the last few months now, you get the majority of people who recognize the value of wearing a mask or wearing massively go out in public. So as we talk about, again, reopening, it's going to be a different sort of reopening in many of these places. And it may be still too early in many places. But the fact that people are thinking about this, I think is important.

The President is not wearing a mask. I think it's going to embolden some people who don't think it's important to continue not to do it. I will remind people that three of the top public health officials in this country who were in the same position as the President they were getting tested frequently. They probably had a similar exposure in the White House because we know there's at least a couple of people who tested positive in the White House. Those three health officials not only do they wear masks, but they're in some form of quarantine right now.

So, you know, I think that's hopefully the message that people should really hear that they should take this seriously. Look what these public health officials are doing, how they're handling these themselves.

BLITZER: Alrl ight, Sanjay, I know you're going to be back here in "The Situation Room" in a little while, thank you. But once again, John Harwood as usual, thanks to you.

And to our viewers stay with CNN for a global Town Hall Coronavirus. Facts And Figures hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, that airs later tonight 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Coming up, an update as well as reality check amid the drive to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

Plus, another update on plans to reopen some of Florida's top tourist destinations. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:33:51]

BLITZER: Florida's among the states moving most aggressively toward reopening right now. Today, officials for Universal Orlando theme park presented a plan to actually reopened next month.

CNN's Randi Kaye is in West Palm Beach for us. So first of all, Randi, what are you learning about Universal's plans?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Universal has put forward a plan, Wolf, to start phase 1 of its reopening on June 1. So just about a week and a half away. And here's what it would look like. On June 1, Universal would open to just team members. And then on June 3rd, they would open to some guests, also annual pass holders. And then on June 5th, they would be completely open to the public.

So the CEO says they're going to ramp up slowly, they're going to manage capacity, but all guests are going to be required to wear face masks. They also will ask them to do temperature checks as well. One disposable mask will be given to every guest if they don't have one. Now as far as employees go, they will be required to do temperature checks at home and then again, do another check when they arrive at work.

We're also told that parking spaces in the parking lot will be staggered to keep people at a safe distance. Universal characters who usually like to take pictures and mingle with the guests, they will be kept separate from all of them. There will be no mingling at all. They will also encourage cashless transactions. So, contactless sorts of payments and single use menus as far as food goes in the park.

[17:35:11]

Now this plan, Wolf, I should note has already been approved by the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. Now it goes to the Orange County mayor. He is going to take some time to do a site check as he says, go out to the park, make sure that they're following CDC guidelines. And then within the next 12 to 24 hours, he says he's going to make a recommendation to Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis has signaled, Wolf, that he would like to say yes to opening theme parks. So we'll see what happens come June 1, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's in a few days. All right, Randi Kaye reporting for us. Thank you very much.

Despite the phase reopenings in all 50 states, experts say a true return to normal won't come until there's a vaccine to stop the coronavirus. We're joined now by William Haseltine, he's the president and chair of ACCESS Health International. Thanks so much, Mr. Haseltine for joining us amid so much bad news. We're all looking for signs of progress on a vaccine.

The latest news is that the AstraZeneca has agreed to manufacture the Oxford vaccine candidate with the goal of delivering the first doses as early as this October. But you say there's some significant reason to be skeptical on vaccine development, at least right now. Tell us why.

WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR AND PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: Well, they -- thank you. The first question is, we're very early in the vaccine development. We have the very, very preliminary results of some of the very first trials, and they're not entirely encouraging. They're not discouraging. But there are real questions as to whether the vaccines, and I'm talking about in general, all vaccines, not just the Oxford vaccine, are going to work the way people think of vaccine should work. That is to completely protect you.

In almost all the studies where the data is available, what you're finding is partial protection. For example, in the Oxford test, all the monkeys were actually infected. All the vaccinated monkeys were infected, they weren't protected completely. They were protected in their lungs but not in their nose. That means we have to be quite cautious and understanding what's going to happen with humans. So that's the first thing.

The second thing is that we know that older people have a very difficult time mounting immune responses. Just as memories fade, so does immune memory fade for anything that comes in that's new, and that might be a problem. And it's a problem that vaccinologists are still struggling for something as simple as the flu vaccine.

It took about 15 years to solve that problem for a pneumococcal vaccine. These are not easy problems. And so are we going to have a partially effective vaccine? And what would that mean?

And next question is, yes, we have a Warp Speed project, but weren't means to distort. Are we going to distort our regulatory processes to get a vaccine that's partially effective? Are we going to say, yes, it's OK, we're going to take the risk? And we know that there's some downsides of vaccines, particularly with these kinds of vaccines.

BLITZER: Because you mention -- sorry for interrupting but you mentioned the Warp Speed comment, Dr. Fauci tells "The Washington Post" that people might actually be misled by the administration's name for their vaccine push. He says this, let me read it to you. "People don't understand that because when they hear "Operation Warp Speed", they think, oh, my God, they're jumping over all these steps and they're going to put us at risk."

So how do you do this safely and reassure the American public and indeed people around the world that this potential vaccine is safe?

HASELTINE: You have to do the test. You -- and when you're talking about giving a vaccine to hundreds of millions, even billions of people, you better be sure it's safe. Because we know that one out of one out of 1,000, one out of 10,000, even one out of a million adverse effects is going to have a really serious consequence. As I say, we're really early in the state.

So I would prefer to see us focus on controlling the epidemic, the way we know how to do it. With contact tracing, with isolation, and sometimes mandatory isolation for those exposed. We can just look to the east to see that you can control this infection with no drug and no vaccine to pin our hopes, our economic and our health hoax on something we don't have in hand is dangerous.

It doesn't mean it won't happen. Everybody hopes it will happen. I hope it will happen. But I've helped develop vaccines, develop some vaccines myself, and others have to and we know how difficult that can be.

BLITZER: All right.

HASELTINE: So I don't think it's reasonable to pin all our hopes on a vaccine, especially when we have contradictory data and we have 15 years of similar data from trying to develop SARS and MERS vaccines. They almost all do the same thing.

[17:40:07]

Raise some neutralizing antibodies, protect some of the inner organs, but don't protect the animal entirely. Is that what we're really going to go with? Are we going to work our regulatory processes to get that? Those are serious questions. And I think those are in everybody's mind.

BLITZER: All right, William Haseltine, thank you so much for your expertise. Appreciate it very much. We'll continue of course to watch this development. Appreciate it. Thank you.

HASELTINE: You're welcome.

BLITZER: So no matter or when students return to classrooms, has the coronavirus, changed education here in the United States and maybe around the world for good? And thanks to CNN's global resources, we have an update from one of the world's most concerning coronavirus hotspots right now, Brazil.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:45:25]

BLITZER: Right now global coronavirus headlines, China and the U.S. are in the midst of another round of name calling and finger pointing. CNN's Ivan Watson is in Hong Kong for us. Ivan, what are you hearing?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the latest salvo in the war of words between Washington and Beijing has the Chinese Foreign Ministry singling out Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling him an extremely irresponsible politician for his criticism of the arrest last month of more than a dozen pro-Democracy activists here in Hong Kong. And the Trump administration's recent announcement that it would make an arms sale to Taiwan. China saying that this is U.S. interference in China's internal affairs.

And the Foreign Ministry spokesperson has a direct question for Pompeo. Why the U.S. government didn't take strong prevention measures against coronavirus between the months of January and March? Pompeo has a responsibility, the spokesperson says, to explain that to the world. Wolf? BLITZER: Ivan Watson reporting for us, thank you. Brazil now ranks third globally for confirmed coronavirus cases right behind the United States and Russia and new cases still are spiking. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh found a cemetery outside Sao Paulo.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Wolf, you have to look around me here outside of Sao Paulo in the hills. This is a series of freshly dug graves. 8,000 have been dug here since the epidemic began. And the number that are empty and frankly the number we've seen being filled just over there, almost every 10 minutes in a funeral. Just let you know how bad Brazilians think it may get here in their biggest city.

They had a nearly a record number of cases in Wednesday alone, nearly 20,888 deaths. In Brazil now accounts for about half of the cases in Latin America. Latin America is now worse in terms of new cases than the U.S. and Europe. And many here blame the contradictory if not patently false advice of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who said to people, this is just a little flu who's urged people to get back to work to bolster their economy. Whose government has said that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine drugs that haven't been proven to have any medical benefit, in fact, may even be harmful, can be used for even non-severe cases to treat coronavirus here.

The peak is a week, possibly two weeks away and Brazil is already very tired and seeing many more deaths than it thought were possible. Wolf?

BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh reporting for us. Thank you, Nick.

Coming up, the pandemics effect on the future of education.

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[17:52:52]

BLITZER: The coronavirus pandemic has forced teachers all across the country to drastically change the way children learn. Let's discuss the future of education with Lynette Guastaferro, she's an expert on educational practices and the CEO of Teaching Matters. Lynette, thanks so much for joining us. What is the disruption in in-person education caused by the coronavirus showed us all about how teachers can modify their practices and adopt new technologies?

LYNETTE GUASTAFERRO, CEO, TEACHING MATTERS: Thank you, Wolf. Well, I think that teachers have -- every teacher right now feels like a first year teacher and I think there's been a huge learning curve and adoption of technology. And what they've been learning is how do you create a classroom environment, a warm environment using remote instruction? How do you engage kids? How do you assess kids? Things that you do in your classroom, but you've got to do it now with technology and teachers have just been learning through fire.

BLITZER: You told "The New York Times" when that -- and I'm reading a quote now, "There's no reason for all learning to be built for extroverted socialized kids". When students eventually begin to return to the classrooms, which of these pandemic era practices would you like to see teachers actually maintain?

GUASTAFERRO: Well, one, there's a few actually, that I think teachers have really seen. So these -- not the teachers didn't use video and instruction, but because now we're so forced to deliver the instruction through the technology, kids have really been able to learn by watching the video backwards and forwards at their own pace. There's a lot of learning that requires kids to engage in groups, we encourage that.

But for some kids, a small group of kids, this has actually been a preferable way for them to learn and we're not advocating remote instruction. We all want to go back to school. But the technology allows you to organize and manage instruction in a way that some kids truly benefit from.

BLITZER: What about the students who are not thriving in this at home education environment?

GUASTAFERRO: There's so many kids that I think are feeling the isolation. There's so many kids -- so teaching matters focuses on supporting teachers' effectiveness, especially kids that have less access and are in higher needs communities.

[17:55:05]

The kids that are not thriving this environment it can be that they've -- they're difficult home situations. They don't have the proper access to the technology to even connect with the other kids and their teachers. You know there's many, many things that have made this kind of isolating.

I've seen, though, some really awesome practices by teachers who are going online and meeting their kids, families and dogs and meeting their pets and their stuffed toys and it has been a lifesaver I think for parents who are struggling.

BLITZER: Lynette Guastaferro, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it very much.

Coming up, President Trump refuses to publicly wear a face mask during a tour of a Michigan auto plant. We'll be right back.

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