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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Continues Refusal to Wear Mask in Public; Interview with Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH); Another Person Charged With Murder In Case Of African-American Man Killed While Jogging; New Model Predicts Case Spikes in Some States That Reopened Early, Especially in the South; Census: 10 Percent of Americans Report Not Having Enough Food. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 21, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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 gets closer to 100,000, President Trump is even more brazen and defiant in his refusal to wear a mask in public. He says he left his face uncovered during an on- camera tour of a Ford Motor plant in Michigan because he didn't want to give the news media, in his words, the pleasure of seeing him in a mask.
Michigan's attorney general just told me the president of the United States is actually breaking state law in Michigan on mask-wearing and, in her word, is acting like a petulant child.
This comes amid growing concerns that many more Americans will be infected and die as every state in the nation moves ahead on reopening. The rate of new cases is trending up in 17 states. And a new model is predicting spikes in some states that reopened early, particularly in the South.
Let's go to our White House correspondent, Jeremy Diamond.
Jeremy, the president says he wore a mask off-camera, behind the scenes, backstage, but he refuses to do so when there are any cameras present.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
The question heading into today was whether the president would or would not wear a mask, following a Michigan state law and Ford's own rules for that manufacturing plant. And the answer, Wolf, was decidedly no.
Even as the president goes for unproven methods of preventing coronavirus, like taking hydroxychloroquine, the president is still defying the one step that public health experts are recommending all of Americans take to slow the spread.
DIAMOND (voice-over): President Trump defying the state of Michigan and the Ford Motor Company, touring a Ford manufacturing plant without a mask, pushing for a return to normal.
Even if he was surrounded by others wearing masks, the president sticking to his guns and saying he chose not to out of spite.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wore one in this back area. But I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.
I put it on. And it was very nice. It looked very nice.
DIAMOND: Trump's decision came after Ford informed the White House masks are required and after Michigan's attorney general warned the president would not be welcome back if he refused.
BLITZER: 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.
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.
DIAMOND: The president tonight also insisting he has no plans to fire his CDC director.
QUESTION: Are you looking to replace Dr. Redfield, or is his job safe?
DIAMOND: The questions about the CDC director's fate come amid tensions between the White House and the CDC, including over the president's push to reopen churches more quickly.
TRUMP: One of the other things I want to do is get the churches open. The churches are not being treated with respect by a lot of the Democrat governors. I want to get our churches open. And we're going to take a very strong position on that very soon.
DIAMOND: While Trump tries to spur a return to normal, the government's health experts are warning the pandemic is far from over.
Dr. Anthony Fauci warning:
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Now is not the time to tempt fate. People say, do you think we will be back to normal this summer? And I say, no, I don't really think so, because it may be a new normal, but it's not going to be the way we had it before. DIAMOND: And Dr. Fauci also raising concerns that the name of the
government's effort to develop a vaccine by 2021 is being misconstrued.
"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. You're going really fast, but not compromising safety."
Meanwhile, the economic devastation across the U.S. unrelenting; 2.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, sending the total number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits to 38.6 million in just nine weeks.
DIAMOND: And, Wolf, while the president claims that Ford officials told him that it wasn't necessary to wear a mask during that tour, we do now have a statement from the Ford Motor Company.
They say: "Bill Ford, the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived. He wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford G.T.s from over the years. The president later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit."
We should also note, Wolf, that a reporter at one point did get to ask Bill Ford, the executive chairman of the company, whether indeed it was up to the president, whether indeed they did give him the choice, and all he said was, "It's up to him" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jeremy Diamond reporting for us.
Thank you, Jeremy.
Let's get the latest now on moves to reopen the United States and the risk Americans are facing.
Our national correspondent, Erica Hill, is in New York for us.
Erica, what are you learning about restrictions being lifted out on the West Coast?
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, more are being lifted, as you mentioned, on the West Coast.
In fact, two-thirds of California's counties have now been cleared to move further into phase two, is the way it's being phrased. That means in-person dining and shopping can resume, even some shopping malls. That is relief, of course, for a number of business owners.
Officials, though, are weighing that with public health, as you know. And perhaps some of the starkest comments that we have heard coming today from the governor of Rhode Island, who said, if she knew back then, just a couple of months ago, what she knows now, she would have absolutely shut her state down sooner. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
HILL (voice-over): Graduates spaced six feet apart, the stadium at half-capacity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I absolutely felt safe.
HILL: Hundreds of seniors accepting diplomas in Northern Alabama, while an hour south, hospitals are maxed out.
MAYOR STEVEN REED (D-AL), MONTGOMERY: Right now, if you're from Montgomery, and you need an ICU bed, you're in trouble.
HILL: Montgomery, Alabama, has seen new cases double since the beginning of May. It's one of several areas that could continue to see numbers rise, according to a new model from a team at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.
Their findings show states that opened early, like Alabama, and more populated areas, like Miami, are at particular risk.
DR. DAVID RUBIN, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: I think the value of our forecasts is that there's still time to modify behavior.
HILL: Governor Andrew Cuomo today says, New York is moving in the right direction.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): March 20 to May 20 have been a period of time that will go down in history, a lot of pain, unique period. But we got through it. We got through it. We got over the mountain, literally and figuratively.
HILL: Campgrounds, in-person dining, casinos and Graceland just a few of the new additions across the country today.
Michigan, which has grabbed national headlines for its tough stay-at- home measures, announcing in-person retail and gatherings of 10 or less can return on Tuesday. Universal Orlando has a phased reopening, which could start in early June.
JOHN SPROULS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, UNIVERSAL PARKS AND RESORTS: We're going to ramp up slowly in terms of making sure that all the procedures and all the practices that we are putting in place actually work.
HILL: Florida is one of 17 states reporting an increase in new cases over the past week.
FAUCI: 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.
HILL: A sobering report from researchers at Columbia University finds as many as 36,000 American lives could have been saved if social distancing measures had been put in place just one week earlier. There are also new questions about testing data, after learning some
states have been combining information for diagnostic and antibody tests; 38.6 million Americans have now filed for unemployment benefits since mid-march. And with each report, concern grows about the businesses that may never recover.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never thought that I'd be in a position that I would have to close a successful business due to reasons outside of what I can control.
HILL: And, as we know, so much of this has played a role in the decisions being made by leaders on local, county, state levels, Wolf, as we move forward.
And, slowly, you will see more news making -- more things coming out in the headlines. Tennessee, for example, just today saying they're going to increase the number of people who can be at a gathering, currently at 10, Wolf. Pretty soon, 50 people will be allowed to gather together.
And you will see more as we approach the holiday weekend.
BLITZER: We will watch it together with you, Erica. Thank you very much. Let's hope for the best.
Let's talk a little bit more about the reopening moves across the country and the breaking news on President Trump's trip to the Midwest.
We're joined now by the Republican governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine.
Governor, thank you so much for joining us. You have certainly been a leader in this effort to try to contain this pandemic.
What message, first of all, did the president send today with his refusal in Michigan to wear a mask in public, while visiting that Ford plant?
GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Well, he did wear a mask, you reported, so I think that is a signal itself. He said he wore a mask.
BLITZER: He wore it, Governor. He only wore a mask behind the scenes backstage.
He didn't want to wear a mask when there were any cameras, because he said he didn't want to give the news media the pleasure of seeing him wear a mask.
He refused to wear a mask when he was in public, walking around with all the Ford executives, even though all of the executives were wearing masks.
DEWINE: Well, I don't know, Wolf.
I'm focused on Ohio. And we're encouraging people, of course, to wear a mask when they're out in public, if they're going out somewhere. And that gives that added layer of protection.
And I get asked. I have been asked. People say, well, Mike, you didn't -- we didn't have -- you weren't saying wear a mask two months ago. I said, well, we weren't opening back up two months ago. And so it gives that added layer. We just encourage people to do that.
A lot of things we're focusing on. We're focusing, obviously, on getting our testing up. Our testing is not where we want it. But it's a lot more than it was a couple weeks ago. So we're optimistic we are going to continue in that direction.
BLITZER: Yes, you got a lot going on, as we know.
Ohio, like Michigan, is the home to various auto plants. If the president were to visit your state, want to tour a plant, would you ask him to wear a mask?
DEWINE: Well, I don't discuss my personal conversations with the president.
The president's going to do what the president wants to do. And that is what it is. So...
But, clearly, if you went into a sensitive area, where there are a lot of workers, many of whom are risking their lives just to get the job done, you would be wearing a mask. You wouldn't have any hesitation in being photographed, seen in public wearing a mask, would you?
DEWINE: No, but I'm not the president.
So, I -- if we go out somewhere -- and we don't go out very much. But if we go out, I put a mask on. We walk over to our daughter and son- in-law and their four kids, which is right down the road from here. And when we get close to the house, we put a mask on just because we don't -- we want to keep that distance.
BLITZER: Of course.
DEWINE: And we keep the distance too.
And, actually, it was my wife's birthday yesterday, and we went over there. But we kept the distance and kept the mask on, except when we're eating the cake. And -- but these are just things that we're trying to tell Ohioans, that we're opening back up, so the risk goes up.
We know the risk is up. And we got to keep the distance. And at the same time, we add an additional layer in regard to the mask, which is helping. It doesn't help -- as you know -- you guys have talked a lot about this. It doesn't help you so much. It helps the other person. And you try to do that.
BLITZER: It's a courtesy to other people, in case you have been exposed and you're asymptomatic. It's just a courtesy.
You're not going to pass it on to someone else. It's -- and, certainly, it's the right thing to do, and especially for the president, I think, to show the American public there's nothing wrong with wearing a mask. In fact, it's a very, very generous and important aspect of all of this, unfortunate, but really important.
Let's talk about some of the other issues that you're following right now. And I'm really curious about something the president keeps harping on in Michigan, because he visited there, specifically. He's slamming vote-by-mail practices.
I know, in your state of Ohio, residents can vote by mail. I think in 30 or more states, people can vote by mail. Have you seen any evidence to support the president's claim that mail-in voting leads to what he calls tremendous fraud?
DEWINE: Well, Wolf, we have done this in Ohio for a long time.
I don't know how many years, but it's been a long time. We have 20 -- basically, 28 days you can vote before the election by mail, but you also can go into the Board of Elections and vote. And then, of course, you can vote on Election Day.
So we have very open voting in Ohio. And so we have a lot of experience with it.
Frank LaRose, who's our secretary of state, runs a good operation. So we don't anticipate any concern this fall. I know some people are saying, well, you're going to vote in person. Look, we do both. And we think that that's going to cover it very well.
BLITZER: Because especially at a time of a pandemic, people are nervous to go wait in line and go into a public place, especially elderly voters.
They want to be able to vote by mail, and it's happening all over the country. In some states, that's the way they do it. So, what I don't understand is why the president is so adamant in saying this leads to fraud.
DEWINE: Well, I don't really know.
I mean, I don't know what the president is looking at. And my frame of reference, frankly, is very narrow. It is just the state of Ohio. And we have just done this for a long time. And it has worked out, we think, pretty well.
BLITZER: Yes. And that's what I hear from governors all over the country. They don't really see any evidence -- yes, there's a minor little here and there, but they don't see any evidence of major fraud.
And the president is clearly threatening Michigan right now. If they allow mail-in voting, he's going to cut back federal funding to Michigan, which obviously is very, very concerning.
As usual, Governor DeWine, thanks for everything you're doing for the people of Ohio.
DEWINE: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks so much for joining us. We will, of course, continue these conversations down the road. Thanks so much for joining us.
DEWINE: Thank you.
BLITZER: And good luck to everyone in Ohio.
Just ahead, I will get reaction to the president's new defiance against wearing a mask in public from CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
And in some places, tensions over wearing or not wearing masks have actually led to violence. We will have a full report.
BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news.
President Trump again refusing to follow his own administration's guidelines on wearing a mask in public. He is suggesting that his defiance is driven by his animosity toward the news media, saying he doesn't want to give reporters the pleasure -- his word -- the pleasure of seeing him in a mask.
Let's bring in a former FDA commissioner, Dr. Mark McClellan, along with CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Sanjay, watch how the president explained why he didn't wear a mask in public during his visit to Michigan today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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, no, where I had it in the back area, I did put a mask on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Just how effective our masks? And how effective would it be if the president modeled that behavior and actually encouraged more Americans to wear them?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're getting increasing evidence about just how much of an impact masks are making, and also some evidence of the fact that most Americans do want to wear masks at least some of the time.
So, despite what we're seeing with the president there, who should be wearing a mask, was told by Bill Ford at the Ford Motor Company there that he should wear a mask, and decided not to, most Americans are still -- they understand the importance of this.
I think it's worth pointing out, Wolf, that the president may have had an exposure at the White House, because there's people who've tested positive at the White House. And three of his top public health officials not only are wearing masks, but are in some form of quarantine, as a result of that exposure.
So, very different approaches there. Obviously, the public health officials are the ones who I think we really need to model and pay attention to.
BLITZER: What does it tell you, Gloria, that the president doesn't want to be seen wearing a mask?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's hard to get into Donald Trump's head, but there are a couple of things that seem pretty obvious to me.
One is I think that, for some unexplained reason, he sees the mask as a sign of weakness, as a sign that the country isn't back to normal, because wearing a mask is not part of the normal he wants to get back to. It should become and will become a part of the new normal for the foreseeable future in this country, until there's a vaccine, until people feel safe.
But as far as the president is concerned, it's not the image he wants to project.
And there's another thing that also comes to mind, which is vanity. I don't think he likes the way he looks in a mask. I don't think any of us like the way we look in our masks. But he said, I don't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing this.
Yes, it's because he didn't want a picture taken of it. And why didn't he want a picture taken of it? Because he doesn't like the way he looks in it. And he wants to show the public that he is in control, and the virus is not in control, when, in fact, we all know that, unfortunately, the virus is in control of our lives right now.
BLITZER: Yes, indeed.
Dr. McClellan, the president won't wear a mask, but he will take an unproven drug, hydroxychloroquine. Is he taking the best steps to protect his own health?
DR. MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Well, Wolf, I wish we had more treatments that have been proven to be effective available.
Fortunately, there are many in the pipeline. I think it's very important for Americans to know that there are warnings against using hydroxychloroquine if -- especially if you're in certain risk groups.
And, very importantly, there are some clinical trials going on right now involving hydroxychloroquine. So, hopefully, we will get a better answer soon. But we do need better treatments available. And I think we will hopefully be able to get there quickly.
BLITZER: Yes, and the FDA, your former agency, has issued a public statement saying it's not advisable, it's not going to prevent someone necessarily from getting coronavirus.
Sanjay, at the same time, a clearer picture is now emerging from parts of the country that reopened on the earlier side. And some are suggesting they're seeing a cause for concern.
GUPTA: Well, I think any time you start to reopen, there are going to be people who become infected who otherwise wouldn't.
I think it's a question of just how many people and how many of those people are likely to then go on to need hospitalization or, sadly, even die.
We do have some projections. If you look at some of these models, you look at particular counties, for example, going to Florida, specifically, if you look in Palm Beach County, I believe, you will see that the number is actually currently about 102 people per day become infected. In four weeks, you can take a look there, 383 people per day.
It's really important to look at these numbers and make sure they don't start going into exponential growth. Also, Houston, another place, Harris County there in Texas, 205 patients per day, could almost go up 10 times that, more than that, close to 2,500 patients per day.
So, this is concerning, Wolf.
I will say this. I don't think it's a binary thing, either you are open or you are shut. I am heartened a bit by the fact that people, even though -- just talking about the masks again -- even though they're going out into a county or a state that's now open, people are still being cautious, I guess, more so than not. More people are being cautious.
BLITZER: And, Sanjay, I just want to let our viewers know that, later tonight, you and Anderson will be co-hosting a CNN global town hall on the coronavirus pandemic. You will be investigating what it will take to get students back to the classrooms. That's later tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
Thanks to all of you for joining us.
Just ahead: two experts standing by. We're going to break down a new model warning that infections may spike in states that reopen too early. The South appears to be especially vulnerable right now.
And another arrest was just announced in the fatal shooting of a young unarmed African-American man in Georgia. We have the details.
BLITZER: Welcome back to the special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in just a few moments. But there's a breaking news we're following right now. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has made another arrest in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African-American man who was shot and killed while on a jog earlier this year. The fatal shooting was captured on camera and has generated outrage across the country.
CNNs Martin Savidge joining us right now. Martin what are you learning?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know it was that video that changed the trajectory of this investigation. As you remember, for two months, the case was stagnant. And then that shocking video was released. It was William Roddie Bryan, the man who took that video and he's the man who's now been taken into custody today, exactly two weeks from the time that you had Gregory and Travis McMichael that were taken under arrest.
Now, the GBI is announcing that Bryan has been taken into custody. He is charged with felony murder, that is the same charge that Travis and Gregory received. But also, he's been charged with criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
There had been a lot of consternation by many here who believe that Bryan, in addition to taking the video but also apparently participated in trying the detain Arbery on that terrible day. And now, authorities have moved on that.
His attorney is always maintained that, no, Arbery was just a bystander who happened to be a witness and captured it on his phone. Unless we all know it was that video that changed everything in this case, Wolf. But now he is in custody and in the same jail as the McMichaels. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, you know, we're just getting a statement in, Martin, from the attorneys for the another and father of Ahmaud Arbery. And let me read it to our viewers. The family of Ahmaud Arbery was relieved to learn that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has, today, taken William Roddie Bryan into custody.
We called -- here it goes, we called for his arrest from the very beginning of this process. His involvement in the murder of Mr. Arbery was obvious to us and to many around the country, and after their thorough investigation, it was clear to the GBI as well.
The family of Mr. Arbery is thankful for the diligence of the GBI and the way in which they tirelessly pursued the evidence in this case. We want every -- anyone who participated in the murder of Mr. Arbery to be held accountable. A very strong statement from the family, Martin.
SAVIDGE: It is, indeed. And they are right. This is something that they have been calling for from the very beginning. It's also been something that the supporters of the Arbery family have been asking for. All the protests that have been held have spoken to this very fact that they believe that Bryan was not just an innocent witness here, that he somehow was involved.
Remember, he was named in two police reports, one of them of which McMichael himself, Gregory McMichael stated that Roddie attempted to try to use his vehicle to block Arbery on that day. There was another report from authorities that suggested as well that he was a participant.
It's interesting, there was a raid that was conducted, a search warrant carried out on the McMichaels' home. That was on Tuesday of this week. We don't know what was found, but you have to wonder could anything else found in their home have made them decide what to do with Bryan.
BLITZER: Very interesting, Martin Savidge, it's been an excellent reporting on this for us. Martin, thank you very much.
I want to bring in Laura Coates, our Legal Analyst, who's also been doing extent of analysis on reporting on this. What's your reaction, Laura, when you heard of this dramatic development?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This is extraordinarily striking, Wolf, because felony murder is what he is being charged with. And that is important here because most people think to themselves, if you are not the one who actually fired the gun then there would not be criminal liability.
But felony murder is a doctrine that essentially says if you participated in the crime, if you were somebody who advised or encouraged or in some way help another person commit a crime, even if nobody intended to actually kill somebody, the fact that you were engaged in a felony or a crime and there was a foreseeable risk that somebody could be harmed, you can be liable.
And so what we're seeing here is a compilation, Wolf, not only what Martin is talking about. But remember, this is something about how that video that was captured that very tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery was actually more than, what, four minutes long.
And people kept wondering how is it that this man, William Roddie Bryan, was in a position to have his camera ready at just the right time and capture this moment. Was he somebody who participated? Did he actually cut off Ahmaud Arbery with his own car to try to keep him in one position, to have what we been calling an ambush? That's was being looked at.
And it seems that the -- at least the Georgia Bureau Investigation, who recall, Wolf, only took two days to decide that arrest was necessary of these two men, Mr. McMichael, Travis and Gregory, have now found that, look, there is reason to believe that at least there are allegations that can be supported that he participated in this crime and was simply an innocent bystander.
But, of course, Wolf, his attorneys will obviously argue that, as a defense to felony murder, that he was simply in the right place for filming but at the wrong time and was innocent.
BLITZER: And as you point out, William Bryan was just arrested, charged with felony murder, he's the one who filmed the incident. We've all seen the video by now. And at one point, he got into his car to follow Arbery. So what do you make of the way this all has unfolded over these past several days so dramatically and relatively quickly even though there have been a couple months between the time of the shooting and the time of the arrests of the father and son and now Bryan?
COATES: Well, this tells you the accelerated pace at which they were able the determine that there was probable cause to make these arrests. Imagine the comparison when it took more than 80 days for the initial two -- the father and son, Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael, to even be arrested. If they were able to have all of this evidence closer in time to the actual killing of Ahmaud Arbery, one would believe you'll be able to draw the same conclusions even closer to the crime.
So it tells you that there is the need for the Department of Justice, at least in part, Wolf, to review the prosecutorial conduct in this case to assess whether there was any bias and undue influence exerted to put a thumb on the scale of justice in favor of McMichaels, in favor of William Bryan, and against the best interests of the family of Ahmaud Arbery. It will all be crucial to look at this holistically.
But what is true here is that they were not buying for whatever reason, the GBI and the prosecutor now handling the case, that this was pure coincidence, that Roddie Bryan purely coincidentally was in the area at the time. And instead it speaks to the fact that they think rather than coincidence, this was someone who was complicit in the crime.
And like Martin Savidge reported, you have to wonder, this coming so closely at the heels of having them search the home of the McMichaels, what information did they glean and did that even more so accelerate the decision to arrest Roddie Bryan?
BLITZER: Very interesting. And as you point out there are calls now on the Justice Department here in Washington to get involved in this case. Would you expect the attorney general, Bill Barr, to take any action? COATES: Well, you know, this would come down fundamentally to two factors. Number one, it depends on what type of crime they are investigating, whether it is the civil rights division, looking at perhaps a hate crime. Remember, Georgia does not have a statute for hate crime prevention. Is there evidence to suggest that there is a racial motivation or a profiling that led to the death of Ahmaud Arbery? Many would speculate that is indeed the case. But it is a hard case to prove without a sort of a manifesto like you had in the Bill Ruth (ph) cases and other acts that have happened.
But the other issue is this is a matter of investigating the prosecutors in this case. And when you're talking about prosecutorial, potentially cross-control (ph) misconduct in the handling of the case, in the investigation, or in a way that was contrary to the rights of people to be able to have justice served or at least, you know, sought after, that will be an interesting thing to discuss about whether the Justice Department, as I knew it, as a civil rights attorney that I was before at the Justice Department, would have looked to the case like this and said, if there was a concerted effort by multiple prosecutors to try to cover up a crime of a former, you know, colleague, if that's what happened, this is ripe for Justice Department review and law enforcement out there in the world should be particularly vexed by any instance of a citizen, a civilian trying to usurp the role of them as opposed to calling 911 and getting properly trained police officers in the area to actually inquire and give the runner, the jogger, Ahmaud Arbery, the human being, the benefit of the doubt, the presumption of innocence and at least the dignity of an investigation.
BLITZER: All right. Our Legal Analyst, Laura Coates, thank you very much. We'll continue our coverage more on the breaking news and also on the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: This hour, we are tracking growing concerns about a potential spike in coronavirus infections and deaths in states that decided to reopen early.
Joining us now, Michael Osterholm. He's director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy over at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Gregory Tasian, he's the lead investigator of PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Dr. Tasian, your modeling is now projecting a spike in cases in places that are reopening including Miami, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, among other places.
What are you expecting? How bad potentially could the spikes really be? DR. GREGORY TASIAN, LEAD INVESTIGATOR, POLICYLAB, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
OF PHILADELPHIA: You know, so I think we started from the premise that every community in the United States is experiencing COVID-19 differently and we have to account for what makes those counties and areas different. That includes things that don't change in time, such as population density and crowding, but also factors such as temperature and the degree to which individuals in every community adhere to social distancing. And while overall the models indicate that the risk for resurgence is really quite low, when you look in particular areas in the country, Wolf, especially those areas that you mentioned, southeast Florida, areas in Texas, the risk for resurgence is quite high. On the other hand in certain areas such as Colorado, they are looking quite good.
Michael Osterholm, at the same time, you released a new report showing the coronavirus testing alone isn't accurate enough to guide reopening right now. Tell us why.
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESARCH & POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, first of all, we have to understand that no one really has used testing to determine how to reopen or not reopen with any real meaningful we talk about it but they don't.
What our report really was at is that the testing, testing, testing mantra has to be abandoned. Testing is critical, it's very important, but we need smart testing. We need the right people at the right time to get the right results and the right outcome. And we're not doing that right now in this country.
We're kind of doing helter-skelter kind of testing, and that's not what we need at this point to really target where the pandemic is going and what we need to do about it.
BLITZER: You know, Dr. Tasian, as you point out, Colorado was one of the first states reopen and your modeling shows they seem to be doing well. So, what are the takeaways for the governors watching the life and death decisions they are making right now?
TASIAN: So, I think the take home message is that you can reopen, but you must do so cautiously, carefully, and thoughtfully. And that if you look at areas in your state, identify the areas where the incident rate or the number of new cases over the last few weeks has gone down and the number of cases per day is low. Those are the areas in which you might reopen safely.
However, if you have a large number of circulating cases in the community and you open too quickly, that's all fuel for the fire, especially as individuals return to those behaviors before the outbreak happened. And that's really where we see that trifecta of a large number of circulating cases, opening up quickly, and then going back to those behaviors such as going to non-essential businesses that can really fuel a resurgence. BLITZER: So concerning. Michael Osterholm, I know you're concerned --
you have concerns about the data being used to make all these decisions. These are critical decisions on reopening. What are the potential flaws that you see?
OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, we don't want to test everybody. You know, and we asked Willie Sutton why he robbed banks. He said that's where the money is.
The point is, we ought to be testing people who are sick right now, coming forward with signs and symptoms. And everyone in every state should be able to be tested the day they need that kind of test. That's when we are going to learn are we seeing more infected people? Are we not? Is the number growing? Are we seeing cases in places where we had previously had low transmission? So, that's the first and foremost thing.
Then we want to go and test in certain locations, such as in hospitals or long term care where we have outbreaks potentially going. And once we do that, that right there will give us a great deal of information about are things going up or are things going down. And that needs to be a priority. It is not right now.
BLITZER: Michael Osterholm, Gregory Tasian, to both of you, thank you very much.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're grateful for your expertise. Appreciate it very much.
Meanwhile, the Census Bureau here in the United States says almost half of American adults are in households that have already lost employment income during this pandemic, with 10 percent of adults reporting difficulties getting enough to simply put food on the table and eat.
Joining us is chef, Jose Andres, the founder of World Central Kitchen, which is serving meals to those in need during this pandemic.
You know, Jose, thank you so much for joining us.
A new census survey shows 47 percent of households have lost employment income since March. I've spoken to researchers who say two in five households of mothers with young children right now do not have enough food.
I know you're working hard, you and your colleagues, to feed people in need. But how do we get food from the farms and the restaurants to the families right now so many of them here in the United States of America they are hungry?
JOSE ANDRES, CHEF/OWNER, THINKFOODGROUP: Well, this is a situation where we need to take every single tool we have to provide food. I just came back from outside Washington, D.C., in Maryland, where we were expecting 500 people to come to meals we were giving them and also in partnership with USDA, the new program that USDA has brought forward to bring vegetables and fruits and milk and meat. And 3,000 showed up.
So the problem we are seeing everywhere is it doesn't matter how much we prepare, the numbers keep increasing. I just came back from New York, from Newark, from Elizabeth, from Bronx, from Harlem, and everywhere, it doesn't matter how much we prepare for, the lines are always two or three times bigger.
So we need everything. We need to make sure that feeding America, the food banks have enough money to cover all the need. We need to make sure there's enough money in the SNAP and we come up with creative ways to use the SNAPs. Why can't elderly use it to have food delivered to their home? Why we can't use SNAPs in local restaurants?
We need to be increasing the amount of deliveries we do through the school lunch program. At the end of the day, NGOs like us, what we're doing is covering the blind spots of the system. But in order to make sure this is not a humanitarian crisis, we need to have a response that covers 360 all the possible ways we can be delivering food to people in need.
BLITZER: Because lower-income Americans, Jose, are disproportionately affected by this pandemic. The Federal Reserve says nearly 40 percent of Americans with income below $40,000 a year are now unemployed and at the same time studies show grocery store prices are on the rise. It's a troubling combination.
So, from your perspective, and I know you're working really hard on this, what's the solution?
ANDRES: So, the solution is to make sure that we have the support of the federal government to don't stop the (INAUDIBLE). We saw food being wasted, produce being thrown in the fields. We are seeing what's happening with the meat industry, that they're having right now a lot of problems.
What we need to be doing is in part what World Central Kitchen has been doing. We have 1,800 restaurants that we partnered with them and where every day we are able to deliver more than 300,000 meals a day. This is very smart. Right now, there's being legislation passed in Congress under the HEROES Act, bipartisan, where it precisely accomplishes that, to make sure that through FEMA, governors and mayors can activate funds so they can be putting restaurants to work at the same time that we take care of the local problem.
It's a smart solution. Federal government, local NGOs, the local governments, and private sector working together to make sure that through this pandemic, nobody will be hungry. Stop throwing money at the problem. Start investing in the solutions.
If we do this for restaurants, you know what happens? The restaurants will start buying again from the meat producers, from the farmers. All of the sudden, the system goes back to normal. In the process of solving a problem, we make sure that everybody's covered with food, and before we know, everything is running smoothly.
BLITZER: In the past nine weeks as you know, Jose, 38 1/2 million Americans have lost their jobs, filed for unemployment, 2 1/2 million or so last week alone.
Now, this crisis is clearly going to get worse and people are going to need your help. They're going to need everyone's help, including the federal government to simply eat and feed their children.
Jose Andres, on behalf of all of our viewers, thank you so much for everything you're doing. We'll continue our coverage of all of this. Thanks so much.
And we'll have much more news right after this.
BLITZER: Finally tonight, we remember some of the Americans who have died of the coronavirus.
Valentina Blackhorse of Arizona was 28 years old. She took pride in her Navajo culture, entering and winning local pageants and aspiring to be a leader in her community. Her sister says she would do everything she could for her family and was a loving mother to her 1- year-old daughter.
We also have a special tribute to Wilson Roosevelt Jerman. He was a former White House butler who worked for 11 presidents, from Eisenhower to Obama. Michelle Obama just issued a statement saying Jerman helped make the White House a home and went above and beyond for his country. Wilson Jerman was 91 years old.
May they rest in peace and in a their memories be a blessing.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.