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THE SITUATION ROOM
Brazil Passes Russia in Number of Cases, Now Second to U.S.; Mexico Reports Largest Single-Day Increase in Virus Cases; U.K. Announces 14-Day Quarantine for Incoming Travelers; Study Finds Hydroxychloroquine Linked to Higher Risk of Death; Trump Demands Governors Reopen Churches; Interview With Miami Beach, Florida, Mayor Dan Gelber; Interview With Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Randall Woodfin; Coronavirus Vaccine Reaches Advanced Stages Of Human Trials. Aired 6- 7p ET
Aired May 22, 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.
We're following a critical test of America's reopening, as the U.S. coronavirus death toll climbs closer and closer to 100,000.
The kickoff of the Memorial Day weekend is raising serious fears that people will gather in big groups, let down their guard, and allow this virus to spread.
Also tonight, the CDC just issued guidelines for houses of worship across the country, as President Trump is ordering them to reopen this weekend, declaring them essential. And he's threatening to -- quote -- "override" governors who don't comply, even though he does not have the authority to do that.
And there's new evidence right now that the president's personal use and promotion of the drug hydroxychloroquine may be rather dangerous. A large study shows the anti-malarial medication is linked to higher risks of death in coronavirus patients, as well as a risk of developing an irregular heartbeat.
Let's go straight to the White House right now. Our correspondent Kaitlan Collins is on the scene for us.
Kaitlan, as the CDC is issuing these new guidelines for houses of worship across the country, the president is picking yet another serious fight with the nation's governors.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf.
We were expecting guidance today on how they believe these places of worship should start to reopen, but we weren't expecting the president to say that he deems them now essential businesses and that, if some governors don't abide by this guidance, that he says he will overrule them.
It's not clear what authority it is the president is citing when he makes a statement like that, and so far the White House has not answered it. And it comes as the president himself did not answer questions about that new study focusing on a drug that he himself has been taking that found, when coronavirus patients are given hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, it can prove harmful to them.
COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight, a new study shows that an anti-malaria drug championed by President Trump may harm coronavirus patients.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hydroxychloroquine.
COLLINS: This study is the largest analysis done to date. And it reveals that coronavirus patients who were seriously ill and given chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine were more likely to develop abnormal heart rhythms or even die.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: First, this -- I think the FDA has been very clear on their Web site about their concerns about hydroxychloroquine.
COLLINS: Trump has been taking the drug, in hopes of preventing himself from getting coronavirus, despite a warning from the FDA that it hasn't been proven to be safe or effective at treating the virus or preventing it.
TRUMP: Hydroxychloroquine, try it. If things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody.
COLLINS: Trump didn't address the study today, but he did announce that the CDC will issue new guidance declaring places of worship as essential.
TRUMP: In America, we need more prayer, not less.
COLLINS: Trump says he wants churches and other places reopened immediately and claimed he will overrule governors who push back.
TRUMP: Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other how was worship.
It's not right. If they don't do it, I will override the governors.
COLLINS: The new guidelines encourage religious houses to promote good hygiene like handwashing, wear cloth face coverings, intensify cleanings, and encourage social distancing, while minimizing the use of shared worship materials like prayer books or hymnals.
He left questions about his statement to Dr. Deborah Birx and his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Boy, it's interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed.
QUESTION: I object to that. I mean, I go to church. I'm dying to go back to church.
BIRX: Maybe they wait another week.
COLLINS: Today marked Dr. Birx's first appearance in the Briefing Room since late April. Lately, she and other officials like Dr. Fauci have largely disappeared from the airwaves, something Dr. Fauci told CNN will change soon.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: We have been talking with the communications people, and they realize we need to get some of this information out.
COLLINS: has most traditional Memorial Day activities have been postponed or altered, Dr. Birx encouraged Americans to maintain distance, but spend time outside this weekend.
BIRX: You can play golf. You can play tennis with marked balls. You can go to the beaches.
COLLINS: The president ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of those who have lost their lives from the virus.
COLLINS: Now, Wolf, you saw Dr. Birx.
She was much less up front about these religious institutions reopening. She said, if they are in certain areas where they have a higher outbreak of COVID cases, she said maybe they wait a little bit longer before they reopen.
But the president said he wanted to see them opened as soon as this weekend. And, of course, the fact that he made this proclamation on a Friday gives these churches very little chance to get ready for Sunday. So we will be waiting to see what it is and how this plays out across the nation.
BLITZER: All right, we will watch closely. All right, Kaitlan, thank you very much.
Let's get some more now on all the breaking news on the medical front.
Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is with us.
Several significant developments unfolding right now. What are you learning, Elizabeth?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's see.
There's a story -- a study that is just out about remdesivir. Remdesivir is the drug that we heard so much about from Tony Fauci about a month ago. What he said is that it shaves four days off a hospital stay, but he never published the data. No one ever published the data until just now.
"The New England Journal of Medicine" has just published it. It says what Dr. Fauci said at the end of April. It also adds -- doctors have been struggling, though, they say, without the published data. We didn't know who to give it to, because there is not nearly enough to go around.
This gives a little bit of a hint. It says that it's best for patients who are hospitalized with severe disease and need supplemental oxygen. So, that gives them some idea, but, still, I think doctors are going to struggle with, how do we distribute -- how do we prescribe this remdesivir, considering we don't have nearly enough?
BLITZER: Also, today, Elizabeth, the CDC put out specific guidelines for religious services for reopening houses of worship all across the country. Walk us through these.
COHEN: Yes, it's interesting how they did these recommendations.
And, first of all, these are guidelines. And the CDC makes it very clear these are nonbinding. You don't have to do that. I have been covering the CDC for decades. I have never seen them be so meek about making really simple recommendations.
And it looks like there was some other hand involved, because this is not the way that the CDC usually operates.
Let's take a look at what they said. Consider allowing time for cleaning between services. Like, if you have got one at 9:00 and one at 11:00, consider allowing time to clean between those services.
Consider maintaining social distancing. So, here, we have all been told to maintain social distancing for months now. Now, they say just consider it. Consider posting signs to encourage handwashing.
If there is -- there can't be anything less controversial than handwashing. And they say consider posting signs to encourage handwashing.
I think that it is possible that communities of faith could look at this and think, oh, I don't have to have social distancing at my services. The CDC says just to consider it.
I think that's a real problem. And experts I have talked to say that this gives sort of this weird message, and that the experts I have talked to have said, we just shouldn't be having these services. It's not a great idea to put a lot of people in one enclosed space -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Elizabeth, thank you, Elizabeth Cohen reporting for us.
Now to the Memorial Day holiday weekend in this age of the coronavirus.
Let's go to our senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah. She's joining us from Los Angeles.
Kyung, reopening plans across the country are about to be tested in a very big way.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a very big way in a lot of different places. We're talking about beaches, lakefronts, bars, restaurants in multiple cities across this country, yes, opening in time for the holiday, with restrictions, but also with a lot of concern from local leaders.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: Well, we're about to start a very important weekend.
LAH (voice-over): The first summer holiday weekend, a major test of America vs. the virus, as millions head outside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nice to have the option to at least come to the beach and just have some fun with friends for once.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it will be very busy. And I'm confident that people are going to want to do this in a safe manner, because we know, if things don't work, we may go back to a lockdown situation. And I don't think anybody wants that.
LAH: Beaches up and down the East Coast will be opened with enforced social distancing.
RON WILLIAMS, DEPUTY CITY MANAGER, VIRGINIA BEACH: If we don't get voluntary compliance to a beach ambassador, then they will ask for law enforcement to come and actually enforce the governor's executive orders for the distancing.
LAH: But different rules depending on where you are.
MAYOR DERRICK HENRY (D-FL), DAYTONA BEACH: Obviously, it's advisable at all times, but I don't think it's realistic or practical to ask people to go to the beach and wear a mask.
LAH: As states limit the number of people on beaches, they're now deciding whether to open churches this weekend, after this:
TRUMP: I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now.
LAH: Rhode Island's governor bluntly said, that's not going to happen.
GOV. GINA RAIMONDO (D-RI): Honestly, that would be reckless. They have a lot of work to do.
LAH: While America dives ahead, data shows, this week, more states are heading in the wrong direction. In the weekly average of new cases, nine states here in green are down, 24 states are steady, and 17 states in red and orange are up, 25,000 new cases in the U.S. added just yesterday. [18:10:08]
Among the steepest climbs, Arkansas. The state saw a 65 percent increase in the rate of new cases compared to a week ago, the state still opening water parks and pools today with restrictions.
In nearby Alabama, crowds packed beaches today, despite warnings that more cases would stress an already stretched Montgomery hospital system, where ICU beds run short.
DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: I'm quite worried, with the Memorial Day weekend coming and the restrictions loosening, that this is going to go like a prairie fire again. It's been smoldering. We have had a lid on it, but it is now really having the potential to get out of control.
LAH: Dr. Deborah Birx says the White House Coronavirus Task Force is still trying to understand why some cities continue to see spikes, despite social distancing orders.
BIRX: Even though Washington has remained closed, L.A. has remained closed, Chicago has remained closed, we still see these ongoing cases.
LAH: And here's something to keep in mind as you pick your seat in the bar, decide how close you're going to be to other people, whether or not you decide to wear a mask.
Remember that, if we continue at this pace currently that we're seeing, Wolf, that it is expected, experts anticipate that we're going to cross a threshold, 100,000 Americans dying from this virus by the end of this weekend -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Kyung Lah reporting for us.
Kyung, thank you.
Let's check in now with local leaders who are on the front lines of the pandemic.
First, let's go to the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, Randall Woodfin.
Mayor Woodfin, thanks so much for joining us.
And this -- a major development today. The president says houses of worship are essential and must be allowed to reopen this weekend. Your state's governor said religious services were able to resume last weekend.
Will the president's proclamation make much of a difference, for example, for your city?
MAYOR RANDALL WOODFIN (D-AL), BIRMINGHAM: Wolf, I'm going to hope not.
And the bottom line is, since March, I have been in constant contact with faith leaders in our community. And I want to publicly thank them for them -- they have been steadfast in making sure they make the best decisions for their members and their congregations.
In Alabama, the largest deadliest event from the coronavirus has been from a church event. We know that, outside of nursing homes, churches have the second largest gathering of our seniors in our community.
And when you think about holding hands, shaking hands, kissing, hugging, singing, and all those things that lend itself to community spread, we know that having physical church at the actual church ground is very dangerous right now.
BLITZER: Yes, so you're clearly concerned, as a lot of people are, about places of worship potentially leading to spikes in coronavirus cases, if they don't follow the CDC guidelines for safe reopening.
So, what's going to happen? What do you see unfolding in your city?
WOODFIN: I think the local faith leaders here in the city of Birmingham will remain closed.
I think they are -- like me, they're listening to our local health experts. And they want to make sure that the decisions we make keep their members alive. They want to make sure that the church is not participating in community spread.
And they want to also make sure that church is not going to participate if there's an increase or spike in the community and has a run on hospitals.
So, I'm in constant contact with our faith leaders. And I am very appreciative of the decisions they're making to protect their members of their church.
BLITZER: Yes. These are truly life-and-death decisions that have to be made.
We have seen the coronavirus disproportionately impact the African- American community all around the country. Do you worry, Mayor, that reopening churches, for example, could further that disparity in Birmingham?
WOODFIN: I do worry, Wolf.
And it's very simple. I'm actually kind of worried, either at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or in capitals across the nation, there's this language around -- quote -- "personal responsibility."
I think that language is offensive during a global pandemic and a health crisis in our nation, because the government does have a role in protecting people's lives. The government has a role in making sure that there's not community spread.
And you just can't say, let's open everything up, but you are personally responsible for making sure there's not community spread. And so the government doesn't have the luxury, at the local, state or
federal level, to wash our hands and believe that it's all up to the individuals in the community.
We have a role to play in protecting the community. And opening things up without adequate plans in place, and making sure that you have the buy-in from faith leaders, that you have the buy-in from business owners, that you have the buy-in from the community, will lend itself to more community spread.
BLITZER: Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, Alabama, you have got an enormous challenge ahead of you. Good luck. We will stay in close touch with you. Thanks for joining us.
WOODFIN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's go to Florida right now.
We're joined by the mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber.
Mayor Gelber, thank you so much for joining us as well.
Beaches and other parts of Florida, Daytona Beach, for example -- I spoke to the mayor of Daytona Beach in the last hour -- they are reopening in time for this Memorial Day weekend.
But your beautiful beaches in Miami Beach remain closed. Tell us why you're taking this more cautious approach to reopening.
MAYOR DAN GELBER (D-FL), MIAMI BEACH: Well, our beaches will open on June 1.
And we're going slower across the board because there's much more virus here. And we tend to attract a higher number of people than most other places, virtually any other place in the state.
So, we recognize that that's a challenge. We were the first to close our beaches, and I think will be the last to reopen them in June.
BLITZER: Are you concerned, Mayor, that your residents will simply travel to beaches elsewhere in Florida in other counties, potentially bring back coronavirus cases with them?
GELBER: Well, I think that the only -- Broward County is opening up, I think, a few days before us.
So, I don't know that it's that much of a challenge, but we really don't have a choice. In early March, probably the whole nation saw what was happening in my city and other beach cities with spring break. It was terrible.
And I'm sure, because this virus spreads silently, that it did spread all over our community and probably the nation because of that. And we just -- we can't have that repeating itself. So we're going to -- we're a little more cautious, but we think that that's the right approach.
BLITZER: When your beaches in Miami Beach reopen on June 1, Mayor, how do you plan to enforce social distancing once all those beaches are open?
GELBER: Well, we're working now on different plants. And we're going to have the advantage of seeing what happens in other places to maybe inform our learning curve, so to speak.
I suspect that we will -- well, I know we will already have groups who will have to be distanced from each other. We will create some kind of ambassador program to encourage people to follow the rules.
We have beach concessionaires who will also do it. We're not -- we really don't want to get into the business of arresting people. That -- we have had almost no arrests in the last few months for violations of our orders.
And so I don't think we want to see that. But we are going to have people out there to help our beachgoers really understand that they have got -- to remind them, I guess, what they have to comply with.
BLITZER: As you know, President Trump today announced that houses of worship, churches, synagogues, mosques, they are essential and must be allowed to reopen as soon as this weekend.
As most of the businesses and services in your community remain closed, can churches, synagogues, mosques, safely hold services this weekend?
GELBER: Well, what we have done is, we -- when we reopened our businesses, we put houses of worship in those categories.
So, we actually have already adopted -- I looked at the CDC guidelines. They came out a few hours ago. We have the occupancy limitations, the social distancing between households, masks even.
Those are all requirements now in our city, not guidelines. And we met with our faith leaders, who are wonderful, and it really -- even added on more requirements for their own houses of worship. So, we are going to control the social distancing and the spread, because the one thing -- the previous mayor mentioned a lot of why a service is dangerous.
One of the other reasons is that you're often in services much longer than you are at shopping or if you're even eating at a restaurant. So, there's really much more opportunity, if you're there two or three hours or longer, to catch something.
So, it is important to exercise these limitations. And we have made them orders. And our faith leaders have been wonderful in leading their own congregations to follow them.
BLITZER: Well, good luck, Mayor Gelber. These are tough, tough decisions that you and your fellow mayors have to make all across the country.
Yes, thanks so much for joining us.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we're going to break down a new study showing that hydroxychloroquine can have very deadly consequences for coronavirus patients, despite President Trump's upbeat claims.
The lead author of the study is standing by. We will discuss.
BLITZER: Tonight, as President Trump is wrapping up his controversial treatment with hydroxychloroquine, a significant new study is driving home the risks of taking the anti-malaria drug in connection with the coronavirus.
We're joined now by the lead author of that study. Dr. Mandeep Mehra is executive director of Brigham's Center for Advanced Heart Disease.
Dr. Mehra, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for all the important work that you're doing.
And I want to discuss your new study on hydroxychloroquine in just a moment, but let me get your reaction to this first.
Researchers have just published data that shows the drug remdesivir actually shortens the course of coronavirus illness from about 15 days to 11 days.
How significant, Dr. Mehra, is this development?
DR. MANDEEP MEHRA, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL HEART AND VASCULAR CENTER: I think it's a very important development, Wolf, because this is the first real glimmer of hope that we have had.
It may not be the panacea that we were hoping for, but it's certainly a glimmer of hope. Everything else either doesn't seem to work or, as we will discuss in a moment, seems to harm people.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about your study, which is really, really significant.
As you know, the president has embraced the use of hydroxychloroquine, asking at several points, what do you have to lose?
According to your new study, you could actually lose your life. What did your study specifically show about hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus patients?
So, we conducted this observational study. So it's not a randomized controlled trial, but it's a very large study, nearly 100,000 patients across six continents. So it's really a reflection of real-world experience with this drug.
And what our studies showed in these hospitalized patients with COVID- 19 across the world is that the use of hydroxychloroquine with or without another antibiotic really is associated with absolutely no benefit.
There's no signal of benefit whatsoever. And, instead, we noted evidence of harm. So this drug may actually enhance the chance of death by almost 30 to 40 percent in patients who receive it.
BLITZER: So, based on what you learned, would you recommend the president, that President Trump should not take, as he has been for the last two weeks or so, hydroxychloroquine?
The president does not have COVID-19, we hope. And he was taking it for an entirely different reason of prophylactic use. Now, in that situation, we do not know the answer. Our study does not answer that question.
However, even in that situation, based on what we have observed, my own personal recommendation would be that it should not be done outside of a well-controlled, well-supervised clinical trial.
BLITZER: What if you take it together with the antibiotic azithromycin and zinc? He said he was taking all three, at least for part of the time. Does that make any difference?
MEHRA: Yes, we didn't study the zinc portion of it.
But when we looked at the combination of all -- of hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin, actually, we noted that not only was the harm there, but the harm, at least on cardiovascular risk, where heart rhythm disturbances were provoked, was actually higher.
BLITZER: Are you surprised that the White House physician, the official White House physician, actually gave him a prescription for the hydroxychloroquine?
MEHRA: Well, it's not for me to comment on another professional's direction of clinical care, because they have the data.
But, certainly this is outside of the realm of what I would personally have done.
BLITZER: Because you have said that the use of anti-malarials for coronavirus patients was based on the idea -- and I'm quoting now -- "A desperate disease demands desperate measures."
In hindsight, Dr. Mehra, was the use of hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus patients a mistake? Because you know it's still being used specifically in Brazil and elsewhere around the world. MEHRA: Yes, I think that to continue using it now that we have this
large data that we published today, I think that would be certainly a mistake.
Now, whether it was a mistake to start with when people were just tugging at straws to do something, well, it's difficult to comment on that, Wolf. We, in fact, would not have been able to show the evidence of the harm, had people not delivered this medicine to patients across the world.
But I do think that, knowing what we know today, the use of this medication off-label in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 must be stopped.
BLITZER: Dr. Mandeep Mehra, I appreciate very much all the important work you're doing. Thank you so much for joining us.
This is really, really critical information. Good luck. Thanks again.
MEHRA: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, just ahead: A closely watched vaccine trial is about to move into a critical new stage. I will speak to one of the top scientists involved in the project.
And if you have to fly -- this is important -- our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta is about to show you how to do it safely.
BLITZER: Tonight, there is new progress to report on efforts to create a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine in development at Oxford University is moving into advanced stages of human trials.
We're joined now by Dr. Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford. Dr. Hill, thank so much for joining us.
So you are leading this team at Oxford that has developed a vaccine that I understand is now moving into the next phases of actual human trials. What will those phases entail?
DR. ADRIAN HILL, DIRECTOR, JENNER INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD: So, all clinical trials entail three phases. Phase one, which we started on the 23rd of April, really looking at safety and increasing numbers of young individuals, and we have now vaccinated over a thousand people in that phase one trial. Half of them with the coronavirus vaccine, the other half as a control group. And that trial is proceeding very well.
We have now been given approval to go to both phase two and phase three in a single protocol. And that's exciting because this is the first coronavirus vaccine to go into any phase three trial. Phase two is a fairly small trial looking at older age groups. And then we move on to 10,000 people who will be randomized in the U.K. over the next few weeks.
BLITZER: So how do you find people who are willing, Dr. Hill, to participate in these trials because, potentially there is some serious risk?
HILL: Well, I think people should be more reassured now that 1,000 people have been vaccinated that there's no common risk, at least. But, no, we have been overwhelmed by the interest in taking part in this trial. We could have closed recruitment after a day or two for the phase one. So there is certainly still plenty of interest in participating.
And a lot of people want to help. Some people think they might get the vaccine, they have a 50 percent chance of doing that. So, so far, that's not been as significant thing.
BLITZER: That's encouraging to hear that. As you know, Dr. Hill, the World Health Organization says there are about 124 potential coronavirus vaccines in development at various countries around the world. But ten are currently in human trials. Do you believe that yours is likely, in the end, to really succeed?
HILL: Well, we are pretty optimistic. We've been moving fairly quickly, but carefully. And we're now the first to go into a phase three trial. We were not the the first to here into phase one. I think we were fifth of six. And we have the peculiar advantage that we're vaccinating in a country where there is still quite a lot of coronavirus around and that gives us a chance in the next months to show whether the vaccine works or not. So we might be the first to finish.
BLITZER: As you know, there are some experts out there who are skeptical. I spoke yesterday, for example, with Dr. William Haseltine, who says in a study of your vaccine in monkeys, is what he said, shows it doesn't necessarily work. Do you want to react to that?
HILL: Yes. I mean, I think that issue is over. What everyone has agreed on is the vaccine worked extremely well in protecting all the monkeys against pneumonia. It didn't protect against getting a nasal infection. But then we gave a very large dose of virus into the nose, no other group has done that, and overwhelmed the system. So, if you give a standard does of a challenge virus, as was seen with one of the DNA vaccines recently, yes, you do get protection in the nose as well and prevent infection. So, I don't think that's a real issue.
BLITZER: You know, what significant is Dr. Fauci seems to be pretty upbeat about a vaccine. He says it is conceivable the U.S. could have a coronavirus vaccine in December. The last time you and I spoke, Dr. Hill, you said you hoped to have your vaccine available for emergency use in the fall. What's your latest update on a potential timeline?
HILL: So, in the last week, sense we spoke last, on Saturday we ended a -- or concluded a deal with the largest pharma company in the U.K., AstraZeneca. And just yesterday, they announced over $1 billion in funding from BARDA both to scale up the manufacture of this vaccine and provide about 400 million doses for the U.S. alone, and also to undertake the large phase three trial in the U.S., it may be 30,000 subjects. So things are really moving along very well.
BLITZER: Yes, I have spoken with experts who agree with you. They are pretty upbeat right now about the potential, sooner rather than later, let's hope, of a vaccine. Dr. Adrian Hill, good luck to you and your entire team at Oxford. Thanks for joining us.
HILL: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead as air travel resumes, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta will report on safety steps all of us can take if we have to get on a plane during the pandemic.
Plus, virus infections are spiking in Latin America. We will go to two of the hardest hit countries. Stay with us.
BLITZER: As stay-at-home restrictions are eased around the country, people are beginning to travel. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, reports on safety measures you can take while flying.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Things are going feel a lot different the next time you go to the airport. First of all, it will be less crowded, that's for sure. Certain precautions are in place, like plexiglass at the counters, telling people to keep their distance when they're in line. Most people already do this. But don't forget to put your boarding pass on your phone ahead of time, less surfaces to touch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see your I.D. card, please.
GUPTA: Try and count how many surfaces you touch throughout the whole process.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need everything out of your pockets, please.
GUPTA: One thing I do want to show you is how I pack nowadays. I've got my hand sanitizer. So this is when I do a little hand sanitizer, constantly washed the hands.
One of the big concerns is always going to be those sorts of train rides. Right now, things aren't that crowded. But as airports start to pick up, you may want to allow extra time so that you can walk to the concourse instead of ride.
Everyone is going to decide whether or not it makes sense to fly. It's the sort of risk/reward proposition. One thing I'll tell you is that separating yourselves out, obviously important. That's the distance. But think about the duration. [18:45:02]
Shorter flights are obviously going to be better. Also, they say that the plane has been sterilized before we actually get on using this electrostatic sterilization process.
Now, when you get to your row, a couple of things to keep in mine. First, try to touch as few surfaces as possible. When I sit down, I am actually going to try to choose a window seat. The reason being, that I will just have less contact with people who are walking by the aisle.
I will go ahead and turn on what's called the gasper here. Turn it up as high as you can. That causes turbulent air flow in front of you and possibly break up any clouds of virus.
These are small things, they may make a small difference. But it is easy to do and is probably worth it.
GUPTA: I should mention that most airlines, including Delta, the airline I was on there are going to mandate masks once you are on the plane even if they're not mandated in the boarding area or on the concourse.
A lot of times, they may give you a mask in the boarding area, or on the plane. So, you wear that. They're going the mandate that.
Also, keep in mind your destination, what is the status of the virus there? You know probably what it's like in the area from where you're flying. But if you fly the Norway, for example, there is a 14-day quarantine when you land.
And also, two U.S. states, Hawaii and Massachusetts, when you land there, 14-day quarantine. So, if that's not part of your travel plans, you're going to need to think about these things ahead of time.
It's a different way of flying for the time being. And again, I think for most people, it's really just about essential travel for now. We'll see how things change over the summer.
BLITZER: Very good advice from Dr. Sanjay Gupta as usual.
Thank you, Sanjay, very much.
Just ahead, a closer look at the coronavirus headlines from around the world. Mexico is reporting almost 3,000 new coronavirus cases, a record number for that country. And Brazil has crossed two terrible milestones. More than 300,000 confirmed cases, and 20,000 deaths.
BLITZER: We have breaking news on coronavirus around the globe. Brazil now reports a record number of cases passing Russia to make it
second only to the United States in total infections.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Sao Paulo for us.
Nick, these are truly stunning numbers.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Wolf, just how bad the numbers are for Brazil here and this is just as it begins, 1,188 deaths that we know of and the science here of counting the dead who has coronavirus far from precise and they lack the testing they will necessarily like.
A big problem, though, the contradictory and, frankly, dangerous advice of the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. He called this a little flu. He was seen not wearing a mask at times. He's put the economy first in many of his statements.
Now, he's trumpeting hydroxychloroquine. If you're familiar with that, Donald Trump has been taking it. Scientists say it has no proven impact against coronavirus and it may be dangerous, in fact. In a tweet on Wednesday, he said, look, the science may be behind in terms of advocating for this drug, it's not clear, he said, but we're in a war now and we need to use everything that we can, I paraphrase.
But clearly the president here trying to catch up with the fact as the numbers increasingly get grave for Brazil and we find ourselves weeks and maybe a week away from the peak -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Horrible situation.
All right. Nick Paton Walsh reporting for us.
And let's go to Mexico right now, which is reporting its largest single day increase in cases.
CNN's Matt Rivers is in Mexico City with the latest.
Matt, what are you learning?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, yesterday, we were talking about the largest daily increase in death and today there is a new daily record and it concerns confirmed cases. Mexican health officials reporting an additional 2,907 confirmed cases and that is the largest daily increase that we've seen since this outbreak began.
Right now, the death toll stands just north of 6,500 and the overall case total stands just shy of 60,000. Wolf, there is no doubt that we are in the worst days of this outbreak here in Mexico so far, but the Mexican government, despite that, says it has no plans to change its current plan to reopen slowly certain parts of its economy by June 1st -- Wolf.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: All right. Matt Rivers reporting for us. Thank you.
The British government meanwhile is announcing travelers to the country will be required to self-isolate for 14 days starting June 8th.
CNN's Max Foster joins us from outside London.
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the British government has effectively closed down the British summer season and they're doing so because they just don't want to risk a second wave of the virus. So, any traveler coming in after the 8th of June will have to go into quarantine for 14 days. They'll have to tell the government where they are and how they can be contacted, and it will be enforced by spot checks and fines.
There will be certain exemptions. Medics, for example, lorry drivers, also people coming from Ireland and the channel islands, but it's not entirely clear why all these rules are coming into effect now and not earlier on in the crisis, apart from the government saying that there weren't as many people traveling earlier on in the crisis -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Max, thank you. More news just ahead.
BLITZER: Finally, as we head into this Memorial Day weekend we honor U.S. veterans who died in our coronavirus and our nightly look at the people behind the pandemic.
John "Jack" Hennigan of New York was 72 years old. A Vietnam veteran who suffered lung damage due to Agent Orange. He also was a retired NYPD officer, beloved by his neighbors and his family.
Gerard Bartuch of Illinois was 86. He served in World War II and was a lover of all things Disney and comforted everyone with his contagious laugh. His grandson says if there was a mold for what human beings would be, it would be based on Gerard Bartuch.
May they and all of the fallen veterans rest in peace tonight and may their memories be a blessing.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.