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THE SITUATION ROOM
Memorial Day Crowds Raise Fears Of Virus Spikes; Interview With Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR); Disturbing Scenes Of Packed Beaches Spur Warnings And Virus Fears; Another Experimental Vaccine Entering Human Trials; New Studies Show How Virus Spreads In Restaurants And In The Air. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 25, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The U.S. death toll will hit 100,000 very, very soon.
It's a fact none of us can or should ignore, especially as we're seeing very disturbing images of holiday crowds violating social distancing guidelines, people flocking to beaches, boardwalks, other locations here on the East Coast, in the South, as well as all across the United States.
Health experts are warning that this behavior could lead to a dangerous escalation in the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization is stressing that the disease is actually on the way up, cautioning against complacency, as the U.S. is reopening.
Let's get some more on all these developments.
Our National Correspondent, Jason Carroll, is joining us from New York.
Jason, less than, what, three months ago, less than three months ago, on March 5, there were 11, just 11 confirmed coronavirus deaths here in the United States. And, tonight, we're approaching 100,000.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's incredibly, incredibly sobering, and health officials say even more sobering, Wolf, when you look across the country and see so many people who are just refusing to practice social distancing.
CARROLL (voice-over): After weeks of caution and confinement...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wouldn't know a pandemic was going on by looking at the beach today.
CARROLL: ... Memorial Day weekend is looking almost normal in some places, crowded beaches and busy boardwalks, seemingly little sign of social distancing and even fewer face masks.
In Missouri, shocking images of a packed pool party in the Ozarks causing concern.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traffic has completely shut down.
CARROLL: More crowds in Daytona Beach, Florida, where gunfire erupted as people stood shoulder to shoulder and blocked traffic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you get this volume of people, it's going to be tough to control.
CARROLL: In other areas, more vigilance, with some communities encouraging people to maintain six feet of distance on the beach. In New York City, beaches remain closed.
And normally a gathering place for remembrance on Memorial Day, Arlington National Cemetery is open only to families with loved ones buried there.
Today, the World Health Organization warns we could see a second peak of the virus.
DR. MICHAEL J. RYAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now that it's on -- it's on -- it's going to keep going down.
CARROLL: Another WHO official says all countries should remain on high alert, since the hallmark of the virus is how fast it can spread from a single event.
In the United States, at least 18 states are showing an upward trend in COVID-19 cases, and health experts warn, Memorial Day weekend gatherings have the potential to spark a new string of infections in some areas.
In Alabama, the Montgomery mayor is again sounding the alarm over ICU beds.
STEVEN REED (D), MAYOR OF MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: This morning, we have six ICU beds out of 100 in this region. And so while that is some mild improvement, it is not the type of improvement we'd like to see.
CARROLL: And in Arkansas, the governor is already warning of a second peak.
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): It's clear and evident to me that we have one peak, and then we have had a deep dip, and then we're having a second peak.
CARROLL: While governors and health officials are urging people to wear masks in public, the governor of North Dakota now pleading with his constituents not to judge those who do.
GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND): They might be doing it because they have got a 5-year-old child who's -- who's been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life who currently have COVID and they are fighting.
CARROLL: As deaths relating to COVID-19 near 100,000, "The New York Times" publishing a stark reminder of the humanity behind the numbers.
John Herman Clomax Jr. of New Jersey, taken by the virus in April, was one of a few African-American corporate bond traders on Wall Street.
PAULETTE CLEGHORN-CLOMAX, WIFE OF CORONAVIRUS VICTIM: Just seeing all of those names, you realize the vastness of this pandemic, you realize the immensity of it.
CARROLL: And, Wolf, late today, this bit of news when it comes to human vaccine trials.
A Maryland-based biotechnology company called Novavax made the announcement that it begins -- it is going to begin enrolling some 130 people in human vaccine trials. This now becomes one of 10 companies worldwide working on a vaccine to try to beat this deadly virus -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jason, thank you, Jason Carroll in New York with the latest developments.
Meanwhile, President Trump attended two Memorial Day ceremonies today, after spending much of the holiday weekend tweeting political attacks and golfing.
Let's go to our White House Correspondent, Jeremy Diamond.
And, Jeremy, the president's public appearances today were very different from his tone on Twitter.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly was, Wolf.
And the president over the weekend spent much of his time attacking political opponents and amplifying conspiracy theories. That continued even today, Wolf, on this Memorial Day, with the president going after the former Vice President, Joe Biden, and threatening to withdraw the Republican National Convention from the state of North Carolina.
But between those tweets, Wolf, we did see the president at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and he also delivered remarks at Fort McHenry.
And this year, Wolf, with the number of Americans who have died from coronavirus surpassing the number of Americans who died in both the Korean and Vietnam wars, the president was honoring more than just those who served on the battlefield.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A new form of battle against an invisible enemy.
DIAMOND (voice-over): On the brink of 100,000 deaths, President Trump marking Memorial Day with a tribute to the victims of coronavirus. TRUMP: As one nation, we mourn alongside every single family that has lost loved ones, including the families of our great veterans. Together, we will vanquish the virus and America will rise from this crisis to new and even greater heights.
DIAMOND: Even as he acknowledged an ongoing battle, the president today putting politics above public health, threatening to pull the GOP Convention from Charlotte unless North Carolina's governor can guarantee he will allow a packed convention in August, demanding Republicans must be immediately given an answer by the governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. "If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find another Republican National Convention site."
Trump's threat coming two days after North Carolina recorded its highest one-day spike in cases.
GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): The good thing is that this is three months away. And it's too early to tell where North Carolina will be. This is not political. This is not emotional. This is based on health experts, data and science.
DIAMOND: The president also still refusing to model the health precautions his experts are calling on Americans to follow amid a national reopening.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: As Americans that care for each other, we need to be wearing masks in public when we cannot social distance.
DIAMOND: Dr. Deborah Birx tiptoeing around the question of whether the president should do the same.
BIRX: I have asked everybody independently to really make sure that you're wearing a mask if you can't maintain the six feet. I'm assuming that, in majority of cases, he's able to maintain that six-feet distance.
DIAMOND: But on the golf course this weekend, the president coming close to others without a mask.
The same went for his trip to Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, cutting a stark contrast to former Vice President Joe Biden, who wore a mask as he laid a wreath in Delaware.
TRUMP: I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now.
DIAMOND: While Trump opted for golf, instead of church on Sunday, his demand to quickly reopen churches met with some caution by Dr. Birx.
BIRX: I made it clear that it's very important for governors and communities to let people know where there is still high levels of virus. So, although it may be safe for some to go to churches and social distance, it may not be safe for those with preexisting conditions. DIAMOND: FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn also urging Americans to
continue taking precautions. "With the country starting to open this holiday weekend, I again remind everyone that the coronavirus is not yet contained."
The Trump administration is also looking to boost testing capacity, promising in a report to Congress to buy 100 million testing swabs and vials by the end of the year. And with cases surging in Brazil, the president on Sunday issuing new travel restrictions, barring foreigners who have recently been to Brazil from entering the U.S.
Trump is still refusing to back off his support for hydroxychloroquine, promoting the drug after yet another study found it increases the risk of death in coronavirus patients.
And, tonight, that study is prompting the World Health Organization to suspend its studies of the drug.
DIAMOND: And, Wolf, after those somber appearances today, the president is back at it on Twitter, touting the great reviews that he says he has gotten for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
And he also is lamenting the fact that he is not getting enough credit for that handling. But, as we know, Wolf, that death toll nearly 100,000, we're going to hit that in just a few days, very sadly -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. And there were 11 confirmed deaths less than three months ago. On March 5, there were 11 confirmed deaths from coronavirus here in the United States, now approaching 100,000. See how quickly this thing can spread.
Jeremy Diamond, thank you very much.
Let's discuss this and more with the governor of the state experiencing what he himself describes as a second peak of coronavirus cases. We're joined by the governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson.
Governor Hutchinson, thank you so much for joining us.
HUTCHINSON: Great to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: I wish we were speaking under different circumstances.
But let's talk about what's going on in your great state of Arkansas. The national death toll is climbing, as we just pointed out, close to 100,000, more than 98,000 right now.
As you see what you're calling a second peak of cases in Arkansas, are you afraid the number of Arkansans you potentially could lose to this virus could spike big time, if you don't take more action right now? HUTCHINSON: Well, we're taking significant action in both opening up
our economy, which we never shut down, but also gradually lifting restrictions, so we can measure where there is an outbreak or a problem that we have to address.
And so, when I said that there's a second spike that we're seeing, it's really hard to know exactly where these projections are going. They are projections. And modeling has lost a lot of credibility.
And so we're have to dig deep into the data. We're having to dig deep as where these cases are, what's causing those. And that's what we're concentrating on.
And whenever you look at our numbers, our numbers are very modest, low death rate, compared to other states. We have -- our hospitalizations are still less than 100. And so, even though we saw a second spike, it's fairly modest, compared to where we are in a lot of other hot spots.
But we have a lot of work to do left. And I know there's been a lot of coverage, Wolf, about the summer and everybody getting out. It is Memorial Day. We had a service today in Arkansas, socially distanced, wearing masks, the right-size crowd. So there are ways to do it. We want to set that example.
BLITZER: And, to your credit, we saw you wearing a mask, which is so significant, because you're setting a good example for Arkansans.
We're seeing some striking images of huge crowds, though, in various parts. Look at these -- I don't know if you can see this. This is a gathering at Lake Hamilton in Arkansas yesterday.
I wonder what goes through your mind as you see these images, while you know that the number of cases of this deadly virus in your state right now still relatively modest, but clearly on the rise.
HUTCHINSON: Well, it is certainly a concern.
And whenever -- I have seen those pictures, and I start looking close and trying to understand where they're coming from, and whether they're in a separate boat,where they're protected with their family, whether there's social distancing there.
But, obviously, there's areas that they're not taking it seriously enough. And what we're going to see is that experience is the best teacher. We try to set an example. We try to provide guidelines, which we do for social distancing. Wear a mask when you can't do that.
But experience will be more effective. And, as you see, if there is a breakout as a result of one of these undisciplined social gatherings, then I think that's going to really instruct people that you still have to take this very, very seriously.
And I hope that they do that. We're going to continue to look at ways that we can better bring -- make that happen in Arkansas. There are a lot of good examples that could be featured as well. Our restaurants are doing an incredible job. They're very disciplined,
most stores setting good examples. But there are some undisciplined examples, too, that are problematic.
BLITZER: Yes. And that's encouraging to hear that.
Your state, though, is one of the few states in the United States currently seeing a sharp rise in cases. Take a look at this, the map of the U.S., Arkansas shown in dark red.
Yet businesses in Arkansas remain open. You have never really declared a statewide stay-at-home order. Why did you decide, Governor Hutchinson, not to take some of these steps to slow the spread? So many of your fellow governors did do that.
HUTCHINSON: Well, and every governor has to make a decision based upon their own statistics and public health guidance.
In Arkansas, it was clear that a stay-at-home order was not going to bring the public health benefit that would be expected, because you still have hundreds of thousands of essential workers that are continuing.
And we didn't want to add another 100,000 or 200,000 unemployed to the rolls. And so I think we made the right decision. I think experience is showing us that, because now everybody's opening up, recognizing you cannot shelter in place that long.
And you're also seeing a different pattern in these graphs and in the trend lines from every state. It's hard to see where very many states are similar, different -- different timelines, different trend lines.
And so, in Arkansas, we're watching it very carefully, and we hope that we're at a plateau. But we will see, because we're testing extraordinarily more numbers as we do each day.
BLITZER: I pointed out earlier, Governor Hutchinson, you're willing in public to wear a mask, which sets a good example for your fellow Arkansans.
Do you think the president should be doing that? Because, in public, he refuses to wear a mask.
HUTCHINSON: Well, the president indicates that he's social distancing. He's keeping the six feet apart. So, we have to take him at his word on that.
But what troubles me is this divide that is developing in our country. And as to the governor of North Dakota that said it so well, we can't be critical of someone else because they wear a mask. It's not an expression simply of freedom. But when you wear a mask, you're expressing your concern of someone else.
And that's what Memorial Day is about, is, it's sacrificing for someone else's benefit. And, here, that's really what we need to do when we wear a mask, is that we're protecting others.
HUTCHINSON: So, we're trying to set the right example. We will continue to do that.
BLITZER: And you're doing that.
And if you don't wear them mask, I think it's fair to say you're being selfish, because, potentially, you could infect someone. You may not have any symptoms at all. So the smart thing to do, the right thing to do is to go ahead and wear a mask, especially if you're in the middle of a whole bunch of people.
Governor Hutchinson, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.
HUTCHINSON: Thank you. Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Just ahead on this special SITUATION ROOM, we're going to have medical experts who are standing by to weigh in on the breaking news on a potential coronavirus vaccine.
We're also going to get the latest on crowded beaches around the country, the danger that the virus could spread even more so as Americans let their guards down.
BLITZER: All right, tonight, some Americans eager to celebrate the unofficial start of summer enjoying the outdoors in ways that are not necessarily in line with the country's harsh new reality.
The coronavirus is clearly here. It is still spreading and it still can be very, very deadly.
We're joined now by the former acting U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak, along with CNN's White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, give us the news right now. I understand this travel ban on foreigners leaving Brazil, trying to come to the United States. Guess what, they're no longer going to be allowed in because of the tremendous upsurge in coronavirus cases and deaths in Brazil?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is something the White House announced last night, Wolf.
But what's new just now is that we're learning they're actually going to move that deadline up by 48 hours. It wasn't supposed to go into effect until May the 28th. And now we're being told it's going to go into effect on May 26. It's not clear why there is that change.
But that is going to be something that we will be asking the White House to explain why they made that 48-hour shift, if there was more cause for concern today that is causing them to move that deadline up, because they made this decision because you're seeing the number of cases in -- of coronavirus in Brazil skyrocket.
It's really notable, as people have watched how the leaders here in the United States and there have really mirrored some of the techniques, talking about hydroxychloroquine, tamping down concerns about coronavirus and the spread of it. But now Brazil has a real problem on its hands.
And that is what you heard the national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, talking about yesterday. And he's saying that they're not just going to be looking at Brazil, but they will continue to look at other countries as well, though we should note that there is the United States, Brazil and Russia when it comes to confirmed cases.
They have not blocked any travel from Russia yet, Wolf, though we have been asking whether or not that's something that they're considering.
BLITZER: I wonder, Dr. Lushniak, why -- well, first of all, why has it taken so long to block travel from Brazil to the United States? Because it's been escalating the number of cases, the number of deaths in Brazil, for several weeks now.
And why are they still allowing open travel between Russia and the United States?
DR. BORIS LUSHNIAK, FORMER ACTING U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I think, when you look at this, I mean, you got to sort of monitor what the hot spots across the world are.
Now, mind you, blocking travel is somewhat controversial, right? the whole idea of this disease spreading, right, across borders is still a difficult aspect to control. But, really, at this point, you kind of have a look at the world quite openly. You have to monitor what the surveillance systems are telling us about the disease spread.
And step by step, you have to make those public health decisions in terms of where people are allowed to travel to and from.
BLITZER: The World Health Organization. Dr. Lushniak, is now warning of a second peak, not just a second wave down the road, a second peak of coronavirus cases.
As you see these striking images of people gathering in groups over this weekend, without masks, with no apparent effort to socially distance, does it seem to you another peak is now inevitable?
LUSHNIAK: It really concerns me.
It's -- the whole aspect of this is, it's a beautiful Memorial Day here in the Washington, D.C., area. I had a great time and I stayed away from crowds. The reality is, we have a whole summer ahead of us. And right now, in these next few weeks, there's a critical time period where we should really follow the directives regarding physical distancing, staying away from crowds, wearing the masks. We can enjoy a summer later. Right now, it really concerns me that all of a sudden we have this Memorial Day weekend, the traditional beginning of summertime, and somehow we just start giving it all up.
BLITZER: Kaitlan, the president spent part of the weekend golfing, a lot of the weekend tweeting political attacks.
And despite insisting houses of worship have to reopen on Sunday, yesterday, he said it was essential to allow these churches and other houses of worship to reopen, the president himself did not attend church yesterday, did he?
COLLINS: No, he didn't, Wolf.
And he has gone in the past on some occasions, Easter, Christmas, things like that. He did not go to a church service, despite two days earlier declaring them essential, wanting the CDC to put out that guidance, because he said he wanted them to be opened immediately, which, of course, raised concerns in some areas about whether or not it was safe for some of those age groups to go back to church yet.
Of course, church is a very communal place. People are often around each other. And so there were concerns about really what the atmosphere there would be like. But the president himself did not attend church this weekend.
He did go to his golf course in Virginia for the first time in several months. He played golf. CNN cameras saw him on the course both, two days in a row. And the president has been defending that on Twitter. He talked about the fact that Joe Biden's campaign was using those images as the United States is, of course, nearing that 100,000 marker of the deaths here in the United States.
But also, Wolf, he was promoting several conspiracies on Twitter. He was amplifying racist attacks from one of his supporters as well. And it was quite a weekend for him on Twitter, as you were noting.
All right, Kaitlan Collins, thank you.
Dr. Boris Lushniak, as usual, thanks to you as well.
Just ahead, we're going to get updates on crowd control at beaches from South Carolina to Florida, as officials are warning residents to keep their distance.
I will speak with the mayor of Daytona Beach, Florida, where we saw lots and lots of people and, unfortunately, not a lot of social distancing.
[18:30:00] BLITZER: As we enter into the final hours of this Memorial Day holiday weekend, we are keeping an eye on beaches, other places where crowds may be forming. We've seen some rather troubling scenes of people packing together closely in clear violation of social distancing guidelines.
Our National Correspondent, Natasha Chen, joining us from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The beach behind you, pretty empty right now, Natasha, but what have you been seeing in the course of this day?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that's right, and people have sort of gone home now at the end of this holiday weekend. But what we were seeing throughout the day is that people were pretty good about keeping their group separate from the next group.
So there was social distancing going on, given that there's a lot of space on this beach. Unfortunately, with indoor spaces and restaurants that's a little more difficult to do.
I want to show you this graph that we have. It's a seven-day average of new cases in South Carolina. And since the state began reopening some businesses about a month ago, the seven-day average has sort of stayed in the same range with a slightly upward trend in the last week.
And that's exactly what concerned a bartender that we spoke to because he was actually offered four times his regular pay to work this weekend knowing that there were going to be lots of tourists here, and he declined that request because he knew that there would be some risk. He also said, it's kind hard when you have that many people to be able to social distance.
Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD ROSE, BARTENDER: It's like a double edged sword. We try to step away without being impolite. We try to maintain a simple distance like this rather than saying, hey, how are you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And we are wearing our masks when I'm not on camera, especially when I am interviewing people within close range.
And we talked to the city about the fact that they sent out regulators to local businesses who, by the way, very much need those tourism dollars, but the city regulators had to make sure that they were staying within that 50 percent capacity that the state had set. A couple of them over the weekend had too many people and the city had to ask them to show some patrons out the door, Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm glad you're wearing that mask. Natasha, you be careful over there, thank you very, very much. Let's go to Florida right now, where we've also seen crowds gathering in potentially very dangerous ways. We're joined by the Mayor of Daytona Beach, Derrick Henry. Mayor Henry, thanks so much for joining us.
And as we watch the national death toll now soar towards a 100,000 people, large crowds gathered at your city, Daytona Beach, this week. And I want to play some of the video of the scene and I get your reaction when you saw those crowds gathering at Daytona Beach, what did you think?
MAYOR DERRICK HENRY, DAYTONA BEACH, FL: Well, quite naturally, Wolf, I was very concerned. We know, we didn't see very much social distancing in those situations, so I was alarmed and concerned. And more concerned with the businesses and some of the impact that it had on them and seeing folks when they were off the beach not practicing social distancing when they were walking the sidewalks, and no one had on a mask very much. So it's a challenge.
BLITZER: So given these very disturbing images, Mayor, what are you doing to make sure it doesn't happen again?
HENRY: Well, right now, it's a lot different because the weather has taken a turn, so it is now raining. And we -- yes, that day we had a crowd of people who came from Orlando and Miami and they promoted it kind of through social media and decided that they would just come to Daytona Beach for sort of a big celebration of sorts because they were happy to be out.
Now, we are sort of back on to our normal setting where most folks are practicing social distancing. Our families are here and the normal crowd, the normal business at Daytona Beach has ascended upon us and that's the way we would prefer at this time.
BLITZER: Because, as you remember, when we spoke on Friday, you said most people at Daytona Beach were completely compliant with your regulations, that people gather in groups of six of less, stay ten feet apart from other people. Are you still confident, Mayor, that those regulations you've put in place are offering enough protection for your citizens?
HENRY: Yes, I remain confident that the citizens and people who are here. One of the things that we have to do though, is we have to do a sufficient or adequate job of educating our visitors of what our expectations are, and remind them that they are guests. Because the bottom line is here in Daytona Beach, if you are going to be a guest, you are a guest and we want you to come with a guest mentality. Otherwise we want you to choose another destination.
BLITZER: Mayor, do you have the resources to do that? Are the resources in place to, quote, educate a lot of the folks from other parts of Florida who may want to come into Daytona Beach and party?
HENRY: I do think the resources are in place. You have to use non- traditional avenues. You have to promote it. I have a lot of people who call a lot of people. We have to do it through our website. We have to use messaging boards as people are entering the city to inform of what we are expecting and what they can and cannot do.
So I believe the resources are there. It's just a matter of making sure that we packaged it properly.
BLITZER: Mayor Derrick Henry, good luck to you and good luck to everyone down in Daytona Beach in Florida. I know these are critically important decisions you have to make in the coming days and weeks. Thanks so much for joining us.
HENRY: My pleasure. Take care, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you. Just ahead, another experimental vaccine now entering human trials. But one of the chances any of the prototypes will actually turned out to be successful.
And as were seeing people packed close together on the beaches, we want to show you how easily one infected person can spread the virus simply through the air.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news on the scramble to develop a coronavirus vaccine, yet another company has now says it's ready to start human trials.
We're joined by the former FDA Commissioner, Dr. Mark McClellan, he is the Director of the Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University. Also joining us, Dr. Peter Hotez, Professor and Dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
And, Dr. Hotez, we just learned that another coronavirus vaccine has entered human trials. By our count, this marks the tenth so far. Do the chances of developing an effective vaccine growth potentially with each new trial?
DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF THE TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, that's absolutely right, Wolf. And that number ten could easily go up, could easily double before we're over. And hopefully our vaccine will be added to that, less than we hope to go onto clinical trials later this year by the fall.
And the reason is that the actual technical accomplishment to make a COVID-19 vaccine is actually not this complicated as it sounds. What you need to do is make an immune response against the part of the virus, sort of a spike protein.
If you have ever looked what a cartoon of the virus looks like, it's going to looks like a donut with a piece of RNA in the middle and then the spikes all around it. That's the part that interacts with our tissues. And if you create what's called neutralizing antibody against the spike protein, you will make a good vaccine.
And so all of vaccines work on that principle. The question is you don't know which technology is going to work the best in people and you don't know which technology is going to be the safest. And so to hedge your bets, you try to get as many different technologies out there as you can, like recombinant protein vaccines, like this Novavax one, ours has some similarities to that.
RNA vaccines, DNA vaccines, they have no virus vaccines. And then we'll learn over the next year and half, which of them has the most promise in terms creating an effective and immune response to people and which one is safe. But that's the hard part. It takes that time to accumulate all of that data showing it's both safe and effective.
BLITZER: You've got to be really, really careful over these trials.
Dr. McClellan, researchers over in Oxford now say there's only a 50 percent chance that they're coronavirus vaccine could show -- they say could potentially show no result at all. Can you explain why a vaccine could be this far along in development and yet we may not be able to know whether or not it is really effective?
DR. MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Well, Wolf, as Dr. Hotez said, the good news is that people do generally amount immune responses to this virus, and there are an unprecedented number of types of vaccines in development.
But so many things can go off track along the way. People may not have a strong reaction, a strong immune response to a particular vaccine. And that can be because they don't produce enough antibodies or also there are cells in the body that help with magnifying the response to the virus as well. That response may not be as strong.
And that's really why you have to go through these clinical tests, as Dr. Hotez said. And that means not only testing enough people to see that there is a response, not only getting more antibodies but having enough antibodies to really prevent infections from happening, or being as serious, but also to make sure that the vaccines are safe enough.
These are going to be administered to a lot of people who may be at risk for getting the virus because they work in health care, they work in other essential jobs, but they are still relatively healthy people underneath.
So, we want to make sure that there are not side effects from the virus too, and there can be problems there. Many virus -- many vaccines have gone off track with having safety problems, adverse reactions and the like as well. So, that's why it's so important to have this unprecedented effort to do clinical testing on many vaccines all at the same time as quickly as possible, but going through the full clinical testing to determine safety, and effectiveness, and also at the same time start manufacturing these vaccines. We may not use them if they don't work but that also shaves a lot of time off getting vaccines that can actually help out to people to benefit.
BLITZER: Yes, that's so important.
Dr. Hotez, another major development today -- the World Health Organization announced that it was stopping even studying -- even studying the drug hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus patients due to safety concerns. It's too dangerous to even studying it. The president, as you know, frequently has touted hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment, even taking it himself for two weeks.
Does this development by the World Health Organization now prove otherwise?
HOTEZ: Yes, this is part of their big solidarity trial. That's what the World Health Organization calls it. Big registries, they're looking at for interventions.
In this case, part of it was published on "The Lancet" last week, the biomedical journal, 96,000 patients enrolled, including 16,000, getting you the various combinations of hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine and azithromycin. And it showed actually that the drug actually decreased survival.
So, higher death rates, and serious heart rhythms, including one called the ventricular arrhythmia. So, that was really concerning that not only is it not working, it's actually (AUDIO GAP). That's why the WHO is suspending that part of the solidarity trial.
BLITZER: Yes, very significant development.
Dr. Hotez, Dr. McClellan, thanks to both of you for joining us. We're grateful to both of you. Thank you.
And just ahead, Americans flock to newly reopened beaches and parks this holiday weekend, even as health experts warned this could potentially lead to a spike in cases.
Plus, a stunning experiment exposes how easily the coronavirus can spread from person to person. We have details.
BLITZER: Two new unnerving studies are revealing just how easily one infected person can spread the virus between people and restaurants and in the air.
CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this for us.
Brian, tell our viewers what you found out.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, these two new studies and the visuals that accompany them are jarring. They show how the virus can exploit just one tiny lapse in judgment and infect many people in just seconds. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
TODD (voice-over): A disturbing ultra reality demonstration of how coronavirus spreads. Medical experts teamed up with Japan's broadcaster NHK to gather 10 participants. The setting, a simulation of buffet style eating in the cruise ship's dining area or restaurant.
The first participant rubs his hands with a special fluorescent liquid, only visible under black light. He's simulating an infected person who'd cough into his hands. Nine other people join him, put food onto their plates and proceed with a communal meal.
After 30 minutes, the room goes dark. Ultraviolet light shows that fluorescent liquid the man rubbed on his hands is now on several surfaces, pitchers, tongs. His residue had spread to silverware, glassware. Three people had gotten it onto their face.
HOTEZ: Even some basing rules of dining like buffet style eating we might have to consider that and go back to individual servings.
TODD: After one round, the team in Japan did a second cleaner version of the same experiment. Had people wash hands, separated dishes and replaced utensils more frequently.
After 30 minutes of that test, no one had picked up the residue.
DR. MARK RUPP, CHIEF, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: If that initial event where the person had the contamination in their hand had used hand hygiene prior to touching that utensil, that would have prevented the whole line from becoming contaminated.
TODD: Another new study shows how this invisible enemy strikes when we talk to each other.
Researchers at NIH and the University of Pennsylvania found that one person talking loudly for one minute in a confined space could generate at least 1,000 droplets. Into a dark box lit with lasers, a researcher speaks for 25 seconds repeating one phrase.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay healthy.
TODD: Inside the box, thousands of droplets can be seen here as streaks in the air stirred by a fan which is then turned off.
The clock up top shows how slowly the droplets dissipate. Some linger for more than 12 minutes. Those researchers say in real life, that's plenty of time for infected particles to be inhaled by others and cause new infections.
HOTEZ: They're in a loud restaurant, where there's a fair bit of noise. People are speaking loudly. There's going to be lots of micro droplets of this virus in the atmosphere.
[18:55:03] TODD: One expert says both of these studies show for the foreseeable future, we'll have to build safeguards everywhere to ward off this unseen threat.
RUPP: Whether that's a piece of tape on the floor or crossbar that comes down or what have you, you know, some sort of a reminder for somebody to say you can't do this until you've practiced hand hygiene. You can't come into this establishment unless you have a mask in place.
TODD: Dr. Mark Rupp says these studies are also a reminder of how easy it is for all of us to have that momentary lapse in judgment, that instant where you haven't washed your hands before interacting with other people or you're not wearing a mask, and he says, you know, that shows how dangerous that momentary lapse can be, because the virus can exploit it just seconds Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us -- Brian, thanks very much.
Up next, we're going to Los Angeles for an update on whether holiday beachgoers are following or ignoring social distancing.