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New York Suburbs Reopen After Prolonged Coronavirus Lockdown; President Donald Trump Claims He Provided "Unlimited Testing" To States And Made Governors "Look Very Good"; Poll: 46 Percent Of Registered Voters Trust Joe Biden On The Coronavirus Compared To 37 Percent Who Trust President Donald Trump; Revisiting Georgia One Month After State's Reopening. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 26, 2020 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Moving to the top of the hour now. I am John King in Washington. This is CNN continuing covering of the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

It is so far a day of very mixed signals. The new Trump Administration's travel ban takes effect tonight, that ban aimed at Brazil where the coronavirus case count right now is exploding. Brazil proves the virus moving from continent to continent. The World Health Organization is warning of a new peak in this current first wave. Never mind that's right of a second a few months down the road.

Here at home the case count is here nearing 1.7 million, and we'll soon cross the horrific milestone of 100,000 of U.S. coronavirus deaths. Those numbers will keep climbing and they are reminders of the complexity of the road ahead.

The President though seeing things quite clearly this morning simply crediting himself for all the good and none of the bad happening around the country in a string of tweets in past hour the President says he has made all the right decisions. He puts the blame for the pandemic solely and squarely on China.

And he says his administration has provided unlimited testing to Governors and states that last claim unlimited testing breaks the fact machine. The President also focused not deaths today but on the different count, the markets are up again. The President's tweet, "States should open up ASAP". The transition to greatness has started he says and he says it is "Ahead of Schedule".

The New York Governor says he will meet with the President tomorrow. They disagree on the shape and the speed of the economic recovery. The national number of cases now holding steady you see that plateau right there. To the President though, he sees that as a green light for more activities. To the experts including the World Health Organization, caution equals wisdom right now.


DR. MARK RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION'S HEALTH AND EMERGENCIES PROGRAM: We are right in the middle of the first wave globally. We are still very much in phase where the disease is actually on the way up. We need to be also cognizant of that the disease can jump up at any time.

We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now that it is on - it is going to keep going down and then we are going to get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave.


KING: A big addition tonight a list of American Institutions now reopened. The floor of the New York Stocks Exchange unlocking its doors but without three quarters of its traders because of distance guidelines. Another major New York reopening is also happening today 25 miles north of Manhattan.

New York suburbs you might remember went into lockdown early after the coronavirus cluster broke out among its residents ending three months of isolation.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is in New Roschelle. Bryn you were there when this began, now three months later it ends?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And there is a sigh of relief for many people in this area. Again as you said one of the earliest areas in the country to shut down, they've been shut down for three months now.

I talked to a business owner who says it is not soon enough, he wants to see the next phase which is phase 2 because that's when he can open his gym. But this is the phase 1. This is the baby step. This is the first step the Governor allowing this to happen here in New Rochelle, nearly 7 counties in this middle section of the states.

This includes constructions starting up manufacturing and some retails can open as well. There are also people here that are a little hesitant. They're a still a little bit nervous. I talked to a couple who were elderly they have been in their homes for quite a while now. They actually just took a walk out today to go to the post office and they say they're still concerned because they see people sometimes not wearing masks.

Now I have to say we have seen a mix. A lot of people wearing masks and some people not. So that is something that the Mayor has said while we are taking this great step forward finally, he added some precautions.

He says "It is premature to let down our guard, all of us must continue to act responsibly, practice physical distancing and use face coverings and follow other guidelines intended to safe guard our health at both home and work".

But certainly he said this is something that everyone here in New Rochelle can be proud of, making this step forward after such a long time being in sort of the lockdown situation. KING: That a long three months. Brynn Gingras on the ground for us we certainly wish the people of New Rochelle well. We hope this experiment does the reopen goes well. Brynn, thank you very much.

With us now to share his expertise and his insights CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, one of the big things we are hearing today is more news in the vaccines chase. And one of my questions every time is it a press relief saying this company is making progress or is it real progress?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know that's double edged sword there. I think some of it is real progress. But you know frankly John these are developments and probably under any other circumstance we would not be reporting on your program because it is so early and so preliminary.

One of the things that I think is worth talking about is the fact that if you look at the different types of trials that are happening around the world and there are four in the United States, you can see the list of trials that are happening around the world.

These are several different platforms of vaccines John. I think this is an important point. Typically you think I am going to give a little bit of the virus to somebody they're going to build an antibody response. They're essentially going to be vaccinated.


GUPTA: When you're looking at some of these vaccine trials you're talking about putting a blueprint of part of the virus into the body and then letting the body do everything else. The body generates that blueprint over and over again and then makes the antibodies.

These neutralizing antibodies which have been formed John just to give a little context what we're made in May right now till they get to that point that's not something they were able to do with HIV aids in 40 years okay.

I had a long conversation with the folks at NIH over the weekend about this the scientists who have been working on this for some time. And so that's a significant development the fact that within five months they've been able to do something generating these neutralizing antibodies which we haven't seen in HIV aids.

Is it going to be enough? Is it going to provide the protection that people actually you know obviously need in the form of the vaccine? We don't know that yet. But it is exciting and I you know I talked to lots of different sources about this you know - obvious in the Moderna side which is the manufacturing side.

But also the scientists who've been who've been thinking about this platform for a long time t quite excited. We get to see the bears out.

KING: The excitement with - we'll take it for now. We will be cautiously optimistic. I'll put it there based on your town right there. Another issue Sanjay from day one has been testing. The President tweeting there's unlimited testing now that's not quite factually correct.

Let's hope it gets there the people and anyone who needs it can find it. But it's also it's a confusion about different kinds of testing throughout the last few months?

GUPTA: Yes that that's right. I mean there are three kinds of tests that people should probably be focused on. One is the test for the virus itself calls that the diagnostic test. You have seen the swabs things like that that's looking for pieces of the virus itself.

There is the antibody test that's looking for some evidence that you've been exposed to the virus in the past. And there is another type of test which we don't really have yet but could be significant and that's called an antigen test that's like us you know you've ever had a strep test. You do a quick strep test you may get the results back right away.

If you could have widely available diagnostic testing either the virus test or the antigen test widely available, accurate and all these different point of locations giving people some confidence that I do have the virus today or I don't have the virus today. That is really what we're talking about.

And one thing John I just say about testing I've said this before to you. We focus a lot on okay we have enough test now tens of millions of tests we'll get to 40 million whatever the numbers by the end of the month.

The reason these other countries had such success with testing wasn't just the amount of testing they had it's when they implemented it. They did testing right away. I don't see that as a criticism as much as a lesson because as we get to the second wave or second peak if we can be testing early isolate early we can hopefully prevent this from going into exponential growth.

KING: That last time early on lessons learned important. Sanjay Gupta I appreciate your insights as always doctor. Up next for us mailbox robberies and Joe Biden's mask, yes, the President is up and tweeting today and first this little flash back the President three months ago to this day praising the WHO and the CDC.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're dealing with World Health and we have terrific people and CDC does go around helping other countries give them recommendations from our standpoint it's really worked out very.




KING: President's view quite clear today. He sees an accelerated re opening is good for his reelection prospects and expanded mail in voting is somehow bad for his hope of winning four more years.

Politics and the pandemic collide a lot in the President's actions these days including his threat now to move the Republican Convention from Charlotte North Carolina if the Governor doesn't quickly commit to making sure the city and the state will be ready by late August to welcome GOP delegates from around the nation.

With me now to discuss White House Correspondent for "The New York Times" Maggie Haberman also National Political Correspondent for "The Times" Alex Burns thank you both. Maggie let's start with you the President tweeting just moments ago for all the political hacks out there, I guess he means me. I know who carefully doesn't mean you too. If I hadn't done my job well it early we would have 1.5 to 2 million people.

The President trying to combat new numbers in a Fox News Poll just today and we know he watches Fox News who do a better job? Who do you trust to do a better job in the coronavirus? 46 percent say Joe Biden 37 percent say President Trump. He is sensitive about this that's an understatement Maggie.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well he's sensitive about it John because it is a point where his numbers as you say have been going down and where a majority of voters or plurality of voters don't think he has done a good job.

The problem John with the fact that he keeps saying if I hadn't done X,Y or Z, if I've done literally nothing then there would have been this loss of life. People don't elect Presidents to literally do nothing and there's just reams of videotape of him through the month of February playing down the virus regardless of what he did with the limited ban from China.

He then went on to talk about how the reactions to it were basically an effort to undermine him. He's stuck with that for several weeks. So it is going to be hard for him to undo this perception of what I think is frustrating John particular is he can't change the subject off of this. He's so used to being able to do it on the news cycles and he just can't right now.

KING: Right he cannot, he cannot change biology with a tweet. He can't bully a virus with a tweet. And Maggie's not only a great reporter Alex she's also an excellent television producer. She just mentioned there are reams of video tape of this. This is the President of the United States three months ago to the day saying no problem.


TRUMP: The risk to the American people remains very low. It may get bigger may get a little bigger may not get bigger at all. When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero that's a pretty good job with that we have done. We have it so well under control I mean we really have done a very good job. There's a chance that it won't spread.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: The chance that it won't spread 15 pretty soon down to zero. The numbers on the right of your screen almost at 1.7 million confirmed cases and we won't get through the middle of the week with by hitting a 100,000 deaths Alex.


ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: No it won't and John I the thing that's so key about what the point Maggie was just making and the video that we just watch is this is all stuff that the public remembers.

There been plenty of times in the Trump Presidency where he has tried and succeeded in changing the subject or sort of obfuscated the reality of his own record despite there being ample of video and audio evidence to contradict whatever his preferred narrative is.

But this is one where unlike I think a lot of the legal wrangling around impeachment and the Russia investigation. This is very, very present in people's daily lives and they are paying attention and they do remember it.

And there's really no way at this point for him to kind of time warp back and retro fit a narrative where he took this super seriously from the start and did everything within his power to contain the virus.

The question is can he eventually get the country to a place where they are open to hearing other arguments about economic re opening and his stewardship of the economy after the first most devastating hopefully the way that was most devastating has receded?

KING: Right. Important point the economic numbers come September, October it will tell us a lot about it whether perceptions are going to change at least why whatever you think of the present beginning of this have we come out of it?

Maggie one thing he can't control you, you mention very smartly he can't control the spread of the coronavirus. One thing he can't control is where his convention is and he's been threatening in recent days because he doesn't think the Governor of North Carolina is moving quickly enough on re opening.

He doesn't believe the Governor will you know he believes the Governor should commit right now all those delegates can come in late August. Is this serious or is this just an attempt to push the Governor to act quickly?

HABERMAN: It's - you have asked the right questions John. And look to be clear I don't actually know the President can control this either but he certainly wants to because so much else is out of his control. He is trying here I think to force or cropper and just saying a very quick yes fine we will do what we can to give you what you want.

The President is doing this despite conversations that Republicans and his own White House advisors are having with the State of North Carolina about what this convention could look like? What the options are they are trying to work with the Governor's office?

And as we have seen repeatedly in other instances in this case the President is sort of at odds with his own advisers as he is trying to take this public we also you know the President has mused privately to advisors is why can't this just be held at a hotel ballroom in Florida?

Is not named one of his own properties he had a reaction to something this weekend where he seemed to think that we have reported otherwise? We didn't but they are talking about other states where this could go?

They are contractually obligated right now with North Carolina. And so it will be I think up to North Carolina to say we can't do it. And then they'll be fallout from that but you know we're weeks away from that.

KING: And for guys as he canceled his subscription a long time ago. He certainly reads "The New York Times" very, very, very, very, very closely. Alex what is the President.

HABERMAN: --sure if.

KING: He did - he got what you reported accurately. He got it wrong as he often does. What does the President's beef Alex with mail in balloting? Everything in America has to be re imagined because of this pandemic Washington State, Utah have done it for some time.

Republicans just won a congressional seat flipped a congressional seat in California that was largely mail in ballots but the President tweeting there's no way zero that mail in ballots will be anything less the substantially fraudulent. Why is he worried about mail in ballots when the history tells us there's actually very little fraud and it might actually increase participation?

BURNS: You know John, this is as - to sort of extend the point that Maggie was just making. This is another place where the President is really in a different - taking a different perspective than much of his party which recognizes that the Republicans.

I've actually done quite well with mail in balloting in a state like Florida which is not exactly an incidental battleground in the fall election. And there's a lot of concern in the Republican Party that by so consistently attacking mail in balloting as an option the President could depress Republican participation in an Avenue that a whole lot of people especially older voters may end up using this fall.

Look as far as why the President is doing this? I don't think we need to see it as distinct from all the other opportunities that he is taking to try to preemptively call into question the legitimacy of the election. I think we all remember that 3.5 years ago he attacked the legitimacy of his own victorious election because he was upset that the popular vote went the other way and made his wild claims about illegal voting in California.

I think that basically everybody expects that he is going to do that again win or lose. And his attack on mail in balloting ought to be seen as part of that.

KING: Alex Burns and Maggie Haberman great to see you both. Tribes through these uncertain weeks and months ahead of us and to that point of politics the Former Vice President Joe Biden sits down with CNN's Dana Bash to weigh in on the coronavirus and the politicization of masks.


KING: That's on "THE SITUATION ROOM" today live at 5:00 pm. Twitter says it will not remove President Trump's tweets about a baseless conspiracy theory insinuating that a Former Congressman and current TV host committed murder. I can't believe it even after read that. This comes after an emotional plea to the Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey from the husband of Lori Klausutis the woman who died has become the subject of this conspiracy theory.

Her win over back Dorsey to remove the tweet saying the President of the United States has taken "The memory of my dead wife and perverted it for perceived political game". With me now is CNN Reporter Donie O'Sullivan. Donie, what is Twitter saying about this, what the President tweet is wrong why won't they take it down?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Hey John, Twitter is saying sorry but they're not going to do anything about it. They said to us in a statement this morning that we are deeply sorry about the pain these statements and the attention they're drawing are causing the family.

We've been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward and we hope to have those changes in place shortly. It's a lot of words to basically say that they're doing nothing about this.

And you read that letter from the way to work and you know there are so many victims of cyber harassment and bullying were just in that same position. And even with a high profile case like this when you reach out to the CEO Jack Dorsey they basically say they're going to do nothing about it.

And why well it's very possible I think that a lot of folks in Silicon Valley are afraid of President Trump. They're afraid of regulation and you know facing the wrath of the President. And of course you can you know John you would know better tonight that as soon as if Twitter were to take action on these accounts there would be fundraising emails from the Trump Campaign going out saying Silicon Valley anti- conservative bias.

So you know it's a sad situation, it's obviously a surreal situation that we're even talking about this and that the issue is that this company won't do anything about us.

KING: It is surreal but facts should be facts regardless of your title. Donie O'Sullivan really appreciate your continued reporting on these issues. Up next for us to check in on South Dakota meat processing plant were more than 800 workers were infected with the coronavirus. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KING: It is now one month since Georgia began its re opening. The state among the first to ease restrictions allowing businesses and public spaces to open up again so how is the state - so far? CNN's Nick Valencia live for us in Atlanta now with a big update. Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there John, the Governor here surprised many when he announced that brought re opening. Senior city officials CDC officials telling me that they were nervous it can lead not just to a second wave but maybe even a third.

But the Georgia Governor maintained that even though the virus was spreading the state was able to manage it and its peers - look at the numbers he may be right.

Looking at scenes like this you may think Georgia never closed. CNN took a closer look at the data. What we found is that at least so far the numbers haven't changed much in the months since Georgia's Governor eased restrictions in a big way the rate of new cases hasn't declined but it hasn't skyrocketed either despite some dire predictions.

Looking at data from Johns Hopkins University between April 24th and May 24th the number of new confirmed cases by day in Georgia does show slightly higher numbers over the past five days or so but zooming out there it goes up and down overall data shows the rate of new daily cases in Georgia has been mostly flat from April 24th the day the first re opening to May 24th averaging in the 600 to 700 range the rate of new deaths per day also steady.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP, (R-GA): I'm proud of what we accomplished over the last several weeks but we cannot rest on our laurels we need to further expand access to testing and we need to encourage Georgians to make it a priority.


VALENCIA: In fact testing is the one thing going way up in Georgia. Georgia's rate of new tasks added per day has basically quadrupled in that one month period from about 5000 a day about 20000 some more testing to find new cases plus a flat rate of new cases seems like good news. And the rate of positive test results remains about 5 percent. It was in the range of 15 to 20 percent a month ago.

And those scenes that we saw over Memorial Day weekend here throughout the State of Georgia were unsettling to say the least but epidemiologist that we spoke to say the real test and the marker we'll see in a couple of weeks here to see if this social easing approach is going to lead to a spreading of the virus throughout Georgia John?

KING: So far so good, you would say that the one month mark. We'll keep an eye on it Nick Valencia really appreciate it very much. All right, let's move across America, now the Sioux Falls, South Dakota City Council today will consider lifting capacity restrictions for businesses like restaurants and gyms.

Sioux Falls you'll likely remember home to a Smithfield plant we had 853 coronavirus cases among its employees. Joining me now is the Mayor of Sioux Falls, Paul TenHaken.

Mr. Mayor, it's good to see you again. The City Council meeting today that's an important step beginning to re opening capacity I've asked you this every time you've been on. It's always a question for me are you better off today than you were yesterday and last week? How you're feeling right now?

MAYOR PAUL TENHAKEN (R), SIOUX FALLS, SD: Well John yes thanks for having me back again.