Return to Transcripts main page


American Deaths Near 100,000; Seventeen States Currently Seeing Increase In Cases; Trump Mocks Biden For Wearing Mask, Which Is Trump's Own Policy. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired May 26, 2020 - 13:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Nice psychological boost just to see players practicing. Shimon Prokupecz, I appreciate it. I hope to see you back here this time tomorrow, folks.

Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Brianna Keilar, and I want to welcome viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. This is CNN's special live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. is now hours away from reaching 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus. It's an unfathomable loss of life, solidifying the fact that the U.S. is undergoing the deadliest outbreak in the world. No other nation has lost more people with more than one in four deaths around the globe happening here.

I want to leave this map here just to show you where cases are rising, where they're falling and where they remain steady.

Seventeen states currently seeing an increase in cases, and this is happening as reopening plans for all 50 states are underway right now. Crowds have been packing beaches, boardwalks, pools with few masks in sight. And the downward trends are prompting one World Health official to urge caution. He fears not just a second wave but a second peak in this first wave. Listen to this.


DR. MIKE RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION'S HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAM: We need to be also cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up any time. We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now that it's going to keep going down and we are going to get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may have a second peak in this wave.


KEILAR: We're approaching this devastating death toll of 100,000 lives lost here in the United States. So let's examine the people who were behind that numbers.

I want to bring in CNN's Tom Foreman. Tom, you've been diving into the data here, what are you learning? TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is no question, Brianna, that the people who are paying the deepest cost for this are simply your parents and grandparents because older people are dying much more than anyone else.

Take a look at this graphic here. Over the age of 75, that accounts for almost 60 percent of all the deaths that are out there right now from this virus. That's a really whopping number. Add in the people who are over 65 and now you're closing in on this 80 percent number for the number of people who are dying from this.

Below that, 45 or 64, so people of a couple decades out from retirement or less. That's another 20 percent. And then below that, when you get below 44 percent, only 3 percent of the people are actually passing away from this. So you understand why some younger people may say, what's the worry here? My odds are actually very good.

But look at this. If you put that side by side with the number of cases of this virus, and, yes, some are atypical, some people have very little reaction to this. But look at this. When you talk about cases, those stack heavily in that 18 to 65 range. That's where most of the cases are. And yes, some people are atypical but many are suffering enormously when they get this.

And we don't know, as new as this is, what the lasting effects are, because people talk about problems with their lungs, sometimes problems with other organs, problems with blood clots, things like this. We don't know. Younger people may survive this may yet have a very long and lasting health effect. We simply don't know right now.

So in terms of mortally, it's older people, people with pre-existing conditions. They were the ones who were hit the hardest. In terms of simply getting the disease, that's hitting a lot of people and younger ones a great deal.

Look at the map, as you mentioned there, Brianna. The question continues to be, what are we going to do in terms of the trends here. The current map, yes, we see plenty of red on that map. The southeast right now is just getting hammered. Really nothing there except for red, dark red or stable at best.

There is some green in the middle of the country. That's positive in a way. But, really, this is only comparing the past week to the previous week, what is the trend there. As we said all along, Brianna, until you see three quarters of this map turn green and stay green week in and week out, you can't begin to say the crisis has passed. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Tom, thank you for walking us through that.

I want to unpack a lot of this now with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Seema Yasmin. She was a disease detective for the CDC. And, Doctor, many people, they think this is a sickness of the elderly, they wouldn't be wrong looking at some these case numbers. And yet there's also a lot of people who are not that old who are dying from this and many more who are, as Tom said, perhaps going to be suffering long-term effects of contracting the coronavirus. [13:05:01]

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: That's right. And this is not exclusively a disease of older people, which I think there's some complacency among younger folks that it's older people who are dying. And it's true that more than half of deaths in America happen in people over the age of 75.

But around 40 percent of Americans who have died from COVID-19 have been in the mid-40s, 50s, 60s, younger than 75 and around 1 in 6 Americans who has died from COVID-19 has been in the 18 to 44 year old age group, and that's deaths.

Now, if you look at cases, as Tom mentioned, we've actually seen close to half a million infections in the 18 to 44 years old age group. That's actually more than we've seen in the slightly older age group, and that younger age group is exactly who we have been seeing in these pictures over the holiday weekend at pool parties, packed on beaches and on the boardwalks.

So it's important when we are not out of the woods, we're not even past the first peak yet, the first wave of the pandemic that we don't have a false sense of security because we are younger and therefore presume that we're safe. We are not.

This disease is infecting and killing Americans from their late teens up until their older age.

KEILAR: We are hitting this as a grim marker, 100,000 deaths here in a matter of hours. When you look at that marker, what does that say to you about where we are and where we are going?

YASMIN: It's such a devastating milestone. You think about a hundred thousand of people who have died. That's like half the population of Rochester, New York being wiped out in the last few months or the entire population of San Mateo here in California having died since February. It's such a huge loss. And I want us to remember the names and the people behind those numbers.

But what's also really painful to me as a public health physician is how many of those deaths might have been prevented if we had acted earlier, if we had been much more prepared for a pandemic. There is one analysis that shows if we had closed just a week earlier, we may have saved 36,000 deaths.

Obviously, too late now to go back and undo that, but we have to be really, really careful now that we learn those lessons, that we're still doing physical distancing, wearing masks and not presuming that because all the states are lifting shelter-in-place orders, that it's business as usual, it's not. We are not out of the woods yet.

KEILAR: No, we are not. Dr. Yasmin, thank you.

The State of Georgia was the first to relax many of its social distancing guidelines. But now, despite what appeared to be a plateau in the number of cases, there is a new cluster of infections linked to a single Atlanta school. CNN's Nick Valencia reports.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Nick Valencia in Atlanta. Several graduates of a private school in the Atlanta area have tested positive for the coronavirus after one of them hosted a graduation party. The Lovett School sent a letter to families saying that several of their students have been infected by the virus but didn't give a detailed number.

The school closed their campus in mid-March and postponed the graduation. But like many schools across the country, they hosted a drive-through graduation parade. According to local reports, one of those students was infected with the virus hosted a gathering later that night affecting many others.

KEILAR: In Southern California, health officials are worried about several outbreaks striking food plants. This includes a major meat manufacturer. Here is CNN National Correspondent Dianne Gallagher.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More than 150 employees of a Farmer John processing plant in Vernon, California, tested positive for COVID-19. Now, Farmer John, which is owned by Smithfield Foods and makes Dodger Dog hotdogs that you eat at baseball games, they employ about 1,800 people. The union head is calling for them to briefly close. They can do some kind of deep cleaning.

But health officials are concerned, because this plant is one of nine in Vernon, California that's dealing with some kind of COVID-19 outbreak in its employees. We're also talking about a coffee plant, bakery, as well as other packaging and meat facilities, most of the people who work in these plants don't live in Vernon. It's an industrial area. Meaning they are driving in from other parts of that Southern California area, mostly in Los Angeles. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Dianne, thank you so much. Nick, thank you.

And after a video surfaced of a packed pool party in the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend, no social distancing, you can see there are no masks. Some health officials in Missouri are now calling on everyone who attended to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Dr. Sam Page is the St. Louis County Executive who called for that self-quarantine. And, Dr. Page, have you heard anything about any positive cases at this pool party?

DR. SAM PAGE, ST. LOUIS COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Well, it's really too early to tell. We know that many people traveled over the weekend and did so responsibly and followed our social distance measures.


What we saw in those videos was an international example of bad judgment, where many people put themselves at risk and put our committee at risk by bringing COVID-19 back to us.

It's really too early to tell what will happen from this. People can be asymptomatic. They can be asymptomatic for days. They can carry COVID-19 and not have any symptoms at all. So we have to be prepared for this. And we've asked employees here in St. Louis County to ask people if they traveled this weekend and if they were in any type of crowded scenario, shoulder to shoulder with other folks, not respecting our public health orders or social distancing. And that puts them at risk and our community at risk.

KEILAR: Have you heard of anyone following or deciding to follow your directives? Is there a way at all to follow up and ensure that they are?

PAGE: I mean, the way to enforce this is through our employers and through peer pressure. And people need to make a decision of what the best path forward is and understand that following our social distancing guidelines will get us there.

And these examples we've seen across the country and then here in Missouri are the wrong thing to do. We are not ready to be in crowds and this virus is not in complete control. We are in the middle of a pandemic and we have to follow our social distancing guidelines and we have to follow our public health orders. And not doing that puts everyone at risk.

And we are working very hard to get that message out, that we can't see and we don't want to see what we saw last weekend. And anyone that was involved in that needs to respect their community, respect the ones that they love and isolate themselves and self-quarantine for two weeks and make sure that they don't bring this back into our community.

KEILAR: Why do you think people ignore, I mean, really common sense? Why do you think they did that and behave like this? And to be clear, this was not the only place where we saw this happening.

PAGE: Well, in our country, there are still a subset of individuals who don't yet understand the gravity of the situation that we are in. And part of that is communication. Part of that is an understanding and acceptance in our community that social distancing is real. There is no cure for COVID-19. There is no good medical therapy. There is no good vaccine yet. And the best way to fight this virus is to prevent it from spreading from person to person. And we need to continue to get that message out.

And until this affects someone you know or someone you love, there are still too many people out there that don't believe and don't understanding what we have to do to move our country forward and to move our community forward, and that's social distancing.

KEILAR: Dr. Sam page, thank you for joining us.

PAGE: Thank you.

KEILAR: Just in, another pharmaceutical giant entered the vaccine race with two potential vaccines.

Plus, the president mocks Joe Biden for wearing a mask, which, of course, is the president's own guidance. And it comes as some Americans model their own behavior after his.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, if he's not going to wear a mask, I am not going to wear a mask. If he's not worried, I'm not worried.

REPORTER: The president?





KEILAR: President Trump's refusal to follow his own safety guidelines on coronavirus has polarized this pandemic, namely, he will not wear a mask in public, and by his admission, just despite the media. And the president shared a tweet mocking Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden for wearing one during a Memorial Day event.

Never mind that Biden is acting in line with Trump's own advise, the CDC's advise and the Trump administration's advise to wear a mask to slow the spread of the virus. Never mind that a combined 72 percent of Americans support wearing a mask in public.

And then not all Americans are willing to follow the rules, of course. The reasons vary from eye-opening to jaw-dropping.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean everybody got to go somehow. You know what I mean?

REPORTER: You mean die?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My family has the same mindset as me and we kind of just agreed that if we get it, we get it. We're going to handle it as a family and just get over it because that's what a family does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This virus is going to go away. This virus, I do not feel, is going to come back, okay? God is going to heal this land.

I am not going to take and wear a mask, okay? I don't feel that this is going to -- COVID is going to affect me or touch me and I don't feel that I'm going to pass it on to someone else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, if he's not wearing a mask, I'm not going to wear a mask. If he's not worried, I'm not worried.

REPORTER: The president?


KEILAR: With me now is CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and CNN Politics White House Reporter Stephen Collinson with us.

So, Gloria, you heard the last guy say -- one of the guys there say, if Trump won't wear a mask, why should he? If the president isn't worried, he is not worried. But the answer why he should wear a mask is because it can save lives.

This is according to the president's own task force comprised of medical experts. And the evidence is it's not like it just saves a little bit. I mean, this is a significant deterrent to people getting sick and dying. And yet the president will not lead by example, Gloria. Why?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the president has decided for some reason that he doesn't like to wear a mask. He said early on, I have to greet people here at the White House and I don't want to wear it, maybe it's vanity.

But what it has become, unfortunately, Brianna, is kind of a wedge issue and a cultural touchstone, which it should not be.


And some people now see wearing a mask is a sign of weakness. And it is not a sign of weakness in any way, shape or form. It is a sign of respect for your fellowmen. And some of the people that you had in those bites before seem to think that wearing a mask is really only about them.

Wearing a mask is about respecting your fellowmen and not wanting to infect anybody around you just in case you may have asymptomatic disease or disease that hasn't developed yet. And that is what wearing a mask is about.

So it's kind of hard to understand why people are saying, well, you know, I'll just deal with it and I feel fine. And if the president is not wearing one, well, I'm not going to wear to wear one. The president has people around him also, by the way, who are tested all the time, most of us don't.

KEILAR: Yes. He's the president, Stephen, so he has added protections, including the fact that he wants people around him wearing masks, right? He wants those staffers who are close to him because he's got some of them testing positive. He has that protection because they are protecting him.

But it's also worth noting that on this weekend, this holiday weekend, that was meant -- this was a somber weekend. It's meant to honor the sacrifice of brave American service members. And the president was waging of Twitter wars, including this attack of Biden -- attacking Biden for wearing a mask.

You say the strategy could prove successful for him, which obviously why he's doing it. Tell us about it.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN HOST: Right. I don't think we should be surprised that the president is behaving this way. That doesn't mean it's not shocking that he's conducting himself in a way that subverts all the established expectations of how a president should act in a time mourning and a time of crisis that he gives us this glimpse into his mind through all of his tweets.

But, look, a lot of Americans actually like what the president is doing. The fact that we're sitting here talking about it, following every tweet, they like the fact that he horrifies the national media, that he's taking shots at the Washington elite. This is proof to them that they voted for a disruptor and he's not gone native in Washington.

There are other Republican voters who don't really like the way that the president behaves but have reconciled themselves to it because they agree with his wider philosophy, his policies, America first, blaming China for economic ruin, et cetera, et cetera.

So it's going to be interesting to see whether the president has already alienated so many people that he can't win in a re-election because of his conduct of this crisis or whether he can get his base so riled up over this issue, as he has for so many others, to win the re-election. He's put all his chips on the idea that the country is ready to reopen.

And by November, that will be an unstoppable force. If there is a spike of the virus because of the way he is acting, that could be a fatal blow to his campaign but he's made that big bet.

KEILAR: And there was a tweet that the president put out there, Gloria, where he is demanding credit for his handling of the pandemic. He says the U.S. would have lost up to 2 million lives as opposed to the 100,000-plus if he had not done his job well and early. What did you think about this?

BORGER: Well, I think the president is frustrated because his behavior early on in the crisis was so different and that we have all kinds of video of the president saying it's going to go from 15 cases to zero, the virus is contained, et cetera, et cetera. And then there was lost month of February when more could have been done and it wasn't done.

So what we are seeing now is a president wanting to take credit as this president wants to do for controlling the virus in this country and we know that that was late in happening. And he's also frustrated, Brianna, because he can't change the subject the way he normally does.

He's a great diverter and he can divert people's attention from one thing to another to another, which is what he's doing with his tweets and what he did all weekend in between playing golf. And that doesn't work with the pandemic because a pandemic affects people every single day.

They're losing jobs, they're losing any kind of wealth, they're at home and, you know, they want to be out but they want to be safe. And they want to be sure that they can be safe. So it's very difficult for this president to disrupt in a way he normally disrupts because a lot of people just aren't buying it. It could work for him.

But in the end, if things go great in the fall and the economy is coming back, but it's also a big risk right now to say to people, you know what, just go out there, we are back to normal, and while the scientists, quite frankly, are saying something else.


KEILAR: Yes, I'm so surprised he's doing it. When you look back at 1918 and the peak, the worst of the waves was actually the one in the fall. So we'll see how all of this comes together. Gloria and Stephen, great to see you both, thank you.

Former Vice President Biden sitting down with our Dana Bash to talk about the coronavirus, the politicization of masks and 2020 race. That will be today at 5:00 P.M. in The Situation Room.

Airlines revealing how crowded planes were over holiday. Plus, some NBA teams returning to practice, but are games going to follow this?

Also, an elections worker test positive during primary voting, sparking fears of exposure, and how SpaceX astronauts protected themselves in quarantine before tomorrow's launch.