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U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Approaching 99,000; CDC: Coronavirus Antibody Tests Might Be Wrong Half The Time; Fate Of New Cases Trending Up In 17 States, Down In 20, Steady In 13; Biden's First Face-To-Face Interview Since Coronavirus Upended Campaign; U.S. Travel Ban On Brazil Takes Effect At Midnight; China Claims 6.6. Million Tested Over Past Several Days In Wuhan. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 26, 2020 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: May their memories be a blessing.

And as the nation nears this tragic 100,000 death milestone, we're going to take some time to honor the people who have died from novel coronavirus this Sunday at noon Eastern. I'm going to host a CNN special called "We Remember", it will be a memorial service for those lost.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.

WOLF BLITZER: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM, we're following breaking news.

The U.S. death toll from the corona virus pandemic now approaching 99,000 people with nearly 1.7 million confirmed cases in the United States. Worldwide, there are more than 5.5 million cases and almost 350,000 deaths.

Also breaking, the CDC has just posted new guidance, advising that antibody tests are used to determine if people have been infected with the coronavirus might be wrong up to half, up to half of the time. This hour the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden talks to CNN's Dana Bash about the breaking coronavirus news in the race for the White House.

He has some very strong words for President Trump, who mock Biden for wearing a mask. The former vice president says his rival is a fool who quote is stoking death. It's Biden's first face-to-face interview since the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2020 presidential campaign, and it's coming up in just a few minutes right here in "The Situation Room".

But first, the latest on the breaking news out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our national correspondent Jason Carroll is working the story for us. Very disturbing news, Jason about these antibody test.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yet disturbing and disappointing, those antibody tests Wolf, you know, so much about them very popular a lot of people out there getting them.

Now the CDC coming out with new guidance saying that half the time the results of those antigen antibody tests might be wrong. The CDC also going on to say that they are not accurate enough to make policy decision. Another point they should they should not be using decisions to return people to work or to schools.

And that they're suggesting Wolf going forward that people get tested twice. All of this has health experts looking across the country saying it's important to look at the numbers that are going up and the numbers that are also going down.


CARROLL (voice-over): As the nation steadily closes in on 100,000 deaths from coronavirus, the number of new cases across the country holding steady in 13 states with 20 states seeing declines in new cases, still alarming numbers in 17 states seeing increases in new cases, including Missouri, Alabama and Arkansas, where the governor described as second peak.

More encouraging news coming from the epicenter of the pandemic. New York's governor rang the opening bell to mark the stock exchange reopening the trading floor after an historic two month hiatus, a symbolic milestone for a wearied New York City.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): New York is back, we're reopening all across the state and we're going to get back and we're going to be better than ever. That's what it is.

CARROLL (voice-over): The stock exchange reopening with major changes, there will only be a quarter of traders returning all required to sign a COVID-19 waiver and no handshaking.

JONATHAN CORPINA, NYSE TRADER: It feels like your first day of school getting back in setting up your desk again, making sure your computers are all working. So it's an exciting feeling to get back here.

CARROLL (voice-over): New York officials still hammering out details of their first phase of reopening the city, which is expected some time in the first half of June, just outside of the city in New Rochelle, one scene of one of the first major clusters in the United States, a phased in approach to reopening already underway. Today some construction, manufacturing and curbside retail open for business.

PETE UPMAN, NEW ROCHELLE RESIDENT: I hope they do it slowly, and I'm just fearful of a new wave coming in, in the fall.

CARROLL (voice-over): Neighboring New Jersey taking a significant step, the governor says outdoor graduations will be allowed starting July 6th.

Still the World Health Organization urging caution, saying there could be a second peak if people become complacent.

Troubling images like these are of particular concern to health officials fallout from this packed holiday weekend pool party in the Ozarks after the video went viral, Missouri health officials issued a travel advisory telling those partiers who did not practice social media distancing to self quarantine for 14 days


SAM PAGE, ST. LOUIS COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Activities like this, this is an international example of exactly what not to do. And this has the potential of setting us back.

CARROLL (voice-over): Missouri moving forward with phase reopening the same with Arkansas were standalone bars, for example, can now serve patrons in a limited capacity and some say it's long overdue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could get killed by COVID today or I could get hit by a bus or a car tomorrow. I am practicing proper hand washing and hygiene.

CAARROLL (voice-over): And while there is encouraging word from another company called Novavax joining the ranks to begin a human vaccine trial. Some health experts continue with grave warnings.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: Let me just say the virus itself is going to do what it's going to do. You know, we're not driving this tiger we're riding it.


CARROLL: And governors across the country wanting to reopen safely but also wanting to get their economies back on track. New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo will be meeting with President Trump tomorrow in Washington D.C. to discuss ways of getting this state's economy back on track. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right Jason. Thank you, Jason Carroll in New York for us from New York.

Let's go to the White House right now. Our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us. Jim. We've been hearing a lot from President Trump on social media, but very little about this horrible milestone as we're approaching 100,000 American lives lost in this pandemic.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Wolf, President Trump is unleashing a new barrage of dubious distractions just as the number of dead from the coronavirus in the U.S. nears the awful milestone of 100,000 lives lost. The President is defending his handling of the virus while mocking former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing a mask. Something Mr. Trump is refusing to do publicly.


ACOSTA (voice-over): As the U.S. approaches the grim milestone of 100,000 American lives lost to the coronavirus, President Trump is touting his handling of the pandemic as a success.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I think cures are going to be in there very shortly.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The U.S. will hit 100,000 deaths this week in astounding numbers far higher than countries like South Korea, which does have a smaller population, but fewer than 300 deaths.

President is defending his performance tweeting for all the political hacks out there, if I hadn't done my job well and early, we would have lost 1.5 to 2 million people, as opposed to the 100,000 plus, that looks like we'll be the number. That's 15 to 20 times more than we will lose.

But hold on, the President once predicted the virus would just disappear. Looks like by April, you know, in theory when it gets a little warmer it miraculously goes away, I hope that's true.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump is attempting to distract the public tweeting about false conspiracy theories calling for the opening of a cold case against MSNBC is Joe Scarborough perpetuating a baseless accusation and insisting without evidence that there is no way zero that mail-in ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent.

Mr. Trump also mocked former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing a mask to a Memorial Day service, something the President decided against making for a split screen campaign moment.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany question why Biden isn't wearing a mask in his basement. But health experts are not recommending mask at home.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is peculiar though that in his basement right next to his wife, he's not wearing a mask but he's wearing one on what outdoors when he's socially distance. So I think that there was a discrepancy there.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The problem for the President, his own health experts, the CDC and even those former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney recommend masks in crowded settings.

MICK MULVANEY, FMR WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: What it means is that if we are careful about social distancing, and putting on masks and so forth, we should be able to go back to work sooner rather than later.

ACOSTA (voice-over): A recent Quinnipiac poll found two-thirds of Americans believe masks should be required in public. Some Trump supporters would rather face the virus without protection.

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



ACOSTA (voice-over): Another Trump distraction his threat to move the upcoming GOP convention out of North Carolina and protest of that state's reopening plants. Now other states are vying for the event.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The doors open. We want to have the conversation whether it's RNC, DNC whatever, because I think it would be good for the people of Florida.

ACOSTA (voice-over): One administration official who dared question the White House response former Health and Human Services Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm stood by the report issued by her office on the shortages of medical supplies at the start of the pandemic.

CHRISTI GRIMM, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY INSPECTOR GENERAL, HHS: We are impartial and what we do. I -- and really anything that is done that could impair independence, I think compromises the effectiveness of oversight of programs on behalf that are there to serve the American public.


ACOSTA: And the Trump administration is moving forward with new travel restrictions for travelers coming from Brazil. Those restrictions begin later on tonight at midnight and like Mr. Trump, Brazil's President Bolsonaro has a track record of downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus, Wolf.


BLITZER: All right, Jim, thank you. Jim Acosta at the White House.

We're joined now by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Along with Dr. Leana Wen the former Health Commissioner of Baltimore.

Sanjay, we've just gotten some new guidance from the CDC that antibody tests here in the U.S. might be wrong up to half the time, is this a sign that we'll have to rely on other approaches for the country to safely reopen?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it means we can't, for now at least rely on these antibody tests to make, you know, big, big policy decisions or figure out you know, whether or not you can do things in terms of reopening in certain places versus others.

There's a couple of issues here. One is that there's some tests out there that just aren't very good tests. And we've been talking about this for a while, Wolf, there was, I guess, understandable, rushed to release a lot of testing and some of it wasn't validated.

The other issue, which is a little bit more of a nuanced issue is that there's not a lot of people in the country yet that have antibodies. So the predictions are maybe five to 10 percent.

And so when you're trying to do a test and when the prevalence is that low, you're going to have what's called a low positive predictive value, it's the test is just going to become less meaningful. If you look at health care workers, for example, in New York doing antibody tests, there might be a have give you more meaningful data.

But for now, Wolf, you know, in the general population, we're probably not there yet in terms of these antibody tests, either being good enough, or having enough of a powered up enough to actually be meaningful.

Dr. Wen, we also saw many examples of people are not social distancing this holiday weekend, when do you think we're going to see the data on whether that's leading to an uptick in actual cases?

LEANNA WEN, FMR HEALTH COMMISSIONER, BALTIMORE: It will take some time Wolf because there is a lack of time between exposure and when infections are detected. And then another lack of time which when somebody gets sick and when they become severely ill to seek hospitalization, or even succumb and die from COVID-19.

But I do really worry, I look at all these pictures of people violating social distancing guidelines. And I do see the picture of the next outbreak, I can envision the family members and that community that these individuals are going back to.

And I think we all have to be reminded that reopening does not mean that it's down safe, the virus itself has not changed. And if anything, we need to be even more on guard than ever. As people are going back to work, we have more exposures.

And so we should be even more careful in our social lives and keep that physical distance and keep washing our hands, wear masks because that is shown to reduce the rate of transmission. And it also shows that we care about one another and want to protect everybody else in our communities, too.

BLITZER: We certainly do. You know, Sanjay, when you look at the map, and we'll put it up on the screen you can see 17 states are still seeing their cases of this virus actually go up. How real is the fear of what's described as a second peak?

GUPTA: You know, I hope that doesn't happen Wolf. I think first of all, a second peak basically means that within this first wave, which a lot of people are referring to this time period as you might suddenly have a significant uptick again. So instead of a nice gradual curve, you have a big spike all of a sudden, like we saw it, you know, a several weeks ago. So that's, that's obviously a concern.

Wolf, I, you know, I think what I, what I really noticed when I look at this data, and I spent a fair amount of time over the weekend talking to epidemiologists about this is that we're still very early on, we're trying to make, we're trying to like guess the end of the score of a game just in the first or second inning.

And it's just it's very hard to do, we're looking at a pinhole in terms of the amount of data so we can follow these numbers day to day or even week to week, but we really got to look at these trends. Look at Washington State, and that's obviously a good sign that that was the first place where we had confirmed infections and they've been pretty steady now. I think there's some good examples there. But, you know, I think we

just have to keep an eye almost widening the aperture a bit Wolf, looking at a longer timeline here.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Dr. Wen that after President Trump seemed to make fun of the former Vice President Joe Biden for actually wearing a mask. The White House press secretary today said it was peculiar for Biden to wear a mask outside but Biden was actually following the administration's own guidance wasn't he?

WEN: That's right. It's not peculiar to follow public health guidance. And frankly, the signs here, the recommendations are you don't wear a mask at home with your close family members because you're considered to be one unit.

But if you're going to be outside, especially in an area where you cannot properly socially distance, where you're in the supermarket, or you're going to be around other people, even if you're out walking and running and people might be passing you, wearing a mask is the recommendation.

And again it shows everybody that you care about them. Because wearing a mask protects others from you. I mean, I realized this is different. It is It's a change from the way that we've conducted ourselves before, but so much about our lives are so different from how they were even a few months ago. And if wearing a mask is what will allow our economy, one small step to allow our economy to safely reopen, then we should all be doing that and the president should be modeling that behavior too.


BLITZER: Yes, he should. You know a -- Dr. Wen, thank you very much. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks to you, as well.

By the way our own Dana Bash went to Wilmington, Delaware, her interview with the former vice president is coming up in a few minutes. He has some strong words to say about wearing a mask and other sensitive issues as well, standby for that.

While all 50 states are taking different approaches to reopening, Georgia has been among the most aggressive that's been just over a month now since the safe began reopening. We're joined by the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Mayor Bottoms, thank you so much for joining us. As, you know, a month after the governor of Georgia ease restrictions the number of coronavirus cases in your state appears to be holding steady. The last time you and I spoke, yes, you said you hoped you were wrong and cautioning that reopening too soon is going to be a potential - potentially a grave risk. How is this month now gone by? What do you think?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: Well, so far Wolf, we're doing much better than we were doing when we spoke a month ago, whereas we were trending 25 to 30% in positive cases and deaths over a seven day period. We're still trending upward, but it's around 12 to 15 percent.

So we're not quite out of the woods. But it does concern me that we are seeing people disregard social distancing guidelines and people aren't wearing masks when they aren't -- when they are out in public. We know that people want to get back to life as normal, and we just ask that people just be considerate of one another.

BLITZER: Your governor, Brian Kemp has offered up by the state of Georgia to host the Republican National Convention. This summer in August after the president threatened to pull the event from North Carolina, if the governor there wouldn't allow a full arena, meaning 20,000 people crammed into an arena screaming and shouting and applauding. Do you think your city Atlanta could safely host a convention involving thousands and thousands of people from around the country this summer all jammed into some sort of arena or stadium?

BOTTOMS: Well Wolf, I was a little surprised when I saw that offer being made, because whenever the city of Atlanta is hosted a large scale event, we partner with the state and coordinated our resources, whether it be the Superbowl or making a bid for the Final Four or any large events that we have in the city. And so it was surprising to hear that because there's a certain amount of coordination that has to go on as it relates to public safety. But more importantly, we just aren't there yet.

The city of Atlanta has set forth a series of guidelines with a phased approach very similar to what North Carolina is following which North Carolina is following the CDC guidelines by-in-large, and that phased approach gets us over a period of time to large scale events. It's five different phases.

We've already canceled the Peachtree Road Race, the largest row race in the world for July 4, we've canceled the Atlanta Jazz Festival, which usually has over 30,000 people. So we've cancelled city sponsored long standing events and to then offer up our city to host another big event of this magnitude without coordination. I don't think that we would be prepared to do that in August.

BLITZER: Yes, it's surprising to hear that from the governor. I want to play some video for your mayor of crowds gathering in Atlanta over the long holiday weekend. What do you say to your residents who gathered in packed restaurants and at large pool parties, despite your consistent warnings?

BOTTOMS: What I would say it's just be considerate of your fellow man. Be considerate of your sisters and your brothers and your grandparents and the people who may not be able to fight off this virus. Nobody wants to be in the situation that we are in. My son didn't want to miss his high school graduation this year.

People don't want to be out of work. People don't want to lose loved ones to this virus, but it's going to take some sacrifices on behalf of all of us and to the extent that you are out and about just keep your distance and wear a mask. That's not too much to ask.

BLITZER: Certainly isn't, the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, as usual. Thanks so much for joining us. Good luck.

BOTTOMS: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Coming up, by the former Vice President Joe Biden sits down with our Dana Bash for an exclusive face-to-face discussion about the 2020 presidential campaign. There you can see a picture of the two of them. Dana went up to Wilmington, Delaware to conduct the interview. We're going to get his reaction to President Trump's response to the coronavirus crisis and his decision to wear a mask publicly yesterday. That was his first public appearance since March.


Get ready. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Now for a CNN exclusive, Joe Biden in his first face-to-face interview since the coronavirus pandemic upended the 2020 presidential campaign. The former vice president, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has some very strong words for President Trump. He sat down in Wilmington, Delaware for an exclusive socialist distance interview with our chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Dana is with us right now.

Dana, thanks for driving up to Wilmington. Tell us about the interview.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I was in Delaware, I was sitting with the former vice president for his first in person interview in months, really, we sat outside his home, we were socially distant, you can see that we're actually 12 feet apart. So twice as much as is technically the advice of the CDC. I started by asking if this interview plus his first outing on Memorial Day means he's going to start more traditional campaigning soon.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Answer is, yes. But I think you got a freshness push to lead by example. And, and I watched, I watched the President yesterday, wearing now mask, you know, and, and so I'm making fun of the fact I wore a mask. The truth of the matter is that I think you're supposed to lead by example. And one of the things our governors said he wants to make keep social distancing stay at home has been the order until June 1 of this year.

And so I think it's important that look 100,000 deaths, 100,000 deaths, at least 35,000 to 50,000 were avoidable. But for lack of attention and ego I think and just. So and you know me, I'm usually the last one to leave an event. I like interacting with people, but I hope to be able to do more, but we're going to do it by the numbers, because I think it's important because this is not over.

BASH (on-camera): You mentioned the mask that you wear a mask yesterday, President Trump went to a Memorial Day service he did not wear a mask, such as some people making fun of you. He did --


BASH: -- he did it on Twitter. He retweeted a photo of you wearing it. He's trying to belittle you for wearing a mask, making it seem like it's a sign of weakness is it?

BIDEN: He's a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way. I mean, every leading doc in the world is saying we should wear a mask when you're in a crowd. And especially when you know you're going to be in a position where you're going to inadvertently get closer than 12 feet to somebody. I know we're 12 feet apart, I get that. But I'm just absolutely this macho stuff for a guy. I shouldn't get gone.

But it just is -- it's cost people's lives. It's costing people's lives and like I said, we're almost 100,000 dead today, 100,000 people. Columbia studies showing that we could have, if you just started a week earlier would have saved thousands of lives. I mean, these are these this is a tragedy.

BASH (on-camera): But wearing a mask has become a cultural and political flashpoint and the President is involved in that even stoking that.

BIDEN: Sure he is and look and stoking deaths, it's not going to increase the likelihood of people are going to be better off.

BASH (on-camera): So do you think wearing a mask projects strength or weakness?

BIDEN: Leadership, where it presents and projects his leadership. Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly, and be falsely masculine. Reminds me the guys that I grew up with playing ball, they walk around with a ball in their hand, but they didn't like to hit very much.

BASH (on-camera): Let's talk about the fact that nearly 100,000 Americans have died from the corona virus. If you were president right now, what would you do differently? How would you balance people's well being medically and in terms of their health versus their economic well being?

BIDEN: I don't know how you separate the two. I don't how you're separate if you're dead, you have no economic well, being your family has no economic romaine. So first of all, I'd listen to the scientist. I tell the truth. Tell the truth.

There are ways to reopen certain areas and rationally, with distancing, wearing masks, making sure that you don't congregate with too many people in one spot, making sure you're in a situation where you don't spread, you, in fact, inhibit the prospect of a spreading of this disease. This is ubiquitous disease.

And the President doesn't seem to me to be prepared, we should be testing and tracing, before we can fully open. We should be in a position where we're able to make sure that people have all the protective gear that are needed, the first responders don't have -- they still don't have all that.

We should be in a position where we're able to make sure that people are -- we -- if he cares about people reopening, start lending the money to small businesses, not one more penny to a major corporation, put people in a position where they don't have to risk their lives to be able to make a living.

BASH (on-camera): Speaking of making a living, if you win, you could be inheriting some real estate severe economic challenges.


President Trump's senior economic adviser told me on Sunday that the unemployment rate could be at in double digits in November. And I realized that when you were vice president, you had to deal with the financial collapse. This is different, though. How will you address that?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, two ways. It depends on how irresponsible he remains between now and November, if and when we win, because things could get worse or they could get marginally better, number one. Number two, if he, in fact, has prepared the nation for a rebound of this disease, this COVID-19, then in fact we may be in a position where we're able to handle what happens.

BASH: One more question on the economy. The flip side of the first question I asked about the very poor economy, some prominent Democratic economists, I'm sure you've heard about this, they're saying that there's a real possibility that the economy could surge, right, before the election. And the President could use that as a talking point for his re-election. How do you deal with that?

BIDEN: Surge is relative. So if you're losing tens of millions of jobs and we're well over 30 -- millions and millions of jobs, and you gain back a quarter of that or half of that, there's going to look like there's real growth. But you're still going to end up, as all the economists say, with an incredibly high unemployment rate. And a lot of people in real trouble.

BASH: I want to ask you about the remark you made last week on "The Breakfast Club."


BASH: You said, if you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or for Trump, you ain't black.

BIDEN: Well --

BASH: Now you've since said that you shouldn't have been so cavalier. But during the same interview you said, the NAACP has endorsed me every time I've run, which isn't true. So my question for you is about what some supporters say they're worried about, which is that all of this could end up hurting the enthusiasm that you really need to win among black voters. BIDEN: Well, first of all, you know, I -- it was a mistake, number one. And I was smiling when he asked me the question I was -- you know, I shouldn't have been such a wise guy. He was being a wise guy, and I responded in kind. I shouldn't have done that. It was a mistake.

I've never taken the African-American community for granted, never, never, never once. And I've had overwhelming support in my state and overwhelming support from the African-American community in my whole career. But I've never taken it for granted. I work like the devil for it and I have to earn it every single time. Nobody's votes should be taken for granted. That's what it conveyed my response, and I've never done that.

And if you notice, you know, this -- all the time we're talking about in the primary, well, Biden can't win because look what he did, he didn't -- he came in 99th or something in Iowa and, you know, in New Hampshire. And I said, wait until we get to a representative state. I've had overwhelming support from the African-American community in my whole career.

BASH: And they're going to be out there for you in the same numbers or more?

BIDEN: Well, no, only if I earn. I've got to make it clear why I think I deserve their look, why I deserve a look. And not just in comparison to him, but in comparison to anybody else running, anybody that would be running. And I've had -- look, the state you're sitting in here has over, you know, is the eighth largest black population in America, some percent of vote, of population.

And I've got overwhelming support every time I run, but I work like hell because I work in the East Side, I work in all the things I care about. I work about the African-American agenda, dealing with everything from making sure their houses are as valuable as the same white person's house in a white neighborhood. I'm making sure that they -- we're working on education. I've been arguing for years that it's not fair. So I, you know, have to earn it.

BASH: You did make an effort to clean up that comment pretty quickly. It's still got a lot of attention. President Trump says offensive things, he never apologizes for it. Is there a double standard here, and if so, is there a lesson for you in how to compete with him?

BIDEN: No, I'm never going to stoop to where he is. I'm not going to do what he does. He says so many outrageous things. And to usually divide, separate the things he's said about African-Americans and women and across the board, Asians, across the board, you know, and he says so many of them that -- I was talking to a friend of mine today, a leader in the African-American community. And I said, why is he going after Barack? He said, because it stirs up his base, Barack is a black man.

I don't know what that's read, but all of a sudden, Barack, the most popular guy out there, and he's attacking Barack, what's that all about? BASH: Well, you know, I'm sure you've seen, some Democrats have said, Mr. Vice President, stop apologizing. You're going to say dumb things. Don't apologize because that's not world we're living in.


BIDEN: Well, no. When I say something that is understandably, in retrospect, offensive to someone, and legitimately offensive, making it look like I'm taking granted, I should apologize. I don't apologize for every mistake I make because a lot of them don't have any consequences, just, you know, beat up by.

Well, Joe said there were three rungs on that fence. Well, another two rungs in that fence. I might apologize for that. But my generic point is, you know, look, the good news, the bad news, the vast majority of people on all data in my experience and pulling data, they think they know me. That's the good news. The bad news is they know me.

So the hard part is I have real faults, everybody does. They know my faults. It's going to be hard, though, I think, as the data is showing now, to try to turn something they know to be my strength and my honor into a liability.

BASH: So I want to move on to another topic, but real quick. The President spends a lot of time especially this past weekend tweeting some pretty outlandish comments, retweeting others, things like conspiracy theories suggesting his critics committed murder. Do you think social media companies like Twitter should take action against the President?

BIDEN: I'm of the view that social media companies have to re-examine whether or not -- for example, if you put something out saying that same outlandish thing that the President thinks a talk show host on a cable committed murder. I mean, you'd say there's no evidence for that all, zero --

BASH: So should Twitter --


BASH: -- do something?


BASH: Should they take action?

BIDEN: Well I think they should. I think they should say when things are patently not true, they should say so.

BASH: You told me in the last debate that you would pick a woman --


BASH: -- as your running mate. Will that woman be a woman of color?

BIDEN: Look, I'm not going to get into that now because we haven't gotten there yet. There are women of color under consideration. And there are women from every part of the country under consideration because there's a lot of really qualified women that are ready to be president.

But I'm not making that commitment, I'm going to make that judgment after, in fact, this group goes through interviewing all these people, and they do the background checks which, you know, take six weeks or so to be done. And then for me to narrow down and --

BASH: Are the background checks happening already?

BIDEN: Not yet.

BASH: Is the vetting started formally?

BIDEN: Well, I'm not going to get into detail but let me put it this way. The four person commission that I put in charge, they have interviewed a lot of these people already.

BASH: OK. After your interview with "The Breakfast Club", Charlamagne told CNN that he thinks a black woman as a running mate is necessary.

BIDEN: Charlamagne is really entitled on his own opinion.


BIDEN: There's others -- for example, I just was -- Jim Clyburn was just on "The View" and he said it's not necessary. So, you know, it's -- I'm going to pick the best person that I -- look, you've watched me and you've covered me as vice president. I think the two most important things are you got to pick someone who's compatible with you both in terms of your style, and my style and Barack's are very different, but they were compatible. They work with one another.

And someone who, in fact, you would want to be the last person in the room when you're making a tough decision. And who will be loyal in the sense that whatever disagreements you have are between you and the president at that moment. And so that's a process that's underway.

BASH: The President is stepping up his attacks on mail-in voting. How confident are you that the election in November is going to be safe, secure and fair?

BIDEN: It depends a lot on whether or not the President follows through with his threats, President Trump. For example, cutting have money from the Post Office for mail-in ballot. This is the guy who sits in the Oval Office, fills out his absentee mail-in ballot and sends it to Florida to vote in a primary.

Now, why is that not something that is susceptible to fraud or is he taught there's no evidence at all? There's no reason why we can't have an honest, decent vote. And the President is always lying about voting. I heard him again, he's talking about how all those thousands of people in California went and vote two and three and four times. I mean it's just peculiar (ph). BASH: Your political opponents are trying -- the President is trying to paint a picture of you as somebody who's too old to be president and that you're missing a step. How are you going to combat that?

BIDEN: Watch me. Look, I mean, talk about a guy who's missing a step, who's missing something. I don't want to get down into human name, nicknames, but this is a fella who looks like he's having a trouble controlling his own emotions.


What worries me is, you know, all this stuff about Biden's hiding, you know, the fact of the matter is it's working pretty well so far doing the rules he's behind in almost every state. That mean it's going to be that way come November but the idea that he seems to get more erratic, the more he feels like he's behind the curve.

BASH: Last thing, this -- we are coming up on five years since your son, Beau, passed away. And we're in a moment in this country where families across the country are grieving their loved ones. What's your message to them?

BIDEN: My message is son, daughter, husband, wife, mom, dad you lost, they're still part of your soul. And focus on how the wonderful parts of the relationship and try to find a purpose. For example, if they left behind children, you can find purpose in helping the children or a brother or a sister or a mom or a dad, a husband, a wife. And I found for me, it never totally goes away.


BLITZER: Dana, excellent interview. Very important. And I was taking notes, I saw at the end he was getting obviously understandably emotional when he was answering your last question. But earlier, and I'm looking at my notes, he said the President United States is a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way about his wearing -- about the former vice president wearing a mask yesterday.

He said this macho stuff from the President, it's costing people's lives. And then he said presidents are supposed to lead not engage in folly, and be falsely masculine. And then he said, I'm never going to try to stoop to where he is. Very strong words.

Take us a little bit behind the scenes. What was it like up there in Wilmington, Delaware?

BASH: Very strong. Well, first of all, it was a very small footprint that we had, it was outside of his home. You can see there we were very careful. There were very few of us at CNN and even fewer of the vice president's aides that he had the people around him who he needed and that was about it.

And that's how it's been for the former vice president. I mean, some of the aides who were there today have just haven't been there at all. They've been truly social distancing. He's been with his family, as we know, as we've seen from his social media posts and the interviews that he's done remotely in his basement, who could tell that he -- we know and he mentioned this, Joe Biden, we've covered him for a long time. He is a very tactile person. He likes to be out and about.

He gets -- I joke that he gets a lot of his oxygen from being with other people. And he was -- you could tell he was kind of happy to be back out at it. But he also said, and I just want to refer back to the very beginning of the interview, he is going to follow the orders of the governor of his state as a resident of Delaware. He is going to wait until his governor says that the stay-at-home order is lifted. And until then, he's not going to even really take a -- stick a real toe into more traditional campaigning.

BLITZER: Well, you got there, you know, obviously, we're really happy you were there. You were 12 feet apart during the course of the interview. He, at one point, also said the President seems to be erratic. Just elaborate a little bit on how angry he is at the current President of the United States for what he said and what he's done, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

BASH: You can see kind of the push and pull of how he wants to respond as a person and as a competitor versus how he should respond given the message of his campaign. Meaning he is running as somebody who is the antidote to the President's behavior. But at the same time, he is somebody who -- you know, he takes a punch and he wants to punch back and we saw I think more of those counter punches today.

I think I did in his language, as you said, macho, fool, talking about his emotional stability when I asked him about the very real criticism that he is getting. And, you know, they sort of campaign Oppo (ph) from the other side about the fact that he is older and they're suggesting in a very transparent way that he is missing a step and that's how he responded.

So I really felt like he was extremely eager to get out there to get into the arena because remember, he became the presumptive nominee and then everything shut down. So he hasn't had a chance, a clean shot, if you will, at the President without also having to debate and to battle his fellow Democrats.


BLITZER: So did you get a sense that we're going to see more of the former vice president out there outside of Wilmington, Delaware on the campaign trail doing various events?

BASH: He wants to, but again, he says he will not until his governor in Delaware says that the stay-at-home order is lifted. I mean, his whole message is leadership, leading by example. That's why we -- again, we didn't wear masks in the interview so we could hear each other but we did so very far apart, 12 feet apart and outside. That is the reason why we had that interview outside.

But, you know, even before I mentioned the mask, he mentioned the fact that the President doesn't wear a mask. It was not an accident that the former vice president went out on Memorial Day wearing a mask. And I should say that before we sat down for the interview, if we -- even got it a little bit closer than 12 feet, we were both wearing masks as well as everybody else on the crew and on his staff.

BLITZER: Yes, which is totally understandable. It's the right thing to do. Very quickly, Dana, the selection of a vice presidential running mate, did you any inside scoop on what we should be looking for?

BASH: He was being very careful, but it's pretty clear. It's hard to pick a running mate when you are doing it remotely, when you're doing it virtually because he talks a lot about it -- the person needing to be sympatico. He knows some of the people we know are on the shortlist, but it's a very different thing to be next to them and really be kind of feeling them out policy-wise, and how they get along personally.

BLITZER: Glad you went up to Wilmington, Delaware. I know you drove by yourself in your own car.

BASH: I did.

BLITZER: That's the safe way to do it, obviously. And our crew drove in a separate car. Dana, thank you very much for doing what you did.

BASH: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks for everything you're doing every day here on CNN. We're grateful to you. Good work as usual. Appreciate it very much. Our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.

Coming up, an update on the top coronavirus headlines from around the world, including the latest on the U.S. travel ban on Brazil, where cases and deaths right now they are surging.



BLITZER: We're using the global resources of CNN to bring you coronavirus headlines from around the world. President Trump's new travel ban on people from Brazil takes effect in about six hours. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Brazil for us. Nick, tell us more.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Wolf, the travel ban on people coming into United States from Brazil or who've been in Brazil for 14 days before they want to arrive in the U.S. coming in at midnight tonight. That's possibly two things, a reflection of the bad numbers frankly here on the ground. 11,000 cases in the last 24 hour reported period, 807 deaths. Not as bad as a 20,000 that we're seeing over the weekend, but a sign here that things continue to worsen.

And frankly, the testing isn't all that it could be and possibly also to the U.S. learning the lesson that if you put a travel ban in place, people rush to complete their journey to get into your country before that deadline happens possibly causing a surge in the spread of the infection. But a pair (ph) as fortnight ahead here, as many in Sao Paulo think that's when the pit (ph) will hit, Wolf?

BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh in Brazil for us, thank you. Brazil, Peru, Chile, Mexico, they are the top coronavirus hotspots in Latin America right now. CNN's Matt Rivers is in Mexico City for us. Matt, what are you seeing there?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we are still very much in the middle of the worst days of this outbreak here in Mexico at least so far, no one really knows exactly where it goes from here. The death toll in this country is now more than 7,600. The total amount of cases confirmed by the government here now stands just north of 71,000.

But to put those numbers into a bit more context for you, of the total amount of debts that had been reported by the government so far, more than half of them have come in just the last two weeks alone.

And then consider the number of confirmed cases in just the last week, the number of confirmed cases has gone up by nearly 40 percent. But despite that, the government says it has a massive economic issue on its hands and as a result, Wolf, it plans to slowly start to reopen certain sectors of the economy beginning next week.

BLITZER: Matt Rivers, thanks very much. China, meanwhile, is trying to test all 11 million residents of the city of Wuhan in an effort to try to contain a new coronavirus outbreak. CNN's David Culver is monitoring the situation for us. David, what's the latest?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, new numbers from the massive city wide testing effort underway in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the outbreak. State run media reporting that health officials have conducted tests on about 6.6 million people.

On one day alone, they claim to have tested 1.5 million people. How are they doing all of this and what will be ultimately about 10 days time? Well, officials have not detailed it directly to CNN but Chinese media reported that Wuhan health officials used a pooled testing approach.

So in some cases, they would lump up to 20 people samples together for a single test. And then if a pool of samples test positive, the individual samples from that specific pool are then retested. Essentially they then narrowed down to get to the positives.


The government claims since May 14th, there have only been some 218 asymptomatic cases that they've uncovered by this massive testing campaign. Now, in some ways, this is -- the officials highlighting their drastic containment and lockdown efforts amid questions and skepticism over China's transparency and reporting cases, Wolf.

BLITZER: David Culver in Shanghai for us, thank you. The breaking news coming up next, disturbing new guidance from the CDC about the antibody tests. We'll be right back.