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Trump Says Masks Unessential But Fauci Says Wearing Masks Is What You Should Be Doing; Dr. Alex Marson Discusses Fauci's Warning of Uptick of Cases as States Open, Reliability of Antibody Tests; Dr. Bruce Tromberg Discusses NIH Offering Seed Money to Entrepreneurs Creating Rapid Testing Technology; Disney World Proposes Phased Reopening of Parks on July 11; Trump Pushes Conspiracy Theories about TV Show Host; Trump: People Who "Aren't Citizens" Will Be able to Get Mail-in-Ballots. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 27, 2020 - 11:00   ET




JOHN KING, ANCHOR: Hello. I'm John King, in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

The global coronavirus death toll now climbing past 350,000 today. The United States will soon reach the gut-punch marker of 100,000 American lives lost. And 100,000 deaths is pretty hard to grasp. Imagine wiping Tuscaloosa, Alabama, or Davenport, Iowa, off the map.

That global death toll you see right there on the screen, that's the population of Anaheim, California.

Uncertainty is now the prevailing dynamic in American life. Vaccine trials are under way. There's a good hope, called a good chance, by the end of 2020, the next top expert says but there's no guarantee of success.

The virus is moving, now exploding in Latin America. And scientists say a second spike of hospitalizations and deaths is not off the table.

The president meets this hour with the New York governor. Andrew Cuomo is here in Washington because he wants a federal promise to re-juice the opening and the jobs market with billions in new spending on road and rail and airport projects.

The big questions many of you are asking, will I get my job back, when will schools reopen, how can I protect myself and my family, well, they all seem far from the president's mind today.

He shares his priorities with us every morning. And today, he is once again very disconnected from fact and reality.

A smear campaign against a morning television host, a convoluted conspiracy theory about spying, more baseless conjecture that mail-in ballots would, in the president's words, "be a free-for-all on cheating" in the next election.

The president is absolute in his reopening push. He said, so far, so good, and he wants restrictions lifted faster, no matter what the experts say.

He also paints masks as politically correct and not necessarily essential. Dr. Anthony Fauci says, full stop, wearing one is exactly what you should be doing.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I wear it for the reason that I believe it is effective. It is not 100 percent effective. I mean, it's sort of respect for another person and have that other person respect you. You wear a mask, they wear a mask, you protect each other.


KING: California, of course, was an early hot spot. The governor there now laying out guidelines to reopen churches. That plan, evidence of progress. But the map is a reminder three months in, this remains very complicated.

Let's take a look at some of the latest trends here. Number one, confirmed cases per 1,000 residents. You just see, you have Montana, the lowest percentage there. Just about every state in some shade or red or orange that means a high percentage of cases. You see the population right there, total number of cases on the side. This pandemic is touching everywhere in America.

Let's just take a look at this way. Where states are trending right now. Fourteen states, orange and red is not the direction you want to go. That means your case count this week is going up from last week. A big swath across the southeast, worth keeping an eye on.

Seventeen states, the beige color, holding steady. Right across America here, out in the mountain west out that way, those states holding steady now, that means their curve is flat. Many in a plateau.

Nineteen states heading in the right direction, including Texas, the big swath through the west. Green means your case count down this week compared to last week. That's a good trend, the way you want to be going.

Let's take a look at some of the states we started looking at early on. New York, Washington State, and California. California is the yellow. In recent days, a tick up. You want to watch that. Does that continue? Is it just a blip or does it continue? New York, it's been stubborn but steady down. Washington State, which kept the overall case count lower, a flat line down here at the bottom.

You look in the southern states, I showed you, there was some uptick. This is Georgia up top. Georgia reopened early. A little up, a little down. You want to watch that as this plays out. You see Alabama down here trending up a little bit. Mississippi, the blue line starting to inch up a tiny bit. South Carolina flat. Look at that, a straight line across right here as its reopen accelerates.

The governor of Mississippi saying he notices it's going up a little bit. He says the weeks and months ahead, uncertain.


GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R-MS): We do continue to see a steady number of cases in our state. That number is not declining significantly. And it certainly should serve as a warning to all of us that this disease is not disappearing.

I still don't know what the summer is going to look like. I still don't know exactly what the fall is going to bring us. And I would submit to you that no one else knows for sure either.


KING: Joining us now is Dr. Alex Marson, an infectious disease doctor and associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

Doctor, thanks for being with us today.

I want to start and follow up on the point the governor just made there. America is reopening. Even out in California, they're reopening to accelerate. People are getting out of the house, whether they're going to the beach, back to the office, taking advantage of the opportunity to go shopping or go to a restaurant. You see it today, but we won't know the evidence for a little bit.


Let's listen to how Dr. Fauci put it just a short time ago.


FAUCI: One of the things that I think the people who are out there frolicking need to realize is that when you do that and you see no negative effects in one week, please don't be overconfident because the effect of spreading is not going to be seen for two, three, and maybe even more weeks.


KING: We're all learning how this works in the sense that people get out, if they're exposed, the point he's making, you could be exposed Memorial Day weekend, you're not going to know for a bit, right?

DR. ALEX MARSON, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN & ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO: Absolutely. We have done great work as a country and globally to limit the spread of this virus through a long period of lockdown and social distancing. Of course, the pressure of containing the virus competes against the

pressures we all feel to reopen the economy, to connect with people we miss.

As we start to slowly reopen society, we have to realize that we're vulnerable to upticks in viral transmission. That's been effectively modeled by many people, including beautiful work by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. And we know that in this period, we're particularly vulnerable.

And indeed, there could be a delay. We know the symptoms of this virus can take a long time, up to two weeks after people have been exposed.

So this is a vulnerable period. People should follow regulations. And continue to be responsible and continue the good work to limit the spread of this virus.

KING: And as that continues, one of the big questions, as people want to go back to work, as school districts around the country debate, can people come back in the fall, whether we're talking about college or elementary school, is reliability of the antibody tests, and there are a ton of them out there. The question is how many of them are actually reliable.

You're doing some research. It's critical for businesses. You want to be able to know, let's test my workforce. Maybe they're immune or at least they have some resistance if they have been exposed. If they haven't been, whether it's social distancing, whether it's keeping space and breakers and the like.

Where are we, and how many of the tests on the market right now do you think simply aren't worth it?

MARSON: Let me back up for one second and say, as we think about reopening, we need an improved infrastructure for multiple different types of tests.

Critically, we need to make sure that we continue to expand access to the test for virus itself. That's what will tell us if someone is infectious at that moment. And the more we can test people to see if they're infectious, we can find asymptomatic people and keep them out of the workforce. That's what people should go to get tested if they have acute symptoMs.

The antibodies come up later and tell us whether someone is exposed. There's a hope this will start to tell us people who may be immune to reinfection, but we do not yet know that.

We have been systematically going through and figuring out how these tests can be used. First, we have started to measure, we and others have started to measure do the tests reliably tell us who has antibodies in their blood?

The data is coming in, and some of the best tests start to look reliable, especially where the blood samples are sent to a lab, we start to get pretty good tests that can tell us are antibodies in a person's blood, which tells us have they been infected with this virus that causes COVID-19.

The next step is to tell us, do the antibodies protect us from future infection. We don't know that yet, which admittedly makes for a murky picture of what we can tell people. We can't yet tell people if they have antibodies they're protected from reinfection. That research is going on now.

KING: Dr. Marson, as you continue, come back to us as you get your findings. It's obviously a huge question, especially the deeper we get into the reopening and the closer we get to the next school season.

Dr. Marson, appreciate your time very much. We'll talk again.

As the Dr. Marson just noted, in addition to accurate antibody testing, another thing that could help us corner this virus is widespread and reliable rapid testing, something that would work as quickly as, say, at-home pregnancy tests.

The National Institutes of Health is trying to help this by offering seed money and advice, sort of like "Shark Tank," to entrepreneurs hoping to create reliable rapid testing technology.

And NIH's Bruce Tromberg is leading this initiative, the director of National Institute of Biomedical Imagining and Bioengineering at NIH, and he joins us live.

Doctor, thank you so much for your time.

Walk us through. I used the "Shark Tank" analogy. I don't know if it's exact, but I have seen that in some of the writings about this. You have all these entrepreneurs. You give them seed money, you offer then technical and other infrastructure advice and essentially their job is to try to come up with rapid diagnostic testing. And let me underscore the word "reliable." Walk us through it.



Basically, what we have done is we have established a program called RADx, or Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics. And there are various components to it, but the one I'm leading is called RADx Tech, which is designed to inspire innovation.

And it's built on a network we put together at the NIH. It's been in existence for 13 years. It's called the Point of Care Technology Research Network.

That network, which is composed of five institutions around the country, in organizing, the Administrative Center at Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, UMass, Georgia Tech and Emory. This is a really powerful network that has been developing Point of Care Technologies for years. Typically, the cycle for the process, from idea of the technology to

getting it widely commercialized and disseminated, is five to six years.

We have turbo charged the network with a lot more experts and thought deeply about how to pivot for COVID-19 and put into place a process, we call them innovation funnel, and the "Shark Tank" is part of it, to try to accelerate this by more than tenfold.

We would like to get ideas into the network, have them reviewed by multiple panels, create milestones, have these very intense review experiences, and then have successful technologies emerge with manufacturing and distribution, within five, six months.

KING: And so I want to use a graphic from NIH. I call it the light bulb graphic because that's what you show. You have it on the left side of the screen. A lot of light bulbs. A lot of people come to the table and say we have ideas.

As you move across the graphic, hopefully we can show it -- hopefully, we can show it to our viewers -- as it moves across, it gets fewer. And then you have three stars at the end. That's when you're in the clinical tests, scaling them up.

You mention how you try to turbo charge this. The end of the summer, the fall 2020, you're hoping to deploy millions of those rapid tests per week. I want to get to the pressure of the work, when you think about the time on the calendar, we're getting through the summer months. We're hoping people can get back to school.

Most of the phased reopening plans will be -- the funnel will be fully opened, if you will, so you'll have more and more people.

Especially, I would think these tests are incredibly important for the places where you cannot social distance. You want to know if you're a health care, if you want to know if you work in one of these meat packing plants. You want to know if you're going back to school in an urban school district where you can't do the social distancing we would like to do that you can take a test and, in five minutes, know it's accurate.

We don't have those tests today, do we, at least not on the scale we need?

TROMBERG: Yes, I think you nailed it exactly. We're looking at all these different what we call protocol of use cases, different situations.

For example, my oldest son is a paramedic, a first responder. He has a different need than if you're like me and I have been sitting at home for a couple months and working from home.

So it depends on the incidents and the risk of your job. We need to fashion a test performance in response to that. That's a dialogue going on all around the world right now. Bringing experts together to really refine and optimize to meet all those use needs. Essentially, what we're doing is bringing innovation into the process,

working in partnership with companies so most of the applicants into the innovation funnel are companies, small businesses.

We have, at this point, over 170 small businesses that are in, midsized companies, start-ups. I just checked the data. We have more than 1900 applications that have been started, 300 complete. We have about more than 50 in our deep-dive stage. That's a one-week intensive process, kind of the "Shark Tank" component.

They come out of that with a recommendation, if successful, for a work package that will get them into validation. Validation is extremely important. We're collaborating closely with the FDA on this so we make sure that the tests come out, have a performance that can be understood and validated independently by experts around the country.

So this is a very novel process. Very intensive. And very gratifying to see the enormous response of our community all across the country. Both people putting ideas into the funnel as well as more than 400 volunteers all around the country contributing to help out, managing, reviewing, providing guidance.

It's a pretty remarkable outpouring of support that we're getting and being able to marshal.

KING: Bruce Tromberg, appreciate your sharing it with us today. Please keep in touch as you make it through the various stages. We wish you the best of luck as you go through this important project.

TROMBERG: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, sir.

TROMBERG: Thank you.

KING: Join CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper for the latest coronavirus town hall. That's tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.


Just ahead for us, Disney reveals its opening plan for its Orlando theme parks.


KING: Just moments ago, Walt Disney World announced its plans to reopen doors and welcome back visitors.

CNN's Natasha Chen is following this for us.

Natasha, what are we learning? How fast is this going to happen?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Walt Disney World, John, is actually going to be the latest of the major theme parks in Orlando to reopen if their plan is approved. What they have proposed -- and we'll show you on the screen -- is to

open two of its theme parks of July 11th and the other two on July 15th. So Magic Kingdom, that flagship theme park there, will be first on July 11th, along with Animal Kingdom. Keep in mind that Animal Kingdom is the type of park where there's a lot of outdoor space.

And then on July 15th, you're going to have Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios open, again, if this is all approved.

How this works is the Economic Recovery Task Force that they're presenting to right now is going to vote. This, then, is considered by the Orange County mayor. And all things considered, it looks like the mayor would be making his decision rather quickly because county staff have already been making site visits to the theme parks on Tuesday of this week.


And then, that goes to the governor of Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida would then approve this plan. That also happened very quickly for Universal last week, so that's what we expect here.

CNN business reporter, Frank Pallotta, is going to be interviewing Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, today so that story will be online for us as well later.

KING: More details as we go through it. Noting in the announcement there will be a new reservation system, reserve in advance. I guess that's an attempt to limit how many people, right?

CHEN: Exactly.

KING: Natasha Chen, appreciate it very much.

CHEN: Thank you.

KING: Thank you very much. We'll get more details as we go.

The president is saying and tweeting things that would frankly get most people fired. Calling a morning television host psycho and recklessly suggesting he might have committed murder.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people suggest that. And hopefully, some day people are going to find out. Certainly, a very suspicious situation. Very sad, very sad and very suspicious.


KING: The president is also accusing his predecessor of illegal conduct. And he's just making things up and alleging voting by mail is an invitation to massive fraud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: People that aren't citizens, illegals, anybody that walks in California is going to get a ballot. We're not going to destroy this country by allowing things like that to happen.


KING: Now, the president's casual relationship with the truth and his Twitter rants are not new, of course. But it is especially jarring in the middle of a pandemic, as the country he leads approaches 100,000 coronavirus deaths.

CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen joins us. David, of course, a former adviser to Presidents Reagan, Ford, Nixon, and Clinton.

We have lived some of his parallel universe, alternative reality, since day one of the Trump presidency. But in the middle of this, as we approach this moment, 100,000 Americans dead -- that's the population of Tuscaloosa, Alabama -- for the president to be saying things that are just reckless. And if you tweeted them or if I tweeted them, we would be fired in a snap.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Right. We might have been institutionalized too, John.

Listen, this should be a week of national mourning, to have 100,000 deaths, the number we'll reach in the next two or three days, and the country is saddened by that.

Traditionally, presidents bring us together for occasions like this. They are iconic moments you can remember with crises in the past.

Going back to Reagan and the Challenger, when the Challenger blew up and he went on television that night, or Bill Clinton going to Oklahoma City after the bombing, or George W. Bush there at the World Trade Center standing on top of that crushed police car with a bull horn, and Barack Obama in the Ebenezer Church singing "We Shall Overcome."

Those are moments that brought us together. Presidents gave meaning to the crisis we were going through. They brought comfort. They met privately with the families of the victims and cheered people up. In each case, they strengthened our own resolve as a country.

And here now, we have completely the opposite. Very, very sad. And it really reflects the fact that the president's ducking and dodging every way he can to talk about the central issue, and that is how many people have died and how do we prevent this from happening in the future so we protect people and jobs.

KING: And the question is -- I know the answer -- but the question is, why can't anybody stop him in the sense that we're also in an election year.

You are absolutely right. We should be focused on the pandemic and the moment and the challenge. For the country and for everybody who lives in the country, who would like a president to lead them through it. But we're also in an election year, and Republicans are apoplectic, even more so in recent days because they remember 2018 when Nancy Pelosi was elected speaker, when Democrats had big wins in the House race. It was this kind of behavior that contributed to that factor. Despite the good economy, the Democrats swept through in 2018. Republicans are worried.

The "Wall Street Journal" put it this way today in an editorial. This is about the Joe Scarborough smearing from the president of the United States. "We don't write this in any expectation that Mr. Trump will stop. Perhaps he even thinks this helps him politically, though we can imagine how. But Mr. Trump is debasing his office and he's hurting the country in doing so."

Those are strong words. They are true words.

But you know, a lot of Republicans complain privately about this, David, but where are they? Where are they? Very few are willing to come publicly and say, Mr. President, stop.

GERGEN: I think, for the first time, we are seeing some. People are willing to break with him. And it's not just politically. Dr. Fauci coming out on the masks, sending a very clear signal that he was going to wear a mask. He was a role model for people. He understood that, for Americans.

But that the president is expected to be a role model, too. When he denigrates Biden, when he mocks Biden for wearing a mask and he refuses to wear one himself. He dodges every cameraman he can so we don't have pictures of him in a mask, because he thinks it will hurt his re-election chances. And I just think we have lost our way here.


I do think more Republicans are splitting. Like Governor DeWine of Ohio, for example, has been very responsible. Governor of North Dakota spoke up. Here and there, we're starting to see people break with the president because they see the train is coming in November.

KING: They see a train that's coming in November. That's one way to put it. We'll see how that plays out.

David Gergen, appreciate all your thoughts and insights --

GERGEN: Thank you, John.

KING: -- as always. Thank you, David.

Coming up for us, Joe Biden weighs in on his search for a running mate. The CNN exclusive interview up next.