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Sources: Pentagon Drafting Plans To Bring U.S. Troops Back From Afghanistan Ahead Of Schedule; Research: Stay-At-Home Orders Tied To Decreased Coronavirus Hospitalizations; Ex-FDA Chief: Hospitalization Uptick Probably A Result Of Reopening; Ohio Governor Mike DeWine: Wearing A Mask Is About Loving Your Fellowmen And Women; France Bans Hydroxychloroquine Amid Safety Concerns. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 27, 2020 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The tweet from the President, "Bring our soldiers back home." President Trump saying yesterday he wants American troops out as soon as reasonable. But several defense officials are telling CNN the conversations about exiting early were sparked by the President's desire to deliver on a 2016 campaign promise. A withdrawal could also invite more Taliban violence and push natal forces out of the country.

Top of the hour I'm John King in Washington. The United States will soon reach the gut punch marker of 100,000 lost American lives. 100,000 deaths are hard to grasp. 100,000 people, that's all of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, or Davenport, Iowa.

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? Those questions are good questions. They all seem very far from the President's mind today. His morning tweets a window on his priorities, and today his priorities are once again very disconnected from fact and reality.

A smear campaign against a morning television host, a convoluted conspiracy theory about spy, more baseless conjecture that mail-in ballots where these are the President's words be a free-for-all on cheating in the next election.

President leaves the white house this hour for Florida to watch his NASA Astronauts launch for American soil for the first time in 9 years. He is absolute in his reopening push and again at odds with the science-based caution of his top expert.

President Trump wants North Carolina's Governor to commit this week to allowing the Republican Convention to come to Charlotte in August. Dr. Anthony Fauci, though, says it's too soon to answer that question, noting that his things stand right now, large gatherings are "Asking for trouble"

The President also paints wearing a mask as politically correct, and we know he does not like wearing one. Dr. Fauci says wearing one is what everyone should be doing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I wear it for the reason that I believe it is effective. It's 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, and you protect each other.


KING: One of the biggest Coronavirus questions remains if and when a vaccine might hit the market? Caution is supposed to guide science, but we also see what one expert calls "Science by press release", that being major drug companies pushing to hype their vaccine candidates and in some cases undercutting the work of others CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. Elizabeth walk through your reporting on the great vaccine race.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really has been quite a ride. We've talked about this race, you and I, John, as a marathon, not a sprint. And I think what we've been seeing is some people finishing the first, say, five miles of a marathon and saying, look at me, look how well I did! Well, you still have 21 miles left to go.

So my story today focuses on the University of Oxford. They have painted perhaps the rosiest picture, if you talk to ethicists and infectious disease doctors. They feel like they have been a little bit too enthusiastic.

For example, one of their lead researchers told me "We will be first!" he was quite definitive about that. He also said, and others in his team have said, 80 percent sure that we will have success. They have been accused of putting a spin on their monkey data to make it look much more positive than it really is.

And recently, they have had to backtrack on some of these predictions that they've made. You know, we all know, vaccine-making is a risky business. Many people start it, and it doesn't end up working out. So, there have been lots of forecasts about how long it will take to get a vaccine.

Let's take a listen to what Tony Fauci had to say on CNN today. And after we hear from him, I'm going to come back and talk about some caveats that he gave. So, let's take a listen to Dr. Fauci.


DR. FAUCI: When we first develop the vaccine, I said it would be about a year to a year and a half, and that was in January. So, a year from January is December. I still think that we have a good chance. If all the things fall in the right place, that we might have a vaccine that would be deployable by the end of the year, by December - November or December.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COHEN: Now, that sounds quite optimistic. But then later in the interview, he said there are land mines and hiccups that can happen in vaccine research. So, the big trial, the big one of thousands or tens of thousands of people, has yet to happen with any of these vaccines, those are supposed to happen this summer, we will see how it goes. John?

KING: Elizabeth, before you go, a new data point last hour from a medical journal measuring the impact of the stay-at-home orders. What did researchers find?

COHEN: Yes, this is really interesting. So, researchers in Minnesota took a look at four states, and they said, hmm, we have data from before they had stay-at-home orders and we have data from after, looking at hospitalizations.

What they found is they did some modeling. And they said hospitalizations would have been much higher if they had not had those stay-at-home orders. So, let's take a look at Minnesota, as just an example. They did several states.


COHEN: They said, if we hadn't had a stay-at-home order in Minnesota, they would have expected 988 deaths, and instead, Minnesota ended up with 361 deaths so obviously far fewer hospitalizations with the stay- at-home orders.

Now, john, you and I have talked about this before. Not surprising, the reason why public health officials wanted people to stay at home is that the less mixing you have, the virus doesn't have as much of a chance to grow. The more people stay apart, the more that the virus is contained. When people get together, the virus spreads. It's really pretty simple.

KING: It can be pretty simple. Well, Elizabeth Cohen I appreciate your insights there. Thank you and let's continue the conversation joining me to share his expertise and his insight Dr. Michael Mina from Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Mina good to see you again. Let's continue.

That study that Elizabeth was just talking about, analyzing stay-at- home orders and making projections about how many people they kept out of the hospital, that's the rear-view mirror. I want you to listen here to Dr. Fauci this morning talking about the here and now. America is reopening.

Massachusetts behind others, but even Massachusetts is reopening. More people are leaving the house. Some of them are just going to shop. Some of them are going back to the office. Dr. Fauci says, when you and I have a conversation, it will be about three weeks from now before we know. Listen.


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


KING: Is that fair in the sense that we are looking to the middle, to the end of June? In the case of Georgia, for example, it's been open for weeks and so far, so good. A little uptick in recent days, but we'll keep an eye on it. But when do you look at the calendar and say now that all 50 states are reopen to some degree, I will be able to tell based on science the impact?

DR. MICHAEL MINA, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes, there is going to be a delay. We know that there is both an incubation period of the virus. But then to really see the signal at the population level does take at least a few weeks to see that uptick in any substantial way.

So we have to be both patient and very cautious as we open up. As you said, we can't expect to see results within a week of whether or not opening up is safe. We have to be mindful and continue watching very diligently for at least a few weeks.

And really, we're going to have to continue monitoring throughout the summer and really into the fall, because we still, again, don't know what role the weather is going to play, for example, if it's going to really uptick more quickly as we enter into the fall again. So, I would say that there are many more unknowns than known at this point.

KING: And say one of the complications is its 50 states with 50 different plans. And so, as people get back, it will be different in each state. I want you to listen here. Dr. Fauci is talking about two- three weeks from now, which you agree with, we'll have better data before us on the impact of more people getting out of the houses and interacting.

In the here and now in some states, we do see hospitalizations are up a little bit. This is Scott Gottlieb, the Former FDA Commissioner.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: We now see a trend in an uptick in hospitalizations, it's just a small uptick, but it's unmistakable, and it is probably a result of reopening.


KING: The question is, and this is where it gets really interesting, because public health experts like yourself will understand the science are in conversations with politicians who, let's assume most of them are listening in good faith, but they have to make decisions about reopening.

The question becomes, what is manageable for each state? And in some cases, places within a state rural areas and might have more distance to the health care. As you watch this play out, what metrics do you watch?

DR. MINA: So, certainly, we'll be looking at both mortality, but mortality is quite lagged. So we want to look at hospitalizations. And we just want to keep an eye on the numbers of new cases that are being reported.

But also recognizing that there is increase in testing, so we have to account for these in our mathematical models, but we'll primarily be looking at hospitalizations. And if we're seeing this ramp up, which we expect it will at some level, then each place and each location will have to have their own thresholds for what they're willing to tolerate.

And there is no absolute correct answer here. Every time we shut the society down, there are going to be economic consequences. So, Governors have to sort of work with their constituents to figure out what's going to be right, and hopefully use public health experts to guide those discussions.

KING: Early on this path, if you will, Dr. Mina, I again, appreciate your insight and we'll keep circling back in the days ahead. Thank you very much, sir.


DR. MINA: Absolutely.

KING: Here in the nation's capital, the Mayor this last hour announcing her stay-at-home order will lift on Friday. The action comes with caution - the virus still very much alive here in the Washington, D.C., community.

New York also pivoting to reopening and again with caution CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins us now live from New York City. Shimon, the Governor has been bragging that most of his state is ready to reopen, but for the city, it's going to be a go slow.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. And normally, John, we're here in the middle of Time Square and behind me you would see tables and chairs, people all over. That's still not happening two months into this pandemic.

And then I'm standing right by the TKTS booth. Normally, lines through the block here for people wanting to buy half-priced tickets to Broadway shows, which remain shut and will remain shut through the summer into September.

The other thing I want to point out John is stores here, they continue to be shut down as well, restaurants here. Of course, everyone wanting to get back, waiting for permission from the Governor, from the Mayor to get to that phase one where we now see Long Island that reopened today. Long island, parts of Long Island now in the phase one.

New York City is the only region now, what the Governor calls the downstate region, the Five Burroughs of New York City, now the only region that has not reopened. We'll hear more from the Governor today, who as you know, is in Washington, D.C.

The Mayor here saying he's hoping for maybe the first week of June, maybe the second week of June, when things can start to reopen here. It's something that everybody, obviously, really wants. People are out now. People are starting to come out of their homes. But we're not at that phase one yet, John.

KING: Shimon Prokupecz, it's remarkable to see so much space in Times Square in the middle of the day. Shimon thanks for that report. We'll keep an eye on the city there. When we come back, President Trump up early tweeting this morning Joe, Barack Obama those are his priorities today. We'll be right back.



KING: The President today, well, a series much remarkable tweets, including one threatening to strongly regulate or even shut down social media platforms, this after Twitter fact-checked two of the President's false tweets about mail-in ballots.

The President claiming social media platforms are trying to, "Silence conservative voices". With me now CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins and CNN Political Analyst Julia Hirschfeld Davis also congressional editor for "The New York Times."

Kaitlan, I want to start with you. This is a question I'm sorry, I don't know why I keep asking it, but I feel I have to is why the President decides to focus his attention where he focuses it, especially at key moments?

The front page of "USA Today" similar to what we Sunday in "The New York Times" paying tribute to the dead, the United States of America most likely on this day or tomorrow will hit 100,000 Americans killed by Coronavirus.

The President knows this. He knows this. I know he doesn't want to talk about it, but he's President of the United States, and among the things he's tweeting about today and then he talked about yesterday - I want you to listen to him here.

This is in the Rose Garden. This is the President of the United States in the Rose Garden. There's a reckless, unproven, unfounded, ridiculous allegation against Joe Scarborough that he might have committed a murder. That's the reckless part, and the President says this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: As I said in the last hour, if you or I tweeted or said that, they would be fired, and rightly so. What does he think is to be gained here?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was in response to a question about that woman's widow writing a letter, asking Twitter to remove the President's tweets about this allegation because he says that they're causing immense pain not only for him, but also for this woman's family, and she died nearly 20 years ago.

And now they are having to relive this with a national spotlight on it because of the President's allegations that we should note the White House Press Secretary was defending yesterday, but you are not hearing many of the President's own allies, John, do so.

They do not think the President should be focusing on this. They do not know why he is, though many will point to the negative comments that Joe Scarborough has made about the President and his time in office, though many people would say that doesn't warrant a murder allegation like what you've seen coming from the President.

But if you're looking at what Republicans on Capitol Hill are saying, you know, Liz Cheney just a few moments ago was speaking about the President's comments, saying that she doesn't think he should be making a comment like this, but especially during a pandemic as the nation's death toll is closing in on 100,000.

And so it's just a time of crisis, and this is what the President is choosing to focus on, because he doesn't like the coverage always of how he's been handling that crisis.

KING: And Julie as you know, apart from covering the White House in the past, the President doesn't like when people tell him he's wrong and he usually doesn't listen, so there's another approach some people take. The President has been very dismissive of masks.

He doesn't want to be photographed with one. He refused to wear one because people could see him on a factory floor in Michigan, even though it was a requirement. Some Republican Governors who desperately want to keep the situation in their states under control are encouraging mask use.

Listen to Mike DeWine here. He doesn't criticize the President. Had he chooses a different approach.


GOV. MIKE DEWINE, (R-OH): This is - the instruction is old as the bible, you know? You're supposed to love your fellow man and woman, and that's what we're really doing. And I think that's the message, that you're not wearing it so much for yourself as you are wearing it for that person that you're going to come in contact with.


KING: We have since the early days of this presidency watched Republicans sort of get into the pretzel-like contortions trying to figure out how to get through this?


KING: With. In the pandemic, Governor DeWine has seemed to have figured it out, he doesn't want to spar with the President, but many of his positions are quite different.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right and he is obviously not the only Republican to come out in recent days and say wearing a mask is not a political thing. It's just a thing that you need to do for your own health and the health of people around you, and they're trying really hard to stay away from politics.

But of course, it's difficult when that President has shown his own determination to really make this political. Everything about his response to this pandemic, he's made political, and he argues that Democrats are making political.

And so, even the barest bone sort of precaution that you could take against the Coronavirus at this point, at really a critical moment when a lot of states are reopening, a lot of people are - have been working the whole time, but many are going back to work, and the President is very eager to see that happening.

This one thing that people are saying is sort of a baseline precaution, to him, it's a political act to don this mask, and a lot of Republicans, understanding that getting into a feud with the President is really not productive, really want to telegraph that message to their constituents and to the public. They want to take a leadership role here and the President's making that difficult for people in both parties.

KING: He is. And as a reminder, the pandemic comes first, but we are in an election year. Kaitlan Collins and Julia Hirschfield Davis I appreciate your insights. Very jealous Collins today she is Cape Kenova for the Rocket Launch later today.

Cuming up for us health officials now warn that Latin America is emerging as the new epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak.



KING: Look now at the major international Coronavirus developments, this as the case load now is above 5.5 million worldwide. Some countries like Mexico now bracing for the possibility the worst is still to come. Not just Mexico health officials warning, all of Latin America has emerged as the new epicenter of the outbreak. Our International Correspondents bring us the headlines from around the world.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two new daily records set here in Mexico. It was Tuesday evening that Mexican health officials announced the largest single-day increases in both newly confirmed cases and newly confirmed deaths. Nearly 3,500 additional cases reported as well as an additional 501 deaths.

And to put that into context for you, that death number means that in the last 13 days alone, Mexico has recorded about half of the total deaths that it has attributed to this outbreak so far. Also, I spoke to a World Health Organization official who tells me that Latin America is swiftly becoming, if it isn't already, the next global epicenter for this outbreak.

And given the spike in cases and deaths that we are seeing in Mexico, that we are seeing in Peru, that we are seeing in Brazil, it is not difficult to see exactly what that official is talking about. Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I'm Nick Paton Walsh in Rio de Janeiro where the numbers continue to look bad. 1,039 deaths in the past 24-hour period, and that puts Brazil ahead of the U.S. now in terms of deaths for two days in a row.

Projections suggesting it could get as high as 125,000 dead by early August. That's a U.S. modeling used by the White House. The real controversy here our local Governors mandate face mask but the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, has been seen in public not wearing them.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is coming under increased pressure from the German business community to lift some of the restrictions that had been put in place to combat the novel Coronavirus.

What you're seeing right here is a protest by tour bus operators, and they say that closing European borders and the fact that very few people are traveling right now is simply killing their industry. They say in Germany alone, for tour bus operators, around 200,000 jobs are at stake.

And all this comes as Angela Merkel is almost a victim of her own success in all of this. Germany's death toll continues to be fairly low, despite the fact that it's had a lot of Coronavirus infections, and that's leading some of the very powerful State Governors here in Germany to say the economy needs to be opened quicker.

However, Angela Merkel continues to say she believes Germans need to be careful or risk another massive Coronavirus outbreak. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Melissa Bell in Paris. Here in France, authorities have banned the use of Hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19, this after a wide- ranging study published just before the weekend that suggested in large-scale clinical trials that not only did the drug not bring any improvement to COVID-19 patients, but that it might actually be more dangerous to prescribe it than not to prescribe it with a particular reference to cardiac toxicity.

Here in France, Hydroxychloroquine has been at heart of a great deal of debate ever since the Doctor D.J. Hoult in the South of France began leading studies into it but also championing its use in the fight against COVID-19.

The authorities asked the government's counsel on these matters to have a look at it. It came back with a verdict, and the announcement has now been made. It will no longer be used in the treatment of COVID-19.