Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

New Cases Soaring Nationwide; California Sees Record One-Day Deaths; Florida Surpasses New York In Total COVID-19 Cases; Arizona Hits Second Highest Daily Death Toll As Crisis Deepens; Millions Face Uncertainty As $600 Unemployment Benefit Set To Expire; NBA Players Return To The Court On Thursday; Wife Of Senate Candidate Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Legendary T.V. Host Regis Philbin Dies At 88. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 25, 2020 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The number of people newly infected, infected and dying is soaring higher than we've seen before spotlight on Florida, for example. That's where there are now people confirmed positive for the coronavirus than in New York, making Florida, right now, the new epicenter of the disease east of the Rockies. Hospitalizations in Florida are up a staggering 79 percent since the July 4th holiday.

Despite this intensifying human tragedy, Florida's business leaders are focusing in on how best to reopen bars and breweries. No state has more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than California, more than 440,000. And just yesterday, 159 people died of the coronavirus in California.

Let's go out to the West Coast right now, specifically, Los Angeles. CNN's Paul Vercammen is on the scene for us, is outside of COVID testing facility. Paul, as you know, California now leading, leading the nation with new infections and that awful one day death toll. Are people taking advantage of the tests now being made available?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are, Wolf. And in fact, this testing facility behind me at this medical university was very brisk today. We saw people going and getting tested by walking up on foot as well as in cars, but let's look at those latest LA county numbers.

Again, worth repeating that Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the nation with 10 million people, we now have 53 new deaths and there's 3,628 new cases. There was an asterisk next to these figures. Public health officials saying all weekend long they expected the spike because there was a backlog in cataloging some of those tests. There's also one silver lining in all of this, and that is that positivity rate for the test is at 10 percent.

But when you talk to people around Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, they get frustrated because they say there are still people who somehow think that this is either the flu or some other malady, and a hoax. And when they deal with this on a daily basis, they have a word for the wise. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH PROTHROW-STITH, CARLES R. DREW UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE AND SCIENCE: We can stop this pandemic. We can definitely slow it down. We could probably stop it by doing a better job of personal responsibility and hygiene. Washing your hands, using sanitizer, wearing your mask, social distancing. Those things work. They absolutely work, and we just need everybody to do it.

This is not a political issue. This is a health issue, and it's just something we all need to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And testing and tracing is a big component of all of this in Los Angeles County. Three more testing sites to open up on Monday, Wolf.

BLITZER: Paul, the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, has said he's close, close to issuing another stay at home order. So what's the latest on that given this alarming spike in new cases and deaths?

VERCAMMEN: Well, you'll recall that term he used was on the brink to perhaps more stay at home orders, more closures. And he's been monitoring the numbers closely. They don't like the hospitalization rate, that's running about 2,000 right now. The positivity rate, 10,000 -- I mean, 10 percent is should say. He's much more comfortable with that so he's going to eyeball those numbers and insiders with the mayor have said that he's going to wait a couple of weeks still. He made no move, of course, this week, Wolf.

BLITZER: Paul Vercammen in LA for us where the situation is bad. All right, thank you very much.

How big of a crisis is testing in the United States right now? Joining us now to discuss, the former President of the American Medical Association. Dr. Patrice Harris and Lawrence Gostin, Professor at Georgetown University, founding O'Neill Chair in Global Health Law. Dr. Harris, why is the country still having so much trouble with testing?

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, FORMER PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: We, Wolf, thank you for having me on. And let me say that simply stated, it's gut check time. And everyone who professes to have the interest of the health and well-being, as well as economic well-being of our country needs to demonstrate that care and concern.

And one critical issue we've had miss after miss is testing from the very beginning. We've not had a national strategy. We've not had the supplies that we need, and we still are pretty much where we were four months ago. And so, we need that national strategy.

I'm hearing from colleagues and, of course, you know that we see people waiting in hours long lines. And once they get a test, it may take up to a week to get the results.

[20:05:03]

So we continue to call on the administration to develop a national strategy so that we cannot only get the test but also have a system in place to get results quickly so that then we can target interventions.

BLITZER: Yes, we've heard stories of people saying that in 10 days, even longer to get the results on these tests, which is clearly unacceptable.

Professor Gostin, President Trump, even the CDC now, pushing very aggressively for schools to reopen in class, teaching in a matter of only a few weeks. Do you believe schools realistically can reopen while testing, for example, remains such a deep concern?

LAWRENCE GOSTIN, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, I think, you know, states that have the COVID epidemic under control could go back to school, but they have to go back safely. Those that have rising cases, it's out of control. I think it would be putting our students, our kids and their families, and their grandparents at grave risk.

But if we do have people go back to school, we need to do it smart. And that includes comprehensive testing and tracing strategy. It includes social distancing, universal mask use, and we need to provide funding for schools so that they can space the kids out. Put them outdoors, make sure that people are safe.

You know, children are our next generation. We need to care for them. We need to educate them, but we can't let them get ill. And we can't let them bring COVID-19 to their parents and their grandparents. That's just going to spread like wildfire. It's really important to do it right, but there's no new funding, no comprehensive strategy from the administration.

So I fear the worst, when fall comes, universities open. Businesses come back, schools go in, flu season starts, we could see hospitalization rates and deaths soar.

BLITZER: This is a critical moment indeed. Dr. Harris, over the past few months, as you well know, there's been a lot of focus on the search for a vaccine. Do you think more efforts should instead be placed on rapid testing capabilities right now, because that seems to be such an urgent immediate need?

HARRIS: Wolf, I believe that we have the capacity and the resources in this country to focus on both. And we need to focus on both. We absolutely need a vaccine, and glad to hear that testing is moving ahead in phase two trials. That is the right thing to do, but we also have to make sure that we do have the availability of tests.

You just mentioned starting back to school. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I am hearing from parents who are quite worried. They are hearing mixed messages. They want to make sure that there is flexibility so they can make the best decisions that they can for their children. But also, we need the resources.

We certainly don't want to add to already existing inequities in education by forcing children to go back to school before we do all that we can to maximize safety. So we have the capacity in this country to work on vaccines, to have non-partisan conversations about school, to ramp up testing. It's just a matter of whether or not we have the will and the commitment to act.

BLITZER: You know, Professor Gostin, we hear a lot about a vaccine and we hope there will be a vaccine. Dr. Fauci is cautiously optimistic. Maybe by the end of this year, there might be a vaccine. We don't hear that much about therapeutics right now. But I'm told, there is some serious progress made on therapeutics, which isn't a vaccine but will prevent people presumably from getting very ill and dying if it works. What can you tell us about that?

GOSTIN: Yes. I mean, I think, you know, we're making promising moves, both in the vaccine front and the treatment front. We're only about six or more months into this, and so we're still in the early stage. But there are plasma therapies. There are therapies that impede people from getting very, very ill. Help them breathe. These things are really, really important.

My view is, is that, you know, unlike we may have heard, you know, COVID is going to go away, the way ebola went away or SARS. I don't think that COVID is going to go away. I think what's going to happen is we're going to live with it for the lifetime but we'll manage it.

[20:10:04]

We'll manage it with a combination of vaccines, treatment, and people who already have some immune system response to it from getting COVID. And so, we're going to learn to live with it, but it's going to be a long haul.

I don't see a vaccine coming in quantities that we're going to really dent this epidemic until, you know, well, probably well into 2021, certainly by maybe the summer of 2021, when we can really ramp up our supply. Those things are going to be critical if we're going to pull ourselves out of it.

BLITZER: Yes, I suspect we're going to be living with masks and social distancing, washing our hands for a long, long time. Professor Gostin, Dr. Harris, as usual, thank you to both of you. Thank you very much.

GOSTIN: Thanks, Wolf.

HARRIS: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Arizona is also reporting new spikes in cases for second straight day, as well as its second highest daily number of deaths. The Arizona Congressman, Ruben Gallego, is standing by live. We'll discuss what's happening in Arizona when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:15:13]

BLITZER: Well, Arizona, right now, coping with a public health crisis, the state is also facing with what could be a true economic catastrophe. First, the numbers of cases still rising in Arizona. The state clocked its highest, its second highest, I should say, deadly death count and is also reporting a two-day uptick in new cases.

In the meantime, thousands in the state face a cutoff in critically needed unemployment benefits as Congress fights over the details of a new relief bill and that could cause a lot of pain for so many people in Arizona, and a lot of other states as well.

I want to bring in Arizona Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego. Congressman, thanks for joining us. Let's start off with the pandemic. Why do you think Arizona, like other states, has failed to get this virus under control?

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): Well, Wolf, thank you again for having me. The biggest reason that we have actually, bills, because we based decisions on economic outcomes and not on scientific decisions. The governor of Arizona shut down too late and then opened up too early.

Because we opened up too early, we basically reinvigorated the virus, to the point where it spread so fast, we are in a situation where we're not sure that we're able to control it. And even while we were in a short-term shutdown, it last about two months, we did not, you know, really ramp up in PPE.

We didn't ramp up in testing. We didn't create the environment that we should have done to actually open up safely. Instead, we open up as fast as we could because I believe, this governor, was trying to appease Trump more than he was trying to control the public health problem that existed.

BLITZER: Are you getting enough support, congressman, from the federal government right now, to put a stop to the rising number of cases, the rising number of deaths?

GALLEGO: I would say we are finally getting that support, to be honest, but for a long time we were not getting that support. We were one of the few states that did not have any type of community testing system that exists in other states. We did not participate in that here in Arizona. We had to have our local mayors and members of Congress keep lobbying for that. It wasn't until, really, until last week that we actually had that.

We waited too much on the public sector for that type of testing. And even to this day right now, tests from some of our biggest private labs aren't even coming back until on average of 10 to 14 days. You cannot contain this type of pandemic unless you're getting decisions, I'm sorry, results back in 24 to 48 hours.

Waiting 10 to 14 days is not going to help us make the decisions we need to make in terms of quarantining, in terms of opening up schools, and just in terms of any type of scientific decisions we make.

BLITZER: Yes, already 3,000 cases up in the United States in just one day. Let's turn to the debate over new relief package that is so desperately needed by millions of Americans right now. The House has already passed a relief bill. The Senate has not -- they're not even considering the House bill, at least not yet. Are Democrats right now, and you're a Democrat, willing to compromise with the Republicans to get something, something passed?

GALLEGO: Look, we're all about making sure that the working class of this country are taken care of. And we are not going to stick to strict ideology and in the process, somehow destroy family incomes and family stability. So, of course, we will look at some compromises that we think will get to that point. But at the same time, it's ridiculous that we're going to have to do this.

Mitch McConnell had simply months to do this. And instead, he took his time, played partisan games and did not come up to compromise with his own caucus. And right now, because of his leadership or lack of leadership, and also the lack of leadership of other members of the Senate, Republicans are trying to urge them.

There are lot of families who are going to miss their supplemental payment of unemployment, which they need to pay for the rent, pay for the car, pay for the mortgage. It was unnecessary. It's a total lack of leadership and urgency on Speaker McConnell and also on Donald Trump. There's no reason why we have to be doing this hurry up situation.

We passed our stimulus two months ago. They could have a passed it also two months ago. We could have been negotiating the whole time. Instead, they just basically took their time, they took care of, you know, the big businesses, but they have not taken care of everyday working Americans and that's a big shame.

BLITZER: Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck. And stay safe out there as well.

[20:20:00]

As the coronavirus crisis clearly deepens across so much of the United States, millions of Americans are also suffering once again from the economic toll of this pandemic. We'll talk about the economic lifeline that could soon be cut off. Andrew Yang, the former Democratic presidential candidate is standing by live. We have lots to discuss with him when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Millions of Americans right now facing an economic nightmare for weeks. They've been receiving enhanced unemployment benefits, that's $600, $600 weekly checks meant to help these people survive this awful pandemic. Those, officially, those checks are running out at the end of this month.

CNN Political Commentator, the former Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang with us right now. Andrew, thank you so much for joining us.

As all of us remember, your signature campaign promise was a $1,000 a month dividend for every American adult from the US government. That was long before any of us knew about this pandemic. As you see Americans losing this lifeline right now, the $600 weekly check by 25 million Americans are going to lose it, and that's a lot of money every month, what goes through your mind?

ANDREW YANG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do not understand what the legislators in Congress are thinking not extending these benefits, Wolf. I mean, you can see around us that the economy is shutting down in many places instead of reopening. And these unemployment benefits have been one of the few things that are keeping the economy afloat during this time.

The HEROES Act the Democrats passed in the House, was passed in May. What has happened between May and now that the Senate could not come to the table and get their job done? It infuriates me. It boils my blood because I know how much people are suffering out there. Tens of millions of Americans don't know how they're going to pay for next month's rent.

BLITZER: You've heard the President and some of his economic adviser say, they don't want these benefits going out to workers out there where they have a disincentive to actually go back to work because they're getting more money through these unemployment benefits. You've heard that argument to which you say what?

YANG: Well, it's not the reality for the vast majority of the people who are receiving benefits right now. There is -- the $1,200 checks that went out were unconditional, and the reality is that 42 percent of the jobs that have been lost according to economists are not coming back.

So we have to face facts. We have to look at the reality that we may be in this disastrous situation for months on end. And if you have a problem with people not going back to work, you can just make the cash not tied to their not working, which is what we're doing with $1,200 checks that's 74 percent of Americans believe we should be extending. 74 percent of American, Wolf, I mean, think about it. It's 2020, where can you get 74 percent of Americans to agree on? You can get them to agree on the fact that we should have cash in consumers' hands right now.

BLITZER: The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, says it could take, what, another three weeks or so to get some sort of deal hammered out with Democrats. What impact will that delay, three weeks, right now, have on Americans who are truly struggling to put food on the table and pay the rent?

YANG: Three weeks is an eternity for so many these families. Thirty percent or more of Americans could not meet housing costs this past month, and that is with the unemployment benefits that we're talking about in place. So if you take them away, you could literally see mass homelessness, the eviction moratorium just expired as well. You could see mass evictions. You could see scenes that are unimaginable to most people here in the United States.

You already see food lines stretching out for miles. You're going to see that dialed up to a degree that most Americans cannot even believe is happening in 2020, in what should be the richest most advanced economy in the world.

BLITZER: Yes, it's hard to believe, a lot of this is going on here in the United States of America. You know, Andrew, there's also the issue of health insurance. Nearly, we checked, 27 million Americans could lose their health insurance that they get through their employer right now. If they lose their job, they're not going to get the health insurance. How big of an issue is this right now, people losing their health insurance at a time of coronavirus?

YANG: It's an enormous crisis on top of another crisis, Wolf. And you're seeing so many people, this is one of the problems with having your health care coverage tied to jobs, in a time when tens of millions of people are losing their jobs. And if you lose your health insurance and it's connected to your work, theoretically there's COBRA or plans under the Affordable Care Act, but for both of those are very expensive. COBRA, the estimates are $600 a month. If you lose your job, how many Americans can afford to pay $600 a month in COBRA?

So you're going to see millions of people go without coverage, which is the last thing you want during a pandemic. Because many people who fall ill are going to avoid the health care system. And unfortunately, they'll be in environments where they may end up infecting other people. So it's the last thing you want and unfortunately we're making a terrible problem worse because of our dysfunctional health care insurance system.

BLITZER: Let me get your response, Andrew, while I have you. The President Trump's repeated use of the phrase China virus. As an Asian American, how worried are you about his refusal to drop that kind of rhetoric or what kind of effect is it having right now throughout the country?

[20:30:01]

YANG: It's inflammatory and divisive, Wolf. It's painful as an Asian- American. But I believe that the vast majority of Americans see exactly what he's doing because a clear majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus, so he's trying to distract the American people by blaming China.

And meanwhile, you can see Joe's lead just continues to grow. I feel like Trump has a move that has worked for him in the past, but it is not working now, and you can see it very, very clearly in the polls.

BLITZER: Andrew Yang, helping us better appreciate what's going on, as usual. Thanks so much for joining us. Stay safe out there, appreciate it very much.

YANG: You too, Wolf. And, Congress, do your jobs. Three weeks is an eternity. Freaking get to the table and get this done.

BLITZER: It's hard to believe the Senate is supposed to take off a month in August. They should be here getting the job done. Clearly, this is a critical moment in the country right now.

A thousand people, a thousand Americans have died now four days in a row every day. This is critical. Thanks so much. Once again, we'll continue this conversation.

Next week NBA players will be back on the court for the first games played since the pandemic. I sit down the NBA Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban. He's standing by live. We'll discuss when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:35:30]

BLITZER: It's Christmas in July for basketball fans. On Thursday, NBA players will be back on the court and that includes Zion Williamson, whose New Orleans Pelicans tip off in the first game. Of these will be the first regular season games played since the pandemic shut down the NBA in March.

As a Washington Wizards fan, I certainly can't wait. Here to talk about the return is Mark Cuban, he's the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Mark, thanks so much for joining us. As you well know, the NBA isolated players a so-called "Bubble" in Orlando, it's kept them virus-free, fortunately, so far. Do you think it's going to work for the whole season?

MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: You know what, if we say discipline, I absolutely do think it'll work. I mean to have all of our players in zero positive, that's incredible. And it shows their commitment to really making this work.

BLITZER: Obviously, every sport is different basketball teams have fewer players than football players on the field or baseball for that matter. But could a bubble work? Do you think not just for the NBA for other sports as well, because it doesn't look like football, or MLB is having any kind of bubble along those lines?

MLB, Major League Baseball, won't have fans in the stadium. But there's not going to be a bubble like the NBA.

CUBAN: Yes, it's different because we can put a court anywhere. We could take a ballroom with a high ceiling and turn it into effectively an arena for what we're trying to accomplish. That's different -- difficult to do for, you know, a football field or a baseball field that's just physically, you know, takes so much space, literally, has -- it doesn't have to be outside for football, but benefits from being outside. So it's going to be difficult for that.

BLITZER: The fact that there won't be fans at the games, how is that going to affect the players when they go out there? Because so many of them their energy comes from hearing the shouts from the fans, right?

CUBAN: Yes. Then -- you know, then it's going to be different, but it's interesting having watched thousands of Dallas Mavericks practice -- practices. You'd be shocked that the energy that they get off of each other, you know, or watching games where maybe there aren't a lot of fans. You know, it's the guys are so -- they're professional, but they're so competitive, and they really compete for each other on a good team. And so I think the competitiveness is going to be there and fortunately now with coming back like this, where you've got eight teams on the bubble, it's going to immediately be like a playoff scenario before we even get to the playoffs.

BLITZER: That's going to be exciting watching it all on TV.

Let's talk a little bit, while I have you, Mark, about the business side of this. How much money do you or other owners stand to lose this season? Because first of all, it's going to be a very shortened season. But second, secondly, there's not going to be any fans buying tickets and those tickets aren't cheap.

CUBAN: It certainly hurts. And to be honest with you, well, if I haven't looked at our financial statements, because I'm afraid to, I think the bigger question for us is going to be next year, you know, will we be able to play in front of fans?

And honestly, it's going to come down to vaccines, if the vaccine is coming earlier than expected, like we're starting to hear now, and there's all the trials that appear to be going well, then if we open up in December, maybe we will have fans, but that's the great unknown right now, and that's going to impact our financials more than anything.

BLITZER: That's an important point you're making, Mark, because if there's no vaccine, potentially, I hope it's not the case, there could be another season next year in a bubble, right?

CUBAN: Yes, you know, I think rather than playing in a bubble next year, we would try to play in our home arenas and just have social distancing.

But, Wolf, honestly, I am really confident we are going to get those vaccines. The science geek and the health tech geek says, it looks really good. So, you know, prayers out. That's what we're hoping for.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm praying for vaccines. I'm praying for therapeutics; we're praying for a lot. In the meantime, we're all wearing masks. And we're social distancing and washing our hands. And we're avoiding going to stadiums to watch basketball games, obviously.

This is a season, clearly, like none we've ever seen before. Should there be an asterisk in the record books for whoever does win the NBA title this year?

CUBAN: No, I mean, look, we've had seasons where there's been labor shortages. And after the champion is crowned, and those seasons, everybody says that there should be an asterisk. But years later, you know, nobody remembers which seasons those were, you know, when the Spurs, I think, won in the '99 season. You know, initially people said that, but no, a ring is a ring.

Let me just tell you, when the Dallas Mavericks -- if the Dallas Mavericks win a championship this year, we're throwing a parade. We are celebrating. Me and my guy, Luka Doncic. [20:40:02]

BLITZER: Well, let's see who -- let's see who wins. Does it worry you though and it worries me, but you tell me if it worries you about the bubble these games, these NBA games taking place in Florida, which is now the epicenter, one of the state's worst-hit by the virus.

CUBAN: Yes, certainly it adds to the concern level, and it also adds to the level of discipline that we have to introduce to make sure that everything, you know, all the I's are dotted and T's are crossed, wolf. But, you know, the reality is, I think inside the bubble is safer than outside the bubble.

You know, it's safer than guys being home, it's safer, than, you know, 20 something is doing what they would ordinarily do. And so, I feel really confident about their health. You know, even with the dramatic increases in cases in Florida.

BLITZER: But how worried are you about some of the players sneaking out of that bubble and going to a club or whatever? We've heard some reports. I don't know if you've heard about that.

CUBAN: Yes. I mean, I've heard of it, but not from the bubble. I mean, I've heard people who've had excused absences trying to, you know, get out and socialize. But I haven't heard of anybody really trying to sneak out the bubble.

And the only cases I've even heard that were even remotely close, where, you know, someone went to pick something out as a delivery and went outside the bubble parameters and get suspended or not suspended, but had to re-quarantine. And so, you know, I've only talked to our players, our team, and I don't see that as a risk at all.

BLITZER: Can your Mavericks win at all?

CUBAN: You know, you just never know, that's why we play the games, Wolf. I think we have the talent, and I think we've got the guys that can make it work.

BLITZER: We will soon find out. One final question before I let you go. Without the fans there, you know, you've all --

CUBAN: Wolf, are you there?

BLITZER: I can hear you. Can you hear me?

CUBAN: Oh, Damn.

BLITZER: Obviously, we lost -- we lost that connection. But we want to thank Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks for joining us. We wish the Dallas Mavericks Good luck. We wish the Washington Wizards Good luck as well.

A quick programming note for our viewers. W. Kamau Bell digs up the truth on farming in America on a brand-new episode of United Shades of America airing tomorrow night here on CNN 10:00 P.M. Eastern right after our special "SITUATION ROOM."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:45:52]

BLITZER: All right. These are live pictures coming in right now from Seattle, Washington, where protesters are facing off with police. Police have already declared a riot and say protesters threw explosives and mortars of police officers. At least two officers have been injured. We're going to continue to monitor these developments and bring you updates. Standby for that.

BLITZER: In Georgia right now, the pandemic is leaving almost no part of the state untouched. On Friday, the state reported more than 4,800 new cases, that's a new single day record, and the virus has now touched the family of a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Democrat, Jon Ossoff, is running for Senate against incumbent, David Perdue. And Ossoff tweeted this earlier quote, "As many of you know, my wife Alisha is an OB/GYN doctor at Emory. Last night, she tested positive for COVID after developing symptoms this week. Thankfully, your symptoms have been mild, but please keep her in your thoughts. I was tested today and await results."

Jon Ossoff is joining us now.

Jon, thanks so much for joining us. First of all, how is Alisha, your wife, doing?

JON OSSOFF (D), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, Wolf. Thank you for asking. She's doing all right. Her symptoms remain mild and manageable. And look, you know, she's a healthcare worker, and her job is delivering babies. And these are the risks that healthcare workers take. But the American people shouldn't be subjected to this and she's been doing her job and America's politicians have not been doing there's.

This whole situation, Wolf, if you'll forgive me, is an absolute outrage, and a catastrophe. Yesterday in Canada, there were 530 new cases of this disease. Across the United States, there were 74,000. This was preventable. Donald Trump, the Republican Party, the United States Congress, our governor here in Georgia have comprehensively failed us and it's a complete disgrace.

BLITZER: What kind of symptoms is your wife having right now?

OSSOFF: She's been heavily fatigued all week, she's had mild flu-like symptoms, off and on, and she started self-isolating. As soon as she felt that come on. She called out of work, and she's not the first and the OB/GYN unit at Emory to come down with it. And right now as the spreads across Georgia, she probably won't be the last, because it's a dangerous time in the state right now.

BLITZER: So you tweeted that you were tested today. Did you get any idea how long it would take to get results? I asked the question in Georgia. The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, she said it took eight days for her and her husband and their son, all of whom tested positive to get the results. Eight days is way too long.

OSSOFF: It is. It is especially because swift results help the epidemiologist do their job and try to contain this virus. Look, it wasn't easy, even to find out where and how to get tested here in Georgia. But once I did the team at the Fulton County testing site at the Wolf Creek Amphitheatre this morning, they were efficient. I was impressed by their work. They told me two to four days, I'll let you know when I hear back on my results.

BLITZER: Are you -- do you have a temperature? Do you have any conditions at all that was -- that might suggest that you could be positive?

[20:50:05]

OSSOFF: Yes, I've been feeling under the weather all week, and it's not really anything I necessarily would have worried about, except when I found out last night that Alisha had tested positive and her symptoms had been more serious. The only prudent thing to do at that point was to go and get tested this morning, but I'll be fine. And she's doing well. I appreciate you asking how she's doing.

But we've just got to turn this thing around because there are a lot of people suffering and dying. You know, the governor of Georgia is fighting our own city leaders on mask mandates. We've had hospitalizations reaching record levels. We've had double digit deaths every day for the last three or four days, and we need politicians to listen to public health advice.

I don't know what else they need to hear. Governor Kemp, if you're watching, President Trump, if you're watching, you need to start listening to the doctors because this has spiraled out of control and people are dying.

BLITZER: Please send Alisha, your wife, our best. Thank her, she's on the front lines in OB/GYN. We're grateful to her for everything that she does. Good luck to you, Jon Ossoff. We hope you don't test positive. Let us know what's going on. We'll stay in close touch. Appreciate your joining us.

OSSOFF: I will, Wolf. Thank you for having me. Stay healthy.

BLITZER: You too. Be safe out there. We're going to have much more of the coronavirus pandemic coming up. But we're also following the breaking news that the legendary TV host, Regis Philbin, has died at 88.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:55:07]

BLITZER: America's mourning a legend tonight. Longtime broadcaster, Regis Philbin, has died at the age of 88. Philbin hosted a number of T.V. shows throughout his truly storied career, including the popular morning talk show live with Kathie Lee, and then Live with Kelly Ripa. Both of his former co-hosts paid tribute to him today. So did President Trump and millions, millions of Americans.

The actor Alan Alda is joining us now from New York. Alan, thank you so much for joining us. You knew Regis well. How will you remember Regis Philbin?

ALAN ALDA, AMERICAN ACTOR: You know, I feel sadness for joy, his wife and his daughters, his whole family. But I think of Regis with a smile. He always brings a smile -- a smile on my face when I think of him. As a person, he was a very sweet person, very kind and unassuming. And he had had so much to be assuming about.

He was a broadcast icon. He did something that very few people are able to do. Like Arthur Godfrey, he was someone in radio who was able to do -- to create a character that was so familiar to the public, that they just wanted to be with him.

What he did in the morning was really hard to do. I don't know -- I don't know if people respected him enough for what seemed like just chat. No, as far as I know, he didn't have people writing jokes for him. But he was there -- he would get there in the studio and talk for a half an hour about what he did last night.

And people wanted to hear it because they wanted to be in his company. And he had that strange character of the explosive guy. What are you talking about? I can't understand what you're telling me, you know, that kind of thing. And he could do it on a moment's notice. She would do it in the elevator. We were neighbors in the same building, and he would do it in the lobby and entertain the doorman.

BLITZER: Yes.

ALDA: But it was out of a sense of play and good heartedness. He was really a sweet guy.

BLITZER: Certainly, he was. I knew him a little bit. I met him on a couple occasions, interviewed him a few times that he was really wonderful. So nice. You were there to see Regis off when he left this show back in 2011. What are your memories, Alan, from that day?

ALDA: I don't think he was glad to go. And they gave him a flag to the front of the building. He said, oh, I got a play. And I know -- I knew how he was feeling. It was -- I think it came unexpectedly to many. He still had more gallons of gas and he could have gone on longer.

But somebody made a decision not to do that. And I -- and I felt confused. I didn't think he wanted to go, but he found -- we found things to do that entertained him and made him -- made life fun for him and he had time with joy and his family. He -- I think he really did enjoy life a lot. So whether he's doing the show or not. Yes.

BLITZER: He clearly loved what he was doing that came across on television. He was so real, so warm, so friendly. You know, Alan, you're a T.V. legend in your own right. But talk a little bit about what Regis meant to television in general here in the United States.

ALDA: You know, whenever somebody can get on camera and talk to the lens, as if he's talking to you personally, that person is doing something really rare, and it's rewarded by the country's attention. And it almost doesn't matter what the person is saying. I think we have such a hunger to have contact that seems real with somebody, whether we know them or not.

I mean, they're -- there are gaming podcasts where people just play video games.