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Erin Burnett Outfront

CDC Director Predicts 100,000 U.S. Coronavirus Deaths by June 1; Number of New Cases Trending Lower in 28 States; But New Texas Cases Up Double Digits Since Restrictions Relaxed; New Vaccine Chief: "Few Hundred Million Doses" of Vaccine Could be Available in U.S. by End of Year; LA Begins to Reopen After Highest Number of Cases in a Month; Trump Doubles Down on Vaccine Timeline: Could Be End of Year; House About to Vote on $3 Trillion Coronavirus Aid Package. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: She loved bowling and playing slots at the casino. May they all rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And OUTFRONT next, the breaking news, the Director of the CDC now predicting the death toll from coronavirus in the United States will top 100,000 people by June 1st. This as the President is promising a vaccine by the end of the year.

Plus, cases of coronavirus on the rise in Texas on the decline in Georgia, both states though reopen. So what do we read into that?

And when a vaccine arrives, why there may be no way for all Americans to actually get it? It's a CNN investigation. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news and a sobering new projection. The Director of the CDC now predicting the death toll will top 100,000 in the United States by June 1st. Tonight, that number topping at 7,000 and this comes as the President said he's hopeful a vaccine can be achieved by the end of the year and he's now tapped someone to formally make that happen, a former top executive at GlaxoSmithKline, who said today, when with the President that he's optimistic.


DR. MONCEF SLAOUI, CHIEF SCIENTIST, "OPERATION WARP SPEED": I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine. And these data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020.


BURNETT: By the end of this year, yet that very same man, Monsef Slaoui, told The New York Times in an interview published just this morning, "Frankly, 12-18 months is already a very aggressive timeline." And even the four-star army general who will be working alongside Slaoui acknowledged a vaccine by the end of the year is 'a Herculean task' and he's not alone. The administration's former top vaccine expert, Rick Bright, has his doubts.


RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, DHS' BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT AUTH.: I still think 12 to 18 months is an aggressive schedule and I think it's going to take longer than that to do so.


BURNETT: We also spoke to Pfizer's Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Chief. He told me it could be May of 2021, maybe a little bit earlier before they know if the vaccine works. They could have the doses ready by the end of the year, but they wouldn't know if they were safe enough to give out until months after that. Pfizer, of course, is the company developing and testing the very same vaccine that Trump has been touting.

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live outside the White House. And Kaitlan, the President held this Rose Garden press conference today to talk about his vaccine initiative. But then he downplayed the need for a vaccine at all at the very same event.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. At one point, Erin, he said with or without a vaccine, the country is going to return to normal and that was a really notable statement and really shows you how the president is viewing this because so many health experts that we've heard from him said life is not going to truly return to normal until we get that vaccine.

Basically, saying yes, some places can reopen, some restrictions can be loosened and but you're truly not going to feel safe living life like you did before the coronavirus pandemic unless you know that you can have some kind of immunity to it or there is a vaccine for it. So the President there still projecting that ambitious timeline of having it done by the end of the year now that he's got these two people really as the executives of Operation Warp Speed, which is their initiative here to get a vaccine not only available but also distributed, which is going to be another challenge that's facing the administration how to get that so widely available to so many people.

So those are the two challenges facing him. The President was offering this ambitious timeline. Of course, Erin, the question is whether or not it can be ready by then. The President certainly has maintained he thinks so.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. And the country, certainly, isn't waiting for a vaccine to start reopening. Not at all. I mean, restaurants and now beaches are starting to reopen in many states across the country, Erica Hill is OUTFRONT. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A nationwide experiment shifting into high gear.


JEAN-FRANCOIS FLECHET, OWNER, TASTE OF BELGIUM: The one thing that we know is that tomorrow will be different than today. That's the only certainty we have.


HILL (voice over): Restaurants in Ohio and Virginia can now offer table service outside. Florida's hardest hit counties, Miami-Dade and Broward will begin seating customers on Monday.

In Maryland, barbershops, salons and churches can reopen at half capacity. Casinos are back in Louisiana as stores large and small adapt.


MEG BROWNSON, OWNER, ALFRESCO CASUAL LIVING: I am excited. But like I said, it's just nerve-racking.


HILL (voice over): Consumer spending, the lifeblood of the American economy has taken a massive hit. Retail sales plunging more than 16 percent in April. The largest drop in nearly 30 years.


NINOLE FORD, BUSINESS OWNER IN PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA: I'm thinking. The cavalry never showed up as promised. It's either open or close my doors for good.


HILL (voice over): The number of new cases is trending lower in 28 states including Colorado, Georgia and Oklahoma, which started lifting restrictions weeks ago.


New cases each day in Texas, however, are 20 percent to 30 percent higher than they were when stay-at-home orders were relaxed on May 1st. So what are those numbers tell us about the impact of reopening?


DR. JENNIFER LEE, ASSOC. PROF. EMERGENCY MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV.: What we're seeing is actually a reflection of what's probably the virus was doing a week or two weeks ago.


HILL (voice over): Protests continue in Michigan, where the stay-at- home order was extended through May 28th.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open your business now.


HILL (voice over): Resistance is also brewing in North Carolina, where some restrictions were lifted last week, though not for large gatherings, including religious services.


STEVE BIZZELL, SHERIFF, JOHNSTON COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: How long is this going to last? They didn't build the sanctuary to sit in your cars in the parking lot and look at ...


HILL (voice over): Several regions in New York State moving into phase one of reopening on Friday. Still the stay-at-home order extended for the most populated areas, including New York City until May 28th. Though there is some relief in sight.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing a multi-state plan to reopen beaches in time for Memorial Day.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D) NEW YORK: What one state does will affect other states. That is probably nowhere more clear than when it comes to opening beaches. One state doesn't open beaches, another state does open beaches. You will see people flood to that state.


HILL (voice over): New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware all part of that effort, but not New York City.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D) NEW YORK: We would all love to be able to go to the beach with the hot weather. That's something that we're just not ready for. We're going to look at it constantly. We're going to be in close touch with the state and the day may come but we're not there yet.



HILL: Part of the reason Mayor de Blasio says this city is just not ready is because getting to those beaches would involve buses or subways. He says that is non-essential travel and they don't need it right now. There was a lot of concern about the weather in the city this weekend and there are plans to limit capacity in a number of parks around the city, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Erica.

And I want to go now to Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Richard Besser, former CDC Acting Director under President Obama. Thanks to both.

So, Sanjay, the new vaccines are - it seems to be saying something contradictory, right? In one interview with The New York Times, he says 12 to 18 months is aggressive for a vaccine. Then, in the Rose Garden with the President, he says hundreds of millions of doses could be ready by the end of the year.

He does say having a successful vaccine by the end of the year now is a credible objective. So it's sort of implying he isn't just saying we could have it already even if it isn't proven to work. So, what is he saying? Is he trying to say we could all be vaccinated by the end of the year and how do you square that with what he told The New York Times?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think he's threading the needle here. There's a lot of hope, obviously, and a lot of push, I think, within the task force, within the White House. And I think what you've heard from Dr. Fauci now, there's all along - is that this is going to take a while.

Dr. Fauci has said 12 to 18 months, but even that was to the point where we might have an approved vaccine is still got distributed at that point, they are doing some things that are, I think, going to be more aggressive, which could be accelerating the timetable, Erin. They're going to start manufacturing certain vaccines that they have hopes on, even if they haven't been proven.

That's a gamble to spend a lot of money manufacturing those vaccines. They're going to come up with just distribution strategies. You heard that from the Army General.


GUPTA: But it's still going to take a while. So it's this hope and honesty, balance. It's constant. We've been hearing it for four months. It's an inflection point, but honestly it has to lead the way and we're going to have to make sure we get some clear answers on this.

BURNETT: And Dr. Besser, to that point, the name of the vaccine obviously effort itself as Operation Warp Speed, extraordinarily fast in vaccine timelines. You may be doing some safety trials and efficacy trials simultaneously in some cases, depending on the technology. I mean, there's things you do to shorten timetables. Do any of them concern you that when push comes to shove, you could end up with something that isn't that effective or has a safety issue or any sort of an issue because we're moving too fast?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR UNDER OBAMA: Well, I think that's always the concern. It's important to be hopeful in putting all of the effort possible to try and create a vaccine. I'm excited that we're hearing support for vaccines, especially in a climate where that's been falling in some areas.

But I also think it's important to under promise and over deliver. And I worry that this idea that we could have a safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year may take the eye off what we really need to do to be ready this fall to, to try and get some kids back to school, to try and get some more industries open. That really takes basic public health with testing, tracking and isolating.

This idea of a vaccine by the end of the year, it strikes me like the movie version of Contagion where at the end of the second hour, there's a vaccine and everyone is saved. That's not the way that science works.


BURNETT: And Sanjay, I guess there is a question here, will we get the best vaccine in this timetable or will we just get a vaccine?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, that's a great point. I mean, there's eight vaccine candidates that are in trials right now. They're going to start looking for these efficacy signals, trying to find out if there's some signals that they're effective early on. And they're going to make some gambles, but I think you're absolutely right.

I mean, you want the best vaccine ultimately and it's worth pointing out and I think that Dr. Besser alluded to this, it's not just that the vaccine may not be effective or not be as effective, it might require more shots, booster shots, things like that. But there have been situations where they can cause harm. They can cause you to have more severe illness the next time you're exposed to the virus as opposed to protecting you and they can cause harm in and of themselves.

This happened in the mid '70s when we had a swine flu variant and they rushed the vaccine and people developed what is known as Guillain- Barre syndrome, a sort of paralysis. You may remember better, Richard, before 500 people I think suffered from that at the time.


GUPTA: That was a real problem and it also took a lot of effort to re- establish the credibility of vaccines after that. It really damaged vaccine credibility for some time.

BURNETT: Yes. I mean, that's just not the risk that we're taking. Go ahead, Dr. Besser.

BESSER: Yes. No, I think you're spot on, Sanjay. The other thing that we have to acknowledge is that there's no guarantee we will have a vaccine. As Sanjay mentioned, something like Dengue fever and HIV scientists have been working for decades to try and make safe and effective vaccines and we still don't have them.

With all the effort here, I'm very hopeful there will be a vaccine. But there is no guarantee that there will be one and there's no guarantee that it will be effective against those groups who are at greatest risk, the elderly. A lot of vaccines work well in young people and not so much in the elderly.

BURNETT: So Dr. Besser, I want to just ask you about the CDC, obviously, given that you were there as Acting Director. We've been waiting for the CDC guidance on reopening for all of these businesses and Sanjay had gotten the draft and there was a lot of detail.

And then when we finally got the guidance yesterday, after weeks of delay, it was these decision tree charts, which frankly were not very informative. It was things like wash your hands and don't let people come to work if they're sick. Here's what the President said about it today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I thought the guidance was very good. I've heard very good reviews on the guidance and the media will never be satisfied.


BURNETT: Are you satisfied as former CDC Acting Director?

BESSER: I was at CDC for 13 years and worked on a lot of guidance development and what you love about a guidance coming out of CDC is that it's detailed. It's meticulously developed. It's based on the best science and evidence. It engages the community that are going to have to use that guidance.

So if it's for schools, that's been worked on with people from that community. This isn't the guides. This is something that will not be very useful. I'm on the commission to restart recovering New Jersey and on the seven-state commission.

And what's really needed by states is detailed information; how do you open a restaurant, how do you open a summer camp, a school, a university. This doesn't provide that. The level of these checklists is something that that anyone would take is common sense. But it's not something that is enforceable or something that will keep workers or customers coming into stores feeling safe.

BURNETT: Final word, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, that was surprising. I mean, Dr. Besser, he represents, when he was Acting Director, these are the best scientists in the world. These are the scientists that other countries come to try and say, OK, now we have a new virus, how is it going to behave in a real life situation, what do we do, everyone wants the vaccine, Erin, but what we're talking about is this time period in between that and maybe even after the vaccine, we're going to have some new changes, I think in all of our lives.

What are they going to look like in reality, can my kids go to summer camp, I mean, we're all getting these questions all the time. And the CDC is really good at answering these questions and making it as safe as possible, so we need that.

BURNETT: Right. We certainly we did not get it as of yet. Thank you both very much.

And next, researchers at Oxford, they say they're actually just weeks away from confirming whether their vaccine works. So this is a vaccine being developed in the U.K., but it could be easily the first out of the gate. Do they think President Trump's timeline is doable? One of the lead researchers OUTFRONT with us again.

Plus, after being warned that reopening states would lead to a spike in cases, why are we seeing the opposite in many states like Georgia?

And President Trump says the economy is on the verge of bouncing back. I'll speak to one of the nation's top investors who says it could be 10 to 12 years before we get back to where we were just in February.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump's new vaccine chief saying he's confident the U.S. could have a few hundred million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, which comes as eight human trials are ramping up worldwide. The question is though how soon could we actually see people being vaccinated as the Pfizer lead researcher told me they'll have those doses ready by the end of the year, perhaps, but they won't know if they work until maybe late spring. That's the case of the leading vaccine candidate in the United States.

I want to go now to Professor Adrian Hill, who's one of the lead researchers working on a vaccine at Oxford, which is really ahead of the other ones around the world.

And Professor Hill, when you hear that new forecast out of the White House, they're saying a few hundred million doses ready by the end of the year, you told me you were on course of a billion doses available by the end of the year, and I guess the crucial question is this whole issue of having them ready versus ramping up the production versus actually knowing if you can inject that into people, do you think with your vaccine, we could actually see wide scale vaccination by the end of 2020.

ADRIAN HILL, LEAD RESEARCHER IN OXFORD'S VACCINE TESTING ON HUMANS: The aim of the Oxford program now partnered with AstraZeneca is certainly to try and produce hundreds of millions of doses by the end of the year. I don't think it'll be a billion, but it'll be a lot unless something goes badly wrong. So we're pretty optimistic we can do that.


But let's just remember we're still at the stage of having vaccinated thousand people in our first trial. That's as far as we've got. We need to look at the safety, which so far seems OK in that trial, in more detail. We need to look at the immune responses. We haven't done that yet. And that will give us a very good idea of how likely this is to work and we'll probably know that by next month. But just in the last couple of days, we've released some data from a

nonhuman primate study where those animals were very well-protected by this vaccine, just using a single dose. So things are looking better than they were.

BURNETT: So let me ask you about those monkeys, I believe these were monkeys at a facility in Montana. And if I understand there were six of them that had the vaccine. They ended up with less of the virus in their lungs and airways.

What does that mean less? Does that mean they weren't going to get sick? I mean, what kind of indication does that actually give you? I know you I don't know for sure whether it work on humans, but does that make you say, OK, this worked in monkeys or not?

HILL: Well, it certainly worked in monkeys. So when you say less, it was actually 10,000 times less. So for logs reduction right down to undetectable levels, so those that are not published, people can look at them. So that was quite an impressive impact and that was with our first try, if you like with a standard dose, a single dose of vaccine.

We're also going to look at two doses of vaccine and see how that does. But we were very excited by seeing that in the first try.

BURNETT: And how is it going right now with humans? As you said, you've injected now in about a thousand people, just over a thousand people, and sort of looking at safety and I know, obviously, this is tried-and-true technology in a lot of sense as you've used this sort of vaccine technology for other things, MERS, Zika, other illnesses, so you've tried this in humans. Have you seen any side effects whatsoever?

HILL: Well, we routinely see people with minor side effects. By that I mean a sore arm or some reddening of the injection site, maybe feeling feverish, nothing serious, no, so far. So that that's encouraging. But that's what we expect. That's what we see with this type of vaccine.

BURNETT: Absolutely. And I mentioned that as tech tried-and-true technology in a sense, because you have talked about this and our viewers have heard you talk about this, as I said. This has been used for other viruses.

But some of the other vaccine candidates, including, some of the leading ones in the us right now, which seem to be a little bit behind you in their timeframe are using newer technology, whether it's RNA technology, I mean, there's a few out there that have not been used in humans before only in animals. Do you have any concerns that moving at this sort of warp speed, the word they're using in the White House, to get these things through trials carries greater risk when the technologies are newer?

HILL: Well, I think there are lots of checks and balances in the system. It's one thing to go as fast as you can, but there are regulatory hurdles to get through. There's ethical review to get through. So even though you can try to go very fast, there has to be a balanced assessment of speed against taking risks. I don't see that happening. I think the RNA companies are going at a

sensible speed. Of course, they need to get multiple doses, which slows you down in a bit, the interval between the two charts. But you can accelerate but there's a limit to how fast you accelerate, you could say.

BURNETT: All right. Well, interesting that you do think they're going at sensible speeds and I appreciate your time as always, Professor, we'll talk to you soon.

HILL: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, a growing number of states seeing a decline in cases after reopening. So will the trend continue or is there a spike around the corner? What's going on?

And the President promising a vaccine by the end of the year, but a CNN investigation found that there may be no way for all Americans to get it and there's a very specific reason as to why. You'll see the investigation this hour.



BURNETT: New tonight, Louisiana beginning its reopening one day after reporting its highest number of coronavirus cases since April. This as we see two very different pictures in reopened states. So Texas, remember the opening, case numbers are up between 20 percent to 30 percent since it reopened on May 1st. Georgia, which opened three weeks ago, seeing a very clear drop in that same timeframe, if you look at the seven day average this week, it's down 6 percent from the week before.

Yesterday, Texas did report a single day high for both new cases and death. So it's two different stories and then there, of course, is also the question of magnitude. So OUTFRONT now the Director of PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. David Rubin. He's back with us.

So Dr. Rubin, what do you make, I mean, what appears to be just really, really opposite tails of these two states?

DR. DAVID RUBIN, DIRECTOR, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA POLICYLAB: Yes. Well, I think that our models have been at had sort of had the foresight to see that when places reopened, it wouldn't be a binary decision. That certain areas would open quicker than others and that the big issue would be what people's individual behavior would be.

And so far, we've seen that people have actually been pretty cautious in places like Georgia or Florida, for example. And with favorable temperature trends that we haven't seen the big surge that was predicted, our models saw that - we're forecasting that a couple weeks ago, that if people were cautious, if they remain vigilant that we would see a decline in cases. As far as Texas, it really comes down to individual behavior. The most

important thing are, are people wearing masks in indoor locations, are they practicing good hand hygiene and sanitation.

And we also have to be careful when we look at numbers in Texas is to make sure that we're not just seeing a surgeon test capacity, but that we follow other types of monitors like weather hospitalizations daily, the new hospitalizations are going up because if both cases in new hospitalizations are going up, that's a clear signal that they may be overreaching.


BURNETT: So when you look at - I mean, obviously, Georgia and Texas, neither one are alone. You have 28 states seeing a downward trend including other states that opened early, so Colorado and South Carolina, on that list. Texas is one of seven states seeing uptick.

So when you look downward trend including other downward trend including other states that opened early, Colorado and South Carolina, on that list. Texas is one of seven states seeing uptick, so when you look into the data in more detail, what do you take away from it?

RUBIN: Well, we're actually, you know, we have been following a social distancing variable that measures the percent change in people's activity in returning to nonessential businesses like hair salons or restaurants, and what we have seen is that at least until, you know, today and this past week when these areas reopened, people didn't just go back to what they were doing in February. I was encouraged by the fact that they sort of went back about a 1/4 of the way or a 1/3 of the way back to what they were doing before, which tells me that people are remaining vigilant.

That's the key here. Certainly temperature and weather is in their favorite, but if people remain vigilant, they're able to control transmission, and certainly during the summer months, vigilance combined with the warm humid temps in the South, I think they can have a pretty good summer. If they get too complacent in the South and certainly in the Northeast and other areas as it warms, my fear is people won't be as cautious in the fall, and that's when we would predict that colder temperatures would promote more transmission.

BURNETT: Right, because just to make it very clear, you know, you see room for optimism, this is temporary. It's not as if because the transmission rates go down it goes away enough that it doesn't come surging back. Which I know the CDC has told us it will and Dr. Fauci told us it will but you are also making it clear that that is what's going to happen?

RUBIN: Yeah, I think we have a real opportunity here. I think Angela Merkel in Germany said to not squander what we have succeeded in doing, something to that effect, and I think that means if we're careful about hand hygiene and sanitation, that people are cautious about wearing masks, particularly in those indoor markets and locations where there's crowding and we can get our cases down really low before the start of the fall, then I think, you know, vigilant behavior in the fall could help us beat some of the forecasts that are, you know, during a time that I think is going to be challenging when respiratory transmission is going to pick up. It really comes down to our behavior.

BURNETT: All right. Dr. Rubin, thanks again. I appreciate your time.

RUBIN: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: All right. I want to go now to our medical analyst and former White House medical adviser, Dr. Jonathan Reiner.

So, Dr. Reiner, you know, look, It's obviously great news if states see their number of cases decline after reopening. We hear warning after warning about a second surge, whenever that might be, specifically in the fall, we have heard that from Dr. Redfield at the CDC, from Dr. Fauci.

So how do you avoid people getting complacent because a lot of people are going to get complacent?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes, so you know, we drill this over and over again in the hospital. I replaced an aortic valve this morning with a large team, and before the case we reviewed safety for the case. And we do that every single case. And we need to adapt that kind of policy to the public at large. We need to continue to remind people how to stay safe in the COVID-19 environment.

And that means reminding people that in public places they do need to wear masks, that they need to continue to, you know, keep their distance from people, that they need to wash their hands. These are the kinds of things that going forward will help to keep the virus from coming back if and when it drops to low levels, hopefully, over the next few months.

But it's this kind of continued reminder and vigilance that we need to have in this country.

BURNETT: So, you know, speaking of that, and wanting people continue to wear masks in public places and model that behavior, President Trump at a press conference today did not wear a mask. The others did. You can see, Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci.

And later on, he had an exchange with a nurse from West Virginia who had traveled to New York to help, and here's how that exchange happened.


TRUMP: You never got it, so with all of that long hours and with very, very sick people, you never caught the virus.

NURSE: No, sir.

TRUMP: What do you attribute that to?

NURSE: PPE. TRUMP: Oh, really, good. Good protection.


BURNETT: So what's your reaction, Dr. Reiner?

REINER: Well, what I would say is here's the pro tip, if you find yourself in a group and the doctors in the group are wearing masks and the politicians aren't wearing masks, emulate the doctors. The only reason not to wear a mask in public now is because you don't like the way it looks, and that's not the right reason. Every physician in this country, every nurse in this position -- every nurse in this country knows that wearing masks will help prevent the propagation of the disease.


The president does a disservice when time and time again, he gives mixed messages or frankly negative messages and refuses to wear a mask in public.

BURNETT: Dr. Reiner, thank you.

REINER: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, a CNN investigation, so if a vaccine is ready, as of now there would not be enough needles and syringes for Americans to get the vaccine, so you could mass produce the thing, and then how do you deliver it? So what's being done right now to fix this problem?

An OUTFRONT investigation, and the House about to vote on a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, but will it go anywhere?


BURNETT: So, tonight, President Trump says that vaccine could be ready by the end of the year, and while many experts do think that's improbable, if that goal were met, there is a really serious question of whether people could even get the vaccine because there aren't enough syringes.

Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: If the vaccine for COVID-19 were to come today, there would be no way for all of us to get it.


There are just not enough needles and syringes.

SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI): I don't want to be in a situation where we can't deliver those doses because we don't have syringes and we don't have needles and we don't have the basic supplies to deliver that many doses of the vaccine.

GRIFFIN: Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters first sounded the alarm last year. The pandemic only heightened his fears. And last week he sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and HHS Secretary Alex Azar, urging the federal government to take immediate steps to ensure America is prepared to administer a coronavirus vaccine.

PETERS: Time is not our side here. We need to get this done as soon quickly as possible.

GRIFFIN: In a similar warning, a whistleblower complaint by Rick Bright, the demoted leader of a key federal agency developing vaccines, said his warnings about the shortage of needles and syringes had been ignored, and that the U.S. needs between 650 million and 850 million needles and syringes. Bright may have been pushed aside but in testimony before Congress yesterday, Bright suggested someone in the federal government may have been listening.

RICHARD BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, DHS BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: I learned that they placed an order, the first order for needles and syringes on May 1st.

REP. ANN MCLANE KUSTER (D-NH): And were the amounts adequate?

BRIGHT: I believe they asked for 320 million needles and syringes.

KUSTER: And could you describe the situation if every American doesn't have access to the vaccine due to a supply shortage?

BRIGHT: That situation would be catastrophic, honestly. The decisions have not been made yet, who to vaccinate first, how to identify those individuals and how to stretch those limited supplies appropriately.

GRIFFIN: Three contracts for vaccine supplies awarded in the past few weeks totaling nearly $250 million. The largest by the Department of Defense for the U.S.-based production of 100 million prefilled syringes by year end 2020, with the ultimate production goal of over 500 million pre-filled syringes in 2021.

Chaun Powell, in charge of disaster response for one of the country's largest medical logistics companies, says it all adds up to enough.

(on camera): Makes it sound like, unlike PPE, we're going to be in a much better position.

CHAUN POWELL, PREMIER INC.: We learned a lot of valuable lessons through COVID with PPE, and with that, we are preparing for the worst for the vaccination and being able to administer the full population, if necessary.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): That comes with one big caveat: the unknown.

POWELL: Until we have something that is approved by a particular supplier or manufacturer in pharmaceutical space, it will be very challenging for us to be able to prepare for potential shortages on vials, or in syringes or in needles. GRIFFIN: If estimates are correct, if the contract is fulfilled, the

U.S. could have the supplies needed to inoculate the population when and if a COVID-19 vaccine is approved.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


BURNETT: And next, Trump predicting a tremendous 4th quarter economy. Tremendous. Well, I'm going to talk to one of the top investment minds on Wall Street.

And an update on a restaurant owner who refused to reopen because he feared for his own health. His remarkable story of strength and hope, an update on him tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, the House is about to vote on Democrats '$3 trillion relief package. It includes funding for state and local governments, a new round of direct payments to Americans and a whole lot of other stuff there. It is unlikely to go anywhere due to opposition from Republicans in the White House.

OUTRONT now, Bob Michele, he's the chief investment officer and global head of fixed income at JPMorgan Asset Management.

And, Bob, I appreciate your time. You know, I was just saying, you know, we're talking about trillions of dollars here, it's stunning the numbers we're talking about, and this isn't even the first plan out of the gate that they have already spent trillions.

The unemployment rate in February, just in February, was 3.5 percent. I mean, we were near historic lows. It was an excellent rate, one of the best we have ever seen, and you are looking at various scenarios and you're saying that you think it could take ten to 12 years to get back to that number.

Ten to 12 years. Wow. Explain why.

BOB MICHELE, J.P. MORGAN ASSET MANAGEMENT CIO: Yes, thanks for having me on, Erin. We're seeing that as this crisis rolls on, two pressures continue to build. The first is that the amount of loss economic activity continues deepen, meaning that the economy is running at a rate far below it's long-term potential. Put differently, that's creating an output gap which is expanding the amount of slack in the system and the economy. The second, and as you've highlighted, the debt burden continues to pile up as trillions of dollars are borrowed to fund what we believe is much needed aid and relief.

The problem with both of these is when you look at the output gap, it means there's a lot of slack. It has an impact on employment. It means that it will take a long time to return to full employment. As you said, we think about ten years. And it also creates a pressure on wages. We saw that coming out of the

financial crisis where wages stayed around 2 percent year over year gains for a long period of time until six years after the financial crisis.

The debt burden is another matter. As that debt piles up, it means a lot of the output of the economy has to go to servicing that debt, and ultimately paying it back, which creates a lot of headwind for our children and grandchildren.

BURNETT: It's just, you know, when the president, you know, he says that we're going to have a transition in the third quarter.


But then, in the fourth quarter, it's going to, quote, tremendous.

Now, I do know you expect the economy will grow. But you're talking about depression-level unemployment in the next decade. Is it fair to call the growth we're going to get relative to the situation we're in tremendous?

MICHELE: Well, when you look at what this quarter looks like, minus 30 percent to 40 percent annualized is a fair estimate that everyone is coming to. And remember, the worst point in the great financial crisis was minus 8.4 percent. It tells you that there's a significant hole.

Sure, when things open up, we expect a quarter of 10 percent growth, 7.5 percent growth, and ultimately tapering to 2 percent, 2.5 percent. But it takes a long time to fill in that hole, and for unemployment to drop from 20 percent down to 10 percent or so.

If you look at the Congressional Budget Office, they're projecting 9 percent at the end of next year. We're at 12 percent. The peak in the financial crisis was 10 percent.

BURNETT: Yes. All right, Bob, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Obviously a sobering take, but important for all to hear. Thank you, sir.

And OUTFRONT next, an update to a story we brought you about a remarkable restaurant owner. He's not only coping with trying to keep his restaurant in business, but also the cancer.


MIKE NGUYEN, NOODLE TREE RESTAURANT OWNER: I'm going to fight and fight and fight for this, you know, from now on with my bout of cancer, I'm going to fight for this restaurant.



[19:55:58] BURNETT: Tonight, an update on a story we brought you on a Texas chef and restaurant owner. Mike Nguyen received support from around the world after refusing to open to protect the health of customers and staff. But now, it is his health that's opposite his mind.

Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Life is throwing a flurry of punches at Mike Nguyen. Last year, the 32-year-old opened his dream restaurant, Noodle Tree in San Antonio, Texas, just after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Then the coronavirus pandemic upended everything. Two weeks ago, Nguyen told CNN's OUTFRONT he couldn't take the health risk of opening his dining room to customers.

NGUYEN: At the end of the day, it was that the money was not worth losing lives over, losing, you know, the people that supported me, this restaurant, it wasn't worth to put their life in danger.

LAVANDERA (on camera): So, how are you feeling, Mike?

NGUYEN: It depends on the day.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): This week, Nguyen learned his lymphoma diagnosis has taken a turn for the worse.

(on camera): You're fighting for your life.

NGUYEN: It's progressively getting worse. My mind is telling me go, go goes to work, but my body is, like, no.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Nguyen made the painful decision to shut the restaurant down. Sunday will be the last day.

NGUYEN: How are you, little lady?

LAVANDERA: Each takeout order he walks out is a chance to see loyal customers one last time.

NGUYEN: All right. See you.

LAVANDERA (on camera): When you walk out of here this weekend, you don't know for sure if you're coming back.

NGUYEN: I don't. Worst case scenario, we don't open these doors up. I can say that -- you know, I didn't fail because our food or service wasn't good. I fail because of something out of my control.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Mike Nguyen was diagnosed with cancer in 2018. Instead of sitting back, Nguyen decided to open the restaurant. He wasn't going to let lymphoma take this dream away.

Noodle Tree thrived, but when the pandemic struck, he had to let go of his workers.

NGUYEN: This restaurant is very dear to my heart. I fought for it. That's why for me it's more than just a restaurant, you know. It's a symbol of just, like, fighting, you know, and that's why it's kind of heartbreaking that I have to close. Because it kind of means I have to step away from the fight for now.

LAVANDERA: With one assistant, Mike Nguyen is cooking what could be the the last meals of his treasured restaurant. If he survives, the restaurant survives.

NGUYEN: I'm going to fight and fight and fight for this, you know, from now on with my bout of cancer, I'm going to fight for this restaurant. I'm going down swinging if I have to.

LAVANDERA: For now, the lights of noodle tree will be turned off.


NGUYEN: Inspired and connected to so many people. When we had him on the show, I am so sorry to hear off his diagnosis, but I know he's a fighter. You can see him talking to you, Ed, what a fighter he is.

When you had your conversation with him, how hopeful was he that he'll be able to reopen the restaurant?

LAVANDERA: He remains hopeful. You know, I thought he was going to be a bit emotional and he says he's not very emotional. He's trying to hold all of that back, but he knows what is at stake here. But he believes that he has been battle tested enough in life to get through this. He's a big believer in adversity and how you respond to adversity. It's how you're defined as a person.

So -- but he also knows if he is able to come back, he's got big problems over. His rent is still due, the bills that will be mounting up will be all over him. So that is something he is concerned about. But he says he will keep fighting, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Ed. Thank you very much.

And I want to tell all of you about a very special two-hour event on CNN tomorrow night honoring the graduates of 2020. Starting at 7:00 Eastern, don't miss "Class of 2020: In This Together" hosted by me, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper. You're going to hear Gal Gadot, you're going to hear Bill Clinton, Sara Blakely, Yo-yo Ma, David Foster.

And then at 8:00, "Graduate Together" hosted by LeBron James Family Foundation.

So, it's a special two-hour event tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. Thank you.

And "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts now.