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New Day Saturday

Kellyanne Conway Tweets She's Tested Positive For COVID-19; President Trump Hospitalized At Walter Reed Medical Center; White House: Trump Treated With Regeneron Antibody Cocktail, Remdesivir; With Trump Hospitalized, More COVID-19 Cases Emerge In White House And Campaign; Two Republican Senators Test Positive For COVID-19 Potentially Jeopardizing Barrett Confirmation Vote; Trump Illness Raises National Security Concerns As Pentagon Looks To Reassure Public. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 03, 2020 - 08:00   ET





JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is not a matter of politics. It's a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President dealing with mild symptoms. He received an experimental Regeneron antibody cocktail treatment on Friday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a patient who was at risk, and they felt that they wanted to tilt the odds a little bit more in his favor by potentially using our drug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is important to show our allies and our adversaries around the world that this president is still in charge. But it's also why this White House has to give us some more information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most secure American in this country gets this virus. None of us is safe.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: The sun coming up on the White House right now at 8:00 a.m. on the Saturday morning. Good morning to you wherever you happen to be around the country and around the world. We're grateful you're with us as we look at those pictures outside Walter Reed Medical Center coming to us now. That's what President Trump is waking up this morning after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, this morning we're learning more about the president's condition and his treatment, not enough, but some elements. Sources tell us that the White House officials have serious concerns about the president's health. We've learned that he is having some trouble breathing, also very tired.

PAUL: And overnight the president's team said he's being treated with Remdesivir, that's that drug that's shown to shorten the amount of time that a patient's hospitalized with coronavirus. The president was also given an experimental antibody cocktail from drug maker Regeneron.

BLACKWELL: We're covering the breaking news as only CNN can, every angle with our reporters, correspondents, analyst standing by to bring you the latest information.

PAUL: For more on the president's condition, we want to get to CNNs Boris Sanchez who's outside Walter Reed Medical Center right now. We have been hearing these reports that he's having trouble breathing, what more do you know about that this hour, Boris?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi and Victor. Yes, we've been hearing from the White House physician that the President has congestion - nasal congestion related to coronavirus as well as a mild fever and exhaustion, fatigue. Symptoms that are typically associated with a virus - mild symptoms we should point out.

Of course, the White House has put out there multiple times a statement saying that the president's trip to Walter Reed is purely out of an abundance of caution. The president has made clear publicly that he's in good spirits. More on that in a second.

But privately what we've heard from sources is that the president was spooked over his diagnosis and the rapid onset of symptoms, and that officials around him are also concerned because of how rapidly these mild symptoms can become much more serious.

Again, though, the president sounding a very positive note, specifically on Twitter he recorded a video shortly before he was airlifted here to Walter Reed Medical Center. Listen to what the President said.


TRUMP: I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support. I'm moving to Walter Reed Hospital. I think I'm doing very well. But we're going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well. So thank you very much. I appreciate it. I will never forget it. Thank you.


SANCHEZ: Now, the president there giving an update on the First Lady Melania Trump as well saying that she is doing fine. From what we understand she has experienced even milder symptoms than the President has. I also want to point to this tweet from late last night that the president sent out, a very, very different tone than we usually hear from the President when he's up tweeting late at night. He writes, "Going well, I think! Thank you to all." And then in all caps, he writes, "Love."

The president, obviously, being observed very closely here. There are a lot of open questions for this White House and the presidential campaign as well. Notably, some of the president's comments over the last few months about coronavirus and even in the last few days talking about rounding the curve and being near the end of this virus in the United States.

Also, the rallies that we've - that I've attended that many journalists have attended over the last few weeks - thousands and thousands of people in very close proximity not following CDC guidelines, a lot of people not wearing masks.

And on top of that, events that the White House has held in the White House complex, including one week ago today, the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court were a number of not only White House officials, but Republican senators and journalists who were there have now tested positive for COVID-19.

I know we have video of Kellyanne Conway who overnight announced that she had tested positive for COVID-19. She was mingling with a number of administration officials, including the Attorney General William Barr. So there's a lot of questions about the contact tracing that's going on right now by the White House. Whether these officials are going to quarantine, it is an enormous mess just one month out from Election Day. Victor, Christi.


PAUL: Thank you, Boris. We want to point out in that video, we know that they seem to be in very close proximity, but we do know that AG Barr has tested negative vest far and we certainly hope that continues to be the case. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Of course, the White House is shared limited information about the decision to move the president to Walter Reed. The White House says that this was - as Boris reported their, a decision made out of an abundance of caution.

But this is the reporting from "The Washington Post" that the White House wanted to move the president while he could still walk to Marine One on his own. Let's bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles. We're also tracking a growing number of people. Boris talked about the President's condition. Tell us what you know about the spread here and the politics of this?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is growing concern this morning, Victor that this list, which is growing longer by the minute of folks who have contracted the coronavirus after being in close proximity with the president or those associated with him will continue to grow. Look at where it stands right now. Hope Hicks, she, of course, the first aide to contract the virus or at least be tested positive for it; two senators, Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, both testing positive. The Reverend John Jenkins from Notre Dame, who was at that event for Amy Coney Barrett has tested positive; Ronna McDaniel, who's the RNC Chairwoman; Bill Stepien, the Trump Campaign Manager last night announcing that he had tested positive. We mentioned Kellyanne Conway, those White House reporters, and of course the first lady.

And it's important to note that even some of these officials who at this point have tested negative, folks like the Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; Chris Christie, who was a part of the debate prep; the former New Jersey Governor, even the Vice President Mike Pence, they may have tested negative now. But with the incubation period of the coronavirus, it is quite possible that they could test positive in the future. That is why it is so important that they continue to be tested and that the White House is forthcoming with the results of those tests.

Meanwhile, the business of government continues. The president is still in charge. The 25th Amendment has not been invoked. But Vice President Mike Pence still expected to take on a more prominent role. He's been the head of the Coronavirus Task Force from the very beginning. That will continue. In fact, he is going to hold a meeting of that Task Force later today. He's going to do it from the Naval Observatory where he lives.

It's important to point out, though, that the White House had really shifted focus from the Coronavirus Task Force. They had not been meeting nearly as frequent of a basis and those meetings were not very prominent. The White House just not talking about them as much.

And then of course, there is the campaign angle of all of this. The vice president is expected to continue to hold in-person campaign events over the next couple of weeks, despite the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. And there is a debate scheduled for Wednesday. Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president and Pence expected to be there.

They are making new accommodations, though. Originally the two works expected to be only seven feet apart. They will now be 12 feet apart. But plans right now are expected that they're going to move forward with this debate, despite the fact that there are more and more cases of coronavirus being diagnosed among those so close to the president in this White House. Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: And we will talk about that with Dr. Peter Hotez, coming up in just a moment, the decision to continue with the debate. Ryan Nobles for us there at the White House.

Now, the two senators that Ryan mentioned who have tested positive for coronavirus, this could play into the timing of the hearing maybe for a Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

PAUL: Yes, because that that hearing is supposed to take place October 12th. CNN Correspondent - a Congressional Correspondent, I should, (inaudible) has more on how the GOP is pushing this forward.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Republicans on the Committee say it is full steam ahead, the Republican Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham saying that he intends to have this hearing as scheduled on October 12th. He says that the two Republicans on that Committee, Senators Lee and Senator Tillis who are both suffering from COVID, he says that they can participate remotely, even cast their vote by proxy in the Committee.

But this potentially turns into a much, much larger issue for Republicans if and likely when her nomination moves from the Committee to the floor of the U.S. senate, and that is when senators have to actually show up to cast their vote for her nomination. And if these senators are still suffering from the effects of COVID, that becomes an issue. Republicans have no margin for error and they need their votes to get her nomination through.

Now Democrats are calling for the hearings to be delayed. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says it's irresponsible and dangerous for Republicans to move forward with her nomination. All of this though, of course, underscoring, and again, shining such a bright spotlight on the fact that Capitol Hill does not have protocols in place to deal with the COVID outbreak.

There is no testing program in place. There is no contact tracing, no temperature checks upon entering the building. This is something that many members have been angry about in the months in the past. Certainly those - that anxiety is only heightened in the wake of these new diagnoses. Christi?


PAUL: Sunlen, thank you. So all of this happening, while there is exactly one month to Election Day. When I say exactly, I mean, exactly as of today, November 3rd. So who better to talk to this, then Alex Burns. He's a CNN Political Analyst and National Political Correspondent for "The New York Times." Alex, it's so good to see you.

First of all, I think we have some pictures here of the Rose Garden event where it is believed a lot of these people may have passed on the virus. Take a look at how large that crowd is. At the end of the day, not a lot of masks being worn, certainly no social distancing. And we know that Vice President Pence was there too, Ryan Nobles reports just a couple of minutes ago.

How do they hold a vice presidential debate that is scheduled to happen on Wednesday? And why would Vice President Pence not be in quarantine right now?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a great question. And the answer is that I think the stakes are pretty high for both folks in the vice presidential debate. I don't think either campaign wants to be seen as a backing away from the event.

And that by Wednesday, we may have a pretty confident assessment of whether Mike Pence does have any kind of exposure issue. He has, obviously, been tested already. I would expect that they would both continue to be tested in the coming days. We have obviously seen that kind of effort intensify on both sides.

I do think, Christi, that I would not be surprised to see additional changes to the structure of that debate. They've already changed the distance. That the candidates would be sitting apart from each other. But as we've seen in the past, including during the Democratic primary season, there are ways of doing these debates and much more sort of low key and controlled settings than the typical presidential debate. I wonder whether we will see an in-person audience of the kind we saw at the first debate between President Trump and Joe Biden.

PAUL: We know they've already announced that they will be at least 12 feet apart - the candidates will be. Beyond that we don't necessarily know of any other big changes. But I think there are a lot of questions about Pence being so close to the president and all of these other people. And the fact that maybe he's not being quarantined right now. So you're right, we'll have to see how that goes.

The other point of this is, when we talk about the politics, the political repercussions from this, there are people who have already voted. There are people who may be thinking now, do I turn my ballot in? Or do I wait to see what happens? How do they move forward with that?

BURNS: You know, this to me is one of the most important dynamics for people to understand about this election that we don't have an Election Day. We have an election weeks, election more than a month. We've already had people voting for several weeks in some states, including big swing states, like Wisconsin and North Carolina, you have hundreds of thousands of people already having voted.

So this is primarily, I think, a challenge for the president, not just because he is losing time every day that he is hospitalized, rather than making his case to the American people. But because even before his diagnosis, he was under enormous pressure to change the subject away from the coronavirus or develop an argument that would suddenly persuade the strong majority of the American people who disapprove of his leadership on the pandemic, to see him in a different light.

That gets an awful lot more difficult when he himself is now a victim of the disease. And when people are seeing photos like the ones you just showed, suggesting that he has been pretty cavalier, and that his administration has been pretty reckless about whether they are controlling the spread of the virus even on the grounds of the White House.

PAUL: Well, and the President hasn't wanted the focus to be about coronavirus. He's wanted it to be on the economy in his campaigning. Joe Biden, of course, it's been his central narrative has been COVID and how it's been handled. What does the last 24 hours tell you about where we will - the Republicans and President Trump will go in terms of campaigning in terms of that debate on October 15th?

BURNS: Well, the Republicans I've spoken to in the last day have acknowledged - and to their credit, some of them were saying this already. But they've been saying especially in the last day, that there's just no escaping the issue now that there has been this sense within the Trump campaign and certainly within the broader Republican base that this is an issue that you might be able to change the subject away from and focus on something like law order and the rioting we saw in places over the summer.

There was hope certainly within the Trump campaign, within the White House that by the time October rolled around, you would be making the case that that the country is roaring back from that unpleasant experience. We had last spring that is now receding into memory. That's obviously not where we are.


So the challenge for President Trump, whenever he returns to the campaign trail, and Vice President Pence as soon as the debate next week, is to find a way to take on that issue head on and not try to sell the American people on the idea that this is all quickly fading into the past, because it very obviously, is not.

And Christi, I would just add that in terms of that vice presidential debate, it's obviously a lot more important now politically that these candidates demonstrate that they are ready to step into the presidency at a moment's notice. I think a lot of voters tend to see the running mate as really an afterthought in most elections. But we've seen the last day is really an enormous reminder of the importance of that job.

PAUL: That is very, very good point there. Alex Burns, we always appreciate you sharing with us. Thank you.

BURNS: Thanks a lot.

PAUL: Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: So President Trump received this antibody cocktail as part of his treatment for Coronavirus, but the treatment still considered experimental. We'll hear what the company's CEO told us about how the drug could help the president next.

PAUL: And we know the President's age and his weight put him at a high risk for more severe symptoms of coronavirus. A public health expert is walking us through what all of this means next.



PAUL: Well, the White House says President Trump's received an experimental antibody therapy to treat his coronavirus. The company Regeneron only started testing the cocktail back in June. So far it's been shown to be safe. Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer spoke to our Chris Cuomo about how the drug works.


LEONARD SCHLEIFER, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, REGENERON: He's not seriously ill now. He's not on a respirator. His life is not threatened from what we know from the outside. And I hear the same news that you hear. But he is a patient who was at risk and they felt that they wanted to tilt the odds a little bit more in his favor by potentially using our drug.

What we found is that we can help the patient's immune system win the race by basically giving them an immune response in a vial. We're giving actual antibodies. And I was listening, Sanjay had it almost right. And he's fabulous and he covered so many different areas. This is - these are proteins, they're not cells were giving. They are monoclonal antibodies. They are proteins whose job it is in a very specific way, to glom on to that virus and help your body win the race.


BLACKWELL: So still, so many things we do not know about the president's condition, about the treatment he's receiving, about what happened in the hours since - and the hours before he announced the positive diagnosis.

PAUL: Right. Well, Dr. Peter Hotez with the Baylor College of Medicine is with us now to talk about the treatment that the President does seem to be getting. Dr. Hotez always good to have you here, thank you so much. So we hear that he took this Regeneron cocktail - antibody cocktail. But then we got the news overnight, that he also got his first dose of Remdesivir. The Regeneron is already - it's not approved by the FDA. It's experimental. Do you have any concerns about the president taking both of these drugs in concert?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, we don't have a lot of data on using those two together. Although, we - there's a lot of experience now with Remdesivir used with convalescent plasma.

So we don't have good safety data on the two together. It's - I think there's a high likelihood, it's probably safe. I think, the President's doctors were in a tight spot, because the President does have high risk factors, as everyone's been talking about due to age, the fact that he's male and, and the comorbidities, including being overweight. And so we know he's very high risk of having severe illness, even dying. And so you've got to make a decision on what's the best approach, given the national security interest of the country.

And the issue with both the monoclonal antibody and the Remdesivir is they would only work if they're given early in the course of the infection, because they work by inhibiting virus replication. And if you wait, they won't be effective. So you've got to sort of make that hard decision, either you do it now or you don't do it at all. And I think that's what they were really faced with.

And I'm pretty supportive of the Regeneron monoclonal antibody therapy, because it's giving what's called virus neutralizing antibodies, and we've been working on coronavirus vaccines for the last decade, and pretty much all the vaccines work by inducing those virus neutralizing antibody. The problem with the vaccines is, it takes two doses a month apart. so it can take easily six weeks before you can generate those virus neutralizing antibodies through a vaccine.

What the Regeneron monoclonal antibody allows you to do is to give it now. So I think, given what everything we've learned about coronaviruses, the importance of virus neutralizing antibody, given the fact that the decision had to be made to give it early, the early safety data shows that it seems to be safe and has been shown to lower virus - the amount of virus. I support the decision. I think it was a good decision.

BLACKWELL: Dr. Hotez, help us understand, and maybe it's not something that can be understood. Why this White House is still, in this environment, not following its own CDC's guidance. Why Kayleigh McEnany is coming to a mic without a mask? Why Mark Meadows is coming to a mic without a mask?

We have the - here the relevant graphics control room put them up. We've got Kellyanne Conway who has tested positive for coronavirus face to face, shoulder to shoulder with the Attorney General. He's tested negative, yes, the first time. But we know that this incubation period could go on for some for some time.


We've got the graph showing all of the people who are positive in this crowd at the Rose Garden. But these people are not quarantining. Vice President Pence is going to be on the stage for the vice presidential debate in four days. The campaign says he's going to continue his in- person events. What about this suggests? Or let me flip it this way? How much of this is advisable? How much of it is not?

HOTEZ: Well, you're asking a scientist, what makes sense scientifically. And what makes sense scientifically is we've known now that this is a virus that's transmitted by aerosol, as well as droplet contact. The only known way that we have to stop this virus from being transmitted until vaccines become available is through masks.

Why there seems to be this kind of defiance or tying not wearing masks to political identity? I just don't understand. It makes absolutely no sense. But it's it seems to be very prominent across the United States right now that not wearing masks in this very twisted way, is seemed to be some sort of sign of political allegiance. And we've got to fix that.

And hopefully, when the president recovers and is out of the hospital, he'll have really understood this in a much more visceral and tangible way. And we'll see the president coming out of out of his hospitalization, strongly endorsing mask rather than sort of - kind of equivocal halfhearted endorsement.

The fact that we're even having this discussion, Victor, how many months has it been now since the virus landed from Europe into New York City in early February? So we're looking at seven, eight months of this horrible, horrible public health catastrophe. And we're still having the mask discussion, are still questioning quarantine when all of the sciences there. That's as solid as you'll ever get.

BLACKWELL: Doctor Hotez, look--

HOTEZ: I just can't--

BLACKWELL: So let me ask you quickly before we go. Should Vice President Pence be on that debate stage on Wednesday?

HOTEZ: It really depends on how - I haven't seen the information on how close contact he's had with known infected individuals. But given the fact that it sounds like he has, I would say no, why risk the health of others at this point? There's so much we can do virtually now. Just to just to put on a show, I would I would refrain from doing it right now.

Look, I'm in the president now - we'll know over the next few days how the president's going to do. He could still get very sick. And if he's going to get sick, we'll know over the weekend in the early part of next week. Let's get the president through this. We'll be then close to the election in a couple of weeks. And then let the American people decide.

We don't need any more displays. And the other good news is we're not doing those rallies in Wisconsin this week. And I'm really glad that - because that's not the epicenter of the epidemic in the U.S.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I think we should remember that we have the graphic and we know the names of the people at the Rose Garden event. We do not know the names of all the people who were in the thousands at those rallies the president and his campaign held for weeks, no social distancing, not nearly enough masks. But now it's come to 1,600 Pennsylvania Avenue when we can point out some faces, remember the names and faces of those we do not know and those who are struggling with this virus. Dr. Peter Hotez thanks so much.

HOTEZ: Thanks so much.

PAUL: Thank you, doctor. Well, the Biden campaign is changing its strategy as President Trump has treated for COVID-19. How the Democratic presidential nominee is reacting to the developments that are coming out of the White House?



PAUL: Well, more than 7 million people have now contracted COVID-19 in the U.S., as at least - there are 24 states now that are reporting a surge in new cases, so half the country essentially.

BLACKWELL: Yes, there's one university model that's now projecting 3,000 coronavirus deaths a day by the end of this year.

PAUL: And the CDC has identified a new COVID-19 syndrome in adults that similar to the one found in children. We've talked about this before. This new inflammatory syndrome that affected kids, it's now killed at least three people so far in terms of adults. And like COVID-19 it disproportionately affects minorities,

BLACKWELL: CNN's Polo Sandoval has more for us.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump walking for Maryland's Walter Reed Medical Center where he was flown Friday night out of an abundance of caution according to the White House. The President dealing with mild symptoms, according to officials, and received an experimental Regeneron antibody cocktail treatment on Friday.

This infection coming as half of the states in the U.S. from Vermont to Nevada are experiencing upward trends into virus. Wisconsin, where President Trump is due to hold a rally today, now canceled due to his diagnosis, reported more than 2,700 new cases on Friday. The state also set a record of nearly 2,900 new cases on Thursday.

For the West, Colorado experiencing its highest rate of hospitalization since August. And in Ohio, the site of Tuesday's presidential debate, an alarming rise in daily cases according to Governor Mike DeWine, with more than 1,000 new cases per day for the past four days. Republican governor describing the president's diagnosis as a reminder, the virus does not discriminate.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Now, the president of United States can get this, the first lady can get this. We can get it too and we just got to be very, very careful.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): And in New York City, 12 hotspot neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn are a cause for concern for officials who say the infection rates in those areas are more than four percentage points higher than the rest of the city.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: We have a lot to do, because we're seeing a serious uptick in multiple neighborhoods simultaneously, and it's something we have to address with a very aggressive public health effort right away.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Across the river, New Jersey, contact tracing is underway in connection to President Trump's Thursday Bedminster fundraiser. According to Governor Phil Murphy, it's the last event the commander-in-chief attended before receiving his diagnosis.


SANDOVAL: To the latest numbers, we're still seeing an average of about 42,000 COVID cases - new COVID cases a day. That threshold number is still higher, or at least it's not any lower than what we saw last month. And that Victor, Christi is deeply concerning for officials and saying that that's unfortunate, because that could have helped us combat this potential spike that experts are warning is still on the horizon this morning.

PAUL: All right. Polo Sandoval, very nicely wrapped. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Former Vice President Joe Biden, also his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, they will be campaigning today.

PAUL: Yes, the former vice president and his wife Jill Biden, both tested negative yesterday, before they stepped back on the campaign trail. CNN's Jason Carroll is joining us live. I know we're just one month - I mean, people cannot help but look at the calendar right now, Jason and realize we're a month from this race.


PAUL: And wondering at this point, what is being reshaped in light of the President's condition in the last 24 hours?

CARROLL: Yes, Christi, a lot of folks wondering what the campaign is going to look like going forward. I can tell you a few things. First and foremost, the campaign has decided to pull all negative ads. They decided to do that before learning that the President was going to Walter Reed.

There weren't some questions about whether or not Biden would attend that campaign event in Michigan yesterday given the fact that he had shared the debate stage with the president just a few days earlier.

And I spoke to a campaign official about the decision going into all of that. And they said they made the decision to go ahead with the Michigan event for several reasons. First and foremost, that Biden had tested negative twice on Friday. In addition to that, when he was on the debate stage with the president, there was no physical contact between the two of them, no shaking hands, no elbow bump.

And also Biden is a person who has had a strict policy when it comes to mask wearing, even when the President mocked him for doing so. He spoke about wearing masks yesterday at the Michigan event, saying that it is a matter of protecting yourself and others. It's also the patriotic thing to do. But first and foremost, he sent best wishes to the first lady and to the president.


BIDEN: My wife, Jill and I pray that they'll make a quick and full recovery. This is not a matter of politics. It's a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously.


CARROLL: And so looking ahead what the campaign is going to look like, much like it's looked at in the past, following the science, keeping a small footprint when on the ground. Later today, Biden will be holding a virtual Town Hall. He'll be doing that with union members. That's going to be at about at 4:30 later today. Christi.

BLACKWELL: I'll take it. Jason Carroll, thanks so much. So the Pentagon says that it will be business as usual for the president while he is at Walter Reed there because of coronavirus. Experts say this could though, be a problem for the U.S. government.

PAUL: And I want to tell you about CNN's new original series, "FIRST LADIES," which tells the remarkable stories of six pretty extraordinary women. It premieres with an intimate portrait of Michelle Obama. "FIRST LADIES" tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern here on CNN. Take a look.



BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I would not be standing here tonight without the first lady.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: When you were little, did you want to be the first lady?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't know I could be the first lady.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What she was interested in was changing the world.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My god, a woman who is actually trying to do something different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All he wanted to hear was I was wonderful and all she was going to do was tell him the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She would ask questions. She stepped up when she saw things were going the wrong direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She gets the last word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's 31 years old. She stands up to all of the president's advisers.

M. OBAMA: When they go low, we go high.





BLACKWELL: The president and several members of his inner circle have now tested positive for coronavirus. We understand this could get worse. There are some outstanding results. So far we know that the president's former White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway; Campaign Manager Bill Stepien; Senior Advisor Hope Hicks all tested positive, several others including the First Lady. But what happens if higher members in the cabinet also get sick?

PAUL: Now the Pentagon is urging calm, saying it will be business as usual for the president. There are some experts, however, who say get ready for potential chaos here. CNN National Security Correspondent Vivian Salama is with us now.

So Vivian, help us understand what's going on in the security world right now with the president being admitted to Walter Reed?


VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi and Victor, that's right. So the national security concern is always a primary concern for people looking at the country, and especially when the President is even remotely unable to do his job, as the case may be right now. The White House, obviously, pushing back on that, saying that he's in a suite in Walter Reed, and he's still functioning in business as usual.

But a lot of national security officials, both former administration officials and others, saying that, this isn't a real concern. Our adversaries are looking to see if there's any opportunity to foment any kind of chaos or disarray if the President is unable to sort of delegate and lead the country in a normal manner.

And so we had the Pentagon really pushing back on that yesterday saying that they really sought to alleviate fears and tell people, you know, it is business as usual. The country is functioning as it should be, and there has been no changes.

We have a statement from the Pentagon spokesman, he said, "There's no change to the readiness or capability of the armed forces. Our national security command and control structure is in no way affected by this announcement." He went on to say, "The U.S. military stands ready to defend our country and our interests."

But Christi and Victor, you've got to remember that we are less than a month from the elections, and we have adversaries like Russia, like China, like Iran, looking to maybe perhaps interfere in the elections, but also just in the day to day life. And so that's something that national security officials say this could be an opportunity for them to do that and the government really has to push back.

BLACKWELL: Vivian Salama there for us in Washington thank you so much. And we'll take a break.



PAUL: So you might be wondering what people, maybe voters, in certain states like Michigan think about the latest news.

BLACKWELL: Now, CNN's Jeff Zeleny spoke with voters in the suburbs of Michigan as they dropped off their absentee ballots.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Denise Hardaway cast her ballot on Friday, she had President Trump's health on her mind.

DENISE HARDAWAY, BIDEN VOTER: I'd pray for him. I hope he recovers. I hope his family recovers.

ZELENY (voice-over): But she voted for Joe Biden, in part, because of what she believes has been the president's mishandling of coronavirus for what she's now tested positive.

HARDAWAY: He has been denying the whole science behind coronavirus. And so I hope this is a wakeup call for him. And I hope that it changes his administration's thinking and that he realizes and understands the importance of this pandemic that we're in.

ZELENY (voice-over): In Michigan, like many states, the election is already underway, with voters dropping off their ballots, even as the campaign is suddenly filled with fresh uncertainty.

BIDEN: This is not a matter of politics. It's a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously.

ZELENY (voice-over): At a stop in Grand Rapids, Biden also wished Trump well, hours before the President was admitted to Walter Reed Hospital, a remarkable development that put the pandemic back at the forefront in the final stretch of the campaign.

TOM ORLOWSKY, BIDEN VOTER: Hope it turns out right for him, but he's kind of pressing the limits with a lot of things he's done recently.

ZELENY (voice-over): Tom Orlowsky has supported many Republican presidents, but Friday he voted for Biden.

ZELENY (on camera): Did the President's handling of coronavirus influence your vote this year?

ORLOWSKY: Sure. Sure it did. I believe based on - again, what I know, that this is poorly - been poorly handled, and a lot of it could have been have limited. I can't help but think that it's going to be, obviously, a big issue in this election. People that know people that have died or been affected by it.

ZELENY (voice-over): Four years ago, Trump narrowly won Michigan, the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the state since 1988.

TRUMP: On November 3rd, Michigan you better vote for me. I got you so many damn car plants.


ZELENY (voice-over): His strength here in the suburbs of Detroit will help determine if he does so again.

PHILIP BROWN, TRUMP VOTER: I think he was dealt a bad hand. ZELENY (voice-over): Philip brown cast his ballot for Trump and does not blame the president for how he's handled coronavirus. Yet, he said he was not surprised Trump tested positive.

TRUMP: Thank you.

BROWN: A number of people have tested positive in the White House. This is very contagious disease. I figured at some point with all the protections he would have caught it.

ZELENY (voice-over): The President's COVID-19 diagnosis is the latest bombshell of the 2020 campaign. But conversations with voters suggest it may not change many minds.

LAURA LAURAIN, BIDEN VOTER: I can't believe it took this long for him to get the virus, because he just didn't follow any of the rules as far as staying safe.

ZELENY (voice-over): Laura Laurain said the president should have taken the pandemic more seriously, but noted that she always planned to vote for Biden. Dave Elliston (ph) was less charitable toward Trump.

DAVE ELLISTON: You should have worn mask dude. You didn't wear a mask and now you're going to pay the price.

ZELENY (voice-over): His words drip with sarcasm, but turned serious.

ELLISTON: I don't want him to die right now. But he should get a little bit of taste of his willingness to avoid what everybody tells him he's supposed to do, and set a good example for this country.

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet not all voters here are as harsh.

STEVE, UNDECIDED VOTER: Nobody could have done anything different. Blaming him for all the deaths is ridiculous. This is something we've never experienced before ever.

ZELENY (voice-over): This Michigan doctor who asked to be identified only as Steve said he is leaning toward Trump, because of his economic policies.

ZELENY (on camera): Will coronavirus play a role into how you vote this fall?

STEVE: No, not at all.

ZELENY (on camera): It's an open question if the president's case of COVID-19 changes the minds of any voters. But one thing is clear. Coronavirus now is front and center in this campaign conversation, one month before Election Day. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Birmingham, Michigan.



PAUL: Thank you so much for sharing your time with us this morning.



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Godspeed to the president and first lady. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. It used to be that our political differences stopped at the water's edge. That partisan difference was the equivalent of a domestic disturbance where fighting family members put aside their squabbles and unite against a common enemy.