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CNN Live Event/Special

More Than 1.2 Million Coronavirus Cases in U.S.; The "Prophet Of The Pandemic" And Her Predictions For The Coronavirus; Author Of "The Coming Plague" Gives Her Current Assessment Of The Coronavirus; Former Vice President Al Gore On U.S. Response To Coronavirus; Spike Lee's Tribute To New York. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 07, 2020 - 21:00   ET



LAURIE GARRETT, COLUMNIST, "FOREIGN POLICY": Well, the real problem at the moment is that we are very fragmented responses all over the world. Every country is doing its own thing within countries every state or province is doing its own thing every county is doing its own thing.

We don't have a unified approach. We don't have a unified sense of what is our strategic goal. So some countries are simply rising to come up with the vaccine hoping to buy themselves and solve their own local problems.

But the virus will continue to circulate in the world regardless of whether or not there's a vaccine unless we're committed to a strategic goal of really getting rid of the virus from the planet with appropriate implementation, a vaccine for everybody 7.5 billion human beings.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You know, Vice President Pence said I think it was about two weeks ago on an interview with Fox he said and I quote, I think by Memorial Day weekend we will largely have this Coronavirus epidemic behind us.

When you and I spoke the other day you talked about your best case scenario for this virus which is 36 months, and that just to get to - just having it be 36 months required a whole bunch of what you called miracles happening. When you hear the Vice President saying 2 weeks, does that make or Memorial Day weekend, does that make any sense to you?

GARRETT: You know here's the problem. Anderson, he set a certain goal. His strategic goal and apparently the White House strategic goal is it's behind us enough that we open up some businesses and we start getting the economy rolling again.

We all want to get the economy rolling again. I mean I was in a meeting today with IMF officials describing where this economy is headed on a global scale, and it is beyond us? They used phrases such as this is the worst we've seen in more than 100 years.

So of course we want to get the economy rolling. But when he says it'll be behind us by Memorial Day, that's not the virus behind us. That's whatever sense of fear is dominating at the moment. And it won't solve the problem. It'll just let you open up some business enterprises.

COOPER: Can you just explain your best-case scenario, your 36-month best case scenario. What does that look like?

GARRETT: In that scenario one of the more than 100 vaccines that are in the various stages of developments is the world right now turns out to be a home run. It works, it's effective, it only requires one dose, no booster.

You don't have to refrigerator it so it's easy to move around the planet and to get to remote areas. And it has no side effects of any kind or of any serious kind. It can be administered without using syringes or needles so we don't have all those associated problems.

So it's a nasal spray or oral or perhaps a patch delivery. And we commit to a level of production that allows for 7 plus billion doses and at an affordable price range that it makes it possible to administer to everybody on the planet regardless of their comparative wealth.

And then that we deploy a gigantic army of vaccinators and educators at their side because you don't want to develop anti-vaccine responses, people who oppose it for misinformation reasons. And you deploy them all over the planet to the top of the Himalayas to the depths of you know Equatorial Amazon regions and you vaccinate the entire world.

In other words, somehow in 36 months you accomplish what we did in more than a decade dealing with smallpox.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Laurie, obviously there's a lot of ifs in there, and, you know, some of these vaccines that are being talked about would require refrigeration, which is why I'm sure you brought that particular point up.

I mean is it binary with you we all do that, it has to work perfectly or not? Is the alternative the worst-case scenario?

GARRETT: So there are two possible second stage possibilities. One is it takes a lot longer, we go out years, a decade perhaps trying to slowly incrementally vaccinate the planet hoping the whole time the virus isn't mutating into a form like flu does that requires us to develop yet another type of vaccine each year or each several years out.

And we have to have a massive program of moving wealth from rich countries to poor to finance ongoing efforts over a very long period of time. The worst-case scenario is that this virus actually becomes endemic and it joins the ranks of HIV as a new lethal, horrible disease that is permanently plaguing Homo sapiens that didn't previously bother or species.

GUPTA: That's obviously it's - Laurie, you and I have known each other a long time, and you've been very prophetic on a lot of these things. Obviously when you describe that it's scary, is there some middle ground here at all do you think or something we can be hopeful about other than a vaccine in terms of what can normalize life somehow?


GARRTEE: I do think that there may turn out to be some interesting things that we stumble upon along the way that we can't really anticipate right now. I mean, Sanjay, one thing that's very striking to me is that every day as more and more clinical information comes out this virus looks more and more like a cardiovascular disease.

You know, because its cause of death is pneumonia, we obviously think first of it as a respiratory or pulmonary disease. But, gee, every single physician I've talked to that's dealing with acute cases says 100 percent of them have hypertension, high blood pressure.

They may have other things, obesity and diabetes and so on, but hypertension is universal. Hypertension is one of the cheapest and easiest interventions we have. We can train somebody with no medical background at all on how to do a blood pressure test and manage to isolate and understand who's at risk if indeed that's a risk factor.

You know, perhaps it's a marker for not being part of the medical system. You know, when we look at the link between hypertension and poverty, I would love to know what you think of this, Sanjay, because you see this all the time.

But if you look at the link between hypertension and poverty and it's really about didn't get worked up, didn't get the appropriate intervention. Well, how cheap is it to imagine that a City like Atlanta would do an all-out hypertension campaign?

And every single employer along with perhaps taking temperatures daily of your employees would also offer blood pressure tests for free. And if a person turns out to have high blood pressure put them in for intervention and medication. That's just one example.

There may be hundreds of things like them that turn out to play a role and to help decrease the horror that's laid out before us.

COOPER: You know, what's interesting, Laurie, the scenarios you talk about all of them really show a belief that this will fundamentally change the way we Americans do things for a very long time. I mean far more than 9/11, you know, changed our lives, which it did.

And I'm wondering do you know what that change looks like? What does going to work look like? I don't know if going to a restaurant is even feasible, but what does that look like down the road?

GARRETT: Well, Anderson, I think we're going to get 4, 5 years from now is and there will not be a single aspect of our lives that's been unchanged. It's almost impossible to really fully envision what that will look like.

But certainly, everybody's going to think twice about getting on airplanes, and that's going to be true five years from now. Everybody's going to think twice about whether that, you know, meeting is important to go to or can they just get a synopsis of it later.

All sorts of interactions and behaviors that wave taken for granted will look different, and then you have to keep in mind that on top of everything else we have not yet really felt the effect of the great depression that we're marching into.

You know, people have lost jobs but they still have some cash to cover the rent, they still have some ability to maneuver. And similarly whole cities such as where I am here in New York still have cash reserves to address problems, but as this progresses, as we get further and further into the economic repercussions of this extraordinary pandemic we're going to see that every single aspect of life is affected simply by virtue of the inability of governments to invest and change the limitations and cash reserves for companies.

And how they're going to approach their own innovations and developments going down the road? And when you look at it on a global scale every single one of the major global institutions that the world has just kind of, you know, taken for granted since World War II.

Whether it's the World Bank or World Health Organization and the U.N. system or its major international banking institutions, trade institutions, commodity exchanges, it's all going to change. Where it will end up I'm not that good of a Cassandra.

GUPTA: You've been I mean you wrote "The Coming Plague" everyone should read this book and you've been warning about pandemics like this for decades. You've also done a lot of research about these kinds of viruses. Is this one surprising you, Laurie, in terms of the virus itself but also all the ripple effects?

GARRETT: Absolutely. I'm stunned by this virus. And it seems almost every day there's something new that we find out about the virus that makes, you know, all the assumptions sort of get shattered yet again.


GARRETT: I think the thing that's really striking about it is how many different modes of transmission there are? So I don't want to throw out a term you and I would use routinely without explaining it, but you think of flu and you primarily worry about somebody coughing on you or about shaking hands with somebody who just sneezed on their hand, you know?

And you think of, say, hepatitis and you're worried about being exposed to dirty needles. And you go down the list and most infectious diseases have a fairly finite range of ways they can spread from one person to another. But this darn virus keeps surprising us.

Every time we turn around there's another mode of transmission and there's another presentation. Who would have thought Kawasaki disease would have been that we see in pediatric presentation would have been part of a COVID, you know, symptomology? Who would have thought it was oral fecal transmission, that this whole notion of washing hands would have so many layers of significance to it? I think we're - I'm just staggered and surprised. I'm surprised how hard it is to define what the incubation time is for this virus?

It seems that in some social settings it's very short, and in others it's quite long. People can be asymptomatically infected, have no idea they're carrying a virus and transmit it to other people for 2 weeks, 3 weeks. And yet in other settings it may only be a couple of days. On and on down the list it's full of surprises.

COOPER: In all your research on pandemics, all your thinking about the possibility of what it might look like here in the United States do you ever imagine that the Federal Government's response would be what it has been, that we just learned today the White House rejected the CDC's recommended detailed guidance on reopening the country which they asked for?

Dr. Birx sort of put a happy face on and said the guidelines are still being prepared and this just part of the editing process. We know they wanted to stop the Coronavirus Task Force but then the President decided well no because it seems very popular and he's talked about the ratings of it.

And it seems like the administration essentially doesn't want much testing. The President has said it looks bad for his administration, it looks bad for us if there's a lot of testing and the numbers go up. There have been questions - you know some have raised questions about the death toll, that it's not accurate, that it's overblown. What do you make of the Federal Government's response here?

GARRETT: There's a lot to unpack there. Let me first say if you have not taken the time to look at the CDC guidelines, which are available. You can see them on the internet--

COOPER: Yes, they're not crazy.

GARRETT: It's a 17-page document that I think every single school superintendent will be very appreciative of. Every single employer will find good information there that will help you. Anybody trying to reopen a hair salon or a restaurant there's very specific detail if this happens do this. If this happens do that.

Now you can proceed to Phase 2. Now you can proceed safely to Phase 3. It's an incredibly it detailed road map, that that is being held up and that there's indications that the intent is to block it although Dr. Birx said, no, no, we're just amending it is astounding.

I mean, the number one difference - and I'm sure, Sanjay, you feel this every day. The number one difference is that in every single outbreak I've ever been in that was of any substance at all whether it was on our domestic soil or overseas the CDC has been in charge.

And we have had daily briefings. We have had, you know, moments where the Director spoke to us from the operations center, and we all saw those camera images throughout the Ebola epidemic. That wasn't an epidemic here in America.

There were a couple of cases in America, but it wasn't an American epidemic. It was a West African epidemic, and yet we saw command Central in Atlanta routinely, and similarly CDC operatives working overseas held routine briefings both for local government representatives, for the U.N. system and for journalists in whatever location they were working in.

Now where is the CDC? Why has all the authority of the CDC been stripped? What is it that the White House thinks is so dangerous about having the CDC, that incredibly deep bench of expertise talking directly to the American people? I don't understand--


DR. SANJAY: And what have you come up with because I mean I think you're making a strong case and I think a lot of people would agree with you that the CDC has been side lined here. You know, Richard Besser was out front during H1N1. Tom Frieden was front during Ebola and now we're not seeing the CDC, hardly at all. What sense does it make to sideline some of the best epidemiologists anywhere in the world?

GERRETT: You know I can only come up with a couple of possibilities and of course there's widespread speculation. To answer exactly the question, you pose two stand offs for me. The first is they did goof on the test. They developed a very bad contaminated test and it let down the American people. It let down local health departments, and so there must be a sense of, well, they have to pay a price for that error.

On the other hand, why was the job of coming up with a test enough to test millions and millions of people put on a tiny laboratory inside the CDC that was understaffed and, you know, not designed for commercial production?

The other possibility is that what scientists at the CDC would be saying right now would run contrary to Mike Pence and Donald Trump saying we'll be open by Memorial Day.

GUPTA: I mean punishing the CDC is punishing the American people. I mean, that's the thing. Those guys - my kids go on that website to look at the guidelines and things like that about schools and summer camps. It is really important information, Anderson, that I'm worried people aren't getting.

COOPER: Yes. Can - you go ahead, Laurie.

GARRETT: I would just say it goes beyond the loss of the information to the American public to your kids Sanjay, it goes to every state, every city health department, every county health department is - relies on the CDC to send out the guidance's to help them figure out what they should do?

I mean, very few local health departments are substantially enough funded and have a deep enough bench to be able to analyze a brand new microbe that's never been seen on planet earth before and figure out what's the best way to respond to it, what information they should give their Mayor or their City Council or their Governor and what kind of guidance is appropriate to take the public through it?

And to not have the information coming down from the well-respected CDC at the top is depriving every single locality of a kind of database and wisdom that they absolutely depend upon.

COOPER: In terms of testing I know you - the numbers - there's numbers all over the place of what people think are needing to be testing. You said that testing needs to be smart targeted. Can you lay out what you think an effective testing strategy looks like in your mind?

GERRETT: Yes, because we rarely have a good diagnostic in any outbreak. In fact, if I have one complaint about every single outbreak and said diagnostics get put at the bottom of the list. And with diagnostics you have two key things you're trying to figure out.

One, is this person infected and in need of medical care and isolation? And two, what's going on with this epidemic? What is it? How big is it? Who's giving it to whom? Where should be the points of intervention?

And especially now when we are in a time of economic depression and every single jurisdiction has limited resources to address the problem with and the Federal Government is not doling out cash to every single health department across America.

So what you need is a kind of testing that is designed to answer appropriate policy questions. For example, if I were the Governor of Indiana right now or Nebraska it would be very, very important for me to know what percentage of all transmissions in my state are a result of the meat packing industries in my state? And what is the primary way that the virus is spreading within those settings? How can I maintain the economy that is the meat industry of those two states while at the same time minimizing how many human beings in the general population and in the worker population get infected?

So I would want the health department to do some very targeted studies that answer questions like, one, how many of the employees are infected? And I want independent data not company data because I need to make choices for the full population.


GARRETT: Two, I'd want to know how many of those workers families have become infected? Let's do some snapshot studies of the families. And three, how has it generalized beyond there? Are there parts of the community we can look at to a larger spread?

And I think one of the things that people misunderstand the most about testing when the monster goes out we want testing, testing, testing is how do you actually do that testing? There's this sort of vague imagination that employers will have hundreds and hundreds of test kits and every single time a worker comes to the job somebody will test them and they'll have the results.

This is a total fantasy. We will never have such a thing. Not unless somebody invents a test that's as quick and cheap as the litmus test is for testing acidity. And we don't have that. So it's going to have to require that employers come up with a smart way to figure out.

How do I take a kind of targeted census that gives me a snapshot view on a daily or weekly basis of what's going on in my work force, and how can I if I run a school do the same thing, or if I want to know if it's same to reopen a university.

COOPER: Laurie Garrett, its sobering to talk to you but it's essential information and I so believe in just being armed with facts and truth and in a time like this and not happy talk. And I appreciate you, your candor. Thank you very much Laurie Garrett.

GARRETT: Thank you.

COOPER: Sanjay, we're going to take break, when we return Former Vice President Al Gore joins us to continue this conversation about the government's response to the pandemic so far and the qualities it takes to be an effective leader in a time of crisis. And later filmmaker Spike Lee joins us to premier a new film his new "An Ode to New York City".



COOPER: This CNN's Global Town Hall before the break we were talking about the reopening of the country despite the death count in this country still increasing.

GUPTA: The daily death count in this country rose again by more than 100 in just the last hour. It's now 2,218 and the virus obviously is still spreading in large parts of the country, so we want to continue that part of the conversation now with Former Vice President Al Gore. Welcome, Mr. Vice President.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Good to be with you.

COOPER: Thanks so much for being here. I was watching a talk that you gave a couple of years ago about leadership. You talked about vision, values and goals is how you describe leadership? And I'm just wondering when you look at the President's handling of this pandemic, the Federal Government response, I mean is it clear what the vision, the values and the goals are?

GORE: No. But first of all, Anderson, may I join the many who have said to you congratulations on your son. I was watching a week ago, and I was filled with memories of pure joy when I became a father. I've become a father several times, but, you know, it can be a transformative experience for men, and I just smiled and smiled thinking of all the joy in your heart. So, congratulations. Now, let me go onto your question. Not much joy in answering your question because, you know, I tried to navigate away from a partisan dimension of this. We're in an election year and I'm in a different political party than the President. And so, you know you can take what I say with that is the background but really what's at stake here is so much more important than that.

And honestly, he has failed as President particularly on this challenge. The warnings were ignored. I spent 8 years starting every single day with a lengthy report from the Intelligence Committee, and there are very few occasions where there was a stark warning about grave danger to the country.

And whenever there was such an occasion we stopped and said hold the show here, get the FBI, get the CIA, get whoever was involved over. We need to learn about this. Then after the warnings were missed. He has failed to mobilize the resources of the Federal Government to straighten out this testing catastrophe.

To get the swabs and the so-called reagents they need to do the tests and the gowns and masks and all the other stuff, he has not done that. And now I think we're in grave danger. I have to tell you both I think that we are seeing the start of a botched reopening.

I think that the President appears to be engaging in magical thinking again. And what I mean by that is, you know, a couple of months ago he said one day it's just going to magically disappear. It seems as if he may be recklessly rolling the dice hoping that he can goose the economy just enough in the third quarter of this year to enhance his re-election prospects.

Hoping that he can divert the blame for the extra tens of thousands of Americans who the doctors tell us will die as a result of this and blame it on the Chinese or Former President Obama or whoever instead of doing what a President needs to do.

First of all be a watchman on the tower looking for danger then responding to it, mobilizing the government, reaching out not just to your political base but to all Americans. Emphasizing, showing some empathy because people are grieving and suffering.

And then when there's a problem that can only be resolved with the leadership of the President of the United States he needs to take a hold of that, but instead he said literally I take no responsibility. It is unfathomable to me.

I'm sorry to get wound up about this, but I see what he's doing and it is the complete opposite of what the United States of America needs in the Presidency right now.


GUPTA: Let me ask you sort of a similar thing but certainly in a different angle, Mr. Vice President. Just from a style standpoint when you were even Vice President you're dealing with a situation where you have limited information or the information is evolving, continuing to change but you got to make decisions, you have to do things. How do you approach that?

GORE: Well, first of all you nail down what you can know for sure. And there are still some remaining uncertainties about this virus, absolutely. It's so new, and I've been listening to you all. It's fascinating, and everybody's, you know, focused on this.

But there's a lot that we do know. It is extremely contagious. We have human to human transmission. There is a kind of airborne transmission. I know that's a term of art in medicine, but there's a kind of airborne transmission.

And the gold standard for predicting what's going to happen in the weeks ahead and what result will we get from the social distancing and the other measures, the testing and contact tracing? The gold standard has been this University of Washington model and the White House officials have shown it multiple times in their daily briefings.

And what they did as you guys know is they plugged in the premature reopening by so many states that are nowhere close to meeting the White House guidelines. They have hidden the CDC guidelines. But when the University of Washington made these adjustments, they said within a month we're going to see 3,000 deaths per day, 200,000 new infections each day.

That's a 9/11 every single day. And ignoring that thinking that somehow that's magically not going to happen, this is botched reopening. And it is not even going to serve the purposes that the President wants it to serve, to help the economy because people are not going to be going out the way he would like them to if they're afraid because the doctors tell them it's not safe.

COOPER: You know, it was being reported today the White House was rejecting the CDC's detailed guidelines for or suggestions also for reopening the country. Dr. Birx just told us they're not rejecting them, they're just editing them. So we'll see what actually, you know, ends up out of those edits.

But when you see all the information is now being filtered through the Vice President's office, through the Coronavirus Task Force, you know, the scientists they're not liberated to speak, you know, anywhere they want. That's all controlled by the White House.

When you see how the White House has set this up does it make sense from a scientific standpoint, from educating the American people and informing the American people on best science practices to have it all filtered through the White House and the Coronavirus Task Force briefings, essentially being the only place that, you know, the scientists actually speak from a podium?

GORE: No, it makes no sense at all. My faith tradition has the famous teaching you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. And we have had a tradition in this country of seeking out the best available evidence and testing it with one another and free discourse and deciding together what's more likely to be true than not.

That's how science works as well. I've worked with Dr. Fauci. Everyone knows what a great scientist he is. For the White House to prevent him from testifying to the House of Representatives on hearings that the American people want to see, delve into the answers, to the questions they have that's horrible.

When he fired - removes from his position the doctor who's in charge for the search of a vaccine allegedly because he wouldn't bend to President Trump's will and approve the wide promotion of this snake oil type medicine that he was promoting, this is nuts.

And to take your medical advice from a right-wing talk show host who brings some questionable medical advice into the Oval Office instead of listening to the Centers for Disease Control and was said earlier, where are the Centers for Disease Control?

They're the ones that should be having these daily briefings. Where is the FDA? Were they bullied into opening the flood gates and letting all of these crummy tests out there that we now know most of them don't work?


GORE: This is disgrace. The entire handling of this matter has been an utter and complete disgrace.

GUPTA: Let me if I can for a second, Mr. Vice President, talk about the private sector. You've spent a significant part of your career also looking at the world of technology. I think the last time I saw you were in Silicon Valley.

We can do Super Computers, we can 3D print ventilators. I think it's been surprising that something as simple as tests and partly as simple as swabs - you know we couldn't get it right, granted we started late. We should have started early.

I think everybody can see that point. But where is American ingenuity here? Is it raising enough do you think to the occasion?

GORE: Well, I think that we are more likely than not to see some therapeutics coming within the next few months that I am hopeful will be effective, and you would know far better than me, Sanjay, about the prospects for a vaccine.

But the new genetic techniques that are being used to speed up that process we may see the biotechnology community yet rise to this challenge in a very impressive way. But these tests as you say, the CDC messed up the first test.

Some of the swabs and reagents are materials that we now rely on foreign countries to provide. And the President has not been willing to use the powers of his office including those in the Defense Production Act to mandate this. He's willing to do it for states but not for protective gear, for the health workers or the tests or swabs or reagents. That is upside down priorities.

COOPER: Yes, Mr. Vice President we appreciate your time tonight. Thank you for being with us. GORE: Thank you for having me.

COOPER: Take care. Coming up next Filmmaker Spike Lee joins the Town Hall for the first time we'll see his new short film "An Ode to New York City" the city he loves. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Filmmaker Spike Lee thankfully calls New York City his home, and it's where he's made some of his most memorable movies. He's directed his new short film. He calls this "Valentine to the City" which has been the nation's epicenter for the virus. You'll see that exclusively here in just a few minutes which we're all very excited for.

But first I want to welcome Spike to the program. Thanks so much for being with us. How is your family doing? How are you doing during this pandemic?

SPIKE LEE, FILMMAKER: Tonia, Jackson and two dogs are doing good. We're right here in the epicenter bunkered, you know, in the bunker paying strict attention to our Governor Cuomo. He's been very inspiring to me, Governor Cuomo.

And every night I say my prayers that this thing will turn around. I'd like to say Al Gore was telling the truth, and it was great to hear what he said. It's like bananas around here. It's crazy.

GUPTA: Spike, I'm a huge fan. I have to just say do the right thing when I started college and it was formative for me.

LEE: Where'd you go to school?

GUPTA: Michigan, University of Michigan. And there was a poster in the hallway. I'm just wondering you've obviously social distancing. You're being responsible that were these even biking around. I know you have some pictures of you biking around the city. It must be surreal for you.

LEE: I'd just like to say, though, in that picture I took the mask off, so I was riding the bike with the mask, Governor Cuomo.

GUPTA: Well, there was no one around you, so that was okay.

COOPER: I actually I ride my bike, too. I don't have a nice setup like you. I'm basically just kind of slapping around the city, but I usually wear the mask like down when there's nobody around, and then anytime I'm close to another biker or anybody at a crosswalk I just move the mask up. I think that's okay, Sanjay.

LEE: I wear it all the time.

COOPER: Do you, all right.

LEE: I wear it all the time.

COOPER: I've got glasses. It fogs up my glasses.

LEE: Gloves, masks, take your shoes off, wipe down.

COOPER: Spike, you know, I've been riding around New York. I ride in to work. Seeing the city like this right now what is it like for you when you bike around and see - I mean it's surreal.

LEE: It's like a ghost town. And I ride my bike early in the morning, and only a couple of joggers are out, maybe some delivery trucks. But I think that New York is for the most part have been great. You have 8 million people. But here's the thing, though. I made a movie about this. When it gets July, August people are not staying inside. That ain't going to happen.

GUPTA: So what's going to happen? Because that is - in some ways that is the problem, right? People become complacent. It's a contagious virus. Where does it go?

LEE: Here's the thing, though. We talk about New York City; we live on top of each other. 85, 90 degrees I mean you're going to need the National Guard. And I'm not trying to like - come on, now. A vaccine, something has got to come quick before we get to the dark days of summer in New York City.

COOPER: One of the things that I have seen so much just in the last 2 months is, you know, there are not a lot of folks on the street thankfully because people who can stay home are staying home. But there are a lot of people who are on the front lines of this.

Its doctors its nurses folks working in grocery stores as you said delivery people. It's, you know, the people running the subways, the bus drivers.


COOPER: And I mean its people who they're not getting paid a ton of money. They're not getting a lot of respect on a day-to-day basis, and in regular times it's just amazing to me how much when everything is stripped away and all the.

You know, restaurants are closed and the fancy people have left the city, it's those people who are saving all of us, who are making it possible for me to spend the time at my house with my kid. It is their sacrifice which makes us even doing this program possible.

LEE: Well, and I think it's fair to say that a lot of those people you talk about, Anderson, are black and brown.

COOPER: Absolutely.

LEE: So they can't afford to stay home. And I do hope that people when this thing's over not your initial but after Corona they've got to look differently. They can't be looking down upon the people who are sweeping the streets, doing the various jobs that you don't want your children doing. These individuals are keeping America going. Not just New York City, the whole shebang.

GUPTA: I want to show this film. I haven't seen it yet. I'm very excited to see it. Anything you want to say about it before we show it?

LEE: Well, I made a film about 9/11. It was a short film so I said let me do something - people are going to write about it. There are a lot of connections between 9/11 and this as far as New York City goes, so play it.

COOPER: All right, Spike Lee's short film "New York New York." Let's take a look.



GUPTA: Spike, that was awesome.

LEE: I've got to give thanks to Tina Sinatra, his daughter. She gave me permission. Also the camera in the film was donated by Kodak. So it's all love, all love.

GUPTA: How do you want people to feel when they watch? Part of me was joyous you know the music and the scenery. Then you see the health care workers. What did you want to convey?

LEE: Well, to be honest, I really try not to dictate to people what they should feel. I respect their intelligence. And you know there are many different views there. And I just hope this - it's bittersweet. It's painful to begin but what you see there's nobody there. But at the end of the film, that's where we see New Yorkers.

COOPER: Yes, Spike, 7:00 at night when - every day I'm usually working. But to hear people you know in their windows on their rooftops on the street honking horns, clapping, banging on pots and pans, I've got to say I'm - maybe I'm just a softy, but it really - that is one of those things that's like I know it was done all around the world and stuff. But to hear that echoing through the canyons of the streets in New York City, it's just - its extraordinary.

LEE: You know what? I wouldn't want to be any other place but here, epicenter.

COOPER: I totally agree with you.

LEE: Right here at the epicenter. Right here.

COOPER: I've got a lot of friends who have left. Part of me that feels like you know what? No, this is where you plant your flag. This is where you stay.

LEE: We're New Yorkers.

COOPER: You don't give up on New York. You don't give up on New York.

LEE: Very quick.

GUPTA: I saw some--

LEE: Ty and I wrote a children's book, and we signed it.

COOPER: Thank you, Spike.

LEE: Real quick, I know you're not very athletic. So, when your son gets a little older, I could show him how to throw a baseball and catch?

COOPER: I would love that. Let me tell you, my dad who my son was named after was also not very athletic. One day I was like can you show me how to throw a ball? He had no idea how to do it? So, he found a friend of mine who knew how to do it?

LEE: --right?

COOPER: And we went to the park with my friend's dad and he and I both learned how to throw a ball?

GUPTA: How did it turn out for you?

COOPER: It was the one time we did it. It wasn't to my liking. But I will definitely send Wyatt your way. That would be awesome.

LEE: When he gets a little bit older, uncle Spike got him. We'll take him to a Knicks game.

COOPER: That would be awesome my partner and I were both figuring out like who's going to teach him how to do sports? What if he likes sports? What are we going to do? We got him, that's all I need.

GUPTA: You've got Spike Lee now.

COOPER: We got Spike Lee, than nothing better that's all I need.

LEE: Last thing, you guys are doing such a great job on CNN.

GUPTA: Thank you.

LEE: You are, like, you get it - we're learning. We're getting facts.

COOPER: Trying.

LEE: Facts.

COOPER: But one of the facts--

LEE: It is so important now. It's so important, so important.

COOPER: It's also one of the facts which Sanjay's done on a lot of reporting on is that this pandemic is hitting the African American community, the black and brown community much harder than other folks, Latino community. You know, it's - whether it's because they're front line workers, whether they're not able to stay at home for economic reasons, they're essential, workers--

LEE: It's a whole list of reasons we don't have time to go into right now.

COOPER: There's a lot of pre-existing reasons as well.


LEE: We'll pull the scab off the wound.

GUPTA: I think it's exposing a lot of these existing inequalities. So, it's a long discussion, as you're saying, to sort of dissect that. But what needs to happen going forward though do you think because the problem is not going to go away otherwise?


LEE: I think that after we get into AC, after Corona, we have to change things top to bottom. We cannot go back to doing the stuff that happened before health care, education, the environment. We've got to just, hopefully with the new President that we've got to go back to the drawing board and just really rethink everything in the America from top to bottom, top to bottom.

Because this stuff - I mean, what this has shown, Corona, we're in a bad place. Even before the epidemic has pulled - like "The Wizard of Oz," where he pulled back the veil. Now we're seeing what's really here, that's what Corona has done.

GUPTA: Well, Spike, thank you so much.

COOPER: Thank you for showing the film, debuting it here. We appreciate it. Thank you for the book for Wyatt. I can't wait to get it. Spike Lee as always. Thank you for being our guest. And thanks for being a New Yorker.

LEE: All right. Be safe America, be safe.

GUPTA: Thanks.

COOPER: All right. You take care. We want to thank Dr. Birx, Dr. Wynn, Laurie Garrett, Vice President Gore for being on the broadcast tonight. Sanjay, we'll be back I think next week with another Town Hall.

GUPTA: Number 11.

COOPER: We'll see. The news continues with Chris Cuomo right after this short break. Good night.