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Trump: "We Have Great Tests And We Want The States To Administer These Tests"; Trump Threatens To Adjourn Congress In Middle Of Pandemic If It Doesn't Approve His Nominees; U.S. Death Totals Compiled By CDC Will Now Include "Probable" Cases; NY, CT Order Residents To Wear Face Masks In Public When Social Distancing Not Possible; Study: People May Be Most Infectious Days Before Symptoms Appear; LA Mayor: Concerts, Sporting Events May Be Put On Hold Until 2021; Report: China Took Six Days To Warn Public Of Likely Coronavirus Outbreak. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 15, 2020 - 20:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening, everyone. Today the death toll from coronavirus rose above 28,000, and state governors across the country grappled with the difficult question of when, how and to what extent they could begin trying -- trying to reestablish some kind of normalcy.

Well today, the state governors also learned, once again, something about the President of the United States. And that's because once again today, the President spent a large part of what has become a substitute for his political rallies -- which supposed to be the coronavirus task force briefing -- he spent it boasting of his accomplishments -- accomplishments he's yet to actually accomplish -- and deflecting blame.

He's eager, understandably, to reopen the country, as he so often says, and said so again today. What he did not do was provide any evidence that his administration has taken the steps needed for that to actually happen safely in a way that won't trigger new outbreaks and cost more lives.

One such step is widespread testing, which the president has both derided and claimed that is currently happening. Keep in mind(ph) though there is not a widespread testing we will ultimately need to get back to business. There just isn't. And that's not just us saying so. It is scientists on the coronavirus task force, epidemiologists.

It's also some of the country's top business executives. They told the President that today. And when he was asked about it at tonight's briefing, he first tried to claim credit where none is due, and then tried to put the responsibility elsewhere. First, though, the boasting.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: On a call with business leaders today, they said testing has got to be ramped up significantly before the country -- before they feel comfortable re- opening their stores, their restaurants, and what not. Isn't that what health officials and state governors have been saying to you?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's what I want too. We have great tests, and we want the states to administer these tests for the most part, but we're standing behind them. We have great tests. We've done more testing now than any country, as you know, in the world by far. We have the best tests of any country in the world. Nobody has the quality of tests.


COOPER: Great tests, best tests, most tests -- not true. Failed tests, delayed tests, not enough tests -- true. In fact, as has been reported for weeks now, this country is testing far fewer people as a percentage of the population than many other countries.

And the number of tests being done has actually flattened out recently, not risen, due to shortage of swabs, chemicals or access to locations. As for federal responsibility though, here's what the President said in the very next breath.


TRUMP: We're not going to be running a parking lot in Arkansas. We're not going to be running a parking lot where you have a Walmart -- which has been great, by the way, Walmart has done a fantastic job -- but where you have a testing center and running that from Washington, D.C. The states are much better equipped to do it.


COOPER: Well the President nodded to the fact, which he acknowledged yesterday, that states will decide when and how to reopen, which we all knew all along would happen, except that's not what the President was saying. However, he also renewed his veiled threat if they don't do -- if the state governors don't do -- what he wants.


TRUMP: Well I think the companies will determine that, and the governors will determine that, and the federal government will. And if we're not happy, we'll take very strong action against a state or a governor.

If we're not happy with the job a governor's doing, we'll let them know about it. And as you know, we have very strong action we can take, including a closedown.


COOPER: You do realize he repeats the word "strong" all the time -- and "power" or "powerful" -- in order to have people believe he is strong and therefore powerful by saying those words. Again, keeping him honest. The President of the United States does not have the power to tell a state to lift public health restrictions.

That wasn't all. He also, again, blamed the World Health Organization, this time accusing the agency of a cover-up with respect to the outbreak. He also accused it of siding with China. He suggested that New York City is doing something wrong by reclassifying several thousand fatalities in people who had not been tested for the virus before they died as coronavirus cases.

But then he quickly said, quote, "That's okay, that's okay," and, "Yes, there is controversy surrounding that, but no evidence of wrongdoing." But recall in the past, he made similar statements about medical supplies going out the back door of hospitals.

What was missing in all of this was any sign of clear, achievable steps and plans for safely doing what the President and everybody wants so badly -- reopening the country some time. That, and taking responsibility for it for better or worse.

If that weren't all, the President also lashed out at the Senate over not confirming his appointees. There's plenty to talk about tonight including with our public health experts, front line professionals.. Senator Kamala Harris of California also joins us about her state, which is formulating plans on how to reopen, but in a way that may look very different from the old normal.

But first, let's go to CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta. So Jim, talk about what the President is threatening to do to Congress, because I didn't really mention it at this point.

Because, to me, it seems like such an obvious and overused move by the President, which is, you know, terrible death toll today, divert attention away from that, and all the things that aren't being done or have been failed to do by lobbing a hand grenade, or trying to create some new villains to rail against and pretend as if you're going to be powerful and strong.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Anderson. I think today the bright, shiny object of the president was dangling in front of the press corps in the Rose Garden was this little known part of the Constitution that he says would allow him to essentially unilaterally shut down the Congress so he can get his recess appointments for various nominations that he's seen languishing up on Capitol Hill.

The problem with that, Anderson, is a couple of things. One is, it's never been done before and so there are constitutional scholars who are saying, "Hold on a second, Mr. President, what are you talking about here?"

The other thing is, is that it also depends on what happens in the Senate which is controlled by the Republicans and the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell just put out a statement in the last several minutes essentially sounding cool to the idea. In one part of the statement, Anderson, the Senate majority leader

says he's going to be working on some of these issues in terms of the president's recess appointments that he'd like to see go through, but he's going to be doing that with -- you know, working with the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer.

And so, it sounds as if at this point Mitch McConnell is not onboard with this, which probably should give a lot of Americans reason to breathe a sigh of relief tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: Right. I mean, because he's the president, we all take it seriously as if it actually means something, but it's just like him saying he's going to order the governors and he's the one who determines when to reopen. As we were saying, that's not his role.

He doesn't have that constitutional ability, but he dominates the news cycle for yet another night by this, you know, headline that he's going to adjourn Congress in the middle of the pandemic to appoint his nominees. I mean, do the bulk of these appointments have anything to do with the urgent needs during the pandemic?

ACOSTA: Well, he is mentioning the director of National Intelligence. He has an acting director of National Intelligence right now. But Anderson, he was also harping on the Broadcasting Board of Governors and talking about, you know, the people over at "Voice of America" and describing them as disgusting people who do disgusting things.

This is another sign of the president's authoritarianism that is really coming out -- you know, out of the shadows to some extent during this pandemic. You know, he is essentially railing against the people at "Voice of America" because they won't put out propaganda, you know, about his administration saying what a wonderful job he's doing, a theme that we've heard before.

But, Anderson, one thing we should point out is that right now there's an acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The president has had over a year now to put in place a permanent secretary of Homeland Security and hasn't done that at this point, and that has little to do with, you know, lawmakers not doing what he wants up on Capitol Hill.

COOPER: Yes. Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thanks.

COOPER: As we said at the top, a lot to get to tonight, so we'll step away from the political and take a wider view. CNN's Erica Hill joins us now.

So Erica, the CDC now changing the way they're counting coronavirus deaths. Can you just explain that?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So now, Anderson, the CDC is saying they're going to include probable cases in their tabulations. That could add thousands, right, to the list that they have of patients and deaths.

So what it changes is, not just counting those positive cases, but people who, like, probable case. And that's key, as we know, as we try to understand the breadth and the scope of this virus. How many people have been not only affected, but how many people may have been asymptomatic or may not have had a positive test.

And all of that information is critical. We're hearing from officials as they make their decision on the next moves to reopen their states and their cities.


HILL (voice-over): The iconic Hollywood Bowl will remain empty this year.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA : It's difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands anytime soon. We've got many, many miles to walk before we're going to be back in those environments.

HILL (voice-over): The mayors of Los Angeles and New York suggesting concerts and sporting events likely won't return before 2021.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: We've got one chance. If we move too quick, we put 50,000 people in Yankee Stadium, and that's part of why you see a resurgence of the disease, that would be the worst of all worlds.

HILL (voice-over): The mayor of New Orleans also recommending her city shelve major events like Jazz Fest until next year.

As the president continues to push for a symbolic May 1 reopening, officials around the country are trying to adjust expectations.

GOV. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO: We also know that we're in this for the long haul. The virus isn't going to disappear or go away anytime soon.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I say, personal opinion, it's over when we have a vaccine. It's over when people know "I'm 100% safe and I don't have to worry about this."

HILL (voice-over): That vaccine likely at least a year away.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: We're going to have another battle with it, you know, up front and aggressively next winter. This is why it's so important that we take the time now to really improve our testing capacity, expand our public health capacity to do early case recognition, contact tracing and isolation.


I call it block and tackle, block and tackle.

HILL (voice-over): San Francisco is launching a partnership to tackle contact tracing. Los Angeles now offering same or next day testing to its 10 million residents. Anyone with COVID symptoms is eligible. In New Jersey, the nation's first saliva testing site, is now open. Major league baseball, pitching in for antibody testing. Players, their families, concession workers, some 10,000 volunteers in total, part of a nationwide study to better understand the infection and its spread.

As Georgia prepares for a potential surge, Michigan's strict stay home orders brought protesters out in Lansing. New York and Connecticut announced new regulations for face coverings and in Massachusetts, which is now in the surge, the governor emotional talking about the 957 lives lost in his state.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R), MASSACHUSETTS: I pay attention to the numbers, but what I really think about mostly are the stories and the people who are behind the stories.

HILL (voice-over): The story of Gregory Hodge, an EMT in New York, just one example of the many lives stopped short. The 24-year veteran of the FDNY assisted at the world Trade Centre after 9/11. He died as a result of COVID-19. Gregory Hodge was 59 years old.


COOPER: Erica, you mentioned New York and Connecticut having new regulations with face coverings. Explain the details on that.

HILL: So here in New York State the governor said he will be issuing an executive order, New Yorkers have three days to comply, but after that three-day period, anytime you're out, Anderson, you'll need to have your face covered.

It can be a bandanna but your nose and your mouth must be covered. He says if you're the only person walking on the street, you don't have to have it on but have it with you because if you go to cross a street and there's someone else and you can't maintain that six feet of social distancing you need to have your face covered.

In Connecticut the governor's saying similar things. He says he will likely order -- issue an executive order in the next 48 hours or so but just saying that in his conversations with several folks including Dr. Fauci he realizes that they really need to make a lot of these suggestions more permanent.

COOPER: Yes, and it seems like that's going to go on for a long time. Erica Hill, thank you. In addition to the sacrifices of New York's bravest and New York's finest, they have also paid a terrible price for their service. As of today, 25 members of the New York Police Department have lost their lives to the virus.

Joining us now is CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So, Sanjay, the President is saying that the country has probably pasted the peak. What does that mean really, you know, for people's everyday lives if that's, in fact, the case?

DR SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I don't think it really means anything now. I think people have really paid a lot of attention to this peak and sort of imagined it as a, you know, binary sort of before the peak, after the peak. You know, we're going to have to see does these trends that we're talking about do they hold up.

Some of them are encouraging, as you know, Anderson, but the problem is that right now we're looking at a snapshot that really reflects the time period about two to three weeks ago between the time someone was exposed to the time they become symptomatic, a small percentage go to the hospital, even a smaller percentage die.

If we're looking at deaths it really reflects three weeks ago, so we really have to see how the next few weeks go. And, Anderson, you remember those initial models that people paid a lot of attention to from the University of Washington, they talked about, you know, even if the peaks were happening now that nothing should really change at least until the end of May, first week of June in terms of stay-at- home orders.

COOPER: Business leaders tell the President there have to be, you know, guaranteed increase in testing before people really can return to work. How close are we to wide scale testing because I'm still not sure I understand what it's going to look like and you know, you and I have tried to get numbers on the number of people needed to do contact tracing and, you know, we've heard figures of 100,000 and the governor today said it would require an army of people in New York to do contact tracing?

GUPTA: Yes, no, the testing thing is still, you know, I think the primary issue and I think what's a little confusing about this is that I think clearly there's all this extra now testing capacity. You know, you talk to Quest and people at these big companies and they say, "Hey, we're doing all right. We don't have a backlog anymore. We're basically caught up." And yet the number of tests that are actually being performed has gone down.

Now some of that could be because of the holiday weekend. But how could it be so many people still need to get tested and fewer tests are actually being performed? Where's the gap here? What's the problem? Part of it is I think, you know, it's still unclear that people who don't have symptoms should be getting tested. Right now there's places that say unless you have symptoms you can't get a test.

That's not surveillance at that point, we need to be doing surveillance. The other thing is that even though the numbers have gone up, Anderson, I think the question that people ask themselves that I hear all the time is, "Look, if today I wanted to get a test, do I know where to go?


Do I know how to get it, and could I get the results back today?" Could every person in the country say that? It doesn't mean that everybody needs to get tested, to be clear. But right now even though you have increased numbers, so to speak, there's not an increased practical availability of the test to the people who really should be getting tested.

We probably need to be doing, you know, 750 to a million tests as day for a period of time to really get that surveillance. We're not doing that. I think we've done 3.3 million so far now.

COOPER: When you talk about surveillance why is that important?

GUPTA: Surveillance is really important to get an idea of how widespread this is in the United States. If someone were to say, "How bad is Coronavirus in the United States?" we really have no idea how to answer that question. We have no context for that question still because we've only -- you know, we've had 619,000 people come back positive but we know there's many, many more people out there who either don't have symptoms or have minimal symptoms who probably have had the coronavirus or have it now and could still be spreading it.

The other issue is, Anderson, this issue of asymptomatic spread. People who don't have symptoms or are about to develop symptoms, don't know it yet, they can still spread it. That's another reason you have to do this more widespread testing.

COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, appreciate it as always. Thank you very much. Sanjay, do you ever sleep?

GUPTA: A little bit. Not as much as I should. I'm not practicing what I preach right now--

COOPER: Well, we appreciate it.

GUPTA: --for sure.

COOPER: We appreciate it, thank you. More now on how the availability of testing might change the course of the outbreak as well as loosening distancing restrictions or, in California's case, maintaining significant limits on large gatherings in the months ahead.

That's one of the projections in a new Harvard School of Public Health study. It's certainly the one getting the most headlines. Joining us is Marc Lipsitch, who heads the team behind a new study containing the headline-making projection that any emergence into some kind of normalcy may only be temporary and obviously Sanjay staying with us.

Marc, can you explain in layman's terms how your research, which says things might not return to normal until 2022, squares with, you know, sort of the messages we're getting from elsewhere about, you know, things getting better sooner rather than later and getting back to work?

MARC LIPSITCH, DIRECTOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR COMMUNICABLE DISEASE DYNAMICS: Yes, thank you, Anderson, and thanks for all you guys are doing to spread understanding on this complicated topic. I think the -- a lot of the confusion stems from the fact that we may be hitting something like a peak and we may be near a point where the number of cases might start to go down.

As Sanjay Gupta said, we'll have to see but that is a possibility. That doesn't mean it's a permanent thing. What social distancing does is it slows the spread of the virus so that we can protect our health care system and that's very important. But when we let up on social distancing and when we begin to go back to normal, the likelihood is that the virus will begin spreading again.

We -- our best estimates are that a minority of people in this country have been infected and that means that there are plenty of susceptible people around. When you have virus plus susceptible people you get epidemics.

COOPER: Sanjay, I know you have some questions.

GUPTA: Yes, you know, I'm curious and, Professor, thank you. You're the guy I think we all certainly turn to and listen to on this stuff. You know, there's all these antibody testing sort of capabilities that are ramping up and the idea that people may have some immunity to this. Obviously we don't know how strong or how long that immunity might be.

But if a lot of people out there do have antibodies, how much would that affect -- even short of a vaccine, how much would that affect your model of possibly needing intermittent distancing until 2022?

LIPSITCH: Well, thanks. That's an important question. So if the number is still a small minority then the predictions are sound, but it is correct that we don't know whether there are actually possibly quite a number more.

I think it would be surprising if more than half the population -- it would be very surprising if more than half the population, even in a hot spot like New York, had been infected. But if it's 30 or 40 percent, if we find that, and -- unlikely but possible, then that means we're much closer to the point where the majority of the population or enough of the population is immune to really slow spread even in the absence of social distancing or intense social distancing.

So it's an interplay between how much we slow things down by immunity and how much we slow things down by our interventions.

COOPER: Marc, do you--

LIPSITCH: So we need that data.

COOPER: Do you have a sense, Marc, at all -- and, I mean, it's not really your purview, but just -- have you imagined, you know, a year from now assuming there's not a vaccine yet?


Say that a vaccine is 18 months away or more -- do you have a sense of what our life looks like on a daily basis, in terms of --


COOPER: I assume we're wearing masks outside, just like -- it was -- the governor was talking about in New York today, wearing masks when we're around other people. Do you ever -- I mean, have you tried to visualize that at all?

LIPSITCH: Yeah, a little. And I -- and I think -- I think masks are going to be with us for a while. If you go to many parts of Asia, if you went in the -- the 2000s, the experience of SARS left a mark there for many years after SARS was gone, and people were wearing masks. There are -- I -- I think that social distancing of the sort of physically stay at some -- removed from people, may last for a while.

And I think what's most likely to happen -- because, to be clear, we were not endorsing in our study, the idea that social distancing for another couple of years is a pleasant idea or even a good idea. We were trying to understand the consequences of it. So, I think people are going to get tired of it in various ways, and -- and politicians are going to get tired of it, and the economy is going to need some relief.

And so, different places, my guess is, will try different strategies for emerging, maybe with staggered working and staggered schools, maybe with -- with trying to test people for antibodies and see whether we can let people who are positive back into work and school, different strategies. And hopefully that will be done in such a way that we can learn what works and what doesn't.


LIPSITCH: I think large gatherings are going to be among the last to come back, because I think those are potentially the most concerning.

COOPER: Yes, and -- and --


COOPER: Go ahead, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Well, you know, one thing, Professor, you know, we -- we are obviously all learning as we -- as we go along here. I think that a couple things that people remember early on was that this was pretty contagious, you know, maybe one person could spread it to two or three people, and that --


GUPTA: -- the -- that it was, you know, fairly deadly. Maybe, you know, if flu was .1 percent, this was maybe, you know, ten times that. Now that we're three and a half months into that, when you -- when you look at this, does it still sort of follow that same pattern of -- of contagiousness and -- and -- and the fatality rates?

LIPSITCH: Yes, I think those numbers are -- are -- have settled down for -- for contagiousness. And, of course, as we put in interventions and as immunity builds up, that contagiousness goes down. In terms of fatality, again, we're really flying blind until we have good serologic tests to test for antibodies --


LIPSITCH: -- and a history of exposure to the virus. But I -- I think reasonable educated guesses at this point are that if you're symptomatic, you have a 1 percent or a little more than a 1 percent risk of dying, with a big age effect, and that probably half of people, or maybe a third of people, something like that, are symptomatic, so that the -- the risk per infection is probably around a half-percent --


LIPSITCH: -- which is still much higher than seasonal flu.

GUPTA: Interesting.

COOPER: Yes, Marc -- Marc Lipsitch, I appreciate all your work and -- and your expertise and really appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

LIPSITCH: Thank you.

COOPER: And, Sanjay, thanks very much. You'll see Sanjay tomorrow night at CNN Global Town Hall, Coronavirus Facts and Fears. Our special guest will include Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, who will take your questions.

Also joining us, Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan, on how Facebook and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are working to try to combat the coronavirus. Two hours of guests, live reports, answers to your questions, that's tomorrow night, starting at 8.00 p.m. Eastern. I think this is our sixth global town hall.

A lot more ahead, including a frontline physician in this fight. He'll -- we'll talk about what the World Health Organization does and the risk that he sees to all of us in taking funding away. Later, California U.S. senator and potential presidential running mate, Kamala Harris, on what her state may look like as it emerges into a very different kind of normal.



COOPER: As we mentioned at the beginning of the program, President Trump again threatened to withhold funds this country donates to the World Health Organization. It is the latest target the President has used to try to deflect attention as much as possible as he can away from his own failures during the pandemic.


TRUMP: No, I don't take responsibility at all. The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental. Many administrations preceded me. For the most part, they did very little.

I talk about the Chinese virus, and -- and I mean it. That's where it came from. It's not racist at all, no. Not at all. It comes from China.

We're really a second line of attack. The first line of attack is supposed to be the hospitals and the local governments and the states. Like in Illinois, the governor couldn't do his job. Like with Governor Cuomo. He had a chance to order 16,000 ventilators two years ago, and he turned it down. He can't be blaming us. We're a backup. We're not an ordering clerk.

World Health Organization -- they called it wrong. They called it wrong. They really -- they missed the call. No, I don't take responsibility at all.


COOPER: According to "The New York Times," the money this country sends to the World Health Organization is used to combat polio, AIDS, cancer and heart disease. Also to develop vaccines, and provide mental health programs in some of the poorest areas of the world, to the poorest people of the world.

Certainly not a perfect organization by any means. Huge bureaucracy, big problems. They've said they would examine their response to identify any errors that were made. Who knows if they would?

My next guest, Dr. Craig Spencer, has worked as an epidemiologist across the world, and today he penned this op-ed in USA Today. Quoting, "In those places where contagion will be rampant and resources most scarce, it is the World Health Organization that has boots on the ground, and will be a vital partner in savings lives."

Dr. Craig Spencer joins me now. He's the Director of Global Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. In 2014, he contracted Ebola while coordinating efforts of Doctors Without Borders, another great organization, in West Africa.

Dr. Spencer, that we're in the middle of a pandemic, and the President is essentially using the WHO as a distraction, and as a way to cast blame on somebody else other than himself, it obviously could have long term impact on global health in some of the poorest regions of the world. And I'm not sure people have seen the WHO up close in those places.



COOPER: It obviously could have long term impact on global health and some of the poorest regions of the world, and I'm not sure a lot of people really have seen the WHO up close in those places.

CRAIG SPENCER, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL MEDICINE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: This is such an important point. Undermining the WHO right now is just another dangerous distraction to take the spotlight off the fact that we were not prepared and our response has not been good here in the United States.

It's also important to recognize this decision does not just impact us here in the U.S., it impacts everyone all over the world. As you mentioned, I've seen firsthand the World Health Organization's imperfections. They need to improve and I think they've made some improvement over the past couple of years.

The WHO, however, is our best hope for responding to and preventing any future similar pandemic like this. This is not the time to pick a fight with an organization that is on the ground in over 150 countries all over the world, where even the U.S. is not doing surveillance, where even the CDC does not have people.

They're already hampered by a small budget, smaller than one hospital system in New York City or in Boston. They were begging for hundreds of millions of dollars when the coronavirus response first started and they are -- they're caught between conflicting mandates and these political priorities.

Unfortunately, so much of the money they get is strings attached from western countries which limits their operational role. They do not have the expertise and tools that they need to fight coronavirus and other pandemics. If we take away their money now, it limits their ability to help us in the future.

COOPER: Right. And, you know, one of the things -- the knock against them is that they're, you know, sucking up to China, that they're not being honest about, you know, China's problems with transparency and, you know, the artificially low death toll that China has publicly put out.

You know, I guess, the counter argument is, one of the things that WHO, you know, is trying to do is work in the entire globe on public health and that requires having access to a country like China. And, look, the WHO's very political, they pretend Taiwan doesn't even exist. They don't talk about Taiwan and the coronavirus.

So, there's certainly a lot of problems. You wrote in your op-ed, another thing you wrote in "USA Today," you said, "Let's agree that we must align our expectations with our investment. If we truly want to anticipate public health threats and save lives, we must build up in the World Health Organization, not tear it down." Explain what you mean.

SPENCER: Everyone will agree that WHO does need some reform. They've made some reform in the past couple of years. The problem is, is that their funding has increasingly, over the past few decades, been tied more to really the political needs of, primarily, western countries, even if they're working in --- from Burundi to Bolivia.

What we really need to do, if we want to try to build up, which is what we should be doing in this organization, again, the only organization that has an operational presence in so many places, we should try to depoliticize their funding.

Let's have commitments more than just a meager commitment that we're making. You know, 500, $600 million from the United States is not a huge amount of money. We spend a lot more money in the U.S. on things much less important than the health of every citizen on the face of this earth.

I think we need to start prioritizing and recognizing, again, that unless we stamp out coronavirus or any other future virus everywhere in the world it will continue to remain a threat here in the United States.

COOPER: Well, also, this is not the last pandemic, you know, we are going to be facing and, you know, in this time where we're realizing how really close the rest of the world is and how interconnected we all are, even if you don't care about people in the developing world suffering, which I guess some people may not or not think it's a huge priority, it is in all of our self-interests that there be a frontline response on the ground in places like, you know, DRC Congo in Eastern Congo where, you know, Ebola flares up that there be a response there so that somebody doesn't then get on a plane and, you know, is one or two plane flights away from coming to the United States.

SPENCER: Absolutely. I think the important point that -- the thing that we really need to recognize is that we're spending over $2 trillion in a response package here in just the United States. That would have covered pandemic preparedness for decades for places all over the world.

And the other really important thing is that the amount of money that we spend to eradicate smallpox we make up every 26 days by not having to vaccinate or treat the disease, largely because of CDC and WHO's operational presence. That should be a deal that no good businessman should pass up.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, I've thankfully spent a lot of time in a lot of countries in Africa, and to see the WHO and -- I mean, Doctors Without Borders, to see the work that doctors are doing, you know, on the ground day in and day out, I mean, it's incredibly admirable. Dr. Craig Spencer --

SPENCER: Needs to be supported.

COOPER: Yes, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SPENCER: Take care, Anderson.

COOPER: Just ahead Senator Kamala Harris joins me to discuss the presidents threat to adjourn congress so that he can make recess appointments. Also to discuss a legislation she's helped craft to establish a 9/11 style commission to investigate the U.S. response to the coronavirus.



COOPER: File this under things you do not expect a President of the United States to say. Quote, "I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress."

President Trump said those exact words tonight about what he would do if the senate does not confirm his nominees or adjourn to permit him to make recess appointments for a variety of positions most of which do not have anything to do with public health. Joining us to talk more about it and more and more, California

Democratic Senator and Judicatory Committee Member Kamala Harris. Senator Harris, thanks so much for being with us.


COOPER: I hesitate to even kind of lead with asking you about the President threatening to unilaterally adjourn both chambers of Congress because it seems like such an obvious distraction by him to keep people from not focusing on his own failures during this.


But he is the President, and this is his threat. What do you make of that?

HARRIS: Well Anderson, you're quite right. He is doing it on purpose so this would be the lead question to deflect from the fact that he has failed to be a leader during a pandemic, a public health crisis, an economic crisis facing our country.

I frankly think it's - we've got to stop waiting for him to act like a President, and just move on and talk about what is happening in states, what is happening with local leaders around the need to address the pain that Americans are feeling every day.

It's a distraction. He's doing this as a way to distract us from the topic at hand. So let's talk about the topic at hand. Checks are starting to be cut by the Treasury Department. I'm sending a letter with other - others of my colleagues to demand and request that Secretary Mnuchin make it clear that debt collectors cannot take those checks.

Because those checks are going to start flowing. And we have almost 17 million Americans who are out of work in just the last few weeks. They need that money to pay their rent and put food on the table. And I feel very strongly - and I think many would agree - we can't have debt collectors trying to take those checks before they get to the folks who need to feed their children.

So that's part of what's at hand today. What's at hand today is saying that - let's address the need to have more support for our small businesses. Because the money is running out from that $2 trillion CARES Act, and still so many small businesses have not found relief. Let's agree that we need to also expand the money that we are sending for SNAP beneficiaries, or basically people who need to feed hungry children.


HARRIS: These are the things that we're addressing today. I was on a call today with 13 of the mayors of California, who represent the 13 largest cities in the state. And they are still waiting to have all of the resources they need in terms of PPEs, in terms of testing, in terms of reimbursement.


HARRIS: These are the issues at hand. We have had an abject failure of leadership from Donald Trump. And I'm frankly tired of sitting around waiting for him to act like a President or be a President. He doesn't know how to do the job.

COOPER: I've been talking in the last couple of days to a lot of people in the food industry, looking at, you know, food banks and things. And a lot of them are saying the same thing, which is that SNAP program - they really wanted that to be extended to cover more people, and also give more options to the people. Because that is a very quick way to get money to people who definitely need it and to feed them.

HARRIS: That's exactly right, Anderson. And one of the things that we fought for in the last Bill, and I am going to continue with so many others - Debbie Stabenow, and so many other leaders - is that, in the SNAP program, there's a card. It's called an EBT card, and essentially it's an electronic card. And we can transfer the relief to them electronically, so they don't have to wait for the check to come in the mail, which for so many people is going to take months.

You know, there are so many of the people who need support and help right now who are the so-called unbanked. They don't have a bank account. They don't have direct deposit. And they are in critical need of support today. And so let's be smart about how we get it to them.

COOPER: And by the way, that - that money, then, goes to supermarkets and food establishments and helps them keep people employed.

HARRIS: That's right. That's right.

COOPER: So, I mean, it's not as if that money is disappearing.

HARRIS: That's exactly right.

COOPER: It's - it's reinvigorating in a needed industry. I want to play something that earlier Mayor Eric Garcetti - obviously from your home state - said about large gatherings going forward.



MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: It's difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands anytime soon.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I just want to be precise. Big concerts in L.A., or major league baseball, or NFL football, or basketball - none of that is going to happen until 2021 from your perspective in L.A.

GARCETTI: It would be very difficult to see that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: I think it's difficult for people to imagine kind of what life will be like a year from now, assuming that there is not a vaccine at that point. You've talked about a 9/11 style commission for 2021. Talk a bit about why you think that's important.

HARRIS: So you're right. The bill would - we would start this commission after the pandemic. So not now, because we don't want to distract from the task at hand which is bringing relief to folks.

But why is it important? Because we need to have a - an honest, transparent examination of what our government has done in success but also in failure of the American people. We know that pandemics are only going to increase - and I could go on at length about why we know that, including because of the climate crisis and changing environments, and what that means in terms of invasive species, and a number of other issues.


HARRIS: Pandemics are not going to be a thing that just go away now.


We're going to see more of them. And we need to make sure the United States government is prepared for the future and that we learn from the past. And that's simply what the point is. And on the point about Mayor Garcetti, I have to tell you, Mayor Garcetti has been an extraordinary leader.

He has had the vision from the beginning to speak truth about what's going to have to happen even though people don't want to hear it. He is one of the first who started a whole childcare process for health care workers in the city of Los Angeles. In that region you have people like Mayor Robert Garcia, who has started by appointment drive- through check -- COVID testing.

There's a lot of great work that is happening at a local and state level and, again, you know, let's not talk about the other guy in the White House who is not leading. Let's talk about these profiles in leadership which are going to take us where we need to go which is to at some point get back to normal and be healthy and be safe.

COOPER: Yes. Senator Harris, I appreciate your time tonight.


COOPER: You take care. Thank you very much. Up next, a new report that suggests China may have sat on critical information during the early days of the Coronavirus outbreak.



COOPER: Just a few moments ago we had a conversation with Dr. Craig Spencer of the Columbia University Medical Center about the transparency issues in China with regard to the virus.

Questions have been raised about China's lack of transparency, and under reporting of death tolls from the early days of the coronavirus, when President Trump was actually praising China for those very same things - for transparency - if you can believe it.

Now a new report from the Associated Press, based on an internal Chinese document, states that the country sat on critical information for six full days before alerting the public about the scope of the threat. David Culver is in Shanghai. He's been doing reporting there from there since the earliest days of the pandemic. David, what's the latest on this?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. The internal documents acquired by the A.P. suggest that China's top officials knew the potential severity of the virus, but for six days held off on sounding the alarm to the public. Now, the A.P. report is based on what they characterize as a leaked memo from a confidential teleconference involving the head of China's national health commission.

CNN has gone through the government's public release of that teleconference, which highlights the worries expressed by health officials to other leaders. Now, here's what we know, Anderson, of what China knew, and when, going back to December 8th. That's when the Wuhan government first disclosed the first patient's symptoms of the then unknown virus.

Nearly a month later, on January 3rd, Wuhan health officials stressed there was no obvious human-to-human transmission. On that same day, China notified the U.S. of the virus. On January 7th, President Xi Jinping's first public awareness is made known, and he ordered actions to be taken.

A week later, January 14th, that's the teleconference that this is based on, and that, according to a government release - which, by the way, came out a month after the teleconference - says a "sober understanding of the situation" was made known to top government officials, adding that "clustered cases suggest that human-to-human transmission is possible".

But here's the concern. Publicly, as late as January 19th, the Wuhan health commission said the outbreak was preventable, controllable and not contagious. The next day, a very different narrative. Leading health officials acknowledged cases of human-to human transmission. They even stressed that medical personnel had gotten infected.

Now, of course, Anderson, we know three days after that, Wuhan went on lockdown. Now we've reached out to the national health commission, and we'll let you know what they have to say about this new reporting.

COOPER: And do we know how far up the chain of command this went?

CULVER: It's not clear how much President Xi Jinping himself knew about this. We knew he was made aware of the virus, but it's not clear he knew the potential severity of it. That said, I think the biggest issue here is the timing, and we have to go back to when this was all playing out.

It was during what is the largest annual mass migration of humanity. I mean, hundreds of millions of people traveling for the Lunar New Year holiday. So the question is, if it was six days' time - and that may not seem like a lot - but that's six days where you could potentially have stopped people from traveling, and people from coming together in those mass gatherings. And that could have had an impact in slowing the spread of this virus.

COOPER: David Culver. Thank you very much, David. Appreciate it as always. I want to check in with Chris. See what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."

Chris, hey. How you doing?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hey, how you doing, Coop? I've got New York's governor on the show tonight to talk about the realities on some big questions that you've been handling here. Who has the power to reopen the economy?

I thought we had decided this - twice, actually - but it seemed that the President, as you pointed out tonight, moved back to his original position that he has the power. Let's get the governor's take on it, because the governors are pushing back. And you'll get to judge the arguments at home.

Then it's going to be really the central question that I can't believe is being ignored, No plan, no phase of any type of re-opening can happen without testing. If they can't keep us safe, it doesn't matter where we start. Nobody can go anywhere.

We're even hearing it from the business community. I want the governor's take on that. And I'll tell you about what's happening at home. It is a long road for everybody who gets messed up with this. Every family gets hit in hard ways and we are learning our lessons here as well.

COOPER: All right, Chris. I'll see you in about five minutes from now. We'll be right back. More news ahead.



COOPER: Reminder, join us tomorrow night for our seventh "CNN GLOBAL TOWN HALL, CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS" beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. I know I said it was our sixth earlier. I was wrong, it's our seventh.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will take your questions. Also, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, they're going to join us to talk about what Facebook is doing and what the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are doing to combat the coronavirus.

We think the town halls have really become the place to take the time and really dig into some of the most pressing coronavirus issues of the week, really focusing on the virus itself. We hope you join us. The news continues for us though, of course. I want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris?

CUOMO: Anderson, how could you possibly keep track of all you're doing? You are carrying us on your back, and I, for one, say thank you. I need the help right now. Thank you. I'll tell you one thing, that's for sure, you'll do a great job as always. I can't wait to watch.

Anderson Cooper. Now me, Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "PRIME TIME."