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MLB Commissioner On Efforts To Bring Back Baseball; Trump: Coronavirus Testing May Be "Overrated" And Reason For High U.S. Case Count; Thunberg: "It Is Always The Most Vulnerable People Who Are Hit The Hardest". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 14, 2020 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: --possible accuracy concerns with the Abbott ID NOW Coronavirus test. That's the test used by the White House.

Recent studies have shown it gives a large number of false negative results, in other words, giving someone with the virus a clean bill of health, potentially. The FDA does say the test can still be used, and that it's working with Abbott to better understand what's going on.

Also in this hour, two former top health officials who know firsthand the challenges involved in that effort, plus Climate Activist, Greta Thunberg, who's now working with UNICEF, to focus attention on the dangers that children around the world face, because of the virus, directly and indirectly.

But Sanjay and I want to start with the very latest around the country, and the world, so let's go first to CNN's Erica Hill, here in New York.

Erica, when it comes to new cases, where are the most being reported?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The most are still being reported in South Dakota. I think we have a map that we can put up.

And as you look at that map, you see that one bright Red State with cases increasing, over the last week, by more than 50 percent, South Dakota. That State, of course, never had a stay-at-home order.

It's also important to look at what else is happening around the country. As you can see from the map, 24 states are actually showing a decline.

Georgia is holding steady based on that week that we're looking at there on the map. They started reopening, of course, April 24th. We should point out, in the three weeks since, cases there are actually down 12 percent.

And in Colorado, which started easing restrictions on April 27th, they're down 36 percent. Of course, this is early data. There is still a long road ahead, as

Sanjay can tell us, but interesting to watch as the cases develop, and to remember, of course, that the virus is nowhere near defeated.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean sometimes between the time of exposure, and the time people may get tested, you know, a couple of weeks can go by. So, we follow it day- to-day. But it may be a longer time frame.

Erica, one of the other things that came up today was that as states are reopening, there's been some new concerns about how long the virus can actually linger in the air. What have you learned about that?

HILL: Yes, we saw this research from the National Institutes of Health that found respiratory droplets could actually linger in the air for 8 minutes, sometimes even longer, and that people who were speaking very loudly, or yelling, theirs could last even longer, which is raising new questions about how long the virus itself, if in those droplets, of course, could last in the air?

And this is fascinating, as we're seeing more and more places talk about face coverings. Los Angeles, for example, the Mayor there saying, "Do not leave your house without a mask. You need to have it wherever you go now."

COOPER: So, a small sense of normalcy is even coming back to some of the biggest hotspots in the country. What's being reopened?

HILL: Yes, well New Orleans, perfect example, this is a major hotspot of course. Starting Saturday morning at 6:00 A.M., you're going to see more businesses open, including restaurants though with limited capacity, a number of safety measures in place, interestingly, too.

They're also being asked to keep people's contact information to aid with contact tracing, if need be. So, we're seeing that in New Orleans. Beaches open in Los Angeles County now, but for exercise only. You can't just go sit and sunbathe there.

In New York State, five regions will open in this State tomorrow. That, of course though, does not include New York City. But you're seeing plans for the Mall of America, the largest in the country to reopen June 1st.

Beaches in New Jersey, including the famous Jersey Shore, they'll be open by Memorial Day, we were told today, amusement parks and playgrounds though will not be, and even some national parks, Grand Canyon, tomorrow, and Yellowstone with limited availability, starting on Monday.

COOPER: All right, Erica Hill. Erica, thanks so much.

GUPTA: Thanks, Erica.

COOPER: Coming next to China, where the government says it will ramp up testing in a big way in Wuhan is one of several key developments there, and elsewhere in East Asia. More now from CNN's Ivan Watson in Hong Kong. Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. That's right. There has been a small outbreak in the City of Wuhan over the course of the weekend.

And, as a result, the Chinese authorities have announced really dramatic measures. They're planning what they describe as a 10-day battle in Wuhan. And recall that that's the first City where the Coronavirus was detected back in December.

The goal is to test all 11 million residents of that City to look for the disease, try to isolate it. And that began on Wednesday. We don't know how they're going to pull this off.

If you just do the math, you're talking about more than a million people a day and enormous logistical challenge. But I think it underscores the seriousness with which the Chinese authorities are responding even to small outbreaks.

There've been some other small outbreaks in the Northeast of the country, in two cities that are kind of close to the Russian border that have resulted in complete lockdowns, of the City of Shulan, the City of Jilin, and we're only talking about a couple of dozen cases confirmed, but they are locally-transmitted cases, not people flying in with the Coronavirus.

And clearly, the Chinese authorities do not want to see this spiral out of control, and see a repeat of the tens of thousands of confirmed cases, and thousands of Coronavirus deaths that they saw last winter.

[21:05:00]

GUPTA: I'm curious, Ivan, because you hear these ebbs and flows, right, that things are going well, and then there's a resurgence. What is sort of the psychological sort of toll there? How are people doing overall psychologically?

WATSON: It's - I would describe it as kind of two steps forward, one step back.

Here in Hong Kong, which is this kind of special more autonomous corner of China, just last week, the movie theaters opened up again, and they're talking about getting kids back in school in a couple of weeks.

GUPTA: Right.

WATSON: And the bars reopened last Friday, for example.

But then, this week, they announced that there was a family that had examples of community transmission, two grandparents and their 5-year- old granddaughter, none of them with history of any international travel, which has the authorities here scratching their heads.

Where did they pick this up? Hong Kong hadn't had any local transmission in 22 days.

And now, they have to embark on testing hundreds of people and the contact tracing, again, because they don't want this to spill out in a densely-populated city like this and get completely out of control.

So it's, again, two steps forward, one step back.

COOPER: Ivan Watson, Ivan, thanks very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Europe and the U.K., next, and amidst the progress, some possible setbacks in the mystery that's Russia. CNN Chief International Anchor, Christiane Amanpour joins us now with the latest from London.

Christiane, I want to start with Russia, which is really struggling to keep the pandemic under control. The reports of the numbers of Coronavirus deaths are being underreported in Russia. What are you hearing?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, here's the thing, yes. Because they've got quite a lot, nearly quarter of a million infections have been reported, but 2,000 odd deaths, so that's quite a low number given the pattern in other countries.

And yes, because people are skeptical about what comes out of Russia, they've questioned as to whether these deaths are being correctly figured out. But the Russians, of course, deny that there's any, you know, effort to cover anything up.

And they say the low death rate is because, according to them, they've had a quite robust testing program.

And indeed, even though members of Putin's cabinet, his Prime Minister and, most recently, His Master's Voice, I mean, his actual famous spokesman, Dmitry Peskov has said he has it, and he's in the hospital, you know, even though that's going on, they are planning to lift some restrictions in the coming week.

So, it's a little bit hard, obviously in a country like Russia, to know exactly what the statistics show and, you know, what the complete accuracy is.

GUPTA: You know, Christiane, I think last time we talked about Germany, which is considered held up as sort of a relative success story in all of this planning. But now they're also thinking about border restrictions.

They are now starting to see an uptick in cases. Are they going to go into shutdown mode again, do you think?

AMANPOUR: Well, I've looked into that, and there's no word at all that would confirm that. What we do know is that, yes, they did, like quite a few of the European countries, start to ease restrictions towards the end of April. And yes, there was a slight uptick in numbers of deaths, and then they started again to sort of be very careful, and implement all the correct methods, and just be careful where they were cropping up.

Now, this famous R Rate is below 1 again, and that they consider, you know, success at least, a really important marker.

But Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, who's a scientist herself, as you know, and has been very, very calm and collected, telling the people what to do, and she said, "You must wear masks, you must socially distance."

You know, whenever there's an issue or any kind of attempt or rather sort of instance of a - of a, you know, rebound, they're going to close things down, in locally, you know, like the shops and things like that. But there's no question of a massive lockdown at this.

And, in fact, for sports fans and soccer fans, the Bundesliga are going to be the first Major League European Soccer to start playing their professional sport, and they'll do it starting this Saturday but behind closed doors.

COOPER: And just lastly, you're in the U.K., what's the latest there?

AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, look, the death toll here is unconscionably high. It's over 33,000. And it is really something that this government is getting hammered by, and particularly also the lack of clarity in its message.

The original message, after a lot of faffing around, and playing around with the idea of herd immunity, and then they realized that wouldn't work, they said very clearly, "Stay home. Save lives. Protect the NHS," and people did.

Now all of a sudden it's changed to "Stay alert, control the virus, save lives, protect the NHS," and people are quite confused as to what that means.

There've been pictures of people on the tube, the public transport, underground service crammed together. And then, you know, that took a few days to try to get people to stop doing that.

[21:10:00]

And there's also been a call to wear masks, and you see a lot of people wearing masks, but it's not an order. But people, I think, really, you see more and more people around here wearing masks.

And they know that that actually does have - science and the evidence shows that people who wear masks in those communities, the cases drop, not just in this, but in other of those infections as well.

COOPER: Yes. Christiane, appreciate you staying up for us.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Thanks so much.

Think about this, if things were normal, most of the major professional sports leagues would be in action today.

There will be playoffs in both the National Hockey League and in the NBA. Major League Baseball would be in full swing in the early part of its season. None of that is happening, of course.

But Professional Baseball had just put forward a plan to come back in a shortened season with no fans in the - in the stadiums and reductions in payroll.

With us tonight, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred.

Commissioner Manfred, thanks for joining us tonight. Just in terms of where baseball stands right now, how likely is it, do you think that - that Americans are going to get to see Major League Baseball this year, and what might it look like?

ROB MANFRED, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL COMMISSIONER: Well, I think it's hopeful that we will have some Major League Baseball this summer. We are making plans by playing in empty stadiums.

But, as I've said before, all of those plans are dependent on what the public health situation is, and us reaching the conclusion that it'll be safe for our players, and other employees, to come back to work.

COOPER: Does it - you said empty stands. For the players then, does it rely on access to, you know, to testing, frequent testing, or repeated testing? Or what are the kind of the parameters you're thinking about?

MANFRED: Well, we have developed extensive protocols.

A key to those is frequent testing. All of our players would be tested multiple times a week, PCR testing, to make - to determine whether or not they have the virus. That testing would be supplemented less frequently by antibody testing as well.

GUPTA: And is there - what happens if a - if a player just, you know, thinks it's too risky still, Commissioner? That happens obviously in other - other professions as well. What happens to those players?

MANFRED: Well, we hope that we will be able to convince the vast, vast majority of our players that it's safe to return to work. The protocols for returning to play, the health-related protocols are about 80 pages in length. They're extraordinarily detailed.

They - they cover everything from how the players will travel, private charters, how those charters have to be cleaned, who has access to the ballpark, strict limits on number of people, tiering of employees, so even those people who are in the ballpark will be isolated, in general, from the players. So, we'll hope that we'll be able to convince them that it's safe.

At the end of the day, however, if there's, you know, players with either health conditions, or just their own personal doubts, we would never force them or try to force them to come back to work. They can wait until they feel they're ready to come.

GUPTA: I think one of the things that come - that comes up and people have been reading about this, it's that the Players' Union has indicated that it won't agree to this because it's a pay cut, and obviously there are players who are talking about the risk not being worth it.

You're going to try and convince them obviously that it's safe.

But what about just the optics of this overall, Commissioner? I mean, you know, 35 million people have lost their jobs in the country. There's a fight that's going on over money at the MLB. How do you handle the optics of this?

MANFRED: You know, I think that whenever there's a discussion about economics publicly, people tend to characterize it as a fight.

Me personally, I have great confidence that we'll reach an agreement with the Players' Association, both that it's safe to come back to work, and work out the economic issues that need to be resolved.

COOPER: Do you have a sense of how many venues could be used or how many - are you talking about a full season, I mean full team, you know, every team?

MANFRED: Yes. We're talking about all of our teams playing. The way that we setup our plan, I've talked to the governors in the 18 states where we play.

Assuming that we try to play some games, starting in the first half of July, most governors expressed hope that we would be able to use facilities, of course, initially without fans.

And - but we do have contingency plans if, in fact, you know, there was a problem in a particular market. We have contingency plans where that team could play somewhere else, at least temporarily.

COOPER: I want to go back to the specifics of testing. If all the tests - I mean, you talk about different kinds of tests, the antibody tests, the tests for actually seeing if a player is positive or not.

[21:15:00]

Would those be - you know, there's the Abbott test that are being done at the White House, which are, you know, you get results very quickly.

But the negative - the fail rate on that, you know, the false positive - false negative rate, I should say, is very high. You know, other tests can take, you know, 24 hours, can take several days.

And if you only do them in a couple of days, there is then a gap where someone, you know, might be contagious, spreading the virus. This is obviously something you've thought out.

MANFRED: Right.

COOPER: How is that going to work?

MANFRED: Well, our planning is this. We intend to reduce the risk associated with that timeline by frequency of testing.

We have an arrangement with a lab in Utah that has historically done our Minor League drug testing. We paid, made an investment to convert them over to do the testing that we need in order to play.

We have an established set of healthcare professionals that have done collections for drug testing that we'll use for this same purpose.

The lab in Utah has assured us of a 24-hour turnaround on all - on all of our tests, so we feel comfortable that by doing multiple tests a week, and trying to minimize that turnaround time, we're doing everything humanly possible to make sure that the players are safe.

GUPTA: And then - and then if a player does--

MANFRED: In addition to the--

GUPTA: Oh sorry, go ahead, Commissioner.

MANFRED: No, I was going to say, in addition to testing, obviously we are going to be doing temperature checks, and symptom analysis, for each individual, each and every day, in addition to the actual testing.

GUPTA: And then, if someone does test positive for the virus, during the season, then how do you handle that? Does everyone that the person's been in contact with then have to go into quarantine for 14 days?

MANFRED: Our experts are advising us that we don't need a 14-day quarantine. What we will do is the positive individual will be removed from the rest of the group.

There will be a quarantine arrangement in each facility, and in each city, and then we'll do contact tracing for the individuals that we believe there was contact with, and we will do point-of-care testing for those individuals to minimize the likelihood that there's been a spread.

GUPTA: I guess the challenge right, Commissioner, is then if you - you're trying to avoid a cluster of people becoming positive. That's what you're describing.

But what if you do start to see more than one player, or a few players, if they're still playing, despite having been exposed to someone who has this, doesn't that carry significant risk?

MANFRED: Well, again, we're trying to - nothing is risk-free in this undertaking. We're trying to mitigate that risk with the repeated point-of-care testing to make sure that people who have had contact have not been exposed, and by obviously removing those individuals that have a positive test. They will be quarantined until they have two negative tests over a 24-hour period.

GUPTA: I see.

COOPER: Major League Baseball is obviously a business. Do you have - I mean what - what happens if you don't have a season?

I mean, what - I don't know the economics of it well enough. You know, if there's no baseball played this year, or it gets shutdown midseason, because of another outbreak, economically, what does that - that mean?

Obviously, the ripple effects for a lot of people, you know, there's a lot of people who beyond just the players, who are involved in, and need this work.

MANFRED: Yes, the economic effects are devastating, frankly, for the clubs. We're a big business, but we're a seasonal business.

And unfortunately, this crisis began at kind of the low point for us, in terms of revenue. We hadn't quite started our season yet. And if we don't play a season, the losses for the owners could approach $4 billion.

COOPER: Wow! That's incredible! $4 billion!

I mean it's obviously such a big part of American culture. And in times of crisis, something like this can bring people together.

You know, you think back to President George, you know, W. Bush, after 9/11, when he threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, Game 3 of the World Series, how much that meant to people.

Do you feel like, you know, people need baseball right now that this will help--

MANFRED: Well certainly--

COOPER: --kind of unite or at least kind of give people something to focus on?

MANFRED: Well, certainly based on the calls, letters and e-mails that we're receiving in the Commissioner's Office, and the individual clubs are receiving, people really miss baseball.

We think, historically, baseball's played a role in the recovery from difficult events. You've alluded to the 9/11 experience.

[21:20:00]

The thing about our game, it's an everyday game. And because our fans interact with it every day, I think it's something that they really miss.

And while, you know, for example, playing in empty stadiums is not a great deal for us, economically, but our owners are committed to doing that because they feel it's important that the game be back on the field, and that the game be a sign of a beginning to return to normalcy, to American life the way we've always enjoyed it.

GUPTA: You know, it's interesting to hear the sort of plan that you've established, Commissioner, because I think lot of institutions are trying to come up with their plans right now, schools are, you know, universities, but also other sports.

You know, there's no sports right now, baseball, basketball, hockey, football. Are you talking to your counterparts at these other leagues, as well, to see how they're handling things, and sharing ideas?

MANFRED: Yes, we are group learners maybe is the best word.

I'm having extensive kind of ongoing conversations with the commissioners in the other major North American sports, listening to what their plans are, what they're thinking about, in terms of timing, maybe, most importantly, putting our heads together on what sorts of protocols work in sports.

We've also paid a lot of attention to efforts to restart in other sports around the world. I mean, they're playing baseball in Korea.

GUPTA: Right.

MANFRED: Playing baseball in Taiwan, some professional soccer in Europe. We've studied all the protocols that those sports are using, and we've tried to learn from what they're doing, what's worked for them, in the hope that we can pull this off in the safest possible way.

COOPER: Were some teams overseas using sort of dummies in the crowd? I saw some pictures. I don't know how real that was. Was they - were they actually do that?

MANFRED: Yes. That - that did actually happen. There's been a lot of conversation about playing in empty stadiums, and what it's like from broadcast perspective.

We have great broadcast partners, including AT&T, and we've had some nice conversations with them about things we can do, from an enhancement perspective, to make up for the fact that there aren't fans in the stadium, and make that television product absolutely the best product that it can be.

GUPTA: I'm curious, Commissioner--

COOPER: Obviously just want to add AT&T is the parent company of--

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: --CNN.

GUPTA: That's right.

I'm curious, Commissioner, when you - when you think about this, just your mindset, are you thinking that this is - this is temporary, and that we're definitely going back to everything the way it was before in a year or two? Or will there be some long lasting changes in terms of the season length or other things?

MANFRED: I think it's - I'm hopeful that we get past this, and we return to, you know, our business, as we've traditionally known it.

Our approach from the very beginning, however, has been to try to think through contingencies and, you know, not assume that everything's going to go right going forward.

So, we have thought about changes. We've thought about things like even changes to rules to the game that we're going to use in 2020 that we think are necessary to, you know, get the game back on the field, get the games played, and get people off the field as quickly as possible.

COOPER: And just lastly, personally, what are you doing with no sports?

I mean, you're the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, but you're also a fan. I'm sure you're working harder maybe than - than ever before, given all that's going on, but what do you watch?

MANFRED: Yes. Well, I absolutely am working more.

And I'm a bad television consumer. When I don't have sports, I don't watch that much television. I actually have been reading a lot and, you know, trying to do other things, exercising. I have not substituted other television watching for - for live sports.

And, you know, I guess somebody in my job has to believe there's no substitute for live sports.

COOPER: Well, Commissioner, we really appreciate your time, and we wish you the best.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Good luck.

MANFRED: All right, thank you very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: All right, take care.

A lot more straight ahead, I'll talk with the former Acting Head of the CDC, Richard Besser, and former HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, about where they think we are in this battle against the virus, what we're doing right, and what we're doing wrong.

And later, Climate Activist, Greta Thunberg, joins us to talk about UNICEF, and her efforts to help them focus attention on the needs of children affected by the pandemic, and the disruption it's caused to healthcare systems, and schools, around the world.

[21:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: As much as we try to keep politics off the table in these Town Halls, the question of public health is also a question of public policy.

Today saw questions raised by whistleblower Rick Bright as well as the President's own recent statements and choices about how the Administration is conducting that policy.

So with that in mind, we're joined by two former top Health officials in the Obama Administration, former Acting CDC Director, Richard Besser, he's currently President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is dedicated to healthcare issues, also former Health and Human Services Secretary, and Kansas Governor, Kathleen Sebelius.

Secretary Sebelius, there was no White House briefing today. But the President was in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He spoke to the press there, and I want to play just some of what he said regarding testing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing. When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn't do any testing, we would have very few cases.

So, we have the best testing in the world. It could be that testing is, frankly, overrated? Maybe it is overrated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Does that make any sense to you? I mean, just last week, he said something similar that if we did very little testing, America wouldn't have the most cases. He also said, "In a way, by doing all this testing, we make ourselves look bad."

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER HHS SECRETARY, (D) FORMER KANSAS GOVERNOR: Well, Anderson, it makes no sense at all. You do testing to find out where the disease is. And - but unfortunately, this has been the President's theory all along.

I remember in early March, when he visited the CDC, he didn't want passengers to come off a cruise ship because if they came, if they disembarked, then they would be counted about America's cases.

[21:30:00]

And he said "My numbers." "My number" not patients, not sickness, not - "My numbers are really good." So, I think this President does not understand testing at all.

We need to know who's symptomatic, who's asymptomatic, how many people out of the numbers tested actually have the disease. It would give us a more accurate rate. We'd be able to track where the disease is spreading.

So, if he's still spouting this notion that - first, it's absolutely incorrect that we've done more testing per capita than any place on earth. We may have more tests, we have more people. But per capita, we're still way behind.

And he doesn't understand what epidemiology, and I'm delighted to be on with Rich Besser, who understands this very well.

But, you know, and once again, he's in a plant without a mask, and without social distancing. So, we - he clearly doesn't get testing, or distancing, or how important masks are, and we've got 85,000 people who are dead.

COOPER: I mean the other terrifying possibility is he does understand testing and that he understands that he views it - the way he views it is simply different, which is that he views it as it's bad for him politically to have the numbers go up.

And therefore, that is what is driving, you know, the lack of federal push for extensive testing, extensive contact tracing.

But Sanjay, I interrupted you.

SEBELIUS: Well--

COOPER: Go ahead.

GUPTA: No. I mean, did you want to respond to that, Governor?

SEBELIUS: I was - I was just going to say it, you know, the - when he made the comment in early March, it was the first time I thought that actually the United States was slow-walking testing, that the President did not want more testing to occur.

It wasn't a series of just missteps. It was intentionally not having the supplies, not having the equipment, not using the Federal Government to ramp up the testing capacity because he didn't want the numbers to look bad for him.

GUPTA: Dr. Besser - Richard, I think we could probably do an entire Town Hall on testing, right? I mean it's that crucial point. But let me just ask you, and then we'll move on.

But is there - is there an ideal amount of testing? Because we keep hearing these various numbers. I'm not sure the numbers matter as much. But how do you know - what would you like to see as former Acting CDC Director--

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR, PRESIDENT & CEO, ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION: Yes.

GUPTA: --the right amount of testing?

BESSER: Well, you know, the goal with - with testing is to try and identify every case that you can because every case that you can, not just the sickest cases, who - who may need to go into the hospital for special care, but every case that's out there could be the spark that starts another outbreak in your community that gets out of control.

So, as we're thinking about shifting to carefully, slowly reopening the economy, getting more people back to work, you have to embrace the fight, and say what can we do to ensure that we're identifying every case?

Clearly, the number of tests that we're doing is not adequate, and we're not even getting the data in terms of testing by race and ethnicity. Yet, we know that Blacks and Latinos and Native Americans are getting hit so much harder.

So, until we can fully see the problem that we're dealing with, we can't even think about opening the economy much more than we have.

GUPTA: There was these - these guidelines from the CDC that just came out. And, you know, we've been waiting on these guidelines, a 17-page document that was supposed to be very detailed. This was not that.

This was sort of more pretty rudimentary guidelines, frankly, pretty short on specifics, recommending hand hygiene--

BESSER: Yes.

GUPTA: --wear a mask, if you can, seemingly nothing about testing in there.

You ran the CDC for a while.

BESSER: Yes.

GUPTA: What did - what did you think of these guidelines?

BESSER: Yes. You know, I was at the CDC for 13 years. And we put out guidelines all the time. And what we worked on was presenting the best scientific evidence, and in extreme detail, so that they could be applied in a way that that you knew exactly what you needed to do.

These guidelines are high-level principles. You know, are you monitoring your employees? Are you ensuring that there are safety measures in place?

GUPTA: Right.

BESSER: Are you in compliance with your state and local health departments? That's not what people need. That's not what people who are trying to decide "Can restaurants open" need.

They need detailed specifics. You know, how many feet away should tables be? What should be up in terms of barriers? How do you know whether it's safe for people to go into a restaurant or whether you should be on the street?

You know, specifics is where it gets done. And CDC is really good at that when they're allowed to do it. COOPER: Yes, I mean, Secretary Sebelius, it was really distressing. The original CDC guidelines were very detailed to churches, to schools--

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: --very specific situations.

Then we had Dr. Birx on this program last week, which was the last time anyone from the Coronavirus Task Force, any scientists or doctors actually appeared on television, and for an interview, I understand.

[21:35:00]

She basically said, "Oh, no! We're not - we're not quite - this is not being, you know, put away. We're just editing it."

Well, they've certainly edited it. They've edited it into just a couple of pages of stuff, frankly, I could have written.

SEBELIUS: Well, and I think what's - what Dr. Besser just said is, is so important.

So, CDC puts a national framework together. Governors, mayors, business owners, educators can look at that very specifically, and say, "Here's where I fit in this situation. Here is my best shot."

And frankly, consumers look at it, and say, "This business looks like it's complying. I can go to this restaurant safely and securely. This one clearly is not. The bar is packed with people. They're paying no attention. They don't have the barriers."

So, it gives information up and down the line. But without that kind of detailed framework, and without consumer confidence, we really are at square zero with people just making up things as they go along.

COOPER: Yes. And Dr. Besser, we should point out the White House declined to make anybody - any scientist or doctor from the Coronavirus Task Force available to us tonight because I think they were afraid of, I'm guessing, of talking about this very topic among other things.

Dr. Besser, I want to play something else that President Trump said today at this event.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They're running into death just like soldiers run into bullets, in a true sense. I see that with the doctors and the nurses and so many of the people that go into those hospitals, it's incredible to see. It's a beautiful thing to see.

But I really call them warriors. We're all warriors. Everyone in our country is a warrior.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: How - I mean does it - just the phrasing of that is obviously sort of stunning, that it's a beautiful thing, watching, you know, doctors running into death like soldiers running into bullets. But I mean does the President do himself any favors by continuing to talk about this?

I mean, wouldn't it be better to just, you know, liberate the scientists, allow the scientists to speak, and just focus on nuts-and- bolts issues as opposed to, you know, musing repeatedly out loud in ways that whether it's this about the soldiers into bullets or, you know, injecting bleach into people in human experiments?

BESSER: You know, Anderson, you know, what strikes me as not a beautiful thing is that we are sending essential workers into what would be battle.

We're sending them into meat packing plants and grocery stores. We're sending them on public transit. We're sending them out to healthcare facilities, to take care of our loved ones.

And we're not giving them the gear that we would give any other soldier going into battle. That's not a beautiful thing.

What it's saying is we don't care. We don't care about protecting people's lives. And if we did, we would take big steps to ensure that everyone has a fair opportunity to protect their health.

Healthcare workers, who are working without proper protective equipment, having to reuse masks, there's nothing beautiful about that. It's heroic, but it's not beautiful, because as the wealthiest nation on earth, we should find that absolutely unacceptable.

GUPTA: Yes, and if you believe Dr. Bright's comments throughout today, he also talked about the fact that the masks that were being imported weren't even, you know, effective enough as N95 masks.

Secretary Sebelius, let me ask you something about the country as a whole. At least 24 states now are seeing fewer numbers of cases, including some states that have started to reopen.

So, when you look at that, what do you consider to be real evidence, in terms of what state and local governments are doing right? What they're doing wrong? Or is it just too soon to tell?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think the good news is that the vast majority of the country took steps to really, if not self-quarantine, shelter-in- place, social distance, really shutdown activities in a major way.

And that has had a dramatically good impact in many parts of the country. And we're seeing the benefits of that. The disease indeed is going down in many parts of the country, not everywhere. And we still have hotspots all over the place that aren't in control.

What, I think, all the scientists warn about is that reopening en masse, and I've seen some of the photographs on the news, in the last couple of days, which are really terrifying, that people are back to crowded into small spaces, sharing, you know, not wearing masks, not paying any attention to this protocol, that we will, you know, reignite what is still a smoldering building.

[21:40:00]

And we don't really have the guidance that is out. We don't have the confidence from consumers. And we don't have the ability for state and local leaders to make decisions based on what should be the protocol.

COOPER: Yes.

SEBELIUS: And that's really what's missing..

COOPER: Dr. Richard Besser, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Still to come tonight--

BESSER: Thank you.

COOPER: --Climate Activist, Greta Thunberg, join us to talk about the plight of children after a shocking report from UNICEF on the number of children who they believe whose lives are in danger every day, across the world, because of this pandemic, and its ripple effects.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Increasingly, over the last few days, we've been reporting more and more on how kids are being affected, not only by the virus itself, but also the ripple effects, the pandemic has had on their lives.

This week, UNICEF pointed to a report, by Johns Hopkins researchers, and said that as many as 6,000 children a day could die, over a 6- month period, from preventable causes, because of healthcare system disruptions caused by the Coronavirus.

Add to that the closure of schools, which in many parts of the U.S., and the world are also a source of nutritious meals for disadvantaged kids.

GUPTA: In fact, this is what UNICEF's Executive Director said.

[21:45:00]

"Under a worst-case scenario, the global number of children dying before their fifth birthdays could increase for the first time in decades. We must not let mothers and children become collateral damage in the fight against the virus."

COOPER: Our next guest, Greta Thunberg, recently gave a $100,000 she had received from her climate change activism to UNICEF to help protect kids from the pandemic. She's also helping raise even more money for UNICEF. She recently revealed she believes she may have had Coronavirus, after returning home from working in Europe. She said her symptoms were very mild, and her father who traveled with her also got sick.

We spoke to Greta Thunberg earlier this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Greta, you and your dad both got sick after traveling in Europe, I understand. I know you isolated yourself from your family. What was that like?

GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: Well, I mean, first of all, we didn't - we still haven't gotten tested because here, you don't - you don't get tested unless you - you're in need of medical help.

So, of course, I don't know if I've had it. But I isolated myself anyway, and because it is the right thing to do. We all need to take these precautionary actions, and do our part in supporting society.

And well, I haven't been - I'm the one who can least complain about this because I haven't - so I'm very grateful that I haven't been affected by this in a way that many people have. But, yes, it was just the obvious thing to do, the only right thing to do.

GUPTA: I'm curious, Greta, you've been in isolation then for some time, I guess, at your apartment there in Stockholm. What has - what has life been like for you?

THUNBERG: Well, I'm not completely isolated. I can still go outside and so on. And in Sweden, the situation is maybe a bit different from - from other countries from maybe in the U.S.

But so - so, yes, but - but, of course, I have been almost only in my apartment, which have been - well I can still do things from home, so I can't really complain. So, I've been doing things that I - that I before didn't have time to do. So, I was very lucky.

COOPER: You have millions of young people who follow you online. And I know you've been talking with them about taking this virus seriously.

Your symptoms, you know, what you - whether you had COVID or not, the symptoms you had were very mild, you were saying, milder than, you know, other times you've been sick.

But one of the points you made, I was reading on your Instagram, is that kids should take it seriously because it's not only could there be, you know, underlying conditions, but also, you know, even if their symptoms are very mild, it's still possible to infect family members.

THUNBERG: Yes, exactly. And that's - that's why I decided to post about it to sort of spread the information that many people on - many people don't even notice that they have symptoms, and then they - they might spread the virus without even knowing it.

And that especially we - we, young people, have a very big responsibility because we aren't usually the ones you - usually the ones in the most risk. We might not experience the symptoms as bad as many others.

So, we have to be extra careful because our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others.

COOPER: You were - you were awarded $100,000 grant from a - I believe it was a Danish Foundation, and you are donating that $100,000 to UNICEF to help protect kids from the fall-out of this pandemic.

And I know you're raising even more money for UNICEF. And I know another organization has done a matching grant on your $100,000. How do you see that money, or how do you hope that money is going to be used?

THUNBERG: Well, first of all, I did that, and we have - we have launched a new campaign to help support UNICEF during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And that is because during this crisis - during any crisis, it is always the most vulnerable people who are hit the hardest, and that it's children, especially in the Global South, people in the poorest parts of the world, and especially people living in conflict zones and refugee camps.

COOPER: Because there's so much focus on Coronavirus, there's a lot of kids around the world, who may die of things that are very treatable. But because medical systems are overwhelmed, it's going to impact children in ways a lot of people don't really anticipate.

Even all the schools shutting down, for many kids, that's their primary source of, you know, a nutritious meal.

[21:50:00]

THUNBERG: Yes. And sanitation and - and I mean we - we're talking about washing our hands and - and staying home. But, I mean, for many people, in the world, they - they do not have access to clean water or sanitation, to soap.

GUPTA: Right.

THUNBERG: And they don't even have a house to stay home in. And it - it's very hard for many to keep social distancing.

And we have to - that's why we need to help the people who are most vulnerable to this crisis in ways that we might not - we might not think about here in the Global North, especially people in the Global South.

GUPTA: And, you know, I have to say as well, I mean Anderson and I have travelled around the world, and seen the - the amazing work UNICEF has done in various places.

I mean, it's really is a terrific organization, Children's Emergency Fund, I mean, for situations like this. I do want to ask, you know, I mean, we - the thinking early on, as you know, Greta, was that this virus largely affects - really affected adults. But we are learning more and more about how this can affect children as well.

I want you to listen to something Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Children presenting with COVID-16 - with COVID- 19, who actually have a very strange inflammatory syndrome, very similar to Kawasaki syndrome, I think we better be very careful, if we are not cavalier, in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: So, I don't know if you had heard that before, Greta, just this - this similarity to Kawasaki disease. But when you hear that, I mean, how does it make you feel? Does it make you feel like it's more frightening, that there's more of a mystery? What do you think?

THUNBERG: Well, I mean, of course that is very true. We - it's sort of a myth right now that children are not being - being affected by this virus, and that is of course very wrong. Children both do get this disease, and they also spread it on to others so.

So, we need to be very careful that this misinformation that it doesn't affect children becomes main stream. We need to tell - to make sure that people understand that this also affects children.

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: One of the things I've seen you talk about online too is just how important it is to listen to experts and listen to science.

And this is a time when, you know, I was not a very good science student when I was in school. But this is a time, it seems, that, you know, the Global Scientific Community is so critically important, and we're really seeing just how important it is to follow science.

THUNBERG: Yes. Yes, exactly. And I hope that we can see now that the scientific community are stepping up, and they are - they are speaking out more than they have - they have done before because obviously this is a crisis that require the scientific community to speak out.

And I hope that people really - it feels like science is getting - the role of science is changing now. It's becoming more - people are starting to realize that we're actually depending on science, and that we need to listen to scientists and experts.

And I really hope that we - that that stays and that's - that also is for other crises such as the climate crisis and the environmental crisis, that we actually understand that we have to listen to, to the scientists. COOPER: Well Greta Thunberg, we really appreciate your time, and - and all the work you're doing with UNICEF. And we'll continue to follow that. We wish you the best. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

THUNBERG: Thank you. You too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, we taped that interview earlier today, as I mentioned. And I just wanted to take a moment to point out kind of a surreal absurd drama that played out over the last 24 hours online, and amazingly in some reputable news sources.

Yesterday, CNN ran an ad with pictures of some of our guests, who would be on this two-hour program tonight, who you've already seen. Take a look. This is the ad that we ran.

It's got pictures of Kathleen Sebelius, former CDC Director, Richard Besser, it's got a picture of Sanjay, no picture of me, OK, but that's OK. That's fine. I don't need another picture of me. And there's a picture of Greta Thunberg.

Now later, the ad was updated to include the Commissioner of Baseball, when he confirmed that he indeed would be on this broadcast as well, so that's the ad that then ran.

Apparently someone with a blue check on Twitter saw the initial ad, and was outraged, and claimed that we had booked Greta Thunberg to be an expert on a Coronavirus panel with other Health Experts.

Then, of course, Donny Trump Jr. jumped into this, which is weird, because I thought he was allegedly running whatever remains of the Trump Organization. I mean, shouldn't that be like a really busy job since it's, you know, allegedly such a great big company?

[21:55:00]

Anyway, once DJTJ started typing, then other people with blue checks on Twitter also started doing their thing because everyone has to produce content these days. That's what it's all about. It's like a tween on TikTok. You got to produce content lest you miss out on a cyclo-phony outrage.

Then someone who's apparently a Reporter at Forbes wrote an article about this alleged controversial booking, and the concern about it.

And the New York Post today wrote about it as well, claiming we were having her on a panel, which is what the first person on Twitter was claiming, which was made-up. It was made-up then. It was made-up today in The Post.

And in case you think this is some sort of cover-up, look at our past ads for shows. They're exactly the same. We had Alicia Keys, few weeks ago, debuting a video for a song she

released for frontline workers. Nobody thought she was on a panel, with the FDA Commissioner Hahn, Governor Cuomo, and Jose Andres, none of them were on panels. They were all individual.

Look here's a promo for last week's Town Hall we had with journalist Laurie Garrett, former Vice President, Al Gore, and Spike Lee. No panel, just interviews. And again, no picture of me, just Sanjay, that's OK. I digress.

Look, I get Donny Trump, Jr. attacking CNN and a 17-year-old Swede. That's like low-hanging fruit. It's like paying thousands of dollars to shoot exotic animals on a game farm, you know, it's easy.

And I know Donny Jr. just wants his dad to love him or notice him in a way that's not mocking him.

But I just find it fascinating to watch the phony online outrage machine generate content on Twitter based on something that was never real to begin with. It's kind of surreal to watch it, all just kind of play out, in the words of our Dear Leader, "Sad."

Sanjay, yes.

GUPTA: I--

COOPER: I got that off my chest.

GUPTA: I wanted a picture of you actually, Anderson. I asked them to put a picture of you on the screen. They refused. I don't know what it was all about.

COOPER: It's all right. You know, not a problem, that's fine. You know, and that's contract cycle.

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: Maybe I'll get that done (ph) in the writing.

GUPTA: By the way, you feel better now?

COOPER: Yes, I do. I feel better.

GUPTA: OK.

COOPER: It's just so weird to watch stuff that you're involved with--

GUPTA: Yes.

COOPER: --play out in the public sphere.

GUPTA: I know.

COOPER: And like, this is all just made-up. This is really strange.

Anyway, Sanjay, thank you, as always.

GUPTA: You got it.

COOPER: A 11th - a 11th Town Hall. Wow, I don't know if that's a--

GUPTA: Two more to come, I think.

COOPER: --good thing or bad thing or that we're still doing it.

GUPTA: I know. I know.

COOPER: Because this is still happening, and knowing inside.

Sanjay, thank you.

I also want to say thanks to Rick Bright's attorney, Lisa Banks, Rob Manfred, Neal Browning, and Greta Thunberg.

We should also note our invitation to any Health Expert from the White House Coronavirus Task Force stands for next week's Town Hall, so they have a week to think about it.

Also, thanks to those of you who wrote in with your questions, and everyone who joined us tonight. If you didn't get your question answered tonight, conversation continues at CNN.com/CoronavirusAnswers.

The news continues after a quick break with Chris Cuomo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END