Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 90,000, 1.5 Million Cases; Trump Says He's Taking Hydroxychloroquine To Prevent COVID-19, Even As FDA Warns Of Potentially Harmful Side Effects Of Drug; Moderna Vaccine Trial Shows Promising Early Results, Participants Developed Antibodies Against The Vaccine; Report: Pompeo Says He Asked Trump to Fire I.G. Because He Was "Undermining" The State Department. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 18, 2020 - 20:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. Thanks for joining us, on a day that saw the coronavirus death toll pass 90,000 in this country.

The president of the United States said today he is taking a drug to prevent coronavirus that the FDA warns is dangerous, and study after study now shows is useless against the virus.

The drug is a familiar one by now, hydroxychloroquine, and, before going any further, you want to just read directly from the FDA's April 24th bulletin on this drug.

Quote, "The FDA is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine." Additionally, quote, "Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19."

Well, those first words bear repeating: serious heart rhythm, heart problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine.

And a large study, published just days ago, in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," showed that patients who took the drug in combination with the antibiotic used in Z-Paks, which the president also touts, and did once again today, were more than twice as likely to suffer cardiac arrest. That's on top of other studies on hydroxychloroquine, or the related drug chloroquine alone, in which patients have also developed abnormal heart rhythms.

So let that sink in for a moment. The leader of the free world is taking a drug that shows no apparent benefits for what he's taking it for, could be putting him at risk for serious heart problems, and here's how he explained it today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The frontline workers, many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hydroxychloroquine?

TRUMP: I'm taking it, hydroxychloroquine.


TRUMP: Right now, yeah. A couple of weeks ago I started taking it.


TRUMP: Because I think it's good, I've heard a lot of good stories. And if it's not good, I'll tell you right. I'm not going to get hurt by it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the White House doctor recommend that you take that? Is that why you're taking it?

TRUMP: Yeah, White House doctor. He didn't recommend it. No, I asked him, "What do you think?" He said, "Well, if you'd like it?" I said, "Yeah, I'd like it. I'd like to take it." A lot of people are taking it, a lot of frontline workers are taking hydroxychloroquine.

A lot of front -- I don't take it because -- hey, people said, "Oh, maybe he owns the company." No, I don't own the company. You know what? I want the people of this nation to feel good. This is a pill that's been used for a long time for 30, 40 years on the malaria, and on lupus, too. And even on arthritis, I guess, from what I understand.

So it's been heavily tested in terms of -- I was just waiting to see your eyes light up when I said this, but -- you know, when I announced this. But, yeah, I've taken it for about a week and a half, now, and I'm still here. I'm still here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain, sir, though, what is the evidence that it has a preventative effect?

TRUMP: Here we go, are you ready? Here's my evidence. I get a lot of positive calls about it. The only negative I've heard was the study where they gave it, was it the V.A.? With, you know, people that aren't big Trump fans.


COOPER: Did you get that? Never mind the research showing the dangers, multiple studies, the ones -- the only ones saying negative things about hydroxychloroquine, according to the president, aren't big Trump fans, and it's that simple.

So, the "Journal of the American Medical Association," apparently not big Trump fans; the Food and Drug Administration, which is part of the president's, you know, government, not fans either, apparently; or all the other researchers doing studies on this around the country and the world, who are desperate for some sort of treatment that works; and the doctors who have stopped giving it to the patients, apparently they're just not into Trump. Or perhaps they are simply not into people taking medicine that won't

help them and could seriously hurt them. Then again, as he's shown over the past weeks, for whatever reason, the president just cannot seem to stop talking about this, his drug of choice.


TRUMP: The FDA also gave emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine. We're having some very good things happening with it. It's shown very encouraging -- very, very encouraging early results.

There are some good signs. You've read the signs, I've read the signs, and I say it: "What do you have to lose?" I'll say it again: "What do you have to lose?" Take it.

If things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody.

It will be wonderful -- it will be so beautiful. It will be a gift from heaven if it works.

We have some other person put it forward that says, "Oh, let's go with it." You know, what do you have to lose?

Try it if you'd like.

I've seen things that I sort of like. So, what do I know? I'm not a doctor. I'm not a doctor, but I have common sense.


COOPER: He has common sense, he says, and he says he's taking a drug that's shown not to work, and could be harmful. Let's just leave it there.

And, as we do, just remember, this wouldn't be the first time the president has touted unproven and dangerous, potentially deadly remedies.


TRUMP: Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light.


And I think you said that hasn't been checked, but you're going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body which you can do, either through the skin or in some other way and I think you said you're going to test that, too.

Then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Yeah, there's not, there's not a way to inject disinfectant into a human being, not a good idea. Potentially very grave circumstances, very grave results, could kill people. After those remarks you may remember the President's advisors persuaded him not to do any more coronavirus task force briefings which is again just a whole other thing.

I mean, the idea that we no longer hear, you know, on a daily basis from the top scientists of the nation working on coronavirus because the people around the President said, you know what, Mr. President, you shouldn't do any more, you know, talking in front of people extemporaneously about this because it's apparently, you know, they thought it was harming him politically.

There wasn't a whole lot of talk, though, about how further lives might be put in jeopardy or lost, so much for that. More now from CNN's Kaitlan Collins joining us from the White House. Kaitlan, what is the White House saying about this claim of the President he is now taking Hydroxychloroquine?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So far, Anderson, they've been quiet. We asked for more details on this, exactly how long the President has been taking it, how long does he expect to be taking it.

And we haven't gotten any statements from the press office or from the White House medical office which typically has put out statements on the President's health in the past, like when he's gotten a physical or something like that.

And you know, the thing here, this is a direct contradiction of the FDA's own guidance that they issued in April. Saying that Hydroxychloroquine should not be used outside of a clinical trial or in a hospital setting where you can be monitored, they can check your heart rhythm, things of that nature. So there are a lot of questions about, you know, is the President contradicting his own FDA here by announcing that he's been taking this for a week-and-a-half now.

COOPER: Is there any acknowledgment that, I mean, yeah, I know there's no acknowledgment. I mean, as you said, his own FDA has warned against this drug. You know, assuming he's taking it, I'm wondering is part of him taking it just, you know, him wanting to show that he doesn't listen to, you know, doctors or scientists or sound medical advice or studies because he's been touting this so long that now he's just being resistant? I mean, I don't know, it makes -- logically, I don't understand why he would be taking this.

COLLINS: Well, there was a little period there where he stopped touting it so often to where we asked him in the briefing why he stopped talking about it so much because for weeks he had been pushing it saying the sentiment, you know, what do you have to lose, which is what he said today.

And then he kind of went quiet on it after he saw several studies from that journal from the V.A. study, the FDA guidance talking about how there is no proof that it works or that it helps in any way and actually it can be harmful if you do have coronavirus and other underlying health conditions.

But then, you know, the President said today he's been taking it about a week and a half, we're not sure on the timeline there of course, that's what he said earlier today. But, Anderson, remember it was about a week and a half ago that two people who work in the White House tested positive for coronavirus, an aid to the Vice President and the President's personal valet.

So the question is, is that a precaution that the President is now trying to take because that of? Even though there is no evidence that we should say that it prevents getting coronavirus.

COOPER: Yeah, Kaitlan Collins, Kaitlan appreciate it. Perspective now from CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and Dr. Erik Topol. In addition to being a renowned cardiologist, he's also on the coronavirus front lines as founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. Dr. Topol, when you heard the President say this today what did you make of it?

DR. ERIC TOPOL, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, SCRIPPS RESEARCH: I was stunned, there is absolutely no data to support the use of this drug hydroxychloroquine for a preventive aspect of COVID infections. And there is definite risk, as you reviewed the April 24th guidance was based on the fact that there have been serious heart arrhythmias from this drug being used.

And as also noted there's been a doubling of cardiac arrest (inaudible) just published in JAMA last week. So we have all the data to support risk, no data to show benefit, and here the President is taking the drug.


I think your point about potential defiance, not just defiance of the science and the medical work that's been done to date, but the fact that he has promoted the drug so long and so hard, perhaps it has something to do with it.

COOPER: Dr. Topol, you're a cardiologist. Can you just explain the potential heart issues that this drug might cause if not taken as prescribed? Because as you mention, the FDA has warned of serious heart rhythm problems. The Journal of the American Medical Association was concerned of lethal consequences, and I know the VA study -- that there were a number of cardiac issues -- cardiac arrests with people who were taking this.

TOPOL: Exactly. So, the reason why this is a serious matter is that the heart is susceptible to -- during the repolarization phase, that is, after the heart has been stimulated to contract. In that phase, there is an interval called QT, and this QT can be prolonged particularly by hydroxychloroquine.

In addition, there's the thimerosal too, so it's a double whammy but just hydroxychloroquine can do this, and the important point, Anderson, is that it's not something that's just because you have heart disease. It could be a genetic predisposition. It could be because of other medications that one is taking.

But the key point is you can't predict it, and there is this risk of this serious heart rhythm, it's called torsade de pointes, and it can result in cardiac arrest and death.

COOPER: Sanjay, A, how much does this concern you? And also, when the president says, well, look, this drug has been around for 30 years, people have taken it for malaria. I think I took it 30 years ago for malaria and I actually stopped because I didn't like it, as I recall. I was 17 years old at the time. But how alarming is this?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There is no evidence that this works. It's very concerning, Anderson, and, you know, I think, irresponsible because I think it's sending a very wrong message. It's a message that he has sent before on hydroxychloroquine.

The concern is that, as Dr. Topol was just saying, there is no evidence that it works. There is potential harm. This flies in the face of all his own medical organizations, including the FDA which says this medication should not be used outside of a clinical trial or outside of patients who are hospitalized.

There is no evidence that it works either for treatment or for prophylaxis, as you mentioned in the lead, Anderson. It makes no sense, and almost to the point where you wonder if something else is going on here that we're missing.

Dr. Reiner, who worked at the White House before, sort of, brought this up, and he said, did the president have an exposure that was very significant that we don't know about and that's why they're very concerned about him? He's in his 70s. He has this evidence of heart disease. He had a significant exposure. What's going on here? It doesn't make sense and I'm worried that it sends the wrong message to people.

COOPER: Yes, Sanjay, I just want to go to Kaitlan Collins. I understand she has some information coming from the White House. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Yes, so, Anderson, we just finally got a statement from the president's physician on why he is now taking hydroxychloroquine, and confirming that he is indeed taking it.

This is from Dr. Sean Conley, the doctor who conducts the president's physicians and someone he references often, and he says, noting our reporting two weeks ago about the president's personal valet testing positive for coronavirus, he said that since then the president has continued to receive regular testing and has tested negative.

And then getting to the good part where he talks about hydroxychloroquine, he says, "In consultation with our interagency partners and subject matter experts around the country, I have continued to monitor the myriad studies investigating potential COVID- 19 therapies, and I anticipate employing the same shared medical decision-making based on the advice at hand in the future." He says, after numerous discussions that he had with the president,

Anderson, regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, quote, "We concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risk."

Now, he is saying that though the president -- and in this letter tonight, he confirms the president does not have any coronavirus symptoms and he's continuing to test negative for coronavirus. So it's not clear really what treatment he's talking about that the president needs that would require him taking this medicine, though clearly the president made clear earlier, he sees it as a preventive treatment.

But this is a statement from the president's doctor confirming that, yes, he is taking this drug that his own FDA has warned about taking in a non-clinical setting.

COOPER: Kaitlan, can you just read the second part? Because I was confused by the language there. I might have missed something -- that ended up with "we decided", but there was a couple of sentences before that.

COLLINS: Yes, so it's three graphs. It says -- talks about the presidential valet testing positive, and in the second graph, it says, "After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risk."


So it says the "potential benefit for treatment". It's not clear what hydroxychloroquine is treating for the president, since he does not have coronavirus symptoms, and they say he does not have coronavirus because he's continuously tested negative for it.

COOPER: Sanjay, what do you make of that statement? I mean, the doctor is saying -- he seemed to agree with this, whereas the president sort of indicated the, you know, the doctor said to him, "Do you want it?" And the president said "Yes," and the doctor gave it to him.

GUPTA: That's what it sounds like. I mean, you know, that the -- I don't know that the doctor, the White House doctor, Dr. Conley, would have recommended this on his own.

You know, he's looking at data, and if you look at the data, there's no data to suggest that you should do this, because there's no data to suggest, again, that it works as a prophylaxis, which is what it sounds like here. So, someone who has had an exposure, and now you're worried, "Am I going to get it?" So there's no evidence that it works for that.

There's concerning evidence about it possibly being used as a treatment, and that you might have the significant side effects, like you were talking about with Dr. Topol.

So, I don't get it. Did the president have a significant exposure, and now the White House is trying to do something prophylactically? There is just something here that still does not make sense.

But what I can tell you is that, regardless, it flies in the face of all the guidance that's coming from the federal government's public health organizations themselves. It just doesn't fit.

COOPER: Gloria, I mean, you know, the --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, I think that's the real --

COOPER: Gloria, go ahead.

BORGER: No, I think that's the real question. What exactly is the president's exposure here?

We know that the vice president's press secretary was exposed, has coronavirus; we know that his valet had coronavirus. Clearly, the White House doctors are concerned. This is a president, as we all know, who does not even wear a mask, even though he had exposure.

So, you can imagine the conversation, I'm sure, where his doctors were concerned, and maybe the president, as he said today, just suggested, "Well, how can I -- you know, what have I got to lose? How about taking this?"

And, as Dr. Reiner pointed out -- and remember, he was Dick Cheney's doctor -- that at the White House they have all kinds of equipment there, should there -- they monitor the president very closely, and I'm sure they monitor him even more closely every day. So if he develops an arrhythmia, or something, they can take care of it in the way they could not with any of us if we were to take it.

And again, of course, we have no idea -- we believe it's not preventative, but the president has all of that surrounding him.

COOPER: Dr. Topol, just briefly, I mean, if a patient says to you, you know, "I hear this is great. I've got a lot of friends calling me about it. I want it," is it the doctor's -- I mean, what do you do, as a doctor?

TOPOL: I mean, the responsible doctor would say, "No, there's no data to support this. There's a risk that we know of, and it's significant, and so we can't prescribe that." So, in a way, it's complicit.

And it's really unfortunate, because it is -- somehow, it promotes the drug in a reckless way. And moreover, it's this whole commitment to the game changer, and all the other things that were being done for many weeks. It really is deeply concerning.

COOPER: Dr. Topol, I appreciate your expertise.

BORGER: Can I just say, here's what's really reckless -- sure.

COOPER: Yes, Kaitlan Collins, thanks as well. Sanjay, stay with us.

When we come back, there's breaking news on a vaccine that's showing early promise, and we'll be joined but one of the first volunteers who got it, Neal Browning, a frequent Town Hall guest. He joins us.

Later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the president's prescription, her own party's prescription for dealing with the economic impact of the pandemic; and the president's firing the watchdogs he doesn't like, even though he claims not to even know this one.

That and more when we continue.



COOPER: Before the President made the announcement today that he's taking an ineffective and potentially dangerous drug to ward off coronavirus, our lead story was all about hopeful early research on a possible vaccine. According to the biotech company Moderna, eight trial participants developed antibodies to coronavirus keep it from attacking human cells.

Now, again this is from the early and limited first phase of what's anticipated to be a much larger three-phase study led by the National Institute of Health. It's not been peer reviewed. That said, experts are encouraged, so is at least one participant in the study, Neal Browning has been a guest a number of times in our CNN global town halls.

I spoke to him just last Thursday about he's been feeling since getting the vaccine. We're always glad to have him back. Neal, how did you feel about the Moderna news and what do you think?

NEAL BROWNING, COVID-19 VACCINE TRIAL PARTICIPANT: So, when I woke up this morning it was like any other regular morning, starting to wake up, get out of bed, get ready and I'm scrolling through my phone looking at news feeds and I saw where the stock market was up so I figured out, huh, that's good news let's see what's causing it.

Then I saw Moderna at the top of that and it delved into a press release that they had said they had the initial figures for the first four people in the small and medium dosage groups that had all produced a significant number of antibodies.

COOPER: And how does that apply to you? Were you in the small to medium group?

BROWNING: I was the second person in the small group, so out of the first four people in the small group that should include me and it seems like it's a big win for us. Not only are we getting the safety precautions out of the way to make sure that it's not having any ill effects on people, since it didn't go through any animal trials, but now it seems like it's actually showing immune response which is typically not something looked at until much further in several other phases of the vaccine trial.

COOPER: So, when you're in a study like this, in a trial like this, you don't get that information first? The fact that you learned about it online is interesting. BROWNING: No, they keep that blind, and our data is pretty much

anonymized anyway so that nobody can track specifically who is doing what. It keeps things honest; it keeps things ethical. But they had told us an outside envelope would be about a year when we definitely would know something. So I'm thrilled and ecstatic that we are knowing this good news so much sooner.

COOPER: And what's the next step for you?


BROWNING: So, I've already had my second dose, and my -- several weeks of follow-up after that.

My next scheduled setup for going back into the Research Institute for a blood draw is around mid-July, and I'm now in a three-month cadence where I'll go in for a blood draw every three months. And that will be just to verify that the antibodies are still in my blood, because the important part of a vaccine is having those precious antibodies stick around for as long as possible.

So, I'm in it for a year. Hopefully, we'll see them after a year so that it gives that much protection to a person.

COOPER: I know you didn't tell your family that you were doing this until -- really until the last minute. They've got to be really proud of you. I mean, maybe worried for you, too, but really proud.

BROWNING: They are. They are. They knew that the biggest risk of something going awry would happen within the first week, and after we passed that milestone, everything seemed to be smooth sailing, and I'm honestly super lucky that this has gone so well and I've had no ill effects whatsoever.

COOPER: Well, we're lucky that you volunteered and that others volunteered, as well, for this. It's really extraordinary. Neil, stay with us. I want to bring back in Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Also joining us is Michael Osterholm, Director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

Michael, how significant is this news, especially that these results are based on the participants that were given, you know, that low and medium dose?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY: You know, I think this is one of those issues where the glass is half empty and half full. The half full part is, obviously, there were antibodies found. In terms of laboratory studies, they neutralize the virus.

But we've got a long way to go yet. Any number of things can go wrong. It takes a lot of things to go right to make this actually become a vaccine that can protect people. But this is surely a very, very first good step.

COOPER: Michael, what makes it so difficult? From the good news of this, what are the pitfalls here?

OSTERHOLM: Well, for example, we want to show that those antibodies actually protect you against the virus in the everyday life, not just in a laboratory test tube.

The second thing is you want to make sure that the vaccine is actually really safe. When you have this very limited number of individuals, if you had an exposure to an outcome that was not good, given a rate of 1 per 100, that would not be necessarily picked up here yet. So, they'll keep expanding the number of people included in this trial and that's what we need to do.

I think the other important message is, there are a number of other trials going on right now. What's really exciting is the fact that we have multiple vaccines that are being evaluated around the world, and any one of them could hit the jackpot for us and become a critical part of our response to this pandemic.

COOPER: And Sanjay, as I understand it, they've now -- they're going to stop doing the higher dose in future tests of this drug because the people who got the higher dose had more side effects and that the smaller and medium dose seem to be working so well with those people that they're going to just have everybody get the smaller and medium dose.

GUPTA: Yes, that's basically it. I mean, you know, the NIH came back to Moderna early on and said, OK, we see you're doing this dose. Why don't we, as an effort to sort of accelerate this, try different dosings early on, even within this phase one trial. And they went all the way from 25 micrograms to 250, so a tenfold difference.

And as you know, Anderson, because we interviewed somebody who had the highest dose, there were some side effects, just a couple of days, fever, malaise, not feeling well, that sort of thing. But as you point out, they did see antibody production and antibodies that did seem to neutralize the virus within the lower doses. So I think that's -- they're learning as they go along, but I think that's guiding the next steps.

COOPER: And Sanjay, I know you had a question for Neal.

GUPTA: I'm curious, Neal -- I put myself in your shoes. Do you feel like you're vaccinated? Do you feel like you are not likely to get this virus now?

BROWNING: I certainly hope so. It definitely, you know, gives me a better sense of calm being out in the public but, you know, like the doctor said, if we don't know for sure if it's been challenged, to a human, if it can be as efficient and if it's still going to provide the same amount of protection.

I know that Moderna also explained that they did a challenge study just earlier in this last week or so where they used mice, and the mice were able to fight off the COVID-19 introduced into their respiratory system without it attaching and multiplying.

GUPTA: Right.

BROWNING: And that they showed the same amount of antibodies as what the people in the study here in the first trial have shown.

COOPER: Michael, as much as there's tremendous optimism about this news from Moderna -- and you said, it's important to look at this in perspective about the road that lies ahead -- how many -- what is the usual time frame for creating a vaccine?


I know this is unprecedented. As you said, there's a -- kind of an unprecedented effort, global effort, of multiple different drugs being tested.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, I think one of the things we have to understand -- and, Neal, we all thank you, on behalf of the world, for what you're doing -- is that Neal is the ideal candidate to get the vaccine, and hopefully have a successful take with it.

But remember, a lot of the people that are seriously ill right now are people who are older, who have underlying disease problems, including problems with their immune systems. People who are obese, where we have shown in the past that vaccines work much less well in that group. So, we've got a lot of additional work to do to actually show that this vaccine can protect people like that.

And the second thing is that it will actually persist over time. One of the challenges has been, with coronavirus infections, will you have durable immunity? Meaning, will it last for a few months; will it last for longer than that?

And anything that we can get right now to fight this virus would be great. But, ideally, we'd love a vaccine that lasted a long time, that was very safe, and that we had a dose for everybody in the world. And right now, we're just a long ways away from that.

COOPER: Yes. Michael Osterholm, as always, great to have you on.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

COOPER: Neal Browning, thank you so much, again. It's always great to talk to you.

And Sanjay, I know you're going to stick around. We're keeping Sanjay very busy tonight.

Just had more on the spread of the virus, as people crowd beaches and states continue to reopen; while the new estimates from a model cited by the White House on the number of expected fatalities, when we return.


[20:36:00] COOPER: In addition to some good news about a potential vaccine tonight, a coronavirus model out of the University of Washington that's previously been cited by the White House is out with new figures tonight about the number of fatalities projected through the beginning of August.

Joining us is Dr. Chris Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Back with us is Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Murray, your projections for overall deaths through August have actually been revised down by several thousand. That's certainly good news. What is behind that?

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: I must say we were pretty surprised, Anderson. We were expecting them to probably go up because of the big surge in mobility in the last two, three weeks, that we've seen in the cell phone data.

But what's really been fascinating is there's not a strong correlation between where mobility has gone up and the trend in cases and deaths, even when we take into account the increase in testing. And our explanation for that is, if you dig a little bit deeper and look into how -- the fraction of the population in different states that are wearing masks, we think that's really the key difference there, both their behavior and mask wearing.

Forty percent of the U.S. wears a mask all the time. About 80 percent wears a mask sometimes, and that's probably helping separate out that impact of rising mobility from turning into increased transmission all over the country.

COOPER: So what is the message, then, to people, because people hearing this will think, wait a minute, so it's okay to be close to somebody outside as long as you're wearing a mask, or it's okay to go to restaurants as long as -- not restaurants, you wouldn't be wearing masks, but a barber shop?

MURRAY: Well, you know, that's where I think we don't have an exact answer. We know from the published studies from other viruses, not from COVID, but from other respiratory viruses, that wearing a mask can reduce your risk of transmission by about half. And, you know, it depends exactly which context.

But what we -- the only explanation we have for what we're seeing, which is good news, that we haven't had this surge in cases that we were fearing, is that people are being careful, they're keeping their distance, and the mask wearing data has been really quite surprising how extensive it is. And we certainly hope it will keep up, because that's one way the public can really protect themselves.

COOPER: Sanjay, what do you make of this?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's surprising, obviously, a little bit, given the increase in mobility. I will say, living in Georgia, Dr. Murray, that the number of people -- despite the fact that the state is starting to reopen, there are a lot of people who, even if they're outside, are still maintaining the physical distance. And being outside may be, in fact, beneficial, actually, as compared to being inside.

But I think the real question is, will these numbers, do you think, bounce around still? You're trending downward, but, you know, as people go outside you don't see the number of people testing positive, being hospitalized, or, sadly, dying until several weeks later.

I mean, what do you anticipate the models are going to look like a few weeks from now after you really see the impact of these openings?

MURRAY: Yes, I think we're going to really need to watch the next week or two because we sort of expected to see it by now, but certainly could just be a lagged effect. And I think we may also run into the phenomenon that people may get fatigued of being cautious, stop wearing a mask, start having more physical contact.

You know, if you look across the states, it really varies. Up where they've had bad epidemics, it seems like there is a very high degree of wearing masks and being cautious. The states with the lowest levels are actually Georgia, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Indiana, and I think we'll be watching those states carefully.


Especially the ones where mobility shot up and people aren't being as cautious. That will be a really early indicator in the coming week, or the coming two weeks, as to where we think this is going.

COOPER: And, Dr. Murray, there's new evidence from --


COOPER: Sorry, go ahead, Sanjay.

GUPTA: I was going to say, you know, I mean, I think it's just important to point out that, you know, when these pause orders went into place initially, in mid-March, there were, you know, some -- I think 70 and 80 people, between 70 and 80 people who had died, and 4,000-or-so people who were infected.

Now we're at, you know, you see the numbers on the screen, you know, 90,000 people who have died, and now we're pulling things back. The virus is still the same, the virus is still contagious out there. It just -- it just worries me.

Like you, I'm glad that the projections have trended downward over this past projection, but I'm still very worried. I hope people don't take this to say that this is necessarily definitely trending in the right direction, and things are okay, despite the fact that states are reopening. It's just -- the virus is still out there.

MURRAY: The virus is out there --

COOPER: I mean, to me, it -- go ahead.

MURRAY: I was just going to say that I know we all think we're going --

COOPER: No, go ahead, Dr. Murray.

MURRAY: -- ending or extending the period that we forecast for, because we've only been forecasting till August. But it's certainly not going away, and the risk with the -- in the fall, of the return, is really very high.

So, if we start thinking about the totality of the epidemic through the course of the whole year, the numbers are going to be much higher than what we're seeing currently. And so that's next up on the agenda, is trying to look farther in the future. Hard to do, but we need to start thinking about the long term on this virus.

COOPER: When you say the risk of the return is high, do you quantify that? I mean, in a percent, like, you know, whether there's a 70 percent chance, 40 percent -- I mean, do you -- is that something you do?

MURRAY: So, we've been trying to think about, you know, what's the best way to think about that risk? And if -- there's two things you can look at. One is flu, and if COVID was like flu, it would be gone by now, because we don't really get flu deaths past the middle of March. That's not what's happening.

So, it may be much more like pneumonia deaths, that sort of go down slower in the summer, and then bounce right back in the fall. And so we are going to -- when we start to come out, hopefully next week or the week after, with our longer-term forecasts, that's, you know -- I'm sure we're going to be seeing the risk of substantial mortality through the end of the year --

COOPER: Dr. Murray, I appreciate your time, and all you're doing.

MURRAY: -- so it's a mixed story.

COOPER: Yes, no. But, well -- wear a mask.

MURRAY: That is definitely --

COOPER: That's, I mean, again, to me, the headline here. And keep the social distancing.

Sanjay, thanks so much.

Just ahead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, her thoughts on the president's claim he's taking hydroxychloroquine, which the White House has now said yes, he -- indeed, he is.

Also the controversy engulfing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the latest inspector general to be fired or removed.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Now to other breaking news this hour. In addition to his comments about taking hydroxychloroquine, President Trump today also admitted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked him to fire his department's inspector general who, according to a democratic source in the house, was investigating the secretary regarding allegations that a staffer was being used for personal errands including dog walking. Also in relation to an $8 billion Saudi arms deal is what the President said about the fired inspector general.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yeah, I don't know him at all, I never even heard of him. But I was asked to by the State Department, by Mike. I offered most of my people, almost all of them, I said these are Obama appointees and if you'd like to let them go, I think you should let them go but that's up to you.


COOPER: This makes five inspectors general the President has fired or removed. Today secretary Pompeo admitted he asked for the inspector general to be fired. This was his explanation to the Washington Post, "I went to the President and made clear to him Inspector General Linick wasn't performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to. That was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he's supposed to be doing. The kinds of activities he's supposed to undertake to make us better to improve us."

The secretary did not explain what any of that meant. He denied his decision had to do with the investigations. And earlier I spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about all of this, we started with the President's comments about that antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

Madam speaker, what is your reaction to the President saying he is now taking hydroxychloroquine? Are you concerned?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, first let me say how happy I am about your new baby, how lovely.

COOPER: Well, thank you.

PELOSI: Wyatt, how perfectly named. We all know why that is and congratulations. And as you now are a father-

COOPER: Thank you.

PELOSI: --you see how important it is to keep the world safe, for the children, for the children. As far as the President is concerned, he's our President and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, what is morbidly obese, they say. So I think it's not a good idea.

COOPER: In terms of the State Department inspector general's firing, I read the letter you sent to President Trump asking for an explanation that the house foreign affairs chair is launching, I know, a probe into this. And you said yesterday the firing looks like it's retaliation, that could be unlawful. What would happen, then?

PELOSI: Well, the fact is that the President should acknowledge why we even have inspectors general. This followed Watergate, to have transparency, accountability, to fight waste, fraud, abuse in our governmental actions. While the law -- the President is correct in saying he can fire anyone he wants, when it comes to inspectors general, he has a responsibility to inform congress first. But it is also essential when he says he has lost my confidence to tell us why he has lost his confidence.


This is the fourth inspector general that the president has lost confidence in, so to speak, and it's a pattern that I think is unhealthy for a democracy.

COOPER: He has now said publicly, the president, that he doesn't know anything about this person, that he was asked to do this by the secretary of state, and that when he heard that he was appointed by President Obama, that seemed to be reason enough for the president.

Secretary Pompeo says he asked for the inspector general to be fired because he was, quote, undermining the state department. And I know, in addition to the IG investigating whether Pompeo made a staffer perform a variety of personal errands, Pompeo refused to cooperate, we're learning, with the IG's probe into the Saudi arms sales, which you also indicated in your letter. Do you have confidence in Secretary Pompeo right now?

PELOSI: Well, the fact is that they declared an emergency almost a year ago as a basis for how they would -- why they needed to have the arms sales to the Emirates and to Saudi Arabia. It wasn't appropriate.

Now, right now, they're having another -- advising us of something, that they're giving over $5 million worth of ventilators to Russia. Russia can very well afford to pay for those ventilators.

So they just wheel and deal in a way that is not appropriate and I wouldn't put up with it with a Democratic president or a Republican president, but that arms sale, by declaring a fake emergency in order to just go forward without the accountability and transparency that our government really thrives on, is something that is worthy of attention, and perhaps, and I don't know for sure, I just said in my letter that it has been reported in the press that it was about the Saudi arms sale.

COOPER: The House has narrowly passed more funding for people, more of a bailout, and I'm wondering, the Senate -- clearly, it's likely to fail in the Senate. The president has threatened to veto it. What is the next step for that? I mean, is this -- is this done?

PELOSI: They're going to come to the table. They must. The American people need this, honoring our heroes by allocating the resources to state and local governments, tribal governments and territories, to meet the needs of the American people.

The American people want us to open up our economy and we do that by testing, tracing, treatment, and whatever else is necessary in that regard. And then, we need to put money in people's pockets. All three of these things have been supported by the Republicans. So we wrote a bill that was based on initiatives that they have supported and that we have both supported in a bipartisan way.

We do have some areas of disagreement, and those are cause for negotiation, but I don't think there's any question that what this country needs is a robust testing initiative with a plan, a timetable, benchmarks, milestones, to get the job done that our states and localities are going to have to either raise taxes, cut services, or both, unless they have an infusion of cash for the purpose of countering -- helping to defray the cost of corona already, the coronavirus cost, as well as the lost revenue because of corona.

And it is -- you know, so I have no doubt that they will come to the table.

COOPER: Speaker Pelosi, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure. Congratulations, again, on precious Wyatt. Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, we remember some of those whose lives have been lost in the coronavirus pandemic, a New York City EMT and a couple married for more than 70 years. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Tonight, with the death toll in this country passing 90,000, we want to take a moment to remember and honor some of the lives that have been lost due to this virus.

Richard Seaberry was an EMT in New York City. He served with the New York City Fire Department for 30 years, and responded to thousands of medical emergencies throughout his career. He was one of the first responders down at the World Trade Center, working to assist with rescue and recovery after the terror attacks of 9/11. Richard was known as a kind soul, a true gentleman.

He was dedicated to his job, to his crew, and to the people of New York, who he helped for so long. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters. Richard Seaberry was 63 years old.

Mary Kepler and her husband, Wilford, they were married for more than 70 years. That's extraordinary. They went to the same high school in Wisconsin, but Wilford was drafted before he could graduate, sent overseas to fight in World War 2.

That's what he did. After he returned, he and Mary started dating. They were married in 1946. For 73 years they lived side by side. They had three kids, eight grandchildren, six great-grandchildren. Mary and Wilford came down with coronavirus in April. Because they

were both positive, they were able to stay in the same hospital room, which was a blessing, with their beds pushed together. They were so thankful that they could be together, as they were in life, 73 years of marriage. Think about it. After a lifetime together, they died within six hours of each other.


Their family says in their final hours, they were able to hold hands and say I love you to each other one last time. Mary Kepler was 92 years old. And Wilford Kepler was 94 years old. They lived and they died together. And our thoughts go out to those families and all the families who have lost loved ones that have been affected during this pandemic.

News continues right now. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."