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More Than 1.5 Million Cases, Nearly 92,000 Deaths From Virus In U.S.; Trump Won't Commit To Wearing Mask During Visit To Ford Plant Where Masks Are Required; Trump Defends Use Of Hydroxychloroquine, Calls V.A. Study "Phony"; All States Partially Reopened By Wednesday As Caseloads Rise In At Least 17 States; Scientific Experiment Tracks Spread Of Germs In Restaurants; Sources: CDC Staff Being "Muzzled", White House Prioritizing Politics Over Science. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 19, 2020 - 20:00   ET



M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, Erin, what makes reporting on this story so complicated is that we're talking about a period of time so 30 years ago, and Tara Reade told CNN that she'd vaguely remembered Ben Savage, this ex-colleague even though he told us that their two desks were right next to each other and the two of them worked closely together. Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: MJ, thank you very much. And thanks to all of you for joining us. Anderson Cooper starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening. Thanks for joining us. With close to 92,000 lives lost in this country and 36 million people out of work, the president signaled once again today that the coronavirus outbreak isn't really about either of those numbers nor those human beings they represent. Instead, once again today, the president made it very clear to him it's about himself, number one.

He underscored yet again that he seems to be treating this pandemic as just another battle in the ongoing war of him and him alone against his perceived enemies, whether it's the press, the experts or even today a study done under the auspices of government scientists. It's a world view in which none of which really happening truly matters except as it affects the president and his chances for reelection, or even merely annoys him.

So today when asked whether he has a plan to address the needs of the unemployed, he took umbrage and instead of respecting those 36 million people enough to give a few specifics, he focused on himself and how the reporter who was asking on their behalf was allegedly treating him.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why haven't you announced a plan to get 36 million unemployed Americans back to work? You're overseeing economic despair? What's the delay? What is the plan? DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think we've

announced a plan, we're opening up our country -- just a rude person you are -- we're opening up our country. We're opening it up very fast. The plan is that each state is opening and it's opening up very effectively, and when you see the numbers, I think even you will be impressed, which is pretty hard to impress you.

Yes, go ahead, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of these jobs are not coming back.

TRUMP: Go ahead, That's enough of you.


COOPER: "Enough of you," he said. But he had nothing actually specific to say to the 36 million men and women now wondering how to support their families and themselves. He also would not commit to following the rules about wearing masks that apply to everyone or anyone entering the Ford plant he's visiting on Thursday.

Rules we might add that so many people seem willing and happy to follow, even if it's a little uncomfortable to keep others safe from the virus, which is the point of wearing a mask for other people. Here's what the president said about that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you plan to wear one when you go there on Thursday?

TRUMP: I don't know, I haven't even thought of it. It depends. I mean, you know, in certain areas I would, in certain areas I don't. But I will certainly look at it. It depends on what situation. Am I standing right next to everybody or am I spread out? And also, you look, you know, is something a hospital, is it a ward, is it - what is it exactly? I'm going to a plant, so we'll see. Where it's appropriate I would do it certainly.


COOPER: Well, if he does, it would be a first according to our White House team who say he has never been seen wearing a mask, even though a bit more than a week ago he made wearing one mandatory for his staff in the west wing.

You recall he also said it's not his thing, quote, "Somehow I don't see it for myself." Not even when greeting veterans of the second world war and greeting is the word here. Honoring these men in their 90s. National treasures they are, the last members of a noble generation would mean protecting them from a deadly virus by wearing a mask even if it may not be your thing, does seem there is at least social distancing.

Because it's not about one person. It's about the many people who see that person and model their behavior on what they see, which brings us to the one item that clearly is the president's thing, the drug hydroxychloroquine which the president last night said he's now taking despite studies showing it doesn't help and sometimes causes life- threatening heart problems.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FDA warned that hydroxychloroquine was going to cause serious side effects, especially with heart -- with heart -- with the heart.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is it OK for you to promote the use of this drug when you're not a doctor and health experts are warning --

TRUMP: Well, I've worked with doctors. And if you look at the one survey, the only bad survey they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape, they were very old, almost dead. It was a Trump enemy statement.


COOPER: It was a "Trump enemy statement". Only in this time right now -- I mean, only in this environment that we are living in could a study -- a scientific study been deemed by the President of the United States a "Trump enemy statement." It's just weird stuff.

About the study, just so you know, it was funded by the NIH where Dr. Fauci works, and the University of Virginia, and it looked at hundreds of patients at VA hospitals, veterans who, according to President Trump, were ready to die.


It showed that patients receiving the drug were no less likely to need mechanical ventilation. It didn't keep them off the ventilators. And some of those receiving the drugs actually had higher death rates compared to those who did not take the drug.

But it was not peer reviewed, and not, certainly, the final word on the subject. But it's also in line with other studies that have been done. It also wasn't, by any measure, a Trump enemy statement. I mean, we are now in an environment where a - scientific study - again, not peer reviewed, but a legitimate study - is somehow - everything is through the lens for this President of - of politics, and for or against, and division.

It wasn't even about - the study wasn't about Donald Trump at all, except as the President is choosing to make it. It was about the search for a treatment to stop a pandemic affecting the entire planet.

And I can guarantee you the doctors and the scientists who are actually interacting with patients every day, who are actually holding the hands, and nurses who are holding the hands of people who die. I guarantee you, they're not thinking about politics. They want a - or anything other than finding something that will save people's lives. Do you really believe doctors and nurses and scientists, that they care more about the President and politics than they do about actually just saving a person's life? Is that why they became doctors and nurses and scientists? I don't think so. They don't care about the political fortunes of Donald Trump.

The study is nothing about that. Just as the FDA's warning about the side effects of hydroxychloroquine wasn't about President Trump. But in his mind, it probably is. It's about preventing potentially thousands of lost lives, even the President's, who continues to defend his drug of choice, if only because it's his drug of choice.


TRUMP: Hydroxychloroquine is used by thousands and thousands of front line workers so that hopefully they don't catch this horrible disease or whatever you want to call it. It is a terrible virus. It's a terrible thing.

And a lot of people are taking it. A lot of doctors are taking it. A lot of people swear by it. It's gotten a bad reputation only because I'm promoting it, so I'm obviously a very bad promoter. If anybody else were promoting it, they'd say this is the greatest thing ever. But because of me -


COOPER: Again, with the "me'. As for the front line workers he's talking about, we obviously can't speak to them all. However, we did reach out to front line professionals who are familiar faces by now from the program, and our CNN Global Town Hall.

As you can see, the names up there on the screen. They include E.R. doctors, infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists, an E.R. nurse, a hospital CEO, people from all corners of the medical - public health professions.

None of the people you see there on the screen are taking this drug. They've seen the studies. They've seen, in some cases, the effects and side effects of the drug. And like the President, they, too, have the lives and well being of many people to consider. Where they differ from the president, it seems, is in how they're handling that awesome responsibility.

Joining us now is David Holtgrave, Dean of the School of Public Health at the State University of New York in Albany. Lead researcher of one recent major study of hydroxychloroquine. David, thanks for joining us again. First of all, when you hear the president talking like this about hydroxychloroquine, just what's your reaction?

DAVID HOLTGRAVE, DEAN, SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY AT ALBANY, SUNY: Well, I think it's important to be able to separate what a public official does as a private patient, and what they might talk to their physician about, versus what they say when they're speaking as a public official and a government leader. And I think when someone speaks as a government leader, it's really important that they be able to describe what we know and what we not know in the literature, and to be able to talk completely what does the evidence say. What are we finding in the New England Journal of Medicine study?

In our study in the Journal of American Medical Association? And to give people complete information about what's working, what's not working, and what the potential side effects are.

I think it's also important that when a public official comes forward, there's a reflection of what their access to medical care might be, compared to people's access to medical care in the general population. We've heard from the FDA and NIH and others, that these drugs - hydroxychloroquine, especially with a azithromycin - should be taken in the context of careful medical supervision, and a randomized controlled trial.

And when we think about the access to care that the President has, it's much more like someone being in a randomized controlled trial. There's access to almost constant care and supervision. But when people in the general public are considering whether or not they should take these drugs, their level of access to care may not be the same. And I think that's a really important point to keep in mind as well.


COOPER: It's an incredibly important point and - and - you know, people - you know who have constant access to a doctor on-call are treated a different way than people who do not and, you know, they should be aware of that when sort of, regaling the public who do not have that kind of access to be clearer.

You were the lead researcher in a study on the drug and the results show that there was no - and correct me if I'm wrong - there was no statistically significant difference between patients who took the drug and those who do not when it came to surviving Coronavirus infections. There was a higher incidence of cardiac events, heartaches, other I guess cardiac events with people who are taking hydroxychloroquine - is that correct?

HOLTGRAVE: That's right. So we did an observational study, not a randomized control trial but an observational study of well over 1,400 patients from 25 different hospitals in the New York City metropolitan region and we looked at to what extent physicians used hydroxychloroquine with or without a azithromycin and what effect that had on in-hospital deaths, on abnormal heart rhythms and on cardiac arrest and your summary's exactly right, Anderson.

We didn't find a statistically significant benefit in terms of death rate or harm with abnormal heart rhythms. But when we looked at hydroxychloroquine plus a - a azithromycin on cardiac arrest, what we saw was actually a statistically significantly elevated level. So that's an area of important concern to keep in mind. COOPER: And just, you know, overall, I mean, look, you were on when this study was first announced - there was not an ounce of political glee or anything in your voice and your presentation about the results of this study. President saying this is kind of an anti-Trump study.

When you hear that, I mean, I - I - I hesitant to even ask you this question because it seems insulting because you are a professional but I - I have to ask you, is there any - was there any animus toward President Trump or did that even enter your mind when doing this study?

HOLTGRAVE: No, not at all and I think that when anyone goes into a treatment study, given the severity of COVID-19 as a disease, given the scope of this pandemic, everyone who's doing research, looking at different treatments, hopes those treatments work.

You go into these - this line of work hoping that one could find some medication, some vaccines that are going to alleviate human suffering and save lives. So if anything, it would be great to be able to come on your show and say if people took these two pills, they would be doing much better and have - have recovered. But when we look at this literature, that's not what we see so far in terms of treatment.

It's important to see additional studies on prevention. But rather it's our responsibility as researchers to come and tell what the data said and to give the - the complete picture and the complete truth and what we can do is not only report on that but to subject our findings to really intensive peer review and I think journals like Journal of the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine, it's really important because they're subjecting those papers to very careful peer review and we have to be complete and honest in what we find in those studies - -


HOLTGRAVE: - - and when we published our paper, we included many supplementary tables as well to be as open as we could. So you're exactly right in your summary on this.

COOPER: Yeah. Dean Holtgrave, I appreciate all - all - all that you do and I - I appreciate the way you do it. Thank you very much for being with us. Joining us now is CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, cardiologist Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripts Research Translational Institute and CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. Dr. Topol, you - you hear what David Holtgrave just said, you hear what President Trump had said - how do you square those two things?

Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripts Research Translational Institute: Well, I think that everything that Dr. Holtgrave said is backed-up by all the studies now. There's 13 studies, three randomized trials.

There's no sign of any efficacy and there is a sign of significant hazard, so across the spectrum of people with mild symptoms or the more severe symptoms, there's no benefit of hydroxychloroquine with - with or without a azithromycin so I think that the data he just reviewed and you - you framed it so well - is - is really in keeping with a - a drug that doesn't work in the settings that I just reviewed.

And that now we're taking it to an even worst extreme which is as a preventive therapy which that hasn't been assessed and no - no less, we don't know the dose - the doses in those various trials I just mentioned are all over the place. So there's so many unknowns but the main signal is risk and it's serious. Its heart arrhythmias and the potential for fatal event.


COOPER: Sanjay, I mean, this is medical guidance that's being changed and distorted, not only by the president, but now reinforced by members of his own cabinet, all because he just decided to do this and not back down from it, and I guess, now he sees a political benefit in, sort of, being -- you know, this adds to his belief or his attempts to show that he's the tough guy, the powerful guy who thumbs his nose at conventional wisdom, blah, blah, blah, that sort of thing.

But the idea that we're now in an environment where even science, you know, which is fact based and rigorous and, you know, even people who do these studies point out the flaws in their own studies, that it was -- you heard from the previous guest saying, yes, this study is not peer reviewed. We need peer review.

It just seems like now everything, the whole idea of President Trump is to destroy every institution, question every institution and put elements of doubt into everything so that truth doesn't -- there is no truth anymore. It's all just who you believe or what you believe. There's nothing that is a fact. And yet, that is -- there are facts and there is truth.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it's really scary, Anderson, especially when you describe it like that. There is no truth. I mean, is that the world in which we're now living?

Luckily, I think, as a medical science reporter, I've always had the luxury of being able to hold up data and facts and science, and wrap it up in some sort of logic for people. People don't always listen. I get that.

But the idea that somehow there's competing interests and, therefore, things can be gained in that way -- maybe I'm here to say that that's not the case, despite what we're hearing from the White House, that these are bad scientists because they gave a result that he didn't like.

You know, science is not perfect. It keeps evolving. That's why we do studies and make the studies bigger and prospective and randomized and all the things that we need to do. But with regard to hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, I think, you know, the data is becoming increasingly clear. Again, you heard the dean's, sort of, caveats. But the idea that it doesn't help, might hurt, is a real concern as a treatment. The idea around prophylaxis -- you know, giving it preventively, we

don't know -- there is no evidence to show that that works, as Dr. Topol was just saying. Those studies are still ongoing.

And look, Anderson, I would love it if there was a prophylactic like that that was low side effects or no side effects and could help prevent people from getting this infection. We don't know that yet. And there is a harm when people are starting to hoard this and other people not being able to get it as a result.

One thing I am worried about, and this is something I spoke to Dr. Reiner about not that long ago, was does the White House know something that we don't know? Is the White House acting on information that is not being shared with the public? They're really, really going deep into this hydroxychloroquine as a preventive. It doesn't make sense.

It's likely that he had some sort of exposure -- the president -- they're worried about it. But if there is information or data that they somehow have come across that is not being shared with the public, that would be deeply concerning and unethical, because obviously, the public deserves to know that kind of information.

And we're in that sort of situation now where every bit of information matters. Are they hearing something that we don't know? That's something we're trying to dig into.

COOPER: Yes, the flip side of that coin is, chances are, no, there is not any secret information that they have. It's that the people who the president talks to on the phone have said, I'm hearing great things about this hydroxy thing. My doctor tells me to do it. I'm going to do it.

And then, folks on other networks have secret meetings with their people with the president and tell anecdotal stories about people who rise like Lazarus from taking this, and the president listens and that is what influences.

Gloria, we've seen time and time again, he's influenced by the last person who left the room that he was alone with who happened to put an idea in his head.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Totally anecdotal evidence, if you want to call it evidence. I mean, I think what we're seeing here, really -- and you touched on this before in your question to Sanjay -- is that it's really political right now.

I mean, you know, this question of hydroxychloroquine has become sort of the new marker in the culture war. Just like wearing a mask, in a way, has unfortunately become a marker in the culture war.

Do you believe it's okay to take hydroxychloroquine or for the president to take it? Do you think it might, in some crazy way, be preventive, which, as Sanjay says, nobody has even proven at all. Do you think the president is doing the right thing?

And I remember, back during the 2016 election the president always talked about the potential for an election to be rigged?


That's a favorite word of his. And now what he's saying is, the science is rigged. The scientists are rigged. They're -- you know, this is an enemy statement this academic study, and that anybody who disagrees with him on this question of hydroxychloroquine is because they are an enemy of his and they don't like him.

So, the signal to the American public, then is, "Don't believe the science. Don't believe what the scientists are telling you -"

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: -- "believe me because I have your best interest at heart."

COOPER: Right. But let's be - but let's - yes, but let's - yes, let's just be real about this. Let's just look at the time line on this.


COOPER: You know, the president suddenly discovers his valet has coronavirus, so he is upset by that.


COOPER: And because suddenly it is in his world and it affects him, suddenly everybody in the White House has to wear a mask. Everybody in the White House has to get tested all the time.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: Or should be tested all the time. And the president starts taking hydroxychloroquine because all of a sudden he feels in danger, but he can't --

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: --he's not going to wear a mask because he said publicly, and he thinks it makes him look weak, but even though he may be, you know, himself, you know, endangering other people around him, he just makes sure everyone else around him wears a mask. So for all his talk of, you know, being powerful and strong, as soon as it's touching his life in a personal way, he quickly reacts and makes sure everyone else wears a mask.

And let's not forget that, so for all those people saying about not wearing a mask and now the president is talking about not wearing a mask --

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: -- he's living in an environment where he has made everyone around him wear a mask because he is not willing to. We're -- so we're going to see Sanjay again shortly.

BORGER: And he has access to the White House doctors.

COOPER: Dr. Topol, thanks for joining us.


TOPOL: Sure.

COOPER: Yes, of course, he has access to doctors around the clock.

Coming up next breaking news from the CDC a new bulletin on how the virus is spread with big implications for how to stay safe. And later putting safety measures to the test as all around the country restaurants begin reopening.



COOPER: There's breaking news from the CDC to bring you on how the coronavirus is transmitted. We'll have that in a moment. First, a quick look at all the other late developments on a day that certainly saw plenty. Erica Hill has that.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A packed high school graduation in Norman, Oklahoma, looks like a flash back, but it's not.

MATT COX, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL, COMMUNITY CHRISTIAN SCHOOL: We had permission from anybody and everybody that we needed. And so we had the graduation.

HILL (voice-over): the city manager gave the school the go ahead. 600 people showed up. There were temperature checks, though masks were optional.

In Delaware face coverings are now mandatory for anyone over 13 at church services. Meantime, one often cited model which just revised its predicted death toll down shows masks may be helping.

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY: 40 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.

HILL (voice-over): As mobility and testing increase, states are monitoring new cases. Numbers over the past week are up in 17 states, including Florida, where Miami is preparing to reopen parks and businesses tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just ready - ready to get back to work.

HILL (voice-over): Nevada also seeing new cases rise, as the Venetian in Las Vegas says it's accepting reservations for June 1st. Hawaii - among the 16 states seeing a decline in new cases - just extended its mandatory 14 day quarantine for visitors through the end of June. In North Carolina, Tyson Foods closed this chicken processing plant for the second time in a week due to positive cases. New York City offering a sober picture of those most impacted by the virus.

New data broken down by zip code confirming communities of color and low-income areas have seen far more cases and deaths than whiter, wealthier areas, mostly in Manhattan. The mayor announcing today some of the city's more than one million public school students will continue online learning this summer.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Distance learning creates challenges, but also creates a world of possibilities. And for so many kids, this summer will be a chance to keep learning.

HILL (voice-over): A handful of universities will limit in person classes this fall. Some ending before Thanksgiving.

REV. JOHN JENKINS, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME: We have to be able to deal with this in a way where we can educate our students, and keep - make the campus environment safe and healthy.

HILL (voice-over): Texas restaurants can increase capacity to 50 percent on Friday, but even that may not be enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be tough. Houston is going to lose some good restaurants.

HILL (voice-over): Outdoor dining and in person retail return in Connecticut tomorrow. A planned opening for salons has been pushed to June, as concerns grow about just how many small businesses will survive.

GOV. NED LAMONT (D), CONNECTICUT: I haven't calculated it, but I'm afraid there could be a sea change.


HILL: And Anderson, as we look at more things changing --

COOPER: Erica, go ahead.

HILL: Anderson, sorry about that. Little miscommunication. As we look at more things changing, we are also learning more about sports coming back online . The NFL playing - training camps, rather, opening today.

They were asked about mini camps. The medical director said couldn't give any dates, but will rely more on the dates. Major League Soccer actually canceled its all star game, which was set for late July in Los Angeles.

And today, we learned that the Belmont will be run on June 20th without spectators. That means that this time, the Belmont will actually be the first in the Triple Crown series. Of course, it normally goes last. But the Kentucky Derby not on the calendar, Anderson, until September this year.

COOPER: I liked our awkward satellite silence where we didn't know who was going to speak first. It was kind of a showdown.

HILL: It's good stuff.

COOPER: I blinked first. I talked.

HILL: It sort of was. And I'm not sure who won. You did, okay. Okay, good. I'm glad. I'm glad you blinked first.

HILL: You won. Erica Hill, thanks very much. So, with those increased reopenings happening around the country, there is new information about how the virus is spreading. In a new bulletin, the CDC says that COVID-19 spreads far more easily from person to person rather than by contact with contaminated surfaces.


Quoting the CDC guidance, "this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads", meaning contact from surfaces, "but we are still learning more about this virus."

I want to bring in CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Celine Gounder. Dr. Gounder, what's your take on this? A lot of our guests all this time have been saying the primary transmission is person-to-person, but obviously, should people still now be concerned about surfaces?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Anderson, I have to confess I was a little surprised that the CDC guidance was revised in the absence of, really, much new data on this front. I think we've thought all along that person-to-person transmission was the primary mechanism, but we have seen virus on different surfaces.

In fact, just in the last week, a publication out of the CDC, the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, published an article in which researchers in China were looking at virus in hotel rooms where people who had been isolated -- so people who had been in contact with cases who then developed the disease, they could actually find virus on those surfaces.

Now, one thing to qualify there, though, is we don't know if that was live virus or remnants of virus, but we are seeing, you know, still, more and more publications attesting to that. And so, I think, in the absence of more hard facts on this, I was a little surprised that they altered their guidance accordingly.

COOPER: I want to put that graphic, if we could, back on the screen, which is a direct quote from the CDC, because I think it's valuable just to read out loud. It might take us a second to do that. There it is.

The virus does not spread easily in other ways, but the CDC says, from touching surfaces or objects, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus. This comes as states, obviously, are reopening. There has to be more

concern about surfaces in public places, I would assume, than in private ones.

GOUNDER: I think that's right. And so, high-touch surfaces, whether it's elevator buttons or door handles or counters in the cafeteria, you know, I think those are still areas that really, we do need to pay attention to in terms of decontamination.

And until we have a better sense as to what level of transmission there is from contaminated surfaces, I think it's better to be a little bit cautious about this, especially as we are lifting social distancing restrictions and we are finding ourselves in shared spaces again.

COOPER: So, just to be clear, as far as you know, this does not come from any new study that was done or anything new. It's just a statement they've made.

GOUNDER: I think it's really a qualification or a further nuance to what they were saying before, which is that the vast majority, from what we can tell, of transmission, is person-to-person transmission, but, clearly, some can happen through surfaces.

And until we can say absolutely, that's a very, very tiny amount of transmission, I think the better part of valor is really to continue our disinfection practices to really make reopening as safe as possible.

COOPER: I mean, it does seem like, as much as things are reopening and businesses are reopening in places to varying degrees, you know, the good news is that it's ultimately each individual, to the extent that they can, they can continue to follow the guidelines that they feel are responsible, wearing a mask, continuing to do social distancing, even if everybody else around them, you know, on the block is not doing it. That may be unfortunate, but it doesn't mean everybody has to give up the guidelines that they themselves are following.

GOUNDER: That's absolutely right. So, you should continue to do what you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community. I think that wearing a mask is probably the most important thing other than hand washing, hand hygiene, that you can be doing to protect yourself right now.

But I think paying attention to the surfaces that you're touching, and for employers and people who run public spaces to make sure that they do up the ante a bit on how they keep surfaces clean, I think, would be the appropriate and cautious thing to do here.

COOPER: Yes, Dr. Gounder, appreciate it. Thank you. Up next, as more and more restaurants are opening up around the country, we'll dig deeper into what laboratory science says about the possibility of dining out safely.



COOPER: As you heard before the break, despite that updated guideline from the CDC, many scientists are still concerned that contaminated surfaces could transmit the coronavirus and with all states now scheduled to reopen in some fashion or other tomorrow, we wanted to see what that might mean for people who eat at restaurants or may be exposed to germs or either Coronavirus droplets. Randi Kaye with to Aladdin, Florida to see if science can provide any answers.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We'll put some in and should I rub it all together as well?

DR. PATRICK HUGHES, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY: Mm'hm.

KAYE (voice-over): This yellow tinted goo is a mixture of petroleum jelly and fluorescent solution.

HUGHES: Put it under an ultraviolet light, this will - this will glow.

KAYE (on camera): Okay, and that's going to simulate germs on my hand?

HUGHES: Correct. So this will simulate contact spread, you know, from you to other things that you've touched and maybe touched by someone else.

KAYE (voice-over): Dr. Patrick Hughes is an ER doctor who oversees the emergency medicine simulation program at Florida Atlantic University.

KAYE (on camera): Hi, ladies.




KAYE (voice-over): He invited us to lunch, designating me the so- called spreader, so we could see how germs on my hand which could be coronavirus droplets could spread in a restaurant setting. At our table we keep our masks on to protect ourselves and each other.

KAYE (on camera): There's a menu for you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

KAYE (on camera): Do you want a menu too?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sure, thanks.

KAYE (voice-over): I pour water for everyone at the table.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gee, this is great. Thanks for having us for lunch. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure.

KAYE (voice-over): And pass around the food, wondering if I'm passing around the virus, too.

KAYE (on camera): Chips?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, awesome, thank you.

KAYE (on camera): Do you want to take the bowl?


KAYE (voice-over): We also share the salt and pepper. Then it's time to turn on the ultraviolet lights to see what I may have spread. Remember, I was the only one with what could have been the virus on my hand.

KAYE (on camera): You didn't have any germs on you, I was the spreader. So when you look at my hands and look how it transferred to some of you just by sharing items at the table or a knife in this case or a water glass, I mean, even it only takes a little bit, right, to make somebody else sick.

KAYE (voice over): How about that bowl of chips I passed around?

HUGHES: You can see where she touched the edge of the bowl to pass it around, the simulated germs, you know, stuck right to the surface.

KAYE (voice-over): Then everybody else touches the bowl. Same with the salt and pepper shakers and the pitcher of water. There was contact spread on the cups and menus, too. Even my "lunch" friends.

HUGHES: This is the spot where -- when Randi came in to have lunch with her friends, she touched right on the shoulder just to greet everybody and you can see the outline of her palm print -- her hand print right on the shirt.

It's quite scary the amount of spread one person can have in a room like that.

KAYE (on camera): We also wanted to see what would happen if you're out for lunch or dinner with your friend or your family at a restaurant and somebody coughs. So, let's turn out the lights and let's see the cough.

KAYE (voice-over): There were now more droplets on the bowl of chips, the menus and the water pitcher, too.

KAYE (on camera): Look what happened to the fork after that simulated cough those would be real germs if that was a real cough. On my fork and I would have picked up the fork, not being able to see those germs with the naked eye.

KAYE (voice-over): Even the woman sitting to my right several feet away from the mannequin that coughed had droplets on her face. HUGHES: You can see it's on her face, her glasses, her mask.

KAYE (on camera): And if she wasn't wearing a mask, she would have breathed it in.

HUGHES: Correct.


COOPER: And Randi joins us now. So, what did the doctor there advise when it comes to dining out? I mean, obviously don't be sharing menus and other items.

KAYE: Right. I mean, it was pretty gross, Anderson, as you could see. So, the doctor that we spoke with, I asked him, I said, "So would you go out?" And granted he's very busy working in the ER but he said, "No, I would not go out to eat right now." He said, "People should really think long and hard about that."

But the real question is can you protect yourself if you do go out? And the problem is, Anderson, as you know, you can't wear a mask if you're eating out. You can't wear gloves depending on the kind of food you're eating, and in some of these cities you can't social distance because the restaurants are very tight quarters so that makes it difficult, too.

And you don't just leave it at the restaurant. I used my telephone as we all do, we keep it on the table, you know, when we're eating out somewhere with friends, maybe to take a picture or just to take a call. And then you take your cell phone from that restaurant which has the simulated germs on it or perhaps the real germs, you take it home, you put it in your car, maybe you take it to the bank or the store, and you just keep spreading it. So that's all part of the problem, Anderson.

ANDERSON: Randi, I appreciate it. Randi Kaye, thanks so much. I want to bring in Dr Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, I wonder you make of Randi's piece and what's your best advice on how people can protect themselves?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, that was quite something to see how those microbes all spread around and obviously you can't wear a mask, you know, when you're eating -- you know, when you're out to eat.

I think that, you know, there's a couple things. One is that, you know, clearly obviously it's not from touching the surface alone that you're going to be getting potentially the infection, but it's potentially touching the surface and then touching your eyes, nose or your mouth.

So, you know, just being really conscientious -- it's funny, Anderson, even over the last few months I'm so much more conscientious about not touching my face. Even when I'm doing live shots with you and suddenly my face feels to itch and I have to -- feel like I need to scratch it but I don't do that anymore.

Making sure your hands are as clean as possible whenever you're, you know, out at these places because you've got to assume that things could be contaminated. And, you know, I think the point Randi was making along with the doctor, that, you know, right now it's still at least for indoor restaurants, probably a challenging environment to be as safe as possible.

COOPER: Yes. I think I scratched my chin earlier in the program. Sanjay, thanks very much. A lot more ahead.


COOPER: A lot more ahead tonight with President Trump laying the blame on China for the pandemic. The question, how much has politics, domestic and international, interfered with the work of the scientists at the CDC? Some answers on that coming up.



COOPER: Time and time again, President Trump has blamed China for the coronavirus outbreak, even threatening retaliation when it comes to the trade wars. There is certainly evidence to show China has not been transparent when it comes to information about the disease. CNN has been reporting that from the early days of this.

But what about domestic political considerations when it comes to some scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Here's senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Multiple sources inside the Centers for Disease Control tell CNN they are convinced politics, not science, is the driving force behind the White House response to COVID-19, and those decisions have made the effects of the pandemic in the United States worse.

DR. JAMES CURRAN, DEAN OF ROLLINS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Now, there hasn't been as much input from the CDC, from my point of view.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): CNN spoke to six current CDC staff members, and many of them say the White House has stifled the CDC in its coronavirus response. And at times ,limited its ability to provide health information to the public.

One source telling CNN, "We are working under a black cloud of an administration that doesn't have our backs." Another saying, "We've been muzzled." Dr. James Curran is Dean of Public Health at Emory University, and former assistant surgeon general at the CDC.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Has the CDC been sidelined here? CURRAN: I think the perception is that the CDC has been sidelined at least part of the time. Once you feel like the work you're doing is going through a political lens, it gets to be very, very discouraging.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): On March 2nd, as COVID-19 was racing across the globe, a CDC internal daily report obtained by CNN found evidence of local transmission in 29 other countries. Two days later, that had grown to 85 international locations.

The next day, March 5th, three of the top six countries affected by the disease are in Europe. Internal emails reveal a CDC global travel alert is about to be issued, expected to be posted that night. It would have urged precautions for international travel anywhere, almost two months after a travel warning had been issued for China, but it was delayed for unexplained reasons.

The travel alert that was supposed to be posted March 5th does not take place until March 11th, the same day President Trump would announce his restrictions on most flights coming in from Europe.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Each day of delay bringing exponentially more coronavirus exposure to the east coast of the United States, according to Dr. Ali Khan, a former CDC official.

DR. ALI KHAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CDC OFFICE OF PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE: Those were the days when these cases were essentially being transported via air travel. We now have really good genetic data that probably between two to six weeks before we started to see the peak in New York, cases were already slowly spreading within the New York area.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): One senior official inside the CDC says they told the White House about the virus's rapid spread across Europe, but that the White House was extremely focused on China and not wanting to anger Europe, even though that's where most of our cases were originally coming from.

Khan says, the original sin, as he calls it, was the botched testing at the CDC that lost time and allowed politics to intervene.

KHAN: And if we had testing in place, people very quickly would have recognized that there were cases in the U.S., probably in early January, that were being missed. Similarly, we would have identified people coming in from Europe if we had widespread testing across the United States.


COOPER: And Drew joins me now. Drew, have you heard from the White House or CDC about this? GRIFFIN: No. No answer to any of our questions, and that's not

surprising, Anderson, given the politics of the situation. But these experts, these CDC officials say that's exactly what we don't need. We don't need politics in this. We need science and data to drive decision making, and right now, the CDC is being shunned at the White House. Anderson.

COOPER: Drew, thanks. Drew Griffin. Up next, we remember some of the victims of the coronavirus, including the wife of John Glenn, a nurse who broke barriers in the 1950s, and a retired paramedic who gave his life to save others.



COOPER: Tonight we remember more of those who have died because of the coronavirus. Annie Glenn. She was probably best known as the wife of the late astronaut, John Glen, the first American to orbit the earth. They were married for 68 years, before John Glenn died in 2016.

She was his wife through it all. The wars he fought, the time he served in the Senate, the two historic trips to space. But she was a hero in her own right. Annie Glenn lived with a severe stutter for most of her life.

As a child, she estimated that she couldn't speak 85 percent of the time. Can you imagine that, what that must have been like? It wasn't until she was in her 50s, after intense therapy, when she felt she could speak with confidence.

She went on to become an advocate for people with speech impediments. She even spoke in public for her cause, something she never imagined she could do for most of her life. She was known as a woman for an endless amount of courage for herself and her husband and her family. Annie Glenn was 100 years old.

Corliss Henry was also a woman of incredible courage. She was the first black nurse on staff at the Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey. Can you imagine what that was like, in 1957? She joined after receiving special permission from the board.

Her friends and colleagues say she endured a lot of racism in her life, but she never lot it stop her. She continued. She overcame it. Corliss Henry was 95 years old. What a life she lived.

Paul Carey was a retired fire fighter and paramedic from Colorado, who drove nearly 1,800 miles to New York City in late March in order to help battle the virus. He came here to help. Health care workers were overwhelmed at the time. Help was badly needed.

Paul volunteered for the job. He spent three weeks transporting coronavirus patients to hospitals. He was about to start another three week deployment when he, himself, started showing symptoms. His family said he risked his own health and safety to protect others.

In their words, he left this world the better place, and he did indeed. They're right. And we thank them. Paul Carey was 66 years old.

That's it for us. The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you, Coop. Have a good night. I am Chris Cuomo, and welcome to Prime Time.

So the model cited by the White House for reopening implication projects less deaths between now and August, if and only if people wear masks. So Trump, of course, refuses to wear one. That's all you need to know about this President. Forget the rest of the noise about what he's taking or what he's doing.