Return to Transcripts main page


White House Sows Confusion About Trump's Condition; White House Physician Says President Trump Continues To Do Well; New Model Predicts 363,000 U.S. Deaths By End Of The Year; What's Next For The 2020 Election Campaign After Trump Diagnosis? Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 3, 2020 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. It's 9:00 p.m. here in New York and at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

And despite a taped message tonight from the president who's spending another night there, we still do not know the plain facts of his condition. So far today we've seen his doctor give a briefing that might actually have subtracted knowledge from the world evading questions about when the president was given oxygen and laying out a time line he later retracted.

We heard from a source reported by "The New York Times" and Associated Press to be chief of staff Mark Meadows who described the president's condition in very sober tones. Far worse than the doctor described them. Then we saw him go on record with a far more upbeat statement once he'd been revealed as the source according to "The Times" and AP.

And just to cap off today Judd Deere, spokesman for the president said and I quote, "The White House is fully committed to providing transparent and regular updates on the president's condition and recovery."

Given all that we've seen so far, that claim is simply absurd. We do not know with any confidence what the president's medical condition actually is. We do not know his prognosis or how long he's been walking around with COVID. We don't know the last negative test he actually got. We don't know when he tested positive.

That is the simple truth and it's a bad place to be. We'll talk about it all tonight.

First, (INAUDIBLE) what the president had to say.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to begin by thanking all the incredible medical professionals, the doctors, the nurses, everybody at Walter Reed Medical Center. I think it's the finest in the world. For the incredible job they've been doing. I came here, wasn't feeling so well. I feel much better now. We're going to beat this coronavirus or whatever you want to call it. And we're going to beat it soundly.

So many things have happened. If you look at the therapeutics which I'm taking right now, some of them and others are coming out soon that are looking like, frankly, they're miracles, if you want to know the truth. They're miracles. People criticize me when I say that, but we have things happening that look like they're miracles coming down from God. So I just want to tell you that I'm starting to feel good.

You don't know over the next period of a few days I guess that's the real test, so we'll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.

I just want to be so thankful for all of the support I've seen, whether it's on television or reading about it. I most of all appreciate what's been said by the American people, by almost a bipartisan consensus of American people. Beautiful thing to see. And I very much appreciate it, and I won't forget it. I promise you that.


COOPER: With that let's go to CNN's John Harwood at Walter Reed. So John, the president released this video message. It was released tonight, not sure exactly when it was recorded.

After the press conference at Walter Reed earlier today, chief of staff Mark Meadows contradicted the president's doctor according to "The New York Times" and AP saying that the next 48 hours will be critical for the president and the last 24 were -- I don't want to mischaracterize his words -- were basically alarming. What more are you learning about that?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we had this ridiculously evasive press conference by the president's doctor, Sean Conley today where he wouldn't specify what the president's fever was, whether he had seen evidence of lung damage, whether the president had taken supplemental oxygen, although we subsequently learned that he has taken supplemental oxygen.

And then it appeared the White House thought that went over so poorly that they needed to provide a statement expressing some more realism so they put out a statement saying that they were concerned about his vital signs yesterday, that the next 48 hours were critical.

And I've got to say in that clip you just played from President Trump's video you had a note of vulnerability there where he said "I'm starting to feel good, I didn't feel good when I went to Walter Reed but you don't know what's going to happen in the next couple of days."

I about the president there was showing somewhat more candor about the uncertainty of the situation than his doctor did at that press conference earlier today.

COOPER: There was actually a last-minute push to get the president to Walter Reed yesterday. He was apparently reluctant to go, correct?

HARWOOD: The president does not like hospitals, and he also does not like displaying that he is in difficulty. So that was one of the odd things about that video because what the president said was I could have stayed at the White House, and they wanted me to stay at the White House and I would just ride it out here, it would be fine. But he indicated he wanted to confront the virus at the hospital. That's not really what happened.


HARWOOD: The medical team wanted to get him to the hospital. That was a smart decision. And they also wanted to get him there while he could still walk out to that helicopter on his own. And that's what they did. They got him here, and it's a good thing they did. Because he's taking Remdesivir which is a five-day regimen and doing other things in terms of monitoring that can only be done here.

COOPER: Right. John Harwood, appreciate it. Thanks.

Let's go next to the White House and CNN's Jim Acosta. Jim, CNN has some new reporting about the outbreak among GOP officials and where it originated. What do you know?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. I mean this has been the theory all week, or at least the last couple of days when, you know, this started to become a major concern that the president has coronavirus, that this dates back to that Supreme Court announcement for Amy Coney Barrett on the south lawn of the White House and the Rose Garden.

And CNN is hearing from a senior administration official that at least that's the theory at this point, that this likely happened at that Supreme Court announcement. Of course we don't know that for a fact.

One thing that we, you know, we want to point out is that, you know, there are people who have been in the debate prep team with the president who have contracted the coronavirus, people like Kellyanne Conway, people like Chris Christie. Those debate prep sessions were occurring prior to the Supreme Court announcement.

And so the time line is still a little bit murky, but that's what we're hearing from one official tonight. But, of course that's been the theory all along. We've heard that over and over again from Sanjay Gupta that that appeared to be a super spreader event when they announced Amy Coney Barrett.

COOPER: And I understand you have some new reporting on when President Trump may have tested positive first for coronavirus.

ACOSTA: Right. I mean, a big part of the question on all this Anderson is when the president exactly tested positive for the coronavirus. We heard the conflicting information coming from the White House division, Dr. Sean Conley earlier today and from -- reportedly from the chief of staff Mark Meadows. But yes, our understanding from talking to White House officials this evening is that the president came back from that fund-raising trip up to Bedminster, New Jersey on Thursday feeling symptoms of the coronavirus, took one of those rapid tests, came back positive.

And then following that was administered the PCR, the more in-depth PCR test. That came back positive, and that is when the president, you know, sort of officially began to really deal with this disease.

COOPER: Hope Hicks was showing signs of the virus on Air Force One returning Wednesday evening. I don't understand why the president wouldn't have been tested after that, Wednesday night, Thursday morning, even once they knew Hope Hicks -- why wouldn't he be immediately tested?

ACOSTA: Anderson, I mean that is a question I think for our next press conference, you know, if officials actually have one. But one thing we can tell you on Friday the White House press secretary was asked about this, and you know, what she told reporters is that even though Hope Hicks was sickened with the coronavirus, White House operations made the determination that it was ok for the president to take that trip up to Bedminster.

Obviously, he appeared to be carrying the virus at that point and had the potential to spread it to other people. One of the things you could look at is even this evening, the president appearing in that video released, you know, just tonight of the president offering his situation up there at Walter Reed. He's not wearing a mask and so on.

Obviously, somebody is in the room taking that video, and of course the potential is there obviously if there are other officials in the room of that virus being spread around further.

And all I can tell you, Anderson, is what I've said before in terms of why the president went on that trip to Bedminster. They just don't take this virus as seriously or didn't take it as seriously as just about everybody else and so all of this sort of blew up in their faces.

COOPER: Yes. Jim Acosta, appreciate it.

Two ER doctors join us next along with one doctor of politics to dig deeper into what we know about the president's condition and what it means so close to election day.

And later new modeling and what it has to say about how much higher the death toll could go in the next two months in this country. That and more when we continue.



COOPER: Over the break we heard CNN's Jake Tapper's reporting that senior administration officials believed it was quote, "highly likely" that last Saturday's Supreme Court announcement at the White House was the nexus for the COVID outbreak among Republicans lawmakers and presidential advisers.

As for where the president contracted the virus, we're being forced to play detective. How sick he is, how long he's been infected, how long he and his doctors have known he's infected are all unclear tonight, which is why we're glad for the expertise of our guests tonight.

Dr. Jeremy Faust is an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He teaches the subject at Harvard Medical School. Also with us CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and Dr. Leana Wen. She, like Dr. Faust is an emergency room doctor and medical school professor. In addition she's the former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore.

Dr. Faust, the president released a video message just a couple of hours ago from inside his hospital. I mean hard to tell anything from a video. We don't know when it was recorded, but is there anything that stood out to you from it?

DR. JEREMY FAUST, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: Yes. he looked a little better than I'd feared he might look in a video like that, but he does look a lot like patients with coronavirus at this stage early, which is quite frankly a little tired, holding on but doing ok.

We know that the next seven to ten days are where all the worst fears start to crop up. If you look at all the trials, the patients will get admitted, first couple of days unless they're immediately in distress. First couple of days the mortality rates are low and then you start to see seven and ten days out, the nightmare scenario.

So he looks good. And I hope it stays that way. A little better than I had feared but it's kind of about what we see for all the patients in his risk category.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, much of the confusion came directly from the president's own doctor in his briefing to the media this morning. He was the only one taking questions from reporters. I found that interesting since he's the president's since he's White House doctor, none of the actual specialists who were actually treating the president were taking questions.


COOPER: From a medical perspective did how and what the doctor said about the president's condition make a lot of sense to you? Because I mean he certainly went out of his way -- I mean he misdirected on whether or not the president was ever on oxygen. He phrased it in every possible way to avoid saying that what we later learned that the president did take supplemental oxygen at the White House.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Yes, there were several inconsistencies Anderson, beginning with the fact that we never got vital signs. Vital signs are vital. I mean first year medical students know that you can't describe the patient's condition without describing the vital signs including the oxygen saturation, needing oxygen or not. There was this talk about how he didn't have a fever, but not a mention of whether he was taking fever-reducing medications like ibuprofen or Tylenol.

Then there was no description also of his chest x-ray. I mean the president has a respiratory illness. It's inconceivable that he did not receive chest imaging of some kind, probably multiple chest x- rays, a (INAUDIBLE) -- we didn't hear those results at all.

And then there is this other question about time line. I mean, we really need to be asking -- the press, I know that you have but we need to be asking this because if the president really was getting daily negative tests or daily tests and he was testing let's say negative on Tuesday or Wednesday, how did he suddenly have such a high viral load by Thursday that he has a fever which is a later sign. And then by Friday is so ill that he's needing oxygen and experimental therapies.

That doesn't make sense when you consider that the average time to having severe symptoms, requiring ICU care is 10 to 12 days.

COOPER: Dr. Faust, do you agree with those questions, I mean, about the time line? I mean certainly we don't know when he had his last negative test. We don't know, you know, when he actually tested positive. The latest Jim Acosta had been told was that he got a test after he returned from Bedminster.

I find that hard to believe but that's what Jim Acosta has been told, and then a confirmatory test later that afternoon.

DR. FAUST: I agree entirely with what Dr. Wen just said. And what she's really talking about there is a concept we call risk stratification, which is really just a way of saying what's the prognosis here. And we've learned so much in the past several months about that.

We know that from certain laboratory blood tests we can say what the risk is, what the x-rays look like. So we can actually say is this mild or moderate or severe or critical.


DR. FAUST: The oxygen saturation -- fever is mild. You can have mild disease with fever but if you actually have a low oxygen saturation you're in a whole new risk bucket. The question of the timing is a real interesting one because either he just got recently infected and had a huge viral load, like you could have a little like a grain of salt and have a mild illness or you can have a dollop of sour cream and have a huge viral load and become sick quickly. That's very bad prognostically.

Or alternatively he's had the virus for much longer and all of a sudden now the question is whom did he expose, and are they going to be upset because they weren't told about the possible risks.

COOPER: Yes. White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany has just tweeted another memo from the president's physician, Dr. Sean Conley. I just got it right here.

It says "President Trump continues to do well having made substantial progress since diagnosis. This evening he completed his second dose of Remdesivir without complication. He remains fever-free and off supplemental oxygen with a saturation level between 96 percent and 98 percent all day. He spent most of the afternoon conducting business and has been up and moving about the medical suite without difficulty.

While not yet out of the woods the team remains cautiously optimistic. The plan for tomorrow is to continue observation in between doses of Remdesivir, closely monitoring his clinical status while fully supporting his conduct of presidential duties."

Even as the -- so just want to make sure -- so that was the end quote. So Dr. Faust, it's interesting, she says that he is off supplemental oxygen. So confirming that in fact he was on at some point on supplemental oxygen which we know at the White House because his own doctor refused to say he was on supplemental oxygen. But she just I guess confirmed it by saying he's off supplemental oxygen.

What do you make of that saturation level between 96 and 98 percent all day, doesn't have a fever -- although we know he had a fever at the White House although the doctor wouldn't say how high. What do you make of this statement?

DR. FAUST: So first of all 96 percent to 98 percent, is that what you said? That's fine. It's a little lower than 98 to 100 which is perfect. But the more important thing is it's above 94 percent. So 94 percent is where we start to see real trouble. And we wonder -- we want to know was he ever at that 94 percent.


COOPER: Right. Which the doctor would not answer.

DR. FAUST: -- right, was he given oxygen because he needed it because of his numbers or just for comfort? And if it's because he needed it, then he really has at some point been in a diagnostic category of at least moderate illness. And we know that the risk for those patients is really high and scary in patients of his risk category.


DR. FAUST: So the press release sounds good. I like to hear that he's fever-free. I agree with Dr. Wen. Is that because it's being suppressed? We don't know. But it would just be so helpful to know all the details so that we can say to the American people here's where you ought to be because right now, it's cloudy weather but I can't tell if it's about to get lightning or the sun's about to come out.

We could know that with more information and more transparency.

COOPER: Gloria, just from a -- you know, does it make any sense to you that the doctor -- Dr. Conley would give evasive answers, which I understand him doing it, but he didn't do it very well because it was so obvious he was giving evasive answers and misdirecting on a number of topics. And then he says misstating the time line although as Sanjay Gupta has pointed out when he says 72 hours since the diagnosis he was reading off a prepared statement which was probably gone over.

But just -- does it make any sense to you that according to the "The New York Times" and AP Mark Meadows, the chief of staff immediately after Conley gave this briefing contradicted and gave a much more dire portrait off-the-record to pool reporters? Does that make any sense to you? I've been all day trying to figure out why that was done.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: So in the context of the Trump White House I think it makes sense only if we really understand who the patient is here. The patient is Donald Trump. Donald Trump believes that if you are sick it is equated with weakness. Weakness is the worst thing that can ever happen to anybody.

You hear him call his political opponents weak all the time. He doesn't want to look weak. That's why he did the video this evening because he wanted to show the American people, ok, I'm up and around. That's why he lied in the video and said, well, you know, I really wanted to stay in the White House when our reporting shows, of course, actually he was very worried and wanted to go to Walter Reed.

But he's the one telling the doctor what he can say and what he can't say. And Donald Trump doesn't want the American public to know that, yes, I was sick enough so that I had to be on oxygen or my fever, we don't know what his fever was, that my fever might have spiked at one point. He doesn't want to look vulnerable at all.

And so as a result you have the doctor coming out with this ridiculous press conference in which he told us nothing. And then you have a side gaggle with reporters in which you get something a little more accurate and they don't match. So it's either an attempt at a cover-up or it's incompetence or it's a combination of the two.

COOPER: Gloria, I think you misspoke and I just want to clarify because if you didn't then it's different than what I'd heard. I thought he had -- the reporting had been that he wanted to -- he wanted to stay at the White House because he was concerned about the optics of going to the hospital --

BORGER: Yes, sorry.

COOPER: -- right. Because you said the reverse.

BORGER: Yes, sorry. Did I misspeak, I'm sorry. He did want to stay -- he did want to stay at the White House. He did. He did not -- he was worried, yes.

COOPER: Right. Because tonight he said that he was the one who made the decision to go to the hospital, that he could have stayed there. Again, there's just so much confusion over, you know, what is real and what is not.

BORGER: Sorry, I was confused. No, you're 100 percent right.

COOPER: No but the press conference today which is supposed to inform the American public, obviously it just made things worse, and then to have the chief of staff come out with this, and then later give a much happier statement. Anyway Kayleigh McEnany has given out this statement.

Dr. Faust, appreciate it. Dr. Wen, Gloria Borger, thank you.

Gloria is going to stay with me. More on this new medical update on the president with our viewers after the break.

And later next how much worse could this get? A new projection -- we're talking about COVID-19 for the American people -- a new projection from the University of Washington. The numbers are troubling to say the very least. They come with a way to keep the death toll down.



COOPER: Before the break we got a late update. It was released from Kayleigh McEnany, the assistant to President and White House press secretary. It's from the president's physician, Dr. Sean Conley.

In the statement it said that the president has made, quote, "substantial progress since diagnosis". Dr. Conley goes on to say the president is fever-free, off supplemental oxygen and has completed his second dose of the anti-viral drug Remdesivir.

The doctor says, the medical team remains, quote, cautiously optimistic.

Back with Dr. Jeremy Faust and Leana Wen and CNN's Gloria Borger.

So Dr, Faust, the idea that he's just completed his second dose or second course -- yes, second dose of Remdesivir, what exactly does that mean? How does one take Remdesivir?

DR. FAUST: Remdesivir is given through an intravenous line. It's through an IV that it's given through the veins. And right, now we're being told it will take a five-day course. There were some studies that looked at ten-day courses. Somehow the --

COOPER: Doctor -- sorry, let me just interrupt, your mike fell off, so I'm going to let you get that back on.

And I'll go to Dr. Wen. Dr. Wen, what do you make of this statement from Dr. Conley?

DR. WEN: Yes. So I mean there are some reassuring components of it. It's good that he remains fever-free, although we still don't know whether he took Tylenol, ibuprofen and that's the reason why he doesn't have a temperature. The oxygen saturation is within fairly normal limits. And he's not requiring oxygen which is good.


COOPER: Right. They're saying the saturation level is between 96 percent and 98 percent all day.

DR. WEN: What's right -- which is good. But I don't really understand what it means that he has made substantial progress. Progress indicates that there was a change in his condition.


COOPER: Yes. Let me just -- I just got some new information. I'm sorry to interrupt you Dr. Wen. The president's chief of staff Mark Meadows is doing an interview right now on another network and said about the president yesterday and I quote, "He had a fever and his blood oxygen level had dropped rapidly."


So again, we don't have a detail of what the actual number was but -- so he had a fever yesterday and his -- and we know that because his own doctor would not say earlier today how high a fever he had. Nobody has said how high the fever was, and that does matter. And what the oxygen level was yesterday, now it's between 96 percent and 98 percent all day. So I assume that means it was lower than that.

WEN: I mean presumably it was a lot lower than 96 percent to 98 percent, which is the reason that's something that would certainly prompt a transfer to a hospital because you might be concerned at that point, will he require a higher level of care, might he need to be intubated and require mechanical ventilation at that point?

And so I think this is why understanding the clinical course of where the president has been, that's really important for us to know.

COOPER: Dr. Faust, I'm sorry I interrupted you before. The -- can you just explain to us what that means, what the blood -- what the oxygen saturation level, what it means? And you had said before I think that if it was 94 percent or below that would be considered a moderate case of coronavirus?

FAUST: That's correct. The oxygen saturation levels are typically measured with a finger oximeter. It tells you what your levels are. And anything above 97 percent or 98 percent, 99 percent, 100 percent, is perfect. And when we hear about a rapid decline, we don't know how low it went, but what that means is we had a very unstable situation, and that is not the story we heard. We are now getting a new picture of this clinical course, that was he's feeling well, things are OK, he's going there just to get monitored.

And now we're hearing a bit different, that he's substantially better and he's substantially better than a rapidly decreasing oxygen saturation. This is the kind of situation where if I'm treating that patient, and I have treated patients of this kind of situation where we are doing rapid responses, we are mobilizing our team, and it sounds like the president thankfully turned a corner for the moment.

But it is not comporting with smooth sailing. We're now seeing a picture of a patient who would be at the top of my concern levels, and that's changing. This is literally breaking news, right? COOPER: Gloria Borger, there have been courses taught on

communications for decades in this country. And examples of how you communicate in a crisis, how do you not communicate in a crisis. I don't know who these people are who are working at the White House and making these decisions, but I mean their communication is just adding to the problem.

BORGER: Well, let's talk about the mixed message this evening. I mean, we heard -- and I'm not a doctor here but you've got two wonderful ones on with you. But we heard what I think is a huge piece of information here which is about the president's condition, which was that his oxygen levels were rapidly declining. That's really important.

That's not rosy. But we heard that from Mark Meadows. We didn't hear that from the president's doctor because the president's doctor was saying what the president wanted him to say. But I'm not so sure --

COOPER: Right, why is the doctor giving happy talk when --

BORGER: Right, Mark Meadows --

COOPER: And Mark Meadows behind the scenes according to the AP and "The New York Times" --

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: -- is giving a more dire picture and then on -- you know --

BORGER: I really --

COOPER: Yes. Go ahead.

BORGER: Yes, and I think Mark Meadows, maybe he's used to being a congressman, maybe he's used to talking to journalists that way and he doesn't feel so governed by Donald Trump. But we get these mixed messages. And, you know, Donald Trump has always said, well, I don't want the public to panic. That's why I didn't tell them about, you know, how COVID is transmitted earlier. Well, this is way to get the public to panic because you don't understand what's happening to the president of the United States.

COOPER: You know, Americans are tough and Americans are strong, and Americans just want to be told honest information, and they can handle it. Thank you.

Dr. Faust, Dr. Wen, thank you. Gloria Borger as well.

Coming up next, that new mortality projection from the University of Washington and how we can all keep the numbers down. I'll tell you how ahead.


[21:38:21] COOPER: Our breaking news, President Trump's White House physician says the president, quote, "continues to do well having made substantial progress since diagnosis." And Chief of Staff Mark Meadows revealed moments ago that yesterday the president's blood oxygen level, quote, "dropped rapidly." More on that ahead.

First, here's a new coronavirus modeling tonight from the University of Washington researchers. Dr. Chris Murray who is the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington joins us with details.

Dr. Murray, good to see you again. So the nation's currently averaging about 713 deaths per day according to Johns Hopkins University. Your latest model predicts 2900 deaths a day in December. That's awful.

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: It is. It is, Anderson. And the reason we think that's going to happen is the combination of people, you know, taking their foot off the break and starting to mingle more, being less careful, and then most importantly seasonality. You know, people go inside, humidity factors, the things that we know contribute to increased transmission of respiratory viruses in the winter.

COOPER: So that's -- I'm terrible at math, but that's more than triple. You believe deaths will more than triple on a daily basis by December.

MURRAY: Yes, it's in our control, Anderson. It's not something that's written in stone. But it's what we think is most likely to happen and we have a tremendous amount -- you know, we the American people have a tremendous amount of control over what actually happens by how we behave, how much risk we take in terms of interacting with others, and most importantly wearing a mask. And that can make a huge difference to our death toll.


COOPER: Right. Your latest model predicts 363,000 U.S. deaths by the end of December. Do you know if masks were worn what that -- how many lives could be saved by December?

MURRAY: Yes. Given what we know about the effectiveness of masks and given what we know about -- you know, about half of Americans wearing a mask when they're out, we think that about 86,000 lives can be saved if we can get mask use way up. So it's very much in our control as to what's actually going to happen.

COOPER: So this is so important. So you're saying 86,000 lives could be saved in the next several months if people wore masks, and you said way up. What percentage of the population would you need to wear masks to save 86,000 lives?

MURRAY: Well, we've got to get up to the level that we see in places like Singapore, and that's 95 percent of the population wearing a mask when they're in a setting where they're at risk of transmission. So out of the home, in any indoor setting or even outdoors when you come within close distance of other people.

COOPER: And currently you think what percentage of the population is wearing masks? You said about half?

MURRAY: We're just under 50 percent are wearing masks in those settings.

COOPER: Wow, so less than half of America is wearing masks in settings that they should.

MURRAY: Absolutely.

COOPER: Yes. So I mean --

MURRAY: Lots of potential. Yes.

COOPER: That is a huge -- that would be a huge buy-in from people who are right now not buying in, who are not behaving responsibly and wearing masks even if they're not concerned about themselves. Just as a courtesy to their fellow citizens. But that could actually save 86,000 lives. I don't understand how anyone hearing that tonight would not just wear a mask. It's really not hard.

MURRAY: It's not hard. It's really not that uncomfortable. And it is a -- you know, our most powerful weapon to deal with the pandemic. So I share that view, Anderson. That it's really -- I don't understand it. Even in my own neighborhood here just because two weeks ago case numbers were going down, people stopped wearing masks a lot, and now in this area cases are rocketing up again.

So there's just this lag that people don't -- you know, they think about the trend and they think it's just going to keep going and so they don't need to pay attention to the epidemic.

COOPER: You know, what an amazing statement --


COOPER: What an amazing statement it would be if the president of the United States, you know, put out a video tomorrow saying, you know, I'm going to be wearing a mask from now on, I urge all of you to wear masks, we can save 86,000 lives of our fellow countrymen, men, women, children. What a statement that would be, but we'll see. Let's hope.

Dr. Murray, I appreciate it.

MURRAY: Let's hope.

COOPER: Thank you very much.

MURRAY: Thank you.

COOPER: As Vice President Pence continues the 2020 election campaign pretty much unabated, Joe Biden's team has announced what he'll do. Details next.



COOPER: The breaking news tonight, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows says that President Trump's blood oxygen levels dropped rapidly on Friday prompting the move to Walter Reed. That's new information that wasn't disclosed at the medical briefing earlier today.

Meantime, there's new information on the virus testing being done by the Biden team. Also the Biden campaign says the candidate plans to move forward with in-person events despite those coronavirus diagnoses for President Trump and his inner circle.

CNN's Arlette Saenz has been covering the Biden campaign for months. She joins us now.

So we know that while Vice President Biden has now tested negative a second time certainly doesn't mean he's totally in the clear. How concerned is the campaign that he could have been exposed?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, the campaign is taking this very seriously, Anderson. And Joe Biden told reporters today here in Wilmington that though he was not tested today for coronavirus he will be tested tomorrow morning. We are told Biden will be tested regularly for COVID-19. One official saying that it will be after every trip that he takes as they want to ensure that his health and safety are still doing well.

You know, the Biden campaign has structured a lot of their campaign events in order to adhere to health and safety protocols. He's always wearing a mask at most occasions. There are socially distant style events. And campaign aides believe that this method of campaigning allows for him to be able to stay out on the trail right now despite these COVID diagnoses for the president and some people in his orbit.

So Biden is scheduled to travel down to South Florida on Monday. On Thursday he is also traveling to Arizona where he will be joined by his running mate Kamala Harris, and the campaign says they will continue to adhere to this model that they've put in place for campaigning safely and in a healthy manner to ensure not just his health and safety are protected but also those who are in attendance.

COOPER: Right. And there are going to be some new guidelines for the debates according to the Commission of Presidential Debates. Do we know what they are?

SAENZ: Yes. So Kamala Harris and Mike Pence are set to debate for the first time on Wednesday. We're learning that they will be seated at a further distance than was originally planned. They were originally only going to be seated about seven feet from each other. That has now been expanded to 12 feet due to concerns about COVID-19.

We're also learning that everyone in that debate hall will be required to wear a mask except for the two candidates and the moderator on stage. This comes after Tuesday night's debate when there were many people in President Trump's entourage who were not wearing masks during the debate on Wednesday night. If a person is not wearing a mask they will be asked to leave the event.

COOPER: All right. Arlette Saenz, appreciate it.

You just heard about Vice President Pence's plans to take part in next week's debate with Kamala Harris. He also plans to keep his campaign plans intact for now even as the president remains hospitalized. The question is, is that the wisest course especially with the national security implications at stake?

Joining me now is Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst, former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

So according to the AP and "The New York Times" the president's chief of staff, Juliette, said, quote, "The president's vitals over the last 24 hours are very concerning. The next 48 hours will be critical.' He's now said tonight that his oxygen levels had dropped quickly on Friday, which is what moved them -- and he had a fever which is why he went to the hospital.

Does it make sense that the vice president would continue to campaign just given the president's condition?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely not. I think I would put it how is Pence planning on campaigning?


Pence may be the vice president, but the office of the vice presidency does not belong to Pence. There's a constitutional structure in the event of an emergency. We want to protect the succession line. We want to ensure that we have a government that's functioning. We want to make sure that our enemies and allies know that we can function.

So the kind of rallies that Mike Pence is envisioning are a bad idea. Now I will be honest with you. If just from the science, if Mike Pence continues to be tested and it's negative, he can have the responsible outreach, mask, meeting with people that you see from Biden. But the rallies he's envisioning -- I mean, honestly, like I don't know what world they're living in anymore.

COOPER: If the vice president could be called upon at any moment to step in the shoes of the presidency just logistically, I mean, I guess he can do that no matter where he is in the country?

KAYYEM: Right. So a part of it is of course he can step in, let's say Trump took a dramatic turn, right? The worst turn, absolutely. We know that's happened in the past, unfortunately. But let's just put this in context because one of the good things about a pandemic is that we actually know it's happening. Right? It's not an assassination attempt on a president. It's not a heart attack. We are in a global pandemic.

The United States is likely to hit, as you just had in your previous segment, 400,000 dead by the end of the year. Our economy is in shambles. Our kids are home. Our schools are closed. We are not on a trajectory upwards. It continues to be contagious. We don't have mandatory masking. We don't have a vaccine. Under those circumstances, should the vice president be having public rallies that may make him sick and may make others sick?

And I think the answer is obvious to anyone who is responsible not for campaigning or retaining their seat as vice president, but someone who took seriously their role in the constitutional structure. So I want Mike Pence to remain healthy. Whatever happens to Donald Trump, we want our vice president to be healthy because a huge part of his job is obviously to be ready.


KAYYEM: And we have a president in the United -- you know, we have a president in the hospital. That doesn't happen very often.

COOPER: Yes, you know, I mean, as a national security person, it's really interesting to me because you think about the security of the president and obviously that is paramount and that's why there is a Secret Service and, you know, people are -- going through metal detectors. It seems like this was a -- you know, there is physical security and then there is also medical security.

KAYYEM: Right.

COOPER: And the president was left extremely vulnerable by everybody around him who allowed him to be reckless and, you know, Secret Service is responsible for testing and all that.

KAYYEM: Yes. The Secret Service.

COOPER: I mean, whether or not they had a choice, I don't know. But people were coming and going and not being --

KAYYEM: Right.

COOPER: I mean, the testing is not reliable enough to have that be the arbiter. They should have been wearing masks, they should have been social distancing.


COOPER: And from a national security standpoint for a president who attacked others for misusing e-mails, this is a violation of security.

KAYYEM: It absolutely is. So just consider this a health security. It's a simple health security issue. And like other security issues we want to make sure that we don't have what's called in my world a single point of failure. You want to make sure you create a system that, if one thing goes down, it's not so bad because there's other things. So that's why I listen to the doctors. I am a consumer of health intelligence. That's why --

COOPER: Right. And the tests are a single point because it relies on the test. KAYYEM: They're a single point. And we knew -- exactly, Anderson. And

we knew the Abbott test was not reliable. So you have the test. We still do social distancing and you --

COOPER: Right.

KAYYEM: You know, you mask, work from home, and all that stuff.


KAYYEM: You want redundancies and layers.

COOPER: Juliette Kayyem, appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: A brief programming note in this busy Saturday night, here's a look at the new CNN Original Series, "FIRST LADIES," which begins with an intimate portrait of Michelle Obama tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I would not be standing here tonight without the first lady.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you were little did you ever want to be the first lady?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: I didn't know I could be the first lady.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What she was interested in was changing the world.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY: Human rights are women's rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My god, a woman who's actually trying to do something different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All he wanted to hear was, I was wonderful, and all she was going to do was tell him the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She would ask questions. She stepped up when she saw that things were going the wrong direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She gets the last word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's 31 years old. She stands up to all the president's advisers.

M. OBAMA: When they go low, we go high.



COOPER: Well, as this hectic and often confusing day ends, you're looking live at Walter Reed Medical Center where President Trump is spending his second straight night.

The news continues right now. I want to hand things over to Chris with "CUOMO PRIME TIME."


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hey, Anderson. Thank you very much. It's good to join you on this special night. And your description was perfect. What a confusing day.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to this special edition of PRIME TIME.