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WH Physician Talks Up Trump's Health, Then Cites HIPAA Privacy Reg. For Refusal To Discuss Lung Scan; Trump, Back At White House, Removes Mask As He Poses For Cameras, Then Walks Into WH Where Cases Are Rising; Trump Tweets "Don't Be Afraid Of Covid On Day U.S. Deaths Pass 210,000; Interview with Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL). Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 5, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Our breaking news coverage continues now with Anderson.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening, thanks for being with us. After a long weekend at Walter Reed Medical Center, the President of the United States returned to the White House a little more than an hour ago, three days since he was taken to the hospital, four days since we learned of his illness and we still do not know how serious his condition was and is.

The President is infected with coronavirus, and he is highly contagious, yet before going into a White House, the President took off his mask and posed for a photo-op as the helicopter which brought him departed.

He then turned around and without his mask, walked inside, back into a White House that's now already seen more COVID infections in the last several days than the entire country of New Zealand has.

With his photo-op, the President was trying to project strength. What he proved was his complete disregard for anyone else forced to be around him.

And in case you thought the whole thing wasn't a public relations stunt, once he was inside, and most people were no longer watching, he came back outside with a camera crew to walk back inside. That's right, they restaged what was already a completely staged event. And yes, still no mask.

Tonight, there's still so much we do not know about the President's health. We don't know why he was given the kind of drug treatment generally reserved for only the most serious cases, including one, sometimes mood-altering medicine, a steroid that can make a person feel better than the underlying condition actually is. Perhaps it is just because he is the President and he could get it. But it is very rare that anybody would get this kind of treatment.

We don't know if he is being -- what he is being watched for or medicated to prevent, serious complications like blood clots. We don't know if he has had lung damage. That's one of the top topics his doctor refuses to say anything about.

We don't even have a hint as to when he actually contracted the virus, and that's important. We don't even know when his last negative test was.

He was supposed to be tested every day. That's what they've always claimed. But they refuse to say what his last negative test was. There's no reason unless there is a reason that they wouldn't say that.

Some of that is important because he is Commander-in-Chief and his wellbeing matters to everybody. But so much also matters to all the people that he has come in contact with, hundreds of them at the Rose Garden two weekends ago and his campaign rallies. Thousands really, or the debate in Cleveland where none of his family wore masks.

It matters to all the people he came in contact with at Bedminster on Thursday, when at the very least he knew his senior adviser, Hope Hicks had been infected, and the White House chose to pull other people off that trip because they had been around Hope Hicks, as had President Trump, but they still let him go.

We had no answers to any of that when he left for the hospital and none tonight shortly after the President tweeted that he was leaving the hospital, White House physician, Sean Conley spoke with reporters, but said very little about any of that.


QUESTION: Have you seen any evidence of pneumonia or any inflammation in his lungs?

DR. SEAN CONLEY, WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: So we we've done routine standard imaging, I'm just not at liberty to discuss.

QUESTION: So you're -- so you're actively not telling us what those lung scans showed, just to be clear.

CONLEY: So there are HIPAA rules and regulations that restrict me in sharing certain things for his safety and his own health and reasons.


COOPER: His own reasons. He doesn't want people to know about what's going on with his lungs. As for HIPAA, the Medical Privacy Act, we will be joined shortly by someone who helped write it and says that's simply not the way it works.

No answer from the doctor either to whether he is being treated for possible blood clots, which many patients get.


QUESTION: Is he on blood thinners? And also, has he been using -- have you been giving him Tylenol? Advil? Anything for his fever now?

CONLEY: Oh, that came up -- I would like to say, he has not been on any fever reducing medications for over 72 hours.

QUESTION: So what about the blood thinners?

CONLEY: He's on a routine regimen of COVID therapy. I'm not going to go into specifics as to what he is and is not on.


COOPER: So that's two potential life-threatening complications, blood clots and pneumonia and we have no insight into, nor do we really know how long, as I have said, the President has been infected.


QUESTION: Can you tell us, please, on testing, can you tell us when he had his last negative test? Was it Thursday? Was it Wednesday? Do you remember when he had his last negative test?

CONLEY: I don't want to go backwards.

QUESTION: When was his last negative test and what was his viral load?

CONLEY: Everyone wants that.

QUESTION: Can you tell us when the last negative test was?

QUESTION: Any abnormal test or any of his lab tests abnormal?

CONLEY: I'm not -- again, HIPAA kind of precludes me from going into too much depth in things that you know, I'm not liberty or he doesn't wish to be discussed.


COOPER: Dr. Conley never answered. No one in the White House will answer that question. When was his last negative test? Remember, they said the person was being tested every single day. That was the reason why he could wander around without a mask because he had been tested every day. That's what they were saying.


COOPER: He said -- they told the Committee on Presidential Debates on the day of the debate, on Tuesday, when the President arrived late that he had passed a test within the last 72 hours. There's no proof of that. If this guy is being tested every single day, if the President is being tested every single day, if the Vice President is tested every single day, there should be a record of it. Why wouldn't they tell people and show people? They made sure to let you know that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump just recently tested negative.

It raises the specter that the President could have been exposed for days before we learned of his positive tests. Remember, he traveled to Bedminster, New Jersey for a fundraiser after Hope Hicks had tested positive, and the day before that, he was in Minnesota for a rally before thousands of people and flew back on the plane with Hope Hicks, in which she got ill and isolated on the plane and then left through a separate exit.

Before that, he shared the debate stage with Joe Biden and promised that he had been -- that he was negative. There's no evidence that was ever presented of that. All they have to do is to answer the question, when was his last negative test? They won't do it.

Dr. Conley also declined to explain the physical provisions for keeping others in the White House safe from the President's infection. He did however called the President, quote, "a phenomenal patient." A patient who tweeted today telling Americans quote, "Don't be afraid of COVID. Don't let COVID dominate your life."

It might be the most disturbing and heartless and out of touch thing this man has ever said, and that is saying a lot. Don't be afraid of COVID. Don't let COVID dominate your life.

He did not mention the more than 210,000 Americans as of tonight who had no choice in the matter, 210,000 Americans who are dead and didn't have the kind of medical care that that man has, didn't get this kind of treatment, and didn't have access to it. In some cases, could barely get treated until they had to be on a ventilator, then they'd be allowed in the hospital.

They weren't rushed to a hospital on helicopter. They weren't given the top treatment as the President should, he is the President of the United States.

But if he is now using this as an example that he now knows what COVID is, he now understands it, as he said earlier in a video. He doesn't understand what the American -- what most Americans go through.

The virus chose those people's faith, and to a large extent, by his words and his actions including taking off that mask tonight for the photo-op, fine. He walks around and walks into the White House where there's people standing around and they have to be there and they have to have a smile on their face even though thankfully they get to wear a mask because they work with him, and he doesn't care about them and they know that tonight and that's the one thing they know about him.

Nearly seven and a half million people have now caught this virus. Today, we learned the White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two assistants have had it. Kayleigh McEnany who said back in April or back in, I guess, it was early February, the great thing about this President, he'll never let the coronavirus come to America, a virus like the coronavirus come here.

Campaign Manager, Bill Stepien, positive for coronavirus; the President's body man, Chris Christie, according to "New York Times," two members of the housekeeping department in the residence have also tested positive. They didn't even have direct contact with the First Family, as with three members of the Press Corps.

And the White House will not tell them when the President last tested negative? How do you do contact tracing if you don't even know when the person tested negative and when that person tested positive?

How do you tell people who do you even know who to contact? It's a mess and CNN's Jim Acosta is there for us.

Jim, the photo-op, I mean, I was going to say it was a surreal scene. It's not actually surreal. It's a scene we've seen in like, some of the Stan countries when you know, a dictator wants to, you know, have a -- put on a big show like something we used to see in the Marcos regime. I mean, it's -- and then the fact that he had to go and restage is just incredible. I'm wondering what you're hearing from the sources you talked to.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this was not an Evita moment. It was more like "Covita" given the fact that the President is bringing the coronavirus back to the White House, but you know, we just noticed this. As we were reviewing the video of the President's return a short while ago, you can see him entering the White House from the Truman balcony at about seven o'clock p.m. Eastern Time. He comes back out at around 7:08, and then reshoots, his re-entry into the White House.

We now know that this was a White House videographer who was shooting this because just a few minutes ago, Anderson, the President tweeted out a video of his message returning to the White House and it's even more surreal and absurd than what we just witnessed about an hour ago.

He says at one point in this video that, "I know now I'm better. Maybe I'm immune. I don't know. But don't let it dominate your lives. Get out there and be careful."


ACOSTA: He goes on to, at one point, towards the end of the video suggest that the coronavirus vaccine is going to be out momentarily. And so once again, the President as he has before he contracted the coronavirus, during his illness with coronavirus at the hospital, and now with his return to the White House, he is spreading misinformation much like he has been spreading the virus around it appears over the last several days.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, he is still shedding virus. I mean, he is still highly infectious.

ACOSTA: That's right.

COOPER: The fact that he took off his mask for the photo-op, then walked into the White House, it is clear -- I mean, to me, it seems like he's going to kind of take -- you know, there were a couple of different ways he could have handled this. Some people thought, well, maybe he is going to have a kind of, you know, epiphany and realize, you know, and from here on out, really encourage people to wear masks, knowing that most people don't have access to the kind of experimental treatments that he got. Unfortunately, for them, good for him that he was able to get it.

But he is doing sort of what Bolsonaro and Brazil decided to do, which is, he is going to basically say he is, you know, this shows him to be a Superman. He defeated this. It's not a big deal. Don't worry about it.

Just -- I mean, is he going to continue to walk around the White House without a mask, do we know?

ACOSTA: He's kind of a Potemkin Patient Zero, Anderson. I mean, you know, my understanding is, from talking to sources, he wants to go back to the way life was before he got the coronavirus and it's just not possible for him.

Yes, he took the mask off as he went back into the White House and he has scoffed at mask use. But it's just unthinkable that he would continue walking around the White House without wearing a mask, but that appears to be what he is planning on doing as he was returning to the White House this evening. There were other White House officials taking off their masks who were just in close proximity.

Anderson, they live inside a different reality over here at the White House and that is what is just so damn frustrating covering this presidency, because we've seen this from the very beginning of this administration. But it is now so critical because a deadly virus is circulating inside the West Wing.

I was just in the lower and upper press areas of the West Wing, Anderson, where the White House press staffers and communication staffers work every day. It is gone. It is empty. They're all gone. And that is because they've essentially had to flee the building because this is something of a hot zone.

And so you know, the President may be interested in going back to the Oval Office, he may be interested in getting back to business. But there aren't a whole lot of people here to help him get back to business because they've had to evacuate the building because of this deadly virus that's circulating around. It is stunning. It is jaw dropping in just the stupidity of what we're seeing tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Jim Acosta. Appreciate it.

Joining us now, CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman; CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta; also former C.D.C. Director Thomas Frieden; and CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Sanjay, is there any -- I mean, how contagious is he right now? I know, we don't know when he tested positive. I know we don't know when he last tested negative, so we don't know where he is in the arc of this virus, but is there any medical justification for him going back to the White House and taking off his mask?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, there really is not. You know, it's tough to know how contagious he is because we don't have some of those basic facts. As you point out, we don't know where he is in his disease course. But you know, I mean, he has a contagious deadly disease. He should be

in isolation. I think most people know that by now. And he hasn't been in isolation. He went on this car ride last night or yesterday evening, obviously another short car ride and a helicopter ride and then walked inside without his mask on, so that area that he's walked inside. There were people around him.

That area -- I mean, first of all, those people may be at increased risk. Remember, they're wearing masks mostly to protect him. He has already got the disease. He is not wearing a mask, even though he has the disease to protect them, and then the area that he walks inside, that'll likely have to be decontaminated.

So this is really reckless, you know, Anderson, I mean he --

COOPER: Sanjay, is that legal? I mean, if somebody walked into a Costco who was COVID positive and wandered around intentionally without a mask? I mean, is that allowed? I mean, is that legal?

GUPTA: No, well, I don't know the legality of it. I mean, that's an interesting question. I mean, we're dealing with this now for the first time really, this this sort of thing, but, I mean, obviously, even -- everyone is told that they have to wear masks if they go indoors into these public places and that's regardless, irrespective of whether or not you have a positive COVID diagnosis, everyone has to behave like they have the virus.

I don't know what the enforcement is. I think it's different in different states. Although to your point, maybe if it's clear the person has COVID and then knowingly exposed people, I'm sure that may be a different issue.


GUPTA: He has it. I mean, this isn't conjecture or you know, sort of just trying to be safe. He has the virus, we know that. And he, so again, we don't know how contagious he is at this point in his illness. But clearly, he's putting those other people at risk. And that entire space that he just walked into, would now need to be disinfected.

COOPER: Maggie, what are you hearing from people you hear from in the White House about what is going on inside that building?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, you have a President who as Jim correctly said in the segment before this, wants to come back, wants to act as if nothing has changed, wants to show strength, wants to show people that he beat this virus. He has not yet beat this virus. He is doing better as we understand it.

He is on -- and Sanjay can speak to this much better than I can, but he is on a pretty extensive -- and that is helping I think probably mask some of the symptoms he might be having; otherwise, without them he is not healthy as far as we know. We have no reason to believe that he is not contagious. And if he isn't, they haven't told us that. He wants to pretend this doesn't exist. It's the exact same thing that

we saw him do since March, and all I kept thinking watching this video, Anderson, and to be clear, by the way, people in the White House to answer your question are freaking out. They're really, really worried about lack of precautions.

There's been almost no notification from the White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows to staffers about what they should do. It's only now in month, whatever this is seven or so, of the pandemic that they are allowing even the possibility of West Wing staff to telework, which most companies have been doing for months.

This is a President who wants to pretend that none of this is happening.

If you're someone who lost a parent or didn't get to visit a parent or canceled your wedding or I can go down the list and you see the President of the United States take his mask off knowing that he is potentially infecting other people.

I don't know why he thinks that is a political positive.

COOPER: Dr. Frieden, in his tweet announcing that he would leave the hospital, President Trump said, "Don't be afraid of COVID. Don't let it dominate your life." I certainly understand that, you know, don't let it dominate your life. You know, why he wants to get people back to work, but he wants people not to be afraid of COVID.

Fear is not a bad thing. IT doesn't mean it paralyzes you, but there's a reason the body feels fear. It's to protect yourself and to protect other people. There are more than 210,000 Americans dead from this disease. Is there any other reading of that tweet other than beyond irresponsible?

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER C.D.C. DIRECTOR: Oh, as you say, Anderson, it's one thing to say don't let it dominate your life and that's a reasonable approach. And you think about fear. Let me just give you one set of numbers to think about.

When the President was diagnosed last Thursday, another 40,000 Americans were diagnosed on that same day. And by our best estimates, about 200,000 Americans became infected on that day. Of those 200,000, about a thousand will die from this. And of those who get the infection from others, they may feel fine, but they may pass it to those who then die from it.

Anyone who underestimates this virus is putting themselves at risk. They're putting their family at risk and they are putting those whom they have responsibility at risk.

COOPER: Gloria, you know, Dr. Frieden raises a really good point. I mean, in the three nights that he was at Walter Reed, I don't have the actual death toll of how many Americans died of COVID-19, but none of them were receiving the experimental treatments with a team of doctors like this President has had assembled and again, he is the President of the United States, he should get the best healthcare, but so should everybody else.

And, you know, basically, his experience is different than every other COVID patient out there.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let me just parse a little bit from his video that he did tonight, because it's sort of stunning to me, and I think it speaks to your point.

He said, "I stood out front, I led. Nobody that's a leader would not do what I did. I know there's a risk. There's a danger. That's okay. And now I'm better and maybe I'm immune." Is he talking about the risk he took in taking the Regeneron drug? Is he talking about the risk he took in the other drugs he is on? Is he talking about the risk he took in going back to the White House and infecting other people?

COOPER: No, she I think --

BORGER: I don't know.

COOPER: No, no, no, I think what he's doing is, he is taking a cue from one of the folks on FOX who I think was the first one to kind of push this idea and I think they fully embraced it now.

BORGER: He is a leader.

COOPER: Yes, that he has willingly sacrificed himself over the last several months because he needed to lead and protect us all from this and he has taken this upon himself, when in fact, as Maggie's reporting shows, I mean, that is -- Maggie is that -- does that seem to be, Maggie, the message they're trying to project now?


HABERMAN: There's a couple different messages they're trying to project, Anderson, and some of them, frankly, are in conflict with one another. But one of them is indeed, you know, I was vulnerable because I'm the President, I can't go hide in the basement. That's their line about Joe Biden, and they're also using it here. I had to go show that I was around.

And look, there is something to that, right, that the President of the United States, he can't be out of sight. That's very different because it's always a black or white with him. There's never any in between.

And so it can't be you know, that maybe he didn't have to have that Amy Coney Barrett large event, both outdoors and indoors last weekend that seems to be at the epicenter of this, that maybe he could have encouraged people to wear masks. He paints it all in all or nothing terms, and he is hoping his supporters will grab on to that.

One other thing, Anderson that they're trying to paint this as is, as it is, this is another in a long line of fights in which the President has been successful. One was against -- one was against impeachment, one was against, you know, the media. That's not most people's experience with the coronavirus or everyone's experience on the ground. BORGER: And one more thing, Anderson, I spoke with somebody who

talked to the President this morning, and he said to me, look, the President sees himself as a warrior. This is one more thing that he has vanquished. And he is -- he will defeat COVID and he's going to take that message to the American people, what I did for myself, I'm going to do for you and that's how I'm going to bring you the vaccine.

COOPER: Everyone, stick around. We're going to pick this up shortly. Next, one of the people who helped write the HIPAA legislation Dr. Conley kept falling back on today, we will talk to her.

Later, former White House Chief of Staff on a West Wing in crisis and under siege from the coronavirus, Leon Panetta joins us along with infectious disease specialist, Dr. Celine Gounder. We'll be right back.



COOPER: The President returned from Walter Reed tonight and went back inside the White House, but only after he took off his mask, posted a propaganda video as well on Twitter; yet, for all of that, he and his doctors left us largely in the dark about the severity of his condition, which continues or when he caught it, which matters to all the people he has come in contact with, which makes this so unnerving.


QUESTION: Why is there hesitancy to say when the last negative was?

QUESTION: Did he have any abnormal tests? Any -- were any of his lab tests abnormal?

CONLEY: Again, HIPAA kind of precludes me from going into too much depth with things that that, you know, I'm not at liberty or he doesn't wish to be discussed. At some future point maybe. But today, sorry.


COOPER: He is basically saying the President doesn't want him to discuss when his last negative test was. That's what he just indicated -- HIPAA, he said. The patient doesn't want it discussed.

Our next guest knows firsthand all about HIPAA, Florida Democratic Congresswoman, former H.H.S. Secretary Donna Shalala joins us now. Thanks for being with us, Congresswoman Shalala.

When HIPAA was signed into law in 1996, you helped write it. I'm wondering what you make of Dr. Conley's invocation repeatedly of HIPAA in order to not give out information?

REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): Well, the translation of what he said -- and I did -- was responsible for the regulations that implemented the Privacy Act in HIPAA. What he was really saying is, my patient, Donald Trump has not given me permission to be transparent, to tell you -- to answer your questions about his condition.

It's not HIPAA that stood in the way. HIPAA simply says you have to have permission from the patient to reveal the information. So if you're a nurse, or a doctor or a pharmacist, or you run a hospital, or an insurance -- health insurance company, you cannot reveal an individual's health situation without their permission.

So what he should have said is that the President won't let me say this.

COOPER: Right, which he did. I mean, he said, kind of in passing in a parenthetical part of a larger sentence. But I mean, your point is such an excellent one. I mean, it just really confirms where I always thought watching him and some of the things he was saying. He invokes HIPAA, meaning. Mr. Trump doesn't want me to say, when discussing the President's CT scans on his lungs, which certainly then raises questions, well, why doesn't the President want you to know anything about his lungs?

Because they're fine going into, you know, some details on oxygen levels, when they were -- once he was in the hospital. He wouldn't talk about how low oxygen levels were at when he was at the White House, which led to them, you know, rushing him over to the hospital in a helicopter.

So he certainly -- it looks like he is cherry picking which medical facts to share. But it's clearly the President cherry picking what medical facts he wants Conley to share.

SHALALA: It's all on the President. The President doesn't understand the people in this country need to know. It's both a national security risk. I mean, the people in this country are -- we're all very strong. We got through a couple of World Wars, the depression, recessions. We can take it. We need to know the details.

And every time the doctor gets out and the other doctors get out, they leave unanswered questions. But it's because the President has not given them permission to reveal all of the information. He does not want to be transparent.


SHALALA: Who is surprised?

COOPER: That is such an important point. I'm so glad that you -- we have the person who knows all about it.

Congresswoman Shalala, thank you so much. I've got go back with our medical and political team. Things are moving very fast. Sanjay, I mean, it's so telling that it's clearly Donald Trump who doesn't want this information out. Why would the lungs be of concern? And I mean, the bigger question, I guess is, why would the President not want somebody to know the last time he actually tested negative? Because that seems pretty damning.

I'm sorry, Sanjay -- something is -- okay, now we hear you. GUPTA: So, yes, we are talking about a respiratory virus.

COOPER: Oh you missed -- we missed --

GUPTA: We are talking about a respiratory virus. Sorry. Yes. With regard to the lungs. We're talking about a respiratory virus here that you know, we know it acts on all sorts of different organ systems in the body.

But you know you do think of the lungs as being one of those primary organ systems and he also had these periods of time where he dropped his blood oxygenation, so there was clearly some impact on his lungs.


Getting a chest X-ray, even a chest CT. I'm sure it's been done. And in fact, the doctor sort of intimated that it had been done and even had findings. They just wouldn't say what those findings were, they say it's consistent with his clinical course. Well, what is his clinical course? Is he is it more severe? Is it milder, the fact that they won't say, you know, is very suspicious, because if it was fine or even mild, presumably, they would have said something. And they sort of answered the same thing about other things as well, including whether or not he's on blood thinners, which would also give some indication of how significant this diseases.

With regard to the last test Anderson, you sort of brought it up before. I mean, it was interesting, when you look at the debate protocols, going back to Tuesday now, they only required an FDA authorized test within 72 hours. Basically, you had to just submit whether it was negative, the Cleveland Clinic, which was overseeing those debate, protocols didn't need to see the test. They just needed to have your word on it. And it had to only be within 72 hours. So, it's really, you know, I think --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That's incredible to me.

GUPTA: -- assumption. Yes.

COOPER: That's incredible to me.

GUPTA: Yes, no. I'm really surprised. Yes, I'm really surprised, because we've talked so many times about the fact that as we start to think about opening up the public again, the idea of having daily tests would be important. And everyone kept thinking that people at the White House, were getting tested daily. I think it's becoming increasingly clear that they weren't. (INAUDIBLE) complacent yet this whole thing and stop testing.

COOPER: Maggie, I mean, I did a town hall with Vice President Biden, I guess a week or so before the debate. I had to get a COVID test and prove it that day. The idea that the Committee on Presidential Debates was fine with a 72-hour window. So from a medical standpoint, Maggie, do we know for a fact that the White House actually was testing the President every single day, because that's -- isn't that what they were saying all along? MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, we don't know Anderson, to be clear. I don't have my own reporting on what the Commission on Presidential Debates was demanding that day. I don't know that to be true, that they only would have taken a test related to the two nominees for to be the next president, 72 hours out. That seems strange to me. So, I don't -- I can't speak to that.


HABERMAN: That the President being tested every day. We just have the honor system, right, which is they tell us what they're going to say. And they -- this is not a White House that has a lot of credibility by its own eyes on hand. So, they told -- have told us previously he was being tested every day. One point Kayleigh McEnany said, he was tested more than once on some days, something the President did not like. We don't know when that last negative test was. And that could be for one of two reasons. It could be because they didn't want to say because they weren't testing them every day, or they don't want to say because the positive test was before we've been told at this point. And I think those are unanswered questions that hopefully we can learn at some point.

COOPER: And Gloria, if either of those are true that they weren't testing every day, and therefore they we don't know, it's impossible to know when he did turn positive because if he hadn't been tested for so long, or he was lying about it longer than he was lying about it to Sean Hannity on Thursday night, that would be incredibly damning, even more damning than what we already know.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, remember, Chris Wallace said that the President got there late on the debate night, and I don't know whether they were testing people on debate night or whatever. But we know that the President did not get tested there. Look, the timeline, as Sanjay has been saying over and over and over again, is important here, because we have to know when the President got sick in order to know who else might get sick, because you have to do the contact tracing. And that is really not able to occur in any real and verifiable way, because the White House has decided to hide it.

Now, you know, in the old days, you know, if you have something to hide, you know, you hide it. And I think in this in this particular case, if you don't have something to hide, you don't hide it. And in this case, he's hiding it. So, you have to say why.


BORGER: Why is the White House not telling us an easy answer --


BORGER: -- which would be OK, he was last tested on x. And this is why.


BORGER: And it's crazy.

COOPER: Dr. Frieden, the New York Times is reporting tonight at the White House specifically White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is blocking new FDA guidelines on the emergency release of a vaccine that would almost guarantee no vaccine could be authorized before the election. The FDA basically put out these guidelines or wants to put out these guidelines for responsible, you know, study of any vaccine and responsible protocols that there would be this two months would be allowed for the people who are taking part in the trials to see how they are two months afterward, just to make sure this thing is safe. The White House doesn't want that two month period, according to the New York Times.


Does that other than they want to get it out before the election for political reasons? Is there any reason the White House should even be involved in these decisions of how the vaccine is actually studied and what guidelines are.

TOM FRIEDEN, FMR CDC DIRECTOR: And what we're seeing Andersen is a White House that keeps overruling science and it comes back to haunt them. If you say, we're going to test without recognizing, testing is just one part of safety. If you say, we're not going to isolate, you're going to have people spreading it, you're not going to quarantine, you're going to have a cluster. And in this case, what you're doing is you're potentially undermining confidence in the vaccine. We all want a vaccine out there as soon and safely as possible. But a vaccine is not going to be a magical ending to this pandemic, we're going to have to have a comprehensive approach. And even if and when we have a safe and effective vaccine, it's not going to work unless it's trusted. And it's not going to be drafted unless it follows all of the procedures with no corners cut. And if people don't take it, they won't protect it.

COOPER: But Dr. Frieden you're the former head of the CDC. I mean, can the White House just put the kibosh on what the FDA wants to do to make sure this is safe?

FRIEDEN: Apparently, yes, this president and this FDA. The risk here is that if people don't trust the vaccine, they won't get it and we'll spread it more, what we're seeing is we have real tools to fight this pandemic, whether it's testing and contact tracing, isolation, quarantine, masks and distancing, hand washing, all of these tools work. And what we're seeing is this administration, blunting or breaking each of the tools in succession, so and the next one, and the most important one is the vaccine. Because if people don't take it, then it's not going to be able to protect us and help us get back to a new normal quickly.

COOPER: We're out of time Sanjay, I just got to ask you what your -- what you think of this, because I mean, all up from weeks now, we've been saying people have been saying, well look, everybody guarantees this the way this vaccine is going to be released. It's you know, it goes through this committee, and they don't meet until such and such a date. Seems like the White House can get their way on this. GUPTA: Yes, they might be able to. I mean, there's still a couple of escape hatches, if you will, there's another committee that can still decide that they're going to basically follow the guidelines that the FDA sort of telegraphed, as you pointed out, they didn't get those guidelines approved. This is basically saying we want to wait two months to ensure it's safe, seemed like a pretty logical thing. And maybe this other committee will sort of step up and still sort of make those guidelines happen.

COOPER: All right, everyone, thank you very much. Once back in the White House, where exactly will President Trump work? How much danger? Might he be putting the staff in those around him in? Will he be wandering around without a mask? I'll talk to the former White House Chief of Staff what goes on behind those doors tonight, when we continue.



COOPER: Now, President Trump now back at the White House, a person familiar with the plans tell CNN that temporary offices have been set up for him in a basement level next, the White House medical suite. That suite includes an examination room as well as the offices of White House physician Dr. Shawn Conley. The President also has personal office space in his personal residence. The expectation is that this new workspace will help isolate the president away from the West Wing, where staffers including his press secretary have faced a fresh outbreak.

Joining me now is someone who knows a great deal about working in the White House, former chief of staff and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, also want to welcome Dr. Celine Gounder, CNN medical analyst and infectious disease specialist.

Secretary Panetta, you and I have been talking from the beginning of this administration about the setup of the staff, the White House, how this White House is Run. How do you -- what do you make of how this White House has

handled these past few days? And last week really.

LEON PANETTA, FMR DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think the chaos that we've seen in the last four years has been repeated over these last few days, because I saw a White House that was not in-charge. Nobody was in- charge. So they were having briefings hit and miss with regards to the President's situation. The staff, I don't think has been fully informed about what steps they want to take in order to protect themselves. I think the chief of staff should have set up a command headquarters at Walter Reed. I just think that there is a sense that the President who has a COVID-19 virus, that is impacting not just on his health care, it's impacting on the country. It is a national security issue. And I'm afraid that none of the White House was treating it as a national security issue.

COOPER: Dr. Gounder with the President back of the White House, walking in without a mask. We don't know if he's willing to wear a mask most of the time when he's there. I mean, should he be in the White House?

CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well Anderson, I think the President still has not learned despite having said he's gone to COVID coronavirus school now having acquired the virus himself. He still has not learned the most basic lesson of this pandemic, which is wear a mask. It'll protect you. It'll protect others. And so, it has me very concerned. You know, back when I was Assistant Commissioner of Health in New York City, when we had a patient with an infectious disease that is airborne like tuberculosis, I would sign court orders to require them to be hospitalized on the special pathogens unit at Bellevue. Unfortunately, we can't do that in this case.


But, you know, he is presenting a very real threat to others in his working and living environment.

COOPER: Secretary Panetta, I mean, you're familiar with inside the White House. And, you know, it's a busy, cramped work environment. I think that surprises probably a lot of people haven't been aware -- been there. Do you see a way for the present to remain apart from his political staff? I mean, this idea of him sort of being in the basement near the medical facilities, does that seem like it can work?

PANETTA: I'm not sure what they're thinking. You know that the problem is we have a president, the United States who has COVID-19 virus. He still is contagious. He's taking heavy medications. He's taking steroids. I mean, he really ought to be in an isolated situation. And he should be at the hospital very frankly. But, in the White House in the White House, there is an office upstairs, where he can isolate himself. I'm not sure I understand why they want to move him to a downstairs office in the White House. That would only expose more people to the possibility of a virus.

The West Wing is, as you said, very close quarters. Staff has very small offices. The hallways are very tight. And as we know, right now the White House is a center for coronavirus. It's a hotspot and a lot of almost 20 members of the staff already have gotten coronavirus. It is a dangerous situation.

COOPER: And Doctor, we don't even know -- I mean, with the White House had been like deep cleaned. I mean, you know in offices when somebody has tested positive in a working environment in a company that has resources, they do extensive cleaning to make sure, you know, every surface has been cleaned the air, you know goes through filters. Is that something that should happen to the White House? Even contact tracing, we don't even know if they're really doing that?

GOUNDER: Well, and honestly, I think the contact tracing question is even more crucial. Yes, you typically will do some sort of deep cleaning. But as we've learned over time surfaces transmit or contribute to transmission much less than droplets as well as aerosol transmission through the air. But I would be very concerned about contact tracing about ongoing testing are people in the White House, being honest about the fact that they've been diagnosed that they are carrying coronavirus. We've heard about a senior aide being instructed by the President not to reveal that. This is the very basics of contact tracing, you need to know who has it, you need to identify who they've been in contact with test them, isolate, everybody who has it, quarantine, everybody who's been exposed. And it really doesn't seem like those very basic public health measures are being implemented right now.

COOPER: Secretary Panetta, Mark Meadows is in your former role as Chief of Staff, he he's -- according the New York Times and the AP, he gave as an anonymous way to report it to the pool, far more negative information about the President's condition than his own doctor was willing to give. I mean, do you understand why he would do that like right after the doctor gives a rosy assessment that he would on background? You know, go off the record with reporters, he happened to do it on camera, and so it was clear it was him, according to Times and AP.

PANETTA: Well, I'd like to think it was to his credit, because he was concerned about the President's real condition. And when he heard the briefings, and they didn't present a very full picture about just exactly what was happening with the President. He decided to brief the press himself. So, I'd like to believe it was an instance where his own conscience said, I've got to tell the American people the truth. And that, frankly, is what should have been happening --

COOPER: Right.

PANETTA: -- this whole period. Although --

COOPER: I will say when he went back on record once he was revealed by the Times and the AP, he went back on record with a much rosier assessment.

So, Leon Panetta, we appreciate you being with us, Dr. Gounder as well.

Programming note, with only weeks until the election is time for Mike Pence and Kamala Harris to face off. That debate is going forward. The only vice presidential debate of 2020 airs Wednesday night on CNN with special coverage starting at 7:00 Eastern.

As we reported the very top of the program, the coronavirus death toll is now past 210,000 people in this country. Coming up I'll talk with a woman Katie Coehlo, whose husband Jonathan died because of the pandemic. We've talked to her before, we spoke earlier this year and I want to talk with her again, especially after President Trump's statement, the COVID is nothing to be afraid of, and don't let it dominate your life. That's next.



COOPER: With the total coronavirus death tolls topping 210,000 people in this country and the total cases approaching 7.5 million in this country. As we've reported, President Trump took off his mask and walked into the White House tonight without a mask on. And as we referenced the top of the program before he left Walter Reed Hospital, he tweeted to his millions of followers that COVID-19 wasn't actually all that bad. I'll be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30pm, he wrote. Feeling really good. Don't be afraid of COVID, don't let it dominate your life we have developed under the Trump administration some really great drugs and knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago.

He's jacked up on steroids and a whole other lot of other experimental treatments that most people will never have access to. The President sent out a video on his Twitter accounts to reinforce this message after he returned to the White House. We're not going to air it on this program. It is pure propaganda and is dangerous. The combination of videos and social media messaging makes it all the more remarkable because of the untold lives affected and untold heartache the pandemic has caused across this nation.

Among those in this nation, I want you to meet Katie Coehlo. Her husband Jonathan died COVID-19 back in April, she managed to send her an emotional goodbye note on his cell phone. Earlier this year, I talked to Katie about her loss about the impact coronavirus had on her and her family now with the President's tweet and his statement returns to the White House. Katie joins me again.


Katie, thank you so much for being with us. Before we get into this whole (INAUDIBLE) the President, how are you doing? How are your kids?

KATIE COEHLO, LOST HUSBAND TO COVID-19: My kids are fantastic. They're so funny and resilient. My daughter is the crazy side of my husband and my son is very much the sweet loving side. They're great. I take it a minute by minute. It's been a lot harder lately, if this definitely doesn't help any of us grieve. But, you know, I've got two remarkable kids. And that's really what keeps me going.

COOPER: Yes. Was you said, what I remember when you and I first talk, which was just shortly after Jonathan died, I remember you saying, well, I don't want to misquote you, but I think it was we make we make good kids. You and Jonathan.

COEHLE: Yes, we -- yes, we make good babies.


COEHLE: We definitely, you know, I'm maybe a little biased, but they're pretty much perfect. So they keep me on my toes, but they're awesome.

COOPER: I'm an outsider. And they seem pretty perfect to me. When I mean, what is it like to, your life has been, you know, your own life has, in some ways been destroyed, you're in this new life and finding your way in the darkness of that. To be doing that, at the same time that you have the President saying these things about don't be afraid of COVID? You know, and not wearing a mask going back? I mean, I don't want to get political. And, you know, I don't want to push you to say anything, but just what is it like as a mom going through what you're going through to have all this stuff swirling around?

COEHLO: No, and -- I really try to not look at this as a political thing. I've always tried to look at this as a human being thing. The COVID in general, being such a hot topic and being something that everyone feels that they can have an opinion about, or that they can just voice the downplaying of it, it definitely makes things harder. But when it came out that President Trump had tested positive, I automatically thought this is going to be really bad for all the victims' families, because the his inability to be empathetic, or to feel anything for anyone else has really just always been prevalent. But I knew if he got COVID, that he was definitely going to downplay it even more so than he has been. And he was going to allow the gates to open where people can continue to lash out at us and continue to say horrible things to us. And the video that he just tweeted, and the things that he's been saying are just disrespectful. I mean, we deserve better, my husband deserve better, 210,000 people deserved better --

COOPER: And you've had people say horrible things to you.

COEHLO: Oh, absolutely disgusting things. I am surprised if I go at least a week without somebody saying something horrible. I've been called very, what I've been called almost every swear word in the book, saying that I'm part of the propaganda and I'm left-wing. And I'm this and I'm that. And my feeling is if that's what people want to say about me, then at least I'm challenging them. And I'm giving a face and a voice to people like my husband who deserve to have a voice and to be here. And it doesn't take much, it -- for President Trump to sit there and say that he's a leader, and he's leading us through COVID. What does he have to lose by showing sympathy? What does he have to lose by saying, I'm sorry, this happened to your kids, dad and your husband? What does he have to lose? He doesn't have anything. And he is just pushing through. And nobody is looking at him thinking that he is strong and brave. He's weak, because my husband fought COVID, my husband wanted to come home. And he deserved it.

And this man is using this as a political propaganda to divide the nation when we're already so broken. It's -- there's nothing good that comes out of what he's saying. He could have done so much good with coming out and saying COVID is scary. And I'm sorry to all of these families, but we're going to get through this as a nation and as a country. And he -- what -- he's, he chose not to and again, it opens the door that people just, yes, feel that they can attack us and it's awful.

COOPER: Yes. It wasn't an opportunity for him to say, you know what, wear a mask. I will didn't push it enough before, but now let's do this. We're all in this together. It's the patriotic thing to do.


Katie Coehlo, I'm so impressed by your strength. And I appreciate you talking with us tonight.

COEHLO: Thank you. Thank you for talking about Jonathan. It's awesome. We appreciate it. COOPER: I love talking with you about him every time. So Katie, thank you so much.

COEHLO: Thank you. Thank you.

COOPER: The news continues right now. I want to hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris.