tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN April 25, 2020 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. this is a special edition of "the situation room." more than 2.8 million people are known to be infected with the coronavirus. the global death toll has topped more than 2,000. more than 53,000 have now die said. the world health organization issued a warning for those already infected. scientists say there is at least not yet there, is no evidence to support the possibility that they are immune from being infected again.
that point underscored by britain's chief medical officer who's warning this could make the chance of a vaccine, in his words, much less likely. >> we need to be careful. we don't assume we'll have a vaccine for this disease as we have for, let's say, measles, which once you have it, you're protected for life. we may or may not but we need to be absolutely clear about that. >> and cautious optimism. several u.s. states where they say the infection curve is flattening. cnn has learned the u.s.ns comfort has only one patient remaining on board. the ship is expected to leave ported tomorrow. 182 people, by the way, were brought to the comfort, which arrived late last month. it's expected to leave very soon. new york's governor, andrew
cuomo is saying he wants to ramp up both diagnostic and antibody testing, especially for the state's health care workers and first responders. let's go to evan. the governor says new york is now on what he calls the down side of the mountain. but emphasized these last several weeks have not been easy at all for new yorkers. what more are you learning? >> reporter: well, wolf, we're nearing the end of week five of this extraordinary new york pause. the stay-at-home order that's wreaked havoc on the economy and so many people's lives. but this has actually maybe worked. and the governor saying hospitalizations are now down to the same number they were related to covid on april 4th. >> we are back where we were 21 days ago. 21 days of hell.
but we're back to where we were. what we need to find out is when we will back -- be back to the point where only several hundred people showed up at the hospitals every day with the covid infection. that's what we want to see. we want to know how fast that decline continues and how low the decline gets. >> reporter: now, wolf, that number of hospitalizations is still high. the governor hoping it comes down even more. shows things are starting to decline here in a good way. but they're trying to increase in a good way, which is the testing capacity. the governor mentioning there's going to be a new program that turns drugstores into diagnostic testing centers for essential workers. and what that means is prior to
this point t was very difficult to get a test there, were a lot of rules around it. now they're loosened because there's more testing capacity. so, the essential workers can get tests and also an increase in the testing of the antibodies. and that's going to roll out starting today at hospitals that have been most effected by this pandemic in new york. health care workers will get the testing. so, while the governor is talking about how hard this has been and how tough this continues to be for people, there are signs that all this work people are doing to make this thing a little bit more manageable may actually be working. >> thank you in new york city for us. in that new scientific brief, the world health organization says the following. there is no evidence yet that people who have had covid-19 will not get a second infection, end quote.
it's a rather chilling reminder there is still so much we don't know about kroenauer vs. coronavirus. a former cdc disease detective. and michael is detective of the center infectious disease in the uni versity of minnesota. we don't know if this is true or not. after all the investigations. but if they don't necessarily have immunity after getting over the virus, what does that mean for potentially reopening the country? >> it really means we can't rush to reopen. we do not want to repeat our mistakes from 100 years ago where we loosened containment measures too quickly after the first wave of the flu pandemic and had a second wave far deadlier than the first. to be clear the world health organization is saying there's no chance of immunity.
they're just saying we don't know. so, we can't let people presume i'm okay and won't get reinfected. we don't know that for sure. we're hoping this virus follows the tracks of the original sars and mers means you have immunity for a few years. it may follow suit with thukter more common cold coronaviruses where we lose immunity after a few months, which is why we get the common cold. a reminder as much as we are rushing the science understandably, we do need wait for the data to understand once someone's has the infection, how long are they immune for. how protective are they? >> it's an important point. you previously suggested maybe 60 to 70% of the population needs be immune to beat this virus. what do you make of this news from the world health organization? >> i think statement they made
was we just don't have the data yet. there have been at least two different studies conducted in china using monkeys. one where they infected monkeys and went into see a month later if they tried to reinfect them, could they? and more recently they did a vaccine study where they actually gave vaccine to two different groups of monkeys. and again they were protected on challenge at a later time. not in humans, which i would agree. but i'm optimistic we'll have short-term immunity. but this will keep circulating widely until we get 60 to 70% of the population immune through either natural disease or vaccine. and vaccine, even if we get one, is a ways off. >> there's a lot more research. so much we simply don't know. the experts simply don't know. will antibody tests have a major
role to play in the country reopening right now given the fact we don't know the impact of all this? >> it's great we're see dg investment of the antibody tests. there's no issue they're being done. they may not be gaz as we need them to be. but what does that mean in the context of not understanding what a positive antibody test means. we might test somebody and say, great, you have antibodies but how does that translate to real life? does that mean they won't be infected now or they'll be protected the next six months or year? we don't know. and that's why i'm so weary that we'll reopen the economy because we still need science to show us how long immunity lasts for. >> there's been talk about -- i never heard of this. so-called challenge trials where people are infected with the virus while testing vaccines.
is this something we should be looking at, at all? >> actually, wolf, what we're talking about is a special kind of study to fast forward the vaccine work and given the seriousness of the pandemic, i would say throw the kitchen sink at it. this is vaccinate people and then instead of waiting for them to get potentially infected by mother nature, you intentionally try to infect them. clearly, it would take volunteers willing to be infected, trying to help all of human kind deal with this issue. and if we could get data from these studies t would fast forward does that work or not? >> what's your take on these so-called challenge trials? >> i know people watching might sound so wild talking about intentionally infecting people with a virus. we've been doing challenge
trials for flu vaccine, milairia, tifoid and cholera. it's not the same as letting someone get infected by being coughed on at the grocery store. you're starting off with volunteers very healthy to begin with. the least likely to get severely sick and you intentionally are infecting them with a known amount of virus and following them very, very closely. the first hint of cough, you're picking up on that. and you're really doing this to condense and squish vaccine development timeline in the hopes of speeding this up and allowing a vaccine safe and effindications to be available to everyone. >> and a year/year and a half untail real vaccine? >> i think that would be the earliest and then we have to manufacture it to 8 billion people. it's not going to be overnight but i think we're making progress in a timely way and that's what we need.
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welcome back. we're going to have a lot more of our live cover object of the coronavirus pandemic. but first i want to get to another developing story we're following. the u.s. is closely monitoring intelligence reports suggesting kim jong-un is in grave danger after surgery. according to a u.s. official with direct knowledge. and another says the concerns about kim's health are credible. but the severity, at least right now, hard to assess. will ripley is joining us from tokyo. we don't know much right now. what more are you learning, first of all about the north korean leader's condition?
>> it's been clear because there's been radio silence with barely a mention or significant mention of kim jong-un since jim first broke the story and he might be in grave condition after a surgical procedure. and because it is so secretive, particularly concerning matters of their leader's health. and we're seeing new satellite images posted by 38 north, showing what appears to be kim jong-un's train near his compound. in the space that is reserved for the supreme leadership when they travel through the country by train. now, obviously this doesn't prove or disprove anything about kim jong-un's health. kim jong-un usually prefers to fly there. he flies his home plane there. however, if he has had a surgical procedure, it's possible he would be unable to fly. and if he needs to make a trip,
the train might be one way to do that. they can probably get him there a little faster by car if they needed to. trains are also used in north korea for very significance, formal prusessions and events. he travelled by train to hanoi for the summit with president trump. and kim jong-un's father reportedly died on this train and was brought back in a formal way on the train as well. we know kim jong-un loves to spend a lot of time on wan san. is there recovering? those are simply the questions we won't have answers to until we hear some sort official news from north korean state media. and appears to be business as usual. what's what they're projecting anyway. >> thanks, very much. will ripley, we'll get back to you in the next hour or so.
i want to bring in the former u.s. ambassador to the u.n., bill richardson. he's known for his work on behalf of the united states in north korea, including helping secure the release of hostages, political prisoners. what's your read? you follow events in north korea very closely. what's your read on these latest developments? >> my read is that he's had a serious heart procedure. that something has gone wrong. is he seriously ill to the point of death? i don't think so. but i think he is very seriously disabled. the north korean media is not going to say anything until they have something definitive. one of the things that worries me is before this procedure on the nuclear talks, there seem to be a power struggle bethen to party, the military, intelligence people as to who would get kim jong-un's ear when it comes to negotiating with the
united states. so, we have to be careful. i think we have to be calibrated. but my sense is something is wrong with his health. he has a serious heart procedure. he's a bit overweight, an alcoholic. something is wrong and it effects our national security. >> how long do you expect him to remain silent? this has been going on for several days. >> well, i don't think they're going to be coming out soon unless there's something definitive. i think kim jong-un has already a succession plan and that is his family, his sister. he wants to keep the power in the family. that's probably going to happen. but the worry is that there are 40 nuclear weapons out there. there's the concern by the chinese over refugee crisis. so, the whole peninsula, the stability of the peninsula is
dependent on the situation on kim jong-un. so, we have to watch it very care feel. >> we certainly will and we'll be in close touch with you. i know you've been there many times in north korea. i want to turn to the latest developments on coronavirus. the president's attempt to shift blame. and "washington post" reports this goes beyond cutting funding. the state department is apparently stripping out mentions of the organizations and various fact sheets and they're pushing the claim who and employees routinely go on luxury travel. >> well, we need china, when it comes to north korea to keep the sanctions on 90% of the trade in the north korea goes through china. i would be careful about alienating china too much. we're already blaming them for the virus. the world health organization,
we're cutting it off, 25% of the funding comes from the u.s. and it seems for the president's political agenda, he wants to blame china for this virus. i would be very careful. first of all the world health organization is doing a good job. yes, they are too close to china. maybe they should have come out sooner. but this is the whole world suffering this pandemic crisis, posh thaebl next one. and it's counterproductive to blame china too, cut them off, to cut off the world health organization. especially with this north korean crisis brewing. we need china on north korea. >> and as you know there, are a lot of concerns in the trump administration that china initially was an honest, wasn't transparnlt. waited too long to inform the world what was going on in wuhan. and as a result, we have this worldwide pandemic.
is this criticism of china fair? >> yes, it's fair. it is a bit china centered. there are too many china officials in the world health organization. nonetheless, you don't cut them off by 25%. that's going to impact the whole world. you don't fine sanctions in response to what china has done. yes, criticize it but don't blame them for everything. there are too many issues affecting the geopolitical world where we have to get along in a sense with china. not have a war of words, not blame them for everything. and especially with this north korean crisis, we need them to keep the sanctions on, to keep the pressure so north korea does not build up their nuclear arsenal, which is what they're doing. >> thanks so much for joining us. we'll stay in close touch with you. well watch the north korea story very closely. lots at stake. the ramifications could be very significant. thank you so much for joining
us. >> thank you. so, the very large part of the president's response to the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded in public at the daily white house coronavirus task force briefing. republican allies, at least some, have increasingly believed they're not helpful, they're actually harmful politically, politically speaking. and that may have been -- this week there may have been a breaking point. when you own horses, you don't just own horses. you own a pasture. a barn. and hay. lots of hay. you need a tractor built to get every job done right. the kubota l series tractors.
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increasingly nervous they're at risk of losing the presidency and the senate if president trump does not put the nation on a radically improved course. jonathan martin is joining us right now. national political correspondent for the "the new york times." jonathan, thank you so much for joining us. what are the republicans saying behind the scenes? >> they're very concerned at these daily briefings. they believe, wolf, the president is using the press briefings to lash out at the press, at his critics in the ranks of the nation's governors. he's imparling, not just his re-election prospects but starting to undercut his own party running for the house and senate. and the bottom line is if he keeps doing these, in the minds of a lot of folks in his own party, he's going to create real political peril. >> there was a meeting of the
task force but no press briefing. you're right. and perhaps most significantly that the president's single best advantage has been his access to the bully pull president trump. he's effectively become a platform right now for self sabotage. as you and maggie call it. does it sound like the president is coming around to the idea he might be better served without regular appearances by him at those briefings? >> well, maggie and i did a story about two weeks ago with a lot of the folks urging him to cutback on the briefings. he rejected that at the time and said it was the only way for him to reach the american people. you talk privately to folks in his party and he says he's actually more interested in these because it puts him in a spotlight for a couple of everies every night. he loved watching the coverage afterward president. it is notable today there was no briefing.
and last night a fast briefing with no questions at the end. if you saw the president's twitter feed, he references not doing the briefings anymore. so t does steam like he may cutback on these. i will say, famous last words. i'm not sure he's going to be fully able to resist the temptation to do the briefings, at least a couple of time as week. >> i think dwour right. "one of the purpose of having white house news conferences when the mainstream media asks hostile questions, they get record ratings and the american people get nothing but fake news. not worth time and effort." that would suggest he's losing interest in asking reporters' questions at those briefings. where do republicans think the president might be most vulnerable? which states are they so closely watching control of the senate
is very much at stake right now? >> two big states that have senate races very competitive and it could be crucial in the presidential race. north carolina and arizona. and surveys in both states have the democratic candidate winning right now. and president trump narrowly losing. and why that's so important. the president has a window stage or at least lose very narrowly for his candidate for the senate to win. because those races are so closely tied to the top of the ticket. those two states are important for the senate and presidential. i think more broadly, wolf, three big 10 states. wisconsin, pennsylvania and michigan are going to be critical this fall. and a lot of folks notice this week. multiple surveys came out in michigan and pennsylvania. in both states joe biden was ahead, outside the margin of error over donald trump.
if the president can't carry michigan and pennsylvania, wolf, he can still win but the path becomes vooer narrow. >> and even florida could be at stake for the president right now as well. exlnlt reporting from you and maggie haberman as usual. thanks very, very much. ye we're going to have more coming up. and i want to turn to the 2020 presidential campaign and why a video from 1993 is part of the political discussion. mj lee is joining us right now. tell us how the video is going it relate to a sexual assault allegation dating to the time when he was a u.s. senator. can you bring us up to speed on the allegation itself? >> well, wolf, a woman named r. reed, she was an aid in then senator joe biden's office in the 1990s. she recently came out publicly
with an allegation of sexual assault against joe biden. cnn interviewed reed for the first time last night on the phone. we had previously reached out multiple times and last night was the first time she agreed to be interviewed on the record. and what she said is that sometime in 1993 she was asked to deliver a dufl bag to then-senator biden and that somewhere in a corridor on the capitol complex, that joe biden had her up against a wall, used his knee to spread her leg and put his fingers inside of her. that is what she is alleging. the biden campaign denies this allegation. and we can talk about their full response to all of this. but one important piece of context is this woman, tara rooeds last year publicly accused joe biden of inappropriately touching her in ways that made her feel uncomfortable by touching her neck and hair.
so, this allegation she is making publicly now is obviously a lot more serious than what she had said last year. >> is there corroboration of reed's story? >> so, what's important is that other media outlets, including the "the new york times" and "washington post," they have extensively reported on this allegation and story and the "the new york times" spoke with a friend of reed's who says reed told her about the alleged assault at the time when it happened. they also spoke with a second friend who said that reed told to her about inappropriate touching in 2008. that this conversation happened in 2008. and the "washington post" also spoke with reed's brother and he said, quote, i heard there was a gym bag incident and he was inappropriate. i remember him telling me she said she was nothing to him. and several days after that
conversation, his brother also said that biden had put his hand under her clothes. that his his recollection. now, the "the new york times" also spoke with two dozen people who spoke to -- who worked, rather, with biden in the early 1990s and none of them corroborated her allegation. "the times" also spoke to other women who previously said biden had in the acted with them physically in ways that made them uncomfortable. we should be clear none of them accuse biden of sexual assault and all of them told the "the new york times" they didn't have new things they wanted to add about their experiences with biden. and that several of them, though, did believe reed's assault allegation. >> so, how does reed's late mother factor into all of this? >> well, her mother is a key part to this story because she is the one other person that
reed says she told about thuledged assault at the time. now, she died a few years ago. so, she obviously is not somebody that can help corroborate the story right now. but what surfaced last night is a clip from cnn's larry king live from 1993 that appears to feature his monther's voice. so, let's take a look and then we can talk about it. >> yes, hello. i'm wondering what staffer would do besides go the press in washington? my daughter has just left there after looking for a prominent senator and could not get through with her problems at all and only thing she could do was go thrapress and she chose not to out of respect for him. >> she had a story to tell but out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn't tell it? >> that's true. >> go ahead.
finish your thought. >> i was going to say what reed told cnn last night was this is definitely her mother's voice and that at the time, some time after the alleged assault, she remembers her mother told her she called into larry king's show and her reaction at the time was to be upset about it because this is not the kind of thing she want said her monther to be doing at the time. to be clear, what this woman's voice in the clip is saying. she refers to problems her daughter was having. she mentions a prominent senator but she doesn't name names and certainly doesn't mention any details like sexual harassment or assault. we want to be clear about what the clip is showing and what it isn't showing. what it does appear to suggest is this is her mother. then reed did share something with her mother at the very least she found troubling or
problematic about the experience she had working with the senator. >> what is the biden campaign saying about all of this? >> well, the biden campaign isn't commenting on this larry king live clip. what they did previously share statements about the sexual assault allegation. i want to read a statement from deputy campaign manager. she said quote biden has dedicated his life to changing the culture and lives around women and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark violence against women act and he firmly believes women have a right to be heard and heard respectfully. they should also be interviewed by independent press. it is untrue. this absolutely did not happen. we also got a statement through the biden campaign through marianne baker. she was biden's executive assistant in the 1980s and 1990s.
and she told "the new york times" that this was one of the people she complained to in the senate office. baker says in all my years working for a senator biden, i never once witness said or heard of or received any reports of inappropriate conduct, period. not from miss reed, not from anyone. i have no knowledge or accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional and as a manager. these false allegations are in complete contradiction to the inner workings of our senate office and the man i worked so closely with for almost two decades. >> and thank you very much. take a look at this. we have live pictures now. once again from newport beach in california where people have flocked to the beach, despite warnings to stay home. tums versus mozzarella stick
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so, a record heat wave this weekend is drawing thousands to southern california's beaches right now and there's police patrols making sure people observe social distancing. let's go to paul on the beach at newport beach. what are you seeing there? are people keeping they are distance? >> reporter: wolf, the authorities are praising the people for keeping their distance. you can see a lot of white sand behind me, as the fog rolls in. this is the first major test, weather test since the covid-19 outbreak.
18 million southern californians under a heat advisory and a checkerboard of closed beaches. massive l.a. county, all beaches closed. but in newport beach and parts of orange county, open. we talked to one surfer. surfers can be territorial and he said he would like not as many people show up. >> stay at home, stay safe. >> you will always be too close. they say six feet. maybe people are six feet. maybe here and there, but better than being at a grocery store. >> everybody got upset about the beaches being open in florida. when i came down here and saw they were separated from each other, so i think it's pretty safe. >> so ventura county beach is
also open. san diego county beaches will open monday as we see easing of these social distancing restrictions. back to you. >> paul, thank you very much. the coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it it. the environment is responding to weeks of global lockdown. air pollution is falling by unprecedented levels in major cities worldwide. the epa says this is the longest stretch much good air quality in l.a. in at least 25 years. look at venice, italy. you can see the bottom and can see jellyfish. this week marks the 50th anniversary of earth day. cnn brings you a special report, the road to change. it will air at 10:00 p.m. eastern. bill, you traveled around america gathering reporting for
tonight's special report. first of all, what did you learn about americans' perspective right now on climate change? >> it's interesting. the parallels between climate change and coronavirus, if you had gone out to dinner with a viralolojist or five of them, you would have come away thinking we are not prepared for worst case virus. and same would climateologists. and from the florida keys up to the alaskan glaciers because the conversation does not match the reality unfolding in so much communities. we are trying to give you perspective. here is the feature that took a
year in the making for "the road to change." ♪ >> this shows how this is already affecting countless lives, but scientists warn this journey into change has only just begun. since the industrial revolution began, earth has warned about 2 degrees fahrenheit, but it is getting hotter faster. scientists say we may only have about 500 gigatons of carbon left to burn, period.
but researchers found there are already 29 giga tons on the books. and burning it all would blow us past 4 degrees fahrenheit, a road to hell. all within the lifetime of this little guy. william river weir, my unborn son. >> i congratulate you -- >> he is no longer unborn, wolf. he came a couple weeks early, so i now have william river weir as part of my life. i have such perspective in lockdown looking at his little face and realizing as he would live in uncertain days, that he is in for an uncertain lifetime. but i think there is plenty of hope to be found in that knowledge is power and this next generation needs to understand
as much as we want to protect them, we have to prepare them for a new reality. >> a beautiful baby. congratulations to you. i am looking forward to tonight's documentary. bill weir reporting. thank you. >> don't miss tonight's special "the road to change:america's climate crisis ". don't miss it tonight at 10. and breaking news, the white house considering a major change in fighting the coronavirus. news just ahead in the situation room. so, farmers is reducing auto premiums by 25%, extending payment due dates, and expanding coverage for the delivery drivers who are carrying us through. and then we'll do the next thing,
and the thing after that, until this is another thing we've seen and done. that's why working together ist more important than ever. at&t is committed to keeping you connected. so you can keep your patients cared for. your customers served. your students inspired. and your employees closer than ever. our network is resilient. our people are strong. our job is to keep your business connected . it's what we've always done. it's what we'll always do.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. this is a special situation of the situation room. right now around 2 million people are known to be affected by coronavirus. and 200,000 have been killed, more than a kwutquarter of those in t