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Acting Navy Secretary Slams Ousted Ship Commander; NYC Comptroller Discusses Trying To Fight Pandemic While Mourning Loss Of Own Mom; Numbers From Hard-Hit European Countries See Glimmer Of Hope; China Emerges From Lockdown But Experts Say Risk Still High; Growing Concerns About "Crappy" Antibody Tests On The Market. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 6, 2020 - 13:30   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The acting Navy secretary is blasting the former commander of the "USS Theodore Roosevelt" during a speech to the crew's ship. He called Captain Brett Crozier "too naive or stupid to be in commander."

Captain Crozier was relieved by the Navy after sounding the alarm about the spread of coronavirus on the ship. The 170 crew members from that ship have now tested positive for the virus.

Pentagon Reporter, Ryan Browne, joins us now.

The Navy secretary said this to the crew on the "Theodore Roosevelt?" Because publicly, the Navy secretary has not gone after Captain Crozier, right?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: That's right, Anderson. The Navy secretary publicly had previously been very reluctant to directly accuse Captain Crozier of leaking his memo or concern that raised the alarm about the situation on that ship to the press. He avoided doing that in public remarks to the press.

But in his address to the crew, which many Navy officials confirmed to CNN, he basically said that the captain of the ship, now ousted captain of the ship, Brett Crozier, was either too naive or too stupid to not think that this memo was going to get out, or that he intentionally leaked out.

Now the memo was sent to about 20 officials, Navy officials, we're being told, by Navy leadership, and that was seen as disseminating it too widely and one of the reasons the Navy chose to relieve Captain Crozier.

But also, the Navy secretary, he made these remarks to a crew that, just days ago, had given that Captain Crozier a very positive sendoff where there was cheering and applause and chanting of his name.

It was an interesting choice but the acting Navy secretary offering up such harsh words for their former commander, saying he had committed an act of betrayal by sending the memo, raising the alarm. It is interesting that he would make those remarks. He must have

thought they would get out, that some members of this crew would release it.

So again, the Navy secretary under fire for these comments to this crew out there in Guam.

COOPER: Did he make him in person or by video?

BROWNE: He was there in Guam but it was broadcast across the ship through the intercom, the ship intercom system, so all members of the crew were able to listen to it.

And you can even, on some of the recordings of it, you can hear some of the crew express remarks of serious disbelief, as they are hearing the words about their former commanding officer.

COOPER: Ryan Browne, appreciate it. Thanks.

A grim milestone reached in the U.S., 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Now, there may be signs of hopes from Europe. What Italy and Spain are going through now. What it could mean for Americans.

Also, so many families grieving in New York. We'll talk to a leader trying to fight the pandemic and mourning the loss of his own mom.



COOPER: We can now confirm more than 10,000 people in the United States have died from the coronavirus. That world from Johns Hopkins. It's official count, 10,335, with just over 347,000 confirmed cases.

As the U.S. braces for one of its darkest weeks in history, Europe's hardest-hit countries are seeing glimmers of hope in numbers from places like Italy and Spain and France. They're seeing signs they're flattening the curve.

Our International Security Editor, Nick Paton Walsh, explains why there's reasons for very cautious optimism.



NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): A bit of what we all need, hope from Europe. Here, a Spanish patient leaving the ICU.


WALSH: Austria, the first in Europe thinking of easing its lockdown. It's chancellor said Monday smaller stores may be able to open after Easter but customers will be required to wear face masks as they do now in bigger grocery stores. Some European government saying their curve of reporting infections are now going down as the U.S. and the U.K. still go up.

Everything will be OK, in Italy, once the epicenter, where now deaths have been slowing down for over week. And France and Spain have been slowing since Thursday. In the Netherlands, a week. Portugal since Friday. A sign that shows time can show the exit from weeks of grieve there in solitude.

Denmark also saying it may ease their restrictions.


PATON WALSH: Against a very serious backdrop for the Venice prime minister last week, we have grounds for cautious optimism.

But for Spain, the toll has been severe. Exercising caution and patience.


WELSH: "We can't afford to relax our attention on this instance," said their prime minister. "We have to keep ongoing forward with the same discipline, the same solidarity and responsibility and with the same tenacity."

As if on cue to warn against loosening restrictions too fast, Japan, itself hit less hard in past months, Monday prepared for a state of emergency amid rising cases.


PATON WALSH: "The direction will about one month," said their prime minister. "We need further cooperations from citizens to minimize contact between people."

And the U.K. now plunging into its peak. Its prime minister, Boris Johnson remains in the hospital for tests, which, seem, hour by hour, less routine as they are originally deemed. He's now had symptoms for 11 days.


The virus showing how indiscriminate and unrelenting it is. A reminder, even if you can see the light, you are still in the tunnel.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


COOPER: Our thanks to Nick Paton Walsh.

And now to China, the epicenter where the virus first took hold, has slowly emerging from lockdown, but experts say the risk is still high. Despite that warning look at this large numbers of people standing shoulder to shoulder, packing tourist sites as they marked the holiday weekend across the country.

CNN's David Culver is in Shanghai.

David, we know people are transitioning back to regular life. Those crowds certainly look like a concern.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it is a bit overwhelming to be out and about and to see the crowds of people. Something we have not seen really since this outbreak started.

This was the first major holiday in China since the Lunar New Year holiday when folks returned to their home provinces and had returned. Because of the outbreak, many were stuck where they traveled to and have only recently began to travel back and resume work.

However, this was also coming ahead of the easing of restrictions within Wuhan, the original epicenter of all of this. We know, by midweek, many residents will be leaving Wuhan for the first time since the outbreak started.

And combine that with the many crowds that we have seen, and it is no doubt going to be somewhat worrisome for officials.


CULVER (voice-over): Photos taken over the weekend at this popular mountain hiking trail in eastern China show crowds of tourists standing barely six inches apart -- forget six feet. Most, wearing face masks as they venture out of lockdowns and into nature, enjoying the three-day Qingming holiday weekend, seemingly comforted that the government's gotten the novel coronavirus outbreak under control, despite warnings from health officials that the risks still linger.

When we arrived in Shanghai in mid-February, this is what the popular Bund looked like, only a few locals strolling the river walk. Today, we walked that same stretch, and we were not alone. Standing in the same spots, you'd struggle to think this metropolis of 24-plus million was essentially shut down at the beginning of the year. And now, it is bustling once again.

A couple of months ago, we walked Nanjing Road in the midst of the outbreak, stores open but empty. Here was my observation at the time -- notice the lack of crowds behind me.

CULVER (on camera): Sure, you've got a few folks who are out and about, but the vast majority of people still don't feel like as though they're coming onto the streets.

But that was two months ago. Look at the difference now. You can see the crowd building up behind me. People less and less fearful of venturing out and resuming life in this new normal.

CULVER (voice-over): We went back to the same shops, the employees, no longer desperate for customers.

And while there is comfort to see restaurants filling up again or families having a picnic at local parks or kids being kids, playing with friends, you've got to wonder, is it all happening too fast. Will this continue or might another wave of the outbreak send life here back inside?


CULVER: One thing we should point out is officials in China have not been shy about reversing that decisions that previously may have eased some of the restriction. That is to say, if they allow people to go to movie theaters, which they had said about a week or so ago that they would do, they then revoked it as well as some of the tourist sites.

They decided it was just too much of a danger and exposed too many people to potentially getting this virus. They could do the same here. If they feel like the crowds are getting to an out-of-control size, then they may decide to put back in some of the restrictions so as to prevent what would be another potential wave of this virus -- Anderson?

COOPER: David Culver. David thank you very much. Appreciate the reporting.

The death toll from the virus now surpassing 10,000 as doctors race against time to learn by some people are immune and some aren't.


Also ahead, we'll talk to a New York City leader who's mourning the loss of his mom while trying to protect the rest of us.


COOPER: Right now, more than 10,000 people died in the U.S. due to coronavirus. Behind each number is a person with families and friends in mourning. New York City comptroller, Scott Stringer, is now sadly one of them. He's mourning the death of his mom and she passed away due to complications to the virus. She was 86 years old.

Arlene Stringer-Cuevas was a former city councilwoman, teacher, and a life-long New Yorker.

Scott Stringer made the announcement about his mom on Twitter, calling the pain he's feeling incalculable.

He joins me now.

Scott, I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. I understand she passed away on Friday. What was she like?

SCOTT STRINGER, (D), NEW YORK CITY COMPTROLLER & MOTHER DIED OF CORONAVIRUS: she was a New York original. She was somebody who raised two boys as a single parent. She got involved in politics and ran for office when few women could see that success.

She was tough and she loved the city. And she believed in government. And she raised us to believe in government. For this tragedy to happen is just so overwhelmingly sad for my family

but a story, Anderson, that I know is playing out across the country, playing out in New York City, and so hurtful. But she had a great story to tell and I'm going to tell it for the rest of my life.


COOPER: She sounds like a remarkable woman. What an incredible life she had.

STRINGER: She was pretty extraordinary. She was somebody who took me around campaigning when running for city council. And people would say, why aren't you home taking care of your husband. She said, I don't have a husband. Why aren't you taking care of your kids? I take care of them just fine.

She came from that generation with the women's movement back in the day. If you said to me, what would make my mother fall, I never thought it would be some virus. And it's still hard to get around that.

But, look, in New York City, this is playing out in so many families. And I've got to tell you, Donald Trump has blood on his hands and he has my mom's blood on his hands.

He sent us a hospital that's here in the Manhattan Harbor and no one can get on that hospital. This is something that's just outrageous. And so it's very tough to mourn under these circumstances.

COOPER: You're angry about that?

STRINGER: I think we all are. The government is supposed to protect our people and we're supposed to be able to protect our parents and grandparents the way they protected us and we're not able to do that.

And perhaps the thing I struggle with the most is how do you mourn at a time when you can't connect with people. There can't be a funeral. There can't be a tradition shiver. There's no way to reach out to my stepfather and see him personally because he's quarantined. My little kids can't say bye to their grandma.

There's something wrong playing out here. And that's why, by the way, I have been so lucky that I've gotten thousands and thousands of text messages and Twitter followers talking about my mom. People I don't know.

What I say to folks, when you see someone who passed away because of this evil virus, text someone, call someone, because that's the only way you have closure is by people who are strangers saying good-bye to your mom and helping you grieve. And that is so critical to the families.

COOPER: You also thanked health care workers and first responders on the front lines of this pandemic. Just, what did you see with your mom going through this battle? STRINGER: When it became clear she had to rush to the hospital, there

was EMS workers who took her to the hospital. There were the nurses I would call every day. The doctor who would take time to call me. And those are the people who were the frontline workers risking their lives so that my mom would --

COOPER: We lost connection with Scott Stringer, the comptroller of New York whose mom died from the coronavirus.

New York is preparing to hit the apex of the pandemic, but does that mean we're going to see an immediate downward impact on the numbers, the numbers of people who are dying, the numbers of people getting infected? We'll take a closer look at what that might mean.

Also, a field hospital just went up in Central Park, expected to max out in just a few days. New York City's struggle to contain the virus, ahead.



COOPER: Some people looking at antibody testing as a potential game changer in a fight against the coronavirus. It's a blood test designed to figure out who's recovered from the virus and may have immunity to it.


ADM. BRETT P. GIROIR, PHYSICIAN & ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH: We don't have to tell a person, yes, you've had it in your immune and that's not the case. So we are very optimistic. I'm personally very optimistic that, by May, we're going to have these in very large quantities with all the needed supplies.


COOPER: While dozens of tests are available right now, so far, only one has been actually approved by the FDA.

Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins me now.

How does the test work? What are the concerns?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's talk about the basics of this test, Anderson. This is a blood test. It looks to see if you've been infected in the past, not presently infected. That's a different test. But infected in the past. It can help you and your employer to decide can you go back to work not. Is it safe? Are you immune?

Here's the issue. You mentioned correctly there's only one FDA approved test for this but there's dozens of others that don't have FDA approval but -- and I know this is confusing -- but are still allowed to sell their products in the United States. So I was talking to an association of labs and these companies are

saying to the labs, use our test, use our test, and this association is saying, huh-uh, we can't use it because your test looks, in the words of the head of their association, "crappy." That's the word he used. So we can't use them. We're afraid they're going to give inaccurate results.

COOPER: Why are tests that are potentially inaccurate or crappy, in this person's words, allowed to be sold? Isn't that misleading?

COHEN: It's because these are very strange times. And the Trump administration changed the rules. And they proudly changed the rules to say, we're going to make this easier. We'll make it so you just have to write a note to the FDA saying, I want to sell an antibody test, and I tested it, and it works. Don't worry about it. It works.

That's all you have to do is say, I'm going to sell it and it works, and it was validated. That's all you have to do.


What labs are finding now, when they dig deeper and ask for data, the data is terrible for some of these tests.

Some are looking good but many of them are not.