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Study Suggests Coronavirus Outbreaks In All U.S. Counties; China Lifts 76-Day Lockdown On Wuhan Where Pandemic Began; Mother Remembers 27-Year-Old Daughter Who Died From Coronavirus. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired April 8, 2020 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[07:30:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And so, from where you sit, what happens if people don't get those jobs back?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (via Cisco Webex): Well, what I'm hoping, once we're able to start transitioning back to something closer to normal that there will be a demand to rehire people. I hope that's -- I'm not overly optimistic. I simply don't know.

But it seems like the fundamentals of the economy have been pretty strong overall. And I've been talking to my employer and talking to others and I've been impressed with the way they've been managing this remote working for so many folks. The real issue are for those people who are in the hospitality businesses and other businesses where they just cannot work remotely.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

DENT: And whether or not people will come back as quickly as they need to. And I don't think we know the answer to that today. I mean, I think a lot of us are hopeful and optimistic that they will but we have -- we have concerns, obviously.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Charlie, very quickly, what does it mean that the president ousted the inspector general who was in charge of the accountability committee for this $2 trillion, in terms of stimulus?

DENT: That's a -- I think that's a very serious mistake. Mr. Fine struck me as a professional inspector general and you really do need inspector generals during times like this.

Again, the money is -- the monies are so large and they're moving so quickly there has to be some robust oversight. There are going to be mistakes, there are going to be some horror stories, and you need people watching this.

So I think the president -- it doesn't bode well that he's replaced Fine. Obviously, he just fired the inspector general for the Intelligence Community. He's been critical of the HHS inspector general. So this does not bode well. And most of those people -- as far as I can tell, the I.G.s are pretty independent and they're pretty dedicated people. They don't have -- they tend not to have partisan agendas.

CAMEROTA: Former congressman Charlie Dent, take care of yourself. We hope that you continue to be on the mend.

DENT: I'm doing alright. Thanks, again.

CAMEROTA: OK, great to see you.

If you live in a county where there are very few coronavirus cases right now, do not let your guard down. We have some new research for you, specifically, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:36:16]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A new report from the University of Texas at Austin claims that coronavirus is more widespread in the United States than the number of confirmed cases suggests. So what exactly does this mean?

I want to bring in Professor Lauren Ancel Meyers, professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin. She's one of the authors of this report. Professor, thanks so much for being with us.

Your study finds that it has likely spread, coronavirus, to 72 percent of all counties containing 94 percent of the population. How'd you get there?

LAUREN ANCEL MEYERS, PROFESSOR OF INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN (via Cisco Webex): So, the reason that we did this study is because coronavirus, as we know, spreads very quickly and sometimes silently by people who don't even have symptoms and don't know they're sick. And so, the chance that we are going to detect the very first case in a county or even a second case or even a third case is pretty unlikely.

So we built a model that took into account the fact that we're not -- we're not detecting every single case. It takes into account the way coronavirus spreads. Sometimes someone infected will infect just one person, sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes more.

Taking all that into account, we estimated the probability that there is an ongoing epidemic given the fact that the county has only one case reported or two or 10 or whatever that is. And so we calculated that probability for every single county in the country.

BERMAN: And we have a map of that. We can put that up on the screen so people can see this. There's 3,142 counties in the United States - the probability that there will be a coronavirus outbreak in each one.

So tell us what we're seeing right here. MEYERS: So, the colored map indicates the probability that we're right now (audio gap) number of cases that have been reported in your county. Right now, you have an ongoing epidemic. You have cases of coronavirus spreading widely in your community that won't stop spreading unless measures are taken to slow its spread.

BERMAN: So that gets to my next question. How does social distancing and the efforts being made by more than 90 percent of the country right now -- how does that factor into that map we were just looking at?

MEYERS: So this -- these calculations don't take into account the social distancing measures or any other measures that are being taken to slow transmission. These are really thinking about that early emergence of an outbreak before measures are taken. And this calculation is meant to inspire counties' decision-makers to take such measures before it's too late.

BERMAN: Am I wrong to look at that map and think that the lesson we should all take from it is that it's basically everywhere? It's there even if you don't know it?

MEYERS: You are not wrong. If -- in our calculation, if there has not even been one reported case in your county we still estimate, based on what we know about coronavirus on how widely it's spreading, how quickly it's spreading around the world, that there is still a nine percent chance you already have an epidemic ongoing that you just haven't detected.

If you have just one case, we estimate there's over a 50 percent chance that that's a sign that you have an ongoing epidemic.

So it's basically everywhere. If it's not there today, there's a good chance it will be there next week.

BERMAN: Which is why you are starting to see -- well, why you have seen over the last month, so much action. And hopefully, we're starting to see some results from that action.

Professor, thanks so much for being with us and helping us understand this study. A really interesting look.

MEYERS: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, a hopeful milestone in Wuhan, in China, where this pandemic began after the monthslong lockdown has been lifted. We have a live report, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:43:54]

CAMEROTA: New this morning, the 2 1/2 month-long lockdown of Wuhan, China is over. There are now celebrations and signs of life everywhere. Look at these pictures. This is what was the original epicenter of the pandemic. CNN's David Culver is live in Singapore with more. David, you've been following this since the beginning, so what do you think when you see what it looks like today in Wuhan?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alisyn. Yes, you and I have been having this conversation for 76 days and hours before, really, that lockdown went into effect, and here we are at the back end of it. It is, you know, a celebratory moment for many people for Wuhan, in particular, and then those folks who especially wanted to get out and were stuck there for that period of time.

However, this also feels like a trial period in many ways and you see the government now facing its first real test to see if they have this virus under control.

[07:45:00]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CULVER (voice-over): Counting down the moment like the start of a new year, Chinese media documenting a dramatic midnight reopening of Wuhan. Officials rushing to push aside highway barriers, traffic flowing once again.

For 76 days, this city, with a population larger than New York City, was walled off from the rest of Mainland China. Today, the original epicenter of the novel coronavirus no longer on lockdown.

A water cannon salute for the first commercial aircraft returning to Wuhan's airport.

Inside the city train stations, an unusual sight, crowds of people. Passengers going through security and screenings. Only those with a clean bill of health allowed to leave.

Railway officials say about 55,000 tickets were sold for outbound travel on Wednesday alone. Row after row of trains were at the ready.

Just before the January 23rd lockdown took effect, CNN traveled to Wuhan. We took you to the suspected source of the outbreak, this seafood market. We met locals who, like us, were unaware of the unprecedented lockdown that loomed.

CULVER (on camera): Behind me, this is one of a few hospitals here --

CULVER (voice-over): A few hours after filing our report we, like so many here, got word of plans to shut down Wuhan. We then boarded a train back to Beijing to begin our quarantine but relied on video chats to keep in touch with those inside the lockdown, like Iris Yu (ph), stuck in her apartment for more than two months. As of Wednesday morning, she was on board a train fully protected, headed to southern China.

YU: After 80 straight days in quarantine, I finally came out today. Now I'm on the train to Shenzhen now.

CULVER (voice-over): As for the Wuhan she's leaving behind --

YU: Though it is not yet fully operational but it, indeed, is recovering.

CULVER (voice-over): Even officials caution this is far from back to normal.

CHRISTOPHER SUZANNE, WUHAN RESIDENT: We receive daily text messages from the government saying hey, like, don't be complacent. You know, be cognizant that there may be a second wave.

CULVER (voice-over): A possible second wave. It's for that reason that Wuhan residents like American Christopher Suzanne are not allowed to roam freely within the city. Neighborhood committees are monitoring people as they enter and leave their homes and if necessary, enforcing quarantine.

SUZANNE: So I have a special ticket. It's a red piece of paper. It allows me outside for two hours per day -- but only one person per family, per day, two hours.

So my wife, she doesn't go outside. She's still scared.

CULVER (voice-over): While some stores are back open, other businesses will stay closed, unable to weather the economic pressures of the harsh shutdown.

Following subdued Lunar New Year celebrations in late January, state media marking this moment as a new beginning of sorts. But the unknowns linger over a city still haunted by this devastating virus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CULVER: And it is worth pointing out that state media -- those images right there of the skyline there in Wuhan -- I mean, this is a massive city. As I pointed out there, it's larger than New York City, Alisyn.

But they projected animated images of the medical workers -- the front line folks who early on, as we reported, really were facing a lot of struggles -- the dire need for equipment -- and many of them losing their lives. Things that we're not seeing replicated in Europe and, of course, in the U.S., Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, look at that light show. I mean, look at their exuberance just --

CULVER: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- you know, cast there on all of the skyscrapers and buildings.

And so, David, what can Europe and the United States learn from the trajectory in Wuhan? What should we prepare for?

CULVER: Well, I can say that we've had this date, April eighth, in mind for now two weeks when they announced that this lockdown lifting was going to take place. I think some of us envisioned it as all the doors of the sealed homes would open up and people would walk out into the daylight and finally resume life. It's not the case.

I mean, you have now outbound travel that's been allowed. However, I characterize this as phased freedoms.

And the U.S., and I think Europe, are going to have to start thinking ahead and looking into how they're going to have similar phased freedoms. It doesn't have to replicate exactly what happened here in China and in Wuhan because there were mistakes made and it was a rather brutal lockdown at times.

But what we've seen now is that there are still folks who are hesitant to go out, and so I think the government is actually relying on that. They're hoping that while some people in places like Shanghai where I am and in Beijing are getting together in crowds and going to tourist sites.

In places like Wuhan, it's almost PTSD for many of them, as one person likened it to me, that they're not quite ready even though they can, in some cases, leave -- go out of their homes.

CAMEROTA: Phased freedom. I think that that is a really apt phrase and this helps us understand what we have to expect.

David, thank you very much for all of your reporting. We'll never forget that day that you had to --

CULVER: Sure.

[07:50:00]

CAMEROTA: -- run from Wuhan, yourself, and then be, yourself, in self-quarantine. So it's just amazing to see you on the other side --

CULVER: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- of all of this. Thank you -- John.

CULVER: Thanks, Alisyn.

BERMAN: So, a high school sophomore helping hardworking hospital workers get free restaurant meals. Sixteen-year-old Grey Cohen runs the mealbridge.com. It lets anyone in Atlanta or Washington, D.C. buy food from restaurants that need the business and have it delivered to hospitals. Cohen hopes to expand to more cities.

To find other ways to help or be helped during this pandemic go to cnn.com/impact.

So many unsung heroes putting their lives on the line during this crisis. We remember a young grocery worker who died, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: Twenty-seven-year-old Leilani Jordan is yet another way- too-young life lost to coronavirus. Leilani was one of the many unsung heroes out there that we don't talk enough about. She was a clerk at her local supermarket and she was devoted to helping those in need.

[07:55:06]

Leilani's mother, Zenobia Shepherd, and her stepfather, Charles, join us now. Guys, we're so sorry for your loss -- 27 years old. This isn't supposed to happen and particularly, because Leilani, whom I know you called butterfly -- she just wanted to go to work. She wanted to go to work and help people.

And so, Zenobia, tell us -- tell us what was happening in the last month and why she felt so strongly about going to her shift as a clerk at the supermarket.

ZENOBIA SHEPHERD, LOST HER 27-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO CORONAVIRUS: My name's Zenobia -- Z-E-N-O-B-I-A.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

SHEPHERD: You're welcome.

She would just go to work and every day she would -- she would text me mom, no one is showing up. No one's here to help the elderly. Mom, it's just crazy here at work, you know, but somebody's got to do it.

And she's my worrier. She'll help anybody. She'll help anybody. She doesn't judge anyone.

And so, she says mom, there's no masks here, there's no gloves, there's no hand sanitizer. She said mom, you know, I've got to help them. I've got to help the older people. And so, she was doing everything from helping them put their groceries in their -- in their walkers to helping them get into lifts, all the way to helping them go to the bathroom.

And -- you know, and she's got cerebral palsy herself, so she was extremely vulnerable. She was working under a disabled program and that program, along with the seniors, didn't protect the vulnerability of the individual workers at the lower -- at the lower end of the scope.

I was able --

CAMEROTA: Oh, and why not? I mean, why didn't they have hand sanitizer and masks?

SHEPHERD: I have no idea. I have no idea -- no idea. They had -- once I -- once I called them on the 26th and told them that Leilani was confirmed for the COVID virus, that was -- the next day, the employees -- several of Leilani's friends text and called her phone and said we finally have -- now we finally have masks and gloves.

I don't know if they didn't have enough of them. I don't know if it was scarce resources. I don't know. But that's such a small price to pay. Leilani's -- they gave me Leilani's paycheck the other day and Leilani's paycheck was $20.54.

CAMEROTA: Oh my goodness.

SHEPHERD: So she clearly -- she clearly worked from the heart. She wasn't working for money.

CAMEROTA: I mean, from what you've said, she just felt that the elderly -- those hours when they opened the store for the elderly to come in, the elderly need support, they needed help. I mean, you just spelled it out how much she was doing for them. And the idea that she was left unprotected and how quickly -- how quickly she declined --

SHEPHERD: Yes --

CAMEROTA: -- once she got sick.

SHEPHERD: -- yes, yes.

It just went through her body so fast by the time she got to the hospital she fell out and was unconscious and put into ICU, and the next thing I know she was intubated. You know, she coded in my arms. She had a cardiac arrest.

My husband and I both were in the room, you know, and I was able to hold my baby's hands for the last time (crying) and was able to hold her feet. It's my baby. It's like a hole in my heart -- like a hole in my heart.

All she wanted to do was just help people. She just wanted to help. She wanted to help and make a difference. She wanted to be there to help and work for $20.00.

Management -- leadership needed to kick in and help make sure those that are vulnerable -- these seniors, other people have the help and assistance that they need so they're not put into situations to where they can lose their lives.

You can't see COVID virus. You can't see COVID-19. You don't know where it's at. You don't know when it's going to hit.

You don't know if distancing is going to help. You don't know where it's at but you better believe it's in the bathroom.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we hear you. I mean, this was -- this was too high of a price to pay for her just wanting to help people.

And, Charles, I know that you're there with her own service dog. I know that you have -- you have Leilani's dog with you who was there to help her.

END