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Clash over Relief Bill; Chicago Makes Makeshift Morgue; Blacks Dying from Coronavirus at Higher Rate; China Using Surveillance to Track Spread of Coronavirus. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 9, 2020 - 09:30   ET

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


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[09:30:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Just minutes from now, the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, expected to push his fellow senators to pass more than $250 billion in emergency funding targeted at small businesses.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Our Manu Raju is on The Hill. And, Manu, this is in addition to the $349 billion already put in the paycheck protection program less than a week ago. I think the one hang-up here is that some Democrats feel like there's not enough for other things in this, is that right?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. This is going to fail today and because of disagreements over the scope of this package, as well as the challenges of legislating in a building here where virtually every single member is gone and they need unanimous support to get it through both chambers of Congress and get it signed by the president immediately. But there is not agreement on both sides. Republicans believe that the $251 billion needs to be spent exclusively on small business loans that were approved as part of that recent, historic emergency package to prop up the economy.

But Democrats say that the small business program needs some changes. It also needs to be directed to businesses that are owned by minorities and other underserved groups and they're calling for hundreds of billions of dollars more to be spent on state and local governments, as well as money for food stamps and the like. And Republicans are saying that that -- those matters have to be dealt with later. They say the stimulus money funding state and local governments, for instance, that has not been fully spent yet, but they say the small business loans are at risk of being exhausted, which is why there's an emergency need for that.

Now, that is also -- even if they were to reach an agreement here on the Senate side, there are questions about how quickly they can move this through the House. So expect in about half an hour this all to play out in the Senate floor, both sides to eventually point fingers, and then they'll have to go behind the scenes and cut a deal to see if something can get passed as millions of Americans wait on Congress.

[09:35:03]

Guys.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's remarkable this idea you need unanimous support now. Imagine that in today's environment.

Manu Raju on The Hill, thanks very much.

Well, Covid-19 is taking a deadly toll, specifically on black communities in Chicago and other cities across the country. Why is that? We're going to speak with the director of the Illinois medical district right after this.

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HARLOW: This is just tragic, as the death toll from coronavirus continues to spike in Chicago. The city is now just scrambling to figure out how to house bodies. They have acquired a refrigerated warehouse space to potentially store more than 1,500 of the dead and right now the state of Illinois has over 15,000 cases and some 462 deaths.

[09:40:07]

Our correspondent Omar Jimenez joins again this morning in Chicago.

It's -- it's just such a tragic reality.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a grim, new reality that cities across the country are now having to face. You mentioned the refrigerated warehouse that was acquired by Chicago's Cook County this week. And, today, that warehouse becomes operational.

Now, in total, once it is done, it has the capacity to store potentially more than 1,500 bodies. The medical examiner's office gave us exclusive access to go inside their surge center as they call it, a place they expect to receive bodies within a matter of days. As the chief medical examiner told us, they went from getting 10 to 20 bodies a week, just two weeks ago, now to about 40 a day, putting them very near capacity.

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DR. PONNI ARUNKUMAR, CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER, COOK COUNTRY MEDICAL EXAMINER'S OFFICE: This increase is occurring at a very rapid pace. So we expect to see hospitals, hospital morgues getting filled up, and we'll need to use refrigerated trailers to start moving these patients to the surge center soon.

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JIMENEZ: And, to be clear, this is a place officials hope they never have to use. But it is a place that we are now seeing them increasingly plan for. We talk about how close they are to capacity. Well, the medical examiner tells us once their morgue or their medical office, examiner's office, gets to 270 bodies, they will have to start using that warehouse. They are now at 240 right now.

And this comes as we have seen a huge rise in deaths here in the state of Illinois, the largest jump we have seen yet for this state.

HARLOW: Yes.

JIMENEZ: More than 80 new deaths reported yesterday, more than 60 in the Chicagoland area alone.

HARLOW: Yes.

JIMENEZ: And one of the biggest hot spots stemming out of Chicago's Cook County Jail, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, I mean, let's just talk about that for a moment because we talked yesterday about the, you know, the disproportionate impact this is having on the south side of Chicago, those living -- many of those living in poverty. The jail now, Cook County Jail, the largest known source of Covid infections in the country outside of medical facilities.

JIMENEZ: Yes, this is a story line we've been following for a few weeks now because it was actually just a little over two weeks ago that the jail was reporting its first two confirmed coronavirus cases. And one of the fears that officials had was there wasn't a lot -- there aren't a lot of chances to social distance when you're in those close quarters. It did the best they could at the time, trying to reduce the overall jail population, put people in single cells, if at all possible.

But now, here we are, a few weeks later, more than 400 confirmed cases in total. That's more than 250 jailed detainees, 150 staff members. Twenty-two of the more than 250 detainees have been hospitalized. At least one has died, suspected due to coronavirus. And right now they have a lot of those detainees and essentially a coronavirus boot camp of sorts to separate them from the general population and try to mitigate the spread as much as possible, Poppy.

HARLOW: Omar, thanks for the reporting on all fronts.

Jim.

SCIUTTO: As we said, there in Chicago, black Americans are dying from this virus at a higher rate than any other racial demographic. Sixty- eight percent of the city's deaths are among African-Americans, yet they only make up about 30 percent of the city's total population.

Joining me now to discuss, Dr. Suzet McKinney. She's the CEO and executive director of the Illinois medical district.

Thanks so much, Doctor, for taking the time this morning.

You know, we talked a little bit about the causes of this, health reasons, but also socioeconomic reasons. A lot of black Americans, they can't work from home. They have to still show up on the job and, of course, expose themselves to this. I wonder, how do you get around that? What can the city do to help, or is there a way to help?

DR. SUZET MCKINNEY, CEO AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ILLINOIS MEDICAL DISTRICT: Well, you know, first of all, thank you so much, Jim, for having me today. And thank you to Poppy as well.

I think one of the things that I'd like to highlight, first and foremost, you know, we know that this is a problem here in Chicago. Our mayor, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, as well as our governor, Governor J.B. Pritzker, have been doing -- working diligently to address these disparities. But, you know, there are so many social determinants of health that play into this. And we keep hearing messages all across the country about staying home and staying safe and that really is the key to helping us curb this situation right now in the absence of a medical countermeasure to treat it.

SCIUTTO: So if staying home is the secret, what do you do for folks who can't earn a paycheck if they stay home?

MCKINNEY: You know, I think that that speaks to one of the most difficult challenges that we are seeing with this situation, and that's why our mayor, once again, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, has released the program that will provide financial assistance to those here in our city who are unable to earn a paycheck throughout this crisis because of the need to shelter in place and stay home.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

[09:45:00]

MCKINNEY: However, you know, I can't say that that's a be all to end all solution, but it is certainly something that can and will help.

SCIUTTO: I hear you. I mean all these things are ways to help fill the gap, but impossible to entirely fill the gap.

President Trump, he was asked about this in the press briefing yesterday, and he said, we're doing everything in our power to address this challenge, speaking of black communities facing this. You mentioned the help you're getting from the mayor there. Is the city of Chicago getting help from the federal government to address this?

MCKINNEY: Well, you know, I don't want to get into any, you know, political turmoil with this question, but, you know, I think that we are working very closely with our federal partners. We are getting quite a bit of assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as our National Guard partners to assist us in establishing alternate care sites for treating those that are impacted by Covid-19. And I think, you know, both, again, our city and our state are working very diligently under the leadership of Mayor Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker to do all that we can to insure that not only do we manage the current situation with the pandemic, but that our local and state economies recover as well.

SCIUTTO: Different cities are moving at different paces here in terms of infection and are hitting that kind of peak at different times. And Chicago's experience behind that of say a New York. Tell us what the situation is on the ground now and what do you think when you hear people, including the president, already begin to talk about lifting some of these social distancing restrictions perhaps after the end of this month?

MCKINNEY: Well, you know, one of the things, as a public health professional, that I always try to remind people is that Covid-19 is a novel virus, which means it's something that we haven't seen before. You know, there's no medical countermeasure to treat it. And so social distancing and other community mitigation measures are the critical strategies, really the only ones that we have to curb this. I think we heard Dr. Fauci say just a couple of weeks ago that it is the disease and its behavior that's going to determine when we can begin to limit some of those social distancing measures. And so I really believe that as a public health professional.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I remember his phrase, Dr. Fauci, that the virus sets the timeline, not anybody else.

MCKINNEY: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Suzet McKinney, thanks so much for the work you're doing.

MCKINNEY: Thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Watch a new CNN global town hall tonight. Join Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and special guest basketball great Magic Johnson. "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears" starts tonight, 8:00 Eastern Time, only on CNN.

HARLOW: Ahead for us, China is giving some people a green light to travel, while tracking everyone's movements. We'll talk about that ahead.

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[09:52:23]

HARLOW: So the Chinese government is using surveillance to track coronavirus patients and determine who gets the green light to travel. This is a color-coded tracking system and it dictates who is allowed to board planes, shop at malls and eat at restaurants. But, Jim, of course , this brings up a whole lot of questions, too.

SCIUTTO: No question. I mean CNN's David Culver, he's been covering this from the beginning.

And, David, you know, as well as we do, how aggressive China has been. You know, drones telling people to put their masks on, taking people out of their homes who tested positive, taking them out forcibly. Tell us about this new contact tracing and the concerns about it.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know how they love to keep track of all of us here, and they're figuring out new ways to do that in light of this outbreak. And I'm going to walk you through how it happened for me and my team, because this is what's playing out really across China. And it starts with movement around China. So we hear about the easing of restrictions 24 hours ago. It happened

in Wuhan. People are leaving. More than 600,000 was the estimate. So you've got folks leaving, like we did, coming from Beijing to Shanghai. And you go through the process where they require you to register for this QR code. So a bar code equivalent for your cell phone.

And so when you go through that registration process, it's linked to your cell phone number and it's also linked to your national I.D., if you're Chinese, or in my case my U.S. passport.

And then what happens here, and I can show you this in real time, is that you're assigned this QR. And it's generated through the Ally Pay app (ph), something that we use to make a lot of payments and do our transactions, and you can update every single time you push the button to see what that color is. And if you have green, it's essentially a golden ticket, meaning you can get into movie theaters, once they start opening up, you can get into hotels, you can get into restaurants, you can get around town.

If you have a yellow or a red, that's an issue, it means you could be flagged for quarantined, either self-isolation or the forced government quarantine.

There's how specific it gets, Jim and Poppy. If you, for example, are on a flight and there's a confirmed case at the front of the cabin and you're at the back, perhaps you'll get off that flight and you'll still be green. If you were within eight rows, you could be yellow. If you're within four rows, they could flag you as red. That's how they are tracking folks.

And it is kind of frightening how accurate they are getting with this, but it's that balance between privacy and health security.

HARLOW: Sure. And a balance that is viewed very differently around the world.

David, thank you for walking us through that.

Before you go, though, can you talk about what the reality is on the ground in terms of how open China really is for business right now because there is the message that the country and the government is sending, but you're living in it.

[09:55:02]

CULVER: As state media, Poppy, likes to say that they are springing back to life here. And, in some cases, you see that. I mean we see it here in Shanghai, but also within Wuhan, the restrictions are still very heavy. It's within, you know, local communities. The HOA, or condo association equivalent, as I put it, that dictates that you can only be out of your home still for about two hours a day and it's only one person per family. So those restrictions are still in place and they're subjective depending on where you live.

But then, you know, as they are easing up, you're hearing about places in northeast China, just today, for example, along the Russian border, they have imposed the Wuhan-like lockdown. So 70,000 people now beginning their lockdown there.

HARLOW: David, thank you for your reporting. That's fascinating.

There is growing concern for some of the United States' biggest cities that were not, until today, really considered hot spots. We're seeing a big spike in cases in new cities. We could also reach the possible peak for daily deaths in others.

We'll be back with that in just a minute.

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