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Kansas Governor Sues GOP Lawmakers to Stop Gatherings of Over 10 People, Including Church, Ahead of Easter; Interview with Kansas Governor Laura Kelly. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 10, 2020 - 16:00   ET



DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, PRESIDENT FELLOW, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: So, we do need to continue (ph) and ramp up screening. I think that's going to be the big variable. I think we're going to be taking a step towards reopening aspects of the economy before we have the optimal level of screening in place. And that's the risk that we're going to take.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: But you think it's worth taking that risk? It's not worth waiting until we have the right amount of testing out there or the right amount of screening out there?

GOTTLIEB: Look, it's going to be -- it's a careful balancing. As a public health official, I would like to have the optimal screening in place. I'd like to have the hospitals have residual capacity. I would like to exercise more caution.

But we also need to recognize, quite frankly, there are public health implications to what we're doing as well, the longer we keep the country closed. There's a lot of morbidity and mortality that's accruing because of that. People who are presenting for prenatal care are presenting with mild strokes, mild heart attacks from staying at home. There's going to be deaths and diseases as a result of the fact that we've engaged in what we've done. So, it's a careful balancing.

I'd like to see more screening in place. You know, I especially like to see more screening in place for the fall. And so, that's another concern. We're worried about May, but we also need to worry about august and having in place what we need as we go back to school in September, as we reopen residential campuses, that we can have much more widespread screening, and hopefully, one or two effective therapeutics to deal with this virus.

If we don't have that by September, we're going to face a lot of risk in the fall that we have outbreaks, and even the risk of another epidemic.

TAPPER: And, Dr. Gottlieb, when you talk about screening, are you talking about the coronavirus tests that is out there right now that there have been 2 million of them done? Are you talking about the antibody tests? Which detects whether or not you were exposed to the virus and develop antibodies? What exactly kind of screenings are you talking about?

GOTTLIEB: I'm talking about tests that can diagnose active infection. The serology test that you talk about, the test for antibodies, they're useful for public health decision-making, you might find a community that's been heavily exposed to the virus, and in that case, you might make a decision if there's outbreak, they're not to implement stay-at-home orders versus a community where very few have been exposed to the coronavirus.

So, the antibody test helped inform public health decision-making. But when we do those tests on a mass scale, they're called serology tests, and we test the population broadly to see who's been exposed and developed antibodies, I think we're going to find it's a very small percentage, anywhere from 1 to 5 percent of the total population. Now, there's pockets where it could be higher, let's say Queens, New York, is probably a higher percentage, but it's going to be low overall.

And even when you look at professionals who've been exposed to this virus, TSA workers, people who work on checkout lines and grocery stores, health care workers, people who touch a lot of people as part of their job, even there I think you're going to find that the level of exposure is probably about 10 percent. It's not going to be very high.

That's not -- there's not this mass population of people who now are immune to this virus and can return to work safely. It's a rather small percent.

TAPPER: Dr. Scott Gottlieb, we really appreciate it. Hope you'll come back soon.

GOTTLIEB: Thanks a lot.

TAPPER: There's a battle happening in one state over Easter. Should large religious gatherings be allowed to go on during this pandemic?

We're going to talk to the governor of that state, Kansas. That's next.



TAPPER: And this just in, the University of Washington's model, frequently cited by the White House, has now revised its projections. They're now predicting today will be the peak in terms of daily deaths from coronavirus. It was previously projected to be this Sunday, Easter Sunday.

Today, Vice President Pence and health experts are pushing religious leaders to not hold large gatherings, especially on Easter.

In Kansas, at least three coronavirus clusters are tied to church gatherings, with at least two deaths resulting. The state's Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, issued an executive order limiting religious gatherings to no more than 10 people.

But a seven-member body within the Republican-controlled state legislature called the "Legislative Council" revoked Governor Kelly's executive order. And now, she's taking the matter to the Kansas state Supreme Court.

Governor Laura Kelly joins us now.

Governor Kelly, thanks so much for joining us.

Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman told "The Washington Post" he and his colleagues would support your order, even calling it a good public policy if you could assure them that no one would face criminal penalties for violating the order.

What would your response be to that?

GOV. LAURA KELLY (D-NE): Well, you know, when I originally issued my first executive order, my stay-home order, we did exempt churches. Everybody else was under this 10-person limit, socially distanced. And if there were any enforcement, it would be a class "A" misdemeanor.

So what happened, though, was we saw what went on in Kentucky, what went on in Louisiana, around church services. And then, we had actually four clusters here in the state of Kansas and four deaths that have resulted as -- from church gatherings. So I felt it important to make it clear that churches would be included in the limit of ten with the social distancing.

When I did that, I had talked to all of our faith leaders all across the state, all denominations.


All of them were on board with that.

After the Legislative Coordinating Council revoked my executive order, I again talked to the faith leaders. They were still supportive of that. And they continue to be.

We -- we took this thing to the Supreme Court not so much because we want to argue with the Legislative Coordinating Council on criminalization or non-criminalization, but the fact is the Coordinating Council really doesn't even have the authority to revoke this order. Only the full legislature can do that.

But when I think about the criminalization -- you know, I compare it to, you know, we've got a world famous basketball team here with KU, and if the coach of that team were to say, you know what, a KU basketball game, you know, trumps public safety, and pile people into Allen Fieldhouse at the University of Kansas, would we stand for that or would we want that coach brought up and charged?

Probably brought up and charged, for putting so many people's health and safety at risk.


KELLY: What would be the difference in a church setting?

TAPPER: So, I mean, I guess one of the arguments might be, just for me to play devil's advocate here, is there's no constitutional right to basketball, but our freedom of religion is in the Bill of Rights, and people might say that, you know, that right is one that should make any lawmaker wary of imposing any sort of guideline or restriction on people gathering for reasons of faith.

I certainly understand your motivation, but that might be what somebody would say in response, and what would you say back?

KELLY: Well, I would just tell them in Kansas, many people see basketball as a religion, so there's that.

But it's also because we're -- you know, this is not an effort to take the right to practice one's religion away. This is really all about the health and safety of Kansans. And I don't care what religion they are, I want them all to be safe. And that was the only reason that we went ahead and pulled the exemption for churches.

TAPPER: Governor Kelly, there are more than 1,000 confirmed cases in your state, and obviously, there are a number of individuals, more than 50, who have died as a result of it. Do you think that people in Kansas are not taking the threat of coronavirus seriously enough? Or is it just a handful of people? How do you think Kansans are responding?

KELLY: No, I think Kansans have responded extraordinarily well to this. You know, we acted pretty aggressively, pretty quickly. You know, we shut our school buildings down for the entire year. We put the stay-at-home order in place.

And we're actually seeing Kansans really abiding by the instructions. We're seeing the reduction in movement, which is the indicator of how much people are abiding by the stay-at-home laws. And so, we're very pleased with what they're doing.

You know, what we've -- what we have experienced here are somewhat what happened in Washington state with -- in the nursing home. We've had some clusters in our nursing facilities. We had the four clusters in the church facility that we talked about.

And, you know, Kansans are Kansans, people are people. We're going to have spread, like we've had every place else. But we think we've really been able to manage to mitigate it and to -- and to keep the curve, you know, from peaking too high as we go forward.

So we're comfortable. We don't think we've reached the peak. We think it will continue to rise for the next week or two. But we expect that we'll get to that point, and then we'll start to come on down.

But we're -- we're very comfortable with how Kansans have reacted to this, they've been very responsible, everybody across the board including our faith leaders.

TAPPER: All right. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, thank you so much.

Stay in touch with us. Let us know if there's something you need that you're not getting enough of from the federal government or from anyone else, and we can help shine a light on it. And God bless and good luck to you and the good people of Kansas on this Easter weekend.

KELLY: Thank you very much. Take care.

TAPPER: Coming up, celebrities, powerful people somehow able to get coronavirus tests when some are still not able to. That's not where the coronavirus wealth divide ends. We'll explain, next.

Stay with us.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The coronavirus pandemic has exposed a wealth divide in America.

New York, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, all victims or examples of the same story, all major metropolitan areas with higher concentrations of the coronavirus and higher concentrations of low- income neighborhoods.

But, as CNN's Tom Foreman reports, the wealth gap and this virus are not exclusive to big U.S. cities.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One-third of all U.S. residents sick enough from the virus to be admitted to hospitals are African American, way more than double their share of the population.

That is the suggestion from a small early sample of cases studied by the CDC. It's not definitive, but it implies, in cities such as New York, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Chicago, and Detroit, the pandemic is particularly threatening black communities.

LT. GOV. GARLIN GILCHRIST (D-MI): This hits home for people. I have lost 15 people in my life to this virus here in the city of Detroit.


FOREMAN: Yes, the virus can be lethal to anyone, but:

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why is it three or four times more so for the black community, as opposed to other people?

FOREMAN: The answer? More African Americans are living in poverty than almost any other group as a percentage, often in densely populated cities with inadequate nutrition and education, less insurance and access to medical care, leaving them more likely to develop those related health issues proving so deadly.

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D-WA): We know that underlying conditions like hypertension and diabetes and heart disease, this virus is particularly hard on.

FOREMAN: The surgeon general suffers from some of those problems. He's only 45.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I represent that legacy of growing up poor and black in America. And I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID.

FOREMAN: What's more, as skyrocketing unemployment makes free food lines explode, poor communities are certainly growing poorer.

And unlike many people in better-paying positions, even those low- income folks who can hold onto their jobs often can't do them from home.

LT. GOV. BILLY NUNGESSER (R-LA): They're working in a lot of the service industry that, unfortunately, is still dealing with the public, and the grocery stores and some of the service industries that are still out there doing the job we need them to do.

And so they're bringing that home to their families.

FOREMAN: It's not new. Studies have shown, in almost every type of calamity, poor communities are less prepared, less able to compete for resources, less quick to recover.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Whatever the situation is, natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, the people standing on those rooftops were not rich white people. Why? Why is it that the poorest people always pay the highest price?


FOREMAN: Again, COVID-19 is an equal-opportunity threat. Anyone can get it anywhere.

But this early evidence seems to suggest, once again, it may be the poorest people who are being hit the hardest and who may have the hardest time recovering from it in the long run too -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

Dozens of economists say that the United States is already in a recession. If so, how long might that last?

That story next.



TAPPER: Welcome back. According to 45 economists, the United States is already in a

recession, with economic activity severely restricted because of the pandemic. The survey from the National Association for Business Economics found that the United States could recover by the second half of 2020.

Let's bring in Richard Quest, CNN business editor at large.

Richard, good to see you.

Today, a source familiar with President Trump's conversations told CNN that the president is talking more to his Wall Street friends and their arguments, listening to their arguments for reopening the economy. Yet, of course, the medical professionals on his task force worry about restarting too soon.

What do you think about the idea of a gradual reopening?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: It's going to be a gradual reopening. That is the way it will have to be.

If you read, for example, J.P. Morgan's report this morning, it talks about us starting to reopen in June. But all the forecasts that they're putting forward do say that this will have to be gradual, because the risks and downside otherwise are too serious.

So, it won't be off to the races. There will be no sudden grand opening. It will be bit by bit, very much like we're seeing in Europe at the moment in places like Copenhagen, with certain key stores at key times.

TAPPER: And speaking of J.P. Morgan, that report today, they have a stunning prediction. Economists at J.P. Morgan say that this month's unemployment level in the United States could reach 20 percent.

They also said the U.S. economy will shrink by 40 percent in this quarter, the second quarter, shrink. Do you do you think that's a realistic economic forecast?

QUEST: Absolutely.

And the reason is because we're starting to get hard economic data. The unemployment claims that we have been seeing are the first real numbers by which economists can extrapolate and actually tell you what it's likely to mean.

In other words, if these people are claiming unemployment, these fewer hours are being worked, the economy will be shedding jobs and losing productivity. And that's why, Jake, we can say now it's going to be a recession that will be deeper, sharper, probably two to three quarters.

But the growth will start again around about June.

TAPPER: And, Richard, quickly, the president said a great deal at the press conference about how he's asking other countries to cut their oil production.

He says there's just too much of a glut right now of oil. Explain why that is a bad thing, in the views of some people.

QUEST: Because you have got to a very large oil industry in the United States that is hurting badly by the falloff in oil. They want to get the price back up again, if they can.

The president is balancing oil producers and consumers.

TAPPER: All right, Richard Quest, thanks so much. Stay safe, my friend.

Tune in Sunday morning for CNN's STATE OF THE UNION.

My guests include Dr. Anthony Fauci and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

That's at 9:00 a.m., at noon -- and noon Eastern on Sunday.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN.