Return to Transcripts main page


Christians Celebrating Easter During Pandemic; Former NFL Player Mark Campbell Shares His Coronavirus Story; Soon: White House Task Force Holds Briefing. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 10, 2020 - 12:30   ET



BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is expected to announce that the nationwide locked down that's been in place since the 8th of March will be extended all the way to the 3rd of May. Even though Italy's coronavirus numbers are improving, the fear is that if life goes back to normal, there could be a second wave of a disease that is killed until now more than 18,000 people, the biggest nation -- national death toll on Earth.

Now, here it's a sunny Friday in front of the Fontana di Trevi under normal circumstances, there would be hundreds of tourists. There are none. And on Good Friday, normally many people would be out and about buying groceries for the long Easter weekend, perhaps preparing to go to the beach, or the countryside. But on this Good Friday, none of that is happening.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Rome.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Easter Sunday is the projected peak for coronavirus deaths here in the United States. Up next, a message from one Reverend on how to celebrate, but celebrate safely.



KING: President Trump this hour participating in an Easter blessing in the Oval Office.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Though we will not be able to gather together with one another as we normally would on Easter, we can use this sacred time to focus on prayer, reflection, and growing in our personal relationship with God so important.


KING: Christians and Jews around the world are having to celebrate Easter and Passover together but separately, you might say, as social distancing is forcing people to get creative. Joining me now, the Reverend Robert Franklin, theology professor at Emory University in Atlanta, he's delivering his own Sunday service over Zoom. That's a new world, right? Virtual, we have, you know, virtual meetings, virtual education, and now virtual worship.

REV. ROBERT FRANKLIN, THEOLOGY PROFESSOR, EMORY UNIVERSITY: This is a new space, although the habit of retreating or prayer solitude for the protection of people's lives and certainly not a new one, I'm very pleased to hear the administration affirming the importance of this time of taking refuge in worship and reflection.

And so they're simply trumpeting what other spiritual leaders from across the nation have been saying for some time, everyone from Rick Warren and T.D. Jakes to Rabbi Peter Berg and I've brothers in others. So let's remain inside. Let's reflect. Let's be in a posture of humility as we go through this difficult period. There is a brighter day ahead.

KING: We certainly hope so and pray for that brighter day. You mentioned Pastor Rick Warren. I want you to listen to him last night in the CNN Town Hall, trying to bring some good humor, good humor and faith to this troubling time.


PASTOR RICK WARREN, AUTHOR, "THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE": I've start getting calls, texts, e-mails, social media messages, from pastors and priests all around the world asking the exact same question. Is Easter going to be canceled this year? As shepherds, we are called to protect God's flock not just feed it and lead it. And if you really love your congregation, tell them to stay at home on Easter.


KING: Reverend Franklin, well, what do you say to congregants? I'm sure many of them are cooped up in the home. Easter is so special that can't we come to church and be far apart? Can't we have just a hello or a hug? What do you tell them?

FRANKLIN: I'd say be patient, exercise the spiritual discipline of patience. There's a wonderful institution in Western New York known as the Chautauqua Institution. And every summer during their season of lectures and worship services, they have what they call Christmas in July.

And there's no reason why pastors and other religious leaders cannot host a kind of Easter in the summer at some point, if they still wish to sort of walk through all of the rituals that are ordinarily reserved for this weekend. You know, I just published a book titled "Moral Leadership." And in the book, I argue that moral leaders have to do at least three things. They have to speak the truth. They have to inform people. And then they also unify us and they called us to action.

And I think those are responsibilities for all of our pastors, rabbis, and imams at this time. Unfortunately, most people are conforming to that important message.

KING: Most are. There's one Reverend Tony Spell in Louisiana who says he plans to hold an Easter service. He says it's too important. I want you to listen here to one of his parishioners, Lillian Alexander.


LILLIAN ALEXANDER, ATTENDS WEEKLY MASS AT LIFE TABERNACLE CHURCH: I love the Lord too much. And I know he's going to take care of us.


KING: Faith is inspiring and you don't want to question anybody's faith, not for a second. But what do you say to people like that who just think it's OK, because it's the house of the Lord, therefore, I'm safe.

FRANKLIN: Well, it's certainly well intentioned, but I think it is poorly informed. And once again, moral leaders must inform. They must unify us. They must call us to action and then offer words and gestures of Comfort and Mercy.

So I think that's really the wrong impulse at this time. That dear soul is not interested in putting herself or any of ourselves in a position of facing severe illness and possible death. And we don't have to go out at this time.


KING: Reverend, Dr. Robert Franklin, really appreciate your insights today and I hope even in this new world that you have a wonderful Easter.

FRANKLIN: Likewise, John, thanks very much and to all your viewers.

KING: Thank you very much, sir. Take care.

Coming up for us -- coming up, he played the NFL for 10 years, but the coronavirus tested his body he says, like never before, that story next.

But I'm sorry, we begin -- we will bring you the stories of our incredible CNN Heroes going above and beyond during this horrible pandemic. Here's Anderson Cooper with a look at three CNN Heroes doing whatever it takes for their communities.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: These CNN Heroes are finding new and unique ways to help their communities in the face of COVID-19 whether that's bringing their programming online for those recovering from addiction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For somebody in recovery, social isolation can often lead to the relapse. It's crucial to keep each other connected. So now you can come to a class every hour of the day. COOPER: Delivering meals for children who no longer access them in school programs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We used to serve, 1,000 pounds of pasta a week. Last week, we serve 5,000 pounds. It's telling you the demand.

COOPER: Or providing supplies and emotional support to struggling members in their community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have intensified our food distribution to about 2,000 families in the past week. We are sewing masks and gowns. COVID-19 has taught us that nothing, nothing can break the human spirit.


KING: To see Anderson's full story on how these and many other heroes are helping combat this pandemic, go to We'll be right back.



KING: Just a reminder to our viewers, that's the White House podium right there, the Coronavirus Task Force briefing coming up at the top of the hour. We expect President Trump to be there. He tweeted about the briefing a short time ago. And we've seen it of course in the numbers day after day. Coronavirus does not discriminate, no matter how young you are, how old you are, or how strong you are.

Mark Campbell is a shining example. He won a national championship with the Michigan Wolverines back in 1997 and then play 10 seasons in the NFL as a tight end. He thought in his words he could quote, grind it out and beat the virus. Instead, he says, quote, it kicked -- bleeping kicked my ass.

Joining us now from Rochester, Michigan is Mark Campbell. He's now CEO of Medkinect and vice president of Industry Lab Diagnostic Partners, a molecular testing company. Mark, even in these tough times, seeing that Brady jersey behind, yes, I'm a New England guy, that hurts a little bit, it hurts a little bit. I know he's your fellow --


KING: I know he's your fellow Wolverine. I wish him the best in Tampa Bay, but I wish it weren't so. All right, back to why we are here. I want to get to your professional experience with the testing company in a second because testing is now critical as we decide, when can we reopen the American economy? But first, I just want as a guy who played in the NFL, tough guy, tight end, you say coronavirus kicked your ass explain.

CAMPBELL: Yes, well, it's pretty simple. First off, say hi to Dana for me, hope she's doing well. But it was, it was all those things that, you know, with an ex athlete mindset, you know, I was never a superstar in college or in pros but so you're -- I had this grinder mentality and still do today.

So when I got it right, essentially, I went through a drive thru screening process. They told me, hey, you probably have it. We're not going to test you because you don't have any auto immune issues. You don't have any comorbidities, those sorts of things. So they sent me home to quarantine. And I basically spent 12 days there, you know, kind of going through the process, thinking every single day, it's going to get better, it's going to get better.

But it didn't. It only got worse and worse. You know, it started off, I never had a fever. My fever was never below 101 for 12 straight days. And I, look, I can tough it out and kind of handle all those kind of things and have the right mentality and mentally I'm strong. But the truth is, man, I probably should have went to the hospital about five days earlier.

But unfortunately, I didn't get the -- I wasn't able to get the test the first time I went and just because of lack of capability from the labs and their efficiency at that time. And I kind of had to go through the process. So it beat me up by day 12. That's when I was struggling to breathe. I was laboring to breathe. And I felt like I just couldn't get oxygen relief. So I could breathe in and out, right? I just feel like I couldn't get any relief that I was looking for.

And I got checked into the hospital for five days and went through that process there. Fortunately for me, you know, they put me on some meds and the HCQ worked great for me. I will be honest with you there. And now I'm back in quarantine. So, you know, so you kind of add all that up with all that time in quarantine going through this process. It's about 30 days, you know, that's 30 days of, you know, some of those things we don't think about just by being in quarantine.

That's 30 days with not playing with my kids, Kate (ph) and Nevin (ph) and Case (ph) and not giving them a hug of 30 days of not being around my wife, Michell, too. So, it's part of it, small price to pay. Certainly, I'm not going to go against with the doctor's orders are. But it doesn't mean it's easy either.


KING: And so as the country tries to deal with this, and I'm with you on that one, it's not easy to be separated from your family like that. I want you to listen to the President a little more than a month ago on the subject that I know is important to you testing.


TRUMP: I think, importantly, anybody right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They're there. They have the test. And the tests are beautiful. Anybody that needs a test gets a test.


TRUMP: More than a month later, that is still not true and it certainly was not true. In your case, you have -- this is what you do professionally now. So you understand how the business works. What is the problem?

CAMPBELL: Well, the problem is, is that there's only really two major players in the game that are, you know, its Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp. So they have -- it's a monopolistic relationship with all of the state funding. So essentially, they're only working with those two labs, labs like mine that would love to help our community, love to provide some help to the economy as well.

We're not even able to do that. We couldn't even -- if we did accept the samples and ran them, and look, I own the lab, right, it should take about 24 hours to get results. For me, it took nearly five days. That's not right. It's not appropriate, right? And I would have -- I would have treated -- personally, I would have treated my COVID-19 differently.

And like I mentioned, I would have went to the hospital sooner. So the bigger problem with those big companies of Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp really is it's monopolized. You know, you can't get in for a lab like ours. We can't get into all the major insurance payers. We can't get into Anthem, Blue Cross, United Healthcare, Humana, Aetna. I mean, America is built on small business, right? But it certainly doesn't feel that way. And something's got to change.

CareSource in Ohio is a great example, right? They basically have a deal with Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp. So CareSource is the second largest, you know, manage health care system in all of America. So there's a lot of issues in Ohio was one of the hotbed spots when this whole coronavirus started.

So it's an uphill battle and certainly, I would love to see some of those things change and provide help to this. I mean, we want to help. We're capable of helping. Our lab is capable. We have all the proper equipment. And we can be much more responsive of helping the aid as the country needs it the most.

KING: Mark Campbell, appreciate your insights. And we'll see this testing question is going to come up a lot now as the President tries to reopen the economy. We'll see if there are any changes. Really appreciate your insights on both fronts today, personally and professionally about how to get through this. Take care. I hope you're feeling better.

We're waiting for the White House briefing. We're going to take a quick break, when we come back, conversations about the questions the President will face today.



KING: We're standing by for the start of today's Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House. It's a bit earlier today on this Good Friday, beginning at the top of the hour. We'll take you there live a bit later.

Joining me now to discuss, Jackie Kucinich, CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast" and our senior political analyst David Gergen as well.

Jackie, it's a fascinating -- it is a Good Friday, we began this week with the Surgeon General telling us this would be America's -- this generation's Pearl Harbor week. We ended with the President openly clamoring that when we get to the end of the month, he wants to reopen the economy.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right and he's at odds with his own, you know, health professional on that. You know, the fact of the matter is the President can't reopen the government. It will be up to ultimately, the governors and state by state. And you're not really seeing that, you know, very widespread at this point.

Of course, everyone wants the government back open. But they're still trying to balance that with this, getting the pandemic under control so people don't get reinfected and all the social distancing that we've all been practicing, goes to waste. But the President will definitely get questions on that in this briefing as to how that balance -- is that balance can be struck?

KING: And it's interesting because if you listen to Governor Cuomo, David Gergen back I thought we lost a shot, hi, David. One of the tensions on the President is, look, you know, the end of the month is 20 days away. Maybe the numbers will be fantastic by then. They'll continue to go down and the President will have a case to make.

But one of the tensions you hear whether you're talking to a health care professional around the country or the governor of New York earlier today said -- Andrew Cuomo saying, I would love to reopen the economy, but I will not feel confident doing so until I have much more massive wide scale testing, testing that simply does not exist today, and that you can't ramp up in 20 days.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely right. It isn't, John, isn't it that we're coming into the weekend, when President Trump really wanted to have the government reopened this weekend. You know, to lift all the restrictions and look how far away we are from that.

I do that -- I think this question of testing is going to be extremely difficult. The President is taking a position, he does not want to do mass testing. We've done a lot of tests, but we still have tested less than 1 percent of the population. Think about that. We all -- the tests we've done still want -- own less than 1 percent of the whole population.

So there are some tough, tough issues. It's not at all clear. And I think the President will be pressed on this along with his treasury secretary and others about what their plans are, how -- are they ready for a rollout of the next phase?

KING: And to that point, Jackie, will be interesting. You mentioned the President can say, I want to reopen the economy. But the governors have to agree. And the governor's face voters at some point in the future, too. And, you know, a lot of people would say, well, they're, you know, the Trump favorite like Ron DeSantis in Florida has been leaning forward on this question.

But your home State of Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine has been, wait a minute, Larry Hogan, Republican governor of Maryland, wait a minute. They have been much more cautious about when we'll be ready to open the gates, if you will?

KUCINICH: Well, and that's the problem is because there hasn't been kind of a uniform response to this state by state. And it's not impossible to see a scenario where if the President advocates opening up the economies and, you know, pushes for that, that you have, you know, a lot of red states, reopening beaches and whatnot and trying to get back to normal and blue states not in, you know, perhaps with some smattering of, you know, some of the governors that you mentioned.

And that is going to contain a virus. The virus doesn't really care about state lines. So again, he is going to be pressed on this in the briefing I'm sure.


KING: That begins just momentarily. Jackie Kucinich, David Gergen, appreciate your help today. Thanks for joining us. Anderson Cooper picks up our coverage right now.