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U.S. Cases Swell To More Than 503,000, Over 18,000 Deaths; Over 300 Patients Currently Being Treated At Javits Center; Expanded Orders Ban Travel Between Two Residences In Michigan; U.S. Health Officials Shifting Focus To Antibody Testing; Morehouse School Of Medicine President, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, Discusses African-Americans Disproportionately Affected By COVID-10 & Urging Social Distancing; Debunking Vote-By-Mail Fraud Claims. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 11, 2020 - 13:00   ET

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


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[13:00:46]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We began with the staggering new numbers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. This morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo saying the number of deaths in his state are stabilizing but at a horrific rate. More than 780 people died in New York on Friday alone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): These are just incredible numbers depicting incredible loss and pain that we really -- specially this week are -- all 783 individuals and their families are in our thoughts and in our prayers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Meanwhile, the overall total in the U.S. hitting a grim new milestone with more than 2000 deaths in a single day on Friday. That puts the total number of deaths at over 18,000 with more than 503,000 confirmed cases. We have a team of correspondents standing by to bring you the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic. Let's start with CNN's Cristina Alesci in New York City.

So Cristina, Mayor Bill de Blasio had said public schools will be closed for the rest of this school year. But then the New York Governor said not so fast. What the governor's a reason for that?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the governor is challenging the mayor on this point about reopening schools because he says it needs to be a coordinated effort, that it needs to be coordinated with the rest of the metropolitan area to make sure that it's effective and that, you know, everybody is protected at the same level. And more importantly, it needs to be coordinated with the reopening and the decision to reopen businesses.

Because, you know, as parents rely on schools, of course, to educate their children, but they also rely on them for childcare when both parents go to work. And that's just the reality of things. Look, I think this is emblematic of the fact that there's going to be a lot of confusion and a lot of anxiety about the way that the rollout of reopening society, reopening the normal way of life is going to go.

This is going to be one of many things that people are going to find confusing and politicians and lawmakers and everyone else is going to have to try be as clear as possible. Well, clearly, this story is not -- is not done. And it's also speaks to the level of anxiety about reopening and whether or not you can do it safely without risking another spike in infections and possibly death. Look, the death toll here in New York is staggering.

And for a lot of New Yorkers, it's really incomprehensible because, you know, we thought we had the deadliest day in our modern history with 911 when we lost nearly 3000 people, now we're looking at triple the number that this virus has taken in New York lives. And that has had an emotional and sort of shocking impact on people. And before -- and the governor said this, you know, a lot of the mitigation that -- the a lot of mitigation efforts to stay at home orders, the social and physical distancing, that's keeping the numbers low.

So if you can imagine lower than that, the models have anticipated. So without those measures, these numbers could be even higher. So people from here just looking forward are going to be looking for more testing, especially against the backdrop of this debate about racial disparity in our healthcare system. And the fact that the virus is killing blacks and Latinos and double the rate of whites in the city. How do you do it safely, so that you're not, you know, putting people at risk?

WHITFIELD: Yes. And then, Cristina, you know, a cacophony of statements now coming in response to what the governor said about the public school closures. From mayor's office, Mayor de Blasio's office, Freddie Goldberg says -- and I'm quoting now, "The governor's reaction to us keeping schools closed is reminiscent of how he reacted when the mayor called for a shelter in place.

We were right then and we're right now schools will remain closed, just like how we eventually days later moved to a shelter in place mode." And then in another statement, you know on Twitter from the mayor's communications director, Wiley Norvell.

[13:05:04]

WHITFIELD: He says, New York City's health department, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the teachers union, the principal's union all agree with the New York City mayor's decision to keep schools closed for the rest of the school year, the science, the health experts and the educators here all -- are all in the same place on this. So now, it'll be interesting to see in here, Cristina, what the governor will say because he has -- he says he has the legal authority to close schools or, you know, disagree with what the New York City mayor has already said.

ALESCI: Yes. This is -- it's not the last of what we're going to -- it's not the last bubble here on this particular topic. If I know anything about New York politics.

WHITFIELD: Yes. It's just saying the very least and they're in New York. All right. Cristina Alesci, thank you so much.

All right. And then after touting a plan to reopen the country this Easter weekend, President Trump is now taking a slightly more cautious approach to reopening the economy. While he says he is looking at a date, he adds he won't do anything until he knows the country will be healthy. Trump acknowledging without question, it will be the biggest decision of his presidency. CNN's Kristen Holmes joining me now from the White House.

So Kristen, when does the President now hope to reopen the country or make a decision and what will he be weighing?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, so as we know, right now, President Trump has been a little bit coy about what that date will actually be. Now, behind the scenes we've heard there are some conversations involving a May 1st date which has a lot of medical professionals very uneasy. But the bigger question here is whether or not President Trump actually has the authority to reopen the economy.

I want to take you back in time here to really every day or every other day for the past several weeks in which President And Trump was asked in the briefing, why he wasn't issuing some sort of national lockdown, why he wasn't issuing some sort of national shelter-in-place order. And he said, that is really the responsibility of the governor. And so, in turn, governors did put that in place in their state. It is a governor mandate. That is what that looks like right now.

So there really isn't anything for President Trump to lift. But there is one caveat here, which is if President Trump goes on air and starts talking about loosening restrictions and reopening businesses, there might be some pressure particularly among Republican governors to reopen their states or at least loosen their restrictions. I talked to several Republican state officials who said they were very nervous President Trump was going to try and reopen the economy before their state was ready.

And I asked specifically, well, what are you going to do in that case? They said they didn't know but it was going to require a lot of tap dancing. Now President Trump as you said, says this is the biggest decision of his life. Take a listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to have to make a decision. And I only hope to god that it's the right decision. But I would say without question, it's the biggest decision I've ever had to make.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say, sir, what metrics you will use to make that decision?

TRUMP: The metrics right here. That's my metrics. That's all I can do. I can listen to 35 people. At the end, I got to make a decision. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now, it's not surprising President Trump said he was only going to rely on himself there at the end. We've heard that from the President before. But one person who seemed to not get that memo was Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his briefing in New York talking about reopening. He never mentioned to the President once, he never mentioned the President's decision one single time.

In fact, he said he was weighing this very carefully. And he said, the worst thing that New York could do was let emotions get ahead of logic and facts. And wind up where they were. So, it didn't seem as though he was putting anything on the President's decision. But instead, I was going to be working with his own health department, his own constituents to see a plan for that state.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kristen Homes at the White House. Thanks so much. All right. People in Michigan are now largely banned from traveling between homes in that state. The governor extending and expanding a stay-at-home order, as the state reports more than 22,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1200 deaths. CNN's Ryan Young joining me now from Detroit. So, Ryan, how is that, you know, sitting with people there who perhaps wanting to visit family members or friends?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know what, Fred, I think at first, there were people who were breaking the order. Initially, this was done to make sure that people understand look, we're trying to flatten the curve in the state. When you see the numbers of death on the rise, you can understand why the governor is looking to try to make it a little stronger.

So when you go to a store here now, there's actually going to be on the floor though have place marks for being six-feet apart. When you walk into the store, only a certain number of people will be allowed in at a time.

[13:05:06]

YOUNG: And all those plastic dividers you've seen across the country are also being added but this is happening to try to flatten this curve. But beyond all that we've also heard from families that are really dealing with the devastating effects of the coronavirus. In fact, we talked to one family who had to make a difficult decision. Some of family members weren't even able to go to a funeral because they were positive with the coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyone go away like this and he did. But just know this. We've done the best that we could.

YOUNG: These short cell phone videos of her husband Raytheon's funeral with the only way Marini Smith could see it from quarantine.

MARINI SMITH, LOST HUSBAND TO CORONAVIRUS: Oh, his name is Rayshawn Smith. YOUNG: She hasn't left her house since testing positive for the same virus that killed him.

SMITH: I didn't want him to live here alone. Like I just feel like he was there for everybody and I felt like he was alone like nobody was able to be there for him. I had to make an executive decision to keep myself and my daughter home. We don't want to go to another funeral.

YOUNG: in the last three weeks, Marini says, she, her father and her brother have all tested positive for COVID-19.

SMITH: People and family start displaying flu like symptoms. No idea what's corona. Nothing like that. Just hey, I don't feel so good. My husband, his symptom was a high fever.

YOUNG: With strict social distancing rules in place, their trip to the hospital March 16th would be the last time she saw him.

SMITH: They was like, you can't be here, you can't be here, and they said my daughter and I out, you know, we were sitting in a car seat, waiting to hear from him, he said, baby, they're going to admit me.

YOUNG: Their next conversation, a last minute gesture from a worried nurse.

SMITH: So the nurse felt so bad for my daughter and I, she used her personal phone and FaceTime us which I thought was really, really nice. So she let us speak with him. And I just told him, you know, I asked was he scared and he said, yes, my husband and everybody know my husband though, he's not afraid of anything. But he was very, very scared.

SMITH: Just seven days after arriving at the hospital, he was gone.

SMITH: He went to hospital on a Monday and he passed away on Monday.

SMITH: The speed of the deadly and contagious coronavirus is leaving families like the Smith's holding unexpected and under attended funerals at a frightening pace.

MAJOR CLORA, FUNERAL DIRECTOR: It's very, very challenging.

YOUNG: At Major Clora's funeral home in Detroit, no more than 10 immediate family members can pay their respects in person.

CLORA: Just receiving so many death calls at once. You know, this week has been one of the most overwhelming weeks that I've ever had in my career.

SMITH: I'm doing everything I can to safeguard myself and my family.

YOUNG: And ask for those still waiting to say their last goodbyes.

SMITH: I promised her when this all over, we're going somewhere, we're going to scream and cry and hold each other. And we're going to visit her dad. (END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: Tough to explain to a 9-year-old. One of the things we've noticed is maybe the governor actually strengthen all these rules, especially because it's going to be Easter Sunday. You know, people like to gather, Fred, you know how it is, everyone wants to do a little cookout, get together and smile and think of happier times, but that's something they're trying to stop throughout this area.

When you see the impact on a family just like that one, you understand just how difficult this is. And at the same time, you got to try to stop that from happening.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Boy, that family's experience is so powerful. Our hearts go out to them. All right, Ryan Young, thank you so much.

YOUNG: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: All right. CNN viewers and readers from around the world have asked more than 90,000 questions about coronavirus on CNN.com. And at 2:30 p.m. Eastern today, right here on CNN, a panel of experts will join me to answer some of your questions. Go to CNN.com to submit your questions on health, family life your money. Again. That's it 2:30 Eastern right here on CNN.

All right. Still ahead. The death toll in Italy now near 20,000, as the Trump administration announces a plan to help that country. We're live in Rome next.

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[13:18:24]

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. In Italy, the number of people who have died from coronavirus has jumped by 619 bringing that country's death toll to nearly 20,000. This comes as President Trump announced the U.S. will offer new assistance to Italy. CNN Contributor Barbie Nadeau is in Rome for us. So Italy says, you know, it is -- it is -- it does have very heavy social restrictions and that they will stay in place now?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right, we're under lockdown now until May 4th. There are couple things will start opening next week. They're going to allow children's clothing stores to open and bookstores to open with very, very strict social distancing, but we've been on lockdown since March 10th. And people were really hoping by now to see better results. I think.

You know, we're looking at five, 600 people dying a day. And it's just incredible number of people. This is a country of 60 million people. About the sixth of the size of the United States. It has really taken a toll and as people are going into the Easter weekend, which shouldn't be a weekend of celebration, beautiful weather, you know, people usually go to the beach, you know, just to be locked in their homes and to have these numbers continue to be so depressing is hard on the whole nation, Fedricka. WHITFIELD: Indeed it is. All right, Barbie Nadeau, thank you so much.

So, while Italy continues to battle its outbreak. Some other countries are acting almost as if there is no global threat at all. Here's Matt Rivers.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These three men, the presidents of Brazil, Nicaragua and Belarus would in normal times not seemingly have a ton in common, but these days the common thread here is that while other leaders around the world are taking drastic steps to try and prevent the further spread of this coronavirus, these three presidents are not.

[13:20:08]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: Start in Brazil where President Jair Bolsonaro was out and about this week on Thursday visiting a bakery, taking photos, drawing crowds, the kinds of stuff he's been doing in public for weeks now. Brazil has recorded more than 1,000 deaths, nearly 20,000 cases. The Health Minister has urged lockdown measures be put in place but the President has said he's more worried about the economy.

You don't shut down a car factory because of car accidents, he said. Further north in Nicaragua while President Daniel Ortega attended a virtual meeting last month. He hasn't been seen in public since this military parade on February 21st. So, the response to this outbreak has come from his wife. Vice President Rosario Murillo who regularly says her country's fate is in God's hands.

We don't have community spread, she said on Thursday with infinite thanks to God. So the government lets life go on normally. State-run media Web sites or even promoting holiday discounts this weekend and markets in Managua. And from Nicaragua to Belarus, more virus dismissal in that country where this past week President Alexander Lukashenko played in a hockey game, saying there were no viruses inside the rink, implying that it was too cold.

It's better to die standing than to live on your knees he said. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lukashenko has encouraged people to keep playing hockey.

Experts worldwide say that prevention measures must be used to stop the viruses spread and we have seen country after country tell people to stay at home. But these three presidents seem to be doing the opposite. Matt Rivers, CNN.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still to come. Health officials are looking at antibody tests as a key tool going forward.

Coming up. Our Sanjay Gupta breaks down how the tests work and what we could learn from the results.

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[13:26:41]

WHITFIELD: Health officials say they expect antibody tests for the coronavirus to be available soon. The tests can tell if a person has been infected and if their body has built up immunity. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look at what that could mean in the fight against the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: According to the coronavirus Task Force, more than two million tests have now been performed in the United States. And yet there are still people who need to be tested, such as healthcare workers who can't get one. It's part of the reason there is now so much interest in a different kind of test. An antibody test. Dr. Fauci told CNN on Friday, it's coming soon.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I'm certain that that's going to happen, that -- within a period of a week or so, we're going to have a rather large number of tests that are available.

GUPTA: But what exactly are antibodies? They are proteins in the immune system that develop days after someone has been infected. And it's the antibodies that makes someone immune to becoming re-infected. It means two things. You were previously infected and you are now likely to be protected. At least for a while.

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER, FDA: We think it'll be a tool to help us get people back to work. It'll be additional information because as you know, if you have an antibody that means you are exposed and have recovered from it. That with the information about diagnosis should help.

GUPTA: That's why public health agencies around the world want these antibody tests, because it could help some people get back to their daily lives. You remember the swab test we're all familiar with, well, that tests for the virus itself, specifically its genetic material. Problems are, first of all, at some point after you recover, that test will be negative. And secondly, a lot of people have had trouble getting that diagnostic test in the first place.

The antibody test is more definitive. There are only a few reasons you would have antibodies in your blood. You got someone else's antibodies by an injection of their blood, you got a vaccine, which teaches your body to make antibodies, or you were infected. The antibody test requires a sample of your blood and this strip which has proteins from the virus on it. If your blood reacts to that strip, it means you have antibodies in your blood.

DR. DEBORAH BRIX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: And I think really being able to tell them the peace of mind that would come from knowing you already were infected, you have antibody, you're safe from reinfection, 99.9 percent of the time. And so this I think would be very reassuring to our frontline health care workers. GUPTA: Another benefit of antibody testing, surveillance. In places like Miami-Dade County, Florida, Santa Clara County, California, and Telluride, Colorado, they have already started using antibody tests to get a better sense of how many people many of whom will be surprised to learn, have already been exposed to the virus.

LOU REESE, CHIEF OFFICER, UNITED NEUROSCIENCE: Whoever volunteers is getting tested twice. And the purpose of that is to see who zero converts and develops the antibodies. Meaning who was actively infected during this period of quarantine.

GUPTA: A CDC spokesperson told CNN the agency has already used these tools to "Monitor contacts of infected people and to identify individuals who due to mild infection may have not known they were infected."

[13:30:05]

GUPTA: Getting the antibody tests up and running, much like the tests to detect the virus itself, has been challenging. In a rush to get these tests to market, the FDA lowered the regulatory standards. And what followed were a lot of unreliable and inaccurate tests.

BIRX: There's a series of antibody tests out there that have not been validated. Some of the tests that may be available on the Internet may have very low sensitivity and specificity and give you a false reassurance that you either -- give you a false positive or a false negative, implying you may be protected.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you for that.

I want to bring in Dr. Saju Mathew. He is a primary care physician and also a CNN medical analyst.

Good to see you, doctor.

DR. SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Hi, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Let me get your reaction to what we just saw. How much of a potential game changer would it be for this kind of antibody testing?

MATHEW: You know, as a public health specialist, I'm actually really excited. But I'm cautiously excited. And the reason is exactly what Dr. Gupta said.

A lot of these tests that came out in the last few weeks were flawed. We have to remember that COVID-19 shares its genetic material with some of its cousins like SARS and the common cold. And a couple of these tests were wrongfully identifying not COVID-19, but, say, the common cold.

So I think we need to be really careful and make sure that we can validate when these newer tests come out and be sure that they are accurate. But if it works well, and they're sensitive and specific, Fredricka, this could absolutely be a game changer.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Anthony Fauci says we should have those tests in place by next week. How quickly can we, as a country, implement these types of tests, make them widely available?

MATHEW: I think we can get it out there pretty quickly. We've had some experience in the last four weeks in trying to get companies to produce results and then get it to emergency rooms and ICU settings.

I think our first group of people should, obviously, be our sick patients, should be our frontline workers, who are dropping like flies and falling sick. This could be a huge game changer for them in that we could test them, see if they have recovered. If they have the antibodies. And they can get back to work and try to save our patients that are sick.

WHITFIELD: And then there's also a new model out from the University of Washington predicting a slow recession in the number of deaths once the U.S. does hit a peak.

And here's what one of the doctors behind the model told our Anderson Cooper. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, CHAIRMAN, HEALTH METRIC SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Some states still haven't fully implemented social distance distancing, so we're seeing their peaks shifting out in time. And we're seeing a peak now. But the decline is going to be very slow as some other states reach their peak later in April and even extending into May.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Do you anticipate that, that some states will simply be late in its spike?

MATHEW: Absolutely, Fredricka. We need to assume that every single state, every county, every city in the U.S. will be operating on their own curve.

It's going to be really important because we didn't go into a lockdown with the entire country all that once. We need to make sure that each state monitors the curve and we don't pull back quickly.

I give an analogy, Fredricka, of, we're like people that are being chased by this invisible enemy and we have no artillery. We're naked. The only chance we have to survive this is to run away and hide and buy time. And that's what social distancing is all about and staying home.

I would urge the American public to double down and make sure that we still socially distance and stay at home until we have some of these other tests, like the antibody test, up and running efficiently.

WHITFIELD: How worried are you about some who are very anxious to remove the social distancing guidelines while, as we just mentioned, some states haven't yet really underscored the importance of it.

MATHEW: I'm really worried. I really am. Again, I've always mentioned this on CNN before. I know we're not a city like Wuhan, where we can go into a draconian way of hunkering down.

So, really, what's happening in the U.S. is every county and every city is operating on their own rules and regulations. But what we need to do right now in the midst of the pandemic is everybody needs to evaluate their own hot spot and not take the foot off the pedal.

It's going to be really key to keep it going because we are seeing some glimmers of hope, Fredricka, like in New York and other cities. But what that means is what we're doing is actually working, and we need to be very gradual in sort of opening the country back up again.

WHITFIELD: Glimmers of hope. New York, you heard the governor earlier, he said, while the number is stabilizing, it is doing so at still a horrific rate with 783 deaths in just one day alone.

[13:35:10]

Thank you so much, Dr. Saju Mathew. Appreciate it.

MATHEW: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, why African-Americans are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. And what they're being urged to do to help stop the spread.

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WHITFIELD: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams calls the number of deaths among African-Americans alarming. Add that his own health issues represent a, quote, "legacy of growing up poor and black in America."

Adams urges them to follow social distancing guidelines, not just for themselves but for their families as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: The chronic burden of medical ills is likely to make people of color, especially, less resilient to the ravage of COVID-19 and it's possibly, in fact, likely that the burden of social ills is also contributing.

[13:40:09]

We need you to do this, if not for yourself, then for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy, do it for your big mama, do it for your papa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Joining me now to discuss is Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, the president and dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Good to see you.

VALERIE MONTGOMERY RICE, PRESIDENT & DEAN, MOREHOUSE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Nice to see you. Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Montgomery rice, how did that sit with you? What did you understand the surgeon general's message to say, what his intention was? How do you decipher it all?

RICE: I think that our surgeon general, Dr. Adams, was really trying to connect to the constituent of people who may have -- that is the terms they use to relate to their loved ones. And I think he was using a familiar language that some may be familiar with.

But what I would say is that I want to make sure that we don't advance stereotypes because we know that that's not going to advance health equity.

And Morehouse School of Medicine, we are focused on -- our mission is to improve the health and well-being of individuals and their communities. And we know that many in those communities disproportionately experience health issues, and we have a focus on people of color and the underserved urban and rural communities.

So when we talk about meeting people where they are, we're talking about those who may be disproportionately poor, lack of affordable housing, and not have meaningful quality access to health care.

And so when I hear him speak, I know what he is trying to convey is that, do it for anyone who may not have a voice. And he was trying to use a familiar term, I think.

WHITFIELD: So maybe he was talking about the personal responsibility of taking precautions for your loved ones.

RICE: Yes.

WHITFIELD: But you are really just now underscoring the systemic disparities, which is the causation, which brings the causation of why, in part, a disproportionate number of African-Americans are dying, succumbing to coronavirus.

When it comes to messaging, say, from the White House of what can be done, what do you want to hear that will address these systemic disparities?

RICE: First of all, I would love to see the White House continue to advance messages of social distances. I think when you -- social distancing, excuse me. I think when you listen to what's happening in New York and some of the other cities, it does appear to be making a difference.

We would also like to see testing and tracing.

And then we would like to see the response at a federal level. We want to see resources deployed to the hardest-hit communities. And based on the data that we are seeing that is African-American communities, Hispanic communities, poorer communities.

And above all else, we want people to rely on science. Let's listen to what the science says. Let's make informed decisions based on the science.

WHITFIELD: And just to underscore, we're talking about the numbers. The majority of black communities have three times the rate of infections, nearly six times the rate of deaths as majority white communities.

And if the correlation is being made by, you know, so many voices that systemic disparities are a reason why, doesn't everybody know that by now? Why is it that there seems to be confusion about, you know, why African-Americans, Latinos may be that much more disenfranchised by succumbing to something like coronavirus?

RICE: So, first of all, I think this disease took many people by surprise, and it's been overwhelming.

And so, as I continue to think about this, first, I want to give a shout-out to all of those persons who are on the front lines making a difference and dealing with the lack of resources that were not there in the beginning. But now we're seeing the country come together and to provide the resources to our front-line workers. So thank you.

Now when you ask that question about, how do we not get it, I think, again, we were overwhelmed. And we do know these systemic problems occur.

But, you know, there's something that people talk about is culturally competent care. Sometimes I don't like that term because people automatically think it means that the provider needs to be the same race as the person or the same gender, and that's not what I mean.

[13:45:01]

I think we all need to understand the communities that we care for. If we understand the communities that we care for and then we start to understand the disease based on the science that's there, we know that this is a disease that impacts the respiratory system. It leads to an acute crisis.

So if I have someone who is already compromised by diabetes or hypertension or congestive heart failure, when they come in, I am going to have a different level of approach to them because I know that their system is already compromised.

If when we started to see the data on blacks being the higher rate of diagnosis of the disease and dying from the disease, it tells us that we need to send our testing and focus our testing and marketing strategies of educating the communities to that community. We need to see more testing done in that community.

And so I don't know why sometimes it takes us a while to get it. But one of the things that I have been very pleased to see is that people are coming together. And people are using their individual and their community resources to ensure that we are following guidelines of social distancing.

People are thinking about what it means to be -- for increased sanitation and how to sanitize your products. And they're given all types of positive messaging, such that we can really combat this disease.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, thanks for being with us, from Morehouse. Appreciate it.

RICE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, mail-in voting is turning into a battle between congressional Democrats and the White House. Democrats want to include more money for mail-in voting in the next coronavirus relief package, but President Trump is railing against that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:51:32]

WHITFIELD: The CDC is now recommending people vote by mail this election cycle to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It's a proposal President Trump doesn't like. He claims mail-in voting is corrupt and dangerous.

CNN's Abby Phillip explains why that is simply not true.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As the novel coronavirus ravages the country, President Trump declaring war against a new enemy, vote by mail.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mail ballots, they cheat, OK? People cheat. Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they're cheaters. They go and collect them. They're fraudulent in many cases.

PHILLIP: The president pushing unfounded claims of fraud and unfazed by images like these, lines snaking through parking lots at Wisconsin polling places after the courts sided with Republican officials to allow the state's primary to go forward, forcing thousands of voters to potentially risk their health to cast in person ballots on Tuesday.

Trump warning his party that expanded mail-in voting will mean that they will lose.

TRUMP (voice-over): They had things -- levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again.

PHILLIP: And claiming that, for whatever reason, mail-in voting doesn't work out well for Republicans, urging his party to fight very hard against efforts to expand it.

Experts say voter fraud is rare, though it is more likely with mailed ballots.

A prominent recent example, a Republican campaign operative in North Carolina charged in 2019 with fraud for tampering with absentee ballots in a congressional race.

Five states already conduct their elections entirely by mail. And most states allow absentee ballots to be cast for any reason.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, says her state hasn't seen any evidence of fraud.

KIM WYMAN, (R), WASHINGTON SECRETARY OF STATE: It has to be an option because 16 percent of our population across the country are people that are in the highest risk group because they're over 60 years old.

Those voters have to have an option that doesn't involve going to a polling place.

Our experience in Washington has not been one where voter fraud is a problem with vote by mail because of the security controls we've put into place.

PHILLIP: And Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, also a Republican, dismissing those concerns.

MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO GOVERNOR: We've had a lot of experience in this so we didn't really worry about, you know, any kind of fraud as far as that was concerned.

PHILLIP: In Georgia, the state's Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, has already mailed absentee applications to all eligible voters ahead of their rescheduled presidential primary.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE (voice-over): We wanted to get that information out to voters and show them here's a way you can vote from the safety and security of your home.

PHILLIP: Other Republican officials in this state appear to be taking their political cues from the president.

STATE REP. DAVID RALSTON (R-GA) (voice-over): And then you look at the people here in Georgia that have lined up to support Secretary Raffensperger's proposal. I mean, it's every extreme, liberal, Democratic group that's out there. And it kind of makes you wonder what their agenda is.

PHILLIP: Democrats across the country preparing to fight back.

STACEY ABRAMS (D), FORMER GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: What should be terrifying to every American is that Donald Trump said out loud the quiet part, that he knows that if every eligible American got to cast a ballot, he would lose.

PHILLIP: Abby Phillip, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

[13:55:00]

WHITFIELD: CNN viewers and readers from around the world have asked more than 90,000 questions about coronavirus on CNN.com. At 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, right hear on CNN, a panel of experts will join me to answer some of your questions. Go to CNN.com to submit your questions on health, family life, and your money. Again, that is at 2:30 eastern right here on CNN.

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[14:00:08]

WHITFIELD: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.