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Barack Obama to Endorse Joe Biden Today; Interview with L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer; Coronavirus Progression Continues Around the World. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 14, 2020 - 10:30   ET





HARLOW: -- bring us up to speed, what are we going to hear from the former president today, and in what format?

BORGER: Well, you're going to hear a video. And it's -- because that's really the way to communicate these days, isn't it, guys?


BORGER: And it's going to be a full-throated endorsement of Joe Biden. And the endorsement itself, of course, is no surprise. But I think it's something that's really been months in the making. The president -- the former president -- didn't want to get too far out front in all of this, was involved in backstage communications between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, according to CNN reporting.

And -- and I think he did it -- his timing is his own. And I think he felt that he would be much more valuable as a peacemaker of sorts between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, and then come out on his own once the runway was completely clear for his former vice president.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You know, the strategy before all this for the president had been, tout strong economy -- of course, coronavirus has changed that dramatically -- but also --


SCIUTTO: -- go after a socialist democratic candidate, if it was sort of a Sanders or a Warren, and a divided Democratic Party. But you really have none of those things. Remarkable, is it not, to see the Democratic Party kind of get its ducks in a row so quickly here?

BORGER: Yes. And I think this happened earlier than Barack Obama thought it was going to happen. I mean, remember, South Carolina -- it's hard to remember -- South Carolina on February 29th, and then you had Super Tuesday on March 3rd, and then the path really seemed clear for Joe Biden. It took Bernie Sanders a while, and Bernie Sanders, at first, spoke

when he got out of the race -- remember, he didn't give any kind of a full-throated endorsement to Joe Biden because he felt that he had to talk to his supporters first. he didn't want to let them down, and had to really talk to them about what he was doing. And then he came out and gave his endorsement to Joe Biden, and now you see Barack Obama doing this.

So you see that it's really been choreographed in a way that they -- that they planned. And I think that now, you're probably going to hear from Obama about how important this election is. And one way they can use him, quite frankly, is to fundraise for them because they're going to have to --


BORGER: -- compete on that --


BORGER: -- level with a very well-funded Trump campaign.

HARLOW: And that's sort of -- that's been Biden's Achilles' heel for years. He doesn't really -- he doesn't love to fundraise. And so to have this -- but I just wonder --


HARLOW: -- how important (ph) it is, Gloria, in this moment, when the president is getting so much more air time -- obviously in the middle of this crisis -- and Joe Biden can't be --


HARLOW: -- on the campaign trail.


BORGER: Right. It's -- well, it's very important for Obama -- don't forget, you know, Obama is enemy number one when -- or maybe, compared to Hillary Clinton, I would say, maybe enemy number two -- to Donald Trump.

And so having Obama speak publicly will also give Donald Trump another convenient target, because he says the president, he wasn't prepared for coronavirus because they left him nothing, meaning the Obama administration, so it wasn't his fault.

And maybe, just maybe, we will hear the former president finally answer that. We've heard people who worked for him answer that, but if he begins to go out there on-camera and answer things like that, we may hear his explanation of what happened. But right now, for Barack Obama, it's all about getting Joe Biden elected president.

SCIUTTO: Gloria Borger, always good to have you. We'll see you soon.

BORGER: Good to see you guys. Stay safe.

HARLOW: Thanks, Gloria.

SCIUTTO: Other news you might have missed this weekend -- and really, a notable victory for Democrats in the Wisconsin supreme court. This was just one week after Republicans -- you may remember -- insisted on holding in-person voting despite attempts in the states to push it off or allow voting from home.

A liberal judge, Jill Karofsky, won, her conservative opponent conceding on Monday. Her victory reduces the conservative majority of the court, four to three.

Why are we talking about this? This is one of the reasons the GOP in that state was pushing very hard to hold that vote. Wisconsin's governor had pushed to use mail-in voting, postpone the election. But Republicans in the state legislature blocked those requests, and the state's conservative supreme court blocked the second. Instead, people across the state, they were forced to vote, wait in those long lines for hours, social distancing, et cetera.


Other news we're following, a shocking warning in Los Angeles County: New models suggest that millions could be infected if stay-at-home orders are lifted right away. We're going to ask the head of the county's public health department about those models, what they mean, coming up.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Some startling new data out of California, the Los Angeles County health department presented a new model that projects that 95 percent of residents there could be infected with coronavirus by August if its stay-at-home order were to be lifted today. That projection comes as the county reported its lowest number of new cases in nearly three weeks, largely because of social distancing.


I'm joined now by Barbara Ferrer, she's director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health. I mean, this is really a stark demonstration of just how quickly these infection levels can move if restrictions are lifted. What does it tell you, then? Because Los Angeles is not thinking about keeping people inside their homes forever. What does it tell you about when and how quickly you dial some of this back?

BARBARA FERRER, DIRECTOR, L.A. COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes. Thank you, and good morning, Jim, I appreciate being here with you today.

I think you're asking the essential question. You know, all of us want everyone to be able to get back to work as quickly as we can, but we all want to do that safely. We do know that the physical distancing requirements are working. We do a fairly aggressive job at also isolating and quarantining people who have been exposed and can expose others.

But I think in order for us to safely reopen, A, we have to understand it's going to take us some time because we cannot reopen, go back to where we were and then see the huge spike that of course will overwhelm anybody's health care system.

But I think there are four pieces that have to be in place for us to reopen safely. The first is, we have to be able to care for everybody who's sick. The second is, we have to make sure that people who are most vulnerable have extra protections: people living in congregate living in our nursing homes, for us, people experiencing homelessness, people in communities where they have less resources, more poverty and higher barriers to accessing care.


FERRER: We're going to have to also make sure that we're able to test and test and test, which has been a challenge. And then isolate people who are infected, and quarantine close contacts.

And last, the physical distancing needs are still going to be paramount. We just have to think about how we do them differently. So for example --


FERRER: -- if retail business is going to reopen, what protections would you put in place so that you minimize exposures for employees and the public.

I think this is all doable. I think we're all on a road to recovery. I think we know we're going to get to the other side, but we have to do it in a very thoughtful and deliberate way so that we don't actually end up inadvertently having the spike that we --


SCIUTTO: OK, in a best-case scenario, if you meet those standards, could residents of Los Angeles County see some relaxing of these restrictions as soon as next month? Or are you not there yet?

FERRER: I certainly hope so. I mean, we're very data-driven, as is everybody in public health. So we're going to be tracking the number of new cases, we're going to be tracking hospitalizations, ICU utilization, how many people are getting ventilated. And then we're going to make a strategic decision.

But, yes, I'm very hopeful that, you know, sometime in mid-May, we start reopening. We need to reopen --


FERRER: -- we just have to do it safely. SCIUTTO: You mentioned testing. Governor Cuomo of New York mentioned

testing, too. That is a requirement to begin real relaxation of social distancing and broad-based testing. Trouble is, on the way in, this country did a lousy job of testing, they just weren't available widely enough.

Have you seen that change? Does -- will Los Angeles County, beginning next month, have the beginnings of broad-based testing to allow for the relaxation of some of these restrictions?

FERRER: You know, I'm really hopeful. You know, there's been an amazing team here that's been working, you know, really, day and night to try to expand testing capacity. We've also found out that some of our communities didn't have good access, primarily communities where people were -- had more limited income, and we've got to fix that.

We have -- you have to do a lot of different things, I think, to improve testing. One is, you have to have the supply chain in place. And you have to have lab capacity. That's actually able to process all of the labs because you can't have wait times of six to eight days for people to get results.

We need to be able to test, test quickly, get results quickly and then those people who are positive have to know that they have to isolate and we have to quarantine close contacts. That's why you have to do a lot more testing.

We went from doing about a thousand tests a day to we're over 6,000 tests a day now. We're aiming to be at a thousand tests a day by next week. If we can meet those thresholds, we will be able to offer more testing, and we will then be able to use that as part of the strategy around safely reopening.

SCIUTTO: All right, well, that's good news to hear, you've ramped it up quickly. We wish you and the residents of Los Angeles County all the best of luck, going forward. Thank you, Barbara.

FERRER: Yes, thank you, Jim, and thanks for the great reporting. I really appreciate all your support.

SCIUTTO: Wow, we at CNN appreciate that.


And we'll be right back.


HARLOW: Now, let's take a look around the world at the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

SCIUTTO: Yes. In a way only CNN can, let's begin with Ben Wedeman in Rome. And, Ben, Italy, of course, one of the hardest-hit countries of this. But some baby steps now, if we can call them that, towards reopening there? BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very tiny

baby steps it is, Jim. What we're seeing is that the Italian government is allowing bookshops, stationary stores and stores that sell children's and baby clothing to reopen. So it's only a few stores.


And we went to one of those stores, a store selling babies' clothing, and the woman who runs it told us nobody had actually gone to the shop by 4:00 in the afternoon, local time. And those areas that are hardest hit by the coronavirus, in the north, simply are ignoring this decree altogether. The lockdown continues in those parts of Italy, unchanged -- Poppy.

HARLOW: That's telling, that no one went in the store even though it was open that day.


HARLOW: Thank you so much, Ben.

Matthew Chance joins us now. Matthew, Russian President Vladimir Putin, backtracking after saying last month the virus was under control in his country?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, just three weeks ago, Vladimir Putin went on state television, said basically, look, there's nothing to worry about, it's not going to happen here, what's happening in the rest of Europe and elsewhere.

But, you know, how much difference a few weeks make because just in the past 24 hours, Russia has had its highest ever number of confirmed coronavirus cases, 2,774 per day. Adds to about 21,000 there in total, they've got.

Doesn't sound very much compared to what you're experiencing in the U.S., but Russian officials admit that this is just at the foot of the curve. They're not even halfway up, nowhere near the peak of the rate of infections that they're expecting over the weeks ahead. So it's going to get a lot worse. So it raises that point.

It also, you know, they've also introduced a much tougher control over their lockdown, introducing technological methods to make sure they know where everybody is at any given time, and that's raising concerns as well -- Poppy and Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, Matthew Chance there. That's one of the stories of this, is underplaying, underestimating the virus by officials.

Now, to Clarissa Ward in London. And, Clarissa, it appears the death toll there may be much higher than previously suggested? What do we know?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, I have to say, this is just mind-blowing. Essentially, the Office for National Statistics has come out and said that the daily death toll that the government has been given -- giving in its briefings is 52 percent lower than the actual death toll.

They gave the example up to April 3rd, official death toll from the government: 4,093. Actual death toll: 6,235. The reason, they say, is because the government death toll only includes hospitals, not people dying in nursing homes or residential homes -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: Clarissa Ward, thank you for that update as well.

We'll be right back.



SCIUTTO: One group in this country, disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic: Latinos, including in New York City.

HARLOW: Absolutely. The numbers are startling. Our Nick Valencia has more.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anthony Acevedo says he honestly can't remember the last time he got sick. But two weeks ago, he tweeted that he felt an itch in his throat. More severe symptoms followed.

ANTHONY ACEVEDO, TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: Yes, so I got the results that I was positive with the COVID-19.

Body aches, I had a whole lot of body aches. And recently, I've developed a lot of night sweats.

VALENCIA (voice-over): His condition hasn't improved. Acevedo thought he was turning the corner, only to be diagnosed with pneumonia. The 35-year-old works in hospice care, making home visits to terminally ill patients. He knew he was at higher risk of contracting the virus, and said he had been taking precautions. But in his line of work, that doesn't always guarantee your safety.

ACEVEDO: Latinos are mainly, you know, the CNAs and the -- and the janitors, you know? When you go into these facilities, that's where you see us. You see us as the janitors, cleaning everybody's room, and you see us as the ones changing all the diapers, you know, giving them showers, you know, feeding them face-to-face.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Dr. Genoveva Ollervides O'Neil, who serves the Latino community in Vancouver, Washington, says Latinos are often found in these essential but lower-level hospital jobs. She says such employees may not have health insurance, or the option to stay home if they get sick.

GENOVEVA OLLERVIDES O'NEIL, FACULTY PHYSICIAN, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: This leads not only to worsening health for those people, but also spreading of this pandemic and prolonging the illness and the effects that this is going to have.

VALENCIA (voice-over): According to the Pew Research Center, concern about the virus is even more pronounced among Latinos than the wider American public. About two-thirds say the outbreak is a major threat to the health of Americans, compared to about half of the general public.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NYC, NY): There are clear inequalities, clear disparities in how this disease is affecting the people of our city.

VALENCIA (voice-over): In the epicenter of the outbreak, New York City, the mayor says Latinos are dying at rates higher than any other group, making up 34 percent of deaths. Other locations have been slow to release a breakdown of deaths by race or ethnicity, so no national trends are clear yet.

Meantime, Dr. O'Neil and other medical professionals say underlying health conditions and economic disparities, which disproportionately affect communities of color, play a role.

OLLERVIDES O'NEIL: Oftentimes, you'll find us living in multigenerational households, with grandparents along with newborns, and just creating a situation where it's very hard to contain the spread of disease.

VALENCIA (voice-over): This past week, the U.S. surgeon general addressed how communities of color are getting hit hard by the virus, and urged blacks and Latinos to protect themselves. But he was criticized for the language he used while doing it. Dr. Jerome Adams said he was only using words he would with his own family.

Latinos, used to getting together many times a week with family and friends, are now finding themselves having to change their normal routines. Like these coffee happy hours at (INAUDIBLE) in South Florida.

Acevedo sees the risk for himself and others. It means not pushing to go back to work before he's ready.

ACEVEDO: To me, that's the worst fear, is to hurt people, to put other people in danger. So just to know that I have it so I can, you know, stay home and try to take care of this properly --