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Latino Community and Coronavirus; Interview With Tampa, Florida, Mayor Jane Castor; Trump vs. Governors. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 14, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:02]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: But hospitalizations are down slightly. And the governor is saying this, we changed the curve, though it's not over yet.

Researchers say the U.S. might have to endure social distancing measures until 2022, unless a vaccine becomes available soon.

Dr. Anthony Fauci today saying that we're not there yet on a plan to reopen the country. And Governor Cuomo is warning he may not even abide by such an order by President Trump.

Now, in the last month, nearly 11,000 people have died in New York state. That's 778 just in the past 24 hours.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is joining me now from New York City.

And, Shimon, Governor Cuomo made it clear he's not going to reopen New York on his timetable in conjunction with other governors in the region -- or that's what he is going to open New York on, not on the president's orders.

Tell us about this.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right.

There's all this talk about the president. He's saying -- obviously, the president is saying that he wants to reopen the country together. The governor consistently saying he's going to do it in conjunction with the other governors, with the other people across this state, with people across -- outside of New York City, people in New Jersey.

The reason is that he feels the state is just not ready to reopen. There are a lot of things that need to happen before that would take place. There's still a lot of help that we need from the federal government. There are things that need to be done before we reopen the state.

The other thing, the governor obviously saying today that he's not trying to get into a fight with the president, that it's just best to walk away. He feels the president perhaps could be trying to pick a fight with him. He's choosing to walk away.

And here's what else the governor said:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The president is clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue. The worst thing we can do in all of this is start with political division and start with partisanship.

The best thing we have done throughout this past 44 days is, we have worked together. He has no fight here. I won't let it happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PROKUPECZ: And it's kind of -- Brianna, it's kind of emblematic of how the governor has been working this relationship with the president throughout this entire pandemic, at times even complimenting, saying nice things about the president.

And we're seeing that again today. He's saying, look, the president wants to fight. I'm not doing that. He really wants to get the state ready, in a place to reopen. But it's got to be done at the right time, when everything is in place, Brianna.

KEILAR: You know, one of the complaints that we heard early on from Governor Cuomo was that he and other states were competing against each other when it came to obviously this equipment that they needed.

He said, that's still the case, that these states are competing against each other for tests and also for PPE, that personal protective equipment.

PROKUPECZ: Right.

So these are the components that are needed for the test. That's what the coronavirus test. He's saying that they're seeing exactly what went on with the PPE, with the other items, with the ventilators, when they needed these items. It's he describes it as being sort of like eBay, in that states are all bidding against each other to try and get this equipment.

The bottom line is, the governor understands, we need to up the amount of testing. And in order to do that, you need the equipment. And a lot of the equipment is coming from privately owned companies. Those are the people that have these components.

And now what you're seeing, the governor says, is states bidding and fighting over this material, again, the governor saying that the federal government needs to take the lead on this -- Brianna.

KEILAR: So they can coordinate that.

Shimon, thank you so much live for us from New York.

Taunting tweets from President Trump today aimed at the governors who are pushing back on his claims of total authority. And this isn't just Democrats who are challenging the president's insistence that local governments can't do anything without his approval. Even Republican governors and Republican congressional leaders are

acknowledging the truth here. That power does not belong to the president.

Let's go to CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She is live for us at the White house.

Kaitlan, what exactly is the president saying now to these governors?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's doubling down on this fight. He's continuing to stoke this feud that we're seeing play out now, even though, as Shimon just laid out, Governor Cuomo in New York is saying this is not a fight he wants to have with the president.

But the president is insisting he does have this authority, though, yesterday, he did not say exactly who told him that he does, because we know that constitutional scholars have been saying that's not the case.

And, today, the president was singling out Democratic governors who he said is pushing back on this claim that he made, telling them that one of his favorite movies is "Mutiny on the Bounty," and he's talking about how in that movie, you can see there, the president says: "Tell them it's one of my favorite movies. A good-old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the captain. Too easy."

[15:05:03]

Though, of course, you have got to put that in context, that that is what the president is tweeting about while we're in the middle of this pandemic.

And these governors are seeking guidance from the federal government about how to reopen the economy and what the president plans to move forward with that. And, instead, he's pushing back, insisting he does have this authority, which, of course, we should note, Brianna, he does not.

And constitutional scholars have said the same. And even the president's Republican allies, Senator Rand Paul and Congresswoman Liz Cheney, both tweeted, no, the federal government does not have absolute authority here, making clear, of course, their positions on that.

And the president is continuing to push it. We will see if he continues to do so at that press conference here just in a few hours. But we also know that this is coming as the president is focusing on the economy and he is preparing to announce that second task force that we told you about last week, though, Brianna, even though it's supposed to be announced today, it's still unclear exactly who is going to be on it.

We know there was a consideration for a mix of administration officials and private sector folks, but it's still unclear who has formally signed on with this task force, because, just to give you a sense of that, yesterday, the president said Ivanka Trump, his daughter-in-law -- or his daughter, and, of course, senior adviser, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were not going to be on it, though we were told last week that Ivanka Trump was going to be on it.

So it's still very fluid. And we're waiting to see just who was on it and exactly what their view of what it's going to do is.

KEILAR: Yes, we will wait for those details. You will bring them to us.

Kaitlan, thank you so much for that.

Joining me now is CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

And, Elizabeth, we have heard the president still touting hydroxychloroquine, this anti-malaria drug. He's saying this is a treatment, very possibly a treatment for COVID-19. This was something he said just today when he was meeting with virus survivors.

And this also comes, we should note, as South Dakota's Republican Governor, Kristi Noem, said that her state is going to conduct its own clinical trial on the drug.

What are your concerns here?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The concerns here is that the president is not waiting for the science to tell us whether this drug works and whether it's safe.

We have already seen in Brazil and in Sweden that they are putting out serious warnings that these drugs, this drug, hydroxychloroquine, can cause heart problems. The last thing you want to do when you're trying out a new drug on a patient is to cause problems.

Physicians cannot understand why in the world he is pushing a drug that can have cardiac side effects. Is it possible that these studies, like the one in South Dakota and more than a dozen more scattered around the country, is it possible that these studies are going to tell us, yes, hydroxychloroquine is the answer, we should be giving it to COVID patients?

Sure, that's possible. Is it also possible that it might say, you know what, it doesn't help these patients and it's hurting them for some reason that -- I mean, I personally fail to -- I just can't understand. The president doesn't want to wait for the studies to finish.

So, in effect, he is touting a drug that could give Americans heart problems. Why would he want to do that?

KEILAR: Yes, I mean, especially as someone who has heart disease himself. You would wonder why he does that. I want to talk to you about these antibody tests, Elizabeth, because

you have experts who are saying, look, these antibody tests, they can determine who was exposed to the virus, whether they may have antibodies against it, something that might be able to be used for other folks to help against the symptoms here.

Now, this could also mean that a person may have some immunity. But we should note -- and explain this to us -- that all of these tests are not created equal.

COHEN: That's exactly right, Brianna.

So this test tells you, hey, look, you were infected at some point in the past, and you have antibodies, which may mean that they your immune. That's super helpful. On a personal level, you would know this. On a population level, we would know, this city has a lot of immune people or this city doesn't have a lot of people who are immune.

The problem is, the FDA lowered the standards last month, and basically pretty much anyone can sell an antibody test. They don't even have to show that it works. All they have to do is say, hey, FDA, I want to sell this test, and I validated it here in my city, where I am. That's all they have to do.

They don't have to show their data. So people who know about these things who run lab associations say there are a lot of crappy -- and that's their word -- there are a lot of crappy tests out there.

The last thing you would want to do, Brianna, is tell someone they have antibodies, when, in effect, they don't. It would cause them to do things that could make them get COVID. So, real -- a lot of concern about the quality of the tests.

KEILAR: Yes, especially when they're using a very technical term like crappy, I think, as they try to explain to people why there's problems with these tests, Elizabeth.

And then the FDA has authorized a saliva test for emergency use in diagnosing the virus. How big of a deal is this?

COHEN: You know, it really is quite a big deal.

And here's why. In a way, it doesn't really matter whether they're testing your saliva or testing the back of your throat. It's definitely easier to test saliva, in that it's much more comfortable, you don't have to have a swab going through your nose. So that's always a good thing.

[15:10:06]

But what's really good about this saliva test, Brianna, is that health care workers, nurses, others don't have to put on protective gear for it. They hand you the test. You're able to sample your own saliva, and then you give them back the test. So when you're swabbing someone's nose, people often cough and can

spew something potentially infectious at you as the nurse, and so the nurse has to wear protective gear. We want to conserve protective gear as much as possible. So this new test is great.

KEILAR: Yes, that's a very good point.

Elizabeth, thank you so much for breaking all of that down for us.

And coming up: the governor of Florida declaring essential business -- WWE as essential business, as mayors in the state take action to slow the spread of coronavirus. I will be talking to one of those mayors, a mayor of a major city in Florida, next.

Plus, the new proposals under consideration, as many schools shut down for the rest of the school year. Could students be held back a grade? We will talk about that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:15:25]

KEILAR: Florida is the third largest state in the nation. And it's one of the highest at risk for coronavirus.

But Governor Ron DeSantis' response has lagged well behind other populated states, specifically when it came to a stay-at-home order.

We're joined now by Tampa, Mayor Jane Castor, who issued a stay-at- home order well before Governor DeSantis did.

Mayor, thank you so much for joining us from Tampa.

MAYOR JANE CASTOR (D-TAMPA, FL): My pleasure, Brianna.

KEILAR: So, the last time that you actually spoke with the governor was March 2. You have been coordinating with other mayors. You have been coordinating with local officials in Florida.

Is there any coordination that you're getting from the governor or from the governor's office?

CASTOR: Well, from the governor's office, I have been in close contact with the emergency manager, Jared Moskowitz. And he is providing supplies to the area, to the degree that he can.

I mean, everybody is in the same position. I have said in the past we have an emergency, most often in our state, a hurricane, and everyone else comes to your rescue. Well, everyone's in the same predicament, so there's no cavalry coming in to save the day.

So, the mayors are taking it upon themselves.

KEILAR: And you have been in law enforcement. You were in law enforcement for more than three decades. You have some experience when it comes to coordination between the local level and the state. CASTOR: Yes.

KEILAR: I wonder, as a mayor now, are you concerned that the governor could actually reopen the state too soon? Have you gotten any indications that that's a possibility?

CASTOR: I have heard bits and pieces.

We're just moving so fast here on the local level, trying to deal with a myriad of issues. And I have heard some comments about that, about kids going back to school and opening up the state.

But I can't imagine that a decision like that would be made. I mean, I can't imagine that there's anybody that would agree with that has even taking a glance at the scientific information and all of the historical information that we have now, what other countries have gone through.

I just don't see that happening.

KEILAR: Yes. And, right now, you're actually looking at the latest projection. And I know this is something that's changing every few days.

The latest projection is that the peak for Florida could be three weeks away. There's one model at this point that is saying May 3.

According to "The Miami Herald," Florida is significantly underreporting the testing backlog there in the state. Is that a big concern for you? And just tell us what your biggest concerns are right now.

CASTOR: Oh, yes.

We have lost the battle in testing, I think nationwide, I know certainly here in the state of Florida and in our region as well. First of all, the parameters for the testing, they had the travel. Until a week ago, you still have the travel question on there.

And then you basically -- as I tell everybody, you had the bubble half colored in by the time you gave someone a test. So we certainly haven't done testing on the level that we need to.

And what we're looking to focus at here in our area is testing on the antibodies to try to find out those individuals that had the virus, were asymptomatic, and now may have a level of immunity.

And so that's what we're trying to focus on. Of course, the -- our county EEOC that we run everything through, they ordered 45,000 antibody tests that we were supposed to get last week, and we haven't seen those.

So there's just no telling when those will arrive and we can start doing that testing.

KEILAR: So you need antibody testing. That's really what you're looking at as you look forward here.

You're not the only mayor. And you're not the only state that's dealing with this situation with the disconnect between governors. In some states, we have really seen them show up. In some states, we have not.

So there's a lot of mayors who are in your position. I wonder, what else do you need from the governor at this point in time?

CASTOR: Well, really, we have moved beyond the point -- we put the safer-at-home order in place.

And we have taken the steps that we can to get the additional testing set up, drive-through testing sites, and do all of the things that we needed to do to protect our community.

And then we have a very close-knit group of mayors of the seven largest cities in the state of Florida. Tampa is the third largest. And so we are talking to each other on a regular basis as well, getting what we can for our community.

[15:20:07]

So, really, it boils down to it right now what everybody needs. And those are the supplies, masks for everyone. We're looking to put an order in place this Thursday for everyone to wear a face covering when they're out in public setting, close proximity to others.

But a lot of that boils down to people just using a T-shirt, something that they can put over their face. We certainly don't have enough masks for our first responders or those essential employees that are out there on the front lines providing water, picking up trash, doing those types of essential services to keep our city running.

KEILAR: Mary Jane Castor, thank you so much. It's so important to take a look at what is happening there at the local level. We appreciate you joining us.

CASTOR: Yes. Yes, thank you. We appreciate you informing all your viewers.

KEILAR: All right, thank you, Mayor.

And up next, some farmers are now destroying their crops. We will explain why food is going to waste, while many people in this country are going hungry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:26:05]

KEILAR: When you break down coronavirus cases in New York City alone, Latinos are dying at a faster rate than any other demographic, and alarming numbers for this community are actually stretching nationwide.

Let's take a look at this with CNN Nick Valencia, who explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 COVID-19. Body aches, I had a whole lot of body aches. And, recently, I have developed a lot of night sweats.

VALENCIA: 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 janitors. 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 once changing all the diapers, you know, giving them showers, you know, feeding them face to face.

VALENCIA: Dr. Genoveva Ollervides O'Neill, 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.

DR. GENOVEVA OLLERVIDES O'NEILL, 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: According to the Pew Research Center, concern about the virus is even more pronounced among Latino 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.

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

VALENCIA: 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'Neill and other medical professionals say, underlying health conditions and economic disparities, which disproportionately affect communities of color, play a role.

O'NEILL: 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.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Do it for your big mama. Do it for your pop-pop.

VALENCIA: 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 Ventanitas 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 stay home and try to take care of this properly without infecting other people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: Nationally, it's really hard to tell whether or not the coronavirus, or COVID-19, is more dangerous for Latinos. The data just isn't there.

But where it is, it is alarming, showing death rates at an extremely high rate compared to other groups for Latinos.

And, Brianna, at least anecdotally, we have heard from people saying that language is creating barriers and challenges, also legal status for those undocumented Latinos in this country, who may be afraid of going to the doctor -

[15:30:00]