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CNN NEWSROOM

Virus Hitting Latino Groups At Alarming Rate Across US; Florida Farmers Forced to Destroy Millions of Crops After Schools and Restaurants Close; California Governor Outlines New Guidelines for Stay at Home Orders; States Team Up to Plan Reopening; How School Closures Will Impact Millions of Students; Virginia Pastor Who Dismissed Social Distancing Dies of Coronavirus. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 14, 2020 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- people saying that languages is creating barriers and challenges, also legal status for those undocumented Latinos in this country who may be afraid of going to the doctor if they're starting to feel sick. And the advocates do say though that this really underlines how underserved this community is.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Nick Valencia, it is such an important story. Thank you for bringing it to us.

VALENCIA: Thank you.

KEILAR: Across the country, dozens of veterans have died from coronavirus. In a soldier's home in Massachusetts, where a federal investigation is underway.

And farmers are being forced to destroy huge amounts of crops because of the virus.

We have our team of reporters covering these angles and more. Let's start with CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon and a U.S. service member in intensive care due to coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I'm Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. One of the four hospitalized sailors from the carrier Theodore Roosevelt is now in intensive care in Guam. We are told the sailor is not on a ventilator but in intensive care. There are now nearly 600 members of the crew who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Navy faces weeks of trying to get everyone healthy and get the ship back out to sea.

ROSA FLORES. CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rosa Flores in Homestead, Florida, where farmers are having to destroy their crop. This farm is owned by Sam Accursio, his family has been working this land since 1948. But he says that the

COVID-19 nightmare started a few weeks ago when restaurants and schools started closing and the supply chain got completely severed. Since then he's had to destroy about 70 percent of his acreage. He says it's been a nightmare. No, he does not have insurance. Yes, some of this is going to food banks but there is just too much excess.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Athena Jones in New York. 33 veteran residents at a state-run home for veterans in Massachusetts have died. All of them tested positive for the coronavirus according to state health officials.

In all, 88 veteran residents and 78 employees at Holyoke Soldiers Home have tested positive for the virus with tests still pending for 11 residents. A federal investigation has been opened into the home which staff and union members say has been dogged by systemic issues for years that could have contributed to the outbreak there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Now moments ago Governor Gavin Newsom of California announced a new framework for the state to reopen. The changes for schools and businesses next.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: California's Governor Gavin Newsom just announced a road map to bring life somewhat back to normal. Newsom saying that California is not out of the woods yet and saying that California won't spike the ball with its response.

Let's bring in CNN's Dan Simon to talk about this. Dan, walk us through this. Did the governor give any sort of specific timeline for reopening?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, not yet, Brianna. Although I should point out he's still in the middle of giving his remarks. But we have not seen him, you know, come up with some kind of time frame.

What he is doing is laying out a set of principles for what it would take to reopen the economy and I just want to go over some of those. But we should note that California is in a position to do this because it went early. It was the first state in the country to really shut down. And according to Governor Newsom and other experts it has allowed California to bend the curve. But some of the things that he says it will take for California to reopen, number one, and you hear this from everybody across the country, testing, testing, testing.

You've got to be able to do contact tracing, you've got to isolate, and you've got to be able to support those who test positive. And also have plenty of antibody tests available.

The second thing is to be able to prevent infection among the vulnerable populations. Of course, that being the elderly and the homeless population here in California.

And you also want to make sure that the hospital is set up to handle any possible surges in the future. Do they have the proper equipment, do they have the right staffing, et cetera? Now as you alluded, the key question here is when is this going to happen? We do know that the governor has established a pact with the states of Oregon and Washington, perhaps those three will come up with some sort of timetable down the road. But at this point they're not doing that.

And, Brianna, one thing I should note, we have seen Governor Newsom and President Trump have a very cordial relationship throughout all of this. The Governor Newsom going out of his way to commend the administration for how it has treated California. Now that President Trump is saying that he has the sole authority in terms of when to reopen the country, it'll be interesting to see whether that relationship continues the way it has been. We'll see if Governor Newsom addresses that today.

KEILAR: Yes, we'll see if he follows other governors as well on that. Thank you, Dan Simon, for that report. I want to talk to now with CNN medical analyst Dr. Seema Yasmin. And you heard Dan's report there, as the Governor is saying it's testing, testing, testing. Because how do you really fight an enemy if you can't see where it is, if you can't see who's sick. Tell us, Dr. Yazmin, what needs to happen before states can start to reopen?

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So, Brianna, any conversation about peeling back these shelter-in-place orders and it has to be peeling back, it can't just be a rash decision, I want to hear all of these conversations using words like gradual and methodical. Because as Dan mentioned, we absolutely need those four things in place for us.

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Firstly, you have to see a dramatic reduction in cases before you could even consider lifting shelter-in-place orders. You have to have testing. You have to make sure that this healthcare system capacity, and finally you absolutely need local resources that can do this fundamental thing called contract tracing.

Now I'm hearing so many economists for example, other people who just don't understand epidemiology saying we don't need contact tracing. That's a waste of time. That's absolutely incorrect. The only way you can get a handle on disease spread is by having contract tracing. It's how we got a handle on SARS. So, this needs to be gradual. It needs to be methodical. It needs to have those four things in place. And we need to make sure we're guided by science and not by politics.

KEILAR: OK. So, testing really seems to be the foundation of all this and then what would it look like as you start to reopen businesses? We've seen reports, possibilities epidemiologist have raised of maybe you stagger the number of people who come in. Maybe you stagger the category of people who come in. Maybe even as businesses reopen and restaurants you find out ways to social distance so that people can be in restaurants or other businesses and then of course that contact tracing. Is there any other part of this that is an important piece of that puzzle? YASMIN: So, I get asked this question every single day. And multiple times a day about when we'll go back to normal. And firstly, we need to ask ourselves if normal was the set of conditions and systems that got us into this mess, we don't want to go back to that normal.

So we're thinking about moving into a new normal where we're seeing things like maybe it's some people who perhaps have immunity and then we have widespread antibody testing, maybe those folks who can go back to work, start to reopen the economy. But even then perhaps as we start to peel back those shelter-in-place orders, we're still sheltering our most vulnerable. Perhaps the elderly, those who are sick with other conditions whilst others go back to work.

And then, of course, measures like you're saying where maybe we can start going back to restaurants at some point in the future, but it won't be like how it was before, perhaps restaurants are having to limit, perhaps half the number of people who could go in. And so, we're still always guarding against future outbreaks and against a second wave.

KEILAR: And so, a second wave. What is the possibility of us seeing a resurgence, a second wave, and maybe even another wave beyond that.

YASMIN: So, we see second waves in many pandemics. It's very difficult to predict how bad they'll be and when they'll hit. One of my concerns is that as we start to see ourselves get out of this first wave, what if we start to see a second wave hit right as the flu season peaks?

And already in the states with a bad flu season, that could start to overwhelm health care systems. And also, as I'm thinking about the future, Brianna, I'm looking to see what is happening in other countries right now.

So, let's think about Singapore for example. It was praised across the board for really doing well on containing the coronavirus. But as soon as it started to lift some of its containment measures there was an influx of people returning home because they were told it was safe to and they saw a spike again in cases.

So as we peel back shelter-in-place orders, we're going to have to be very mindful about a potential second wave really preempting that it could be bad so that we're prepared for it and keeping that in the forefront of our minds.

KEILAR: So, then what do you do if that happened? If you start to ease restrictions in certain states. Do you just have to kind of flip back to where you were being in shut down and not having people go back to work?

YASMIN: So that's where the gradual and methodical part comes into place, Brianna. But if you're staggering this, you're doing it gradually and you're doing it very based focused on what is happening in different geographic regions. This isn't a one size fits all kind of policy because the epidemic looks very different in different places. In that case you can really keep an eye on what -- when the second wave is coming, how bad it is? And keep that at the forefront of your mind so that you're always guarding against new outbreaks.

KEILAR: All right. Dr. Seema Yasmin, thank you so much joining us from Stanford. We appreciate it.

Up next, a stunning turn of events. A pastor who proudly defied social distancing guidelines dies after testing positive for coronavirus.

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KEILAR: Breaking news. Sadly, the U.S. death toll just surpassed the 25,000 mark for coronavirus cases as we're nearing 600,000 confirmed cases.

In the meantime, nearly all schools nationwide have been closed for about a month and education leaders are worried that millions of children could be severely stunted in their learning because of this. Now some are considering holding kids back a grade or proposing a massive national summer school program.

Let's bring in CNN's Evan McMorris Santoro who has been following this story. Evan, tell us what is at stake if you have more schools closing for the rest of the year?

EVAN MCMORRIS SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, I've been talking to teachers, administrators and students in schools since this whole pandemic quarantine began. And the big issue here is staying focused and staying interested in school and figuring out what school is supposed to actually be now. Because most schools have pretty much thrown academic performance out the window.

You have pass fail grading everywhere. You have some places that are offering you to retake school if you want. So, when you think about moving into a world in which school remain closed for the rest of the year for more students, you're talking about having to take a plan that goes from a crisis plan.

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That was created very quickly as this pandemic started to begin, into a longer-term plan of how to keep kids on track while they're at home and while they're having to do school from their house.

KEILAR: And so how do you keep -- what are some of these ideas being discussed about keeping kids caught up, especially when you have so many of them? Who, look, this is the situation parents are in, they're juggling work while trying to home school their kids and there's only so many hours in the day.

MCMORRIS SANTORO: Right. Well, as I mentioned, you know, States like Florida have already said, look, if you want your student to retake a grade, they can. Other places have said, look, we're going to do this on a case-by-case basis, maybe we'll put a bunch more kids into the grade that they were already in.

But Bill de Blasio over the weekend when he had this sort of argument with Governor Cuomo about whether or not to keep New York City schools closed for the rest of the year, one of the things that was important about that conversation was that the Mayor was talking about all the effort he needs to put into planning for what comes next.

For example, they mentioned that in New York City, they don't see any way to start next year, like they started any other year, because kids are coming back to school stressed out. They're coming back to school after having sort of gone through this traumatic experience. And then they also have to come back to school with a new kind of remedial education that gets them on track to get back into academics the way they were before this whole thing happened -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, it's so difficult. Evan, thank you so much for that report and for informing us on how schools are really trying to confront what is so much a crisis for education across the country.

Let's talk about our next story.

A Virginia church is now grieving for their pastor who defiantly gathered his congregation during this pandemic. Just days after the governor urged Virginians to avoid nonessential gatherings, Bishop Gerald Glenn told his church, quote, God is larger than this dreaded virus.

As CNN's Tom Foreman reports the bishop's death comes as other religious leaders try to keep the faith during these hard times.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BISHOP GERALD GLENN, NEW DELIVERANCE EVANGELISTIC CHURCH: God is bigger than the virus. God is bigger than our struggle.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bishop Gerald Glenn in the pulpit, defying CDC guidelines against public gatherings and vowing to keep preaching -- unless I'm in jail or the hospital.

GLENN: Nonessential personnel. I am essential.

FOREMAN: That was less than a month ago. Now news of his death after contracting COVID-19 is rocking members of the New Deliverance Evangelistic Church and his wife reportedly has the virus too.

BRIAN NEVERS, ELDER, NEW DELIVERANCE EVANGELISTIC CHURCH: The thing is, I can't lie. The first thing I asked God was why? The Bishop has taught us that God is big enough to handle our life.

FOREMAN: Religious congregations coast-to-coast are finding ways to be spiritually close while physically distant. Vice President Mike Pence, an Evangelical Christian, is encouraging such efforts.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And to my Christian brothers and sisters across the country, let me encourage you with the words, we should all remember that Jesus said wherever two or more are gathered, there he is also.

FOREMAN: But some are drawing on another biblical warning against forsaking the assembling to justify their defiance of health guidelines. And the costs are mounting, with more illnesses, more deaths tied to church gatherings.

In Kansas, they are implicated in at least five outbreaks, the Governor ordered no groups larger than ten people only to have Republican legislators override her, forcing a court battle. She won, but tensions remain.

GOV. LAURA KELLY (D-KS): We do not have time to play political games during a pandemic.

FOREMAN: In California, at least 70 people from one church have contracted the virus yet a few religious leaders have launched a lawsuit against the Governor's restrictions on worship even as he tries to give the faithful some space.

GOV, GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): So, practice your faith, but do so in a way that allows you to keep yourself healthy, keep others healthy.

FOREMAN: As it is, more than a dozen states have given some exemptions to religious groups. And the U.S. Justice Department says Attorney General Bill Barr is monitoring government regulation of religious services and likely to take action soon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: What kind of action, well, that's not clear. But we do know this. White Evangelicals are among the most ardent supporters of Donald Trump and when they make noise, he generally listens -- Brianna

KEILAR: All right, we'll be listening too, Tom, thank you so much for that report.

One top expert says coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could essentially stop by July. There is though the one major catch. We'll discuss it with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, next.

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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER. CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Right now, there are almost 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States. Minutes ago, the death toll in the United States surpassed 25,000. It is now 25,239. The deaths more than doubling from about 12,000 this time one week ago.

We are starting to see, however, some small encouraging signs about this pandemic. The number of new hospitalizations in New York is trending down. That's good news.

The number of deaths reported each day in the United States has also gone down in recent days. Last Friday there were more than 2,000 reported deaths just on that day. The daily numbers have been lower since then -- [16:00:00]