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Protests over Michigan's Stay-At-Home Order; Tip Leads Police to New Jersey Nursing Home; Small Business Loan Program Exhausts Funds; Small Businesses Struggle to Stay Open; Origins of Coronavirus. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 16, 2020 - 09:30   ET



MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN (D-DETROIT, MI): Have a rural part of the state that hasn't so much been touched. And I think a lot of what you saw in the protests are folks who I think probably don't realize the impact.

But down here, what's happening is really taking effect. The hospital beds are much less crowded. The ventilators are much less used. The state and the feds build a thousand bed field hospital at our convention center and, as of yesterday, only 16 beds were occupied. So we are succeeding.

Social distancing in southeastern Michigan is working. We still have a high death rate, and a lot of that is driven by nursing homes where we have to deal with. But it's going the right direction.

From our standpoint --


DUGGAN: Go ahead.

HARLOW: I was just going to say, yesterday you seemed pretty upset about the reporting, and the case reporting, and a delay in reporting of testing statewide. But I know that you guys were the first city to receive the rapid tests, the 15-minute Abbott Labs Test.

DUGGAN: Right. Right. Right.

HARLOW: Since you were the first, can you tell us, has that been a game changer?

DUGGAN: It's been unbelievable.

So the Abbott test gives you a result in 15 minutes. We had 600 police officers on quarantine because they'd been exposed to somebody with Covid-19. We had to send them home for 14 days because we didn't know. We now have returned 700 police officers to duty because we brought every police officer, exposed firefighter, bus driver in, got them the 15-minute test. Those who are negative go back to work. But we had 200 tests positive between the police, fire department and bus system. We got them right off to medical care. But it shows you what this country has been missing. Our police department, fire department are back to full force really because of Abbott Labs and these 15-minute tests.

HARLOW: Yes. Wow. Wow. I mean it shows what it could do nationwide, right? OK, that's very good news.

There is just this tragic story that has gotten attention out of Detroit that I do think is so important. You obviously know it well. That's the story of Jason Hargrove. He's a bus driver. He warned about this back on March 21st. And then he died a few weeks later.

Listen to this.


JASON HARGROVE: This -- this is real and you all need to take this serious. This is real. I'm out here. We out here. We moving the city around, back and forth, trying to do our jobs and be professional about what we do.


HARLOW: You know, now his fellow bus drivers, I'm sure you read "The Washington Post" piece, they're really worried because they think they're going to die from coronavirus too. One of them, Eric Colts, said, he feels like he's locked in a 40 foot long coronavirus incubator.

You talked to the city and you said, look, it's my job to keep you safe. Are you going to do what was just done yesterday here in New York, which was mandate -- I know you're recommending it -- but mandate anyone who gets on public transit has to wear masks?

DUGGAN: So, yes, I've talked to Jason Hargrove's wife a number of times. He was everything that was good about public service. We're fortunate so far that he's the only member of the bus system that we have lost. We have lost ten employees city wide.

But his message, I'm glad you played it, should be heard from everybody in America. We have, in fact, right before his FaceBook post, we had -- we had stopped taking fares, we closed the front doors, there's now space between the riders and the drivers. The drivers are overwhelmingly tested and back to -- back to work.

We do have masks that are in boxes that, as you board in the back, you can take the mask, it's strongly encouraged, and the vast majority of our riders are just -- are wearing the mask and voluntarily do it. But you've got people who don't have a car, who are going to their jobs at hospitals and grocery stores and doctors' offices, they have to travel and we think we found the right balance.

But Jason Hargrove's message should be heard by everybody in the country (INAUDIBLE) social distancing.

HARLOW: I just -- I just wonder because, remember, he said someone coughed on him and he felt like it was so disrespectful.

DUGGAN: Right. HARLOW: Just, finally, quickly, quickly, what about a mandate? Will there be a mandate, everyone who gets on these buses has to do this?

DUGGAN: Yes, you know, that -- mandates are going to have to come from the state level. But we're not having a problem. People are getting on the bus. The great majority have gotten masks before they get on the bus. People are wearing their masks.


DUGGAN: And we're seeing the hospitalizations drop dramatically in the city right now.

HARLOW: I'm very glad to hear that. I'm very glad to hear how well those Abbott Lab quick tests are working. We wish you guys luck.

Mayor Mike Duggan, thanks so much.

DUGGAN: Good to talk to you, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, police in New Jersey say that they discovered 17 bodies in a morgue at one of the state's largest nursing homes.


New Jersey has the second highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the country. It is unclear how many of these patients died due to the virus.

Let's get to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He is in Andover, New Jersey, with the latest.

Shimon, officials were led there after receiving a tip. What more do we know about the circumstances?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Jim.

I just spoke to the police chief who is here now. And we talked about this. They said that they got a call about this. It was an anonymous tip. That there was a body inside a shed here behind me in this nursing home. And then when they got here and they went inside this room, they found 17 bodies. They were in body bags. They were tagged. And then they just removed the bodies.

What's really so sad here is just how overwhelmed this facility seems to be. And really it is another indication, just across the nation, how nursing homes are affected by this horrible deadly virus. There are now 68 deaths in the state that are linked to this facility. These 17 bodies that were discovered were removed by the police, they were brought to a hospital, and that hospital is now dealing with the bodies. But it's just another really sad reminder of the toll, Jim, that this

deadly disease has taken on nursing homes, people who are the most vulnerable in this situation.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes, the toll and really the lack of capacity to handle it.

Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much.

Small businesses around the country in danger of permanently closing as the government loan program designed to help them is set to run out of money within hours. Lawmakers gridlocked on a deal to approve more funding. We're going to have the full report ahead.



SCIUTTO: Some more sobering news on the economy this morning. And I'm sure we don't have to tell many of you sitting at home watching this, but here's the number. Another 5.2 million Americans filed new unemployment claims just in the last week. This in addition to 16 million Americans that filed for unemployment in the three weeks prior. Those numbers, Poppy, just off the charts.

HARLOW: Yes, I mean, it erases all of the gains, job gains, in the last 12 years since the great recession. All of this comes as small business -- the small business administration's loan program, right, Paycheck Protection Act, that is about to run out of money within a few hours.

Let's go to our congressional reporter, Lauren Fox, on The Hill.

So they're going to have to, lawmakers, agree on a lot more money to fund this. Does it look like they're going to be able to do that soon?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, they've been trying to work on this for about a week, Poppy, but, of course, today we expect that funding to finally run out. And that, of course, is going to put more pressure on Democrats and Republicans to come together.

Now, what I'm told is that there have been negotiations between the Treasury secretary and Chuck Schumer, the leading Democrat in the Senate. We also know that Democratic staff and the Treasury staff are continuing to have these conversations. But, you know, the big issue is that this money ran out in less than two weeks. Remember, all of those technical glitches, remember all the complaints from lenders, concerns about the application process, all of those happened and yet 1.6 million loans have already gone out to businesses.

And remember that that is significant because this is an agency that typically might go through about 25 billion, a little more than that, in loans in a year. This is an agency now that is approaching releasing $350 billion worth of loans in just under two weeks. Very significant numbers here. And, of course, we know that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried

last week to increase funding, but Democrats continue to want more changes to other parts of the stimulus program. They want more money for hospitals, more money for state and local governments, all of that is coming as there is increasing pressure, of course, now to increase money for this specific group, Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Lauren, Democrats also pushing for more money to be available for businesses that traditionally can't get loans. Is there any progress on these issues or are there two sides still at loggerheads?

FOX: Well, it seems like, you know, what Democrats want is some structural changes to this program. One of the concerns was if you're a small business and you don't have a relationship with an existing lender, a bank or a credit union, it was harder for you to get some of these loans because banks and credit unions, they want to make sure that they are following the law, they want to make sure they know their customers before they offer these loans. Democrats want additional protections. Whether or not they get them, that's a big question.

SCIUTTO: All right. We will watch. A lot of businesses waiting on tenterhooks.

Lauren Fox, thanks very much.

Battling with the fear of completely shutting down, for good. Many small business owners are applying for unemployment themselves along with their employees.

HARLOW: First, the first time those who are self-employed, freelancers, or gig workers, can apply.

Our Vanessa Yurkevich explains.


CHRISTINA MICKENS, OWNER, C. NICOLE PR FIRM: Everything was just -- was just prospering and just growing.

KRISTOPHER PAYNE, OWNER, WELL PLAYED GAMES: Everything was actually really good.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): But then, for these small business owners, it all came crashing down. Like many businesses around the country, Covid-19 changed everything.

CASTILLO: It was like apocalyptic. It was the scariest day ever.

YURKEVICH: Americans who are self-employed, gig workers, or freelancers can now apply for unemployment.

Ana Castillo is one of them. Her family owns a cruise parking lot in Miami. But with no cruises, her income is zero. [09:45:00]

CASTILLO: I mean my parents have put blood, sweat and tears into not only coming to this country and like building something for themselves, but, in general, like, Safe Cruise Parking was built from their savings, from every penny they've ever worked for.

YURKEVICH: Christina Mickens owns a PR company in Atlanta, and business is slow. As a single mom to a nine-year-old, she's the family's breadwinner. She hasn't heard back about her unemployment and her rainy day fund is drying up.

MICKENS: Sticking to the bare minimum, I would say by the end of April, maybe first two weeks of May, that that will be gone.

YURKEVICH: Kristopher Payne is in the same boat.

PAYNE: The bills don't stop between now and then. And the money is rapidly running out.

YURKEVICH: His gaming shop in North Carolina is a month away from shutting down.

PAYNE: I applied for the PPP, the idle loan, the grant, and I've also applied for unemployment. Nothing has worked out at this point.

YURKEVICH: With the backup in unemployment processing, Payne believes he's weeks away from a check.

PAYNE: If the unemployment came through, I would be able to turn all of that money into, you know, money that I would use for my business.

YURKEVICH: Forty-three percent of small business owners say they have less than six months until they'll close because of Covid-19, according to a survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For some, the pure will to survive could be enough.

MICKENS: Failing is not something that's in my radar, or even in the back of my mind when it comes to my business. I know I won't be that 40 to 50 percent.

YURKEVICH: For others, the wound may be too deep.

CASTILLO: It's not just like the business, it's like the people behind it. And everything that they do to provide a service to you and to make a living for themselves. So I would just say, support your local businesses.

YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.


HARLOW: That's heart-breaking, all of those stories, and there are millions of them right now.

OK, Vanessa, thank you for that. Ahead for us, U.S. intelligence and national security officials this morning are examining closely the origin of the coronavirus outbreak in China. How Beijing is responding to one possibility is next.



HARLOW: U.S. intelligence and national security officials are looking right now into the possibility that the coronavirus actually may have originated in a Chinese lab and was released to the public accidentally. Now, China has repeatedly denied similar claims like this in the past, Jim.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us now from the State Department.

Let's begin, though, with David Culver in Shanghai.

So, David, how is Chinese responding to this?


Not surprisingly, they're pushing back hard against this. They're essentially saying that there's no truth to it.

And it's interesting to hear from the foreign ministry spokesperson who came to the podium today to address this and then delivered what seemed to be the higher road response. I'm going to read part of it to you because it's interesting to hear this and contrast it with what we heard from this individual a month ago.

He said essentially the international community can only defeat this through a rational response, and saying that we need to rely on science through all this and that we can't speculate. It's that same individual, by the way, the same spokesperson that -- and what really comes across as not just contradictory, but hypocritical, suggested that it might have been the U.S. Army that brought the virus to Wuhan last month. That was a tweet that got a lot of popularity here and seemed to be picked up by state media, too.

So, Jim and Poppy, what we're seeing is this increasingly politicized situation now, this back and forth of blame, that is only seemingly going to intensify.

SCIUTTO: No question.

Kylie, at the State Department, you know, the timing of this, of course, important. The administration turning up their criticism of China, placing blame on China. I'm curious, is this a working theory among intelligence officials, or is there intelligence to back it up?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so it's important what you noted just off the top there, Jim. This comes as the Trump administration is looking to deflect blame, right? They want someone to deflect blame on because they want to distract from how they have handled their response to the coronavirus. So that's the context in which we are dealing here.

But it is our reporting that the U.S. government is looking into the possibility that this novel coronavirus originated in a lab in China versus a wet market. Now, sources tell us it's premature. They do not yet have intelligence that proves this, and they also point out very importantly that there's no reason to believe that this is a bioweapon. Rather this is something that could have been created in a lab, and if proven, could have potentially accidentally leaked out of that lab.

Now, it's important to note here, Jim, as you know, China has not been forthcoming. They have not been transparent with the information they have provided the world about this virus over the past few months. And that is something Secretary Pompeo highlighted last night when he said that the U.S. Government is working diligently to get to the bottom of the origin of this virus.

Let's listen to what he had to say.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The mere fact that we don't know the answers, that China hasn't shared the answers, I think is very, very telling.

We really need the Chinese government to open up. They say they want to cooperate. One of the best ways they could find to cooperate would be to -- to let the world in, to let the world scientists know exactly how this came to be, exactly how this virus began to spread.



ATWOOD: Now, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper gave an interview this morning saying that the results are inconclusive when it comes to the origin of this virus. He said that the majority of views that are -- are that it was created naturally. But we've also talked to scientists, Jim and Poppy, over the last few months who are casting doubt on the theory that it was created in a wet market. But they also do not believe that it was created in a lab. So there are still a lot of questions that the U.S. government and scientists are looking into.

SCIUTTO: Kylie Atwood, David Culver, thanks to both of you.

Well, across this country, governors and state leaders say they need more tests, more tests before they can even think of reopening their states safely. So what guidelines will the president have this afternoon? Will state governors listen to those? We'll bring you all the latest.