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Coronavirus Headlines Around the Country; Grocery Sales Surge as Workers Take Risks on Front Lines; Navy May Reinstate Captain to Command of "USS Roosevelt"; Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner Ignore Guidelines and Travel for Passover. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 16, 2020 - 13:30   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Similar scenes played out in Raleigh, North Carolina outside the legislative building. And in Kentucky's capitol, the governor there addressed protesters saying, opening up the state would absolutely kill people.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Leyla Santiago, in Virginia. FEMA's union is calling on the Trump administration to the full authorities of the DPA, the Defense Production Act. During times of crisis, it gives the government more control to direct the country's industrial production.

While President Trump has invoked the DPA for parts of the COVID-19 response, according to this letter obtained by my colleague, the FEMA union president is saying DPA must be used in its full capacity, more must be done to get critically needed PPA to Americans and its own workers.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I am Stephanie Elam, in Los Angeles. California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an order to provide a relief funds for the state's undocumented workers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Newsom says that these workers make up 10 percent of the state's workforce and pay and local taxes of $2.5 billion. However, because of their status, they're ineligible for federal stimulus aid.

Under this order, individuals will receive up to $500, families up to a $1,000. And the money is coming from a private/public partnership with the state adding $75 million into this fund and private philanthropists adding $50 million.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It's no surprise that grocery stores are having a huge uptick in business. Stores sales increased 27 percent last month. That has disproportionally impacted the rising number of infections among folks who are working, people of color, particularly African Americans. Black workers make up about 12 percent of the U.S. work force and make up a larger share of essential workers on the front lines in this pandemic.

A number of grocery store workers say they feel increasingly vulnerable and at risk, including my guest, Pam Hill, who works at a popular Los Angeles grocery chain, Albertson's.

Pam, thank you so much for being with us and thank you for what you do.

You and other groceries workers are at the front line in this just as much as police officers and nurses and doctors. Everybody has a different role to play.

I know two of your co-workers tested positive. You believe you may have been infected back in early March. I understand that you did not get -- and at your location, you did not get any protective gear or masks even until recently, right?

PAM HILL, EMPLOYEE, ALBERTSON'S GROCERY STORE: Correct. Yes, we did. The first part of April, when the first person came out tested positive on March 17th, and we did not get any kind of protection then. We did not get any gloves or masks or sanitizers or nothing.


COOPER: Wait a minute.


COOPER: In the month of March, when you know this thing was in the headlines and you had hundreds of customers every day, your folks did not have any masks or even hand sanitizers?

HILL: No. No We didn't have it on the shelves. No. We did have it at all. We didn't get PPE protections until maybe the first part of April when Eric Garcetti, the mayor, made it mandatory that the company has to supply us with masks and stuff.


HILL: Before that, no. I want to say maybe in the middle of March, they might -- the end of March, they might have started doing the control in the store and social distancing. But before that, we were all exposed.

COOPER: Did you have a screen or anything put up between you and customers?

HILL: Not at that time. The screens started coming at the end of March.


Because you were working a lot in March because you got sick and you were not able to get tested -- I know you are going to get tested today.

HILL: Correct.

COOPER: -- but that has ripple effects that a lot of people don't realize. You were out sick. My understanding is you get health insurance based on how many days or hours you work. Because you were out sick, you didn't work enough hours to get health insurance for the last month, is that right?

HILL: Correct. I didn't have enough hours for this month. So, right now, I am medical not covered for this month. And probably next month as well because I was out most of Mark. We'll I've been out most of April so far, depending on how this test goes. So I may not even have it in May.

COOPER: What is it like to go a job that's critically essential - I mean, this is, you know, your job is to feed people and it is a critical role in the food chain right now and it is an essential job. That's why grocery stores are opened when other businesses are not.


What does it feel like to go and not have hand sanitizers and be taking money and interacting with customers?

HILL: Well, you know, in the beginning, it was scary. The stores were packed. At the time, we didn't have a concept of everything that's going on.

It was so much things on social media and, especially where I work in a store predominantly were African-Americans as well and as employees are African-Americans. So at the beginning of it, they were afraid that we could not get the virus. It was going on all the media and social media.

At first, you are kind of like, well, we won't get it because it does not affect us. Then when we started seeing the number rise of people getting infected it was like, wait a minute, it does affect us.

And as myself, we want to serve the community that we work in. We know that with everything else being closed down that we are the only pipeline for the community to come into shop and get food for their family. We don't mind being there in the front line but we want to be protected and the company to protect us this.

COOPER: I should say, CNN reached out to Albertson's for a response, haven't heard back. But they did post a bulletin back in March about the store's first case, saying, it's, quote, "Crisis response team may recommend additional members of the store teams self-quarantine," and they, quote, "are eligible to receive 14-days quarantined pay."

You've not been to work for several weeks. What did management told you about getting paid sick time off?

HILL: Well, I did have two doctors' notes when I went out, when I went out sick. I guess because the doctor's note did not specify that I was being out on specifically for COVID-19, I guess it does not count. Although, I had symptoms and the fevers and chills and shortness of

the breath and I had all of that. I don't feel doctors -- the main thing they were worried about is have I traveled out of the country and have I been around anybody that I know --


COOPER: You could not get tested back then even though you had flu- like symptoMs.

HILL: Correct. Correct.

COOPER: Yes. Well, I know you are getting tested today. I wish you the best. I think it is so important what you do. And I really appreciate it. I hope things work out for you.

HILL: Thank you so much, Anderson. It was great being on your show. I am such a big fan.

COOPER: Oh, so nice, Pam. Thank you. I hope we meet some day. You take care.

HILL: All right, thank you. Bye-bye.

COOPER: Thank you, Pam Hill.

Coming up, the Navy captain who was ousted for raising the alarm about coronavirus on his ship being reinstated. What Defense Secretary Mark Esper is saying about that prospect today.

Plus, more on our breaking news. As the president gets ready to hold a call with governor son plans to reopen the country, some governors get ahead of him by extending stay-at-home orders in critical states.



COOPER: The secretary of defense says he has an open mind about reinstating the Navy captain who was fired from his command of the "USS Roosevelt." Captain Brett Crozier was removed from his post after raising the alarm about the spread of coronavirus aboard the ship.

Since then, one of the sailors from the "Roosevelt" has died and hundreds have tested positive, including Captain Crozier. CNN reported earlier that the Navy's top admiral said he was, quote, "taking no options off the table," end quote, when asked about a possible reinstatement.

Brett Odom is joining me now. He's a former Navy pilot, a friend of Captain Crozier.

I appreciate your being with us.

What troubled you the most about how all this was handled?


I think the way the former acting secretary of the Navy handled this was shameful to be frank. What was surprising for one, if you believe some of the reporting, was that the military chain of command wanted to do an investigation and wanted to understand the situation, and this looks like the acting secretary jumped right past that and relieved Captain Crozier.

Now that's perfectly within his right. I think what upset me, as someone who has known Brett Crozier for 32 years, is some of the falsehoods that were asserted. For instance, the assertion that he intentionally leaked the document and he was trying to go outside the chain of command. Those were unsubstantiated and upsetting.

COOPER: Yes, I should stress, you've spoken to Captain Crozier but you have no firsthand knowledge about what happened, so you are speaking on your own behalf.


But one of the things the Navy secretary, the acting Navy secretary said, which was so stunning, was telling, in a pronouncement to the ship, calling him either naive or stupid, that horse, any kind of letter like that would leak out."

A lot of folks I talked to felt that if he wrote that letter as he did, that that was probably the tip of the iceberg. There were probably other efforts by him to alleviate this problem through the normal chain of command. I mean, this was probably not the first. We don't know for a fact. But probably not the first sign of concern that he expressed.

ODOM: Yes. I would believe that's true. Brett Crozier is neither naive nor stupid. He's the type of person who works through the chains of command and works through folks he relies on and the folks on his ship. I have no doubt he did everything he could.

I talked to someone who was on the ship, an officer who was involved, one of the central nerve stations they set up, an emergency communications center. I reached out to another network, because, just as you said, I intentionally not asked or spread any of the details.


ODOM: And he's speaking to the press.

Some of the things I was told is that he was doing an excellent job communicating internally whenever something was found out about the plan, it was broadcasted to the officers and the crew.

So I have no doubt that he was doing everything he could to express the situation.

COOPER: What do you hope happens?

ODOM: I'd love to see him reinstated. It is a great loss to the Navy that his career could be over. He's a fantastic leader. He's a fantastic human. Our entire Navy Academy class, everyone in our company has just been super proud of him throughout all this.

Reinstatement would be extremely rare but, then again, given the circumstances, the fact that the SecDef and the SEENO (ph) have broached it, I think, tells you the internal Navy investigations must be showing what I have always said and what I said in my op-ed, which is that he may have made some mistakes in execution, I have no doubt that he made no mistakes around integrity or intentions.

COOPER: I am sure a lot of people are concerned about his health since he tested positive. Is he doing OK?

ODOM: I talked to him two or three nights ago, three nights ago, I think it was. And he sounded fine. He had dry, raspy cough about a week, 10 days ago when the whole thing started. Sorry, I love track of time.


ODOM: It has been crazy with the lockdown. But he's in good health. And I think his quarantine is almost done.

COOPER: Brett Odom, I appreciate you being on. Thank you so much.

ODOM: Thanks so much.

As the country struggles to ramp up testing for the virus, I will break down all of the different tests available now and the pros and cons of each.

Plus, Ivanka Trump ignoring advice she's asking everyone to follow, traveling for Passover, ahead.



COOPER: Ivanka Trump is receiving criticism for not following federal guidelines, traveling to New Jersey to celebrate Passover with her family. Her husband, Jared Kushner, and all three of their kids drove to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster just three days after she tweeted a photo featuring her and her 8-year-old daughter posing in their homemade masks with the caption, "Let's keep each other safe by following CDC guidance."

I want to bring in CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

It is perfectly legal to travel between states. I understand people criticizing, but it is a discretionary travel guideline.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is a guideline, and there was one issued by the District of Columbia and one issued by the state of New Jersey and, of course, the federal government, which says, don't do it. Please do not travel when travel is optional. And this just shows about Ivanka, I mean, this is sort of an entitled

performance here, driving, taking Secret Service with them, potentially putting Secret Service in danger.

And effectively, it says to the country, you know, do as I say, not as I do. Because in all of those kind of gauzy social media posts, she went out of her way to say, and let me quote from one of them here, Anderson, "Each and every one of us plays a role in slowing the spread. We are all in this together." Maybe not.

COOPER: I haven't thought of the Secret Service angle. When they travel --


COOPER: -- a Secret Service detail.

BORGER: Sure. There is.


BORGER: And so she's got to take a caravan with her. And that just explodes the number of people potentially exposed.

Remember, as you well know, that New Jersey has a lot of hot spots. And so does the District of Columbia has its own issues. So she was traveling from one area to another area which had problems.

And, you know, the White House today said, you know, this is no different from if she had been traveling from home to work, but this wasn't work. This was optional.

And there are thousands of people across the country who had a lot of zoom seders with family who they would have rather been with.


COOPER: Gloria Borger, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

As the FDA authorizes more antibody tests, I'm going to speak with one doctor who set up a drive through testing site.

Plus, as governors extend stay-at-home orders, the president's adviser said says the economy should reopen tomorrow.



COOPER: It is the top of the hour. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us.

We are just a few hours away from when President Trump is set to unveil some guidelines on what he hopes is a reopening of the country.