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Governors Across the Country Continue Shutdown; Interview with Former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke; Small Business Stimulus is Gone. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 16, 2020 - 14:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: 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 the reopening of the country.

Several major state and local leaders are making it clear, that should not happen before May 15th: New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. have all now extended their stay-at-home orders to that date, regardless of what the president decides to say later today. It's two weeks later than the May 1st deadline the president has talked about as a potential target of reopening.

On top of the nation's largest cities, New York State is also extending stay-at-home orders to May 15th, along with six other states in the Northeast. The coronavirus has now infected more than 641,000 people in the United States, it's killed more than 31,000.

Also, take a look at this line of cars, Cypress Texas, we've seen a lot of these long lines, mile-long lines of cars. These are all families seeking food, free food, emergency food giveout there in Texas. We've learned another 5 million people filed for unemployment, bringing the four-week total to a historic 22 million.

Several governors speaking out today, saying they need one thing before they can even consider about reopening businesses in their state. And that one thing is large-scale coronavirus testing. I want to go to CNN's Erica Hill in New York.

So could those same governors soon be facing a potential conflict with President Trump? Because obviously, testing is not something he has been championing and promoting as essential to before anybody gets back to work.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. And he's said very clearly, Anderson, over the last couple of days, he believes that this is up to the states. What the states are saying -- and have been saying for some time, we've been hearing this from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for well over a week. He has been pushing for the need for antibody testing, to get New Yorkers back to work.

And here in the state, the Department of Health has approved antibody testing, but it's not near the scale that is needed. He's been calling on the president to use the DPA to help ramp up that testing. But as you point out, the president does not seem inclined to make that move to bring the federal government to help.

And so what you hear in the meantime is governor after governor saying they can't do anything until they know who's had it and who's still vulnerable.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Testing and tracing, testing and tracing, testing and tracing and we need the federal government to work with us on that --

HILL (voice-over): As each state determines what the future will look like, there is one constant: testing.

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): If we had gone after the masks, if we had gone after the vents, if we had gone after the testing agents a few months ago, we'd be in a very different position than we are today. I can't simply wait for the federal government's guidance.

HILL (voice-over): Minnesota needs to test 5,000 people a day before considering any substantial reopening according to Governor Tim Walz.

Business leaders and public health experts, also looking to the data for signs the country is ready.

DAVID SKORTON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN MEDICAL COLLEGES: Evidence is going to be the results of this widespread testing.

HILL (voice-over): Meantime, mandates for face coverings in some states and extended social distancing, orders meeting some pushback: tightly packed protestors on the streets in Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina and Michigan, which have some of the most strict stay-at-home measures.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: The fact of the matter is, it's still too dangerous to have people just out and about unnecessarily.

HILL (voice-over): The governor, warning those protesting could fuel the spread, forcing the order to stay in place longer.

Oklahoma's governor, extending his state's mandate for the most vulnerable populations through May 6th, while lifting the ban on elective surgeries starting next Friday.

GOV. KEVIN STITT (R), OKLAHOMA: While we need to keep up our guard, we are looking and we are working on a plan to safely open up the state.

HILL (voice-over): Nine states currently have less than a thousand cases. In other areas, concerns of a resurgence.

DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Rhode Island and Providence are in a unique situation. First, they had increasing cases from the New York City area, and now they have new increase in cases from the Boston area. They are caught between two incredible hotspots in the country.

HILL (voice-over): In Massachusetts, $130 million set aside to better equip long-term care facilities and their vulnerable residents while, in New Jersey, overwhelmed staff and a morgue well over capacity at this nursing home, where 17 bodies were found in a facility that has space for just four.

And at Arlington National Cemetery, members of the Old Guard, conducting military funeral honors. A soldier lowers his mask at a safe distance to offer condolences. The cemetery, noting in a post, "We adapt and keep to our mission."


HILL: Anderson, beyond the testing, we should reiterate that Governor Cuomo, one of many who again today said, without a vaccine, there is also still a long road ahead.


COOPER: Yes. That was such a powerful picture. Erica, thanks very much.

People across the country are still struggling to get their hands on tests as governors say they need more of them before they can even think of reopening their states. And they want federal help to back up that testing. What's currently available, we want to take a look at that. So CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin joins me now.

So talk about what tests are available.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there are a lot of tests available. But I just want to kind of echo what Erica and the governors have been saying. There is no leadership in this national testing program. So what's happening is, everybody is fighting for supplies, fighting for the different tests. Without that national leadership, I don't know what the president is thinking about in terms of reopening the country.

That aside, the tests that are available now are coming online, new ones are coming out. This new rapid-ID test shows a lot of promise. We've also got a brand-new saliva test that is on the market, that requires absolutely nothing but your spit into a vial. It takes away the need for a health care worker to be right there with you, so you don't have to have, you know, PPE being burned to collect it.

TEXT: Coronavirus Pandemic Testing Options: Rapid: Results in 15 minutes, limited availability; Saliva: Newly on market, require little physical contact; Swab: Traditional test, longer processing; Antibody: Heavy disclosures, not widely available.

GRIFFIN: And then, of course, we have that traditional swab, which has been problematic because of the supply issues, either the nose swabs or the vials or the reagent supplies are hit-and-miss throughout the country and you've got big labs competing with small hospital labs for scarce resources.

But the rapid-response ID thing that Abbott rolled out, I want you -- tell you how this is so important for getting the country back to work because it provides employers, police departments, mayors with instant proof of whether or not their employees, coming back to work, are COVID-free or not COVID-free.

Here's how the mayor of Detroit described it this morning, when he's talking about how great this product is.


MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN (D-DETROIT, MI): 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 and got them the 15-minute test. Those who are negative go back to work, but we had 200 test positive between the police, fire department and bus system. We got them right off to medical care.


GRIFFIN: Sounds great. The problem is, we just can't get enough of these machines and tests going to supply the whole country. Abbott, putting out 50,000 of these tests a day but you know, we just do not have -- we have not been geared up as a country, as an industry for this kind of demand -- Anderson.

COOPER: So if -- I mean, clearly, those tests are great. They're made by that -- the company, Abbott. Is that something that the government would somehow -- I mean, through the Defense Authorization Act? I mean, is there anything they can do to increase production?

GRIFFIN: I mean, if you had leadership, I'm sure you would be looking at doing just that. How can we help you, how can we buy the rights from you, Abbott, so that we could mass-produce these things and get them out there? I just don't -- that's what I'm talking about, a national plan. I don't see one.

But that is a very promising tool, eliminates all the need for sending off samples to labs and waiting for turnaround times and also eliminates the need for a lot of the PPE that's being burned through, and gives you results instantly right there. That could be a game- changer if there was enough capacity.

COOPER: Drew Griffin, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

One of the tests that Drew just mentioned, antibody testing, can show if a person may have been exposed to the virus and possibly developed antibodies against it. My next guest is Ohio Dr. Lisa Larkin. Dr. Larkin, you're offering drive-through antibody testing. Talk to me a little bit about how you started this and how many people you've tested.

LISA LARKIN, CEO AND FOUNDER, MS. MEDICINE: Well, thanks for having me, Anderson. So in Ohio, like everywhere else, we've really had a shortage of testing. And so many patients have felt that they've had COVID, and have been unable to get tested.

The antibody test is not the best test for determining acute infection, but it provides a lot of information for patients who have had previous infection. And so as you of course know, you know, the FDA made some changes in March to allow companies to bring in this rapid antibody testing, prior to FDA approval, in the hopes of being able to make this more available.

I was able to acquire 1,200 tests and started a program as part of a clinical trial to test people in our Cincinnati community and at the same time get data about the prevalence of antibody positivity, so a sense of how many people have actually been infected and now have positive antibodies.


COOPER: And then if -- I mean, if somebody does have positive antibodies, do we know at this point what exactly that means in terms of whether or not they're -- I don't know if -- "immune" is probably not scientifically the right word, but I mean, that they -- what does that exactly mean?

LARKIN: Well, so it provides one more data point. I can tell you that in the eight days I've been offering this, I've tested over 500 patients now in the drive-up, to keep patients safe and my staff safe. We've had 21 positive.

Now, Ohio is --

COOPER: Wow, that's small.

LARKIN: -- very different than New York in terms of the number of cases. My belief would be, if I was offering this exact same testing to 500 people in the New York area, the numbers would be much larger.

But 21 people positive. I've spoken with all of those people, and they all were so relieved to have the information. The majority of them did -- were unable to get tested, the majority of them knew they had COVID, they had a classic infection several weeks ago, which has matched perfectly with the antibody results that I have found.

Again, the numbers have been somewhat lower than I actually expected. And again, we've been talking about asymptomatic infection. And the testing that I have done, I haven't seen asymptomatic infection here in Cincinnati. And it's hard to know if that's because, you know, we have a low prevalence of COVID in our community right now, or what the reason is.

COOPER: Wow, it's fascinating. Thanks for all you're doing, Dr. Larkin. Really appreciate it.

LARKIN: Thank you.

COOPER: A reminder, I'm going to be hosting, with Sanjay Gupta, our weekly live global town hall -- it's our seventh one -- to answer all your questions about coronavirus tonight. Our special guests will be Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, as well as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan. It starts 8:00 p.m. Eastern -- also Dr. Deborah Birx is going to be joining us as well from the Coronavirus Task Force. That'll be tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.

Coming up, what responsibility does China bear in the worldwide pandemic? We'll get into that. Plus, after just a couple weeks, the program set up to help small businesses weather the economic fallout from coronavirus is tapped out. Lawmakers, now arguing over the next step.

And an anonymous tip leads to New Jersey police finding more than a dozen bodies inside a nursing home.



COOPER: U.S. intelligence and national security officials are looking right into the -- are looking now into the possibility that the coronavirus spread started in a Chinese lab rather than a market. China has repeatedly denied similar claims in the past. This is just one theory the U.S. is pursuing into the origins of the virus.

With me now, former U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke. He was also the governor of Washington and served as Commerce secretary to President Obama.

First of all, I'm wondering your overall assessment about how China has handled this outbreak. Because obviously, CNN did a lot of reporting early on about, you know, whistleblowers disappearing, there's big questions about, you know, the official death toll from China as well.

GARY LOCKE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: Well, obviously, China -- Chinese officials minimized the severity of the virus early on, and of course there was that doctor who was detained by the police for -- and forced to say that he should not engage in false rumors and sensationalism, and it turns out that the then later on passed away from the virus.

Clearly, the Chinese will always try to minimize the severity of situations and try to perhaps exaggerate the positives, whether it's economic figures. And that's part of the culture of the Chinese government because so many of the top government officials in China are not local officials. I mean, the governor of the area is not a native of that area, it's like a military commander, they move from post to post. And their success and their ability to get promoted depends on having good news and making sure there's no bad news. But what's more important is that many other countries, once they

received the reports from China, acted very swiftly. Taiwan has only had about 300 cases of the virus, and they're only a hundred miles away and had a lot of interaction with the people from the mainland. And they've only had about 30 deaths. That's the equivalent of less than 100 in the United States, if you adjust for population.

We've actually had close to 30,000 deaths in the United States. And so while the Chinese early on minimized the knowledge, the awareness of the virus, there are so many people here in the United States who are doing the same thing. Maybe it's a tendency not to shut down the economy, not to restrict people's movements. But we need to be really focused on stopping the virus and saving lives.

And so I think we could all learn lessons from Taiwan and many other countries that have dealt very successfully in minimizing the impact of the virus.

COOPER: Yes. It's interesting, I -- you mentioned Taiwan, I've actually been reading a lot about Taiwan's response to the virus, which for other reasons, the WHO really hasn't even acknowledged because they -- you know, because they want to maintain a relationship with China, they don't acknowledge, really, Taiwan exists as the place it does.

But Taiwan as an example is really pretty extraordinary. I mean, if you look at, you know, even on Instagram, people, videos -- you know, video right now of people in Taiwan, they're going out to dinners, they're -- look kind of -- it seems like life is just going on as normal. Everybody's wearing a mask, and the government actually gives everybody a mask. You could just ask the government, and they send you masks.


LOCKE: As many of your guests have already indicated, the key is simply isolation, some social distancing, testing. Really testing and tracing people who have been tested positive for the virus, and making sure that all the people that they've come in contact have also been tested and perhaps quarantined.

COOPER: And the other thing that --


LOCKE: -- the United States, we're seeing governors and mayors who are denying the severity of the situation. And America was very slow to respond as well. I guess maybe that's a natural inclination of government officials, whether you're in China or Europe or here in the United States. We don't want to disrupt the economy, we don't want to cancel sporting events and things like that.

But many countries around the world, when they first received the reports from China and the WHO in early January, took very prompt and decisive action. We need to be doing the same thing here in the United States. COOPER: Yes, also, I read about Taiwan, they actually sent somebody

-- or several people -- to Wuhan to see it for themselves very early on, and realized, OK, this has -- you know, even before Chinese officials at the highest levels were recognizing things, they -- you know, they took their -- made their own conclusions and adjusted. It's just such a stark difference to the United States, frankly, and so many other places.

LOCKE: Yes. We (INAUDIBLE) closed (ph) our borders to travelers coming from China. We took care of our West Coast, but we left our left flank, the East Coast, unguarded. And we had so many travelers coming in from Europe and people who had been infected in Italy and France and other places.

So, you know, unfortunately, the administration was very slow to respond to this and ignored the warnings of even some of their own people within the administration -- Mr. Navarro, who's a very prominent anti-China hawk, he was sounding the alarm back in December and January; advice from the CDC and our health officials were being ignored.

It was really the governors and the mayors of many other states who really took the bull by the horn and really started imposing these tough restrictions, which we're beginning to see is demonstrating good results.

COOPER: Yes. Ambassador Locke, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Meantime, the billions of dollars set aside in the stimulus program to help small businesses is already tapped out. All $349 billion is gone in just two weeks. I want to get to CNN Business anchor Julia Chatterley.

Julia, what are small business owners supposed to do now?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, FIRST MOVE: Anderson, they wait. Some will let go of workers, some will fail. That's the stark truth of the situation that many of the millions of businesses in this country face.

I spoke to one of the country's largest online lenders today and he said, look, American small businesses, they're fighters but they've maxed out credit cards, they've borrowed from friends, they've crowdsourced from their local communities and there's no time left.

You know, today of all days, given that these small businesses represent half of the employment in the United States, I can give you 22 million reasons why this money needs to be extended. And those 22 million reasons represent the people that have claimed for unemployment benefits just in the last four weeks.

This program was built to try and save small businesses, to save jobs, and it's unacceptable, even with the fact that we know states and health care areas need more money too, to allow this program to go on any further, when jobs, small businesses and the economy and the recovery rely on it. COOPER: Julia Chatterley, I appreciate it. Thanks.

Ahead, an anonymous tip leads to the discovery of 17 bodies inside a nursing home, we'll take you there.


Plus, at least one city says there won't be concerts and sporting events with thousands of people for the rest of the year: What that means for the rest of America.


COOPER: New Jersey's governor has asked the state attorney general to investigate the discovery of 17 bodies at one of its largest nursing homes.

Police in Andover say they found the bodies in a morgue, Monday night, after a tip. Not clear how many of these patients died because of coronavirus. Most were removed and taken to a hospital morgue.

The New Jersey Department of Health plans to send a team to assist the nursing home staff. The state currently has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S.

Mitch Albom, a columnist for the Detroit Free Press and bestselling author, joins me. He's the author of "Human Touch," which documents in real time, stories of hope during this unprecedented time.

Mitch, thanks so much for being with us. It's great to see you again. First of all, let's just talk about this book. You're writing it in installments, and it's -- the idea is, people read it online and are encouraged to donate to an organization in Detroit who's working on hoping those with COVID, correct?

MITCH ALBOM, COLUMNIST, DETROIT FREE PRESS: Exactly. You know, I've been blessed to be able to sell a lot of books around the world over my career. And I thought, well, what can I offer that can help raise money? So I'm basically writing a work of fiction for free.

And you can download it for free at And if you like what you read, then we just ask at the end that maybe you make a donation to Detroit Beats COVID-19, a project that we're spearheading here because, as you know, Detroit is really hard-hit, really hard-hit and we're giving money to first responders --