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Trump Unveils New Guidelines To Help States Loosen Restrictions; Coronavirus Cases Grow Aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt; Jacksonville Beaches Reopen In Florida; Texas Set To Be First State To Reopen; Trump Lashes Out At Governors As States Coordinate Responses; Why Does COVID-19 Affect People Differently?; NY Governor Cuomo Daily Press Briefing. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 18, 2020 - 11:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with new plans to reopen the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus outbreak. Governors are now revealing plans to reopen their states following new guidelines from the White House. President Trump says the ultimate decision will be left to governors once they have enough tests.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The governors are responsible for testing and I hope they're going to be able to use this tremendous amount of available capacity that we have. It's up to one million additional tests per week. When you think of that, in the next few weeks we'll be sending out 5.5 million testing swabs to the states.


WHITFIELD: But medical experts warn the U.S. is still lagging way behind in testing to safely reopen the country. A former director of the Centers for Disease Control tells CNN that the U.S. still needs 10 to 20 times as many tests to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Despite that, some states are beginning to loosen their restrictions. Florida opened up some beaches Friday and Texas is planning a rolling reopening of businesses as soon as next week.

This new model used by the White House shows only four states may be ready to reopen by May 4th -- Vermont, West Virginia, Montana and Hawaii -- while dozens of others may have to wait until June or even July.

CNN's team of correspondents are on the scene in cities across the country. Let's begin at the White House with CNN's Kristen Holmes.

So Kristen -- Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. does have enough tests for what he calls a phase one reopening. But many governors say that that simply isn't the case.


And it's not just Democratic governors, it's also Republican governors who are wary. They do not want to reopen their economy without everything in order first. Because there is a scare of a second surge.

So when it comes to testing what exactly is going on? First of all, a lot of skepticism among governors and they have reason for that. Keep in mind it has been more than a month since President Trump said that there was enough testing for every single person to get a test. We know that wasn't true then and it's not true now.

Now, when I talked to these state officials on both sides of the aisle they really point to two things that are lacking. One is the time period. There is no rapid test that's been developed yet. So you're looking at some of these labs four to five days. Well, these state officials say that's not acceptable. You can't reopen the economy, put people in the workforce and take them back out for four or five days while you're waiting to get those test results.

Now, the other side is supplies. There aren't enough supplies to conduct all of these tests. They're running short on the reagents, which are the chemicals used in the tests, as well as the swabs.

Now, President Trump is saying that he's going to send out, or the White House is going to send out 5.5 million swabs to states. But I've got tell you -- Fred, I talked to one Republican state official who says that's a great idea but essentially he'll believe it when he sees it.

WHITFIELD: Kristen -- we're also getting word that the Department of Defense may be extending travel restrictions for personnel. What are you learning?

HOLMES: Well, that's right. So this is coming from the Defense Secretary Mark Esper. And essentially -- remember this. The Department of Defense had a department-wide travel restriction that was put in place weeks and weeks ago. Now they are extending it another 60 days.

And I want to read to you a quote, this is from a briefing that Esper gave last week when people were asking him if he was actually going to loosen these restrictions. And essentially he said, "The decision would be driven by science and what the scientists and doctors are telling us about how this virus moves because protecting our people, protecting our communities will be task number one."

Well, why is this so important? It's so important because we have an administration who is really trying to push these governors towards reopening the economy on May 1st or early May. And you have a Pentagon that is saying that scientists -- decisions based on science -- are keeping them from having -- loosening these travel restrictions until June 30th -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Kristen Holmes at the White House. Thank you so much.

All right. And this just into CNN. The coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt continues to worsen. The U.S. Navy says today that four additional crew members have tested positive, which brings the total number of infected to 669. As of now 94 percent of the crew have tested positive.

I want to bring in CNN Pentagon correspondent Ryan Browne now in Washington. Ryan -- what more can you tell us about the conditions of those infected?


RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred -- a lot of the cases here, of the 669 sailors who have contracted the coronavirus, a lot of them are asymptomatic. That is, they're not showing symptoms so they're not requiring -- they've been quarantined and isolated on Guam.

Some 4,000 sailors have been moved off the ship, did not require medical attention. Eight sailors are being hospitalized in Guam for coronavirus symptoms, one of which is in the ICU. Of course, sadly we learned earlier this week that one sailor has died from that ship as a result of the coronavirus. And it really just underscores that the mounting challenge faced by that crew as the pandemic spreads around the ship.

But again, we're also waiting to hear the fate of the former captain of that ship, Captain Brett Crozier, he, who first alerted the public and his superiors about the condition on that ship before the cases skyrocketed to over 600. He was, of course, fired by the former acting Navy secretary.

An investigation in the circumstances of his warning, where he warned that sailors might die because of this pandemic is about to be concluded. We're told it's being reviewed at the highest levels of the Navy. And we should learn something soon. And the Navy has not ruled out the possibility of him being reinstated.

WHITFIELD: Ryan Browne in Washington. Thank you so much.

All right. In just a few minutes, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to hold his daily coronavirus briefing. We'll be sure to bring that to you live as soon as it begins. The update in New York comes as Cuomo continues to push for more federal funding and testing which he says is the only key to reopening his state.

CNN's Cristina Alesci joining me now from New York. So Cristina -- what else is the Governor saying about when New York could possibly reopen?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's being pretty blunt about it -- Fred. He is saying essentially that New York has control over the beast because of the mitigation efforts and the social distancing restrictions that are in place here.

He says that he sees hospitalization rates come down. ICU admission rates come down. But the stark reality here in New York is that we still have 2,000 people walking into the state hospitals every day with COVID, and the death -- the number of deaths refuses to come down.

Now, we'll get an update as you said from the Governor today when he speaks. But New York walking this very fine line like many states across the country. How do you reopen, get the economy up and running again safely so you don't risk another resurgence in infections here? And what states really need and this isn't just New York, Governor Cuomo is certainly a prominent voice on this -- you really need a lot more testing and you need money.

Now, on the testing front it's very clear that the CDC -- the former CDC -- head of the CDC, Tom Friedman telling our Sanjay Gupta, that it is the federal government's responsibility to get the materials needed for the states to do the testing and be on top of that supply chain.

And then on the funding side of things, the governors have asked the federal government for $500 billion in critical funding. Just to give you some context here. Yes, the Congress did pass a $2 trillion stimulus bill but a large part of that went to things like unemployment, small business loans, airline rescue.

And so the states need more funding and cities like New York are going to be hit particularly hard. Already we heard New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio talk about a wartime budget that services are going to be cut in the city. So clearly there needs to be way more support at the local levels in order to get the economy back up and running safely -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then Cristina -- what is this about New York facing backlash over its data on coronavirus deaths at nursing homes. The Governor is likely to be asked about that but what is the most recent reporting on that?

ALESCI: We've heard lots of questions about what is going on in the state's nursing homes. And we do not have a very clear picture. What we do know is that a small number of nursing homes have reported about 1,100 deaths across the state but there are still hundreds of nursing homes that have not reported. And the state is telling us that so far that's because those nursing homes don't have more than five deaths.

But still when you're talking about hundreds of nursing homes, even if there are two or three or four deaths in those, that could be a lot of people. So there definitely needs to be more transparency about this, especially because families and family members oftentimes do not have access to these homes, so making sure that, you know, everything is going according to plan and patients are being cared for, you know, in the right way, that is going to be a line of questioning that's going to continue throughout this crisis -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and most commonly those numbers, whether it's three or four or 40, it represents somebody's mom, dad, grandparent perhaps. [11:09:59]

WHITFIELD: All right. Cristina Alesci -- thank you so much.

All right. Now to Florida where people are flocking to beaches and parks as several states are starting to ease stay-at-home restrictions. This is Jacksonville, Florida just hours after the mayor reopened the city's beaches under restricted hours and social distancing guidelines.

The mayor says people can once again take part in essential activities only, and essential activities including jogging, fishing, surfing.

CNN's Randi Kaye is in Jacksonville. So Randi -- are most people respecting these guidelines?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So far -- Fred. Yesterday was a little bit worse than today in terms of respecting those guidelines. But as you can see today I pretty much have Jacksonville Beach to myself.

There's a few stragglers here behind me but that's not because it's not a great beach day. It's pretty cloudy here and overcast. That's because just moments ago this beach closed.

Those essential activities are only allowed at certain hours. So the mayor here has said, you can only come to the beach from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. so it just. And it will reopen at 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

And you mentioned those activities. So we saw these people out here yesterday evening when it first opened and earlier this morning, not right now, of course. But there were people biking on the beach and taking their dogs for a walk and swimming and surfing.

So they were pretty much behaving. But we did get a chance to talk to some people about what they thought. Did they feel safe coming out to the beach? And what did they see in terms of social distancing? Because we didn't see a whole lot of social distancing taking place yesterday or today.

Here's what they told me.


KAYE: How does it feel to be back on the beach?

MISSY LOGIE, JACKSONVILLE BEACH RESIDENT: Fabulous. We all live on it and so it's been torture to be looking at it and not be able to be out here.

KAYE: What have you been doing instead?

LOGIE: Sewing masks. Reading, cooking, eating.

KAYE: What about the social distancing? do you think it's a good idea though to open the beach? ALAN GEIKE, JACKSONVILE BEACH RESIDENT: I'm worried about that too. I

think that people are always going to try to social gather no matter what. And this just gives them another opportunity. But they've been doing it in parks and other places. So to deprive everybody from the beaches it's not fair.


KAYE: And a lot of people agreed with that. They told me that this beach, and certainly the beaches in Florida, it's therapy for Floridians. So they wanted to be able to come to the beach. But that doesn't mean that they're obeying all these new rules for this soft opening, if you want to call it that. We saw plenty of people hanging out, their putting towels out, sitting with coolers. Sitting with their families.

We only saw one instance where a police officer came and sort of nudged them along because that's not what they're supposed to be doing. And I should point out just quickly, Fred -- not many people here were wearing masks either.

Back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Randi Kaye -- we'll check back with you. Thank you so much.

All right. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is laying out plans to reopen his state, the world's tenth largest economy, in early May. The Republican governor trying to strike a balance between the state's powerful business community that so quickly wants to get moving and health professionals who warn a premature restart could be deadly.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has more.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced what he describes as a phased approach to reopening the Texas economy. He made four major announcements.

The first being that Texas schools will remain closed for the rest of this academic school year. They will all remain online.

Secondly, he's outlining what he describes as quote, retail to go. Essentially allowing retail stores to reopen in a limited way, allowing customers to come up to the doors and place orders and drive away with whatever it is that they're buying.

Thirdly, Texas state parks will reopen on Monday.

And then the fourth announcement that the Governor made is an easing of restrictions on what kind of surgeries can take place in hospitals.

And the Governor says the next ten days or so they were even considering allowing more elective surgeries. All of this happening as the Governor says the stay-at-home order will remain in place for the rest of the month but that he will reevaluate that depending on the medical data that we have and flattening of the curve here in Texas and where the coronavirus cases stand.

But all of this really happening under a huge cloud here in Texas. This is a state with 29 million people and it has a dismal rate of testing -- coronavirus testing at this point, less than 1 percent of the population has been tested.

The Governor says a massive amount of private lab testing will come online by the end of April into early May but there were few details about how many tests would actually be online and exactly how all of that would unfold and actually play out in reality.


LAVANDERA: So that's where we stand now as many leaders in cities like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin have expressed a great deal of concern about the low levels of testing in this state.

Ed Lavandera, CNN -- Dallas.


WHITFIELD: Coronavirus, the silent killer of more than 150,000 people worldwide. So, who is exactly at risk and why are some affected differently than others? CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains next.


WHITFIELD: As governors across the country take the lead on handling the response to the coronavirus outbreak, some of those state leaders have found themselves under fire from protesters who believe the restrictions have gone too far and from the President who continues to take shots at Democratic governors over their managing of the crisis. CNN's Jeff Zeleny joining us now with more on how one governor is balancing this collision over politics and public health -- Jeff.



There's no question President Trump is taunting some Democratic governors and encouraging some protesters who we've seen across the country flock to state capitols.

Well, this week we caught up with one of those governors on the frontline -- Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan as she's trying to battle the health fight with the political one that both were joined this week.


GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: And it's been unrelenting. The losses have been devastating. And we've had very few successes to offset that.

ZELENY: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is listening, making her daily check-in call with doctors and nurses on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.

WHITMER: How are you taking care of yourself? I mean I can't imagine the stress that you're under.

ZELENY: Just outside her office window, the front lines of another fight. Protesters surrounding the capitol in a drive-by demonstration. Sounding off against the strict stay-at-home orders she's imposing to try to slow the deadly outbreak.

On the job for 15 months, Whitmer is front and center in the battle between the nation's governors and the White House.

WHITMER: It's been an incredibly challenging time.

ZELENY: She's become one of the most visible Democratic governors in the country with President Trump dismissively referring to her like this.

TRUMP: Don't call the woman in Michigan. It doesn't make any difference what happens.

ZELENY: What went through your mind when you first heard President Trump say, "the woman in Michigan"?

WHITMER: I didn't sleep that night, honestly, you know. I'm not looking for a fight with anyone, frankly. I'm looking for help. And when that happened, I was very concerned that it might undermine my ability to get the help that Michigan needs.

ZELENY: And Michigan needs help with her state recording the third highest reported coronavirus death toll following only New York and New Jersey. She extended her statewide order until the end of April with some of the nation's toughest restrictions, including prohibiting people from most travel between their residences and visiting vacation rentals in the state and closing businesses she deemed nonessential including garden shops.

Her actions sparked a conservative group to organize a protest Wednesday.

WHITMER: It looks a lot like a political rally out there, as opposed to something that really is about the substance of the stay-at-home order and why it's important that we take this aggressive stance with COVID-19.

ZELENY: She knows she will be judged by how Michigan weathers the pandemic and rebounds from the economic toll it's taken on the still fragile manufacturing state, a critical battleground in the 2020 presidential race.

In 2016, Trump narrowly carried Michigan. Two years later, Whitmer was elected. She's now a national co-chair of Joe Biden's campaign and by his own admission, on his list of potential running mates showering her with praise on his new podcast.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Whitmer is an outstanding governor. She is one of the most talented people in the country in my view.

ZELENY: For Whitmer it's created a delicate balancing act. She acknowledges the state's recovery from the crisis depends on a working partnership with the White House and federal government.

Do you care what President Trump thinks about you?

WHITMER: You know, all I care about is making sure that I'm able to deliver for the people of Michigan. And I will work with anyone who's in the White House in order to do that.

ZELENY: Well, you held your tongue a little bit. You've not perhaps said things publicly that you may otherwise have.



WHITMER: Because I've got to get things done.


ZELENY: So being on the ground in Michigan and seeing these protesters Fredricka -- it was clear the anger is real here. Yes, these protests are being organized by conservative groups. It really had the feel of a Tea Party rally or a Trump rally, if you will. But back here in Washington, the message is so discordant.

The White House plan actually released this week, those different phases would not call for Michigan to reopen at all. again, they have had the third highest death toll, twice as many as California. So that is what Governor Whitmer is dealing with here, the crisis on the ground.

There's no question though, the comments from the President, saying to liberate Michigan, liberate Minnesota, liberate Virginia -- that is fueling these protesters here. But all the governors we're talk to are saying that they're going to do what is best for their states.

And Fredricka -- interestingly in Michigan they have a regional alliance with six other states, including two Republican governors -- Ohio's Republican Mike DeWine who, of course, has been leading the way on the Republican side. So, so many mixed messages here from Washington versus out in the country but there's no question that anger is very real -- Fredricka.


WHITFIELD: And bubbling up. All right. Jeff Zeleny -- thank you so much.

All right. Stay with CNN. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to update his state's response to the coronavirus pandemic at any moment now and we're live, next.


WHITFIELD: The ability to survive coronavirus isn't as simple as a patient's age or preexisting conditions. Many healthy people have fallen victim to the disease while others never show any symptoms.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks into why that may be.



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: These were some of the first heartbreaking images we saw of the coronavirus in the United States. It was an outbreak at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, a nursing home.

At the time it made sense. Earlier studies had shown the disease was more severe and more deadly among people who were older and had underlying conditions. And yet, all along we kept hearing stories of young, healthy people also becoming extremely sick like 30-year-old Ben Luderer.

BRANDY LUDERER, WIFE OF BEN LUDERER: He came into our bedroom where I was laying and he said, you know, I have to go. I've got to take myself to the hospital. And I said are you sure you want to go there? You know like are you sure. He said yes, I need to.

GUPTA: Or 39-year-old Conrad Buchanan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That day he was starting to decline because he did not have a horrible cough this whole time. And the 22nd is when I brought him to the hospital.

GUPTA: Young couples -- husbands and wives all infected. And yet in these cases the wives stayed relatively healthy while their husbands became suddenly critically ill and died.

NICOLE BUCHANAN, WIFE OF CONRAD BUCHANAN: They wouldn't let me in the hospital as he was begging that I need my wife. My wife makes my decisions. They told me to park the car. We thought that I was going to get to go in with him. And when I walked up to the doors, the hospital is on lockdown. They wouldn't let anybody in.

No, that was it. I never got to say I love you.

GUPTA: And two days after Ben Luderer was released from the hospital, he was back home in bed.

LUDERER: I could hear through the door that he was still breathing and I fell asleep.

GUPTA: By the time Brandy woke up in the morning, Ben had passed away.

Why does COVID-19 hit some people, like Conrad Buchanan and Ben Luderer so hard while many others have mild or no symptoms at all? It's a question that Dr. Anthony Fauci posed to me when I spoke with him on my podcast.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I'm fascinated Sanjay -- by what I would call the pathogenesis. You know, you get so many people who do well and then some people who just bingo, they're on a respirator, they're on ECMO, and they're dead.

I mean, the dichotomy between that -- there's something there that Sanjay, that we're missing from the pathogenesis standpoint. And I don't think it's only if you're elderly or you have underlying conditions. There's something else going on there that hopefully we'll ultimately figure out.

GUPTA: We still don't know the answer to this. But even over the last few weeks I've been talking to multiple scientists and front line workers trying to better understand what is happening here.

For older and more vulnerable people it could be that the virus itself overwhelmed their immune system. For younger people it could be that their immune system was almost too strong, reacted too violently resulting in a storm of inflammation.

AKIKO IWASAKI, PROFESSOR OF IMMUNOLOGY, YALE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: And cytokines are immune defense molecules that are normally used to control the infection, but when it's triggered in this way, it's an uncontrolled level of cytokines that ultimately damage the tissue, such as the lung or the blood vessels.

GUPTA: And some have told me maybe it's the amount of virus itself.

Dr. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: For reasons that we don't understand, front line health care workers are at great risk for serious illness despite their younger age. Maybe it's due to a higher dose of virus they're receiving.

GUPTA: A number of researchers brought up the idea that the answer could be in our genes, that maybe there's another risk factor besides just being older or having underlying disease.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: The studies show that those who are more likely to have severe infections are those who are older or have chronic medical conditions but it's unclear what exactly counts as a chronic medical condition. Some things are very clear but some things are not.

BUCHANAN: There's no discrimination when it comes to this virus and seeing what my husband had to go through was horrible. And now our life has turned into this horrible nightmare.

GUPTA: These are sad stories, no question about it. It may not just be hard science in terms of these risk factors as well. We've got some data looking at black America, how much they're affected by COVID-19 in Michigan where I'm from. You've got about 14 percent of the state that is African-American, about 42 percent of the state that has become infected and become ill as a result of this virus.

So there's all sorts of different factors here. People who are more likely to be front line workers probably more at risk. People who are more likely to work in a hospital or be health care workers, more at risk. There's all these different things.

But clearly there's something going on here besides the obvious risk factors that we thought at the beginning and we all need to dig a little deeper to try and figure out what they are.


WHITFIELD: Yes. Getting to the bottom of that is definitely a mission -- a big one.

I want to bring Dr. Lakshmana Swamy. He is a doctor in the intensive care unit at Boston Medical Center and a pulmonologist. Dr. Swamy -- good to see you.

All right. So you are on the front lines, you know, of this pandemic and have been for a while now. Who are the people showing up at your hospital with the coronavirus? You know, has the profile of people changed over the last few weeks?


DR. LAKSHMANA SWAMY, ICU DOCTOR AND PULMONOLOGIST, BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER: Thanks for having me. Those were really heartbreaking stories I've just heard. And unfortunately being in the ICU these days is bearing witness to those stories over and over again.

I think, you know, what we're seeing at my hospital, it's a city hospital, I can tell you there's one thing I know that's a common thread between many of the people that are coming into my ICU with severe cases of coronavirus. And that's that they lack something that many of us are fortunate enough to have, that's the privilege of being able to practice social distancing.

These are patients coming in from the shelters --


WHITFIELD: Dr. Swamy -- I'm going to have to ask you to take a pause right now.

Let's go to Governor Andrew Cuomo and his briefing right now.


GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: If you look at the past three days, you could argue that we are past the plateau and we're starting to descend which would be very good news. Again, it's only three days, but that's what the numbers would start to suggest. And you see that basically across the board.

Hospitals will tell you that also. The emergency rooms have fewer people in them. Remember, they were at manic max capacity for a very long period of time. Remember, we increased the hospital capacity by 50 percent. So every hospital had 50 percent more. And that capacity was overwhelmed Which just reminds us of the job the hospitals have been doing.

But we see that in the numbers as well as what the hospitals are saying to us. You're going to get a three-day average, which is more accurate. that is down. The ICU admissions that I don't think is reflective of anything anymore but we continue to include it for some unknown reasons are also down.

The intubations are down, which is very good news. Again, intubation means you've been put on a ventilator, probability is about 80 percent that you won't come off the ventilator once you're put on a ventilator, so that's very good news.

But sobering news, on the other hand, happy days are not here again. We still have about 2,000 people yesterday who were new admissions to a hospital or new COVID diagnoses. That is still an overwhelming number every day -- 2,000 new.

If it wasn't for the relative context that we've been in, this would be devastating news -- 2,000 people coming into the hospital system or testing positive. And if you notice 2,000 we're not at the peak but this is where we were just about in late March, when it started to go up.

So we're not at the plateau anymore but we're still not in a good position. And the worse news is still tragic news, number of deaths, 540. It's not as high as it was. It's still 540 people died yesterday, 540 people, 540 families.

504 in hospitals, 36 in nursing homes. Nursing homes are the single biggest fear in all of this. Vulnerable people in one place -- it is the feeding frenzy for this virus. Despite everything we can do and the best efforts of people who are working in those nursing homes who are doing just a fantastic job.

Testing -- testing is the single most important topic for us to understand, I think. And it's important that we understand it. I spoke to one of my daughters last night, who shall go nameless, but she said to me, what are they all talking about testing?

Which was sort of sobering, I think I'm communicating information, facts and my daughters are probably some of the most informed people on the situation given the hardship they endure being my daughters during this period of time.

And she was like, I don't understand all of this about testing, which is again, it's a wakeup call to me. I think we're communicating. I think we're putting out this information but, you know, people have lives to live even in this crazy time.

But for me, the best thing I can do in my position is to communicate facts to people so they have the information to make decisions. That's what I've been trying to do since day one. [11:39:54]

CUOMO: Here's the information, here are the facts, you decide and I'll tell you what I think the course of conduct should be given these facts, but here are the facts -- right. Before you tell me what you think, just tell me the facts. And then we'll get to your personal interpretation of the facts.

So facts on testing. Because it is granular and it is a little boring, but it's also vitally important. Testing is how you monitor the rate of infection and you control for it.

And that is the whole tension in reopening. Everybody wants to reopen. You don't need to hold up a placard saying we want to reopen. Nobody wants to reopen more than me. Nobody wants to get the economy going more than me. Nobody wants to get on with life more than me and everybody else. We're all in the same boat. We all have the same feelings.

The tension on reopening is, how fast can you reopen, and what can you reopen without raising that infection rate so you go right back to where we were overwhelming the hospitals. The infection rate now is 1 person infects 0.9 other people. You can't infect 0.9 but it's basically one person is infecting one person, a tad less. And I don't even know if it's a tad less because I don't know that the statistics are that accurate, frankly.

So let's say one person now infects one person. That's where we are now. When that is happening, the virus is basically stable. Where we were was one person was infecting 1.4 people. And that's when you have outbreak, widespread epidemic.

We brought it down from 1.4 to 0.9. How did you do that? Those were the New York pause policies -- close down business, close down schools, everybody has to social distance, everybody has to take precautions, masks, et cetera. But it worked and we went from 1.4 to 0.9.

Wuhan says at one point they got down to 0.3, which is where you really start to see the numbers drop. But that's where we are.

The tension is when you start to open business, you start to have gatherings, you put people on a bus, you put people on a subway, you put people in a retail store. Then you're going to see more infections, you're going to see that infection rate rise and then you're going to be back to where we were.

So how do you gauge this, right? How do you calibrate it? That is all about the testing. And you have a very tight window. You're at 0.9 now. You can only go up to 1.2 before you see those hospitalization numbers start taking off again.

You're talking about a very, very tight window that you have to calibrate. And this is all without precedent. So how do you actually do that intelligently? Well, you have to test. And testing informs the calibration. What is testing? Testing is you test. You test a person to see whether they're positive or negative for the coronavirus. There's also something called antibody testing but let's put that aside for a second.

On the diagnostic testing -- positive or negative, you test a person. When you find a person who is positive, you then trace. Trace they call them detectives. You find the person, and then you interview that person and find out who they came in contact and you follow that tree down. That's testing and then tracing. When they talk about tracing. Trace all those contacts.

And then you find the people who are positive, you isolate the positive people so they can't continue to spread.

Tracing requires an army, literally an army. You would need thousands of people who just trace in the state of New York, right, because any one person then leads to 10, 20 possible people who were infected. And you have to trace all through those people, you find a positive person, you isolate them.

The trick with testing is not that we don't know how to do it. We've done it better in this state than almost any other state, almost any other country. It's bringing this up to scale. And these are private sector companies that are doing this.

But we have done a very good job in testing. And the state has played a pivotal role in testing. You look at how New York, the number of tests we do. It's more than California. It's more than any other state. It's more than any other country.


CUOMO: So we have had great success in ramping up testing. So we know how to do it. We know how important it is. We had that hot spot in New Rochelle, Westchester. It was the hottest cluster in the United States of America. And we jumped on it and we jumped on it with intense testing and it worked, you know.

We still have an issue, but it's no longer a hot spot cluster, because you do a lot of testing, you take the positives and you isolate them.

This is now -- the challenge is now bringing this up to scale. Ok. We did 500,000 tests in a month. That's great news. Bad news is, it's only a fraction of what you need. The more you test, the more information, the more you can reopen society.

How does testing actually work? And this -- again, you have to know the facts, otherwise this is all a blur and it becomes a he said/she said.

There are about 30 private companies -- large, private companies in the country that are even international; 30 large companies make equipment to test. And they all have their own test, ok. So you have the Acme test, the this test, the this test, the this test. Those 30 companies have been selling their machines to local laboratories. And that's their business, they make a machine, Roche makes a machine, they then sell it to people. You have to buy their machine. And they then sell these local labs their testing protocol because their test works on their machine.

So you buy the Roche machine, you then have to buy the Roche test from the Roche Corporation. You buy the Acme machine you then have to buy the Acme test from the Acme Corporation.

And they sell these tests to local labs. We have about 300 local labs in our state who have bought these 30 types of manufacturers and 30 types of tests, ok. And then every time the lab goes to run that test, if I'm running the Acme test, I have to have the Acme equipment and the Acme vial and the Acme swab and the Acme reagents.

What are reagents? When you take the swab, nasal swab, throat swab, you then test it with other chemicals, the other chemicals are reagents. Depending on what test you bought, they have their own reagents for every test. So the Acme test has one set of reagents, the Roche test has another set of reagents and you have to go back to them to buy these reagents. So that's the basic chain.

And it gets very complicated very quickly, because you have the national manufacturers who sold their machines to local labs. The local labs then need to go back to that manufacturer to run their tests. And there's very little uniformity among the tests.

So you're trying to coordinate this whole private sector system. We have some public labs, state has a Wadsworth lab but the real capacity is in these private labs.

So how do you bring this up to scale? And how do you cut to the chase on this one? We called the top 50 producing labs in the state and said tell us what it takes to double your output, ok.

And this is literally what they said. So there's no interpretation here. Most of them come back, sometimes they talk about the equipment, nasal swab, vial -- but what you see is most of them are talking about we can't get the reagents. We can't get these other chemicals that we need to test. Where do they get the reagents from? Their manufacturer who made the machine in the first place, ok? And they all say, with the machines we bought, we could actually be doing more if they would give us the reagents.


CUOMO: That's the logjam that we are in. They bought the machine. They have the machine. They have the test. But they need the reagents to do a higher volume of tests.

When you go back to the manufacturer and say, why don't you distribute more reagents, they say one of two things. I can't get more reagents because they come from China. They come from here, they come from here. We don't make them in the United States. Or they say the federal government is telling me who they distributed

to. And this is why I say you have the federal government involved in this situation, rightfully so, because the federal government is saying to Acme Pharmaceutical, give x to California, give y to Chicago, give z to New York. These manufacturers are regulated by the federal government. And the federal government clearly has a role in addressing this crisis.

But we need two things from the federal government. We need help on that supply chain, especially when it becomes international. And we need coordination and basic partnership. I get the state's role. We've been testing. I get this is hard. I get that it's difficult.

I get that it's never going to be perfect. I get in this society there's going to be a blame game and everyone is going to say, why didn't we have enough testing? It's the feds, it's the state. That's going to happen anyway, right? That's the world we live in.

And I'm not asking for the federal government to come in and do any more than they need to do, but we do need their coordination. We do need their partnership. And we also need from the federal government, we need funding. I get that we have to fund airlines. We have to fund this business. We have to fund small business. Yes. I agree 100 percent. But you also have to fund state government. And by the way, when you fund a state government, you're not funding a private business, ok.

We're not an airline. So you don't have an issue of should government really be giving tax dollars to this private entity. When you fund a state government, you just are funding a state government to perform the functions you want us to perform which is the reopening function.

I get it. I'll do it. But I need funding. And when you fund a state government, you're funding small businesses anyway and you're funding hospitals anyway and you're funding schools anyway.

And you know, the Republican doctrine used to be, limited government and state's rights. I'm a good distribution mechanism to small businesses and hospitals and schools because I know what's going on in the state. But if you want us to reopen, we need funding.

National Governors Association is highly relevant because this is now all up to the governors. The National Governors Association is bipartisan. The chairman is a Republican. I'm the vice chairman. I'm a Democrat. I'm the incoming chairperson.

We did a press release yesterday saying we need funding in this next bill. We need $500 billion for the states so we can do this reopening. The federal government yesterday sent 1.5 million cloth masks to New York state and I want to thank them for that. These are cloth masks that we can distribute to people to help implement our policy where, if you are in public, you have to wear a mask.

It's not a surgical mask. It's a cloth mask manufactured by the Hanes Corporation, I believe. But we're asking people to wear masks and this is going to be very helpful because we're going to have additional masks to distribute to the public.

Last point, personal opinion, it's not a fact. This is just my opinion. You can throw it in the garbage. The emotion in this country is as high as I can recall. People are frustrated. We're anxious. We're scared. We're angry. We have never been through this before.

And on every level, this is a terrible experience. It's disorienting. It threatens you to your core. It makes you reflect on your whole life, and it really has -- it's mentally very difficult. It's emotionally difficult. Economically, it's disastrous. I mean the market goes down. Your retirement funds go down. You're not getting a paycheck. It is as tumultuous a time as we have ever seen.


CUOMO: But in the midst of this, there is no time for politics. How does this situation get worse and get worse quickly? If you politicize all that emotion. We cannot go there.

That's why I work so hard, when anyone raises any political agenda to me, I work so hard to distance myself from it. I'm not running for anything. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to be governor of the state of New York until the people kick me out. And then I'm going to go spend time with my family, and that's that.

So I have no political agenda. And I've stayed 100 miles away from politics just so people know that there is no possibility of a political distortion here because it's no time for politics.

And look, if you have partisan division, splitting this nation now, it's going to make it worse. Abraham Lincoln -- a house divided against itself cannot stand, 1858. Where did Abraham Lincoln get it from? If a house is divided against itself, the house cannot stand. Mark 3:25. Ok.

So this is an accepted wisdom, let us say. House cannot stand. Not to mention, a house cannot rise up from the greatest challenge it has seen since World War II. This is no time and no place for division. We are -- have our hands full as it is.

Let's just stay together and let's work it through. And that's why we're called the United States, right? And the unity was key going back to Abraham Lincoln. It was always about the unity. Going back to the framers of the constitution. It was always balance of power to ensure unity. And we need that unity now more than ever before.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, your mask order took effect last night. I know you addressed this a little bit the other day, but you're currently not wearing a mask. Do you fear that there's a do as I say, not as I do kind of aspect to this? And what would you say to somebody who is sitting at home saying, well, the Governor is not wearing a mask. Why should I?

CUOMO: When I'm in public, and I'm walking the dog down the street, and there is a place where I could come in contact with other people, within the social -- and I can't maintain social distancing -- I'm wearing a mask.

If I'm walking through the backyard alone and nobody is around me, I don't wear a mask. Wear a mask in public if you are in a situation where you could encroach on other people without maintaining social distancing. That's when you wear a mask.

Here I'm not going to come any closer to you than I'm. There is no possibility that you and I, John, violate the social distancing guideline. I'm socially distanced from Howard. I'm socially distanced from Melissa. I'm not in public.

In public, when -- I'm not saying in your home -- in public, that I think is a small inconvenience that has a tremendous benefit for people. And you want to go walk the dog with me? I'll walk the dog with you? I wear a mask. And my daughter wears a mask. Dog doesn't wear a mask. I've not heard any data that suggests pets should wear a mask. So Captain is not violating anything.

But we'll walk the dog, I wear a mask. Not as attractive as your mask, by the way. You have a very stylish, fashion forward mask.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) President Trump has been encouraging implicitly and explicitly some Republican states to kind of move ahead with reopening plans. Beaches are reopening in Florida today. There have been protests at statehouses around the country.

What do you make of that sort of piecemeal approach? And in considering that people travel, you know, could travel from Florida to New York, from Texas to New York, et cetera -- doesn't that defeat the purpose of trying to stamp this out?

CUOMO: Look, I think no one should inject politics, and that's why, Jesse, you know, do as you say. You know how hard I've worked and how many times I've said. Taken myself totally out of contention for any possible political position just to make sure nobody could say there's a political angle to this.


CUOMO: The -- and I can't speak for anyone else. I can speak to my relationship, what I'm doing in this state, how I'm working with other officials for myself and how I'm trying to work with the federal government.