Return to Transcripts main page
Several States Plan To Partially Reopen In The Coming Weeks; Trump Unveils New Guidelines To Help States Loosen Restrictions; Trump Properties In Florida Furlough 700-Plus Workers; U.K. Facing Shortage Of PPEs For Medical Workers; U.K. Creates Task Force To Find COVID-19 Vaccine; Impasse Over Small Business Loan Program As Funding Runs Dry. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 18, 2020 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Federica Whitfield. All right. Just a short time ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo renewed his calls for the Federal government to provide more testing in the battle against the coronavirus. The governor saying his state is not at the stage where it can begin to reopen the economy. He also says widespread testing is the number one factor needed to get people back to work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Testing. Testing is the single most important topic for us to understand I think, and it's important that we understand it. The more you test, the more information, the more you can reopen society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: But some states are beginning to loosen their restrictions. Right now in Jacksonville, Florida people are flocking to the beaches. And in Texas, a planning of a rolling reopening of businesses is taking places early as next week. President Trump now says governors will have the authority to reopen once they meet certain criteria. Syria, but a new model used by the White House shows only four states may be ready to reopen by May 4th.
We're talking about Vermont, West Virginia, Montana and Hawaii, while dozens of others may have to wait until June, perhaps even July. Meanwhile, medical experts including a former director for the Centers for Disease Control where the U.S. is still lagging way behind in testing to safely reopen the country. CNN's team of correspondents are on the scene in cities across the country right now.
Let's start in New York where today Governor Andrew Cuomo discussed what it will take before his state can reopen. CNN's Cristina Alesci joining me now so. Cristina, the governor, you know, spoke a lot about testing, but also about Federal funding that partnership. CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Those are the two things that he said are necessary in order to get the economy back up and running. What he described in that press conference was a fairly tenuous situation. Yes, there are some glimmers of hope in the sense that hospitalization rates are going down. But the death count is still very high.
And the way that he described the healthcare situation here really stuck out, he said, it's barely stabilizing. That's because here in New York, we still have 2000 people walking into the state's hospitals across the state every day with COVID. And he says, look, this is a tenuous situation. So the two things that are necessary is testing and funding. And it's clear on the testing front that he is making it his personal mission to inform the public as to why testing is important because we keep hearing testing, testing, testing.
Well, one of the things that testing informs is the infection rate. How many people does one person in fact and right now that number is below one in New York, and that's where the governor wants to keep it in order to reopen the economy and you can only get that kind of information with massive testing. And he said, Look, New York has been leading the charge on testing and we're still not doing enough on the funding front.
Not only is money from the Federal government necessary to support that kind --that -- in that level of testing. But if you want to have a successful reopening of the economy, you have to have certain basic government services functions, like the train systems and the school systems up and running, fully functional so that people could get back to work and that the economy can, you know, reemerge essentially.
And if you look at it, some people at home may be wondering, look, Congress just passed $2 trillion in stimulus. Clearly some of that money went to the States. Yes, it did. But a very small amount of that whole entire two trillion went to the states. A lot of it went to unemployment benefits, local -- the small business lending, airline rescue, so what he and other governors are calling for is $500 billion to be spread across all of these states in order to ensure an economic recovery that will be, you know, done in a way that's both safe and effective. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Cristina Alesci , thank you so much. All right. Meanwhile, the White House is focusing on the reopening of the economy despite warnings from medical experts to not rush the process. CNN Kristen Holmes joining us now. So Kristen, the White House, you know, being pressed about the number of tests available, which governors including the New York governor, you know, says is really key to reopening the economy and that there isn't enough testing.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. And we're hearing from governors on both sides of the aisle who say that testing is key. And they're very skeptical of this idea which Vice President Pence said yesterday that there are enough tests to reopen the economy or at least to meet phase one in certain places. And the reason for their skepticism is that they've heard this from the administration now for more than a month.
And it was early March when we heard President Trump saying that there was a test for everyone. Every single person who wanted to be tested could be tested. And of course, we know it wasn't true then and it's still not true. Now, I talked to state officials, both sides of the aisle to kind of get an idea of what exactly was missing in this testing. Where's the disconnect between the state and the Federal government?
And here's what I learned. One of the things is about the length of time it takes to turn around these tests. So essentially, the administration has pointed states to their own state labs and private labs and said these labs aren't at capacity. Why are you testing more people? Well, one person that I spoke to one state official said, the reason being that a lot of these labs have a four to five-day turnaround.
That is too long if you're trying to reopen the economy. You can't put people back in the workforce and then take them out again for five days while they wait for the results and then get to contact tracing eventually. The other side of this, of course, being the supplies, those reagents, those swabs. Now President Trump said yesterday that they were going to send 5.5 million swabs -- excuse me, billion swabs out to the states there to get people to supplies they need.
But we heard from Governor Cuomo, he said his problem was those reagents and those chemicals and we didn't hear enough about what they're doing to fix that, on that in there. Fred?
WHITFIELD: And now, Kristen, tell us more about what we're hearing, furloughed employees working at many of Trump's prop properties.
HOLMES: Well, that's right. So, 713 people have been furloughed from two of President Trump's properties in Florida talking about Doral and Mar-a-Lago. Now we know from the numbers here, we have 560 employees that were furloughed from Trump National Doral Miami and then another 153 employees from Mar-a-Lago and when it comes to Mar-a-Lago we know that they had suspended their services just about a month ago.
But this really goes to show you that it's not just this idea of mom and pop shops that are shutting down and small businesses, you're seeing this problem across the board. I mean, they work for the Trump family. And again, they're having to furlough workers. This is taking a huge economic toll on our country.
WHITFIELD: Kristen Holmes at the White House. Thanks so much. So even as social distancing guidelines remain in place, Vice President Mike Pence visiting the Air Force Academy right now. You see him arriving there in Colorado Springs. Today he'll be delivering the commencement address for the graduation ceremony. CNN Sarah Westwood is following all of this. So Sarah, what kind, you know, of protections or guidelines are being honored by the vice president who is heading the task force?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. That's right, Fred. And this is actually the first time that we're seeing the President or the Vice President venture outside of Washington in weeks. They have been grounded for a long time in accordance with these recommendations from Federal health officials that Americans just should not be traveling for any reason and they should not be gathered in groups larger than 10.
Now obviously, this being the Air Force Academy's commencement ceremony, there are going to be more than 10 people at this event, but the Air Force Academy tells us that they are taking a lot of precautions to keep the Vice President, other guests and especially the cadets healthy today, they're going to be marching six feet apart. For example, they're going to be sitting eight feet apart during the ceremony, as are the people who are going to be on stage alongside the Vice President.
Now President Trump said yesterday he thinks it's great that the VP is going up to this commencement ceremony and Trump actually announced that he himself will be delivering the commencement address at West Point next month. And this is coming as the White House is pushing this message in this sort of time for states for governors to start preparing to open their seats as soon as possible as close that May 1st target date is possible.
So, showing that this is what they want for life to be able to return to normal, for people to be able to start traveling, events to start being held again. So, the Vice President, a milestone here of sorts of him venturing out for the first time in weeks to a state other than Washington, D.C., Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Westwood. Thank you so much. Appreciate that. All right. The coronavirus outbreak. Aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt continues to worsen. The U.S. Navy said 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 has been tested. I want to bring in CNN Pentagon Reporter Ryan Browne in Washington.
So, Ryan, what more can you tell us about the conditions of those who have bitten -- who have tested positive?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, Fred most of the sailors who have tested positive are asymptomatic. They're not showing any symptoms. They have tested positive for coronavirus but they've been put into isolation and quarantine but they are not exhibiting any symptoms. Now, some sailors are exhibiting symptoms and some have been admitted to the hospital for treatment.
That number currently stands at eight, one of which is in the intensive care unit there. Of course that the sadly the Navy announced that a sailor last week, that a sailor died as a result of the coronavirus from that ship. But we are also learning new information about how the virus spread on that -- on that ship. That aircraft carrier. It's a massive ship, you know, 4800 sailors aboard it. One out of every 10 sailors now has the coronavirus. It began in the air crew we're being told that is the sailors who operate the aircraft and helicopters and jets on that ship and then spread from there. Now the Navy has taken steps to evacuate the ship. Some 4000 sailors have been moved into isolation and quarantine on Guam. And the Navy is preparing to announce the results of its investigation into the circumstances of Captain Brett Crozier, as you remember was fired after his warning about the spread of the virus on his ship became public.
The Navy conducting an investigation into that circumstances. We're expecting the results of that investigation to be announced soon and the Navy has not ruled out a possible reinstatement for Captain Crozier if he is cleared in this investigation. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Reinstatement and that would -- that would put him reassigned even back on that aircraft carrier?
BROWNE: It is possible. Of course they would have to work out the mechanics, he has -- he is -- he's been in quarantine since being fired very publicly from his command. As they conduct this review, they would have to kind of work out the mechanics of that, of course, after he was fired the person who fired him, the acting Navy secretary was forced to resign over his handling of the situation. So, a lot of turmoil in the upper ranks of the Navy over this issue.
WHITFIELD: Uh-hmm. Any more clarity on the origins of the virus outbreak on the aircraft carrier?
BROWNE: So they know that it began -- the initial cases were members of the air crew, it is still not clear whether it came aboard the vessel during its port call in Vietnam. There were some cases of coronavirus in Vietnam when the ship pulled into port there. Some have speculated that that was where the virus came on board. However, the Navy has not been able to identify the source of the virus.
It is conducting a medical examination to determine more about how it's spread around the ship. But some officials are skeptical whether or not they'll ever be able to determine how that virus came on board.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Browne, thanks so much.
BROWNE: You bet.
WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up. It helped and the Ebola outbreak and now contact tracing could help reopen America but what is it and how does it work?
Also ahead, health officials fighting back against the reopening of a mall in Nebraska. We'll go there live.
WHITFIELD: Right now, former President Bill Clinton is holding a virtual global initiative with the governors from New York and California. They're discussing strategies for getting the outbreak under control and the challenges of reopening the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can get back to normal until we've got control of this virus, and we can keep it under control. And that might take longer than we wish. It's already taken longer than we wish. But there are a lot of moving parts, a lot of complicating factors, including in the United States, the various significant racial disparities and income disparities and exposure to the virus and in this mortality rate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Experts say there is a crucial step needed for a safe reopening of the country and that is contact tracing. And that means tracking down anyone, an infected patient might have come into contact with to contain the virus and to keep it from spreading. As CNN's Sara Sidner shows us from Los Angeles, it's not an easy task.
AMY DRISCOLL, SURVIVED CORONAVIRUS: This was painful.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amy Driscoll says coronavirus had a her in a vise grip that wouldn't let go for weeks.
DRISCOLL: Every breath, every movement, every, you know, raising your arms, rolling over in bed, every single thing is painful.
SIDNER: Less than two hours after arriving home from the hospital, her phone rang. It was the county health department, asking lots of questions.
DRISCOLL: Who have I seen in the last two weeks, where was I in the last two weeks, who was I in contact with, where do I work.
SIDNER: The Health Department was doing what is called contact tracing.
CUOMO: You have to trace every person who comes up positive. Trace means investigate. Investigate all those prior contacts.
SIDNER: Driscoll traced her steps. She had gone to work. Her boss and staff had to be contacted.
She went to a restaurant for lunch. She went to her hair salon, they had to be contacted. She went to a Cleveland Cavaliers game. All the family members who sat with her were contacted.
This kind of contact tracing is happening across the country and the world.
SIDNER: From those suffering through the deadly COVID-19 outbreak in New York and those connected to the first major U.S. outbreak in Washington State, to California, the first place where a statewide stay-at-home order was announced.
Experts say without contract tracing and enough testing, America and the world cannot reopen safely.
JOSHUA MICHAUD, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR GLOBAL HEALTH POLICY, KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION: We're going to be at risk of resurgence of this disease, not just in the fall, but going into next year.
SIDNER: So you're saying without contact tracing, a massive amount -- without testing a massive amount, we could find ourselves right back where we started?
MICHAUD: I think we could find ourselves very much at risk of another resurgence.
SIDNER: But the U.S. does not have enough people to do the tracing. State health officials estimate there are about 2,000 people doing this work now, but Johns Hopkins University warns we need at least 100,000.
SIDNER: For now, contact tracing is only as good as your memory. This is hard. I mean, before stay-at-home orders, can you remember all the people you had close contact with over a two-week period, say, at the coffee shop? Or at the grocery store? Or at a restaurant? Or at your child's school?
And that's where big tech like Google and Apple are jumping in. They will soon have an app you can voluntarily download built with health departments so they can see detailed location data from your cellphone. But the public may be skittish about it due to privacy concerns.
Still contact tracing requires serious legwork. L.A.'s mayor is pushing for Federal help.
ERIC GARCETTI (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: We're probably going to need hundreds of thousands of Americans to be put to work. It should be funded by the Feds by enacted locally.
SIDNER: As for Driscoll, her contacts have been found. The Health Department tells her that none have symptoms so far. But testing is still a problem.
DRISCOLL: I've had no additional testing.
SIDNER: Amy Driscoll told us that she was supposed to have two negative tests to make sure that she was no longer spreading the virus. Well, she's not going to have those tests, they simply don't have enough and it makes her worried to go back out into the community safely.
And as far as how important contact tracing is, the CDC announced just this week that they are starting a pilot program and sending out protection teams to eight states to try to help ramp up contact tracing.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.
WHITFIELD: Meanwhile, an outlet mall in Nebraska is encouraging retailers to begin to open their doors this coming Friday despite a still growing number of coronavirus cases in that state. The malls owner encouraging major retailers to use the shopping center as an opportunity to determine best practices as they plan to reopen stores across the nation in the coming weeks. CNN's Ryan Young joining me now from Omaha. So, what more are you learning about their approach?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fred, look, there's a lot of people who just want to see things get back to normal. You can understand that at this point. People want to go back to shop and they want to go back to being a part of the retail industry. And of course, there are so many folks who work here. Hundreds of folks who work here, the owner was basically saying giving them a chance to get back to work would be a good thing.
Now here's the situation here though. If you think about it, there's a lot of major anchor tenants that are here. So just because you open them all back up doesn't mean some of the stories behind me will allow their employees to come back in. But what they're doing is they want to do a face sort of soft opening from what we were explained, like to bring some of the employees back so they can start setting up to set up the situation.
So, when people do come back, they can do social distancing. And they can allow certain numbers of people in at the same time. So that soft opening will give them a chance to be able to look at this. Now the hospital association in this state though, they are worried about an opening like this, they think it could be bad for flattening the curve in this area. In fact, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN NOONAN, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND EDUCATION, NEBRASKA HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: It's premature, right? It's irresponsible. It's, you know, really, we just be patient for, you know, another -- I don't know if it's three to four weeks. I don't know. No one can predict the timeline. But again, we've got to listen to our scientists and our public health experts.
They are the ones who tracking this data and looking deeply into how it's spreading. So, we have to be confident that they know what they're doing. We've done a good job so far. So, you know, why stop short? We need keep continuing to be vigilant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Yes, Fred. You can understand their ideas and the reason why they feel that way because obviously they're on the front lines of this pandemic. But to give you an idea of the state, you're talking about 1200 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state.
They've had 24 deaths. That's not the same size numbers that we've seen across the country. In fact, you know, when I was talking to you last weekend, from Michigan, of course, those numbers would be this pale in comparison because -- compared to that state.
So when you think about this, you can understand what they're thinking about doing. But obviously, some of the health professionals are saying, hey, let's just wait a little bit longer. So far, though, it seems like the 24th when -- will -- is when this is going to all happen. And I'm sure people will sort of show up. In fact, even now, there are some people who are still at the mall right now sort of prepping things.
WHITFIELD: All right, we shall see. Ryan Young, thank you so much in Omaha, Nebraska.
All right. CNN viewers and readers from around the world have asked more than 90,000 questions about coronavirus on CNN.com. And at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time right here on CNN, a panel of experts will join me to answer some of your questions. Go to CNN.com to submit some of your questions on health, family life and your money. Again, that's 2:30 Eastern Time right here on CNN.
It's about the third weekend that we've been doing that and it has been hugely popular and people have felt very satisfied with getting lots of great answers.
All right, still ahead. Could a vaccine be in the works? The U.K. now launching a task force to examine one. A live update next.
WHITFIELD: As countries around the world scramble to find ways to fight the coronavirus outbreak, the U.K. says it is putting together a task force to focus on finding a vaccine. The announcement comes as the number of deaths from the virus in the U.K. has now passed 15,000 people.
CNN's Nic Robertson is with me from London.
Nic, we're learning about this task force but also learning today of some critical new shortages of medical gowns. What's the latest?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The government is saying in its briefing an hour or so ago that the medical gown shortage is acute. It's critical. They are recommending at the moment practice, which isn't normal practice.
The gowns that are in particular short supply could run out in hospitals this weekend. These are gowns that are fluid repellent. But the government is saying there's global shortage in supply. This is something we all know, and I think we've heard this from many leaders around the world at the moment.
But the olive branch, if you will, that the government is holding out for the health care professionals is that they are saying they should get 400,000 of these much-needed gowns in a shipment on Sunday coming from Turkey. It's a very hand-to-mouth situation, if you will, for the health care professionals on the front line.
The government minister today speaking at the press conference said he recognized this was a difficulty for some of those frontline professionals. I think perhaps that many people would agree that's an understatement. But the government is trying to keep on top of the personal protection equipment.
That issue about the vaccines, yes, a task force is being set up. It's very aspirational at the moment. Brings together government, academics and industry. Sets out all sorts of different aspirations that they want them to do to look at regulations and try to inspire new developments, $312 million. And things are on the drawing board but no actual vaccine inside at the moment.
WHITFIELD: All right, Nic Robertson, in London, thanks so much.
Still ahead, the White House and congressional Democrats discussing adding tens of billions of dollars for hospitals as part of a small business package.
WHITFIELD: Live pictures right now out of Colorado Springs where the 62nd class will be enjoying its commencement ceremonies today. The vice president is the commencement speaker.
And you are seeing there the distancing between the cadets. Apparently, six feet apart in their marching. And the same will be the case in the seating arrangement you see right now. The vice president there on stage. And we have been assured that there's social distancing taking place on the stage there as well.
We'll continue to monitor the developments and the commencement address coming from the vice president.
And this just into CNN. Amid an impasse to renew funding for the country's small business loan program, we're learning about a new bipartisan effort between the White House and congressional Democrats to provide funding for hospitals. A source tells us that a deal could be reached as early as Monday.
CNN's Phil Mattingly has more.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Millions of small businesses are hanging by a thread as the coronavirus continues to devastate the U.S. economy. MICHAEL CERBELLI, CEO & PRESIDENT, CERBELLI CREATIVE : Our industry is
hurting right now.
MATTINGLY: And the financial lifeline signed into law to help them has officially been severed.
MATTINGLY: Michael Cerbelli has been producing corporate and social events for 43 years. He's committed to paying his seven employees through the crisis.
CERBELLI: The past 30 days, we've been busting our butts, taking everything from the back burner, bringing it to the front, working hard, preparing with our clients, but now, I got to tell you, today, I'm a little scared.
MATTINGLY: But the Small Business Administration has now exhausted its $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program leaving lenders and borrowers alike to see this message: In just 13 days, the agency approved more loans than it had in the 14 years prior combined. Data that underscores the level of urgency and devastation small business owners, like Cerbelli, currently face. But also the limbo they now find themselves in.
CERBELLI: I turn to my bank today and, excuse my English, but I said, am I screwed, am I getting the short end of the stick. And they said, unfortunately, you're still in the queue. You never made it to that next phase.
MATTINGLY: More than 800,000 applications were awaiting approval when the funds ran out. Those business owners have no idea what's coming next. And their eyes are on Congress.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY): Every Senate Republican was ready to act today. Today. But Democrats would not let us reopen the program.
MATTINGLY: Republicans and Democrats are locked in a stalemate as they try and add funds to the program. Republicans pushing for an immediate and clean additional $250 billion. Democrats blocking that effort and countering there are other urgent needs as well.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY: I want to help small business. But if we don't deal with the testing and health care problems, if we don't deal with the local government problems, small business may have enough money to get back, but there will be -- people won't go out on the streets.
MATTINGLY: For small business owners, the details of that negotiation and how it ends up are the least of their worries. They just want a resolution.
CERBELLI: We are asking you to please remember us, the live events industry, the caterers, the hospitality people that bring life to the world. We are not celebrating right now. We are asking just for help.
MATTINGLY (on camera): For small business owners looking for that help, looking for that resolution on Capitol Hill, right now, talks are still ongoing between Democrats and Republicans, Democrats and the Trump administration. And there were even proposals traded as late as Friday night.
The reality is this: Both parties agree that the money needs to be replenished. More money needs to go into the small business program.
The question, right now, at least as it currently stands, is what else needs to be added to get agreement and can that agreement get support of both sides, pretty much every member in both chambers. That's what lawmakers are working toward and through this weekend.
The goal, I'm told, at the moment, is to have an agreement and to be able to move forward with that agreement as soon as Monday. But they're not there yet. Still negotiations ongoing.
Phil Mattingly, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: President John F. Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs. How could that historical event possibly relate to Trump's response to this pandemic? Presidential historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, lays it all out for us, next.
WHITFIELD: After declaring that he would be the one to reopen the U.S. economy, President Trump now says governors will have the authority to reopen their states once they meet certain criteria.
The about-face also highlights the tensions between the president and the governors where he has, at times, praised but more often blame forward failures in the fight against the coronavirus.
Is there historical precedence for the way this president is handling the crisis?
Doris Kearns Goodwin is a presidential historian and Pulitzer-prize- winning author of the book, "Leadership in Turbulent Times."
Good to see you, Doris. Always love having you because
WHITFIELD: -- you either help us see things differently or just help us see things, period.
So let's begin this way. The president is calling for more protests against social distancing guidelines all in states with Democratic governors, we should note. One of the historical parallels you draw here is John F. Kennedy and
the Bay of Pigs. Why that comparison?
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: It may seem weird on the surface, but the most important trait of leadership in a time of crisis is to assume responsibility, to acknowledge failures, and learn from your mistakes.
And that's precisely what JFK did during the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs when he stood before the people and said, this is a kick in the leg but I'm not going to shift blame on others, and I'm going to learn from this.
And learning from that meant he restructured the White House. He was in a much better situation when the far more important crisis came of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He grew in office.
You can't do that by shifting blame to others, not taking responsibility and not learning from your mistakes, which we need so badly right now.
WHITFIELD: So FDR, when he was governor of New York, you know, he stepped in, provided unemployment relief and, you know, the state's jobs helped considerably when there was this vacuum on the federal level. And his success with that helped him win the presidency.
What was it about him that appealed to so many, and really ended up answering the call?
GOODWIN: I think it's almost the same thing again. He was willing to say, I will take this gift of leadership, when he was finally elected to the presidency, and I will assume responsibility for taking action.
And then he took unprecedented steps. He put millions of people to work. He created the first kind of safety net. He eventually created Social Security. I mean, all the things that had not been done before, which he knew were unprecedented, he was willing to put on his shoulders.
The interesting thing to think about is that governors used to be the main role into the presidency. Seventeen of our presidents were governors because they had executive experience. They were on the ground.
And I keep wondering, what might it have been like if this virus occurred last fall when more of those who ran for governor or more other governors had been in the mix when we came to the end of the Democratic primary.
WHITFIELD: Forgive me if I'm redundant because I lost audio for a second. As I ask you a question, you may have already answered this one.
So for FDR, you know, to have led the U.S. during the Great Depression and World War II, you know, when you look at today's food lines, for example, I mean, these images are extraordinary of what we've seen in the past couple of weeks. And then you hear the current surgeon general saying a week in this pandemic is tantamount to Pearl Harbor.
What parallels or perhaps even contrasts do you see in this crisis, the consequences and/or the leadership styles?
GOODWIN: You know, the vision that I keep hoping will come out of this crisis is that, just as FDR initially dealt with the problems of the Great Depression, you know, by providing relief and providing jobs, he then argued that there was systemic problems that had caused the Great Depression in the first place, and we had to address those.
And so that's when he began to regulate the stock market to provide safety nets, to provide Social Security.
So I look now at where we are in the pandemic, and lots of issues were discussed during the election campaign, but they seemed abstract and maybe too far removed.
But now we see people going to those food pantries, just as you say, long lines of people, which made me understand that people living paycheck to paycheck. What can we do about that? Can we have a greater minimum wage?
We see people who risk their lives to go vote in Wisconsin. What is that necessary for? Can't we have some better system of voting by mail or a national holiday or a whole bunch of days when we vote for our presidents?
We've seen the discrimination evidently against African Americans that have made them bear this crisis more than others. What are we going to do about housing and overcrowding and the kinds of jobs they have? All of these things we're feeling viscerally.
Even the idea of climate change, we've seen what difference it makes when we, as individuals, have not polluted, when birds are coming back and wildlife is flourishing. What if we could make individual actions which would help climate change in the future?
Sometimes crises like this can produce big change. If we need a positive vision, if we could make society more socially and economically just, it would be something to look forward to. And we need it in these moments.
WHITFIELD: This president, have you seen him fully exert his power or have you seen him cede, relinquish his power more than one might expect?
GOODWIN: Well, it's been such a contradictory journey because, at times, he claimed authority over all the states to determine when they would re-open, and now he has left it to the states to determine when they re-open but, yet, is giving guidance to the people by suggesting we should liberate Minnesota, liberate Michigan.
What you really need is just clear-headed assumption of national responsibility. You know, I think about how much is needed. We keep talking about
testing, testing, testing. At the beginning, before we were even in World War II, we were so far behind Germany. We had only 400 fighter planes.
In that first spring of 1940, FDR said, I'm setting a target this year. We're going to have 50,000 planes produced. People said that's impossible. You'll never get it done. He said, I believe when the people are given a challenge in this country, they will meet it.
And he formed a partnership with the business community, who produced terrifically during the war, 300,000 planes eventually, you know, millions of tanks and weapons that we were able to give our allies in all the far corners of the world.
But it took taking that responsibility to set a target and then shoulder the blame if we didn't meet it. But he knew that together the people would meet it. I still believe that. If we were to mobilize the business community now even more to produce the swabs and everything we need, they would come through.
People want to be together. We're in it together. It is not the federal government versus the states. It's all of us together in this thing.
GOODWIN: That is the only way we will succeed in making this pandemic end and doing something great that comes out of it.
WHITFIELD: Doris Kearns Goodwin, that sounds like the national plan that people keep saying they want to hear. They want to hear something that equates to a national plan.
All right. Thank you so much. Great to see you. Appreciate it.
WHITFIELD: Be well.
GOODWIN: You, too. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Vice President Pence is about to speak at the 2020 graduates ceremony of the U.S. Air Academy. We'll bring that to you live as soon as it happens.
WHITFIELD: Hello, again. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin this hour with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo renewing his calls for aggressive testing in the battle against the coronavirus. The governor saying his state is not at the stage where it can begin to reopen the economy. And he insists that widespread testing in the number-one factor needed to get people back to work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Testing. Testing is the single-most important topic for us to understand I think. And it's important that we understand it. The more you test, the more information, the more you can re-open society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: But some states are beginning to loosen their restrictions. Right now, in Jacksonville, Florida, people are flocking to the beaches.
And there are new signs about the toll the shutdown is having on the economy. Many of President Trump's own properties are beginning to furlough hundreds of workers.
The White House is set to give another coronavirus briefing today, 5:00. We'll bring that to you live as it happens.
Let's get started in New York where Governor Andrew Cuomo says new deaths and hospitalizations are down but still high. The state is reporting more than 500 new deaths, 2,000 new hospitalizations. This, as the governor offers a sobering outlook on when the state could re- open.
CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is in New York.
Evan, what does the governor say has to happen before things can re- open again?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, the governor opened his conference today talking about the hospitalizations that you mentioned that are down and, you know, the focus on the future that everybody is having now.