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U.S. Tops 706,000 Cases As States Weigh Reopening; Some U.S. States Plan To Partially Reopen In The Coming Weeks; Pence Claims Enough Tests For "Phase One" Reopening; Trump Lays Blame For Economy On Democrats; Florida Animal Shelter Celebrates Empty House; Another 5.2 Million Americans File For Unemployment Benefits; Hospitals In U.K. Facing Critical Shortage of PPEs. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 18, 2020 - 07:00   ET




TARAJI P. HENSON, ACTRESS: And we're in this together. I love you stay safe.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: It has some powerful words from her. Be sure to watch the Color of COVID tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. And do stay with us. Next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to get rid of the virus. We've got to open up our country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact of the matter is better going to be six feet apart right now than six feet under.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are heading towards reopening. It's coming soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't keep healthy people locked in their houses and watch the economy just go down.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You have to develop a testing capacity that does not now exist. We cannot do it without federal help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each state is different governors and people advising governors are going to have to kind of chart your own course and we're going to, we're going to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not going to be a simple up and down curved. This is going to be almost like a roller coaster that may go on for a year or two.


PAUL: I want to wish you a good morning. We are so grateful to see you. I'm Christi Paul. VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning.

PAUL: Yes, we want to start this morning with a question of when and how to start reopening the country. I think that's something that all of you are wondering as well as the coronavirus deaths in the U.S. this morning now top 37,000.

BLACKWELL: More than 706,000 known cases. The President unveiled new guidelines to help states loosen restrictions pointed out that it was the governors' decision on when and how to reopen.

PAUL: Now, there was an increase in anti-shutdown protests in several states yesterday, more are planned for the next few days as well. We should point out President Trump said that the people that are doing so are "very responsible people," and tweeted to his supporters to "liberate some states" that are led by Democratic governors.

BLACKWELL: And scientists say, get this, that at least four states may be able to loosen social distancing measures or some restrictions next month, then influential model tracking to pandemic shows that Vermont, West Virginia, Montana, Hawaii, all states with fewer than 800 cases could open in just a couple of weeks. But others say they need to wait until late June, maybe even early July.


DR. CHRIS MURRAY, ADJUST PROFESSOR, GLOBAL HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Even the earliest states, let's say Hawaii, which had a very small epidemic doesn't seem to be taking off. That's probably the first week of May that could be thinking about it. And then we're seeing states where they really shouldn't be thinking about relaxing social distancing right out into mid-June.


BLACKWELL: We've got to reporters up across the country with the latest on all of the angles of COVID-19. We're going to start at the White House. Vice President Mike Pence says there are enough coronavirus tests to reopen States under the White House guidelines. But you heard this that some Governors, some of them Republicans, they are skeptical.

PAUL: Yes, let's talk to Kristen Holmes here. She's at the White House. And Kristen, help us understand what the administration is saying, to try to explain the different differences of opinion that we're hearing about the testing and its availability.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. Well, look, we know there was a call between Governor's and President Trump on Thursday where the administration laid out the guidelines to reopen the economy.

But one thing that was missing that was critical was that testing. Now of course, Pence is saying that there are enough tests to reopen the economy. Here is why these state officials are skeptical. They have every right to be. They have been told this by the administration now for more than a month and they have not seen anything be delivered.

And I'm talking to these state officials and they really laid it out for me as to what the problem is with testing and reopening the economy. The first thing is the length of time when it comes to processing. Some of these labs that the administration is suggesting that states use, they still have a four to five-day turnaround.

These state officials are saying: we cannot bring people back into the workforce just to take them out while they wait for their test results. Now, the other part of this is supplies. Missing supplies for these tests, whether it's the chemicals or the swabs used to conduct the test. President Trump addressed this last night, take a listen to what he said.


TRUMP: 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 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 state.


HOLMES: Now, I spoke to one Republican official after these comments who said this is a very nice offer, but we're going to have to wait and see it. They've been offering this to us for weeks.


BLACKWELL: Kristen, we haven't seen much travel from the President or the Vice President of the last couple of weeks, understandably, but we know the Vice President is heading to Colorado Springs to give the commencement address in person at the Air Force Academy. And they will be the graduating cadets there. What do we know?

HOLMES: Well, according to the Air Force, they say that they're going to practice these extreme social distancing efforts that the cadets are going to be walking six feet from each other. They're going to be sitting for about 30 minutes, more than eight feet from each other.

And a source familiar says: well, they're going to hold this commencement anyway, which the Air Force says it was going to, then why wouldn't Vice President Pence attend? And it is important to note that last night President Trump made news himself when he said that he's going to be delivering the commencement speech at West Point in person when that event happens.

We still don't have a date on that. So, a very interesting thing to note there. We do know that some of those West Point cadets at least, they were already at home so they're going to be brought back for that commencement.

BLACKWELL: All right, Kristen Holmes, we'll see how that goes. Thanks so much. Let's go to California. Hundreds of protesters. They were there at Huntington Beach on Friday to protest the stay at home border in California.

PAUL: Now, majority of them support the President and the President's push to reopen the country. Here's CNN's Josh Campbell.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Social distancing, certainly not happening here in Orange County, California. We're in downtown Huntington Beach, the site of one of the many protests that have been taking place across the country, by people who are clearly unhappy with the federal government guidelines to state government, local governments that have been requesting people stay in their houses to shelter in place in order to stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. But these people here, clearly floating (ph) those recommendations.

We will move throughout the crowd, keeping our own distance, trying to maintain that six feet. But in capturing some of the moments, you see people that are embracing, they're hugging, some people that have been taking selfies shoulder to shoulder in this crowd. At my last count, there were about 250 people here that were part of this protest. Now, in looking at the signage in the crowd here, as we move throughout there clearly a lot of supporters of President Trump, Trump flags, Trump banners, a lot of campaign literature.

But also, as you survey some of the signage, you see people here that are calling this shelter in place orders unconstitutional, they're calling the socialism and they're coming out to protest that. We talked to a number of people again trying to keep our, our distance from them who say that they're simply unhappy; they're no longer going to stand for these orders that are coming from the government.

It's yet to be seen what will happen here with law enforcement. We talked to police officers as well, as well in this location. Obviously, officers behind me as this thing now draws to a close. This was a permitted event, we're told, but the law enforcement officers obviously have a Herculean job here.

They're here to enforce the peace, and when there was a permitted event, they also were here to protect not only those attending, but anyone who might be coming and going in and around this event. I talked to one officer here who said that he's just doing his job. I didn't want to go any further than that and talk about what's going on with the current COVID-19 pandemic. But you can tell just from looking at their faces and their posture here, this is not a place that they seem to want to be, but they're here doing their job.


PAUL: All right, Josh Campbell for us there. Thank you, Josh. So, there are some states that are close to being able to reopen. And then you've got places like New York that clearly are not and they need help from the federal government to coordinate a steady supply chain for those testing materials we were talking about.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN's Kristin -- Cristina Alesci, my apologies, joining us now from New York with the very latest. And we've heard from Governor Cuomo, the state cannot do the type of testing they need to move on to the next steps that would even get them close to beginning phase one and getting to two and three and so forth.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The way that the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is framing this is that New York can control the beast. In other words, the rate of hospitalization is stabilizing, and there seems to be fewer ICU admissions and intubations. But just to put this into perspective, 2000 people around the state are still walking into hospitals with COVID, and the number of deaths refusing to come down. Those are very stark words from the Governor yesterday.

Now, given all of that it seems difficult and premature to talk about New York, opening up for business again. And this is a conundrum that a lot of states across the country are facing, how do you handle the public health crisis and at the same time, get the economy back up and running. In order to do that, you need two things: the states need testing and money.

Now, in terms of testing, former CDC Director Tom Frieden telling our Sanjay Gupta that it is the federal government's responsibility to ensure that supply chain to get the swabs, to get the chemicals to the states so they can get the information on the testing side of things. They have the data to inform the decisions on how to safely reopen and that is the federal government's responsibility.

Trump is essentially putting it on the states and instead of ensuring that supply chain, he's going out fomenting divisions in Democratic states, tweeting out, you know, to liberate those states essentially suggesting that the restrictions should be lifted in those states making the jobs of the government there more difficult in terms of money. States across the country in total are asking for $500 billion from the federal government to fund their shortfalls, and to also put in place these testing measures. And this is what Andrew Cuomo had to say about that.



CUOMO: Don't ask the states to do this. It's up to the governors, up to the governors, up to the governors, OK, is there any funding so I can do these things that you want us to do? No. That is passing the buck without passing the bucks. Passing the buck, which is the opposite of the buck stops here. The buck doesn't stop here, I'm passing the buck and I'm not passing the buck. I'm not giving the financial assistance to actually perform the responsibility.


ALESCI: So, this fight over funding is going to take place over the next couple of weeks and months.

PAUL: Cristina, I want to ask you about the federal government passage of that $2 trillion in rescue funds. We know that some of that has already run out for small businesses, what do we know about what's left and what's needed?

ALESCI: That's right, that $2 trillion really is not enough at this point. And to your point, Small Business Administration has run out of funds at this point. I spoke to small businesses all of yesterday who are still waiting for that money. So, they have to top that up for sure.

But that $2 trillion, keep in mind, a very small portion of that went to the States. There's going to be that went to unemployment insurance, that went to helping the airlines and rescuing the airlines, corporate, other corporate support. The next phase of this is going to be the state funding.

So, that is going to be the next fight between the federal government and these states that need that money to reopen. Just in New York alone, if you look at the, the state shortfalls in the budget, they're just staggering. It's nothing like we've ever faced before.

The closest thing that we have to this is probably 9/11. The transit system here needs support; ridership is falling off of a cliff, obviously for because of all the social distancing restrictions. So, all of that is going to come to a head and that is what we're going to be reporting on in the weeks and months ahead.

PAUL: All right. Cristina Alesci, thank you so much. We appreciate the breakdown. There's a lot, I know, to take in every morning every night when you're reading the news. We want to make sure that we're also highlighting the people who are doing some really good work in this world, not just for people, but for animals who need our help. Look at this.

All right, listen, we're sharing with you here people in West Palm Beach there. That's the staff and volunteers who line the candles are the county's animal shelter to celebrate an empty house. The entire kennel has been cleared, thanks to adoption and foster care. This is huge! And we think so many of you who are going to be shelters.

This isn't the only one we're hearing about where people go and they help foster and they can finally get some of those animals into homes. I am a mama of rescues for the last 20 years and it's, it's just so important. So, thank you to all those people and the people who work there. It's a big responsibility.

BLACKWELL: Christi, we had the conversation in my house, this was going to be the weekend, this was going to be the one where we had we add --

PAUL: Are you going to do it.

BLACKWELL: We had the conversation. It's just closer than we've been. We've had the conversation but so many people are at home thinking, listen, I'm here, I have to be here. You have to dedicate some time; this might be it. So maybe we're getting closer. We're getting closer.

PAUL: I can't wait. I've been sharing this on for months.

BLACKWELL: Years, literally five years she's been telling me to get a dog. All right, listen, our lives have been impacted. We've been talking about this for some time, of course by the coronavirus, I'm speaking of, whether it's working from home or the kids are out of school and you're learning how to be a homeschool teacher. The face masks our interaction or lack thereof with others in public. Share with us your experiences.

How has this pandemic, this moment changed your life, your routine and maybe this is giving you a chance to reset your priorities. Christi has been using the hashtag the phrasing #TheReset, so we're going to use that too. Tweet us use the #TheReset, and we're going to share some, some of the comments we're getting in and tell you how it's changing our lives as well, throughout the show this morning.


PAUL: All right. So do stay close because nearly 80 million people receive their stimulus payments this week. Maybe you're sitting at home going well, I wasn't one of them. It doesn't mean that you're not going to get your money. When you can expect that? We're going to have that conversation. Stay close.


PAUL: Nineteen minutes past the hour right now. There's another 5.2 million Americans, 5.2 million of you, who filed for first time unemployment benefits last week. That is on top of the already 16 million people that filed for unemployment in the three weeks prior.

So, this is happening as the government loan program ran out of money for small businesses that are struggling because of shutdowns due to COVID-19 pandemic and a lot of them now are on the brink of permanently having to shut down their business.

CNN Business Correspondent Alison Kosik with us now. So, Alison, good to see you. Let's talk about what's happened just in this past four weeks here. 22 million people filing for the first-time unemployment benefits. I know that it sounds so bad, help us reconcile those numbers and why they might not reflect the entire picture.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (via Cisco Webex): Christi, good morning. You know, it's the sheer number of claims 22 million happening in such a short timeframe, literally overwhelming state unemployment systems. It means there's a huge backlog of people who are trying to get their applications through who haven't yet.

It's really mind-blowing when you consider the joblessness in this country, how quickly it's accelerated in just four weeks, one month, because of course, the forced shutdown of the economy. But 22 million people out of work. I mean, those are all people just trying to pay their bills. And at this point, Christi, economists, they already believe that we are currently in a recession. Christi. PAUL: Well, I know we've got the stimulus money from the $2 trillion economic package that started going out last weekend. There are a lot of people, millions of them actually sitting at home right now that may be watching this going: well, I didn't get my stimulus payment. What do we know about why that is and when they might get their money?

KOSIK: All good questions, you know, 80 million Americans, they've already gotten their payments this week. Another 60 million, yes, they're wondering where are our payments. There are a couple of reasons: for one, money could have gone to an old bank account the IRS sent to a bank account that's already been closed, and in that case, the IRS says payment will likely come by cheque via snail mail. Another reason, even if you file for 2018-2019 taxes, if you didn't get a refund, it doesn't necessarily mean that the IRS will get that money to you by direct deposit.

Keep in mind the IRS at has put a tool on its Web site to allow you to go on and give your banking information to try to kind of head them off at the past before they go ahead and send out checks, which by the way, those checks will go out next week. What the IRS want of doing though, is sending money to people that it could reach the fastest via direct deposit, and that's why those 80 million Americans have already received their stimulus payments, Christi.

PAUL: All right. Good to know. Great explanation. Alison Kosik, thanks for walking us through it.

KOSIK: Sure.

BLACKWELL: Into our workplaces and our restaurants and our sporting events, of course, there's the, the testing that needs to happen and the mitigation. But also let's talk about a vaccine and the researchers and doctors who are working to develop one. Coming up, we're going to speak with a doctor who is not only working on a vaccine, he and his team have created, you're looking at it a new way to deliver it.



BLACKWELL: Twenty-six minutes after the hours now. You know the doctors and researchers around the world are working on potential vaccines for the coronavirus. I want to bring in my next guest who is part of a team working to develop the vaccine, but also has this new way to administer the treatment. With me now is Dr. Louis Falo with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Doctor, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: Certainly. Let me -- I want to hold off on the delivery system and first talk about the research for the vaccine and your approach because from what I understand, you don't include an element of COVID-19 in the vaccine, what is your approach? FALO: So actually, we do include part of the new COVID-19 virus in the vaccine. But the reason that the vaccine was developed so quickly, is because one of my collaborators, Dr. Gambotto, who's a terrific scientist has worked on SARS and MERS which are the cousins of the current virus since 2003.

And so, he was well aware were the best target for this, which was the S1 protein, which you've probably heard about on the virus. And so, once the sequence of the new virus was released, we were able to take a small piece of that sequence and put it into constructs that were already made so that we could express this protein or this antigen that then became the target for the vaccine.

BLACKWELL: And since you've been doing the research for vaccines for SARS, and MERS for some time now, and we know that this, this process can take years for FDA approval for a vaccine, how far along do you expect you are and potentially ahead of other researchers?

FALO: Yes, so the good thing is, is that all everybody's working together, so it's not a matter of being ahead or behind other researchers. I think we're all kind of learning from each other and advancing these various technologies together. Right now, we're at the stage of applying for permission to start a clinical trial.

So, working with the FDA, to gain permission to get a clinical trial started, and then once that begins, as Dr. Fauci has said several times, it can take up to a year, maybe longer. Under these circumstances, there's very bright people at the FDA who are working hard to kind of facilitate this process while maintaining safety, which is extremely important. So, we hope it can be done sooner and still result in a very safe vaccine.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the delivery system because most people expect to get, you know, a needle a shot in the arm of a vaccine. But we've been showing the pictures of this clear square here, this transparent little square, what are we looking at?

FALO: Yes, so this is what's called a microneedle array. So, this delivery system is specifically designed to take advantage of the very powerful immune system that exists in your skin. So basically, what it is it's made out of sugar.


And when it's in a liquid state, we mix the protein antigen or the vaccine target in with the sugar and then solidify it. So, what you see are hundreds of small microneedles. They are about the width of a human hair, and about the length of half a millimeter. When we apply this just like a band-aid to a patient.

They're able to penetrate the outer layers of the skin. And then once they're in the skin, they very rapidly dissolve and release the antigen right in the area where this powerful immune response can be made.

BLACKWELL: And we know that, of course, the discovery of a vaccine will be something that will help the entire world, including developing countries where I know that often refrigeration is a concern and the lack of refrigeration.

Does this need to be temperature controlled? Does it need to be refrigerated?

FALO: So, this is one of the unique things about this delivery approach. There is no what we call cold chain involved. So, as you mentioned, most vaccines need to be either frozen or refrigerated from the day they're made until the day they're delivered.

This particular device -- once the antigen is in the device is stable at room temperature. So, these can be stored, shift, distributed in boxes, just like band-aids.

BLACKWELL: Dr. Louis Falo, fascinating conversation. The best to you and your team. And the teams you're working with to discover, to create this vaccine. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

FALO: Thank you very much.


PAUL: So, still ahead, the U.K. is turning to science to find the best weapon against COVID-19. There's one company working on mass-producing at home antibody test kits.

And the government's investing millions toward finding a vaccine. We have a live update for you from London, next.



PAUL: So, the growing global number of coronavirus cases and the people who died, it is still reminding us this morning that the world is still struggling to get a handle on this pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 150,000 people have died. There are more than 2.2 million cases worldwide. In Japan, the number of cases is more than 10,000 now. 557 new deaths and six deaths reported yesterday. This week, Japan extended its state of emergency through May 6th.

BLACKWELL: The United Kingdom is reporting more than 14,000 deaths, more than 100,000 cases, and that's according to Johns Hopkins. And there's a company in the U.K. that sing some promise in an antibody test. And, of course, we know that if it's reliable enough, it could tell if someone has the disease or rather had the disease, I should say, and that could help get people back to work.

PAUL: The U.K. is also focusing on the global hunt for the vaccine. Now, the British government, says it's forming a vaccine task force and investing millions of dollars to help bring vaccine to the market as soon as possible.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Nic Robertson is following this from London. Nic, let's first start with this trial from Oxford and what it's showing.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, this is an effort to figure out a way, because the government's under a huge amount of pressure about how it can safely bring the country out of the lockdown, exit from isolation if you will, and to get people back to work, to salvage the economy before it's even more affected. It's -- clearly, this is the global issue effect to many countries.

But a biotech company and Oxford believes it is -- it has a strong lead on this. The government certainly hopes it does, the government's being heavily criticized for not articulating a way out of -- you know, a way out of the lockdown strategy. Part of it clearly depends on having this test to check whether people have had the virus or not. And the government in some ways is sort of being held hostage to the science here, and the discoveries that are being made.

They found themselves caught out in the past where they've said that these kits, these test kits would be available. They were saying this a month ago. Then, they discovered that the kits that they purchase from overseas, China, in particular, were defective.

So, you know, the government is under this pressure. So, when you have a company in Oxford like this one that is very important to the government. But it's not a done deal yet, and of course, that's part of the reason why the government is putting such an effort into bringing industry, into bringing companies together, pharmaceutical companies together, academics together, as well as, as well as governments input to try to find a vaccine for the virus.

All of these critical to getting out of the lockdown.

PAUL: Nick, I know one of the big headlines there this morning in the U.K. is about this shortage in critical-- excuse me, of personal protective equipment, the PPE. We've been talking about this in the U.S., but what is the deficiency there that they're talking about now?

ROBERTSON: Yes, this is a deficiency that even the government is describing now as acute and critical. So, this weekend, there is a real risk, a genuine risk in some U.K. hospitals that they were run out of the repellant gowns that are needed in the high-intensity COVID environments -- the sort of ICU type environment.

So, these gowns, these fluid repellent gowns are absolutely vital to the safety of the doctors and nurses. And the government is saying -- is calling for what it recognizes is a compromise and an unprecedented measure.


ROBERTSON: It is saying that actually in this environment, some of those gowns will have to be washed for reuse. This never normally happens. But the government is saying this is because there is a global shortfall that they're appealing to suppliers in other countries, but they're finding -- when they're talking to other governments here in Europe, those governments as well are recommending to their own health care professionals that they also going to have to reuse the gowns.

So, in the U.K. this weekend that is a very real issue. A live issue today that the gowns that protect the doctors and nurses could run out in some hospitals.

BLACKWELL: Wow. Nic Robertson, we're hearing similar accounts around the world. Thank you so much for that report.

Let's go to Spain now. You know, like much of the world, the clubs there are closed, people are stuck at home on the weekend, but that does not stop a Friday night party.

PAUL: Did you know that your house can become a club, or at least, your balcony?

BLACKWELL: Yes, I did -- I do.

PAUL: These are people in Barcelona. Yes, Victor knows what that's like.

So, yesterday, it was the third week in a row that neighbors were together there on their balconies, well together but distant. As they were dancing and singing, some of the neighbors apparently didn't want to have anything to do with it.

Local police did interrupt the party briefly yesterday and saying now future permits are going to be needed for parties. Organizers tell Reuters, they plan to ask for a permit and they hope to be back next Friday.

Got to do what you got to do.

BLACKWELL: Yes, you got to find a way to have a few light moments. And yes, you can turn your balcony into a club.

PAUL: No, Victor knows that well.

BLACKWELL: Know for the details.

PAUL: All right. That -- we'll leave if that yes. So, Facebook -- I don't know if you've heard about this, put warning labels on 40 million posts on its platform just last month. These are posts that contained false claims about COVID-19. We're going to talk more about their efforts to combat the spread of misinformation.


ANNOUNCER: "FOOD AS FUEL" is brought to you by noom. Noom is based in psychology for lasting health and weight loss results.

PPAUL: So, during this pandemic, it's obviously important to keep your immune system strong, and diet plays a big part in that. CNN's Jacqueline Howard tells us which foods specifically help for that.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Studies have linked having good gut health with boosting your immunity. All-natural yogurts are a good source of probiotics, which can have big benefits for your gut health. Garlic can also have a powerful effect on your immune system. Garlic is a good source of a mineral called selenium, which plays a role in protecting against cell damage. Selenium can also be found in foods like broccoli, sardines, and enriched breads.

Another way to boost your body's immune system, go for bone broths. Research shows that broths like the one in chicken soup can help ease symptoms of infection. To keep your immune system strong, think zinc. Zinc can be found in seafood like oysters which are high in the mineral.

And, of course, vitamin C. Citrus fruits like oranges are full of the tried and true vitamin but it can also be found in green vegetables like spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts.


Lastly, drinking fluids, especially water can help your body flush out waste and keep its temperature normal. By staying hydrated, you're creating the optimal environment for your immune system.


BLACKWELL: Facebook says that it's trying to stop the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 more aggressively now. They put warning labels on -- but did not remove 40 million posts on its platform last month.

PAUL: Yes, this is part avenue policy that flags and removes content that could lead to "imminent physical harm". They're talking about false claims regarding cures or statements that physical distancing isn't effective.

CNN politics and technology reporter Donie O'Sullivan with us now. What do we know, Donie, and good morning to you, about the effectiveness of this?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN POLITICS AND TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Hey, Victor, and Christi. Well, when you think about this pandemic, we are all anxious, we're all looking for answers. This is really primetime for conspiracy theorists.

And world seen this type of conspiracies, at least, I know, I am from my family on Facebook, and WhatsApp, and all of the other social media platforms. So, to give you a sense of scale of this problem, Facebook announced this week that in March alone, it had put warning labels on 40 million posts that contain false or misleading information about the coronavirus.

That's on everything from conspiracy theories about how the virus began, to cures and preventative measures.

BLACKWELL: And Donie, tell us specifically about why don't they just remove them instead of labeling them with a warning?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. That's a really good question. So, what Facebook has done as -- they have essentially created two different tiers of how they evaluate misinformation on the platform.

They are removing posts that they categorize as dangerous about coronavirus. So, there is false -- you know, ridiculous claims on there about drinking bleach will cure the virus. Clearly a false statement.

They will take that down because they view that as possibly causing imminent danger to people. But I think some folks would argue that -- you know, all misinformation about the coronavirus is dangerous.

And even though they are whacking these labels onto posts about misinformation, you know, the posts are still up there. So, people are still seeing these headlines.


PAUL: So, what other kinds of misinformation is out there that they're finding, Donie?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, one sort of strand of conspiracy theory that's been out there for a few years now is about 5G technology. The news of a superfast Internet technology that's getting rolled out across America and a lot of -- a lot of the world.

Conspiracy theorists now, again, using no actual facts or reliable information, are linking 5G to the spread of the coronavirus. Now, you might say, well, that sounds ridiculous, but people are believing it.

And in the United Kingdom, they've actually been attacks on phone mass and people trying to set them on fire believed to be linked to these conspiracies. And also the staff telecom workers who are, you know, more important than ever now as we all work from home and, you know, rely on the Internet, these people, engineers, are out in the field keeping the Internet online from us, some of them are getting harassed videos of that harassment is getting posted on social media.

People asking why are you installing 5G? Why are you working for these companies? Why are you trying to spread the coronavirus? Again, all based of online lies.

BLACKWELL: All right. Donie O'Sullivan, joining us this morning. Donie, thank you so much. Stay safe.

PAUL: Thanks, Donie.

BLACKWELL: So, coming up, we'll talk with Chicago's public health commissioner about the city's response to the virus and a Cook County jail, which was once the place where there was the largest spread of COVID-19, and what they're doing to try to enforce some social distancing at that facility?

PAUL: We're also going to share with you what some of your fellow viewers are saying about how life has changed for them since the coronavirus pandemic began? And we want to hear from you too.

Tweet us, go on Instagram, Facebook. We want to know how this has changed your life and maybe what you're planning to change in the future because of it.



BLACKWELL: Well, some states approach the coronavirus peak. Other states are starting to ease up on stay-at-home restrictions. Look at this. This is a video from Jacksonville Beach yesterday. Just as the beach was reopened there in Florida.

PAUL: I mean, look at all of these people. I'm sure they were itching to get out there. We do know there are restrictions on the hours that they can be on the beach, and what they can do.

We know, at least, one woman was overjoyed to be back on the sand. Even though people were pretty close.

MISSY LOGIE, FLORIDA BEACHGOER: Fabulous, we all live on it. And I'm so -- it's been torture to be looking at it, and that free to be out here.

PAUL: Now, the city's mayor says, he's hoping this is a start of getting back to normal life. But he asked everyone to please follow the rules of social distancing, which it looks like people weren't really doing there. We're going to have more on this later, later this morning on NEW DAY.

But that's just one of those things where you look at it, and I wonder of that is how most people are going to react.


BLACKWELL: A good idea. Yes.

PAUL: If that's an illustration of what people will see and do when they get an all clear, so to speak, or even a partial clear. We are adjusting to this new way of life during the pandemic just like you are.

But we want to know how your lives have changed. So, Julie put this out there on our social pages. She said, "Social distancing has me thinking quite a bit about resetting the balance. My oldest is a senior in high school. With that, it feels like I'm transitioning from mothering young girls to emerging adult ladies. Perhaps, this at home period of time is what I've been needing, without even knowing it, to brainstorm and map out those transition goals and plans, answering, you know, what and who do I want to be during this next phase."

BLACKWELL: Yes, there are a lot of us who are being because of the stay-at-home orders forced into some conversations, forced into some moments that we need that we otherwise would not have had with our family members.

There's another one here from our viewer. "I've honored the stay-at- home but I'm now more vocal about social, racial, and economical disparities, and I am a middle-aged White woman, always liberal in my voting but not in my voice."

You know, politics aside, the good thing about statistics and numbers is that they don't lie, right?

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: That you can see what the truth has been about communities. The question is after this moment, what will any of us do about those disparities?

PAUL: Right, right. I call it the reset. Go ahead and tweet us and let us know what you are thinking about now.


PAUL: And we want to talk about these uplifting moments as well because so many people are turning to music to spread hope in these times. Including the staff at an elementary school in New York City.


MEGHAN TRAINOR, AMERICAN SINGER AND SONGWRITER: Show the room what you can do, prove to them you got the moves. I don't know about you. But I feel better when I'm dancing, yes, yes. Better when I'm dancing, yes, yes.

And we can do this together, I bet you feel better when you're dancing, yes, yes.


BLACKWELL: The school's principal says that the video is a reminder to its students that they are here for them, always thinking about them.