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NEW DAY SATURDAY
U.S. Tops 706,000 Cases As States Weigh Reopening; Trump Urges Followers To "Liberate" Three Democratic-Led States; Illinois Reports Greatest Number Of New Cases In 24-Hour Period; Ninety-Nine-Year-Old British War Vet Raises $25 Million For U.K. Hospitals; Meat Processing Plants Close Down As Workers Get Sick; Agricultural Workers, Communities Struggling As Demand Plummets. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired April 18, 2020 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to get rid of the virus, we've got to open up our country.
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): The fact of the matter is, it's better to be six feet apart right now than six feet under.
GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): 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.
TRUMP: 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 curve. This is going to be almost like a roller coaster that may go on for a year or two.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. Top of the hour now. Happy to be with you. I'm Victor Blackwell,
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. We're so grateful to have your company this morning.
BLACKWELL: Well, this morning, coronavirus deaths in the U.S. now more than 37,000. The number of cases more than 706,000. And there's one big question how - actually two, when to start reopening the country?
PAUL: Yes, the President unveiled guidelines, of course to help states loosen restrictions. He pointed out, it's up to the governors to decide when and how to reopen now.
BLACKWELL: So today, more of those anti-shutdown protests are planned after several - you see here what we saw on Friday. The President - President Trump praised those protesters as very responsible people. Tweeted out support to liberate some states led by Democratic governors.
PAUL: Scientists say at least four states may be able to loosen social distancing measures as early as next month. An influential model shows Vermont, West Virginia, Montana and Hawaii, all states with fewer than 800 cases could open in just a couple of weeks. Others may need to wait until late June or early July.
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DR. CHRIS MURRAY, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, GLOBAL HEALTH: 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.
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BLACKWELL: Now, let's start this morning's coverage at the White House where Vice President Mike Pence says that there are enough coronavirus tests to reopen states under the White House guidelines. Some Governors, though, and some of them Republicans, they are skeptical.
PAUL: Yes. CNN Kristen Holmes joins us now from the White House. So help us understand the President's messaging - the administration's messaging here when you're hearing one thing from the Vice President and another thing from some of these governors who are on the ground.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. Well, that's right. And this is really not new in the sense that the administration has long promised that there are enough tests. It was over a month and a half ago that President Trump stood at the CDC and said that everyone who wanted to test could have one, and of course, we know that that is not true.
Now these governors and state officials break it down in two parts. They say one of the big issues is length of time to get the test back. Some of these labs that the administration is pointing for these governors, for the state officials to use, they're still taking four to five days.
Now these officials tell me, that's too long. If you reopen the economy, then to pull someone back out of the workforce for four to five days, while they wait for results that defeats the purpose.
And the other big problem is supplies. Some of these test kits are missing a lot of the chemicals that called reagents that are needed to conduct the test. The other thing is those swabs, many of them are in a shortage right now. Now President Trump addressed this last night. He said that they're
going to be sending millions of swabs to the states this week. Now, one Republican official tells me, essentially, we'll believe it when we see it.
BLACKWELL: Kristen, let me ask you about the President's tweets, liberating Virginia, liberate Minnesota, liberate Michigan. He tried to defend them. How?
HOLMES: Well, essentially, he said that these were peaceful protesters. That he agreed that some of these state guidelines were just too strict. And I want to talk about the states that he targeted all of them with Democratic governors, all of them who had a strict social distancing measures in place. And we should note that many of these protesters seem to be President Trump supporters. They're wearing MAGA hats, waving Trump flags.
And President Trump did take it a step further with the Governor of Virginia. In his tweet, he said "Liberate Virginia" and then he said, "Save your great Second Amendment. It's under siege!" Talking about something that Northam had signed, which was an Extreme Risk Protective Order. Essentially, that there could be temporary removal of firearms for people who were deemed risk to themselves or others.
Now listen to how President Trump one defended himself and what the Governor of Virginia had to say in response.
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TRUMP: If you take a look at what's going on in Virginia, they want to take away a second amendment rights and that's what they want to do. So when you talk about liberate or if you talk about a liberation, you could certainly look at Virginia as one.
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): I would just simply say that, as the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I along with this staff is fighting a biological war. I do not have time to involve myself in Twitter wars.
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HOLMES: And two things to make clear here. One, they are not trying to take away the second amendment here, it is not under siege. This has been done in 19 other states. But the other thing to note is that this is a time where there is severe discord between Democrats and Republicans. There is a lot of anxiety about reopening the economy. And it seems as though he is trying to really sow more confusion and anxiety ahead of this.
BLACKWELL: Kristen Holmes for us here at the White House. Thank you, Kristen.
PAUL: So as we said, there are some states close to being able to reopen, but then you've got states like New York that is not so. They need help actually from the federal government to coordinate this steady supply chain for protesting materials.
BLACKWELL: CNN's Cristina Alesci is with us from New York. Christina, give us an idea of the situation. And the way that the governor is framing, getting back to some type of normalcy and what he needs from the government - federal Government.
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he is describing the situation in New York as the state is controlling the beat. So we've seen hospital rates, for example, stabilize. We've seen ICU admission stabilize. We've seen intubation stabilize.
But just to put this into perspective, 2,000 people across the state are still walking into hospitals with COVID. That is just still a staggering amount of people. And in terms of the death numbers, they are not coming down, that is something that the governor is highlighting at each one of his press conference. It's really a gut punch, and really sad for New York, specifically.
So it does feel premature for New York to have these discussions about reopening the economy. But here's the thing. New York, like other states across the country, really have to balance managing this health crisis, this pandemic, with the need to reopen and get the economy back up and running.
And in order for that to happen states across the country need two things. They need testing, and they need money. Now on the testing front, former CDC Director Tom Frieden telling our Sanjay Gupta that it is the federal government's responsibility to make sure the supply chain is working so that the swabs, the chemicals are getting to the states and giving the states the information that they need to inform the decisions on how to reopen. That's what's so critical about the testing.
Now, Trump is putting that responsibility on the states and worse, he's making it more difficult for some governors, as you guys have been reporting all morning in Democratic states to control the situation by fomenting division and tweeting out, the states should - essentially suggesting that they should relax those restrictions on the money front, in terms of money. States are asking for $500 billion worth of funds to mitigate the shortfalls that they're seeing in their state budget. And here's what Governor Cuomo had to say about that.
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A. 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 bucks. I'm not giving the financial assistance to actually perform the responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ALESCI: Whether or not Congress or the President likes it, more
funding is going to have to go to the states if we want to see the economy of all of these states get better and therefore the national economy to get better.
PAUL: All right, Cristina Alesci, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Let's go to Illinois now were the governor says that yesterday - the state announced rather yesterday that the state saw the greatest number of new cases in a single day, and Chicago is one of the areas hardest hit in the state.
Illinois's leaders - city leaders as well, they say that they're focused on expanding testing, contact tracing identifying treatments. The City of Chicago is also facing the significant impact the virus is having on specific populations, African-Americans, homeless immigrant youth, city shelters, focusing on some challenges as well, Cook County Jail.
Let's bring in now an official there from the City of Chicago, Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Allison. Doctor, good morning to you.
BLACKWELL: So the latest numbers we have here from the city, 11,383 known cases in Chicago 461 deaths. How close do your models predict that Chicago is to its peak of new cases?
DR. ALLISON ARWADY, COMMISSIONER, CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Well, we've definitely been flattening our curve. We've gone from a point where you look a few weeks ago, we were seeing cases double every 2, 3, 4 days. We're at a point now where we're seeing them double every 12 days, maybe even getting a little flatter, but we are still on the way up.
So what we're really expecting over the next few weeks to start to see that - stop talking about doubling, start to go to flattening, and then obviously, we need to make sure that that rate of increase is really going down before we can talk really seriously about reopening things.
BLACKWELL: So the first few patients have now been admitted to the field hospital at McCormick Place, this huge convention center with a guest 3,000 beds potentially for COVID-19 patients. We've seen like use of Javits Center and the Comfort in New York. What are your latest numbers, pretend for hospital capacity there and the need for those thousands of beds at McCormick Place?
ARWADY: Yes, well, our greatest hope is that we will not need significant use of McCormick. Of course that is all dependent on how well we do on flattening the curve, because that has to do with our hospital capacity.
Our hospital ICUs across Chicago here they've had to flex. They certainly are using ICU beds and spaces, for example, in the pediatric ICU or the neurologic ICU, they wouldn't otherwise. But we have about 25 percent of our ICU beds available. We've put additional ventilators into the system, but we have about 50 percent of our ventilators available across the system. So - in our hospital beds, we have hundreds available still.
So as long as we manage to keep our curve where it is, we don't see significant more spike and we see flattening, we do expect, crossing our fingers that we will be able to maintain the health system capacity. And if we do that - McCormick (Technical Difficultly) serious, large scale way, but we're going to keep ready. We're not we're not stopping in terms of making sure we're prepared there. Obviously, a lot could change. But we're feeling much, much better than we were just a few weeks ago.
BLACKWELL: So let me ask you about the racial disparities there. Black people in Chicago making up 30 percent of the population - latest census number, 40 percent - 47 percent of the cases, almost 60 percent of the deaths. What is the city doing? I'm talking targeted help, increased testing resources for communities of color that are losing people at this disproportionate rate.
ARWADY: Yes, all of the above. So this has been - it was a major priority at the Chicago Department of Public Health even before COVID. Our whole focus for the next five years was on closing the black/white life expectancy - (Technical Difficultly) almost nine years here in Chicago.
Half of that gap was due to chronic diseases at baseline: diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, smoking related disease. And so what we're seeing with COVID here is that you know, really, here very quickly, you're seeing a lot of those underlying inequities.
So we have here we started something called race equity rapid response teams, where we're pairing some of the public health, basic contract testing work with community based organizations, really making sure we're getting information out to people who may be on the other side of the digital divide, making sure we're - making - wherever we're seeing cases, driving testing to those locations.
But making sure that we're thinking about the whole community and using the expertise of people in community who knows best how to get information out how to reach people who may still not be getting the support that they need. We know there can often be economic inequities, of course, that overlays some of the racial inequities. So we're really taking this as our North Star as we are planning our whole response here.
BLACKWELL: Yes, there's certainly a lot of overlapping there that must be addressed. The Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, thank you so much for your time and good luck to you.
ARWADY: Thank you.
PAUL: So these are challenging times. Of course we can tell just by that conversation and there's so much good that's being done to help people who are in need. That good has no age limit. And I want to introduce you to a British war veteran Captain Tom Moore.
Look at him here. He's 99 years old. He turns 100 later this month, happy early birthday to him. He wanted to raise $1,000 for the U.K.'s National Health Service, so he decided to walk 100 laps of his garden.
BLACKWELL: And in just a few weeks, he ended up raising 20 million pounds, that's more than $25 million
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CAPTAIN TOM MOORE, BRITISH ARMY VETERAN: It is absolutely fantastic sum of money. It's unbelievable that people will be so kind.
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BLACKWELL: So the money raised will go to medical workers, volunteers, patients affected by coronavirus there in the U.K. Excellent work.
PAUL: That is one determined man. Yes, no doubt. Thank you, Captain for your service, of course.
Quick heads up for you next hour. Michael Smerconish is going to be joined by Senator Amy Klobuchar to help him navigate the - help you actually navigate the politics of the lockdown and when America could start reopening. That is a continuing conversation here. Senator Amy Klobuchar next hour 9:00 am. Eastern on Smerconish.
BLACKWELL: And still to come, the doctors and researchers who are trying to develop this potential vaccine for COVID-19, the director for one of the labs that will begin clinical trials this fall will join us ahead.
PAUL: Also several workers have died from coronavirus at a Tyson food plant in Georgia. There concerns about safety at America's meat processing plants now.
PAUL: So there is growing concern this morning about the safety of workers at food processing plants across the country.
BLACKWELL: Plants have closed because of coronavirus outbreak. Several workers have died. Hundreds of workers have tested positive for the virus. Let's bring in CNN's Natasha Chen now. Natasha, how big of a problem are we talking?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor and Christi we know of about 10 meat processing plants across the country that we know of that have shut down thus far because of these outbreaks. We're talking hundreds of employees and some who have died at various facilities that process beef, pork, poultry. And you can imagine, prior to the pandemic, the normal operations of a place like that would involve people standing close together, processing the meat. The unions tell us that in order to clean off excess animal fluids and blood that - off their clothes, the place to change clothes and shower, those are tight spaces.
And so now we're dealing with a lot of these companies trying very hard to implement steps to protect their workers. While some have closed some, though, have decided to stay open. And - for example, in Waterloo, Iowa yesterday, more than two dozen local and state officials wrote a letter to Tyson Foods asking them to close their Waterloo facility, because of what they see as an outbreak there. Let's show you what the mayor of Waterloo told CNN.
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MAYOR QUENTIN HART (D) WATERLOO, IOWA: In most instances, they are the least respected. And so I think it's imperative, I think it's important that we ensure that those that are doing so much providing food for us, helping Iowa as an aggregate agricultural base and to make sure that we give them all the support and make sure that every condition that they're working in is the same condition that we would want to work in ourselves.
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CHEN: And the only person who can force a shutdown of a plant is the Iowa governor there. She says that she's spoke with Tyson Foods on Thursday evening about the steps they're taking. For example, requiring people to wear masks at the facility, distancing where they can, taking temperature scans. But of course, some there feel that's too little too late.
And this is just one example of what's happening in various facilities across the country with similar problems. And one of the ways that they are trying to get a handle on this is also to test all their employees, if possible.
For example, for the Waterloo situation, the governor of Iowa, says that there are thousands of tests being sent to the facility as well as clinics in the Waterloo area. Other places are trying to do some contact tracing to try and get a handle on this.
But, of course, every day the numbers keep rising of the number of employees that have gotten sick and unfortunately some who have died. Christi and Victor, back to you.
PAUL: All right, Natasha Chen, we appreciate the report. Thank you.
Now, look, their work keeps food on America's tables. Now, we're talking about the farming communities here across the country, because they're facing their own coronavirus crisis as well.
BLACKWELL: And CNN's Paul Vercammen reports. Paul.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Agribusiness communities throughout California is suffering unemployment now 5.3 percent. This is Santa Paula population 30,000. And at this Food Share event, everybody driving up to get a box of free food and a bag of produce. And the people Food Share of Ventura County, saying they're seeing a lot of new faces, people who never before needed that helping hand.
MONICA WHITE, CEO AND PRESIDENT, FOOD SHARE VENTURA COUNTY: It's worked furloughs, it's reduced hours, it's actually losing their job. You know, it's a combination of all of those that is causing people to have to go out and wait in line to be able to get their food.
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JASMINE HERNANDEZ, FURLOUGHED: I work out the Santa Paula Unified School District. And so I work for the after school program. Since the kids aren't in school, I'm not in school. And since the kids aren't back in school, I probably won't be back till August.
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VERCAMMEN (voice-over): And then the growers here in this county, they say people are just not demanding their produce, not the restaurants and not the stores. We came upon one farmer who basically had to just hack up a bunch of celery and leave it in the field, because there was no one to buy it.
SCOTT DEARDORFF, OWNER, DEARDORFF FAMILY FARMS: It's not going in the garbage, it's going back into the ground, which puts some nutrients back in the ground. But it's a very expensive way to do that.
Because of the decrease in demand we're only harvesting a few days a week just to cut to order and special orders for customers that already have contracts with us. So consequently our employees are working less hours and less days.
RENE GUZMAN, WORK STOPPED DUE TO COVID-19 CRISIS: I'm married. I got three kids. So it's been kind of like hard for us to provide like some food. Yes, because we have some bills to pay. We have to pay the rent.
VERCAMMEN: Food Share here at Ventura County says they are in this for a long haul, but the numbers are unprecedented. The money they need to raise, the most ever. The people coming through these lines, also the most ever. When will it end? That is still anyone's guess. So in the meantime, they continue to try to feed anybody who needs that box of food. Back to you now Christi, Victor
BLACKWELL: Paul Vercammen for us there. Paul showing us just some of the - the millions of people who are without work. Historic levels of unemployment.
But Walmart, they're undergoing this massive wave of hiring to keep up with demand. The store says that it brought on 150,000 new workers in the last few weeks, and now it says it's looking to hire another 50,000. The new hires will serve in temporary or part time positions in some of the important areas: fulfillment and the distribution centers.
PAUL: And do stay with us, because researchers around the world, as you know, are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Well, the director for one of the labs that created a possible vaccine is with us next.
PAUL: Doctors and researchers around the world are racing right now to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The Center for Virology and Vaccine Research created a vaccine in collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals. They plan to launch clinical trials this fall.
Now, this lab was able to work so quickly on this particular method, because it's spent the last 15 years working on HIV and Zika. Well, Dr. Baruch, the Director of that lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is with us now. Doctor thank you so much. We appreciate you taking the time to be with us this morning. He's also, by the way, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
So first of all, I wanted to ask you, I know that your lab developed and collaborated this. How many vaccine strategies have you crafted? I understand there's one that might be looking at DNA - that may be DNA based. There's another one that may be age specific. So does that mean that there's a possibility there will be a vaccine, a different kind of vaccine for different people?
DR. DAN BAROUCH, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VIROLOGY & VACCINE RESEARCH, BETH ISRAEL DEACONESS MEDICAL CENTER: Well, thank you, Christi. It's good to be here. Our group has been working on vaccine development for a variety of different viruses over the last 15 years, including HIV, Zika and now COVID-19.
The hope is to have a vaccine that will be universally applicable, that could be used for all populations, because that would be the simplest way of ending the pandemic.
PAUL: So I want to get into what people should expect. Do you anticipate that this would be a vaccine similar to say an annual flu vaccine or is this the something where you would get a shot and you'd be OK for a while?
BAROUCH: It's really not known yet. We only have been researching this virus for the last three months. So there's a lot more that we don't know about this virus. For example, we don't know how quickly it might change, how quickly it might evolve or develop mutations.
We know for influenza that we need a new vaccine every year. So the hope is that that won't be needed for COVID-19. But we really don't know. We'll have to see how the virus evolves and how the science develops over the next six or 12 months.
PAUL: So based on what you've done so far, Doctor, what stands out to you about this virus? BAROUCH: This virus has unprecedented explosive spread as well as asymptomatic spread. So the development and implementation of a vaccine might be needed to end this pandemic.
PAUL: You mentioned or we've reported that clinical trials are planned to launch in the fall. What is the protocol for that? What does it - what does that look like and who might be eligible?
BAROUCH: Well, there are many different vaccine approaches that are being developed. The WHO estimates more than 70 different vaccine programs are currently active. Some are already in clinical trials. Some will start clinical trials later this year.
Our collaboration with J&J will start clinical trials in September, if not before. And the goal is then to ramp up very quickly after that. The first clinical trials involved small numbers of patients really to establish safety and also to make sure that the vaccine induces the types of immune responses that we think are important for protection. Then the larger scale trials, which will hopefully start very quickly after the first studies will then be designed in a much larger scale to show efficacy.
PAUL: I want to listen with you to Dr. Robert Gallo. He's one of the scientists credited with discovering HIV. He developed the first antibody test for that. He's working on short term solution until the vaccine is ready. He wants to repurpose the oral polio vaccine. Let's listen to what he was saying about that.
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DR. ROBERT GALLO, CO-FOUNDER &INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC ADVISER, GLOBAL VIRUS NETWORK: So this is not antibody. This is not killer T cells. This is not specific for a protein. It includes things like you've heard of interferon, for example.
It's your immediate reaction that says, Wow, I sense an RNA molecule. The virus has genetic information that shouldn't be here. And they trigger a lot of reactivity that can block the virus at the gate. I think it could be really a major help. And I think we got to get it out there fast.
We hope everything will happen in weeks, not months. And then it'll come out very quickly. It's really safe. So let me emphasize that. It should not have side effects of some of the potent drugs or other things that are still experimental.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So Dr. Barouch, do you believe that the oral polio vaccine is an answer to perhaps slowing down this virus.
BAROUCH: So there is an area of science that involves immediate immunity also called innate immunity and investigators are trying different paths to achieve that. For example, Dr. Gallo's discussion of the polio vaccine, others are looking at the tuberculosis vaccine BCG, as to whether that might provide some immediate help.
We don't know the answer to that yet. But it's likely a durable permanent solution will be a vaccine that's specific for COVID-19. But if there is something up in the interim, in the short term, then it should be studied.
PAUL: There might be a lot of people watching this thinking, you know, you have worked so hard for the last 15 years trying to find a vaccine for HIV and the vaccine hasn't been found yet. How confident are you that a viable vaccine will be found for this?
BAROUCH: There are many uncertainties for vaccine development, and certainly no vaccine program is guaranteed to be successful. However, for COVID-19, we're cautiously optimistic that a vaccine will be technically successful, or rather technically possible.
for HIV. There's many features of that virus that are unprecedented in the history of vaccinology, such as the extreme virus variability, as well as its ability to integrate in the host genome. Those features are not present for COVID-19. So we believe that COVID-19 is a very different type of virus for - as a vaccine target compared with HIV.
PAUL: OK, very interesting. Dr. Dan Barouch, thank you for the work you're doing and thank you so much for taking time to explain more of it to us. Best of luck to you and your team.
BAROUCH: Thank you very much.
BLACKWELL: and we'll join Don Lemon and Van Jones tonight for an important conversation about how coronavirus is affecting communities of color. Here's a look ahead.
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MAGIC JOHNSON, AMERICAN BASKETBALL PLAYER: Hi, this is Magic Johnson. As African-Americans, we need to know, and this is so important that I get this across to blacks all across this country that in Detroit, we're dying. Seventy percent of the people who are dying are black people, African-Americans. Chicago, the same number. The same number are dying in Chicago.
Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, African-American side leading in death from the coronavirus. So it's anything I can tell you, we got to do what we're supposed to do. Stay at home, social distancing. You can't have car parties. You can't have parties at all. You can't have gatherings at all. You must stay at home and practice social distancing.
This is killing our community - this virus. People were saying in the beginning, oh, blacks couldn't get it. That was so wrong. That was the wrong message. Stay at home, educate yourself on this virus and also pray a lot that things would change dealing with just coronavirus in the black community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: See how much his heart is in this there. Be sure to watch "The Color of COVID" it is tonight at 10:00 pm Eastern right here on CNN.
BLACKWELL: France's President warns that the EU could be on the brink of financial ruin. A live report from France next.
PAUL: There is a stark warning for the European Union from French President Emmanuel Macron. He says the E.U. is facing quote a "moment of truth" as it deals with the devastating financial crisis that's been brought on by the pandemic.
BLACKWELL: So far more than 18,000 people in France have died from coronavirus. Let's go to Bordeaux now, CNN Correspondent Melissa Bell is with us.
Melissa, what can you tell us about this plea from Macron?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was an extremely stark warning essentially, that if Europe doesn't get its act together on this and manage to show some solidarity with regard to dealing with the fallout of COVID-19, that essentially it's going to be the end of the European project.
Now, what we're going to see, Victor, are populace coming to power in so many European countries, especially those in the south that have been so hard to hit - countries like Italy, for instance, and Spain.
Now, what we're seeing is essentially a replay in terms of the markets what we saw a decade ago with the sovereign debt crisis, which is that those southern countries that have been extremely hard hit, their treasury bonds were essentially - they've seen a sell off this week because of doubts that investors have that the governments can pay for those mounting debts that they're going to have as a result of helping bailout their economies.
The yields between Southern European bonds and German bonds, for instance, widening, and that crisis once again facing the European Union. Now at the time a decade ago, the idea had been the center must pay. The Northern European countries cannot be responsible for paying the debt of the Southern European countries.
This time Emmanuel Macron is essentially saying, look, this is very different. The whole of Europe, however liberal the economies are, are simply having to bail themselves out. That means nationalizing wages, it means nationalizing things like the financial accounts of companies. Europe has to get together at this stage and create this fund, a 400-billion-euro fund to help all of its economies get over this crisis, which is nowhere near finished yet.
We'll know next week when European leaders meet whether they're going to be on board or not. So far resistance from Germany and the Netherlands. What he's saying is look, this is make or break for the E.U. If we fail on this front, if we don't get to and help those weaker economies, there simply will be no more European Union going forward, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Melissa Bell for there in Bordeaux. Melissa, thank you.
PAUL: Thank you, Melissa. I want to take you to Italy now because there's a violinist who performed from the roof of a hospital. This is in hard hit province of Cremona this week. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Just an appropriate tribute respite for a city known for its crafting of violins. Cremona was an early epicenter of the virus with more than 5,000 cases. The hospital hopes that this rooftop concert will lift some spirits, yes, but also raise money for local charities. And if we continue this video, you can see people looking out the windows, the doctor's watching and listening just for that moment of relief.
PAUL: I think that is what is the most profound moment. I mean, her playing is certainly gorgeous, but to see how it just stops everybody, because they need something more than what they are seeing on a consistent basis in their life in that hospital, what they're dealing with.
I mean, look at this, it's just - it's so illustrative of the fact that it's these little moments that really matter most and we can find them if we look for them in every aspect of where we are and what we're doing.
BLACKWELL: It's just beautiful. Everybody needs just a few seconds, just a few next seconds to exhale.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: So let's talk about what we don't have the sports that most people would be watching in tough times. Professional sports, most of them are on hold. We don't know when the NBA will start playing again. But we do have a start date for the Pro Golf Tour.
BLACKWELL: So the Commissioner of the NBA says looking ahead to the rest of the season it could be months before they play a game again if they're played at all.
PAUL: He says that he wants the NBA to be part of the healing process. But, Coy, how do you make that happen right now? OK, we just lost Coy. We're going to go through some of Coy's scripts I think here - never mind we got him. They so don't want us to read these scripts, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Who loves work from home? COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, listen, everybody we're just tried to deal with the medical difficulties--
BLACKWELL: Yes, sir.
PAUL: I know.
WIRE: Now listen, the NBA Playoffs were supposed to start today. I would have been begging, Victor, to come watch one of the games with me. But just yesterday, Commissioner Adam Silver he was showing his frustration over not being able to say when or even if the season will restart at all. He says that still the safety of the players and fans is paramount. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER (via telephone): Everything is on the table. I mean, it's clear that if we were to resume play, we're looking at going significantly later than June, which is historically when our season and draft would have been completed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Now, Silver was on President Donald Trump's phone call with commissioners of the U.S. major sports leagues just last week, and that included a PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, and on Thursday, remember, golf became the first major U.S. sport to announce a return or come back date, its June 11th. Fort Worth Texas. Monahan telling our Andy Scholes it's been eye opening to see how important sports can be in helping a country heal. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY MONAHAN, PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER: The fact that we can potentially serve to help in that regard and do so in the coming months is something that's very inspiring, not just for the PGA Tour, but for every other sports organization. Sport is the ultimate source of inspiration. It's something everybody can relate to, and particularly with our game
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: All right now moving on the WNBA. Taking time last night to honor the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gigi and her teammates entered the league's draft last night, making Gigi along with her teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester honorary draft picks. It was a special moment.
Now the league also unveiled the Kobe and Gigi Advocacy Award, which is going to honor those who help grow women's basketball. Just minutes after that the draft got started, Oregon's superstar Sabrina Ionescu drafted #1 overall by the New York Liberty, she was a mentee of Kobe and she says that she wants to help carry his legacy forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SABRINA IONESCU, FIRST PICK IN WNBA DRAFT: He would be happy and proud
and he's looking down smiling on me and all of us right now. And so just super proud and happy to be able to be a professional and it's something that we trained for and talked about for a really long time. And so I'm just happy to take on that Mamba mentality into the next phase of my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: And she will do that. Good luck moving forward. Now Kobe's widow Vanessa posting photos of Sabrina, Gigi and Kobe, congratulating Ionescu on her dream of turning pro, becoming a reality.
BLACKWELL: Coy, thank you so much. In just a few hours - actually one hour from now we'll discuss the search for a COVID-19 antibody test. Just how long before one is approved, for at home use, so reliable one.
PAUL: First, though, Senator Amy Klobuchar is joining Michael Smerconish to talk about restarting the economy, easing these restrictions. That's coming up next. We'll see you again at 10:00 Stay close.