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Governors Dispute White House Claim Of Adequate Coronavirus Testing; More than 1,300 Ohio Inmates Test Positive For Coronavirus; U.K. PM Under Fire For Handling Of Outbreak; Negotiators Working Out Details Of New $310B Small Business Deal; Demonstrators Ignore Restrictions To Protest Stay-At-Home Orders; Florida Sports Clothing Company Switches To Making Masks. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 19, 2020 - 14:00 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 Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin in Washington where White House and Capitol Hill leaders now say a deal on a small business loan package may be done as early as today. The proposed plan calls for an extra $310 billion into the Paycheck Protection Plan for small businesses. Funds from the initial $350 billion emergency coronavirus relief package ran out within weeks.
Here's Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I'm hopeful. I think we're very close to a deal today and I'm hopeful that we can get that done.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think we're very close to agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now from the White House. So Jeremy -- how close is this deal to being finalized?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: well, if you listen to the secretary Mnuchin, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer it seems like they are on the 10- yard line here of actually getting this agreement.
And Secretary Mnuchin also talked about the timeline for actually getting this passed by both Houses and implement it and he says that this could be on the President's desk by the middle of the week. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MNUCHIN: I'm hopeful that we can reach an agreement that the Senate can pass this tomorrow and that the House can take it up on Tuesday and on Wednesday we'd be back up and running.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: And now this has been the result of more than a week of negotiations between Democratic lawmakers and the White House. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has been leading those. And it looks like what the results will be is that there will be about $310 billion for this Payroll Protection Program. Another $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for testing.
Those last two items are something that Democrats were pushing for and earlier in the week Republicans were criticizing them for not just passing this Payroll Protection Program just straight with nothing additional.
This is what they were pushing for and now it appears that it will be in the bill. One item that will not be in the bill, though, it appears, is the $150 billion for state and local governments that Democrats were pushing for. Mnuchin though this morning indicating that that could be included in any future measures passed by Congress.
WHITFIELD: And Jeremy -- we heard from New York Governor Cuomo who says federal funding, you know, is the key to helping them do the best they can for their states. The President had some comments about that yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They don't want to use all of the capacity that we've created. We have tremendous capacity. Dr. Birx will be explaining that. They know that, the governors know that. The Democrat governors know that. They're the ones that are complaining.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: That's right. And what we have also seen is that the governors have pushed back on what the President is saying. The President keeps trying to shift blame on to these governors when in reality what these governors are saying is it's not they don't want to use the capacity, it's not that they are unable to use the capacity but because they are missing critical items in order to conduct these tests. Listen to some of these governors speaking about just that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): I think this is probably the number one problem in America, and has been from the beginning of this crisis -- the lack of testing. The administration, I think, is trying to ramp up testing. Trying -- they are doing some things with respect to private labs, but to try to push this off to say that the governors have plenty of testing and they should just get to work on testing, somehow we aren't doing our job, is just absolutely false. JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The President and the Vice President are saying
over the past few days that the U.S. has enough testing capacity for states to begin opening back up, if you feel you're ready to go into phase one.
that the case in Virginia? Do you have enough tests to do the tests you need to do?
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): Jake -- that's just delusional to be making statements like that. We have been fighting every day for PPE and we've got some supplies now coming in. We've been fighting for testing. It's not a straightforward test. We don't even have enough swabs, believe it or not, and we're ramping that up.
But for the national level to say that we have what we need and really to have no guidance to the state levels is just irresponsible because we're not there yet.
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): It would be nice if we had a national strategy that was working with the states so every state knew precisely what was coming in. But at the end of the day, you know, we governors are doing the best we can with what we've got. We could use some assistance, though, to make sure that those supply chain issues are addressed, and we can do the robust testing that every epidemiologist in our country tells you is absolutely essential as we prepare to think about reengaging sectors of our economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: And as you can see Fredricka -- there is a unified and coherent message from these governors both Democrats and Republicans which is that they need help from the federal government in order to scale up testing to the point where they can begin to reopen their states' economies.
DIAMOND: Of course, the message that we have heard from the President not only just blaming those governors and suggesting that it's only Democrats who are having these problems, but also he's been willing to claim credit in the past for successes in testing improvements. But now, of course, he says it's the governors' responsibility to ramp up the testing further -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond -- thank you so much from the White House.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also addressed that matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So it sounds as though there's going to be enough money for testing, money for hospitals, money for small businesses, but it doesn't sound like state and local government funding will be in this bill at the very least? MNUCHIN: The President has heard from the governors and he's prepared
to discuss that in the next bill. Right now we have a lot of money that we're distributing to the states. We have $150 billion that we've distributed half. We'll distribute the other half and the President is willing to consider that in the next bill but wants to get this over the finish line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is in New York. So we heard the governor earlier talking about the need for federal funding. Is that answer going to be enough for -- to meet his concerns?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi -- Fred from what is actually a beautiful spring day in New York City today.
The governor mentioned in his press conference today that look, one of the most future-focused press conferences from the governor we've had since this crisis began. He's antsy (ph) to move on to the next phase. He's talking about how maybe the peak has come, maybe we can start talking about the future.
But in order to do it -- in order to move this state, which still remains the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic here, into the next level, he needs to increase testing. And he needs increased capacity for testing and he said it's something he cannot do without dollars from Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: If you don't help the state government and local government then how are we supposed to have the finances to reopen? And if you don't give state and local governments support, you know, we're the ones who support the schools. We support the police. We support the fire. We support the hospital workers. We support the transit workers.
So if you starve state and local government, all that means is, we have to turn around and reduce funding to the people who we are funding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So this is the bottom line of all of this, according to the Governor. Basically, he's saying that the state, which has been hit just like everywhere else, needs an influx of money to help to get itself up and ready to reopen.
That's the kind of conversation that we've been having about businesses, we've been having about other places across the country. And Cuomo has been saying for weeks and weeks and weeks now that he needs some of that focus to be on state governments and local governments.
You heard Secretary of the Treasury saying maybe that's something for the next bill. The Governor saying, we can't do the reopening that needs to be done until we become some of that focus, too -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much.
All right. More than 1,300 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus at three separate facilities along with more than 100 staff members. This as we're learning at least one of those workers has now died.
CNN's Omar Jimenez joining me with more on this. Omar -- what more do we know about these outbreaks? That's a huge number -- 1,300 inmates.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is. That number exploded just in a matter of days -- Fred. These three facilities are within the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. And the most significant outbreak at least so far seems to be out of the Marion Correctional Facility just north of Columbus.
Now there they had a slight uptick in cases and they made the decision to test everybody -- staff members and inmates on Thursday. And we are now starting to see some of those results. As those results come back more than 1,000 inmates at that single facility have tested positive.
And keep in mind, the total population there is 2,500 -- so that's almost half. And then as you touched on earlier more than a hundred staff members tested positive along with one staff member who died.
Now, the numbers, as shocking as they may be, aren't the full piece of this story. Another part of it comes from how these cases are spreading. For example, one of the dorms at that Marion Correctional Facility holds around 150 inmates. While 60 of them tested positive, and according to officials there, all 60 were asymptomatic, which is part of why the state and the correctional facilities there have sent in sanitation crews to deep clean some of these public space areas within that -- within the jails there. And then also cut down on visitation and even cut down on mealtimes as well. Again, to reduce the amount of time that inmates are spending in close proximity together.
And keep in mind, these aren't just issues that are unique to the Ohio correctional system, these are issues we are seeing in jails and prisons across the country.
JIMENEZ: Chicago's Cook County jail, at one point, the jail had the largest single known source for coronavirus infections in the country and they've released almost a fourth of their entire population as a precaution for it. And here's Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx explaining some of the reasoning behind doing that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIMBERLY FOXX, COOK COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY: We want to make sure that we're creating conditions whereby people who don't need to be there aren't there and the people who are there have optimal conditions for their health and safety. (END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: And some of the exact inmates they've tried to focus on are those that are low-level non-violent offenders, again, to just try and cut down on the proximity that inmates are sometimes forced to be in -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Omar Jimenez, thank you so much for that.
All right. A key health official on the White House coronavirus task force says it's unclear how long immunity lasts for those who have recovered from the virus. For most infectious diseases, those who recover usually develop antibodies that often lead to immunities.
But today, Dr. Deborah Birx says more tests are needed to see if that's the case with coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: That's why these studies that are going on with plasma and giving plasma to sick patients to really see if that antibody confers protective immunity and how city individuals who if helps the individual who is sick as well as really doing studies with vaccines, and looking, seeing whether the antibodies that are produced are effective.
These are questions that we still have scientifically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Megan Ranney is an emergency room physician and associate professional at Brown University Medical School. Dr. Ranney -- good to see you.
DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Thank you for having me on today.
WHITFIELD: So what's your reaction to that? I think there's been great hope out there that if you, you know, have had coronavirus, you have developed a certain immunity, but Dr. Birx said still unclear?
RANNEY: You know, I'm really glad that Dr. Birx acknowledged this area of uncertainty today. A lot of us in the scientific community and on the front lines of medicine are still wondering whether or not we and our patients are going to develop immunity to this novel coronavirus.
Now, to take it back a step, there are really these two types of tests. Right? There's the testing for if you're actively infected that measures little bits of virus in your body, and then there are the tests that Dr. Birx was talking about today.
Those are usually blood tests and they measure whether your body has mounted a response to the virus, and whether it's going to stay protected from the virus. If you're going to be able to fight it off, if you're exposed a second time. This is really important, because if we have immunity, then we can put people back out into work and know that they're not going to get sick. If we're not developing immunity, if we're exposed to this virus and don't develop those antibodies, it means that we can't go back to work. It means that vaccines may not work and it means that we as a country have to prepare for a really different course going forward in our fight against COVID-19.
WHITFIELD: So Dr. Ranney, if a member of the task force is saying that it's still unclear, yet the same task force is also saying, ok. Let's soon get back to work. I mean, can you have it both ways?
RANNEY: No. I don't think you can have it both ways. And I think it's really important here that we don't get ahead of the science. The science on this virus, we know some really basic things like old school public health strategies like test for who's infected, and contact trace and isolate people that are infectious.
But there's so much that we still don't know. We don't know if people have immunity. We don't know exactly how the virus is transmitted. And until we have those answers, it seems premature and even dangerous to reopen the country.
WHITFIELD: So governors are asking for more federal assistance in order to be able to test as many people as possible or at least all of the components to a test. How is Rhode Island in your view -- how is it doing? Is it able to test everybody needed?
RANNEY: So Governor Raimondo was on CNN this morning talking about the situation that we're in. Thanks to partnerships with CVS in particular we've been able to dramatically expand testing so that almost anyone who's symptomatic can get tested.
However, the tests that our Department of Health rely on, that many of us in the hospitals rely on come largely from the federal government. And we're still waiting on delivery of promised cartridges. So we're still limited compared to where we would like to be in terms of the amount of testing.
There's so much more that needs to be done in order for us to be able to reopen and we're in one of the states that has one of the best testing rates. So for other states across the country, they're in a far worse situation with less tests, less swabs, and would be in greater danger from reopening right now.
WHITFIELD: So your governor did say that, you know, the state has yet to reach its peak. What is the expected peak?
RANNEY: We're waiting. You know, there's a bunch of models out there to try to predict when we're going to hit the peak. We're currently thinking that it's going to be in a couple more weeks. We're still seeing cases and deaths climb. We've created extra hospital capacity in preparation for that moment. You know, our state is trying its best to keep social distancing in place. So hopefully we'll be able to stay at a plateau but we have certainly not seen the case number of cases drop yet. We're waiting for that day when we can start to loosen some of the restrictions and let people get back out to our local beaches and restaurants and get back to as much as possible to normal life. But we certainly haven't crossed that threshold yet here.
WHITFIELD: All right. All the best, Dr. Megan Ranney. Thank you so much. Be well.
RANNEY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson coming under fire as he recovers from the coronavirus.
A live report from Windsor, next.
WHITFIELD: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson coming under fire for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak including missing some key meetings early on where the response to the pandemic was being planned. This comes after Johnson himself contracted the virus and was hospitalized. The U.K. now has more than 120,000 confirmed cases and over 16,000 deaths.
CNN's Max Foster is in Windsor, England. So Max -- what provoked this criticism and now?
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Fredricka, this is a narrative that's been building really, since Boris Johnson left hospital. And it really blew up today following an investigation in a British newspaper.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon.
FOSTER: Whilst British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recovers from the coronavirus a week after leaving hospital he's not proving immune to criticism of how he's handled the crisis that's killing around 800 Brits a day.
A bombshell article in "The Times of London" on Sunday claims that Johnson he was asleep at the wheel during a critical period at early in the outbreak as a government minister now admits starting in late January the Prime Minister skipped five national security briefings focused on coronavirus.
CNN reporting shows the first so called COBRA national security meeting he attended was on March 2nd. On one of those days, he still managed to make time for this lunar New Year celebration on Downing Street. A senior adviser to the Prime Minister reportedly told "The Times, quote, "He liked his country breaks. He didn't work weekends."
It's a characterization that gels with what former colleagues of Johnson's have told CNN in the past. Harry Mount -- who edited Johnson's columns when he was a journalist said last year that it's the important stuff he finds boring. He does get bored and he doesn't do boring.
In response to the article, a Downing Street spokesperson tells CNN that the government has quote, "been working day and night to battle against coronavirus. And that it's always guided by scientific advice.
A senior government minister acknowledged that Johnson skipped the meetings but called the accusations of truancy grotesque.
MICHAEL GOVE, U.K. CABINET MEMBER: The truth is that there are meetings across governments some of which are chaired by the health secretary and some of which are chaired by other ministers. But the Prime Minister took all the major decisions.
FOSTER: Absent or not, it's undeniable that like the U.S. Britain waited longer than others in instituting a lockdown. Medical advisers openly worried about people getting fatigued with staying at home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be a long haul. It is very important we do not start things in advance of need.
FOSTER: The government's top scientific experts openly used about purposefully keeping healthy people on the streets to develop so- called "herd immunity".
PATRICK VALLANCE, U.K. CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISOR: It's not possible to stop everybody from getting it and it's also actually not desirable because you want some immunity in the population. We need to have immunity to protect ourselves from this in the future.
FOSTER: The government now says it was never pursuing herd immunity.
Amongst the articles other claims that in focusing so much on Brexit, leaders lost sight of pandemic preparedness and that years of austerity left supplies of personal equipment dangerously low.
FOSTER: That PPE shortage has become the critical issue this weekend with doctors reporting that they're running out in hospitals and now they're being forced to re-use the gowns which is not the normal system in place here. This is very worrying for a lot of doctors, of course.
And to make matters even worse a shipment of 400,000 gowns which were being imported from Turkey have been delayed amidst huge amounts of pressure on the government tonight, Fredricka, because they simply weren't prepared for the amount of PPE that was required and that's putting lives at risk. WHITFIELD: Pretty frightening prospects there.
All right, Max Foster in Windsor, England. Thank you so much.
All right. Relief could be coming for small businesses across this country. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he's hopeful that a deal can be reached soon with Democratic lawmakers that would provide billions to those businesses. We'll have the details, and what it all means for you.
WHITFIELD: There is growing optimism that the White House and Congressional Democrats can reach a deal as soon as today that would provide billions of dollars more to small businesses. Earlier today Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNN that he believes the deal can be approved by mid-week, with funds available to small businesses in a matter of days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MNUCHIN: I'm hopeful that we can reach an agreement that the Senate can pass this tomorrow and that the House can take it up on Tuesday, and Wednesday we would be back up and running.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Diane Swonk is the chief economist for Grant Thornton. Diane -- good to see you.
So in your view, will this be --
DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, GRANT THORNTON: Good to be with you.
WHITFIELD: -- enough for many small businesses who got left out of the last batch of money?
SWONK: Well, it certainly is good news. Will it be enough that's yet to be seen. And unfortunately we're still chasing a moving target as fast. And we're talking about almost $3 trillion if they approve this since March 3rd that's gotten back into aid for the U.S. economy.
Really stunning, as fast as it's come, it's chasing this moving target and the volume of small businesses who have not been able to get access to it is still very large. And that thing that we worry about because small businesses are really struggling here.
SWONK: We also worry about the structure of these loans. They are designed for small businesses to rehire workers which is great and bringing them back on pay roll. The problem is they'll be doing it while we're still on shutdown. And only for eight weeks' time are they paid for that. They're paid as a grant if they sort of make a real effort to bring their employment levels back up to February levels, that's great. But then in eight weeks' time, if they don't have the business to sustain those workers, we're back dealing with layoffs again.
WHITFIELD: So you mention the small businesses unable to get access, so banks. Help people understand. Banks distributed the last $350 billion and there was a lot of criticism about how it was executed. So will that same method continue with this new batch of money, potentially?
SWONK: Well, they're trying to get out to non-traditional lenders, which is really important. Because many small businesses use their local credit union. And I think that is a powerful shift, just trying to get this out in different ways to small businesses. Also there's more emergency funding for small businesses where they can get emergency loan up to $10,000 sort of very quickly. That's very important as well.
We have to -- it is stunning to see how fast the economy has deteriorated and it's also stunning to see how rapidly that even with all the --
WHITFIELD: In seven weeks.
SWONK: -- glitches in the system, we've been able to get the money out. But it still is problematic.
WHITFIELD: So where do you see the need for improvement, in managing, distribution or perhaps even the application process of this money for small businesses so that these struggling mom and pop shops can get some help, can get some of this grant money?
SWONK: Well, the real issue is the bureaucracy. The small business administration is sort of designed for bureaucracy. It was never designed to sort of get this much money out this quickly, and so we're having to course correct. The more that we can do that and get banks online, that's important. The fact is this was first come, first serve. And those people who are more sophisticated, who had better banking relationships were first ones to get the money and then we ran out so quickly.
We need to do, sort of spread it to these non-bank lenders, non- traditional lenders, that small businesses, that is the hope for the next tranche, that is much more where small businesses are. And many small businesses don't have the kind sophisticated relationship with banks, some of the larger borrowers, that I got access to these funds did.
And so that's where the mismatch has been. And we really need to see it get into the small businesses. But even then, I worry about what it will mean for the next tranche going forward.
WHITFIELD: So the treasury secretary is trying to be very optimistic here, saying that the U.S. economy will recover in months, not years. And we're talking about the plummeting of an economy in just seven weeks' time. Do you see that a recovery will take months, not years? SWONK: Well, there's a difference between a ramp-up and if we ramp up too quickly, we could be in a place like Singapore and have to go back on lockdown. That's not what we want to see. So that would be some kind of a modest rebound and then back to square one.
Our analysis suggests, especially if we don't get transfers to the states, it's well over two years before we reach the high peak point on the level of economic activity we saw prior to the crisis. That's better than the great recession but still abysmal given the extraordinary pain we've seen in such a short period of time.
And I think one of the critical issues here is that we got lessons that we can learn. The states do need a transfer of funds. There is some funding for testing in this new tranche they're talking about, which is great, but the states are going to have huge holes in their budgets.
And we know from the great recession at the very moment we could be ramping up, they're going to have to do draconian cuts in their budgets, cutting essential personnel. And that's --
WHITFIELD: You heard that from the governor today.
SWONK: -- to slow down the employment progress of the great recession time.
WHITFIELD: Right. The New York governor was talking about potentially huge cuts, 50 percent. That's in education and then cuts in the places that you really don't want to see it, hospitals.
All right, it's a really frightening reality check. Diane Swonk, thank you so much.
All right, meantime, protesters gathered in several state capitals to voice their opposition to stay-at-home orders issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus. So one of those demonstration is happening in Austin, Texas. We'll talk a mayor -- to the mayor, rather, of that city about the protest, straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: As state leaders roll out plans to begin reopening in the coming weeks, demonstrators in several cities have defied social distancing rules to demand that restrictions be lifted right away.
CNN's Natasha Chen joins me now with more on protests against stay-at- home orders. Natasha, what are you hearing?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, there was another protest like this in Colorado today. And one of the organizers told, an affiliate of ours, that they felt the state government have overstepped its bounds, that those very state and local measures are exactly what the Trump administration has asked these leaders to do, dependent on the circumstances in their regions. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CHEN: Protesters stood shoulder to shoulder in many states over the last several days to voice frustrations with stay-at-home orders and to demand an end to the economic shutdown brought on by coronavirus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom and liberty, we're losing it.
CHEN: Ignoring social distancing measures that had been key in slowing the deadly pandemic spread, many gathered at the steps of state capitals directing anger toward governors who President Trump criticized Saturday.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of the governors have gotten carried away.
CHEN: But it's the Trump administration who told those very governors to enact state-by-state mitigation efforts. When asked about people who choose not to listen to his own administration's guidelines --
REPORTER: Would you urge those protesters to listen to local authorities?
TRUMP: I think they're listening. I think they listen to me. They seemed to be protestors like me and respect this opinion.
CHEN: And they did, evidenced by the Trump 2020 flags and the actions that seem to follow what the president called for in his tweets to, quote, liberate Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): This is just grossly irresponsible and it is dangerously bombastic, because it inspires people to do dangerous things.
CHEN: Those who dangerously flouted the rules to protest their governor's the authority said it was out of frustration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a small business owner and my business shut down forcibly on the 17th of March. And I have yet to see any unemployment, any money come through from the government and I'm sitting here without a paycheck with no definitive answer on when I will be returning to work, and I don't think that's right.
CHEN: Desperation is high but so is the risk.
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): With all due respect, I think anybody who thinks we're doing this just to take away people's liberties and rights isn't looking at the data that we're looking at. We're doing what we're doing to try to save lives.
CHEN: There's another rally happening later today in Olympia, Washington. The organizer there told CNN that, in his case, he's not being funded by any large groups. He's organizing this from his own convictions.
He did say that he would prefer that participants abide by CDC guidelines and wear masks and stand apart from each other, but that he wouldn't be policing that strictly, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Chen, thank you so much.
All right, joining me right now to discuss, Steve Adler, the Democratic mayor of Austin, Texas, where protesters gathered this weekend. Mr. Mayor good to see you.
So, people chanting things like, you can't close America, let us work, what's your response to them?
MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TX: I think everybody wants to open up the economy as much as we can, but the first priority has to be people's lives, and public safety, which means it has to be done in a way that protects those things. You know, I was a little concerned about the demonstration that we had here yesterday.
Fortunately, there weren't that many people. But I'm concerned that there could have been a virus in that group, and that's how the virus spreads, people who are asymptomatic passing it. not knowing they have passing it on. I think the participants in that were acting pretty selfishly and putting the community at risk.
WHITFIELD: And, understandably, people are exhibiting frustration, anxiety in a lot of different ways, but where do you think this is coming from, to go out and protest, to be in close quarters, when there are stay-at-home restrictions? Everyone understands why stay at home. Everyone understands why social distancing. But it is an overt expression to defy all of that. What's the real impetus? Where do you think this is coming from?
ADLER: I think it's coming from two places. One is people are frustrated that they're out of work, and the economy is not working, and I understand that. I mean, there is a health crisis happening. There's also an economic crisis.
But among many of the people in that group, it's also just a lack of appreciation of the science, of the great ineffectiveness of this virus and the lives that are being risked. I think that they're hearing things that would suggest that it's just not that big a deal and that's dangerous.
WHITFIELD: And do you think -- perhaps you listened to the president yesterday at his briefing. Do you feel like he was encouraging demonstrations?
ADLER: You know, he certainly wasn't suggesting that people not do it, and I think that that's heard by those people as encouragement. But I think the silence is taken as approval. And it's unfortunate, because the messages we've been hearing out of Washington since the beginning of this have been messages that have been misleading, that have not conveyed the science and the data and the facts. And that makes it harder at the local level when you're trying to gather an educated community that's trying to make its best decisions based on that science and data.
WHITFIELD: How does this make it particularly complicated for you, the leader of that city? I mean, how do you communicate to, you know, the citizens there about why the precautions and, you know, your taking and what they're for?
ADLER: Well, I think that, by and large, we try to put out the doctors out front so that the community can see that the kinds of things that we're doing are not partisan, they're not political.
They are the indicated actions associated with the science and the data. So that's how we try to communicate. We try to be as open as we can, get out as much information as we can.
WHITFIELD: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has laid out plans to reopen your state in early May. Congressman Lloyd Doggett says, Abbott's effort to reopen the state is wrong, it will cost lives. Where are you on this?
ADLER: Well, we don't quite know the answer to what the governor is going to do. He said that he's going to really let us know on the 27th. But he also said that his primary priority was the public health and safety of the people in the community. He said that he would be guided by the science and the data. We're going to hold him to that. He's hearing from some of the same experts that we're hearing from here in Austin.
This whole thing has always been about fighting the virus and then isolating the virus and then treating it. That's what the shelter in place has been about, because we had gotten to such an extreme state. Whatever we do in adapting the economy as we go forward, and we'll probably do it in pieces and we'll probably do it slowly. And it's going to be quite a long time before we get back to anything that begins to look like what we came out of.
But in that process, the priority still has to be, how do we do that in a way that enables us to appropriately find the virus, wherever it is, how can we isolate the virus so that it doesn't spread, how do you protect our most vulnerable, like in nursing homes and how do we treat it. Those three things, finding it, isolating and treating it, (INAUDIBLE) re-emerging.
WHITFIELD: All right. Austin, Texas Mayor Steve Adler, thank you so much. Be well.
ADLER: Fredricka, thank you.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: Dozens of big companies across the country, from Tesla to 3M, have adapted their manufacturing to help in the fight against the coronavirus. And now, many small companies are stepping up as well.
CNN's Randi Kaye found one, Florida Apparel Manufacturer, that is now making some potentially life-saving equipment.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At Troy Olson's sports apparel manufacturing company in Ormond Beach, Florida, the sewing machines are buzzing. Troy contemplated closing up due to a drop in demand for his clothing. But he had another idea.
TROY OLSON, OWNER, FITUSA: we just said, we've got to help.
KAYE: Help meant switching gears at his 15,000 square foot cut and sew factory, from sports apparel and uniforms to potentially life-saving masks.
The sports material works for the mask?
OLSON: It is. It's the exact same sports material we're using for our uniforms. We've now turned into a mask.
KAYE: Troy says his factory is making about 20,000 masks a day and he plans increase that to 1 million a week. They're made from what's moisture-wicking material, which easily lends itself to stopping airborne droplets.
OLSON: It disperses the moisture across the fabric allowing it to dry out faster.
KAYE: Troy's general manager showed us their in-house droplet test. They hope this performance will earn them FDA approval.
OLSON: A drop on the fabric, and you can see when it hits the outer layer, you get a little bit on here but nothing got through to the inner layer.
KAYE: That could be great news for those in need, like healthcare workers and first responders.
OLSON: We're packing these at 1,500.
KAYE: The Volusia County sheriff stopped by to pick up masks for his deputies.
SHERIFF MICHAEL CHITWOOD, VOLUSIA COUNTY, FLORIDA: Police chiefs and sheriffs are screaming, we got no masks, we got no masks. And I just can't tell you what this means, it's a game changer for us.
KAYE: Nearby Halifax Health was running low on masks, but now has 5,000 new ones from Troy's factory.
What do you think about companies like his making a switch from apparel to --
JOHN GUTHRIE, HALIFAX HEALTH: I think it's amazing. I hear about the big companies and all of these things that are taking time, taking time, but Troy and his company did it in a matter of half a day, and he's putting people to work, which is crucial.
KAYE: Unlike N95 masks, Troy says his are washable and safe to use dozens of times.
Another added benefit, Troy's ingenuity has allowed him to keep his employees on the payroll.
RHONDA YOUNGMAN, EMPLOYEE, FITUSA: That's why I think we're doing something for our community, yes, but at the same time we're able to keep our jobs by doing this, so it's a win-win situation.
KAYE: And as Troy ramps up production, he's hoping to hire more people, like laid off restaurant workers.
How do you feel about doing your part?
OLSON: I think I owe it. That's what it is to be an American, right? We step up and we help each other in a case like this.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Ormond Beach, Florida.
WHITFIELD: Right. These are some pretty stressful times, but there's a simple and free way to get relief. Look at how deep breathing might be the best medicine of all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I manage about 40 rental units. If someone came to me with a problem, I was consumed by it.
When issues happen, I would feel personal about them.
That was when I realized, I don't want this taking space in my head. The deep breathing is helpful. This allows me to stop and just be quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just simply take a pause. And just say, huh, let me just take a few deep breaths. It has shown to have improvements in anxiety and sense of panic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Imagine that you're blowing up a balloon in your belly, and when you release your breath, it's just like releasing air from a balloon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When someone is anxious or stressed, their breathing rate gets faster. Take some slow, deep breaths. The rate of breathing actually goes down. We have reduction in our blood pressure. We also have reduction in our heart rate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can be anywhere, standing, going to the post office rather than flipping out above the line.
This is an opportunity to relax. It's so handy. It's available 24 hours a day.