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Governors Slam Trump On Delusional Claims On Testing; Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) Is Interviewed About The Coronavirus Pandemic; Antibody Testing A Key To Reopen The Country; U.S. Intelligence Looking Into Origins Of Coronavirus In China; Americans Waiting For Stimulus Check; Elie Honig Answers Legal Questions In "Cross Exam". Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 19, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Thanks for staying with me. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Delusional, absolutely false, irresponsible, those are the words coming from governors, both Democratic and Republican, when asked about the president's claims that these governors already have the coronavirus testing they need to reopen their states.
The big message the governors are sending to the White House, if you want to go back to business as usual, we need more money. And we need more help from the federal government. Cases in the United States have now topped 742,000, and the death toll is staggering, more than 41,000 people gone. The desperation to get more federal help on test kits and the economy heard in the voice of the mayor of New York City today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: President Trump, what's going on? Cat got your tongue? You're usually really talkative. You usually have an opinion on everything. How on earth do you not have an opinion on aid to America's cities and states?
Mr. President, are you going to save New York City or are you telling New York City to drop dead? Which one is it? But you have to speak up now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Also this evening, frustration with social distancing rules is growing across the country. Protests popping up in states like California, Texas, Maryland, and Wisconsin. Here's the House Speaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: People will do what they do. But the fact is, we're all impatient. We all want out. But what they're doing is really unfortunate, because what is great, though, is the -- are the American people. The American people know that the good health of themselves and their families and their loved ones is what is important. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And there is news for millions of Americans out of a job or struggling to keep their business afloat. The treasury secretary says he's hopeful they are close to a second round of small business loans. After all the initial relief money in that program ran out at the worst possible time.
But first, to that growing showdown between the president and the nation's governors over testing, the president blaming states for the shortages, but governors from both parties are criticizing him for trying to pass the buck. Jeremy Diamond joins us from the White House now. Jeremy, what are they saying?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTL: Well, Ana, as the president is shifting the blame to those governors, particularly pointing to Democratic governors as it relates to the testing shortages across the country, we are hearing governors speaking with one voice, both Democrats and Republicans making very clear that they do not have the testing capacity needed to begin to reopen their states, and that they need the federal government's help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): 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.
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): 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.
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.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
DIAMOND: And as you can hear there, Ana, there is a coherent message from those Democratic and Republican governors on the testing front. The president, though, has insisted that some of these governors are simply unwilling to actually ramp up the testing capacity. Something that those governors say is not at all the case.
Instead, what they're pointing to is shortages of critical equipment, from the testing swabs that they need, to the reagent, which is often sourced abroad in order to conduct more tests in their states. So far, the president seems to say, the buck is passing over to the states. Ana?
CABRERA: And meantime, Jeremy, do you believe the White House will perhaps announce that they've reached a deal on small business funding at today's briefing?
DIAMOND: Well, things certainly seem to be trending in that direction. We heard both the secretary of the treasury, Steve Mnuchin, as well as the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, both this morning saying that they are very close to a deal. Secretary Mnuchin even suggested that this new legislation could pass one House of Congress tomorrow and then the next -- the day after that.
So by the middle of the week, you could be seeing this on the president's desk. Those negotiations, though, we are told, are still ongoing. There was this sticking point from Democrats over some additional funding that they wanted beyond the small business loan portion of this. They wanted additional funding for hospitals, as well as for testing.
They got the funding for hospitals and they're still working on the -- on how much money is going to go towards testing. But on a conference call with senate Republicans, the Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, made very clear that they will not be getting the funding for state and local governments. That was an additional piece of funding that the Democrats had been seeking, Ana.
CABRERA: In fact, Cory Booker who we just spoke to said he's not willing to give up that fight just yet. Jeremy Diamond, at the White House for us, thank you. Joining us now, amid this showdown, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Governor, thanks for taking the time.
Does New Mexico have the testing capacity they would need to reopen?
GOV. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM (D-NM): Well, those are important questions, but they don't quite sync up exactly like that. The answer to the first part, testing, we do have considerable capacity for testing. We are now going to be in what the CDC is identifying as a pilot state to really ramp up and that means getting the supplies.
We have many numbers of instruments, each of them take different reagents and different efforts, and it means having incredible amounts of public health personnel so that you can have multiple testing sites.
We have more than 50 operating in our state, often at any given time, statewide, so that we can actually -- we can run anywhere from 3,500 with the right supplies, we could run 6,000 tests a day in New Mexico. So, getting the supplies, having cooperation, having a real focus here, yes.
The second thing is, I need to know, because I'm ramping up testing, what is going on. What we're looking for is prevalence and transmission data. What percentage of the population is asymptomatic? Once we have that, then you can make economic recovery decisions and of course, we're desperate to do just that.
CABRERA: So you said you have significant testing capacity and ability right now, but then, you also said, getting the supplies you need as part of all of this, do you have all of those supplies right now, or are you still missing pieces that would help to boost the testing and make sure it's widespread enough to be able to rope your state?
GRISHAM: It's a bit of both. We have been -- I think we're in the top nine states for the amount of testing we've done well over 35,000 tests in the state. But when you look at that, and then it's 2 percent of the population, it's still insignificant.
So, I spend an inordinate amount of my time, and I know you hear this by all the governors, I've become a reagent expert. And I'm on a first-name basis with folks at Roche and Abbott. We're now looking at a high-volume, high-capacity machine, which means it runs 500 or a thousand samples at once, but can do them in a rapid fashion.
So, faster than four hours, faster than eight hours. It can do it in 45 minutes. And that cooperation with the federal government, if I'm not chasing supplies, then I'm analyzing data. I know exactly what's missing. I can help my team stand up instruments in any number of labs across the state. And we're rocking and rolling.
But you have to have that coordination. And that has been missing. And I'm very interested to see how this pilot operation is going to work. Because, frankly, to your point, why are we all competing? Why is the governor's are frustrated with the federal government?
The federal government says now that it's frustrated with governors. I'll tell you what New Mexicans want. They want a simple, productive, straightforward strategy that tells them they can be safe, that can stand up and protect health care workers and first responders, and there's a plan to go back to work.
And if we aren't working together, none of that will happen. We have to manage now this virus. It's here. This notion that you can stop it or control it, you can manage it. Information is power. I'm working diligently to put this state in the driver's seat, to manage this virus productively.
CABRERA: This week, New Mexico, I know, recorded its highest number of daily deaths. When do you expect to reach your peak in New Mexico?
GRISHAM: So our current modeling, and of course, as you know, it changes literally every day because we put real, you know, realtime data into our modeling system. We expect that the surge happens still at the end of April. And we've done an effective job statewide bending the curve.
So it looks like mid-May, later in May is when we should expect a peak. That could shift and we're preparing to, you know, stay the course to the highest degree possible because here's what we're also seeing. While we're bending the curve as a state, that's not happening in our minority and rural communities.
We're seeing significant, right, transmission rates, doubling every day and a half, two days in some communities, in some days, 50 percent of our positive cases are in our sovereign nations. That is something we have to get our arms around.
And we are working on a brand-new relationship with Indian Health Service so that we're actually running the tests, so they'll help us collect samples.
But if we're running the tests, then I can tell pueblos and tribes in four hours, how many individuals are positive and we can do community containment and self-isolation strategies that are much more robust than they would be if we're waiting five days.
CABRERA: Right. So, you continue to say, the testing is the key. We keep hearing, the testing is what has to come first in order to move to the next step. You've already extended the state's stay-at-home order until April 30th.
But I'm hearing you say, you don't even think you will have reached the state's peak of coronavirus case and the peak of this crisis by then. So are you planning to start lifting restrictions on May 1st or can you residents expect another extension of the stay-at-home order?
GRISHAM: Well, to give you and many New Mexicans a sense of that, some of our largest cities have extended their emergency powers and orders through the middle of May. We are making that decision in the next couple of days.
But look, if you want to manage the virus and make sure that you're keeping people safe, the notion that you can lift all of your restrictions before you peak means that that peak is going to be much worse, more severe, and more people will die.
So I'm going to stay the course to keep people safe in the state. But I hope in the next week or so, I'm going to have more prevalence and surveillance data which will put us in, quite frankly, again, the driver seat to balance these two issues.
Keeping people safe, which I don't look for a balance there -- that's a very clear north star. I don't want anymore people dying. I want to protect my healthcare workers and my hospital capacity. And I want to manage this virus. But without surveillance data, I could never make a reasonable economic decision.
We should be in a position shortly to be able to do both. But, yes. Unless my peak data shifts, it doesn't look like New Mexico is ready on May 1st.
CABRERA: Okay, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, we will be in touch with you and continuing to send our best wishes and strength your way. So that, you know, New Mexico can get through it, as well as anybody. Thank you very much for taking the time.
GRISHAM: Thank you for everything that you're doing, which leans in and provides good information to Americans and viewers about the severity of this deadly virus and about the impacts we can all have if we work better together. Thank you.
CABRERA: We're doing the best we can. Thank you.
New York's governor says the state will begin aggressive antibody testing this week to see if people actually have the virus. But as one or at least some experts warn against inaccurate results, just how crucial are these tests, like getting Americans back to work? We'll discuss. You are live in the "CNN Newsroom."
CABRERA: The governor of New York says the state will undertake the most aggressive statewide antibody testing survey in the nation over the next week. But what are these tests and why are they important? CNN's Brian Todd reports.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Patients who have come out the other side of having coronavirus call them built-in hazmat suits. They're known as antibodies and tonight there's a push to have as many Americans tested for them as possible -- the tests seen as crucial to getting Americans back to work.
ANTHONY FAUCI, MEMBER, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TAK FORCE: When you're trying to find out whether a person is infected, that's the test we always talking about.
TODD (voice-over): A test for antibodies is not the same as a standard coronavirus test. Antibodies are proteins, developed by your body when you're infected with a virus like COVID-19, to fight it off. If you've recovered from coronavirus, your antibodies remain and give your immune system a memory of the virus. So if you get exposed to coronavirus a second or third time --
MICHAEL MINA, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Those antibodies that are floating around in their blood will recognize that virus and will hopefully neutralize it.
TODD (voice-over): So, how can testing as many people as possible to determine who has antibodies against coronavirus and who doesn't help get the economy open again? First, by testing people individually and clearing them to return to work.
AMESH ADALJA, JOHN HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: Whether or not this person can end social distancing, maybe this person should be a front-line worker, because they've got antibodies to it.
TODD (voice-over): But also by testing a whole community or at least getting a representative sample.
ADALJA: Antibody testing in a community might tell you that your community was hit pretty hard with this coronavirus and there's lots of herd immunity, meaning lots of people were exposed and this virus is unlikely to find that many victims in your community anymore.
TODD (voice-over): But right now, antibody tests are not the silver bullet that will get America's economic engine humming against, at least not as fast as President Trump wants it to. One reason is because according to one public health advocate, a lot of antibody tests that have been tried out have been unreliable.
SCOTT BECKER, ASSOCIATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH LABORATORIES: The danger in these tests, if you don't understand the quality, is that it could give you a false positive, could give you a false negative. You don't know the accuracy of it and you could really put people in danger by giving them the wrong information. You could let people go back to their lives when, in fact, they're still infected.
TODD (on camera): Another problem is there are not enough antibody tests available, although Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials say they are trying to get them to the marketplace as soon as possible. The FDA has not yet approved any antibody tests, but the agency is expediting its review process in order to get the tests to the public as soon as possible. Still, it could be weeks or even months before the tests are widely available. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
CABRERA: Joining us now to discuss, Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi. She is a professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Services, and Dr. Ivan Walks, the former chief health officer for Washington, D.C.
Dr. Walks, let me start with you because the New York governor in his announcement today says they will actually prioritize the antibody testing and he does say the FDA has approved.
Now, these tests they're planning to use here in New York, but they'll do that followed by the diagnostic testing. Does that make sense to you?
IVAN WALKS, FORMER WASHINGTON, D.C CHIEF HEALTH OFFICER: I think -- Ana, first of all, thanks for having me. And, Ana, I think that the challenge is that you have to use what you can use. We are seeing so many different stories about what tests are available and when they're going to be available.
And what I like about what the governor of New York has said is he said, this is what we're going to do. Wow, it's a clear message with a clear strategy. Is it optimum? Should we be doing the other testing first? This is someone who has said, this is what we have and this is what we're going to do. And for so many communities, it's refreshing to have that clear message and a clear strategy.
CABRERA: I think a lot of people are wondering, can I get a test? Governor Cuomo says this testing is going to be "random" that you can't request to be tested. So how do you see this working?
WALKS: I would have to ask the governor how the governor sees it working. I think that when you're saying to people that it's going to be random and you can't ask for a test, and at the same time, you're saying that the illness is hitting different communities differently, I'm a man of faith and I hold on to that in the middle of a lot of this.
What I see is a concern from communities that we're getting hit the hardest and I can't ask for a test. Are you going to prioritize my community? Am I going to be the ones that you look at? People who are on the front lines are asking are you going to prioritize us. Are we going to be the ones that are going to get the kind of help?
There are a lot of questions and we are looking at not everyone getting hit the same. We are looking at communities being hit in diverse ways. And then there's Washington, D.C. There is Mayor Bowser working as hard as she has to if she were running a state, but she's not. She's running a city.
So she hasn't even in a lot of these conversations, but doing a great job in a very difficult setting. So I think we have to be very careful when we start talking about, oh, it's going to be random when the virus is hitting certain places harder than others.
CABRERA: There's also a question of what we will learn from these antibody tests and how valuable the information is because, Dr. , on Friday, the World Health Organization warned that there's no evidence that antibody tests can determine immunity. So, how are these tests helpful?
GIGI EL-BAYOUMI, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE & HEALTH SERVICES: So the testing of COVID-19 with antibodies is very complex. And the closest virus that I can think of, in which it has that level of complexity from the standpoint of testing is the hepatitis virus, in which you can have antigens and then they clear and then there's antibodies to certain parts of the virus before you have full immunity. It's complicated.
But the point is that I think is crucial, just like at the very beginning, we were looking for testing to identify who has it and who is it? And that we finally now have reliable testing. We must have reliable testing for the antibody.
And to add to your other guest's comments, we actually have a very urgent need. Just before we came on air, I was talking to a family member and unfortunately my patient is not doing well. To be able to know if she's antibody positive, so she can be at her father's bedside is crucial information.
So, three things that are key and how I would see prioritizing. One, health care front lines, meaning everybody including the service people and anybody that's involved in the service industry, families of patients that are in the hospital, schools and children because, remember, children are the ones that can transmit the antibodies even thought they may not have symptoms.
And of course the special populations where you're seeing the high death rates, whether it's communities of color, returning citizens or prisoners, the elderly, homeless, you know, you name it.
So, I agree, we should prioritize it based on scientific evidence about who needs it the most, who's going to be impacted the most. But it has to be all three of these things being looked at, not just the economy, not just the health, but also the educational system, as well.
CABRERA: Okay, Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi and Dr. Ivan Walks, I really wish we had more time. I so appreciate your expertise and the time that you're taking to share it with us. Thank you for being here.
There are new questions about the origin of COVID-19 and U.S. officials are asking China to be more transparent. That's next. You are live in the "CNN Newsroom."
CABRERA: There's no question the coronavirus outbreak began in China, but U.S. intelligence and national security officials say they are investigating the possibility the virus spread from a Chinese laboratory and not a market in Wuhan, as has been claimed by the Chinese government.
U.S. Officials do not say they believe this virus was spread purposefully in any way, but they are looking into whether it perhaps came from the lab and spread accidentally. CNN's David Culver reports from Shanghai.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the start of the outbreak, this is where China directed the world's attention, suggesting that this Wuhan seafood market was the source of the novel coronavirus outbreak. CNN even traveled there just before the city locked down in January. Officials had shut down the wet market and security told us to leave.
U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN they are investigating another possible source, suggesting the virus may not have originated naturally, as China has advertised, but rather, that it possibly started in a Wuhan lab. Sources say it is one of many origin theories the U.S. is looking into.
Chinese officials pushing back against that claim on Thursday. The foreign ministry spokesperson dismissing that the virus started in a lab. Instead, stressing that, "this is a scientific issue that should be studied by scientists and medical experts."
Yet, it is the same spokesperson who last month floated a controversial theory, tweeting that it might be the U.S. Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THTE UNITED STATES: China tried to say, at one point, maybe they stop now, that it was caused by American soldiers. That can't happen. It's not going to happen. Not as long as I'm president. It comes from China. CULVER (voice-over): The latest debate over the virus' actual origin
coincides with a damning Associated Press report. It claims that China sat on critical information for six full days, from January 14th until January 20th, downplaying the outbreak in public, before finally revealing the full scope of the threat.
The AP report is based on what they characterize as a memo from a January 14th confidential teleconference involving the head of China's National Health Commission. CNN has combed through the government's public report of that teleconference, which was released more than a month after it took place.
It says a "sober understanding of the situation" was made known to top Chinese government officials, adding that, "clustered cases suggest that human-to-human transmission is possible," but that was not the message shared publicly from health officials at the time.
In fact, as hundreds of millions traveled, leading up to the Lunar New Year holiday, mass gatherings at airports and railway stations, the Wuhan Health Commission maintained that the outbreak was controllable and preventable and that this was not contagious.
It was not until January 20th did leading health officials acknowledge publicly cases of human-to-human transmission. And they even stated that medical personnel had gotten infected. CNN spoke with one of the doctors who early on tried to sound the alarm and contracted the illness.
Wuhan ophthalmologist, Dr. Li Wenliang, was reprimanded in early January by Wuhan police. They accused the 34-year-old of spreading rumors after he had messaged friends, warning them of a SARS-like illness going around.
Instead of listening to his warning, police silenced Dr. Li and other whistle-blowers. He died of coronavirus in early February. CNN's early reporting also highlighted an underreporting of cases. Wuhan residents telling us that their loved ones were never tested, despite suffering from coronavirus-like symptoms.
Instead, their deaths listed as severe pneumonia. Whether it was intentional or due to a lack of testing, for some, China's reported numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths does not add up.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The mere fact that we don't know the answers, that China hasn't shared the answers, I think, is very, very telling.
CULVER (on camera): China has repeatedly maintained that they have been open and forthcoming in their handling of this outbreak. On Wednesday, China's foreign ministry said that in an open transparent and responsible manner, China has kept the WHO and relevant countries updated on the outbreak.
But if the early cover-up and mishandling at the local level was, in fact, known by top officials, their delayed action might overshadow the massive containment effort that China so proudly promotes. David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.
CABRERA: While officials try to zero in on exactly where the coronavirus originated during a task force briefing on Friday, President Trump seemed to rule out the possibility that it came from bats at that food market in Wuhan, China. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They talk about a certain kind of bat, but that bat wasn't in that area. If you can believe this, that's what they're down to now, is bats. But that bat is not in that area. That bat wasn't sold at that wet zone. It wasn't sold there. That bat is 40 miles away. So a lot of strange things are happening, but that there is a lot of investigation going on and we're going to find out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: That brings us to your weekend presidential brief with CNN national security analyst Sam Vinograd. And Sam, what did we actually learn from President Trump's comments on the origin of the virus?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Ana, what we learned is that we have a lot to learn and this should not be an intelligence guessing game. Any reliable government around the world would be providing information, reliable information, through health channels, not intelligence channels, to ascertain the origin of the virus. That could save lives.
Instead, the Chinese are taking the opposite approach, which is why this has become a very heavy lift for our intelligence community. Now, yesterday, President Trump floated a lot of hypotheticals. Truly not helpful to float unvetted intelligence that causes unnecessary confusion, but his remarks did really highlight two urgent need for the intelligence community.
The first, of course, is to determine the origin, the source of the virus. So that policy makers can use that intelligence to take steps and implement measures to prevent future outbreaks. The second urgent intelligence need is ascertaining Chinese intentions. Whether they knowingly spread the virus or allowed to it spread.
That intelligence could, and I'm going to stress the "could" here, be integrated into policy decisions to hold the Chinese accountable. But intelligence is only as valuable as President Trump decides to make it.
Using that intelligence to make policy decisions requires a president that in the first instance actually digests intelligence. And second, a president that's willing to hold bad actors accountable. Unfortunately, President Trump failed to check either of those boxes.
CABRERA: In fact, the president was asked if there should be consequences for China if they were, in fact, knowingly responsible for this outbreak. Here's his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think there should be some consequences if in the end, you know, China was responsible for all of this?
TRUMP: Well, if they were knowingly responsible, certainly. If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yes. Then there should be consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Sam, what do you make of this?
VINOGRAD: Ana, look, there are already grounds to hold China accountable for their actions. Trump has punished the World Health Organization for being China-centric and parroting what he says are Chinese talking points. But he's failed to hold the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party accountable. That's just illogical and dangerous.
But even if we just look at President Trump's comments yesterday, I don't think the Chinese are shaking in their boots. In the first case, there is a very big caveat attached to his remarks yesterday and that's intent.
He used the word "knowingly," if the Chinese knowingly spread the virus, which means that someone would have to prove beyond a certain threshold that the Chinese deliberately and intentionally spread the virus or allowed to it spread.
And second, this president is a poster child for being soft on China. Just googling him is a gold mine for him letting China off the hook for a host of destabilizing actions. The Chinese figured out a very long time ago that the way to President Trump's heart is through the trade balance. That's why they've agreed to do things like purchase U.S. Agricultural goods to stave off punitive measures associated with other activities. So I don't think they think that he's really going to follow through on this threat.
His words are somewhat of a departure from his past praise for China, but I think that's largely for political reasons. Late last week, the Trump campaign released a video inaccurately depicting Biden as soft on China, so Trump has a political need to at least sound like at some point he may hold China accountable for their actions, but actions speak louder than words and I don't anticipate that he'll actually take action to hold China accountable.
CABRERA: Samantha Vinograd, as always, thank you. Be well.
Before we head to break, we want to show you some of the incredible images we are getting from overseas of life during this pandemic. This is Venice, Italy. Food deliveries being made to the elderly by gondoliers wearing mask.
It's one of the few signs of life in that city which has been under lockdown now for about a month. Drone video showing many of Venice's iconic locations empty.
And then there's this video from the Italian Riviera. Two women playing a tennis match across two rooftops in order to adhere to social distancing rules.
And Germans on the border with France are literally going fishing to get their baguettes, while European borders are closed. One man cast a fishing rod over to the French side so that another person could load his bag up with bread.
CABRERA: The IRS began sending out the stimulus payments last week, first by direct deposit. The people expecting a paper check may have to wait several weeks, maybe even months. That is not fast enough for many Americans who are depending on that money right now. CNN's Kyung Lah reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe three days left.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Diabetic Brandi Titus counts her days by the insulin she's got left.
BRANDI TITUS, DIABETIC RATIONING INSULIN: When you turn it upside down, you can see, there's not much left in it.
LAH (on camera): What happens when that insulin is gone?
TITUS: I'm very worried that I will end up in a hospital bed, sitting next to someone that has coronavirus, I contract said virus, and then it ends up killing me.
LAH (voice-over): Already rationing her insulin since losing her housekeeping job in the coronavirus shutdown, this week is the crossroads for her --
MICHAEL SHAWKI, RATIONING MEDICATIONS UNTIL STIMUKUS MINEY ARRIVES: That's the last one, yes.
LAH (voice-over): And others like Michael Shawki, whose survival depends on life-saving prescriptions and the federal stimulus money they're waiting on to pay for them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, this is my last injection.
LAH (voice-over): A two-time cancer survivor and Crohn's disease patient, Shokey has insurance. And yet --
(on camera): What's the co-pay for all of that?
SHAWKI: Well, this is around $500 total, like if I got all of these, with taxes, probably, yes about $500. LAH (voice-over): He was able to afford these life-sustaining drugs by
managing a chain of New York bakeries, but when the coronavirus hit Manhattan last month, he was laid off. Now, he's rationing what he has left, without knowing when his expected stimulus money will come in.
SHAWKI: Each day just gets scarier.
LAH (on camera): How dire is this crisis?
SHAWKI: I think life and death for some people, you know? For me, my fear is if I'm going to cause long-term damage to myself. People are living check-to-check, already when they're working. What do you think when that income goes away? Do you think they're going to be able to survive on a few weeks? No.
LAH (voice-over): Shawki took to Twitter, begging for help along with so many others. An essential employee, rationing seizure meds until the stimulus check comes in. A single mother who needs prescriptions for her family, for each, winnowing their supply of necessary treatments is a deadly game of chance.
TITUS: I wake up about 3:00 a.m. with a blood sugar that's about 400, 420.
LAH (voice-over): Brandi Titus' blood sugar levels are four times higher than average. She says it's not if she goes to the emergency room, but when.
TITUS: I won't have a choice. My body will go into diabetic ketoacidosis.
LAH (voice-over): Unlike those expecting government reliefs in the coming days, she won't be getting a stimulus check. She's behind on her child support, so like thousands of others, she doesn't qualify. She is on her own.
TITUS: It's hard -- $100 might not be that much to you, but it could be my saving grace for tomorrow.
LAH (on camera): Michael Shawki was watching President Trump's White House briefing. He says this issue of the president's name on the stimulus check and whether or not that might delay the checks arriving, well, angry isn't the right word. He uses the word hurt. He says Americans are hurting and this should not be about anyone other than helping those Americans. Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.
CABRERA: Thank you, Kyung.
In jails across the country, social distancing is simply not possible. So some jails are releasing inmates to help prevent the spread of this virus. Should more jails do the same? We'll ask CNN legal Analyst, Elie Honig, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: The president doing a complete 180 this past week. First he declared on Monday he has "total authority" to force economies to open across the nation. Then later the president punted, saying the governors call the shots.
CNN legal analyst Elie Honig joins us now for "Cross Exam." Elie is a former federal and state prosecutor. He is here now to answer your questions. And Elie, the president's comments are generating a lot of controversy. One viewer wants to know, does the president, in fact, have legal power to overrule state governors and order states to reopen?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, Ana, a lot of our viewers asked this question this week. The short answer is no. The president certainly holds broad powers especially in an emergency, but he is not all powerful. He cannot simply overrule state governors on this issue.
As you said, the president created some confusion constitutionally this week, but the constitution itself really gives us the answer. The tenth amendment, one of the more obscure amendments we have, tells us that if the Constitution does not specifically give a power to the federal government, that power is reserved to the states.
And that's why every state in the union has a specific law enabling the governor to impose a quarantine or other restriction. And that's why there is no federal law permitting the president to come in and reverse a state quarantine. So, ultimately, Ana, it falls to state governors, not the president, to decide when and how to reopen.
CABRERA: Elie, stay-at-home orders, obviously, forced so many businesses to close unless those businesses provide essential services. And one viewer asks, is there a legal definition of essential services that would allow certain types of businesses to challenge a forced closure and try to reopen?
HONIG: So, Ana, there's no one overarching nationwide binding legal definition, but HHS has issued guidance where they've told us things like medical services, food services, utilities, law enforcement are essential.
Basically anything where you've thought maybe over the last few weeks, thank goodness for that profession, HHS tells us they are essential. But there is gray area because that HHS guidance is not binding and different state laws define essential services differently. We see real variation.
Some states tell us that gun shops are essential. Some states say that marijuana dispensaries, golf courses, alcohol vendors are essential. So, what may be essential in one state is not necessarily essential in another.
If a business has been deemed nonessential, it can make its case to reopen. It can apply for a waiver and explain why it should be deemed essential. So, look for more of that in the coming months ahead as different businesses try to reopen their doors to the public.
CABRERA: Right, because it could still be a while. President Trump's former lawyer, his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, found out Thursday that he will be released early from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He is going to serve the rest of his three-year prison term in home confinement. And Elie, another viewer wants to know, can and should prosecutors and other officials consider releasing certain prisoners in light of the health risks posed by coronavirus?
HONIG: Yes, Ana, they can and they should. Look, prisons are extraordinarily dangerous. They're overcrowded, and not just for the inmates, but for the guards and staff who work there and then go home at end of the shift.
We're starting to see states across the country release prisoners early. We've seen it in California, Ohio, New York, New Jersey. The federal government has now started releasing inmates, as you said. And they're not releasing just anybody, it's important to know.
They're focusing on nonviolent offenders, on pretrial inmates who have not yet been found guilty and on older inmates, Ana. So it's good to see prosecutors and law enforcement across the country protecting the health of people in prisons and the general public.
CABRERA: Elie Honig, thank you. I've missed you the last couple of weeks since we haven't been able to coordinate exactly, the briefings have gotten in the way. Be well. Glad to see you. Thank you.
HONIG: Yes. Thanks, Ana. You, too.
CABRERA: Thanks. The coronavirus death toll, sadly, is continuing to grow. It's now topped 41,000 here in the U.S. and Wolf Blitzer will have the latest on the fight against the virus and the battle over stay-at-home orders, next in a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM."
Thanks for joining me. Stay healthy and stay safe.