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Gov. Cuomo: All Governors Agree On Need For Federal Help To States; Mnuchin: "Very Close To A Deal Today" On Small Business Package; WSJ: Senior Mexican Health Officer Skeptical About Outbreak; Navajo Nation Struggles To Battle Virus With Limited Resources; Trump Calls Speaker Pelosi "An Inherently 'Dumb' Person"; The Challenges Of Returning To Work; Virtual Ceremony Marks 25 Years Since The Oklahoma City Bombing. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 19, 2020 - 13:00   ET




GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): --Corps of Engineers, they built 2,500 beds at Javits. That Michael in Northwell will operate. It was a phenomenal accomplishment.

Close to a 1,000 people have gone through Javits. Luckily, we didn't need the 2,500 beds. But all the projections said we did need it, and more by the way. So these were just extraordinary efforts and acts of mobilization. And the federal government stepped up and was a great partner, and I'm the first one to say it. We needed help and they were there. State and local governments were fantastic.

The hospital system was fantastic, New Yorkers were fantastic, and that is an undeniable fact. Just look at what they said was going to happen. CDC, Coronavirus Task Force, Cornell, McKinsey all of them and they had a lineup here and the actual line is down here. What do you owe the variance to? Heroic efforts on behalf of people as facilitated by government - federal and state.

So that was phase one. Now we have to go forward to phase two. Big challenge is going to be testing. It will not be done perfectly. We can't bring it up to scale in this period of time. I will tell you that. But we can do better working together than working apart. And that's the federal-state partnership.

I will do my part as a governor. I know the other governors will do their part. Federal government is involved in testing. They had the whole presentation at the last presidential briefing. We have to work together and do the best we can, and we will. And I have faith that we will, because we have in the past. On funeral?

MELISSA DEROSA, SECRETARY TO GOV. ANDREW CUOMO: On the funeral homes the governor signed an executive order to allow funeral directors who are either retired or from out of state to be able to be licensed immediately in New York to help with some of the backlogs.

On the weddings, yesterday, the executive order that we did allowed clerks to perform the weddings remotely and today the governor signing a new executive order to allow anybody who is licensed to be able to perform weddings to be able to do it, so it won't just be limited to clerks. And on the website it'll be updated by 2:00 o'clock today - the COVID website tracker.

CUOMO: I can also - I'm also licensed to perform weddings, so I am available for online services. Special vows that I do. Did you know that?


CUOMO: Let's take one more question.

REPORTER: Just a follow up to that President and I have one other unrelated question. He tweeted during a press conference that he was right on ventilators. Now he is right about testing. Governors must step up and get the job done. We'll be with you all the way. Did you speak with the President recently today, yesterday about this? And has there been any similar meeting with getting more reagents for the diagnostic testing?

CUOMO: We have been talking about - I didn't have a conversation with the President in the past day about this, but we've had conversations about it, and President is right. He's right. States have to do what - they have to step up on testing and the federal government has to step up on testing.

Federal government is involved in testing. And they did a whole presentation at the President's briefing on testing and what they're doing on testing and what they're doing on helping the supply chain et cetera, and that's great. And between the states working with the federal government we will do the best job we can. What was the President's tweet exactly just - What he responded directly?

REPORTER: He said, "Just like I was right on ventilators, our country is now the king of ventilators. Other countries are calling, asking for help-we will. I am right on testing. Governors must be able to step up and get the job done. We will be with you all the way.

CUOMO: We will be with you all the way. Great. States must do their part and the federal government must do its part. Perfect. That's what's called partnership. I agree.

REPORTER: And just as a follow up on the testing. I know that initially there was some rationing of the diagnostic testing. What is it going to look like for the antibody testing? Who is going to be getting those and who will be available - who will be able to get the antibody testings once that gets wrapped up?

CUOMO: The antibody first thing that we're doing now this week is a random sample. So it's not like testing where somebody can ask to be tested. It has to be a random sample. That is conducted throughout the state. Thousands of people get tested.

So we know this percentage of the population had the antibodies. That is not a test where a person can call up and say I want to be tested or go to a place. That has to be done on a random sample basis.

In terms of the antibody testing being added to the diagnostic testing, we now have an antibody test that the state can perform. We can do about 2,000 tests per day for the state. That's about 14,000 per week. Sounds like a big number. It's not that big a number in the total context of a state of 19 million people.


Also, when you talk about testing, just to give a relative proportionality, we have tested in this state more than any state in the United States. We have tested more than any country has tested, OK, on a per capita basis. So nobody is better at testing than we are.

With all the testing we've done since this started, 500,000 tests. Wow, it's a lot. Not really. It's been a month and we did 500,000. At that rate, if this goes on for three months we would have tested 1.5 million people. We have 9 million people in the workforce. We have 19 million people in the population. So we have to increase that rate. And that's why the partnership with the federal government to get the reagents et cetera is so important.

And that the federal government provides the states with resources to do this. I mean, you have the President saying 15 times it's up to the governors, it's up to the governors, it's up to the governors. And then they're going to pass a piece of legislation that gives, you know what two states? Zero, zilch, nada niente - whatever the language you want to say it. Nothing. But then how are the states supposed to do this?

And then what, you know what happens? I'll take exactly what happens. This state now has about a $15 billion deficit - somewhere between $10 billion and $15 billion deficit. I'm going to have to - I don't have any funding to do what I normally do. I normally fund schools. You'll see a 50 percent cut in education. You'll see a cut to hospitals.

In the midst of all of this, I give local governments aid. They pay the police officers, they pay the firefighters, they pay the bus drivers, public transit. Those are the essential functions that are now working. How can you not fund that? Well, we want to fund small business. Great, fund small business, fund the airlines, fund whatever you want. But how do you not fund the state government that you know is in charge of reopening this entire nation, right? So we have to be smart.

I want to thank Michael Dowling again. I want to thank Northwell and all the people not just for today's hospitality, but more importantly for all the beautiful work that they have done. Thank you very much.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo there. Hello, everyone I'm Fredricka Whitfield with this special 1:00 p.m. hour of "THE NEWSROOM." And you can catch GPS with Fareed Zakaria tonight at 11:00. So you've been watching the governor there, Andrew Cuomo, give an update on the number of coronavirus cases in his state. That number of hospitalizations going down. But he says 507 New Yorkers died yesterday.

I'm joined now by CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Celine Gounder; Dr. Khalilah Gates, pulmonologist and a critical care specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. CNN Correspondent Jason Carroll. All right. So there is a little bit of for everyone there.

We heard from the governor. Yes, he said, while hospitalizations are down and the number of deaths in New York are down, he says, really this is just halftime. And he says don't jeopardize the progress. And he also said that more needs to be known and learned. And he is also pleading for the federal government to step in and help more. He said this week there will be antibody testing as well as diagnostic testing.

So Dr. Celine Gounder let's begin with you, and halftime, do you agree with him that more has to be learned before there is any reopening to any normalcy?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST AND EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Well, there are sort of two key pieces that need to happen, Fredricka, before we reopen. One is on the level of public health readiness and the other is health care system readiness.

So in terms of the public health system, we need to be able to do the contact tracing and testing so that we know what's happening where and so we can respond to it. And so that is where the antibody testing Governor Cuomo described comes in. It's really to figure out where has the virus been and where might it be going.

And then in terms of health care system readiness, we can't have another situation where hospitals are overwhelmed, because that will mean an increased rate of death from this. And so we need to make sure that when we reopen, we have the adequate staffing, supplies and capability to deal with it. We know there's going to be more transmission when we reopen. So we need to be ready to deal with that.


WHITFIELD: Dr. Khalilah Gates, even Deborah Birx who is on the task force said today on CBS that it is still unknown whether being infected with coronavirus and recovering will give you immunity from the virus in the future. So given that, that underscores what Governor Cuomo was saying, it's so much still needs to be learnt. What would happen during diagnostic testing that the governor was talking about would be taking place soon as well in New York?

DR. KHALILAH GATES, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY FEINBERG SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: So what we're hoping for is to be able - to be able to identify safely people who have had the virus have recovered and can safely kind of re-enter the workforce and minimize this kind of flaring up of the of the virus and the amount of people that are sick. And so, we need lots of diagnostics, as previously stated, the ability to test more and more people as well as kind of working out this antibody testing so that we can strategically start to open up.

WHITFIELD: Jason, the plea coming from the governor there of more federal help. And also making a very grim forecast that if not for some federal government help, at least in New York, you could see the education system suffering from 50 percent cuts and then essential workers also being jeopardized in many ways.

You know, he really was kind of weaving in between governor and also pop as he called himself, really trying to paint a picture, while there is some glimmer of hope. You know this is still very much a very threatening situation.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very much so, Fredricka. And the way he put it was this. He said, look - he said the state has controlled the beast, but it's not killed the beast. Again, he gave very encouraging numbers in terms of hospitalizations being down, intubation being down as well.

But then again he reminded people that, look, still 1,300 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19. He talked about 507 people died yesterday from COVID-19. And in order to get to the second phase, what he called the second phase and as you said it's got to be tied to the testing.

And then he outlined in some ways about this antibody testing that's going to be taking place in the state. Listen to how he detailed what's going to happen going forward.

Well basically what he was saying is that in terms of the antibody testing, he said, it's going to be some of the most aggressive testing that we're going to be seeing throughout the entire country. He said it's going to be a large survey of the population. And what health officials here want to do is they want to get some sort of a sense of how many people were infected by the virus and then self-resolved.

In terms of going forward, in terms of federal help. The governor has made it clear, not just at this briefing, Fredricka, but in previous briefings that it's going to have to be a partnership with the federal government.

And the reason for that is that, some of the chemicals that are needed for this particular testing those chemicals come in - and that's why you're going to need help from the federal government going forward. And so it's some sort of a coordinated effort between the states and the federal government.

One other point here as well, you know that--

WHITFIELD: We have that sound bite from the governor cut for you now. So let's listen to what he said.



CUOMO: Now that we have the approved test, we're going to be rolling it out to do the largest survey of any state population that has been done and we'll take thousands of tests - antibody tests over this next week all across the state to give us a real snapshot, a real baseline of exactly how many people were infected by coronavirus and have the antibodies.

So we'll have the first real statistical number on exactly where we are as a population. You know, they talk about herd immunity we talk about infection rate and we're all trying to extrapolate from that.


CARROLL: Glad we get the governor's words in there. Also, President Trump was tweeting about the state's response. He was tweeting, basically saying that he was right about the ventilators. He says he's right about the testing and that the states have to step up in order to get the job done.

Cuomo was asked about that during this briefing and he said look - in some ways the President is correct. He said states do have to step up more to get the job done. But he also made a point that the federal government has to do the same. Fredricka?


WHITFIELD: Yes. Dr. Gounder on those antibody tests, the governor also underscored that it has to be random. How will that state or anyone go about doing these random tests? At what juncture would they be retrieving these antibodies from various patients or victims of COVID?

GOUNDER: Right. So the point here is really to assess where has the disease been and where might it be going. It's not to make decisions on an individual level. And so you really want to get a representative sample of the entire population. So that means you want to make sure you get different demographics, different socioeconomic status, different occupations, different geography. So that really needs to be done essentially as a research study to inform what public health officials do.

I think it's also important to understand that these antibody tests are not created equal. In New York, we're going to be using the state labs antibody test as well as some that have been developed by academic medical centers. But there's a bunch that are not FDA approved coming from China that unfortunately have not been tested in any way and that are being used by some small businesses out there. And from the data that we're seeing with some of those, they're really faulty.

I mean, how many times have you ordered something from Amazon and from China that looked great online, but then didn't perform. And unfortunately that's really going to be throwing a wrench into all of this antibody testing, because I'm not sure that everybody understands that these tests are not all equivalent. WHITFIELD: All right Doctors Gounder, Gates, and Jason thanks to all of you. Appreciate it. We're going to take a short break for now. We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Washington from the White House to 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 Steve Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: I'm hopeful that 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): I think we're very close to agreement.


WHITFIELD: Let's go to CNN's Kristen Holmes at the White House. So, Kristen why so much optimism.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, small businesses hearing that are definitely going to be optimistic. We know that this has been such a hard time and they are hoping for any kind of financial relief. But let's talk about what exactly was a hurdle here.

We know that Democrats were asking for more money in terms of hospitals. They were looking for funding for hazard pay for those frontline workers and they were also looking for state and local funding. Let's put up what's actually going to be in the deal.

Now, these are the preliminary numbers here. Keep in mind this in still a negotiation. But take a look. We have $310 billion dollars for Payment Protection Program. We have the $75 billion for hospitals, community health centers; $25 billion for coronavirus testing and $60 billion for disaster loans under the separate Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

Obviously, what you don't see in there is that hazard pay or that state and local funding. However, both sides are sounding very optimistic. Take a listen to what the Secretary of Treasury said about a timeline on getting this done.


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'd be back up and running.


HOLMES: And I do want to note one thing here because I've gotten a lot of questions about this. Jake Tapper did ask Mnuchin when those checks were going out? When those paper checks were going out? And he said they hadn't been sent out yet, but they were hoping to do it in the near future - possibly next week.

WHITFIELD: OK. And then, of course, we heard from Cuomo earlier and other states governors are saying we need some federal money. Well this was the President yesterday on that very notion.


TRUMP: They don't want to use all of the capacity that we've created. We have tremendous capacity. Dr. Brix will be explaining that. They know that. The governors know that. The Democrat governors know that. They're the ones that are complaining.


WHITFIELD: And what is the White House achieving on that remark from the President.

HOLMES: Well, look, let's go to the response here, because what we know is that we have talked to state officials on both sides of the aisle who say that testing is a huge issue. We just heard Governor Cuomo saying that they need federal help. Why? Because some of these supplies are international.

States cannot take control of an international supply chain. That is where the federal government needs to be stepping in. We've also heard that some of these state labs and private labs do not have capacity. They do have room for more testing. However, the big problem still being that they don't have the supplies. Now, take a listen to governors today pushing back on the president's remarks.


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. 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. It's just absolutely false.

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): We've been fighting for testing. Now, it's not straightforward test. We don't even have enough swabs, believe it or not, and we're ramping that up by for. 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.

[13:25:00] GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): That would be nice if we had a national strategy that was working with the states where every state knew precisely what was coming. But at the end of the day, 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 reengage in sectors of our economy.


HOLMES: And you heard it there again, missing swabs, missing chemicals, those reagents. Now I do want to note that President Trump said that they'll be sending out 5.5 million swabs to the states later this week.

But the key thing to remember here is that all of these governors are saying the same thing. They need this rapid mass testing in order to reopen the economy. This is something President Trump wants. To see whether or not these sides can come together and the federal government can step in, that is what we're watching for to see when these states will start their reopening of their economies.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kristen Holmes at the White House, thank you so much.

All right still to come for the Navajo Nation a dire situation unfolding. How a six room intensive care unit in New Mexico could mean the difference between life and death.



WHITFIELD: Mexico's a senior health official in charge of the country is coronavirus response says, he is skeptical about how deadly the virus really is. In an interview with "The Wall Street Journal," the deputy health minister says COVID-19 may not be any more deadly than an ordinary outbreak of the flu.

CNN's Matt Rivers is in Mexico City. So Matt, Mexico hasn't had an outbreak on the scale of many other countries. There are about what 7,500 confirmed cases. And some critics of Mexico's response say the country's president has been skeptical about the dangers of the virus overall.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean that's been the overriding criticism of the Lopez Obrador administration is that the president himself has really been skeptical of just how bad this situation actually is, and the number of cases reported.

Remember, Fred, that there's only been about 45,000 tests in total done in this country. So, yes, there's 7,500 cases. It's lower than other countries. But the actual number of cases according to that deputy health minister is likely well above 60,000 at this point. But getting back to that "Wall Street Journal" interview with Deputy Health Secretary Lopez-Gatell. He basically said that he's not convinced that this pandemic is any worse than an ordinary influenza outbreak. He was quoted as saying, "I don't know yet. The W.H.O says it could be 10 times that of influenza. But I think we need to see more evidence."

Now while it's true that most experts will tell you that it's too early, simply put, to know how deadly this virus outbreak actually is in terms of the outbreak. A lot of people would tell you that it's definitely more deadly than an ordinary influenza outbreak. But whether he's right or not about the death rate, it goes to this overall criticism of the administration here of downplaying this threat.

The health secretary himself has told people, look, take this seriously, stay at home. But when he says things like it might not be more deadly than an ordinary influenza outbreak, it leads to this mentality that I've seen among so many Mexicans that I've spoken to here. You know people say (Foreign Language), which means, basically, nothing bad is going to happen. It isn't that bad.

And so while this health secretary says, yes, take this seriously. At the same time when he says, well, it might not be any worse than the influenza outbreak in an ordinary times that leads to this mentality here that you see so often, Fred, of people simply not taking this viral threat as seriously as they probably should.

WHITFIELD: All right. Matt Rivers in Mexico City, thank you so much.

All right. Native American tribes say the federal government isn't doing enough to provide coronavirus relief. Remote reservations like the Navajo Nation say the pandemic has stretched already limited resources to the brink. Here now is CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a look at the nurse in the yellow being suited up.

The protective mask she is wearing is a welder's mask. Personal protective equipment is at such a premium that this hospital has bought 60 masks from a welding company.

This, one of the many challenges for the Gallup, New Mexico, Indian Medical Center, which sits adjacent to the remote splendor of America's Navajo Nation.

DR. JONATHAN IRALU, INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE: This is the largest ICU in Navajo Nation.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): An Infectious Disease Expert for the federal Indian Health Service takes me inside the intensive care unit.

IRALU: We transformed this kind of regular ICU into a COVID unit. We're doing this we never would have thought were proper, like put the IV poles out here in the doorway, where some might trip over them. This is the best way for the nurse to be able to manage the medications without having to put on PPE every time the nurse goes in the room.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): In that room, a very sick woman who has been on a ventilator for about a week. And in a nearby room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roll it down and squeeze it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Like toothpaste, huh?





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just be careful with the one that's got the thing missing. Because, like I said, it will squirt your face.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): A woman who appears to be in even more dire shape, about to get what's known as a fresh frozen plasma transfusion.

IRALU: It's an FFP transfusion to prevent breathing problems, at this time and it's part of her resuscitation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a few deep breaths.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And how seriously ill?

IRALU: That's a very critically-ill person right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She went in there. There was a patient in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So, we'll just go ahead.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): While this is the largest ICU of the four Indian Health Service hospitals in the Navajo area, it is much smaller than you would likely think.

TUCHMAN (on camera): There are six rooms. Right now, they're all full. And what happens when people come in, and have to go into the intensive care unit with no rooms, often they have to be flown 130 miles to Albuquerque. It's very upsetting for members of the Navajo Nation to leave their nation, to go to Albuquerque. But, unfortunately, that's become a necessity.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It also happens when people with COVID-19 already in the ICU needs special surgery, or procedures, that aren't able to be done in such a rural area.

IRALU: The Navajo people live between four sacred mountains. And, in general, people prefer to stay in this area. They're - basically their homeland.

DR. LORETTA CHRISTENSEN, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, NAVAJO AREA INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE: Many of our staff speak Navajo, so it's very comfortable for them to be here with us here on Navajo Nation.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): When members of the Navajo Nation feel they might have COVID-19, they are initially seen outside this hospital, in tents that have been set up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any body aches, muscle aches?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): And then.

TUCHMAN (on camera): This is where suspected COVID patients are first brought, the emergency room.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Patients are evaluated here, and then they might go to a Coronavirus ward, where there is some good news today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get a chest X-ray, some labs.

IRALU: Yes, sounds good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to re-test her.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think likely we'll be able to get her out of here.

IRALU: Super.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the plan.

IRALU: That's outstanding, thank you.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Navajo Nation, with about 175,000 people, who live here, has more cases of COVID-19 than nine entire states, more deaths than 13 states. And according to the Chief Medical Officer of the Navajo Area Indian Health Service--

CHRISTENSEN: I do not believe we have hit our peak yet.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): There are believed to be enough ventilators here. But the PPE shortage is very concerning.

IRALU: Try to tell them to be strong, to use all their PPE, and try to get some rest, so that they stay healthy.

TUCHMAN (on camera): But it weighs on you.

IRALU: It does. TUCHMAN (voice-over): Before we leave the hospital, a decision is made. The woman in this room, who needed the transfusion, needs critical care she can only get in a bigger city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Patient coming through now.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): So, she is brought out on a stretcher, and will be taken by ambulance to a plane, for a flight to a bigger city hospital, where doctors will try to save her life.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Gallup, New Mexico.


WHITFIELD: Up next, President Trump attacks the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. So what's fueling this latest war of words?



WHITFIELD: President Trump leveled a series of disrespectful attacks on the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Twitter, calling her and I'm quoting now from the President of United States calling the House Speaker, "inherently dumb person." CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood joining me now with more on this, Sarah?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Fred, President Trump and Speaker Pelosi have definitely been trading barbs a lot in recent days as talks over an influx of emergency loans for small businesses has just totally deadlocked. And obviously, that stalemate has continued into this weekend.

And the Speaker has also been increasingly visible in recent days as these talks have been going on. For example, just this morning she did a couple of Sunday show interviews. Late last week, she also appeared on one of the late night television shows. And so President Trump has been taking aim at her, including this morning, in that tweet you just mentioned.

And I want to read you part of it. He wrote, "Nervous Nancy is an inherently dumb person. She wasted all of her time on the impeachment hoax. She will be overthrown either by inside or out, just like her last time as Speaker."

And yesterday at the Coronavirus Task Force briefing, President Trump accused Pelosi of just sitting in her house while the PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program has run dry. Those talks continuing on Capitol Hill. And Speaker Pelosi, this morning, accused the President of trying to shift blame wherever possible. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, she thinks it's politics. I don't think it's good politics. Nancy Pelosi has been blocking it. Schumer has been blocking it. And I think they think it's good politics. I don't think it's good politics. I think it's bad politics.

But I don't care about the politics. It's so great for our country, because we're going to have all of these companies that are good. You know it's a bigger employer - let's say it's the same. But essentially it's the same power, all of these small businesses added together, as the big companies. About 50/50 and it's all important and they will be scattered if we weren't able to do what we're doing.

And essentially we're giving these small businesses that won't make it, they can't because they're closed. We're giving them money to take care of their employees, so when we open they can get back into business. It's been a very popular plan even with Democrats. I think it basically passed unanimously twice the first section which is 350 billion. So we're trying to get 215--

PELOSI: Frankly, I don't pay that much attention of the President's tweets against me. As I've said he's a poor leader. He's always trying to avoid responsibility and assign blame.


WESTWOOD: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said this morning that both sides are getting close to a deal, so a little bit of reason for optimism there. That would include $300 billion, little bit more than that going into that Paycheck Protection Program which ran out of money this week. It would also include 75 billion for hospitals and another 25 billion for testing and 60 billion in additional emergency loans through a different program for small businesses.

But, notably, it doesn't include at this moment money for states and local governments. That's something Pelosi this morning was talking about as being necessary. It's something that Democrats had held out for in these talks.


And one of the reasons why the President, as we just heard was going so hard after Pelosi, going so hard after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, that PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program is something the administration has held up as a rare success story of their efforts to help from this economic fallout that we've seen from the coronavirus.

And even though it did have a rocky rollout, some technical difficulties, a lot of small businesses who were able to get money from that first round of funding for PPP have reported successful results. Able to keep some of their workers on the payroll so that's something the White House, obviously, Fred, is very eager to get money pushed into. Both sides still, though, not quite at a finalized deal.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much. All right straight ahead. A handful of states could reopen as early as the first week of May. How companies are gearing up for the challenges ahead.


[13:50:00] WHITFIELD: With new federal guidelines established this week to help state and local officials reopen their economies, businesses will begin to tackle their own plans for reopening. But ensuring a smooth and safe return for employees won't be a black and white issue.

To help understand how companies should be preparing their return to work policies let's bring in Jonathan Wackrow, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former Secret Service agent. Good to see you Jonathan.


WHITFIELD: So you're actually advising corporations on how they should plan to bring their workforce back and what are the biggest challenges, what are you instructing them?

WACKROW: Well, Fred, what we've seen the biggest challenges that organizations and businesses are facing right now is actually contextualizing what factors are going into the decision making process to reopen in returning to normal operations.

And there are two things that businesses need to think about, their external factors and internal factors. On the external side, it's things that we've been talking about on CNN a lot. It's ensuring the community is healthy for the return.

So the factors that go into that which actually have a measured impact on businesses are, proven therapeutics and antivirals that are in place. Antibody testing is something we're talking about a tremendous amount, health surveillance and monitoring, and most importantly, the health of our hospitals and health systems. All of those go into the construct of ensuring that there's a healthy community to return to operations.

The internal factors are aligning to that which are what businesses need to do in terms of policies and procedures pursuant to employees, making sure that they are healthy on their return. That we have a healthy workforce that's entering.

Also, what type of - different types of procedures need to be done within the office place in terms of you know do we bring back the entire workforce or a percentage of it. Density is a big issue. Occupancy rates. So there are - those two factors are a balancing act, and that's what's the biggest challenge for all organizations is to think about how to balance those two.

WHITFIELD: And what about what should be in place in these workplaces to promote safety. Or did there have to be some new configurations that some of these companies have to put into place in order to ensure that everyone is safe.

WACKROW: Well, listen, it goes into - there are going to be guidelines that come out from health officials whether it's the CDC or otherwise. Most importantly for organizations right now it's in implementing reassurance measures to their employees and to their customers that when the time does come in is appropriate to return to normal operations employees feel safe to return. And focusing in on the consumer. We want to know what does it mean when you take for consumers to come into the door, what type of measures do we have to put into place so that they feel safe?

And, unfortunately, just CDC guidelines are not going to outline those reassurance measures, because they're going to be very specific not only to an industry but to every single organization in in itself.

So there's going to be a little bit of trial and error here, but making sure that you're using research to drive decision making processes right now in terms of return to operations is going to be critical.

And what we're also guiding is, just because we're returning, you're allowed to return. There's - there may not be - it may not be necessary to rush and be the first person or first organization in your industry to open. A measured response is really appropriate in this instance because the health of employees in the health of consumers is paramount.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jonathan Wackrow, thank you so much.

WACKROW: Thank you very much, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up. Congress on the verge of reaching a deal to help struggling small businesses. The nation's treasury secretary reveals when lawmakers could pass more than $300 billion.



WHITFIELD: Today marks 25 years since the nation was devastated by the Oklahoma City bombing. And this year, the memorial service which is usually held at the bombing site to commemorate the tragedy is a video tribute streamed across the country due to the restrictions from coronavirus.

168 people were killed and hundreds of others injured in that domestic terror attack when a truck bomb was detonated at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. 19 children were among those killed in the blast.

Today, former President Bill Clinton wrote an op-ed in "The Oklahoman," drawing a parallel to the coronavirus crisis saying quote. "This act of unimaginable cruelty broke our hearts, but brought out the very best in America. The best way to honor those who perished in Oklahoma City and those all across America lost in the current crisis, is to embrace the Oklahoma standard: service, honor and kindness. It worked wonders before it will again."

WHITFIELD: 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 dollars into the Paycheck Protection Plan for small businesses. Funds from the initial $350 billion emergency coronavirus relief package ran out within weeks. Here's--