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President Trump Clashes with States Over Testing, Vows to Increase Swab Production; Trump Says Deal on Small Business Aid Could Come Monday; Shake Shack to Return Entire $10 Million Stimulus Loan. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 20, 2020 - 05:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Hi, welcome to our viewers joining us here in the U.S. and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Robyn Curnow. So, just ahead on the show, as U.S. governors plead for more testing, Donald Trump hits back and says it is a local problem. But the U.S. also says he'll use federal powers to produce millions more swabs. And new desperately needed aid for small businesses after the last round ran dry. What we're expecting out of Washington today.


So the U.S. coronavirus death toll exceeds 40,000 people. It's the highest in the world and more than three-quarters of a million people are infected. But at Sunday's briefing, President Donald Trump praised his administration's response to the crisis. He said a U.S. company would be compelled to produce more testing swabs under the Defense Production Act. However, he insisted widespread testing was not a federal responsibility.

Mr. Trump also said details on another huge economic aid package could come early this week and include $300 billion for paycheck protection. And Sunday saw more protests against movement restrictions in some U.S. states like this one in Nashville, Tennessee. At the briefing, Mr. Trump called the demonstrators good people who just had cabin fever.

Well, now governors are telling everyone that they need more tests before they can safely re-open. The White House insists they have plenty already. Natasha Chen looks at the state of the nation right now.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been 50 days since the first coronavirus death in the U.S. That death toll is more than 40,000, nearly double from one week ago. Yet with 22 million people who filed for unemployment in the last month, there are increasing calls for and indications of America soon re-opening. Florida's re-opening beaches, Texas is rolling out plans to soon resume commerce and people are protesting in several states against stay-at-home orders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom and liberty, we're losing it.

CHEN: President Trump is itching to re-open America.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to start to open our country.

CHEN: Not just to reboot an economy in free fall, but with his poll numbers sliding and an election just months away, to resume a treasured past-time.

TRUMP: Well, I hope we can do rallies, it's great for the country. It's great spirit. It's great for a lot of things.

CHEN: But Trump has acknowledged it's the governors who are the authorities when it comes to re-opening society.

TRUMP: Governors will be empowered to tailor an approach that meets the diverse circumstances of their own state. Every state is very different.

CHEN: And many of those governors from both parties have said it won't be safe to re-open until the Trump administration extends them one critical life line.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): More help is needed from the federal government on testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We simply have not had enough test kits.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): We governors are doing the best we can with what we've got.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The president doesn't want to help on testing.

CHEN: Trump fired back, calling the governors complainers and saying he's already created, quote, "tremendous capacity when it comes to testing."

TRUMP: They don't want to use all of the capacity that we've created. The governors know that. The Democrat governors know that. They're the ones that are complaining.

CHEN: Republican governors have been sounding the alarm, too.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): 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.

CHEN: And just a day after Trump sent a trio of tweets urging his supporters to, quote, "liberate Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia", all states governed by Democrats, he openly supported the actions of the protesters who have chosen to disregard social distancing measures while millions more heed the expert's advice and stay at home. TRUMP: I just think that some of the governors have gotten carried


CHEN: Offering only blame instead of the assistance governors say they so desperately need.

CUOMO: Don't pass the buck without passing the bucks.

CHEN (on camera): Already we're starting to see one state planning to re-open some things this week. According to the Charleston, South Carolina paper, "The Post and Courier", the governor there is expected to announce tomorrow that beach goers and visitors will be allowed public access to rivers and lakes. And that retail stores that have been closed for two weeks will be allowed to start accepting customers purchasing clothing, furniture and jewelry according to the new order.


CURNOW: Thanks, Natasha, for that. So, on Sunday, the president again touted his record and lashed out at media. Our Jeremy Diamond has more on that. Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump briefed reporters on Sunday in the White House briefing room, and the president in large part was focusing on the accomplishments of his administration. The president talking about the successes of his administration's response and also playing clips and reading clips of praise from other people for his administration and his personal response.

So the president reading at one point clips from a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed entitled "Trump Rewrites the Book on Emergencies", and then the president also played a clip from the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo praising his and the federal government's response. That's when I pressed the president on, on Sunday.


DIAMOND: The clip that you played and what you read earlier was praising you and your administration --


To do that, sir.

TRUMP: All I played today was Governor Cuomo saying very positive things about the job the federal government has done --

DIAMOND: On the day that 40,000 Americans have now died --

TRUMP: And those people have been just absolutely excoriated by some of the fake news like you. You're CNN, you're fake news. And let me just tell you, they were excoriated by people like you that don't know any better because you don't have the brains you were born with.

[05:10:00] You should be praising the people that have done a good job, not doing

what you do. Even that question, so just so you understand, if we didn't do a job --

DIAMOND: The question is why now, sir? The question is why now? Not why are you doing --

TRUMP: I will tell you why now, are you ready? Because these people are right now in hospitals. It's dangerous. It's going to a battlefield.


DIAMOND: Now, the president's response there isn't truthful. The president wasn't focused on healthcare workers, doctors, nurses on the frontlines of this coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the president was talking about praise from individuals about him and his response and his administration's response. Now, the president did take other questions and he was pressed on this issue of testing.

Now, the president in recent days has sought to pass the buck over to governors suggesting that testing is no longer a federal responsibility, but something that states and localities have to focus on. We heard that once again from the president on Sunday. Now, but at the same time, we did hear the president say that he will be invoking the Defense Production Act to increase production of those testing swabs.

That is one of the requests that we've heard from Democratic and Republican governors across the country. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.

CURNOW: Thanks, Jeremy. So, a deal to bring further financial relief to American small businesses could be hours away. The bill will provide hundreds of billions of dollars and additional loans to keep struggling businesses afloat. Now, that's after the initial relief program of $350 billion ran out of money less than two weeks after it was launched.

There have also been complaints that some of that stimulus money meant for small businesses was actually claimed by relatively large companies. I want to talk about that with Christine Romans and she joins us now from New York. Christine, hi, good --


CURNOW: To see you. So, from what I understand, I mean, there was a lot of confusion as to why folks couldn't access these small loans. And now, it seems like huge chunks of this money were gobbled up by chains and restaurants, hotels, corporations. Why not --

ROMANS: And Congress actually wrote the -- wrote the CARES Act this way, so some of these big restaurant chains could access this money, up to -- up to $10 million. And in fact, more than a dozen -- I believe a dozen of these publicly-traded companies did get those PPP loans meant for small business. Now one of them, Shake Shack, says it's giving the money back. They say that it's -- there were no -- there were no instructions really on how to get this money or what to do with it, and they find it very poorly written and poorly disseminated, the money.

So, they're given the money back. They are publicly-traded company, they were able to access public markets for the money that they will need to stay afloat here. But the small business money needs to be replenished. There's no question. I mean, these problems aside, they need to replenish this money. There are all of these businesses who have not been able to get to the head of the line to get this money, and they are running out of time.

You know, it has been four weeks into the jobs crisis here, four weeks into the jobs crisis, and that these companies are still trying to tap money so they can keep their workers.

CURNOW: Yes, and I think what is so sad in many ways, is that a lot of these mom and pop small business owners really just needed a several thousand dollars or you know, not that much. Whereas a lot of these big chains have taken $10 million. So much that could have helped ordinary people around the country. How can they be certain that the second round isn't also swallowed up by the big boys?

ROMANS: I mean, you can't, actually, unless they write it in there, very specifically. And when I was listening to the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin talking to our Jake Tapper yesterday, it wasn't clear that they were going to make sure that their rules here so that small business owners -- especially small businesses who don't have, you know -- they don't have a lot of lending agreements already with banks.

Maybe they haven't gone and had to borrow money before, so they're just starting new relationships with banks. They've had a really hard time accessing this money, and that's exactly who it is meant for. It's meant for these mom and pop folks who can access the money. And the great thing about it, I mean, the great thing about the way it is designed, is if you use 75 percent of this loan to pay your workers, the loan is forgiven. It is free money.

It's meant to keep you going here. One of the things that the Shake Shack CEO said in his letter, saying that they were turning down the money now, that I thought was so interesting is, you know, they said that in the statute, it's written that you've got to hire this people back by the end of June. Look, June might be too soon.

And there are going to be waves of this virus across the country. So, the timing there suggesting -- over to the Shake Shack CEO suggesting, maybe you need to give companies six months to hire back their workers to -- before you know, you can relief that loan or you know, just -- it's just too -- it's just not -- it doesn't fit for the times right now, and that's one of the problems.

CURNOW: Yes, I think there's also a concern about the influence of lobbyists here, and that doesn't --

ROMANS: Oh, yes -- CURNOW: Help either. That doesn't help either. Let's hope ordinary

folks can try and get some of this second lot of money --

ROMANS: Yes --

CURNOW: Good to see you, happy Monday --

ROMANS: You too, Robyn --

CURNOW: Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You, too.

CURNOW: So, beginning today, New York will launch what its governor calls the most aggressive statewide antibody testing survey in the U.S. Andrew Cuomo says this will allow health officials to determine the percentage of the population who are immune to the virus.


Now, that will allow more people to return to work. But the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator says there's still a lot to learn when it comes to immunity.


DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: In most infectious diseases, but except for HIV, we know that when you get sick and you recover, and you develop antibody, that, that antibody is often conferred as immunity. We just don't know if it's immunity for a month, immunity for six months, immunity for six years.


CURNOW: OK, but it's not just the testing that's an issue. Across the Atlantic, some British hospitals are criticizing their government over a shortage of personal protective equipment, PPE for healthcare workers. They say the government has made promises it cannot deliver, and they are in urgent need of more hospital gowns on the frontlines of this fight.

So, let's go straight to the U.K.. Dr. Ron Daniels is an intensive care doctor with Britain's NHS, National Health Service, and joins me now. Doctor, great to see you. And there's been a lot of criticism about how the government has handled this. I know, there was a report out in the "Sunday Times", the government's come back heavily against that. How does all this impact you in the ICU, the political debate?

RON DANIELS, NHS INTENSIVE CARE DOCTOR: So we try a clinical co-phase to largely ignore the politics. What we're interested in is, can we protect our staff? Can we protect our patients from transmission of viral particles from the health professionals? And that's why several of the royal colleges in the U.K. have come out against government guidance today which suggests that as happened in New York State a couple of weeks ago, we should be re-using PPE. There is no evidence to suggest that, that is a safe practice. CURNOW: So, what you're saying is you're actually not taking the

advice of the government because you don't trust the supply chain, the supply line that's coming in. So, what are you doing? Are you re- using? What about gowns?

DANIELS: So, we've got to be pragmatic here. We've got to use the PPE that's available. We've got to balance the risk to health professionals, and of course to their families against the risks of not delivering care in the correct manner to our patients. But the priority has to be to protect ourselves. And if we haven't got the right PPE, that is going to affect decision-making.

So, what we're doing at the co-phase is we're getting politics out of the way, we're working out how we can safely use the PPE that we do have available, and sometimes that will include making sure that non- essential staff, so perhaps junior doctors, junior nurses who were there to learn aren't accessing the patients because we don't have sufficient PPE for them.

CURNOW: So, you are essentially rationing PPE on the ground, you know, out of your own -- out of your own decision-making process. I mean, we've seen some images over the past few weeks in some places where nurses and doctors were wearing garbage bags. I mean, is that the concern that you're getting to here?

DANIELS: Well, that's shocking. And you know, let me be absolutely clear here. On my intensive care unit, I would not support my staff accessing critically ill patients with COVID-19 wearing nothing but garbage bags for protection. Those extreme circumstances, they are real, we have seen those. They've happened as a consequence. So the devolution of procurement and supply chains to individual departments within individual hospitals, to the care sector, the social sector and so forth.

So, where we've had good management, where we've had good procurements, PPE stocks are available, but that hasn't been uniform.

CURNOW: So, in the U.K. and I suppose it's a bit like that across the world and certainly here in the U.S., are you seeing a very patchy response? Some hospitals are doing OK, others are, you know, not doing OK. And is it going to kind of point where you're going to have to start sharing between hospitals or is everybody stockpiling what they've got?

DANIELS: Well, of course, it's not just sharing between hospitals, it's sharing between countries. You know, we've heard today that Turkey has banned all exports of PPE. So it's about understanding where the global stocks are and mobilizing them to where they are needed most at that particular time. Stockpiling PPE beyond a supply that will see people through the next month is probably irresponsible practice because we don't know the pattern of this virus, where it's going to hit hard next.

But we need to ensure that supply chains are there, that there is absolute linkage between the national supply chain and the local procurement and local supply chains where necessary involving agencies like the military in the U.K. We're very fortunate in my hospital because we have the defense medical services and they've been helping us with logistics. That sort of practice should be normal.

CURNOW: How are you feeling about this? I know that you're probably tired, this has been exhausting, emotional, this has been a once in a life-time kind of experience for many medical staff. How are you feeling? Are you angry or are you rallying? Particularly because it looks like there's still a few more weeks of this to come and hit you.


DANIELS: Well, determined. I mean, I've had COVID-19, and thankfully, I had my mild symptoms. But as your earlier report suggested, we don't know that, that guarantees my immunity against re-infection. So, we have to be careful, we have to look after our more junior staff and our colleagues.

So, we are determined. There are some frustrations, I think it's fair to say, we are all in this together. We need to ensure that, that linkage between the local hospitals, the department within the hospitals and a national supply chain is absolutely bright, and we need to improve the way we're testing our health professionals and our patients.

CURNOW: What are the patients saying to you? I mean, obviously, they come to you in the ICU and they're pretty sick. What's the kind of feeling that you're getting from them, has it changed over the past few weeks?

DANIELS: So we still have fear. We have fear that is precipitated by the fact that COVID-19, if patients do become critically ill, is associated with a higher death rate than other critical illness conditions. So, if they come to our notice, and we're considering whether or not to ventilate the patients, then they are fearful. Balancing that though is a desire. They know that ventilation, if they get that done well, might be their only chance, and they are urging us to help them because they're tired.

Their work at breathing is difficult. They are very anxious. So we have patients who recognize that they might need critical care, are anxious about it. But among the broader public, we have huge ground swell of support for the NHS, for other key workers within the U.K. And that's really boing the staff along.

CURNOW: Yes, I think it certainly is, and we can seen there has been such a huge ground swell of support for all of you guys there in the U.K. Dr. Ron Daniels, appreciate it as always, thanks for your work and keep strong.

DANIELS: Thank you.

CURNOW: OK, so, Italy is now looking to adopt antibody tests designed to see if anyone has had the virus in the past. So, this quick test could be key to re-opening the country. But there are questions about their reliability. Ben Wedeman and his team tried one of these tests under consideration with mixed results. Take a look at this. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just three drops of blood are enough for a Chinese-made antibody test for the coronavirus now going through a trial run in Italy, just one of several tests being examined by the Italian government. Other countries have had mixed success with such quickly-designed tests, but we give it a try.

We were up in the north of Italy in the red zones for 17 days, so we are very anxious to see the results of this test. Unlike swabs, this test gives results in just eight minutes. The result says Dr. John Dominique Bersone(ph) can tell us three things, either, you never had anything or that you are currently infected or that you had the infection but overcame it and have antibodies that are no longer contagious. I received a clean bill of health.


WEDEMAN: Negative?


WEDEMAN: And never had it?


WEDEMAN: Never had it. Alfredo, who drove us all over northern Italy for two weeks, also negative. CNN's Rome's veteran cameraman Alessandro Gentille(ph) however, had a different result. Positive, says, Dr. Bersone. He had the virus in the past and has brilliantly overcome it. Alessandro(ph) never had any symptoms. But our bodies can take time to produce antibodies, so experts caution that these tests may miss some recent current infections, unlike the more common swab tests which should be able to detect whenever someone is shedding the virus.

Antibody tests like the one I got, quick, painless and inexpensive, just around$20, can show who's already been infected with COVID-19 and may now be immune to the virus.


A critical step as Italy shifts into phase two, the phase when the country reopens. Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri who caught the virus and has since recovered says such tests will initially focus on critical sectors before becoming widespread.

PIERPAOLO SILERI, DEPUTY HEALTH MINISTER, ITALY: Simple. I mean, who is working in the health system should do the test. Who is working for every public utilities should do it. Plus, I would check the population, especially the north.

WEDEMAN: The number of new coronavirus cases in Italy is slowly declining, but the daily death toll remains high. While the International Monetary Fund warns the country's gross domestic product could plummet by more than 9 percent this year. Striking a balance between the economy and public health will not be easy. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


CURNOW: Thanks, Ben, for that. So, you're watching CNN. Still to come, shops in Germany begin to re-open as the country slowly eases its coronavirus restrictions. We'll have a live report, that's next.


CURNOW: Welcome back, I'm Robyn Curnow. So, the Trump administration will now require nursing homes to report coronavirus cases directly to the CDC as well as to patients and their families. Now, this move is designed to improve tracking of the virus and containing its spread. Families have complained they haven't been given information about their loved ones. A tip last week led police to 17 bodies in a morgue at a New Jersey facility, at least, 36 people have died from coronavirus there.

And in New York, doctor shows the virus has killed more than 1,100 nursing.