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Some Southern States Begin Reopening; Congress Reaches Deal to Increase Small Business Funding; Interview with Author David Chang. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 21, 2020 - 14:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: -- cases near 789,000.

Three governors -- Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee -- are easing some restrictions in the next week or so, allowing certain nonessential businesses to reopen. None of the three has met the White House guideline that a state should experience 14 straight days of a downward trend before beginning to restart their economies.

In fact, Georgia saw more than 5,700 new coronavirus cases last week. The governor, though, has stepped forward to be the first among his counterparts to allow nail -- hair salons, tattoo parlors, massage places to open their doors in three days, restaurants and movie theaters to follow.

All this as a source close to the White House Task Force is warning the death toll could surpass recent modeling estimates of 60,000 people if the states move too fast.

Also, two new reports say the number of tests needed for a full reopening of the economy would run into the millions per week. The need for more tests is driving New York's Governor Cuomo to see the president in a few hours in Washington, despite their recent war of words.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We have to do better, we have to do more, and we need more tests.

We need more all across the board. That's why I'm going to Washington.

There's been a lot of discussion about testing, but I don't know that people have really -- I think in many ways, we're talking past each other. I understand the federal government's point that it's up to the states. All right, so then let's just coordinate who does what. What do the states do, what does the federal government do?


COOPER: Also, breaking news this afternoon, a deal has been reached on Capitol Hill to get more money to small businesses. We'll have more on that in just a moment. But first, I want to get to CNN's Erica Hill, who has more on the efforts by governors to reopen in just days.

So what's been the response within these states? We've been talking, obviously all day, toward a number of folks in South Carolina and Georgia.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's mixed in some cases, it's certainly mixed in Georgia, as we've been hearing from our reporters on the ground. And in just the last hour or so, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, tweeting that he agrees with his governor's decision for a limited opening, but says he, quote, "worries that our friends and neighbors in Georgia are going too fast too soon."

And that's a lot of what we're hearing, Anderson, is the concern about the impact of one state's decision on neighboring states, which is interesting because we saw different regions of the country, of course, start to band together as states to talk about reopening, even before the president put forth those guidelines last week.


MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GEORGIA: I will continue to use my voice to encourage people to exercise common sense, listen to the science and stay home. We are not out of the woods --

HILL (voice-over): Georgia's plan to reopen certain businesses this Friday, taking local leaders by surprise.

MAYOR KELLY GIRTZ, ATHENS-CLARKE COUNTY, GEORGIA: It's like telling your quarterback, "We don't have a helmet for you, we don't have pads, but get out there on the field and just try not to get sacked."

ROCHELLE WALENSKY, INFECTIOUS DISEASES CHIEF, MA GENERAL HOSPITAL: Hairdressers, tattoo parlors, you're less than six feet apart in all of those interactions. Many of these things actually are completely counter to some of the measures of mitigation that we've really been trying to deploy.

HILL (voice-over): In South Carolina, beaches and some retail stores are open today, though not in every community.

JOSH OUTLAW HUGHES, FURNITURE STORE WORKER: Do I go back to work to try and make money and risk getting sick? Or do I stay home and go broke?

HILL (voice-over): Realtors, attorneys and construction workers, now cleared in Vermont, though limited to two employees at a time. While New Jersey is opening a new field hospital today. Florida's governor, planning his next step as cases there remain steady. Neighboring Georgia, seeing an uptick along with Kentucky, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland and California.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Progress is being made, you are bending the curve, you're beginning to flatten the curve but it is still nonetheless rising. HILL (voice-over): Antibody tests in Los Angeles show an additional

400,000 people there may have had the virus. Governors around the country continue to push the president for help with diagnostic testing supplies to better understand the spread of the virus. As experts advise, millions of tests will need to be performed each week to safely reopen the country.

CUOMO: Let's not have gone all through this and all we're going to do is go back to where we were. How do you use this as an opportunity to learn the lessons and to build back better? That's what we have to do.

HILL (voice-over): More than 38 million students will likely not return to school this year. The digital divide remains a major hurdle for distance learning. California, announcing private companies are donating 70,000 devices to help bridge the gap. And as the country records more than 42,000 deaths, a sobering reminder of the true toll.

Skylar Herbert, the daughter of first responders in Detroit, died after two weeks on a ventilator.

EBBIE HERBERT, FATHER OF SKYLAR: This is a hurtful feeling that I don't want any other family to have to ever experience.

HILL (voice-over): Skylar was five years old.



HILL: First responders, as you know, have been hit especially hard in Detroit, Anderson. Skylar's mother was a police officer, her father, a firefighter. And he said he just wanted to remind people, this can affect people of any age.

One other note from here in New York City, on a more uplifting note. We hear so much about everything that's been cancelled. Mayor Bill de Blasio, today, saying, Anderson, that when it is time, when the city has reopened, they're going to throw a ticker tape parade for the health care frontline workers who, in the mayor's words, "saved us," saying that it would also be a great sign of the rebirth of this city.

COOPER: Erica, I got worried, that bus -- there was a big bus going behind you, I got -- it seemed like it was very close to you. I got a little worried there for a moment. You doing all right? You in a good location there, you're all right?

HILL: I saw it in the monitor over my shoulder, and you know, we're good. I am surrounded by a team that will not let any bus get near me --


HILL: -- but I appreciate it.

COOPER: All right, good. Just made me a little nervous. Erica, thanks very much, as always. Joining me now is E.R. doctor Rob Davidson. Dr. Davidson, it's good to

see you again. We've been talking throughout these weeks. I want to start, first of all, on these southern states reopening despite warnings from, you know, health professionals, and not even meeting the White House's guidelines for reopening in this stage.

I'm wondering what you think. Is it safe to, you know, have restaurants, movie theaters open next Monday in Georgia?

ROB DAVIDSON, E.R. DOCTOR: As an emergency doctor here for 20 years, if I was a physician in any of those states, I would be extremely concerned. I feel like, you know, we've got to think about -- we have over 42,000 deaths, that's in less than two months, we have that. And just like Governor Cuomo said, if we open up too quickly and we don't use -- you know, again, these guidelines they presented, they were lacking one big piece, was how we're going to do more testing.

But the actual parameters of the guidelines make a lot of sense. Two weeks of declining cases, you go to phase one, you do it all over again, you go to phase two, that actually makes sense. It sounds like there were scientists and health experts behind those. And if they're not going to follow those, I just fear for the people taking care of folks and the folks in those states, and neighboring states and really everywhere because, again, the virus doesn't know borders.

COOPER: You've been raising concerns about testing, the criteria, the lack of it, the -- you know, the difficulties with swabs and reagents and all. Have you seen any improvement? I mean, I remember, last week, we talked about this, we talked about it the week before that. Is it any better where you are? Can -- you know, can anybody now who needs it, wants it, get a test?

DAVIDSON: So just last Friday -- I think we spoke early last week -- last Friday was the first day that, in Michigan -- or at least in my part of Michigan, and we really followed the state (ph) down from the CDC guidelines. Anyone with symptoms, I can order a test. My wife's a family doctor, she does phone screening, she's been ordering tests on people with the classic symptoms.

You know, we still don't have enough capacity to do contact tracing, we need to have manpower to do that. And we don't have enough testing capability to do the contact tracing, to test high-risk groups that are asymptomatic. You know, we're finding anywhere from 15 to 50 percent of folks in certain populations, have the virus but are asymptomatic. That is another part that we need to accomplish.

And, again, calling on the president to just kind of put away the pettiness and you know, use the federal government to get us the supplies, the tests, the swabs, the reagents. Let the states do it, but get us what we need.

COOPER: Is the -- you said the contact tracing isn't being done. Do you mean it's -- you don't have enough to do it if, you know, as we move forward, or right now? I mean, if somebody tests positive, do -- does somebody do contact tracing on them? Who does it? How is it done? DAVIDSON: Yes. I mean, you just need -- I think they estimate it's

about 100,000 people to do adequate contact tracing. So when you get a positive, you need to go and interview that person somehow, probably, over Zoom or over the phone, identify places they've been in contact with people.

Certainly in other countries like South Korea, they are using GPS data on phones, and we're not at that point, may never be at that point, that kind of granularity of tracing.

But at least to be able to do it, in-person tracing, find who those people are, get those people tested, find the positives, you know. If you can't test them, then they end up having to do quarantine for 14 days.

But yes. I mean, if we can get, you know, even 50 percent of contacts traced and quarantined or tested, you know, we're going a long way. And we're just nowhere near that. You know, that's on everyone's mind, but it's just -- the capacity's not there.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Rob Davidson, I appreciate it. Thanks for all your efforts. Thank you.


COOPER: Back to our breaking news from Capitol Hill, a deal has been reached on a desperately needed second round of stimulus funding for small businesses. A vote in the Senate, that's expected at 4:00 p.m. Eastern this afternoon. Let's go to congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly.


So what do we know about this rescue package?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So this package is a lot bigger than I think we expected it to be, which I think underscores just how bad economically things are right now, and a recognition that a lot more needs to be done.

What we're looking at right now, Anderson, is a nearly $500 billion kind of interim rescue package. It adds $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, that small business lending program that ran out of money last week. Also another $60 billion for an emergency loan program over at the SBA, as well, that's also been tapped out.

But it goes further than that. That small business money was what Republicans had been pushing to pass in a clean manner, just by itself, over the course of the last several days. Democrats have pushed to add other things onto that. And they've gotten some of those things. It's about $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers, another $25 billion for testing.

Testing has been the big kind of holdup over the course of the last several days as Democratic leaders and the Trump administration were trying to figure out how to actually put that money into play. It'll be mostly sent to states, there will also be some money sent on the federal level as well.

So those are kind of the primary components of this deal. I'm told at this moment, both sides are reading through the final text to give that final sign-off. but as it stands right now, it appears like the Senate is on track to vote at 4:00 p.m. today, pass this -- at least, that's how it's designed right now.

And then the House should move on it as soon as Thursday, refill that small business loan program and also send out hundreds of billions of more dollars to try and help hospitals on the frontlines, and also try and address the testing issue that has become so paramount over the course of the last several days.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, this is a lot more money than was being discussed, even earlier this morning, I think, if I'm not mistaken.

One of the big criticisms of the first small business package was that big businesses actually were getting a lot of the money because they had ongoing relationships with lenders, and it was much easier for them to just, you know, contact their -- through their contacts, get the money. Does this bill address that?

MATTINGLY: It does, at least in part. I think, look, this is difficult. And I think when you're putting together a program, an emergency situation in the midst of an economic crisis, the goal -- and I think this would be what the people who drafted the program initially on Capitol Hill would tell you -- is, get the money out as fast as possible with as few limitations as possible.

But that creates potential problems, when you have large restaurants or other large public companies being able to tap into those resources.

So what this bill will do is, $60 billion from that $310 billion pot of money going to the Small Business Loan Program, will be designated and split in two parts. $30 billion for banking and credit union institutions under $10 billion in assets, so kind of targeting more of that money to smaller institutions, smaller institutions that perhaps have better relationships with small businesses on the ground in their local communities.

And also $30 billion for CDFI funds, or CDFI institutions, basically banks that are trying to reach under-banked, non-banked, lower-income, maybe small businesses that don't have any relationships with traditional lenders.

So they're trying to do it. I think there's two interesting pieces of this, Anderson, as they try and figure out a way to make sure the money gets to the right place. Is, one, again, you don't want to put too much -- too many restrictions on it because you want this money to go out the door.

But the second is, this money is going to go out the door fast. If you look at how quickly the initial $349 billion in this program basically disappeared, over the course of less than 12 days, you're adding another $310 billion. That's a lot of money, no question about it. But when I've been talking to bank executives, folks in the banking industry over the course of the last several days, they're actually concerned this $310 billion won't last that long at all, maybe over the course of several days. And they might have to go back to doing this all over again.

However, for the time being, given the fact that this program has essentially been shuttered for the better part of a week as these negotiations have gone on and on and on, the fact that it looks like they're close to closing the deal, it looks like they're close to replenishing those funds, at least for the time being? That's obviously a positive thing -- Anderson.

COOPER: And the money for the testing, could you just talk about sort of the politics behind this, what the different sides were wanting? Because clearly, the Democrats were wanting some sort of a national testing strategy. Seems like the Republicans were resisting that and saying it should be up to the states?

MATTINGLY: Yes, those are essentially the two lines that we've been dealing with over the course of the last several days. I think Republicans, very in line with the president and the administration, have said this is a state issue. If you want to give money to states for testing, we're OK with that, but the states should run how their testing programs operate.

Democrats have made clear -- they've had their own separate proposals -- they have made clear, they want a national testing strategy, funding for -- to implement that national testing strategy as well.

And I think where things ended up, at least on the read that I've gotten up to this point of the legislative language and some of the summaries I've seen, is the bulk of the money will go to states, but there will also be money headed to the CDC, there will also be money headed to NIH, they will try and spread that money out over the federal side of things.

And I think Democrats -- Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, this morning, said he believed they had an agreement on a national testing strategy. I think Republicans would say not so fast, we sent more money to the states, which is how we always designed it. So a little bit of a splitting of the difference here.


The ideological fault lines, not just on testing but also on state and local government funding, which was not included in this bill, it underscores that as Congress continues to try and grapple with the fact, more money is needed across the board, ideological issues are going to become very, very important and difficult in the days and weeks ahead -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly, appreciate it. Thanks very much, a lot to learn more about.

Coming up, I'll talk with one mayor who plans to fight against the Georgia governor's plan to reopen some businesses in Georgia. Plus, breaking news about the drug President Trump had been touting

for coronavirus treatment. A new study about hydroxychloroquine, study showing it did not work against COVID-19. We'll take a closer look at that study, what we should know about it.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: There are growing questions about the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The U.S. is monitoring intelligence that suggests he is in grave danger following a surgery.

Suspicions were raised after Kim was a no-show at his late father's birthday celebration six days ago, which is a huge event, obviously, in North Korea. The celebration for the founder of the country is typically one of the country's biggest events, and Kim Jong Un is usually front and center for the occasion.

South Korean officials are downplaying reports that he may be gravely ill saying, quote, "no unusual signs have been detected within North Korea."

Today, President Trump's national security advisor acknowledged U.S. intelligence is watching the situation closely.


ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: You know, we're watching the reports closely. And we'll have to see. As everyone here knows, the North Koreans are parsimonious with the information that they put out about many things, especially when it comes to their leaders. And so we'll keep a close eye on it.


COOPER: David Chang is the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on The World." He's a columnist with "The Daily Beast." Good to see you, thanks for joining us. How difficult will it be for the U.S. to corroborate this kid of information?

DAVID CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": It would be extremely difficult, Anderson, because as they say, North Korea is a hard target for the intelligence services. They really don't have very much in the way of assets. And essentially, what we're doing is, we rely on the South Korea's national intelligence service for much of what we learn about the north.

COOPER: So what do we know about a successor, if in fact Kim Jong Un was no longer the leader of North Korea?

CHANG: It's probable that no successor has been designated. You know, Kim Jong Il, who was the second North Korean leader, he had been in training for two decades. Kim Jong Un had about two and a half years of training. There's no sign that there's been a succession plan this time, although some people do mention one. There's a lot of Kims around, but none of them are really suitable,

that would fit the mold. So there's going to have to be some sort of makeshift solution. And I'm sure it's going to be difficult for that to keep up in a very active environment in the north.

COOPER: How is that -- I mean, who ends up deciding that in North Korea?

CHANG: Well, there's a number of different elements. There's the Korean Workers' Party, which is now predominant. Of course ,there's the military, the security services and the Kim family itself.

And, you know, people focus on Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, because she is generally considered the most capable of the children of Kim Jong Il, the deceased leader. But she couldn't get it because, in a Confucian-tinged regime in North Korea, it had to be a male.

But right now, especially considering the stress the regime will be under, if there is indeed a passing of the leader, I'm sure that she will end up being at least the regent, and maybe even more than that.

COOPER: Fascinating. Gordon Chang, appreciate it. Thank you very much.


Still ahead, is it safe to eat out once restaurants reopen? Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows us how quickly and easily coronavirus can spread.


COOPER: The mayors of Atlanta, Savannah and Augusta all say they were blindsided by the decision of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to let multiple businesses across the state reopen their doors. Gyms, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors, hair salons, getting Kemp's OK to open Friday. Movie theaters and restaurants can open Monday.

Governor Kemp, making the decision even though Georgia has not seen a sustained 14-day decrease in cases, it's nearing 20,000 now and ranks 42nd nationally in testing per capita.

I want to bring in Albany, Georgia Mayor Bo Dorough. Mayor, thanks for being with us. So an early rural outbreak in this country was in your area, in Dougherty County. It happened after a number of people had gathered for a funeral. Since then, sadly, you've seen more than 1,400 cases, more than 100 deaths in that county.

I'm wondering what your reaction is to the governor's decision?

MAYOR BO DOROUGH, ALBANY, GEORGIA: I'm very disappointed, Cooper (ph). You were mentioning the other governors -- I mean, the other mayors in the state's response to the governor's decision.

I think there was a consensus that the governor would probably relax the restrictions once the shelter-in-place order concluded on April 30th. But I mean, basically, what you've seen here is the the governor has rescinded that order.

COOPER: Even though -- I mean, he hasn't actually said that he's rescinding the order, but by -- it seems very contradictory, obviously, to have all these things open if that order is still in place?

DOROUGH: Well, Anderson, I don't -- how can you have a shelter-in- place ordinance if you let people go to the bowling alley or go to the theater or go get a tattoo? I mean, it's agreed that the economy should be opened in a gradual and controlled manner, and that's not what we have here.

And the governor had a difficult (ph) decision (ph) --


COOPER: And this is statewide -- this is statewide. I mean, there's nothing that local officials can do. I mean, is there something you can do?


DOROUGH: Well, that is a real issue I have with the governor's order. It doesn't say it right there in the order, but in the press conference, the governor said, no local government can implement any measures which are more strict or less strict than the executive order. I think that's --