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Dr. William Schaffner Discusses Trump Contradicting Fauci on Testing; Marc Perrone, UFCW International President, Discusses Colorado Meatpacking Plant Reopening after Virus Outbreak; NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update on Coronavirus Response. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 24, 2020 - 11:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: At the White House briefing yesterday, the president responding to something Dr. Fauci said. Let's listen to Dr. Fauci and the president's response.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We absolutely need to significantly ramp up not only the number of tests but the capacity to actually perform them.

I am not overly confident right now at all.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're doing very well on testing.

If he said that, I don't agree with him.


KING: Dr. Schaffner, who is right?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: I always say listen to the public health authorities. We need to ramp it up, but we don't have that capacity all over the country.

We're able to do so somewhat in Tennessee at the moment, we're very grateful for that, but we really need to test more broadly and as quickly as possible.

I'm with Dr. Fauci on this one.

KING: Dr. William Schaffner, again, always appreciate your insights in the -- let's just call it real science.

SCHAFFNER: Thank you.

KING: That's the best place to be.

Doctor, thank you very much. What was once a coronavirus hot spot in Colorado is now reopened just about three hours ago. JBS beef slaughterhouse telling its 6,000 workers they can return to the plant in Greeley. That plant shut down two weeks ago in an outbreak that left four employees dead, more than 100 testing positive for the coronavirus.

I'm joined now by Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

Marc, thank you for being with us.

Are you convinced, as they say the plant is reopened, come back to work, that your men and women, sisters and brothers, are safe?

MAC PERRONE, PRESIDENT, UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION: I am not totally convinced at this point in time, John, for the following reason. Based off the conversation you just had about testing, testing has been very difficult for us to obtain for all the workers.

Now, they closed the plant, left it closed for a period. And I think the reason why they did that was hoping it would ferret out anybody that may have come up with positive symptoms and then they wouldn't have come to work.

But we've added layered PPE inside the plants with shields, masks and partitions. But until we get testing, I can't be confident we're not going to see another enclosure at some point in time.

We've seen over 14 plants close in rolling fashion, which covered 24,500 workers over the past month. That has reduced our food supply in pork by 24 percent. We've seen it in beef. It's reduced us by 10 percent. And we're starting to see some of the same activity that takes place in poultry.

And so, at this point in time, we've had, at least at the UFCW nationwide, 10 people that have died that were in food processing meatpacking plants and another three that have died in just regular food processing plants.

And we've got approximately 5,000 workers that either have got the virus or have shown symptoms, which we have pulled out of work right now.

So I'm not totally sure, no.


PERRONE: We need testing. And we need rapid results for the testing.

KING: Marc, I'm sorry, I need to end the conversation here to get to the daily briefing by the governor of New York. I want to circle back because of your important safety issues.

But let's take you to Albany and the governor of New York.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Good news, 14,200. All the evidence suggests we're on the downside of the curve. We're headed down.

Net change in hospitalizations is down. Net change in intubations is down again. And they have been down for a while.

This is still not great news. Number of new people coming into the hospital, number of new infections is slightly down, but that's basically a flat line. And that is troubling. About 1,200 new, 1,300 new infections every day.

Number of lives lost is still heartbreaking news, 422. Again, this is at an unimaginable level, and it's dropping somewhat. But it's still devastating news.

The question we're watching now is we hit the high point. We're on the way down. How fast does that number come down, and how far does that number drop?

We have projections again, like we had projections on what the disease was going to do on the way up the mountain, we have projections on what the disease would do as a rate of decline.

But, again, they're just projections. Some projections have it going down and flattening at about 5,000 people in hospitals, still. Some projections have the decline slowing between now and June.


But these are, again, all projections, just like they had projections as to how fast and how far the disease would increase. Those projections, as we know, were wrong.

Well, they weren't wrong. We didn't hit those projections because of our actions, because of what we did, because of what the federal government did. Luckily, the disease did not go as high as they thought in the projections.

You now have the corresponding question, how fast is the decline, how low is the decline. And again, the variable is going to be what we do. We change the projection on the way up, we can change the projection on the way down.

But it's purely dependent on what we do. Are we socially distancing? Are we testing? How fast do we reopen? How do we reopen? You answer those questions and you will determine what the rate of decline is.

If you say, well, we're done, can't stay in the house anymore, let's just reopen, just start business tomorrow, let's go. What happens? That's what happens. All the progress we made is gone.

And all experts, or virtually all experts, will say not only does the virus spread increase, but it increases to a higher point than we had increased the first time. Again, this is a remarkably effective virus at spreading and growing.

So I know everyone is impatient. Let's just reopen. That's what happens if we just reopen. So we have to be smart. People are also talking about a second wave, potential of a second

wave. People are talking about potential for the virus to come back in the fall. Which means the game isn't over. Which means the game could be just at half time.

So let's make sure we're learning the lessons of what has happened thus far, and let's make sure we're being truthful with ourselves. Not that we're deceiving anyone else, but let's make sure we're not deceiving ourselves.

What has happened? What should we learn from as far as what has happened thus far so we make sure we don't make the same mistakes again? And let's do that now.

This was our first global pandemic. Welcome. There had been people who talked about global pandemics before. Bill Gates had talked about the potential of a global pandemic. The Obama administration talked about being prepared for a global pandemic. But it was always an academic exercise. What if, what if, what if.

Once it happens, once it actualizes for people, then it's different. Then people get it. We now know that a global pandemic is not just a textbook exercise, it's not just a tabletop exercise. It can happen. And when it happens, it's devastating.

Let's just learn from what happened on the first one. Let's just get the basic lesson of what happened on the first one.

Last November/December we knew that China had a virus outbreak. You could read about it in the newspapers, right? Everybody knew. January 26, we know we had the first confirmed case in Seattle, Washington, and California. February 2nd, the president ordered a travel ban from China.

March 1st, we had the first confirmed case in the state of New York. By March 19th, New York State is totally closed down. No state moved faster from first case to close-down than the state of New York.

March 16th, we have a full travel ban from Europe. Researchers now find, and they report in some newspapers, the virus was spreading wildly in Italy in February. And there was an outbreak, massive outbreak, in Italy in February.

Researchers now say there were likely 28,000 cases in the United States in February, including 10,000 cases in the state of New York. And the coronavirus, the virus that came to New York, did not come from China. It came from Europe. OK?


When you look at the number of flights that came from Europe to New York, the New York metropolitan area, New York and New Jersey, there in January, February, up to the close-down, 13,000 flights bringing 2.2 million people. All right?

So November/December, you have the outbreak in China. Everybody knows. January/February, flights are coming from Europe. People are also coming from China in January until China closed down. And the flights continue to come from Europe until Europe shut down. And 2.2 million people come to New York and come to New Jersey.

We acted two months after the China outbreak. When you look back, does anyone think the virus was still in China waiting for us to act two months later?

We all talk about the global economy and how fast people move and how mobile we are. How can you expect that when you act two months after the outbreak in China, the virus was only in China waiting for us to act? The horse had already left the barn by the time we moved.

A researcher now says, knowing the number of flights coming to New York from Italy, it was like watching a horrible train wreck in slow motion. Those were the flights coming from Italy and Europe in January and February.

We closed the front door with a China travel ban, which was right. Even in retrospect, it was right, but we left a back door open because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban. That's what the researchers are now saying with 28,000 cases in the United States, 10,000 in New York.

So what is the lesson? An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. When you see in November and December an outbreak in China, just assume the next day it's in the United States.

When they say it's in China, just assume that virus got on a plane that night and flew to New York or flew to Newark airport and it's now in New York. That has to be the operating mentality. Because you don't know that the virus didn't get on a plane.

All you need is one person to get on that plane in China and come to New York. The way this virus transfers, that's all you need. And you can't assume two months later the virus is still going to be sitting on a park bench in China waiting for you to get there. That is the lesson.

And, again, why do we need to learn the lesson? Because they're talking about this happening again with this virus where it could mutate in China and get on a plane and come right back. Or the next virus or the next pandemic.

Whose job is it to warn us of these global pandemics? The president says it's the World Health Organization. And that's why he's taken action against them. Not my field, but he's right to ask the question. Because this was too little too late. And let's find out what happened so it doesn't happen again.

And it will happen again. Bank on it. Let's not put our head in the sand and say, this is the only global pandemic that we'll ever have to deal with. In the meantime, let's keep moving forward.

One of the things we're working on is, how do we clean, how do we disinfect. We're talking about reopening. We still have public transit systems running We still have buses running. So we've been working on, how do you come up with new cleaning, new disinfecting protocols.

And I asked a simple question to our team a few days ago: How long does the virus live? And it's something we need to know, but frankly, I think it's something everybody needs to know.


The virus can live up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces and stainless- steel surfaces, OK? Just think about this from a transit point of view or from your car point of view. It can live on a vinyl car seat up to 72 hours. It can live on a pole on a bus or on a seat on a bus for up to 72 hours. Up to 24 hours on cardboard, up to four hours on materials like copper. And the droplets can hang in the air for three hours.

This was a shocker to me. When they were talking about droplets, I thought it was a droplet and then it falls, right? It's a droplet that can hang in the air for three hours. I don't even know how that works. And many of the people who spread it are showing no symptoms at all.

So just factor that in in your daily life when you're going through your own precautions.

We're also going to do the state finance report this week. And what you're going to see is what we expected, roughly a $13.3 billion shortfall from our forecast, total effect of a financial plan of $600 billion.

Now, what happened? New York State was not, quote, unquote, "in trouble" before this happened. New York State was very, very strong before this happened. Our economy was growing. It was growing at a very high rate. Our government spending has been at record lows, the spending increases. Our taxes today are lower than the day I took office.

Oh, you're a Democrat, how can that be? That's the numbers. Tax rates on individuals' businesses are lower today than the day I took office. Every tax rate, as incredible as that sounds, is lower today than the day I took office.

So the state's finances were very, very strong. And then this economic tsunami hits, and you shut down all the businesses, everybody stays home, they're not getting a paycheck, they feel economic anxiety. The consequence to the state is the revenue projections are way down.

What do we do about it? Some people have suggested, well, states should declare bankruptcy. I think, as I said yesterday, it's a really dumb idea.

People are trying to talk about bringing the economy back, reopen, we have to get the economy moving again, and then rather than provide financial aid to the states that got hit by this economic tsunami through no fault of their own, a suggestion was made states should declare bankruptcy.

Little -- a few problems with that premise. Forget the morality of it and the ethics of it and the absurdity of it and the meanness of it. Legally, a state can't declare bankruptcy. You would need a federal law allowing states to declare bankruptcy.

So to the Senate that proposed it, I say pass a law allowing states to declare bankruptcy. I dare you. And let the president sign that bill that says, I give the states the legal ability to declare bankruptcy.

Your suggestion, Senator McConnell? Pass the law. I dare you. And then go to the president and say, sign this bill allowing states to declare bankruptcy.

You want to send a signal to the markets that this nation is in real trouble? You want to send an international message that the economy is in turmoil? Do that. Allow states to declare bankruptcy legally because you passed the bill. It will be the first time in our nation's history that that happened.

I dare you to do that. And then we'll see how many states actually take you up on it. I know I wouldn't.

But if you believe what you said, and you have the courage of conviction because you're a man of your word, pass that bill if you weren't just playing politics. We'll see how long it takes him to do it.


Also moving on. Voting, we still have elections in the midst of all this chaos. We've seen elections held where we have people in lines for a long period of time. It makes no sense to me to tell people you have to put your life at risk, violate social distancing to come out to vote.

So we passed an executive order that said you can vote by absentee. Today, I am asking the Board of Elections to send every New York voter automatic receives a posted page application for a ballot. If you want to vote, we should send you a ballot so you can vote so you don't have to come out and get online.

Looking ahead, more testing and we are making progress on that. New York State is doing more testing than any states in the country right now. New York State is doing more testing than any per capita on the globe right now.

Watch that spread of the virus, it is getting warmer and more people are coming out of their homes. That's going to be coming out of their homes. Watch that spread. Testing gives you those numbers on an ongoing basis. Maintain social distancing.

Also, plan on a reopening and not just reopening what was. We went through this horrific experience. It should be a period of growth. It should be a period of reflection. If we are smart and use it that way, there are reflections to learn here. And if we are smart, we have the courage to look into the mirror.

We went through 9/11 and we were smarter for it. We went through World War II. We were better for it. We went through Superstorm Sandy and we learned and grew and are better for it. People totally changed their lifestyle.

What did we learn? How do we have a better care system that can handle public health emergency. How do we use technology and education better? Why do some children have to go to a parking lotto to get wi- fi to do their work? Why do we learn from this and how do we grow?

Let New York lead the way because we are New York tough. New York tough when they say we are tough, yes, we are tough. We think tough incorporates being smart and disciplined and unified.

Last point I want to make is and this is personal. My grandmother on my father side, a beautiful woman, a tough lady, gone through depression and she's a little rough. I would say to her, you know, grandma, I met this girl and met this guy, they're really nice. She would say nice, how do you know they're nice. It is easy to be nice when everything is nice.

Grandma, what does that mean? She says, you know when they're nice when things get hard. That's when you know if they are nice. And I never got it but her point was it is easy to be nice and kind and when everything is easy. You really get to see people and character when things get hard.

When the pressure is on is when you really get to see true colors of a person and see what they are made of, so much as the pressure forces their character and the weaknesses explode or the strengths explode.

That's what we have gone through. This has been hard. It put everyone under pressure. You really see what people are made of as a character.

I personally tell you the truth, some people will just break your heart. People who I thought would rise to the occasion and people who I thought were strong -- under pressure, they just crumble. They just crumbled. On the other hand, you see people who you didn't expect anything from who just rise to the occasion.


You see the best and the worse of humanity just coming up to the surface on both ends, just everything gets elevated. The strengths in people and the weakness of people, the beauty in people and the ugliness of people.

For me, the beauty you see and the strengths you see compensates and balances for the weakness. I get inspired by the strength so I can tolerate the heartbreak of the weakness.

Here is a letter that I receive that just sums it up.

"Dear Mr. Cuomo, I seriously doubt that you will read this letter as I know you are busy beyond belief with the disaster that has befallen our country. We are a nation in crisis. Of that, there is no doubt."

"I am a retired farmer, hunkered down in northeast Kansas with my wife, who has one lung and occasional problems with her remaining lung. She also has diabetes. We are in our 70s now and, frankly, I am afraid for her."

"Enclosed, find a solitary N-95 mask left over my farming days. It has never been used. If you could, would you please give this mask to a nurse or a doctor in your state? I have kept four masks for my immediate family."

"Please keep on doing what you do so well, which is to lead. Sincerely, Dennis and Sharon."

A farmer in northeast Kansas, his wife has one lung and diabetes, he has five masks, he sends one mask to New York for a doctor or nurse, keeps four masks. You want to talk about a snapshot of humanity.

You have five masks, what do you do? Do you keep all five? Do you hide the five masks? Do you keep them for yourselves or others? No, you send one mask, one mask to New York to help a nurse or a doctor. How beautiful is that? How selfless is that? And how giving is that?

You know that's the nursing home that sent 100 ventilators down to New York City when they needed them. It is that love and that courage, that generosity of spirit that makes this country so beautiful and makes America so beautiful.

And it is that generosity of spirit, for me, makes up for all the ugliness that you see. Take one mask, I will keep four. God bless America.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What did the president's suggestion for research using U.V. rays for COVID treatment?

CUOMO: I don't know much about U.V. rays. Not my job, not my business, not my education, not my background.

Doctor Zucker, what do you know about U.V. rays?

DR. HOWARD ZUCKER, COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH, NEW YORK STATE: I think anything, when it comes to bleach, these are chemicals you would not ingest. We know we make sure your kids do not go into cabinets that have any of these chemicals in them. You need to stay away from those products.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you heard anything from the president about how he may help New York and the supply issues when it comes to testing -- (INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: Yes, that's what we've been talking about for the past two days, that I had a meeting in the White House. And the president and his team are going to work on the supply chain issues to get the national manufacturers to get the reagents, test kits so they can provide our commercial labs --

(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: -- here in New York. We want to go from a goal of -- we are doing about 20,000 a day. We want to go to 40,000 a day.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- mail-in voting for the 23rd primary. People, on the left and the right, are saying it may not be a good idea because the Board of Elections did not opt to carry out this task. So ill polls still be open for people to go to?





CUOMO: Polls will be open.