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CNN NEWSROOM

Georgia Allows Businesses to Reopen; Rep. Gregory Murphy (R-NC) Interviewed on U.S. Economy Reopening and State Governments Going Bankrupt During Coronavirus Pandemic; Some Georgia Business Owners Refusing to Reopen Due to Ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic; DJ Jazzy Jeff Believes He Contracted Coronavirus but Cannot Get Tested. Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired April 25, 2020 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:01]

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Huge thanks there to Big Bird and "Sesame Street" for walking us through the ABCs of COVID-19. I don't know about you, Victor, but I could watch kids ask questions all day long. And the thing is, I think they were asking the questions that we as adults had as well, because we know kids need structure to feel security. And I think in this quarantine age we're realizing that maybe we need some of that too.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Some of the questions the kids were asking, how much screen time is too much, and when can I see my friends again? Those are a lot of questions that we have. We all have the same anxieties. It's just they want to see their classmates, we want to see our college friends. And you couldn't have a better team to come together to answer some of those questions.

PAUL: I know. I know. We had all the experts and all the people and the puppets that kids can relate to as well. So kudos to everybody on that team for giving us so much great advice and information today. That was a fun thing to do, and it was necessary.

BLACKWELL: Certainly.

PAUL: We want to thank all of you for being with us here. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

And it's good to have you in the Newsroom. This morning we are slowly beginning to see what it will look like to try to reopen the economy. We're talking Texas, Oklahoma, Alaska, they're taking some steps to open some businesses.

PAUL: In Georgia Governor Brian Kemp moved ahead with the most far- reaching effort to restart the economy thus far.

BLACKWELL: Let's start with Natasha Chen. She is in Atlanta. Natasha, good morning to you. And you met some Georgia business owners to talk about what they're facing now over whether to open or not open, and if they do, how. NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Good morning, Victor

and Christi. There is a similar theme when I talk to various business owners, no matter how they feel about the governor's decision, there seems to be an element of surprise where they may not have expected their type of business to be in the first wave of businesses allowed to reopen.

We're also hearing that there is financial difficulty. All of them who have opened their doors tell me that they haven't seen much of any financial aid at all, and so this is really about their livelihood balanced with the calculation of the risk they're taking for public health.

This barber shop behind me said that yesterday when they opened there was a line out the door of 15 people. So there are customers really eager to come to these businesses. And in the same strip mall, we're seeing another hair salon just down from them, and they are taking only appointment-based customers.

And then down from there, there's a tattoo shop that was open yesterday with a lot of people in there. So we also spoke with the owners of a bowling alley yesterday. They had a lot of considerations as well with temperature checks at the door. Here's what they said knowing that they may meet some criticism about their decision to open.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And for the general public, just everybody else that's questioning what we're doing, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for that. I hope they don't hold it against us for no reason. We're not trying to hurt anybody. If you look, we just want to just get our business going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to watch your business going downhill, everything going out, the workers can't come to work, you can't do anything. So it was really excited to know that we can reopen in a limited version.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: And the woman you just heard from, Deborah Holland, she's one of the owners there at Southern Lanes Bowling Alley in Douglasville. She said that she herself is a lung cancer survivor. She's missing half a lung, so she has a personal stake in making sure that the place is spotless, that people are really observing social distancing. They are only allowing people to use only every other lane, and they're sanitizing every bowling ball, every pair of shoes. And the people we saw coming in there yesterday were definitely more regular customers, people who play in bowling leagues, are very serious and brought their own equipment and their shoes. Victor and Christi, back to you.

PAUL: OK, that's smart. Natasha, I wanted to ask you, the people that you did see, or maybe the owners talked to you about people they saw that did come out, are these people who are very comfortable with these places opening up, or did they see any reservations from folks who said, well, I don't know about this, but I just need to get out of the house and get back to some normalcy?

CHEN: One of the regular bowling customers we saw yesterday who showed up even before the doors opened, he said he definitely needed to get out of the house. He said his to-do list at home was all done. So he was really eager to get back into the swing of bowling. But he did say, too, that if he ever sensed going back in there that it was somehow uncomfortable or not healthy or safe, then he would choose not to come back. But he was making room for that possibility.

As for people coming into the barber shops, I think they're just desperate to have their hair cut, Christi.

PAUL: Natasha Chen, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

CHEN: Thank you.

PAUL: And there's a word of caution this morning from the World Health Organization. They say there is no evidence yet that people who had COVID-19 are immune from getting infected a second time.

BLACKWELL: And the organization is warning against governments assuming that people who have had COVID-19 are safe to resume normal life, and issuing the so-called immunity passports. The WHO says that most studies show people who have recovered have antibodies, but no study has evaluated whether having antibodies gives immunity to the coronavirus.

PAUL: I want to get back to the re-openings that we're watching in some of the states across the country right now, and the health risk warnings that are involved here. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper outlined his plan for reopening his state, but he says before that can happen, the state needs to meet certain benchmarks.

Republican Congressman of North Carolina, and doctor, Gregory Murphy is with us now. Congressman, thank you so much. It's good to have you with us, from both sides here, from a political side, also from the doctor side of you. So let's start with you in scrubs, let's say, right now. As a doctor, are you comfortable with any community opening up?

REP. GREGORY MURPHY, (R-NC): I think if you look at the data from, what we've learned over the last several months, we've looked at other countries, we've looked at our country, I can't go to opening up the whole society like it was before. I think that's foolhardy. I think there are small progressive steps that we can take literally today using the tools that we've learned -- handwashing, social spacing, wearing masks. I think there are small steps that we could take today to start opening things back up.

PAUL: Congressman, I know you spoke with your local media about reopening and about your concern for the economy. Let's listen to what you said just a few days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURPHY: We're at a tipping point here in the country. Over 16 million people are now unemployed. If we don't start something soon, we're going to be past a very, very critical juncture. And so can we start marching back in that particular population? Especially with our pediatric population, can we start marching back without significant testing? I think the answer is yes if we do it critically and in a measured response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: So what we have heard up to this point is very different than what you said. You said that you think that we can open certain parts if we're critical and if we're measured about it without significant testing, but that flies in the face of most of the people we heard from thus far. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you're going to set yourself back. So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it's going to backfire.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I think there's threes aspects of how to monitor the spread of COVID. And I understand one of those critical legs in the stool is testing.

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: We are confident we have enough tests for phase one of the reopening America plan. But we do acknowledge the fact that we need to keep the pressure on developing more tests and getting more tests out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: So can you help us understand why you may be more comfortable, you say, with maybe less significant testing?

MURPHY: Let's look at seeing what testing talks about, because I think there's a skewing of what happens happened here with what's going on. Right now, in all of our communities, people are going out to Walmart, people are going out to Lowes, and they're in congregate settings. That's not what I'm advocating for and that's not what I believe should happen.

Again, let's be accurate about this. I'm advocating for small businesses that if people are going out -- people are going to the grocery store, not everybody is wearing a mask. If people are going to a small business wearing a mask, socially spacing, those things that we're doing today, does that mean every single person needs to be tested? No.

We have point of care testing if somebody is coming in the hospital, 100 percent we need that to start up with surgeries, and we're doing that. Do we need surveillance testing looking out in the communities to see where there are antibodies? Yes, we are doing that, too. But to start small segments of our society, let's be truthful and factual about this, we don't need every single person in the United States tested.

PAUL: Let me put on now your suit with you being in Congress, because we've seen the stimulus packages that have been laid out already.

[10:40:00]

How impactful do you think those really can be at the end of the day, especially when you hear something like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying states may need, we need to be open to states filing bankruptcy?

MURPHY: Again, I'm just going to put my doctor's hat, still keep it on just a minute. That's how I've looked at this critically. I've studied the literature, I've spoken with Dr. Fauci, his team. I've spoken with lots of individuals to help push forth my congressional policy. There are a lot of states in this country that because of previous policies were teetering on bankruptcy already. This crisis obviously has thrown them over. I don't think it's the job of the federal government to go out and bankroll states that have not had good fiscal policy, and so therefore they may need to declare bankruptcy.

PAUL: So you're willing to have states declare bankruptcy?

MURPHY: Well, businesses declare bankruptcy if they've not been able to do things correctly as far as businesses go. I don't think that the nation, as a whole -- again, let's look at the infrastructure, let's see why those particular states were prone to have an overflow from the crisis. It's because of poor economic policies in their past. And if they need to get out of that, I don't think it's the federal government's job to bail out states that have had bad business policies.

PAUL: I just want to make this clear -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his concern about the possibility of states declaring bankruptcy is that you are going to throw a tailspin on this economy. If you want to talk about panic, talk about something like that because it's so unprecedented.

MURPHY: Well, let's look at the city of Detroit. It had to declare bankruptcy, as best as my knowledge, and there is precedent for municipalities having to declare bankruptcy, get their finances in order. But again, it goes back to good economic policy to start with. If you didn't have that before, and you set yourself up for bad conditions when they occur -- I look at North Carolina. We've had fantastic economic policy, I think really leading in the country. We have close to $2 plus billion rainy day fund. We are very, very good financially because we've cared for it for the last 10 years. Other states have not done that. They've been poor in their economic policy.

PAUL: But North Carolina certainly has not been hit in the same way that New York has been hit either.

I'm so sorry, Congressman, that we've run out of time. We so appreciate your insight from both the doctor standpoint and the congressional standpoint. Take good care.

MURPHY: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: How to stay safe and reopen the economy. Businesses across the country are trying to answer the question, how do you do it? We hear from some business owners who are anxious about getting back to work.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:45:26]

BLACKWELL: So this morning we've been talking with business owners about reopening the economy. I want you to listen to a bit of what they've been telling us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAUN BEAUDRY, TATTOO ARTIST, ANONYMOUS TATTOOS: We feel it just may be a little too soon at the moment. We kind of want to give it a little bit more time and see that slope kind of continue to fall.

PAUL: So what has to happen for you to feel comfortable to open the doors again, do you think?

BEAUDRY: In our county, we don't have that many confirmed cases. But we would still like to see it continuing downward trend. And yes, the least cases in our area, the better, for sure. And we're just thinking it's a little too early. If you tattoo somebody's ankle, somebody's foot, you could actually maintain maybe a six-foot distance from the person's face, which I think a lot of how the virus can spread most easily. So there are things we can do that make it a little safer, but it's still, obviously, a little tricky to maintain social distancing while tattooing.

CANDY SHAW, OWNER, JAMISON SHAW HAIRDRESSERS: And I had to realize that popular decisions aren't always right, and right decisions aren't always popular. I wanted to really protect the health and safety of my own staff, and I just really truly had to put health before hair and follow the science.

Hairdressers are very much like a nurse. We have a license, of course, to touch. We have a license to be in someone's personal space. And so for me not having the proper PPE or those types of things really just seemed very selfish on my part to be able to put someone in harm's way, not knowing really if this curve has come down enough.

At the end of the day, I just can't, in all good faith, put hair before health. I don't carry a license of being professional, and then I go against everything that I've worked very hard in my career to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So we've heard from a tattoo artist, we heard from a hair stylist. Let's add one more voice to the conversation. Gyms can open this week in Georgia as well. Our next guest decided not to open his business, although he is allowed to. He owns a mixed martial arts gym near Atlanta, and his members are kids, adults, families. Let's bring in Paul Yoon with Tsunami Mixed Martial Arts in Decater. Paul, good morning to you.

PAUL YOON, TSUNAMI MIXED MARTIAL ARTS: Good morning, thanks for having me on.

BLACKWELL: Certainly. Let me start here with what you posted online. You wrote in part, "I cannot keep calling you guys family if I don't act like it, if I put profits and my own selfishness over your health and well-being. Are we really family?"

Why is this the wrong time to reopen?

YOON: I just feel like based on numbers and stats that we've been seeing, there's no real evidence, in my opinion, anyway, that it's responsible for businesses or even for gyms to open right now. So I just decided against it.

BLACKWELL: So I watched a video you posted online to members. You're aiming for May 11th, not definite, it's a goal. But what would you need to see then to determine, let's go?

YOON: So I decided to do like a phase one soft opening. Obviously that date isn't definite. But I do need to see is I need to see numbers that show that there is a steady decline. I think -- what was it, I think we need to see 14 days of decline, or something like that?

BLACKWELL: Yes.

YOON: So I think I read that. So I need to see that. I need to see that we're kind of beating this thing instead of trying to fan the flame.

BLACKWELL: So you need to see that the state is actually in line with the CDC's guidelines that came out from the White House Task Force.

Let me ask you. You mentioned something. I want to pull the thread a bit. Do you believe this is the wrong time for your business, or based on what you know about gyms and what we know and don't know about COVID-19, is this the wrong time to open any gym?

YOON: In my opinion, yes. Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: Wrong time to open any gym?

YOON: Absolutely. I feel -- that's how I personally feel. Obviously, everyone is entitled to feel their own way, they have their own opinion. But just based on what I've read and the research that I've done for myself and my members, I feel like it's the wrong time.

BLACKWELL: Paul Yoon with Tsunami Mixed Martial Arts in Decatur, thank you so much, and good luck to you, sir.

[10:50:06]

YOON: Thanks, guys.

PAUL: Coming up, Grammy Award winning musician DJ Jazzy Jeff thinks he has COVID-19, and he can't get tested he says. CNN caught up with him to find out how he's coping and where he believes he got the virus.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Welcome back. Grammy winner DJ Jazzy Jeff says that he has COVID-19. He thinks he contracted the virus while deejaying in Idaho.

PAUL: But he can't get tested, and he says now that he's terrified to leave the house. CNN's Stephanie Elam has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DJ JAZZY JEFF, BECAME ILL AFTER SHOW: I was all over the world.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fly in, spin some music, and create memories -- That's what DJ Jazzy Jeff does.

DJ JAZZY JEFF: It spiraled downhill extremely fast.

ELAM: But when the famed turntablist left Ketchum in Idaho's Sun Valley, he may have brought something home with him form the skier's paradise -- the coronavirus.

DJ JAZZY JEFF: I lost my sense of smell. I lost my sense of taste. I started hallucinating.

ELAM: This was early March, before the lockdowns, before most realized the outbreak was already invading the U.S. Less than a week after his return home, it hit him while he was in the store with his wife Lynette.

DJ JAZZY JEFF: I looked at and her, and said, you know what, I don't feel well. I can honestly say I had one or two times that my brain started going down a really dark path. I cannot believe this is how I'm going to go out.

ELAM: He says he was never tested for the coronavirus.

DJ JAZZY JEFF: There was no doubt in my mind that I had COVID. It was just trying to figure out where. I never that Ketchum.

ELAM: DJ Jazzy Jeff's Sun Valley party on March 6th was open to all. Among those who attended were members of the National Brotherhood of Skiers.

DJ JAZZY JEFF: When I walked offstage, I might have given three high- fives before I went into the dressing room.

ELAM: By week's end, people headed out all over the country and even abroad, the local health department said. Eventually Jeff's wife got sick, and then her mother fell ill. His family recovered, but sadly, that's not the case for the brotherhood. Seven of them, including Haymon Jahi and Charles Jackson Jr., died of COVID-19. [10:55:03]

Dr. Broderick Franklin, an emergency medical physician, in Los Angeles was also in sun valley for the ski summit.

DR. BRODERICK FRANKLIN, ATTENDED SKI SUMMIT: Within a week after I returned from the trip, at least four people who I know personally tested positive.

ELAM: While he never developed symptoms, Dr. Franklin did test positive for the antibodies for the virus.

FRANKLIN: It absolutely changed the way I looked at a patient's presentation.

ELAM: He says Jazzy Jeff's case highlights that more virus and antibody testing remains key. The DJ also wants the antibody test, if he can get over his fear.

DJ JAZZY JEFF: I am absolutely terrified to go out of the house, because the unknown if you can get it again, the unknown if I'm still carrying.

ELAM: From early on, performing with Will Smith, aka the Fresh Prince, in the mid-80s, DJ Jazzy Jeff has travelled the world to rock people.

Does this change how you see your future?

DJ JAZZY JEFF: Absolutely. But the funny thing is, I don't think it's just my future. I believe that 60 percent of this is our new norm.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Wow, to his story and seeing that he was with so many people, and some of those people are no longer with us, hopefully he can get that test to confirm.

PAUL: We hope so. We hope that for him for sure.

BLACKWELL: So we are hearing about the frustrations. We've seen the protests from people who have not been able to go to work. They want to come and go as they please. But we're also hearing from people who are enjoying this time, resetting, as Christi calls it, their lives.

PAUL: Johanna Miller Hare writes, "We still managed to get married in our backyard instead of Charleston, South Carolina, with just our kids present. It wasn't the wedding we planned, but it ended up being perfect. Simpler is better."

BLACKWELL: Sometimes simple is the right way to go.

PAUL: Amen.

BLACKWELL: And Jeff and Sherri Doster, they say this, "I have enjoyed the pause. Not running from one schedule to the next after work has allowed us to have family dinners and sit and enjoy a meal together and just talk."

PAUL: And listen to this. Valerie Hoff DeCarlo writes, "I've enjoyed learning a few new skills, not having urgent priorities, spending more time with my kids and taking care of things around the house. And in a weird way I've enjoyed tightening the budget. There's a sense of satisfaction that comes with not accumulating possessions and getting rid of things we don't need or use anymore." Amen to that.

BLACKWELL: So what's the upside of the reset for you, Christi?

PAUL: Definitely the time with my kids. Now I get to help, especially my 10-year-old, particularly with her literature and her composition. And I have seen how she has grown just over the last couple of weeks. I never knew how satisfying that would be for me to see that. What about you?

BLACKWELL: My boyfriend has been with me for about a month now --

PAUL: How's that going?

BLACKWELL: That's new. That's new. We're making it. We're making it.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: But to be able to work on projects together, and I help him with his projects, he helps me with mine. I think we didn't know how our talents complemented one another so well. And just having this time in the house together has given us an opportunity to see it.

PAUL: I love you two together. And I know that means nothing to anybody or to you, but I just do.

BLACKWELL: We love us together, too, Christi.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: Listen, with every new development that we know you have new questions about, we want to make sure we get them answered. So I'm going to tell you, Dr. Charles Powell, the head of Pulmonology and Critical Care at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York as well as CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta are both going to be with us tomorrow, because Sanjay, he never sleeps at this point. So let us know what questions you want answered. Tweet me @Christi_Paul. Victor is @VictorBlackwell. You can get both of us as well on Instagram.

And we have a big show for you tomorrow on NEW DAY, already working on it. We'll have, of course, the latest developments on the pandemic, and we'll be joined by the Reverend Jamal Bryant, a Georgia pastor, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, who thinks it's far too early to reopen the state. He says that the governor's decision is leading us to the slaughter. That's tomorrow morning on NEW DAY Sunday.

PAUL: Before we go, we have an uplifting moment we want to share with you. A COVID-19 patient spent three weeks in a medically induced coma and is now recovering.

BLACKWELL: His name is Michael Perna (ph). And listen to the applause. We'll pause for those. Left a New Jersey hospital this week for the first time in nearly a month. During that time, he was on a ventilator. And a recent study from New York's largest health system found nearly all COVID-19 patients put on a ventilator to help them breathe did not survive.

PAUL: Perna (ph) has beaten the odds, hasn't he. He's in a rehabilitation facility now as he recovers, and his family tells CNN they are just so thankful for the hospital staff. We thank them, too. We're thinking about all of you. Thank you for spending your time with us.