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Over A Quarter Of World's Coronavirus Deaths Are In The U.S; Army Of Tracers Needed To Control Coronavirus Spread; Dr. Sanjay Gupta Outlines Best Masks To Use; Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) Discusses The Gradual Reopening Of Kentucky, Openings Nationwide & And McConnell Suggesting States Go Bankrupt; People Flock To Newport Beach, CA, Despite Stay-At-Home Orders. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired April 25, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks so much for joining us on this Saturday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
And right now in the United States, the number of people known to be infected with the coronavirus has soared past 900,000 and more than 53,000 people have died. That is more than a quarter of the entire world's known coronavirus death toll, which a few moments ago reached 200,000 people.
Also today, a warning from the World Health Organization. It's for who have already had the virus. Scientists informing them there is no evidence you become immune from the coronavirus just because you've recovered from it one.
So what about a vaccine? Some scientists this weekend warning it's possible we may never see a vaccine and that we may have to live with the threat of coronavirus forever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. CHRISTOPHER WHITTY, CHIEF U.K. MEDICAL OFFICER: We need to be careful. We don't assume that we will have a vaccine for this disease as we have for, let's say, measles, which once you have it, you're protected for life. We may or we may not, but we need to be absolutely clear about that.
CABRERA: Despite still rising infection rates and deaths in the U.S., some states are rolling out the first phases of their back to business plans. In Georgia, hair salons, gyms, tattoo shops were allowed to open yesterday even as that state's death toll now tops 900. Not everyone in Georgia is happy about reopening, as you can see.
The governor of Georgia is also getting backlash from mayors. Similar partial re-openings are happening in Oklahoma, Alaska, Texas and Tennessee. Many state governors though are less eager to start reopening, choosing not to set a hard date yet. Let's begin in Georgia where businesses are reopening even though there has not been a 14-day decrease in new cases, which the White House task force has recommended for reopening. CNN's Natasha Chen is in Douglasville, Georgia. And, Natasha, what are you hearing from people there?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, it's a very mixed reaction. Some people are deciding to stay closed. Others like the barber shop behind us as well as the tattoo parlor, they are open, and it's a difficult decision to make.
And like you said, there is some backlash from mayors. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, just about an hour ago, tweeted this. If you are getting your nails done right now, please share these new numbers with your manicurist. And she followed that with a chart showing that Georgia deaths are up by more than 30 percent from this time last week. So, a lot of different reactions and difficult decisions to make.
CHEN: Businesses, like Jenkins Barber Shop opened on Friday for the first time in almost a month.
ERIC GREESON, BARBER: We sterilized the chairs between customers. As you can see, we have the benches marked.
These are disposable here.
CHEN: Georgia's governor says the state is ready.
GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): We will allow gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers.
CHEN: Like Eric Greeson, who happens to be diabetic.
GREESON: As a barber, what we have to do and I definitely would not have opened anything against the health officials' recommendations or the president.
CHEN: The president, who initially supported states to, quote, liberate pulled a 180 issuing a public rebuke of the Republican he once endorsed.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I didn't like to see a lot of things happening and I wasn't happy with it and I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp.
CHEN: The state won't see a peak in daily COVID-19 deaths until next week, according to widely accepted data.
GREESON: Everybody is scared of this basically, but we're also afraid that if we don't open, then the person down the street will and then we won't have a business.
CHEN: This barber shop was one of two that were opened out of the ten Donna Whitfield visited on Friday morning.
DONNA WHITFIELD, BARBER AND BEAUTY SUPPLIER: These are our gloves. We'll probably run out by the end of next week.
CHEN: She is a barber and beauty supplier in Georgia and Alabama. It was her first day back in the truck in a month. She'd rather not risk bringing the virus home to her husband, who has cancer, but she also can't afford not to work.
WHITFIELD: I'm just kind of on the fence. I don't know. I hope we're doing the right thing.
CHEN: The right thing for Randy Hicks is making sure his 25 employees at Southern Lanes Bowling Alley could still support their families. And he knows people may criticize his decision.
RANDY HICKS, OWNER, SOUTHERN LANES: 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 get a business going.
CHEN: Fellow owner Deborah Holland is a cancer survivor.
DEBORAH HOLLAND, OWNER, SOUTHERN LANES: I am conscientious about what we have, the cleanliness that we have, the exposure we have.
I don't want to have to go to the hospital with this virus or anything. I'm missing half a lung.
CHEN: The phone kept ringing with eager customers who all had to do temperature checks before coming in, could only use half of the 32 lanes, and were limited on the number of bowlers per lane. Even with restrictions, there was a strong sense of relief.
HOLLAND: I literally felt the burden being lifted off my shoulders.
CHEN: And many of their regulars felt the same, like Leon Perpignan, who came before doors even opened.
LEON PERPIGNAN, BOWLER: I just want to do something that I enjoy doing and I haven't done in a while. Besides all the honey to-do-lists are done.
CHEN: And on Monday, the state will allow restaurants to resume dine- in services. Now, we know a handful of restaurants, as well as one large restaurant chain that will be doing that but there are a number of them, Ana, who also tell us it is simply too soon and they're not ready to open yet.
CABRERA: Really tough decision for those business owners. Natasha Chen, thank you.
Joining us now is the mayor of Augusta, Georgia's second largest city, Hardie Davis. Mayor, thank you for taking time with us.
Just so our viewers can have the numbers as we begin here, according to the Augusta Chronicle, your city has 32 gyms or fitness centers, 413 restaurants, four theaters, 52 massage therapists, 330 personal care providers that were impacted by the shutdown order. So walk us through what this first reopening looks like in your city and do you know about how many businesses actually reopened?
MAYOR HARDIE DAVIS (D), AUGUSTA, GA: Well, Ana, I first want to say that it was too soon for us to open in Augusta, Georgia and, more importantly, in the great State of Georgia. We continue to be on an incline, we're not a decline in terms of cases and that 14-day window where we needed to see 14 straight days of decline in Georgia, that did not happen consistent with CDC guidelines or what the president is saying from the White House.
When you look at the businesses that are in Augusta, I know that there are a few that have opened up. What I've heard from folks to include our restauranteurs is that they're not opening at this point in time, particularly those that are in downtown Augusta. They're going to continue to shelter in place and provide take out service only at this point. But in terms of allowing dine-in, we're just not ready for that in Georgia and I certainly can say that we're not ready for that in Augusta.
CABRERA: So you think this was obviously a bad idea to start the reopening.
Some of the precautionary steps though that businesses must take in order to do this reopening include prohibiting handshaking and the use of pin pads, enforcing social distancing, providing disinfectant. You say the local governments can cite businesses who are non-compliant. Were any businesses cited on Friday?
DAVIS: Yes. I'm not aware from my law enforcement of any businesses that have been cited at this point in time. But, again, all of the businesses that were given the green light to open by our governor, these are places that people congregate in large numbers. And just by the communal nature of people, they're hand slapping, you know, they've been sheltered in place for a number of days and people are excited to get back out and be with one another.
While at the same time we're not able to do the three Ts. We're not able to do the testing, the contact tracing or treatment in substantial enough numbers. And when you get this compression back on a system that we thought we were seeing progress, particularly in terms of stopping the spread of the virus and flattening the curve, we've now put ourselves almost in a posture of then going backwards. And that's certainly not what I want to see in Georgia, let alone here in Augusta.
CABRERA: Do you feel like you've received appropriate guidance from Governor Kemp on what he expects with some businesses reopening yesterday, restaurants come Monday meanwhile there is still a shelter- in-place still in effect, right? DAVIS: There is still a shelter-in-place until the 30th of April. The emergency order goes until May 13th. But it's kind of duplicitous in that you say shelter-in-place and we've got people who are back out on the streets, they're going to nail salons, they're going to hair salons, they're going to barber shops, they're going to massage and tattoo parlors. All of those businesses are businesses what we call close contact industries.
And so to see a continuing incline in terms of the numbers of cases, I mean, again, in Georgia today, we are at 22,000, almost 23,000 cases in Georgia, 904 deaths. Even in my county alone, we have got 14 deaths and some 355, 360 cases that we've had confirmations on. That number is only going to increase over the next several days. We haven't reached our peak yet in Georgia. And, again, it's too early. We should have continued to take this time to flatten the curve.
I understand the great challenges our business owners are facing. I'm a small business owner myself. But right now, it's about the health, welfare and safety of all Georgians, not just those in Augusta. And, again, I am extremely concerned that we continue to see that incline and not a decline as has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
CABRERA: Well, in fact, the latest modeling projections that are often cited by the White House, for example, are saying Georgia is expected to reach its peak death toll come April 29th and that it wouldn't be safe for the state to reopen until at least June 22nd.
So the big question is, why? And a federal health official tells CNN that Georgia is expected to run out of money for unemployment payments within 30 weeks. And this official alleged that perhaps Governor Kemp's decision to reopen businesses was tied to the state not wanting to absorb the cost for unemployment insurance claims. Do you think that's why the governor is reopening so early even against warnings from health officials?
DAVIS: You know, that's really interesting, Ana. I talked to a number of business owners yesterday as well as individuals who have gone and filed for unemployment. In fact, I talked to an individual yesterday who said that he had filed some 30 days ago, has not gotten unemployment. And now with the governor opening up certain industries, these folks are being forced to go back when they've spent almost 30 days without work, without an income and it's just very disturbing to see us at this place in the State of Georgia.
I think when we understand how critical it is to have sufficient enough testing, contact tracing and treatment available, which, still, we do not have a vaccine in America, that puts us in a grave predicament where we're going to see more death, we're going to see more people infected by this virus and we've got to do everything we can in the State of Georgia to make sure that people can file for unemployment and get those benefits.
And that's why the federal government has got to be an even better partner with states and localities to make sure we're working our systems the right way to get people the resources and the help that they need at this most critical time.
CABRERA: If Georgia doesn't have the resources, you know, if the health experts are saying, Georgia hasn't even reached its peak yet, why? Why do you think the governor has chosen to go this direction and reopen some of these businesses?
DAVIS: Well, when you look at the businesses that are being reopened, again, I think it gives all of us pause. Those mayors who have raised an alarm with regard to opening up Georgia so fast, we understand the toll on human life. We've seen it in our local communities.
And I know the governor is seeing it as well. But those industries, when you look at them, are those close contact industries? When you talk about the economy of Georgia, yes, it's driven by small businesses. But at the end of the day, we have to have a focus around the health, welfare and safety of lives.
If people are transitioning, people dying, people are sick and infected by the virus you're not going to have people coming back to work. We understand that. Some 26 million people who have filed for unemployment across this nation, it's like picking a cruise ship. You're not going to turn it in just a few moments.
And so we can't say we're going to open up a state, flip a switch, and all of a sudden, things are going to turn back to normal. That just doesn't happen whether it's at the federal, state or local level. And we've got to be more tempered in our approach and our desire to see the economy come roaring back. That's just not going to happen.
CABRERA: Well, I certainly hope there aren't bad health implications that come from this reopening this weekend in your state. Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, thank you for taking the time and we wish everybody there in Georgia well.
DAVIS: Thanks so much.
CABRERA: Contact tracing could help the spread of the coronavirus. Some experts say you'll need an army to get this done, so how does it work? And does reopening the country make it harder to trace people?
You are live in the CNN Newsroom.
CABRERA: The governor of New York and other officials say they need an army of people they call tracers, amateur detectives with telephone skills to track down people who have been close to coronavirus patients.
CNN's Brian Todd reports it's a new job the pandemic has created and thousands of them are needed now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The mission, build an instant army.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I have to put together an army of tracers of thousands of people. It's never been done before.
TODD: Contract tracers who track down the people who a coronavirus infected person has had contact with to monitor them for infection. Public health officials say it's crucial component to being able to reopen the economy so new cases can be contained.
A John Hopkins study says an army of about 100,000 contact tracers may be needed to track the number of cases in the U.S. Other experts suggest two or three times that many. But a crisis within this crisis could be brewing.
According to various reports, the U.S. has nowhere near the number of contact tracers needed. By some estimates, only a couple thousand people have been doing it before the outbreak started.
ERIC FEIGL-DING, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: Health departments are completely overwhelmed. Health departments are not designed to send out field armies of people to trace every single case that pops up in their community. Some communities have hundreds of cases in a single day.
TODD: States are rushing to ramp up.
DR. JONEIGH KHALDUN, CHIEF MEDICAL EXECUTIVE, MICHIGAN: We are already training hundreds, if not, thousands of contact tracers.
TODD: But among the concerns, how quickly states can build armies big enough to call dozens of people for each new person infected and who is going to pay for them. As for the type of person needed --
CUOMO: It's a detective, investigator, in the public health space.
TODD: For example, this Massachusetts job posting seeks people who can make calls, follow a script and give instructions or referrals. Quote, a headset is preferred. They have to interview an infected person, get them to help identify anyone they've been in close contact with over the past two weeks.
FEIGL-DING: You could define it as anyone within six feet for more than one minute or it can be anyone within six feet for more than ten minutes.
TODD: And contact tracers have to race against the clock. Experts we spoke to say they have on average less than three days to find someone who an infected person has been in contact with and get that person to isolate. At this contact tracing center in Arizona, now working virtually, a team leader tells us it's time intensive, emotionally taxing work.
[15:20:05] KRISTEN POGREBA-BROWN, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA: Our biggest challenge, honestly, is just getting people on the phone initially and talking to them and then getting them to open up once you get ahold of them.
TODD: And there are more obstacles. Health professionals say the decision by some governors to reopen businesses so quickly, like Georgia's governor throwing open gyms and hair and nail salons this week, will make accurate contact tracing harder.
FEIGL-DING: If you reopen businesses, now you infinitely increase the number of people that people have been in contact with. It makes contact tracing so much more difficult than if we have a lockdown or shelter-in-place.
TODD: Experts say another major challenge regarding contract tracing is that it's like a police officer trying to get a witness account of a crime. People's memories of encounters are often shady and unreliable. To help with that, Apple and Google will soon have apps that people can download where they can share data on anyone they've been in contact with with health departments through their cell phones. But that raises concern over privacy issues.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
CABRERA: Joining us now, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Mass General Hospital, and Dr. Wayne Riley, the President of Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.
So, Dr. Walensky, in your opinion, how important is contact tracing to reopening the country?
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE DIVISION, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Good afternoon, Ana. Yes, contact tracing is actually a key part of any containment strategy. So, essentially, what happens is you need to have massive amounts of testing. When you do that testing, you find and identify people who have disease and then you need to go back and find the people they've been in contact with so you can isolate the people with disease and then quarantine the people who they have been exposed to.
As was noted, you need to really do this in a very short period of time, mathematical models suggest within 24 to 48 hours of contact to be able to sort of halt the epidemic spread.
CABRERA: Dr. Riley, the World Health Organization came out today and said there is no evidence that people who had coronavirus and have recovered are immune from being infected a second time. So what does that mean for all those states working to reopen?
DR. WAYNE RILEY, PRESIDENT, SUNY DOWNSTATE MEDICAL CENTER: Well, it does complicate it. And WHO, their guidance is that we should not rely on serologic testing or antibody testing for diagnosis. And we can't be totally certain that if you've had COVID or that you have detected antibodies in your blood that you are truly protected.
Our hope, and I'm sure the Dr. Walensky will verify this, if this virus has any similarity to other coronaviruses that we suspect that there is some level of protection for some time, but, again, that is why this is called the new coronavirus. It's not acting exactly like other coronaviruses.
CABRERA: I mean, Dr. Walensky, from what I've understood in the past is that if you, you know, have had the virus, you're likely to have some level of immunity and at some point it's possible the more exposure the community has, the more people who will eventually develop that immunity. We keep hearing the term herd immunity. How common is that? Can you explain a little bit more about what that means and why it's not an easy thing to achieve?
WALENSKY: Right. So the concept of herd immunity or herd protection, we can call it, is that people who have either had a vaccine or had the disease themselves can somehow protect people who might still be vulnerable. So levels of herd immunity, obviously, there is no vaccine. Levels of herd immunity stop the viral spread because the virus is in contact with people who can't get infected.
There had been speculation you'd need levels of herd immunity of around 50 to somewhere like 80 percent for this virus because it's so infectious.
But I want to reiterate what the WHO says, and that is that herd immunity and herd protection assumes, just that, that there is protection if you've had disease before. And, in fact, with this disease, we're not certain of that.
So we are hopeful that, as Dr. Riley says, that we have some level of protection. There is data to suggest that the sicker you were with the disease, perhaps the more protection you have.
But it is the case that we need to do sort of do more studies to understand that and, in fact, even population-based studies have suggested that populations may only have about 5 percent of that protection right now. So I think we are a long way from herd immunity with this disease.
CABRERA: How uncommon is it for there to be coronavirus and not have some immunity after somebody is infected?
WALENSKY: It's likely pretty common. So it is probably the case that, you know, 50 percent of people are presenting without symptoms at all and that their data from Santa Clara now suggesting that up to 50 percent of people had no symptoms.
And what is really under investigation is do those people make antibodies and are those antibodies protective?
CABRERA: Dr. Riley, Dr. Anthony Fauci has also expressed concern just about the ability to ramp up testing in this country. Let's listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I am not overly confident right now at all that we have what it takes to do that. We're getting better and better at it as the weeks go by but we are not in a situation where we say we're exactly where we want to be with regard to testing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Dr. Riley, what is your experience? What are you seeing when it comes to testing?
RILEY: Well, I think Dr. Fauci is spot on and that is why he is a national treasure as this country works through this pandemic. He's right. We still struggle even here in April with the level of testing we're able to do in certain hot spots, particularly here in New York City, where we are in Brooklyn, New York, again, where I would argue is a pandemic within a pandemic, we're still not able to ramp up the widespread community testing that I think would be helpful to really focus on the vulnerable communities, particularly black and brown.
So I agree fully with my distinguished colleague, Dr. Fauci, we have a long way to go with testing. Is it better today than it was three weeks ago? Yes. Is it where it needs to be? I would suggest no.
CABRERA: What is the hold up, Dr. Riley?
RILEY: Well, it's complicated. As the governor of New York mentioned today, he gave a great tutorial on the complexity of testing. First of all, the equipment, the swabs. It may be the reagents. In some cases, Ana, it's the equipment. There's different laboratories systems and equipment is just like having three different types of automobiles and trying to use parts from one automobile and another. It doesn't work like that. And that's way the testing machines are manufactured to sort of be sole source in terms of the materials and the cartridges that are needed.
And, Again, before this pandemic there wasn't a large supply of these various machines. I, myself, at our institution have been trying to get one type of machine that will allow us to do about a thousand tests a day. I've been unsuccessful for the past two months getting the manufacturer to sell me that machine. And I'm sure other hospital CEOs are having the same problem.
CABRERA: Dr. Wayne Riley and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, it's great to have you both with us. Be well. Thank you.
RILEY: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: Americans have been told to wear masks in public, but which ones work, which ones don't? CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta brings us an in depth report that shows us how easily germs can travel. That is next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:32:17]
CABRERA: Three weeks after the CDC urged all Americans to wear masks in public, only nine states have made it mandatory for essential workers. But if you do wear a mask, what kind is best and why?
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.
DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Now that we know about 25 percent to 50 percent of people are spreading asymptomatically, we suggest people wear cloth face coverings.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While the White House recommends we wear face masks in public, some states around the country have started making it mandatory.
LARRY HOGAN, (R), MARYLAND GOVERNOR: I've signed an executive order which will require the wearing of masks or face covering when inside any retail establishments.
GUPTA: Many are left wondering which mask offers the best protection.
Now when we talk about face covering is, there are the surgical masks I wear in the hospital to protect patients from my own germs and avoid any splashes.
And then there are the N-95 respirator masks that must be fit tested in order to protect health care workers during certain procedures. It's the only one of these masks that prevents most very small particles from getting in when used properly. We need to keep those masks in their hands.
Then there are the disposable cloth masks, which you can buy in the store and online. They're not made for surgery or hospitals but are also widely used.
(on camera): The CDC has recommended that we all wear cloth face masks like this one -- my daughter made this one -- when we go out in public and we can't physically distance from each other. But keep in mind, the reason is not so much to protect ourselves but to protect others from us.
(voice-over): It should come as no surprise that these medical-grade masks are more effective but that doesn't mean we should dismiss the benefit of cloth masks.
Let me show you. Take a look at this experiment done by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. They used lasers to help show how far spit droplets travel through the air when we talk. Watch how far those green dots go when he speaks.
Without the lasers, these droplets might be invisible to the naked eye, but now, with the cloth, we barely see anything. DR. LYDIA BOUROUIBA, PROFESSOR, INSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL ENGINEERING &
SCIENCE, MIT: Inhalations come out in the form of a gas cloud. And the wearing of masks, therefore, could be, even if they're not high grade, a way to contain the range of the cloud.
GUPTA: Lydia Bourouiba is a professor at MIT who studies physics behind how disease is spread through coughing, sneezing, and breathing.
BOUROUIBA: Sneezes, which had the highest momentum, can then help the drops reach distances up to eight meters, or 26 feet. Coughs are second in line in terms of their momentum and they can basically bring drops up to 16 to 19 feet even when the wind is very mild and bring it further to source, around six or seven feet.
GUPTA: You can see now why wearing a mask in addition to physical distancing is so important. Your germs can travel far.
BOUROUIBA: We also want to make sure that the mask is also clean so it doesn't become a source of secondary contamination.
GUPTA: You don't have to be a whiz with the sewing machine, like my daughter. An old T-shirt or bandana will do. Ultimately, it's about having some form of barrier with multiple layers.
CABRERA: Our thanks to Sanjay for that report.
Now with businesses closed and states bearing the brunt of the financial cost of the coronavirus, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is in favor of just letting states go bankrupt, including his own state of Kentucky. The governor of that state joins us next.
CABRERA: This weekend marks the beginning of a wave of states starting to reopen with social distancing in place. In Oklahoma, personal-care businesses like pet groomers and nail salons are taking appointments. In Alaska, restaurants are opened but can't exceed 25 percent of their normal capacity. Gyms, hair salons, tattoo parlors are open in Georgia, as we've been discussing.
And in Kentucky, the health care sector will gradually reopen with services reopening for things like dental care, physical therapy, and health clinics.
The Governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, joins us now.
Governor, good to have you with us and thanks for taking the time.
Why are you prioritizing reopening that sector versus barber shops or gyms like we're seeing in Georgia?
GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): Let me start the way I start every day when I update the people of Kentucky. That's by reminding us all we will get through this and get through it together.
In the Commonwealth of Kentucky I couldn't be prouder of how my people have responded to this worldwide health pandemic. They've been willing to make sacrifices. They've been willing to do what it takes to flatten our curve and because of that we have saved countless numbers of lives here.
We cannot, as we look at reopening, frustrate those sacrifices. We cannot stop taking important measures now midway through our fight against the coronavirus.
And so our goal is not to be the fastest but to be the smartest. And so when we look at what we reopen first, the health care area, it gives us the best protections against the coronavirus. It's an area where people are already trained to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
And it's also really necessary right now. Because while we have shut down all elective procedures for this period of time to flatten the curve, what we've seen is that people are coming to our emergency rooms sicker than they would normally be.
So we have to make sure we don't just continue to defeat this coronavirus and save lives and stay healthy at home, which is what we call our order, we got to make sure we're taking care of everybody else's other health needs.
CABRERA: Right. Sure. I understand that.
But obviously reopening comes with some risk even if you're just reopening the health care sector. Obviously, when you're doing dental work you can't maintain a six-foot social distancing guideline.
A key coronavirus model suggests Kentucky should wait until June 8th or later to begin safely reopening. Yet, you do begin on Monday. What pressure are you feeling to reopen right now?
BESHEAR: Well, at the end of the day, I'm not making decisions based on pressure. I am far beyond any politics of the situation. These are decisions about life and death and I'm trying to make the best decisions for my people.
When we look at a number of areas where we have placed restrictions, we're going to look at loosening those at the right time where we are driven by public health and by science and by the data.
But in the health care industry, we do see an ability, with the strong requirements not guidance that we'll provide, whereby, there's not going to be waiting rooms anymore. The parking lot is the new waiting room.
PPE, sufficient PPE has to be worn in every single one of these locations.
CABRERA: Do you have enough PPE now in your state?
BESHEAR: Well, we do for the parts of the health care sector that we're opening. So we're not opening anything that takes the highest level of PPE that you would see in a COVID wing of one of the hospitals.
We are not opening anything that would take a hospital bed because we still want to be prepared in case we see a surge. We're not doing outpatient procedures yet.
We're just starting a level of health care where we can get people back on a healthy track and make sure we're addressing their other health care needs.
CABRERA: Here's what the vice president is saying about a nationwide reopening. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): I think by Memorial Day weekend, we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us. And
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): From your lips to God's ears.
PENCE: And state and local officials will begin to reopen activities. You're going to see states in the days ahead here begin to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I know you were on a call with the White House and other governors yesterday. Is this what he told you on the call, too?
BESHEAR: We have a call just about every week and the vice president's on it and we appreciate those communications.
But we've got to understand that we're going to be dealing with the coronavirus in one way or another until have a vaccine.
And so while we're going to be able to take different steps, we have to understand that there won't be the old normal. It will be a new normal. It will look different. And everybody's business will operate differently and the way we interact will be very different.
And so I'm making sure when I talk to Kentuckians they know that we're facing a test of humanity, whether we care about each other enough to sacrifice our own economic interest.
But that test really has three phases. The first has been sacrificed. Those that have lost their job but understand why we have to do this, those that have had to shutter their business.
The second is patience and planning. Making sure that as we look for that two-week decline under the, even the White House plan, that we are planning to reopen safely when we are able to do different phases.
But the third is perseverance. Knowing we'll deal with this for a while and making sure we are resilient and strong, physically, emotionally, and intellectually healthy.
It is going to be a challenge until that vaccine comes around. And I want to make sure that I'm transparent about that challenge so that my people are up for it. And I know they are.
CABRERA: As you know, money for states and local governments was not included in the latest round of relief money passed by lawmakers this week. There was an economic reality for states as well. I know a lot of states are reporting upwards of 20-plus percent unemployment right now and there's, obviously, millions if not more than a billion dollars in loss from tax revenue that would normally be coming in for the fiscal year.
It is Kentucky's own Mitch McConnell's suggestion that states should declare bankruptcy instead of depending on federal aid to bail them out of deep revenue shortfalls going to fly with you?
And before you answer, let's listen to his words so I don't mischaracterize them. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) (voice-over): I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route. It saved some cities. And there's no good reason for it not to be available.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: He's got to win the same statewide election you do. How does that play in your state?
BESHEAR: Well, let me first say that I've got a good relationship with Senator McConnell despite us being in different parties. We've worked together in a number of areas in addressing this crisis.
But I very strongly disagree with them here, as does every other governor in the country regardless of party.
I hope those comments were off the cuff. I hope they were in reference to something else because bankruptcy for a state would be disastrous.
And remember, that puts you in the hands of a federal judge and that judge could do anything from raise taxes on your people, which we can't handle right now, to making disastrous cuts, to law enforcement and education and health care.
So we must, must have federal support for state and local budgets.
We did it in 2008 and 2009 just in a recession. Surely, we should be willing to do that in response to a worldwide health pandemic.
If we don't, it is going to mean that the recession, the economic impact is much longer. And we're not going to be able to help people that truly need help not just now but will need help as we rebuild our economy.
Let me say we can and we will rebuild our economy.
I know there's a lot of fear out there. But if we can flatten the curve and defeat a pandemic in a way no one has ever seen in history, we can absolutely get our economy back on track and move forward.
CABRERA: Governor Andy Beshear, thank you very much for joining us today. We send our very best to all the people there in Kentucky and hope you'll be well, stay well in the days ahead.
BESHEAR: Thank you. Be safe.
CABRERA: You, too.
It is heating up in California. These are live pictures of Newport Beach where people are flocking to the shore amid the pandemic and despite warnings to stay home.
Plus, CNN's Bill Weir takes to the road to see how America will be transformed by the climate crisis. Join him for CNN's special report, "THE ROAD TO CHANGE: AMERICA'S CLIMATE CRISIS." That is tonight at 10:00 Eastern here on CNN.
CABRERA: Tens of thousands of people today flocking to newly reopened beaches in parts of southern California.
Let's go to CNN's Paul Vercammen in Newport Beach, California,
And, Paul, walk us through what you are seeing and what you are hearing there.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Super quick, Ana, this beach hasn't been open but they are welcoming outsiders. And 18 million southern Californians under a heat advisory right in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis.
What they are saying when people bunch up, you better move and separate. They are doing it, and they are cooperating.
Let's hear from the lifeguard who was running the operation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN O'ROURKE, BATTALION CHIEF, NEWPORT BEACH LIFEGUARDS: We want people to come out and enjoy the beach, get some exercise, sunshine, get a break from what's going on in the world, but to do it in a safe manner. So, we can't emphasis the social distancing part enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: And if you look at the southern California, from left to right here, you have a situation where most beaches are open in Orange County that had very are few deaths. Los Angeles County beaches closed. They have had a tremendous amount of deaths comparatively. And up in Ventura County, they are open. They have only had 16 deaths.
That is putting a lot of pressure on Orange County and Ventura County beaches. They are hoping to get through the weekend without any incident.
So far, the first real test we have had with extreme weather during the COVID-19 crisis.
Back to you -- Ana?
CABRERA: Stay cool, stay safe.
Paul Vercammen there, in Newport Beach, thanks.
In Nepal, "CNN Hero," Maggie Doyne, has mobilized her nonprofit to offer lifesaving food and aid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGGIE DOYNE, "CNN HERO": Two babies.
We are running a children's home for 54 kids.
Sheltering-in-place and lock downs. It's different when you are in this part of the world. Rampant food shortages, it's really hard when there's mothers struggling and children are hungry. Every single day, it seems to get worse.
Homes have been broken into for food. People were surviving on salt and chili powder. I have never felt so scared or overwhelmed. But I have never felt more hope that we could not do something and mobilize to make the situation better for many, many people.
We're just hoping that more help is on the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: What an angel perspective, right? For more go to CNNheroes.com.
Stay with us.