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Detroit Hit Hard Economically By Coronavirus Pandemic; Over A Quarter Of World's Coronavirus Deaths Are In The U.S.; State Unemployment Systems Overwhelmed As 26.5 Million Americans File For Unemployment In Five Weeks; NY Governor Cuomo Says Hospitalizations Back Down Again; Dr. Glenn Budnick Answers Coronavirus Questions Regarding Children. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 25, 2020 - 16:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for staying with us.

Right now in the United States, the number of people sick and dying from coronavirus continuing to rise, even though health officials in many states report encouraging news that their infection curves are flattening. Still, more than 100,000 people just in the U.S. are known to have the virus and more than 53,000 people in this country have died. That is more than a quarter of the entire world's known coronavirus death toll.

Now, also today, word from U.S. government officials that three more coronavirus antibody tests are now authorized bringing the total to seven. The FDA says these tests are to indicate if someone has already had the virus even if they showed no symptoms and yet a potential setback. The World Health Organization warning today that people who had the virus are not necessarily protected against getting it again. Scientists tell them there is no evidence that patients become immune to further infection.

What about a vaccine? There isn't one yet and some scientists are cautioning we may never have one.


DR. CHRISTOPHER WHITTY, CHIEF UK MEDICAL OFFICER: We need to be careful. We don't assume that we'll 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 may not, but we need to be absolutely clear about that.


CABRERA: Back in the United States, and despite a rising death toll some governors are letting select businesses open their doors again. Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee are among seven states gradually reopening hair salons, shops and state parks. Many mayors in Georgia are concerned that a rush to re-open will mean many more people could get sick. An Atlanta's mayor took her opposition to reopening business in

Georgia to Twitter today, tweeting those choosing to get their nails done at salons should share the state's coronavirus statistics with their manicurists.

CNN's Erica Hill has more now on the tough choices business owners are facing.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An unprecedented experiment, now underway in Georgia. Salons, tattoo parlors, gyms, all have the governor's blessing to reopen. The mayor of the state's largest city, urging residents to stay home.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D),, ATLANTA, GA: Nothing has changed. People are still getting infected. People are still dying. We do not have a cure to this virus. The only thing that has helped us is that we have stayed apart from one another. And I am simply asking people to continue to do that.

HILL: Customers weighing health concerns as owners must also confront mounting bills.

TARA GLYNN, HAIR SALON OWNER: I'm going to try it. I just feel like, us as a country, we are going to have much bigger problems, financially, if we don't.

HILL: Meantime, about an hour south, cars lining up for food at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Neighboring North Carolina is not easing up yet.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): We love our friends in Georgia but we are really concerned about how quickly this is happening and we want to make sure that we keep our numbers as low as possible.

HILL: Oklahoma moving forward with a plan similar to Georgia's. The mayor of Tulsa noting cases in his city are still on the rise and expects that will continue.

MAYOR G.T. BYNUM (R), TULSA, OK: Waiting on those cases to decline as people for 100 miles in every direction are being encouraged to ease social distancing would be futile.

HILL: Golf courses open in Wisconsin Friday; libraries and craft stores can offer curbside pickup, the state reporting 23 people who voted in person or worked the polls at the primary there earlier this month have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Curbside pickup is available today in retail stores in Texas.

Colorado stay-at-home order will end Sunday, though not in Denver.

MAYOR MICHAEL HANCOCK (D), DENVER, CO: Nothing will change until maybe 8:00 or at least midnight on May 9th. [16:05:01]

HILL: Tennessee state parks have reopened, more Florida beaches will soon and diners can now eat at restaurants in Alaska, though capacity is limited to 25 percent, a patchwork response unfolding as experts warn, the country is not out of the woods.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EMORY UNIVERSITY: People keeping --- you know, keeping -- talking about the peak like it was the end game. It's not the end game, it's simply a model.

HILL: California announcing a new partnership to get restaurants back online and deliver meals to at-risk seniors.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): It's not just about the meals, it's about a human connection. It's about someone just checking in as they're delivering those meals and making sure people are OK.

HILL: A chance to reconnect and to help as this crisis continues.

(on camera): Also in California, for the first time since World War II, the California State Fair and Food Expo has been canceled. Typically, some 700,000 people attend the event which runs from mid- July to early August. The venue, where it is held, is also currently being used as a drive-through testing site in the state.

Back to you.


CABRERA: Our thanks to Erica Hill.

And as she mentioned, several cities and beach communities in Florida are also reopening public spaces, some businesses and parts of the hospitality and tourism industry. Leaders in the Miami area are eager to get their communities back open again -- golf courses, museums, basketball courts, marinas.

And the mayor of Miami-Dade County asked at a Q and A session this week, what are we waiting for?

That mayor joins us right now.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, thank you for being here.

I want you to listen to governor of Florida today and appearing to hit the pause button on reopening.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Phase one is a very, very small step forward, and I think the prudent way to do it is to be very methodical about this, be very data-driven. I'm not in a rush, you know, to do anything. I would rather do it right.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: He's not in a rush. He would rather do it right. You're expecting to reopen parks in Miami-Dade County next week.

How does this now affect your plans?

MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ (R), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: It doesn't really. We're pretty much in sync. The governor and I talk just about every single day, and so, he knows that things are different in South Florida.

Actually, we'll be more cautious in south Florida than probably the rest of the state. Where we are going to be opening is spaces and we're going to do it in a way that is safe and everything that we're doing is in conjunction with our medical experts here who say the measure to open those open spaces up is the way to go. And so, it's not going to be the old normal. It's a new normal and so those spaces are going to be operating in a completely different way than we're used to.

CABRERA: Mr. Mayor, let me bring the facts, though, from Florida. The rate of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths are still rising in Florida. The modeling often cited by the White House says Florida needs to wait until the middle of June at the earliest to safely reopen.

We're still in April. Why the rush? Why risk it right now?

GIMENEZ: Well, because the hospitalization rate is not rising here in Miami-Dade County and I'm not sure the hospitalization rate is rising in the state of Florida. And so, we -- the one thing I do look at, that we do look at is the hospitalization rate. We know that the people that test positive is actually like 16-1/2 times less than the actual people that are positive.

And so, we've always looked at the hospitalization rate, the utilizations rate of our rooms. How many people are going to the hospital? How many people are being discharged from the hospital? How many ventilators do we have? How many ICU beds that we've had?

We've always had sufficient capacity and right now, the trend is either steadying or actually going down. And so, yes, we think this is the right time to open these open spaces in this way because this is the way we're going to be operating for quite some time. It's not again, opening those spaces the way that we're used to going out and enjoying parks and our boating and golf. That's just not the way it's going to happen.

CABRERA: But have you had a steady decline for 14 days of cases, of new cases there in your community which is part of what the guidelines from the White House say need to happen before you re-open anything?

GIMENEZ: The guidelines talk about interior spaces. We're not talking about any interior spaces. We're talking about exterior spaces. We're talking about parks. We're talking about boating and we're talking about golf and doing it in a safe manner. We're not opening up any interior spaces. We're still working on the

plan to open up interior spaces and when we hit those metrics, then we will open up those interior spaces in a way that will be safe and that is condoned by our medical experts here in Miami-Dade.

CABRERA: I am a big fan of getting outside and being active, but I have to ask, how do you enforce these measures you're putting into place --

GIMENEZ: Because we're going to be -- we're going to be --

CABRERA: But let me finish, let me finish, though.


CABRERA: Because you look at these measures, people being on the basketball court, three players per basketball half-court, and yet basketball is a contact sport.


So, are you going to have people, you know, counting how many people are out there on the basketball court? And how do you enforce it? Are they going to get citations if they're not following your recommendations and the guidelines?

GIMENEZ: Yes, ma'am, they are. They're going to be taken off the court. So, what we are doing is we're 400 additional people to do exactly what you just said.

We are going to have eyes on those basketball courts. We are going to have eyes on those tennis courts and if people -- tennis is going to -- you can play single, but you can't play doubles.

Basketball, you can't have a contact basketball game. You can shoot your own ball at a rim with three people and a half court, but you can't have a game. I guess you can have a game of horse and that's about it.


GIMENEZ: And so, that's exactly what we're going to be doing and that's the way we're going to be doing and we're hiring extra people to make sure that we enforce it because that's the key. We have to enforce those measures of social distancing, wearing the mask and making sure that the people are abiding by those rules. So that's exactly the way that we're going to do it.

CABRERA: I want you to listen to an expert about how worried he is about how fast this virus can spread.


DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: This is a virus that transmits so quickly. The time between disease and manifestation is only five days. This incubation period is so short and the reproductive number is in the order of about three. So for every affected individual, you have three people subsequently infected. What that means, Anderson, is that -- if one person is infected at the end of 30 days, you have 400 people infected as a result of that one individual.


CARLOS: OK, I'm told that we just lost Mayor Carlos Gimenez of Miami- Dade County, Florida.

But, obviously, you now know, if you didn't already, how quickly the virus can spread. It's just one more reason it's so important to stay at home and to keep up the social distancing that so many of us have been doing.

Our thanks to the mayor for joining us and we will, of course, check back with them as we proceed in this uncertain time.

I have new video, I want to show you. This is Dr. Deborah Birx arriving at the White House for the coronavirus task force briefing that should be getting under way right now. They're behind closed doors briefing and not the one that we bring you publicly. We're staying on top of that.

Plus, new documents reveal how the president's political appointees try to back up his boast by using the unproven drug as treatment for the coronavirus.



CABRERA: They are two drugs the president has with the phrase, what do you have to use? But the FDA is now warning against the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The agency says these drugs reportedly cause serious heart rhythm problems and should only be used in hospital settings and clinical trials.

The president has described the anti-malarial medications as possible game-changers. And since mid-March, he name-dropped these two drugs nearly 50 times.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I say it, what do you have to lose? I'll say it again. What do you have to lose? Take it.

If things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody.

It will be wonderful. It will be so beautiful. It will be a gift from heaven if it works.

If some other person put it forward that said, oh, let's go with it, you know? What do you have to lose?

Try it, if you'd like.


CABRERA: And now, a new "Vanity Fair" piece reveals a massive behind the scenes pressure campaign on the government's top officials to deliver amounts to chloroquine drugs to just about anyone who wanted them, even as scientists warned of potential risks.

Katherine Eban is the investigative journalist behind that piece. She is also the author of "Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom ".

Katherine, thank you.

You detail how despite all the warnings from the health experts, the White House wouldn't drop this issue. And I just want to read this e- mail you obtained sent by an assistant health secretary at HHS to officials at FEMA.

White House call. Really want to flood New York and New Jersey with treatment courses. Hospitals have it, sick outpatients don't and can't get.

So go through distribution channels as we discussed. If we have 29 million and a few million ASAP, White House wants to follow up in A.M. We can get a lot more of this, right, Bob? Millions per week? Question mark?

Katherine, give us a sense of how far administration officials went to bend the rules and back up the president's claims about these drugs?

KATHERINE EBAN, INVESTIGATED TRUMP TEAM'S PRESSURE CAMPAIGN FOR VANITY FAIR: There is really this behind the scenes battle that we were able to chronicle for this "Vanity Fair" piece. Career health officials were extremely concerned because these drugs are dangerous. They're not studied for coronavirus. They really didn't have evidence whether they would harm or help.

And so, what they wanted to do is what you usually do which is study them in rigorous, controlled hospital trials, but the administration appears to have wanted a win from the podium, and so, what they did is they pushed a plan to use this drug widely to get out millions of doses to pharmacies and circumvent critical safeguards in the process.

CABRERA: And now, we have some new results from some of the studies this week that are small samples, but they're essentially saying this may not be the drug that they hoped it would be in terms of treating coronavirus, and in fact, the serious side effects may be even not more risky than the risk of this potentially working.

This week, we also saw the head of the agency working on a coronavirus vaccine was reassigned. He claims this was in retaliation for pushing back on relaxing the restrictions on hydroxychloroquine.

In your investigation, did you find a lot of internal clashes over the messaging on these drugs? [16:20:06]

EBAN: Oh, absolutely. So what we know from the e-mails is that the FDA's chief counsel was trying to execute a White House plan to essentially get these drugs out through distribution channels and ultimately into pharmacies. That set off a huge battle because the career health officials were concerned that if these drugs were, you know, just in pharmacies being prescribed by doctors in an off-label manner, really, that exposed patients to serious risk because they have cardiac effects. They cause arrhythmias which can be a fatal heart rhythm.

So, there was a lot of concern and they tried to push back against that. They got a rule established which said, OK, the stockpiled chloroquine drugs can only be used in hospital settings, but even after that, the officials working most closely with the White House were still pushing a plan to go around that restriction and get massive amounts of these drugs into pharmacies.

CABRERA: Katherine Eban, you have great reporting and thank you for taking the time to share that with us and I encourage everyone to read your piece in "Vanity Fair."

Now, I want to bring in our doctors to talk more about this. Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency room physician and the former public health commissioner in the city of Baltimore, and Dr. Sheldon Teperman, the chief trauma surgeon at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.

Dr. Wen, can you, you know, walk us back through some of the potential side effects that these drugs have if you take them?

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Yes, and, Ana, I'm glad that you're mentioning about the side effects because every medication, every treatment does have side effects. You always want to weigh the risks and benefits of taking the medications. In the case of hydroxychloroquine, what was mentioned by your previous guest, you could have fatal arrhythmias. You could have a heart rhythm that become so irregular that, frankly, it causes death.

Also, there is a risk that when combined with other medications, there are additional side effects. So if you have a patient who is dying whom -- for whom hydroxychloroquine could be a last resort, it may make sense to try it just because this is the risk is outweighed by the potential benefit.

But I'm really concerned about patients who aren't that ill, whom are even potentially taking it prophylactically, meaning that they don't have coronavirus, but they think they can prevent coronavirus or prevent themselves from getting it who are now thinking that this is some kind of magic pill. And I'm really concerned about circumventing the safeguards and potentially introducing a lot of patients to harm that could result in death.

CABRERA: Dr. Teperman, these drugs aside, there's also a growing worry nationwide that the fear of coronavirus is keeping patients from going to the E.R. for other treatments and other issues and health problems they may have even when they desperately need, you know, treatment for non-COVID issues. How big of a concern is that?

DR. SHELDON TEPERMAN, TRAUMA MEDICAL DIRECTOR, JACOBI MEDICAL CENTER: Well, it was more of a concern in the previous weeks. So we're here in New York City and the curve has flattened, and our E.R.s are much more manageable and in fact, some of our E.R.s are empty.

So, I would tell the public, number one, if you're sick, you should call your doctor. If you're COVID sick in New York City, you can call 311 or call your doctor, but certainly, the E.R.s are open for business and actually, there's lots of nurses, lots of docs. And if you're real sick, you're perfectly fine, certainly, in New York City, and throughout the country, you should not hesitate to come to our E.R. You'll be well taken care of.

CABRERA: Dr. Wen, there's data from Mount Sinai health system showing people in their 30s and 40s, young people with no underlying health conditions, but -- who are experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms or having strokes. The attacks are sudden but serious. Doctors say perhaps they're triggered by unusual blood clots, a side effect of this virus.

Do we know what makes young healthy people so susceptible to this?

WEN: Look, there's a lot that we are learning about COVID-19. There's new research coming out every day and this is very concerning. I mean, the idea that young people, previously healthy and previously we were talking about individuals who are older with underlying medical conditions who get severely ill. Now, we're talking about young people whom otherwise don't have medical illnesses who are coming in with strokes, and may not even know that they had COVID-19 to begin with.

We are also finding out that COVID-19 has effects not only on the lungs. I mean, it's a respiratory illness, you would expect shortness of breath and cough and we are finding out in addition to these blood clotting issues, that this is also affecting their kidneys.


And, in fact, some hospitals are reporting that so many patients are on dialysis that they're running out of dialysis equipment.

I mean, we're learning more about this, but it should be a lesson to everyone that we could all be susceptible to having COVID-19. It's not only older individuals and that's why prevention and that social distancing that we keep on talking about is so important because we have to stop the transmission of this disease.

CABRERA: Dr. Teperman, you work in the E.R. You're exposed to this virus on a daily basis. L.A. County announced this week it will provide coronavirus testing to every essential worker even if they show no symptoms. I know New York is going to be testing as well for front-line workers. Does that need to be done nationwide?

TEPERMAN: Well, let's think about the goal of that. The goal of testing health care workers is number one, to protect the health care worker and their family, to protect against horizontal transmission in the hospital and to protect our patients. So, let's game that out. So, I work not only in the E.R., but I'm running, helping to run five COVID ICUs so you test me now.

And -- but, you know, as soon as I'm done with CNN, I'm going to pop out of this hotel room and go rounds at 6:00 and I'm going to come up against the virus 50 times with ventilated patients.

So are we going test me again at the end of my rounds and is there enough virus in me replicating that the test will pick it up? Are you going to test me tomorrow? The next day?

So, the test idea is a good idea. And we're talking about the COVID test now. Not the antibody test.


TEPERMAN: In principle, that's a good idea, but operationalizing it, or are we going to test everybody periodically? So, how are we going to do this to actually accomplish the goal would be my question.

CABRERA: Dr. Wen, what do you think that should be in terms of frequency?

WEN: I mean, it's difficult because right now, we're not even close to have the ability to do widespread testing. I think we need to find out more information and we need to find out about the antibody test, is it actually giving us the information that we want? Is someone testing positive for the antibody, are they actually immune because that would be really interesting for that person to find out.

But I agree with Dr. Teperman, we need to understand more about the frequency and what these test is used for. But we do know that we need to have significantly ramp up testing. We need potentially millions of tests per day to help reassure employees that they can go back to work, students that they can go back to school and certainly health care workers, too.

CABRERA: Dr. Leana Wen and Dr. Sheldon Teperman, thank you both. Really appreciate your expertise and we wish you both well. Stay health.

TEPERMAN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Millions of Americans have unexpectedly found themselves out of a job due to this pandemic, but with state unemployment offices just overwhelmed, how long will it take for them to see some form of relief?

You're live in a CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: A closer look at how the economic pain of the pandemic is playing out across America. In Detroit, thousands suddenly out of work. And in Michigan, as a whole, 24 percent of the labor force has applied for unemployment benefits in the past five weeks.

CNN Correspondent, Omar Jimenez, is in Detroit with that story.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Quiet downtown streets, economies grinding to a halt, all too common sights across America amid the coronavirus pandemic. And Detroit is no different.

JIMENEZ (on camera): The planning for a place like this takes years.


JIMENEZ: And then here you are weeks away from opening.

FRASSETTO: Yes, we -- we would have been ready to go at the end of March.

JIMENEZ (voice over): Now that timeline is up in the air while he navigates unemployment for the first time after also being laid off.

FRASSETTO: Things aren't great all the time, but we've always made it through.

JIMENEZ: But for many, these are uncertain times. Officials hope part of the solution is a better understanding of the present.

Detroit is the first major city in the country now opening coronavirus testing to all essential employees regardless of symptoms.

HAKIM BERRY, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, CITY OF DETROIT: And that was the thought behind it, those that are at the grocery stores, those that are at the pharmacies and the restaurants that are still operating with carry-out service. How do you ensure that they're safe and healthy and able to serve the public?

JIMENEZ (on camera): They'll make their appointments beforehand. Their information will get radioed into this tent here where these masked and gloved workers will then direct them to one of 12 tents where these employees will get their actual coronavirus tests.

JIMENEZ (voice over): Detroit is trying to get back to work. Thousands in the city are unemployed, as are millions across the United States. Michigan's overall unemployment rate soaring to 20 percent, even affecting companies doing life-saving work.

Die Tech and Engineering in the Grand Rapids area has been working as part of a partnership with General Motors to help make ventilators. And the owner says even they had to lay off 20 percent of their staff.

BILL BERRY, PRESIDENT, DIE-TECH AND ENGINEERING: Even though my guys are working and my company is still operating and we might be one of the least affected companies, well, nobody is safe.

JIMENEZ: In Detroit, city officials have been working hard to make sure the current climate doesn't become a permanent one. The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and others have helped to give

out grants to over 1,000 businesses. And the city of Detroit is literally paying restaurants to help make food for first responders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can bring it right to your door so they have no contact, OK?

JIMENEZ: Hugh Smith's jazz club is now a full-time kitchen for survival, emblematic of the larger picture in Detroit.


HUGH SMITH, CO-OWNER, BAKER'S KEYBOARD LOUNGE: Eighty-six years, never shut down through all crises. I don't think there will ever be anything greater and I don't wish there to be anything greater than this challenge. But we're here to survive. We're survivors and we will beat this.


CABRERA: Michigan is not the only state feeling the chaos the epidemic has caused. This week, another 4.4 million Americans have filed claims. That means 26.5 million Americans have made jobless claims since March 14th.

Think of the number, 26.5 million people. That is as if the entire population of Australia filed for unemployment in five weeks. And each one of those people have bills to paid, needs to put food on the table and may have a family to care for.

With us now is CNN's Chief Business Correspondent, Christine Romans.

Christine, we heard about Detroit and Michigan being hit hard. What other states are feeling the biggest impact of this?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Hawaii has the biggest share of its labor market, filing for unemployment benefits in the last five weeks. And that is because it's, you know, a big tourism state.

But you also have Kentucky, Michigan, as you pointed out, Rhode Island. These are states that at least 20-24 percent of their labor market has actually been sidelined over the past five weeks. That is an unimaginable number.

And folks in Florida are really frustrated. This that is honestly the worst place to lose your job right now, the system there's so broken.

CABRERA: All right, state unemployment systems across the country, but especially in Florida, are completely overwhelmed. Meaning some people may not be able to get through to try to get benefits.

Does that mean the problem is even bigger than the numbers suggest?

ROMANS: I think so. I think there's people that have not been captured in these numbers yet because they haven't been able to get through and to be counted. You will see the numbers continue to be high in the weeks ahead.

And every one of the numbers is a family that has to make decisions about rent or mortgage or food. And all of this anxiety is really something that, it's just hard to measure.

These are people out of their jobs for no fault of their own. We have sidelined the American labor market on purpose. And the money has just got to flow.

The government has promised, it's going to help. There's money that has been deployed to help. but it just is not getting quickly into the hands of the worried Americans.

CABRERA: And we are very close now to the beginning of another month when rent or mortgage will be due again. We know, in April, nearly a third of rent payments were not made. How much worse do you expect it to be now?

ROMANS: I think the families are grappling with what to do. In the CARES Act, that first big stimulus, they were promised there would be pandemic unemployment insurance. Meaning the federal government would pay extra in your jobless checks.

And some states like Florida, for example, hasn't even laid out the rules yet to how people get that money.

So it's another month where you may not have enough money to last the month and you don't know how long it will last.

I think people will try not to pay their rent.

I also think that for lenders they have leniency programs for mortgages and credit cards. Talk to your lender. Incredibly important. But remember, if they say, OK, you have COVID-19 forebearance, remember, July 1, you could end up with a balloon payment with three months of mortgage. So be very careful.

CABRERA: OK, Christine Romans, good advice as always. Thank you.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will increase testing across the state. And more promising news, the evidence, he says, proves that New York State is on the downside of the mountain.

CNN's Bill Weir takes us to the road tonight to see how America been transformed by the climate crisis. Join him for CNN's special report, "THE ROAD TO CHANGE, AMERICA'S CLIMATE CRISIS," tonight at 10:00 here on CNN.



CABRERA: Welcome back. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the last 21 days has been hell. And he said New York is, quote, "On the downside of the mountain." The governor said that the total number of hospitalizations are back down, and he would still like to see the numbers even lower. Let's listen.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: We want to know how fast that decline continues and how low the decline gets. And we would like to get back to the days of only 400, 500 people showing new infections every day.


CABRERA: And still more than 400 people, confirmed dead, new deaths from the coronavirus alone.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro in New York for us.

Evan, Governor Cuomo said that he wants to double the amount of tests being done each day.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. I mean, in order for the state to move to the next phase of the pandemic crisis, into talking about reopening, you have to have testing.

And to that end, we are seeing a big increase in testing here in New York announced today by Governor Cuomo. Drug stores will be turned in to diagnostic testing sites, making thousands of sites potentially for people to get tested.

And the rules on testing, the restrictions on testing will be loosened, making those tests available to essential workers.

Also, antibody testing was going to begin in earnest here in the coming days, starting today in fact. With health care workers at the city most affected hospitals being the first to get those tests.

So, it's a big sign for people who live in New York that maybe there's going to be a testing capacity to maybe move things forward here in the state after all the days of lockdown.

But, you know what, what is interesting about this, we are talking about tests in New York and the problem in New York. But, this is obviously a global problem and a national problem. And what happens here affects what happens all over the rest of the country and all over the rest of the world.

There was a remarkable moment last week at a different Cuomo press conference where he talked about just how much what is happening here is affecting people had in other parts of the country.


He read a letter from a farmer in Kansas who watches his press briefings for information about the pandemic and is trying to wait and do his best to help out the people of New York.


CUOMO: "Dear, Mr. Cuomo, I seriously doubt that you will ever read this letter. As I know you are busy beyond belief with the disaster that has befallen our country."

"I'm a retired farmer, hunkered down in northeast Kansas with my wife, who has but one lung and occasional problems with her remaining lung."

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


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: You know, in these days, a lot of us spend time in our house. A very small world. But, we forget that this is actually a big world dealing with a big problem. And letters like that and moments like that help to explain and help us understand just how much everyone is pulling for this state and this city to come out of this -- Ana?

CABRERA: What a beautiful story. I just -- I love that man who just sent that letter to try to help the state of New York by sending his one N-95 mask he left over.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you.

Now, the amount of time kids are spending on the phone, on TV, on tablet screens, has skyrocketed during the pandemic. If you are a parent, you know what I'm talking about. How much time is too much? We are asking a pediatrician your questions next.




UNIDENTIFIED BOY: When will this be over?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: We want to see our friends.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Why do we have to stay away from people but not our family?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: When will all of us go back to school?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: When can I go to the park again?


CABRERA: So those were some of the questions kids had during out special CNN townhall today featuring the characters from Sesame Street. Big Bird and Grover and Elmo, helping the youngest among us feel better about such a scary time.


OSCAR THE GROUCH: Oscar the Grouch here to tell you to stay home! I don't want to see your smiling face! I don't want to smell your pretty perfume. I don't want to be anywhere near you.

Hey, this social dancing thing is kind of a Grouch's dream.


CABRERA: OK. Talking to our kids about the coronavirus has certainly been one of the challenges I faced as a parent. Another, obviously, should be, you know, do I take my child to the doctor right now, even for a vaccine. Is it safe to do that?

Joining us is Dr. Glenn Budnick, the chairman of the Pediatrics Reliance Medical Group.

Doctor Budnick, the "New York Times" found that vaccine rates are dropping because parents are scared to take their kids to the doctor's office. Should they be going in?


That is a very good question. You have seen an unbelievable drop off in the rate of immunizations in pediatricians offices since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

In my 40 years of practice, never have I seen so few people coming in to get their required vaccinations.

And we don't want to replace a pandemic with epidemic of childhood diseases that we have cured, such as measles and whooping cough.

So it's extremely important that, especially now, most states that are on the downside of the curve, that if your child is due for immunization, they come to the office and get the immunization. We certainly don't want them getting diseases that we could prevent.

CABRERA: OK, now, eventually, schools are going to reopen. Some daycares perhaps even sooner. For parents who are worried about whether this is safe, is it safe to let my kids go back to daycare, what questions should they be asking?

BUDNICK: Sure. I advise several school systems. Like when the schools were closing, we were going over online teaching and what, what we could do with pupils to continue the school system.

We are currently going over what we can to open the school systems, including social distancing, how we are going to arrange desks in classrooms, six feet apart. Masks for students that all the students have masks.

Adjusting the school schedule so if the classroom was 20-25 people, we may only be able to fit 12 people in a classroom, so we have to adjust the timing of the school.

Lunch periods, we are going to have on change the way lunch is done in order to social distance. To have masks in school and make it safe.

And we are, of course, at the same time, we are going to have to monitor for any increased illness that we see in the school system.

We only want to open when it's safe. And we want to continue to monitor to make sure it's safe. They key is going to be to continue to monitor to make sure there's no increase in illnesses once we open the school systems.

CABRERA: OK, Doctor Budnick, there's always plenty more questions to ask, just no time today. We will have you back.

Thank you, as always, for that good advice and good information.

BUDNICK: Sure. Thanks, Ana.


CABRERA: I hope you stay safe and healthy yourself.

BUDNICK: Thank you.

CABRERA: As we head to break, you just have to see this moment.




CABRERA: What you are watching there, nurses in Liverpool, England, cheering a six-month old baby leaving an isolation room after recovering from the coronavirus. The baby's mother praising the amazing hospital staff and saying she will be forever grateful to them.