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U.S. Coronavirus Cases 950,000-Plus And Above 54,000 Deaths; States To Reopen Including Colorado, Georgia, Tennessee, California And Much More; Trump's Remarks On Ingesting Disinfectant Has Maryland's Hotlines Receiving Lots Of Calls; Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) Is Interviewed About Florida's Unemployment Benefit Woes; Governor Cuomo Details Reopening Strategy. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 26, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: We're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for joining us on this Sunday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. And tonight, the number of cases of coronavirus in the United States has topped 950,000 and more than 54,000 people have died.
Just one month ago, the death toll was just over 1,000. Think about that -- 53,000 people have died in just the last 30 days in the U.S. Across the country though; states are pushing forward with reopening plans.
Tomorrow, in fact, restaurants will welcome customers again in Georgia and Tennessee. Cash registers will be ringing again at stores in Colorado, Minnesota, and Montana. And elective surgeries will resume in Arkansas and Iowa.
Meantime, from the White House today, mixed messages on the state of the U.S. economy, which in just the last five weeks has seen more than 26 million Americans file for unemployment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: Make no mistake, it's a really grave situation, George. This is the biggest negative shock that our economy I think has ever seen.
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I think as we begin to reopen the economy in May and June, you're going to see the economy really bounce back in July, August, September.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
CABRERA: And this just in, recipients of the federal stimulus payments have been finding something unusual in their mailboxes, a personal letter from the president sent at the government's expense. In the letter, Trump says he proudly authorized these payments.
Now, one of the few states actively moving towards reopening for business after shutdown is Colorado. The statewide stay-at-home order goes away first thing tomorrow morning. Many businesses in Colorado are doing deep cleaning, getting things ready for their first customers in weeks -- others being more cautious. Colorado's governor was on CNN earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED POLIS, GOVERNOR OF COLORADO: We're all worried about a potential for a second spike, whether it's in the fall, along with flu season in September, October, whether it's July. It's why we've really been, really laser focused as an administration on figuring how we can endure and sustain these kinds of social distancing measures.
Our target is about 60 to 65 percent social distancing from the way people used to live, and how we can do that over a period of months, in a psychologically sustainable way, and of course, an economically sustainable way that meets the health goals of the state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So let's get the details here. It's not a full ramp-up. CNN's Gary Tuchman is in Greeley, Colorado, which is north of Denver, a little bit more of an agricultural community. And Gary, I know you've been speaking to business owners there. Some of them are eager to get back to business. Tell us more.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Including this place I'm standing in right now, Ana, deep cleaning taking place all afternoon here at a place called "The Bar.Ber.Shop," which is, indeed, a barbershop here in Weld County, Colorado.
Now, the interesting thing is, under the state guidance, barbershops are not supposed to open tomorrow. All that's supposed to happen tomorrow in the state of Colorado is for retail businesses that aren't essential, they can reopen if they have the safety protocols in place for people to pick up their items outside the store.
They can't go inside the stores until Friday. But barbershops are not supposed to open tomorrow. However, unlike Georgia, in which the governor made a ruling that the counties could not object to, counties could diminish this ruling. They could tighten it and loosen it; 64 counties in the state.
For example Denver, the city of Denver doesn't want anything to do with this. So they're saying right now, we don't want anything to open. Eagle County and Ski Country, they want it to be loosened. So they applied for a waiver, which you're supposed to do, and they're allowed to open a few more businesses.
But this county, Weld County, on the border of Wyoming, has not applied for a waiver. Instead, county commissioners have told business people, open up your stores if you have the safety protocols in place. So this barbershop has made the decision to open, they've had the deep cleaning.
But something very interesting is happening here. And this is a fancy place by the way. There is a bar at this barbershop. You can see it right over there. That bar will not reopening. They're not allowed bars or restaurants to reopen. So they're not reopening the bar.
They took a pool table out to give more space. But what's interesting is we talked to you about an hour ago, Ana, and after we talked to you, the governor's office called the owner, this is Jose Oregel and this is Ty Salzman, he's one of the hair cutters here, one of the barbers.
The governor's office called him and told him, you've got it confused, you're not supposed to open, despite the fact that he says the county commissioners told him he could open. So after they told you not to open, what are you going to do tomorrow?
JOSE OREGEL, OWNER, THE BAR.BER.SHOP: Well, I'm still going to open. I belong to this county, Weld County, and I'm going to respect Weld County.
TUCHMAN: So Weld County said you can open, the state said you shouldn't open, and you're basically listening to the people in your county. Do you recognize that this is a little confusing?
OREGEL: To me, it is. SO, the county called me twice -- they called me twice and they told me that if I wanted to open and I was ready to open, I can open up. So I'm opening up on Monday.
TUCHMAN: Okay, I want to ask you barber Ty and I'm standing six feet away from you guys, not to be rude, but because we do this as our protocol for all of us to stay safe. And that's a question I want to ask you, about safety. Are you worried about cutting people's hair tomorrow?
TY SALZMAN, BARBER: Not at all - not at all. I mean, we're licensed professionals when it comes to safety and sanitation for our clients and that has nothing different with a virus going on. I mean, we just take extra precautions to make sure our clients stay safe and are happy and, I mean, it's like taking excellent care of when they're in the barbershop. That's all that matters to us, safety, sanitation, and happiness for our clients.
TUCHMAN: Okay, that sounds like the motto and it sounds like something you're trying to live by, but you'll never know for sure and that's the thing. These guys said they're going to be wearing masks and robes and there are going to be distance from everyone else.
They're going to have the chairs apart from each other but tomorrow's going to be a very interesting day to say the least here in the state of Colorado. Ana back to you.
CABRERA: And it makes you wonder how and whose rules are going to be enforced. Gary Tuchman, keep us posted. Thank you for that reporting.
California, which currently represents more than 42,000 coronavirus cases in the country, is beginning to ease some social distancing restrictions, in parts of that state, as well. CNN's Paul Vercammen joins us now. And Paul, we know there is a heat wave in California right now. How are the different rules being received?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're going through all sorts of different strategies, depending on what county you live in. So, this is Ventura County, this is all inbounds, you can have yourself a little bit of a makeshift soccer game in the surf or go out and surf in the shore, but you are not to be gathering in huge, large clusters.
So we're seeing very smart social distancing today in Ventura County. This is just by the county line, but a dramatic picture. If you cross just a couple miles into L.A. County, empty beaches everywhere. There is no going to the beach right now in Los Angeles County.
Therefore, the L.A. County residents have been pouring into places like Ventura County and Orange County, seeking relief from the heat in the COVID-19 era. And we talked to them about that.
JAY FORRESTER, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: Well, as a person who loves to get out, I wanted to get out, you know. We've been stuck inside and honestly how can you stay inside on such a beautiful day. You know, as long as we are abiding by the rules that they're giving us, why shouldn't we be able to do what we want?
CHRISTA PALIGE, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: Our own four walls around us at home are starting to feel like prison. So, you know, if we can walk outside on our street, why can't we walk around at the beach? As long as we're social distancing?
VERCAMMEN: And a lot of these people that we talked to on this beach, unemployed. They want to urge the governor, state legislators, to get California back to work. Ana?
CABRERA: All right, Paul Vercammen, thank you. And we're glad you're wearing a mask, you're making sure you stay safe, as well.
As some states plot reopening plans, others are dealing with the fallout from President Trump's remarks earlier this week about using disinfectants in the body to fight coronavirus.
In fact, Maryland's Republican Governor Larry Hogan says his state experienced hundreds of calls in recent days from people asking whether ingesting disinfectants would be an effective treatment option. Former acting director of the CDC under President Obama, Richard Besser is joining us now.
Dr. Besser, this is a stark reminder that public officials' words matter, especially during a crisis. The White House tried to clean up the president's comments, but as a medical expert, advising public officials, how would you mitigate this type of misinformation and confusion.
RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: You know, Ana, I think one of the best ways is to leave the science to the scientists and have your top science people bring forward new ideas and approaches to treatment, to management. When you have politicians who are promoting the science, you can get
into a lot of trouble, because so much is unknown early in a pandemic in terms of the disease and how it's spreading, but also in terms of what things might be useful in terms of treatment.
CABRERA: As you just heard, we checked in with a couple of states that are easing some restrictions. I know you are on New Jersey's council of advisers on reopening, and your governor says a phased reopening is several weeks away, still. What timeline are you envisioning right now?
BESSER: Well, you know, there are a number of things that need to be in place before you want to think about opening, from a public health perspective. The first is you have to make sure that you have enough capacity in your health care system.
If your hospitals are full or near capacity with COVID patients, it's not the time to open, because whenever you start to reopen, even if it's done slowly and carefully, you will see an increase in the number of cases.
And you want to make sure there's room to take care of those patients as well as all of the other patients who have medical problems, patients with cancer or heart disease or other conditions who haven't been getting treated.
One of the things at the foundation, at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we're very concerned about is the disparate impact this is having on black Americans and Latinos and native Americans who are dying at incredibly high rates.
If we don't really understand what's going on in those communities, if we're not providing protection, as we start to reopen, those workers who work as essential workers are going to be even more vulnerable and those death rates are likely to go up.
CABRERA: As you mentioned, we don't have a lot of the answers we all want and need. We don't have all of the tests that need to be put in place and the opportunity or the resources as far as contact tracing goes, as well. Vice President Pence says he thinks this pandemic will be largely behind us by Memorial Day weekend. Is that realistic to you?
BESSER: You know, Dr. Fauci made a comment, I think it's almost two months ago, where he said, we don't determine the timeline, the virus determines the timeline. And I would love for this to be on a big downward trend by Memorial Day, but you can't plan on that. You have to plan based on what's going on.
And, you know, one of the things is, there are different situations and different parts of the country. And so, I'm less concerned by different approaches in different parts of the country, than I am that some of these decisions aren't based on good science. CABRERA: On CNN this morning, Dr. Birx reacted to a World Health
Organization briefing, which said there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 survivors are immune from a second infection. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: WHO is being very cautious. I think what WHO was saying, we don't know how long that effective antibody lasts. And then I think that is a question that we have to explore over the next few months and over the next few years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Dr. Besser, what does this uncertainty on immunity mean in terms of a vaccine timeline?
BESSER: It's a critical question. You have to know what level of antibody provides protection, and if you don't get protection from a natural infection, it's very unlikely you would get protection from a vaccine. So scientists are working to answer that question. It's an essential one that we get an answer for in terms of vaccine development.
CABRERA: All right. Dr. Richard Besser, as always, thank you very much for sharing your expertise with us. Good to have you here.
CABRERA: Unemployment is soaring, but many people are struggling to get unemployment benefits. It's so bad in one state that people are protesting in the streets. We'll explain the problem and what might be done to fix it ahead in the "CNN Newsroom."
CABRERA: More than 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last few weeks. And to put that into perspective, that is more than the population of Australia. Nearly 2 million of those filings are in Florida, where a majority of people have yet to see a single dollar. Here's CNN's Rosa Flores.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida's unemployment system is such a mess, people have taken to the streets to protest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like it's rigged.
FLORES (voice-over): Even the governor calls his unemployment system a piece of junk.
RON DESANTIS, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: The fact that the state has paid $77 million for this thing, I mean, it's a jalopy. FLORES (voice-over): Since March 15th, more than 1.7 million
unemployment claims have been filed. The state says could be duplicates, but so far, fewer than 1,700 have been paid.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bills have to get paid and we paid our unemployment and we need it now.
FLORES (voice-over): Images of the dysfunction went viral earlier this month.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm at the end of my rope.
FLORES (voice-over): The online and phone systems were so overwhelmed. People in Hialeah desperately waited in line for paper applications.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think this is the way you should treat people.
DESANTIS: The system was overwhelmed. They didn't have the capacity or manpower either, and we said we've got to fix this.
FLORES (voice-over): Governor Ron DeSantis announced he added a hundred computer servers, brought call center staffing to 2,000 workers and even waived some of the rules, but the old jalopy just can't keep up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are a lot of people like me who are just wondering how long this is going to be.
FLORES (voice-over): As the weeks drag on, Floridians have joined yet another line, this time for food.
It's maddening says Zulaya Vilan (ph). She filed a claim in early April and hasn't seen a dime. This is her first time seeking assistance just like half of the 4,700 people who call Feeding South Florida daily where Paco Velez is CEO.
PACO VELEZ, CEO FEEDING SOUTH FLORIDA: The sense that we're getting from our families is a sense of desperation and that they're scared. The fear of the unknown is probably their biggest fear, the unknown of when this is going to end.
FLORES (voice-over): The same people who sounded the alarm about the broken unemployment system are worried about the governor's upcoming plan to reopen the state.
RICK SANCHEZ, FILING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT: I love my job, you know, but when they call us back to work, are we going to be safe?
CABRERA: Our thanks to Rosa Flores for that report. Joining us now is Congressman Charlie Crist of Florida. He also served as governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011.
[17:19:59] Congressman, thanks for being here. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called the state's unemployment system a jalopy, as we heard in that package. As one of his predecessors, what is the problem?
REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): Well, I think the problem is that it's not working. And I don't think we know exactly why. Deloitte is the company that was retained to do this. That was during my last year as governor.
And then for the past eight years, under now Senator Rick Scott, we had the same system and I don't know why, you know, more detection wasn't created and ability to find out what was wrong with it, so it could be remedied before we've entered this pandemic that we're having to face right now.
It's tragic. People are without the money that they need. The state would provide $275 a week. Of course, Congress just last week passed an additional stimulus that would add another $600 per week to each citizen that is unemployed and needs this kind of compensation.
But the trick here is, Ana, unfortunately, unless the state gets the first $275, the second $600 provided by the federal government, it doesn't go into effect and doesn't get to these people. And it's just tragic to see. They need the money, they need it now.
CABRERA: You talk about the responsibility of Congress members like yourself, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that there will be another relief bill at some point that would give money to states, specifically, but we also heard this week from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he doesn't want to do that.
In fact, he would prefer states go into bankruptcy instead. Your Florida colleague in the Senate, Senator Rick Scott, says he agrees with McConnell. Where do you stand on that?
CRIST: I disagree with both of them. I think that's astounding that any public servant would say that a state ought to go into bankruptcy. We're in a pandemic. This is a crisis.
I mean, and only with the grace of God and the help of good people who are serving, supposed to be serving the people of our country and my state, they have to do what's right. That's why I've called for an additional $1,200 per citizens who's making less than $75,000 a year two more times to have that happen.
I mean, Ana, we're the richest country in the world. We're the richest country in the history of the world. If we can't do better by our people and do what's right and show compassion and empathy at this time, as in all other times, then there's something wrong with us. And so I couldn't agree -- disagree rather, more with Senator McConnell and Senator Scott.
It's unfortunately that they have that kind of a callous attitude and I don't like to put it that way, but I don't know how else to see it. I mean, you know, you've got to tell the truth and call a thing a thing. And it's just wrong what they're saying. Speaker Pelosi is right.
CABRERA: Just how bad are these economic times? Let's listen in to White House economic adviser, Kevin Hassett this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASSETT: This is the biggest negative shock that our economy, I think, has ever seen. We're going to be looking at an unemployment rate that approaches rates that we saw during the Great Depression. During the Great Recession, remember, that was a financial crisis around 2008, that we lost 8.7 million jobs in the whole thing. Right now we're losing that many jobs about every 10 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I know you want to get more money directly to the American people like those stimulus checks that were sent out with just, you know, one round. What's the likelihood that actually happens? Are you seeing bipartisan support for that idea?
CRIST: No question about it. I mean, you know, people that have a good heart understand that there are people in distress. Americans all over this country need help. And that's what we're supposed to do.
You know, I was asked in 2016 when I ran for Congress after being governor and attorney general of Florida, why would you do that? Well, the reason I want to do it is I want to help people. You know, we should serve with a servant's heart.
And I think that the vast majority of Congress has that attitude. I think we've already shown it and proven it, by the almost $3 trillion that we have voted to get to the American people and small businesses across the country. That's the right thing to do.
And this isn't an issue of, you know, right versus left, it's an issue of right versus wrong. And what's wrong is not help people in a time of need and what's right is to do exactly that, help them, keep helping them, keep helping them, and never leave them.
They're not alone. We're here for them and we're not going to stop. I'm confident of that, Ana.
CABRERA: Okay, so just to be clear and just quickly, just a yes or no, you believe Americans will see a second round of stimulus checks?
CRIST: I do, and a third round to add to it. I think we ought to have two more on top of it. Three's the right number.
CABRERA: I do want to get your reaction, speaking of these stimulus checks to a picture we just got. Apparently, recipients of the federal stimulus payments have been getting personal letters from the president sent at the government's expense. It comes after some questioning the president putting his signature on the stimulus checks. What's your reaction to that?
CRIST: That sounds like campaigning to me and it's inappropriate and it shouldn't be done. Listen, this is a time where you get people what you need. You know, you don't have to -- maybe it's lovely to send a personal letter to somebody, but this is the time to get them the money that they need.
And, you know, having some kind of a note inside there is -- I'm shocked by it. I don't understand it. It's not right, but, you know, change is in the air and November 3rd, I think we're going to have a good one.
CABRERA: Congressman Charlie Crist, thank you very much for joining us and good luck. As a lawmaker, we all need you right now.
CRIST: Well, you got me. Thank you, Ana. Appreciate it. And with God's grace we'll get through this and we'll through it well. Thank you so much.
CABRERA: We send our best to the people of Florida.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo talks about plans to reopen his state. But he also says it won't be a return to yesterday. We'll take a closer look. Plus, first, Christine Romans is joining us with this week's "Before the Bell." Christine?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Has the Federal Reserve done everything it can to support the economy? The Fed meets this week and of course, it's already cut interest rates to near zero. And it has launched several emergency actions to keep markets functioning. Investors want to know what might be next.
The Fed will also have a new data point to consider this week when it meets, the first reading of first quarter gross domestic product. It's expected to shrink by 4 percent, the first decline in GDP since 2014, and the biggest decline since 2009.
And that's just a preview of what's to come. Many economists expect GDP could collapse 30 percent in the third quarter. Wall Street is also bracing for a flood of quarterly earnings. Google parent Alphabet, Facebook, McDonald's, Starbucks, and Boeing will report results.
Amazon is also on the calendar. The company's shares recently hit a record high as customers flood to the site with orders during the pandemic. As for the broader market, it was rattled last week by a historic collapse in the price of oil. Weak demand and issues with storage has upended the crude oil market. In New York, I'm Christine Romans.
CABRERA: A hopeful message from the governor of New York today. Governor Andrew Cuomo telling New Yorkers the state's overall hospitalization rates, intubations, and deaths are down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: But there's no doubt but that we have at this point gone through the worst. And as long as we act prudently going forward, the worst should be over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I want to bring in CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro. And Evan, Governor Cuomo today also laying out his phased reopening strategy. Break it down for us.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, let's talk about the timeline. New York State is still under the so-called New York pause order, our stay-at-home order. That's still in effect for everybody in the state until May 15th, 19 days away.
After that, though, Governor Andrew Cuomo said today in his press conference that it's possible that some reopening could happen. First, the first reopening would begin maybe in the upstate region, which is less affected by the disease and less populous than down here in New York City, where I'm standing.
The first phase would include construction, manufacturing, and then they would reopen their businesses only with strict new guidelines and they would check and check and see if there is a spike in infections. And if there wasn't one, maybe other businesses could also start to reopen under their own new strict guidelines.
So, it's a slow and steady and careful process with unclear dates and unclear timelines, but it's something that means that this pause period when it ends on the 15th could signal a different chapter in this pandemic.
But obviously, people are desperate to get the dates and they want to know when things are going to happen. And Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his press conference today was very -- pushed back very strongly on the idea of a firm date.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: "X" date. Nobody has "X" date. There is no "X" date. You listen to the national experts, listen to Dr. Fauci, right? Dr. Fauci says there may be a second wave. It could come back in the fall, right? So nobody's giving anybody a date here.
But, short-term, the numbers are on the decline. Everything we have done is working. The rates are all dropping.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, look, for most New Yorkers, schools and businesses will not reopen on May 15th. But for some, they might. And that's a very big deal for a state that's been as affected by the pandemic as this one has. Ana?
CABRERA: Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you.
There have been days of speculation about the health of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un. Now, one expert is saying that Kim is alive and well. So, why hasn't he been seen in public for weeks? That story is just ahead in the "CNN Newsroom."
CABRERA: Welcome back. We'll have much more of our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, but first, I just want to turn to a developing story right now. The condition of North Korean leader kim jong-un.
Today, a top foreign policy adviser to South Korea's president told CNN that the North Korean leader is alive and well. Now, CNN reported earlier this week that the United States is monitoring intelligence that Kim is in grave danger after surgery.
That brings us to your weekend presidential brief with CNN National Security Analyst, Samantha Vinograd. Sam, you tweeted that if you had a dollar for every time someone asked you if Kim was dead or not in the last few days, you would be a rich woman. So let me be the next to ask, what have you learned about his condition?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Ana, it's like a macabre groundhog day. I've heard that Kim is dead more times than I can remember. The fact is that North Korea is like a black hole. Very little unfiltered information comes out and that leads to a lot of speculation.
The key here is verification. It may feel like we're in the midst of some kind of 21st century game of "Where is Waldo?" but the U.S. government does have a range of covert and overt tools to verify Kim's whereabouts.
On the covert side, in addition to our own limited intelligence assets, we are likely liaising with foreign countries who have better access like the South Koreans, as well as countries like Russia and China, who are closer to the regime.
The problem, of course, is Russia and China are very unreliable. In addition to these covert tools, there are also overt ways that we can try to verify Kim's status. The U.S. government is likely using things like satellite imagery to track the movement of Kim's vehicles, unusual military activity and unusual activity by military assets in North Korea.
While the I.C. tries to verify Kim's status, this is a really good time to ensure that contingency plans are in place for any eventual succession. Contingency planning is just that housekeeping in national security. The problem is, Trump isn't much of a forward thinker, so we don't know if he's really thinking two steps ahead. CABRERA: Okay, so let's talk about who could be next as we wait to
hear about Kim's status. There's a lot of talk about his successor or potential successor, whenever it is that he's not in power anymore. What do you think?
VINOGRAD: Well, the succession line is unclear. The hermit kingdom North Korea is ruled by a paranoid hermit. Kim Jong-un has killed off many of those who could have challenged his rule or succeeded him. In North Korea, there's some interest in keeping power all in the family.
Kim has ruled North Korea since the inception of the state. But as I mentioned, Kim has had his half brother assassinated in 2017 and killed off his uncle. That really leaves his sister, who does play a relatively powerful role in the regime, but in the confusion system in North Korea, her gender is likely a disqualifier.
While we all game out who could succeed Kim, it's worth remembering wherever he leaves power it's unlikely that a whole lot will change. Remember, the intelligence community assessed that North Korea views its nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival so it's unlikely Kim's successor would give them up.
And domestically, President Trump has really viewed the North Korean leader as a foreign policy surrogate for his 2020 campaign. So, if Kim were to leave power, it's likely that President Trump would continue to placate whomever succeeds him.
CABRERA: Sam, some countries in the Middle East like Iran have started lifting the coronavirus curfews they've had in place. How is Iran dealing with this virus?
VINOGRAD: Well, Iran is battling the threat of the virus domestically, but they're also ramping up threats to us at the same time. Just last week, they launched a military satellite into space. Their military satellite is viewed as a front for their ballistic missile program. And it was technologically more advanced.
It was launched from a mobile launcher rather than a fixed site. They're also continuing to launch sophisticated information warfare attacks against us. Their nuclear program is marching ahead each and every day as they blow through the restrictions in the nuclear deal.
And other than angry tweets from the president, it does not appear that we have much of a strategy for what continues to be a multi- theater, multi-pronged threat from the Iranian regime.
CABRERA: Sam Vinograd, thank you very, very much.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in the midst of this pandemic crisis, family photos are absolutely priceless. Up next, one nurse's simple idea that packs a heart-warming punch. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[17:45:00] CABRERA: It's easy to focus just on the statistics of the coronavirus pandemic. We count the cases, we count the deaths, but every number is a person, a person with a full life and a history and often a family who loves them desperately, but can't be with them for safety reasons.
Jeanna Barbieri decided to do something about that. She is an emergency room nurse at Lowell General Hospital in Massachusetts. She bought a photo printer and started printing out treasured memories that so many families had they wanted to be able to share and connect with their loved ones.
And her isolated patients now don't have to feel quite so alone. Joining us with more on her Pictures for Patients project, Jeanna Barbieri, and I want to welcome Kyla O'Neil, who with Jeanna's help, has been able to reach out to her own dad who's hospitalized with the virus.
And Kyla, I want to hear more about your specific story in just a moment, but I want to start with Jeanna and ask you, what inspired you to do this? This is something you're doing on your own time with your own money, right?
JEANNA BARBIERI, NURSE: I am, yes. I think it really started when I had an old high school friend reach out a little over a week ago and he was just offering thanks to me and all my co-workers for everything we're doing right now.
And after talking to him a little bit, he -- I found out his father was our intensive care unit and I offered, you know, I'm going in, anyway. Is there anything you want me to bring to him, maybe some pictures? And the next morning, I picked up some pictures him and his family had printed from his mailbox and brought them in.
The nurse from the ICU helped me get them into the room. And just seeing the response that his family had to that, I decided it was something I could make into a bigger project to keep me busy when I'm not at work right now.
CABRERA: And I think that, you know, it provides a sense of closeness to those family members when they can't be there at their side. Kyla, you live in California. I know your dad is in Massachusetts. I understand, first, you just got to talk to your father over Facetime. How is he doing?
KYLA O'NEIL, NURSE (via telephone): He's just doing really well. He's showing a lot of improvement. We're staying positive and the doctors are feeling that he is doing really, really well, considering what he's going through.
He just came off of the ventilator and the nurses -- he's been transferred now to Tufts Medical Center and the nurses have helped us to Facetime with him. And he's super tired as I'm sure you can imagine, but he was able to lift his hand and try to wave at us. So, we're feeling really hopeful and positive. CABRERA: I'm happy to hear. That sounds like progress. Before that,
really, before this conversation, really, he just had your picture, thanks to Jeanna.
CABRERA: What does Jeanna's gesture mean to you?
O'NEIL: Oh, it just means the world to us. We're a big family and we are really close, and it's just been so hard to be at a distance from him, and just wondering what he's thinking and wondering -- he's probably wondering where we are.
He has a form of dementia, so things can be extra confusing. And so, it just -- it means the world to us that he's able to see our faces and see some familiar people during his day.
So, now that he's awake, he's been sedated, but now that he's awake, they're hanging the photos up in his room, and it just is -- it means so much to us. We know that they'll bring a smile to his face.
CABRERA: Jeanna, it seems like such a simple idea, but it clearly means so much to your patients and their families. How do you get these photos for the patients? You said at least for one of them you were able to drive over and pick them up out of the mailbox, but not everybody can get them to you that way.
BARBIERI: Right. I've been accepting the photos through e-mail. My hospital helped me set up a secure e-mail to protect everybody's, you know, information and patient names.
And families have been e-mailing photos to me and I print them here with my printer, and then I bring them -- I started bringing them in on my shifts, you know, if I was working the next day. But this has proven to be something that can be quite time-sensitive, so I've been taking a trip every day to the hospital to deliver photos.
CABRERA: Wow. Did you realize the kind of impact it would have?
BARBIERI: Nope. This is -- even just hearing Kyla's story, I didn't know she lived in California. We've been texting, and just hearing it is really -- it's kind of taken me aback a little bit in this moment.
CABRERA: That's lovely. Kyla, I imagine it helps you, too, in some way, to feel a little bit closer, maybe, to your dad, when you can't be there?
O'NEIL: Oh, definitely, yes. I have a lot of family in the Boston area still, but we've actually -- my dad's been in a nursing home and we haven't been able to visit him since March 9th, so it's been extra challenging for us.
He's been used to somebody visiting him every day, so this is just like, meant so much to us. And I just want to thank you so much, Jeanna. I hope that other people can start projects like this at other hospitals. I know it's taking a lot of your time, but it means so much to us.
I super appreciate you going out of your way to get it because he was getting transferred really quickly, and she was able to get back to the hospital with the photos for us to get put in his files so he could have them on his way.
CABRERA: I love that. Jeanna, have you spoken with other nurses or doctors at other hospitals about trying something similar for their patients?
BARBIERI: I have. I've had a few, you know, friends from nursing school or friends I've met along the way during my career at some other hospitals that have started to implement the same program, or at least their version of it and that's really meant a lot.
I didn't anticipate this kind of attention for this. I never intended for that at all, but now that it's making a difference and making it so that other hospitals hear about this and, you know, are adopting it, it's well worth all of the work it's been to do this.
CABRERA: Well, Jeanna Barbieri, thank you for all you do in your day job as a nurse and obviously all you're doing now to help patients and their families in this extra special way. And Kyla O'Neil, thank you for sharing your story with us, with your family and your dad.
And we will be saying prayers for him that he has a quick recovery and that all of you and your family stay healthy and safe as well. Thank you both for being here.
O'NEIL: Thank you.
CABRERA: And be well.
BARBIERI: Thank you.
O'NEIL: Thank you.
CABRERA: Thanks. A couple of weeks ago, our Alisyn Camerota asked Dr. Anthony Fauci which actor he would want to play him on "Saturday Night Live." And surprisingly, he had a firm answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Which actor would you want to play you? Here are some suggestions that I've heard. Ben Stiller, Brad Pitt. Which one?
ANTHONY FAUCI, MEMBER, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Oh, Brad Pitt, of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Of course. Well, ask and you shall receive. "Saturday Night Live" at home opened the show last night with a special appearance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [17:54:54]
BRAD PITT, ACTOR: Good evening. I'm Dr. Anthony Fauci. First, I'd like to thank all the older women in America who have sent me supportive, inspiring, and sometimes graphic e-mails. There's been a lot of misinformation out there about the virus.
And yes, the president has taken some liberties with our guidelines. So, tonight, I would like to explain what the president was trying to say.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I see the disinfectant knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection?
Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light.
PITT: I know I shouldn't be touching my face, but -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Dr. Fauci, we hope you are watching. That does it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera. I really appreciate you joining me this weekend. My colleague, Wolf Blitzer, picks up our coverage with a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM," next.