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Governor Andrew Cuomo Lays Out How Phased Reopening Will Look; White House Economic Advisers Deliver Contradictory Messages On Recovery; White House Discusses Plans To Replace HHS Secretary Alex Azar; Dr. Deborah Birx Downplays Trump's Suggestion On Injecting Disinfectants; Antibody Protection Unsure How Long To Last In Recovered Patients; Interview With Mayor David Holt Of Oklahoma City On Easing Coronavirus Restrictions. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 26, 2020 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00]

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And again, phase one being those in the manufacturing, those in the construction business.

And he also said that this would be something that not just be a statewide look, but it would also be regional. In other words, he'd be looking at what's happening in states like New Jersey and states like Connecticut. So possibly some light at the end of a very dark tunnel. At least in the very beginning if you're in the manufacturing or construction business.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: And he said, you know, the governor's office is also talking to businesses. And he says in those conversations, it's about their business plan, what kind of equipment do they have, what kind of modifications could that business make if, indeed, they were to reopen -- Jason.

CARROLL: Yes. That's correct. And he said, look, in talking to some of these businesses, he's asking them to look at their own businesses and say, OK, look, if you're planning on reopening soon, how risky is your business? What are you going to be doing in terms of your business to make it less risky? What is your plan in terms of social distancing? What is your plan in terms of providing some of your employees with any particular type of equipment they may need, whether it'd be a mask or otherwise, in order for them to do their jobs?

And these businesses are going to have to come up with some sort of a plan when they go to the state if they want to get to the point where they are able to reopen.

WHITFIELD: Mm-hmm. Dr. Philips, with the governor underscoring that the number of deaths is down, the number of cases, hospitalizations are down, what do you want assessed whether it be New York or anywhere else trying to assess whether it's time to reopen?

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that his plan is pretty sound. He is establishing some guidelines sort of in line what the CDC had previously released. And with a complete and total lack of federal plan for how businesses should reopen or even how testing should take place, what he is doing is very necessary.

I think testing is still key here. Now within his plan, one thing I didn't quite understand is exactly how the antibody testing might play into the reopening of businesses because there is a two-week lag, as he said. And it also doesn't necessarily confirm immunity. We're trying to make it clear to people that just because your antibody test is positive doesn't mean that you're necessarily immune.

So I'm not sure how necessarily that would play in. But what is necessary is increased diagnostic testing. That sort of nasal swab, do-you-have-the-virus-right-now testing. And I think one key part that he discussed, and it's a great idea, is if businesses have the capability to do that testing in-house for their own employees. That's critical.

One of the businesses that I consult for here in Washington, D.C., they have a small medical facility within their large building and will be working through the process of trying to figure out if the FDA can clear them to, at some point, be able to administer some Rapid testing there.

WHITFIELD: Brian Stelter, we know that often the White House, you know, is tuning into these New York governor briefings. There wasn't a briefing yesterday from the White House. They're often taking cues from the New York governor. How much do you think the nation is using the way in which Governor Cuomo is handling these briefings, disseminating information? How much do you believe this is almost a gauge for other states on how to proceed?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Because New York is continuing the epicenter of this outbreak in terms of the number of lives lost, it is New York and it is also California and a number of other the larger states in the country that are providing cues to all 50 states and to local communities, right.

What Cuomo says in New York, mayors and other local officials act on. What Gavin Newsome says in California, others act on. That's absolutely true. You know, Newsom the other day said there's no such thing as reopening back to normal. It's reopening with caveats. And that's what Cuomo is saying in today's briefing. It's about the caveats, about the different changes that are going to go into effect.

And quite honestly, Fred, they are being much more candid and honest with the public than the federal government is. President Trump paints a fantasy about the country seemingly suddenly reopening. Vice President Pence says he thinks the worst of this will be over and we'll largely be back after Memorial Day.

But these governors in these states are telling a much more accurate story about the gradual resumption of some activities. When you hear him say he doesn't know if baseball games will be played even in empty stadiums, that's a more honest assessment of what is going on right now.

WHITFIELD: All right. All great points. Thanks to all of you, gentlemen. I appreciate it, Jason Carroll, Brian Stelter, and Dr. Phillips. Appreciate it.

All right. Meantime, let's also shift gears on a focus out of the White House. Two White House officials are actually striking contradictory tones on the state of the U.S. economy. Today senior White House advisor Kevin Hassett delivered a very dire warning but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had a much different message.

[13:05:06]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR 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. We're going to be looking at unemployment rate that approaches rates that we saw during the Great Depression ever seen.

STEVEN 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. And we are putting in an unprecedented amount of fiscal relief into the economy. You're seeing trillions of dollars that's making its way into the economy. And I think this is going to have a significant impact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now to discuss, Austan Goolsbee, an economics professional at the University of Chicago Business School, and a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama.

Good to see you, Austan. OK. So --

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO BUSINESS SCHOOL: Great to see you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Which scenario do you believe and how can the White House have the contrasting messages?

GOOLSBEE: Yes. Look, what Kevin Hassett said is undeniable that the unemployment is going to go way up, and you've already seen the unemployment insurance claims hitting by factor of 10 record levels that we've never seen before.

The thing that confused me a little with Secretary Mnuchin's statement is the bills that we've passed, the now almost $3 trillion, they were not intended to be stimulus of the form get the economy growing again. They were intended explicitly as relief because we're just trying to weather out what we hope to be a short-term shock. So I think that they ought to get their -- they ought to get on the same page.

I think Kevin Hassett is more right in terms of the conditions, but if we approach a great recession or a great depression, at least a third of it is going to be self-inflicted. That we're not following the path that the other countries around the world that have gotten out of lockdown and their economies are coming back have followed which is massive testing, so the only people that have to go into quarantine are the people who have the disease. And if we do not do that, we're going to just be wallowing in the floor for as long as it takes until we start doing that.

WHITFIELD: So more specifically the Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said, you know, this is an unprecedented situation. This is not a financial crisis. This is -- we shut down. And his forecast is by the latter part of the summer, things will be looking up financially because of the changes that are afoot come May or even June.

Is that overly optimistic? Is that undermining the reality? How do you assess that?

GOOLSBEE: I don't think we know the answer to that question of how fast we'll come back and how rapidly will we be growing when we do come back. I think it's 100 percent tied to this question of when are we going to do enough testing that we can get out of lockdown?

So the virus is the boss. The president can say whatever he wants. The governors can say whatever they want. That will not make people go back out to take cruises and go to movie theaters and go to gymnasiums until we have control on that virus.

Now if what happens in the second quarter is we have a minus 30, and then what happens in the third quarter is we get a plus eight, you know, minus 30 plus eight is still a big negative number. So I don't think anybody should be dancing a jig of triumph if we see some modest rebound that does not go nearly enough of the way to restore what has been lost.

WHITFIELD: How worried are you?

GOOLSBEE: I would say I'm pretty worried if the White House and the administration continue to not follow this testing moment. We've got Korea, we've got Taiwan, now we've got Germany, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand are knocking at the door. All of those economies did enough testing. They're out of lockdown or getting out of lockdown and their economies can recover.

If we would just follow that strategy, I think that we can see a nice comeback. Thus far, we're not doing that and so that makes me nervous.

WHITFIELD: All right. Austan Goolsbee, appreciate your candor. Thank you so much.

GOOLSBEE: Great to see you.

WHITFIELD: All right. As the Trump administration faces growing criticism of its early response to the coronavirus pandemic, a key official's job now may be in jeopardy. A senior administration official tells CNN the discussions are underway at the White House for a plan to replace the Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar.

CNN's Sarah Westwood is following this from the White House.

So, Sarah, what do we know about this latest possible forecast? [13:10:06]

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, we know that concerns about Secretary Azar's performance have grown such that there are those talks within the West Wing about potentially replacing Azar as head of HHS. And sources tell CNN that that's not necessarily an imminent move that President Trump would have to agree to move forward with such a big step. But there are also people around Trump who are suggesting that removing Azar right now could really just add to the chaos surrounding the coronavirus response.

So it's not necessarily something that they want the president to do right at this moment. But there have been signs that Azar has been on shaky ground. For example, obviously he was removed as head of the Coronavirus Task Force. Vice President Pence was put in that role given that title.

And also, recently, Michael Caputo, a longtime loyalist to President Trump, the former 2016 campaign adviser, was installed as the HHS spokesman. That was seen as a move, a potential check on Azar's authority.

Also, there have been some finger-pointing about say Azar's handling of the early days of the coronavirus response. For example, the infighting, the chaos that characterized the earliest days of the Coronavirus Task Force when he was in charge. A lot of that was blamed on Azar. And also President Trump privately fumed about the lack of communication from Azar about some of those key early decisions in the coronavirus response -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And, Sarah, a top member of the president's Coronavirus Task Force was on CNN today and was asked about the president's suggestion of injecting disinfectant as a way of treating coronavirus. What more or how did Dr. Deborah Birx respond?

WESTWOOD: That's right, Fred. Our colleague Jake Tapper pressed Dr. Birx on those comments from President Trump about using disinfectant, sunlight, somehow as a treatment. Something that health experts say nobody should do ever. Birx suggested that the president was just having a dialogue. He was just processing information that he had been given from a DHS scientist who presented a study about the effects of sunlight on the virus.

And Dr. Birx said that that study that the president was processing was actually important. It was about the effect of sunlight on aerosolized version of the virus. That is virus that infected people might emit project when they speak, when they sing. Listen to what she told our colleague Jake.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: That was a dialogue he was having between the DHS scientist and himself for information that he had received and he was discussing. We have made it clear, and he -- when he turned to me, I made it clear, and he understood, that it was not as a treatment. And I think that kind of dialogue will happen.

I think what got lost in there, which very -- is unfortunate, I think, in what happened next is that study was critically important for the American people. And you say, why was that important? Because we had an MIT study just from a few weeks ago that said -- that suggests, when people are talking and singing, aerosolized virus could be moving forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now to the extent that she said she was bothered by the president's comments, she said she was annoyed that it was still in the news. But White House officials have been on an extended cleanup effort after the president's comments on Thursday with the press secretary saying that the media took the president out of context. The president saying he was being sarcastic and now Birx saying that this was simply the president thinking out loud -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: OK. And that thinking out loud got a lot of people very curious and confused, and quite frightened.

All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

All right. Still ahead, no evidence to support so-called immunity passports of people who have survived coronavirus could have little protection from antibodies and could be re-infected again. We'll discuss next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:18:21]

WHITFIELD: One of the top medical experts on the White House Coronavirus Task Force tried to tamp down expectations today that once a person recovers from the virus they are immune. Dr. Deborah Birx told CNN today that it's still unclear how long immunity lasts for those who have recovered from coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE UNION: Antibody tests have become a key part of this recovery effort. The World Health Organization said in a new scientific brief on Friday, quote, "There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection," unquote.

Do you agree with that?

BIRX: OK, so WHO is being very cautious. So let's talk about normal viral infections. So if you and I get a normal viral infection, we develop antibodies. Some of those antibodies are what we call functional antibodies and that they can neutralize the body -- the virus. Other ones are what we call binding antibodies and they help our cells that pull out those viruses and help eat them and kill them.

So all of that is happening simultaneously along with what we call natural killer cells. That's all happening in your body. So when we talk about studying this, the CDC is not only measuring antibody but they're also looking and see whether that antibody is neutralizing. Is it a functional antibody and functional assays?

At the same time, through the FDA and working with hospitals, they're collecting plasma and giving plasma and recovering antibodies, recovered people's antibodies back to sick people to see the impact it has. So with all of that data together I think it's going to create a very clear picture about antibody.

[13:20:04]

I think what WHO was saying, we don't know how long that effective antibody lasts. And I think that is a question that we have to explore over the next few months and over the next few years. But I think everything that the WHO said should be happening, we're doing here in the United States to help the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips is the chief clinical officer for Providence Health and a CNN medical analyst.

And Doctor, good to see you. So are you surprised that there still seems to be some confusion over whether a person has developed a certain immunity after having coronavirus or not? Because I think Dr. Birx's explanation is very different from what the WHO is referring to in its latest statement.

DR. AMY COMPTON-PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think that what Dr. Birx is saying is that science takes time. And right now this is a very new germ and we need to learn more about it. And so what she's talking about is the fact that we do still need to study it.

As she mentioned, most viruses you get once and then you're immune for life. With coronaviruses, it's a little bit different in that that immunity can wane and as you know you can get a cold again. Right? A coronavirus cold, you might be able to get a cold again after a couple of years. And so we really need to learn exactly what the immunity for this particular coronavirus is like, which means we have to study it a bit longer.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And do you find it unusual that the studies that have already taken place are not giving us anything definitive? Has there been enough elapse of time, in your view, in order to know a little bit more about this coronavirus?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: There hasn't been enough time. And so what I would say at the moment is if you want to go get an antibody test, do it as part of a study so that we can rapidly learn. There's dozens of antibody tests out there right now. Everything from this point of care tests to doing the really deep science like the CDC is doing with antibody testing.

And they're all looking for different antibodies. And right now we don't know how good those tests are. We don't know how sensitive they are. Are they actually picking up the right antibodies or how specific is it that they're finding antibodies to another cousin coronavirus instead of the SARS, and then it's making it really confused?

And it takes a while in that very amorphous set of complex data for us to tease out the truth about how our antibody response is happening to SARS/COVID-2, the COVID germ itself.

WHITFIELD: So then if we don't know about the immunity and tests have to continue, then is it premature to think that it is safe for people to resume going back to work, be in public spaces, et. cetera?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: For the next month or so, I think over the next month, we're going to learn a lot more about the antibody response. What I worry about is people getting a test saying that they have the antibody and then assuming they're immune and not doing the things to protect themselves or their community, you know, saying I'm immune. I'm fine. I don't have to wash my hands. I don't have to wear a face mask.

I can go around people who have COVID and be not at risk. So I worry about people assuming that they're going to be OK while they're still at risk. And I think that really is the biggest challenge we have.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Birx also talked about, you know, a few things that they want to learn from antibodies. You know, that whether they are neutralizers, you know, or whether, in her view, it was whether there are killer cells, you know, in them. Why do those things make a difference?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It makes a difference because there's a very unusual thing that can happen. And this is a big thing with vaccine development because everything we're learning about antibodies is going to play into how we develop an effective vaccine.

What we don't want to do, there are some antibodies that can actually make an immune response more -- to actually create a counterproductive immune response. You've heard about (INAUDIBLE) storm. We don't want to give an antibody that would turn on the immune system nonspecifically and cause an overreaction by the body.

WHITFIELD: Meaning we internally --

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: That might --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Just to understand this. So meaning internally your body is already going to have a reaction to certain germs, you know, or pathogens and will start fighting it but you're saying you don't want to give or, you know, give your body something that's going to make it work in overdrive because then your organs and everything else could be harmed?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: You said it exactly right. That we don't want to inadvertently over activate the immune system by targeting the wrong antigen with the wrong antibody. And so it's really important that we learn what antibodies actually activate the immune system the right way that kills the virus and doesn't just turn on the immune system and cause the wrong reaction.

[13:25:10]

And so that's really the science that we have to do right now. What antibodies help, what antibodies protect us and what antibodies are going to stick around in the body long enough that we can really get on top of this virus like we need to.

WHITFIELD: All right. Fascinating and complicated. That's why we rely on scientists and medical experts like yourself. Thank you so much, Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips. I appreciate it.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, a number of governors are set to partially reopen the state this week even as top health officials warned that it just might be too soon for those states. So what do city officials have planned to keep the virus from spreading while rebuilding their economies?

I'll ask the mayor of Oklahoma City next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:30:18]

WHITFIELD: As the U.S. inches toward the grim milestone of one million coronavirus cases, the topic of when to reopen is weighing heavily on the minds of state and local officials across the country, including in Oklahoma where restrictions are set to be lifted starting this coming Friday. However, local officials are able to determine to what extent the reopening will happen.

Joining me right now is the mayor of Oklahoma City, David Holt.

Mayor, good to see you. So how excited are you about the idea of opening at the end of this week and are you ready?

MAYOR DAVID HOLT (R), OKLAHOMA CITY: Well, I'm not excited at all. And I don't think I'd ever be excited about moving into this new transition period. I know that, you know, there has to be a date out there. I recognize that we can't shelter in place for the two years that we might live in the shadow of COVID-19. And so there's never going to be a comfortable time to do this as long as there's not a vaccine or a cure but, you know, we're trying to muddle through and I think that, you know, here in Oklahoma City, we did evaluate our data versus the White House gating criteria.

We found that we met it, barely, but we met it. And obviously there's external factors. And as you alluded to, you know, this is happening at the state level. And so here in Oklahoma City, we do have the ability to keep some restrictions in place, but we also have to keep in mind that when the restrictions are lifted at the state level, like most mayors of major metropolitan areas, I'm only the mayor of less than half of the people who live in my metro.

And so if the other communities have a different set of regulations that more mirror the state, and we try to go our own way, there's not going to be any public health benefit to that. So we had to evaluate all of those factors in deciding that we were going to lift shelter- in-place here in Oklahoma City on May 1st, as the governor had laid out in his vision for this next phase.

But I've been very, very, you know, clear with the people of Oklahoma City. When you asked about whether we're ready or not, the virus doesn't care that it's May 1st. The virus is still here. It is still in our community. It is very deadly and it has killed many people in Oklahoma City, although not as many as in other places, and we don't want to turn that corner and be those other places.

And so I've been very clear in my communications and we'll continue to be with the people of Oklahoma City that we've got to stay on task. We've got to social distance, wash our hands, all those things, and on the local level we are going to put conditions in effect on these openings that are not suggestions. They are going to be rules. And the businesses that open on May 1st are going to have to follow them. These are strict sanitation and social distancing protocols.

WHITFIELD: What are the businesses and what are the conditions?

HOLT: Well, you know, from our perspective, the ones we're most concerned about are going to be the high-risk places where spread can really occur. You're thinking about, you know, hair and nail salons where social distancing isn't even possible. You're thinking about restaurants where people gather. Obviously, we're going to keep the 10 or less gathering limit in place for social gatherings because that's still the White House recommendation.

When we look at salons, you know, we're going to be, you know, specifying this in the days ahead that, obviously, you know, we're looking at masks, we're looking at gloves, we're looking at masks being offered to the customers. When you look at restaurants, we've got to look at capacity restrictions, we've got to look at separating the tables. We've got to look at masks for servers. All of that is on the table. And we're going to make them -- we're going to make them rules that you have to follow. These are not going to be suggestions.

WHITFIELD: Can these businesses afford to do that? Can businesses afford to do that after so many businesses have been, you know, closed up, they've lost a lot of revenue, and now, OK, you've got these conditions but you're all asking them to invest in additional resources to help protect their employees and their customers, which most people wouldn't believe that that would be, you know, ridiculous demand but it's about money and being able to pay for it? Can they?

HOLT: Yes. Well, I don't think they can afford not to. Because who would want to go into a business that isn't following strict sanitation and social distancing protocols? I mean, for people to have comfort going into businesses in the future with a virus still in our community, those businesses obviously have to demonstrate their commitment to safety. And, again, it's about lives. And that's still our first priority here.

WHITFIELD: Got you. So I want to play a clip now from Dr. Thomas Inglesby, he's the director of Health Security at Johns Hopkins. And here's what he said about Oklahoma and its current outlook today. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Oklahoma is coming down from its peak but had a 26 percent increase in new cases in the last week. And it went over the course of the last week from the numbers jumped from a low of 29 new cases last Sunday to over 100 new cases just this past Thursday and Friday.

[13:35:03]

Should a state with those kinds of numbers be reopening then?

DR. THOMAS INGLESBY, DIRECTOR, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: You know, I would be very cautious about doing that. And I think it should be done very carefully with a lot of monitoring of both hospitalization rate, ICU rate, death rates. So at this point, only about five states in the country, to my count, have had two weeks of decline.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, you know, I heard you earlier when you're saying you're honoring, you know, what the governor is, you know, instructing the state to do but at the same time you are trepidations. But when you hear from the doctor there, does this make you want to take pause even more?

HOLT: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I'm on the same page as the doctor. I've been very clear in my comments these last few days that, you know, my gut says we should wait a few more days. You know, when we look at the White House gating criteria that, you know, that clip you just played was referencing the increase in cases. We also had the White House gating criteria to look at the decrease we currently have in testing percentages.

So that's the percentage of people who are testing positive in our community and so that's ultimately what we passed. But, again, setting all of that aside, I mean, we are in this. We do have these external factors that the state is lifting its regulations. And so we're trying to make the best of it. But no, I have deep misgivings about this. My gut would have picked a later date. But we're going to make the best of it and we've got to commit to safety if we do so.

WHITFIELD: Got you. All right. Good luck and be well, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. I appreciate it.

HOLT: Thank you very much. Be well.

WHITFIELD: Thank you. All right, after more than a week of pressure, Tyson says they will

now suspend operations at their facility in Iowa. Next, the alarming message one employee at the plant said he got from the company's HR department.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:41:10]

WHITFIELD: All right. While millions of American people line up at food banks, some two million chickens will be euthanized. Because of the coronavirus, so many employees at chicken plants are unable to show up to work at the processing plants.

Delmarva Poultry says the chickens being euthanized come from farms across Maryland and Delaware, and it's just another example of the challenges meat and poultry plants have been dealing with during the pandemic as outbreaks at a number of plants across the country are forcing many to close.

CNN's Gary Tuchman spoke with workers at one plant who say they've been left wondering about their health and their future.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cars rolling into the parking lot of the Tyson pork production plant in Waterloo, Iowa, hundreds of them. The plant itself has been shut down. But the employees are now waiting in a long line to take company provided tests for COVID-19. The plant only shut this week after positive COVID-19 tests of employees had reached the 182 mark.

Earnest Latiker works at the plant.

ERNEST LATIKER, TYSON EMPLOYEE: I'm scared.

TUCHMAN: Scared because he says someone he worked next to for hours has tested positive. So Latiker went ahead and got a test on his own.

LATIKER: I have not gotten my results back yet.

TUCHMAN: Latiker is a husband, the father of a baby, and is one of many employees of the plant people in the community and local politicians who called for this plant to close much earlier when word of the first infections came to light. He says he called the Tyson HR Department last week.

(On camera): And you said what?

LATIKER: I was concerned about the coronavirus being in the plant, and I was scared for me and my family.

TUCHMAN: And what did HR say to you?

LATIKER: They told me, I was -- I was safe. And they told me that everything was OK. And they told me I have a better chance of catching the coronavirus going out to Walmart than in Tyson. Come to work. You're safe.

TUCHMAN: And did you believe them?

LATIKER: I wanted to believe them. And then, I needed that money at the same time, so I went to work.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This employee doesn't want to reveal his identity, fearing retribution from the company.

(On camera): So do you think they care about your health?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not as much as they need to.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): He waited hours in this line to get tested. He said he also got tested on his own last weekend and was negative but felt if he didn't do it again at the plant he might not be allowed to come back to work when it reopens. But he is angry, particularly at how the says the company dealt with one of his co-workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was sick, asked to go home, was told that she couldn't go home because she did not have a fever at the time. A couple days later, she ended up testing positive for the virus.

TUCHMAN: Tyson has not responded to a CNN inquiry about this incident. Tyson is paying employees while the plant is closed. However, many workers remain angry at the company. But the president of Tyson Foods did not seem contrite during an interview on CNN in which he said the company is fully committed to employee safety.

DEAN BANKS, PRESIDENT, TYSON FOODS: And we're part of that community. And from everything we've seen, the spread of the disease in the community is affecting us in the plant.

TUCHMAN: But the much more common sentiment here is the opposite is true, that the spread of the disease at the plant has affected the community.

Ernest Latiker feels that way. But --

(On camera): Will you go back to work once they say it's safe to reopen?

LATIKER: Yes. I got to feed my family. So, yes, I will go back to work.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): After we met him, Ernest Latiker found out he tested negative, a feeling of relief amid the continuing tension.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Waterloo, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, pictures of a little coronavirus liberation. Children finally able to play outside in Spain following weeks of lockdown.

[13:45:03]

A live report on how the recovery is going there, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: In Spain, it's a sight that hasn't been seen in six weeks. Kids allowed outside starting this morning for the first time since the country's lockdown began. It was only for an hour and they had to be with a parent and stay close to home but it was a sign of hope for a country that has been one of the worst hit in the world by the coronavirus outbreak.

Journalist Al Goodman is in Madrid for us. We're also expecting to get a de-escalation plan from Spain's prime minister this week, Al?

AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: That's right, Fredricka.

[13:50:02]

The kids have been out en masse here in the capital and across the country. We've seen them on bicycles, on scooters, walking, being carried by their parents. I talked to a 9-year-old boy who said he was bored at the house for these past six weeks. I talked to a 12-year-old boy who said it was kind of strange to be home for that long.

Now this is a really big deal. Six weeks at home. But the prime minister and health officials did not want to do this until they could get the numbers, the statistics in the coronavirus pandemic here down. And now the number of deaths in the last 24 hours just 288. That's a tragedy for each of those families but had been at the peak in the 900s per day. And also there are more recoveries now than new cases. So that's why they went to this phase.

The prime minister announcing that there will be a de-escalation in May and in June but it will phased. It's not going to come all at once because they don't want to have a big second wave where the hospitals would be overwhelmed again. So next Saturday if everything goes well with the kids, if they can stay apart, not be with other families, social distancing, adults will be able to go out and do sports, and elderly people will be able to go out and take a walk.

So the prime minister and the health officials are looking, Fredricka, at different parts of Spain that have been hit less hard than, for instance, here in the capital which has had so many of the cases and so many of the deaths. Those other regions may get out sooner than the capital -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Al Goodman, always good to see you and especially outside now in Madrid. Thank you.

All right, Italy says 260 people were killed by the coronavirus in just the last 24 hours. That's the country's lowest daily total, however, since mid-March. And while frustration mounts with lockdowns in the U.S. and in Europe, in Italy, there has been only muted protests, as CNN's Ben Wedeman explains, much of that is due to the country's reverence for older Italians. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than six weeks, lockdown has been a way of life for Italians. And while elsewhere there have been protests calling for a return to normal life --

BEPPE SEVERGNINI, COLUMNIST, CORRIERE DELLA SERA: It's all quiet on the Italian front. And I --

WEDEMAN: Columnist and author Beppe Severgnini spoke to me from the hard-hit northern province of Cremona.

SEVERGNINI: You hear the sound of ambulances every day, as we have for the last six weeks. You don't really -- like New Yorkers now, probably. You don't really need much to be convinced. And that's why I said, OK, I think it makes sense to stay home.

WEDEMAN: Italy was the first country to impose a nationwide shutdown, during which a usually unruly people has been largely willing to obey the rules.

"I never expected Italians to be so disciplined," says Vladimiro. "Instead, we took seriously what the government told us."

In part, it's because the death toll from coronavirus has been so high, more than 25,000, and, in part, because of who is dying. The average age of death from the virus is 79. And here, in (INAUDIBLE), the grandparents are national institution.

FEDERICA DE VIERNO, ROME RESIDENT: Old people are considered very important because they're pieces of history. You learn from them.

WEDEMAN: In a country that has seen empires rise and fall, family is the one constant.

ANDREA CALORO, ROME RESIDENT: I think it's just a matter of respect. I mean, we've been asked basically to do nothing, to do something. So we stay home and we take it easy. And it's our way to protect our -- yes, our maybe oldest people.

WEDEMAN: Yet, the longer the lockdown goes on, the gloomier the prospects for Italy's economy.

(On camera): For now, the government says the country can start to reopen May 4th. The reopening will be cautious. It will be gradual. Italy can ill afford a second wave of this virus.

(Voice-over): An entire generation, a nation's history, is at stake.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ' WHITFIELD: Still ahead, contradictory views on the state of the economy, and it's coming from two top White House officials. So are we in the midst of a great depression or will the economy bounce back soon? We're live, next.

[13:55:00]

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WHITFIELD: Some NBA players may be able to begin working out at team- owned gyms by the end of the week. ESPN reports that the league plans to reopen practice facilities this Friday in states where local governments have eased stay-at-home restrictions. Sources tell the network that players will be able to work out individually but not as a team.

The league suspended its season on March 11th after a player tested positive for coronavirus. The NBA has not announced plans to restart the season.

People in Bowie, Maryland, are rallying around a beloved community member who lost her husband to COVID-19. This is a motorcade going past the home of Tamela Taylor Orr. She's an assistant principal at a middle school in Prince Georges County. Her husband, 55-year-old Curtis Orr, died suddenly after contracting the virus earlier this month.