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CNN's David Culver Returns To Wuhan After Lockdown; Small Business Loan Program Resumes Taking Applications Today. Aired 9:30- 10a ET

Aired April 27, 2020 - 09:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: What do you say to whether it's Governor Kemp in Georgia or other political leaders who are opening before they meet that threshold?

MICHAEL FOWLER, CORONER, DOUGHERTY COUNTY, GEORGIA: Well, I think it's like playing Russian roulette. Every time you walk out your house and goes to a place without a mask and practice social distancing, you play a Russian roulette. There's a chance that you may catch this virus, because sometimes what happen is your underlying health condition.

But we've got to be mindful. This thing is nothing to play with. This thing is serious. We never had anything like this in our community, in the world, I think like this. So it is serious. We've got to do what we've got to protect our community regardless of what everybody is doing, going to the barbershop, the beauty shop. I think you can go along with that. Again, you have to deal with that in your haircut.

I think your life is more important there. You need -- you can meet your insight, not just outside of this present time.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Michael, you obviously it's not a huge community there. And you've talked about recently having to examine and zip up body bags for people, you know. I mean, you guys have had six preachers die. What -- how do you do that? What is that like?

FOWLER: It is the fact mail in this way now because we have buried preachers, we have buried judges, we have buried neighbors, some of my neighbors and friends that I know in the village, I zip up in the body bag up. And now it's very, I would say, upsetting to me because I'm working to all the other disasters all over the country. Our work is nothing like working our home, none people that you know it shows up in the map because it is virus.

It's heartfelt. I mean my heart go out to the family that have been affected by this virus.

SCIUTTO: You've heard some public skepticism from some politicians and others that perhaps this infection is not as serious as advertised. You're someone who is dealing with the effects more closely, arguably, than anyone. What's your answer to those people? FOWLER: I wish they could walk out of hospital halls here and see the number of people, and friends, and neighbors that we have hooked up to ventilators, that hooked up to I.V., which -- they can come to morgue and see the different ones stacked up. Yes, when we have three weeks ago -- we had it stacked up.

So it means that they don't believe it's real. That's what they need to do. They need to come see this is real in Albany, Georgia.

HARLOW: Michael Fowler, again, thank you for what you're doing. I'm sorry it's so painful, of course, right now. We appreciate you.

FOWLER: Thank you for having me again.

SCIUTTO: Yes, what a tough job. Goodness.

Well, other story we're following, life in Wuhan, China. Now that the lockdown there where it all started has been lifted. CNN's David Culver travels to the original epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. He's going to join us live.



HARLOW: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is back at work. This is good news after recovering from coronavirus and warning it's too early to ease his country's lockdown. His return comes as public pressure mounts to relax some of those restrictions. The virus has killed more than 20,000 people across the United Kingdom.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Early on, he had not been this alarmist. Johnson says that the U.K. is at a point of maximum risk and easing restrictions now could cause a second peak of infections. The government is expected to review lockdown measures at the beginning of May.

Well, overseas now as well. Chinese officials say the last coronavirus patients are now out of the hospital in Wuhan, where the pandemic began. Wuhan, the first city to go into a lockdown due to the outbreak and now, after months of uncertainty, there is something of a new normal in the city.

HARLOW: Yes. David Culver joins us now. David, you just returned from a trip to Wuhan. What -- I mean, how much has it changed?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Poppy and Jim, it's changed a lot. I mean, I think overall you get the sense that people are certainly taking it more seriously, even the day before the lockdown when we were there back in January. It's a half the amount of people were putting masks on, trusting that it would be taken care of within a few days or a few weeks.

We obviously know that wasn't the case and it took a brutal lockdown to bring it under control. Of course, we're very skeptical of the numbers still. And that's part of the reason that motivated us to go there, to verify what we're hearing in state media as well as on Chinese social media.


CULVER (on camera): It's Tuesday, April 21st. And after, well, I guess is about two and a half months --


(on camera): -- we are leaving Shanghai. The team here is ready to go on. Hey Shan Chen (ph) she's somewhere back there. Oh, there you are. We are headed for our next stop. So we'll see what that's going to be like.

(voice-over): Our journey back to the original epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak required weeks of planning. Well, within China, some cities are easing travel restrictions. New hot spots can suddenly surface and so to new lockdowns, which could trap us mid travel for an unknown amount of time. But all layered up and we felt this was the moment to return.

(on camera): And this is our ticket here. It might be reversed. But, you could see it. Take a picture. You can see it. Our destination set for Wuhan. It's going to be about a four hour train ride. We've noticed it's relatively full so far, say at least maybe half full, which is pretty significant given there's next to no one traveling for several weeks. Let's get onboard here.


(voice-over): On board, the train attendants collect our passports. They try to place CNN photojournalist Justin Robertson's accent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are you from?

ROBERTSON: Where am I from? I'm from London.




ROBERTSON: England, yes.

(voice-over): It is not just friendly conversation, as they want to be sure that we've been in the country for at least two weeks so that we're not potentially importing the virus from other areas. The threat to China now thought to be external.

Arriving in Wuhan, I'm quickly reminded of the last time we were here, almost three months to the day. We'd spent just 29 hours on the ground when we abruptly learned that Wuhan was going on lockdown. CNN shared that scramble out of Wuhan with you.

(on camera): A rush checkout sparked by a 3:00 a.m. phone call. Our ref right now is to check out, get out. (voice-over): We headed to the train station as soon as we got words. As we arrived, crowds already lined up for tickets stretching out the door.

(on camera): It's 4:15 in the morning here. And the only way to buy tickets at this hour is in person.

(voice-over): From there, it was off to a Beijing hotel quarantining before the rest of the world realized you'd soon be doing the same, 14 days in a hotel room to make sure we'd not contracted the virus. We continued our live reporting from quarantine, then relocated to Shanghai.

And here we were three months later headed back to Wuhan. The lockdown was over, but the hesitation remains as we interviewed an American who's lived in Wuhan since 2009. We also experienced the increased skepticism toward foreigners like us and the growing distrust of western media, a crowd of police questioning us.

(on camera): What did he say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you from?

(on camera): Oh, you speak English. I'm from the U.S., but I live in Beijing.

(voice-over): It was not our only interaction with authorities. When we returned to what some Chinese scientists believed to be the source of the outbreak. The Huanan seafood market and started recording, police stepped out at the nearby tent and ask us, why we were there.

(on camera): What did he say?


(voice-over): Perhaps the most sensitive spot on our visit, this funeral home and crematorium. Normally, you do not find police posted outside. But last month, Chinese media published a report claiming more urns were distributed than reported coronavirus deaths calling into question the official figures. We wanted to investigate. But even as we were across the street, police quickly approached us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell him who we are. Show him who we are.

(on camera): We just attempted to go to one of the funeral homes in hopes of seeing some of their grieving families and hearing from them their perspective of what transpired over the course of the lockdown and losing their loved ones. As we were there, police didn't like that we were there. They happened to be positioned right outside, held us there for a little bit, didn't let us leave. And finally, after a few minutes, we were able to continue on our way.

(voice-over): Given that many medical experts believe the virus transmitted from wildlife to humans, we wanted to go to another Wuhan wet market to see what they were selling. (on camera): It's pretty much fine markets just like this all across China. This is actually pretty normal one. You've got a bag full of toads, some fish on the chopping block over there.

(voice-over): No wildlife here, but some snakes, lots of frozen poultry, along with an array of fresh vegetables and spices all under the same roof.

Scenes like this appear to show this city of 11 plus million residents coming back to life. Folks enjoying a game of badminton or just soaking in the stillness, knowing that after weeks sealed inside your home, this is a luxury. And while many of the businesses here remain closed, the ones that have reopened are changing up the way they operate. Keeping customers outside, bringing the products to them.

Hotels like ours spraying down everyone who walks inside with disinfectant. The elevators are marked with a safe social distance. They provide a tissue to keep your bare fingers from touching the buttons. All of this as testing for the virus has become streamlined here.

Before we left, we had to get ours done to an easy appointment to make a quick throat swab $35 fee to expedite the results. And 24 hours later we were handed the paperwork showing we were negative. And with that, we could then safely depart.

(on camera): A far less rushed checkout, this time leaving Wuhan compared to three months ago. I'm getting in the car, headed into train. We're headed to Shanghai.

(voice-over): On the train back, police, carefully examining our passports and test results, allowing us to return to Shanghai without having to do another quarantine once again, leaving behind Wuhan as it slowly awakens in his post lockdown era. The people left a bit shell shocked, navigating his uncertain moment with a cautious optimism.


CULVER: And Jim and Poppy, I think the biggest takeaway coming back out of Wuhan is realizing that, yes, it may be open again, but it's not back to business and the reality is primed more than half the businesses that we pass there are not back open and many of those small businesses tell us they will not reopen. I mean, it is a crushing result of this lockdown. It was a brutal lockdown.


HARLOW: That was a fantastic, informative piece, David. And I fear that that may be true for many small businesses ahead in this country as well. Thank you for that reporting.

So on that note, a new survey out this morning from Goldman Sachs shows the stunning hit to small businesses, employment dropping dramatically black owned small businesses facing an even greater challenge.



HARLOW: Next hour, the moment, thousands of small businesses desperate for coronavirus relief have been waiting for the U.S. Small Business Administration will resume accepting applications for its paycheck protection program or PPP, $320 billion soon back up for grabs after initially running out of funding very quickly.

Here's why this is so critical. A new survey from Goldman Sachs out just this morning of nearly two thousand small businesses finds, 91 percent of them applied for that PPP funding. Only 29 percent have received it so far. And median employment at these companies has fallen dramatically from 11 employees to just six.

And an even greater challenge is now facing black owned small businesses. Margaret Anadu of Goldman Sachs is head of their Urban Investment Group, is with me. And Margaret looking through these numbers, I was stunned. I mean, I knew it was bad, but to have small business employment nearly cut in half in a matter of weeks. Were even you shocked by that?

MARGARET ANADU, HEAD OF URBAN INVESTMENT GROUP, GOLDMAN SACHS: I was. You know, we were able to survey these businesses a few weeks ago. And so we knew there was the anxiety, the stress, the uncertainty about what to do, but to see that significant drop of employment that quickly, we were surprised.

So that dropped from 11 to six, 45 percent is significant. It's significant to distract there.

HARLOW: The pain, though, is not proportionate, right? When you look at look at how COVID is infecting more African-Americans, killing more African-Americans. And then your numbers show that 26 percent of African-American owned small businesses say they only have a month of cash reserves. That is a much higher percentage than the rest of the pie. Is this a crisis on top of a crisis for the black community?

ANADU: Is it, it is. And so if you think about just the inability of these black businesses to access the PPP capital, there's a real issue there. So one of the bright spots we've seen is that for those who have been able to be approved for the PPP loans, they have confidence about their businesses ability to survive.

They have said, I think that they can retain almost all of their workforce. And so it's this great thing out there that's providing real comfort for businesses. But if you don't have access, that's a real issue. So we saw in our survey that, you know, 91 percent of businesses were able to apply. And roughly 50 percent were approved. There was a double digit disparity in those numbers for black businesses.

So 12 percent --

HARLOW: Wow. ANADU: -- black businesses were able to even apply and then 12 percent less of those businesses were actually able to be approved. And so if you think about why that's such an issue, 26 percent of the black businesses that we surveyed say they have less than one month of cash reserves on hand. And so, this PPP loan could be an incredible lifeline if, again, you have access to it.

HARLOW: One hundred percent, I mean, and people should know, Goldman Sachs is not a small business lender, does not lend through the SBA. You guys have taken a different route, and that is an access of $500 million in lending to community based lending institutions in cities like Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta, Birmingham, you name it.

But you've been talking, Margaret, to the White House, to Congress, you know, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has called this program a success. The administration is touting it. These numbers show a lot of pain. Does something structurally need to change? Meaning should there be a prioritization of underserved borrowers?

ANADU: Yes. So if you think about what the program does, it effectively takes banks and other lenders and requires them to distribute this capital. And so if you think about the smallest of businesses, black-owned businesses, those in underserved and rural areas, those businesses are less likely to have relationships with banks to begin with.

And so what our CEO said at the White House a few weeks ago and has continue to push on, is that for those institutions like the community development, financial institutions, the minority depository institutions that have an explicit mission to make capital available to black owned businesses, those in low income areas, they need a set aside of capital to be able to do that. The entire structure, it's a race. It's a first come, first served.


ANADU: And so if you are a smaller business in a low income area, black owned business, you need to have lenders and those who are going to serve you with that capital actually have the time to do so.

HARLOW: The problem is, even with this new tranche of money about to be doled out in just an hour or so, it doesn't have any more of those parameters on it. And I mean, reading the investigative piece in "The New York Times" this morning on how many publicly traded companies access this money, publicly traded companies that are -- were already very well capitalized. It's pretty stunning.

The government does not disclose who receives the aid. I just wonder what your reaction is to seeing some of that and if you think there's just been a lack of oversight in the program?

ANADU: Yes. I would see what I see is it just, it kind of reiterates our approach, right? So if the folks who are most able to access the capital are those who are the most well resourced, again, have those strong relationships with banks, our approach, right, getting $500 million to those community based lenders, we think there needs to be that capital to reach those business.


So, for example, you know, we're partnering with Mayor Cantrell down in New Orleans, you know, the mayor of Birmingham, places like Atlanta, where if we can focus and partner with those community based lenders that we know, we're going to get capital to those underserved businesses, then there's just more of an equal playing field for these businesses.

And so, you know, our approach has been to really stand up those organizations. We've also provided them with philanthropic capital and get them the lending capital they need to really serve those underserved businesses.

HARLOW: We have 30 seconds left. Is this program, PPP, going to need in excess of a trillion dollars? And how quickly do you think this next tranche of money is going to be gone?

ANADU: I think the tranche that opens in about 40 minutes is going to be gone in a couple days or less, unfortunately. I think that the demand we saw in the first round, we'll continue to see it in this round. I don't know if I'd say that the numbers over a trillion, but it's certainly in excess of the amount that's been allotted today.

HARLOW: Margaret Anadu, head of Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, thanks very much. The survey is important. Appreciate your time.

ANADU: Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: The news today, more than a dozen states, Democrat and Republican ran, are taking some steps to reopen some businesses this week. But what about the mayors of cities who say it's just too soon? We're going to speak to two of them coming up.