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Trump Tells Governors to Seriously Consider Opening Schools; Officials Say 40 Percent Jump in Cleaning Chemical Cases After Trump's Remark; Trump to Order Meat Processing Plants to Stay Open; Sufficient Coronavirus Tests Available to the States. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 28, 2020 - 15:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: -- into school and then seeing a spike in the virus in your school system?

MICHAEL HINOJOSA, SUPERINTENDENT, DALLAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT (via Cisco Webex): Well, we're really concerned about that because parents will forgive us for a few things but they won't forgive us if something happens to the health of their students under our care, custody and control.

So, we're going to take every precaution possible, we're going to have plans and back-up plans and safety measures but the students need to be back, the parents need to be at work. And so, we have to come up with multiple ways to make this work. But safety and health is going to be our trump card as it keeps us in line with what we should be doing.

BOLDUAN: Look and you've got a love the competing pressures, right. When you have -- do you consider hearing from the White House and the President saying it'd be good to open up sooner, do you -- does that feel like more pressure on you to hear that coming from the White House?

HINOJOSA: Well, it's an issue that we have to pay attention to, but we really have to listen to our local businesses, our local leaders in how we work together here in Dallas. Every situation is different. We'll monitor the situation.

But, yes, there is always that little ear that you have something in your ear about. We want everybody to come back because you're adding to the work force. That is one of the cogs in the wheel that makes America run. But safety is still primary for us.

BOLDUAN: Michael, thank you for what you're doing. We're with you and good luck. It is not an easy call no matter how it works out. But you're going to look out for the best of your students, so thank you.

HINOJOSA: Thank you so much for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Still ahead for us, Kansas, Kansas health officials are reporting a big increase in cases involving cleaning chemicals. What is happening there? The state's health secretary joins us next.



BOLDUAN: A 40 percent increase, that is what the Poison Control Center in Kansas says it was dealing with Monday. A 40 percent increase in cases specifically involving cleaning chemicals. This days after the President of the United States made the ridiculous and dangerous suggestion that maybe injecting disinfectants into the human body could treat coronavirus and should be studied.

The Health Secretary of Kansas saying at a news conference that one case even involved a man who drank a product, quote, because of the advice he received.

Joining me right now is that Health Secretary of Kansas, Dr. Lee Norman. Dr. Norman, thank you so much for being here. I have a lot of questions for you about what is happening on the ground in Kansas in the fight against the coronavirus.

But first just on this. The President shrugged off any questions about upticks in calls to poison control centers. What are you hearing in your state?

DR. LEE NORMAN, HEALTH SECRETARY OF KANSAS: Well, we are seeing an uptick in the numbers. It's not entirely due to ingesting the substances, but we did get very specific calls of people that drank a substance, the one man you mentioned, there are others that called in and thank goodness they had the good sense of saying I've heard that this is kind of a do it yourself way to prevent the coronavirus. Is this something that I should consider doing? And it was good to have those anticipatory calls so that the answer to that would be no.

BOLDUAN: I guess we'll take that as that's a good thing. I mean, look, everyone needs to take responsibility for what they're putting into their bodies. But Dr. Norman, do you think you would have gotten so many calls if the President hadn't said this from the White House?

NORMAN: You know, there's always accidental ingestions, there's kids that get into things so there is always X number of calls. There might be about 50 calls a month to the poison center for accidental or suicidal intent but the numbers clearly upticked.

Now some of the increase in numbers I'm quite certain is because the parents and adults are around more, kids are home from school. So, there are just more kids especially in approximation. But the call is asking if they should be taken internally, that was the change from the usual.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I would hope so. On the all-important issue of testing, Kansas ranks last in testing for the coronavirus. The governor saying the way that he put it was, you are nowhere where you need to be with testing supplies. Why is that?

NORMAN: We just haven't been allocated those. We bought as many test kits and everything that we have. We've got a lot of testing platforms. But it takes a swab, it takes transport medium and it takes the cartridges and chemicals to do the test.

We put in multiple different requests to FEMA and have had lots of promises. We put out millions of dollars worth of invoices to buy things but we've had overall a favorable death rate per capita, a fairly low death rate per capita, fairly low hospitalization rate.

And I think things have been redirected from our state because of the fact that we've been doing pretty well despite the fact that we're down at the bottom in terms of testing per capita.

BOLDUAN: Yes, but still, going forward, testing's everything, right. I mean, and the White House said yesterday that they want to be the supplier of the last resort when it comes to these very things that you're talking about. And that testing is still the responsibility of states. Can you reach the level of testing that you need without federal help?

NORMAN: No, and the reason is that a lot of supply chains have essentially been commandeered by FEMA and others that buy the materials for their own supply chain.


So then they can be redirected. We've literally had semi-trucks heading toward Kansas and have them be redirected before arriving at our warehouse facility. And we've used every test we've got, every test kit. It's not like we're hoarding them away for a rainy day. One good news I will say is that we do have enough to -- we feel pretty comfortable that if people become ill, we can test them. But we want to do more population studies to find out how much disease is out there in the population.

BOLDUAN: That must be beyond frustrating when you've got it coming your way in a semi and it is redirected just because. That must be beyond frustrating from your perspective.

NORMAN: Yes, it is and it's the same story with protective equipment. We feel really uneasy with that. I think we eat our way through this particular bout with the COVID-19. I'm sure we'll have a resurgence of it in the fall.

So we're doing all sorts of reprocessing. We're buying through all sorts of supply chains and different channels. There is a lot of shady dealers out there that are trying to sell you junk that is not good and we just don't go for it. So we have a very aggressive reprocessing plan in place and I think we'll be OK but not because of what we've been able to buy on the open market.

BOLDUAN: Yes, well, we'll continue to sound the alarm right along with you. Thank you, Dr. Norman, for what you're doing, thanks for coming on. NORMAN: OK, thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Still ahead as businesses in some states begin to reopen, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a warning for the White House. What they want the President to consider. That's next.



BOLDUAN: President Trump is expected to sign an executive order today ordering meat processing plants to remain open. And he's doing this under the Defense Production Act which the facilities under this, the facilities will be declared part of the country's critical infrastructure.

The order comes as some companies like Tyson Foods were warning that the food supply chain was breaking down as they were forced to close some plants because of the virus. A Tyson spokesperson tells CNN the company hasn't seen the order so can't comment but also adds that it is -- it's top priority remains the safety of its team members and the community as well, while continuing to feed families across the country.

That's a big thing to consider. Also as states and businesses like Tyson across the country are trying to prepare to reopen, a new warning is coming from a surprising source, the world's largest business organization, the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce.

In a letter to the White House, the Chamber's warning against new regulatory requirements on businesses but also warning -- talking about a need for more consistency in the guidance from state to state writing in part, a one size fits all regulatory approach is simply impossible when talking about adapting safety measures to every workplace in America. But going on to say, it would be preferable if the guidance coming state and local governments was more uniform across the nation, which will speed the safe reopening.

Joining me right now is Neil Bradley. He's Executive Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It's good to see you, Neil, thank you.


BOLDUAN: What is the main concern that you have -- that you will have and your members have about the overall strategy that you're seeing now from the White House to states.

BRADLEY: Well, it is a two-fold concern. The first is not one that we're particularly concerned about from the administration. But we're seeing movements by activists to convert guidance into regulations. The idea that we could create a strict rule book, if you will, for all employers to follow as though taking an unprecedented task of reopening the economy. Employers want to do the right thing. They want to protect their

employees. They want to protect their customers but every workplace is a little different and this is a little unprecedented. And the idea that we're going to have tape measures and rule books from Washington telling people exactly how to do this just really isn't realistic when you're talking about millions of businesses.

The second concern is that the guidance that we're seeing -- and the letter that we sent was both addressed to the President, to governors, to the Conference of Mayors and to the county executives -- was that we're seeing this proliferation of conflicting guidance at the federal, the state and the local level.

One of the things that we need to do to ease the transition into reopening and instill confidence in employees and customers alike is to have kind of a common benchmark. And we think the work that the CDC and OSHA is doing which can be applied through the states and down to the local level is the right way to have a guidance-based uniform approach.

BOLDUAN: I've got to ask you because liability has been a big question. The President said earlier today that he in this -- he's signing an executive order that could address the liability question for meat processors.

But for every other company, if they have employees come back to work and the employees get sick, is the company liable. I hear that is a big concern of yours. Is the employer liable. I hear that is a big concern of yours. Have you gotten any answers from the White House on that?

BRADLEY: Well, it is a bit concerning both on the employee and customer side. The fear we hear from small businesses is that they're going to do all of the right things that the public health officials tell them to do and then unfortunately someone gets sick and contracted COVID-19 and sues the employer. And the employer is left trying to explain all of the right things that they did to follow the public health guidance. And so we've raised this concern both with the White House, but also with key members of Congress. I think they understand this concern.

Most of this is going to have to be done through timely, targeted, and temporary changes in legislation. We're not looking for broad regulation.


BRADLEY: We're just trying to protect businesses who are doing the right thing.

BOLDUAN: Neil, thanks so much, I've got to jump in because we've got to actually jump over to the White House. President Trump is taking questions in the East Room right now. Let's listen in.

[15:50:00] JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: -- back in February you predicted that the number of cases would go down to zero. How do we get from your prediction of zero to 1 million?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it will go down to zero ultimately. You have to understand, when it comes to cases, we do much more testing than anybody else.

So we could go to some of these other countries, you know, an example, China. If you test, you're going to show many more cases. So we're testing, we're doing more testing than any other country in the world by far which we -- we just discussed over in the Oval Office.

So we're going to show more cases because we're doing much, much more testing, double anybody else. Somebody said if you add everybody else combined that would be a number. And it will be, at the appropriate time it will be down to zero like we said.

ACOSTA: Let me ask you about "The Times" saying that the number of cases would go up, you would have community spread.

TRUMP: Well, experts, yes --

ACOSTA: Dr. Messonnier of the CDC is warning about this.

TRUMP: Also, experts, many very good experts, very good people too said this would never affect the United States, it wouldn't affect Europe, it wouldn't affect anything outside of China.

So, we were listening to experts and we always will listen to experts. But the experts got it wrong, a lot of people got it wrong, and a lot of people had no idea it would be this serious.

I listen to experts, I'll tell you what, I did something that the experts thought I shouldn't have done. I closed down our country and our borders. I did a ban on China from coming in, other than U.S. citizens, and we did very strong checks on even our U.S. citizens. Ron DeSantis was telling me before, that when they came in, people were put into quarantine, people were checked. And we're doing that now.

So, yes, I think we did something well ahead of schedule, we did that at the end of January, people were talking about this wouldn't have an impact, as you know, even into March.

So, I think we've done a great job in the sense that we were early. I think by banning China, by banning China and banning people coming in who would have been very heavily infected we probably saved hundreds of thousands of lives. So that I'm very proud. Yes, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, and Secretary Mnuchin as well, what about the idea of another round of stimulus payments to American taxpayers directly?

Democrats of course up on the Hill are talking about the idea of a guaranteed income, which obviously could go on for months and months and months. What about another round of -- TRUMP: Well, I like the idea of payroll tax cuts, I've liked that

from the beginning, that was the thing I really would love to see happen. A lot of economists would agree with me, a lot of people agree with me, and I think frankly it's simple. It's not the big distribution. And it would really be an incentive for people to come back to work and for employers to hire, the double tax on the company and also on the person, that's what I like, and something like that could happen.

Also, I think you have to look, because a lot of people are talking -- I assume your next question will be about states. And, Steve and I talk about it, and I talk about it with Mitch and with Kevin and with everybody. And the problem with the states is we're not looking to recover 25 years of bad management and to give them the money that, they lost, that's unfair to other states.

Now, if it's COVID-related, I guess we can talk about it but we would want certain things also, including sanctuary city adjustments, because we have so many people in sanctuary cities. Which I don't think are even popular even by radical left folks. Because what's happening is people are being protected that shouldn't be protected and a lot of bad things are happening with sanctuary cities. But that's just standing up here, answering this question, that's one of the things I think about.

If we're going to do something for the states, I think they probably want, something having to do with sanctuary cities, something having to do with other different points that we can discuss a little later on. Yes, Jeff, go ahead, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you're going to sign an executive order today about meat packaging plants. It affects liability for them. What efforts or what measures are you looking at for liability for other industries and other businesses?

TRUMP: Well, we haven't been talked about, it hasn't been asked on other industries yet. But with the meat packing and with the transportation, we have had some difficulty where they're having a liability that's really unfair to them. And we're going to be doing that. I think, Mark, we're going to be doing that fairly soon. It's getting -- it's getting drawn up. I should be signing that over the next hour or so, taking the liability, which frees up the entire system. And I fully understand it. Not their fault.

Yes, please, go ahead. Over here first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I just want to go back to what we discussed a little earlier today. Are you considering asking airlines to test passengers on international but also domestic flights?


TRUMP: Yes, we're looking at doing it on the international flights coming out of areas that are heavily infected. As you know, Brazil is getting to that category. I think they're going to be OK. I hope they're going to be OK. He's a very good friend of mine. But the -- the President -- but I think that we're going to look at it

from the standpoint, I was discussing that with the Governor of Florida, with Ron, a little while ago. So, we're going to be looking at that coming in from other countries, frankly. But South America seems to be one that's talked about because they have so much business going into Florida.

With all that being said, Florida has done incredibly well and they're starting to open up and open up very rapidly. But we will be looking at into that in the very near future, we're looking at it very strongly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the airlines going to have this responsibility?

TRUMP: Either the airlines or government, one or the other. We're working with the airlines. Maybe it's a combination of both. Kristen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President, some health experts say the U.S. needs 5 million tests per day by June in order to safely reopen. You unveiled a plan yesterday that will increase testing but not by that much. Why not, and can you get to that benchmark?

TRUMP: Well, it will increase it and it will increase it by much more than that in the very near future. We're way ahead of everyone on testing. We haven't been given the press in terms of I think fairness of the press but that's OK. And that's why I appreciated the statement before by Yahoo!. We are way ahead on testing. We are the best in the world on testing. We've tested much more than anybody else times two. Or every country combined. We've tested more than every country combined.

And they keep talking about South Korea, and I'm very friendly, as you know, with President Moon who just had a great victory, a new victory, as we're very happy about. But he will tell you how well the United States has done on testing. And he told me that very strongly. The quality of our test is the best and the number is the best.

Now, with all of that being said, we will be going to an even higher number and it goes up exponentially. And I've told you that. We inherited a very broken test, a broken system and a broken test and within a short period of time we were setting records, so we have set records.

We've done more than the entire world combined. We've done more than any other country in the world. So, I think we've done a really good job. Now, with that being said, not everybody feels as strongly about testing as others.

We have some governors that are very strong on testing. We have other governors frankly that aren't nearly as strong on testing. Their test is much more modest. And their real test is when people stop getting sick and they'll be able to do that too and I understand both systems very well. But we're going to maximum testing even though some people won't even want to use it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I hear you saying you're confident you can surpass 5 million tests per day, is that --

TRUMP: Well, we're going to be there very soon. If you look at the numbers, it could be that we're getting very close. I mean I don't have the exact numbers. We would have had them if you asked me the same question a little while ago. Because people with these statistics were there. We're going to be there very soon. We're really -- we're really doing -- I mean, I watched you report on NBC today and it was an incorrect report because we're really doing a great job on testing.

Unfortunately, the -- the administration, the people that work our government, hasn't been given the kind of credit that it deserves. Last month it was about ventilators. Now we have so many that we're able to give them to Italy, France, Spain, other countries have been asking us for ventilators. We're making over 150,000. We've distributed thousands and thousands.

New York is in great shape with what we've done, as you know. New Jersey is in great shape. We spoke just recently, Ivanka just spoke with the governor, and they're in very good shape with ventilators. I mean everybody has -- and most of them have far more than they'll ever need. They're starting to send them back. So, nobody went without a ventilator. And yet if you read the media from a month and a half ago it was all about ventilators.

And ventilators are tough -- that was a tough thing. But we should be very proud of our country, we took assembly lines and they converted from cars and other things into ventilators, and the job that we've seen has not been seen since World War II.

What they have done, in terms of the manufacture of very high-grade ventilators is amazing. So now we don't hear about that and I notice that the testing is starting to die down because we now have the best testing anywhere in the world by far and we have more. And that's a good thing, that's a very good thing, I'm happy about it.

We had a call yesterday with governors and I will say that I'm sure many of you were on that call. Even though you shouldn't have been, they shouldn't have been, Amy, but they were, I wonder how that happened.

But you heard the governors were thrilled. Now, the following day, if you'll get a Democrat on the call they'll say, you know, I saw some of them today, they were so thrilled yesterday on a call that they thought was a closed call, and today they were good but they weren't the same as they were yesterday because that's the business.

They want to try and win on November 3. But we're doing a job the likes --