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Georgia Restaurant Owner Speaks On State Reopening; Tokyo Olympics To Be Canceled If Pandemic Is Not Over By Next Summer; Millions Of Americans Still Waiting For Stimulus Checks. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 28, 2020 - 05:30   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Georgia is leading the charge to reopen businesses that had shut down over this coronavirus pandemic. As of Monday, restaurants like the famous Waffle House are officially allowed to welcome back customers to sit down at their tables.

Some restrictions in the state were lifted after the Trump administration released guidelines for states to reopen. Georgia's public health commissioner now admits the state did not actually meet those federal government's full criteria.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a staunch Trump ally, defended reopening on Monday.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: But we are making great progress. We have accomplished much but there is still a long way to go. There are differing opinions on how best to tackle the COVID-19 virus and how we reopen parts of our economy -- the path forward to ensure a safer, stronger, and more prosperous future for our state.

But I can promise you this. There is more that unites us than divides us.

We all want to protect our families and our neighbors. We all want to emerge from this pandemic safe victorious. So please stand with us in the days, weeks, and months ahead.


CURNOW: Well, the mayor of Atlanta disagrees with Georgia's governor. Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN's Chris Cuomo that it's really simply too soon to reopen the economy. Take a listen.


MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA: -- for us to continue down this path. So not only did we open up nail salons and hair salons and barbershops and tattoo parlors, and all these other --


BOTTOMS: -- places, now we're opening up restaurants and we're taking it even further. And who knows where we're going to be next week.

And as I listen to leaders in Atlanta -- our business leaders and the health professionals -- people who have options -- they all agree that it is too soon. And why that rational thinking is not transferred to our governor really continues to baffle me.


CURNOW: Well, joining me now is Brian Maloof, the owner of Manuel's Tavern here in Atlanta. Hi, good to see you.

Your tavern is iconic in Atlanta. It's been known as a watering hole for many Democratic politicians but also a cross-section of Atlanta society. Why have you decided not to reopen?

BRIAN MALOOF, OWNER, MANUEL'S TAVERN, ATLANTA: Well, first of all, thank you for having me this morning and thank you, Robyn.

And not only is it a popular place for a lot of locals -- a lot of -- it's popular with a lot of CNN employees. So --

CURNOW: This is true. We've been known to have a drink there -- one or two only.

MALOOF: Yes, you have.

We've decided to delay our opening because of the uncertainty. I don't envy the position the governor is in. I understand his need to get it open. I appreciate the opportunity that he's given us to be open. We just believe it's way too soon.

There's so much that's uncertain about this. There's so much we don't know about this virus -- how it's spread, how fast it's spread -- and it just -- it seems a little rushed.

And I don't know if there's a financial incentive to rush us to get open -- or to get the state open, but I appreciate his candor in the fact that he's given us the opportunity and it's up to us now to decide -- and we've decided to wait.

CURNOW: Do you think the decision to open or not open has become a political statement in this country and even within Georgia -- or even within Atlanta, depending on where you are -- which divide -- if you're red or blue? Kind of, people are making a statement based on their political affiliations. Do you think that's something that you've noticed?

MALOOF: I have noticed it and I've tried to avoid it personally. We just have to make good business decisions and we have to -- not only for the business but for our staff and our customers. That is the most important decision we can make.

We have a lot of fear about prematurely reopening with all the uncertainty -- having another round of reinfection and being forced to shut down again. So we've decided to delay.

The political part of it, I try to leave that alone, but it is definitely present. You can see it in our Republican governor of the state of Georgia and the mayor of Atlanta and their difference of opinion, which puts me in a unique situation because I have the mayor of Atlanta telling people -- if I decided to open early, telling people that it doesn't appear to be safe. And I have the governor that's saying sure, give it a shot. And so, it leaves us in this choppy water of a decision.

CURNOW: Yes, it certainly does.

And just talk me through your staff. I mean, I know you say you're making this decision based on the health and safety of staff and customers. How many people do you hire? And what's it been like, particularly for a bar where a lot of the income comes -- at least for them, comes from tips, for example?


MALOOF: It's been incredibly difficult. The unemployment compensation that's been provided by the state has really helped out a lot of the employees.

We have an older staff compared to a lot of places. We have 53 people that work here. I would guess our average age is somewhere around 45. And we have some people that have been working here since the 70s.

And there is a general -- there's been -- as you know, there's been a ton of information out here about how fast this virus spreads and how deadly it can be, and there's a lot of fear. And until there's more answers, the staff, myself, we just don't feel like it's safe at this moment.

CURNOW: How then -- I mean, how are you managing financially? I mean, I think nearly 30 million people have filed for unemployment in the U.S., which is kind of mindboggling. We're about to hit nearly a million people infected with coronavirus. I mean, we've heard about the delays in getting loans, the delays in getting unemployment checks.

What's it been like trying to run a small business?

MALOOF: It has been incredibly difficult. We have been fortunate. We've been around for a while and we know the ropes.

We filed everybody's unemployment properly. We had tremendous success getting everybody on unemployment early.

We applied for the Cares Act loan. We have received that loan. We're holding on to it.

The problem that I'm having with the Cares Act loan or the Paycheck Protection Program loan is that now that I've closed on it, I have eight weeks to spend it and we've closed. The time clock has started on this spending and we're not ready to open. So if the plan was for that program to save small business, if they

could just expand the window that I could spend that money in that would be -- that would be a huge financial benefit to this business for its long-term prospects.

Forcing me to spend it is, I believe, what's forcing people to open early prematurely. All the people that have closed are being forced to spend it now and they're kind of being forced to open early maybe against good judgment at this point.

CURNOW: That's interesting. Hopefully, that request falls on some ears in D.C.

Appreciate you joining us this early in the morning. Brian Maloof from Manuel's Tavern. Hopefully, sometime soon everybody, including all the CNN-ers will be having a drink or two with you in Manuel's Tavern. Appreciate it -- have a good day.

MALOOF: I hope so. Thank you, Robyn. It was a pleasure.

CURNOW: All the best -- all the best.

So, still to come on CNN, how technical issues are plaguing the much- needed second round of emergency funding for small businesses that we've just been talking there. We'll take about it more with Christine Romans after this break.



CURNOW: So this story has just developed in the last hour or so. The president of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics says the games will be canceled if the pandemic isn't over by next summer. So that's according to a just-published interview.

Will Ripley joins us now from Tokyo with more on this. It's quite a surprising statement considering that Japan was pretty slow to react to the Olympics and delaying them in the first place.



RIPLEY: -- this is the strongest language yet from Yoshiro Mori, the president of Tokyo 2020, who does have a history of being pretty outspoken in his public remarks.

And in the minutes that followed the publication of that article in Nikkan Sports, the Tokyo 2020 organizers were trying to dial it back somewhat, saying that this is Mr. Mori's opinion and it's still too soon to know what's going to happen one -- more than one year from now in July of 2021 when the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed but are scheduled to happen on schedule. What Mori is saying, basically, is that if the pandemic is not under control around the world by next summer, it's not plausible to postpone the Olympics yet again. He mentioned the Olympics had been canceled before -- three times, in fact, during World War I and World War II.

And he said that now the world is fighting an invisible enemy -- a war against the coronavirus. And if that war is still ongoing he doesn't see a scenario where the Olympics can be held. That said, he also says that they are still working very hard here in Tokyo to try to make a successful Olympics next year if, indeed, that is going to be possible.

This comes after weeks of skepticism from among other people, a very prominent Japanese epidemiologist by the name of Kentaro Iwata, who told reporters just a couple of weeks ago that he also is pessimistic about whether the Olympics will be able to be held next year given the coronavirus situation around the world -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Thanks for that update there, Will Ripley, in Tokyo. Thanks, Will.

So now, the Los Angeles Lakers says it qualified and received a loan issued under the Payroll Protection Program. In a statement, the NBA team said the loan was repaid once it found out the fund had actually been depleted to allow money to be directed to those most in need.

We know that millions of Americans are still waiting for some relief from the economic pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic and their federal stimulus checks still haven't arrived yet.

Well, Brian Todd has the latest on who is getting what and when.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Kimberly Horton, the stimulus payment she just got from the government for $1,700 didn't come a second too soon.

KIMBERLY HORTON, RECEIVED STIMULUS PAYMENT (via Skype): My daughter who is still away at college, she works retail. So, of course, with all the stores and everything being closed, having that extra money to help her pay her obligations, of course, was a lifesaver for me.

TODD (voice-over): Horton is one of more than 80 million Americans who have received their stimulus payments to help deal with hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Many recipients also get a signed letter from President Trump explaining why and telling them how much they'll get. The checks themselves also have the president's name on them. But roughly 60 million Americans are still waiting for either one.

CHYE-CHING HUANG, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF ECONOMIC POLICY, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES: The hardship is really real and it's (INAUDIBLE) for families. And this sort of amount of money that is available to the lowest-income people in the country is really going to make a difference for them.

TODD (voice-over): So who is eligible and how much do they get?

If you're single and your adjusted gross income is $75,000 a year or less, you get a full $1,200. But the more you earn the less you get. If you make $99,000 a year or more, you get nothing.

Married couples earning $150,000 a year or less receive the maximum $2,400. Couples earning $198,000 a year or more get nothing. And parents with children who are 16 years old and younger get $500 for each child, although that also phases out.


But there have been delays and snags in getting all of these payments out.

MICHELLE SINGLETARY, PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: You have to be patient. The IRS employees are trying to get out payments to people as quickly as possible.

TODD (voice-over): The reasons for the delays, according to experts, the sheer volume of Americans who are eligible -- some 150 million. For people who didn't file electronic tax returns and don't have direct deposit arrangements with the IRS, it's taking longer to get them their payments via snail mail.

Also, some people told CNN their payments were sent to old bank accounts that have since been closed. And millions of low-income people who are not required to file tax returns are harder to locate.

How long could some people have to wait?

SINGLETARY: For some, two weeks from now. For others, it could be several weeks or maybe the end of this summer.

TODD (voice-over): Then there's the separate set of payments to help small businesses hit hard by the pandemic. The first program to do that ran out of money. The second, launched today, has been hampered by technical glitches, partly because there's a massive list of businesses which have applied for it.

SINGLETARY: Small businesses, 500 or less or sole proprietorship. They just want people who had employees who maybe had to lay them off or furlough to get those people back to work or at least on the paycheck.

TODD (on camera): That first round of payments for small businesses ran out of money in about 13 days. This time, experts say it could run out in less than a week. And whether there's a third round of payments for small businesses will depend on whether Congress can get back in session on May fourth -- and that will depend on whether members of Congress can adhere to their own social distancing requirements and still work to get money in the pipeline.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Thanks, Brian, for that.

Well, let's go straight to New York. Christine Romans is standing by.

To add to Brian's reporting, these technical problems that folks are still not getting loans. What's going on? This is America.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, EARLY START: It's just so frustrating. And, you know, I've talked to so many small business owners who are just pulling their hair out because they don't have any more time. And they're outraged, of course, by the 200 or so public companies that have other ways of raising money that have tapped into this program and taken that money.

The Lakers giving the money back, of course. But there are other hotel chains who are actually unapologetic about taking this money. And you have a lot of small business owners who just can't even get through.

You know, a couple of things here. The system was just never made for this kind of absolute crush of demand. I mean, what we're seeing in the American job market and in American small business is something that was unimaginable even a few -- a few months ago.

So you can try to say oh, you know, bureaucracy or greedy companies or -- greedy big companies or the banks are prioritizing some customers over the other, but the bottom line is there is such huge demand this is just bound to be a disaster.

CURNOW: OK, Christine Romans. Thanks for that.

ROMANS: All right, Robyn.

CURNOW: Good to see you.

ROMANS: You, too.

CURNOW: So, friends, family, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. These are some of the things missed by children during the pandemic. Their stories after the break.



CURNOW: There's a sight that warms your heart. This is a patient in a Barcelona hospital. She hasn't moved from her bed in 30 days now but as you can see, she's up and trying to have a dance with two of her therapists -- fantastic.

Well, this pandemic, as we all know, has changed our lives but also that of children around the world. When asked to draw the things they miss the most, their answers are surprisingly simple.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LYDIA: My name's Lydia and I'm 10 years old and I live in New York City.

CURNOW (voice-over): Lydia, like many children around the world, is on lockdown. A scary time for kids even with family members around because they know that life just isn't the same.

LYDIA: I miss being social with people and I drew this picture of me selling lemonade.

CURNOW (voice-over): When asked to draw what they missed the most while riding out the coronavirus, two brothers in Hungary said they missed playing sports. For this young lady in Sri Lanka, it was dancing. A trip to the zoo in Prague, even if it means wearing a face mask.

This young man is 10 and lives in New Delhi. And like most growing boys, he misses the food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, was like all my favorite restaurants. I do Starbucks, KFC, McDonald's.

CURNOW (voice-over): Perhaps the images depicted most were of family and friends -- figures like grandma and grandpa, once regular in young lives and the ones that 6-year-old Tom, in Germany, says he wants to see.

This big sister in Tokyo showed us a picture of her friends and she says she feels anxious because she doesn't know what will happen next.

Little Hala (ph), in Damascus, said this is a portrait of some planets, her brother, and the coronavirus. She says she spends a lot of time drawing and plans to keep doing it until it's safe to go out again.

Indelible images crafted by children that somehow seem universally true no matter how old you are.


CURNOW: Yes, I think we could all do with a little bit more drawing during this time.

So, Hala was drawing planets and her brother, but she might like to have seen this.

For the first time, scientists have created a blueprint of the entire surface of the moon. The USGS partnered with NASA to map the lunar geography. They've used information from Apollo missions and recent satellite images to create this guide. Scientists say it will be a roadmap of sorts for future missions to the moon.

And now to a long-running mystery in the sky. The Pentagon has released three short videos of what appears to be some kind of unidentified flying objects. Officials say they want to clear up any misconceptions about whether the videos are real. [05:55:10]

The videos, as you can see here, were taken by the Navy in 2004 and then also in 2015, and they've been circulating for years.

The Pentagon called the objects unidentified aerial phenomena but wouldn't speculate on what they could be.

I don't know if it's helpful suggesting there are UFOs out there at this time. There's too much anxiety as it is. But anyway, thanks very much to the Pentagon for sending us those images.

I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN. Stay at home, stay safe.

I'm going to hand you over to John and Alisyn right now. "NEW DAY" is next.



DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON'S INSTITUTE FOR HELP METRICS AND EVALUATION: Our forecast now is for 74,000 deaths, but our best estimate is going up.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Opening Texas must occur in phases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Movie theaters, restaurants, malls will be allowed to reopen on Friday but only at a 25 percent capacity.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: Those images are an example of what not to see, what not to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason we are shut down is because we've had inadequate testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe we need to be in at least 500,000 tests a day.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've launched the most ambitious testing effort on earth.

GOV. NED LAMONT (D), CONNECTICUT: We're going to put together our own testing protocol. If the federal government would come in and help us out along the way that would be a cherry on top.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, April 28th, 6:00 here in New York.