Return to Transcripts main page


Meat Plants Ordered to Stay Open; Coronavirus Update from Across the U.S.; MLB Allows Ticket Refunds; Financial Havoc for Universities; Building Human Connections while Social Distancing. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 29, 2020 - 06:30   ET



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's like here in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This place is not immune to some of those affects, both on the health and on the business side as well of just three meat processing facilities in this Green Bay area alone, the coronavirus confirmed cases at those facilities account for more than half of all the confirmed cases in this county, Brown County, Wisconsin. And it's part of the reason why the infection rate in this country is now the highest of any county in Wisconsin.

Now, of the three that were affected here, JBS, American Foods and Salm (ph) Partners. JBS was the only one that actually closed its doors over the weekend. But now they are likely in a position to where they are going to have to consider reopening.

At that plant in particular, they had more than 250 employees alone that had tested positive. And as we found out from the health department, 79 linked cases to those employees. So a lot of questions they are going to have to answer, both at the company and at the health level, to try and get these workers back into these processing facilities.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Omar, thank you very much. These are really important questions and there are serious legal and political questions surround that as well.

So more than 58,000 Americans have died from coronavirus and there are now more than one million coronavirus cases in the United States. States are making plans to reopen for business. CNN has reporters across the country with the latest developments.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Josh Campbell in Los Angeles.

As U.S. businesses prepare to reopen, one industry known for robust surveillance is using technology to spot potential health issues. On the Las Vegas Strip, The Venetian Casino announcing new security measures, including the use of thermal scanners. Now, when a patron arrives, their temperature will be taken. Those registering at or above 100.4 degrees will be sent to secondary screening and possibly recommended for medical care. The goal being to stop a potentially ill person before they make their way inside.

Now although companies like casinos want to get back up and running and that critical revenue flowing, with the threat of coronavirus still looming, it remains to be seen whether customers will be willing to gamble with their health.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rosa Flores in Miami, where Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to announce today the plan to reopen the state of Florida. No details on when the press conference will take place.

Also today, the three southeast Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach are reopening parks and other public spaces with certain restrictions, like hours of operation, face coverings and social distancing. Beaches in these three counties will remain closed.


One of the country's biggest mall operators is painting a picture of what mall life will look like in a pandemic world. In a memo obtained by "The New York Times," Simon Properties details how it will reopen 49 centers across ten states this Friday. It says security officers and audio announcements will remind customers to keep a safe, social distance. In restrooms, some sinks and urinals will be taped off, masks and hand sanitizers will be available for consumers and employees will be required to do temperature checks and wear masks and stay home if they have a fever. The company didn't respond to CNN's request for comment.


BERMAN: All right, the first known case in the United States of a dog testing positive for coronavirus. What does that mean for all of our pets? The dog's owner and the dog joins us for commentary coming up.



BERMAN: Potential developments this morning on when or if we might get to see actual real sports any time soon. Dr. Anthony Fauci tells "The New York Times," if you can't guarantee safety, then, unfortunately, you're going to have to bite the bullet and say, we may have to go without sports for this season. Those comments come as Major League Baseball is now allowing teams to offer refunds for games not being played.

Andy Scholes with more in the "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, John. You know, and all the big sports leagues and the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, the games that have gone by are considered postponed not canceled. So, no refunds have been given yet. But now with basically no chance at playing 162 games, Major League Baseball is telling teams they can offer refunds if they want to. MLB leaving it up to the teams. They can create their own policy. Most expected to announce those later today.

This all comes after two fans filed a complaint against Major League Baseball in California seeking class action status to get fans refunds.

All right, Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, meanwhile, saying this morning the Tokyo Olympics cannot take place next year unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained. The constant uncertainty of the games is tough on Olympians. Track star Dalilah Muhammad, the reigning world and Olympic 400 meter hurdles champion told CNN that it would be heartbreaking if the games were canceled.


DALILAH MUHAMMAD, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: We plan our lives around this. We sacrifice so much for the Olympic games and just to represent our country. And we love what we do, I think. You know, I definitely am one of those athletes that, you know, I'm striving to get a medal at the Olympics.

It has definitely been disheartening. So we'll just have to see how it all plays out.


SCHOLES: Yes, we're all hoping the Olympics do take place. As for now, John, they're scheduled to start July 23, 2021.

BERMAN: Look, we'll see. We'll see. And I know that baseball is still talking about figuring out ways to open maybe as soon as July. You know, if they can do it safely, fingers crossed.

All right, Andy, thanks very much.

Major universities bracing for a bleak financial situation. Why one expert is predicting a bloodbath as classes resume this fall.



BERMAN: This morning, a new possible plan for schools in California. The governor there, Gavin Newsom, says they have a plan for the summer to help students make up for the time lost to the pandemic.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We recognize there's been a learning loss because of this disruption. We're concerned about that learning loss even into the summer. And so we are considering the prospect of an even earlier school year into the fall, as early as late July, early August.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. That got a lot of parents' attention.

Also this. America's colleges and universities are feeling the financial strain of the pandemic. It could get worse when students show up or don't show up this fall.

So, what's the plan? Well, CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joins us now with more.

Hi, Evan.


The big challenge for schools -- we've been talking to educators, administrators and parents all across the education spectrum since this pandemic began. And the big challenge for colleges is just the unpredictability of what the fall is going to look like.



JENNY BUYENS, EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANT: It's going to be a bloodbath to see which colleges survive this.


MARK SCHISSEL, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: The level of disruption to not just one university but all universities.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: There's a financial crunch coming to college campuses that school presidents, like the University of Michigan's Mark Schissel, have not seen in their lifetimes.

SCHISSEL: It can be analogized with Pearl Harbor and the start of the Second World War, which came on much more gradually than the Covid-19 pandemic did.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The quarantine is leaving school finances decimated.

HARTLE: Every college and university in the country is facing a cash flow crisis. First, it's the need to refund money for students, particularly for room and board.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Most schools in America also heavily rely on non- tuition revenue. Room and board is one stream. But colleges turn campus into a money-maker by renting out space, hosting events and selling tickets to sports games.

HARTLE: That works out to $50 billion a year for colleges and universities. And that has just come to a complete stop.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The worst news for school finances hasn't arrived yet.

HARTLE: The big revenue boost for college and universities will be in the fall. But what happens if 20 percent of your students don't arrive?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: A significant number of students are rethinking their plans for next semester, according to surveys conducted by higher education groups. That could mean tough choices are coming. Some schools have already announced layoffs, pay cuts for employees, and potentially canceling big construction projects.

Johns Hopkins University is preparing for losses of more than $100 million this year. Other schools predict bigger losses. The federal government passed the CARES Act to prop up the country as it reeled from the pandemic. $14 billion went to colleges and universities.

HARTLE: Of that amount, roughly half will go to students. We estimate the total cost of room and board refunds alone at $8 billion. But it is not going to provide money to save institutions over the long-term.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: There's not really a debate about if colleges will reopen this fall, but a question of how, like Harvard told students this week.

HARTLE: College dormitories can be places where infections spread very quickly.

BUYENS: Social distancing is going to be a huge impact on these students, whether it's in the dorms, in the cafeterias, at a sporting events.

SCHISSEL: We can have smaller seminars or teaching labs or smaller groups in larger rooms.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Schools have to convince students that they can create a safe environment for them.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): If a school's like, look, we're going to reopen campus, would you go?

HENRY TIEDER, STUDENT: I think it depends on really, you know, what other people are saying, what government agencies are saying. But, you know, right now, within the next month or two, no, I wouldn't feel safe.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: There will be college classes this fall at universities around the country, but we don't know if they're going to be online, we don't know if they're going to be on campus, we don't know where students are going to live. All of that uncertainty is weighing on the students as well as the schools to figure out what they're going to do next. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it is very complicated to see into the future of what this fall is going to look like.

Evan, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

So, social distancing makes it hard at times for us to maintain human connections. So we're going to get some advice on fighting loneliness during this time from the former surgeon general.



BERMAN: So with most of the country still locked down, Americans have never been so isolated. How can we maintain connections with all this social distancing?

Joining us again, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. He is the author of a new book on this exact subject, "Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World." We should note he's also a public health adviser for the Biden campaign.

Look, you wrote this before social distancing and the pandemic. That's how much of a problem it was even without this. Now you say we are suffering from a social recession. What do you mean?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, John, long before Covid-19 was on the scene, I was realizing when I traveled the country as surgeon general that many people were struggling with loneliness. And I had seen loneliness in my own life, in the lives of my patients as I cared for them in the hospital. But I hadn't appreciated just how common this was. People would often say to me, I feel I have to shoulder all these burdens alone. I feel if I disappear tomorrow, no one would even notice. I feel invisible. And I was hearing this from moms and dads in the Midwest, from people in small fishing villages in Alaska and from members of Congress as well.

And what I learned, you know, during that time, John, is that not only is loneliness incredibly common, but more than 22 percent of adults in the United States is struggling with loneliness. But it's also consequential that people with loneliness, you know, noting that that's associated with a greater risk of heart disease and dementia, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances. My worry about right now, about Covid-19 and this physical distancing we're being asked to observe, is that if we're not careful, if we don't act differently, then we are putting ourselves at risk of deepening loneliness. Something I think of as a social recession. But I don't think it has to be that way. I think we can change that.

BERMAN: To be clear, we are faced with unprecedented challenges here and being put in situations we've never been put in before. Just talk about people in the hospitals. They can't be visited. At the very time when I think being with sick people would be most advantageous, we can't be with those who are sick in the hospital. No, I haven't seen either of my parents who live alone in months and I won't be able to, in all likelihood, in months. These are the types of challenges we face now.


And you say it can have real medical implications.

MURTHY: Well, it can. If we're not careful, chronic loneliness can create chronic stress. It creates a physiological stress state in our body. And when we are in that stressed state for a long period of time, it can lead to increased inflammation and increase our risk of chronic illnesses.

But I do think that ultimately this topic, and the reason I wrote about it is, I think that it -- there's this source of hope here because I -- what I realize is, in our relationships that we find one of our greatest resources, a resource that can help us be healthier, perform better in the workplace and at school, and even help heal our dialog and our politics.

But here's what we can do right now to avoid that social recession. We can make it a point to spend at least 15 minutes a day talking to ideally video conferencing with people we love. And that's a way of staying connected to the outside world.

Second, we can make sure that the quality of the time that we have with them is high. And we can do that by eliminating distraction when we're talking to others, particularly from our phones. And, third, we can look for ways to serve. One of the great realizations I had in writing this book was that service is a powerful antidote to loneliness. It shifts the focus to someone else in the context of a positive interaction. It reminds us that we have value to bring to the world.

These three simple steps can be powerful in terms of the impact they have on us in keeping us more connected at a time when we desperately need it.

BERMAN: We can put up this list so people can see exactly the advice you're giving here of things you can do to deal with loneliness. Yes, stop texting. Start calling. Video calls really, really good. I also think that you need to be focused not on Instagram while you're on those calls as well.

But one of these things is interesting. You say practice moments of solitude. So how can practicing moments of solitude help you from being lonely?

MURTHY: Well, John, it turns out that our ability to connect with other people is very much influenced by the space that we're in, by our ability to actually connect with ourselves and be grounded and rooted in the moment. And right now there is so much turmoil in the world around us, by taking just a few minutes of solitude where we sit on our stoop and feel the breeze against our face, where we remember three things that we're grateful for, where we use those few minutes to take a walk in nature, to meditate, to pray or just to reflect, that is time where we let the noise around us settles, where we can ground ourselves and center ourselves. And when we approach other people from that place is centeredness, our conversations are better. We can listen more deeply and we ultimately can feel more connected to them.

Look, overall, if we approach this Covid-19 pandemic with an eye towards strengthening our connections, if we recommit to the people in our lives and our relationships, I think we can actually use this moment to (INAUDIBLE) social revival. And that will be better for us as individuals, for our health and well-being and it will be better for society.

BERMAN: What are the limits, though, of say Zoom or Facetime?

MURTHY: Well, Zooming and video conferencing with people is not the same as being in person. Nothing is. And that's why I think for so many of us being physically distanced from others is so difficult and painful. But it is far better than the alternative, which is not having any contact with anyone.

In '92, I lived through Hurricane Andrew and we lost power and phones for weeks and weeks and weren't able to really see anyone. That was a very difficult time. This is a moment where we can use technology for our benefit to stay connected to others and that's a real blessing in this time.

BERMAN: All right, Dr. Vivek Murthy, thank you so much for being with us. Let's put the book on the screen so people can see it. The book's title is, "Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World." What incredible timing. Thanks so much for being with us and thank you for your work.

MURTHY: Thank you, John. Appreciate that.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: If we are unsuccessful or prematurely try to open up, it could be a rebound.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Around (ph) businesses, our schools and child care centers. We believe we are weeks, not months away from making meaningful modifications.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The plan I'm unveiling today puts the power of a decision-making into the hands of the people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just don't feel comfortable opening up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president now expected to sign an executive order forcing the plants to remain open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Workers need proper sanitation. They need constant testing. This is a very high priority issue for our government, as well as for our consumers. (END VIDEO CLIP)

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

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And as of this morning, there are more than one million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. At least 58,000 Americans have died because of the virus.

So, this morning, we want to look more closely at those numbers and at the projections because if 2,000 Americans are still dying a day, that means this summer will look different than we've thought.


It's true, the number of deaths is no longer growing exponentially, but it's also true the daily --