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Interview with Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban; Interview with Former HHS Research Manager on Biological Threats; Sweden Has Resisted Lockdown But Seen High Death Rate. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 30, 2020 - 10:30   ET



MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: -- hire as many people as it takes, even if it's in the millions, to do tracking and tracing, train them to be health care workers, train them to adhere to HIPAA requirements so people trust their privacy will be safe, that's an absolute necessity.

We already know that there's a problem with long-term care for our growing elderly demographic. Let's build facilities and train people again for long-term care.


CUBAN: You know, we -- we need to create millions and millions of jobs that pay well --


CUBAN: -- to take people off of unemployment insurance and do what we need to create consumer demand.

HARLOW: No matter the cost? I mean, I guess we're going to find out if this country can sustain, you know, $6 trillion deficits.

CUBAN: Well, these are jobs that actually enhance productivity, so they'll pay for themselves many times over. You know, this isn't a (ph) make (ph) a job where you, you know, dig a hole and then fill a hole --


CUBAN: -- these are things that we actually need to have people contribute.

HARLOW: OK, let's talk about the PPP loan program. You've been active on Twitter about this, telling people, tell me the banks that have been good to you, tell me the banks that have not been good to you. You think there is a huge issue right now with the program in terms of small businesses knowing if they're going to have to repay this loan?

CUBAN: Yes, one of the challenges, there hasn't been a final declaration on exactly what it will take to make sure the loans are forgiven. There's been some guidance, but nothing with 100 percent certainty.

The Treasury needs to give 100 percent certainty to these small businesses because they don't know how to spend their money, and they're kind of in a catch-22. You know, you're supposed to spend 75 percent on your employees, you're supposed to have them hired by June 30th.

But companies don't even know if they'll be open by June 30th, they don't even know if they'll be able to do 100 percent of their space by June 30th. And so there needs to be some clarifications on exactly what the details for forgiveness for these loans.

HARLOW: Mark, the L.A. Lakers, valued at $4.4 billion, the second- most highly valued team in the league, applied and got a $4.6 million PPP loan. They paid it back, but the Treasury secretary called that outrageous. What do you call it?

CUBAN: I call it a lack of communications from the Treasury secretary. And I'm not trying to defend the Lakers, I'd say this about any company. When we went into this, the perspective was there'd been plenty of money for small businesses.

And, look, the Treasury's the one who set the limit to 500 employees. They should have set it to 50 or 100 for the first couple tranches, but they set it to 500 and they knew that companies with 500 or less employees were going to get hit badly by the COVID. So why wouldn't they apply?

You know, good for the Lakers and other companies, once they recognized that the Treasury hadn't allocated or Congress hadn't allocated enough money, to give the money back. Look, this is a moving target and the Treasury has not done a good enough job communicating and adapting.

HARLOW: You're on the president's task force, the -- and you've been clear, you're not a fan of the president but you said yes --

CUBAN: Right.

HARLOW: -- what has that been like? Are they taking your advice? What are they doing?

CUBAN: It's been a pleasant surprise. I mean, the first call was ceremonial, and we've only actually had one call but they actually assigned somebody to me as my liaison. And I talk to this person every single day, and I've given them a lot of advice.

They haven't really put it to use yet, but the last two things I have them was, number one, we've had good success with restaurants offering pickup and delivery, why not extend that to every single business in the country? It's worked well so far, that's a way to get open because using the word "open" is kind of a misnomer. You're not going to be fully open, you're not going to be like it was six months ago. And so let's adapt as opposed to just rushing to things. That's number one. And number two, I'm working with a group called the AIHS, and they've been able to put together protocols for all different types of small businesses for me that I've shared with this liaison at the White House, and they're looking at expanding it and getting it out to all the states.

So they've been responsive, so I give them credit there. We'll see if they actually use the information.

HARLOW: Is -- are you at all concerned? Because I know you want, like, the Mavs to be able to practice for example, parts of Texas are reopening. But are you at all concerned the White House may be moving too fast in reopenings, and some governors may be moving too fast?

CUBAN: I think they're more concerned with -- what I'm concerned about is that they're more concerned with perception rather than reality. They want to send the message that we're open for business. And I get that, every company wants to be open but --

HARLOW: Who, the White House?

CUBAN: -- there's not enough information --


HARLOW: Concerned with perception?

CUBAN: Yes, at the White House, yes, absolutely. Because they want to give -- they want people to feel like we're opening up. But, you know, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, the protocols required for businesses to open just aren't in place yet. If you go --


CUBAN: -- to the website, there's really no guidelines for a small business to follow. And so that's a real problem. And until we deal with the safety issues there, customers aren't going to feel confident to go into a retail environment. So we have to address those issues first.

HARLOW: Yes, no question. I guess final question to you is just the disparity in the impact on African-Americans in this country --

CUBAN: Right.

HARLOW: -- getting the disease more, dying more from it, and then the Fed chair, Jerome Powell, you heard him yesterday. He said their unemployment rate is going up way faster than white Americans. What should the country do about this?

CUBAN: That's why we need a jobs program. And that's why we need to concentrate these efforts where -- in the communities that need them the most.

[10:35:04] You know, if we're going to hire people to do tracking and tracing, let's go into the underprivileged and underserved communities and hire people there first. Let's look at the communities that have the highest unemployment rates, and where we open up offices for these new programs, let's put them there first. You know, take some underutilized real estate and open up those offices.

Those are the first steps we need to take to create jobs, to invest in those communities and do the things that we need for this country.

HARLOW: All right, Mark Cuban, thanks for the time and thanks for helping the country as part of the task force. Good luck.

CUBAN: Thank you, Poppy, appreciate your time.

HARLOW: Sure -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Right now, there are minimal ways to track and monitor the spread of COVID-19 in this country. My next guest says the U.S. needs a national center for epidemic forecasting, similar to how meteorologists predict weather. He joins us, just ahead.



SCIUTTO: More states -- 31 of them, in fact -- are reopening to some degree, despite a key model projecting an increase in deaths in this country by August.

HARLOW: Our next guest says what we're seeing is what he calls panic -- a panic-neglect cycle. He also says outbreak science can help in a big way in terms of transforming the way the country alerts, tracks and monitors any future outbreaks.

TEXT: Technology can enable our understanding of how we are spreading covid19. We need to transform our ability to alert, track, and monitor outbreaks. "Outbreak science" can empower forward leaning leaders like California Governor Newsom to help stop the spread.

HARLOW: Dylan George is with us, he's the vice president of technical staff at In-Q-Tel, he also worked as a scientist, tracking biological threats in both the Obama and the Bush administration.

Thank you very much for being with us, we appreciate it. I was watching you on "60 Minutes" over the weekend, and was so struck when you talked about the fact that we essentially have this for the National Weather Service, but not for a pandemic or a crisis like this, right? What would it take to have that, going forward?

DYLAN GEORGE, FORMER HHS RESEARCH MANAGER SPECIALIZING IN BIOLOGICAL THREATS: Well, you know, it's really interesting, there's the common saying that, you know, the future's here but it's unevenly distributed? Data technologies have transformed our society, but they have not transformed public health or health care. You know, there's been some reasons why that is, is that we've focused

a lot on drugs and vaccines in the United States, and that's rightly so. Vaccines are the long-term solution. But what that has caused is, it's caused a marginal market in public health for the private sector innovation to be put forward. We're using 20th century tools right now for 21st century problems. We can do better, and we need to do better.

SCIUTTO: You worked in the Bush administration. And in 2005, President Bush said, if we wait for a pandemic to appear, it will be too late to prepare. He called for a national strategy. I mean, the strategy today seems to be let states decide, that's the direction we hear frequently from the White House. Can a country respond to a pandemic state by state?

GEORGE: We need a national strategy. We need to move forward in a unified way. I think that this is definitely the truth here. It's like, you know, when a hurricane is coming barreling down on the East Coast, we don't scramble to ask a handful of random people to actually understand what the hurricane is doing, figure out how to mitigate it and preposition materials and personnel across the East coast.

We have a unified response in how to move this forward. We need to figure out a national plan and a national strategy.

HARLOW: Can you just talk about the -- sort of comparing that moment of working in government on this issue back in 2005, when President Bush said that and said we need a national strategy? He was reading a book on his ranch on vacation and got completely freaked out about what could happen in the U.S. if they didn't have a strategy.

So what was that like versus now, when the president is just looking back and blaming? I mean, he's blaming prior administrations, and you worked in both.

GEORGE: Yes, no, I think that you know, looking at -- trying to figure out what the problems are with the current administration, there's going to be plenty of time to do that, going forward. But definitely -- we need to be focused on what we need to do if we're going forward.

And -- and I definitely agree with President Bush from the standpoint of, you know, he saw how looking at John Barry's book, "The Great Pandemic -- Influenza," in thinking about how pandemics have transformed society, we need to think about how to transform our society going forward, and choose how we can do that, going forward.

A national center for epidemic forecasting and analytics is going to be really critical for us, moving forward, and choose to transform it in that way.

SCIUTTO: You know, you look at the right side of our screen there, here we are, a few months in, 61,000 people dead, a million infected. And the studies seem to show that probably understates the true extent of this disease, there are many uncounted deaths and infections.

I just wonder -- and I always hate to ask this question, because I don't want it to be too late -- but given where the country stands right now, is it too late for a forecasting model like this? Or is this something you could do now, perhaps in advance of a second outbreak in the fall?

GEORGE: There's definitely things that we can do, and there's academics that have come forward and have stopped, essentially, their day job and are helping the CDC work in the incident command structure, and are trying to do their best right now. And there are some great people in the United States that can help with this.

The challenge is, we need to have people that are not just stopping their day job doing this, we need to have professionals like we do with hurricanes, that are -- this is their day job, that they're dedicated to this and they can send up alerts and they can move things forward.

But there are things that we can do in the interim, to help things going forward. I think the CDC has been doing a fairly good job of trying to galvanize the academic community to put together forecasts, we just need to do it at a scale that -- a much larger scale than what we're doing right now.


HARLOW: Dylan George, thank you. Fascinating perspective, we appreciate it.

GEORGE: Thank you.

HARLOW: As countries around the world took unprecedented steps to try to combat the coronavirus, Sweden carried on, in many ways, with business as usual. We'll talk about what the impact has been there.


HARLOW: A town in Sweden has dumped some 2,000 pounds of chicken manure in a popular park to try to prevent large crowds from gathering there to celebrate a Scandinavian holiday.


SCIUTTO: Yes, interesting strategy, you might say. What's the point? They hope to keep people away because of the coronavirus outbreak.

But Sweden as a country more broadly has decided against implementing mandatory social distancing to fight the outbreak. And that has led to a much higher death rate than some of its neighboring countries.

CNN Phil Black joins us now from Stockholm. Phil, tell us what the government's thinking is there. Is it about herd immunity, is that the goal?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORESPONDENT: Well, immunity is key, although they say not herd immunity, Jim. And what it means is that on the whole, while Sweden's -- Swedes are not living normal lives, not by any account really, they still are clearly enjoying many freedoms that other countries around the world, enduring the COVID-19 pandemic, are not.

Just look behind me, that is a buzzing full cafe terrace on a sunny spring afternoon. It is, in a global sense and considering the times we live in, a rare, confronting sight.

And there's a lot of fierce debate among scientists in this country about the Swedish approach. From those who, on one hand, say that it is viable, balanced, a long-term model that could be used around the world. And on the other hand, those who say that it is reckless and unethical because the cost in lives is just too high.


BLACK (voice-over): To visit Sweden now is to enter a strange land, where people can just hang out together, seek shelter from the cold in cozy restaurants, go for a drink or a coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has been crowded all over, all the bars and restaurants and so on.

BLACK (voice-over): You can shop for fashion and beauty products, or even allow a hairdresser to invade your personal space.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sooner or later, will I get corona? I think so.

BLACK: So you've accepted that that will happen?


BLACK: And in the meantime, it's important to look good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you're right.

BLACK (voice-over): That sums up the authorities' approach here. COVID-19 is going to be around for a while, and society must find a way to live with. So, no forced lockdown. Instead, an emphasis on personal responsibility. Please work from home, keep to yourself in public.

The official rule in bars and restaurants is, stay an arm's length apart. No gatherings of more than 50 people; elementary and middle schools are still open, while most high school students and college students study at home.

Anders Tegnell is the state epidemiologist driving the policies here. He claims success in flattening the curve and keeping serious cases within hospital capacity. And he says it's a good thing. His agency estimates 26 percent of Stockholm's population has now been infected because, in theory, that means more immunity.

BLACK: But you insist that herd immunity has never been a goal?

ANDERS TEGNELL, CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST OF SWEDEN: No, but it will help us achieving our goal, which is slowing down the spread as much as possible so that we can keep good health care running (ph). BLACK (voice-over): But for a small country, Sweden is already paying a big human cost. More than 2,500 people have died here, vastly greater than numbers than neighboring countries, which imposed much tougher restrictions.

TEGNELL: That is true. Even --

BLACK: What do you take from that?

TEGNELL: Yes, that we need to investigate it, try to understand why. We know for sure, one of the reasons why is that we have this huge amount of cases in our elderly homes.

BLACK (voice-over): It's a disturbing trend. Around half of those who have died here lived in care homes. The Swedish government admits they failed to protect the elderly.

The open policies are broadly popular here, but there is anger too, especially among those who have lost so much to the virus.

MIRREY GOURIE, FATHER DIED FROM CORONAVIRUS: I'm so sorry. He heard me say his name.

Mirrey Gourie buried her father, Joseph (ph), on Monday. She says he and many others would still be alive if Sweden had chosen a different path.

GOURIE: There is people dying, and there is a human being like me, like you, like my dad. They are not just statistics and numbers.


BLACK: So Swedish health authorities think they do have some lessons to teach the rest of the world. Part of them relate to the social stuff, the bars, cafes and restaurants. They do not believe, they say, that there is a lot of transmission in those environments, as long as people follow the rules.

And the rules here are being enforced. A number of venues and bars have been raided and shut down for being too crowded, and the authorities here say they will implement further restrictions if they believe they're necessary -- Jim, Poppy.

SCIUTTO: I'll tell you, Phil, that scene behind you, just one we haven't seen virtually anywhere else in the world for so long. Thanks very much.


And we'll be right back.


SCIUTTO: A British World War II veteran who raised $40 million for the U.K.'s public health system and coronavirus relief efforts is celebrating his 100th birthday today. Tom Moore started walking laps around his garden -- you may have seen these -- to raise money earlier this month, after getting a partial hip replacement.

HARLOW: Oh, so great. Moore was a captain during his military career, and was just promoted to honorary colonel in honor of his efforts. He also received more than 125,000 birthday cards from people around the -