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States Loosen Restrictions as U.S. Death Toll Soars; Armed Protestors Call for Michigan to Reopen, Protests in Georgia Warn of Deaths from Reopening; Trump Claims He's Seen Evidence Virus Started in China Lab. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 1, 2020 - 06:00   ET



NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This weekend, more than half of our states will have started to reopen. Pain and frustration --



WATT: -- rising.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do have a right to fight for your inalienable rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because people are going to go back to more association, it's very likely that there will be future peaks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a chance the U.S. will have a COVID-19 vaccine by January.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: That's an assumption that it's going to be safe, effective. We're going to be able to do it quickly. Each of those are maybe likely. That's what I mean when I say by January, we'll do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You certainly don't want to put an unsafe or an ineffective vaccine out to the populace.


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

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Friday, May 1. Welcome to May. Six o'clock here in New York.

This morning, a delicate balancing act in the United States, with much of the country reopening for business in the next few hours, even though the pandemic is killing and infecting just as it has for weeks.

Take New Jersey, for example. More than 450 new deaths reported there, the highest single-day death toll yet. The number of deaths nationwide surged past 63,000 with 2,000 new deaths. The number of new deaths and the number of new cases nationwide, it's not really dropping. And it isn't really clear to me why that's not the biggest story every day.

Still, as of midnight, about a dozen states eased stay-at-home orders, allowing retail, restaurants, movie theaters, salons, malls to reopen. In the coming days, two-thirds of the country will be partially reopened.

The friction is spilling over in a lot of places, including Michigan, where hundreds of protesters stormed the Capitol. Now, this was a small but notable action. You can see some of the people inside there carrying guns, demanding an end to the state of emergency that was just extended through Memorial Day.

And in Georgia, a mock funeral procession outside the Capitol, protesting the order to reopen, as the shelter-in-place mandate there -- as the stay-at-home mandate there expired.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So John, until now, governors have been on their own with no consistent federal guidance on how to resume daily life as we know it.

CNN has learned that the White House is now reviewing a draft document from the CDC that would detail how businesses, schools and other organizations should handle reopening.

At CNN's town hall last night, Dr. Anthony Fauci saying that states face a, quote, "significant risk" if they reopen too soon, especially the states where coronavirus cases are still spiking.

Meanwhile, a new report predicts this pandemic may continue to spread for up to two years. It says we would need to be at 60 or 70 percent herd immunity to get it under control.

But on the hopeful side, Dr. Fauci suggests a potential vaccine could be available by January if all goes well.

So there's a lot to get to on this busy Friday morning. Let's begin with Martin Savidge. He is live in Atlanta for us -- Martin.


As you mentioned, Georgia's shelter-in-place order expired six hours ago. In fact, things are changing in a lot of states today.

That expression "We're all in this together" doesn't mean what it once did, depending on where you live.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Frustration across the country boiling over as more than 30 states will be partially reopened by the end of the week. But some states like Michigan, with its stay-at-home order extending until May 15.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): We remain in a state of emergency. That is a fact. For anyone to declare mission accomplished means that they're turning a blind eye to the fact that over 600 people have died in the last 72 hours.

SAVIDGE: Protesters gather at the state capitol, unhappy the state is still shut down. One state senator tweeting this photo she says shows men with rifles in the gallery of the statehouse.

WHITMER: Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But I am not going to make decisions about our public health based on political gains.

SAVIDGE: Protests also in Georgia, but this time against the governor's decision to lift the shelter-in-place order this week. Frustrated Georgians organizing a mock funeral procession with a number of hearses passing the statehouse, believing the state order is a threat to lives.

These clashes highlighting the lack of national strategy in combatting the pandemic and the struggle states are facing, trying to balance public health concerns with the growing economic hardships.

Just a month ago, nine out of ten Americans were under stay-at-home orders. But starting today, millions of Americans will be able to eat at restaurants, like in Texas, where retail stores, malls and theaters are also allowed to reopen, with limits on occupancy and the governor's order superseding local restrictions.

On Saturday, New Jersey will reopen all state parks and golf courses. But social distancing is still mandated. And in California --

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We're going to do a hard close in that part of state. Just in the Orange County area.

SAVIDGE: Two cities in Orange County filing an injunction against the governor after he made that announcement.

In Oklahoma, places of worship will be allowed to host gatherings, as long as the staff and volunteers wear masks. And Iowa will begin a gradual reopening, but only in counties reporting a downward trend in cases.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: COVID-19 isn't going anywhere any time soon. The virus will continue to be in our communities, and unfortunately, people will still get sick until a vaccine is available.


SAVIDGE: But the nation's top infectious disease expert tells CNN he fears some states are easing restrictions too soon.

FAUCI: You want to give them a little wiggle room. But my recommendation is, you know, don't wiggle too much. When you pull back mitigation, you're going to start seeing cases crop up here and there. And if you're not able to handle them, you're going to see another peak, a spike. And then you almost have to turn the clock back to go back to mitigation.


SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, a long-standing team of pandemic experts is now saying that the virus is going to continue to spread in the United States for up to 18 months, maybe even two years, until about 60 to 70 percent of the population is infected. They are urging that the United States prepare for another big second wave of coronavirus this fall and winter -- John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right. Martin Savidge for us in Atlanta.

Martin, it's crystal-clear that we are in a new stage of this pandemic in how the United States is treating it.

Joining us now is Dr. Manisha Juthani. She's an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine. And CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem. She's the former assistant secretary at Department of Homeland Security.

And Dr. Juthani, you know, we're going to talk about where we're going, because I do think we're in a new stage right now. But I want to talk about where we are first, because I continue to be struck by the number of new deaths reported every day. Still over 2,000.

If you look at this graph, it's basically flat over two weeks. More than 2,000 new deaths a day. And in terms of new cases, it's the same story, where we're, you know, around 30,000 new cases every day.

It seems to me that, you know, we talk about a second wave is possible. We're just in a wave that isn't subsiding, at least not yet. What does that tell you?


I think that the deaths, one thing we have to remember about that is that, once people become critically ill with COVID-19, often they are in an ICU. They're on a ventilator. And because we don't have any therapeutics for COVID-19, all we're doing is the best critical care that we can.

And these patients tend to stay on a ventilator for two weeks, sometimes longer. And so ICU stays might be about a month or so. And people do get better. Often what we're seeing is people die, maybe, in that first week or so that they're on a ventilator.

But sometimes death is somewhat confusing, because these people might have been sick for a month or so, and they might have been sick for weeks before they even came into the hospital sometimes.

So I think that's the challenge with deaths.

With new cases, I think the story is kind of dependent on the community. I think you're right that we're seeing sort of a plateau in terms of number of cases, but I think that, you know, in some communities, the number of cases is going down. It's on the downward trajectory. And there are other communities where it's still on the way up.

CAMEROTA: Juliette, from a national security standpoint, it's probably no surprise that feelings are becoming inflamed.


CAMEROTA: This has been stressful and hard for people. And when you look at Michigan and Georgia as just two kind of snapshots of the different ways people are feeling.

In Michigan, these are small protests. Let's keep it in perspective. But in Michigan, people are angry, and they want to get back to work, right?


CAMEROTA: In Georgia people are angry, because they think that the governor is putting their lives at risk. These are two important human impulses --

KAYYEM: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- that we're seeing play out. And from a national security standpoint, I just wonder, since we haven't heard the White House talk about this, if they're prepared for these sort of human reactions as we move forward.

KAYYEM: Right. So -- and probably not. I mean, because part of this, sort of, you know, where are we and let's fight this way or that way is because there hasn't been national guidance. Because this ends up being a local story.

So you have, you know, pockets in Michigan, pockets in Georgia responding to what their governors are doing, rather than having a national process like every other country in the world that says here are the metrics. Here's when we're going to open. It gives us some transparency.

There is no question we are opening up too early. There will be more dead people. Just say it. Right?

And everyone -- all the clips that you had, all of the governors said things like, more people will get ill. No, more people will die.

And so what we need to do is make sure that that's not too many people. So when we talk about opening up, just like Fauci said, you're sort of doing, you know, a sort of whack-a-mole, a dance. You're trying to figure out how we can live with this virus and not just sort of, you know, overwhelm our hospital systems.

We are making a judgment call as states and as a country that there's an acceptable casualty, right? That there's an acceptable level of risk and harm, because of the need or desire to open up.

[06:10:08] And let's just say it's an experiment we're living in real time. I cannot answer the question whether it was good to do it this way or whether we should have waited longer. The doctors, of course, and the health professionals think it's way too soon.

BERMAN: I think it's a really good point. I think whether or not we're admitting it, we have accepted, as a nation, 2,000 deaths a day. We're just not saying it out loud. That seems to be what we have decided collectively as we begin to reopen.

The question now is how to reopen, Dr. Juthani. And the CDC has these proposed guidelines that it might release. Let's just go through some of them in restaurants, disposable menus, install sneeze guards at the cash register. The cash registers, a real problem. No salad bars, buffets, self-serve drinks. I think we have charts for this.

The CDC guidelines for schools: space desks six feet apart, avoid nonessential assemblies. Lunch in the classrooms, not cafeterias.

And in terms of churches, limit large gatherings, stationery collection boxes.

You know, if these go out and if people obey them, which I understand is a big "if," and you can address that, too, if you want, how helpful will they be?

JUTHANI: I found those guidelines quite helpful. I think that many different community organizations are really struggling with trying to figure out, how do you incorporate social distancing into what you do?

And I think that they give very clear guidance on phase 1, 2 and 3 and the types of things that you can do as you outline, you know, keeping desks apart, having lunch in a classroom. I mean, school is, by nature, not socially distant. And so for kids to be able to go back to the school systems, I think having clear guidance is much easier for teachers and principals and superintendents to deal with than trying to make it up on their own.

And so I think that this virus is here for a while. And without an effective vaccine we are dependent on herd immunity, and we are nowhere close to herd immunity that would keep the population safe. And so this type of guidance, I think, is really important to be able to help people.

CAMEROTA: OK. Guys, we have a very packed show. Sorry to cut this short. But we really appreciate, Dr. Juthani and Juliette Kayyem. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right. President Trump is pushing a conspiracy theory again, that coronavirus began in a lab in China. The unusual statement from the U.S. intelligence community that's adding to the confusion, next.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [06:16:47]

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a lot of theories, but yes, we have people looking at it very, very strongly.


TRUMP: Scientific people, intelligence people and others.

ROBERTS: What gives you a high degree of confidence that this originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

TRUMP: I can't tell you that.


CAMEROTA: Hmm. That's President Trump claiming that he has seen evidence or at least people are looking into something. He didn't offer any proof that coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab.

This despite the fact that the nation's top infectious disease doctors do not agree with that. So joining us now to try to get some answers, we have CNN anchor and chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto and CNN White House correspondent John Harwood.

Jim Sciutto, the president, as we know, is very susceptible to conspiracy theories. He has been for years, continues to be. I mean, you can just look back at the birther conspiracy theories before and after that.

And so when he says something like this, it's hard to know if he's just hearing gossip and if he's concocting something, or if he's really relying on real information. Do we know where he's getting his information?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR/CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The president's record, setting aside conspiracy theories for a moment, on intelligence is lousy. Right?

I mean, U.S. intelligence community with high confidence determined Russia interfered in the 2016 election. And the president denied that repeatedly.

But not just on Russia. On North Korea when the intelligence agencies were and have been saying North Korea has continued to expand its nuclear program during his diplomacy with Kim Jong-un, you know, the president has denied that.

When the intelligence agencies told him that Iran was complying with a nuclear deal prior to him withdrawing from it, he put out a different story.

So the president's record here does not bring confidence that what he's saying now is based on anything.

And we should note that just hours before he made that statement, the office of the director of national intelligence, the oversight agency for all the intelligence agencies, which is now run by, you know, a strong ally of the president, did not say that there is such evidence. Said they're looking into it but did not say there's any evidence.

You have to take the president's claim with deep, deep skepticism.

BERMAN: Yes, look, the idea here is that somehow, the virus began by an accident at a lab, or it went from an animal to a human by accident at a lab.

What we have been told by intelligence sources, "The New York Times," the "Washington Post," is no one has found any evidence of that yet. The president claiming he has seen evidence. There's just no reason to believe him, based on his record. But we have been told no has found any evidence of that yet. But we've also been told that people are looking into it. So that's that.

The truly interesting thing this morning, I think, is what the president claims he is now considering and White House officials claim they are considering vis-a-vis China, which is somehow tracking down or retribution for China's failures in dealing with coronavirus, John Harwood.

And this is notable, right? Because the president wants to crack down on China, while he still wants to coddle the leader of China, President Xi.

Let me just read you something that he said in -- on March 27: "Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that's ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much and developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!"

So he wants to coddle Xi but also crack down and float the notion of, you know, maybe canceling U.S. debt obligations to China. How do these two things line up?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they don't line up very well, John. And just take the backdrop, how we entered this situation.

Jim mentioned several of the conspiracy theories or the things that lack credibility the president said in the national security realm before.

This is a president who is clearly flailing right now. He entered this crisis with weak credibility. Polls throughout the administration have shown that most Americans don't believe the president.

Secondly, two-thirds of the American people think that he's been behind the curve on this crisis. A week ago, this is a president who suggested injecting disinfectant into people's bodies to -- as a curative measure in this crisis.

Now the president is attempting to hold up China as the boogeyman in this situation.

Now, it clearly is possible that this virus escaped from a Chinese lab. No one -- no one is denying that that is possible. But the president is now trying to suggest that China was trying to stop his re-election, that this was an act of malice.

Remember, this -- this is something that's affected the entire world. It is not plausible to think that China was engaging in an act of hostility against the entire world, not just President Trump.

And then finally, in terms of the response of the administration, to suggest that the United States might respond to this by not honoring the full faith and credit of the United States, but not paying a -- repaying a debt that China holds, is like holding a gun to your own head and say, Stop advancing or I'll shoot.

Because the United States economy depends on the full faith and credit of the United States. The dollar is the world's reserve currency. If you start messing with that and not repaying U.S. debt, U.S. borrowing costs go up. You throw the world financial system into havoc.

And that idea is so bad that, as soon as that surfaced in media reports yesterday, the administration's economic team rushed out to say, No, this is totally false. Not true. Not happening.

What it shows you is an administration that's reaching for something to try to absolve the president, to take blame away from the president, and so far it's not working very effectively

CAMEROTA: And Jim, I mean, a president that often thinks of the political consequences first. And this might be a message that voters actually bond with, which is it's China's fault. They know it started in China. China should have done something more. You know, that's something that might resonate with lots of voters.

So do we know how China is responding? And what's the intel community saying about the possible, you know, consequences of all this?

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, China is pushing back hard. It's even had something of a snarky Twitter campaign to push back at the president's messaging here. Unusual for China, but they're playing -- they're playing a new game by new rules here.

Listen, you know, you can't discount China's mismanagement of this. I mean, CNN covered it very closely from China. China initially tamping down word about the spread of this virus, even putting officials in jail or punishing them in other ways who were talking about this.

Now, it changed when it got out of hand and even China had to acknowledge it and address it. That's fair. There's no question.

The origin of the virus, that's another question. But there's no hard evidence that we or that even the intelligence community says that it has, that this was deliberate.

But what has changed between the time that President Trump sent that tweet at the end of March praising China for its help and today look at what's changed. What's changed is that it's expanded rapidly in this country. And the president and his allies, they're looking for a scapegoat here. And that's what you're seeing playing out.

BERMAN: I will say, and I'm just going to play this sound very quickly. It's hard to scapegoat China but not the leader of China. Listen to how the president responded to a direct question about this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You keep referring to China, but do you hold President Xi Jinping responsible for misinformation?

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say that. I don't want to say that. But certainly, it could have been stopped. It came out of China. And it could have been stopped, and I wish they'd stopped it. And so does the whole world.


VAUSE: But I'm not going to blame President Xi. So watch this space to see if that changes over the coming weeks and months.

Jim Sciutto, John Harwood, thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: OK. So coming up, we have a growing battle in Southern California after the governor ordered beaches closed in one county because of crowds. How local leaders are taking that news.



CAMEROTA: U.S. death toll continues to rise at an unexpected rate. Sixty-three thousand Americans have now died from coronavirus. CNN has reporters across the country to bring you the latest developments.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kyung Lah from a very empty Las Vegas strip. There is no commerce happening on this street. All the casinos are shut down. No traffic. No people.

And the famous Bellagio fountains, they have come to a stop. And it's going to be some time, the Nevada governor says, before any of this is starting again.

The governor did announce that what is being relaxed, retail shopping. That will happen curbside. Outdoor activities, like golf, will be allowed to begin again on May 1.