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Large Crowds Protest Beach Closures Ordered By California Governor; President Donald Trump Expresses Support For Anti-Shutdown Protesters In Michigan; Retailers Take Precautions To Keep Shoppers Safe In Stores; Dr. Anthony Fauci: Shooting For A Vaccine In January, But "Cant' Guarantee"; Georgia Reports 1,225 New Cases As Shopping Malls Begin Reopening; Arkansas To Reopen Gyms, Hair Salons, Barbershops Next Week. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired May 2, 2020 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, again. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with several states reopening this weekend for first time in more than a month amid the coronavirus pandemic. More than 30 states are now partially reopened by the end of the next week, that number will be at least 42.
Easing restriction means restraints stores and even shopping malls are permitted to get back to business. Despite that, many businesses are taking a more cautious approach, choosing not to reopen. From California to Michigan, Governors are facing increasing pressure to end week's long stay-at-home orders. Demonstrators have even gathered, demanding return to normalcy.
Meantime, a possible hopeful sign that a treatment for coronavirus is in the works, the FDA is giving emergency use authorization to the drug remdesivir allowing hospitals to treat patients with severe coronavirus cases.
We have a team of reporters covering the states reopening across the country let's start in California where after seeing crowed beaches. Last weekend Governor Gavin Newsom took action closing several of the more popular beaches in Orange County and that has upset a lot of people.
CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Huntington Beach where there were sizable demonstrations taking place there, so what are you seeing today?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now in Huntington Beach, residents absolutely fuming over the Governor's ban. Right now we're seeing nothing but calm. Let me show you behind you, this is famed Huntington Beach and its pier the pier now closed down.
Clearly in bounds here, surfing, everybody has gone out into the waves that we've seen, and they've said that they don't expect that they're going to get cited. What the police are saying in Huntington Beach is at first what we will do is we will try to educate people about this beach ban, they will ask for compliance. And maybe, possibly if somebody is not listening to the ban, then possibly they will be cited. Now it's been an emotional 24 hours here in California. The Governor versus an entire county this went to court late afternoon.
The City of Huntington Beach Diana Point trying to get a temporary restraining order to lift the beach ban. This was in front of a judge telephonically they accused the Governor of an abuse of power, overstepping his authority and closing beaches, violating their constitutional rights.
But the Governor's Attorney General a Deputy said time and time again, this is all about safe social distancing in the middle of a pandemic, and there are some people here in Huntington Beach who says they can see the logic of closing down the beaches.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody came down to the beach last weekend. There was no social distancing. It was crowded. Yes, I didn't even come down here, there were too many people. Everybody's too close together. It seems like everybody feels that it's over, you know, beat the curve or whatever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The precaution is always good for anything that can help our society as far as illnesses or viruses. I'm mainly worried about afterwards. I've seen a lot of masks on the beach, plastic gloves. Not only that, it's mainly just trash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: And we should note that Governor Newsom said maybe as soon as Monday we'll see some different rules here in California, and the Judge yesterday told them at the end of this hearing, it's in your vested interest, meaning the Governor and Orange County officials to work this out outside of court.
And the Orange County officials have said gives us some direction? Tell us why San Diego County is open, and why Ventura County is open? And what we need to do to get to reopen our beaches? A lot of hot tempers flaring, but in the end, the Judge tried to calm everybody down. And we'll have to wait and see how things go, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, we will, indeed. You keep us posted Paul Vercammen, thank you so much in Huntington Beach, California, all right well you also saw the images coming out of Michigan this week, right? President Trump has now called on the Governor of that state to make a deal with angry protesters, he calls very good people.
This after demonstrators stormed the state capitol, some carrying long guns as you see right there, demanding that the state be reopened immediately. The White House says the President was simply standing up for their right to peaceably assemble.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President was referencing generally that in this country you have a first amendment right to protest. I think that's something we all treasure here and we should rightfully. You have a right to do that constitutionally, but you must protest within the bounds of the law. He encourages everyone to protest lawfully and then also to engage in our social distancing guidelines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, well, CNN's Ryan Young joining me now from Lansing, Michigan. All right, so the Governor had said she was you know pretty upset by the kind of images that she saw, with people wearing you know guns and that social distancing was not being honored in all cases. But what are generally citizens saying about what took place at the state capitol this week?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can break this down in so many ways, Fred. One of the things that stood out to us was the idea that so many of these protesters are right in the face of law enforcement officials who are wearing face masks but didn't have face shields.
We now have this virus spread so that was worrying about those law enforcement officials. Well, if you think about this there's about 4 to 700 people showed up at the state capitol and inside the state capitol you're not allowed to have signs but you are allowed to open carry.
Let's show you some of these images because I think this will standout for so many people. Yes, there have been people who have been upset about the stay-at-home order, it was going to expire. The Governor wanted to extend it, but the Republican legislation did not want that to happen but should use Executive Orders to extend this.
Those images though are searing in the minds of many people. When you think about how hard this state has been hit? When you think about 40,000 people contracting COVID and also 3400 people dying from this and it's hitting cities like Detroit, but across Michigan of course, they haven't seen the same sort of effects.
But just listen to what the Governor had to say about her taking a stand for the health of the state of Michigan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER, (D-MI): Yesterday's scene at the capitol was disturbing, to be quite honest. Swastikas and confederate flags, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders? This state has a rich history of people coming together in times--
(END VIDEO CLIP) YOUNG: So when you think about all this put together, there are people who having larger conversations about what happened at the state capitol? You had lawmakers wearing bulletproof vests as they went to make that vote, but when you think about hard hit cities they want to make sure they can recover before everything opens back up, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Young. Thank you so much. Right now to Texas, where this weekend stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls and museums are open for the first time in a month. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Dallas. So Ed, the state is reopening, even as the number of deaths in that state is increasing?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we've had a spike in the number of deaths here over the course of the last few days, which is raising a lot of concern about this plan to reopen the Texas economy.
Here in Dallas, and across the state, we've seen a spike in the number of coronavirus cases that have been reported. But there have also been an increase in the number of tests. So exactly how all of this is factoring together is difficult to say. What we do hear repeatedly is that it is going to take several weeks to feel and see the effects of this reopening in this first phase.
But just to kind of give you a sense of what's happening? This is the Bishop Arts District in Dallas. Incredibly popular on a Saturday afternoon, this would normally be filled with people walking around, biking around, going in and out of shops, restaurants diners just not seeing that here this morning.
And that is because there is still a great deal amount of concern and worry about the spread of this virus. You have city officials here in Dallas County urging people to continue to stay inside and to avoid large crowds.
But the rollout that we've seen here in Texas is essentially that restaurants, malls, retail stores can open up, only at a 25 percent capacity and what we're seeing is that in some cases, in many cases there are businesses who are just saying that it's really just not worth it yet to come back for 25 percent of business it's just not worth the risk to employees and customers, Fredericka.
So that is what everyone here is juggling with as they try to piece together how to make all of this work? But you can just tell in an area that should be filled with people here already on a beautiful Saturday morning, there's still a great deal of trepidation as to how all of this is going to open up?
WHITFIELD: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you so much in Dallas Texas. Let's go to Georgia now, where officials are reporting more than 1200 new cases just one week after allowing hair salons, gyms and bowling alleys to reopen CNN's Natasha Chen joining me now from Alpharetta, Georgia. So Natasha what are you hearing from people there are businesses opening up? Are people excited about that?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yesterday was the first time some of these retail shops at this outdoor mall were open in six weeks or so. For people coming here, and granted there are no people around us right now, stores are just starting to open at this hour, but people will be seeing signs on the ground telling them to walk one way to prevent cross traffic.
I see people trying to abide by that, also, I've seen people completely disregard management as they tell them they're going the wrong way. In Georgia, the state that has taken the most aggressive measures to reopen the economy the new month brought with it an entirely new place to get out of the house, the mall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANIELA RESPRESS, AREA GENERAL MANAGER: First of all, it's been scary, when we first heard about it but also exciting for our tenants to be able to open back up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: The state's shelter-in-place order officially expired Thursday night for most Georgians. Though Governor Brian Kemp extended the order for the elderly vulnerable to shelter-in-place through mid June still his executive order allowed retail restores to open back up on Friday about a week after restaurants, barber shops and even tattoo parlors.
At Avalon, an upscale outdoor mall - suburbs, management readied the grounds for shopping in this socially distant era.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of the common area furniture has been placed six feet apart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And the walkways are one way only. But only a fifth of about 100 shops at Avalon were open, and many of those were either curbside pickup or by appointment only. Alter'D State a women's clothing store was one of the few that had its doors open.
MADISON BURNHAM, "ALTER'D STATE" ASSOCIATE: Of course, there is that fear of just maybe that one person will walk in that has it, but we are taking really good precautions to make sure that doesn't happen and having a lot of sterilizing everything. We have option wear masks; we wear gloves at the cash app just to make sure we're not touching anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: New protocols include steaming every article of clothing that a customer tries on and regularly disinfecting the fitting rooms. Because only 10 people including employees are allowed inside at any time, there was a line of customers outside. We found Kate Martin at the end of that line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE MARTIN, SHOPPER: I'm a nurse, so instinctively I think like it's still too contagious, it is a very contagious disease so I still think it might be a little too soon to come out and be this close together. We'll see.
CHEN: But you're here.
MARTIN: I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: She's wearing a mask, which the mall is also giving to its customers, but still not everyone is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: They should be, but they don't take it seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: The retired nurse had a message for the young and masks less, who could have been unknowingly passing it to others?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: You might not get sick, but they will and they will get it from you. Do it for your grandmother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And again, we're not really seeing a lot of people near us just yet, but it is recommended by the mall property for their guests to wear face coverings when they are here. And they're absolutely offering them at the concierge as long as supplies last. Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Chen, thank you so much. All right. Coming up scientists moving at lightning speed to find a vaccine for coronavirus, we'll take a look at the research being done around the world to save lives. Plus, breaking news out of Puerto Rico an earthquake damages buildings near the City of Ponce.
WHITFIELD: Breaking news out of Puerto Rico, extensive damage and power outages after a powerful earthquake measuring 5.5 on the rector scale was recorded in the waters south of the Island. Puerto Rico's Governor says search and rescue teams have been dispatched to the southern region of the Island and they're urging everyone to remain calm and to wear face coverings outside of their homes.
And now to the fight against the coronavirus so far the World Health Organization says there are at least 102 potential vaccines in the works worldwide. But is it feasible to expect a working vaccine ready for mass production by January? The White House sounds pretty confident. Here now is CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Scientists from around the world have begun testing their experimental COVID-19 vaccines in people. Historically it has taken years to do human clinical trials and get vaccines approved. For Polio in the 1950s, it took about three years. It took about that long for the Rubella Vaccine in the '60s and it took two years for Mums but no one wants to wait years for a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I hope we're going to have a vaccine, and we're going to fast track it like you've never seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: And there are reasons to be hopeful. Researchers are moving with lightning speed with more than a $1 billion in projected investments already pouring into the effort. And the U.S. Food & Drug Administration which will need to approve the vaccine has been moving faster since the pandemic began. And the effort is quickly growing.
As of April 26th, 89 teams internationally were working on vaccines according to the World Health Organization. Four days later, the W.H.O. listed 102 teams working on vaccines that are 13 more teams in just 4 days, 7 are already in human trials. Of those 7, 3 are led by teams in the U.S.
One is headed by the National Institutes of Health outside Washington D.C., another by INOVIO a biotech company with research and development in San Diego a third by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer headquartered in New York City. Another is in England at the University of Oxford. Two are in China, one in Beijing and one in Wuhan where the pandemic began.
Human trials began a month and a half ago with the NIH first on March 16th. Pfizer and Oxford are the most recent. They started human trials April 23rd who finishes first is anybody's guess. Thursday at CNN's coronavirus Town Hall Dr. Anthony Fauci said getting a vaccine on the market by January could happen. Vaccine trials are notoriously unpredictable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: What might happen is that people months from now say well, you said we were going to have a vaccine in January. I didn't say that. I said we're going to shoot to be able to have one if we're successful at each and every one of these places.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COHEN: It might turn out that a promising vaccine doesn't work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. FAUCI: Believe me there's nobody in the world no matter what they say, from what country that's going to guarantee you that they're going to have a safe and effective vaccine at any given time frame. They may be cautiously optimistic about it.
DR. FAUCI: But nobody is going to guarantee that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: Or worse that it causes harm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. FAUCI: There are a number of situations there that could go wrong, like it may all of a sudden have a safety signal. Oops, we have a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: Fauci suggested that's to save time, the U.S. could manufacture some vaccines even before they have full results of clinical trials financially risky, but he said a risk that's worth it given what's at stake. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN reporting.
WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now Dr. Patrice Harris Physiatrist and President of "The American Medical Association". She's also the Former Medical Director for the Fulton County Department of Health in Georgia, good to see you, Dr. Harris.
DR. PATRICE HARRIS, PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Good to see you too.
WHITFIELD: All right, so there are human trials underway for eight vaccines worldwide. Two U.S. vaccine human test trials are underway. How encouraged are you about that?
HARRIS: Well, certainly it's good news that there are an all hands on deck approach to the development of a vaccine that bodes well perhaps for a vaccine sooner than we expected. But I think as Dr. Fauci said, we have to be cautious, because we certainly want a vaccine to be effective, but we also want it to be safe, so it's an ambitious time frame. So we'll just have to wait and see.
WHITFIELD: Right, because we just heard you know that there's a chance that someone may take one of these possible vaccines, possibly something could go wrong. That's exactly what Dr. Fauci was saying, isn't that the risk that comes with human trials?
HARRIS: Certainly that is the risk that comes with human trials. But before we decide to use it in the general public we will have to make sure - and they will do this in the trials, make sure it is not only effective, but safe, safety is key.
WHITFIELD: How concerned are you that perhaps risks are heightened because of this urgency to find a vaccine for this global pandemic?
HARRIS: Well, absolutely has to be a balance, and certainly, I don't think anyone - I don't think NIH or anyone would sacrifice safety for a rapid vaccine, so both of those have to be in the equation. It's absolutely great that we are moving quickly, but we have to make sure that safety is the number one priority.
WHITFIELD: Now, let's shift gears a little bit. Let's talk about the mental fitness of all of those on the front line, nurses and doctors. They are enduring so much more than they ever really prepared for.
And how concerned are you about really when they may be suffering from PTSD as opposed to whether any of our front line medical care workers would succumb to PTSD? How do you address that? How do you help them?
HARRIS: This is something that I've been concerned about and worried about since the beginning when we began to see the overwhelming number of patients coming in to the hospitals and the hotspots. Now, the number one priority of physicians, of course, is our patients. But I am worried, particularly in the hotspots about the physicians, they are emotionally exhausted.
They are physically exhausted. And that's why hospitals and all institutions have to make sure that the safety and wellness of physicians are taken into account. I'll also say, even physicians that are not on the front lines.
But are out in private practice, independent practice we're also worried. We know there's a lot of pent up demand and we worry that some practices won't survive. I'm quite worried about the physician community.
WHITFIELD: As I mentioned earlier, you used to work as the Medical Director for Fulton County Georgia, one of the states hardest hit areas, and now, about a week into a graduated reopening, of business in the state, and already Georgia has seen an increase in the number of coronavirus cases. What are your concerns about whether the numbers can go up from here with continuous business reopening?
HARRIS: Yes, this opening, I believe is a little bit premature. We certainly want to see not only the number of positives go down, but also the numbers of folks who are reporting to doctors offices and hospitals for illness. We also need to make sure that we have robust testing, and testing requires more than just the test, we need to be able to trace and isolate.
And Fredericka, if there's days between the times you take the test and the time the results are available, what happens in the meantime?
HARRIS: So I'm very concerned about opening before we have all of these in place, but the good news is businesses are being I believe cautious in reopening and not suddenly reopening without considering some of these issues. So that is the good news. If we have an increase in the number of cases we'll have to know how to assess that rapidly, and adapt rapidly.
WHITFIELD: Right, a lot of businesses using their own discretion, even though, you know, the states Governor's office is encouraging that they're ready, they can open for business if they want to. All right Dr. Patrice Harris, thank you so much.
HARRIS: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, 2:30 today right here on CNN, a panel of experts joining me to answer your coronavirus questions. Go to cnn.com to submit your questions on health, money, education all of that, 2:30 eastern today. We'll get answers to your questions. And by the end of next week, 42 states will be partially reopened. I'll ask Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson about the plan for his state live next.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back Arkansas had closed schools, fitness centers, and online sight dining, but it didn't have a stay at home order. It was one of seven states that didn't have stay at home orders in this country.
But this weekend a few changes, state parks and campgrounds are now open for in state residents to visit and stay-in R.V. campers. On Monday Arkansas gyms and fitnesses -- fitness centers rather will be allowed to reopen to the public but customers and employees will be screened for fever and symptoms and must remain 12 feet, distancing and wear masks.
On Wednesday, hair salons, barber shops can reopen. The following Monday, restaurants in the state will be allowed to reopen with limited dine in service. Hopefully you got all that.
Asa Hutchinson is the governor of Arkansas. He's with me. He can help us better explain the changes that are afoot. Governor, good to see you.
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): It's great to be with you today. And he did a great job sort of articulating some of our phased-in approach to opening and lifting some of the restrictions that we've had in place. We know that we have to be cautious. And what's exciting is that our businesses and the consumers also understand that they have to be very careful, as we gradually reopen and try to boost our economy and give people an opportunity to make a living.
WHITFIELD: It's a lot because, you know, while your state didn't have a stay at home order, you know, there were some encouraged restrictions. What did you hear from your constituents, you know, statewide about the responsibility in doing so, how they were able to be safe, and at the same time, try to go about some of their businesses and you know, their day to day norms?
HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, I think we've had some success in the way we've handled it, that we didn't do a shelter at home order. But we did a lot of education. And of course, Arkansans have been very attentive to this. And we encourage wearing mask when you cannot social distance. And when you go out, make sure you can separate yourself.
And they're really disciplined about that. You always have some that don't follow it close enough. But by and large, people are taking this very seriously. And so they're self regulating themselves. And if they're in a vulnerable population, they haven't visited businesses. Some of the businesses, even though we didn't mandate closure, they went ahead and closed because of lack of consumer demand.
And that really points up to the key thing as we start lifting restrictions is we have to build confidence with the consumer, that they're going to have their health protected. We're going to have precautions in place. And so as you look at what we're doing with restaurants and gyms and other lifting of restrictions that they're very careful. They're requiring the distancing in there and putting other requirements in.
Hopefully, we could be successful in this and move to a phase two that's more open. But we want to take it very carefully one step at a time.
WHITFIELD: How are you bracing people, you know, to go on about their business or how to behave in this phase one before a phase two?
HUTCHINSON: Well, every day, of course, we talk about it, and people are attentive to that. But they see it on the national media and it doesn't take long to figure out when you watch what happens in New York or California, that this is serious.
And so people, they understand what they need to do to protect themselves and to protect others. And so and he also set an example, I wear a mask whenever I am can't socially distance. So I'm trying to set that example. And so people want to do the right thing because they know how this is impacting their neighbors, their community.
And we're also realizing that this is not going to be, as Dr. Fauci says, we're going to be looking at this probably next year, if there is a resurgence, and others have pointed to that. So we don't know how long we're going to have to deal with it.
But clearly, until we get a vaccine, we're going to have to have this kind of discipline, individually, and collectively, to make sure that we can control it.
WHITFIELD: What about churchgoing? And that's really important for a lot of people. I mean, what are you telling people about when they'll be able to do that again? HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, we did set out guidelines for churches, which is different than a strict mandate because we wanted to give the guidelines but also asked the churches to do this, because it's the best thing for their congregations and they have followed it. So virtually every church in Arkansas has not mad except for online and through the internet services, particularly the larger churches.
Tomorrow, excuse me, Monday, we will be announcing a new set of guidelines for our houses of worship, that will give a little bit more flexibility to our churches. But from everything I hear, they're very concerned about their congregation and the responsibility there. And so I expect them to go very, very slow. Make sure all the protective measures are in place.
And I think many of them will continue to meet through online services, primarily, at least to the next month.
WHITFIELD: You also allowed for non-elective surgeries to resume this week. And now the ACLU and abortion providers are suing your state because Arkansas requires all surgical patients, you know, to get a negative COVID test within 48 hours of the procedure. Is there enough testing available and how do you respond to all that?
HUTCHINSON: There is I mean, we've always been challenged like other states in terms of testing, but that resources increased dramatically. And our UAMS, our Medical Sciences University, as well as our Department of Health is helping them to make sure they can be tested before they have the elective surgery.
But this is an example of where our hospitals need to do business. Their revenue is shrunk, and we only have about 100 COVID-19 patients statewide. And so you have a lot of empty hospitals because we haven't been doing elective surgery, they need to return to it.
But this testing requirement and it's across the board, not singling anybody out, but across the board for all ambulatory services that they have this test and this will give us more information, both protecting the patient and the hospital and the clinic, but also giving us more information statewide as to be able to catch any potential increase in spread of COVID-19.
WHITFIELD: All right, Governor Asa Hutchinson, thank you so much for your time. All the best, stay well.
HUTCHINSON: Thank you. Good to be with you.
WHITFIELD: Thank you.
All right still to come, as summer approaches, parents, students left wondering what school could look like this fall. I'll ask the superintendent of the second largest school district in the country about his plan, next.
[12:42:29] WHITFIELD: As states begin easing restrictions and opening up businesses, parents and students are wondering when schools will reopen and what exactly that will look like when classes do start to begin.
The Governor of California Gavin Newsom says schools in his state could possibly reopen in July either for summer classes or an early start to the new school year. But the Mayor of California's largest city isn't so optimistic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CA: I think it's unlikely we're going to open up in July or August. Our governor put that out there for some school districts and I think he's done a superb job. But it's most likely we will be opening up in the fall if we open up.
But absolutely, we're watching in Denmark, we're looking at whether you phase kids in not maybe all kids every day of the week, we have to remember those children who are preexisting conditions who have preexisting conditions because they will have to stay at home probably during the school year for longer until we have a vaccine.
So I absolutely think this is not just important for our kids, but also we can't picture parents going back into the workforce if their children aren't at a school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, joining right now, Austin Beutner, he is the Superintendent of L.A.'s Unified School District, which is the country's second largest public school district, just behind New York City. Good to see you.
AUSTIN BEUTNER, SUPERINTENDENT, LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: Thank you. Good afternoon, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: So I'm guessing you probably agree with Mayor Garcetti that, you know, summer reopening for, you know, your L.A., you know, school system is not realistic that perhaps the governor may have been talking about the more smaller school districts. What would it take for your school district to be up and running and ready?
BEUTNER: Let's get a little context. When we closed schools on March 13th, there had been no occurrence in any of our schools. Since then we've learned the virus is more contagious than originally thought and that those without symptoms can spread the virus to others.
So we're looking to science to guide us. We're working alongside UCLA, talking to testing experts, virologists, and others, who will provide the foundation for how schools can safely reopen.
At this point, we've told our school community through this school year were online. We will have online this summer for the first time ever all students in Los Angeles Unified will have the opportunity to be in school during the summer. The new school year will start in August as scheduled. We do not know
yet the form that will take because science has to provide a foundation for everyone to be back in school safely, not just students, our staff, families, visitors. But we've got to do the right and science is going to be guide.
WHITFIELD: Yes. I know you all are talking about a variety of scenarios. But what do you envision, you know, any of your classrooms to ultimately look like when kids and your staff are back? I mean, do you see that it's going to be an issue of desks that are six feet apart? Or do you see that maybe it's dovetailing, you know, remote learning for a while before introducing kids and staff back into the classrooms. I mean, what is your gut say, will potentially happen?
BEUTNER: Well, I want to emphasize it's A then B, not B then A. A is got to be science in place testing and understanding. We're actually just participating in a new study alongside the County of Los Angeles to understand how children have been exposed to the illness or not and if they are spreaders of it or not.
And not a lot of sciences not on that yet, so that's an important piece. In order to go back to schools with that foundation, we'll have to look at whether or not we spread desks and things like that, which are relatively simple to think about.
But I'll give you an example of one of our schools is how complex it will be from a schedule. About 500 students in one of our schools, those students have about 50,000, I'm sorry, their siblings are in schools with about 50,000 other students who go home to another 200,000 family members. So, one school with 500 individuals connected to about a quarter million people.
We don't want the quarter million people bringing the virus into the school. We don't want the school to spread a petri dish to share with the rest of the community. So it's complicated. It's not just as simple as spreading the desks apart, having a staggered lunch hours, and the things that you're hearing about.
WHITFIELD: So you're weighing risks and you're also weighing needs because 80 percent of the children in your school district live in poverty. And for many the only hot meal that they are getting, you know, is at school. And thousands don't have home computers. They don't have internet service. So how much are those issues also weighing into your decision making?
BEUTNER: Well, what we did when we closed our school facilities was renew our commitment to make sure we continue to provide a safety net for families and help students continue to learn. We set up the largest food relief effort in the country. We've already provided more than 15 million meals to students and families that we serve.
We made the commitment to make sure every student is connected. We've connected virtually all of our middle school, virtually all of our high school students. We're about 75 percent of the way there. In elementary school in the next week or 10 days we'll get to that 100 percent goal as well. So we're connecting our community and making sure that learning continues online because we may be in this mode, either uniquely as we are now or in companionship with it being in school facilities for months to come.
WHITFIELD: All right, Austin Beutner of the Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent, thank you so much and continue to be well and safe.
BEUTNER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And good luck. It's a lot on your plate.
All right, coming up, we know that COVID-19 is hitting the African- American community disproportionately. So what does that mean for black businesses, the owners hoping to get back to work? The risks they're weighing of reopening, next.
WHITFIELD: Studies have shown that African-Americans are being disproportionately hit by COVID-19. A new study by the CDC finds 80 percent of those hospitalized for the virus in Georgia in March were African-American, even though blacks make up only 30 percent of the population.
CNN's Victor Blackwell looks at what Georgia's move to ease restrictions means to African-American business owners who are trying to balance protecting both their businesses and their customers.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just south of Atlanta.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order up on deck.
(voice-over): Gocha's Breakfast Bar is open, but business is slow.
GOCHA HAWKINS, OWNER, GOCHA'S BREAKFAST BAR: We went from a full restaurant of 120 seat capacity to maybe two or three people trickling in.
(voice-over): Owner, Gocha Hawkins, is offering dine in services days after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp eased restrictions on restaurants but does she think this is right for all restaurants?
HAWKINS: I didn't think it was a good idea because just the masses of people in restaurants that not social distancing, I just -- I thought it was too soon, too much too soon.
(voice-over): Carlos Davis's barber shop in Albany is open to and he's afraid.
CARLOS DAVIS, OWNER, CUT-OLOGY: Fear was out here. But in fear you don't get back to opening, you won't have a business to open.
(voice-over): It's a challenge that some African American business owners who serve mostly African-American customers are weighing. How to reopen without contributing to the racial disparity of coronavirus cases?
According to the most recent census, African-Americans account for 32 percent of Georgia's population. But in cases in which race is reported, African-Americans account for 40 percent of coronavirus cases.
Dyan Matthews is president of the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce. Her group represents businesses in eight North Georgia cities most are majority African-American.
DYAN MATTHEWS, PRESIDENT & CEO SOUTH FULTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: The biggest fear is that a lot of the nonessential businesses are just going to end up having to open up all their doors, that's going to continue raising the numbers in our community, putting us even more and more at risk.
(voice-over): Glenn Singfield II co owns the Flint restaurant in Albany.
GLENN SINGFIELD II, RESTAURANT CO-OWNER, THE FLINT: I support my governor, mayor, all that. However, we have to do what's best for our community and our n our people and our employees.
(voice-over): That's why some of these business owners are taking steps to keep themselves and their customers safe.
HAWKINS: They're only coming in one or two at a time.
(voice-over): Gocha say says that she'll limit capacity to 10 although a total of six customers have dined in each day this week. Carlos's barbers are wearing face masks and cutting by appointment only.
DAVIS: It's kind of a gamble but I really kind of don't have a choice.
(voice-over): Glenn is not taking a chance.
SINGFIELD II: Anybody getting sick and passed away or getting sick here. It will hurt us personally. We are standing and we're going to remain safe all the while.
(voice-over): Victor Blackwell, CNN, Atlanta.