Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Gov. Cuomo Gives Update On NY Coronavirus Response; Top White House Economic Adviser: "Pause" Needed Before More Stimulus Aid; Dr. Birx: Remdesivir A "First Step Forward" In Treating Virus; CDC: U.S. Food Processing Plants Are A Lingering Concern; Gov. DeWine: Ohio Face Mask Order "Went Too Far"; Biden Prepares For Unprecedented Campaign Against Trump. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 3, 2020 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): And we need the nurses and we need the doctors and we need food on the shelves. You want to see things go bad in a hurry? No food on the shelves, right? No electric power. You want to see panic and anarchy? You needed those essential workers. So God bless them. And we still need them.

But, at a minimum, we're talking about respect, wear a mask. They use public transit. I'm not going to ask them. To come to work, to get on public transit unless we know the public transit is safe. And safe in this case means clean. And we talk about the density as a spreader, yes that's true. But also public transit if it's not clean can spread. Right?

One of the surfaces that the virus lives longest on is stainless steel. You look at all of those polls in the subway car. You have to clean the cars. And I'm very grateful to the frontline workers for coming out. They need the public transit. We owe it to them that it's safe and it's clean. And to do that you have to close it down from 1:00 to 5:00 a.m.

Now, 1:00 to 5:00 a.m. first time it ever closed down, yes, but also 92 percent reduction in ridership, so your ridership is down to like 8 percent. And 1:00 to 5:00 a.m. is the lowest period of ridership, so people will work literally in the middle of the night to clean the trains. But it's the least for the essential workers and for everyone.

You know, we have to be able to say, we - our public transit system is safe and it is clean. And especially getting ready, planning to reopen, you cannot do anything without a public transit system that people have confidence in.

And knowing that it is clean and they know how to disinfect it, and they've been disinfecting it, I think that's vital to confidence in New York. Right? Which is a big factor that we have to put in the equation here. Just confidence and comfort with this situation in New York in the midst of this pandemic. Right? REPORTER: Is the multistate consortium - the multistate consortium plan, are you confident. that President Trump is still going ahead with his offer of scrubs and the other things - the regions that you need, that promise of 2 percent of the population testing or is the multistate consortium because you don't still have confidence in--

CUOMO: Look, we are working with the federal government. Whatever they can do to help is great. But this is also an ongoing situation. I don't want to sit here and just say I'm going to wait for the help - for help from the federal government. Whatever help they give us is great. But it's also clear from the federal government that it's up to governors, up to governors, up to governors.

So whatever we can do on our own. So we're not reliant on anyone. That's the best. Thanks guys. Wear a mask.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo there announcing, you know, there's the power in partnership. Inviting governors of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, neighboring New Jersey and also saying they are sharing resources and ideas about how to best move forward and reflective about all the lessons learned during this pandemic.

Let's talk about all of this. Joining me right now CNN Business Correspondent Alison Kosik; CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter and Dr. Ashish Jha Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Good to see all of you.

Alison you first. You know, underscoring the power of the partnership, yet at the same time, the governor saying you know that he is also a little bit worried about this false comfort that might be out there. The weather is great. People are getting out, but he implores it's really important to wear a mask, not just to protect yourself, but to be responsible and not be disrespectful to try to protect others.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right. So as he is telling everybody to wear a mask, he's also warning that there could be yet another wave. And he's telling everybody this is how he's going to be prepared just in case there is going to be another round.

And that is by using this consortium that had already been formed with these Northeast states when they were discussing how to reopen their economy safely, now they're all coming back together to discuss how to be more prepared if there is another round. So these Northeast states, seven of them, will be looking to purchase $5 billion of equipment and supplies that will include PPE, tests and ventilators, with Governor Andrew Cuomo emphasizing we are not going to rely on the federal government.

He went back and talked about lessons learned about the confusion and the mass scramble, as he called it, to get this very vital equipment to hospitals and to doctors. He said that states at one point were bidding against each other. That winds up costing more money. He said by forming a consortium, he's putting together not just the financial resources, but he's putting together brainpower and the manufacturing to get that important equipment to the region Fredricka.

[13:05:00]

WHITFIELD: And Alison he was saying, thank goodness at the same time - also how absurd it is that he would be able to or have to really piggy back off NFL team owner Robert Kraft. His aircraft going to pick up supplies for Massachusetts in China and that he would say, hey, I want in on that too and would be able to make a purchase.

KOSIK: Right. I mean it - yes, I mean, and - this is point, it was ridiculous that the federal government didn't seem to have their backs, so it's lessons learned. This time around, he says, these governors, who by the way four of them, showed up on video conferencing from New Jersey. Governors from New, Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware to thank Andrew Cuomo for putting this consortium together. So all of these states in this region are better prepared, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Dr. Ashish Jha want to ask, I want to ask you, what are your concerns with more than now 30 states reopening, many more will open up this week. You heard the governor of New York there say he's worried about that false concern that people feel like, OK, I'm hearing from the governor hospitalizations are down, the number of deaths are down. Almost feeling like you know that's a green light to just resume business as normal. What are your concerns about that sentiment potentially?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, so when - and actually the White House in its open up America again plan laid out a set of principles that were pretty much right. They were the right principles for when states can start relaxing their restrictions. Most of the states that are doing it today don't meet those guidelines that the White House put together.

So I think there's a public health communication strategy that needs to happen from our political leaders, explaining to people that if we open up too soon, we're going to see a resurgence of cases, a lot more people getting sick and dying and we're going to have to shut back down again. And that's what we should be avoiding right now.

WHITFIELD: Brian Stelter, governor Cuomo also he was reflective of the - this lack of a national coordination. And you talked about it earlier on your show with your guest, even today's "Washington Post" has a profile talking about nearly two months you know lost of the White House in denial. His White House Adviser Kushner saying - reflecting now that the response has been spectacular. In fact, it's a quote "a great success story."

So, while you have the White House talking about, in a reflective way, things have gone well. Isn't that also sending a very strong signal to other states and the rest of the country that, yes, everyone, it's time to just reopen for business. It's back to normal.

BRIAN STELTER, CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's a strong signal, but it's the wrong signal. The President composed whatever propaganda he wants about polls and fake news, he does it all day long on Twitter.

He retweets every - it seems he retweet the randomest people he can possibly find, none of that changes the reality of this virus. None of that changes the reality that this virus decides the timetable not the President, not the states not anybody else.

And, Fred, I'm just - I'm growing increasingly frustrated and fascinated by this cognitive dissonance that we're seeing, and this is what Dr. Sanjay Gupta has called it as well, cognitive dissonance, between the knowledge that we all know this is going to be around for months and probably years versus this behavior by some states, particularly (ph) we're going back to normal.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who used to be the FDA Commissioner for President Trump said today that there are 20 states where the number of cases is currently rising, currently expanding and yet some of those states are trying to open up right now. It is absolutely cognitive dissonance in action. And ultimately, as the doctor said, you know we're going to see more shutdowns as a result.

So I thought it was great to see Governor Cuomo today emphasizing masks and emphasizing social responsibility, because it is these state and local leaders who can hopefully get through to their voters and their constituents and say we all have a social responsibility right now as we all do want to go outside and enjoy the weather and all of that, to be responsible and try to keep others safe.

That we are having to do this not for ourselves, but for others. Those messages are going to be vital, because I'm seeing the same thing you're seeing. People do want to get outside, the parks are starting to fill up. I'm going outside like everybody else. I got on my on bike yesterday, but wearing gloves for the first time. It's weird, it's not comfortable, but it's necessary.

And we've all got to learn to how to adapt in those ways and mitigate risk. We're just not seeing a lot of that communication happening from the federal level. So, thankfully, we are seeing it from the state level from Cuomo and the other governors in the Northeast who are working together on this.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Jha are you concerned about a potential setback, because people are receiving these conflicting messages. You just underscored contrary to what White House guidelines are, there are so certain states that are reopening anyway.

[13:10:00]

JHA: Yes. It's incredibly dangerous. I mean if your case numbers are rising and you're opening up, I think, to say you're playing with fire would be an understatement. So I am deeply worried. And, look, again, I think it's fine to go outside. Going outside is a good thing and when the weather's nice, but you got to stay away from each other. And you can't crowd into parks and beaches.

And we've got have very clear communication, very clear guidelines, if we do those things it's great to be outside and we can get through the upcoming weeks and months. But if we do - but if we acted responsibly, we're going to be shut down again and we're going to be shut down in the middle of summer and I don't think anybody wants that. So it's really important that we let the science and evidence drive our decision making and our political leaders reflect that science and evidence.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Ashish Jha, Brian Stelter, Alison Kosik, thanks to all of you. Really appreciate it.

All right, the White House now pushing the pause button on relief aid as millions of Americans struggle with the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. This morning, the administration announced that more than half of the money set aside for the second Paycheck Protection Program has already been given out - more than $175 billion dollars.

And according to President Trump's National Chief Economic Adviser, it could be a while for any more aid to be given out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: There's kind of a pause period right now. You know, we've put up $3 trillion of direct federal budget assistance in one way or another. The Federal Reserve has actually put in as much as $4 trillion-$6 trillion, so it's a huge, huge package. Let's see how it's doing as we gradually reopen the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Kristen Holmes is at the White House for us. So Kristen, do we have any details about what this pause in aid could mean?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, this is how Kudlow broke it down. He essentially said that first they needed to finish executing the current package and then they're going to watch how the economy was doing, how was the country doing. Meaning, that they were going to sit back and watch as these state economies slowly reopen.

But as we know, this is a hardship for so many people. First of all, those unemployment numbers are going to get worse before they get better, and there are a lot of people who just can't wait. Now, that's what Jake Tapper asked Kudlow, pushing back on him, saying, if the program has been so successful then why are you waiting? Now here's what Kudlow said to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KUDLOW: This has been an extremely popular and effective program, no question about it. Keeping folks on the payroll is so important. And even if they're furloughed for a while, they'll be picked up by the unemployment compensation. So, yes, that suggests, I might add, potential strong spring back once the states gradually phase in there reopenings in the transition months of May and June. So I don't want to rule it out. I think your point is well taken. You know we waited a little bit too long, I thought, when the last tranche ran out. Let's not make the same mistake again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Messaging they're hedging a little bit after he said they going take this pause and wait, and then saying, well, they don't want to wait too long. Now, I spoke to another one of President Trump's Economic Advisers Kevin Hassett yesterday, who said, that a Phase 4 might not even be necessary.

One thing I want to point out about the Phase 4 is that was what was going to potentially include some of that state funding. Funding that you've heard Governor Cuomo, among others, essentially begging the federal government for. Democrats had tried to negotiate that into the Phase 3. They were not able to do so. President Trump had said he would consider it for the Phase 4. But, of course, we know that goes away if the Phase 4 goes away. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Kristen Holmes at the White House, thanks so much.

All right. Still ahead a first step forward in the race to find a treatment for coronavirus. The White House providing new hope for the drug, Remdesivir, but stopped short of calling it a silver bullet. We're live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:15:00]

WHITFIELD: Hi, welcome back. Today, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force says she is encouraged by the early results of the experimental drug Remdesivir for helping patients recover.

The drug was found to shorten the duration of illness in severely affected patients, but it's had no statistically significant effect on mortality. Dr. Deborah Birx was asked today whether it's a silver bullet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: So it's a first step forward. In parallel, we have a whole series of therapeutics, including plasma, and also monoclonal antibodies being worked through. We are concentrating on vaccines as well as therapeutic bridges to ensure that the American people can do well with this virus eventually. We really want to ensure there is those therapeutics available and vaccines available rapidly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: David Sanger is a National Security Correspondent for "The New York Times" and a CNN Political and National Security Analyst. Good to see you, David. So you wrote a piece for "The Times" yesterday about the race for vaccines and therapeutic medicines to treat coronavirus. So what did you make of Dr. Birx's refraining from actually calling Remdesivir a silver bullet?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think she was absolutely right. I mean, as you see this strategy come into place and it's less a strategy than sort of a series of events that are coming together here. These therapeutics are a bridge, but no solution. All that it's going to do is, it appears, reduce the number of days if people are hospitalized, may reduce mortality. Although, there's conflicting evidence on that.

[13:20:00]

But this is something that will sort of hold back the waters while they move toward a vaccine. And I think what was most striking in the team that investigated this for "The Times" was the absence of both a national and international strategy to get to that moment, even though there's hope that vaccine might be available early next year.

WHITFIELD: And then when you talk about that vaccine possibly by early next year, you know, Dr. Fauci was still like maybe January, But Dr. Birx was also asked about the possibility. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIRX: The way that is possible is if you bring forward five or six different classes of candidates, which the Operation Warp Speed has done. And so it's not relying on a single vaccine platform. It's relying on several different candidates that are made differently and act differently.

And then it's about doing compressed Phase I, Phase II, Phase III trials in an overlapping way moving forward when you have a good safety and immunogenicity data, but not with the level of pauses that are often present in vaccine development. And so, on paper it's possible it's whether we can execute and execute around the globe, because you also for Phase III have to have active viral transmission in a community in order to study its efficacy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Is that in step with what a lot of experts are telling you about the real possibilities of a vaccine by January?

SANGER: Yes. Absolutely. It's interesting that she's now using Operation Warp Speed, which is what the President and his team are calling this effort to compress the development of the vaccine, something that would normally take go - an average of 10 years and try to do it in about 10 months or less.

The key to this is, running a whole different array of vaccine experiments in parallel and running the clinical trials and hoping that one of them breaks our way. And that's essentially what's going on here. It's combined with an effort to build manufacturing capability in the United States and around the world, but primarily in the U.S., so that if there is one that is successful, they're not then spending the time to build up that manufacturing line but instead can move directly to it.

WHITFIELD: And that's going to be an incredible lift. The manufacturing demand - this is a global pandemic, so it can't just provide enough vaccines if it comes to that for the United States. It really has to think globally.

SANGER: That's right Fredricka, and that was sort of the most interesting element of our - what our reporting team found. There is a nationalistic tendency here, of course, to say my country first and President Trump's been doing that, Xi Jinping has been doing that in China. The Indian government has been saying similar things.

And it's understandable. If you're a national leader, you want to make sure it's your population that gets protected first. But the best strategy may well be to protect health workers around the world first, to protect hot spots, to sort of ring fence cities that are a problem, not to do it nationally, but to do it globally. And that's the tension you're going to see unfold, I think, in the next few weeks and months.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And particularly because people are transient. Right? I mean a lot of those first responders are going from country-to- country, it's just not within a nation. Lots of big concerns.

SANGER: That's right. And you can't - you're not going to cut off all air travel, particularly between the #1 and #2 economies - United States and China. And so at the moment you open up that air travel, you're opening up a new pathway for infection.

The President talks a lot about cutting the travel off in January from Wuhan and some other areas, but all they did was buy us time. And when it restarts, all it's going to do is create a new pathway. So they need a strategy - a global strategy.

And it's interesting, I don't hear many governments talking to each other right now about what that global strategy should look like.

WHITFIELD: All right. David Sanger, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

SANGER: Great to be with you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, the struggles that the meat processing plants are facing as they try to beat back coronavirus cases among employees. A closer look at how quickly these cases can spread. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:25:00]

WHITFIELD: A top official for the CDC called food processing plants a lingering concern as the federal government works to safely implement President Trump's order to get plants around the country reopened. This, as a city in Iowa, sees a spike in cases that experts say could be related to local outbreak - a local outbreak, rather, at a meat packing plant. Here's CNN's Miguel Marquez.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dakota City, Nebraska, just across the state line from Sioux City, Iowa, Tyson's beef processing plant there. Massive, one of the country's largest, 4,300 employees, the person I'm speaking to is one of them.

When you hear the number of people getting sick every day, they say, you just wait your turn. Out of fear for losing their job, we are not identifying this person who said it was clear something was wrong at the plant for weeks.

MARQUEZ (on camera): How many have gone missing in the last several weeks?

[13:30:00]

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Three, four or 500 they say. Tyson has now tested everyone at the plant, but this person says the company could have done more earlier.

MARQUEZ (on camera): They only started giving you masks a couple of weeks ago. Only masks, yes? No other protective gear?

MARQUEZ (voice-over): No gloves. No face shields, no gowns they say.

MARQUEZ (on camera): So well into the crisis over COVID-19 this was the only protection offered to employees at the plant in Dakota City. It is something that we also heard from officials at another Tyson plant in Waterloo.

SHERIFF TONY THOMPSON, BLACK HAWK COUNTY, IOWA: We walked out of that plant knowing that we had an enormous problem.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson and health department officials inspected Tyson's Waterloo, Iowa, plant on April 10th.

THOMPSON: A third of the staff was wearing masks at that point, some of them had masks, but they were dangling around their necks.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Thompson says his county is in a full-on health crisis. Black Hawk County has more confirmed COVID-19 cases than any other county in the state.

THOMPSON: Our front line of defense is all kind of fallen back now to the E.R. front doors, to the long-term care facility front doors to my jail front door.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And now concerns about reopening parts of the state to regular business and forcing meat packing plants back to work too hastily.

THOMPSON: President Trump does this Defense Production Act telling the Tyson plant they got to open back up. I don't know what that is supposed to say to the citizens here that have contracted the disease or the citizens here that are at twice the risk of catching the virus than anywhere else.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And that Tyson employee in Nebraska also has a message for the President.

I just want him to know, they say, we are human, and we have families that care about us and we care about them, too.

MARQUEZ: A spokesperson for Tyson says that the company did have trouble sourcing masks and protective gear early on. Even chartering a plane, at one point, to fly overseas to pick up protective gear. The company does have 140,000 employees.

With regard to the President and his order to reopen the plants, the spokesperson saying that employees' safety will be first. And to that point, we did speak to a union representative and a health department official in Waterloo, Iowa who says, they believe Tyson now understands what's at stake here and what needs to be done, and that the company will do everything it can to avoid further infections. Back to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Miguel Marquez, thank you so much. All right, joining me now to discuss is Joe Enriquez Henry, National Vice President for the League of United Latin American Citizens. Joe, good to see you.

JOE ENRIQUEZ HENRY, NATIONAL VICE PRESIDENT, LULAC MIDWEST REGION: good to be here. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: So based on what Miguel just described, is that why you have said that meat packing plants are ticking time bombs?

HENRY: They are. These meat processing plants are incubators for the virus. People are within inches of each other, not feet. Things need to be done. This is a crisis that has been in the making for the last several decades due to deregulation in the way this has been done.

So we need to have things change. We're calling all our Americans here in the United States to please help us promote a Meatless May Mondays were people - we urge people to not eat corporate beef, pork, and poultry. To send a message to the corporations that we need safety in the workplace, we need the PPE, masks.

We need to slow down of the line speed within the facilities. We need to make sure that the workers are treated with all the safety requirements that they need. That they are provided with the health care they need if they get ill. Things need to be done right now.

We need to change the way the industry takes - the way the industry treats its workers and the farmers, too, by the way.

WHITFIELD: Yes, you're calling for Meatless Mondays starting tomorrow in the month of May.

HENRY: Right. WHITFIELD: So your organization also sent a letter to the U.S. Labor Department demanding clear guidelines, protecting workers. You did it in March and recently followed up with a formal complaint against a meat packing facility in Iowa. Did it happen to be that same one that Miguel profiled or another?

HENRY: It was a JPS facility in Marshalltown, Iowa.

WHITFIELD: What's the response that you've received, if any?

HENRY: The response we received from JBS is they ceded they in compliance with safety procedures. We believe they weren't at the time. They have changed in some ways. But still, workers are close to each other. They are being given the mask.

[13:35:00]

But they're still working at a very fast pace. Because of the work at the high speed. It's very hard for them to continue to keep those masks on. Imagine jogging with a mask on for eight hours. That's what these workers are undergoing right now. So the speed of work, the amount of meat they cut per hour must slow down so they can breathe adequately with the safety gear and that's a--

WHITFIELD: I'm sorry to interrupt you, Joe. And then and then tell me what is this like for workers who are told by their company, when they hear this from the White House meatpacking plants ordered to reopen. People who work there are concerned about their safety, but at the same time they need and want their jobs. What are these workers telling you about how they're going about making a decision?

HENRY: Well, they feel shocked. They can't believe that they're being forced to go into unsafe working conditions, while many of them are sick or their co-workers are sick. They feel like this is a death march into these facilities.

Now, right now it's very clear that these workers do not have adequate health care when they go into hospitals. They have a $5,000 to $10,000 out-of-pocket deductible that they have to pay. It's very hard for them to get the testing that many workers have requested to have testing on the virus to have been turned down by hospitals and clinics unless they provide some additional proof that they need it. So this is a scary situation.

So the workers are getting infected. They're coming home, they're infecting families, extended families - uncles, aunts, grandparents. We look at small towns where 10 percent of the community might be working at the plant. And this going in incubation in a pandemic within the community.

We look at Iowa, over 20 meat processing facilities in Iowa. We're ground zero here. Within 250 miles of Des Moines, 70 percent of all the pork in this country is produced. Can you imagine what's going to happen here by the end of May?

And that's why we need Americans to really stand with us to begin to say no to corporate beef, pork and poultry. Start with Meatless May Mondays, but take it from there. And we do - and I need to make it clear, we support the farmers. We support what they need to do with their livestock.

We're urging people to, if they want to buy on Mondays or whatever, buy their meat, pork, eggs from farmers. They can do that too. So we support the farmers, we support the workers. We need federal legislation to enhance OSHA to make sure that we have mandatory at all these facilities.

WHITFIELD: And so - and what you're saying is these meatless Monday will help get them attention of the meat packing companies so that they would put more protections in place so as the employees can report for duty, be at work, but be protected, I guess, that's what your message is?

HENRY: Exactly. Well, there's another thing. In our in our urge for federal legislation, we do need temporary - at least temporary legal status for the undocumented immigrants who work at many of these meatpacking plants, because they're held hostage by the fact that they feel that they cannot demand their right to a safe working environment because of their status. So that's another demand that we want to forefront.

WHITFIELD: Joe Enriquez Henry, thank you so much for being with us today. Really appreciate it.

HENRY: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine explains his reversal on the decision to require face masks at all times.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): That was just a bridge too far. People were not going to accept the government telling them what to do. And so we put out dozens and dozens of orders. That was one that it just went too far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:40:00]

WHITFIELD: As Ohio prepares to reopen businesses, the governor is admitting he went too far when he recently ordered everyone, including customers, to wear face masks when they are in public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEWINE: It became clear to me that that was just a bridge too far. People were not going to accept the government telling them what to do. And so we put out you know dozens and dozens of orders. That was one that it just went too far. But at the same time we pulled that back. I said, look, this is highly recommended. This is - for most people,

unless you got a physical reason you can't wear the mask, and we understand that. But when you go into a retail store that is the kind thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: For more on Ohio's reopening plans let's bring in CNN's Jeff Zeleny. So Jeff, DeWine was the first governor to close schools, but now he is facing growing pressure to reopen businesses. What is Ohio's plan?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, he was the first governor, and he's the Republican governor, we should point out, to close schools and really to sound the alarm. He was much ahead of the White House in terms of making this a serious issue.

But as he is slowly beginning to reopen his state he did what many other governors did not do. He's extending his order, not calling stay-at-home now, calling it safer at home. Some of that language there. But we spent a few days in Ohio this week talking to business owners who are seeing businesses across the country open up, they're wondering when it's going to be their turn.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHEILA TRAUTNER, OWNER, HUBBARD GRILLE: I would say it's been frustrating strenuous obviously.

ZELENY (VOICE-OVER): Sheila Trautner's bar and dining room is frozen in time from the night restaurants across Ohio were ordered to close on March 15th. Since then, she's had May 1st etched into her mind, a date she hoped to learn when she could at least start planning to reopen.

TRAUTNER: I was hoping that we would hear that restaurants could open in some capacity by a specific date.

ZELENY (voice-over): She and other restaurant owners have not heard a word as Gov. Mike DeWine inches toward reopening parts of the Ohio economy.

DEWINE: We're starting to open up a little bit - not fast enough, obviously, for a lot of people, but we're trying to do this in a reasonable way.

[13:45:00]

ZELENY (voice-over): DeWine, a Republican, was the first governor in the country to close schools, sounding a serious alarm about the threat of coronavirus, well before the White House. But now, as stay- at-home orders are expiring across the nation, his slow and measured approach is testing Ohio's patience.

That became clear here this week as he encountered sharp criticism for ordering all citizens to wear masks in public, as he does. DEWINE: It was, quite candidly, pretty much an explosion. People felt fronted by that.

ZELENY (voice-over): Within a day he pulled back, deciding to only require store employees to wear masks, but leaving the decision for the broader public to shop owners. But he still holds up his own mask as an example for what he hopes Ohioans will do voluntarily.

DEWINE: It doesn't have to be as pretty as this - my wife, Fran, made this, but just putting something so you're covering your mouth and your - and your nose.

ZELENY (voice-over): The governor's staggered reopening plans started May first with hospitals allowing procedures not requiring an overnight stay, followed on May 4th by construction and manufacturing and May 12th, with retail and customer service shops. Other businesses like barbershops, gyms, and restaurants are not on the immediate horizon.

DEWINE: But ultimately, the decision is my decision and I take full responsibility for the decision.

ZELENY (voice-over): But with 1 million people across Ohio seeking unemployment benefits since the coronavirus outbreak began, DeWine faces extraordinary pressure to reopen the economy. His cautious approach is suddenly facing a new test.

LISA KNAPP, ORGANIZER, OPEN OHIO: So I'm not going to question his initial actions, but the continued actions of not opening it up are what's really bothering a lot of people.

ZELENY (voice-over): Lisa Knapp helped organize Open Ohio, one of the groups protesting at the state capitol that believes the governor is crippling the economy and needlessly taking away civil liberties.

KNAPP: Small businesses are going to lose everything if they haven't already and so, many people are going to be out of jobs.

ZELENY (voice-over): The question is Ohio's tolerance for a third straight month of DeWine's strict approach.

Inside the Hubbard Grille, Trautner isn't demanding to open her doors tonight but she says she deserves to know when that could happen.

TRAUTNER: We need clarity as to when we can reopen and a potential time line, and that will help us plan appropriately for the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (on camera): Now there has been no word on when restaurants can begin the process of planning to reopen. But Governor DeWine also made one other change. After first saying that retailers would not be able to be open until the 12th of May, on Friday he actually said if you make an appointment with one of those retailers, you can go in earlier. So, Fredricka, just a sense here of the pressure on Governor DeWine. One interesting thing about Ohio, of course, he has a Republican legislature, but some Republicans in the state House and Senate are saying he's not going far enough.

But we are seeing you know the politics, of course, play into the health crisis of all of this. We are seeing a messy patchwork across the country of what's open and what's closed. But certainly Governor DeWine is taking a slow measured approach. He says it will save lives. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much in Washington.

All right. Hard to believe but with just six months until the presidential election, Joe Biden is pushing to gain traction in the midst of a pandemic, how allegations of sexual assault are just one of the problems he's facing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:50:00]

WHITFIELD: We are just six months away from the 2020 presidential election and Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee is challenged with both addressing a global pandemic and a sexual assault allegation, which he categorically denies. CNN's Arlette Saenz joins me right now.

So Arlette Saenz, Biden won the Kansas vote in primary, but what else can be expected from his campaign over the next couple of months.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, we are at that six-month mark until election day which is really going to be the biggest test of Joe Biden's candidacy thus far. And right now his campaign is grappling with those allegations of sexual assault from a former Senate staffer, hoping that they won't cloud the coming months of the campaign.

But they are also organizing and bracing for what has quickly become a virtual campaign. Now the coronavirus pandemic has given Biden the opportunity to present a contrast between himself and the president's handling of a global health crisis like this. But it's also forced the campaign to adapt to this virtual world.

Biden, like all of us, has been at home for the past seven weeks, holding virtual events from his basement studio in his Delaware home. Field organizers have turned to digital organizers, reaching out to supporters and volunteers via phone, text messaging. The traditional door knocking has been replaced with check-in calls to see how people are coping with the coronavirus pandemic.

And as the campaign is right now gearing up for hirings, as they look towards that general election fight in those critical battleground states come this fall, they're also starting some aides are starting to talk about what campaigning could look like for Joe Biden in the coming months. Could he potentially hold smaller scale events? Though so many questions about that will be dependent upon coronavirus and how that is playing out in all of these states. But right now the campaign is certainly grappling with this unprecedented time with the coronavirus pandemic really changing the way campaigning is done as we know it. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Arlette Saenz thank you so much.

[13:55:00]

All right. Coming up, the White House says it is hitting the pause button on aid as millions of Americans struggle with the economic effects of the coronavirus. So what does that mean for you and the states hardest hit by the outbreak, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Hello, again everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday, I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with the White House pushing the pause button on aid as millions of Americans struggle with the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.