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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Problems With Small Business Loan Program?; U.S. and China Trade Fire Over Coronavirus; Florida's Coronavirus Numbers Not Adding Up?; U.S. Government Projects Massive Rise in Coronavirus Cases Ahead. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can't do that if there's a great white shark in the ocean.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I agree completely.

And we have to outpace this virus. And we have known for some time that a vaccine would be obviously a significant way to reduce to stop the spread, obviously. We know an effective therapeutic, maybe we will have one of those, will make a significant impact.

And we have to have significant testing, so that we can at least start to isolate the people who are infected. It may not make a huge difference in terms of these numbers that we're talking about. But it's -- for now, it's the best that we can do, obviously, in addition to maintaining the physical distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and things like that.

I mean, again, I wish I could say something that was more -- I'm optimistic that we're going to get through this, Jake. It's just -- it is going to be a longer road than people realize.

And I think, when we start to reopen like this, it clearly is a risk- reward calculation. And what we're seeing -- and the data doesn't lie here, we have to pay attention this -- that the number of people who will die will be in the thousands per day, Jake.

It's already in the thousands per day. It's close to 2,000 per day, but that will go up significantly. What is the price that we're willing to pay? This is a fundamental, almost existential question that we're now starting to ask in communities all across the country.

We have to ask it. We have to be honest about it. And I think it's your job, my job to be honest about what we can say from the medical standpoint as far as all the decisions that get based on that, is going to be something that people are grappling with right now.

TAPPER: And let's quickly turn, if we can, to the race for a vaccine.

President Trump said he thinks there will be one by the end of the year. We, of course, hope he's right. An Oxford professor said the prospects of a vaccine are -- quote -- "pretty good," with early results coming this summer.

Dr. Deborah Birx said a January time frame was realistic on paper. What do you think? What do you make up all this?

GUPTA: I think the idea that maybe there would be something available for sort of emergency use early for health care workers, for example, people on the front lines, that would be a gamble as well, because you would want it to go through all these various phases of trial.

But let's say you get through phase two trial, which could be sometime by the end of the year. And you say now we're going to go ahead and start letting people use this, even though we're not all the way through phase three trials, or the front-line workers, in essence, are part of the phase three trial. Think of it like that.

I think it's possible. The types of vaccines that we're talking about, at least two of them, the mRNA vaccine, and then this modified chimpanzee vaccine, chimpanzee virus vaccine from Oxford, they really haven't been done before. If they work, it could be great.

And the mRNA vaccine could actually be easier to manufacture than some of these other more conventional vaccines. So, if it works, we can get to that point.

(COUGHING)

GUPTA: Excuse me. But we're not there yet, Jake.

And I think we -- I think, by the end of this month, by the end of May, early June, we're going to have a much better idea if one of those vaccines is going to work.

TAPPER: All right, Sanjay, thank you so much, as always. Appreciate it.

GUPTA: You got it.

TAPPER: Be sure to listen to Sanjay's daily podcast, "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction" It's on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

For weeks, the state of Florida refused to discuss the death toll inside its nursing homes. Now the state is finally reporting numbers, but the math might not add up.

We will explain next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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TAPPER: President Trump continues to praise Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for that state's relatively low coronavirus numbers, given its population, nearly 37,000 cases, 1,400 deaths. But questions are rising over how the state is exactly reporting the death rate. After refusing for weeks to discuss the toll on nursing homes in the state, Florida health administrators have finally released detailed data.

But, as CNN's Randi Kaye now reports, even those numbers show inconsistencies about what nursing homes are actually describing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As some of Florida's beaches and businesses start to reopen today, the state is also opening up the records of coronavirus cases and deaths in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The list from Florida's Health Department details more than 300 facilities where staff or residents tested positive for the coronavirus, including those who have died. But the numbers don't always add up.

Take the Atria Willow Wood assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale. Officials there tell CNN seven residents have died from the coronavirus. But the chart released by the state May 1 tells a different story, just three resident deaths, noting that three others are -- quote -- "under investigation."

And there's more. The state's data also indicates a staff member died. The facility told me a staff member did test positive for the virus, but recovered and even returned to work.

Still, that's hardly the only discrepancy. At Five Star Premier Residences in Hollywood, the state's chart shows one resident and two staff members died, but Five Star told me by phone that its three confirmed deaths from the coronavirus were all residents. Five Star says they did not lose any staff, as the state's most current list suggests.

JORGE ZAMANILLO, SON OF CORONAVIRUS VICTIM: It was devastating. I couldn't understand how something could escalate so quickly in a matter of days.

KAYE: Jorge Zamanillo's mother died from coronavirus at the Residential Plaza at Blue Lagoon in Miami. The state's chart shows three deaths at that facility.

But Jorge shared these letters from the facility to families. One, dated April 20, reports the death of three residents. Another, from April 27, reports the death of another resident, bringing the total to four. Yet the state Health Department's chart, which is supposed to be updated weekly, still shows three deaths at that facility.

[16:40:10]

Our calls to Residential Plaza were not returned. Neither were e-mails or calls to the governor's office and the state Health Department. George says families deserve the real numbers. ZAMANILLO: Then, when the state provides a list that we know is incomplete or doesn't match up with the total counts that have been released locally, we know something is wrong. We know for a fact that it's not jibing. The numbers are definitely off. And it's very disturbing.

We're not sure what is being covered up.

KAYE: Perhaps it's just fuzzy math. Whatever the reason, the numbers just don't synch up.

At The Court at Palm Aire in Pompano Beach, the state's chart shows seven deaths, including six residents and one staff member. The facility tells us there have been seven deaths, but they were all residents.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE: And Jake, if you look at the numbers, 155,000 residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities here in the state of Florida, certainly hard to keep track of, but that is what the state's Department of Health is supposed to do, so families can take comfort in knowing that they have all the information.

So these discrepancies that we have found certainly are not comforting for the families, Jake. And nobody wants to talk about them, despite my numerous calls to the governor's office and the state Health Department, still no response.

TAPPER: And a discrepancy of one, two or three, when you project that out to all of the nursing homes in Florida, that's potentially a very big number.

Randi Kaye, thank you so much. Appreciate your reporting.

Escalating tensions, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says there's enormous evidence that coronavirus was manufactured in a Chinese lab. We're going to go live to Shanghai, with the response of the Chinese government.

That's next.

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TAPPER: In our world lead today: a major increase in tensions between the United States and China.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claiming there is considerable evidence that coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab, and that the communist nation intentionally hid critical information about the virus early on, while stockpiling medical supplies.

In response, Chinese state media called Pompeo -- quote -- "evil" and accused him of spreading lies. CNN's David Culver has been covering the coronavirus in China from the beginning and joins us now from Shanghai.

And, David, look, I get that the Chinese government doesn't like being challenged about its failures and its duplicity. But did Pompeo say anything factually incorrect?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, he has a range of accusations against the Chinese government.

I want to play a little bit more as to what he is claiming, and then I will tackle some of that on the back end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The Chinese Communist Party did all that it could to make sure that the world didn't learn in a timely fashion about what was taking place.

We have said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China. We took a lot of grief for that from the outset, but I think the whole world can see now. Remember, China has a history of infecting the world. And they have a history of running substandard laboratories.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CULVER: Three accusations, as I see them, coming out from the U.S., from Pompeo in particular.

The first is that it started in a lab. Well, the Chinese say to that, show us the proof. They consider this to be a bluff. And they say, look, even some U.S. intelligence suggests this was not manmade.

Now, where the Chinese argument may fall short is now other countries are likewise questioning the origin, including Australia and some European nations. The other part of the argument is that this was concealed for many weeks early on.

Our own reporting, Jake, showed that. We heard about the whistle- blowers, and we even talked to one of them who was silenced and later lost his life. We know that there was censorship on Chinese social media.

And the third big argument here from Pompeo is that, during that concealing of information and withholding as to how severe this was, that they were stockpiling supplies here.

I will say, I think that argument might fall short, given that, early on, we also discovered the dire need and shortage of PPE, the masks, the gowns, the really hazmat-like suits, and medical personnel were actually going into the front lines, so to speak, and losing their lives.

So that last argument of stockpiling doesn't hold much weight for at least early on in this. However, now, there's certainly a plethora of PPE available here.

TAPPER: And, David, the Chinese government's propaganda machine has been in full drive in falsely depicting this narrative where the Chinese government did everything right, and the United States did everything wrong.

And, look, there were certainly mistakes made by the U.S. We covered them in the documentary last night that's going to re-air again tonight.

But how successful has this narrative been in China? Are the Chinese people believing?

CULVER: It's always difficult to assess how widely believed it is, because of the censorship that we see here.

I will say this. Anecdotally, we're seeing a rise in nationalism. And it may look like a war of words right now, Jake, but words can fuel emotion, which can spark action. That's why many are saying this has echoes a U.S. Cold War-type era.

TAPPER: All right, David Culver in Shanghai, stay safe.

In Europe, Greece managed to keep its deaths related to coronavirus below 150, according to their official count. That's with a population around 10 million, which is about the same as the state of Georgia in the United States, and that state has so far had almost twice as many deaths as the entire country of Greece.

In Athens, Greece, one of the biggest cities in that country, not a single doctor or nurse has been infected at one of its hospitals.

So, CNN's Nic Robertson explains how the government of Greece and the Greek people did this, as that country looks to ease its seven-week lockdown.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Welcome to Greece, the new normal at Athens International Airport.

[16:50:05]

Thorough COVID-19 testing. We're negative. Everyone off our flight is getting it. It's tough love. But Greece is defying expectations. Despite an aging population and creaking health care, it is holding off COVID-19.

(on camera): And it's no easier if you live here. Until this weekend ,just to leave home, you had to register with the government, text the number one through six, going to the pharmacy, buying groceries, exercise, all part of a hard, fast lockdown, Greece's new post- populist, but pragmatic prime minister, says is working.

KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, GREEK PRIME MINISTER So, we feel we have reached that point where we have almost completely suppressed the epidemic, at least its first stage, and we can -- we will gradually begin to relax.

ROBERTSON: Do you feel like you have dodged the bullet?

MITSOTAKIS: We feel we have dodged the first bullet, very clearly.

ROBERTSON: Putting on the mask -- got our mask here. Putting on this protective gear, because we're going to go into the ICU.

How are these patients doing?

(voice-over): Dr. Anastasia Kotanidou leads the way.

(on camera): That sound good?

DR. ANASTASIA KOTANIDOU, UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS: Yes. Yes.

ROBERTSON: Yes. Yes.

(voice-over): Life for some still in the balance, but ICU here at one-fifth capacity, thanks, she says, to the early lockdown.

(on camera): And this helped you in the hospitals?

KOTANIDOU: Yes.

(voice-over): One hundred and fifty deaths, around 2,600 confirmed infections, less than New York some days, and not a single doctor or nurse in this, Athens' main COVID-19 hospital, infected.

KOTANIDOU: We don't have any infection from health staff, for doctor.

ROBERTSON (on camera): None?

KOTANIDOU: No.

ROBERTSON: That's incredible.

KOTANIDOU: Yes. We start very early with protective equipment.

ROBERTSON: This seems to be, dare I say, a very strong message for the United States and for the United Kingdom, whose track records at the moment on this pandemic are probably some of the worst in terms of death and infection rates.

MITSOTAKIS: I think we have done it the right way. Of course, we didn't get everything completely right. But if you look at the numbers, you can't argue with what we -- what we have achieved.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: And the next test for the prime minister here is bringing back the economy. Twenty percent of it comes from tourism. They hope to bring tourists in by the beginning of July, a double-edged sword, a big concern for the prime minister, but a key, he said, to getting that up and running. Remember, the coronavirus test we had at the airport there? He said

there needs to be a new international standard. That needs to be done at the country of origin, so everyone's tested before they arrived.

Every country getting back to normal is dependent on others here -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

Coming up: a look at the small business loan program and one provision that might explain why more have not applied. That's next.

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[16:57:35]

TAPPER: In our money lead today: A provision in the loan program for small businesses may explain why more have not applied.

Since two started last week, about half the money's gone, $175 billion out of $310 billion available.

To get loans forgiven, companies must spend most of their money on payrolls and do so within eight weeks.

I want to bring in CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley.

Julia, lenders thought that this round money could go as fast as two days. We're now on day seven. Is this loan not attractive anymore for companies trying to stay afloat?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Let's call it a rethink.

I have had plenty of small companies come to me and say, why should I pay my workers for eight weeks to do nothing, when, actually, they're saying to me, they're better off on benefits and they're afraid?

Plus, we don't know what happens next. The other thing is a lot of big companies are staying away because of the excess scrutiny. We're seeing that in the numbers. The loan size is way, way smaller. Smaller loan size, the money lasts longer. And that I think is the key here.

TAPPER: Stats from the Center for Responsible Lending show that minority businesses are getting shut out of the loan process, more than 90 percent of black, Latino and Native American business owners and 75 percent of Asian American businesses likely not getting access to the money.

Why? What's going on?

CHATTERLEY: Yes, they're awful statistics.

The fact is, if you're a minority-run business, it's harder to get money in the United States. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has done a lot of work on this. In a recent report, they concluded, for black-owned businesses specifically, they're 20 percent less likely than a similar white-owned business to get money from a big bank.

But there's other factors. They're more likely to go to an online lender who were excluded, if you remember, the first time around. They also have less confidence. They don't think they will get the loan, so they don't apply.

Net-net, bank relationships were critical, Jake, and these minorities didn't have them, and they got penalized.

TAPPER: All right, Julia Chatterley, CNN business anchor, thank you so much.

Finally, today we remember Stanley Heneson, a member of the New York Police Department who lost his battle with coronavirus over the weekend.

The police commissioner says Agent Heneson dutifully served the people of New York for more than six years. Most recently, he was a traffic enforcement agent in Brooklyn.

Thirty-eight members of the NYPD have now lost their lives to coronavirus. More than 700 are currently out sick after testing positive.

Our thoughts and prayers today are with Agent Heneson's family and friends. May his memory be a blessing.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

Thanks for watching. Stay healthy.

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