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Macy's Reopens Stores As J. Crew Files For Bankruptcy; Deaths & Cases Rise In Texas, Georgia As States Reopen; Mayor Louis Bonaguidi (D), Gallup, NM Discusses Shutdown Of Town Of Gallup, Calling It A Crisis Of The Highest Order; Trump Blasts Predecessors As Obama And Bush Call For Unity & Action. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 14:30   ET

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


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[14:33:42]

NATASHA CHEN, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Something else I saw is that a lot of the customers were actually following mall recommendations to wear face coverings. For the first time today, I saw people not wearing masks were actually in the minority.

And at all these mall properties, we have clear signage to make walkways one direction to avoid cross traffic and also putting up signs to really remind people to stay six feet apart -- Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: if you need to shop, be safe.

Natasha, thank you very much, outside of Lennox in Atlanta. Indeed, I know that place well growing up there.

Georgia is seeing a spike in cases since the governor allowed some business to reopen and lifting the stay-at-home orders for most people who live there. You can see this huge spike on Friday. The state reported more than 1200 new cases, one of the biggest single day totals yet.

But as Georgia's economy reopens for business, many companies and businesses are still choosing to stay closed, fearing it's not yet safe to return to life as normal.

The rush to reopen welcomed by some, but also prompting some harsh criticism, including this piece in "The Atlantic" headlined, "Georgia's experiment in human sacrifice. The state seeing how many people need to lose their lives to shore up the economy."

And Amanda Mull is a staff writer for "The Atlantic" and wrote this piece.

Amanda, this is the quote that really got me: " Georgia's brash reopening puts much of the state's working class in an impossible bind. Risks death at work or risk ruining yourself financially at home. In the grips of the pandemic, the approach is a morbid experiment into how far the unwilling canaries in an invisible coal mine send to find out how many individuals need to lose their job or their life for a state to work through a plague."

I mean, those numbers gripped at me. Just, it's really strong language. You talked to a number of businesses. Did they feel like this is a morbid experiment?

AMANDA MULL, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": I think they feel like they're between a rock and a hard place. They're being asked to go back to work, to shore up the economy, get things started again, and some of them need to because of sort of lacking unemployment benefits or difficulty getting PPP loans.

So they are in a situation where they're having to make some really hard decisions. But there's no real good choice for them.

And then when you get to employees, if their employers choose to reopen, they either have to go back to work or, in all likelihood, what's understood, get kicked off the unemployment benefits. So they would lose their livelihood entirely, even if they're high risk or even if they have very serious concerns about becoming infected and possibly dying. And those are people with largely no health insurance.

It's the service economy. So you're asking some really vulnerable people to make some really life and death choices, really.

BALDWIN: Speaking of vulnerability, you point out in your piece that protective gear is required for most of these businesses to reopen, but the state isn't providing it to the businesses. So how are they supposed to reopen safely?

MULL: One of the most widespread things I heard in reporting in this piece is that none of the business owners and none of the employees were really clear on exactly how they were supposed to get so many masks and so many disposable gowns and so many face shields.

There's a nationwide shortage in the supplies. They're very difficult to come by, even for frontline medical workers and E.R. staff and even more paramedics.

Essentially, Georgia has put nail techs, hair stylists on the same free market as everybody else. And we've seen what can happen when people compete for supplies. It means the people who need it the most don't get them.

BALDWIN: It's a sobering read but a must-read in the Atlanta mall.

Amanda Mull, thank you very much.

MULL: Thank you.

BALDWIN: One New Mexico town has been shut down by state officials in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. And the mayor is calling the situation a crisis of the highest order.

[14:34:00]

Plus, more on our breaking news. "New York Times" obtaining new models from the Trump administration projecting 3,000 coronavirus deaths per day by next month.

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BALDWIN: The spread of coronavirus got so serious in Gallop, New Mexico, last Friday, the governor shut down the entire town invoking a state law called The Riot Control Act. Roadblocks went up, controlling who could enter Gallup, how many people can be in a vehicle at any given time.

The shutdown was set to expire today. The Gallop's new mayor asked for an extension and he got one.

He is Mayor Louis Bonaguidi. He became mayor of Gallop last Thursday.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for coming on.

What a town to be taking over the mayor job in this town.

In your letter asking to extend Gallop's lockdown, you called the COVID-19 outbreak there, quote, "a crisis of the highest order." You tell me how bad is it?

MAYOR LOUIS BONAGUIDI, GALLUP, NEW MEXICO: It's bad in the sense that McKinley County has got the worst record of any, I guess, definitely in the state but it's also one of the highest records in the United States. We're right up against New York. And yet, we're a small community of 22,000 people.

The thing about what makes Gallop different is that we're in the middle of four or five Indian reservations, so it's a regional shopping area.

And we knew that the first of the month, we were going to have an influx of a lot of people, somewhere in the range of up to 45,000 people coming into our community. And already, our numbers are just sky high. So we figured, well, if we close it off, maybe we could put an end to this pandemic.

[14:40:00]

At least if we can make a cut into it because these people coming in, if they pick it up here, they'll take it back to their families. And so that's one of the reasons we basically decided to get the governor to help us as much as possible.

We wrote the letter, didn't specifically say lock off Gallup, but that's what she recommended and we decided let's do it.

#L Serious time. Drastic measures. And to your point a second ago, for those who don't know Gallup, it's one of the largest communities bordering the Navajo nation, near the Arizona state line. What do you think gave it a foothold in Gallup?

BONAGUIDI: That's a question we don't know to answer. We do know we've got to do something. And doing something is better than doing nothing. We could have sat back and tried to figure, watch it, but this is a plan we thought we'd come up with and go from there.

BALDWIN: We've seen protests and threats in some communities when people are trying to take these drastic measures. I'm just curious how this lockdown has been received in Gallup.

BONAGUIDI: Well, you know, to me, it seems a lot of people are just not taking it serious. We still see some of the stores where there's some of the supermarkets and people are still walking around without masks. And to me, that leads me to believe they're not taking it seriously enough.

Myself, I mean, I've had three occasions where I came close. Myself and my son-in-law came in contact with people positive. We quarantined ourselves and had ourselves tested. Fortunately, we're all three of us came up negative.

But I don't think a lot of people have had that exposure or closeness to them that make them realize how serious it is.

BALDWIN: You don't want it. I'm glad that you and your family are OK.

And folks need to be wearing masks if that is the requirement. And I'm just glad that for your town's sake, that you were able to extend the lockdown there.

Mayor Louis Bonaguidi, thank you, sir very much.

BONAGUIDI: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Be well.

The war of words escalates between the U.S. and China as the president accuses Beijing of a cover-up.

And President Trump attacks his predecessors as President Obama calls for action and President Bush calls for unity. We'll discuss.

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[14:47:26]

BALDWIN: He served as president of the Unite States during the terror attacks on 9/11 and now Georg W. Bush is offering words of advice and compassion for the nation during this pandemic. And his message is that no matter what this national crisis puts us through, regardless of politics or age or race, we will all be in this together.

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GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat. In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together and we are determined to rise.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: The former president posted that call to put partisanship aside on Twitter on Saturday. And it took less than 24 hours for President Trump to shoot that message down, tweeting, quote, "He" -- George W. Bush -- "was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest hoax in American history." The president referring to his own impeachment inquiry.

Let's talk about this. With me now, CNN Special Correspondent, Jamie Gangel, and Kate Andersen Brower, the author of "Team of Five, The President's Club in the Age of Trump," out May 19th.

So, ladies, so good to see both of you.

And, Jamie Gangel, to you first.

The former president, President Bush, released this video and President Trump did not seem to like it. What are you hearing?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Surprise, surprise, surprise. Look, we know President Trump has a long history of attacking people. It's not a big surprise.

There's also not a lot of love lost between these two. We know that President Bush did not vote for Donald Trump, a Republican candidate. We know his father voted for Hillary Clinton.

But even though it may not be so surprising that President Trump attacked President Bush for this, it's disappointing. In the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a national tragedy --

BALDWIN: Agreed.

GANGEL: -- with health care workers, you know, putting themselves on the line, at almost 68,000 at least Americans dead, President Trump always seems to pivot to one thing and that's himself.

BALDWIN: Jamie, has the Bush family at all responded to Trump's tweet?

[14:49:59]

JAMIE: So they haven't responded publicly from the family. But I did speak to President Bush's chief of staff, Freddy Ford, today and he said, for the record, they were not going to comment on President Trump's tweet.

But he did say this. And this is Freddy Ford commenting. He said, quote, "I hope those covering it will resist the temptation to use it as a call to divide."

So in the words of Michelle Obama, when they go low, we go high. That is what the Bushes are doing right now.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

And, Kate, this is a pandemic but other presidents have certainly led the country through epidemics. Why isn't President Trump -- there was to so few remaining presidents. Why not ask for advice?

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I just think he's burned so many bridges itch bridges. And I went to his office and interviewed President Trump for my book. And he talked about his predecessors in a way that was really shocking. It's shocking to hear from a president sitting behind the resolution desk where so many of the important decisions have been made.

And I asked, do you feel more empathy for the men that came before you. And he said, no, that they left him with an epic, and he cited the war in Iraq, as the worst decision in history.

I mean, this is a president who has accused a predecessor of wiretapping his office.

BALDWIN: Yes.

ANDERSEN BROWER: So remember, the chaos. In the administration, it is pretty remarkable.

And it is too bad that, as Jamie said, it is disappointing but he's not asking them for help in the way that the presidents have relied on each other before, during Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami. You know, Clinton and Bush 41 were really a wonderful team. And we're not seeing that now.

BALDWIN: No. You used an important word, "empathy." You say that Trump's reaction to former President Bush's call for empathy is just a reminder of how little he has in common with any of his predecessors.

ANDERSEN BROWER: It's really amazing. And I asked the president if he would go to Barack Obama's presidential library opening, and he said, well, why would he invite me. And it was a moment where I thought, that is amazing. Of course -- he probably will invite you, right?

But the fact that he might not actually go to a library opening because it would be so awkward to see them all sitting there together after what he's said about President Obama, it is just stark, this contrast.

BALDWIN: Can I --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Yes, go ahead, Jamie. Go ahead.

GANGEL: Could I add, you know, this is a very small club and these men are dealt with other crises. The thought that -- on March 22nd, the press asked President Trump if he had reached out or would reach out and he said no. He didn't see any reason to.

I think just the fact that he wouldn't call upon these people, who have had maybe not this experience but a lot of experience with crisis, is part of the problem in this administration.

BALDWIN: That he just can't ask for that help. GANGEL: Yes.

BALDWIN: Jamie, lastly, with you.

Off of all of this, you've been talking to doctors over the weekend about some of the photos we've been seeing, people out and about, at the grocery store and in the parks not wearing masks. What did the doctors say to you?

GANGEL: So, I spoke to Dr. Jon Reiner (ph), who is also a CNN medical contributor, and he said to me, it is a betrayal. And Governor Cuomo this morning said it was disrespectful.

I think -- this is a pet peeve of mine. We do not have a cure yet, a vaccine, a treatment. We don't know about immunity yet. Those things are down the road.

There are three things we could do. We could wash our hands, as Sanjay said so many times. We could social distance. But as we're opening back up, and everybody wants to open back up, there's one thing that you can do and that is wear a mask. And the doctors are just adamant about it, Brooke.

So it's my pet peeve. I just have to say that.

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BALDWIN: I hear you. Lay it on us. I've been listening to you. I have mine. Guess who sent this to me in the last couple of days? Sanjay's daughter. She's been making all of the masks for so many of us here at CNN. So sweet of her.

But I hear you loud and clear. I hear you loud and clear.

Jamie Gangel, thank you.

Kate Andersen Brower, thank you very much.

Ladies, I appreciate the conversation.

More on our breaking news. A disturbing model inside of the Trump administration shows a drastic increase in cases and deaths by June as the president is pushing to reopen the country.

[14:54:59]

Plus, we keep hearing we should stay six feet away from one another but CNN sees a demonstration of a cough -- listen to this -- traveling up to 12 feet in a matter of seconds. Does this change the game?

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BALDWIN: We continue on. You're watching CNN's special coverage. I'm Brooke Baldwin. I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world as this is our special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. [15:00:05]