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U.S. Stockpile Lacked Enough Gear To Fight Coronavirus Pandemic; GBI To Investigate Death Of Man Shot And Killed In February; U.S. Battling With Food Supply Disruptions. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 7, 2020 - 05:30   ET

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


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[05:30:08]

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SOPHIA THOMAS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF NURSE PRACTITIONERS: I think it's sporadic. If I talk to my colleagues around the country, certainly there are pockets of areas where PPE is not ideal. But this is an unprecedented time. I've been reusing my N95 mask for a few weeks now.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sporadic for you but not sporadic for a lot of other people --

THOMAS: Oh, no, I agree, Mr. President.

TRUMP: -- because I've heard the opposite.

THOMAS: Yes.

TRUMP: I've heard that they are loaded up with gowns now.

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ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Now, that testy exchange came as President Trump hosted a group of nurses inside the Oval Office on Wednesday for National Nurses Day.

And there's no question that health workers are among the most vulnerable in this fight against COVID-19. And as Sara Murray now reports, they're dealing with a lot of challenges including, as we know, this lack of supplies.

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SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As governors, doctors, and nurses desperately pleaded for supplies from the federal stockpile to protect against the deadly coronavirus --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're running low on masks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't have the proper equipment. They go into those rooms with fear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need these resources now.

MURRAY (voice-over): -- suddenly, a little known division of Health and Human Services, the strategic national stockpile was front and center. But there wasn't nearly enough in store to arm the entire nation to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

TRUMP: Many of the states were totally unprepared for this. We're not an ordering clerk.

MURRAY (voice-over): Trump was slow to use the Defense Production Act to get the private sector to ramp up production and states wound up in an international bidding war for medical supplies.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: We're all competing against one another. It shouldn't be states having a Wild West fight over this.

MURRAY (voice-over): When they turned to the stockpile for quick relief it was understocked, its federal stewards in disarray.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D), ILLINOIS: Here in Illinois, we've maybe received 10 percent of what we needed. And so they've turned it back to the states and said well, you guys are on your own.

MURRAY (voice-over): Other states say they received vital supplies that were expired, deteriorating, or malfunctioning.

A spokesperson for HHS said states should inspect products as they arrive and acknowledged that states received less than they hoped for but each state, quote, "received its fair share."

Overall, the federal response appeared erratic. Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, was brought in to help manage supply chain challenges. But another controversy was created when he claimed the stockpile was meant for the federal government, not for states, in direct contradiction to the Website about the stockpile.

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile. It's not supposed to be states' stockpiles.

MURRAY (voice-over): The day after Kushner made those remarks the government's Website was changed from a long mission statement saying it steps in for a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out to a shorter statement that says supplies can be used as a short-term stopgap buffer.

DEBRA KATZ, ATTORNEY FOR DR. RICK BRIGHT: There was no sense of urgency.

MURRAY (voice-over): The picture was made more complicated when a whistleblower alleged the stockpile system had been corrupted by outside lobbyists. Dr. Rick Bright was recently ousted from a top position at HHS. He says when he began pressing his bosses to increase mask production months ago, the cries fell on deaf ears.

KATZ: We didn't increase mask production. There was no effort to do that -- what should have happened as soon as this pandemic hit.

MURRAY (voice-over): Created in 1999, the stockpile includes about $8 billion worth of supplies for the U.S. to deploy in natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and pandemics. It's shielded in secrecy. Exactly what is in the stockpile and where it is housed are classified.

TRUMP: When I took this over it was an empty box.

MURRAY (voice-over): Trump has blamed his predecessor, Barack Obama, for failing to replenish supplies after a 2009 swine flu outbreak, which the Obama administration failed to do partly because Congress wouldn't approve funding increases for the stockpile.

A coronavirus relief package that passed recently included $16 billion for replenishing the stockpile.

TRUMP: We're building up our stockpile again like crazy.

MURRAY (voice-over): But experts say it will take more changes, like increases domestic manufacturing for medical gear, for the U.S. to be prepared for the next pandemic.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

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CURNOW: Now, a new work by the anonymous street artist Banksy is inspiring medical workers in a British hospital. The "Painting for Saints," as the hospital calls it, shows a little boy ignoring Batman and Spiderman action figures and instead is playing with a different kind of superhero -- a doll of a nurse complete with a mask and flowing cape.

And the BBC actually says Banksy left the artwork at the hospital in South England with a note saying thanks for all you're doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit even if it's only in black and white. A beautiful, though.

Well, right now, we are waiting on two rounds of job numbers here in the U.S. and from all accounts, it will be ugly. In just a few hours, we'll get data on the weekly initial unemployment claims and on Friday, the official jobs report for the month of April will be released.

So let's go to Christine Romans. She joins me now from New York with more on all of this. Hi, Christine. Good to see you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Hi.

CURNOW: So the U.S. certainly again bracing for some pretty ugly numbers here.

[05:35:00]

ROMANS: These numbers are going to show that April was hell for the American worker and May likely will be as well, and these are numbers that are so big in terms of job loss. We've just never seen them before. I mean, they're going to -- you know, they're going to blow the charts out of -- out of the water, really.

And the reason here is because we've shut down the American economy. We've done this on purpose. We've sent people home.

And Congress and the Fed have been pumping the money into the economy and into people's pockets, quite frankly, and unemployment claims -- jobless checks to try to keep people whole until we get to the other side of this.

What we don't know is how quickly these jobs come back -- what percentage of them come back right away and which will be the slowest to return. Most people say it's probably the travel and leisure sector of the economy -- the first to get hit and the last to recover.

CURNOW: Well, that's interesting. And I know every day we've spoken about job cuts. Yesterday it was Airbnb. Today we're hearing about Uber.

ROMANS: Yes. Uber says it's only going to have about 14 percent of its staff. The sharing economy has just really been decimated here because this is about sharing your personal space with other people, right, whether it's a car or it's an apartment.

And so this is where public confidence, I think, is going to be really keen to watch. I mean, are you going to get in the car in close proximity with someone you don't know, right? Are you going to be more likely to get a taxi or are you going to be more likely to get back into an Uber or a Lyft?

So you're seeing job cuts there. And I think the sharing economy is really going to be tested by this.

CURNOW: Yes. I mean, all parts of the economy also looking at how they're going to reconfigure this.

We know that stores and malls are reopening. So what does it look like if you want to go to Gap and try on jeans?

ROMANS: So --

CURNOW: That's something we all have to try and figure out.

ROMANS: I know. That's so interesting, right? I mean, are you going to want to pick up a pair of jeans that someone else just tried on, no, and these retailers know that.

So when you go to a store -- and these stores are going to start opening this week -- when you go to a store there will be social distancing. There will be -- if you -- if you touch an item it will be taken away, right, and then will be left for I guess 24 hours of quarantine before it's put back.

It's going to be a very different kind of experience and I think a lot of the retailers are -- they want to inspire confidence in you. So you will see the signs of cleaning and hand sanitizer and social distancing, and how people are working there to make you feel safe. Because, of course, they want you to be able to come back and do your shopping.

But I think you're not going to see crowded stores. You're going to see very careful -- some stores will be closing their fitting rooms altogether. You'll be able to look and touch but you will have to take it home with you if you want to try it on, in some cases. And returns, of course, will be quarantined when they come back -- they come back to the store.

CURNOW: And then another aspect. I know we've spoken about it but this beef shortage certainly worrying a lot of people when it comes to basic things like hamburgers. We're hearing though, from Wendy's at least, that this could last another month?

ROMANS: Yes.

And just the thing about Wendy's is they sort of have switched a strategy to fresh beef patties. And so, that has meant that the supply chain is a little more strained than it would be if you had everything sort of frozen and stockpiled.

But the meat shortages -- some of this has to do with sort of consumer behavior, too. People have run out and they've perceived that there's going to be a shortage in the meat industry, and so they've been buying up things. The grocery stores have been telling people look, you've got to limit how much meat you're buying.

It's going to be someday a case study in business school about human -- consumer psychology in terms of toilet paper first and now meat at this part of the pandemic.

CURNOW: But still, there's always games on phones. And Nintendo, we know, also has done pretty well.

ROMANS: Yes. This -- the Switch -- the Nintendo Switch is this little device. They have sold millions of these things-- hugely popular. Some of the -- these are sort of blowing away expectations in the numbers.

And Nintendo even raising its targets for profit for the year because people are buying animal -- this new one called -- I think Animal Horizons, it's called -- Animal Crossing New Horizons. It shows you how cool I am, right?

Also, Pokemon games. These have been doing very, very well.

So even the device and the games have been selling very, very strongly. Even some COVID-related, Robyn, production delays the company had and still could just hit these crazy, crazy good numbers.

CURNOW: OK. Good to speak to you. Thanks, Christine. Have a good day. ROMANS: You, too.

CURNOW: So, outrage pouring in, action being taken. New developments in the case of a Georgia man shot and killed, apparently while jogging. That's next.

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[05:42:27]

CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow live from CNN Center here in Atlanta. Welcome to all of our viewers around the world and here in the U.S.

Now, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the death of a man who was shot and killed in February. Ahmaud Arbery's story has sparked nationwide response in the U.S. but the GBI could not begin an investigation until local authorities formally requested it.

Reactions, of course, have been pouring in, both in outrage and in support of Arbery's family. Celebrities like LeBron James sharing their anger and frustration, tweeting "We're literally hunted every day, every time we step foot outside the comfort of our homes."

Well, this case will go to a grand jury in South Georgia but it just isn't enough for those who knew him best.

Martin Savidge now reports -- Martin.

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MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ask anyone who knew him. Ahmaud Arbery loved to run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless it was pouring rain down outside, Ahmaud was going to be running.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): But somehow on a sunny Sunday in a coastal Georgia community, Arbery's run became a deadly chase.

One p.m., February 23rd, according to police reports, Arbery is seen in the Satilla Shores neighborhood where residents say there have been break-ins. He was walking around a home under construction and then he's spotted running in the road.

His presence triggers calls to 911.

DISPATCHER: And you said someone is breaking into it right now?

CALLER: No, it's all open. It's under construction. And he's running right now. Here he goes right now.

DISPATCHER: OK, what is he doing?

CALLER: He's running down the street. SAVIDGE (on camera): According to the police report, Gregory McMichael is standing in his front yard when he sees what he thinks is the suspect in the neighborhood break-ins, as he puts it, hauling ass down the street.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): McMichael, a retired Glynn County police officer, and his son Travis grab a handgun and a shotgun. According to police documents, jump into a truck and begin following Arbery.

The report describes how the father and son, along with another man, tried repeatedly to cut him off. Each time, Arbery just ran around them. Eventually, the father and son managed to get ahead of Arbery, using their truck to block his path. Travis McMichael on the street holding a shotgun.

The worlds of the runner and the chasers collided violently. It's the moment captured by an unidentified person in this video that CNN's not been able to authenticate, allegedly depicting a fight for the shotgun. Three shots and Arbery dying in the street.

More than two months later, no one's been charged, a fact that has left Arbery's father and others outraged.

[05:45:00]

MARCUS ARBERY SR., AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: I want to see these people go to jail, go to prison -- whatever. They need the harshest crime they can get.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Critics contend that there was no arrest because the man with the shotgun is the son of a former police officer from the same department initially investigating the case.

In fact, because of the father's law enforcement connections, two district attorneys recused themselves. Before the quit, the second D.A., in a letter, said Travis McMichael was acting in self-defense when he killed Arbery, and that the pursuit by two armed white men of an unarmed young black man was perfectly legal under Georgia's citizen's arrest law.

Outraged, Arbery's friends and family feared his story was being overlooked in the pandemic that also kept protesters at home.

JOHN PERRY, NAACP BRUNSWICK CHAPTER: There are a lot of people who are discouraged and believe that this is going to be one of those cases that has happened in other parts of the nation where life was lost and justice was not rendered.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): But the video has now trumped pandemic concerns.

JEFF GUEST, GLYNN COUNTY BUSINESS OWNER: The community is united. I mean, as you seen out here, there's members of all races.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Wanda Cooper, Arbery's mother, says she has not seen the video and never will. WANDA COOPER, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: I saw my son come in the world. And seeing him leave the world is not something that I want to see, ever.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): We made a number of attempts to speak to the McMichael family without success.

Friday would have been Ahmaud Arbery's 26th birthday. His father says there would have been a celebration and afterward, his son would have stepped out the door and run.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Speaking of Ahmaud's birthday, there is an effort underway for a kind of virtual demonstration. Essentially what they're asking is that for athletes, runners, sports enthusiasts -- anyone, really, on Friday, to go out and run and to take a photo or a video and to post it under the hashtag #irunwithmaud. That's short for Ahmaud. And that that simple run, when combined with everyone, becomes a powerful quest for justice.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Glynn County, Georgia.

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CURNOW: Thanks, Martin.

We'll be right back.

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[05:51:05]

CURNOW: You are looking at a massive U.S. flag painted there on this field as a tribute to the heroes in the fight against the coronavirus. Justin Riggins recruited his family and friends to help paint the 10,000-square-foot flag on a field -- a field he owns in Indiana. It took 30 gallons of paint, the same type that ballparks use on their fields.

Riggins wanted to create something people could see from air. Clearly, mission accomplished there. Great stuff.

Meanwhile, the pandemic is creating new challenges for the U.S. food supply. Some Wendy's restaurants have run out of beef, as we spoke about with Christine Romans a little bit earlier.

And the country is also seeing a shortage of pork. Tyson Foods says it's reopening its largest U.S. pork plant on Thursday, two weeks after a massive COVID-19 outbreak amongst staff forced the Iowa plant to shut down.

But those aren't the only problems, as Gary Tuchman now tells us. He visited farmers in Minnesota who are facing some really tough decisions. Here's Gary.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alex Hoehm is a sixth- generation farmer. He, his wife, and his father are proud hog farmers who are getting ready for a traumatizing experience.

ALEX HOEHM, HOG FARMER: I'd never imagined having to do this.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): What they are going to do is a result of the closing of American pork plants. There is no place for these pigs to go.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Each of these hogs should have been out of here two to three weeks ago, sent to market, but it looks like they never will. So the decision has been made to humanely euthanize most, if not all of them, and that will happen as early as this week.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): All of this Minnesota family's fully-grown pigs go to market to one particular pork plant in South Dakota. But the Smithfield facility in Sioux Falls was shut down in the middle of April with more than 800 employee COVID cases linked to it.

With so many plants closed and such a backlog of pigs, some of which weigh up to 340 pounds, the Haim family is desperate.

Before COVID-19, they would typically send off about 700 hogs every week. They say they now have about 3,500 ready to go and nowhere to send them.

And these are the family's baby pigs -- about 3,000 of them in an overcrowded nursery barn that usually has around 2,400. The fully- grown pigs being euthanized by gunshot will leave room for these little ones as they get bigger. But the babies could face the same fate in a few months.

Doc Haim is the patriarch of the family.

DOC HOEHM, HOG FARMER: We put down sick pigs because you feel sorry for them. But a healthy pig -- you have to take a rifle and shoot it -- it's unreal.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): His family is saddened but they are also financially stressed. They say what's made this all worse is their government.

D. HOEHM: These trade wars of the last three years have just killed us.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Hoehms and many other hog farmers say they are desperate for federal assistance.

ANDREA HOEHM, HOG FARMER: If we don't get help, I truly think that we are looking at bankruptcy. That this is going to be the end of our family farm.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Even if every shutdown pork plant opened quickly with all the employees coming back to work, which is not about to happen, including in South Dakota where Smithfield reopened Monday with less than one-tenth of its original employees, many farmers say there are just way too many hogs backed up in the pipeline.

ALEX HOEHM: And there's just a lot of people that will not survive this.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Does this family see any realistic chance in avoiding financial ruin?

ANDREA HOEHM: No, but I'm surviving solely on hope.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): That may not be enough.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Waseca, Minnesota.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Thanks, Gary, for that report.

[05:55:00]

And then a reminder before we go. Join us for our next global town hall on the coronavirus hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Our guests, as you can see, include movie director Spike Lee; the author of "The Coming Plague," Laurie Garrett; and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. That's on Thursday at 8:00 in the evening in New York, 8:00 Friday morning in Hong Kong.

So, thanks for your company. I'm Robyn Curnow. "NEW DAY" is next -- enjoy.

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TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: As bad as this has been, it's just the beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: States across the country rolling the dice as they begin to lift restrictions aimed at halting a virus that data show is still spreading in many places.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: You have states that are opening where you still are on the incline. I think that's a mistake.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So the notion that everyone needs to be tested is just simply not sensical.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last week, the United States ran about 1.6 million tests, which is a huge improvement. But it's still not to the level that many experts recommend.

GOV JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: When we lose a brother or a parent or a grandparent, it's a loss to the living. That's what's at stake here.

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ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, May seventh, 6:00 here in New York.

Alisyn is off. Erica Hill in again this morning. Great to see you.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, my friend.

BERMAN: So we begin with a major development in a story that CNN first broke last week.

END