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President Trump Says Personal Valet Who Tested Positive for COVID-19 was in a Room with Him on Tuesday; NYT: New Study Finds Most COVID-19 Survivors Carry Antibodies; Airlines Struggle as Air Travel Plunges. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired May 8, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:32]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's Friday, good morning, everyone. We're glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

The breaking news, really the devastating news this morning, the United States lost 20.5 million jobs in a single month in April, the worst month in U.S. history. Unemployment surged to 14.7 percent. A number this country has not seen since the Great Depression.

HARLOW: That's right. Think about this for a moment. Ten years of job growth wiped out in a single month. A single month. Millions and millions of people faced with bills and rent they cannot pay, and all this as 75,000 people in this country have now died from this pandemic. That's where America stands this morning.

Let's get right to CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

Christine, this is the clearest picture yet.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

HARLOW: Of just how devastating this economy is for millions.

ROMANS: I'm out of superlatives. So I'm going to give you some context here and let these numbers speak for themselves so they can really sink in. Over the past couple of months, the coronavirus shutdown has cost more than 21 million jobs. Compare that with the great recession, it took months to lose 8.7 million jobs. It has taken just weeks for us to do four times more damage.

How does this compare? We have never seen a month like this, 24.5 million jobs lost. That pales -- everything pales in comparison. Back in September 1945, 1.9 million jobs were lost when Japan surrendered and America's war machine shut down. Imagine, we're making comparisons to the Depression and to ending a war.

We now have a situation that is book ended now. Great depression with these record high, 25 percent unemployment rates and a 14.7 percent unemployment rate in the United States. You can see that chart tells the story. And the damage was widespread. In retail, in hospitality, in business, in healthcare even, as so many doctor's offices have shut down and they're not doing surgeries that are elective surgeries.

This is just a picture of a devastating situation for the American worker in April. Worried about their family, about educating their kids, about their parents and their grandparents, worried about their job, and worried about healthcare all at the same time. There is no playbook for this, guys.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, the healthcare numbers notable, of course. Great demand in hospitals. But doctors' offices, dentists' offices, in effect their small businesses.

Christine, just quickly, is there data to give us a sense of how many of these jobs are likely to come back, right, as businesses slowly reopen?

ROMANS: No, we have no idea what it will look like on the way back. The president has said that it will be a V-shaped recovery and the economy will be raging into next year. But a lot of economists wonder how you get people back to work in some of these sectors like leisure and hospitality, those could be some of the last to recover.

And we still have to figure out what we're doing with schools. There are going to be families that can't -- both people, both parents can't go back to work, right, if somebody still has to be caring for the children at home. So a lot of big questions here for workers and families in the months ahead.

SCIUTTO: Christine Romans, good to have you following this.

Let's get now to John Harwood at the White House.

John, of course, the president's message throughout his term has been a booming economy, this unforeseen, this pandemic that has taken away all those job gains, punished the stock market as well, although that's up somewhat. What is the response to these numbers and what's the argument going forward from the White House?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a couple of responses, Jim. First of all, as you noted, the strong economy has been the president's mantra throughout his term. He faces re-election in less than six months. And one of the first things he said this morning in an interview on "FOX and Friends" was that even the Democrats are not blaming me for those numbers, they're entirely expected.

He also went into his customary cheerleader mode to say once we get past this, it's all coming back in a hurry. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had the strongest economy in the history of the world, the strongest economy we've ever had, and we had to close it, which is artificial. We artificially closed it. Those jobs will all be back and they'll be back very soon. And next year we're going to have a phenomenal year. People are ready to go to get it open. People -- and safely. People are ready to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:05:08]

HARWOOD: Well, look, the president's re-election may turn on how much people believe that message. Do they think once the virus is suppressed and some semblance of normal life returns, do they believe that the economy is going to be roaring again? Do they credit President Trump with that? That's a question that's going to be hanging over the next six months.

HARLOW: It absolutely will. John Harwood at the White House, thank you very much.

In a few minutes, we will speak with the president's senior economic adviser Kevin Hassett. He'll be live from the White House with much more on this devastating jobs number.

On a day when the single worst jobs report in American history comes down, more states are pushing ahead to reopen their economies.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, it's really almost all the states at this point. A high stakes balancing act, a tough one at every level as cases of coronavirus are still going up in many of those states as they reopen.

We've got it all covered across the nation. First, let's go to Ed Lavandera in Dallas.

So, Texas, one of the more aggressive reopening plans. I guess, the question is what's the response so far from the public to that reopening, because the businesses may reopen their doors, but do people walk in, in numbers?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Jim. Well, there's no question that quarantine fatigue is really setting in. We're inside one of the barbershops, thousands of barbershops and salons that will be able to open up officially again here in Texas. This is Bonafide Barber Shop in Dallas. And we'll get to that question here with owner Omar Longoria.

Omar, how nervous are you about today and reopening?

OMAR LONGORIA, OWNER, BONAFIDE BARBER SHOP: There's a little bit of anxiety there, I think. You know what I mean? Just to make sure we just do everything properly, to make sure everybody feels safe and healthy.

LAVANDERA: And what kind of response are you getting from people?

LONGORIA: We're getting a really good response, actually. I mean, people are ready to, I think, get out of the house and maybe have a little bit of normalcy and get -- come get a haircut and go back home, you know?

LAVANDERA: And what kinds of precautions are you taking to make sure everything is safe here?

LONGORIA: Like one thing we'll do is we'll leave the front door open so nobody is touching the handles. I usually have six chairs on each side. I have four chairs for about 9 1/2 feet apart, each chair. And then each chair will be disinfected after each service and I've got a whole back bar full of disinfectant wipes, sprays. I mean, everything we can do.

Everyone will wear a mask, including the clients. If we need to cut around their ear, they can just hold their mask like this while we do their ear.

LAVANDERA: All right. So adjusting to life in this new reality here.

And Jim, just so you get a sense of what kind of response he's gotten, Omar told me that when they announced that barbershops and salons could reopen today, his entire day Friday and Saturday was filled in within an hour -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Until people are safe, as they go for that. Ed, thanks a lot.

Let's go to California now, where the state is taking its first significant step in reopening. Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles with the plan.

Help us understand what is open and how it's open.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. This is a big step for California. Remember we were the first state to go in that stay-at- home order, Poppy. So what we are seeing today is that the state is saying, here in California, the stabilization rates and hospitalization is what is driving this. It's all about data.

So therefore they're saying some industry can reopen but with some modifications like making sure workers have their protective equipment, making sure that construction workers go back, that they have the equipment they need and spacing people further out, like car rentals can come back online now, too.

The other part of this is retail. And they're seeing that now some retail could open back up. Maybe selling clothes or toys or books, music. All of that, though, has to be delivery or curbside. Also included in that would be florists, and we talked to Mihaela Caldarescu, she's the owner of Diana's Flowers, to talk about how she sees her business in this new world. Take a listen to what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIHAELA CALDARESCU, CALIFORNIA BUSINESS CENTER: I am not going to open yet. No. I'm not going to open for walk-ins. We are going to do -- even if it's until the end of the year, we're just going to do online and curbside pickup. I'm not going to open for walk-ins.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ELAM: Now, that said, part of the issue here for these people who can come back online is getting product to sell and a lot of florists are having difficulty getting the flowers. She was able to get some from the flower market downtown, but that is what you're seeing, as people trying to figure out how to get what they need to get it back online. She also did just get the loan through the Small Business Administration, so she will be able to get some employees.

But this is a big part of the problem here, Poppy and Jim, as trying to now get back online and go to need, so that you can keep your business going.

SCIUTTO: No question. Stephanie Elam on the ground, we know you'll keep following. Thanks very much.

Now to a city which is defying state government to some degree, not lifting restrictions, that's Miami Beach.

Rosa Flores, you've got the state wide order to relax these restrictions, Miami Beach taking a different path. Tell us how that plays out and why.

[09:10:03]

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Jim, officials in Miami Beach really do appear to be listening with -- to what's going on in their community. Look, about five days after they reopened parks and water ways, they closed down the park because their code enforcement officers were out there and they saw that too many people were not wearing face masks and they were also not social distancing, which raises the big question, is the community ready to reopen?

Are they ready to join the state? Because, remember, these three counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, they were not included in the state's rollout which went -- kicked off on Monday, which was called phase one of the rollout for Florida. Yet this week, Governor Ron DeSantis signaling that southeast Florida could reopen soon and the mayor of Miami-Dade County Carlos Jimenez echoing those comments saying that he would like to reopen his county as soon as possible and as safely as possible.

But take a look at these videos. They've been surfacing here in southeast Florida. People not social distancing, not wearing a face mask, and a man even getting into a shouting match with a code enforcement officer because this man would not put on a face mask to go into a grocery store which is required in Miami Beach and in Miami- Dade.

Now Miami Beach, where that video was taken that you're looking at, is in Miami-Dade. And it's important to look at the numbers because here is what the numbers show. And these are the cases in Miami-Dade. 36 percent of the nearly 39 cases -- 39,000 cases, excuse me, in the state of Florida are in Miami-Dade County. When it comes to deaths, 28 percent of the 1600 deaths are in Miami-Dade.

And, Jim, here's one other important number. When you look at the deaths linked to nursing homes, 24 percent of the more than 600 deaths linked to nursing homes happened in Miami-Dade -- Jim.

HARLOW: Rosa Flores, thanks so much.

Still to come for us, the president just explaining how close he got to his valet or personal aide, the one who we told you yesterday tested positive for coronavirus. We'll fill you in ahead.

And the White House senior economic adviser Kevin Hassett will be with us to talk about the devastating job losses.

SCIUTTO: And as we speak, officials from Georgia Bureau of Investigation providing details on the arrest made in the shooting death -- really the shocking shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, the African-American jogger killed by two white men in broad daylight in a South Georgia town. We're going to have the latest just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00]

HARLOW: We have breaking news, the president just addressed the news that Kaitlan Collins broke on this show yesterday about his personal aide testing positive for coronavirus. Listen to what he said just minutes ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a gentleman, a very good guy, but he was, I guess off for three or four days, and then he was off over the weekend and off on Monday. And on Tuesday, he was in the room and very virtually, I don't think any contact, but he was in the room and then I went to get tested and I've tested fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Let's get to Kaitlan Collins on the phone. So, Kaitlan, you broke the news yesterday, obviously, and now the president is commenting on it for the first time.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and he seemed to offer us a little bit more information, Poppy, because we weren't sure yesterday when was the last time these two were in the room together, this valet and the president. And he's saying that the valet has been off for a few days, and then they were in the same room on Tuesday.

Of course, it was Wednesday we believe when the aide was exhibiting symptoms, and that's when they were tested of course, and then the president himself was subsequently tested. But also, Poppy, he revealed a little bit of information about how this is going to change what life is looking like in the West Wing. We already know he's going to be tested weekly to daily, but listen to what he said about whether or not these valets are going to start wearing masks now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to ask for people who serve you food to start wearing masks, gloves --

TRUMP: Well, they've already started --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the precautions that we're doing out here?

TRUMP: The answer is yes and they've already started.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: So he says they've already started wearing masks because we reported yesterday, saying he's not been wearing masks previously, even though they interact of course incredibly closely, not only with the president, but also the first family. So, two changes that are coming to the way that the president is living life just in the age of coronavirus.

And of course, those are aides who will travel with the president when he goes to Camp David this weekend, they're in charge of all of his food and beverage services, so they're in control of that when he's on the road, whether it's at the White House. And we should note that this story, you know, really rattled people inside the West Wing yesterday, Poppy, just because the concern was that, you know, the president came so close to coronavirus for the first time they had really seen in a way like this.

HARLOW: Yes, of course, Kaitlan, important news you broke. Thanks for following up on it. Jim?

SCIUTTO: With me now, former acting director of the CDC, Dr. Richard Besser. Dr. Besser, tell us what the risk is for the president or for anyone who has been in the room with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION: Yes, you know, when you think about risk, there is the risk of infection, and one of the things that the CDC has been clear about that, that distance to the person matters, so distance of less than 6 feet. But also the amount of time that you're in that contact. So walking by someone is very different from sitting in a room with someone for hours, living in an apartment with somebody.

And then there is the risk of having severe disease. The good news is that most people who get this infection are going to do fine. At least --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BESSER: They'll have mild infection or no symptoms. But people who are older, older than 65 or who have certain medical conditions are at higher risk for severe disease.

SCIUTTO: And that includes the president?

BESSER: Well, he is -- he is over 65. I don't know about his medical conditions. But you know, one of the things, Jim, that this points to, to me, is the need to have availability of widespread testing around --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

[09:20:00]

BESSER: The country. Not just for people who are extremely ill, who may need to be hospitalized, but people like this valet who may have had some mild symptoms that are consistent with coronavirus. You need to be able to identify those people, figure out who they have had contact with, and then provide places for people to isolate or quarantine safely.

And we know that this pandemic -- well, it's hitting all communities, it's hitting -- it's hitting black Americans, Latinos --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BESSER: So much harder, and we need to make sure that testing is getting to those communities in particular.

SCIUTTO: The president has said that widespread national testing is not necessary. Of course there is widespread testing within the White House, and the president himself is being tested frequently. Can you reconcile those two statements?

BESSER: Well, and you know, as we move to reopen the economy and move from a situation where everyone is recommended to stay at home, to getting workers slowly, carefully back into the workforce, it becomes very important to be able to identify people who have mild infection because while they will do well, they have the potential to spread this within communities. And each one of those cases could be the spark for a new outbreak in a community.

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BESSER: And if we're able to quench that, we can carefully reopen certain industries in a relatively safe way.

SCIUTTO: OK, big question throughout has been if you've been exposed to this virus, and you show that exposure by having antibodies in your system, do those antibodies then protect you from being infected again. And there's a new study out, granted it's early, but "The New York Times" reporting on this, that provides a glimmer of hope that having those antibodies does provide some protection. What's your reaction to that study? Is it important data here or is it too early?

BESSER: Well, you know, most viral respiratory infections, when you've had them, they will give you some degree of protection. It may not be complete, it may not last for many years, but there's some degree of protection. Scientists are working really hard to try and answer this question because it's critical for being able to tell someone whether it's safe for them to go into the community, whether they're at risk of getting this infection again, whether they have any risk of being able to transmit the infection to somebody else, even if they're protected. And then critically, Jim, when it comes to developing vaccines, if we can't figure out an antibody level, protective factor level in the blood from natural infection, it gives you protection, it becomes much less likely that we'll be able to see that with the vaccine. With so many different antibody tests out there, it's going to be very important that we get national guidance in terms of which ones really work, what they say and what you can do with the information, you know, coming from those tests.

SCIUTTO: OK, final question, five more states now loosening restrictions today. That brings the number to 47. I mean, really, the whole country. To some degree, and granted state-to-state, there were differences here. But given that only 11 states have now averaged downward trend in the last week, which is one of the standards for reopening safely, is this unsafe? Is it just one big national experiment we're conducting here?

BESSER: Well, it definitely is a national experiment. You know, when the White House put out their criteria, they called for two weeks, 14 days of declining number of cases, that there were a number of other criteria as well. That gave me some hope that we were going to have a national approach to reopening. There are some things some states are doing in terms of reopening, in terms of opening some public spaces, some parks, some beaches, with social distancing, that I think make a lot of sense in terms of people's physical and emotional well-being.

But when it comes to opening businesses, you really need to see the downward trend, you need to make sure that there is capacity in your healthcare system, not just for taking care of people who have COVID, but for taking care of all of the people who have other medical problems, diabetes and heart disease and cancer, who haven't been getting the care that they need.

I really worry that we're going to see some big spikes in places around this country, because many states are moving too quickly.

SCIUTTO: We'll be watching closely, Dr. Richard Besser, always good to have you on.

BESSER: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, big changes for airlines and for travelers. Face masks, some airlines conducting temperature checks at the airports and empty seats. But will the industry and its customers adjust to it? Can the industry survive? I'm going to speak with the CEO of Frontier Airlines next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:25:00]

SCIUTTO: Welcome back, this morning, the changing face of the U.S. airline industry. Demand for air travel has dropped at least 90 percent because of the coronavirus outbreak. And now passengers are faced with new rules before they can board. A growing number of airlines requiring the customers to wear masks and this, Frontier Airlines has announced it will be the first U.S. airline to require temperature screening for passengers beginning June 1st, anyone with a temperature over 100.4 will not be able to get on an airplane.

Joining me now to discuss is Barry Biffle; he's president and CEO of Frontier Airlines. Mr. Biffle, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

BARRY BIFFLE, PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FRONTIER AIRLINES: Thanks for having us on. We're really pleased to be here.

SCIUTTO: So, tell us how this works. I'm a passenger, I booked a ticket on a Frontier flight, unless I bring a mask and test below 100.4 Fahrenheit on a thermometer, I cannot board an airplane. That's how it's going to work?

BIFFLE: That's correct. And, look, from the beginning, Frontier has been.

[09:30:00]