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States Begin to Reopen; Mike Pence Staffer Tests Positive for Coronavirus; April is Worst Jobs Report in U.S. History. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 8, 2020 - 14:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Friday afternoon. You are watching CNN's special live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

And today, just the gut punch the nation knew was coming really hit hard. The U.S. just posted the worst job loss since the Great Depression, proving the country is battling this two-headed crisis that is decimating millions of American livelihoods as it takes tens of thousands of lives.

Twenty-point-five million jobs have also vanished, the unemployment rate soaring to 14.7 percent. It happened in whiplash fashion, ten years of job gains, wiped out in four months as people have been staying home and trying to stop the spread of COVID.

And you can see here, take a look at where we were, just in early February, when unemployment was at a mere 3.6 percent, known coronavirus infections were just 12 and no reported deaths. And then flash-forward to now, infections are running beyond 1,260,000, and the number of people who have died is more than 76,000 now.

And as the nation undergoes this dark day in its history, there is breaking news out of the White House. A member of the vice president's staff has tested positive for coronavirus. And this person was tested negative one day ago, the same day we learned the president's personal valet is also infected.

This morning, Vice President Mike Pence's plane to Iowa was delayed on the tarmac before it took off. Six people on board got off, and the person who tested positive was not on the trip, according to a source. But there is concern other people on the plane may have had contact with this infected individual. So we'll get into this in just a moment.

But no question, the unemployment numbers are driving states to reopen. Nearly all of them are in some phase of reopening, some businesses, despite the fact, in some areas, cases and deaths are still rising.

CNN's Nick Watt is live in Los Angeles for us this afternoon. And we know, just fewer than a handful of states, Nick, are not reopening at this point. I know you're talking to people who are trying to get their -- back on their feet. What are some of the stories they're telling you?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, I was talking to a store owner all day yesterday, as she was scrambling to try and get everything in place, ready to open this morning. She didn't make it, it's going to be next week.

This toy store, though, did just open its doors, although the manager is still walking around inside, cleaning up.

The Brentwood Country Mart, which is where we are, they are hiring a bunch of runners now, because it's just pickup, just curbside pickup. So these runners will take stuff from the stores to you in the parking lot.

It's not going to be normal, though. no loitering, no one's hanging around and also, in California, toy stores can open but barber shops cannot, not yet. But, Brooke, so many millions of Americans, just desperate to get back to work.


ARMAN SARIAN, OWNER, CUSTOM ZONE PRINT SHOP: I have two teenagers to raise up, we have to keep up the good spirit but we're all scared.

WATT (voice-over): More than 20 million American jobs vanished in April alone, the worst jobs report in American history.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via telephone): Those jobs will all be back, and they'll be back very soon.

WATT (voice-over): But this month will likely be even worse.

KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISOR: I think we're going to enter a transition period this summer ,before we have sort of another, you know, reignition of the economy. And I think that we're not quite in the transition period yet.

WATT (voice-over): The U.S. postal service, nearly 250 years of history, says this crisis now threatens its very survival.

In only 15 states are new case counts consistently falling. But still, 47 states are at least now partially reopening through the weekend.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We've made a lot of progress, but we're not out of the woods.

WATT (voice-over): New Jersey's public health emergency extended into June, but the governor hopes beaches can open by Memorial Day.

MURPHY: Obviously, the Jersey Shore is a crown jewel, not just of our state but of America, and it's a big economic driver --

WATT (voice-over): Some restrictions remain. But today, bars can reopen in Alaska; dentists in Iowa, now back in business; bowling alleys in Tennessee. Tomorrow, restaurants can open in Nevada and campgrounds in North Dakota. Montana opened some schools yesterday; now movie theaters will follow a week from today. In Texas, hair salons, now a go.

OMAR LONGORIA, OWNER, BONAFIDE BARBER SHOP: We're about nine and a half feet apart, each chair. And then each chair will be disinfected after each service.

WATT (voice-over): There is a potential problem with such uneven openings. A new study of cell phone data found that after Georgia started opening earlier than surrounding states, more than half a million people traveled into Georgia every day, a 13 percent spike. There's spread potential.

Another issue? We open, as we are today in L.A., but won't know how it's working for a while.


MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: We enact something, and then it takes, you know, those three to six weeks to assess where we're at. We're not going to go back to normal the way life was before this pandemic for a long time. For months, and probably throughout this year.


WATT: And of course, when will sports be back? That's a big question. Governor Gavin Newsom here said, difficult to imagine seeing fans in stadiums until we have a vaccine, and that is some way off. But the NFL did just release a full schedule for the fall -- Brooke, fingers crossed.

BALDWIN: I saw that. Crossed right along with you, Nick Watt, thank you, in L.A.

Let's go to Washington now. More on the news that a member of Vice President Mike Pence's staff has tested positive for coronavirus, a source telling CNN that this person is not on the vice president's trip to Iowa today. But the concern is contact that staffers may have had with this -- this staffer may have had with others. Six people got off Air Force Two this morning to go get tested.

So with me now, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez. He specializes in internal medicine and gastroenterology. Dr. Rodriguez, as always, awesome to have you on. So let's talk first through this story out of the White House. We're learning about this -- you know, the staffer for the vice president. And this, of course, comes just after we learned one of the president's personal valets tested positive and had symptoms while at work.

This is what President Trump said this morning about that.


TRUMP: This was a gentleman, 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 when I went to get tested, and I've tested fine, I --


BALDWIN: So, Dr. Rodriguez, bottom line, is the president -- is the vice president, are they int he clear here?

JORGE RODRIGUEZ, SPECIALIST IN INTERNAL MEDICINE: Oh, absolutely not. I think this is a cautionary tale that everybody needs to pay attention to . For example, anybody at any time can be positive to this virus. What I find both frustrating and disheartening is that these same people -- now the president and the vice president -- who at one time called this a hoax? Well, it appears not to be a hoax now, and not to be funny.

So they have the luxury of being tested every day? Not every American does. And what actually bothers me quite a bit is that these are the people that are supposed to be setting examples. Yes, sometimes at their conferences or their meetings, they're six feet apart. Nobody's wearing a mask. And they're sending a message to Americans that, hey, you don't really have to wear a mask because this is not serious.

You know what? It isn't serious until it starts happening to you. And then it's very serious, and now everybody wants to get tested in the White House, you know, every day. So are they in the clear? Absolutely not. It seems that maybe the White House could (ph) become (ph) a little epicenter, I don't know.

BALDWIN: Well, we -- you know, we know that the president has been downplaying testing. And now he's saying, all right, well, I'm getting tested every day. I mean, doesn't this just underscore, Doctor, how important testing is, especially to your point, if the staffer tested negative one day and then literally the next day, tests positive?

RODRIGUEZ: Obviously, it does. It underscores that. And the White House needs to admit that it is, you know, very important, otherwise why would they be doing it? In order to open up America safely, I believe that you need to do two types of testing. One are antibodies to see who's been infected so that you can see where the virus is going; and rapid testing for active virus for the people that are going to be working in restaurants and salons, to see if they are safe and they don't contaminate other people.

Listen, if you have a restaurant and it gets out that you have somebody who's positive or that this has spread, that's not going to help your business. Your business is not going to thrive, that's not going to help the economy. We need --

BALDWIN: Right, no --

RODRIGUEZ: -- testing.

BALDWIN: -- I agree, and especially on your antibody test point. We're going to get into that later in the show. But just -- just let me -- one more question on all of this out of the White House, because this is important. You know, given the exposure from this Pence staffer and from this White House valet, who we now know was actually in the same room as the president as recently as Tuesday.

And then you watch, you know, the president, around these World War II veterans this morning, at the -- you know, at the memorial, not wearing a mask? What were you thinking?

RODRIGUEZ: What I'm thinking is that there is a loss -- first of all, they are potentially endangering everybody around them. And secondly, there is such a loss of opportunity that may translate eventually to a loss of life.

These are people -- the president, the vice president -- and listen, I think Anthony Fauci almost walks on water. I've been doing HIV care for 30 years, but the scientists need to set an example, all right? The doctors need to set an example because people are just going to grab onto what they want to believe in, and not wear masks. So I was thinking, oh my goodness, you know, look at this. Yes, and we won't know the consequences of that perhaps for another month.


BALDWIN: Let me shift gears and ask you, Dr. Rodriguez, we just got word from the CDC that childhood vaccinations have plunged since this pandemic started. Just tell me about the risks that come from this.

RODRIGUEZ: Well, the risks are that now -- I mean, I'm surprised to hear that, I didn't hear that. And it makes no sense that now parents would not be vaccinating their kids. You're going to multiply the risks, not just with COVID but of measles and chicken pox -- folks, you cannot get COVID-19 from vaccines, period.

There's another danger here, in the fact that people are not going to hospitals or to doctors for routine care. I just got a blurb, saying that it's estimated that perhaps 70,000 cancers are going to be missed this year because people are now (ph) afraid of going to the doctor.

BALDWIN: Well, I'm sure people are afraid --

RODRIGUEZ: I think --

BALDWIN: -- of being exposed, right? If there are all these COVID patients in the hospital. They're thinking, the last thing I want to do is go.

RODRIGUEZ: Correct. Listen, call you doctor. In my office for the last three months, we have signs up, we don't allow people to come within six feet of each other. My staff is all wearing masks, our hands are so dry from sanitizing. So call your doctor and ask them these questions. Hey, is it safe for me to go there? Because we cannot ignore our health.

BALDWIN: We cannot, we cannot. Let's say that again, we can't ignore our health --


RODRIGUEZ: -- Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, thank you very much, as always. I'm sure we'll talk again soon. Appreciate it, great reminders.

And a stunning number, more than 1,000 Tyson workers have tested positive at this one plant in Iowa, as the plant reopens today despite these workers who are worried, understandably?

Plus, it is the drug that's providing hope to many patients, but only 200,000 patients can actually get it, and the Trump administration is botching the delivery.

And as America sees the worst jobs report in history, more and more families are looking to food banks for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you realize you're not going back to work for a while, it's pretty heartbreaking.



BALDWIN: Just in, the city of Boston, cancelling all summer parades and festivals up to and on Labor Day. Mayor Marty Walsh says his decision is purely based on public health, and smaller events will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Now, April may be a month many Americans would like to forget, nearly 60,000 people died from COVID-19, and April recorded the worst jobs report in U.S. history. More than 20 million Americans lost their jobs last month. Unemployment now stands at a devastating 14.7 percent. It is a number we have not seen since the Great Depression.

Richard Quest is our CNN business editor at large. And so Richard, you know, you've been looking into this. I mean, 10 years of job growth, wiped out in a single month, stunning numbers. And it's likely not over.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: And whatever you and I are going to talk about now, must not detract from the crisis and the feelings that people have lost their jobs and are facing very simple issues. How do I pay the rent? How do I put food on the table? Whatever the economic numbers, we are talking 20 million lives that have been turned upside-down as a result of this.

Now, the good, perhaps, more encouraging news is that within that, the department says that 17 million people -- just over -- say that it was a temporary loss of job. So there's a lot of hope that many of them will go back into the workforce when the reopening happens.

However, within those people disproportionately affected, Brooke, you have African-Americans, you have young people, you have people who don't have the social skills or the educational qualifications. And that's because many of them were in the hospitality industries. Those entry-level jobs were the first to go.

And pulling the strands together, Brooke, just listening to what you are reporting from Boston about parades cancelled --


QUEST: -- up until Labor Day, that means that an entire summer of jobs for these people to go back into the workforce --

BALDWIN: They're gone.

QUEST: -- to restaurants, to bars, to clubs. That has to be in doubt.

BALDWIN: And just quickly, then why are the markets up today?

QUEST: Perversely, they believe that things will get better, the number of unemployed will go down from higher on in, the economy will recover and -- it's perverse, it's awful, there's a feeling out there of investors, FOMO. I hate saying it, Brooke, but fear of missing out. They believe the economy will pick up later in the year, investors don't want to miss out on what they believe are stocks cheaply at the moment. And that's the reason why. They believe the reopening will happen faster, whether it should or not's a different matter --

BALDWIN: Got it.

QUEST: -- but fear of missing out is pushing the market higher.

BALDWIN: Got it. I just saw the jobs numbers and you look at the market, I just wondered why. Richard, thank you very much. Good to see you.

Behind the numbers we just told you about, of course, are human lives. Families struggling to pay the bills, parents turning to food banks, many for the very first time ever. CNN national correspondent Kyung Lah speaks with them.



ARMAND SARIAN, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: It is hard. Emotionally, financially, everything. Our life has changed 180 degrees.


SARIAN: Overnight, I happened overnight.

LAH (voice-over): Arman Sarian tells a story you hear again and again, at food banks across today's America.

He pulled up for free food in his BMW. Until coronavirus hit, his Los Angeles printing shop more than supported his family of four.

LAH: Are you scared?

SARIAN: Yes, but as a household of the family, I don't show it. I have two teenagers to raise up, we have to keep up the good spirit but we're all scared. LAH (voice-over): The lines of the needy and the numbers of

unemployed all hearken back to the darkest time in America's economy, the Great Depression. Like then, this downturn touches millions upon millions.

Entire industries halted, like air travel --



LAH (voice-over): -- cruise ships, tourism, and theme parks and retail and restaurants. From Las Vegas to Main Streets across the country, gutting jobs.

LARRY HARRIS, USC MARSHALL SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: Think about five fingers. Twenty percent is one out of the five. So one out of five people in the United States who wants to be working is no longer working. And that's jaw-dropping.

LAH (voice-over): But there is a difference with today's economy.

HARRIS: We know exactly what's causing the job loss. In the Great Depression, people understood there wasn't enough money but they didn't really understand why.

LAH (voice-over): A vaccine, a medical breakthrough could help put this father back to work.

LAH: Have you ever had to do anything like this before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. This is the first time for me.

LAH (voice-over): He's a writer and actor in Hollywood. An estimated 750,000 jobs in California have been impacted, as the entertainment industry suddenly stopped.

Driving up with his son, he said he wanted to talk in support of the L.A. Regional Food Bank, but only if we didn't use his name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's difficult for a lot of us to try and provide for our families and, you know, still maintain some dignity. So you know, once you realize you're not going back to work for a while, it's pretty heartbreaking.

LAH (voice-over): Kyung Lah, CNN, Glendale, California.


BALDWIN: Kyung, thank you so much for just showing us all these people who just need the help now.

More than a thousand workers, meantime, at a single plant have been infected and they are going back to work today.

Plus, the Health and Human Service secretary says the lifestyles of those workers have worsened the outbreak.

And questions about whether coronavirus is also a sexually transmitted disease, after it is found in men's semen. We'll be right back.



BALDWIN: After being closed for two weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak, the Tyson meat processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa is reopening. But at the same time it resumes business, the number of workers at the plant who have tested positive for COVID is skyrocketing. CNN national correspondent Dianne Gallagher explains what is going on there.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, the Tyson Waterloo pork processing plant is back open today. It's operating at about 50 percent capacity right now. But the real headline here is the number of employees who have tested positive: 1,031 of the roughly 2,800 employees there are COVID-19 positive.

And here's the thing, that is more than double the number that the governor issued on jus Wednesday. The disparity in the numbers is the fact that the county is using any employee who has tested positive, even though these serology antibody testing. The governor was only referring to employees who received a positive test on-site at the plant.

The workers say as the numbers continue to creep up in their county and across the nation at meat processing plants, they're afraid that maybe the measures won't be enough -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Dianne, thank you.

Let's talk more about these conditions inside these plants. With me now is Kim Cordova, she is the president of Local 7 of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Association. And her local represents more than 30,000 workers in meatpacking plants and grocery stores in Colorado and Wyoming, and that includes Greely, Colorado and the meatpacking plant there, where at least 280 workers have been infected with this virus.

So, Kim, thank you so much for being on with me, and let's just -- first things first, you know, what is the plant doing in terms of precautions for all these workers?

KIM CORDOVA, PRESIDENT, UFCW LOCAL 7: Well, their plant reopened on the 24th. Our plant was closed down by the Health Department, but it has reopened.

They have put some protective measures in place by putting plexiglass or metal dividers between some of the workers. There are still areas within that facility where it's just almost impossible to social distance. They have started to stagger breaks, so they have put some protective measures in. However, they have not tested all of the workers. They are not testing

asymptomatic employees at our plant and we have had, you know, 280 workers test positive. Those were workers that were tested that had symptoms, but we have had seven deaths at that plant.

BALDWIN: So just going back to -- all right, some plexiglass, metal dividers, staggering these workers. You're talking to these men and women who are working in these plants, what are they sharing with you? Do they feel protected, are they worried or are they safe?


CORDOVA: You know, a lot of the members are afraid because of --