Return to Transcripts main page


3 Largest Beef Plants Reopen Amid Outbreaks Amid Worker Fears; Kim Cordova, President, UFCW, Local 7, Discusses Conditions for Workers in Meat Processing Plants & HHS Secretary Alex Azar Saying Workers Sick Due to Their Lifestyles; Trump Confirms Pence Press Secretary Katie Miller Tested Positive; Dr. Anne Rimoin Discusses V.P.'s Press Secretary Testing Positive & China Study Shows Virus Found in Men's Semen; Queen Elizabeth Speaks Amid Pandemic on "One of Most Memorial Nights". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 8, 2020 - 14:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Just going back to, all right, some plexiglass, metal dividers, staggering these workers. You've talking to the men and women in these plants. What are they sharing with you? Do they feel protected, or are they worried or safe?

KIM CORDOVA, PRESIDENT, UFCW, LOCAL SEVEN: A lot of members are afraid because of the lack of testing. They're also aware that seven of the coworkers have died. That spreads fear and panic within the facilities and working without knowing you or your coworker are positive for the COVID-19. They're worried about that.

Now that with President Trump's executive order forcing these plants to stay open, as well as protecting these employers from any liability, I guess, against lawsuits, that's really concerning to workers. Some of them feel they don't have a voice in this.

But you know, the reality of these workers with these workers are that they have to make a decision between facing financial devastation or coming to work and potentially being exposed to this virus.

BALDWIN: That is the quandary facing thousands, if not millions of Americans right now. And, you know, when you talk about how they don't have a voice, we want to give them a voice by having you on.

And another piece out of the White House, as coronavirus is affecting these workers at the plants, Alex Azar recently said this virus wasn't being spread at these plants because of the conditions there. He said it was because of these workers' lifestyles. It was the, quote, "was that the home and social conditions of these workers."

What are you thinking he meant by that? And how would you like to respond?

CORDOVA: First of all, that's ridiculous. I've been president of this union for over 10 years and, I will tell you, I've been a member of the UFCW for 35 years, and never in my career or as president or the union representative or as a member have we ever seen members die and put on ventilators like what you're seeing in these processing plants.

For him to say that is just trying to push -- take the responsibility away from these employers. And really, that's just a ridiculous response.

BALDWIN: I talked to a worker, or the daughter of a worker yesterday at one of these plants. The mother is hooked up on a ventilator. And she's not worried -- she's worried about how many more days she has.

What would you say to these workers who, because of this pressure and this executive order to show up at work, who are fearful, who don't feel safe, what do you say to them?

CORDOVA: You know, they're not. The companies have treated them and our own president is treating them as disposable objects and they're not. They're human beings. You know, they have rights.

They should be -- they're critical and essential workers and they should be given the highest level of personal protective equipment. They should be given paid sick leave, and a culture in these facilities. They need to have priority testing in these plants because they are critical. They are essential to the food supply chain.

But most important, they're human beings. And there's a lot of people out here that care about them. We support them. We applaud them for their heroic work that they're doing to continue the food supply chain.

But, you know, they are human beings. This is horrible what's happening to them.

BALDWIN: Kim Cordova, thank you very much for speaking up on their behalf. I appreciate you coming on.

CORDOVA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: You've got it.

The U.S. Postal service issuing a dire warning. The pandemic is threatening its survival.

Plus, there's only enough of a hopeful drug for 200,000 patients. And the government decides who gets it. But the delivery already botched.


And studies show most people may carry antibodies after they recover from COVID. So we'll talk to an epidemiologist who ran Tom Hanks' plasma donation.


BALDWIN: We're getting even more news now on this -- the vice president, this staffer who now tested positive for coronavirus, we are now confirming it's not just any staffer, it is the press secretary of the vice president. So let's go right to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta,

at the White House.

Jim, tell me what you know.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We were hearing this, this afternoon. A source close to the vice president told us earlier this afternoon it was Katie Miller, the press secretary to the vice president, who tested positive for the coronavirus.

And just a few moments ago, the president, in a round table discussion with other Republican lawmakers, described the staffer as Katie, as he called her, and also said she's a press person. So it does appear that the vice president's press secretary tested positive for coronavirus.

This is a significant development, as you know, Brooke. Katie Miller is married to steven Miller, who is one of the president's top domestic policy advisers, one of his top speech writers.

And so this has the potential, at this point -- obviously, we don't know whether or not this is the case with any certainty -- but we know that there's now the potential that the coronavirus is spreading inside the White House among top members of the president and vice president's team, as we reported yesterday.

The valet, the military valet to the president tested positive for the coronavirus. And that is why you are hearing -- we are hearing that members of the president's team and members of the vice president's team all being tested for the coronavirus.

I can tell you, in just the last couple of minutes, I was told by a White House official, Brooke, they are making more testing available to members of the press, as Katie Miller was in contact with members of the press, including with members of our own team here at CNN. And so this is quite a significant development.


As you just saw during the press briefing a few moments ago with Kayleigh McEnany, the new White House press secretary, everybody in the room on the press side was wearing protective masks and face coverings.

I will tell you though, Brooke, one of the things that we haven't seen really change in the last 24 hours, we have not a good number of White House staffers and staffers working around the White House complex who are wearing face coverings or masks. They just simply have not gotten the memo if you don't mind me saying.

And one of the things I think we need to be looking for as we move forward here, Brooke, is whether or not they start taking more precautions here at the White House.

Because, as even the members of the coronavirus task force have been saying, Debbie Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, if you suspect you're infected, you should be wearing a mask. And they're just not doing that over here at the White House.

So I think the concern at this point is that this is spreading, asymptomatically, and potentially symptomatically. We just don't have all the details, But when the vice president's press secretary tests positive for the coronavirus, I think that's a significant development -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Yes, it's a big deal. It's a big deal.


BALDWIN: Jim Acosta, thank you for that news.

ACOSTA: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Let's get a quick comment on that. I've got Anne Rimoin with me. She's a professor at UCLA's Department of epidemiology and director of the UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health.

And, Anne, got a whole host of questions I wanted to ask you about. But got to get you on the record reacting. Like the circle keeps getting closer. What are you thinking of all of this?

DR. ANNE RIMOIN, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY & DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR GLOBAL AND IMMIGRANT HEALTH, UCLA: I think it just shows us that the spread of this virus, no matter how careful you are, can happen. And this is a very, very important moment to understand nobody is immune to this environment, unless they've had it. And that's a different discussion. We're still trying to understand that.

But this virus doesn't discriminate. Everybody is at risk for it. And it can happen in any circumstance, which is why we need to have good diagnostics, have all the precautions, including universal masking, everybody covering their mouths, keeping droplets to themselves, hand hygiene and social distancing.

This is -- you know, so it's bottom line, it shouldn't be terribly surprising if you're not using the precautions that we're recommending, then you are at greater risk. So --


BALDWIN: So I'm just going to -- bottom line, I think what you just said, the president of the United States and the vice president, they need to be wearing masks. Period.

RIMOIN: Correct. Correct. Everybody should be wearing masks, hand hygiene, social distancing. Everybody.

BALDWIN: I don't even know how to segue this. I'll just ask you this next question, and that is, in China, medical researchers say the virus has appeared in the semen of men who have recovered. And so the question is, is coronavirus something that can actually spread through sex?

RIMOIN: Brooke, this is not a surprising finding. We've seen this with Zika, with Ebola, with many different viruses that they can live in the reproductive tract. And this can be for months after a male patient has recovered. So we've seen this before. This should not be terribly surprising.

The reason this is really going to be important is because, if this happens, this can persist long after people are recovered. So then it becomes not just an issue of respiratory transmission, but sexual transmission.

The big question is, however, are these, is finding the virus or finding evidence of the virus in semen is one thing, but whether or not it's actually infectious and can be transmittable is the next thing we actually have to understand.

So this is just another example of we are learning about this virus on a daily basis. And this will definitely inform policy going forward.

So in the absence of understanding how this will be infectious, it's important for people to know that they should be practicing abstinence or safe sex after being sick. We learned this after Zika and Ebola. This is not new news in general for a virus.

BALDWIN: I think it's news some people can use for sure.

Anne Rimoin, thank you very much for coming on. Be well.

As Texas reopens, I'll talk to a doctor there who says he has seen a surge in his clinic with folks with respiratory issues.


BALDWIN: And they are charged with hunting and killing an African- American jogger. But as these two, father and son, appear in court, why they will not face hate crime charges? Coming up.



BALDWIN: The family of this man, Ahmaud Arbery -- was shot and killed while jogging in south Georgia -- is hoping they are closer to justice today. Arbery was killed while just out on a run through a neighborhood back on February 23rd.

But today, instead of celebrating his 26th birthday, his family gathering together to remember a young life lost to gun violence and to speak out against what so many say is clearly a hate crime.

It wasn't until after this video was released -- and I should warn you the video is graphic -- that the men blamed for his death were arrested. They are a father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael. They just appeared in a Glynn County court.

And CNN's Martin Savidge is following this case and is outside of the courthouse.

This appearance was by, what, video, correct?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was. Yes. Because you have to remember, on top of just it is a fairly simplistic procedure the first court appearance but we're dealing with pandemic issues.

So there was a magistrate linked via video to the county jail, which is where the father and son are. Travis is the son who appeared first. What they essentially do is they're going to read you your rights and the charges against you and then they'll tell you if there's bond. In this case, bond has not been set yet.

The only response out of Travis -- and he is the one holding the shotgun that went off and killed Arbery -- he just said yes when he was asked his name.

And the same was with the father. And they were wearing orange jump suits and it was over in less than two minutes. So no bond as of yet.

We don't know when the court next court appearance is going to be. It's complicated because many of the judges in the area all know Gregory McMichael because he used to be in law enforcement. And that is probably going to be an issue of conflict.

BALDWIN: So that is a conflict of interest number one.

The question I have is, this father and son duo, they're not being charged with a hate crime and officials in Georgia say they won't be. Why?

SAVIDGE: Right. That question was brought up at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's news conference this morning and you could just hear that sort of long pause as the head of the GBI said, well, that's because there are to hate crime laws in the state of Georgia.

And it is hard to believe in the modern age and the year of 2020 that Georgia does not have a hate crime law but it doesn't. There's a federal one but not a state one here. It did at one time, back in 2000. But in 2004, it was overturned by the State Supreme Court because they ruled that it was unconstitutionally vague.

And there have been several attempts since then by the state legislature to pass it and it either has failed or it hasn't even gotten out of committee. And as to the reason why, you would have to talk to the legislators. It is just been one of those things bogged down.

Georgia is one of the four states. The others are Arkansas, Wyoming and South Carolina. And beyond that, that is as much as I could tell you about it, as frustrating as it is.

Especially at a time like this. Because what it would essentially do, if they are convicted of, say, murder, they would get a severe sentence. But it would add additional time and it would send a very clear message that the state of Georgia is any kind of hate like this depicted on anybody -- Brooke?


Martin, thank you very much, in Brunswick, Georgia.

We're getting breaking news. The office investigating the whistleblower complaint of former vaccine chief, Dr. Richard Bright, has determined that there's reason to believe he had been removed as retaliation and is recommending he be reinstated during the investigation. That was according to Dr. Bright's lawyers.


We'll talk more about this ahead.


BALDWIN: Countries around the world are marking the 75th anniversary of V.E. Day. That's the day Nazi Germany surrendered to allied troops ending World War II.

And in this era of social distancing, the pomp and pageantry has given way to more solemn ceremonies. And for those who experienced that day, poignant memories of what that was like.

This one from Queen Elizabeth, who, as a 19-year-old princess, ventured outside of the palace to join the crowds who gathered to celebrate.


QUEEN ELIZABETH II: We asked my parents if we could go out and see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognized.

So I pulled my uniform camp well down into my eyes. I saw a dear officer among 16 people and he said he refused to be in the company of another officer improperly dressed so I had to put my cap on normally.

We cheered the king and queen on the balcony, and then walked miles through the streets. After crossing Green Park, we stood outside and shouted, "We want the king." And we were successful in seeing my parents on the balcony. Having cheated because we sent a message into the house to say we were waiting outside.

I think it was one of the most memorable nights of my life.


BALDWIN: The queen. There she was at 19.

I'm joined by CNN royal correspondent Max Foster.

And, Max, so rare to hear the queen, especially talking about this memory of hers from 75 years ago.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, such a long time ago. But it was so defining for her. She spent the war here at Windsor Castle locked up. She's again locked up at Windsor Castle for another type of war.

But that was the moment where she was allowed, remarkably, by the king and queen, to go out into the crowd. It shows how momentous the occasion was.

And it was a real moment of freedom. The only time she's ever been among the people. The only time she what she's got a sense of what it was like to look up at the balcony and see herself there, really for the public, in the future for her. So it is a remarkable moment for utterly defining.

It's also defining in the way the public think of her as well. So the public was very much looking to the queen to give them some sort of reassurance of continuity at the time of the virus being locked away.

Tonight, she'll come out in the U.K. and give a speech to the public. Boris Johnson has been invoking the war spirit but I think the public are looking at her now and looking for advice from her.

When we see the hospital admission numbers coming down here in the U.K., the government is still saying it is not safe to go out, I think she'll reiterate the message that it is important to listen to the government. You don't want to lose the traction against the virus.


A big moment tonight. A huge moment for her speaking today. And we never hear that sort of sense of personality from her, really, in public. But I think it affected her so much at that moment, which is why that bit of tape is so lovely to hear.