Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 77,000; Pence Aide Katie Miller, Wife of Trump Aide Stephen Miller, Tests Positive for Coronavirus; Two Children Die in NY After Experiencing "Very Rare" Syndrome That may be Linked to Coronavirus; Oxford Researchers: Will Have Millions of Vaccine Doses by Sept; Record 20.5 Million Jobs Lost in April; Unemployment Rate Hits 14.7 percent, Highest Since Great Depression; U.S. Hits Worst Unemployment Rate Since Great Depression; Reports: MLB Days Away from Unveiling Plan for 2020 Season. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 8, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much for watching. I'll have a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow night 7 pm Eastern.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thank you so much, Wolf.

Next, coronavirus in the West Wing. Tonight Mike Pence's Press Secretary testing positive. She's also married to a top Trump advisor. This after the President's valet tested positive.

Plus, the race for a vaccine. Researchers at Oxford say they are just weeks away from confirming whether their vaccine works. One of the lead professors is OUTFRONT.

And baseball legend Alex Rodriguez joins me live. Is professional baseball really coming back in July?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, the coronavirus now spreading through the White House. Vice President Mike Pence's Press Secretary Katie Miller today testing positive for coronavirus. Miller is the Press Secretary who has handled the messaging from the Coronavirus task force, which Pence, of course, heads up.

There she is. You can see her.

She tends White House coronavirus task force briefings. There she is near the podium. This is Miller just yesterday working. You can see her. She's the one not wearing a mask, speaking to reporters as she traveled with the Vice President to Alexandria, Virginia.

Miller is also married to Trump's senior advisor and speechwriter, Stephen Miller. These are two people with not just high profile jobs, high contact jobs. They come into contact with a lot of people in the West Wing from the very top on down.

And what's even more alarming is an administration official says that Katie Miller actually tested negative just yesterday. That's the day we learned one of President Trump's valets tested positive.

Now, officials have told CNN that very few people inside the White House wear masks during the day including valets. Now, though President Trump says that'll change.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX & FRIENDS: Are you going to ask for people who serve you food to start wearing masks, gloves ...

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, they've already started.

KILMEADE: ... some of the precautions that we're doing out here?

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


BURNETT: They've started weeks after rest of the country, but why weren't more people who were coming into close contact with the President of the United States wearing masks since April 3rd, because April 3rd is the date when the CDC recommended that all Americans wear masks over a month ago?

Well, perhaps the reason that none of them were wearing masks is because the President himself doesn't wear a mask. Just today, he greeted World War II veterans who are in their 90s without a mask. The youngest vet there was 96 years old. Why didn't the president wear a mask? Well, here's what he said.


TRUMP: I was very far away from them. We were very far away. You saw. Plus, the wind was blowing so hard in such a direction that if the plague ever reached them. I'd be very surprised. It could have reached me too. You didn't worry about me, you only worry about them.


BURNETT: But it was just three days ago at a plant that makes masks in Arizona. People Trump was speaking to there, they were all wearing masks. People who work at making mask, they're wearing masks. They were spaced six feet apart. The Commander in Chief not wearing a mask.

But now that the virus is in the halls of the White House, will the President start following his administration's own guidelines? Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live outside the White House.

So Kaitlan, how close is Miller and her husband to the President and the Vice President on a regular basis? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Katie Miller is

very close to the Vice President. He has a pretty small staff as most vice presidents typically do. So you either see Katie Miller or his chief of staff traveling with him whenever he goes somewhere like when he went to Iowa today or when he has these events. Katie Miller is typically someone who attended these coronavirus task force meetings with the Vice President and other aides in the room.

So she's an incredibly visible presence in the West Wing more so now because of them handling the coronavirus task force for the last several months. Because if you're familiar with the White House, the Vice President's offices in the building next door to the West Wing, but you often see the Vice President obviously in the West Wing, his staffers as well.

And you can see her there. She often came out to these briefings and was telling people where to stand, what to do. And so that's what's so notable about the fact that she has now tested positive is that we should note earlier today we found out that Miller had been tested yesterday, she was a negative. She did not have any symptoms when she showed up to work today, but she was tested as was the rest of the staff because they're now testing people on a daily basis after we reported yesterday about the valet and that's when her test came back positive.

What's really notable about that is that it caused six staffers to get off Air Force Two today as it sat on the tarmac for an hour. They later tested negative, but it really goes to show you, Erin, just how quickly all of this can change.

BURNETT: Right. And there was a lot of intrigue about her positive test and whatever symptoms that she did not appear to have. I mean, what happened?

COLLINS: I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that she is also married to one of the President's senior policy advisors, Stephen Miller, who obviously is around the President quite frequently. And so that's been raising questions about what the exposure level is like.

Because it was already a lot going on in the West Wing yesterday after we reported about that valet testing positive because people know just how closely that person works with the President.


So now today to find out that someone who also works very closely with the Vice President really raised a lot of eyebrows inside the West Wing. And so that's why it'll be interesting to see what they change going forward, not just having the valets wear a mask but whether or not anyone else wears masks.

You saw today the President was in that room with several Republican members of Congress and he was asked what's the reason that no one is wearing masks. The only person, Erin, that he could point to that was a White House official wearing a mask was the White House photographer. Nobody else in the room was wearing one today. BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. And I want to go now

to Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Jonathan Reiner who advise the White House medical team under President George W. Bush and currently at the Cardiac Cath Lab at G.W. University Hospital.

So Sanjay, six members of the Vice President's staff asked to get off the plane as Kaitlan was reporting to go and get tested, because they've been in contact with Katie Miller. They tested negative we understand.

She tested positive today, wasn't having symptoms yesterday, was tested this morning. They said as part of just the regular testing. Yesterday she was negative. Now, the Abbott test which the White House uses may have a 15 percent false negative rate, could she possibly have been carrying this virus four days prior?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, that is a possibility. These tests are not perfect, this 15 percent false negative is pretty significant. Also, I think it's just important to point out that between the time that you're exposed and the time that you might subsequently test positive, can still take a few days. Even if you're carrying the virus in your body, the tests may not pick it up for a period of time and we know that people who are ...

BURNETT: And you can be spreading it to be clear, right, during that time?

GUPTA: ... you could be spreading it to be clear and we know that even people before they become symptomatic, that might even be their highest period of contagiousness. So you can spread it and spread it even more so before you develop symptoms. So it's a concern.

I mean that the goal of testing is to obviously try and contain the virus, but the foremost goal is to try and keep people from getting infected in the first place.

BURNETT: And Dr. Reiner, that thing is a senior administration official said the President hasn't had direct contact with Katie Miller recently. But, of course, she's married to Stephen Miller, who he has direct contact with all of the time, he spends a lot of time with the President, with Jared Kushner, his office is in the West Wing where the President is.

Katie Miller is often in the West Wing and she hasn't been wearing a mask. We see the President doesn't wear a mask. Wearing a mask clearly was not what most people were doing in that environment. How much risk could the President be out here?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Oh, this is really significant. To borrow a phrase from the military, the enemy is in the wire now. Right now we only know of two members of the White House staff, the valet and Ms. Miller who are positive. I'll be shocked if they're the last two.

Many of us for the last several weeks have been arguing that visitors to the President and Vice President needed to be limited to prevent infectious risk to the leaders of our country and we've also been arguing that everyone who sees the President should be wearing a mask. It's been really hard to understand that these briefings with all the folks lined up behind them why no one is wearing a mask.

Now, I would not let anyone visit the President unless they're wearing a mask. These tests that they've been relying on have a significant false negative rate and now you see the consequences of that. The virus is in the White House now.

BURNETT: And Sanjay, you spoke last night with Dr. Birx. You asked her how staffers can protect the President and the reality is that they can't fully. Here's what she said.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I think all of us are very nervous every day. None of us want to be the one to ever bring coronavirus into the White House. Most of us don't do anything but go to work and come home.

If we go out at all even to take a walk, I could assure you we do where mass in public and we do very exquisitely social distance. But every day you're running around, you're always asking yourself, did I forget to wash my hands, did I use hand sanitizers, did I touch someone's phone, did I touch someone's chair?


BURNETT: I mean, that's what she said to you last night, Sanjay. And obviously she's saying it's impossible to protect them entirely, but when it comes to exquisite social distancing, we can just look at those pictures of Katie Miller and others. Once they're in that White House zone, they all clearly felt that wasn't necessary, no mask.

I mean, that's her yesterday, OK. She tested positive today. The reporters are wearing masks. She's not.

GUPTA: Yes. And Ambassador Birx, she was responding to the question that I asked about why doesn't everyone wear a mask, I mean, it's impossible really seemingly to physically distance yourself enough in the White House. It's similar in hospitals as well. I mean, you just can't get that physical distance people wear masks.

So she said we're doing everything we can washing our hands, only going outside and wearing a mask when we're in public. But you're wearing a mask in the White House so as to not put the virus in the environment or to try and reduce it at least.


And it's good to hear the President saying the valets are now doing that, but I think it's one of these situations where a few weeks from now we're going to sort of say how was it possible that they went for so long without doing this because more and more people will probably be diagnosed with this infection? BURNETT: Right. And, of course, sadly I think we all know the answer,

which is that the President just didn't think that it was necessary. He doesn't want to wear it. He refuses to wear it. He's blatantly done that.

Dr. Reiner, what about the reality of the fact that the President and the Vice President are still together all of the time?

REINER: Yes, very worrisome. In the aftermath of 9/11, the President and Vice President were separated for weeks. The concern was that a terrorist attack could decapitate the government and now we have a virus which risks infecting both the President and Vice President, I would limit their contact with each other. They should really be separated, less they risk infecting each other.

And the President is at great risk of dying from this virus. He's in the high-risk group. He's almost 74 years old and his body mass index is elevated, consistent with obesity. And those are two risk factors for a bad outcome with this virus. He should not get this virus and I would do everything I could to limit his exposure to people who might bring the virus to him.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

GUPTA: Sure.

REINER: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, New York health officials now investigating the deaths of two children who had symptoms consistent with coronavirus. More on what we're learning about these two children.

And the race for a vaccine, one group of researchers is so far along. They say they're just weeks from knowing whether the vaccine works. A lead researcher is back OUTFRONT.

Plus, a record, 20.5 million jobs were lost last month. The President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco tell me how long she thinks it will take this country to recover.



BURNETT: Tonight, two children in New York have died from a mysterious illness that could be linked to Coronavirus. Gov. Cuomo saying the state is investigating more than 70 reported cases where children have been experiencing this rare inflammatory syndrome.

Athena Jones is OUTFRONT. So Athena, this is pretty shocking headline just crossing moments ago. What do we know about these two children?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. It really is heartbreaking news. Well, we know that these boys' deaths come as the state is seeing evidence that the novel coronavirus can cause severe illness in children. Now, the five-year-old boy was from New York City. He died on Thursday. He was being treated at Mount Sinai for inflammatory systems similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome.

The seven-year-old boy was from Westchester County. Officials there said his death was being investigated as a possible case of inflammatory symptoms as well. This as more and more states make big moves to reopen, Erin.


JONES (voice over): California today beginning of phased reopening, even though it is one of 28 states where new cases are still on the rise. The first state to issue a stay at home order will now allow stores that sell clothing and books among others to open for curbside pickup. Also allowed to reopen, manufacturers, construction and car dealerships with proper social distancing and sanitation protocols. But some 30 percent of businesses still remain closed.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D) CALIFORNIA: I know 70 percent is not a hundred percent and I deeply recognize with modifications means with restrictions. And with those restrictions, means the struggle for businesses to get back to where they were pre pandemic.


JONES (voice over): By Sunday, 48 states will have begun lifting restrictions, a new study from the University of Maryland based on cell phone data showing more people from surrounding states rushing to Georgia as it began to reopen.


PROFESSOR LEI ZHANG, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE: We are seeing major, major reduction in social distancing. It's almost like people were staying at home for too long and they just couldn't wait for a cue to go out.


JONES (voice over): Meanwhile, as meatpacking plants begin to reopen local officials reporting Tyson's Waterloo, Iowa plant has more than 1,000 employees testing positive for the virus.

Next door in Nebraska, the Governor says they'll stop reporting cases at specific plants unless they have the company's permission and can verify the person's employment status.


GOV. PETE RICKETTS (R-NE): We at the state, we've got a policy, we're not disclosing that on a company by company basis.


JONES (voice over): And states across the country continue to grapple with the high toll the virus has had on nursing homes.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Just about half the fatalities in our state are related to long-term care facilities.


JONES (voice over): States that haven't yet begun to reopen, laying out plans they hope will allow them to do so safely.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We haven't killed the beast, but we are ahead of it.


JONES(voice over): New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing the city will form a test and trace corps.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): By early June, we'll have 2,500 public health foot soldiers in this corps. So take entity that didn't even exist and in the course of just weeks, it will be ramped up to 2,500 people to begin. Big number but unnecessary number to be able to build what we need to build, that number will grow.


JONES(voice over): And there's more evidence of unequal policing of social distancing rules. The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office confirming 35 out of the 40 people arrested for violating guidelines were black. De Blasio tweeting, "The disparity in numbers does not reflect our values. We have to do better and we will."


JONES: And more on the deaths of those two children as this news just comes in the last few minutes. Mount Sinai emphasizing that they believe this is a rare condition and urging any parents with concerns to contact their pediatrician for a consultation. The state health department is investigating 73 reported cases of children with similar inflammatory symptoms.

And Mount Sinai is encouraging everyone to continue to practice social distancing, wear mask and wash their hands. Erin.

BURNETT: Athena, thank you very much.

And with these developments now to the race for a cure, researchers at Oxford University giving one of the most accelerated timelines yet for a vaccine, saying they could have millions of doses ready by September. OUTFRONT now, Professor Adrian Hill, one of the lead researchers working on that vaccine at Oxford. And I appreciate your time. And Adrian, it's good to check back in

with you. So you've been working at what by all accounts is an unprecedented pace to develop this vaccine. Are you still on track to be able to report to the world whether the vaccine works by June because, obviously, that's now just a matter of a few weeks?

ADRIAN HILL, LEAD RESEARCHER IN OXFORD'S VACCINE TESTING ON HUMANS: So what we've done since we talked last a couple of weeks ago was started this trial and recruited now almost a thousand subjects who have been vaccinated.


So that's good progress. We're on schedule there.

We will have completed this phase one trial by the end of next week, at least, in terms of the vaccinations. And then we'll be moving on to trying to recruit another 5,000 people around about the end of the month. So yes, it's still moving very quickly.

We don't know, as I said before, when we'll get the answer. But we'll have some good indications on safety very soon. And then the key bit of information next month is on the immune response that the vaccine actually produces.

And having a look at that, we can get a pretty good idea of how well it's likely to work.

BURNETT: So that is the efficacy, is that what you're talking about that you would be able to give everyone a sense of that at some point in June?

HILL: No, that's not efficacy. That's the immune responses that we expect will (inaudible), but we were always targeting remember the end of August, September time for the final answer on efficacy. And we can't make that happen any faster because people have to get infected by COVID for us to come cases and to see if the vaccine actually reduces those in the people who we vaccinated.

So we can't do it any faster than that. But if it works really, really well or if we have a lot more cases than we expect, then it might be a little earlier.

BURNETT: And has there been any consideration or pressure on you to do those sort of challenge trials where you would actually expose people to the virus as opposed to seeing if it happens naturally?

HILL: Sure. That's a great question. There's a lot of interest in whether you could do that sort of so called challenge model in humans to test the COVID vaccine. And that's the sort of thing we do all of the time in Oxford for malaria vaccine testing, for typhoid vaccine of my colleagues here. So in principle, yes, we could do that for COVID.

There are two things we don't have though at the moment. One is a suitable clinically approvable stock of the virus that we could actually give to people. And secondly, for safety reasons, we would really like to have some good drugs that we know impact on the virus. And we can see those are coming along, there's nothing yet that you would want to risk dosing somebody with to be cured by that drug.

But I think things are moving very fast in the drug field and in a few weeks, maybe a few months, there should be something.

BURNETT: So you have talked about having the doses ready by September, that you would be going through that part of the manufacturing part of the process as you were finishing your efficacy trials, so that if it passes, you've got doses ready to go. So where are you on that? I know you've partnered now with AstraZeneca, which is obviously one of the biggest drug companies in the world.

So when you say millions of doses, what does that really mean? Obviously, you're looking at many billions of people. You're not going to get there. But how much can you ramp this up?

HILL: So that's the good news, as you say, and we've partnered with a major manufacturer that sells vaccines. We've been working really now just for over a week very closely with them and the news is very good. Their plans really shine very well with what we were hoping to do.

And you're right, we're not looking for a million doses, we're looking for hundreds of millions, maybe eventually even a billion doses sometime next year. And that's looking feasible. And if this pandemic carries on spreading and growing in some countries and diminishing in others, we're going to be looking as a community, maybe several different companies with different vaccines, trying to vaccinate billions of people.

So we can do our bit and get there first and produce close to a billion by the end of the year, that's a hugely tall order but it's not totally unreasonable. So we're becoming more ambitious in that.

BURNETT: Well, I know we obviously all will see what happens, but I know people are grateful for the ambition and the optimism and we appreciate your time as always. Thank you so much.

HILL: Thank you.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, today the United States had its worst jobs report in history. President Trump though says the jobs are going to come back quickly. Is that the case? So we're going to go to the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

And multiple reports say America's favorite pastime is about to come back, in what form though? Fourteen time All Star and World Series Champion, Alex Rodriguez, is OUTFRONT.




BURNETT: Tonight, a record number of Americans out of work. The U.S. economy losing 20.5 million jobs last month which is the most, since the government began keeping track in 1939. The unemployment rate soared now 14.7 percent. That is the worst rate registered in this country since the Great Depression.

Those headlines though don't even tell them whole story, because average hourly earnings did rise by about 5 percent. And the reason is that so many people with lower paying jobs are out of work that earnings appear they're skewed higher.

OUTFRONT now Mary Daly, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. And I appreciate your time.

Mary, we knew this was going to be awful and sort of incomprehensible and it is, what concerns you the most about this report?

MARY DALY, PRESIDENT, SAN FRANCISCO FEDERAL RESERVE: Well, it concerns me that so many people who already were less advantaged, marginalized, if you will, who got to come into the labor market, because we had such a strong expansion going have now been sidelined in such great proportions. And it will be really important as we come out safely and reengage with work that we go back and make sure that everybody becomes part of this new activity and the recovery and not leave those people behind. We really can't afford another decade of slow growth that brings them in only 10 years later.


BURNETT: The president says he expects jobs to come back quickly. Here's how he put it today.


TRUMP: Those jobs will be back and they'll be back very soon, and next year, we're going to have a phenomenal year.


BURNETT: Do you think next year will be a phenomenal year?

DALY: Well, let me talk about my forecast, my baseline. And it starts with the coronavirus really determines a lot of this.

My hope, what I'm hoping in the baseline is that we can come back safely. We listen to public health officials. We take it slow, we're gradual. You know, we need to be thoughtful, gradual and flexible. If we do those things, then I expect us to have positive growth in 2021, but that's not going to be satisfying.

You know, the Federal Reserve, we are given by Congress two goals, full employment and price stability and that full employment just doesn't mean that most people come back. It means that all people get to come back and everyone American who wants a job can get one.

BURNETT: So yesterday, you know, the investment officer, JPMorgan, said it could take 10 to 12 years for employment to return where it was. And as you point out, where it was pretty incredible, right? I mean, you had record low unemployment for a lot of groups.

Do you believe that it could take that long, that this could be that deep and long of a recovery?

DALY: I'm working night and day to ensure that doesn't happen. You saw unprecedented action by the Federal Reserve and also by Congress to try to shore up businesses so that we could re-engage in activity.

And when the coronavirus is behind us we can re-engage fully like we were months ago. It won't be quick in my opinion. It won't be V- shaped. It will be gradual. We can't really let it go on for ten years.

BURNETT: You have tourism in your area that you oversee. You got Nevada, California, Arizona, Utah. You've got tourism massively. You've got gaming massively. You have technology massively, and a whole lot of other things as well.

But I point out there are some bright spots perhaps in technology and there -- as we all know, and some of the most negative in terms of what's happening in industries in gaming and travel. But does anything stand out to you that we might not expect?

DALY: Well, what stands out is that jobs are still being created. In Silicon Valley, in technology, firms are still hiring. They're not just hiring at Amazon and distribution networks. They're hiring in groups that can work at home and telework. There is demand for activity.

What is true, though, is that Hawaii has basically closed down. They only have about 200 visitors a day now, and that is a massive shock to that group. So this is an uneven shock. And we're going to have to do things that help even out the recovery.

BURNETT: All right. Mary, I appreciate your time very much. Interesting she mentions Hawaii. Today, the first day they didn't have a case and they're just starting to reopen this weekend.

OUTFRONT now, Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama.

So, Austan, this is a jaw-dropping number when you look at this, 20 million Americans. It's a thing out of science fiction, yet it is the reality. You know, you hear Mary giving a very reasoned perspective on how this could go. But, you know, when there are people out there saying this is just going to be great next year, you don't like suddenly have 20 people come back in as quickly as they went out. It's just not going to happen.

How does the economy recover?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS UNDER OBAMA: Well, I think you can get part of it to come back. But, you know, the virus is the boss, as President Daly said there. And the thing about that is, if you just open the doors and tell everybody, go back out there, first of all, a lot of people will not go back out there. You've seen that already in the states that are reopening.

But the second is, there are countries where they reopened too quickly, the virus flared back up and they had to go back into lockdown and it devastated the credibility of the government where they did that, because the government told people it was safe. Then they go out and it turns out it's not safe.

So, I think everybody should take a little bit of a step back here. And recognize we've got an unbelievable wound to the economy. Now, hopefully, it's going to come back faster than normal recessions come back. At normal pace, it will be a decade before we're back to something like normal. I think we can come back faster than that.

But promising that all the jobs will come back by the end of the year seems like a big mistake to me.

BURNETT: And, you know, you have the president, obviously, saying next year will be phenomenal. His Council of Economic Advisers, you know, you got Kevin Hassett has said things are going to get a lot worse. You do have different views coming out of the White House. Larry Kudlow, one of the top economists for the White House, a person you and I know well professionally, here's what he said today.



LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Look, the second half of this year should grow by 20 percent off of the difficult second quarter and 2021 could be a terrific American recovery.


BURNETT: All right. Twenty percent off of a difficult second quarter. I guess it depends what your base rate is. But even that, do you think that's possible?

GOOLSBEE: That seems like a stretch to me. I hope that's right. If you have a minus 40 and then a plus 20, you're down 20 percent. That would be the worst year in the history of the GDP.

So, I don't think they -- I just don't understand why they're trying to dance a jig and say this is going to be amazing. Hey, pay no attention to the unemployment rate that just went up by more in one month than unemployment has ever gone up in any year in U.S. history, including any year of the Great Depression. Why try to -- why try to minimize that? I guess I just don't understand what they're doing.

BURNETT: Austan, thank you.

GOOLSBEE: Yes. Good seeing you again.

BURNETT: Next, the pandemic putting a serious financial strain on so many in this country, including churches.

And baseball legend Alex Rodriguez is my guest. Does he believe reports that baseball could be back in a matter of weeks?



BURNETT: The economic meltdown having a dramatic impact on houses of worship, churching across the nation fear they'll have to close their door force good as donations have dried up.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a spiritual look to God, it is the mortality of a pandemic that threatens their faith.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we ask that you help us in one of the most difficult periods of our church's history.

LAH: Coronavirus moved the congregation out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God be with us and bless us, God. And God speak to our spirit.

LAH: The service now virtual. Fewer than ten people allowed inside this chapel. Severely impacting the donation basket.

REV. JAMES ARTHUR RUMPH, GRANT AME CHURCH: Takes finances to cover those expenses that are necessary. All of the utilities, the mortgages.

LAH: Your church is truly, in some ways, a business.

RUMPH: Yes, church is a business. It's a tremendous strain.

LAH: The Grant AME Church is one of the many houses of worship impacted around the world. In Vatican City, the pope has delivered his message to a vacant square.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for everything that every one of you are doing.

LAH: In Tennessee, the pews are parking lots for the socially distanced faithful, created in the era of COVID, not enough to cover the bills. Latest available data shows 40 percent of congregations had no savings.

PASTOR ROB LEE, TOOK PAY CUT TO HELP HIS CHURCH: I've been having to juggle my own crisis of faith, where is God, what is God doing?

This is what pain feels like.

LAH: Reverend Robert Lee leads the church in North Carolina. Like other pastors and priests, Lee has delivered last rites to coronavirus patients. He's now taken a pay cut and turned to Twitter. If you have extra funds lying around and find my work meaningful, please help.

LEE: This is a make or break moment for communities of faith. And not only churches, but synagogues, mosques, temples everywhere. We're all struggling in this. Many churches that I know of did not have online giving platforms until just recently.

FATHER MODESTO: Hi. This is Father Modesto. Open the latch.

LAH: Most this priest walked his congregates how to give with little contact.

(on camera): You're concerned?


LAH (voice-over): It's hard not to be, says Grant AME member Wayne Bowen. He's giving as much as he can, but knows it's not enough.

BOWNE: Ten percent of nothing like I make a month is nothing compared what I've gained since I've been coming here.


LAH: You heard the pastor in our story say that businesses are churches, churches are small businesses. They do qualify. It may surprise you that they can apply for the PPP loan, the program we covered so much here on OUTFRONT. The churches we spoke with, though, did not qualify for those PPP programs. At least they didn't get their loans approved yet -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Kyung, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT next, you see him live here, Yankee great Alex Rodriguez. Does he believe baseball is about to come back? What will it look like? We'll ask him, next.



BURNETT: Tonight, America may be one step closer to the return of professional baseball. There are multiple reports saying there's a plan for 2020 that calls for spring training to start in mid-June and the actual season in early July.

OUTFRONT now, 14-time all-star, three-time American League MVP and World Series champion with the New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez.

So, Alex, baseball back in July, the pandemic, of course, will still be going on. Do you think it will happen?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, FORMER NY YANKEE: I certainly think so and I hope so. Obviously, I'm a fan first. But I know that major league baseball officials are working around the clock.

Look, I think they will let science lead the way and our public officials. I think safety is obviously the number one thing. But there's a lot of variables, Erin, to think about. It's not just players. There are coaches over 65, there's umpires. There's kids that have asthma.

So, there's a lot of variables and factors that are being considered that are not really being talked about. But I am still very hopeful and optimistic.

BURNETT: So, you know, there was this talk, as you know, Alex, that at first they were going to quarantine all 32 teams in a few states for the entire season. That was thrown out there. Then we heard no, there might be three divisions of teams based on geography, so you only have to go where you would drive so you're not asking teams to fly, things like that.

What are you hear about how baseball would even work?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I think the three divisions makes a lot of sense, because everything is cut into regions, but I think the big issue inside baseball, as they say, is the 30 owners and the players association have to come to an agreement on what is going to be the payment. Will there be additional concessions with those people in the stands, without any fans, and those are going to be big issues that are being talked about right now. And after they come up with an agreement, hopefully July is the right time.

BURNETT: OK. So you talk about the fans. You know, there was a major milestone in baseball in Taiwan. I know you saw, Alex, fans once again were allowed in the stands.

They had to sit apart, though. It's a really weird-looking thing. They're wearing masks, multiple seats apart, 1,000 of them allowed per game. But, look, I mean, people are probably thrilled to get that at this point.


There's also baseball under way in South Korea, but, I mean, look at this. No fans. Banners with the faces of fake fans.

But, you know, look, you spent a dozen years playing in New York. You know how passionate the fans are. Part of how you plays, that roar that you would feel. Can you imagine playing without fans?

RODRIGUEZ: No, because the game is really all about fans, they're the shareholders, the owners of our game. We have the privilege to play, manage or broadcast in my case now, but fans are a big part of it. And fans come out to the stadium, but they also watch at home. And America's never been hungrier for sports and baseball. It is America's favorite pastime, and I do think America needs its comfort food, and that's baseball.

BURNETT: So, how would you feel right now? Would you comfortable playing now, if it were you?

RODRIGUEZ: The real answer is I don't know. I don't have enough of the science. I have four kids at home, a family. That's always my concern.

My concern is also for the people. Over 30 million people unemployed, 1 of every 5 child going through hunger. Those are really my bigger concerns at macro level.

Playing the game -- players always want to play, fans always want to watch. Key is follow the science and do the right thing not just for short term but for the long term.

BURNETT: And you talk about hunger, Alex. You and your fiance and your four kids -- obviously, your kids, Jennifer Lopez's kids, your combined family, you donated 20,000 meals to unemployed restaurants and hospitality workers, you and Jennifer. Besides your New York connections, obviously, she's also from the Bronx, and New York is the epicenter of this crisis.

I mean, how has that impacted you both during this?

RODRIGUEZ: In a big way. We're both New Yorkers, we mentioned so many people going through challenges, unemployment, health issues, and Jennifer and I donated over a million meals simply to make our dent in one of our biggest problems right now, and hopefully encourage other people in fortunate positions to do the same.

BURNETT: So, you know, this week we actually had a piece end of the show, dad in Georgia when they were allowed to go to the baseball field celebrating first home run by his four-year-old son, kid named Asher. Dad is, you know, out of control with excitement. It turns out it's somebody you know, faced him at 22 months old in a hitting contest.

"Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon, Asher won. I guess he's the real deal.

RODRIGUEZ: Oh, man. Look at that.

BURNETT: It was pretty amazing.

You talk about the kids. I have a six-year-old boy, loves baseball, his league is shut down. They all shut down, right? They missed this whole spring. He misses it.

What do you say to kids who really love the game but are unable to keep learning it right now?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, look, there's over 2 million kids, boys and girls playing baseball and softball that are not playing. Your son is one of them.

Look, I say that baseball will be back soon. Baseball has always been there for me. Baseball will be there for many millions of kids out there. There's other ways right now where you can think about watching videos, YouTube, ways to grab the ball.

Parents are going to hate me but throw the ball against the wall, play catch, shadow swings, there's a lot of things you can do as a kid. I lived in a very, very small apartment and drove my mother crazy playing against the wall. I would hit beans with a broom stick. You just have to be creative.

RODRIGUEZ: And if you love the game, you'll figure out a way to play.

BURNETT: I love it. Beans with a fruit stick. There are a lot of kids in small apartments could take that advice.

All right. A-Rod, Alex, thank you so much, I appreciate it.

RODRIGUEZ: Erin, thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, the last recorded Nazi message decoded by Britain revealed as the world celebrates the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. This year, a little bit differently in the age of coronavirus.



BURNETT: (AUDIO GAP) last recorded Nazi message intercepted and decoded by Britain was actually revealed for first time. The message was a German lieutenant sending colleagues a final goodbye. Quote: British troops entered Cuxhaven at 14:00, 6th of May -- from now on, all radio traffic will cease -- wishing you best. Closing down now forever.

In another intercepted message, on May 4, soldiers asked if anyone can spare a cigarette, no cigarettes here was the reply.

And today, the world celebrated the end of the World War II. Even as we face now another global battle. In lieu of massive celebrations, there are very scaled down tributes, instead of handshakes, salute at a safe social distance.

In Washington, the veterans donning masks in wreath laying ceremony at World War II Memorial. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a socially distanced ceremony, somehow so poignant and beautiful.

In France, where Victory Day is a public holiday, President Macron led similar ceremonies.

And then in U.K., the Royal Air Force Red Arrows pay tribute from the air while residents held socially distant street parties below, and, of course, they unveiled those messages broken, of course, by the code breakers at Bletchley Hall. It was today and their solitude, the sign of the times, but yet, an important day to remember as we all now go through this next battle together.

Thank you so much for joining us on this Friday. And "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts now -- Chris.