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47 States To Begin Reopening By This Weekend Despite Warnings; Father And Son Charged With Murder Of Ahmaud Arbery; Pandemic cripples airline industry as demand plummets. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 8, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: The Trump administration is rejecting CDC guidelines on reopening. She now claims the guidelines will be released after some editing.

And through it all, President Trump keeps insisting that testing is overrated even though he and west wing staff will now be tested every day after it was revealed that one of the president's valets has coronavirus.

ERICA HILL, CNN NEW DAY: We are also following breaking news and a story we've been following for you this week. A father and son now now charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed man, Ahmaud Arbery, two months after he was killed. We're going to speak with Ahmaud's father coming up in our next hour.

We do begin though with that devastating jobs report. CNN's Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans joining us now with a preview. Christine, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Erica. These are devastating and historic numbers that will finally capture the damage of the shutdown on the jobs market. Here is what we know. One in five people who were working at the beginning of March are not working today. Let that sink in, one in five. 33.5 million layoffs or furloughs in just seven short weeks. That's ten years of job market gains gone.

It took months to shed 8 million jobs during the great recession. And that great recession got its own nickname, it was so bad. This is four times worse in lightning speed.

Just two months ago, the jobless rate was near 50-year low at 3.5 percent. In April, it is forecast to reach anywhere from 16 to 20 percent. That's the worst since the great depression.

There is no playbook for this. We put the economy into a recession on purpose to fight the virus. It is impossible to know how many of those jobs come back and how quickly, worst since the great depression with an important difference.

America has a safety net this time. The Federal Reserve has announced nearly unlimited support for the credit markets and Congress has passed almost $3 trillion in bailouts, including more generous unemployment checks than in prior recessions, John, an extra $600 a week for four months for the unemployed. That runs out the end of July.

BERMAN: Again, we are standing by for these numbers. 90 minutes from now, Romans, we've been at this a long time, both of us. This will be historic. We have never seen anything like this. And you're running out of superlatives. There is just no way to describe it anymore. So we'll see you shortly.

California partially reopens today, but the mayor of Los Angeles is warning it will take a year to return to normal.

HILL: And after rejecting CDC guidelines for safely reopening, the White House now says those guidelines will, in fact, be released. They're making revisions.

BERMAN: All right. Joining us now is Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom. She's an assistant professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Also with us, Beth Cameron, she was the Senior Director for global Health Security and Biodefense on the White House National Security Council under President Obama. Thank you very much for being with us.

Beth, I want to start with this CDC guideline issue, this 17-page document that was being produced to give some guidance about how businesses, churches and what not should be reopened. CNN reported yesterday that CDC officials were telling us that it had been rejected. It would never see the light of day.

Deborah Birx, inside the task force overnight, seemed to backtrack on that. Let's listen to what she said.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Those are still being worked on. No one stopped those guidelines. We're still in editing. I just got my edits back from the CDC late yesterday. I'm working on them as soon as I get off of this discussion. So we are in constant work with the CDC and really value their partnership. As you know, they put up guidelines.


BERMAN: This seems to be a reversal from inside the task force, let's just be clear about that, Beth. What does it tell you that there is this tension about releasing these guidelines? Why will they be useful and why do you think the White House is having such a hard time getting them out there?

BETH CAMERON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY AND BIODEFENSE: Thanks. Well, first, I definitely think that they'll be useful. I think that right now, Americans really need to trust their public health officials. And as we start to see reopening, you were talking about L.A.'s slow reopening, I think Americans really need to see exactly what's going to happen. They need that playbook for businesses, for their families, for themselves and also for their kids. There's guidance in there about daycares, for example.

I think, also, really, also critically importantly, this is a huge need. So my organization working -- NCI working with the Georgetown and the Center for Global Development have been working with mayors and local leaders to release decision-making guidance because there hasn't been as much of that coming from the federal government. I think the CDC really has an opportunity to add to that and to add to that in a way that gives very clear instructions about what should happen at each phase.

Finally, CDC is the global gold standard. We know that we have China CDC, a Saudi, CDC, an Africa CDC.


There is no coincidence that CDCs around the world use our CDC name. And that's because they trust what we put out there. So there is a huge need.

Why do I think the White House may have reversed itself? I honestly think that when that information got out there, there was a backlash. That's all information. People were sending that around in email chains and I think people are really starting to realize that if Americans stop using the CDC, we're in a really bad situation, a much worse situation than we already are.

HILL: Doctor, how concerned are you about that, in terms of trusting the information that comes from the CDC? It seems every doctor I talk to says how heavily they rely on the CDC and they regularly go to the CDC website.

DR. JODIE DIONNE-ODOM, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Yes. Thanks, Erica. It's really important. I would say, not only do infectious disease doctors and public health doctors rely on the CDC for their information, but 80 to 85 percent of the public trust the CDC. That level of trust is something that you need to have in a pandemic response because we're asking people to do things that are not always easy, like staying home, like social distancing, like putting swabs in your nose. If you have faith in the organization that these policies are in place to protect public, that's a critical foundation to being able to respond.

BERMAN: The other thing is that the administration has told people, by and large, that it is safe to go out and they've listened and they are going out. There is this new study overnight from the University of Maryland based on cell phone data that found, quote, our data suggest that the partial reopening orders in some states have prompted a sharp increase in mobility behavior in decreasing social distancing across the nation. People were told they can go out, so they're going out.

Dr. Dionne-Odom, this isn't surprising, I imagine, but what concerns do you have about this new mobility in this country? DIONNE-ODOM: Well, the first point to make, I think, John, is that if you look at mobility overall, it's come down incredibly, from very high levels of people being out all the time to levels close to zero in some areas of people not leaving at all. So an increase from that baseline is still a very low level of activity.

We are hearing more messaging from governors and from officials saying that it's okay to begin to relax some of the social distancing. As soon as those are made public, the people are going to listen to the option to be able to go out. I think that's what you're seeing in the numbers. But, again, the activity overall is still much lower than what we're used to.

HILL: As we look at what's happening in different state, and, again, by the end of the weekend, 47 states will be partially reopened. I think, it's just New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts that won't be. There's also this news in California, Governor Gavin Newsom saying that the first case of community spread in that state came from a nail salon. He said he's very worried about that.

And, Beth, as we look at this patchwork response, because there's really no other way to say it, that we're seeing in states across the country, what concerns you most in the way states are making their decisions?

CAMERON: I think one of the things that's most concerning to me is actually even some of the messaging around reopening. Even using that term, reopening, I think sends a message that there will suddenly be back to normal. I think we know this is going to be elastic. We're going to see more people coming in contact with each other and that is definitely going to happen as we see some small things happening with more restaurants even opening or delivering curbside, like in L.A. or more recreation centers and parks.

But as people start coming into contact with one another, what has to happen, what has to keep up is the public health response, the ability to test, trace and isolate people so that we can actually safely do this. And so the slow nature of reopening, this really phased approach that some governors are doing a great job messaging, I think it's something the American public deserves to understand.

And I think the CDC guidance is going to be helpful with that because it lays it out very well, I think, that this is going to be a really baby step by baby step approach so that the economy can resume and bounce back and so we don't end up back in the stay-at-home order that we're under now.

BERMAN: I'm glad you brought up testing because there is this story that has developed over the last 24 hours, CNN was first to report that the president's valet has tested positive. One of his valets inside the White House has tested positive for the coronavirus. And now, the president and people inside the west wing will be tested every single day for a time. Listen to what the president had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I just had a test, as you probably heard. In fact, I had one yesterday and had one today. And it's negative.

No matter what you do, testing is not a perfect art. So we test once a week. Now, we're going to test once a day. And even when you test once a day, somebody could -- something happens when they catch something.



BERMAN: First of all, it must be nice, Dr. Dionne-Odom, to be able test every day. The White House just yesterday said, we can't test everyone every day. Inside the west wing, they have that capability. I don't think what most Americans are asking is everyone be tested every day. What they are asking is that when a case sprouts up like this, that you have the capacity to test around it and contact trace and be safe. So what does this example tell you?

DIONNE-ODOM: Yes. John, I think you said it well. This is a contact investigation. So if this person who comes in contact with President Trump is diagnosed, you would talk to him and find out who all his close contacts were over the past 48 hours before symptoms started. And then close contact is really not just a passing contact. It would be face-to-face contact for at least 10 to 30 minutes to count as a real exposure. So I think -- I don't know the details, but the risk for President Trump hopefully is quite low.

It brings up the really important point though that President Trump was worried about getting infected, as everyone in the world who is not yet infected is worried about getting infected. So I have pregnant patients who are immunocompromised calling me with worry. I have grandparents wanting to know when they can see their new grandchildren.

I think the broader message is it will be great when we can have a risk reduction method for everybody in the country, and not just the officials in the White House.

BERMAN: All right. Dr. Dionne-Odom and Beth Cameron, thank you both very much for being with us this morning.

HILL: Breaking news overnight. A father and son in Georgia charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed man. Ahmaud Arbery was allegedly jogging when he was gunned down back in February.

CNN's Martin Savidge joining us now from outside the police department where officials will be briefing us later this morning. And, Martin, you've been on this all week for us. Talk about an important development overnight.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's huge, Erica. Good morning to you. And there's no question, there were sort of two kinds of one case. It stagnated for ten weeks. And then with that dramatic video that purports to show how Ahmaud Arbery died, that changed everything. And as a result of that, you began to see law enforcement get very involved.

The family is grateful for what has happened, but realized it's just the first kinds of steps towards justice.


SAVIDGE: Nearly two months after the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, two men are now arrested. Gregory McMichael, a former police officer, and his son, Travis, now face murder and aggravated assault charges.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Daily Mail obtaining photos of the moment they were apprehended.

JASMINE ARBERY, AHMAUD ARBERY'S SISTER: We feel a sense of relief. This has been a long run. It's been a long time. It feels like it's been a long time. So this day was a turning point in recovering my brother's case and getting justice for him.

SAVIDGE: Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia on February 23rd. Gregory McMichael told police he believed Arbery was responsible for recent break-ins in the area, something people in the area may have believed as well.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It's all open. It's under construction. He's running around right now. There he goes right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. What is he doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's running down the street.

S. LEE MERRITT, ARBERY FAMILY ATTORNEY: There's nothing that connect Ahmaud, the victim, to any criminal behavior, certainly nothing that is going to lead to his death. So, as you can imagine, if he entered the property that wasn't his that under construction, arguably, it's a trespass but nothing that would warrant a citizen's arrest and certainly not a death sentence.

SAVIDGE: Earlier this week, a video posted to a local radio station's website that appears to show the final moments of Arbery's life, you can see Ahmaud Arbery jogging down the street in what appears to be the McMichaels waiting ahead of him. Gregory McMichael claims a struggle ensued over his son's shotgun and then three shots that left Ahmaud Arbery dead.

ARBERY: I believe it was a hate crime.


ARBERY: It was one black guy and three white guys.

CUOMO: How does that make you feel that that might have been what took your brother's life?

ARBERY: That his life wasn't respected.

SAVIDGE: The video has sparked outcry nationwide and protest throughout the State of Georgia. Despite police having the video shortly after the shooting, no arrest was made.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is calling for the Department of Justice to investigate the incidence and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp applauding investigators for their swift action adding that justice will be served.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Earlier this week, I watched the video depicting Mr. Arbery's last mments of life. I could tell you, it's absolutely horrific and Georgians deserve answers.

Thankfully, that district attorney has agreed to allow us to help and do an independent investigation.


I have no doubt in my mind that it will be fair.


SAVIDGE: In less than two hours, there is going to be a news conference held by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and update us on the situation. And then in three hours, there is scheduled to be another demonstration outside of the Glynn County courthouse.

Today would have been the 26th birthday of Ahmaud Arbery. Erica?

HILL: Martin Savidge, thank you. Thank you for all of your reporting on this. And we will be speaking with Ahmaud's father coming in just about an hour here on New Day.

The devastating jobs numbers due out in just an hour or so will show unprecedented job losses for the U.S. economy. One of the hardest hit industries is travel. We're going to speak with the president of JetBlue about how it's impacting the airline, next.


HILL: We are about an hour away from the worst jobs report in American history. The pandemic is having a devastating impact on the travel industry.


So how are airlines dealing with the crisis what are some of the safety measures they're taking to protect you?

Joining me now, Joanna Geraghty, she is the President and Chief Operating Officer of JetBlue. Good to have you with us this morning.

I know you said on your earnings call yesterday that you really believe the airline reached bottom in mid-April. Have you seen evidence of demand returning?

JOANNA GERAGHTY, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, JETBLUE: You know, there's some very small glimmers of light nut we're not overly optimistic about that. The airline industry has been rocked to its core (ph), and we're very much focused on preserving cash, making sure that we're only flying what we need to fly and ensuring adequate liquidity levels.

HILL: We have seen the lives of more than 75,000 people in this country taken by the virus. And I know that before you got to the financials yesterday, you actually started your call talking about the six JetBlue employees who were lost. And it's so important to remember that each number comes with a face and a family.

GERAGHTY: It does, yes. We've had unbelievable loss this year on the six crew members, who were very treasured members of the JetBlue community. Ralph, one of our crew members was a first responder, 9/11 first responder, captain in the New York City Fire Department. And many of us new these crew members personally.

And it's very hard not only you're going through economic challenges as a business and trying to save jobs but then when the very crew members that are so special and important to making JetBlue such a unique place and a unique airline, when they're also hit. It makes it very challenging for everyone.

HILL: As people are coming back, as they're getting on planes again, JetBlue was the first airline to institute a mass policy that you have to wear face covering. That started on Monday. Yesterday, Frontier said they're going to start doing temperature checks. And they said they would like -- they suggested that TSA and the airports are laying some groundwork here. I know the CEO of Southwest has called for this to be part of TSA screening. Where do you stand on that? Do there need to be temperature checks for passengers and crew?

GERAGHTY: I think we want people flying that are healthy. And I think, you know, there're questions around whether temperature checks can actually identify whether an asymptomatic person has a coronavirus. Temperature checks are good just to ascertain whether somebody has an illness and potentially should be flying.

Our perspective is there needs to be a global industry solution for this. Different standards for different airlines is going to be challenging for the traveling public. If you show up in an airport and one airline does temperature checks one way and another does it way, that's just hard for consumers. And so our recommendation is for the government to step in and handle that service.

HILL: And are you getting any indication from the government that that is in the works?

GERAGHTY: You know, we've been working with all of the government agencies, the TSA, FAA, and they've been great partners through this. And this is an evolving conversation.

Just eight weeks ago, the coronavirus sort of came upon this industry. And so there's a lot of things happening, a lot of policies changing and a lot of evolution in this space, particularly as shelter-in-place orders are lifted and customers start traveling in many cases because they need to and haven't for quite some time.

And so I think a lot will be changing in the next few weeks around what industry are going to do and more importantly, I think, what the nationwide standard should be and whether the government will be stepping in and setting some of those nationwide requirements.

HILL: And we'll be looking for that.

Meantime, some of the other measures that you're taking, removing that middle seat, is that enough, do you think? Because, obviously, that's not -- I've sat in those seats. They are definitely not six feet across, as we know. In terms of not only health, but also alleviating concerns for your passengers, do you think other changes may need to be made in terms of configuration on a plane?

GERAGHTY: Yes. I mean, I think right now we're focused on how do we identify number of areas that we'll give customers' confidence to travel again. We're thinking about it in terms of safety from the ground up. On a JetBlue flight, we're working towards having a free seat available to every customer that wants to have an available seat next to them.

But we're also, first, to introduce masks on board and requiring facial coverings for customers to wear to help with social distancing when that can't be maintained. You know, we've enhanced our cleaning services across our facilities, across our aircraft, service touch points.

So at this point, we think we're doing almost everything we can to try to make flying on an aircraft as safe as possible. Our prospectus is right now, most shelter-in-place orders are only for essential travel but we want to make sure when non-essential travel starts becoming permitted, that we're doing everything to give customers confidence to fly again.

HILL: And what are you hearing from your crews, from the people who will be helping, guide, right, your passengers, your flight attendants, your pilots? What are their biggest concerns about their safety?

GERAGHTY: Sure. I mean, their biggest concern is the same concern that we all have, wearing facial coverings, reducing touch points. I think crew member health and (INAUDIBLE). I think there's been so much attention now making sure that we have good stick (ph) policies, that crew members and employees don't feel pressures to work when they're ill.

JetBlue is very much focused on that and making sure that if our crew members are feeling ill, they stay at home.


When they do come to work with the proper safety and precautions in place so they feel safe in their job. If our people don't feel safe, they can't deliver that great experience that our customers know and love.

HILL: I know that you are offering a pair of flights to 100,000 healthcare workers. 10 percent of those will go to New York City-based healthcare workers as I understand it. Why did you decide to do that? I know you've flown healthcare workers to hotspots to help out. Why are you making those flights available to folks?

GERAGHTY: Part of what JetBlue, I think, is known for is our mission of inspiring humanity. And we've been very focused on how can we give back to all those on the frontline.

But our healthcare workers, our first responders, our police officers, ambulance workers, those are the folks who are truly rising up as heroes, showing us the way, showing us what it means to be selfless and showing us what it means to help one another. We wanted to make sure that they are among the first that are able to travel again.

And many of them have had families impacted and have had isolated from their families. So we wanted to make sure that this ticket giveaway included recognizing those families that have also sacrificed in so many ways during this coronavirus pandemic.

HILL: Joanna Geraghty, I appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

GERAGHTY: Thank you.

HILL: A stunning move plunging the Russia investigation back into the spotlight. The Department of Justice dropping its case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. We will speak with Andrew McCabe, the former Deputy Director of the FBI about what this means.