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Governor Cuomo Updates New York's Response To COVID-19; Governor Cuomo On Subways & Homeless Population; Governor Cuomo: Minority Communities In New York More Impacted By Virus; Governor Cuomo On Subways & Homeless Population; Obama Calls White House Response To Pandemic A "Chaotic Disaster"; VP Pence's Press Secretary Tests Positive For COVID-19; More Arrests In Fatal Shooting Over Face Mask. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired May 9, 2020 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that's them and we're us. But how does that make you feel?
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Makes me feel fine. There's a lot that doesn't make me feel fine, but that I'm fine with.
We said from the get-go, we all have slightly different situations, and we talk about it in numbers. Numbers are slightly different in all these areas. Numbers are different within the State of New York, right? We have Upstate. We have Downstate. So, you have a strategy that works based on the facts in that area.
We said we have to coordinate states because what one State does, by definition, impacts other states. That doesn't mean necessarily that we have to do the same thing. But it does mean we should know what each other is doing before we do it, so we can coordinate and discuss it.
I understand, Governor Lamont in Connecticut and Governor Murphy in New Jersey, those are the two closest states, obviously. But we're working with the entire Northeast. But we're in total lockstep. I know what they're doing.
It makes sense to me, it's not my decision, but their actions make sense to me. And we will coordinate with that. And we're aware of it. Doesn't mean we necessarily do the same thing, but we are coordinating what they're doing, what we're doing, so we're not counterproductive to anyone else, you know.
I've had situations in the State in the past where we weren't even coordinated like New York City versus Long Island versus Westchester, and one area would do something that would affect the other area, and nobody even knew.
So, this State has coordinated like never before, and that's worked to our benefit, and we're coordinating with the other states, but they will have slightly different strategies in all of it, and we talk through everything. We have a great personal relationship and professional relationship. We talk through everything before we do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you tell them you might get a flood of New Yorkers? Do you say--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --"Hey, you know, you can do it."
CUOMO: We discuss that all the time, the mobility in the region, and mobility in the region, and a demand that you have never seen before, never seen before.
I said, up in Albany, I am a Queens boy, but I was in Albany, and there's a car with two people eating from Styrofoam containers in a car, a parked car. I'm passing by. They say "Hello." We chat.
I said, they were from Queens, New York, drove to Albany to buy Thai takeout food. I said "Why would you drive from Queens?" I said it nicely. But I said "Why did you drive from Queens to buy Thai food? You know, you can buy Thai food in Queens."
They said "Well, we just wanted to take a ride. We got to get out of the house." Now, that's 2.5 hours up, 2.5 hours back to buy Thai food, right? Just look at that state of mind, five hours in the car as a welcome relief to staying home, right?
So, we just saw it in the State of Georgia. You have people driving from out of State to get a haircut. They just wanted to get out. They wanted to see people. They wanted to move. So, you have that demand, and we're very well aware.
What Jersey does, what Connecticut does, what New York does is going to affect all of us. There will be mobility. We can't align every action, but we're aware of it. And we're monitoring it. And, by the way, if it becomes a problem, then we'll adjust it.
You know, anyone who tells you they know the script here, doesn't know what they're talking about. Nobody has done this before. But know you haven't done it before. You take an action on the best information you have, and then you see what happens.
If Connecticut or Jersey does something, and you get a flood of New Yorkers going there, we'll adjust. They'll adjust. We'll adjust. If I do something that brings New Jersey and Connecticut people here, I'll adjust, right?
So, it's not that every move you make is going to be perfect, but stay on the balls of your feet. Be ready to adjust. Be ready to move. And if something happens, then shift.
FDR, right, bold experimentation? Don't be afraid of doing something that might have a negative consequence. Otherwise, you just stay frozen in place. But if there is a negative, be ready to move right away, and we are. Carol (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I ask you a question about, this week, the Suffolk County Chief of Police reported fatal overdoses from January till May 6th, up 43 percent, nonfatal up 56 percent. So, and that's just a snapshot of the one area.
What is - do you have a plan for how we're going to address this now, 2.5 months into the problem? And, as part of that, do you have plans to cut OASIS, those community-based groups that could handle that?
CUOMO: Yes, first on the funding, my point to the Congressman, everything is dependent, Carol (ph), on whether or not we get federal funding. We have like a $13 billion hole in this State, financial hole.
$13 billion, there is no way the State can manage a $13 billion hole, and we had nothing to do with it. It was all COVID-related, COVID closed down the economy, hurts everybody, hurts the State revenues.
It is going to be wholly dependent on what Washington does. And, this week, I hope finally the Federal Government actually passes a piece of legislation that helps the states.
They've been taking care of small business, hotels, restaurants, airlines, that's great. How about the working people of this country, right, not just the corporations, but the working people?
And funding a State government is a way of funding the working people. When you fund the State, I fund substance abuse programs, police, firefighters, hospitals, schools, school teachers, remote learning, that all comes from the State. So, it's a function of what the Federal Government does.
In terms of the underlying substance abuse problem, we have seen an increase in mental health issues all through this period, anxiety, stress, economic stress, stress of personal relations.
Mental health issues have gone up. Domestic violence has gone up. Substance abuse has gone up. Alcohol-related illnesses has gone up. This has been a highly stressful period all across the board.
We've done mental health outreach in a way we've never done it before. We have like 40,000 mental health volunteers doing online mental health services, alcohol-related services, substance abuse services, but there is no doubt that one of the manifestations of the stress has been substance abuse, domestic violence, alcoholism. There's no doubt about that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things they were hurting, a lot of the community- based programs before COVID, and now they're running out of money.
CUOMO: Yes. Look, if it - if it works the way it should, Washington and the Federal Government actually does the right thing, or even if they do close to the responsible thing, how can they possible ignore state governments, working families, working Americans?
As bizarre as the Federal Government is at times, I cannot believe they would turn their back on working Americans at this time.
But let me put it this way. I can believe it because I can believe anything that they do. But I don't believe they will do that. I don't believe that Congress will let them do that. I don't believe the House will let them do that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just have a question about there have - there have been reports of homeless people coming off the subways out, because of shutdowns, at 1 - 1 A.M., over this weekend, and it's cold, coming off the subways, and just going into the buses that are standing outside of these and stations.
For example, you know, Stillwell Avenue to Coney Island, there was one bus with 16 homeless people, no cleaning (ph) in there. How, you know, what is the City planning to do about, you know, the homeless people coming off the subways after the shutdowns and--
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --getting on the buses?
CUOMO: Look, this is a - this is an important topic. We shut down the subways for four hours per night, first time the New York City subway system has ever been shut down, why? Because we have to disinfect it.
We've never disinfected a train. We've never disinfected a bus. We've never even contemplated disinfecting a public transportation system before, when I said this - this is all new, these are all firsts.
But we want the frontline workers to go to work. I feel a special personal obligation, frankly, to protect the frontline workers because remember what I wound up saying, the words that came out of my mouth?
I said to New Yorkers, "Take this very seriously. The COVID virus can be deadly. Stay home. It's not a joke. That's why we closed businesses, schools, et cetera."
The second message was "But frontline workers, we still need you to go to work the next day."
"What do you mean you need me to go to work? You just said it's dangerous. You're closing everything but I have to go to work?"
"Yes, you have to go to work because we need you in the hospitals and because we need people in hospitals, we need people to operate the transit system, and we need food, so we need food delivery workers, and we need grocery store workers, so we need all these essential workers to work, so other people can stay home."
"How is that fair? Some people get to stay home, but the frontline workers have to go to work?"
I get it. So, I said we will do everything we need to do. They're taking the subway system. The COVID virus can live on a stainless steel surface for two days or three days, OK?
You look in a subway car, you see all those stainless steel poles, I said, we owe it to them to disinfect these trains, which had never been done. OK, so we close the train, four hours, and we go and we disinfect.
And the transit workers are doing a phenomenal job. They have this new disinfecting equipment, electrostatic machines. They're really doing a fantastic job. If you look at the trains now, they're cleaner than they have probably been in decades.
A related issue was the disinfected trains, you have to get all the passengers off the trains, which then brought you into there are homeless people who ride the trains all night, have been for decades. It's much worse now. And the homeless people need to come off the trains, so you can disinfect the train.
That's actually an opportunity. I've worked on the issue of homelessness since I was in my 20s. I ran a not-for-profit. I built housing. I provided services. I was HUD Secretary. I did homeless programs all across the nation.
It gives you an opportunity to actually engage homeless people to get them off the trains, and get them the help they need. Society does nobody a favor saying we're going to let you sleep on a train all night. That's not right. It's not humane. It's not decent.
Well, it's hard to get the homeless off the trains. OK, but now we had to. And it gives you an opportunity to engage them, to get them into a shelter, get them into services because nobody wants them spending their lives in a dangerous situation sleeping on a train.
Transit says 2,000 homeless were taken off the trains. 2,000! I mean, just think of that number. Great, so now you have an opportunity to reach out to 2,000 people to get them into shelter, and get them into services.
And that is the point, an ancillary point, it wasn't the primary point. But as long as the homeless have to get off the trains, reach out to them, bring them in to shelters, connect them with services, and I think that's an added bonus. Sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, should workers who leave their jobs because of COVID safety concerns be eligible for unemployment benefits?
CUOMO: It's up to the federal law. And I can check - I believe the federal law covers it now.
The whole unemployment program is basically covered by federal law. "When we go through this, well, why do you ask people to fill out forms? Why are you asking these questions? Why does your website ask these questions?" "Well those are all federal requirements."
You know, they passed the federal bill a couple of weeks ago that said here are the benefits. They also said and here are the caveats, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. So, it's all federal regulations. I can check that specifically. But I think that's covered. Sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the 15 weeks, Governor, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Jersey Shore businesses, so I think Cape May County was one of that, submitted a plan to the Jersey Governor for reopening.
What do you say to those small businesses that rely on this summer season coming up, you know, for people to come? And then, if we - if we reopen Nassau, then New Jersey, then they're holding a flood (ph) to Nassau and then come from New Jersey and vice versa.
CUOMO: Yes. That's the point Dave was making, the coordination among the states because you're right. We have small businesses here. We have tourist destinations here, right?
If Long Island doesn't open, right, if Patchogue and the Beach communities along Long Island don't open, you'll see those people go to the Jersey Shore. So, those are the kinds of things we coordinate.
Look, we take this week by week. I hope we're in a better position. And that's why we watch the numbers.
I hope we're in a better position because you're right. The tourist season is the money-making period for a whole sector of businesses, all across the State, Downstate, Long Island, Upstate, tourism is one of the big job drivers, period, all those camps, all those lakes.
So, it's a very big deal all across the board. And then, you're right, we do have to coordinate with the surrounding states because you can go to Long Island, or you can go to the Jersey Shore, or you can go Upstate, and you'll go wherever is open, frankly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Health and Hospitals is going to be taking over this - this testing, tracing, instead of the Health Department. I'm curious, you know, if you have any thoughts on that?
CUOMO: I don't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something you noticed (ph)?
CUOMO: I do not know. That's the Mayor's program. So, I don't know how he runs that. I do know we are all coordinating. Mike Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York, is helping us with design, and implement a tracing program, because nobody has done this before.
You know, we talk about it like it exists. "Oh, we're putting together a tracing program." By the way, there is no tracing program. You know, we've done it on a very small scale. This is a much, much different situation.
And how do you trace in New York City without coordinating with Westchester and Long Island and New Jersey? So, Mike Bloomberg and his philanthropy really doing a great service. They're going to put together that tracing program on a regional basis
because none of these lines work anymore, New York City, Nassau, Westchester. The virus doesn't stop at a line, and that's not how our metropolitan region works anyway, right?
I lived in Westchester, still a resident in Westchester. Worked in New York City, so who's going to trace me? Westchester or New York City, right? Nassau commutes, Jersey commutes.
So, Mike Bloomberg is doing a regional coordination. Localities will still run their own program, and that's up to them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, can you confirm that billions in due federal funding is making its way through the pipeline to the MTA, and could any of that money be used to increase Homeless Outreach in the subway system? You were just mentioning how this is an opportunity for contacts.
But recent reporting has shown at elsewhere (ph), for instance, that a lot of homeless are being engaged, forced out of the homeless - out of the subway system, but there's not any Outreach workers actually on site.
CUOMO: Yes. The Homeless Outreach is a function done by the City. It's not--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MTA has--
CUOMO: They have - they have funded. Well the MTA runs the trains and the buses. They're not a homeless provider, right?
As far as funding for the MTA, you know, there is - I want to see the full funding package before I comment on it, and I'm going to have something to say about it tomorrow because everything relies on federal funding, whether it's substance abuse, education.
I mean, right now, everything is dependent on federal funding, and I want to - I want to make that clear for our Congressional delegation. I cannot answer a question now as to any of these funding levels.
If you said to me "How much are we going to fund schools? How much are we going to fund hospitals? How much are we going to fund substance abuse?" I can't tell you, because it's purely a function of what that Federal Government does.
And my message to the Federal Government is I understand that you wanted to take care of businesses, and I understand that you want to take care of airlines. Great. How about working people?
"Where are the police? Where are the firefighters? Where are the healthcare workers?"
"Well, we need you as essential workers. You have to go put your life in danger, and you have to leave your house, so we can stay home. Yay! Applaud those people in the hospitals."
"OK. Where's the funding?" "Oh, there's no money. Just applause."
You want to say thank you? Provide the funding, not just the applause.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're seeing as for (ph) tomorrow in relation to the House Democratic stimulus proposal?
CUOMO: In relation to the overall federal need.
Let's go to work. Thank you very much, guys. Thank you.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo there saying he's happy that, you know, the number of hospitalizations, number of cases, number of deaths are down.
However, he is very worried about what he's calling a disturbing trend. Three young New Yorker lives have been taken, and children are showing peculiar symptoms.
Also, the Governor pledging to offer more assistance to poor communities and to people of color, he was also joined by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries there who has helped to enlist a number of Houses of Worship in that effort.
Joining me right now, CNN Correspondent, Evan McMorris-Santoro, in New York, Dr. Lakshmana Swamy, an ICU Doctor and Pulmonologist at Boston Medical Center, and Anne Rimoin, an Epidemiologist and the Director of the UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health.
Good to see all of you.
Evan, let me start with you because, you know, the Governor there covering a lot of ground.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, as you mentioned, the number of hospitalizations, and intubations, and infections are down, but that death rate slightly up, 10 more than yesterday.
This press conference is really about exploring the existing tragedy here in New York, and then also maybe making the nation aware of potentially a new tragedy.
The Governor's saying that they - they've gone through the numbers here, and found that the hardest-hit communities in New York have been minority and lower-income communities, which is a story that's all too often told in disasters, the Governor said.
And he's trying to correct that by adding a ton of testing in lower income communities, through churches, and also access to PPE in those communities. So, that's the goal of trying to correct the tragedy that we know about.
But then, he mentioned again, something he talked about yesterday, which is the potential of this new potential effect of COVID on the youngest people in the community, infants, toddlers. Speaking of this disease, it doesn't manifest itself the same way COVID does in adults, but as an inflammatory disease that can affect the heart of these young, young kids.
The Governor's saying his State, here in New York, is going to now really try to study these cases. 73 that we've seen here in New York so far, three deaths, including two announced yesterday, of children under 10.
He's going to try to - working with the CDC, use New York hospitals to try and create some kind of framework to track what this new disease might be, and what it might mean for the rest of the COVID-19 fight, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Evan.
And Anne, you know, one has to wonder with this, I guess, new discovery of children, young lives being taken, or even affected by Coronavirus, unlike what many people were led to believe, you know, according to the Governor there.
Does this indicate that there are different strains, in your view, of this Coronavirus, or is it simply that more is being learned about how it affects people differently?
ANNE RIMOIN, PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, UCLA, DIRECTOR, UCLA CENTER FOR GLOBAL AND IMMIGRANT HEALTH: Right now, this is new data. We do not know exactly what it means or how to interpret it in the context yet of this epidemic.
So, my - my perspective is that this is really important. We're learning new things every single day. We're going to be able to explore them now in detail. We are now on alert that we are learning how this may be impacting children as well. And so, we need to study this in greater detail.
And I know that that's always frustrating for people. You learn something new and the - and the answer is always, "Well, this is important information. Now we have to explore it in greater detail." We are still in early days here.
WHITFIELD: And Dr. Swamy, as more is being learned, more is being researched about this, do you also see that there will be a re- evaluation, perhaps, of the cases that New York has seen, the number of deaths that perhaps the numbers may go up, now that they're incorporating there were other symptoms, or there are new symptoms, new discoveries being made that perhaps they weren't aware of before?
DR. LAKSHMANA SWAMY, ICU PHYSICIAN AND PULMONOLOGIST, BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER: Yes, you know, that's certainly a great point.
And we know already that, although in New York, we're seeing intubations go down, there's a delay in what we see happening to the sickest people. So, people who've already been intubated for, you know, weeks sometimes, don't always get better. So, that's part of it. And then, I think, in addition, there's - there's a real concern
because the amount of cases in New York is staggering, right? In Boston, we have - we certainly have a huge burden of the disease, but not like New York.
I can say also in terms of the kids, I mean Boston, no kids have died. No kids have been really hospitalized or sick for the most part. But, as a parent, we're all terrified for that. We're all terrified for the next way that this disease manifests.
WHITFIELD: And Evan, the Governor, you know, stressing money is still a factor, and it would be nice, you know, he was imploring if the Federal Government were to provide states more money, so as to give a better, you know, thank you to these first responders.
Applause, he says, are nice, but it really comes down to resources, you know, that perhaps, you know, this summer, so many states are looking at potential cuts, you know, of public servants, employees, because of, you know, dwindling monies.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That's right. I mean we are all aware of the economic situation that has occurred because of this pandemic.
And we know how it affects people in private businesses. Well, the Governor mentioning today, it also affects people who work for the State, a lot of those frontline workers that we're talking about.
Governor Cuomo has been mentioning for weeks and weeks now that he would like Congress to give a lot of money to the State governments to help to prop them up with all the money that they've lost during this time, you know, this - they employ a lot of people and also to the frontline of correcting this, trying to treat this pandemic.
So, the Governor mentioning today with the Congressman, Hakeem Jeffries, here from New York hoping to see that happen. There's no evidence, though, from Washington that there's a bipartisan buy-in on that happening yet.
But it's in mentions that we've heard from the Governor over and over, and once again today, him saying, "Look, if you really want to support these frontline workers, what I need you to do is send some money from Washington to New York," Fred.
WHITFIELD: And Anne, as we're looking at 47 states, who have some form of reopening this weekend, what are your concerns of this point forward?
RIMOIN: Well, I think the concerns are the same that they have always been.
We need to ensure that we have this kind of widespread testing, the ability to identify people who may have the virus, and to be able to trace their contacts. New York is really making a major effort to put all of this in place before opening up on any wide scale. And so, my concern, of course, is without these - these measures in
place and these - these support systems in place, to be able to manage, when we start seeing more cases, we're going to run into some major problems in these states that are reopening.
WHITFIELD: And quickly, Dr. Swamy, your concerns?
SWAMY: You know, I think that that's exactly the point. Without the infrastructure of testing, contact tracing, reopening is still terrifying. And there's a right way to do it, and there's a lot of wrong ways to do it.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks to all of you, really appreciate it.
SWAMY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, coming up next, a rare rebuke from former President Barack Obama. He is slamming the Trump Administration's handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, calling it a "Chaotic disaster."
The White House just responded moments ago. We're live, next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The White House is now responding after former President Barack Obama slammed the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus. Obama giving a stinging rebuke of the way the White House managed the pandemic from the very start in a phone call. The former president was weighing in during that private call with some of his former staff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARRACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we're going to be battling is not just a particular individual or a political party, but what we're fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy that that has become a stronger impulse in American life.
And by the way, you know, we're seeing that internationally as well. And it's part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. And it would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset of what's in it for me and to heck with everybody else when that mindset is operationalized in our government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Kristen Holmes is at the White House for us. So Kristen, in what form did this White House response come?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, just moments ago, we got a statement from the press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, that essentially did not actually name former President Obama by his name, only slammed general -- Democrats in general as a whole.
They also of course, McEnany is really plotting their effort here on the response to coronavirus as well, saying it was unprecedented, so not a lot of surprises there. But we should know that this is really the harshest criticism that we've seen from the former president of the current administration to date.
And it gives us a little bit of an insight here as to what the former president's role might be in campaigning for Joe Biden, as we get closer and closer to that November election. As you said, these remarks were made on a private call. It was a private call with former staffers, the Obama Alumni Association.
And sources tell Jeff Zeleny, that the purpose of this call was to encourage these former staffers to get more engaged with the Biden campaign. So we'll definitely be keeping an eye out here to see if this is just the beginning of Obama's kind of foray into campaigning for Joe Biden.
I do want to note one other thing here. During this phone call, we did hear the former president really excoriate the Department of Justice for their decision to drop the charges against Michael Flynn. The White House, however, did not respond to comment on that, Fred.
WHITFIELD: OK. And on the issue of responding to the pandemic hearing from former President Barack Obama comes only a week after we saw in a very glossy produced, you know, piece produced by former President George W. Bush where he too called for unity, and also said that there was too much partisanship in the response to the pandemic.
All right, Kristen Holmes, thank you so much.
All right, so two weeks ago, Georgia became the first state to allow nonessential businesses to reopen, the decision coming despite a spike in cases in Georgia. On May 1st, Georgia had one of the highest single day case counts. Keisha Lance Bottoms is the mayor of Atlanta. Mayor, good to see you.
So let me ask you first before we talk about you know, Georgia reopening and, you know, businesses, some have trepidation, some are, you know, opening their doors. Let me ask you about your response and your reaction to the former President Barack Obama in this phone call, you know, to alumni, and that he was critical of not just the U.S. response to the pandemic, but even globally.
MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: Well, we know how hesitant President Obama has been to criticize the Trump administration out of respect and regard for the fact that he's no longer president.
And so I think it really speaks to how strongly he feels about the mismanagement of this pandemic. And I am personally glad that he called it out. He has articulated what so many of us feel and know. This is a crisis, a global crisis, that one person could not have stopped.
But certainly with the appropriate standing and the global community in the way that we did things in the past as a country when we provided aid to other countries and had a pandemic team in place, we certainly know that the outcome could have been a very different outcome than the one that we're facing today.
WHITFIELD: And why now and in this manner, meaning that, you know, former president talking to, you know, on the phone call to his alum?
BOTTOMS: Well, you know, I wish that I had the benefit of knowing what President Obama thinks and why he communicates in the way that he does, but I don't have that type of relationship with him. But I can say that he knows the weight of his words.
And to the extent that he said it in that form, knowing that though his words perhaps would be repeated, then again, I think it speaks to how strongly he feels about it. And I think that it was an appropriate place to share those concerns.
Because the other part of that, again, was his emphasis on how important the election is in November. And it is going to take a cross section of engagement and turnout to make a difference in the next election.
WHITFIELD: All right, now let's talk about the reopening, you know, a business in Georgia. You've been pretty critical, you know, of the governor's decision to end the state's shelter in place. And now, you know, some businesses are feeling a little bit more comfortable yet many have a lot of trepidation. What do you feel now about the governor's decision?
BOTTOMS: You know, Fredricka, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I want to be wrong on this but we will know in the next week or so whether or not the governor made the right decision, I remain concerned that we have moved too soon and really, without being very thoughtful about how we should reopen our estate.
I think there are businesses that perhaps we could have slowly reopened. You think about places that perhaps have access to PPE whether it be medical offices or places where people can appropriately socially distance, but when you are opening business in our state without any type of guidelines and really any type of separating where we are as a state as a whole, it concerns me.
Atlanta is a densely populated city. Yet, the governor does not feel it appropriate that we asked people to wear masks in the city of Atlanta, we have a new hotspot that's growing in northeast Georgia, in Gainesville.
So to open up places like northeast Georgia and Atlanta and even in Albany, Georgia, where we had such a significant hotspot with the same guidelines across the state, I don't believe it's being very thoughtful as to where we are in the course of this pandemic.
WHITFIELD: So I live in Georgia as well. And you know, I want your observations about what you see, you know, on a beautiful day out, people are out in big numbers. I mean, yes, it's spring time. But I have seen folks in close proximity not wearing masks or not even you know, honoring social distancing, that's something that you have been encouraging in the city of Atlanta.
How frustrating then is it for you to witness? Then here are some of the images of, you know, Piedmont Park, you know. How frustrating is it for you to witness, you know, people while they may be very eager to get out, and that's understandable. How concerning is it that not everyone is honoring, you know, even federal guidelines, CDC guidelines.
BOTTOMS: It's extremely frustrating. And I put it into two categories of people. There are people who have to go out and work, people who have run out of money and are concerned about how they will put food on their table, I understand those decisions.
Then there's a set of folks who had the benefit of being able to stay at home and still continue to distance, who are just doing regarding where we are with this pandemic. And I think it is extremely selfish.
And I think it puts so many people at risk, even when I think about our public safety personnel and our police officers, to the extent that they have to go in and break up large crowds, if they are walking into a crowd where people don't have on mask and are disregarding all of the recommendations that have been made, it puts them at risk.
And so it's frustrating. But I'll say it, and I'll say it again and again and again. If we want to get to the other side of this, we have to be more thoughtful not just as a state, but as a country because there's not been a city, there's not been a country that has been able to flatten the curve by doing what we are doing in this country and in the state and that's moving quickly, because we don't want to sit at home anymore.
WHITFIELD: All right, Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance bottoms, thank you so much, continue to be well.
BOTTOMS: And Happy Mother's Day to you.
WHITFIELD: Oh, yes, and Happy Mother's Day. I always forget because I always end up plowing right through and working right through. And I'm like, oh yes, it's Mother's Day, so Happy Mother's Day this weekend. I almost forgot.
BOTTOMS: Thank you so much. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, thank you Mayor.
All right, this breaking news right now cultural icon and rock and roll legend. Little Richard has died.
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WHITFIELD: Good Golly Miss Molly, Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally, boy, the list is long, just a few of Little Richard's big hits in a career that spanned 60 plus years. The entertainer's former agent confirms to CNN the cause of death is related to bone cancer. Little Richard died this morning in Nashville, with his brother and son by his side. He was 87 years old.
WHITFIELD: The coronavirus now hitting the White House staff and impacting the Trump administration. Dr. Stephen Hahn, the head of the FDA is now quarantining himself after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.
This coming as Katie Miller, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence has tested positive. She is also the wife of President Trump's senior adviser, Stephen Miller. And she is the second White House staffer to test positive for coronavirus this week.
President Trump's personal valet also testing positive a few days ago. For more on this, let's bring in CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood. So Sarah, are there any changes coming at the White House as a result?
WHITFIELD: Yes, Fred, White House officials moved pretty quickly to respond to this news yesterday that Katie Miller, Pence's Press Secretary had tested positive. They quickly initiated contact tracing. That is going back and testing everyone who had been close to Katie over the past few days.
And that included a handful of passengers who yesterday were sitting on Air Force Two with the Vice President when the news came down, that Miller had tested positive for coronavirus. Those aides to Pence actually got off the plane and of abundance of caution were also tested as was Stephen Miller, that top White House official who is Katie Miller's husband. And thankfully all of those tests came back negative yesterday.
But a senior administration official tells CNN that there are going to be a number of steps taken within the White House to mitigate this. One of them is more frequent cleanings of spaces within the White House. Those had been sanitized before. But now that is going to be done on a more regular basis. And also the White House will be stepping up testing for aides and also temperature checks.
Right now, you can't get onto the White House grounds without a temperature check. But of course that does not screen for asymptomatic carriers of the virus. And those tests before as CNN reported earlier this week were really limited to the aides that were in the immediate circles of Trump and Pence now that is going to be conducted more broadly. We should note that President Trump and Vice President Pence have both left the White House, stepped out in public this week and not worn masks. As you mentioned, Miller was only the second White House official to test positive also a personal attendant to the President of valet, testing positive earlier this week, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Westwood. Appreciate it. Thank you.
All right, up next, a verbal exchange over wearing a mask at a dollar store turns deadly leading to murder charges.
WHITFIELD: Two fugitives are now in custody after being sought in connection with the shooting death of a Michigan security guard after dispute over a security -- wearing a face mask. Calvin Munerlyn, was doing his job at a dollar store in Flint, Michigan when he was shot and killed after telling a customer to where a state mandated facemask.
Video footage shows the customer leaving the store after a verbal altercation with the guard and then later two men arrived. And police say one of them yelled at Munerlyn about disrespecting his wife, the second man that allegedly shot the security guard in the back of the head. Munerlyn's widow spoke with our Don Lemon about her husband's murder.
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LATRYNA MUNERLYN, WIDOW OF SECURITY GUARD CALVIN MUNERLYN: That was senseless and stupid and now my babies without a father for the rest of their life.
One thing they can't to take away was my baby was the legendary king and his legacy going to live on and they can't take that away, never.
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WHITFIELD: I want to bring in now David Leyton. He is the Genesee County prosecutor and he joins us now from Flint. Good to see you. Boy, this is terribly sad. What is your reaction to a murder like this in your community?
DAVID LEYTON, GENESEE COUNTY PROSECUTOR: It's senseless and tragic and totally unanticipated. Here's a man just doing his job trying to tell someone you got to come into the store with a face mask on. And the man loses his life over it. It's just so tragic.
And I think that the community, actually the whole world has looked at this because if you see their GoFundMe page, it's almost $400,000 for the widow and the eight children that Duper was his nickname left behind, very, very sad case. WHITFIELD: Oh, it's terrible. So then tell me about the circumstances of, you know, why the suspects, I guess were considered, you know, fugitives then arrested. And the two arrested. Does that indeed involve the first person who allegedly had the initial encounter with the security guard?
LEYTON: Yes. She was the wife of one of the alleged folks who came back and the mother of the shooter. In fact, we believe that after the altercation, she called back to her husband and son and told them what happened. And we believe she encouraged them to come back and retaliate for the alleged disrespect that she felt Mr. Munerlyn showed her and not letting her daughter come in with the mask.
In all we have six people in custody now, three in this and the rest here in Michigan.
WHITFIELD: Oh my goodness. And, you know what -- how do you assess all of this? Because this comes what -- and so a week after you saw people, you know, they're in Michigan, go into the statehouse, some wearing, you know, weapons threatening that you know, they want their freedom back and then you have something like this associated with the wearing of mask, which are the kinds of protections that many of the demonstrators are have been resenting?
Do you make a correlation between, you know, all of these sentiments and, you know, short fuses or people being agitated?
LEYTON: You know, Fredricka, that's a very, very good question. And I thought a lot about it. And I really believe that the hostile tone that we've seen in various state capitals that we've seen on social media can permeate our society in a way that we never really anticipate.
You know, decisions like staying home or wearing a mask when going to the store or staying a safe distance from those around us, to me, those aren't political arguments, those should not necessitate acts of defiance or violence in this case. And it was something so unanticipated.
But I think this whole belief that you can't tell me what to do kind of gets into some people's psyche, and can have a reaction that none of us can really understand or anticipate. So I've asked my community to let's ratchet down the tone here. Let's ratchet down the hostile tone that we've seen. We've really all got to come together to get back to our way of life sooner rather than later.
WHITFIELD: All right, David Leyton, thank you so much for this.
LEYTON: Thank you very much.
WHITFIELD: Be well.
Roy Horn of the legendary Las Vegas magic duo Siegfried and Roy has died of complications from coronavirus. His partner Siegfried Fischbacher wrote, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend. The two were known for their performances with white lions, white tigers.
They started their show in Europe in the late 1950s before bringing their show to Las Vegas for the next four decades. It ended after Horn was attacked on stage by a tiger back in 2003. Roy Horn was 75 years old.
Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
All right, we began with a staggering new coronavirus death toll here in the U.S., the number now surpassing 77,000, with more than 1.2 million confirmed infections.