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U.S At 1.3 Million Cases And Nearly 80,000 Deaths Due To Coronavirus; Three Top Task Force Members In Self-Quarantine; Cluster Of COVID-19 Cases Traced To A Birthday Party In California; Sioux Tribe Rejects Removal Of Coronavirus Checkpoints; The Airline Industry's Struggling Business; April's Worst Jobs Report; Italy Emerges From Lockdown. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 10, 2020 - 17:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Well-deserved. All right. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. Again, Happy Mother's Day to every body. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So much more straight ahead with Wolf Blitzer in a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition in "The Situation Room."

Tonight, global cases of the coronavirus have now topped 4 million with more than 1.3 million of those cases right here in the United States. The death toll in this country nearing 80,000 right now. Just a week ago at this time, we were telling you it was 67,000. Another 13,000 people here in the United States have died in just a week.

And while the president sells the idea that it's safe and well past the time for all of America to get back to work, the virus is at the halls of America's most protected workplace.

Three top Trump administration scientists will have to testify remotely before the Senate this week because they're currently in quarantine, after coming into contact with a White House staffer who tested positive.

That's three top officials affected while the president himself declines to wear a mask or require it of others with whom he meets. And while we still have no vaccine, health care giant Johnson & Johnson announcing it is looking potentially to produce a billion coronavirus vaccines for next year. Clinical trials will begin this September.

Meantime, more states also easing restrictions. Tomorrow, you'll be able to eat inside a restaurant in Arizona. Go to a barber shop or nail salon in Indiana, or visit a gym in Alabama.

And come Monday, more major airlines will require passengers to wear masks -- Spirit, Southwest and American getting ready to join JetBlue, Fontier and Delta. All of those airlines are following stricter protocols for cleaning and boarding as well. Now, when it comes to flying by the way, the U.K. Prime Minister Boris

Johnson announcing that people flying into that country will soon have to quarantine. Johnson himself a survivor of COVID-19 also unveiled a new COVID alert system. Listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: That the U.K. will be changed by this experience. I believe we can be stronger and better than ever before, more resilient, more innovative, more economically dynamic, but also more generous and more sharing.


BLITZER: All right. Let's begin this hour over at the White House. The nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci along with the heads of the CDC and the FDA, Dr. Robert Redfield and Dr. Stephen Hahn are all now in self-quarantine after coming into contact with an infected White House staffer.

Our White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond is joining us right now. Jeremy, we just learned also some new information about Tuesday's Senate hearing where Drs. Fauci, Redfield and Hahn, they're also scheduled to testify.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Initially what we were hearing was that Dr. Redfield, the head of the CDC and Dr. Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, they were going to be testifying remotely while Dr. Anthony Fauci was going to attend in person and wear a mask.

But now, Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee announcing today that all of those three doctors as well as Dr. Brett Giroir who is an assistant secretary for health was leading the testing effort for this administration, they will all be testifying remotely by video at this hearing on Tuesday focused on the coronavirus response.

So, this news of course after Drs. Redfield, Hahn and Fauci all announcing that they're going into self-quarantine for the next two weeks. Different forms of self-quarantine -- some of them will be willing to come to the White House by taking precautions like wearing masks, for example.

But this news coming after Katie Miller, the vice president's spokeswoman testified positive on Friday for coronavirus. So far, though, Wolf, no sense of whether additional White House officials like for example Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus coordinator, whether they will also busy be entering into some form of self-quarantine.

We've asked the White House repeatedly to say which officials will be tele-working as a result of one of these top staffers focus on coronavirus testing positive on Friday. They have so far declined to comment on that, Wolf. And what we are seeing here again is really kind of a patchwork effort

in terms of who decides whether to self-quarantine. But certainly notable, Wolf, that three of the top doctors on this Coronavirus Task Force are making the decision themselves to self-quarantine in some fashion at least for the next two weeks.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting -- it's interesting, Jeremy that the press secretary to the vice president, she's the one who came down positive for coronavirus.


She was tested Thursday, negative, but positive on Friday. She is married to Stephen Miller, and I assume he is going to be in self- quarantine, even though he still tested negative, is that right?

DIAMOND: That would be the natural assumption, Wolf. And yes, we did confirm on Friday that he tested negative after his wife tested positive for coronavirus. But again, so far the White House is declining to really provide any transparency or any details about which officials will indeed be going into self-quarantine.

Of course, Stephen Miller would be a top concern because he is married to Katie Miller, but there are many other White House officials, not only those on the coronavirus task force, but members of the communications team at the White House, senior officials at the White House who would be regularly in meetings with Katie Miller, the vice president's spokeswoman.

So certainly, you would expect that other officials would have to take these precautions. But again, the White House so far unwilling to provide those details.

BLITZER: We hope Katie Miller is going to be fine after she recovers from coronavirus, and that U.S. Navy valet who serves food and drinks to the president, among others at the White House, he is suffering right now from coronavirus. We hope he is going to be fine as well.

All right, Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thanks very much. As we talk about the potential for viral spread within the West Wing, I want to make sure all of you have an idea of the West Wing's layout and what type of quarters staffers work there each day.

You can see the Oval Office in the bottom center. The chief of staff and the vice president's office to the left of that and the press briefing room, that's in the top right.

Joining us now is Anne Rimoin. She is a professor with the Department of Epidemiology at UCLA and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. Thanks to both you have for joining us.

Professor Rimoin, the West Wing, I don't know if you have ever been there, but I spent seven years covering the White House, is so much smaller than anyone would imagine. Three floors, but it's very tight hallways, very small, closed off rooms. People are working in incredibly concentrated areas. What do we know about this virus and the potential that it could spread in a place like that?

ANNE RIMOIN, PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, UCLA: We know that the virus spreads easily from person to person, and in particular in close quarters. Therefore, seeing the schema of the West Wing that you've just shown, which I was able to see a little bit earlier today as well, you know, we know that this is the ideal condition for a virus to spread.

It's not surprising that we're seeing it spread. We're not surprising that we're seeing cases. So, I think that this is definitely a situation that we will be monitoring very closely.

BLITZER: You know, what's very disturbing, Dr. Wolinsky, is that most White House staffers have not been wearing masks. Here is what the White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said earlier today about the need to wear a mask. Listen to this.


KEVIN HASSETT, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The mask issue is a significant one, but recall, to get in with the president that you have to test negative. And there's -- according to what the doctors tell me, not a lot of evidence that you can pass the virus, that you have enough viral load to pass it if you test negative.

And so I think that it's sound medical judgment that is urging people to be that way. And it's not my judgment, but that's what I've been told.


BLITZER: Well, what do you think, Dr. Wolinsky, does rapid testing, even everyday testing replace the need to wear a mask?

ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Here is what I know. Good afternoon, Wolf. You know, somewhere between Thursday and Friday, Katie Miller had virus that was detectable. We know it wasn't detectable on Thursday and it was on Friday.

And somewhere in between she had virus that was detectable. We don't exactly know the instant. But at around that time, she was able to transmit to somebody else, and that transmission would have gone down markedly if she had been wearing a mask.

I think and I have been saying widely that we need to all envision our tomorrows in masks until we have a vaccine for this disease.

BLITZER: And that could be, you know, many, many months from now. It's going to be part of the new normal. I think all of us agree on that. If you were giving advice, Professor Rimoin, to the White House right now, what advice would you give them given the fact that two officials have already come down with coronavirus?

RIMOIN: I would advise them to follow the CDC guidelines and the guidelines that have been set forth on quarantine, where that anybody who is -- that has been exposed should quarantine themselves.

I would also, because given that we're in very close quarter there, and that testing is neither perfect nor fast enough always to be able to catch these cases, that everybody should be wearing masks.

I feel that this is really the place of all places where we should be having the absolute best practice that is being shown for the rest of the world.


So, my advice would be to follow guidelines and to show the world the best way to avoid spreading disease.

BLITZER: And Dr. Walensky, you know, the president is reluctant. I don't think we have ever seen him wearing a mask, although he did say he wore one when he traveled outside of Washington the other day, but he wasn't filmed. He wasn't seen -- photographed wearing a mask. He is reluctant to wear a mask. If he said to you what should I do, what would you tell him?

WALENSKY: I would say as Dr. Rimoin said, the CDC guidelines say that if you are less than six feet apart from somebody for less than 15 minutes, in the 48 hours before they tested positive, you should be quarantining. That probably includes a lot of people that Katie Miller might have been in contact with. And during that part of quarantine, you should be wearing a mask.

BLITZER: You know, earlier this afternoon, Professor Rimoin, the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new COVID alert system over there, and it ranges from categories 1 through 5, measures the threat level posed by the virus.

One means it's undetected in the U.K. Five means the hospital system is now totally overwhelmed. Threat level will dictate how much social distancing is required at any given time. Is this sort of puts a spotlight on a specific plan over there? Have you seen that kind of detailed plan over here?

RIMOIN: We've all been waiting for a national strategy, and that's what has been called for from the beginning. Every public health expert has been saying we need a good national strategy. Of course, we're much smaller than the U.K. So, it's much, you know, there is a lot more to be considered.

But a national strategy and national guidelines that are very clear that make sense for everybody given that we have open borders and populations that move everywhere in this country would be very helpful.

BLITZER: It certainly would be. Professional Rimoin, Dr. Walensky, thank you to both of you. Thanks to both of you for joining us very much.

All it takes is one to set off a cluster of coronavirus cases. One cough from an infected individual, one sneeze from someone who tested positive. And out in California, there was one birthday party. We're going bring you that story. That's coming up when we come back.



BLITZER: Out on the West Coast, health officials are learning that a birthday party helped trigger a cluster of coronavirus cases in southern California. That birthday party took place in Pasadena after the city had issued a stay-at-home order back on March 19th.

Health officials say one party attendee was coughing and not wearing a face covering. Let's go to CNN's Paul Vercammen who is joining us from Los Angeles. Paul, who was at this birthday in Pasadena and how did health officials use what's called contact tracing to identify the person who was coughing?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's set up the scene there by Pasadena officials. They say friends and family were at this crowded birthday party, Wolf. And they say that the one woman that you alluded to was not only coughing, but she made a joke about being COVID-19 positive.

Well, lo and behold, she was positive. She got tested for the virus, had it. Four other partygoers who live in the city of Pasadena tested for it, they have it. They believe up to five other people who attended the party and live outside Pasadena need to be tested to see if they have it so, the spread right from there.

Pasadena City officials calling her selfish and they say this is a cautionary tale. In fact, saying on this Mother's Day, virtually connect with your mother if you need to. No big public gatherings.

They say for all the guilt that you'll feel on the front end, by not seeing mom or grandmother, you would feel way more guilt on the back end if you were asymptomatic, COVID-19 positive, and you gave grandma or mom the virus. What an astonishing story, Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly is. All right. Let's hope for the best out there. Paul Vercammen, thank you very much.

Let's go to South Dakota right now where a battle is now brewing between the governor and Native-American tribes over coronavirus checkpoints being set up on the highways.

I want to bring in CNN's Sara Sidner. She is joining us now from Timberlake, South Dakota. Sara, the South Dakota governor weighed in just a little while ago. Where do things stand? This is all very, very sensitive.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. The governor has basically said that the checkpoints that you see here where they are stopping folks on state roads, that they are illegal, and that the tribes cannot have the power to do this. And she wants them removed and has demanded that they be removed in the past 48 hours.

We are now up to that point saying that she's going to take legal action if they're not removed. However, the tribes have their side of the story, and they're very clear they have been doing this, they say, to save their people, to keep them safe, to try to keep COVID-19 out of their population.

They've got 12,000 residents here and about eight hospital beds. So they're trying to do this on the front end to keep people from coming in and infecting others, making sure they have contact tracing instead of trying to deal with it and have a terrible crisis on the back end.

And joining me now kindly is the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

Thank you, chairman, for being here, Chairman Harold Frazier. Can you tell me what you think of the governor saying that she believes what you're doing here is illegal and that you must remove these? What's your response?

HAROLD FRAZIER, CHEYENNE RIVER SIOUX TRIBE CHAIRMAN: You know, I think we have every legal right to be here. I think we have every legal right to protect our residents on this reservation. You know, I mean, that's one of the greatest rights to have is the right to live. And I just can't understand why certain people don't see that, why they think it's a hindrance.


I think all we're doing is just trying to save our people's lives.

SIDNER: Can you tell me when you started doing these, what you're actually doing when people are coming? Is everyone being stopped and kept off of the reservation?

FRAZIER: No, no, no. There is a -- you know, we got, again, there is -- we have families. Our residents have families. I mean, they're allowed to come and so forth. We need commercial, we need supplies and medical, you know.

So we don't -- we're not here to turn anybody back or cause any delays in people's lives. We're just trying -- the main focus is to try to save lives.

SIDNER: When people pull up here, let's say there is someone coming in who wants to go through. What are they asked and why are you stopping them and taking their information?

FRAZIER: Well, you know, they're asked where are you going, what's your intention. And they're asked a series of health questions. And the main purpose is to know where these individuals are coming from. So, if there is a case, it's going to be easier to do track and more importantly to isolate and to try to keep it contained so it doesn't spread, you know, throughout our reservation.

SIDNER: Lastly, the governor has said she is going to take legal action. If she does that, are you going to take these down or are you going to defy her order? FRAZIER: You know we have to. I mean, you know, this is right now this

is all we have as a prevention because if we ever get the virus spread throughout our reservation we don't have the resources, the medical resources to try to address it.

SIDNER: Only eight hospital beds, right?

FRAZIER: Only eight hospital beds and definitely don't got the staffing or things like that to truly help anybody.

SIDNER: Thank you so much, chairman. We appreciate your time. You heard there, this was about prevention. They want to make sure that they have the necessary folks to watch and make sure that there is contact tracing so that they don't get on the back end a large number of people with COVID-19 who they simply cannot treat. The closest hospital with an ICU is about three hours away. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Sara, good report. Thanks. Keep us updated on the late-breaking developments.

And just a few months ago, millions of people were flying all around the world. Now, airports right now they're nearly empty. Planes are grounded due to lack of demand and airline companies are facing bankruptcy. But as states and countries begin slowly to reopen, what will flying post pandemic look like.

The CEO of Frontier Airlines is joining us. He is here to answer questions when we come back.



BLITZER: One massive industry that is really struggling right now and to see what the future looks like is the commercial airline business. They face the challenge of how to keep passengers in very close quarters safe for hours at a time. And that's proving to be difficult.

Take a look at this picture obtained by CNN taken on board an American Airlines flight on Friday. Full rows of passengers. Not everyone wearing masks. Even though all major carriers will make masks mandatory starting tomorrow. CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean reports on what airlines are doing to try to keep passengers safe.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Airline industry groups say the average domestic flight now has 23 passengers on board. That's up from 17 just a week ago, but it still pales in comparison to before this pandemic.

Even still, airlines are trying to figure out how to convince passengers that flying is safe. Frontier Airlines, the first domestic airline to announce that it will take the temperature of passengers as they board. Temperature checks do not catch every contagious person.

In this case, anybody with a fever higher than 100.4 will not be allowed to fly. All major airlines will be requiring that passengers wear mask come Monday. JetBlue had a way with this. That company lost more than $100 million in the first quarter of this year. Compare that to a $50 million profit a year ago. The COO of JetBlue told CNN that the entire industry has to change quickly.


JOANNA GERAGHTY, COO, JETBLUE: At this point, we think we're doing, you know, almost everything we can to try to make flying on an aircraft as safe as possible. Our perspective is, you know, right now most shelter in place orders are only for central travel, but we want to make sure when nonessential travel starts becoming permitted. We have done everything to give customers confidence to potentially flying again.


MUNTEAN: Airlines are also redoubling their efforts onboard planes, more deep cleanings, more use of electrostatic sprayers. There will also be changes as you pass through security as well. The Transportation Security Administration will now require that all of its officers wear face coverings.

The TSA says more than 500 of its employees have tested positive for coronavirus. At least six have died. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Pete, thank you very much. Pete Muntean reporting for us.

Joining us now, the president and CEO of Frontier Airlines, Barry Biffle. Barry, we just heard that report your airline, what, will start checking the temperature of everyone who gets on board one of your airplanes. I think you're the first domestic airline to announce that step. If it's more than 100.4, what happens? You don't get on the plane?

BARRY BIFFLE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, FRONTIER AIRLINES: Well, thanks again for having us on, Wolf, and Happy Mother's Day to everyone. But yes, if you test over 100.4 and we retest you again ten minutes later and you continue to be over 100.4, we will deny you boarding.

BLITZER: Very interesting. Let's see what happens on that front. You're also requiring, Barry, passengers to wear masks. Other airlines are doing that as well. Do you provide masks to passenger who shows up without one?


What happens if a passenger also tries to take off the mask during a two or three-hour flight?

BIFFLE: We don't provide the masks, but like in Colorado and most communities all over the U.S., you have to have a mask even to get inside the airport in most cases so, it's not really necessary.

But if someone pulls it off, if they have a legitimate reason, if they need to take some medicine or something, obviously we would allow that. But if you're just being noncompliant, we're going deal with it no differently than if you were taking off your clothes.

It's just the safety of everybody on the plane is at stake. And so we will treat this very serious.

BLITZER: Well, they have to take off their masks if they're drinking something or if they're eating food, right?

BIFFLE: That is correct, that is correct. But as part of this, until this is over we've actually discontinued our onboard food and drink service, again, to limit the exposure. We're just trying to keep you safely as possible when you are traveling on Frontier.

BLITZER: Look at this. You can see a visualization of how one person with a cough can potentially expose many, many others in a tight space like an airline cabin. Are you confident the measures you're taking right now, Barry, will be enough to reassure passengers? As you know, a lot of folks are nervous about getting on a plane right now.

BIFFLE: We understand people are nervous, Wolf. And we have listened to the health experts and we've listened to our customers, and we've taken a layered approach starting with the fogging and disinfecting of the aircraft, the mask requirement for our employees, which we started a month ago, now requiring masks for all passengers.

But I think what's important to note, in that video if you see it. I know it's been slowed down a bunch of times, but the HEPA filtration system on our aircraft, our average fleet age is less than four years. It actually puts clean air through the cabin within two to three minutes.

And so for that reason, we have not had any contact that we're aware of, anyone contracting COVID-19 on our aircraft because the system works very good.

But we're looking at a layered approach, the temperature checks, masks, the filtration system, all these things together make you more safe on board an aircraft than you are in a grocery store or many other buildings.

BLITZER: Very interesting. Tell us about your employees. The airline industry has roughly, what, 750,000 flight crews, ground staff, airport agents. What are you telling your people in this time of historic job losses? How many people your airline will furlough or have to lay off given the fact that so many people are reluctant to fly right now?

BIFFLE: So at this point, Wolf, we have not said we're going lay off anyone. In fact, we hope that as we get through this, we were better positioned than most carriers going into this and we believe that we'll thrive coming out of it due to our low cost structure. So, we have not warned of any layoffs or furloughs.

BLITZER: Well, that's encouraging to hear that. Help us better understand the sheer magnitude, though, of the challenges facing the airline business right now. Almost all commercial planes, so many of them at least are grounded. Demand is very, very small. A lot of airports you walk in, they're empty, industry-wide. Service

is still cut more than 80 percent. And there are almost no international flights at all. How long will it take to rebound from this pandemic?

BIFFLE: So we're already seeing visiting friends and relatives, kind of our back bone of our business. We're already seeing that start to come back, but it's at a very small level. To give you an idea, we would normally carry 80,000 passengers a day.

On a good day, we'll carry 10,000 right now, but its still ebbs and flows. And they're very picky about where they're going. And the big challenge now is to get the economy back going. We have to have places for them to go.

There has to be attractions, theme parks, hotels to stay in. So, until all of those things and all parts of the travel kind of open back up, it could be a while before we see normal travel patterns.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, the middle seats in a row, three and three, the middle seats, are you assigning those or are you deliberately keeping them empty?

BIFFLE: So we have 20 block seats so that creates 40 individuals, if you will, that have a blocked seat next to them. And we did kind of a checkerboard approach because we have a lot of families that fly on Frontier. So, there is many people that actually need all three together. So, so far this has worked really well to enable social distancing.

BLITZER: But people are going to be in every row. They're not going to be separated, right? They're going to be in every row.

BIFFLE: There will be people in every row, but there is -- if you are able to get an opportunity to have social distancing in certain cases. But, again, I think the main thing to remember is with the facial coverings, with the temperature checks, with the HEPA filtration and all these things layered together, we believe you're safer on board Frontier and most airlines for that matter than most enclosed buildings.

BLITZER: Well, good luck. Barry Biffle, Frontier Airlines. Let's hope this works out. Everybody wants to go up, you know, everybody wants to travel a little bit right now. Let's make sure it's safe. Appreciate it very much. Good luck.

BIFFLE: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: As the economic free fall caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues, a group of Democratic senators are now proposing giving Americans $2,000 in monthly payments.


Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, he is standing by. There you see him. He made universal basic income a feature of his presidential platform. He is going to be joining me live when we come back.


BLITZER: The global coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the U.S. economy - 20.5 million jobs were lost in April alone. That's the worst one month jobs report since the government began tracking this kind of data in 1939.

The unemployment rate in April soared to 14.7 percent. CNN's Kyung Lah reports, people who never thought they'd have to go to food banks are now relying on them to survive.


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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it happened overnight.

SARIAN: Overnight. It happened overnight.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arman Sarian tells a story you hear again and again at food banks across today's America. He pulled up for free food in his BMW. Until coronavirus hit his Los Angeles printing shop more than supported his family of four.

Are you scared?

SARIAN: Yes, but as a household of the family, I don't show it. I have two teenagers to raise up. We have to keep up the good spirit, but we're all scared.

LAH (voice-over): The lines of the needy and the numbers of the unemployed all harken back to the darkest time in Americas economy, the Great Depression. Like then, this downturn touches millions upon millions. Entire industries halted like air travel.



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

LARRY HARRIS, USC MARSHALL SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: Think about five fingers, 20 percent is one out of the five. So one out of five people in the United States who wants to be working is no longer working, and that's jaw dropping.

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

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

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

Have you ever had to do anything like this before?

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

LAH (voice-over): He is a writer and actor in Hollywood. An estimated 750,000 jobs in California have been impacted as the entertainment industry suddenly stopped. Driving up with his son, he said he wanted to talk in support of the L.A. Regional Food Bank, but only if we didn't use his name.

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

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


BLITZER: Thank you, Kyung. The April jobs report by the way, the numbers show the utter devastation millions and millions of Americans and their families are experiencing right now. Many are looking to the federal government for help for the first time.

Trump administration officials are saying it's premature to consider a fourth stimulus package, at least right now. Let's discuss with the former Democratic presidential candidate, CNN political commentator, Andrew Yang.

Andrew, thanks for joining us. And all of us remember during your campaign you brought attention to your proposal for a $1,000 a month universal basic income. Do you accept that explanation that more study needs to be done right now before the federal government should spend any more money helping folks out there?

ANDREW YANG, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm thrilled that people are proposing legislation right now to put $2,000 a month into every American's hands for the duration of this crisis until the economy gets back to where it was before the virus hit.

That's the direction we should be heading, Wolf, because the unemployment numbers understate the extent of the wreckage in the American economy. The percentage that sings to me most powerfully is that we have a record low employment to population ratio right now of 51.3 percent.

Almost half of Americans are not working right now, and think about what that means for their ability to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head.

BLITZER: We know the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she is clear -- she thinks another stimulus package is needed. She is pushing for one. She wants the price tag to be clearly very, very significant. There is sort of resistance coming, though, from the White House and the Republicans right now. What do you recommend? What do you think needs to be approved right now?

YANG: I think Republicans and Democrats are going to see very, very quickly that we need to make very big dramatic moves to put money into people's hands. This $2,000 a month proposal in the House and the Senate is the right direction.

We need to shore up jobs in the economy through any means possible, put money into people's hands, but also put money into state governments, hospitals, schools, nonprofits, small businesses, all of them are firing people right now.

The easiest way to retain jobs is to keep them from being lost. So we have to do is we have to put money into institutions' hands, into people's hands so that the jobs that remain aren't lost in the days to come.

BLITZER: And so when they ask you where all this money is going to come from, what do you say?

YANG: Well, what I say is that when push came to shove in the financial crisis, we had $4 trillion for the banks, we had $1.5 trillion for the big companies and the Trump misplaced tax cut earlier in his term. This is a bailout for the people. And we can see very clearly that we need it.


The money does not disappear. It goes right back into our local economies to keep food on the table, roofs over people's heads and small businesses open and functioning.

BLITZER: I want to show our viewers, Andrew, some unemployment statistics we just received from New York State. While all demographics have seen huge increases in unemployment, Asian workers have seen a 6,900 percent increase in unemployment from last year. What do you think of that?

YANG: It's unfortunate, but New York is the epicenter of this crisis in many ways. That even as other states are considering opening up, I know much of New York City and much of New York State is going to be locked down for a long time.

And Asian-Americans are disproportionately represented in that region. And so it's unfortunately not that shocking to me that unemployment numbers would surge in groups that are overrepresented in New York City and New York generally.

BLITZER: I want you to look ahead a little bit, Andrew, because you've done a lot of thinking about all these issues. As the candidate who actually unveiled a specific plan to use holograms to campaign remotely, how do you think our society, our everyday lives are going to be changed in the years to come by this pandemic? YANG: Wolf, there is no going back the normal, unfortunately. And

there is an economist who said that it's not like the economies have ever been that will snap into place. It's more like a truck stuck in the mud.

And so if you look at the changes we're all experiencing in terms of working remotely, I have two young kids who are trying to go to school each day and they still require me or Evelyn to chaperon them because, you know, a 4-year-old or a 7-year-old would just walk away from the computer.

So, the changes will be with us for years and years to come. The scars will be very deep and broad. And what I've been saying, Wolf, is that we're experiencing 10 years worth of change in 10 weeks.

And that's disastrous for many, many workers and retail and other industries that are being demolished right now. But it's also going to mean other widespread societal changes that we have only begun to even start to deal with.

BLITZER: Yes, because that new normal is going to be totally different than the old normal, I think it's fair to say. Andrew Yang, good to you back here on CNN in "The Situation Room." We'll continue conversation down the road. Thanks very much.

YANG: Would love that, Wolf. Stay safe. Happy Mother's Day everyone.

BLITZER: Yes. Thank you.

Coming up, millions of Italians are returning to work after a grueling lockdown. And for the people of Naples right now, that means some of the most famous pizzerias in the world are back in business. We have a special report. That's next.



BLITZER: Italy was once the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in Europe, but now the country is beginning -- beginning to emerge from lockdown. One of the first signs of hope, the smell of the famous pizza ovens in Naples back at work again. Our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman reports.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dario is busy, busier than he's ever been in more than 50 days. Monday, Italy's nationwide lockdown was eased and L'Antica Pizzeria de Michele is now back in business, but only for takeaway and home delivery.

A year ago, the restaurant would be full and there'd be maybe 20 people waiting outside, Dario tells me.

It was here that Julia Roberts ate pizza in "Eat, Pray, Love." But today, she'd have to do her eating outside.

WEDEMAN (on camera): This pizzeria opened 150 years ago. In that time, it stayed open during a cholera epidemic and the entire Second World War. It only shut its doors when coronavirus came to town.

Elsewhere in Italy, pizzerias continue to provide home delivery, but the no-nonsense governor of the Campania Region where Naples is located, wasn't willing to take risks in this relatively poor, crowded city, and ordered all pizzerias to close.

He famously threatened to send police with flame throwers if students gathered for graduation parties. That, fortunately, never happened. And the outbreak here has been mild. Now, Napolitani can be reunited with their beloved pizza, which local lore insists was invented here.

Guliano and Francesca got by on homemade pizza during the lockdown, but it just wasn't the same.

For us Napolitani, to go without pizza for this long is almost impossible, says Giuliano.

Bruno is happy to get his pizza again but worries people, especially the young, are letting down their guard. Everyone is together, he says. It's more dangerous now than a month ago as far as I'm concerned, but the pizza's getting cold, so good-bye.


This pizzeria has been in the same family for five generations. Closure at a high cost. It was depressing, says Sergio Condurro. We have 17 workers, which means 17 families. And then there are producers of tomatoes and flour and mozzarella. Lockdown created pockets of poverty. Now, some stomachs and pockets can be filled again. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Naples.


BLITZER: Thank you, Ben. We'll be right back. Much more news right after this.