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Trump Says U.S. Has Prevailed in Virus Testing; Trump Says He May Mandate Testing in Nursing Homes; U.S. Justice Department Assessing Whether to Bring Hate Crime Charges in Arbery Shooting; Shanghai Disneyland Reopens with New Health Measures. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 12, 2020 - 04:30   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: As the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus tops 80,000, President Donald Trump says the country has prevailed and is leading the world in testing. But his message is misleading since several other countries are performing more tests per capita than the U.S.

The President also said during his briefing on Monday that if somebody wants to be tested right now, they'll be able to be tested. But health experts say that's just not true and the U.S. is nowhere close to where it needs to be to reopen. Here's more from the President.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have the greatest capacity in the world, not even close. If people want to get tested, they get tested. But for the most part they shouldn't want to get tested. There's no reason. If they feel good, they don't have sniffles, they don't have sore throats, they don't have any problem.


CHURCH: CNN's senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein joins me now from Los Angeles. Good to see you, Ron.


CHURCH: So at a news conference Monday President Trump declared the U.S. has prevailed in testing and that anyone who wants a test can get a test. Medical experts dispute both claims. What's the politics and optics of this? Particularly as the White House deals with its own COVID-19 outbreak requiring daily testing and the wearing of masks.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, the politics is twofold for the President. I mean, first, he very much wants to run in the fall on the captain who steered us through the stormy seas and the worst is behind us. And yes, it was difficult, but he led the country through it. And then more immediately, obviously, he wants to create confidence among business and consumers and increase pressure on governors to reopen the economy as soon as possible.

The reality of course is very different. We are still looking at roughly 25,000 new cases a day. Today was a better day but we've been running about 2,000 additional deaths a day. And I think that the key question politically in the coming weeks are will Americans accept that as a new normal. I don't think we know the answer to it. But we do know that at this point roughly two to one, more people say they are worried about states opening too fast than they are about states opening too slow.

CHURCH: Right, and worth mentioning too, that that news conference referred to did not end well. An Asian-American female journalist asked the President a question that sparked this heated exchange. Let's just take a listen.


WEIJIA JIANG, CBS NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You said many times that the U.S. is doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing.


JIANG: Why does that matter? Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we're still seeing more cases every day?

TRUMP: Well, they're losing their lives everywhere in the world and maybe that's a question you should ask China. Don't ask me, ask China that question, OK. When you ask them that question, you may get a very unusual answer. Yes, behind you please.

JIANG: Sir, why are you saying that to me specifically that I should ask China?

TRUMP: I'm telling you, I'm not saying it specifically to anybody. I'm saying it to anybody that would ask a nasty question like that.

JIANG: That's not a nasty question.

TRUMP: Please go ahead.

JIANG: Why does it matter?


CHURCH: President Trump then refused to let CNN's Kaitlyn Collins ask her question and he stormed out of the news conference. So how do voters view actions like this from their President in the middle of a pandemic?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, and this is the same President who said there were very fine people on both sides of Charlottesville when one side were, you know, neo-Nazis. And the same one who told four Democratic women in the House, women of color, to go back where they came from even though they were all born in the U.S. Direct appeals to racial anxiety and to white unease to portions of the white America that are most uneasy about the way the country is changing demographically and culturally is an integral part of his appeal.


And it has been literally from day one when he came down the escalator and talked about Mexico sending rapists and criminals.

Having said that, the President would rather be in a fight with the media about whether he is being racially insensitive than having to deal with the realities on the ground of the most unemployed since the depression, and 80,000 dead and you know, rising steadily, clearly heading to more than 100,000 by the end of the month. For his base, that kind of behavior has always been proves that he will break any rule, shatter any window in order to defend their interests. He thinks that works for him. There is a price. White-collar suburbs as we saw in 2018 that moves away. But it is terrain that he always moves back to sooner or later, Rosemary, especially when he is under siege as he is today.

CHURCH: What we're seeing at the White House right now is a microcosm of what should be happening across the country, regular testing, isolating and contact tracing and the requirement to wear a mask except for the President and Vice President. Why are we not seeing a similar model for the general public as if they don't count?

BROWNSTEIN: Right. You know, and this is why this is a very damaging kind of story line to the President's overall effort to convince as much of America as possible. Nothing to see here. Everything is back to normal. Let's get back to work. Let's go back into the restaurant. The fact that the White House is operating at a much higher level of testing and contact testing and all the precautions that are not available to the general public. Largely because of their failure to be able to ramp up our testing capacity over several months -- although it's obviously better than it was. It's still way short of where experts say it needed to be.

I mean, that just makes it very difficult to convince average Americans that it's safe for them to go back into the workplace. One thing for them to keep an eye is that more states with Republican governors are saying that their interpretation of the unemployment laws, are that if you are offered your job again and you say, no, I don't feel safe going back into my workplace, that will be a grounds to cut off your unemployment. I think that is an issue that's going to be rising in the next few weeks as we see this very uneven pattern of who returns to work and who doesn't, which state does, which state doesn't.

CHURCH: It is a critical point. Ron Brownstein, always great to chat with you. Thank you so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: And Mr. Trump says he might make coronavirus testing mandatory for nursing home residents and the White House coronavirus task force says it would like governors to complete this testing in the next two weeks. Whether their states have reached phase one of reopening or not. CNN's Brian Todd takes a look at why testing in nursing homes is so important.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Leland Gebhardt is fearful about his 69-year-old mother, who lives at this Phoenix area nursing home. His mother doesn't have any symptoms of coronavirus at the moment, he says, but the facility says about four dozen residents there have tested positive, and at least seven have died.

LELAND GEBHARDT, SON OF RESIDENT AT GLENCOVE NURSING FACILITY: It's definitely been very fearful, because you -- all you can do is just wait and just hope that nothing happens and hold your breath.

TODD: There are shocking new numbers on the ravaging toll COVID- 19 is taking on American nursing homes. Nationally, long-term care facilities are linked to 11 percent of reported cases, and more than one in three deaths, according to a tally by "The New York Times."

In recent days, CNN has reported on individual states with spiking numbers that are simply flooring. In New Jersey, more than half the state's deaths from coronavirus have come at long-term care facilities. And in New Hampshire, as of a few days ago, nearly 80 percent of the deaths were at nursing homes. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is trying to head off further disaster.

ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK GOVERNOR: This virus uses nursing homes. They are ground zero. They are the vulnerable population in the vulnerable location.

TODD: Governor Cuomo is now requiring that nursing home staff members be tested twice a week for coronavirus and says hospitals cannot discharge a patient to a nursing home unless the patient tests negative. But nursing homes still present what one expert calls a perfect storm of factors which put their residents at higher risk, in addition to the fact many of them already have chronic health problems.

DR. JENNIFER LEE, FORMER DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY OF HEALTH, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION: These residents are confined to where they live, and many of them live in pretty and interact in close spaces, and so that puts them at high risk because they can't effectively distance.

TODD: And staff shortages at nursing homes which one expert told us were a problem before this outbreak are now making the risks even greater for staffers and residents.

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, DIRECTOR, DISASTER & OPERATIONAL MEDICINE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Within the nursing home, the nurses and the technicians that work there could be dealing with tens of patients at a time. What that means is you've got one person going back and forth between all the rooms and all the different patients.

TODD: Those conditions have led to scenes like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better safe or worse.

TODD: Relatives have to check on their elderly loved ones through the windows of those facilities. In mid-March, the federal government issued guidance banning nearly all visitors and communal activities at nursing homes.


At a nursing home in Pasco County, Florida, relatives couldn't get anywhere near their mothers and grandmothers to celebrate Mother's Day. So they had to drive by, honk, wave from a distance, and call them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you can. It's emotional. All right.

TODD (on camera): But "The Wall Street Journal" is now reporting that federal regulators are drafting new guidelines to allow visitors to return to nursing home facilities under multiple phases and with very strict standards. Reached by CNN, the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services would not comment on the journal report but they did not refute it. Medical experts are warning not to open these facilities too soon and nursing home industry groups are also warning that these places need a lot more resources like protective gear before they should reopen.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: The family of a Blackman shot and killed while jogging in the U.S. state of Georgia is hoping they're a little closer to justice. Ahead, what U.S. officials plan to do with Ahmaud Arbery's case.


CHURCH: Now to the shooting death of a Blackman in Georgia that's capturing the world's attention. The U.S. Justice Department says it's assessing the evidence in Ahmaud Arbery's case to determine if hate crime charges are appropriate. They're also considering a request to investigate how the case has been handled by local officials. CNN's Martin Savidge has more and a warning, his report contains graphic video.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the video that changed everything in the Ahmaud Arbery case, the one showing his death. From the moment it becomes public, the investigation after ten weeks seemed to be going nowhere takes off. Shock and outrage bring protesters to the streets.


Arbery's family calling their son a victim of hate.

MARCUS ARBERY SR. AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: He didn't bother nobody. Always mind his own business, and that's what he was doing when he got killed, when he got lynched. That's what he got, lynched.

SAVIDGE: Tweeting Georgians deserve answers. The governor offers to send in state law enforcement. The next morning, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents are in Brunswick reviewing evidence. And in less than two days doing what local authorities did not do in two months, arresting the armed father and son seen in the cell phone video confronting Arbery.

VIC REYNOLDS, DIRECTOR, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: Agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation effectuated an arrest on two individuals, Greg and Travis McMichael, charging them with both felony murder and aggravated assault.

SAVIDGE: Ironically, the case that early on moved at the speed of molasses started because Ahmaud Arbery loved to run.

JASON VAUGHN, BRUNSWICK HIGH FOOTBALL COACH: Ahmaud had amazing speed. I mean, just straight, fast speed.

SAVIDGE: His family said the 25-year-old was in the neighborhood February 23rd jogging. This newly reviewed video shows he stepped into a home under construction, looked around, then leaves and begins to run. Some residents say the neighborhood had seen a string of break- ins, but CNN found only one police report for theft in the last four months. Arbery's presence triggers calls to 911.

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

CALLER: No it's all open, it's under construction. And he's running right now, here he goes right now.

DISPATCHER: OK, what is he doing?

CALLER: he's running down the street.

SAVIDGE: According to the initial police report, Gregory McMichael is standing in his front yard and sees Arbery, quote, hauling ass down the street. McMichael whose former law enforcement and his son Travis grab a handgun and shotgun -- according to police documents -- jump into their truck and began following Arbery. The police report says Gregory McMichael stated that he and his son tried to cut Arbery off at least twice and McMichael said that another man, William Roddie Bryan, in a separate vehicle, tried to block him but all were unsuccessful.

Eventually father and son used their truck to block his path. Travis McMichael is on the street holding his shotgun as Arbery approaches at a jogger's pace. Roddie Bryan captures video of the encounter. After three shots a wounded Arbery stumbles and dies in the street. Brian shares the video with police that day.

KEVIN GOUGH, ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM "RODDIE" BRYAN: Either the first or the second officer on the scene, you know, he invites them to sit in his car and they watch the video together.

SAVIDGE: According to Glynn County Commissioner J. Peter Murphy who has spoken to officers who were on the scene that day. Police called the district attorney's office for advice. The same office where Gregory McMichael worked for years.

J. PETER MURPHY, GLYNN COUNTY COMMISSIONER: I believe there was direction from the district attorney's office to not execute arrests.

SAVIDGE: That all changed May 7th, but even with the arrests, public frustration continues. Many now want those responsible for handling the case in the beginning to either resign or be fired.

There are also demands for a third arrest of William Roddie Bryan, the man behind the video, who Arbery supporters accuse of working with the McMichaels to capture Arbery. Brian's attorney says his client was not helping the McMichaels the day of the shooting and that instead of being arrested Bryan should be credited for the video that changed everything.

GOUGH: If he had not videotaped that incident, the only person who really could speak to what happened is dead and won't ever have that opportunity. So that video is the prosecution.

SAVIDGE: CNN has made repeated attempts to reach the McMichael's and their family but so far has not been successful. Even with the recent dramatic events, supporters of Ahmaud Arbery and his family say they're just the first steps on the road to justice and they're in it for the long run.


CHURCH: Martin Savidge with that report. And one final note, Georgia's Attorney General just named a new prosecutor to oversee the case. Joyette Holmes who's from the Atlanta area is now the fourth prosecutor to lead the case. We'll be right back.



CHURCH: Disney began reopening theme parks this week starting with Shanghai Disneyland. While no date has been announced for when Walt Disney World in Florida will open, visitors can make reservation beginning on July 1st. CNN's David Culver looks at how Shanghai is getting back to business.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Disney cast members lined the entrance to welcome guests back. The Shanghai park reopening Monday after 3-1/2 months. It closed as the novel coronavirus ravaged parts of China. The latest government figures claim far fewer cases, particularly in Shanghai.

Disney felt confident to reopen the gates limited mission to 30 percent capacity or 24,000 guests. But Disney CEO has said far fewer guests will be allowed initially. And on day one, CNN noticed a smaller crowd in the massive park coupled with several new safety measures.

ANDREW BOLSTEIN, SENIOR V.P. OF OPERATIONS, SHANGHAI DISNEY RESORT: And we have cast members here, monitoring the queues all throughout asking guests to maintain that respectful social distance at all times.

CULVER: Senior Vice President of Operations, Andrew Bolstein, says temperature screening starts before guests walk in. All visitors need to register online and booked for a specific arrival time to keep from congregating. To enter, you must have a green Shanghai Q.R. health code. That's the government's high-tech way to track potential exposures.

Inside the park, reminders to keep your distance. Yellow tape added to lines for attractions and restaurants.

(on camera): Safe spacing even for the performances. This is one of the stages. Look here in the crowd. Pick a box. That's where you and your family unit will stand, keeping that distance.

(voice-over): Every other table blocked off to space out diners.


After stepping off each ride, you'll find a row of hand sanitizer stations.

(on camera): The one thing that stands out to me is constant sanitation.

BOLSTEIN: Yes, so we have a very dedicated team of custodial cleaners that we've even increased the numbers of those throughout the park that are constantly wiping down all the surfaces.

CULVER (voice-over): And for now, you can no longer hug Mickey or Minnie, not even a high five. A safe selfie distance will have to do along with the facemasks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're so excited. It's --

CULVER: The new measures have not deterred Disney fans.

To me, it means the magic starts again, she tells me.

But the joy here is not felt everywhere in China. As Disney reopens in Shanghai, a city in northeast China has gone into wartime mode, locking down to stop a recent spike in cases. And at the original epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan, after weeks without any new cases, the city has reported six over the past two days dimming the festivities a bit at Shanghai Disneyland.

They've tried to balance celebration with remembrance, creating tributes to frontline health care workers. This is a projection of gratitude.

(on camera): Disney says that they are sold out for the rest of the week as they have now imposed this new online ticketing system. So you reserve that block of time so that not everyone is rushing to the front gate at the same time to go into the park. It seems like there is demand. However, the question will be going forward, can they increase that capacity? As of now, they're keeping well below that 30 percent government regulation. And it seems that people we talked to were comfortable with that. And not only made those who were visiting this park feel safer, but also those who are working here.

David Culver, CNN, Shanghai Disneyland.


CHURCH: And thanks you for your company. Stay safe and healthy. I am Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is next. You're watching CNN. Stay with us.