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Rates of New Cases, Deaths Per Day on Average Are Down in U.S.; Minnesota Governor Says Mall of America Will Reopen on June 1st; Pentagon Removes Defense Production Act Point Person; Wisconsin's Top Court Strikes Down Stay-at-Home Order; Black-Light Experiment Shows How Quickly Virus Can Spread; Research Scientist, Jeremy Howard, Discusses Health Experts Asking Governors to Require Masks, Japanese Study on Virus Spread, Study Showing Virus Droplets Can Remain in Air 8 Minutes; Mike Lovell, Marquette University President, Discusses Call with Pence on Bringing Students Back to Campuses; FBI Seizes Senator Burr's Phone in Stock Sale Probe. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 14, 2020 - 14:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All the things, obviously being weighed as we are seeing some progress, Brianna, when you look at some of the numbers around the country.


HILL (voice-over): Signs of progress as states and cities report fewer new cases.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: Three for three. A perfect day, New York City.

HILL: COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU admissions and the percentage of people testing positive for the virus all down in the epicenter.

Nearly half the country, 24 states, showing a decline in new cases over the past week.

Since reopening three weeks ago, new cases in Georgia are down 12 percent. Colorado eased restrictions April 27th. New cases there have dropped 36 percent. Pennsylvania's numbers down 14 percent, as the voices pushing to reopen that state grow louder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not sheep! We're people.

HILL: With encouragement from President Trump, who will visit a medical equipment factory in the state today.

Packed bars in Wisconsin after the state Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday the stay-at-home order there was unlawful and unenforceable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back, America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm more than happy to be back.

HILL: The governor warning the move will set his state back.

GOV. TONY EVERS (D-WI): It puts our state into chaos. We have no -- there's no regulations out there right now, period. It's a bad day for Wisconsin.

STATE SEN. SCOTT FITZGERALD (R-WI): Now, the onus on the individual. If you don't feel comfortable going into a restaurant or into a church, then don't go.


HILL: More protests in Michigan Thursday morning.

Across the country, more than 36 million Americans have now filed for unemployment.

Parents are wondering what September will bring as the president pushes for children to return to the classroom.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think they should open the schools, absolutely. I think they should. And it's had very little impact on young people.

HILL: Experts note the virus, while often less severe in children, can affect young people, who could also be carriers.

In the meantime, 17 states are investigating cases of a rare but concerning inflammatory illness in school-age children, impacting more than 100 in New York. Most of the children impacted, more than 100 are in New York.

New findings from the National Institutes of Health show respiratory droplets could remain in the air for eight minutes, raising new concerns about how long the virus may linger.

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: This is a highly contagious disease. That's why we see outbreaks in call centers and in choirs and other places where people are in a confined space with a lot of others. And I do really worry when social distancing guidelines are lifted.

HILL: In Orlando, some shops and restaurants in Universal's City Walk are now open. Old Faithful ready to welcome visitors. Yellowstone National Park allowing limited access starting Monday. The Grand Canyon partially reopens tomorrow. Campgrounds and hotels at the parks remain closed for now.


HILL: And we are learning about other openings coming down the pipe. We heard that New Jersey Shore beaches there will be open by Memorial Day, according to the governor.

The Mall of America set to reopen on June 1st and that's the country's largest. All of this as CNN learned the CDC guidelines. We've heard so much

about should be out today for businesses. And that will address guidance for restaurants, retail and also schools and day cares -- Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: We are waiting to see what that says.

Erica, thank you so much. Erica Hill, in New York.

Breaking news, the governor of Minnesota says the Mall of America will reopen on June 1st. This is North America's largest shopping and entertainment complex.

And CNN's Amara Walker joins me now with more.

So this is a lot of retailers. A lot of malls are going to be looking at this. What's going to be happening, Amara?

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're talking about more than 520 retailers inside the Mall of America.

So as you were mentioning, Brianna, The governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, announced he would be allowing stay-at-home orders in the state to expire effective Monday on May 18th.

So that paves the way for non-essential businesses to begin reopening, which includes retail. So Mall of America now announcing it will reopen beginning on June 1st.

But should mention that not all the retail stores and restaurants inside Mall of America will actually be reopening on June 1st.

They say that for the next couple of weeks, before they reopen, many of the employees will be taking the time to implement social distancing measures, rehire staff, retrain them, try to create a safer environment. Many of these stores will be operating at about 50 percent capacity.

We should also mention that all the dining establishments inside, including the attractions --you may or may not know, there is an aquarium and a seven-acre theme park inside Mall of America. These attractions will not be reopening. But a handful of the retail stores inside Mall of America will. They're making plans now and will be reopening on June 1st -- Brianna?


KEILAR: All right. Amara Walker, thank you.

Just in from the Pentagon, CNN has learned the Pentagon's point person for executing the Defense Production Act has been removed from her job.

You may recall the DPA is a tool the Trump administration has used to help ramp up production of equipment needed to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. Some critics have said they need to use it more. And Jennifer Santos played a key role in this.

Let's get to Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent.

This is a development that a lot of people are going to look at this and say, what does this mean? What does it mean, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This is the question, Brianna. The Pentagon is not offering a lot of information.

What we know is Jennifer Santos removed, essentially fired from her job yesterday by the administration. We're told by someone familiar with the details, this was not a decision made at the Pentagon but made at the White House and in what they like to call the interagency process.

No indication, very strongly, that Jennifer Santos did anything wrong.

She was in a very key position. She did oversee Defense Production Act activities here at the Pentagon. That is the part of the law that would allow the Pentagon to get involved in increasing supplies of that all critical personal protection equipment.

Interestingly, she was also deeply involved on a very senior level with the Treasury Department in trying to monitor Chinese investment in U.S. defense companies.

It's a big concern right now because so many defense companies are being devalued. There's concern that China's moving in with its own capital trying to take over some of those companies.

No one can tell me what they think Jennifer Santos did wrong. She apparently is being offered another job in the Navy, moving over from the highest levels of the Pentagon, the office of secretary of defense, essentially, and going over there.

Not clear why this is happening. There's some indication she may have had a personality conflict. Her own boss apparently did not even know she was going to be removed -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Very curious.

Barbara Starr, we know you'll continue to look into that story.

In Wisconsin, the governor there, Tony Evers' attempts to keep citizens safe during the outbreak has been struck down by the state Supreme Court. In a 4-3 ruling, the court threw out a stay-at-home order saying an attempt to extend that order to May 26th was unlawful and this was an overreach.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is at a cafe that's reopened and accepting customers.

Omar, what's there? What's are the owners and the customers telling you?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At its base, with the Supreme Court order, it took out the statewide stay-at-home order, which means it put the onus on the individual jurisdictions to put in place a framework they felt matched up with their health officials.

Here in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in Waukesha County, they felt it was safe enough for their businesses to open up as long as they do so safely. They are leaving the responsibility in the business's hands.

At this particular cafe, we went inside a few moments ago and spoke to the owner. And when you walk people, there are people inside a sight he hasn't seen it feels like forever at this point. But in his words, things are not the same and they likely won't be the same for a long time because of the new measures he's had to put in place.

As he works the cash register, he has a barrier between himself and the customers that come inside. The way that the tables are set up, they're spaced out even more so. Even if there are people inside, they're not seated right next to each other. He tries to limit the amount of people in there at any given time so it doesn't get more crowded at any given point.

And he said that is going to be the reality for him for the foreseeable future but it's much better than where he was from a business standpoint.

And when I mentioned that it came down to the local jurisdictions to decide now that the state order was thrown out by the Supreme Court, just one county owner over in Milwaukee -- Milwaukee County already had an ordinance in place for their cities.

Even though the statewide order went away, the Safer-at-home order was still in place. So places, bars, businesses, similar to what we're seeing. Again, one county in Waukesha are not to open, in Milwaukee, like we see in Green Bay and the state capitol of Madison as well -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

President Trump taking his criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci public and contradicting him on several things.

Plus, a black-light experiment shows how fast the virus can spread. You're going to want to see this. It's going to show how it spreads inside of a restaurant.

A new study shows the virus can stay in the air for eight minutes after someone just speaks loudly.


This is CNN special live coverage.


KEILAR: We've heard from so many people who are missing what it was like to dine out before coronavirus. But now a video from Japan may have you rethinking the safety of some restaurants as they look to reopen. The experiment aims to show how easily germs and viruses can spread when just one person is infected.

CNN's Anna Coren reports.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Common sight on cruise ships, resorts and casinos, piles of hot food in communal trays. Each patron helping themselves to as many servings as desired. If just one is infected, it may be the perfect setting for a virus to flourish.

New video out in Japan helps show how fast it could spread. Medical experts teamed up with the country's broadcaster, NHK, in an experiment that simulates a cruise ship's buffet-style restaurant.

First, one of 10 participants rubbed his hands with a special liquid only visible under black light. He represents an infected person who had coughed into his hands.

Then he joins nine others as they spoon food on to their plates and sit down to eat.


COREN: After 30 minutes, the room goes dark before an ultraviolet light goes on. The fluorescent liquid is visible on a lot of surfaces. Items the so-called infected person has touched, tongs, pitchers, left residue others picked up and, in turn, spread to silverware, dishes, glassware, clothing and phones.

After half an hour, every participant had come into contact with the liquid. Three of them had gotten it on their faces, a visual show of how easily a contaminated substance can travel.

JOHN NICHOLLS, CLINICAL PROFESSOR IN PATHOLOGY, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY: Visually, in that video, there's a lot of material which is put on the hands, so that's a very artificial situation.

But I think what they've been able to do is to actually show just what the consequences are of the spreading of potential infectious disease when proper hand hygiene is not performed.

COREN: Video of the experiment has been viewed millions of times since posted by NHK.

The joint project supervisor says it's partly meant to illustrate how often some surfaces are touched by many people, like handrails, light switches or door handles.

NICHOLLS: It may seem radical but I think that video should be put in front of every single public restroom.

Many of the countries, which have opened up, the outbreaks have been linked to small clusters of what people call not necessarily the spreaders but locations, which highlights the need that people must be having much more attention to hand hygiene as well as the social distancing.

COREN: NHK and its collaborators did a second cleaner version of the experiment, using hygiene changes like separating dishes, replacing tongs frequently, and asking participants to wash their hands during and after the meal.


And 30 minutes into that experiment, no one had picked up the fluorescent paint.

Anna Coren, CNN.


KEILAR: And this experiment comes as more than 100 health and science experts urge the nation's governors to require masks. In an open letter to all 50 governors, they say research shows that cloth masks can slow the spread.

And with me now, one of the authors of this letter, Jeremy Howard. He is a distinguished research scientist at the University of San Francisco. And he led an international cross-disciplinary review of the scientific research on masks by 19 medical and scientific experts.

And nearly all of the states, Jeremy, will be partially reopened this weekend. You just saw a report on restaurants and how quickly viruses can spread there. This is really the reason why you're pushing masks.

JEREMY HOWARD, DISTINGUISHED RESEARCH SCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO: Yes, that's right. It's not enough to just wash hands. Hand hygiene is important, but respiratory hygiene is also important.

There's so many examples of cases of restaurants where people are passing the virus across to many other people in the restaurant just through speaking, talking to each other. The droplet clouds that are created can move all over the restaurant.

I would be terrified of eating in a restaurant with people without wearing masks there.

KEILAR: And we've heard of new information that even someone who is speaking loudly can create virus in the air that lingers for eight minutes. So that creates concerns about people being in an area and they may not even be there. You may walk into what is a cloud of germs.

And what do you need to combat that? What kind of mask?

HOWARD: And that cloud of germs can spread out to five meters. Six- foot social distancing isn't enough. But if you wear a mask, the research shows that cloud does not go beyond 1.5-meter boundary, so four or five feet.

What people need to do is cover their face. It doesn't matter too much what they cover with, a paper towel, a bandanna or a scarf, or a sewn- cloth mask. Pretty much anything does a great job of dropping or blocking the droplets on the way out.

They're very hard to block on the way in, because the science shows that they evaporate into much smaller nuclei. We have to hit them at the source.

And remember, you don't know if you're sick, so everybody needs to wear a mask to keep their communities safe and avoid a terrible second outbreak that could cause all the lockdowns to start again and for longer.

KEILAR: Let's talk about places where masks are important. What about if you're outside, you think you're pretty far away from people? You just described it's not sufficient. But if you're outside working out or you're near anyone who might be running by or walking through a park, should you be wearing a mask?

HOWARD: It depends how cautious you want to be. The research suggests that the transmission rate outside is about 20 times lower than inside. So this letter from the 100 world-class academic experts today specifically says we want to make sure that masks are required in all states in indoor places and indoor stores, transit and so forth.

When you're outside, it's a case of how far away you are from people, is there a breeze, how long do you stand to next to somebody for. You just make sure you're not in a situation where somebody else is in your droplet cloud for an extended period of time.

KEILAR: We also have new video that I want to share with our viewers, the president in Pennsylvania at a distribution center. And he's the -- I think he's the only one there who's not wearing a mask. He's inside.

Is this proper behavior? I think I know the answer but you're the expert, you tell me.

HOWARD: It can be said that the president is almost a unique situation that apparently he gets tested so often.

But I will say, we really want to see leaders providing a great role model for everybody. And so to me, that means every leader, whether it's political or scientific, has shown wearing a mask when they're around others in public.

KEILAR: Lead by example.

Jeremy Howard, thank you so much. We really appreciate this.

President Trump in even more disagreement with the top in infectious disease expert, telling FOX News that he thinks that grade schools should come back into session.


TRUMP: I think that we have to open our schools. Young people are little elected by this. And we have to get the schools open, we need to get our country open. I totally disagree with him on schools. And will have -- I call it

embers, I call them spikes and he called -- I noticed he used the word spike. Well, you might have that and we'll put it out.



KEILAR: This, as Vice President Pence held a virtual session with the universities and colleges seeking answers on when and how to bring students back to campus.

Mike Lovell is the president of Marquette University in Milwaukee and he was on the call.

Michael, what can you tell us about that conversation?

MICHAEL LOVELL, PRESIDENT, MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY: Well, first of all, I was honored to be part of the dialogue.

And it was an informational session for us to hear from some of the administration, some of their experts. And likewise for them to hear from us about what our desires are and our needs to try to reopen our campuses.

KEILAR: So I understand that Marquette is planning to allow students back on campus in the fall. Did you get any guidance from the White House on how to reopen safely?

LOVELL: One of the things we talked to the White House about specifically was having additional guidelines from the federal government, in particular the CDC, guidelines about classrooms, guidelines about residence halls and open spaces on the campus so that we can implement those guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our campus community.

Obviously, our faculty, staff and students are our foremost concern. And we want to ensure that we have proper guidelines and allow our experts on campus to be able trained on how to implement the guidelines.

KEILAR: So is it fair to say that you don't feel like you have the specifics that you need on exactly what it will look like to reopen?

LOVELL: We would like very unambiguous guidelines on how to reopen safely. And so, we're -- many of the presidents, including myself, what we would like from the federal government is more specifics.

And I think that when we have those and are armed with those --


KEILAR: I just want to ask you, Michael, when you're talking about specifics, like how many students per this size classroom, or best practices with masks or cleaning? Is there something else there that you are looking for guidance on? LOVELL: First, it is the physical space. How many students per class?

Should we have less than 50 students per class and six feet apart?

And also testing and tracing, tracking our students. One thing we are willing to do on our campus is test our students frequently. And the data is showing is many 18 to 24-year-olds that get the coronavirus are asymptomatic.

We need to ensure that we can track the students fairly regularly to make sure that if they have been infected that they have won't come into contact with others on campus and isolate them if that happens.

So guidelines on how often we should test and things of that nature.

KEILAR: All right, Michael Lovell, thank you for joining us from Marquette University.

LOVELL: Thank you.

KEILAR: Republican Senator Richard Burr is stepping aside as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee as the FBI investigates several stock trades that he made right before coronavirus wreaked havoc on the economy. The Senator sold up to $1.7 million in stocks in February after he received closed-door briefings about the virus.

And then today, the DOJ has confirmed to CNN that federal officials seized a cell phone belonging to Senator Burr.

Joining me now, CNN senior legal analyst, Preet Bharara. He's a former U.S. attorney.

Preet, you say this is a very big deal.

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It is. There were reports circulating in the press a couple of months ago that Richard Burr and some other Senators engaged in some questionable trading in stock relating to the economy and the coronavirus.

Those were just reports. And I know from my experience as an attorney that often reports don't bear out any fruit.

But it takes a lot of layers of review before you can get someone's cell phone because. It goes all the way to the top of the U.S. attorney general's office. Because you're talking about a United States Senator.

I don't think that my office, when I was in charge, would have undertaken to do such a thing without advising and probably getting the blessing of the attorney general of the United States himself.

And as people also know, you need the blessing of a district court judge, pursuant to the standard, which is probable cause that a crime has been committed. And further probable cause that the device that was seized was used in connection with the commission of the crime.

So now you have something much more tangible and concrete. So that is why I think that it is a big deal.

KEILAR: Burr says that he was relying on basically public information when he made the stock trades. Of course, DOJ has reason to believe otherwise.


There's another layer here that adds complications. There's another Senator, Senator Kelly Loeffler, of Georgia. Richard Burr is someone who has been a burr in the side of the White House. Kelly Loeffler is very closely with President Trump.

She is accused with trading more. Her husband is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. And she is accused of selling between $1.2 and $3.1 million in stocks after attending this closed-door coronavirus series of briefings.

So what does that tell you, if anything, about the fact that we haven't heard anything about her situation?

BHARARA: Not only did Loeffler sell stock but she also bought stock in one company involved in telework that we're all using now on lockdown.

I'd like to think that the Justice Department takes action based on facts and law and depending on what the particular circumstances are. I don't have any evidence so I won't make any allegation that they're treating Kelly Loeffler different from Richard Burr.

But one thing that we know is different, at least with respect to what she is saying, Richard Burr has made clear, not denied, that he is the one that authorized the trading in those stocks and that it was related to the coronavirus.

And Kelly Loeffler has said that she had no role, that it was third parties that don't consult with her or her husband.

And so I would hope that investigators could track that and make sure that she is telling the truth. But if other people are making the decision for her, it is a harder case to bring.

KEILAR: Certainly.

What message do you think that this sends to other members of Congress about what level of scrutiny they're under? Are you surprised at all of this, Preet? Because the Stock Act is in place and it isn't even that old and they even tightened it up after great reporting by Dana Bash. So what do you think?

BHARARA: I always found it remarkable that people with a lot of power and privilege would be involved in inside trading. When I was U.S. attorney, we had a lot of insider trading cases, a lot of people who had nothing to cry about in terms of personal wealth.

But the Stock Act passed overwhelmingly over only objections of three Senators, and one of those was Senator Richard Burr. I think it should send a message to all Senators they should be very

careful. And something I've been saying for a long time, there's no law against it.

But I don't know why, if you are a sitting member of Congress, you should or need to have ownership of any individual stock.

It becomes a very difficult thing, to direct their portfolios and committee assignments to engage in the duty that is required by their office and not run afoul of at least the appearance that they are engaging in some policy or practices and getting briefings on things that affect their own pocketbook.

And the other point about all this, separate and apart from whether or not a crime was committed, is the hypocrisy on the part of some of these Senators who are publicly saying, well, it'll be OK, but privately were selling stock to make sure their pockets were filled more than they otherwise would have been.

And I think that that is a lesson that other Senators should learn as well.

KEILAR: It really is an important lesson.

Preet, thank you very much. Preet Bharara.

And more on our breaking news now. The ousted vaccine chief giving damning testimony against the Trump administration, accusing them of ignoring his warnings.