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Study Shows Droplets with Virus Can Stay in Air Eight Minutes; Experts Say Contact Tracing is Key in Slowing Virus' Spread; Fed Chairman Warns U.S. May Need New Stimulus; Major U.S. Airlines Struggle to Enforce Safety Policies; Audio and New Video Released in Death of Jogger; Can Sports Leagues Resume Games Without Virus Risk. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 14, 2020 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: How tiny droplets from a single cough can spread through the cabin of a passenger jet. And it's findings like these that make effective contact tracing a key tool in combatting coronavirus. CNN's Tom Foreman shows how it works and why some aren't on board with the process.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A viral hot spot erupts in a South Korean nightclub district. Dozens come down with COVID-19 and quickly authorities trace the origin to one man. How did they find him? They analyzed the GPS signal of his phone and saw everyone he had been near.

In China, millions are being watched in a similar fashion and now in the U.S. too vigorous efforts are underway to expand contact tracing.

In New Orleans, anyone eating in restaurant will be required to hand over their information.

LATOYA CANTRELL, NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: Restaurants should retain a name and contact number for over 21 days.

FOREMAN: Contact tracing whether through electronic apps or interviews with patients consists of sorting out the physical social network of an infected person than asking or maybe even compelling exposed people to quarantine.

Health officials say it certainly works in this Japanese experiment. A group of diners was unaware one of them had an invisible paint on his hands, but when a special light was turned on, it was clear how many had been symbolically infected.

Real world studies found the same thing with COVID-19. Professor Erin Bromage notes one diner in a restaurant infecting nine others nearby. An outbreak in a call center jumping one worker to the next, to the next.

BRIAN KEMP, GEORGIA GOVERNOR: I want to strongly encourage you to participate in the contact tracing program.

FOREMAN: So many government officials argue contact tracing is essential.

JAY INSLEE, WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNOR: It is the next major step in our effort to defeat the COVID virus.

FOREMAN: But privacy advocates say the same tools for tracking the virus could be used to discover political activity, religious affiliations, private relationships. And a "Washington Post" poll found nearly three in five Americans say they are either unable or unwilling to use the infection alert system under development by Google and Apple.

JENNIFER GRANICK, ACLU: Trust really matters in combating a pandemic and people won't feel trusting of the system if it's not based on a public health need and there are not very robust privacy and security protections built into any tool that we might use.


CHURCH: CNN's Tom Forman reporting there.

Well, new unemployment numbers are expected in the coming hours and it's not going to be good. Economists expect another 2.5 million Americans would have filed first-time claims last week. And that would bring the total number filed since mid-March to 36 million. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the unemployment rate is likely to peak in the coming month before declining. And his warning of dire consequences if lawmakers don't step up relief efforts. His comments rattled Wall Street and all three major indices closed in the red. The Dow saw its steepest selloff since the start of the month.

CHURCH: Catherine Rampell joins me now. She is a CNN economics commentator and a "Washington Post" opinion columnist. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So the markets didn't like it. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell made it clear Wednesday it'll be a long road back to economic recovery and he said the burden of this crisis has fallen most heavily on the least able to bear it. Let's just listen to what he's said.


JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Among people who were working in February, almost 40 percent of those in households making less than $40,000 a year had lost a job in March. This reversal of economic fortune has caused a level of pain that is hard to capture in words as lives are up ended amid great uncertainty about the future.


CHURCH: Well, the Trump administration has made it clear there will be no new economic stimulus package for now at least. So where is this going and what needs to be done?

RAMPELL: I think what we heard from Chairman Jay Powell was an unmistakable call for more fiscal stimulus. Basically he was asking Congress, he was asking the White House to step up to provide more aid to families, businesses, states, localities because if you look at the forecasts right now, in the absence of that aid, the pain is almost unimaginable.

CHURCH: Yes, and of course, we will see new jobless numbers in just a few hours from now. What can we expect? And could this force the hand of the Trump administration to do more to help those suffering under the burden of this pandemic?


RAMPELL: I think we should expect more people unemployed. The numbers that we've seen so far probably do not capture the full extent of the pain because there's still been difficulty where people actually applied for unemployment benefits, for example. So we know the numbers are huge but we don't know who they're leaving out and how many of those people might be counted belatedly.

Will it force the hand of the Trump administration is an interesting question. Both President Trump as well as Republican leadership in the legislature have said that they're not in a rush right now to aid American families or businesses or others who were calling out for help. It's a little bit hard to know to what extent that's just a political posture, right.

They want to play hard ball and extract more concessions from the Democrats, including things like more of a liability shield for corporations. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has called for that. And to what extent they genuinely don't believe that it's the government's role here to try to provide assistance.

What Trump has been calling for, of course, is to just reopen the economy. He thinks the best way to heal the economic pain that we have right now is to lift more of these lockdown orders, to get people back to work. Which sounds like a simple enough solution, of course, but as the United States has seen, as other countries have seen, it's a lot more complicated than that, even if you lift these lockdown orders and if miraculously you don't have a resurgence of infections, you still will find that customers are afraid to go out. They're afraid to go out and shop. Businesses are not clear about what kinds of safe work conditions they can provide to their employees.

So it's not only the lockdowns themselves, of course, that are holding back economic activity, it's all of the uncertainty about how big the risk is out there. If you look at the economic data preceding these lockdowns, in fact, number of economic transactions that were occurring as measured by things like consumer spending or hours worked. Those were already falling dramatically before the official state-ordered shutdowns. Which, you know, implies that even when the shutdowns lift you still won't have things bounced back as they were. But I think that's basically what the Trump administration is counting on. That if they cross their fingers and just ask people to carry on as normal or to return to normal, that will happen and, therefore, that will obviate the need for more fiscal help.

CHURCH: Right, and the Fed chief indicated that it could be a long, slow journey back to economic health. Is that the view shared by most economic experts?

RAMPELL: So the forecasts are all over the map. A lot of them are predicting that the unemployment rate will continue to rise in the next month, possibly in the next several months. But then beyond that you will see some reversal, some healing in any event that the economy will begin to recover.

But again, there's a lot of uncertainty about what that recovery will look like. It assumes, A, that there will be more fiscal aid that is extended to families, to states. A lot of these forecasts are based on that assumption. B, it assumes you won't have a second wave of infections that will cause a second round of shutdowns which I think would be economically devastating.

So if you look at the forecasts out there, most of them predict that unemployment will continue to rise, the numbers will be worse. And in fact, the White House, economic advisers at the White House have even said that they expect the unemployment rate to be higher next month than it was in this all-time worst jobs report that we just had. Something like 20 percent or higher. So they are expecting it to get worse. The question is how quickly will we start to see a recovery? And how long will that recovery take? And again, there's so many unknown unknowns about the trajectory of the virus and how people will respond to it that it's very difficult to know. To make a forecast with any certainty at this point.

CHURCH: It is a shocking situation for so many people and then some people have hardly been affected by this at all. And sometimes they're making the decisions for the rest of us. Catherine Rampell, thank you so much for talking with us. Appreciate it.

RAMPELL: Thank you.

CHURCH: And one industry where a recovery is likely to take longer than for others is aviation. Airlines are now scrambling to figure out how to fly safely and as Pete Muntean reports, they're struggling to come up with coherent guidelines.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Packed in passengers might not be the norm right now according to major airlines, but more scenes like this are raising new concerns about whether you can maintain social distancing while flying. Change or cancel a trip because of coronavirus and you are not entitled to a refund according to new guidance just laid out by the Department of Transportation. It says you can get your money back within a week if it is the airline that cancels. But if you cancel, what you get back is up to the airline.

[04:40:00] In the U.S., more than half of all airliners are now parked, but more passengers are stepping on board a shrinking fleet. The number of people passing through security has climbed to the highest level in six weeks.

BARRY BIFFLE, CEO, FRONTIER AIRLINES: So we're already seeing visiting friends and relatives, kind of our backbone of our business. We're already seeing that start to come back. But it's at a very small level.

MUNTEAN: United Airlines will now warn passengers if a flight is near capacity and let them rebook, even though it stresses that most flights are less than half full. All major airlines are now mandating that passengers wear masks but are not guaranteeing that every middle seat will be empty.

REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D-OR): We need federal rules.

MUNTEAN: High ranking House Democrats say there is inconsistency and uncertainty in airline policies and want federal agencies to act.

DEFAZIO: I think that we should look carefully at whether or not we require distancing on airplanes, then that could require leaving middle seats open.

MUNTEAN: In a statement to CNN, the FAA says its authority lies in safe operation of aircraft and that it is lending aviation expertise to help officials and airlines. Airline workers want more intervention.

JOE DEPETE, PRESIDENT, AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION: There's a smart way to do this. We need to ensure that we're doing everything we can to prevent unnecessary additional preventable risks for our passengers.

MUNTEAN: Without federal mandates, industry groups say each airline is coming up with its own protocols. Frontier, for instance, will do temperature checks at the gate and may turn you away with a fever higher than 100.4.

BIFFLE: We believe you're safer onboard Frontier, and most airlines for that matter, than most -- most enclosed buildings.


CHURCH: CNN's Pete Muntean reporting there.

New evidence is coming to light in the controversial case of a man killed while jogging in Georgia. Hear the 911 call and see the new video. That's next.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Former U.S. national security advisor, Michael Flynn, could be facing

more legal trouble even as the U.S. Justice Department tries to get his guilty plea tossed out. The U.S. judge overseeing Flynn's sentencing has now asked a retired judge to review the case and argue against the Justice Department's request. That request stunned Washington when it was made one week ago. A review of Flynn's case could expose Flynn to further legal jeopardy, especially if it appears, he committed perjury.

Well now to new developments in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, the black man in Georgia who was killed by two white men while he was jogging. A 911 call has been released of a suspect, Travis McMichael, reporting a break in less than two weeks before Arbery was killed. McMichael and his father are charged with murdering Arbery. CNN's Martin Savidge has the details.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The new video and new 911 call depict an altercation from the same neighborhood less than two weeks before Ahmaud Arbery's death.

DISPATCHER: 911, what's the address of your emergency?

TRAVIS MCMICHAEL, SUSPECT IN AHMAUD ARBERY SHOOTING: We've had a string of burglaries. I was leaving the neighborhood and I just caught a guy running into a house being built.

SAVIDGE: The video obtained by CNN is captured by one of eight security cameras set up in and around the house that's under construction in a community outside Brunswick, Georgia. It is the same home where Arbery was seen looking around on the day he died.

Unlike that day, the new video is at night between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. According to the homeowner's attorney and depicts an unidentified individual walking in from the left side of the camera's view. The person slowly seems to circle the room and then goes out of the camera's view, but the microphone continues to hear the sound of footsteps.

According to the homeowner's attorney, nothing was taken or disturbed in the house. Which is so open headlights can be seen from traffic on the streets. The same night as this video was taken, Larry English, the homeowner who lives an hour and a half away, receives a text message from a neighbor two doors down from the house under construction. Describing a confrontation involving someone named Travis and a young man on or near the property. The attorney shared a transcript of the message English received describing the altercation with the unidentified person.

Quote, the police showed up and we all searched for a good while. I think he got spooked and ran after Travis confronted him. Travis says the guy ran into the house, the neighbor reports.

It was Travis McMichael's call that night that summoned police to the scene. McMichael tells authorities he spotted the individual going into the home. McMichael is gasping for breath, so much so it worries the 911 operator.


MCMICHAEL: Yes, it just startled me. When I turned around and saw him and backed up, he reached into his pocket and he ran into the house, so I don't know if he's armed or not. But he looked like he was acting like he was.

SAVIDGE: Police arrive on scene a short time later but find no one. Nothing more is said about the incident and the homeowner says he has no idea who was in the house that night. But the encounter is not forgotten.

Two weeks later, as Ahmaud Arbery lay down on the ground killed by three shotgun blasts from Travis McMichael's gun, Gregory McMichael tells authorities he thought Arbery was that suspect from 12 days before.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Glen County, Georgia.


CHURCH: An intriguing unsigned note has been found at the memorial marking where Arbery was killed. It reads, Ahmaud, I am so sorry. I should have stopped them. I am so sorry.

An attorney for the Arbery family says the author needs to be found and that it may indicate that someone knew what was going to happen and could provide a motive for the attack. Arbery's family said they sympathize with the note's author and are asking the writer to approach them confidentially.

We'll be back in a moment.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well there are reports in the U.S. that major league soccer in North America is planning for a centralized tournament in Florida with all 26 teams starting in June. As Brian Todd reports other sports leagues are also struggling to figure all of this out.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The crack of the bat may soon return. The roar of the crowd won't. Major League Baseball has a plan that could allow regular season games to start around the Fourth of July weekend, according to multiple news outlets including "The New York Times" and ESPN. They report the season would be cut roughly in half to 82 games. The games would be held without fans and played in team home stadiums, but only in jurisdictions where local governments and health officials would allow it.

BARRY SVRLUGA, SPORTS COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: They might have to move some teams away from home stadiums in places like California where the restrictions are likely to be more stringent to some place like Arizona where already the governor has said that they're open for business for major league sports.

TODD: Tonight, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is also courting major sports teams from hard-hit areas of the country where local officials may not want to resume sports yet.

RON DESANTIS, FLORIDA GOVERNOR: We'll find a place for you in the state of Florida because we think it's important and we know that it can be done safely.

TODD: Baseball's plan still hasn't been agreed to by the players' union. The challenge for baseball to return this summer are enormous, starting with ensuring the health of everyone involved.

BOB COSTAS, HOST, MLB NETWORK: Well the safety of the players is going to be a concern for the Major League Baseball Players Association, not just the players, all the ancillary people. Even without fans, you've got a large contingent of people who are not in uniform as players.


TODD: Other major sports leagues are struggling to navigate a return. ESPN reports top NBA executives are discussing ways to resume this season but weighing the health risks. The NFL plans to hold its 2020 season as scheduled with fans in the stands. Germany's top soccer league is returning. England's is considering it.

Top doctors warn those contact sports carry significant risks.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF, INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIVISION, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: They are leaning against each other, they are breathing within each other's space, they are less than six feet apart. That is certainly fair game for a virus to transmit from one person to another.

TODD: Experts say players would have to be tested almost every day. Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC Sports those who test positive would likely have to be segregated from the others.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Those who are positive, you know, are taken out of commission for 14 days until they become negative, then that's a possibility.

TODD: And there's a huge debate over when to let fans back. When our major sports return in earnest, could it look like South Korea where the only fans at their baseball games are painted on seat coverings?

WALENSKY: I think until we have real control over this epidemic, and perhaps even a vaccine, I hate to say it, it's going to be hard to fathom how we can safely have thousands and thousands of people gathered in one space.

TODD (on camera): And sports analysts say in order to return safely, the major sports teams are going to have to navigate the dynamics between their players. Maybe one player on a team will be eager to get out there on a night but another player might say they've a pregnant spouse at home or small children and they don't want to play to risk infecting them.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And thanks for your company. Stay healthy and well. I'm Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN.