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48 States Will Have Eased Coronavirus Restrictions By Weekend; Dr. Jehan El-Bayoumi Discusses D.C. and Surrounding Counties in Maryland, Virginia Putting Off Reopening; Bars Open After Court Blocks Wisconsin's Stay-at-Home Order; Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, (D), Discusses Health Risk after Court Blocks Stay-at-Home Order; Dr. Howard Forman Discusses Scaled-Back CDC Reopening Guidelines. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 11:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Thank someone helping during the crisis. Post it on Instagram with the #CNNchallenge.

Thanks to all of you for spending your morning with us. We'll see you on Monday. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: You've got to love that song.

I'm Jim Sciutto.

"NEWSROOM" with our colleague, John King, starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John King, in Washington. This is CNN's continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

We are closing a big work week in America's coronavirus reopening experiment. We will hear from the president next hour on a topic of concern to all of us, the race to find a vaccine.

The president is introducing his team to what the White House calls "Operation Warp Speed." He expects a vaccine by this time next year. His own experts say that would be a miracle pace. A more likely target is a year to 18 months.

Look at the corner of your screen. A daily reminder of how urgently the world needs a vaccine. And 1.4 million cases here in the United States and soon to be 86,000 American dead. And 27,000-plus cases just yesterday.

There are also new warnings about the virus and countermeasures in place to guide the 50-state reopening experiment. The FDA today said the Abbott rapid lab tests, the ones being used at the White House, shouldn't be trusted.

The CDC cautioned the coronavirus could lead to increased risks of blood clots. Yes, wherever you are watching, the American unlocking happening right

outside your door. Let's take a look at the metrics as we go through this. As we look at the reopening, 48 states right now have their reopening plan in place. Massachusetts and Connecticut the last two. They will follow and they will follow soon.

Let's walk through the work week. Let's go back to Monday. On Monday, 19 states were heading up in their case count. That's not good. Nine were steady. And 22 states were heading down. That's where we began the work week. That is on Monday.

Let's look at today. Today, we have 28 states trending down. That's a positive sign, right? Only seven states trending up. And 15 states essentially flat, holding steady as the governors decide, how quickly do I open, as mayors decide, do I go along with the governor.

You see 10 states highlighted with black around the edges. Those are the ones that changed most significantly. Two in the wrong direction, Arkansas and Montana, seeing a big increase all of a sudden this week. The other eight, though, heading down, including the state of Kentucky, including the state of Wisconsin, including the state of New Hampshire. They are going down as reopening proceeds.

Let's take a look at some of these individual states now. Here's the test we're all going to go through over the next weeks and months as states reopen and we see, how much does the case count go up.

This is North Dakota. Phase one reopening started back here two weeks ago. This is one week after. Here we are now. Overall, the seven-day moving average of cases relatively flat. The question is, the last couple of days, is reopening leading to a bigger increase in cases. You have to watch that heading into next week.

Again, the moving average, the most important number relatively flat. Seems to be going up in recent days. If you're a governor of North Dakota, if you're a citizen of North Dakota, you'll watch that in the next couple days.

Let's take a look at Kansas. Phase one reopening started back here. Here's one week out. Here's where we are today. Kansas at the moment trending down even as it reopens. That's an encouraging sign, right? The risks are manageable. Hospitalizations not going up if your case count is going down. Watch Kansas, which, at the moment, seems to be on a pretty good track as it reopens.

Virginia begins its reopening experiment today. It is more of a gamble. In the state of Virginia, look at the seven-day line. It is flat. Yesterday a thousand cases-plus in the state of Virginia. It's been relatively flat. Flat is not going up in a big way, so the governor says he can reopen. But you watch this play out, nearly a thousand cases a day, the governor says it's time to reopen. That's still a pretty high number.

Some areas get exemptions, including Richmond, the state capitol.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEVAR MARCUS STONEY, (D), MAYOR OF RICHMOND, VIRGINIA: The Legislative Black Caucus, the general assembly, spoke to the disparate effects the reopening will have on communities of color. I stand here today in full agreement with them.

I cannot justify risking the health and safety of the residents of the great city of Richmond by moving forth to phase one. I just cannot do that.


KING: That's the mayor of Richmond.

Maryland and Virginia, as we noted, are partially reopening as of today.

But it's not just Richmond staying closed. Two big Maryland suburbs bordering Washington, D.C., they're still on lockdown. So are the northern Virginia suburbs on the other side of the nation's capital. Right here in D.C., the stay-at-home order now runs through June 8th.

In a word, it's complicated. What we see here is happening to different degrees coast to coast, ever where you live. Some areas, with improving coronavirus trend lines opening up, but next-door neighbors who are still fighting to flatten their curves.

Joining me now to share her expertise, Dr. Jehan El-Bayoumi. She is a professor of medicine at George Washington University, the founding director of the Rodham Institute.

And full disclosure, she's also my primary care physician and a good one right here in Washington, D.C.


Dr. El-Bayoumi, it's good to see you.

I want to show our viewers we are living in one of the experiments that is the most complicated. People are seeing this all around the country and all around the world, that parts of your state might be doing good, parts of your country might be doing well, other parts not so much.

I want to put up a 14-day trend of new reported cases in the District of Columbia. You see it is flat in the District of Columbia. Even going down. That is improving news. But the mayor says she wants to wait until at least the first week of June for it to go down.

Then you look at Maryland 14-day trend, neighboring state. It is down a little bit. Moved up in the last couple days. But the overall trend line is down.

And then the state of Virginia, which is more troublesome. You see about a thousand cases there. But it's flat. And the governor says it is time to reopen. I want to zoom in, though, and get your expertise here. Look at Prince

Georges and Montgomery County, the two biggest suburban counties in Maryland just across the border, they're still going up. Then look at Fairfax County and Prince William County, two suburban counties just outside D.C. and Virginia, still going up.

When you are at your hospital, how much are you dealing with D.C.? And how much are you dealing with the complexities of the neighborhood, Maryland and Virginia as well?

DR. JEHAN EL-BAYOUMI, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY & FOUNDING DIRECTOR, RODHAM INSTITUTE: First of all, good morning, John. Nice to see you outside of the clinic. I'm glad you're doing well.

I have been working -- I just finished eight days in the hospital and now I'm working in the clinic. Our numbers went on an uptick just slightly at George Washington University Medical Center.

But I think sometimes with all the statistics we kind of lose track of the individual human beings. The numbers are high. Yes, they're not as catastrophic as New York City, which was really the first onslaught, and yes, we're learning from them.

But if you an individual or that family member, that's -- the one is more important than all the numbers that are theoretical.

What we are challenged by, especially here in D.C., is that we are surrounded, and if we don't work together in terms of the reopening, what is affected maybe 10 miles down the street from us in our neighbor, Virginia or Maryland, is going to impact us.

I think the other notion that sometimes gets lost in sort of the discussions or the narrative is that we have to look at vulnerable populations. Who are those vulnerable populations? We tend to think of the elderly.

But if you are poor, if you are black, if you are of color, if you're any other disenfranchised group, you're actually vulnerable. Because you're socially prospects of health. Lack of food, education, the economic environment which you are in, as a baseline, puts you at higher risk.

So if we are truly one community, one people, we are different religions where I think all of the religions have the same mantra of taking care of each other, then let's behave that way.

KING: Let's look at some of those numbers. As you mentioned, these are the D.C. coronavirus cases by race. There's 6,700 total cases. And 48 percent of them are black Americans, 16 percent white. The population of the district is about 45 percent African-American, 42 percent white. You see a high number of new cases disproportionate there.

Then you look at the deaths, 358 total deaths as we came to air. And 77 percent of them among blacks, African-Americans. Only 11 percent among whites. This is the disparity you're talking about. And there are legacy issues like access to food, access to better health care.

And then other immediate issues of a lot of these workers here in the District of Columbia and the surrounding suburbs are essential workers who are still going to work in the middle of all this. So if you talk about lifting a stay-at-home order, that never mattered to them in the first place.

EL-BAYOUMI: That's exactly correct. And these disparities are -- COVID is just the latest example. We're in D.C. It's a 10-mile city, the span. If you live in Georgetown, you can expect to live 94 years on average. If you live in Anacostia, that's 66 years. That's before COVID. That's just before COVID.

We forget that some of those essential workers, who are serving everybody and are also part of the health care system that actually make, you know, taking care of patients their essential, right, the people that serve the food, the transportation, that clean operating rooms, they are now, instead of having to take three buses over, sometimes they have to take four buses over to reach their places of work.

We know that African-Americans tend to be in more outwardly facing jobs that interact with the public more. That is one of a myriad of reasons. So COVID is just the last sort of underlining of the health disparities that has existed.

KING: It's going to be fun to watch, especially in the area. Again, the 50-state experiment, a global experiment. But the complexities of these neighborhoods, if you will, are fascinating.

Doctor, good to see you.

EL-BAYOUMI: Great to see you.

KING: I'll see you in another capacity, I hope. Let's keep in touch

EL-BAYOUMI: No, not soon. Not any time soon.

All right, take care, John.


KING: Fingers crossed.

Doctor, thanks so much.

Up next for us, bars reopening with little to no social distancing. That after Wisconsin's Supreme Court throws out the governor's stay- at-home order.


KING: Bars are open and the taps are flowing in Wisconsin. This, after the state Supreme Court ruled the governor overstepped his authority when he extended the stay-at-home order. Now some governors are rushing to see if they need to add restrictions.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Waukesha.

Omar, this is a fascinating setback for the governor. The Supreme Court saying, sorry, no.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is, John. At this point, businesses are either open or they're finding ways to open safely. In the absence of that statewide order, what we're seeing in places like Waukesha here, they're trying to find ways to modify their businesses to reopen safely.

We stopped by a happy hour yesterday that basically felt like any pre- pandemic happy hour. The only difference is the bartender had a mask on. There were people sitting in groups but they seemed to stay in the groups they came with. And they were sitting in different sections of the bar.

Again, this all goes back to the state Supreme Court striking down the Wisconsin-wide stay-at-home order, leaving counties and individual jurisdictions to come up with their own plans that they feel they can proceed with safely. Which means places like Waukesha have different plans in place than, say, right next door in Milwaukee.

And even the state capitol of Madison where the mayor there has expressed some concern.


SATYA RHODES-CONWAY, (D), MAYOR OF MADISON, WISCONSIN: This is the same Supreme Court that thought it was safe for us to hold an in- person election during the pandemic. What we saw was dozens and dozens of people that got sick as a result. And the court apparently has not learned from that.


JIMENEZ: And part of her concern there is the dynamic that this creates.

What I alluded to a few moments ago, you have one set of restrictions here, and right to our east, next door in Milwaukee, you have another set of restrictions. And in the state capital, Madison, you have a slightly modified one from that.

And these are all drivable distances. So theoretically, you could go to these different spots and have different risks of exposure and them come home and perfectly be legal.

But obviously, these are concerns officials are watching not just in Wisconsin but around the country as well -- John?

KING: It'll be interesting to watch as those local jurisdictions all now in a scramble trying to figure out what to do. Omar Jimenez, appreciate the reporting on the ground there in


Joining me now to continue the conversation, from Madison, Wisconsin, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.

Sir, thanks for being with us today.

You've seen some of the images here. I'm sure you are familiar with them.

The Supreme Court essentially told your governor, your administration, you went too far. What is happening now in terms of the mayors or county commissioners or county health officials? How much back and forth is there between the state administration and the local governments about, hey, if you want, scramble and do restrictions?

LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES (D-WI): Hey, thank you so much for having me.

At this moment, there's a lot of communication because there's so much uncertainty. So you have county executives and mayors across the state who stepped up and filled the gap. Because it's all about keeping people safe.

So you have the city of Milwaukee, you have Bayonne County where Madison is, Grand County where the meat packing processing facility is. The cities and counties have all stepped up and we're helping them devise a set of guidelines where they may need it.

It's unfortunate the Supreme Court made this decision. It feels like the leadership and the legislature was more concerned about getting a political win than keeping people safe.

For those who think the governor may have overstepped his bounds, I questioned him and asked, what do you think about a Supreme Court that is wholly in line with the Republican state legislature in Wisconsin. I think that's an overstepping of constitutional responsibility.

KING: It's in a textbook state, a swing state in a presidential election year, in the middle of a pandemic. You're watching this debate about the authority of government play out.

Let's come at it a couple different ways. Let's listen to some of the patrons in that bar where our current Omar Jimenez is. They're essentially saying, look, I'm tired, I'm working a lot, this is up to me, let me take the risk. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we're going to open, time to go. It's essential happiness for a lot of people just to get back and see old friends again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a toddler at home and I'm a full-time nurse. I don't think that the risk presents any higher than me going to a grocery store.


KING: And for some of your own citizens who say this should be up to me.

BARNES:: Yes, you know, and I get that. I understand the frustration. I understand the cabin fever. The weather has changed and people want to go out and hang out with their friends and be social again. I understand where they say let me take the risk.

However, the risk doesn't fall solely on you. The risk is to other people. There's so many folks out there who are vulnerable.

And like the person who spoke earlier on the show said people look at the elderly populations, those with preexisting conditions, but we also have low-income folks, people who struggled, long before COVID-19 showed up. That's also a vulnerable population that doesn't get talked about enough.


The woman at the bar mentioned that it's no different than taking a risk of going to a grocery store. Well, by going to a bar and then going to a grocery store, you put those frontline workers at risk. And this is about keeping everybody safe. This is so much larger than us as individuals.

Of course, we want to keep ourselves healthy, but the activities we do or do not participate in are the ones that will keep everyone else from getting COVID-19.

KING: As you know better than I do, sir, as we get closer to November, your state will be one of the big battlegrounds in the presidential election.

Here is a tweet from the president essentially celebrating what the Supreme Court did. The president talking about the great state of Wisconsin and he talks about the congressional race: "People want to get on with their lives. The place is bustling."

Helpful and hurtful when the president of the United States is poking your government, poking your legislation, and saying, just get out, go about your business.

BARNES: Well, the president will say anything. I don't know why we continue listening to him. The president hasn't provided any sort of leadership.

There's been a patchwork of guidelines across the state because there hasn't been a streamlined process to combat this crisis. The president has been denying I don't know for how long that a crisis even existed.

With the absence of leadership, states have been forced to come up with their own rules and guidelines. And now the Supreme Court issuing their ruling in Wisconsin, counties, cities, towns and villages are going to have to do the same thing and it's going to lead to more chaos.

We wish -- yes, it is an election year. And I think that people see that there's an ever more present need for leadership, because we just haven't been getting it.

I think the president is just going to tweet whatever he wants to tweet, none of which makes any sense, especially in this sort of moment. It doesn't follow the science and it doesn't follow the professional medical advice.

KING: Mandela Barnes, lieutenant governor in the great state of Wisconsin, appreciate your time today. Best of luck.

BARNES: Thank you.

KING: Thank you.

Next for us, the CDC prepared to publish some detailed guidelines. Instead, because of White House pressure, they published some talking points.



KING: The CDC is now sharing some guidance for best practices as states reopen, but that guidance is late and it is limited. The six pages of decision trees offer broad, general advice about reopening institutions like businesses, schools, restaurants and mass transit.

It is a total about-face from a 60-plus-page draft that did offer details in phases but was killed by the Trump White House because it was so cautious.

A former acting CDC director says the new document isn't worth much.


DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR: These guidelines are high-level principles. Are you monitoring your employees? Are you ensuring that there's safety measures in place? Are you in compliance with your state and local health departments? That's not what people need. That's not what people who are trying to decide, can restaurants open, need. They need detailed specifics.


KING: Joining us now is Dr. Howard Forman. He's a professor of public health management at Yale University and a practicing physician.

Doctor, thanks so much for being with us.

One of the interesting dynamics about this is, because the 60-plus page document leaked, we can look at the very specific, very cautious, step-by-step, phase by phase advice government scientists wanted to give everybody, wanted to give people at home, wanted to give to businesses, wanted to give to pastors and ministers, wanted to give school administrators. And then we see these decision trees.

What is your take? I read both documents and it looks to me like a punt.

DR. HOWARD FORMAN, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH MANAGEMENT & ECONOMICS, YALE UNIVERSITY: I think it's the lowest common-denominator approach. It's hard to know where the decision was made, but I think the experience in the administration has been of contradiction.

And when they came up with the original opening, you know, opening up the country plan, they seemed to immediately go into contradiction mode where the president was trying to prompt certain states to open up earlier than his own guidelines. And this tries to avoid that, it would seem.

KING: So your state is one of the states that's hardest hit. You're in Connecticut.

I want you to listen a bit to your governor. Massachusetts and Connecticut, essentially the last two states to move ahead. Your governor says we're not ready, but he also says we're going to take this slowly and cautiously. Listen.


NED LAMONT, (D), CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR: We laid out with our Reopen Connecticut Committee, with the lead science we could, very specific metrics on what we thought it would take to keep us safe.

This is a core population that's most likely to be impacted, most likely vulnerable citizens, women and people of color, and we want to slowly and cautiously get them back to work.


KING: You're watching this play out around the country and around the world. You're about to watch this play out at home for you. What do you watch most closely to see, are we doing this right, or are there warning signs?


FORMAN: I think, first and foremost, is you want to have testing capacity. You want to have rapid, reliable testing. You want to be able to provide people with accessible, affordable isolation when they do test positive.