Return to Transcripts main page


Las Vegas Casinos Lay Out Plans For Reopening; Cities In Asia Try To Push Past Pandemic; 2020 Grads Get Creative With Their Celebrations. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 07:30   ET



NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES, AUTHOR, "TIGHTROPE: AMERICAN REACHING FOR HOPE": -- early on in the pandemic. Some elderly person would die after a fever, there was no coronavirus test, and the doctor would simply put respiratory failure on the death certificate.

And the undercount does seem to be diminishing. I think that the figures today are much closer to the -- the new deaths are much closer to the real number of new deaths. But, it's still closer to 110,000 now than to the official figure.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I think that's significant. I mean, that's a significant jump. From us sort of trying to get our head around 86,000 Americans dead, 100,000 is a significant jump.

As you know, President Trump has suggested that the numbers are being inflated. So what's your response to that?

KRISTOF: You know, if you look at the data it's clearly not being inflated. And there are plenty of uncertainties in this. And it's entirely true that if somebody is -- some elderly person has had a coronavirus test come back positive and then dies of a heart attack or something, then coronavirus may well be listed on the death certificate.

But there have been many, many, many more cases in which somebody -- there was no test and that was listed -- attributed to something else.

And it is staggering -- I mean, this total. If you think about 100,000 to 110,000 deaths in just over two months, that's more Americans that died in two months than in all the wars over the last 70 years, from the Korean War on. It's staggering.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I know. That is remarkable, that context. And anytime I hear the context put like that it is obviously really jaw-dropping.

Nick Kristof, great to see you. Thank you very much.

KRISTOF: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: John. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So we want to remember some of the nearly 86,000 Americans lost to coronavirus.

Jonathan Adewumi grew up in New York City but he could not have been more proud of his Nigerian heritage. The 57-year-old was a uniter dedicated to bridging the cultural gap between Africans and black Americans. He created a clothing company that featured Nigerian fashions, opened a restaurant in Brooklyn with his brother, and founded the Nigerian Film Festival.

Melvin Rascoe was a veteran of the NYPD. For nearly 15 years he served as a school safety agent in Queens. In that time, he kept thousands of school students safe. Rascoe was the 42nd member of the New York City Police Department to die from coronavirus-related illnesses.

We'll be right back.



BERMAN: This morning, restaurants in Nevada are taking steps to reopen inside casinos even though gambling is still off-limits for now. Casinos there are making big changes as they prepare for socially-distant gaming.

CNN's Kyung Lah got a remarkable exclusive look inside Caesar's Palace.


TONY RODIO, CEO, CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT: It's real eerie and sad. This place normally would have so much energy and so much excitement going on.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Caesar's Palace in the dark because of the coronavirus.

LAH (on camera): You can hear our voices echoing through the lobby.

RODIO: Yes. You don't hear that echo because it's muffled because of all the bodies and all the sound and activity.

LAH (voice-over): There's not a soul here, something the iconic casino has never experienced in its 54-year history, says Tony Rodio, CEO of Caesars Entertainment.

LAH (on camera): You're talking about every single day it was operational.

RODIO: Every single day, every single second. There weren't locks to lock the front door. It was really tough in the beginning and there was so much uncertainty in how long this was going to last, and we're starting to see some movement.

LAH (voice-over): As Nevada moves to reopen parts of its economy, Caesar's is making changes across the casino floor.

RODIO: This is the typical configuration for blackjack-style games and normally, there are six seats. In the new world, there will only be three chairs and nobody will be able to be within six feet of any of the three customers that are playing.

LAH (on camera): This looks like it's a little less than six feet. I mean, are you -- is that the goal?

RODIO: I think that you're real -- if not at six feet, you're close to six feet and you're certainly not face-to-face.

LAH (on camera): This is a craps table.

RODIO: Correct. In the new world with social distancing, we're going to limit it to three on a side.

LAH (on camera): But if a bunch of people come because it's an exciting game, what are you going to do?

RODIO: Between the dealers, the supervisors, security, we're going to limit it to three on each side and they have to be -- anybody else has to be six feet away.

We will be deactivating every other slot machine and removing the stool from the game. The customer can't even stand here and play this game because the game is not even active. And so, we will do that throughout the whole floor.

LAH (voice-over): In addition, a video released to Caesar's workers and the public shows employees will use electronic sprayers. They'll disinfect dice, slot machines, and elevator banks. Workers will be required to wear masks and have their temperature taken. But guests, while encouraged to wear masks, are not.

Casino workers have already raised concerns about returning to the Vegas strip.

LAH (on camera): For people who say can I be 100 percent sure that I won't get sick coming in here, is that something that you can say to your customers?

RODIO: I don't know of anybody in the country that could say that to anybody in any circumstance. And I'm a casino operator so I don't pretend to know everything about an infectious disease, especially when it's as contagious as this. So all I can do and ask of my team is to listen to the experts.

LAH (on camera): Are you ready for people to come back?

RODIO: Oh my gosh, yes. I'm ready, our staff's ready, our team's ready, our customers are ready.

LAH (on camera): This is what it looks like outside Caesar's Palace. People would normally be getting out of their taxis and walking up those stairs with their luggage. All of this would be filled with limos and Ubers and there's nothing.


What that's meant for employment is that of their 60,000 worldwide staff at Caesars Entertainment, they've had to furlough 90 percent of workers.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Las Vegas.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks to Kyung for that.

New this morning, 11 new cases of coronavirus are being reported in Wuhan, China. That's, of course, the original epicenter of the outbreak. This, as cities across Asia begin to emerge from the worst of the pandemic, embracing a new normal.

And, CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Hong Kong with that part of the story. What are you seeing, Ivan?


I think that we're feeling, certainly here in Hong Kong, a tentative sigh of relief and a belief not only here but in a number of other countries across the region that the deadliest first wave of this pandemic is behind them.


WATSON (voice-over): After a five-week closure, the bars in Hong Kong are back open.

WATSON (on camera): Oh, that's good. This is my first beer in a bar in more than a month.

You know, this city has done surprisingly well with the first wave of this deadly pandemic. And now, after the partial shutdown, Hong Kong is trying to open back up.

WATSON (voice-over): In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand have all had far lower numbers of confirmed infections and fatalities compared to countries in much of the rest of the world. In fact, these five countries combined suffered a fraction of the death toll seen in the U.S. state of New Jersey since the pandemic began.

And now, these countries are starting to reopen, but the virus continues to present challenges.

South Korea never imposed a nation or even citywide lockdown and only recorded 260 coronavirus deaths. But now it's frantically contact tracing and testing tens of thousands of people after an outbreak in several nightclubs in the capital, Seoul.

The South Korean president issuing a fresh warning to the people.

MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It's not over until it's over. We must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention.

WATSON (voice-over): In Mainland China, the country where the coronavirus was first detected back in December, Shanghai Disney reopened this week with visitors wearing masks and the park requiring new social distancing measures for added safety.

But after discovering six new coronavirus cases in the original epicenter city of Wuhan, authorities vowed to test all 11 million residents for the disease.

WATSON (on camera): It feels a little bit like two steps forward, one step back. The infection curve flattens, places start to reopen, and then unexpected clusters of coronavirus pop up again.

WATSON (voice-over): While some Asian countries are gradually reopening schools, shopping malls, and movie theaters, international travel is still largely paralyzed. But that could change. Australia and New Zealand, two countries on the Tasman Sea, are discussing the possibility of creating a bilateral coronavirus-free travel bubble.

JACINDA ARDEN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: I would note, such a discussion has only been possible as a result of the world-leading results on both sides of the Tasman to keep the virus under control.

WATSON (voice-over): In countries that, so far, escaped the worst of the pandemic we may be getting a glimpse of what the new normal will look like in the age of coronavirus.


WATSON: And I think the new normal involves the awareness that the virus is still here. And as these little outbreaks pop up again, countries that have done well -- like South Korea, for instance -- are not racing to reopen. They are keeping open the possibility that they may have to create more restrictions.

So, as South Korea has counted close to 160 new cases linked to this nightclub outbreak, it has postponed the reopening of schools, it has closed nightclubs, and it's having to adapt to fit with what happens with the public health crisis -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: It's just so interesting that just one nightclub can have that kind of ripple effect on schools, et cetera.

So, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

Well, this year's graduation ceremonies in the U.S. are looking very different than students imagined. Hear how some high school and college grads are coping with their virtual commencements.



CAMEROTA: The Class of 2020 is about to celebrate their graduations under very different circumstances, but schools and students across the country are finding creative ways to make sure the ceremonies are still special.


CAMEROTA: (voice-over): Drive-ins, parades, and race tracks. The Class of 2020 is getting creative with their graduation ceremonies.




CAMEROTA (voice-over): Schools around the country are hosting an array of virtual events but some schools are taking their celebrations on the road.

Speedway High School, in Indiana, is holding their graduation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's something that I think our graduates and their families will talk about for years to come.

CAMEROTA: (voice-over): -- while Hanover Area High School, in Pennsylvania, will be turning their seniors into big-screen stars by hosting their ceremony at the Garden Drive-In Theater.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we heard that I was just like so happy.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): Other celebrations are happening on the move. In Sullivan County, Tennessee, people celebrated their seniors with a drive-thru parade. And in Kentucky, the town turned their downtown into a yearbook for seniors.

Not all schools are going big, however. The staff of Dohn Community High School, in Ohio, turned graduation into a more personal event, hand-delivering diplomas to each senior's house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations, brother.


CAMEROTA (voice-over): It might not be the pomp the Class of 2020 envisioned but they managed the circumstances for a great ending.


CAMEROTA: One of the first big virtual graduation ceremonies will take place today at noon eastern time. It is called "I'm Still Graduating." I'm honored to join in along with our friend Brooke Baldwin. There's actress Eva Longoria, Andrew Yang, comedian Margaret Cho, Grouplove, and many more.

Joining me now are two members of "Her Campus". That's the group that's organizing today's big virtual event. They are graduating college seniors Lena Daniels and Erin Sleater. Ladies, it is great to see you this morning.

Before we get to the excitement of today and what this big virtual event means, I do just want to mark what you have lost in terms of this and how different it is than what you were imagining.

Lena, I read that you said that you feel as though you've been robbed of a sense of closure of your college career. Can you just describe that?

LENA DANIELS, PRESIDENT AND CAMPUS CORRESPONDENT, UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA, "HER CAMPUS" CHAPTER (via Cisco Webex): Yes, it's weird because a lot of our lasts, we didn't really know our lasts -- our last classes, our last club meetings, the last time we saw our friends on campus.

For us, personally, we found out that our school wasn't returning in the middle of spring break, so our last class before spring break was the last time we ever took something on campus. So it's definitely a weird feeling.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's really hard because, of course, when you're a senior you do imagine all of those last moments and they're imbued with so much emotion. And then, you didn't get to have those.

And so, Erin, tell us about some of the things that you had imagined that you feel that you've lost.

ERIN SLEATER, DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND MARKETING, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, "HER CAMPUS" CHAPTER (via Cisco Webex): I mean, yes, it just kind of cut my senior year short and unfortunately, a lot of things that were really important to me were put on hold -- internships, my sorority, just the experience of in-person classes, and just the graduation that I have been dreaming about for years. So --

CAMEROTA: And, Erin, about that, two internships that you had really looked forward to. And what do you think that that means for the larger issue of your career?

SLEATER: I mean, you know, I'm definitely just trying to stay positive at this point. I mean, it's a good talking point for job interviews -- you know, how we kind of navigated this strange time in the world. But, yes, I'm not really sure what to expect but I'm definitely interested in how the modern workspace is going to evolve and change moving forward.

CAMEROTA: You make a good point. I mean, you guys are sort of living proof of resilience and of grit and of all the things that employers say that they want. You know, you're having that experience right now of having to be adaptable and everything.

And so, Lena, I know that you had planned -- as so many college kids of means or even just backpacking around -- planned a big trip to kind of commemorate the end of your four years of hard work. And so, what is -- what's up with those trips now?

DANIELS: Yes, it's actually funny. I was supposed to be on that trip this week, actually. So it's a bummer thinking about the plans that are now canceled.

And right now, it's hard to look forward and, like, reschedule anything just because of the uncertainty. We don't really know what's going to happen and when it's all going to end. So just the hope that when the time is right we can celebrate.

CAMEROTA: Where were you supposed to go?

DANIELS: I was supposed to go on a cruise with my boyfriend this week through the Caribbean, so super exciting.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I can see why a cruise right now would be off the table from many different levels.

OK, so let's talk about how "Her Campus" and how you both have tried to put this back together and have the pomp and circumstance that you deserve. So, Lena, tell us what you're imagining for today.

DANIELS: So, I'm really excited for today because "Her Campus" has been part of my college career since my first semester, freshman year. So getting to end on my final note with "Her Campus" is really just full circle. It makes me so happy to see that the organization really cares.

So today I'm excited to see all the speakers that they brought together, yourself included, and hear from all the students who are in the same boat as us, and just celebrate the best we can under the circumstances.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Erin, maybe you could tell our viewers a little bit about what "Her Campus" is and what they've tried to do for you throughout these years and today.


SLEATER: Yes. So, in short, "Her Campus" is the biggest magazine for college women made by college women.

For me, I have put my blood, sweat, and tears into this organization for the past four years so personally, it is really meaningful that they have put in so much effort to make sure that we do feel important and celebrated through "I'm Still Graduating."

So it's definitely -- you know, obviously, not -- this wasn't how I expected it to go but it kind of feels right at the same time to end such an important chapter in my life this way.

CAMEROTA: And so what do you imagine today, Erin? What do you think that it will feel like to be part of this virtual celebration? SLEATER: Right. I mean, this is one of the only things I really had to look forward to with things getting canceled left and right.

And like Lena said, it's kind of hard to plan things and get excited but this genuinely has been one of the one things I've been consistently excited about and it's kind of kept me going positive. So I'm really looking forward to it. I think it's going to be incredible and I'm excited.

CAMEROTA: Me, too. I'm excited to be part of it. It does sound star- studded if I do say so myself.

Lena, what does this mean for your future -- for your job search and everything that comes after this?

DANIELS: So, I was actually fortunate enough to stay at the company that I was working with starting in January. So I have started my full-time position remotely, which is very exciting. And I know a lot of other people are not in the same boat as me so I'm very fortunate for that.

But like Erin mentioned earlier, I'm excited to see what this means for the future with remote opportunities in all these different companies that might not have had that option before.

CAMEROTA: Erin, what's your plan for your job search now?

SLEATER: You know, I've always just told people as long as it's something having to do with media and I can be creative and happy, there was never like one specific thing I wanted to do. And luckily, I think with the way the job market is being impacted it's probably a good thing that I'm a little more flexible. So, yes, I'm kind of just keeping my options open, staying optimistic, and crossing my fingers.

CAMEROTA: Look, flexibility is obviously going to be a really important quality right now. But are you --

SLEATER: For sure.

CAMEROTA: Just explain to us how it works right now in this strange world. Do you have virtual interviews? I mean, what's -- how do you begin pounding -- what we used to call pounding the pavement? How do you do that while staying at home?

SLEATER: I mean, personally for me, it's just applying for a lot of jobs virtually and, like, not hearing back. Like, it's kind of weird because you're not exactly sure if those positions are even being offered anymore. Like, if they just didn't update their information so, like, it's a lot of guessing, I guess. And -- but yes, like I said, it's just still trying to apply myself and try to keep positive the best I can.

CAMEROTA: Well ladies, congratulations. Again, I'm excited for today's event. It's noon eastern time. It's called "I'm Still Graduating." Congratulations on all of your hard work over these past four years

and we hope that the future will look brighter for you very soon. Thanks so much for being with us.

SLEATER: Thank you.

DANIELS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And tomorrow, CNN honors graduates with a two-hour event starting with "CLASS OF 2020: IN THIS TOGETHER." That's at 7:00. That will feature Bill Clinton, Gal Gadot, and more.

And then at 8:00, join LeBron James and President Obama for "GRADUATE TOGETHER." Again, those celebrations begin tomorrow night at 7:00 on CNN.

But there are just so many virtual celebrations happening and kids, as you can hear, trying to do the best they can in these circumstances.

All right, we have a lot of developments in the pandemic and we have breaking news. There's this powerful earthquake that has rattled the west coast. So, NEW DAY continues right now.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: By the criteria that we have, we have certain regions that are poised to reopen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the country's epicenter, Covid-19 hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and the percentage of people testing positive for the virus are all down.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: We've started to take baby steps for Memorial Day weekend. We're going to have beaches open on the Jersey shore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no question among any public health expert about whether we're going to get a second wave or not. We almost surely will.

DR. RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never met him. He looks an angry, disgruntled employee.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And developing this morning, millions of New Yorkers waking up to the news of living for at least another month under stay-at-home orders. Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended restrictions until June 13th for the most populous regions of the state, though some areas that have shown enough improvement can ease those restrictions starting today.

By Sunday, 48 of the 50 states in the country will be reopening, at least partially.