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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Gives Coronavirus Update, 157 Coronavirus Deaths Yesterday In New York; Data Shows New Cases In Georgia Trending Downward In Recent Days; Georgia Restaurant Owner: Trying To Figure Out New Business Model; President Trump, Dr. Anthony Fauci Disagree Over When Schools Should Reopen; Grocery Stores Record Largest Spike In Prices In Nearly 50 Years; Retail Sales Dive To Record Low In April. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired May 16, 2020 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there are other group studying looking at the use of these individuals who are outpatient and will wait and see what that data shows.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, do you regret moving forward because, obviously--

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Yes, we didn't move forward, right? We tested - the drug was tested in hospital trials for the FDA, which is how they test drugs. So drugs were tested in New York hospitals and the tests suggested not going ahead with the drug.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you respond to a tweet from the - County executive yesterday stating these are Steve McLaughlin's words, not mine. The falsehoods by Cuomo have to stop thankful the rest of the U.S. is increasing is false.

Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania have reported five weeks of declines in new cases. Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, two weeks of decline facts, exclamation point. Just want to know what is your response?

CUOMO: --you should send a letter to "The New York Times" because the chart I showed was from "The New York Times." So either that fellow is right or "The New York Times" is right. Woe for me to pick between the two. Let's take one more. Did you have a question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Governor, obviously looking at a bill. Have you spoken to Senator Schumer about the bill and has he said it we could pass - we have to make the cuts to the state in spending?

CUOMO: Yes, I've spoken to everyone about the bill to such an extent that I'm sure none of our Federal Representatives want to talk to me about it anymore. I made it clear how important it is. I made it clear what's going to happen to the state budget if they don't pass that bill.

In many ways, they are in control of the state budget this year because we passed the budget. We have a shortfall. If Washington does not make up that shortfall, there will be cuts. The state legislature is not here.

I can only respond to the shortfall if we don't receive the federal funding. And I believe it would be so ludicrous to have taken the actions they've taken where they're funding big business, small business, airlines, they are worried about hotels, they're worried about restaurants - and I'm not debating those issues.

But then not to help schools and police and firefighters and give people food who are starving and need S.N.A.P.? How could you ever justify that? On a moral basis, ethical basis, legal basis, political basis I don't care. How would you ever justify that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're taking the money and - you've already made cuts to the state budget, can you restore those cuts back?

CUOMO: Yes. Okay. It's a nice day. I'm going to go out and get some--

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo saying there he wants to increase economic activity but not - but without rather spiking the infection rate. Joining me right now to discuss CNN's Paolo Sandoval Evan McMorris-Santoro also Doctor Luiza Petre a Cardiologist and Nutrition expert, good to see all of you.

So, Dr. Petre, can that happen? Because the Governor said you know spikes or consequences really depend on what you or collectively we do.

DR. LUIZA PETRE, CARDIOLOGIST: Absolutely that's true because this is a social impact, and also keep in mind that we have a lag between what our behavior is and the number of cases as we know the incubation is somewhere up to 14 days? So what we do today will be reflected in the next few weeks. You're not going to see it the next day and this takes a whole social effort to tackle this virus.

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, you're there in New York. Some places in New York have already, you know, resumed business at least very gently. What are your observations there? And what is the Governor talking about when he says you know some places will be open first?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. I think most New Yorkers can look to communities like this we're in to see more or less what that phase one looks like? The signs aren't that obvious because really what we're seeing now is the area of, of course, of construction, for example.

That's one of the examples or at least some of the businesses that are able to resume operations, manufacturing as well and also curbside retail. That's something that we're also going to begin to see in these communities.

But keep in mind that at this point, only about fifth of New York communities are resuming that phase one reopening a bulk of the communities is still under that stay-at-home order. However what we heard from the Governor say a little while ago is that he does want those parts of the economy to restart.

[12:05:00]

SANDOVAL: That even includes a horse racetrack that he'd like to see it open by June 1st. However, that would be fans less. There would not be any crowds the state in the process of trying to issue that guidance to that industry and then also elective surgeries.

At least two more counties added to the list including in Westchester which we know was sort of ground zero for this pandemic in New York before we began to see those large numbers in New York City and also in one additional county.

And finally, of course, the Governor also addressing this persistent infection rate of about 400 a day that's a number that seemed to plateau and what we heard the Governor say is that Original theory that he had initially that it was possibly essential workers that is not true.

What he is hearing from his experts is that those - that's actually in-home transmission but what we found was interesting, one reporter specifically asked, how are people getting sick at home? That's when the Governor explained of course people going out to run an errand or two, going out to buy groceries and potentially getting infected and then bringing that home. And it seems that's what's behind that persistent infection rate that New York is trying to have decreased.

WHITFIELD: All right. In the tri-state area in Ocean City, New Jersey, that's where we find Evan. And so Evan, Ocean City there is part of a dry run. How this is considered an experiment where experts want to observe people's behavior?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just to tie it into the Governor's press conference. The theme of the day is personal responsibility. The Governor saying that in New York, you know, look, he wants to open things. He's going to see how people react to the opening.

What kind of actions they take to stay socially distant and how that affects how more things can open? Well, Ocean City, New Jersey, is exactly a test of that. All the Ocean - all the beaches in the state are going to open on Memorial Day with some closures, things like amusement parks and restaurants, you can't sit in them.

But what they're doing here is doing a dry run of that and they're asking the residents who come here to the beach to do the right thing and be socially distant. On the P.A. system the police come on and say please act responsibly.

Thank you for paying attention to social distancing. Even on things like masks. They're saying, look, the CDC has guidelines about what - when you're supposed to wear them but you're not required to wear them on the boardwalk. A lot of people aren't wearing them.

This is a really test of what's going to happen moving forward. What people are willing to do and how much they're willing to do it? People like Governor Cuomo and people like the Governor here in New Jersey are saying that will help to determine what else opens.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Petre, the Governor also mentioned the importance of contact tracing. They're just getting started with that. But how do you do that? You need cooperative patients and tracers who are involved. Can there be enough of both?

DR. PETRE: Contact tracing is helpful when you have a relatively lower number of cases. That's not something effective when you're in the top of a pandemic. Just because there are too many people who are positive, you'll not be able to track everyone down.

But as we are heading toward reopening and you know, the refrain used to be flattened the curve. Now we're going to suppress the virus. And how do we do that? One of the - yes, we're going to have more testing. Second we have to trace the - contact tracing.

And we are - I think in New York State we hired a lot of people who are on the phone. They're monitoring everyone and they are establishing who their contacts are. That's very helpful to the - in talking about this new mantra we're going to hear more and more it is suppressing the virus.

WHITFIELD: All right, Dr. Luiza Petre, Evan, Polo thanks to all of you. I appreciate it. So now in less than 48 hours, nearly every state in the country will be easing restrictions or be partially reopened for business take a look at this map there you can see 41 states have seen the number of new cases hold steady or fall over the last week.

But the nine states that are labeled in orange or red are seeing a rise in new cases. All of this comes as President Trump launches "Operation warp speed" promising that millions of doses of vaccine will be available by the end of the year. But adding the U.S. economy is open with or without a vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to make something clear. It's very important. Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: There are serious doubts about how realistic that timetable actually is with many health experts saying it will take at least 12 to 18 months to actually have a viable vaccine ready. CNN's Kristen Holmes starts our coverage from the White House. So Kristen, President Trump is promising a vaccine by the end of 2020, but what is the plan to actually solidify that that will happen?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Fred. You mentioned that 12 to 18-month timeline this is also an accelerated timeline. Some of these vaccines take years to process. They have to have the science to develop them and then test them. And it's a very rigorous testing process.

[12:10:00] HOLMES: Now take a listen to why President Trump says he can ramp up and expedite this process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Typically pharmaceutical companies wait to manufacture a vaccine until it has received all of the regulatory approvals necessary, and this can delay vaccines availability to the public as much as a year and even more than that.

However, our task is so urgent that under "Operation warp speed" the Federal Government will invest in manufacturing all of the top vaccine candidates before they are approved so we're knowing exactly what we're doing before they're approved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: So there are two things to note about this. Manufacturing is incredibly important. We know that the White House has already taken steps in that direction. They have procured needles and syringes. They've made million-dollar contracts here - excuse me, millions of dollar contracts for those items but there are two things to note.

One of them being that scientists and health experts say it's not just about the manufacturing. Again, it's about the science. Actually developing that vaccine and going through the testing process. The other thing to note here is Dr. Fauci in his testimony talked about this timeline.

It was actually the 12 to 18-month timeline and he said that while it was possible to have a vaccine in that time, there were no guarantees that it would work. This is highly concerning to members of the scientific and medical community.

There's already an anti-vaccination movement in the U.S. this really concerns these doctors that America could lose faith or Americans could lose faith in vaccinations altogether.

WHITFIELD: All right. Also Kristen, we're also learning that the Vice President Mike Pence will be taking his first trip since his Press Secretary tested positive for the coronavirus. What are you hearing about that?

HOLMES: They just announced this moments ago. He'll be going down to Orlando, Florida; he'll be talking to Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor down there, about their reopening of the economy. But this is incredibly important.

Remember what happened just last Friday. Vice President Pence sat on the tarmac in Air Force 2 for an hour and then several of his staffers had to deplane after they found out that his Press Secretary had tested positive for coronavirus.

So this is him going back out there. We have not seen him. He has not had very many public events. And when he has had some events he's been mostly alone and wearing a mask. We know that they've been keeping the Vice President and President away from each other during this time.

Some officials are telling us on the record that it was Vice President Pence's choice. Others are saying it's a matter of security on background. So a little bit of conflict there, but this is the first time we're going to see him out there getting on that plane out in public again after his Press Secretary, an aide very close to him, tested positive.

WHITFIELD: Kristen Holmes, thank you so much from the White House. Still to come, the CDC has released new guidance about when schools should reopen, but it doesn't offer much detail on how schools can protect students and staff? We'll speak with the Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:15:00]

WHITFIELD: Three weeks after Georgia's Governor Brian Kemp began lifting lockdown restrictions, the state is seeing some signs of a downward trend in new coronavirus cases. But the reported new cases each day remain in the hundreds. CNN's Natasha Chen is in Atlanta where more stores are reopening. Natasha, how are businesses deciding, you know, to open?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, it really is a mixed bag. So we're seeing some businesses like this restaurant behind me opening up for dine-in. Remember, Governor Kemp actually released - relaxed restaurant restrictions this week so that you can have up to ten people at a table as well as ten guests per 300 square feet.

So we've been watch something people come in to eat here and in the last day or two, it's been pretty busy at some points with a line out the door. But if we take a look around, across the street, that's not the case for everyone.

This independently owned restaurant here, you can see people sitting outside, but they're not actually doing full service. They're only allowing people to get takeout at the window and then take their own seats. Here's what the owner said about her decision-making.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CINDY SHERA, OWNER, PIG AND THE PEARL RESTAURANT: I've been working every day since trying to figure out a new business model, I guess, because my old business model doesn't work anymore. We were a full- service casual restaurant and that has all but dried up.

I think behaviors are going to change, and so we're just trying to make the best decisions about moving forward, you know, and keeping the small business running. And so we are trying to watch what public behavior is like and what people are really thinking about the pandemic.

And we're trying to react to that and we're trying to be super safe and make people comfortable when they come in because the only common thread we still have is hospitality And I think that everybody is trying to navigate and find their way with that right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: The Georgia Chamber of Commerce President told me yesterday that every business is really being very methodical and careful about how they reopen, if they do that? Because we're not just talking about having enough PPE for two to three weeks after they reopen. This is a long-term situation.

They're going to have to have resources for a long time. And he said that no matter what industry you're in, now every business in America is in the health and wellness business to earn the confidence of the customers, to feel okay coming back in the doors, to feel the confidence from the employees, to feel strong enough to come back to work.

[12:20:00]

CHEN: So we're seeing that kind of play out here in Georgia. And also the restaurant owner here talked to us about how maybe in the urban settings, in the metro Atlanta area? She's not seeing the public just flock out into the streets just yet.

That may be happening a little bit more in the suburbs and then more rural areas. So it is very different depending on where people are? And right now, with the health data we're seeing not a huge spike since the reopening, but also not a huge drop in daily new cases either. So really unsteadily going downward but hovering in the same zone, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Many of these businesses have to invest in those PPEs, not just to keep the customers safe but their personnel. Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

More beaches in Southern California are reopening. In Los Angeles County, there are strict rules in place prohibiting certain regular beach going activities. CNN's Paul Vercammen is on Zuma beach in Malibu, generally a very popular beach. But what has changed there, now, Paul, besides you wearing a mask at the beach?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Extremely crowded. And you pointed out about the mask, Fred that's the rule. You have to wear a mask they say on the beach. And as you saw those runners go by. You're supposed to keep moving look out in the distance.

So surfing is now inbounds here, but what they don't want is any volleyball or clustering up or picnics. And normally this is a big graduation weekend in Southern California. People might come down here with the cake and all of the balloons and everything and toss down the blankets and the tent.

That is no longer allowed right now as they ease restrictions 10 million people here in L.A. County. So what's going on with these graduation ceremonies? They're all online. We caught up with Anna Gonzalez, 59-years-old, USC School of Social Work, getting her masks there with her family watching a web ceremony. It was an emotional moment and Anna just thrilled. No matter that she couldn't be there in person for the pomp and circumstance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANA GONZALES, MASTERS DEGREE GRADUATE, USC SOCIAL WORK: Having them here and probably not at the big graduation, I think I will - I wouldn't change it for the world.

VERCAMMEN: It was more intimate?

GONZALES: It was more intimate. I was able to hold hands while they were talking about social work and graduation and all the pandemic emergencies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And by the way, her daughter will receive a Masters from Harvard later this month. Her son started a recording studio. And USC President Carol Foltz said of Ana, she's a dynamic bundle of energy, the new way of the world. Here at the beach, you need to wear a mask and can't cluster up. For graduation ceremonies, they're being done online now, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Well, big, big month for the Gonzalez family. Congrats to all of them and, of course, a whole new venture for all those enjoying Zuma beach there. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much.

All right, with most states beginning to reopen, one big question remains - when will students return to the classroom? The CDC announced a six-page list of guidelines on Thursday on how to get schools and businesses ready to reopen? But it comes after the nation's top infectious disease expert warned lawmakers this week that schools may need to remain closed into the fall, something President Trump strongly opposes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think that we have to open our schools. Young people are very little affected by this. We have to get the schools open. We have to get our country open. I totally disagree with him on schools. And we will have - I call them embers. I call them spikes. He used the word spike. Well, you might have that and we'll put it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Joining me right now is the Former Secretary of Education for the Obama Administration, Arne Duncan. Mr. Secretary, good to see you.

ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: So can you have it both ways? You heard the President say, you know, kids need to be getting back into school. They are not as affected by coronavirus, but, clearly, a lot of their teachers and older family members are, and they're going to come home to many of those older families? So how do you reopen schools and put the right kind of measures into place so that everyone is safe?

DUNCAN: What President Trump is saying there is actually incredibly dangerous. I hope people don't pay attention to that and actually listen to scientists. So everybody wants to go back to school, but we have to be very, very smart and careful and thoughtful before we do that.

And to do it safely, a couple of things have to be in place. First, you have to live in the community where the rates of infection are going down. Secondly, you have to have the availability of testing, rapid, reliable, accurate testing.

[12:25:00]

DUNCAN: You have to be able to contact trace. You have to be able to isolate and this is a hard thing that school districts are thinking through. You have to have a plan for if you have to close back down, what does that look like? When would you close back down?

And then if you reopen, thinking about social distancing, thinking about how you feed children, thinking about bathrooms, thinking about passing in the hallways, there's an immense amount of detail school superintendents are working through together.

The guidance from the CDC unfortunately was weak, was not helpful. No best practices. And so just working with a set of school superintendents, they are thinking it through together and trying to be as thoughtful about this as we can obviously student safety, their family safety, teacher safety that has to come first.

WHITFIELD: So while some communities that you describe might meet the guidelines you describe but other communities all within the same school district might not. So these decisions have to be made, you know, thinking about a lot of different communities in mind under one big umbrella of a school district. So this is going to present a huge challenge for every state. How are they going to be able to go about that?

DUNCAN: Yes, it's super complex and it's state by state but honestly it's going to be community by community. And I think that the honest truth here, the somber truth is we need to be prepared to have every child, every teacher working virtually if we're able to bring some children back in.

You know maybe on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or maybe morning shifts, maybe afternoon shifts. We'll have to be very, very creative and thoughtful in how we do this. If we're able to bring students in and keep them safe and keep the adults safe, that's fantastic.

But the - where we're most likely going to land and have to prepare for is that everybody continue to learn virtually and make that a strong and robust, training teachers to do that better, supporting them. It's a tough job market out there. Love to see recent college grads retirees, a massive tutoring force whether that's in-person or virtually. I worry a lot about what students are losing academically. And we don't have to wait to the fall to put that into place. We can start to do that this summer.

So the big thing is learning has to continue. Children have to stay safe. Adults have to be safe. Those are the most important principles as we think through the details of this state by state and community by community.

WHITFIELD: What are your concerns about even remote learning when so many of these school districts are cash strapped? So many states already saying this summer they're going to have to be significant cutbacks because they've lost a lot of money a lot of cutbacks in education. How that even potentially affect remote learning might plans?

DUNCAN: So two sides to that. First of all, we have to use this crisis to close the digital divide. We have these massive inequities in our country. Children should be able to learn anything they want anytime, anywhere, any place.

We have to give every child access to WIFI to hot spots. Here in Chicago, the school district has given out 100,000 devices. In Boston they have given out 30,000. In South Bend, Indiana, they're parking buses in areas that are WIFI enabled to make sure those communities have access to that.

This has to be true public/private partnership so that every child can learn what they want, when they want? Your point is really important one that is hard as this time is to just be very, very honest with your viewers.

Once budgets start to be cut at the state and local level, cotton taxes go down, sales taxes go down. There is going to less money for school districts next year. Those budgets are going to be hit. 10, 15 and 20 percent that's really hard.

That simply cannot be made up at the state or local level. That has to happen at the federal level. There has to be an influx of cash, infusion of cash through a stimulus package. Unfortunately, the current administration has shown no interest in support public education at scale. We have to fight to make that happen.

WHITFIELD: Let's say some schools will reopen and they put into place, you know, restrictions on social distancing. I mean, how do you see that playing out? I've got second graders at home or social distancing is going to be immensely difficult in their classrooms versus my tenth grader who might be able to handle that a little differently. But can you have across the board kind of conditions involving social distancing?

DUNCAN: Well, we have to. Again, this is not just about keeping our children safe as we know, unfortunately, children can be asymptomatic carriers of this.

[12:30:00]

We don't want them getting their parents sick, their grandparents sick who may be live with them, we don't want them getting teachers or custodians or much of workers sick. Nobody can live with themselves if that's happening.

So there are lots of different ways, again, of dividing the days, dividing the days per week when students come to school. One thought is obviously the virtual learning is a little bit better for easier for older kids and for younger kids.

May be you could change the virtual learning with high school students and open up those high school buildings to elementary middle school students just to spread them out. So there are lots of ways to think about this. I think the days of eating in a large cafeteria together, those are probably over.

We'll be feeding children in classrooms socially distance within those classrooms. They cannot pass in the hallways. You know, how you're cleaning the bathrooms on a very frequent basis during the day.

Again, there's a huge level of complexity and thoughtfulness that I'm seeing, again, great leadership at that local level and then absence of leadership at the federal level.

WHITFIELD: Wow. New day, new world in education, that's for sure. Education -- former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

DUNCAN: Thanks so much. Have a good day.

WHITFIELD: Be well.

And tonight, CNN honors the graduates of 2020 with a two-hour event, starting with class of 2020, in this together at 7:00 featuring former President Bill Clinton and actress Gal Gadot and more. And then at 8:00, join LeBron James and former President Barack Obama for graduate together. This celebration starts tonight at 7:00 right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:35:58]

WHITFIELD: Grocery prices increased 2.6 percent last month, which is the biggest month to month spike in prices since 1974. Egg price has shot up 16 percent, while bread and meat prices increased more than 3 percent. The rising costs coming as more than 36 million people have lost their jobs since mid-March.

Joining me right now to discuss is Stew Leonard Jr., the CEO of Stew Leonard's Grocery Store chain. Good to see you. All right, so some experts, Stew -- no, I'm glad you're covered up and taking precautions. You've got customers and workers behind you there.

STEW LEONARD JR., CEO, STEW LEONARD'S GROCERY & DAIRY STORES: Everybody. WHITFIELD: Yes. Doing everything you can.

LEONARD JR.: Everybody. Yes.

WHITFIELD: So some experts, yes, say that, you know, these price increases in May could end up being even worse than what we saw in April. Why is that?

LEONARD JR.: You know, first of all, I don't really believe a lot of these statistics that we're reading about in the country. You know, our family's been in the food business now for 50 years. And I've never seen two months between March and April that just happened.

There were all sorts of gyrations in the markets that I've never seen before. And you just heard one of the speakers talking about the schools being closed. That put a big disruption in the market. Restaurants closing, big disruption.

You did see egg prices go up in March and April. But you know what? They're back down again. So I don't think you're going to see price increases in May. I think things are going to stabilize within the next two, three week.

WHITFIELD: Really? Well, every household, you know, we'll testify to their spending a whole lot more because, you know, largely their kids are at home, people are at home, and you got to eat more, right? You got more mouths to feed.

LEONARD JR.: Yes.

WHITFIELD: So the prices have been really difficult for a lot of families. But some grocery stores are, you know, putting limits too, on purchases, while others are raising prices. Are the goals the same?

LEONARD JR.: Well, you know what? I think, you know, if you can't get the product you have put limits on it. And one of the things, if you're buying from a lot of these big meatpacking plants which now are at 70 percent capacity right now, it's a supply and demand issue. They can't get the amount of product.

And even coming up, the Memorial Day, everybody wants meat right now. So I think in some of the larger chains, you're going to see some shortages. But I think I'd stick to the local grocers, the friends that I've talked to that are local family business, seem to have plenty of product on their shelf.

WHITFIELD: And then what about restrictions? You know, some grocery stores are, you know, imposing restrictions like you can't enter unless you have a mask. Are you doing that? Are you compelling your customers, you know, to adhere to certain, you know, health safety standards just as you are your employees?

LEONARD JR.: Well, you know, Fred, I think that's one of the biggest things for reopening America right now. You have to make these nervous customers comfortable. And one of the things you do that is you should have everybody wearing them that, you know, that should be a requirement. Also gloves and have optically people cleaning all day. We're cleaning a deep clean at night. And we're also doing shopping carts and wiping things down all through the store.

So we have to really let customers know that it's a clean place. They feel safe here. We have nice big wide aisles right now, practice social spacing. And I think Americans can reopen very safely if we do that.

WHITFIELD: So how are you able to afford this? Because this means a lot of businesses, including yourself, are having to invest more to make the environment safer for everyone, your customers and your employees.

LEONARD JR.: Well, that's a great point, right? That's going to be like what's going to happen, the aftermath, because even though we've seen a big spike in sales right now, we've also seen a big spike in expenses. We've had to put an enormous amount of flexi glass up as dividers in our service areas.

[12:40:04]

These gloves right here, we're giving them out. We have 3,000 people working at Stew's. We go through 10,000 gloves maybe a day right now in Stew Leonard. The masks are very expensive. The cleaning expense is very expensive. So I feel bad for the small businesses that are trying to reopen, they want to get customers in, but also they want to -- they've got to save money right now and do it as cost effectively as they can.

WHITFIELD: Right. Many of them can't afford that. They've lost so much money. They can't afford now to also get the kind of supplies that, you know, thankfully, you are in a position to do. Stew Leonard Jr., thank you so much of Stew Leonard Grocery Store chain. You're about to say something?

LEONARD JR.: Well, Fred, if I could add one thing.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

LEONARD JR.: You know what I'd like to do just that everybody could welcome customers coming in now because it was a big sign I saw there at a restaurant, said, do not enter. You know, we'll bring the food out. We've got to change that around to we're happy you came, you know.

And all these businesses that are reopening request America, let's get customer service ribbed up and be really nice to your customers coming in. If they leave happy and feel comfortable, word of mouth is going to spread and more and more businesses will be able to reopen.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's nice, spreading kindness. I agree with you, Stew. You know, I know -- I try to say thank you to everybody who I'm interacting with who works at the grocery store every time I go in them because they are doing double duty everywhere. Stew Leonard Jr., thank you so much. Appreciate it, all the best to you.

LEONARD JR.: Thank you Fred. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll be right back.

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[12:45:42]

WHITFIELD: J.C. Penney has filed for bankruptcy. The pandemic was the final blow for the 118 year-old company struggling to overcome years of executive instability and damaging market trends. Meantime, retail sales were down a record 16.4 percent last month, which was even worse than experts had predicted.

And adding to that misery, another 3 million people filed jobless claims last week, pushing the eight week unemployment claims to more than 36 million. CNN's Cristina Alesci is following all of this for us. So Cristina, what stood out to you in this economic, you know, data this week?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Those are some really grim economic headlines, Fred, for sure. But when you go beyond the headlines, there are three major trends that I'm watching.

One, the American worker continues to bear the brunt of the pain here. When we talk about those 36 million Americans, we are talking about, for the most part, people who rely on a weekly paycheck for their income. We're not talking about people who rely on investments for their income.

More disturbing than that, the most vulnerable seem to be the most hit here, 40 percent of households making less than $40,000 a year have lost a job. So it is no surprise that we continue to see the pain across the board. And retail sales plummet to the worst since the government started tracking this data.

Now, what economists are saying, what my sources are telling me is that, we may have reached what's called peak pain. So things may get better from here. And that is certainly something that the Trump administration wants to see. We've seen several of Trump's advisers out this week basically downplaying some of this data and pointing to potential better days ahead.

But just because we've reached peak pain in the data, does not mean the American worker has reached peak pain, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Cristina Alesci, a very grim outlook there. Thank you so much.

All right, coming up, a four-hour drive for justice, details on today's Atlanta to Brunswick, Georgia, caravan to protest the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

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[12:52:30] WHITFIELD: Today in Georgia, outrage and a demand for justice. Right now, a caravan is traveling from Atlanta to Brunswick in protest of the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.

The demonstrators are demanding the resignation of two district attorneys over what many are calling a gross mishandling of the investigation. Arbery was shot and killed in February. Gregory and Travis McMichael, father and son, have been charged in his murder.

Last week, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested both men and took over the case. CNN's Martin Savidge is in Brunswick for us. So, Martin, what's expected today?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, those protests, as you point out, they are demanding the resignation of the first two district attorneys. There are many who suspect that the case was stagnant for two months and that it was improperly handled. They are demanding that they step down.

Meanwhile, there is new video that has come to light from a home under construction in the neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery died. And it's clear, that home, and tension surrounding it are what may have led to the circumstances of his death.

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SAVIDGE (voice-over): These videos come from inside the home under construction in the neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was chased and killed while jogging.

According to his family, February 23rd, three of these videos are from two months before the shooting, all from the same night, December 17th. The cameras appear to capture a black man wearing a T-shirt and shorts. In the last segment, you can see the individual take several steps in the direction of the road and then set off on a run.

In a statement released Friday, the attorney for the property owner says the individual depicted appears to be the same young man captured on video inside the house on February 11th. This is the February 11th video from the same place in cameras showing an unidentified person walking in and out of view inside the construction site.

That night, the visitor, who the property owner says he cannot identify, didn't just trigger cameras, but also a 911 call from none other than Travis McMichael, who reported seeing a young black male by the home site.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911, what is the address of your emergency?

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

(voice-over): Police arrive on scene and joined by neighbors, search for the person, Travis said he saw, but find no one. Attorney Elizabeth Graddy says the property owner and legal team have spent considerably more time viewing the clips and say they had discovered what was attracting the visitor.

[12:55:07]

It now appears that this young man may have been coming into the property for water. There is a water source at the dock behind the house as well as a source near the front of the structure.

The attorney says, though, you can't see the water source on camera in security video from December 17th that they have studied, the young man appears to wipe his mouth or neck. And at one point, what sounds like water is heard before the person heads off at a jog.

And additional videos obtained by CNN from the construction site show that the home was visited by a number of different unidentified individuals and people on a number of different days. The property owner says there was never any damage or theft.

Ahmaud Arbery was seen inside the same house under construction the day he died. His presence that day triggers a chase captured on video and the confrontation that would lead to his death as Arbery lay dead on the ground, killed by three gunshot blast from Travis McMichael's gun. Gregory McMichael tells authorities he thought Arbery was the person seen on video in a house under construction, describing Arbery as a suspect in a series of break-ins.

The property owner never used the word break in or suspect. And now says the only thing taken was a drink of water.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: There are actually two protests that are taking place here in Brunswick today, Fred. And a third one is planned for tomorrow. Supporters of Ahmaud Arbery and his family clearly want to keep the pressure up on law enforcement as they move forward, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And then contrary to the 911 call, you've reported that there were no string of burglaries at that alleged gunman spoke of in that call. All right, Martin Savidge, thank you so much.

President Trump insists there will be a vaccine for COVID-19 before the New Year, maybe even sooner. Scientists aren't so sure. NEWSROOM continues after this.

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