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Forty-Eight States Partially Reopen Or Easing Restrictions By Sunday; Trump: "Vaccine Or No Vaccine, We're Back"; Growing Fears Over Possible COVID-Linked Syndrome In Kids; Transit Workers Head Back To Work Fearing Virus Exposure; John Costa, International President, Amalgamated Transit Union, Discusses Safety Of Transit Workers As States Reopen; Researchers Use Cows To Develop Possible COVID-19 Treatment; New Text Message Emerges In Ahmaud Arbery Case; Protests In Brunswick, GA, Over Arbery Killing. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired May 16, 2020 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here.
Across the country, the numbers of daily new reported coronavirus cases appeared to be dropping in most but not all states, and by Monday, the vast majority of the country, 48 states, will have partially reopened or loosened coronavirus restrictions.
This as CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, warns that the forecasting models point to an increase in deaths in the coming weeks with the U.S. death toll expected to pass 100,000 by June 1st.
Despite those grim numbers, President Trump continues his push to fully reopen the country.
(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)
CABRERA: We're seeing a whole spectrum of businesses restarting across the country, from restaurants and malls in some Southern states, to beaches on the coast. But one major industry remains in limbo, professional sports.
On Friday, the NFL laid out its next steps. Teams can reopen facilities starting Tuesday as long as they meet local guidelines, but coaches and players, they'll have to wait until at least next month to return.
Let's start in New York where today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that horse racing tracks, those racetracks will reopen without fans starting on June 1st, and that elective surgeries can now continue in certain counties. Several New York communities have already started phase one of reopening, none of them near New York City.
And the governor does say he's working with surrounding states like New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware to reopen beaches by Memorial Day.
CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is beachside. He's joining us now from Ocean City, New Jersey, where a so-called dry run is being done in several towns along the coast before next weekend.
And, Evan, how's this working?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, authorities wanted to see what would happen if they opened parks and boardwalks up to people and asked them to be responsible for social distancing. And state police said today that these communities, like the one I'm in and a couple of the other parks that opened up, they're seeing a relatively low volume of people.
That's not exactly the story here in Ocean City. Locals here told us that it seems to them like it's a normal sunny Saturday. Many attractions are still closed. You can't sit in restaurants, and you're required to stay socially distant.
But the beach has been pretty full. We sent a drone up and we saw people on the beach sort of sitting in groups but far apart from each other and then here on the boardwalk, there's been a lot of people walking around and frequenting those businesses that are so important to New Jersey that they opened for the summer, Ana.
CABRERA: What have you been hearing from those people? Because it doesn't even look like people are wearing masks there, Evan.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That's right. So, they're not actually required to. The rules here in ocean city say you need to abide by the CDC guidelines when it comes to masks and what those guidelines say is that if you are close enough to people that you have to -- that you should wear a mask to be safe, that you should wear one, but if you're alone, walking on the beach, you don't have to wear one.
People seem to have taken that to mean they don't have to wear one. I spoke to some people here and they said, we're not required to, the CDC guidelines say we can wear them inside business, we can wear them inside restaurants. So that's been a big topic of conversation here.
We've seen people come up here and say, ask people about masks. Why aren't they wearing them? Other people saying, I don't need to wear one.
The business owner we interviewed, he's wearing one and his staff is wearing. But that's part of this question they're trying to answer here. You need to reopen this for the economy but they need to ask people to do the right thing and be socially distant.
So you're seeing the police sort of put up signage saying, look, be kind, do the right thing, every 15 minutes or so, there's an announcement over the P.A. system saying, thank you for obeying social distancing rules, but how much people actually do that could determine whether or not this all stays open for the summer season, which is vitally important to the economy here -- Ana.
CABRERA: It doesn't look like people are trying to social distance. It doesn't look like people are concerned about the mask factor.
I just wonder if this is a dry run, if officials there are happy with how this is going. I don't know if you have that answer, Evan, but we'll be, of course, checking back with you. Do you know how officials feel about this?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, so far, we have that report from the state police saying that they surveyed 130-plus agencies across the state and saw relatively low volume of people. A number they said they were happy with. But you're right, I mean, the boardwalk has been packed here, and we'll see what the governor and the rest of the state officials have to say about that as they look ahead to that Memorial Day weekend opening for the rest of the Jersey Shore.
CABRERA: All right. Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you for giving us a bird's eye view or not even, right there on the ground for us.
In the meantime, the Trump administration is making very ambitious claims that a vaccine will be available to the public by the end of this year. But the president sending some mixed messages about that potential breakthrough, declaring the country is coming back, vaccine or no vaccine.
CNN's Jim Acosta reports.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As President Trump introduced the two men who will lead the government's race for a coronavirus vaccine, he made one thing clear.
He's ready to reopen the country even without a medical breakthrough.
TRUMP: I just want to make something clear. It's very important. Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back. And we're starting the process.
ACOSTA: Still, one of the two leaders of what's being called Operation Ward Speed, Moncef Slaoui, said he's optimistic the U.S. could have hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine ready by the end of the year.
MONCEF SLAOUI, CHIEF ADVISER, "OPERATION WARP SPEED" VACCINE EFFORT: I have very recently seen early data from a pinnacle trial with a coronavirus vaccine, and these data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020, and we will do the best we can.
ACOSTA: That's an ambitious timeline, and many health experts aren't so sure it's achievable. Coronavirus task force Dr. Anthony Fauci is hopeful the government can meet that goal but cautions Americans should be realistic.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There's no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective. You can have everything you think that's in place and you don't induce the kind of immune response that turns out to be protective and durably protective. Given the way the body responds to viruses of this type, I'm cautiously optimistic that we will, with one of the candidates, get an efficacy signal.
ACOSTA: At his own Rose Garden event, Mr. Trump appeared at times to down play the importance of a vaccine.
TRUMP: Other things have never had a vaccine and they go away. So, I don't want people to think that this is all dependent on vaccine, but a vaccine would be a tremendous thing.
ACOSTA: The president also speculated that many Americans may already be immune to the virus, even though the scientific community isn't certain of that.
TRUMP: The vast majority, many people don't even know they have it. They have it or they have sniffles or they have a very minor sign, and they recover, not only recover, they probably have immunity, whether it's short-term, long-term, but they have, probably, immunity.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump's comments came one day after he questioned the helpfulness of testing.
TRUMP: It could be the testings, frankly, overrated. Maybe it is overrated. When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn't do any testing, we would have very few cases. They don't want to write that. It's common sense.
ACOSTA: The president returned to his argument that schools should we open in the fall but without older students. Mr. Trump didn't sound concerned students could bring the virus home to their families.
TRUMP: I don't think that you should have 70-year-old teachers back yet. They should wait until everything is gone. I don't think you should have a professor that's 65 and has diabetes or has a bad heart, back, necessarily, or somebody that's older than that. But we want to see our schools back, and we want to see our country start to work again.
ACOSTA: Fauci warned earlier this week that is risky.
FAUCI: I think we better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.
ACOSTA: As for a vaccine, the president said he would be willing to accept one from China, even as he's been warning of halting trade talks with Beijing.
REPORTER: What happened if it's China? Will the U.S. still have access to that vaccine?
TRUMP: I would say the answer to that would be yes.
ACOSTA: The president was touting other potential advances like a new high-speed missile for Mr. Trump's pet project, the Space Force.
TRUMP: I call it the super duper missile. Space is going to be the future. We're now the leader in space.
CABRERA: Our thanks to Jim Acosta for that reporting.
And now joining us is Epidemiologist and CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Larry Brilliant.
Thanks for being here, Doctor.
DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: I want to play the president's comments on a coronavirus vaccine, just one more time, and get your reaction. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just want to make something clear. It's very important. Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back. Other things have never had a vaccine, and they go away. So, I don't want people to think that this is all dependent on vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, is a safe reopening of the U.S. dependent or not on a vaccine?
BRILLIANT: Oh, this is obviously a tough time for everybody with 30 million jobless in the United States, almost a billion out of work worldwide. Of course, we're all aspirational and we hope that he's right, but the history of viruses like this are that without a vaccine, they just continue to chew through the population at an exponential rate until they reach, in this case, 50 percent, 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent of us, and that means the death rate that is attributable to those number of cases is something we have to suffer.
Let's not pretend that we can be back for business without a vaccine in the same way that we would with a vaccine. If we leave it at that, I think everybody will be satisfied.
CABRERA: I mean, when we look back at other pandemics and how they ended, some are easier to see than others. Smallpox was wiped out with a vaccine. But other times, it wasn't nearly as simple.
Could you see a true end to this specific pandemic without a vaccine?
BRILLIANT: Well, the end that I would see without a vaccine is terrible. It's that this vaccine would become endemic and it would continue to circulate and ping-pong back and forth between countries until it had reached the immunity levels that you need to get to herd immunity.
I do want to say something about smallpox. We had a vaccine for 200 years before we were able to eradicate smallpox and even with polio, we had a vaccine for 70 years before we reached the point we are now with only one country -- one and a half countries left.
CABRERA: Wow. We know that there are more than 100 possible vaccines in development right now for this coronavirus, at least eight in clinical trials. Here in the U.S., we are told scientists are now deciding between a couple of methods to test thousands of people this summer. In one method, each company that's working on a vaccine continues their work independently on their own trials. This other method being considered involves several vaccine developers working together in one large trial.
What do you think is the best option?
BRILLIANT: Well, if they follow the same protocols, several vaccine manufacturers working together might make it quicker. We clearly want to choose a vaccine that is safe, effective, and efficient. But we also need to get it as quick as possible.
So, I'm all up for innovative ways of doing things, as long as they're safe and they follow the same protocols.
CABRERA: Let's turn to the CDC and the economic impact here and how, you know, there are these new guidelines, rather limited, for how businesses can reopen. We saw, you know, a total of six pages this week, one page each for groups, including businesses, schools, day care centers, much shorter than what had been expected to come out. Are you satisfied with what the CDC has posted?
BRILLIANT: No. And you know, my friends who are epidemiologists and on the chat rooms and all the emails, are really disturbed that CDC, which is the historic gem of the federal government, that not only leads America in how we respond to epidemics but leads the world.
If you just look around the world, all the other institutions that we've created are called the India CDC, the China CDC, the Africa CDC. We are the world leader with integrity, and we had a CDC report that was the guidelines, and it was -- it was not allowed to be released. But it leaked.
And if you compare the leaked version with this watered-down version that allows the states and even counties to make incredibly important decisions, you wind up with a difference such as in one state, you define a fever as 101. In another state, you define a fever as 99. It's not going to help us. That just creates chaos.
CABRERA: You talk about different states doing it their own way. Georgia and Florida are among the earlier reopening states. Those two states are trending down when it comes to the rate of new cases despite, you know, having already taken the steps to reopen and warnings that they were going too fast, too soon.
But again, right now, at least, they're trending in the right direction. What does that tell you?
BRILLIANT: Well, I'm always optimistic but it's way too early to tell. I think the one thing we know for sure is that here we are five months into this and social distancing works and the models work. They predict it very accurately where the peak would be, and now they are predicting poignantly that those states that open up too early will create crowds and mobs, will be spreading the disease.
And that's why they have increased their estimates. This is Chris Murray's model. Increased his estimate from 80,000 or 90,000 deaths in the United States to 140,000 deaths by August. I hope that doesn't come true, but we need to be very careful.
Georgia, at least, did not meet the CDC's basic guidelines of 14 days with decreasing cases, and I think that's just another warning sign.
CABRERA: OK. As always, Dr. Larry Brilliant, good to have you with us. Thank you very much.
BRILLIANT: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: Up next, coronavirus and your kids, the new CDC alert telling doctors to be on the lookout for a COVID-related illness appearing in children. What parents need to know, what we are learning about this syndrome here in the CNN NEWSROOM next.
CABRERA: This week, the CDC issued a nationwide alert to doctors, warning about a rare and dangerous inflammatory syndrome in school-age children, which may be linked to the coronavirus. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., are now investigating possible cases of kids with this disorder with doctors warning there will be more. The strange and frightening new condition causes symptoms ranging from cracked lips and rash all the way to cardiac arrest.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more.
JULIET DALY, RECOVERING FROM MYSTERIOUS ILLNESS: My stomach started to hurt really bad. And it felt like my legs were weak and I was pretty tired.
SEAN DALY, JULIET'S DAD: She started having blue lips and her extremities were cold. That's when it was like, hmm, this is not a, you know, normal flu.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sean Daly is Juliet's dad.
(on camera): Did you think that this might be a COVID or coronavirus?
S. DALY: My wife thought it was a possibility. She called to try to see if she could get tested. She didn't meet the criteria. You know, she was more or less a healthy 12-year-old.
GUPTA (voice-over): By that evening, Juliet was nearly dead.
S. DALY: They had my leave the room to intubate her. So, they put her under anesthesia. Then she went into cardiac arrest for a little less than two minutes and they had to perform CPR.
GUPTA (on camera): What was her condition when you first saw Juliet?
DR. JAKE KLEINMAHON, MD, OCHSNER HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN: She was about as close to death as you can get.
GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Jake Kleinmahon is a pediatric cardiologist at Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans.
KLEINMAHON: Her heart was barely squeezing. She was going into kidney failure, liver failure.
Intubated emergently and put on a ventilator.
GUPTA: It's hard to believe we're talking about this same beautiful little girl. But it's hard to believe that all of this was possibly related to COVID-19, a disease that wasn't really supposed to severely affect kids.
Now, it even has a name. It's called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.
KLEINMAHON: There is a lot of cells and cell signaling in the body that is just going crazy. What that's doing is creating a lot of inflammation. It's affecting the heart, the liver, the kidney and, really, all the cells of the body.
GUPTA: It's been described as a Kawasaki-like disease. That's another inflammatory disease most commonly diagnosed in children. Awful rashes, a strawberry appearing tongue, and destructive inflammation, but this is also different.
There are so many questions. Like why now? Why months into this pandemic are we first seeing this? And why is it so devastating to children in the United States and Europe but not so much in Asia where some of the first children were infected?
DR. JANE BURNS, RADY CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL SAN DIEGO: We have interesting information coming in from Japan as well as Korea and Taiwan that no one there that we have been in contact with has seen this severe form of cardiovascular collapse in children.
GUPTA: Dr. Jane Burns is the director of the Kawasaki disease clinic at Rady Children's Hospital San Diego. BURNS: No one can tell you for sure that the SARS-COV-2 virus is a
trigger for Kawasaki disease. But there's certainly a circumstantial evidence.
KLEIMAHON: We're seeing this in kids who don't have an active COVID infection. Some of them do but a lot of them are testing positive for antibodies.
BURNS: A study published in "The Lancet" on Wednesday found that the number of children diagnosed with the Kawasaki-like disease in Bergamo, Italy, jumped 30-fold after the pandemic overtook the region.
Still in the United States, as frightening as it is, for now it still appears rare.
Juliet was discharged after ten days in the hospital.
(on camera): How are you feeling now? You look great.
J. DALY: Well, I am feeling good and there doesn't seem to be any long-term effects.
GUPTA: Are you back 100 percent, would you say, back to normal?
J. DALY: I still feel a bit out of place, feel kind of like 99 percent.
S. DALY: We'll take 99 percent.
GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
CABRERA: Joining us now is Dr. Glenn Budnick, a pediatrician and chairman of the Pediatrics Reliance Medical Group.
Dr. Budnick, it's always good to have your advice here on our show. At least 18 states now are reporting cases of what they are calling multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and inflammatory response post-COVID for some children.
What could make one child more likely to experience this than another? Because we know this is still very rare.
DR. GLENN BUDNICK, CHAIRMAN, PEDIATRICS RELIANCE MEDICAL GROUP: It is rare, Ana, and it's nice to be back. But it is very rare, that there is no single indicator that we can say currently what makes one child more possible to get the disease. We do think there may be some sort of underlying possible genetic predisposition, but right now, we can't say which child will get it and which child won't.
CABRERA: Why do you think it's happening in children weeks or even a whole month after they've been exposed to the coronavirus?
BUDNICK: Well, once you get the coronavirus, and you get the virus in your system, your body has a response where it tries to kill the virus so that we can get better, called the immune response. And most of the time, thankfully in children, the immune response is great. As you can see, the vast majority of children from zero to 19 do extremely, extremely well with the COVID virus.
So in fact, their immune system is working better than our older people's immune system. But for a very, very rare, small percentage of these children, the immune system turns -- extremely turns on and extremely inflammatory to the body, so it begins to attack the organs that it's there to save and you get inflammation of blood vessels, inflammation of the skin, inflammation of the mouth, with a strawberry tongue, and with this information, you get fever.
And some people get inflammation and get lower blood pressure such as toxic shock syndrome, like the little girl Sanjay was talking to who had more signs of toxic shock syndrome, a lower blood pressure, an increased heart rate, decreased blood to her periphery.
Now, again, this is what can happen with an overresponse of your immune system.
CABRERA: You know, when I look at these pictures, I see this rash. I mean, for a parent who is just looking out for symptoms, what makes this rash unique compared to other childhood rashes?
BUDNICK: Sure. Well, when we speak about this disease, Ana, we call it a syndrome because it's a combination of things. And generally, when you get a rash from Kawasaki's disease or toxic shock syndrome, it can occur from your neck to your groin area.
It can affect, also, of course, your mouth and your tongue, and it also can cause swelling of the hands and the feet, and desquamation of the skin, meaning your skin peels, both in your groin area and sometimes your hands and your feet.
What parents can tell -- how can I tell this rash is part of this new syndrome? Well, it's a constellation of symptoms. Does my child have a fever? Does my child have pink eyes? Does my child have swollen glands? Has the fever been around for several days?
This isn't a fever that's one or two days. This is a fever that's lasting three, five, seven days and longer. And you should always call your physician, your pediatrician when you have a high fever and it continues and he says, just take some Tylenol, let me know how things do, you must get back to them when this fever continues. That's the hallmark that you have a disease.
But unfortunately, that's not every case, but if you have a high fever, swollen glands and a rash, that constellation of symptoms, you want to call your doctor.
CABRERA: That's the big -- the big red flag there.
Dr. Glenn Budnick, we really appreciate your expertise. Good to see you. Thank you. BUDNICK: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: Would you feel comfortable getting on a subway right now? What about a bus or a train?
Coming up, the precautions transit systems are taking to protect passengers and workers from this coronavirus.
And don't forget to tune in tonight. We have a star-studded event when CNN honors the graduates of 2020 with the help of LeBron James and Gal Gadot. This two-hour event starts right here at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
CABRERA: As more stay-at-home orders are lifted, millions of people will get on trains and buses to get around. And while transit systems want to welcome riders back, some drivers are also fearing for their safety.
CNN Pete Muntean reports.
CARLOS GONZALEZ, NEW JERSEY TRANSIT BUS OPERATOR: We're the first ones that make contact with people. You know, this is -- you know, everything comes in through our door. You don't know who's sick. You know -- you don't know who's -- who has what.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Amalgamated Transit Union says more than 1,000 transit workers from Staten Island to Seattle have tested positive for COVID-19.
Union president, John Costa, fears that number will grow significantly as states start opening up and commuters, many with no other choice, start coming back.
JOHN COSTA, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION: Yes, I'm concerned. Every night, I'm still losing a member. And the numbers are still going up, not down.
MUNTEAN: Many bus systems, such as those in Austin, Texas, have barred riders from using the front doors near the driver.
On buses in Washington, D.C., distance from drivers is kept with a yellow plastic chain. But keeping six feet of social distance between passengers, themselves, is difficult on vehicles that are often only nine feet wide.
PAUL WIEDEFELD, GENERAL MANAGER & CEO, WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY: We've been doing a lot of work --
MUNTEAN: Paul Wiedefeld runs D.C.'s metro bus and rail and system. Right now, crews are cleaning station surfaces nightly. First and last train cars are now empty to keep train operators insulated from riders.
CABRERA: That was Pete Muntean reporting there.
Joining us now is John Costa. He's the international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, the largest union representing transit workers in the U.S. and Canada.
John, thank you for joining us.
Bus drivers, train operators, they're so essential in helping people get around. But as we just heard, more than 1,000 members of your union have now tested positive in cities across the country. What has been your hardest moment during all of this?
COSTA: Thank you for having me, Ana, and thank you to CNN.
The hardest moment is my members passing away. We have lost, as of today, another two members. There's 45 of our members have passed in the ATU. The TWU, I think, there are about 100.
So, our fear is that we are overexposed, obviously. The authorities do not have the proper PPE. And as Carlos spoke earlier, we're afraid, as we reopen, are we prepared not only to protect my members but also the riding public.
CABRERA: So, let me ask you about the CDC guidelines, because we've all been on subways and buses. It is tight quarters. Social distancing is challenging.
Here's some of what the CDC is recommending. Among other things, increasing the spacing of passengers and employees, closing every other row of seats, using the rear door on buses for entry.
Is that guidance detailed enough, and do you have confidence that will keep people safe?
COSTA: Those are our demands. We made those demands. We believe that the agencies, when this happened and this pandemic happened, they didn't know what to do.
They were laying off people. They were taking buses off the road, and we were like, this is ridiculous. You have to have more service on to control overcrowding. We should be boarding from the back door.
I've sent letters to governors for executive orders that the riding public wear masks, not only to protect our members but also the public.
The CDC recently watered down the guidelines. Shameful. Shameful that -- what they did. What you just read is not the newest order. They actually ordered them as we reopened. Our concerns are also the air flow. Barriers around the work area, the
drivers area, like we have on the trains. We don't have that. They are now trying to modify that.
And also, filterize U.V. systems that we should be looking at and putting in the buses to control the air flow.
So I am very concerned that on the reopening, the numbers are not going down. Like I said, I lost another member in Phoenix today and in Dallas. And my concern is we don't need to lose any more of our members.
Our members know this job is essential. They know when they took this job it's 24/7. We keep the cities moving. We keep the economy moving. We keep the front lines moving. But we need to be protected. We didn't sign up to die when we took those jobs.
CABRERA: I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of all these members. That's way too many, obviously.
In New York, one idea that they are looking into is having people make reservations to ride buses and subways. Officials admit that would be difficult to achieve but what do you think about that?
COSTA: I don't think we need to do that. I think we need to filterize the systems. We need to look at that.
The authorities need to work with the union. They need to work with my business agents. I have 250 locals around the country and in Canada. And we know our jobs best. Our maintenance knows the buses, the inside and out. Our equipment inside and out.
And we should be at the table on any task forces that they're putting together in each state and including the industry.
CABRERA: As you mentioned, more than 1,000 of your members have already tested positive. More than 44 have died. You're at 45 already. What do you want the American people to know about the men and women you represent?
COSTA: They're heroes. And remember they're heroes. We were there for 9/11. We were there for Sandy. We were there for Katrina. We've been there. We move in emergencies. We were out there.
And don't forget us. Don't forget the transportation people out there moving the economy, taking -- the cities need us to come back and to stay alive.
CABRERA: Absolutely. We so, so appreciate the work that you and all the members of your union are doing right now. And as you mentioned, sometimes it's easy to take those people for granted, but they are true heroes for all of us.
COSTA: Thank you. CABRERA: Coming up, the animal research that may be able to save human
lives in the coronavirus fight.
CABRERA: We have learned legendary comic actor, Fred Willard, has died. He had numerous credits, including "Best in Show," "This is Spinal Tap," "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Modern Family."
His daughter released a statement saying, "My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old. He kept moving, working, and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much. We will miss him forever."
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis paid tribute to the late actor on Twitter, saying, "How lucky we all got to enjoy Fred Willard's gifts. He is with his Miss Mary now." Mary was his wife who died in 2018. Jamie Lee Curtis went on to say, "Thanks for the deep belly laughs, Mr. Willard."
Fred Willard was 86 years old.
Cows, yes, cows may soon be able to help treat people infected with the coronavirus. Right now, researchers are studying ways to use antibodies derived from animals with genetically modified immune systems to save lives.
CNN's senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, has details.
DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cows, they're just like us, really. These cows are just like us in one important way, a way that could possibly save lives during the pandemic. These cows have human chromosomes.
(on camera): You've given the cow a human immune system?
DR. EDDIE J. SULLIVAN, SAB BIOTHERAPEUTICS: Well, we've certainly given the cow part of a human immune system.
COHEN (voice-over): And so this company, SAb Biotherapeutics in South Dakota, is hoping their blood could help make a drug to fight COVID- 19.
Here is how it works. Using genetic engineering, scientists create a cow embryo that contains parts of human chromosomes. That embryo becomes a calf and then a cow. Then a non-infectious part of the novel coronavirus is injected into that cow.
Because of the genetic engineering, the cow produces human antibodies to the virus. Those antibodies are collected from the cow and, once purified, become a drug that might work to combat the coronavirus in humans.
So these cows are plasma donors, just like humans who have recovered from coronavirus and donate blood. But the cows have a big advantage and that is they're big and have a lot of blood to give.
SULLIVAN: So that's one of the reasons that we chose cattle, because obviously they are a large animal.
COHEN: Plus, they can donate plasma three times a month. Humans can only donate once a month.
Another company, Regeneron, is trying a similar experiment with mice who are engineered to have portions of a human immune system. The scientists called the magic mice, they extract in clone the best antibodies.
DR. GEORGE YANCOPOULOS, REGENERON: We really genetically modify mice. We put in the genes for the human immune system into mice so that these mice have pretty much exactly a human immune system.
COHEN: Both companies plan to start human clinical trials early this summer.
(on camera): If all goes well, when might this drug be on the market?
YANCOPOULOS: So, if all goes well, we expect that we will have the drug on the market by early next year.
COHEN (voice-over): Of course, there is no telling if this will work, but hopefully these part-human animals will play a role in saving lives during the pandemic.
CABRERA: From cows to dogs now. The dogs you see here could help save lives as well. Trials are set to begin in London to find out whether dogs can sniff out the coronavirus in people, even before symptoms appear.
The trials will look at six dogs, dubbed the super six, a mix of Labradors and Cocker Spaniels. According to researchers, respiratory diseases are known to change body odor in humans. And there has already been some success in training dogs to detect the odor of malaria, cancer, and Parkinson's disease.
We'll be right back.
CABRERA: Much more on our coronavirus coverage in just a moment.
But first, another story that is gripping the nation this hour. "We are not satisfied." That is the name of the rally happening right now in Brunswick, Georgia, in protest of the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of two district attorneys over what many are calling this mishandling of the investigation.
Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in February. Gregory and Travis McMichael, father and son, have been charged in his murder. Last year, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested those two men and took over the case.
CNN's Martin Savidge continues to follow this story.
Martin, CNN has obtained a new text message that shows a police officer connecting McMichael with the owner of the construction site where Arbery was seen on surveillance prior to his death. What more can you tell us?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's this construction site, Ana -- and it's good to speak with you -- this construction site that seems to be heart not only of the community here, at least the subdivision we're talking about, but also for the concern of Gregory McMichael.
In other words, he seems to look at the property there and those visiting it as being suspicious, even though the owner of the property doesn't see it that way at all.
Going back to October, that's when the security cameras were put on that property. There have been times that the person who owns that property got the alerts. He lives two hours away. He couldn't go and check on the property himself so he called the local authorities, the Glenn County P.D., if they would look. They did a couple of times.
And finally, in the month of December, one officer clearly felt that instead of us going out to check on the property, hey, you got a neighbor who's retired law enforcement. He identifies him as Gregory McMichael.
And he says that Gregory McMichael would be happy to go over there and check out that property and whoever is on it as long as Larry just sent a message to him to go do that when those alerts were sent. So, this is the introduction here.
Now, the attorney that represents Larry English, the property owner, says he never followed up on that invitation. He never took Gregory McMichael up on that kind of an offer.
And the other worrying thing about this particular text is that it appears a police officer is handing off the policework and saying, let's give it to a retired neighbor. And that would be troubling to just about any lawyer to believe that law enforcement is now being placed into a neighborhood individual's hands, Ana.
As to the protest that's been going on here today, it's hundreds of people that came in a caravan from Atlanta, Georgia. And they're angry over the fact that the original district attorneys in this case are still on the job, not on the case, but still on their jobs.
Many believe that they delayed for over two months any proper justice being served to Ahmaud Arbery. And so they believe, perhaps favoritism was played to Gregory McMichael because he was law enforcement at one time and he worked in the local district attorney's office.
There are two investigations into that very issue. One is being done by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The other is being conducted on a federal level -- Ana?
CABRERA: Martin Savidge, keep digging into this story. There's so much more we continue to learn. Thank you.
Our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic continues next.
And please be sure to tune in tonight when CNN honors the graduates of 2020 with a two-hour event. First, at 7:00 p.m., it is the 'CLASS OF 2020: IN THIS TOGETHER,", featuring former President Clinton and Gal Gadot. And then at 8:00, join Lebron James and former President Barack Obama for 'GRADUATE TOGETHER: AMERICA HONORS THE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020." That's live here on CNN. Don't go away.
CABRERA: Hello again. And thank you so much for staying with me. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Across the nation, states are feeling out their reopening strategies. By Monday, all but two will have begun reopening or easing coronavirus restrictions. But guidance varies from place to place.