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The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Far From Over, But Most Of U.S. Starting To Get Back To Some Semblance Of A New Normal; Miami Date, Broward Counties In Florida To Partially Reopen Monday; Navajo Nation Faces Deepening Coronavirus Crisis. Aired 3-4 p ET
Aired May 17, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She even had a small part including a backseat, wild ride behind Ben Stiller in the movie "Meet the Parents."
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PHYLLIS GEORGE, FORMER MISS AMERICA: I auditioned for the role and I got it and it was the most fun that I've ever had.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ultimate Trailblazer, Phyllis George, once wrote, "Saying yes to yourself opens up opportunities that can take you anywhere."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHYLLIS: I just kept moving forward and you know, we learn so many things. If you fail, you're not a failure. You just learn the lessons, write them down, you know, use them in your life.
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FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: And our colleagues senior White House reporter Pamela Brown shared this statement on the passing of her mother, "For many, mom was known by her incredible accomplishments as the pioneering female sportscaster, 50th Miss America and First Lady, but this was all before we were born and never how we viewed mom."
"To us, she was the most incredible mother we could ever ask for and it is all of the defining qualities the public never saw, especially against the winds of adversity that symbolize how extraordinary she is more than anything else."
"The beauty, so many recognized on the outside was a mere fraction of her internal beauty, only to be outdone by an unwavering spirit that allowed her to persevere against all the odds."
Hello again, everyone, and thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, but for most of U.S., things are starting to get back to some semblance of a new normal.
By midnight tonight, 48 states will have eased at least some restrictions and stay-at-home orders, but as you can see from this map, at least 30 states are seeing steady or rising new cases.
Texas, one of the first to reopen saw its highest single day increase in the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic and the numbers are still rising.
All of this, as the White House pushes forward with plans to rapidly reopen the rest of the economy. President Trump promising that a vaccine will be ready for distribution by the end of the year. Something many health experts say is a long shot.
Texas reported more than 1,800 new infections just yesterday. Yes, that's a single day record. But it's also part of an upward trend in new cases that began more than two weeks ago, when the Texas Governor Greg Abbott began easing restrictions.
CNN's Ed Lavandera joins us now from Dallas. So Ed, what do you know about these new cases?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can take you a little deeper into these numbers and kind of take a closer look as to why these numbers are so large reported yesterday.
The new number is expected out here in the next couple of hours, but 1,800 cases -- new cases reported on Saturday. According to state health officials, more than 730 of those are because of a team of testers that were in the panhandle area around Texas, investigating cases in a breakout there around meatpacking plants.
State health officials attribute the large spike in yesterday's cases, to the specific testing being done there in the panhandle in a lot of those meatpacking workers.
But it really does not change the fact that since the reopening of the economy here in Texas, the case numbers continue to hover well over a thousand virtually every day here, and now there are other things that the governor says they're looking at.
The number of tests executed and reported every day have gone up, three of the last four days they've reported more than 30,000 tests results. That is by far the highest numbers that we have seen since this pandemic started.
But there are a number of other medical indicators and data indicators that kind of suggest everything is plateauing, not really spiking up heavily or trending downward.
So, a kind of a mixed bag of information here as the reopening of the economy here in Texas continues -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ed Lavandera in Dallas, thank you so much.
Right now to the northeast in the Tri-State Area where beaches will remain closed for Memorial Day weekend in New York City, but then open in New Jersey.
CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joins me now. So, New York City, it's coming up with some new creative ideas to promote social distancing. Let's begin with that.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Officials here want to portray that they're being very, very careful about reopening recreation areas as the curve is being bent here in the city.
So, where I am, Domino Park in Brooklyn, it is about a five to six acre park and a very populous area, popular place to go. So, how do you make a place stay safe among all of this density?
The answer is according to park officials and what they've done is you paint circles on the ground six feet apart making people stay in those circles and you bring a lot of police down here to make sure that people are obeying social distancing rules.
SANTORO: Now, in other parts of the city, we've heard the mayor say today that the beaches here in New York City will remain close on Memorial Day and he is setting up fencing and other types of things to prepare to close them if people are not social distanced that are using them.
Now, you can walk on them now, you can sit on them now, if you are socially distant from each other, but he is keeping a very, very close eye on the behavior and he says he will close him down completely if people are not safe.
Very different story in New Jersey, where the Jersey Shore is incredibly important. Yesterday, we were out there for a dry run of an opening plan that the governor has for the beaches on Memorial Day weekend, and we saw people that are being asked to kind of use their best judgment.
We saw a lot of people on the boardwalk not wearing masks, but not really being told they had to wear masks and people on the beaches kind of congregating in small groups distant apart from each other.
So, two different approaches in these two places as people try to have a summer under coronavirus -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much for that.
All right, so while much of Florida has had some sort of partial reopening, two of the biggest and hardest hit counties in South Florida have had to wait because of the high number of cases and deaths.
But that's about to change on Monday as Miami Dade and Broward Counties will start rolling out partial reopening. Francis Suarez is the Mayor of Miami. Good to see you, Mayor. MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FLORIDA: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: So, your city is taking a much more cautious approach to reopening. Kind of paint the picture how will it be on Monday or perhaps even midweek?
SUAREZ: Yes, our city is taking a cautious approach because we have the most cases in the State of Florida, we are also probably the densest part of the state. So, we are actually opening on Wednesday, our retail up to a capacity of 25 percent and we're not opening our restaurants to a week from this Wednesday.
And so, we are taking a very cautious approach. Obviously, we've seen some of the statistics about states throughout the United States that have reopened and started to see some level of resurgence, and that's obviously a big concern for us.
We're putting very strict rules in place to maintain social distancing, and also to, hopefully safely be able to slightly reopen and open slowly, but it all depends on our residents' ability to do it responsibly.
WHITFIELD: You know, Miami Dade is pretty densely populated, how will you enforce these restrictions?
SUAREZ: It's going to be a challenge, without a doubt, you know, our government is not really set up for this kind of enforcement. So, we're going to obviously depend on business owners to obviously help enforce within their own businesses. If they're not, we have the ability to shut those businesses down --
WHITFIELD: Meaning? Meaning you're asking the businesses or you're allowing these businesses to say, for instance, put up a sign that says, you know, no mask, no entry, that kind of thing.
And then if they don't adhere to that, that's when you could potentially shut down businesses.
SUAREZ: Exactly. And so, you know, obviously we have our police department, we have our code compliance officers that can go in and help enforce if someone is for some reason not following the instructions of a business owner.
But if we have businesses that are flagrantly violating the rules and are not mandating that their customers comply with the social distancing norms, with wearing masks inside other businesses, then we will unfortunately have to shut them down.
WHITFIELD: So Miami Dade County has been one of the hardest hit areas in the state, accounting for about a third of all cases in the state.
How concerned are you that a lot of people may not act responsibly as you just kind of spelled out and that could potentially cause a spike in numbers.
SUAREZ: I'm very concerned about it. You know, we haven't even already started you know, this Monday reopening and we already had yesterday, the largest number of one-day cases in probably a month to month and a half.
So, you know, one of the issues that we've been having throughout this entire process is analyzing the data and making sure that the data that we're receiving is accurate.
What we assume happens is that some of the private labs data dump on a regular basis, so you'll see all of these sort of uneven spikes, and the two days that preceded that spike, were extremely low positive, you know, new case positive day.
So, we have to really work with the Department of Health to get a sense for how the data is inputted to make sure that we can make smart decisions.
WHITFIELD: A top industry there is tourism, and what do you do about that? I mean, because you've got residents who, you know, perhaps may be more familiar with the guidelines you've put into place, but you're also talking about a lot of people who are transient, who come through, you know, for tourists to visit friends, et cetera.
What do you expect as they come to your area?
SUAREZ: I expect it's going to take time. I think right now, one of the big issues that we have is our airports and air travel and I'm not sure that anybody feels safe right now, or many people feel safe traveling. And so, I think that's going to be an issue.
SUAREZ: And then obviously, you know, we'll see how this reopening goes. We're hopeful and obviously optimistic that it will go well. We're hopeful that we can, you know, cases continue to go down so that we can enter into the next phase, which would be Phase 2 in the next 14 days.
But some of the things that we've seen across the country are, you know, concern, and the fact that we just had, you know, one-day spike, it's just one day, but you know, it's something that we have to look at and monitor carefully.
WHITFIELD: Mayor Francis Suarez, thank you so much -- of Miami, appreciate it.
SUAREZ: Thank you for having me.
WHITFIELD: And as states start to reopen, there was a weekend locked down affecting the country's largest Native American population. We'll take you there live for an update, next in the NEWSROOM.
WHITFIELD: The Navajo Nation has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in America despite being spread over a vast area, spanning New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
The crisis is requiring drastic measures including weekend closures of all businesses, even essential ones like gas stations.
CNN's Sara Sidner is live for us from the capital of the Navajo Nation, Window Rock, Arizona. Sara, these are drastic measures but will it make and isn't making an impact?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, they say that they hope it's making an impact, but we have seen a spike in cases.
They have been very strict. There was a 57-hour lockdown that started Friday night and goes through 5:00 a.m. Monday morning. That is partly because they have seen a spike not only in the number of cases, but in the number of deaths.
As it has stood for some time, the Navajo Nation had the third highest rate of infection per capita behind New York and New Jersey.
But the President of the Navajo Nation said that is partly due to the fact that they have been testing more than any other state in the nation. He says about 11 percent of his people have been tested, which explains those numbers a bit.
But he is very clear that this is having a devastating impact on the population, not just on the health side, but also economically.
He also talked about why his 175,000 residents have such a hard time containing the virus, you would think in a place that is 27,000 square miles, that covers three different states that self-isolation and distancing would be easy, but he talks about why it isn't and what makes that so difficult here on the Navajo Nation.
We talked to the President in Shiprock, New Mexico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN NEZ, PRESIDENT, NAVAJO NATION: And even though this is vast Navajo land, you know about 175,000 to 200,000 citizens living on the Navajo Nation, you know you we need supplies and we need to bring water to drink and also water for our livestock.
So, we do have to leave our homestead to get food and supplies and then come back home, and so that's one of the reasons why this virus is spreading like wildfire here on the Navajo Nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And he also mentioned that 30 to 40 percent of the residents in the Navajo Nation do not have running water. So, frequent hand washing is a problem, and generations of people live in one house or one compound, making self-isolation very, very difficult, and that explains he says, why this virus has spread.
Now, the reason why I'm wearing a mask with hardly anybody around us because there is a rule. It's part of his sort of strict edict to the people here on the Navajo Nation, that if you're in public, you need to be wearing a mask. And he is hoping, as science has said that masks and distancing, self-distancing will have an impact as they watch these numbers rise and continue trying to test aggressively -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Sara Sidner, thank you so much. Appreciate that.
The U.S. is not alone in seeing protests over lockdown restrictions. Next, we'll take you to London where outrage is also pouring into the streets.
We'll tell you what that country's Prime Minister is saying about it.
WHITFIELD: Right now to Britain where there's talk of a possible vaccine for the coronavirus being ready as early as September. I want to bring in CNN's Max Foster, who joins us from Windsor, England.
So Max, most experts say vaccine is a year to 18 months away, but already there's at least one, right, human test trial underway in Great Britain involving a vaccine.
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so they started trials at the Oxford University project, there's a separate one at Imperial College in London. But either way, it is hugely ambitious to think that they can have this drug out and with people that need it by September.
What the government is saying though, is they're going to give another hundred million dollars towards both of these projects to try to accelerate them.
And they're also working with the drug company, AstraZeneca, to try to come up with a production system, they believe that with AstraZeneca, they can produce 30 million doses of this vaccine in September, and that'll be for the U.K. and then 100 million for the wider world.
But it does depend on developing a vaccine and they're not there yet. So, it's ambitious, and a lot of people are questioning really this timeline, but nevertheless, the government is throwing everything at this particular project, particularly the one up in Oxford -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Let's talk about protests as well because you're seeing that take place against Britain's new rules of handling this pandemic.
FOSTER: Lots of confusion around the new messaging, but also this issue within the United Kingdom where Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are rejecting Boris Johnson's plan effectively and they're going their own way. They're keeping the lockdown for longer. So, Boris Johnson really only speaking for England when he talked
about lifting the lockdown in the manner that he is talking about.
But today, he did write in a Sunday newspaper talking about acknowledging the frustration over the complex easing of this, but he says it is, by its very nature, quite complex.
So he is acknowledging it, but he is not changing anything there. The other thing we've had over the weekend, is that they have recruited 17,000 contact tracers. These are the people that are going to go out and find those who have been in contact with anyone that's had the virus and that's going to be in place for next month when they start in theory, opening schools and shops -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Max Foster, thank you so much. All right, the White House says it has a new plan for widespread coronavirus testing. We'll explain ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.
But first a preview of tonight's CNN film, "Scandalous."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't have created a better picture. I couldn't have sent a photographer out with instructions and had him come back with something better than that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That changed the face of American politics. Gary Hart had an excellent chance of becoming President and that just destroyed his political chances.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dukakis took his place.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Read my lips, no new taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No chance against George Bush. So George Bush became President, and his son became President later.
We changed the course of history with that. Now, did we do well or not? That's not my problem. My problem is we got the story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Watch "Scandalous," a CNN film tonight at 10 Eastern.
WHITFIELD: Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said a new antigen test that's in development could be used to track the coronavirus among some of the most vulnerable in our population.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX AZAR, HUMAN AND HEALTH SERVICES SECRETARY: We're going to be bringing online something, Jake, that I think is quite exciting, which is going to be these antigen tests, which are rapid tests -- antigen test -- sort of a -- the look would be more like a pregnancy test, you know, on a -- it's called a lateral flow device.
And we are working with manufacturers on approving those. Those are very high volume point of care tests. And so that's going to be also part of the recipe for the future.
For those kinds of situations, like you rightly say, as a parent, those concerns for our nursing homes, for our prisons for our meatpacking facilities, to aid us with broad surveillance and testing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Let's talk about this. I want to bring in Dr. Rochelle Walensky. She is the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. Doctor, good to see you.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF OF DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Good to see you. Thanks for having me.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, great. So how important is it to get these types of tests out to the public?
WALENSKY: I think it's critical. You know, we have a lot of challenges with the current way that we are testing. First of all, you need a mask in order to do the test. The provider needs a mask. And we are still doing these tests in medical facilities by a nurse or our providers.
And they generally can take up to eight hours, 12 hours, sometimes up to 24 hours to return the result. So, I think it would be completely game changing if we could use a massive amount of test that were easy to do. People could do them on their own. I think that would just be a huge step forward.
WHITFIELD: Right. Let's talk about the C.D.C., often, you know, the centerpiece of any kind of national you know, fight against some health matter threatening the nation and now there seems to be this growing tension between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
White House Trade Adviser, Peter Navarro slammed the top health agency today. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: Early on in this crisis, the C.D.C. which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down with the testing because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test and that did set us back.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Well, is it a setback that you would have this kind of
dispute between the C.D.C. and, you know, the White House, the Health and Human Services Secretary Azar was pressed today, saying should he take any responsibility for any kind of missteps at the CDC, he refused to answer that.
But is this kind of fissure, you know, another setback for the nation's fight against this pandemic?
WALENSKY: I think the only way to fight this pandemic is with a unified front because the virus doesn't care if we're divided or together and in fact, the best way to fight it is to fight it together.
What I will say is that the C.D.C. is my go-to resource for all of the details that I need as a provider, when I'm thinking about how I might deal with infection control issues, the guidance that I need, that's my go-to place and we need those details. from the C.D.C.
We need them to be forthcoming. We need them to be voluminous. We need them so that we can understand exactly how to operate to prevent this disease and to tackle it.
WHITFIELD: The President sounded very confident as it pertains to a vaccine that this nation will see it by the end of this year.
A lot of you know, skepticism among scientists in the medical community saying a product that could be distributed by the end of the year, not possible. Where are you on this?
WALENSKY: Boy, would I love to see that happen? I am -- I would like to say I'm cautiously optimistic. But I just think that that's an incredibly ambitious timeline.
We've never seen a vaccine at that timeline. In fact, we've never seen a vaccine double that timeline. So, I know we have incredible resources going towards it. I would like to see it happen.
The other thing I want to just comment on is once there is a vaccine, will people take it? I will remind people that only about 50 percent of people living in the United States get vaccinated for influenza every year, and as we think about going into the fall and the threat of coronavirus again, I would say let's get vaccinated for the things we have.
WHITFIELD: So, Secretary Azar said today also that the method of production and manufacturing of the vaccine will be different in this go round and that's why they're able to expedite the timeline. Is that concerning at all to you or does that offer some relief to you?
WALENSKY: Well, I think it offers a suggestion that they're going to pour an intense amount of resources because in fact, the production may vary depending on which vaccine is brought to scale.
And so we don't exactly know which one we would, so they're going to have to be scaling up numerous areas of production.
I believe that they are interested and motivated in doing that, but to have hundreds of millions of vaccine doses available by the end of the year, I just can't see being tenable.
WHITFIELD: All right, the World Health Organization today putting out a statement about the coronavirus related inflammatory disease affecting children. The W.H.O. saying it's essential to learn more about it. Do you worry that parents may not be equipped with enough information to identify what may be going on with their kids?
WALENSKY: I worry that we're all not equipped with enough information. This was pretty humbling to realize. You know, early on, we said the kids are really doing just fine. And in fact, what this taught us is that we have to have humility here because a month later, after kids have disease, they're coming down with potentially very severe inflammatory -- severe inflammatory syndrome.
I want to convey that this is a rare syndrome. We're still in the hundreds of cases that we believe hundreds of thousands of children have been infected.
But I do think that we have a lot yet to learn. And yes, I think it's important to get the word out to understand what this markers of inflammation, how they present so the parents can be aware and bring their children to medical attention.
WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, good to see you. Be well. Thank you.
WALENSKY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: As fear over the coronavirus spreads, so too did the theories about where it originated. One of the theories that it was created in a lab in Wuhan, China even got propped up by the Trump administration.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying he had evidence supporting the claim just a few weeks ago. But in an interview with Breitbart News this weekend, the Secretary cast doubts on what he had already said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We know it began in Wuhan, but we don't know from where or from whom, and those are important things.
One of the key facts for scientists and epidemiologists to build out vaccines and therapeutics and to identify how this was ultimately delivered to the world, you have to know where patient zero began and how patient zero became infected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Pompeo also reiterated that the U.S. does intend to punish China for not doing more to stop the outbreak, but he says he will leave the ultimate decision about what to do for President Trump. All right, more changes are happening as the White House shuffles
Washington's top watchdogs.
CNN has learned that Howard Elliott, the Administrator of the Pipeline, and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will move into the role of acting Inspector General of the Department of Transportation.
This comes after President Trump fired the State Department's I.G. late Friday night.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House for us. So Jeremy, what more do we know about all these moves?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredricka. Well, Howard Elliott will become the Department's Acting Inspector General for the Department of Transportation.
He is replacing the Deputy Inspector General for that agency who had been serving in an acting capacity since January when the Senate confirmed Inspector General for the Department of Transportation resigned from his position.
This, Fredricka, of course, is just the latest reshuffling of Inspectors General Offices across the government that has been directed by the White House.
An administration official told me that this latest move here at the Department of Transportation was indeed orchestrated by the White House Counsel's Office. They decided to nominate a permanent replacement for that Inspector General position on Friday night, and they felt that it would also make sense to name an acting Inspector General at the same time.
But of course, we can't just look at this, Fredricka, in isolation. This would be the fifth reshuffling of an Inspector General across the government in just the last six weeks.
DIAMOND: These are different cases, though, of course, in this case, we have an Acting Inspector General coming in replacing someone who was serving in that acting capacity, but that Deputy Inspector General who was serving in an acting capacity, he will still remain at that Department as Deputy Inspector General.
That is very different, of course, from what we saw, with the firing of the State Department's Inspector General on Friday night, the firing of the Intelligence Community's Inspector General in April, and several other moves that we have seen since then.
But again, what is clear here, Fredricka, is that this White House is trying to assert much more control on who gets to conduct that accountability inside the government -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thanks so much. All right, the House of Representatives has passed a massive stimulus
bill to help Americans and businesses get back on their feet. We'll explain why the White House says it's a nonstarter, next.
WHITFIELD: Today, White House Trade Adviser, Peter Navarro is calling the $3 trillion stimulus package a nonstarter just days after it was passed in the House. Here's why Navarro says the proposal is a dead end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAVARRO: So, Nancy Pelosi basically lost me with that package when she has $1,200.00 checks for illegal immigrants and it just goes downhill from there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Joining me now Diane Swonk, Chief Economist at Grant Thornton. Diane, good to see you. So, you know, we saw some tough numbers this week on jobs. Forty percent of Americans making $40,000.00 or less have lost their jobs. Retail sales are down 16 percent. JCPenney joining other stores filing bankruptcy, you know, are these ingredients for another stimulus package?
DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, GRANT THORNTON: Oh, absolutely. And in fact, we already know that reopening is not going to be like turning on a spigot. It's a COVID -tainted spigot and we don't want to drink from a poison well. We need to be slow and methodical on reopening, which means we need a lot more support out there for both households and for businesses.
I mean, the fact that we've got people now returning their small business Payroll Protection Plan loans is ridiculous, something has gone wrong.
And the government needs to course correct so the money they've allocated gets out there, some five to 10 million people haven't even gotten their unemployment benefits that are eligible yet.
But then on top of it, you need to anticipate the pain that's going to be coming. We know this is not going to be an easy open.
WHITFIELD: So, the House approved that $3 trillion stimulus. It's not likely to pass the U.S. Senate. Business owners who say reopening say restaurants at just 25 percent just isn't likely to help them. Do you expect that in the next month or two, American businesses will find out if they live or die?
SWONK: Unfortunately, I hope that's not the case. I hope there's more backstops and I know people don't like bailouts. But let's throw all your biases out. We need to help households and businesses get to the other side of this, and if we don't, we're going to have widespread bankruptcies and consolidations.
We're already seeing many businesses permanently shut their doors. I walked down the street near where I live and the number of small businesses that now have, you know, paper over their windows because they're permanently shuttered is stunning.
We think we've lost at least 100,000 businesses already. We have to have an economy to rebuild from, after we get through the reality of living in a world that still has an infectious high rate of contagion.
WHITFIELD: It is so sad, and of course, if you don't have a job, you're not going to be able to pay your rent or your mortgage.
I mean, how long can landlords and banks extend grace periods?
SWONK: Well, that's really interesting. One of the good things that just came out is that Fannie and Freddie, the mortgage behemoths are now allowing, instead of you having to pay a lump sum if you defer your mortgage payments and your mortgages are with those companies, you can tack it onto the end of your mortgage, so you don't have to pay this lump sum all of a sudden in six months or a year, if you're having this trouble.
But it still hasn't dealt with the credit market problems for the mortgage servicers, and that is tightening credit market conditions for mortgages. So, every time we plug one hole, we find another and I think what's really important about this is we have to -- we do have foresight.
We do know that as fast as the science is going, it's a breakneck speed on innovation, technology, treatments, possibly a vaccine, that's still an eternity for the economy.
Knowing that means we have to front run some of this pain and get ready and blunt the blow, so we have more of an economy recover from when we do get to the other side of this.
WHITFIELD: And let's go back to those retailers, you know, with the numbers down, you know, 16 percent. Okay, so a lot of businesses are reopening, you know, stores among them.
But, you know, retail is down. It has taken such a plunge and a lot of folks are strapped for cash. I mean, it doesn't seem like the forecast is getting any better for them either.
SWONK: Exactly. And one of the problems with you know, of course, you just mentioned, restaurants. Restaurants need an average of 75 percent capacity to break even, so they can't possibly make ends meet running 25 or 50 percent with social distancing, so they're going to need more help, I think that's really important to understand.
And that 75 percent is really contingent on heavy crowds from Thursday through Sunday, and a big barbell. And I think that's something that, you know, policymakers aren't taking into account is how stressful this is trying to open without any even any protocols on a national level. Many of these restaurants don't know what they have to do to be safe,
nor do they have access to PPE. Same thing with retailers. They're kind of low on the totem pole relative to healthcare providers.
WHITFIELD: Right, and if you're already struggling and now you've got to spend money on PPE or having, you know, precautions put in place for your employees and your patrons. That's a really tough, tough demand.
Diane Swonk, thank you so much. Good to see you.
SWONK: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: So, as we say, a lot of restaurants are reopening, but not always at full capacity, but the dining experience may never be the same from this point forward. We will show you how one of the biggest fast food chains is handling the situation, next.
WHITFIELD: We have new information on last night's fire and explosion that seriously injured 11 firefighters in downtown Los Angeles. Eight remain hospitalized and three have been discharged. They suffered burns to their hands, arms, ears and backs after being forced to go through what's being described as a fireball while coming down a firetruck ladder.
And you can see the firefighters on this cellphone video climbing down through that huge wall of flames. They originally climbed up the ladder to try to ventilate the roof of the building, when the structure you know, was seemed -- was deemed rather unstable and the call was made for everyone to get out. They all started retreating, but they all are expected to survive, thankfully.
President Trump is set to host a roundtable meeting with members of the restaurant industry at the White House tomorrow.
Several high profile chefs are expected to attend alongside several restaurant executives to discuss how the coronavirus has impacted the dining industry.
This, as McDonald's lays out new guidelines and safety measures for safely reopening dining rooms around the country. Here now is CNN's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): McDonald's is planning to reopen its restaurants for people to dine in, a bold step for America's oldest fast food icon.
The McDonald's experience may never look the same again. Some tables will be closed. A table will be sanitized after each customers use. The bathrooms cleaned every 30 minutes and you won't be able to tap your drink from those famous self-serve beverage fountains with the free refills, an employee will pour it for you.
Experts say these days, even that simple tap and pour fountain is a risk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROF. ANNE RIMOIN, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, UCLA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: You're stepping over people, you're jacking in line. That's a problem. Also, any area where you're going to have multiple people touching something is problematic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD (voice over): The McDonald's reopening playbook, a nearly 60- page document obtained by CNN also says employees have to wash their hands every hour.
Touchscreen pay kiosks have to be cleaned after each use. Other restaurants opening for dining in are taking additional creative measures like the Federal American Grill in Houston.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT BRICE, OWNER-OPERATOR, FEDERAL AMERICAN GRILL, HOUSTON: Disposable menus, masks, gloves. We have different color linens on our tables. So if it has a black linen on it right now that we're not seating it, and then if it has a white linen on it, we are seating it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: McDonald's Internal Guidelines first reported by "The Wall Street Journal" don't say that every McDonald's restaurant has to reopen for dining-in services right away.
Each franchise operator gets to make that call as they weigh the reopening guidelines of their local governments.
But public health experts say all restaurants in America are getting ready to throw open their doors have to think about even more stepped up measures. Like what one expert says restaurants he went to in Hong Kong did recently where servers gave how-to instructions for customers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GAVIN MACGREGOR-SKINNER, DIRECTOR OF TRAINING, BIORISK ADVISORY COUNCIL: Every time I went into a restaurant, they would take my temperature for me.
When I sat down they would explain, here is the knife, fork and spoon that's used to pick up the food. This is the separate knife, fork and spoon is going to be used to put the food in your mouth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD (voice over): Even with all the safety measures McDonald's is taking, some health experts are not comfortable with the reopening at this stage of the pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIMOIN: We know that transmission is spread through small droplets, and so it makes it very difficult to be bringing people into small enclosed spaces like a McDonald's restaurant, and to be able to say to people, it's okay to eat, you know, take your mask off, talk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's going to enforce this and how do you enforce that employees adhere to this? How do you make sure that they are indeed sanitizing surfaces, tabletops, bathrooms as often as outlined in this plan?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD (on camera): Then there's the matter of McDonald's employees having to enforce healthy behavior on the part of customers.
The McDonald's Playbook instructs employees how to gently tell customers to distance and stay clean, but that can be dangerous.
Recently, a woman in Oklahoma was arrested on suspicion of shooting a McDonald's employee when she was asked to leave a restaurant because of coronavirus restrictions.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much for joining me this Sunday, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The NEWSROOM continues with Ana Cabrera right after this.