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CNN NEWSROOM

University of SC Shakes Up Fall Schedule to Get Ahead of Winter Wave; American Camp Association Releases Guidelines for Summer Camps; Update on Coronavirus Headlines Across the Country; Dr. Wasef Muzaffar Discusses Strongly Urging an Alabama School District to Cancel This Week's In-Person Graduations; Apple Rolls Out Temp Checks, Mandatory Masks as Stores Reopen. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 18, 2020 - 13:30   ET

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


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[13:32:39]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: California health officials are tracing new criminal cases of cases to a Mother's Day church service. They say an elderly man in Mendocino County has tested positive. He was in contact with two other people in Lake County who also tested positive for the coronavirus.

And in Butte County, north of Sacramento, one person who attended a separate Mother's Day church service exposed 180 people to the virus. The person who tested positive found out the day after the church service. And now those who broke California's lockdown rules to attend the service are being told to quarantine.

One university is taking some major steps to ensure students remain safe during the pandemic. Leaders at the University of South Carolina are cancelling fall break for the 2020 academic year. And face-to-face instruction will conclude at Thanksgiving break.

Let's bring in CNN's Polo Sandoval. He's been following all of these developments.

So, Polo, students will start this semester on campus but they're going to end it at home. Explain this.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It boils down to two significant changes for the University of South Carolina and it's students.

One, there will be no fall break. And second, face-to-face interaction will end after Thanksgiving. I was provided this schedule by USC over the weekend and it shows what students and staff can expert. I'll show it to you.

Basically, what you have is classes will still be scheduled on October 15th and 16th, which is usually the fall break here, the end of the semester. At the same time, after the Thanksgiving break, there will no longer be any face-to-face instruction here. The main reason we are hearing from the university here is concerns

that some students and staffs may head home to Thanksgiving and possibly getting infected and return back to campus environment and then you have the risk of infection.

What you have is a major university in the United States now trying to get ahead of any potential in cases.

What we heard from the USC president, Bob Caslen, Brianna, is that he's fully aware of the concern and the disappointment for many students and staffs.

Many of them looking forward to that break in mid-October. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to look forward to that right now since the priority for this campus and what we are seeing across the country is the health and well-being of the students.

The question is, will we see a commencement in December. That's still yet to be determined.

[13:35:01]

KEILAR: And inquiring parents everywhere, Polo, many of them want to know about the new guidelines about summer camps. What's going on there?

SANDOVAL: These guidelines actually released by the American Camp Association of the United States. Take a look. This is something that is being provided to some of these facilities here that plan to open up this summer.

They have various steps to be recommended. The first one they have, dedicated staff members for each cabin. That did not change.

Restricted access to those cabins. Also, the sleeping areas. You can expect changes there. For example, sleepers will be positioned head to toe or vice versa. And also they say there should be physical barriers between sleeper.

The main guidance, Brianna, issued by the American Camp Association, the YMCA, these facilities should still ask themselves, should their facility be operating and do they have the proper measures in place and will there be constant monitoring.

It is very similar to recommendations that are being issues across the country that are entering those phases of reopening. Should they be open to begin with?

KEILAR: Very good question.

Polo, thank you for that.

As cases are rising in Michigan, automakers are reopening their factories for workers to return.

Plus, the TSA making new moves involving passengers at some airports. And alumni begging an Alabama school district to cancel this week's in-person graduations. I will be speaking live to one of them.

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[13:42:22]

KEILAR: Some of the nation's biggest automakers are reopening their factories today. This means tens of thousands of assembly workers are back on the job. This is just one of the major developments unfolding in the U.S. today.

Here are more coronavirus headlines that we are following across the country.

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VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Vanessa Yurkevich, in New York. Nearly a hundred thousand U.S. autoworkers are headed back to the job today. That's after Ford, G.M. and Fiat- Chrysler shut down their plants for nearly two months due to COVID-19.

Work is going to look different for employees. They'll be required to get temperature checks. They'll be required to fill out a questionnaire. And they have to wear PPE all the time, except when they are eating.

This is a big test this week for U.S. automakers to see whether they can bring on more shifts and people back online and really start up production again.

This is all coming as, in April, there was a 50 percent decline in U.S. auto sales. So it remains to be seen whether or not the U.S. consumer is ready to buy cars again.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: I'm Pete Muntean, in Washington. We are following a lasting effect this pandemic can have on anybody that flies. One federal health official tells CNN that the Transportation Security Administration is considering a plan to take the temperatures of passengers as they pass through security.

Still few details, right now, even though one industry group has been calling for this.

An airline official tells me this will be hard for TSA to implement, even though one airline says it will experiment with this idea at the gate. Frontier says they'll turn passenger away if they have a fever higher than 100.4.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brynn Gingras, in Hoboken, New Jersey. A gym in the southern part of the state opening its doors this morning going against the governor's stay-at-home orders.

The gym is open for its members. Everyone has to wear masks. And they're going to enforce social distancing. A co-owner of the gym told me over the phone that the opening is going great and they feel that they're just exercising their constitutional rights.

And even the police have not tried to shut them down. The police department didn't return our calls for comment.

New Jersey remains the second-hardest-hit state by the coronavirus with more than 10,000 deaths.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dianne Gallagher, in Atlanta. Another plant worker from the JBS meat packing plant in Greeley, Colorado has died. CNN profiled this woman this month. She's a Burmese refugee. She came to work in that plant for nearly 15 years.

According to her family, she had been on a ventilator with COVID-19 since late March just one day after her only grandchild, who she never met, was born. She is the seventh worker from that facility to die.

A corporate worker from JBS has also died, bringing the total to eight. More than 300 employees there have tested positive for COVID- 19.

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KEILAR: Everyone, thank you for those reports.

Apple announcing the changes that you will see in their stores as they reopen, including temperature checks.

Plus, a cruise ship worker has been stuck on the ship for eight weeks after his test keeps going back and forth between negative and positive.

[13:44:35]

And in Alabama, a school district still holding in-person graduations this week despite backlash. Hear how the district is responding. And I will also speak with an alumnus who's begging them to cancel it.

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KEILAR: The alarm being raised over a school board decision in Alabama to allow high school students to have in-person graduations. In an op- ed in the "Hoover Sun," at least 32 Hoover City High School alumni in the medical, nursing and health professions are urging officials there to reconsider.

Dr. Wasef Muzaffar is one of the alumni who's making this plea. He's an anesthesiologist in Texas.

Thank you so much for joining us to talk about this.

We have Hoover City school officials who are saying attendance is optional. They argue they're taking precautions, for instance, requiring everyone to have masks. They're having no open seating. Graduates will not be allowed to throw their caps on the air. Seating area will be thoroughly disinfected, they say, before and after the ceremony You say it is not enough. Tell us why you think that and why you've gone to the school board officials to say this is not enough.

[13:50:08]

DR. WASEF MUZAFFAR, ANESTHESIOLOGIST & HOOVER CITY HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNUS: Hi. Thank you for having me.

We've taken a lot of precautions and we understand this is a joyous moment for high school students, really accomplishing their graduation.

But there are still a lot of common areas that people will have to pass through and that's thousands of people. There are only two or three entrances with shared spaces. People using the same bathrooms. People handing out flyers and pamphlets, having contact with all of the people who enter and exit the facility.

Furthermore, this isn't just about personal freedom. People choose to go or not go to a graduation. This is about people who will potentially be asymptomatic carriers, who will also then go out into the community at large and impact other people potentially.

So it's really a matter of what's best for the public and not best for each individual.

KEILAR: You say the mask, even if the school is providing masks with filters, this creates a false sense of security. Tell us why.

MUZAFFAR: These masks, N-95 masks are specifically designed to fit certain types of faces. So students are not getting proper training on how to wear these masks properly, or how to remove them without contaminating themselves or the masks.

And additionally, not every mask fits every person. There are large sizes, small sizes. So while you're wearing a mask, you may not be protected yourself and might not be protecting others.

KEILAR: And furthermore, they're going to be allowed to lower their masks for photographs, which I am guessing you would argue is problematic.

MUZAFFAR: Right. There's a time and place for graduation. I feel for all of the students. Originally, this was going to be planned for a later time, maybe in June or July, a later date. I think, at this time, the data will tell us it's not the right time to have a gathering this large and to do things like photos.

KEILAR: There's actually another high school in eastern Alabama and it held in-person graduations last week. The difference was they held this in an outdoor football stadium. They reduced the numbers by spreading out the ceremonies over five nights. So you can cut it down to a fifth for each. Do you think that's a better option?

MUZAFFAR: It certainly is a better option. However, we don't know what the rates are in Alabama given the lack of testing in that state and across the country nationally.

Additionally, people in Alabama, unfortunately, are typically have more health care inequality. There's a lot more co-morbidities.

So again, this isn't really just about the graduates and their families coming together for an event. They will leave graduation and go to their communities and put them all at risk.

KEILAR: Dr. Muzaffar, thank you for joining us and representing your profession as well as your alma mater. We appreciate it.

MUZAFFAR: Thank you so much for your time.

KEILAR: More on our breaking news. Markets soar on hopeful news out of a vaccine trial. My guest is working on a vaccine and he says, you know what, not so fast here.

Plus, as new clusters break out in South Korea at a fitness club, I'll be speaking with a gym owner who is reopening today in Texas.

[13:53:40]

And a sobering warning from the Fed chief that the economic downturn may last until the end of 2021.

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[13:58:30]

KEILAR: Apple is rolling out temperature checks and requiring customers to wear masks as the company starts to reopen stores.

CNN's Cristina Alesci has more.

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CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, shopping at Apple stores is going to be a dramatically different experience as the company moves to reopen 500 stores around the world.

Customers are going to be required to wear masks and get their temperatures checked. So far, the company has reopened 100 stores around the world with these changes and others, including more frequent de-cleaning and limiting the people in the store.

The company also said in a statement on Sunday it will begin curbside drop off and pick-up in certain locations.

And a company executive warned that it won't hesitate to close stores down again if the local conditions warrant.

Apple, like many other companies, saying it learned from reopening in China and it's applying those lessons around the world. The company saying that stores there have been successfully opened for months now -- Brianna?

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KEILAR: Cristina, thank you so much for that report.

I'm Brianna Keilar. This is CNN's special live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

[13:59:50]

We begin with news on the vaccine front. There's a breakthrough for potentially. Today, some very early results from a big drug company's trials show promise. Eight candidates, eight immune responses. We're going to have more on that in a moment. Breakthrough or is it really too soon? We'll discuss that.

Also, the nation will soon eclipse another pair of tragic milestones.