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Concern that Southern U.S. Coronavirus Cases May Be Increasing; Interview with United Food and Commercial Workers International Union President Marc Perrone; Interview with Mike Schultz on Ventilator Experience. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 21, 2020 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00]

KWAME ONWUACHI, CHEF AND CREATOR, KITH/KIN RESTAURANT: -- and we don't know what the next 18 months are really going to look like, you know? We're talking about 25 percent capacity, and then you add on all of the PPE that we're -- we need to operate our restaurants, these plexiglass partitions, our single-use menus, it's going to be a lot of additional burden that's going to be put on the restaurant industry in total. So we need to make sure that we have something that's there for us, to access, so we have an industry when this is all said and done.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: How concerned are you that the industry won't come back? I mean, is there some real concern if you don't get this money, that you're going to have people without jobs, a lot of people, right? All across the country?

ONWUACHI: Yes. I mean, the restaurant industry is vast, you know? Everything from mom-and-pop shops to, you know, high-end restaurants. And the small restaurants are something that's really, really close to my heart. You know, those are the restaurants that, one, I like to eat in, but also those are the restaurants that feed America. So we need to make sure that they have access to these funds so they're here at the end.

But, yes, I think we're going to come back. We're resilient. You know, we are determined and we can get back up if we fall down.

PROKUPECZ: And just quickly, how hard has this been? You employ a lot of people, and how hard has this been for them?

ONWUACHI: It's been extremely difficult, you know, to not have the answers. You know, we watch the news and just try to see the updates, to see when our cities are opening up. And some cities are open now, and some cities are looking at July.

PROKUPECZ: Right. And they're saying here, just to tell you, Brianna, you know, we could see two months before restaurants may even reopen in many parts of the country. Here, specifically in New York, restaurants owners don't expect to open until probably August or even September, in some cases. There's just still too much to be done.

But, you know, I've spent a day here, talking to the people who run this restaurant here. Also, they say, you know, money is the big thing right now. They need more help. They want to open these restaurants eventually, but without the money they're not going to be able to do it, and that's why, you know, they want to put pressure on Washington and on the president to try and give them the money that they're going to need to continue to employ people all across the country.

And as Kwame said, that is the key here, right? You've got to get these employees back in and they're going to need the help. So, Kwame, thanks for joining us.

ONWUACHI: Absolutely.

PROKUPECZ: And Brianna, of course, the money here is going to be the big thing, and we have months to go before we see exactly what happens here, certainly in New York City.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: Shimon, thank you for that report.

It's the top of the hour. I'm Brianna Keilar, and this is CNN's special live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. And at this hour, more than 93,000 Americans have been killed by the virus. And as the loss of life mounts, the CDC director warns of a potential second wave.

In the meantime, new research dives into the past, showing how earlier social distancing could have saved thousands of lives. We'll have much more on the new models, here in a moment.

But first, to the president and his potential collision course with Michigan's top law enforcement official. He's about to visit a Ford plant that's manufacturing ventilators. The facility also requires everyone to wear a mask. But moments ago, the president wouldn't commit to following that rule.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't know. We're going to look at it. A lot of people have asked me that question. I want to get our country back to normal, I want to normalize.

One of the other things I want to do is get the churches open. The churches are not being treated with respect by a lot of the Democrat governors. I want to get our churches open, and we're going to take a very strong position on that, very soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Now, Michigan's attorney general has warned that if the president wears no mask, he will be asked not to return.

The president, also updating reporters on his use of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that the FDA has warned against using outside of clinical settings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I had a two-week regimen of hydroxychloroquine, and I have taken it. I think just about two weeks, I think it's another day, so. And I'm still here, I'm still here. And I tested very positively in a -- in another sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Negative.

TRUMP: This morning, yes. I tested positively toward negative, right? So. No, I tested perfectly this morning.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Meaning -- meaning I tested negative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: CNN's Erica Hill is in New York. She's been following the latest developments on the modeling and the states that are easing restrictions. And all 50 states, Erica, are now in some phase of reopening. Some of them in the south, though, are seeing signs of a spike. Tell us about that.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's some concern about that, concern specifically about some of the states that opened earlier, that eased social distancing earlier. And there's some new warnings today from researchers about those areas. But they also say there's still time to reverse the trend that could be leading them toward a potential spike.

[14:05:02]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILL (voice-over): Graduates spaced six feet apart, the stadium at half capacity.

UNIDENIFIED FEMALE: I absolutely felt safe.

HILL (voice-over): Hundreds of seniors, accepting diplomas in northern Alabama while, an hour south, hospitals are maxed out.

MAYOR STEVEN REED (D), MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: Right now, if you're from Montgomery and you need an ICU bed, you're in trouble.

HILL (voice-over): Montgomery, Alabama, one of several areas that could see a rapid increase in new cases, according to models from a team at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania. Their findings show states that opened early, like Alabama, are at particular risk.

BETH CAMERON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY: We really need to be thinking less about opening and closing, and more like expanding slowly. Everyone needs to be working off of the same playbook. And right now, not every state is. HILL (voice-over): Starting today, you can go camping and eat inside

at restaurants in Ohio and West Virginia. More than half of California's counties, also clear for in-person dining and shopping, including at malls. Religious services can resume in New York State today, with 10 people or less. Casinos along Mississippi's Gulf Coast and Graceland, ready to welcome visitors.

More beaches and parks will open across the country for the holiday weekend, but not the public beaches in hard-hit New York City.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK, NEW YORK: My advice to people is keep it simple, keep it local. Less is more.

HILL (voice-over): Michigan, which has grabbed national headlines for its tough stay-at-home measures, will begin easing more restrictions on Tuesday, allowing for in-person retail and gatherings of 10 or less. It's one of 17 states reporting an increase in new cases over the past week.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The scientific evidence clearly indicates that physical separation has worked, but not completely. If you look at the curves in our country, it isn't like everything is dramatically going down. Now is not the time to tempt fate and pull back completely.

HILL (voice-over): Orlando's theme parks, still figuring out their next steps.

JOHN SPROULS, EVP AND CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, UNIVERSAL PARKS AND RESORTS: We'll reduce capacity so that we can maintain social distancing. And there are some attractions we're going to have to change.

HILL (voice-over): As a sobering report from researchers at Columbia University finds as many as 36,000 American lives could have been saved if social distancing measures were in place just one week earlier. The virus has now claimed more than 93,000 in the U.S.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Here in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo today, saying we're on the other side of this mountain. Of course, not fully out of the woods, but he was cautiously optimistic about that.

He also was asked specifically about things coming our way like summer day camp. He said, until we have a better understanding of this multi- symptom inflammatory syndrome that we're seeing in children linked to COVID-19 -- 157 cases now being investigated in New York -- he says until we know more about that, as a parent, he would not send his kids to day camp, and so therefore he doesn't feel he can tell other parents to send theirs -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Erica Hill, thank you, reporting from New York for us.

And for the men and women who are working at the nation's restaurants and stores, the return to work has also brought confrontations with angry customers, some of whom are refusing to wear masks.

Two men now face felony battery charges after this fight at a Target in L.A. As the men were being escorted out of the store for not wearing face coverings -- which had been required by the city since April 10th -- one of the suspects turned and punched an employee, later breaking his arm.

And in Colorado, a man has been arrested for attempted first degree murder for allegedly shooting a Waffle House employee after he was asked to wear a mask. An affidavit says the suspect initially placed a gun on the counter, telling a cook, I can blow your brains out right now. But the shooting actually did not occur until the next day.

With me now is Marc Perrone, he is the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Mark, thank you for joining us. Because you have over a million members who are in the U.S. and Canada. And as we're seeing the increases in these clashes, what have they been telling you about how they feel?

MARC PERRONE, PRESIDENT, UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION: Well, our members have been saying that they think that the mask issue has become politicized in a negative way. And that it shouldn't be, that it's about me protecting you if I have a mask on, Brianna, and about you protecting me if you have a mask on.

But the clashes and the challenges and the confrontations in these stores is in fact becoming more and more volatile. We believe that there should be security in the stores to make sure that the workers themselves don't put themselves in harm's way. It's just adding to the hazards that they're having to deal with, over and above the virus.

KEILAR: You're -- it's not just the physical altercations that we were talking about that have been making headlines, your union also has been involved in the fight to get fair pay for grocery workers. Kroger has replaced what was a temporary wage increase -- known as hero pay -- with a onetime bonus. And you told one of my colleagues that's unacceptable. What do you want to see instead?

[14:10:15]

PERRONE: Well, I'd like for them to go back to the $2 an hour pay that the other companies in the industry have implemented, that Safeway has done, Albertsons has done, Meyer's in Upper Michigan, as well as the Stater Bros. in Southern California. We've got a hold on the East Coast, that they're all implementing that $2 an hour pay.

The reason why that's so much different is that if you work the kind of hours that our members are working, by giving a bonus, that means they're ultimately getting a pay cut that they were -- they were making more than that earlier. We had a woman yesterday that told us that she's still having to buy her own sanitation wipes and everything out of her own pocket because they can't get the supplies in the stores.

And we just think that they really ought to stand up and step up to the plate and support those workers that are supporting that company. We know that the sales are up, and we know profits are up, and we know productivity's up. And we think that the workers deserve their share, that's what we think.

KEILAR: Back to the mask issue with employees who you represent, why -- when they tell you this has become a political issue where it's become negative for some people to wear a mask, what are they saying about why it's become a political issue?

PERRONE: Well, just a few minutes ago, you talked about what was happening in Michigan, and whether or not the president was going to wear a mask, going inside the manufacturing plant -- I think it was a Ford plant.

But when people aren't willing to respect each other's space, and you're not willing to protect somebody else -- and I understand that we want to say that we're in America and this is about freedom, and I'm all for that. I'll be honest with you, I am. But at this point in time, we can't do things that are going to put other people in harm's way.

And while I am happy that you wear a mask, I don't have the right not to wear one to protect you. And I just -- I think that we need to be respectful. It's not a political issue, it truly is for us to be in this together, that's what we're going to have to do.

And I hear all the remarks about we're in this together. Well, we're only in this together if we're all doing it together, not if some of us are and some of us aren't.

KEILAR: Just real quick, Marc, would it help protect the workers you represent if the president would wear a mask in public when he can't socially distance?

PERRONE: Yes, it would. It would depoliticize the issue. We all know what the science says. The science is saying that that's what we need to do. It's not a political issue. I've got Republicans, members, and I've got Democrat members and I've got independent members. That's not what this is about, and I really hate that it's turned into that. But we need to do the right thing by everybody. So yes, it would help, it would.

KEILAR: Marc Perrone -- Marc Perrone, thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

PERRONE: Brianna, thank you so much.

KEILAR: As cases are surging in southern states, I'll be speaking live with one city's mayor who says if you need an ICU bed there, right now, you're in trouble.

Plus, I'll speak with the nurse in this stunning before-and-after picture about how he survived weeks of the coronavirus.

[14:13:45]

And as Universal Studios gets ready to announce how it will reopen, we're starting to see more crowds across America. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will join me on the risk that they pose.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: You have probably heard about the miraculous survival story of a California nurse who contracted coronavirus and shared pictures of himself to show just how the virus ravaged his body. These are before-and-after photos of Mike Schultz. The photo on the left, of course, was about a month before he got sick. He ended up losing at least 50 pounds, after being on a ventilator for nearly five weeks.

And Mike Schultz is joining us now. And, Mike, you are looking healthier than your after picture, so that is some very good news. How are you feeling?

MIKE SCHULTZ, NURSE WHO SPENT 4.5 WEEKS ON VENTILATOR: Considering everything I've been through, I actually feel pretty good. I have a lot more energy than a few -- couple weeks ago. I am walking around outside a little bit, and using the exercise bike, able to go up and down stairs. Still have to take breaks and I get winded pretty easily, but I'm slowly -- it is improving pretty much every day on that aspect.

KEILAR: And we know you're from Northern California. You were in Boston when you went into the hospital. Tell us --

SCHULTZ: Right.

KEILAR: -- how you felt, what your condition was that prompted you to say, I think I have coronavirus and I need --

SCHULTZ: Yes.

KEILAR: -- to go to the hospital.

SCHULTZ: Yes. Obviously, I knew it was out there and you know, didn't know how serious it was at that time. But I was -- I flew to Boston on Friday for the weekend to see my partner, Josh. Was fine over the weekend.

[14:20:00]

Then on Monday, I was supposed to fly back to San Francisco, and I started coming down with, you know, a cough, and it was very persistent. It wasn't horrible, I was able to manage it with cough medicine. But then on Tuesday, it's just -- I started spiking a fever of 103. It wasn't going down.

And my breathing kept getting worse and worse, I was breathing like 50 times a minute, and it was just very hard to breathe in without -- it felt like I had water in my lungs, and I couldn't take any deep breaths. And I knew then I should probably -- I should go to the E.R., and that's what we did. Got -- rushed right in, and they took me right away.

KEILAR: So you -- they took you right away, and then what happened? SCHULTZ: They took my vitals, they did a COVID swab up my nose, and did X-rays of my lungs. And my oxygen level was really low, I think it was in the low 80s. And they put me on oxygen, and it still wasn't helping. And X-rays revealed that I had pneumonia in both lungs. The right side was worse.

And that's pretty much the last time I saw Josh for eight weeks, because no visitors. And I heard the doctor kind of speaking to the nurse, that I would probably have to be intubated. And that's when I started getting scared because as a nurse, I knew what that meant. I'd have to be sedated and taken to the ICU.

And that's the last time I texted Josh that I -- that's what was going to happen and that -- I actually texted that I was scared, so. I don't honestly remember much after that, because they started giving me medicine to calm down and to control my breathing.

KEILAR: Yes. So they -- so you were sedated and you were intubated, and you were on a ventilator for --

SCHULTZ: Yes.

KEILAR: -- six weeks. But when you woke up, you thought that you had only been really under for one week, and you also --

SCHULTZ: Yes.

KEILAR: -- cried when you got a look at yourself. Tell us --

SCHULTZ: Yes.

KEILAR: -- what it was like for you to come off the ventilator and realize what you'd been through.

SCHULTZ: I wasn't so much sad for me, because I knew I was OK at the time. I was sad because of what everyone around, my loved ones, were going through and that I couldn't see them.

I was able to FaceTime with them, they had an iPad there that -- and it just -- I was just really sad because I missed everyone and I had no idea how many people were pulling for me and -- and how concerned every -- my family and Josh and.

It was just a traumatic event. I mean, honestly, I -- it was scary. But with the support of everyone that -- loved ones around me, it really helped me get through it and want to get better.

KEILAR: And, Mike, you bring that up. You said this is a traumatic event. We've been talking to a lot of experts here in recent days who say don't discount -- right? -- the trauma of what people are going through.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

KEILAR: It's not like you get off the ventilator or you get out of the hospital and everything's hunky-dory, right? SCHULTZ: Right.

KEILAR: So tell us --

SCHULTZ: Oh, yes.

KEILAR: -- tell us about kind of the long-term effect of this, but also maybe how this had kind of changed your perspective as well.

SCHULTZ: Yes. Definitely, like, I went into a rehab hospital right from the ICU, and that's kind of where the hard work comes. It's like, I -- that first few days, I couldn't even sit up on the edge of my bed without feeling like I was going to pass out.

But with P.T. -- physical therapy -- in one week, I was able to walk around with no oxygen, like, for a couple hundred feet. And that's pretty much when I snapped that after poster -- picture. That's one week after I had been able to move around.

And yes, I'm sorry I forgot the second part of your question.

KEILAR: Oh, no, just the sort of mental health aspect of this, you know?

SCHULTZ: Yes.

KEILAR: It's not like you get out of the hospital and everything's fine. You mentioned trauma, so I was wondering if you could kind of expand on that.

SCHULTZ: When I first woke up, you know, it was probably from the sedation drugs, I don't know. I just thought there were a lot of monsters in the room and I was confused and agitated. And even after that, it was just -- I was very sad and depressed. I was honestly crying about everything. Like my care, and I thought I was going to be on a vent for the rest of my life, I had no idea.

[14:25:03]

It was very hard for me to communicate because I still had a tracheostomy -- a trach in my neck, not allowing me to speak or eat. And my hands and arms were so weak, I couldn't text or even write. So it was very frustrating and sad to communicate.

And, like, even today, I -- sometimes I think back about what happened, and it kind of makes me tear up about what I went through and what you know, those loved ones around me went through, just worrying about me. It's just -- it's going to take some time, and probably a little bit of therapy or more to --

KEILAR: Yes.

SCHULTZ: -- to get back.

KEILAR: No, definitely. You guys have been through so much, Mike, you and your family and your partner. SCHULTZ: Yes.

KEILAR: It's so good to see you feeling better, we know you still have a long road ahead of you but we want to thank you for coming on and talking to us. A lot of people around the country, you know, are very interested in your story, so thank you.

SCHULTZ: You're very welcome. I appreciate everyone's concern and kind words. And definitely let them know that it helps, it gave me a lot of positive outlooks when I was feeling down, so.

KEILAR: All right. Thanks, Mike, we really appreciate it. We'll see you later.

SCHULTZ: All right, thank you.

KEILAR: In Florida this hour, Universal Studios in Orlando is announcing its plans for reopening, while all Disney theme parks are holding off. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here.

And, you know, we hear -- we're waiting to hear -- right, Sanjay? -- what safety measures the theme park is planning to implement, but I wonder how you foresee them pulling all this off.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a really tough call and a tough thing. I mean, there's obviously a little bit of guidance and a little bit of what they're seeing in Shanghai that I'm sure is informing this because there's a -- as you know, Brianna -- a theme park over there as well.

It's going to look very different. I mean, I think that the idea that people generally know, that being outside is probably going to be better than being inside, significantly reduced capacity for the park itself, reduced capacity for the various attractions at the park.

The biggest question -- and I've had conversations with people around this topic at other major organizations, who are thinking about how to reopen -- is public spaces. Entryways, exit ways, restrooms, shared handrails, seating. You know, all these types of things. You know, you disinfect, you're going to do all those things. If one person ultimately creates a viral load and it spreads onto objects again, it has to be disinfected again. So this is sort of a constant process.

And on top of it all, Brianna, I think a lot of it, as I talked to people -- I'm sure you have as well -- amazing interview, though, just now with Mike, I mean just to hear his story --

KEILAR: Wasn't it, yes.

GUPTA: -- Yes. I mean, people are frightened, right? So you're going there, and you're not -- without adequate testing -- knowing, A, am I potentially spreading the virus? You know, I'm going to wear a mask, I'm going to do everything. What about that guy or that person over there, do they have the virus?

It is that psychological inflection point with physical, I think that's one of the real challenges. It's a bit subjective, I realize, but how do you deal with that and provide -- tell people this is the safest environment possible? I think it's hard to do.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about sporting events, because Ohio State is talking about holding sporting events, and they're talking about social distancing, right? They have 105,000-person stadium there, they're talking about having 20 to 30,000 fans there at football games. Is that -- do you see that as possible?

GUPTA: You know, I don't want to be the gloom-and-doom guy here by any means, Brianna. I love sporting events, although Ohio State I could do without, frankly, I'm a Michigan guy. But that's another story. Yes --

(LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: Sanjay.

GUPTA: -- I know, that was bad. But, no, I've been -- you know, Ohio has done a remarkable job. I mean, you know, as you know, Governor DeWine, when they shut down Ohio State University, I think a lot of people in the country were surprised, it seemed early at that point, much earlier than a lot of other places. So I think they've been very thoughtful about this process.

But it's the same issues there as I think with -- with, you know, amusement parks or big parks like that, is people, even if they're doing the best they can, it's not just the distance -- six feet apart -- it's the duration that you're in these environments, and then it's the shared public spaces.

People -- again, I think if they're diligent about wearing masks, there's a policy? We now have good evidence, Brianna, that that is really helpful. It's why some of these models have started to decrease in terms of projected deaths. Why? Because people actually are being diligent -- fairly diligent -- about wearing masks, about 60 percent in some of these areas that are reopening, much better than the modelers expected. So if people do that, I think it'll help a lot.

But the problem is, let's say somebody becomes infected and somebody is subsequently diagnosed, people come from all over to a football game or to a theme park. You have to contact trace them. By that point, they've gone back into their communities and you could potentially start to seed other communities. That is part of the difficulty with these large events. Not just the time of the event, but talk about the days following, up to two weeks following, when people could still be potentially spreading this virus.

So --