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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 94,000; 7-Day Average Shows 17 States With an Increase in New Reported Cases vs. 9 States on The Rise The Week Before; Mayor: "If You Need an ICU Bed, You Are in Trouble"; New Model Predicts Case Spikes in Major U.S. Cities; Nearly 40M People Have Filed for Unemployment Since Mid-March; Brazil Reports Record Number of Cases and Deaths As President Dismisses Virus as "Little Flu"; 10,000 People Displaced By Flood As Michigan Grapples With Virus. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 21, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Was 91 years old. May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, reported coronavirus cases are up in parts of the country as the President refuses to set an example, saying he will not wear a mask when he's on camera. What is he afraid of?
Plus, a dire warning tonight, ICU beds are running out. One city struggle that is not letting up. And we're going to speak to a critical care doctor who is warning that the patients who are coming in are dying, many of them are young.
And employers struggling to compete with unemployment benefits. Benefits would actually pay some people more to stay home from work, so how do businesses compete with that? How do you get everybody back?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, no mask for Trump as cases surge. There are new warnings of a resurgence as the United States nears the grim toll of 100,000 deaths. Yet instead of setting a powerful example of how to protect others and yourself, the President says he will not be caught on camera wearing a mask.
Let me just start by showing you this, the seven-day average it shows more states reporting an increase in cases. So when you look at that, you can see the increase. You now have 17 states now showing an increase in the number of reported coronavirus cases, 12 saw a decrease.
Now, if you compare that to a week ago, nine states had an increase in the number of reported new cases. So that number of states with an increase has doubled in the past week. Now, this is a pretty significant thing to say. I mean, the question is why.
Is this the result of more testing or do we have a much bigger problem, a potential second wave coming across the country? These are serious questions tonight and yet today the President was playing political games at best or being simply vain, at worst, Trump at a Ford manufacturing plant in Michigan where according to Ford policy masks are mandatory.
Executive Chairman Bill Ford said he encouraged the President to wear a mask when he arrived at the plant. As you can see, Trump refused when the cameras were rolling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had one on before. I wore one on this back area. But I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it. But, no, where I had it in the back area. I did put a mask on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It's an absurd thing to say. He didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it. How about the people who look to him for guidance and example? So he's just said it himself, it's about his image. He doesn't want to be seen wearing one.
One White House official told The Washington Post, "The President sees it as a sign of weakness to wear masks." And CNN has learned that the President is afraid that if he's seen wearing a mask, it might contradict his public message that the virus is waning. Which brings me back to what I began with, according to the latest data cases are spiking and we need to know why, is this testing or a jump in infections?
But instead of answering that question, which should be the single most important thing the President's team should be doing right now, the President is not answering that and is signaling that there is no problem by his refusal to seen in a mask.
Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live outside the White House. And Kaitlan, I know there was a lot of pressure on the President to wear a mask today. The Attorney General for the state of Michigan tweeted at him about it. Bill Ford, the Executive Chairman of the company asked him to do it. But was there really any real question as to whether he would wear one for anyone to see?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I don't think so. Certainly not inside the White House, because aides knew the President's resistance to wearing a mask. It gotten into a back and forth there before he visited that Honeywell facility in Arizona over whether or not he should wear one.
And the company made clear before he went to Michigan today that that was their view that they did want him to wear a mask that it was their policy. And they made it pretty clear, as you heard from the chairman saying today, we encouraged the President to wear one but really it's up to him whether or not the President of the United States is actually going to wear one.
But, Erin, what was so revealing today was that the President before had expressed a resistance to wearing a mask and today he made clear he just doesn't want to wear one in front of cameras, in front of reporters and that was very obvious. As he said, he took it off. He had the mask in his hand, but he did not want to wear it.
And, of course, the point is that it really distracts from the reason why he was at this plant today. It was to highlight that they turned around and made ventilators when the nation was fearful that they were going to be experiencing a shortage of them. But instead, of course, places like this Ford plant stepped in and started making ventilators and made such a difference.
But instead now the takeaway from it is the President's refusal to wear a mask yet again, which now he makes clear is just because he doesn't want to wear one in front of reporters.
BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Dr. Sanjay Gupta along with Dr. Jonathan Reiner who advise the White House medical team under President George W. Bush, currently Director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at GW and Dana Bash, our Chief Political Correspondent.
So Dr. Reiner, let me start with you. The President says that he wore a mask when no one could see him, but he was very plain, I will not wear it in front of cameras. Because he doesn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it. Again, it shouldn't be about the press, it should be about all of the people who believed in him and look to him for guidance, right?
JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes. Erin, I used to think that the President's stubborn refusal to wear a mask was basically a toxic mix of arrogance and ignorance. But I think he knows just what he's doing.
He doesn't want to wear a mask. He refuses to wear a mask, because it conflicts with his narrative, which is we're moving back to normal. Not to a new normal, we're not going to try and recover, we're going back to normal.
And if he's seen wearing a mask, that's not normal. The problem with that is that every time he refuses to wear a mask in public, more and more people refuse to wear a mask in public and then the virus spikes and then people die.
So I really believe that the President's refusal to wear a mask in public has cost many lives. I think he's responsible for deaths when he doesn't mask. BURNETT: Sanjay, it's a pretty powerful thing that Dr. Reiner just
said and he didn't wear the mask on that Michigan trip where anyone could see him. He didn't wear one as he met with African-American leaders, others in the room at that point weren't wearing masks either. We presume they got that test before they were around him, which has a double digit false negative rate.
The President then walked around the factory with no mask on. He said he was tested and the people around him were tested. But again, these rapid tests we know that there could be inaccuracy of, what, up to 15 percent?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, even higher than that, according to some studies.
GUPTA: And as you'll see in those images, the people around him were tested and what are they doing? They're still wearing a mask. And I should point out that three of the public health officials, top public health officials in the country who may have also been exposed at the White House, the same thing that the President has been concerned about, which is why he's been taking this medication that has no evidence that works. They all are in - not only are they wearing masks when they're in public, but they're mostly in some form of self quarantine.
So same exact scenario, potential exposure at the White House, the three top public health officials for the country wearing masks and typically in some form of quarantine the President, obviously, not in quarantine not wearing a mask. It doesn't make sense.
Luckily, and we poll around the country, most Americans see the value of masks. I think 80 percent say they wear it, at least, some of the time. Around half of Americans say they wear it all of the time. So hopefully the message is still getting through, but I think Dr. Reiner makes the point. I mean, you got a model of good behavior otherwise that will erode.
BURNETT: And Dana, the President at one point held up his mask to the show he had one and said it looked very nice. It is amazing. There is, as I said, Dana, a very big part of this which appears to be just simple vanity.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Vanity and stubbornness. I mean, Erin, you covered Donald Trump long before those of us who cover politics did. You did that in the financial world in New York and you know him and his personality probably as well as all of us and that's a big part of this.
A lot of it is what Dr. Reiner said and what Sanjay was alluding to that the President doesn't want to kind of fly in the face of the political argument that he is making that it's OK for the country to reopen. We're ready to go. But a lot of it is, I mean, again, he said it out loud. He went before the cameras and he said, I don't want to give you the satisfaction, you reporters, of me putting on a mask. I mean, that is his innermost thought and his innermost feeling and
that is a large part of what is driving this. I'd tell you that while the President was doing the part of the tour of the plant, where he did wear a mask, I got a text from a source telling me that he was wearing a mask and I was kind of waiting to see if there was any chance that he would then go before the cameras and keep that mask on. And he gave us the answer, not just by not wearing it, but by saying it.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, Dr. Reiner, there was a report from Columbia University today that said if the United States had begun social distancing one week earlier than we did, at least 36,000 lives could have been saved. Now, look, it's a report. It hasn't yet been peer reviewed. The President was asked about it, though, today and here's how he responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Columbia is an tuition that's very liberal. I think it's just a political hit job, if you want to know that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So he said it's a political hit job. Yesterday, he talked about a study on hydroxychloroquine that his own administration had sponsored. It was scientific peer reviewed study. He called it phony, said it was a Trump enemy statement done by people who wanted to make political points that we're not friends of the administration.
What's your reaction to this? And is there anything political in something like these reports?
REINER: Yes. We spoke about this last night and we all predicted that whenever the President encounters any kind of science, and epidemiology is obviously science, that he disagrees with, he's going to call it a political hit job or phony.
Look, the Columbia study is heartbreaking, because it tells us what a lot of people have suspected, which is, if we had closed a little bit earlier, there would have been fewer deaths. But this study suggests that would have been almost 36,000 fewer deaths if we closed a week earlier. There was this really brilliant paper that came out of MIT about a month ago that painted this really compelling portrait of the virus spreading through New York via the subway.
And when New York finally closed down the subway, subway ridership dropped by 90 percent and that's what finally helped to put the virus out in New York. So what this study shows is that this kind of intense social distancing and staying home works. But if you look at what the President does when he doesn't wear a mask, he doubts all of the benefits of social distancing.
But we're going to see this going forward. Any data he doesn't like is a political hit job. It's incredibly destructive, it's dangerous. BURNETT: Sanjay, last night, you were talking about how the CDC
ordinarily would be sort of calling through all this data coming out of the states and letting us know. When you say cases are going up, is that how many more tests are being done in each state, like give us a sense of what's really going on.
But we're not getting that and instead we know 17 states now have an increase in coronavirus, reported Coronavirus cases. That's double the number of states that had an increase about a week ago. So we see this spike, but do we know? I mean, it seems to me this should be the most important thing for the administration to answer. Is this a spread of infection or is this more testing, do we know?
GUPTA: No, we don't know and we were promised that we would sort of get this data, that it would go through a national sort of registry in that case at that time, the CDC and it would be sort of quantified and contextualize for us so that we would be able to answer those exact questions, how much of this is because of testing, how much of this is because the case - the number of people becoming infected is actually going up that the virus is spreading more and more, that we were supposed to get that.
In the beginning, the CDC was providing that. It went to the States and at some point it all became sort of a mishmash. People are counting things differently. They're using different types of tests. We're getting these varying trends, sometimes, the data has been outright, manipulated, maybe accidentally, perhaps not. We don't know. It's really, really hard to read into these things.
And also, Erin, I just want to say along those same lines going back to the Columbia study, I found that outrageous really, a calling it a liberal hit job. I mean, this is a full on assault on science. I mean, we've seen glimmers of this over and over again, but that really took my breath away what the President said today about Colombia.
And we should keep in mind as well that in South Korea, which is a much smaller country I realized, their first patient was diagnosed on the same day our first patient was. They have had 11,000 people infected and fewer than 300 deaths, Erin, not 3,000, not 30,000, fewer than 300 deaths.
So yes, it would have made a huge difference had we done these things earlier. I think that is very clear and we didn't. Hopefully, we learned this lesson going forward.
BURNETT: Yes. I mean, that data, I think, with Korea hopefully hits home to a lot of people. Those are the numbers. And I appreciate all of your time.
And Sanjay will be back at the top of the hour for the global Coronavirus town hall that begins tonight at eight.
And OUTFRONT next, ICU beds running out in many patients under the age of 40 in critical care. An ICU doctor in Montgomery, Alabama is OUTFRONT on what has become a dire situation. Plus, warnings of the case spike in major cities like Miami and
Houston, what does that mean for hundreds of thousands of kids out of school there, I'm going to talk to the superintendents of both of those major school systems. And the disaster unfolding in Brazil.
They have set a record for deaths in a 24-hour period. It's where the cases around the world seem to be growing the fastest. We're live at a hospital there.
BURNETT: Breaking news, the Mayor of Montgomery, Alabama sounding the alarm as cases suddenly spike in his city. The Mayor warning hospitals are overstretched and that if you need an ICU bed, "You're in trouble." I'm going to speak to an ICU doctor in Montgomery in a moment.
First, here's Nick Watt with the latest as states reopen across the country.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): Cities like Houston and Miami should brace for a COVID comeback, according to new modeling that monitors how well we're social distancing as we reopen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DAVID RUBIN, DIRECTOR OF POLICYLAB, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: The degree to which some areas have moved too quickly or have not been vigilant with regards to individual behavior, we are starting to see some evidence of resurgence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT(voice over): Largely in the south, they say, hospitals in Montgomery, Alabama reporting they're nearly out of ICU beds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR STEVEN REED (D) MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: The number of COVID patients that they were seeing was not only increasing, but that people were coming in, in worse shape. I think it's in part due to the fact that we opened up the economy too soon.
RUBIN: ... but we're also seeing some optimism in other areas that appear to be moving more cautiously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT(voice over): That early hotspot King County, Washington opening slowly and the new case count is still falling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND
INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Now is not the time to tempt fate and pull back completely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT(voice over): Right now, there's a spike in South America as cooler weather and winter nears. "And then when the southern hemisphere is over, I suspect it will reground itself in the North," CDC Director Robert Redfield just told the Financial Times. Says he can't guarantee there won't be another lock down this winter. And on the information needed to contain this virus he says, "The truth is regularly the data is delayed and it's incomplete."
At least four states say they're combining viral and antibody test results for their case camps, potentially muddying the picture of where and how this virus is spreading. Those food bank lines tell a different story.
The impact of lockdown nearly half of adult Americans are now living in a household that has lost income, according to a census bureau survey and 10 percent reported often or some of the time, not having enough food.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to find out the pews and the confessional ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT(voice over): Religious services are back today in New York. Catholic leaders laid out their plan, sanitizer at the door, online worship still encouraged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BISHOP NICHOLAS DIMARZIO, DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN: So we will move slowly but surely to get to maximum participation as quickly as we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT(voice over): What happens next is largely up to all of us individually.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D) NEW YORK: And if people take the right precautions, you don't necessarily need to see a rise in the number of cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEOTAPE) WATT: Now, Erin, the Mayor of Montgomery, the one who's running out
of ICU beds also preaching a message of individual responsibility today telling his city our cases have doubled in the past month, our deaths are going up, remember all that social distancing and hand washing you were doing, keep doing it. He was even thinking about putting a shelter in place just for the city.
But a spokesman has since clarified to us that they believe only the governor has that authority, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you very much.
And I want to go straight now to Dr. David Thrasher. He's a critical care doctor at Montgomery Pulmonary Consultants. And obviously, the Mayor of Montgomery, Dr. Thrasher is saying you're in trouble if you need a hospital bed right now talking about this doubling in cases. What is happening?
DR. DAVID THRASHER, MONTGOMERY PULMONARY CONSULTANTS: Well, we have had a dramatic increase in caseload over the last several weeks. Now, we do have ICU beds available. One of the big hospitals we converted, two have a normal regular ICUs and the COVID-only ICUs. All of the hospitals have floors that just house a COVID positive that don't need to be on ventilators.
So at one hospital we're keeping the ICU available for strokes and heart attacks. You can't convert the whole hospital to COVID-only. But we are tight on COVID beds. One of the hospitals tonight has no ICU beds available.
Now having said that, we will frequently use emergency rooms and other areas for ICUs particularly in the winter months. So you can get an ICU bed or an ICU setting, but it is getting tight. The numbers have dramatically increase.
Last weekend, my partner and I ran on a 140 patients over the weekend. That's twice the volume that we normally have. As of tonight, our group is running on about 132 patients and 110 of those I believe are COVID patients.
BURNETT: So look these numbers are pretty stunning and I know that you're talking about - you saw this surge happening even before the kind of broader reopening in the state. I know that you also, Doctor, have concern about the type of patient coming in to your hospital. Who is coming in? What sort of profile are you seeing? And I know there's a lot of question out there specifically about the age.
THRASHER: Sure. Well, across Alabama not just Montgomery about 40 percent of the admissions or excuse me, 40 percent of the patients or cases with COVID-19 are from age 25 to 50. Now, the 25 percent are from 50 to 65, another 25 percent over 65. Clearly, the number of deaths are greatest in the 65 plus area.
But having said that, we unfortunately have lost several - too many patients young, in the 30s or even younger. So it affects everybody and that's what everybody needs to realize. It's a real problem and nobody is immune.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Dr. Thrasher, I appreciate your time and I hope people hear this as - just the cautionary tale of how terrifying this is, how quickly it can come and how everybody is at rest. Thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT next, schools installing Plexiglas in South Korea to keep students safe. Is that something that could happen in this country? Well, the superintendents of two of America's largest school districts are OUTFRONT.
Plus, businesses struggling to get employees to come back to work and part of the problem is that many of them are being paid significantly more, a double more, a double on unemployment.
BURNETT: Tonight, a new model says the major cities and states that open too soon are in danger of seeing case spikes including Miami and Houston. Also, those cities happen to be home to this country's fourth and seventh largest school districts, hundreds of thousands of kids. So what does this mean for their decision to get kids back to school for sure in the fall, right?
OUTFRONT now, Alberto Carvalho. He is the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which is 345,000 students and the Interim Superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, Grenita Lathan. She oversees about 210,000 students. And I appreciate both of your time.
Superintendent Carvalho, let me start with you. You've said you're determined to open for the fall, you're going to have a reopening plan coming, I guess, in the next sort of five weeks or by the end of June. So what are you looking at now, when you say back in person, is that back in person five days a week full day or is it some hybrid or what are you thinking right now?
ALBERTO M. CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Well, Erin, number one, thanks for the opportunity. Look, we're all navigating these uncertain times and good leadership at this point, quite frankly, anticipates a number of scenarios and builds a reopening plan that contemplates the evolving nature of this virus over the summer. So we are hoping for a regular opening of school with teachers and students in schools, obviously, under modified conditions with greater social distancing between students, accessibility to food and cafeterias probably is a no-go. Food will be delivered to the classrooms.
But we will utilize also a number of platforms that have been successfully used in Miami, to be able to create hybrid learning environments following the CDC guidelines and the local advice from our health department. So, we are not ruling out any option. We are contemplating a number of
contingency plans as this virus evolves over the summer, and we'll be able to pivot to the best possible way of teaching kids without compromising their health or their safety.
BURNETT: So, Superintendent Lathan, I know you're looking at options for the fall as well. You know, I just saw this image, it sort of stood out. South Korea, plastic partitions are being used to help students practice social distancing. Xs on the table show young children where they can't sit.
In Denmark, students studied statistics in a graveyard as part of a push to move classes outdoors.
Look, some of these things may seem extreme, but are these the sorts of things that you would consider to resume in-person classes, this sort of extreme social distancing? You know, you can put a plastic partition in front of a teacher. Are these things on the table?
GRENITA LATHAN, INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT, HOUSTON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: Hi, Erin. Thank you for the opportunity tonight.
Yes. Everything's on the table currently. Because we want to ensure that our staff and our students can return to school full-time, but everyone is safe. We're looking at all options, indoor and outdoor classroom opportunities.
BURNETT: So I want to ask you all about how it's going so far. Superintendent Carvalho, you gave the parents of students a survey to see what they think about online learning.
BURNETT: Look, I'm a parent of public-school children as well. You know, you've got some really amazing teachers out there. But the online learning is really hard for kids and they're not learning online as much as they would in the classroom. I think that's just a fact. They're not.
What have parents told you?
CARVALHO: Well, you know, our survey was to determine three things. Number one, the challenges and difficulties that parents were facing. Secondly, we're actually probing the types of schooling, parents' expectations about next year. What they will be able to tolerate and that which is unacceptable.
Look, we very early on reached a 100 percent level of connectivity. And we've been averaging about 92 percent daily student attendance. But I agree with you.
Look, teaching and learning is best in a classroom with a caring teacher in front of students. However, that needs to be balanced out against safety and health concerns. That's why we are doing everything we can to anticipate a regular school opening, but under a number of different changes. For example, not only modifying the physical environment, utilizing what were used as common areas like gymnasiums and cafeterias to allow greater distance between students utilizing those as classrooms, but also utilizing technology.
For example, there's nothing that prevents a classroom of 20 students from convening on Monday with 12 students physically present with the teacher, the rest of them Zooming in to the classroom and then alternating it, staggering the arrival and departure of students to alleviate a little bit of the concentration.
CARVALHO: And then have common sense practices like cyclical washing of hands and intensifying the sanitizing cycles in schools.
BURNETT: Superintendent Lathan, you know, it's interesting Superintendent Carvalho was saying 92 percent of his kids have engaged with online learning. I know your numbers are similarly high. You say only 5 percent did not engage at all online.
But, look, that's 10,000 students in your districts. Just to give a sense. This is a lot of kids. I know your district estimates that 70,000 of your students don't have Internet access at home. Here in New York about $600 million worth of iPads being given out.
That's all fine and good. But you know, is all this going to be utilized? Are you worried that there are students who could really fall far behind and it is not something that will be caught up? If school doesn't reopen in the fall.
LATHAN: As an educator and also as a parent, I'm very concerned about the 10,000 students that we've been unable to reach. But I'm also concerned about the students that have engaged in our HSD at home learning platform because like I said nothing replaces face-to-face instruction with a teacher. But we are prepared as a district to continue with virtual learning in the fall. We are also prepared to intervention plans for awful of our students to catch them up and also to push them further ahead.
BURNETT: And how will you do that?
LATHAN: We will do that through -- whether it's virtual tutoring, face-to-face tutoring. Also we're providing mental health support for our students, also emotional support. We have wraparound specialists that are connecting our families to resources. Over 140 of our campuses have a full-time devoted wraparound specialist. We'll be adding an additional 16 wraparound specialists in the fall.
Also I'm excited to announce that we will be launching a mental health hotline within the next several days that our parents will be able to reach us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate both of your times very much.
CARVALHO: Thank you. BURNETT: I know this is unprecedented times and terrifying times. I know we all want our kids in school. Thank you so much.
CARVALHO: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, nearly 40 million Americans are now out of work. Tonight, the Senate left for the weekend without passing legislation that would have given businesses more relief.
Plus, Brazil breaking a record. Nearly 20,000 cases in 24 hours. This is now becoming one of the biggest hot spots in the world. The country's president continues to mock the virus, calling it a little flu.
We're live in Brazil tonight.
BURNETT: Tonight, another 2.4 million Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits, which brings the total to nearly 40 million since the pandemic began. But now, employers are facing another problem, getting their employees to come back to work.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello?
ANDRES NUNEZ, JOB DEVELOPER, RELIABLE STAFFING: How's it going? My name is Andrew and I'm calling from Reliable Staffing.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As businesses look to reopen --
NUNEZ: We're working during the COVID situation.
LAH: -- job recruiters like Andres Nunez search for people to take the jobs.
LAH: Yet one out of every five calls he makes --
NUNEZ: They don't want to come out. They don't want to come out because the price isn't right.
LAH (on camera): How does unemployment fit into that piece?
NUNEZ: People would rather just get the unemployment.
LAH (voice-over): Because in many cases, it pays more. Unemployment benefits average more than $350 a week nationwide in state benefits. Plus, an additional $600 per week in federal stimulus funding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before unemployment, I was lucky to make between $250 and $300 a week.
LAH: This recent college graduate who asked her name not be used was laid off from a bowling alley in Ohio in March. Her untaxed unemployment is three times her old take-home pay.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been able to pay off my car three months early.
LAH (on camera): You are making more money not working. What is -- what do you think about that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's lessening the stress of going back to work.
LAH (voice-over): Exposure to the virus is the biggest concern, she says, as the economy reopens.
(on camera): If the bowling alley calls and says, we want to hire you back, but you have this option of unemployment, which one do you choose?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You see, that's actually a hard question. This is the first time I felt financially stable in a long time. But then again, I'm very much the type of person where I like to feel like I'm earning my money in the same way. Like everyone has in my mind a right to live comfortably and not have to worry. And I think this level of unemployment money is allowing that to happen.
JOSH SOUDER, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, IE ENTERTAINMENT GROUP: How are you doing, guys?
LAH (voice-over): But that doesn't employers like Josh Souder.
SOUDER: I have employees that won't return my calls. I had one employee show up and quit two days later to go back on unemployment.
LAH: Souder runs the Drunken Crab in North Hollywood, California. When we met him at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, he had just laid off 75 employees.
SOUDER: I'm worried about having a heart attack to be perfectly honest with you.
LAH: Today, his dining room sits empty. Carry-out only. Unemployment verification requests are delivered by the handful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Would you like ranch with your Cajun fries?
LAH: A few employees are back. As far as the others?
SOUDER: The amount of money that people are make on unemployment right now quite honestly is more than what we were paying them before.
LAH (on camera): Do you feel like you're competing with unemployment? SOUDER: No question. I don't blame them. But we do need workers to
come back eventually. This is a limited amount of money that you will receive for a limited amount of time that will run out.
LAH: That federal stimulus money, the $600 per week, is set to expire at the end of July. And the woman you heard from, the unemployed woman you heard from in that story, says that this entire experience, Erin, has taught her that her wages are simply not high enough. Neither are the wages of a lot of hourly employees like the ones who work at this theater, especially when you consider college loans and health care -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Kyung, thank you very much.
I want to go to Jason Furman, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama.
And, Jason, look, I think that young woman there was just being honest and doing what economically anybody would do, right? If you're going to be paid three times more by unemployment benefits, you're going to take that. That is the rational thing to do. That was actually the point of the whole thing, was to keep people home.
So what do you do, though, now?
JASON FURMAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS UNDER OBAMA: Look, Erin, I think the biggest issue is we don't want people to go off a cliff at the end of July where all of a sudden it goes from $600 to zero dollars. The biggest problem in our economy is still that there aren't enough jobs for people, not that there aren't enough people motivated to get those jobs. We should -- we can phase it down. There are steps we could take to improve on it going into August. But it's important that something continue.
BURNETT: Right. Something continue. Larry Kudlow said today, you know, talking about the last recession, he said we learned, I quote him, that increasing and extending unemployment benefits are disincentives to work. I'd rather people went back to work.
It sounds like what you're saying is perhaps you would bring them down, you just wouldn't eliminate.
FURMAN: Yes. With a 3 percent unemployment rate, I would worry that unemployment benefits were keeping people from working. With a 15 percent unemployment rate, the problem we have now is there aren't enough jobs and if you cut the benefits too much, people will have less purchasing power. That will hurt the economy and there will be fewer jobs.
So, absolutely, continue this but start tapering it down, phasing it down, maybe changing the form. But we need to continue something.
BURNETT: Right. And you have to identify, right? The people who are choosing between two things, you want to encourage them to take the job, right?
FURMAN: Yeah. I mean, ideally you do something like if you're on unemployment you're going to get 90 percent, 85 percent of what you were getting on the job. You'd have an incentive to go back. Plus, you get the benefits of the workplace.
And people are nervous.
They want to be in jobs. They want to be in jobs for the longer term. A formula like that I think would work better than this extra $600 a month for the next phase -- $600 a week for the next phase of the recovery.
BURNETT: All right. Jason, thank you very much.
FURMAN: Thanks for having me.
BURNETT: And next, it's home to a record number of new cases, crippling hospitals, not enough protective equipment, and a president who has been mocking the virus. What's happening in Brazil is stunning, and we are live there tonight.
And Michigan facing multiple crises. A massive flood now forcing 10,000 people to evacuate.
BURNETT: New tonight, Brazil setting a new record for deaths in a single day with confirmed cases now topping 300,000. Staggering figures that have propelled Latin America past the United States and Europe for the most new cases worldwide.
It comes as the Brazilian president has consistently downplayed the threat of the virus, even attending massive rallies.
Nick Paton Walsh is OUTFRONT.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Sao Paolo, the biggest city and hottest spot for the coronavirus in Brazil, but deathly quiet. Outside in hospital, no new patients arriving on ambulances is not a good sign. In fact, it spells the worst because this huge ICU has run out of beds.
What's startling here is the peak is well over a week away from hitting Brazil, and already this enormous ICU is full. And in between the beds there is a growing sense of anxiety, fear really, about what lies ahead.
Doctors here have heard President Jair Bolsonaro dismiss the disease as a little flu. But presidential platitudes haven't protected them. One of their nurses died two days ago. Inside this room is one of the team's doctors on a ventilator and another tested positive this day. JACQUES SZTAJNBOK, EMILIO RIBAS INFECTIOUS DISEASES INSTITUTE: Never
before like this time because we have never lost a colleague in this intensive care before. Yes, that it's not a flu. It's the worst thing we have ever faced in our professional lives.
WALSH: Are you worried for your life here?
SZTAJNBOK: Yeah. Yes.
WALSH: It's a virus that stifles and silences. Suddenly here there is commotion. One patient, a woman in her 40s, has had cardio respiratory failure. The doctor's heavy pumps is the only thing keeping her alive, but after 40 minutes, it's clear she can't survive. The tubes are disconnected and she's wheeled out.
The space will be needed. It all happens so fast, but leaves a long scar.
A scene so distant from presidential rallies, masks now common much of the time. But wealth put before health.
We have to be brave, he says, to face this virus. Are people dying? Yes, they are, but I'll regret that, but many more are going to die if the economy continues to be destroyed because of these lockdown measures.
The holes here in the hills above Sao Paulo are not ready for a recession, though, endless fresh graves for the dead who also seem to never stop arriving.
In Brazil, the numbers are already staggering and it's clear, it's not the entire picture because testing simply isn't as widespread as they would like. But everywhere you go, you see the people understand this is just the beginning.
WALSH: Now, the numbers in the last 24 hours, awful frankly, 1,188 dead. That's a record for Brazil. They crossed the 20,000 dead mark in total, and nearly 20,000 new cases. That's pretty much a daily occurrence we're seeing.
Latin America itself increasingly becoming the global hot spots for three days in a row. It's had more new cases than the United States and Europe has had. Something is startling here. It already feels very morbid, Erin, deserted. But as you heard in that report, the peak is probably a week or two weeks away.
Back to you.
BURNETT: Right, and just to state the obvious. You're talking about a tropical country.
Thank you very much, Nick Paton Walsh. Those graves just eerie.
Next, 10,000 people displaced by massive flooding in Michigan as the state, of course, is grappling with the growing coronavirus cases now.
BURNETT: Tonight, 10,000 people out of their homes during a pandemic.
Ryan Young OUTFRONT.
TOM LESSL, EVACUEE: Kind of eerie, you know? I mean, you're right in the middle of a damn pandemic, but, you know, you come here.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): About 11,000 evacuated across central Michigan, 100 of those people forced into this shelter in Midland High School, waiting for the water to go down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen other floods, but not like this.
YOUNG: This is why. Intense rain caused the nearly 100-year-old Edenville and Sanford dams to breach Tuesday, sending water crashing downstream.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was actually a small house floating in the river, a blue house that was going down river. It was tragic the amount of people affected by this.
YOUNG: Parts of the city of Midland, Michigan, under water. Businesses and homes flooded. Stop signs are below the surface, and kayaks paddle down the streets.
LOONY MILLS, HOME DAMAGED BY FLOODWATERS CAUSED BY DAM BREAK: It's heartbreaking.
YOUNG: These drone pictures is the first time Loony Mills has seen his house since the flood.
MILLS: I came here expect being the worst and I saw it.
YOUNG (on camera): Would you be back, do you think you'll rebuild?
MILLS: Have to.
YOUNG (voice-over): But this disaster may have been preventable. The federal government warned for more than a decade the Edenville dam could not handle a massive flood. And in 2018, it revoked the owner's license to operate it.
A local task force was given a preliminary permit to take over the dam. But for now, the shelters are trying to keep people who can't go home safe while avoiding spreading the virus.
JERRY WASSERMAN, SHELTER ORGANIZER: We have a very senior population here, so the consequence, I was not going to come for lack of a better word, a New York nursing home. We're not going to have that on my shift here. And so, we are taking extra precautions.
YOUNG: Everyone's temperatures are checked at the door. Surfaces are constantly scrubbed down, and beds are cleaned.
(on camera): You can see stickers like this one that say "clean." the reason why is when they put the bedding together, they make sure they wipe it all down with Clorox, use fresh sheets and they want to make sure each one is indicated so they know it's safe.
So far, shelter organizers say they have not seen anyone with symptoms of the virus. Though across Michigan, the number of cases continues to go up while Midland waits for the water to go down.
Ryan Young, CNN, Midland, Michigan.
BURNETT: And thanks to Ryan and thanks to all of you for joining us.
CNN's coronavirus town hall starts now.