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Trump Falsely Claims Michigan Sent Absentee Ballots to All Voters; CDC Director Warns of Second Wave of Coronavirus; Gunman Shoots Three People at Arizona Mall; New Study Explains Why Children May Be Less Impacted by Virus. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 21, 2020 - 06:00   ET



TEDROS ADHANOM, DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: In the last 24 hours, there have been 106,000 cases reported to WHO, the most in a single day since the outbreak began.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tension simmering between the White House and the CDC.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are health experts. So if you aren't listening to the leaders of the CDC, I'm not sure who you will listen to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think Robert Redfield is doing a good job.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A 50-state experiment now in full swing.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If people get arrogant, people get cocky, you will see that infection rate go up. This has always been about what we do.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, May 21, 6 a.m. here in New York.

And new this morning, a nervous gaze to the south. A brand-new interview with the embattled CDC director, Robert Redfield, where he warns of a regrouped attack of coronavirus in the fall and winter and does not rule out the possibility of a new lockdown.

What concerns him is the evidence, the data, what is happening before our eyes in Brazil. As the southern hemisphere gets closer to winter, there's been a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and deaths, and Redfield is concerned that that could come back to the United States. This comes after the World Health Organization reported the largest

single-day increase in virus cases since the pandemic began. Overnight, global coronavirus cases surpassed 5 million.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump heads to Michigan today after falsely claiming that Michigan and Nevada were sending absentee ballots to all voters and threatening to withhold federal funding. Both are battleground states.

And all they did was send applications for absentee ballots to some voters.

Now, remember, the president had himself votes by mail-in ballot, but for some reason he does not want anyone else to do so.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Omar Jimenez. He is live at the Ford plant in Michigan where the president will be today. So what do we expect, Omar?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, for starters, President Trump has been escalating what has seemed to be an ongoing fight with state officials here. This time around, the governor and secretary of state over mail-in voting, as he's set to visit this Ford plant here behind me in the Detroit area later today.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): President Trump pushing this fallacy over voting by mail as states navigate how to hold elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.

TRUMP: Mail-in ballots are very dangerous. There's tremendous fraud involved and tremendous illegality.

JIMENEZ: That's after Trump twice tweeted and deleted this false claim, writing, "Michigan sent absentee ballots illegally and without authorization by a rogue secretary of state" and threatening to "hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this voter fraud path."

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer responding to Trump's allegations.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): To see Twitter this morning and to see rhetoric like that is disheartening, because I think it first shows you that there maybe was a lack of understanding of what the secretary of state was doing. She said we're going to mail applications, not mail ballots.

We've got to take politics of this crisis moment.

JIMENEZ: Shortly afterward, President Trump posted a third tweet, once again attacking Michigan's secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, who says every registered voter has the right to vote by mail.

JOCELYN BENSON (D), MICHIGAN SECRETARY FO STATE: This is a time of true great uncertainty, and so what we did by mailing every registered voter and application to vote by mail in our state, was to give them an ounce of certainty that our elections will happen this year.

JIMENEZ: The White House defending Trump when reminded he cast a mail- in vote earlier this year.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is, after all, the president, which means he's here in Washington. He's unable to cast his vote down in Florida, his state of residence. So for him, that's why he had to do a mail-in vote.

But he supports mail-in voting for a reason. When you have a reason that you are unable to be present. There's -- right now we're very far from November 3.

JIMENEZ: Later today, Trump will tour this Ford plant outside Detroit, now outfitted to manufacture ventilators and PPE. The facility requires everyone to wear masks at all times. Once again, the president did not commit to do so.

TRUMP: I don't know. I haven't even thought of it. It depends. I mean, you know, in certain areas I would and certain areas I don't. But I will certainly look at it. It depends on what situation. Am I standing right next to everybody, or am I spread out? I'm going to a plant. So we'll see. Where it's appropriate, I would do it, certainly.

JIMENEZ: Meanwhile, as tension between the White House and CDC shows no sign of stopping, one senior administration official tells CNN there are informal discussions about what to do with its director, Dr. Robert Redfield.

Another source said Redfield, who privately dismissed concerns about his job security last week, is now concerned he may have a target on his back. Behind closed doors, sources tell CNN Trump privately criticized the CDC at a Senate lunch with Republican senators. The president denied that reporting.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Do you think Robert Redfield is doing a good job?

TRUMP: Yes, I do. I do. It's fake news.

COLLINS: You didn't complain about the CDC?

TRUMP: No, not at all.


JIMENEZ: Now, in President Trump's visit later today, I've heard from at least one source there is the concern about the potential of President Trump not wearing a mask, a source inside this plant.

And then overall, on the president's previous complaint on voter mail fraud, it is pretty rare. In fact, the Brennan Center for Justice looked at five states where mail balloting is the primary form of voting. Those are states like California -- or excuse me, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah and Hawaii. And none of them had any voter fraud scandals, John. [06:05:05]

BERMAN: Very important to note that, Omar. Thank you very much for being there for us. Appreciate it.

Joining us now, Dr. Ali Khan. He's the former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the CDC and currently the dean of Public Health at the university of Nebraska Medical Center and the author of the book "The Next Pandemic."

Also with us, with an equally august resume, CNN political analyst David Gregory.

Dr. Khan, I want to start with you with what we heard from Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, overnight. I don't imagine the president is going to like to hear this.

But Dr. Redfield is simply looking south to Brazil and very concerned with the fact that they just had their largest single-day increase number of cases, highest number of deaths they've seen there.

And what Dr. Redfield said is, quote, "We've seen the evidence that the concerns it would go south in the southern hemisphere like flu are coming true, and you're seeing what's happening in Brazil now. And then when the southern hemisphere is over, I suspect it will regroup itself in the north."

I know you, too, are looking at this pandemic and are concerned there will be this second wave or a continued wave into the fall and winter.


So this is really another good example of the excellent CDC science. And even though we talk about pandemic, this is over 200 different epidemics playing out worldwide and even here in the United States. It's 50 different epidemics in the United States.

So we are reopening America, hopefully safely. But fundamentally, very little has changed. Instead of 100 percent of people at risk back in February, now there's 95 percent of people at risk. And Dr. Redfield is cautioning us that 95 percent of Americans are still at risk of getting infected with this deadly virus.

CAMEROTA: And Dr. Khan, one of the other things that Dr. Redfield said in this exclusive interview was -- and I will read it for you: "Asked whether he could guarantee the U.S. would not have to go back into lockdown this winter, he replied, 'I can't guarantee. That's kind of getting into opinion mode. We have to be data-driven. What I can say is that we are committed to using the time that we have now to get the nation as overprepared as possible."

Of course he can't guarantee it. No one knows what's going to happen in the winter. But the thing that he said would help avoid a catastrophe in the winter is the tracking capability and contact tracing. We've heard that a million times at this point. So whose job is it,

Dr. Khan, for that tracing capacity to start now?

KHAN: So I love these questions where people want to talk about the second wave in the fall, and I tell people we haven't finished surfing the first wave now. We still have 20,000 cases in America every day today. So that's going to translate to 100 to 200 deaths from every -- every day in America from peaking five weeks ago.

And so that capability needs to be in place today, not in the fall. And that responsibility is your state and local health departments. And we all need to hold them accountable, because as we open up and try to open up safely, you know, all this wonderful work by (AUDIO GAP) only works if there's low level transmission within our communities.


BERMAN: I couldn't agree with you more on that. And I would say there were 1,500 new deaths yesterday. And how there are some people in this country who have conditioned themselves to looking at 1,500 new deaths as good news is beyond me.

David, I promise we're going to get to you in just one second. But the doctor has got some sweet "Dr. Strange" comics behind him, and I'm going to trade him a "Power Man" and "Iron Fist" for one of those in a second.

Doctor, there was a new study out of Columbia overnight also. And it gets to what we're talking about, which is why I just want to stay on this one more second, which is that, had the stay-at-home orders in the U.S. gone in place one week earlier, just one week earlier in March, this study out of Columbia says that 36,000 lives would have been saved. That's instructive for now and for going forward, isn't it?

KHAN: Right. But it's also self-evident, right? That the -- the better prepared we had been, the earlier we'd have had data about what was going on in the country, the sooner -- the sooner we would have made decisions about closing borders and about lockdown and identifying cases.

So the study is self-evident that the sooner we had taken appropriate measures, the less deaths and less cases we would have had.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but David Gregory, it's still very interesting, because we've heard so many people say that the Trump administration was slow on the uptake to acknowledge the gravity of the pandemic and to share it with the American public. And now we can quantify how dangerous that slow response was in terms of number of deaths. But go ahead, David.

GREGORY: Yes. It's chilling to look at. Just -- just the difference. And, you know, you can remember March 11, Wednesday, March 11 was this real tipping point. You had Dr. Fauci speaking about the need to -- he was talking about sports and playing to empty arenas. And it was that night that, in Oklahoma City, they realized that one of the players had been infected, and they sent people home. And that really had a cascading effect. The president spoke that night. So that loss of time is critical.


And you know, you have to also look at the leadership in New York state and New York City, as well as the federal level, for what wasn't known.

I think this -- this -- I wanted to make a comment about where we go moving forward, because I think one of the very uncomfortable questions that's going to be posed to public health officials as we move -- as we're still dealing with what we're dealing with now and then thinking about a return or a resurgence of the virus is, in effect, how much death is acceptable?

Because we have to make those calculations all the time. And there is going to be increased pressure to not just continue to open but to keep states open and live with the virus as safely as possible for the sake of the economy.

BERMAN: David, I love that you articulated that, because that is the question that every public official needs to answer and we need to pose to them. They need to explain how much risk they're willing to accept and what that means.

For instance, how much risk are you willing to accept, David, in voting, which is why I believe that we've seen the biggest, you know, a very large "WTF" moment in the last 24 hours, where the president didn't just lie about what Michigan was doing with mail-in voting, but he basically threatened to withhold relief funds to a state, actually several states, if they tried to make voting safer. If they tried to make mail-in balloting more accessible.

Now he backed off some of that. But it's just extraordinary. It's just extraordinary that he would threaten people's health over ballot access.

GREGORY: Yes. I mean, I thought -- I thought his press secretary kind of gave -- gave up the game when she said the point is that you use mail-in voting unless there's a reason you can't be there in person, which is what everybody is talking about.

If it's unsafe to be there in person, then mail-ins should be an option, just like it is now for the president for him to vote in Florida; as it is for members of the military; for students and for others.

Again, you know, everyone should be able to vote. And this becomes a game of how to suppress the vote if you think that helps you. And there are Republicans who think -- who think that helps them. And the president appears to be one of them.

But there's no basis. I mean, again, we're going to have to do this test about how much risk is acceptable and how to make in-person voting as safe as possible. And I have no doubt that states want to do that.

But you're going to have to have mail-in voting as an option, especially when I don't see what the evidence of fraud is or has been up until now.

CAMEROTA: Right. No -- David, no secretaries --

KHAN: If I can interject --

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Doctor.

KHAN: I don't think this is a dichotomy of you have -- of cases and of health versus opening up. So we have lots of examples throughout Asia now and slowly as Europe opens up. We can drop cases down into the teens. We just need to have that commitment to drop cases down into the teens.

So actually, this is aberrant what we're seeing in the U.S., to continue to have these 20,000-odd cases five weeks after we peaked.

CAMEROTA: And why is that, Doctor? What are we doing wrong?

KHAN: We're not -- we're not testing enough people in the United States. We're not identifying these cases and isolating them. We don't have enough contact tracers out there, finding all these people's contacts, putting them in quarantine for two weeks. And we're not just doing -- we're not doing basic public health, essentially.

CAMEROTA: OK. On that note, we really appreciate both of you. Dr. Ali Khan, David Gregory, thank you very much.

GREGORY: Thanks.

KHAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Big question we're all facing. What will it take kids to get back in the classroom? Join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta tonight for a new coronavirus town hall with a special appearance by first lady Melania Trump. That's tonight at 8 p.m.

All right. Breaking overnight. A gunman opens fire at an Arizona shopping mall. Several people are hurt. We're getting new information into the newsroom. Breaking details next.



CAMEROTA: In news overnight, Arizona police say a gunman opened fire at a Phoenix area mall. Authorities are investigating online videos linked to this shooting.

CNN's Josh Campbell joins us now with the breaking details. What do we know at this hour, Josh?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, well, during this pandemic, thought we had a pandemic from the type of incident we've seen so commonly in the United States, an armed person targeting the innocent. That's not the case.

A terrific scene -- or a horrific scene, rather, last night for the residents in Glendale, Arizona, which is just outside of Phoenix. Police say that a gunman arrived there at this shopping mall, opened fire. Three people suffered gunshot wounds. Police say that one person remains in critical condition.

Now, as far as the shooter, we're not naming him yet. Police say that there is a lot of investigating to be done on him. They don't yet have a motive. But an official there described how that arrest went down.


OFFICER TIFFANY NGALULA, GLENDALE POLICE DEPARTMENT: After the shooting began, when our first officers arrived on scene, there were no longer any reports of any active shooting from our dispatchers who advised that they -- those first officers arriving heard no further gunshots. We were able to locate that suspect in the West Gate area. Our officers challenged that suspect and were able to safely take that person into custody.


CAMPBELL: Now, again, a horrific scene there. There was a state senator at the mall who allegedly witnessed this incident. He actually tweeted out what he was seeing, saying that he saw an armed terrorist with an AR-15 that was shooting up the mall. He also indicated that he saw two of the victims.


Now, police have been working overnight to scour that shopping mall, again, a large area. We're told that there was an infusion of resources from the nearby area to include agents from the ATF and the FBI looking for additional victims. We're told that they found none. Also looking for additional evidence.

Now, police say, again, they don't have a motive. They're continuing to investigate the shooter himself.

There has been a video, police say, that they are aware of that was circulating on social media that has not been confirmed to be associated with the shooter. We did talk to someone who said that they posted this video, that they knew the shooter. Again, that hasn't been confirmed.

But I want to show you this one graphic from that. This is an image that we've seen so often in these incidents. A high-powered type assault rifle allegedly used here. Again, we're working to confirm that ourselves.

But again, for residents, a horrific night. People that are out, you know, trying to, you know, shop at a retail store only to be faced by gunfire -- John. BERMAN: A new level of concern. The last thing people wanted to see.

Josh, thanks very much for being with us.

New concern this morning for the health of grocery store workers after a union said dozens have died from coronavirus. Meantime, airlines are taking new measures to keep passengers safe. CNN has reporters covering all these stories.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: I'm Erica Hill in New York, where starting today, religious services with ten people or less can be held across the state.

The governor saying that strict social distancing and mask wearing should be enforced. He's also allowing drive-in and parking lot services. And the governor says he's convened an interfaith advisory council to look at bringing back religious services as the state moves forward.


The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union says that 68 of its workers have died, and more than 10,000 have either tested positive for or been exposed to COVID-19.

Now, the union cautions the numbers across the country are likely much higher, because these are just internal numbers that they've developed from companies that they represent.

They continue to push for hazard pay, noting that the pandemic has not ended. Workers spoke on a press call about the challenges they're now facing, including getting customers to wear masks. One employee at a Kroger in Michigan, Christine, said that masks have now become a political war. Employees are scared. The union is now calling for stores to hire security.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Pete Montine covering travel in Virginia. And commercial airlines are coming up with new policies to protect passengers.

United Airlines just announced that it will partner with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to guide its health practices. JetBlue has said that it will now keep planes less full through July 6. United and JetBlue are the latest to come up with these policies in the absence of requirements from the federal government.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Paula Newton in Ottawa, where Canada has decided to recommend that all Canadians where nonmedical masks when out in public.

Now, this is a change from policy just a couple of months ago when Canada's top doctor said she didn't know the benefits of wearing a mask. She says now the science has evolved. And unlike U.S. President Donald Trump and members of his administration, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will be wearing a mask at all times in public when he cannot social distance.


BERMAN: Our thanks to our reporters across the country.

So one of the biggest and most important questions of this pandemic has been why aren't children seemingly as affected as adults? Overnight, a new study with a possible answer. It might be about the nose. Next.


CAMEROTA: Developing this morning, a new study may explain why children are less likely than adults to get sick from coronavirus. CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with details.

Elizabeth, this has been a mystery for weeks. We've been wondering why children aren't as affected. And now there may be an answer, and it has something to do with nasal receptors in the nose. Kids don't have as many as adults?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is so interesting, Alisyn. What they did -- this is at Mount Sinai in New York, is they looked inside the noses of about 300 people, both children and adults.

And so for any infection, a virus enters through by basically there's a receptor that kind of lets the virus into the cell. Think of it as like a doorway. And so they found that children had fewer of these doorways, many fewer than adults did.

And so they're thinking this might be part of the reason. It probably doesn't explain it 100 percent. But it might be part of the reason why children seem to have fewer symptoms, have less serious disease, is they have fewer receptors in the cell.

This was published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," so this has been peer-reviewed. So, you know, that's definitely a positive part of this.

BERMAN: Really interesting. Has to be with kids being built differently, at least for a while.

COHEN: Right.

BERMAN: But Elizabeth, it doesn't get to what is still one of the big questions out there, which is that kids versus adults, in terms of being vectors. In terms of passing the virus on, infecting other people. What do we know about that?

COHEN: Right. That's -- that's still an open question. You know, when our children were little, my husband and I called them our little disease vectors. And we meant it in the most loving way.

But any parent knows that very little children are, you know, spread -- they come home from daycare and they -- preschool, and they spread everything everywhere. And so we don't know what the case is with COVID. We don't know how much they are vectors, since they don't seem to get such severe symptoms. Although we do know, in rare cases, they get terrible symptoms and sometimes even die.

But the doctors that I've been talking to, the infectious disease experts, say, look, we -- you know, there's every reason to think that this would be similar to other viruses, so maybe they don't get as sick, but they bring it home to us, or even worse, to grandma and grandpa and get them sick.

So we still do need to think about children as our little disease vectors.