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New Study on Children and Coronavirus; Unemployment Numbers for Last Week; Evacuations Underway as Flooding Hits Virginia and North Carolina; North Carolina Begins Reopening Restaurants Tomorrow; Susan Rice Email is No Smoking Gun. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 21, 2020 - 06:30   ET



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: 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.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Elizabeth, there's been questions over the past couple of weeks, where is Dr. Fauci. He has not been as visible. He hasn't been as vocal. We haven't heard from him every day as we were for a while.

"The Washington Post" does have a quote from him from yesterday and it's really interesting because he talks about the timetable for a vaccine. Here it is. People don't understand that because when they hear Operation Warp Speed they think, oh, my God, they're jumping over all these steps and they're going to put us at risk.

He doesn't like the term Operation Warp Speed that has been used to describe the vaccine race.

COHEN: You know, I will tell you, Alisyn, I've spoken with many infectious disease experts who completely agree with him. As a matter of fact, they're like, why would you name something like this Operation Warp Speed. That makes it sounds like we're skipping over all the safety measures, of which there are many built into a clinical trial. If there's something you don't want to do at warp speed, it's a vaccine.

We're going to give a vaccine to, you know, hundreds of millions of people in this country. to hopefully the whole population. Do we really want to rush this? Does it really help to get it done two, three months earlier or whatever amount of time if it's not safe? There's already so much mistrust of vaccines. This is not something you want to skip. This is not something you want to rush. So I have definitely talked to many infectious disease experts who really cringe at this name.

Of course you want to move quickly. Of course you want to jump over, you know, certain kinds of things that are more bureaucratic. You know, I mean, the FDA does not always move quickly. Of course you want the FDA to move quickly, but in a safe way. We don't want to skip over the safety measures. CAMEROTA: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for all of the


COHEN: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: America's unemployment crisis continues to grow. We have new numbers that will show how bad it is today and we'll tell you how high the unemployment rate could be as of today.



CAMEROTA: This morning, the Labor Department will release new numbers on America's unemployment crisis. Economists estimate that roughly 2.4 million more Americans filed for unemployment last week. And that would bring the total number to 39 million people since this pandemic broke out.

Joining us now is CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans and CNN anchor and correspondent Julia Chatterley.

Gosh, Christine, just the numbers just get more and more jaw-dropping. So what are you looking at this morning?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think the way to think about it is here, we are in a very, very deep hole and every week more people are filing for unemployment benefits. Nine weeks in a row in the millions.

Now, remember, a couple of those weeks it was 6 million plus. So 2, 2.5, 3 million is an improvement from those horrific numbers. But we're still in this very deep hole. You've got an unemployment rates that's, you know, probably going to hit 25 percent. I mean all the economists are very concerned about what's happening here in April and May.

Now, the question is, how long do we stay in this hole and what kind of long-term damage does it do to workers in the labor market. And we just don't know the answer to that.

CAMEROTA: Julia, the unemployment rate, I mean it's just -- you know, when we -- when we first heard people start using the term 25 percent, things like that, it seemed unimaginable.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It still does, to be honest. It doesn't matter how many times we have this discussion on a Thursday, it never fails to shock and stun us, I think when we're talking about one in five workers in the workforce, in the United States. It's -- it is tough to imagine and we'll continue to be in that situation.

There's something to watch, though, very closely when we get these numbers today. It's now not just about the potential 39 million people who have said, look, I'm afraid for my job, I've lost my job or I've been furloughed, it's how many we can bring back into the workforce and how quickly.

There's something else that you have to watch. There's something called continuing claims. And that's the people that are actually getting their hands on benefits. So they are officially unemployed. There were actually 16 states in the week before last that saw the number of people actually getting benefits drop. That could be very early signs of jobs coming back.

I'm looking for a silver lining in very dark clouds, but we have to watch this because that will give us a sense of just how many people are actually unemployed and how many jobs are coming back.

CAMEROTA: OK, good to know.

Christine, today, President Trump is going to Michigan. He's going to go to a Ford plant. At the very same time that we find out that two Ford plants have stopped production, one in Chicago, one in Dearborn, Michigan, because of fears about Covid.


CAMEROTA: At least one employee has gotten or tested positive. And this is after they already thought it was safe to reopen those plants.

ROMANS: They have been closed for a couple of months and then they -- this week they started reopening and right away they found a case -- a couple of cases of Covid-19 and they shut down again very quickly before deep cleaning and, you know, the contact tracing and then opening again.

I think what this really illustrates, Alisyn, is the fits and starts of reopening. Companies know they have to be very nimble here and ready to shut down at a moment's notice to make sure they can keep their -- their workers safe. And the factory floors and office buildings, everything's going to look a lot different. You're not going to have crowd elevators. You're not going to have assembly lines where there are two or three people clustered together at a single work station. You're going to have social distancing and you're going have testing and temperature monitoring in all of these places to make sure that these companies can keep their people safe and get back to work. So it's fits and starts. I think that's what happened at those Ford plants and I expect a lot of other businesses the same thing will happen.

CAMEROTA: I think that's really interesting. And it's an interesting way to look at it. So they're much more responsive when they get a positive test, Julia. However, I can only imagine the disruption to production that those fits and starts cause.

CHATTERLEY: Huge disruption. We've been asking this question, can you keep your workers safe while running an efficient business. But, Alisyn, I think you make a great point, testing works.


They spotted these individuals. They've put them into quarantine. Ford said to them -- said when they -- when they announced this that, look, these cases didn't arrive in our operations. We caught them, of these people coming in. It illustrates the need for all these businesses to ramp up testing if you want to bring such huge chunks of workforce back.

Remember, Ford had brought around 80 percent. We've also seen GM, Fiat Chrysler bring around a third of workers back. So they're being far more slow and moderate in how they faze this. Slow, steady is the safest way to do this. And this is going to be a huge challenge for business operations. It's going to cost money.

CAMEROTA: Christine, very quickly, is the stock market accurately reflecting what's happening right now?

ROMANS: I hear this so much. People look at this deep hole we're in. They know people who have lost their jobs. The Census Bureau says, you know, 50 percent of American families have lost money, have earned less money over the past month or two, and yet the stock market is at a two and a half month high. And, you know, it's -- and higher on the year for the Nasdaq, actually.

Look, it's lots of stimulus from the Fed, lots of expectations for more fiscal stimulus and a stock market that's looking way ahead, past this moment to a pretty rosie outlook for a v-shaped recovery next year. The stock market might be getting ahead of itself here, but certainly it's a very different look on main street than you're seeing on Wall Street right now.

CAMEROTA: Christine, Julia, thank you both very much for all of the information. We'll have you back when the jobless claims come out.

All right, a quick programming note. CNN's Fareed Zakaria investigates the moment the pandemic was born in a CNN special report. It's this Sunday night, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

So there's major flooding concern this morning as heavy rain falls in North Carolina and Virginia. Chad Myers has our forecast, next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, happening now, evacuations underway in Roanoke, Virginia, as heavy rain continues to fall there. Life-threatening flooding is expected in Virginia and North Carolina.

CNN's meteorologist Chad Myers tracking it all for us.

Chad, what are you seeing?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John, the same area that picked up rain overnight is going to pick up more today. It's that same storm that put the rain down in Michigan. It hasn't moved very far. Only now to the Carolinas and Virginia. A lot more rain to come today. That red area there right around Roanoke, really the most likely area to see any kind of flood threat today. The biggest flood threat for sure. We are going to see the watches and the warnings, even flash flood warnings as we speak right now around the Roanoke area.

The rain is going to continues for today. We're going to see the rain here. This is what's already come down. The red areas here, almost four to six inches on the ground already running off. And more rain to come today. This is what the radar is going to look like all night long.

Now, not that widespread, but when we get these big, heavy red cells, that area can put down two to four inches of rain in just an hour. Very, very heavy tropical-like rain showers from Greensboro down to Wilmington, almost all the way up to the western suburbs of Washington, D.C. Today is going to be a day that you do not want to drive into floodwaters. Turn around. Don't drown.


CAMEROTA: OK, thank you very much for that warning, Chad.

All right, restaurants and hair salons set to open tomorrow in North Carolina. The Democratic governor of that battleground state has been more cautious than his southern neighbors and President Trump is taking notice.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is live in Charlotte for us with more.

Hi, Jeff.


The state by state approach has made North Carolina a bit of a southern outlier. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is not apologizing for taking this slow and measured approach, particularly more so than his neighboring red state. Now, that has drawn him some praise and considerable criticism here in North Carolina, including from President Trump, who has his eye on this state for a different reason.


STEVE THANHAUSER, OWNER, THE ANGUS BARN: We will use this when we open. There won't be a bar. It will just be small tables.

ZELENY (voice over): The Angus Bar in Raleigh has been closed more than two months. But, Friday night, the dining room will open again here and in restaurants across North Carolina. It's the last state in the south to do so, fueling criticism and controversy.

THANHAUSER: Anger is out there. I think a lot of desperation and a lot of just, they have exhausted all their patience.

ZELENY: The politics of reopening the American economy is now at the center of a national debate. But Steve Thanhauser hopes it stays out of his steakhouse.

THANHAUSER: There's no reason that this should be political. This is -- this is very black and white. ZELENY: In this election year, there may be no such thing.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): You know, I think, unfortunately, as this pandemic has -- has gone on, people have begun to use it for political purposes. And that's concerning because we're talking about life or death situations for people.

ZELENY: Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has taken measured steps to restart the economy. He's allowing restaurants at reduced capacity and barber shops and salons with appointments only to open Friday.

Republican leaders have condemned his approach.

COOPER: This is not political. This is not emotional. This is based on health experts, data and science, and that's it, for everybody to see.

ZELENY: Democratic governors in key battleground states have been called out by President Trump. But a difference in North Carolina is that neighboring states have reopened faster and more aggressively, making Cooper a southern outlier. The president has blasted North Carolina's response, saying, they're playing politics, as you know, by delaying the openings.

But his politics are also at play. He's eyeing the Republican Convention, now scheduled for August in Charlotte.


It's an open question how and whether that convention will unfold.

ZELENY (on camera): So President Trump says you're playing politics. You say back to him, Mr. President --

COOPER: Mr. President, we are all in this together. We've got to acknowledge this virus is highly contagious. We want to open the economy, too, but let's do it the right way.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R-NC): This Friday I can get a haircut.

ZELENY (voice over): Pat McCrory is the state's former Republican governor, defeated four years ago by Cooper. For more than a decade, he also served as mayor of Charlotte and now delivers opinion on talk radio.

MCCRORY: If President Trump loses North Carolina, he probably loses the presidency. So it is extremely important to the Republicans and to the president to make sure that we get our message across, and the convention is a major part of messaging.

ZELENY: For weeks he's been calling on North Carolina to reopen faster. There will be fallout come November he believes, but for who remains unclear.

MCCRORY: I think voters are going to be determining between now and November who played politics with the decisions. Both good and bad politics. The interesting question will be, will this be over by the time of the election?


ZELENY: Now, the pandemic is an unmistakable part of the election now. It is part of that red/blue divide in American politics.

But, Alisyn, so interestingly, the measured approach here has been considerably different than Georgia. About half the number of cases and almost half the number of deaths as well. So Governor Cooper does not apologize for that. But North Carolina, a fascinating laboratory here for the politics of reopening that will be coming over the next six month.


CAMEROTA: Yes, agreed.

Yes, Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much for reporting on the ground there.


CAMEROTA: So coming up, what we know about Secretary Pompeo's push to fire the State Department's inspector general. The explanation some senators are now getting, next.



BERMAN: So, this morning, a smoking gun or a hot smoking plate of nothing? With 93,000 Americans dead, a remarkable look now at what the president wants you to look at and what just isn't there.

John Avlon now with a "Reality Check."


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: In search of a scandal to fit the slogan Obama-gate, earlier this week Republican senators requested that the acting director of national intelligence declassify an e-mail that a former Obama national security adviser, Susan Rice, had said herself on Inauguration Day. The implication was that this would be a smoking gun that unlocked the often alleged conspiracy to spy on the incoming administration. But rarely have we seen a supposed smoking gun fizzle as fast as the declassified Susan Rice e-mails.

Now, the e-mail memorialized a January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting, which included then Vice President Joe Biden after an intelligence briefing on Russia's interference in our election. At issue was the then undisclosed contacts between incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador, which ultimately got Flynn fired for lying 24 days into the administration and led to his guilty plea before his prosecution was abandoned by AG Bill Barr earlier this month. But instead of proving nefarious wrongdoing, Rice's e-mail showed that

behind closed doors President Obama emphasized his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue was handled by intelligence and law enforcement communities by the book. According to Rice, President Obama stressed that he's not asking about initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. In a portion that had previously been classified, Obama asked then FBI Director James Comey if concerns about Flynn's contacts with the Russians meant that the National Security Council should not pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn. Rice wrote that Comey replied, potentially, adding that he had no indication thus far that Flynn has passed classified information to Kislyak. But he noted that the level of communication is unusual.

Yes, it is unusual to have an incoming national security adviser have repeated undisclosed contacts with an ambassador from a country that had just interfered in our elections to benefit the president-elect.

As our colleague Chris Cillizza summed up, the Rice e-mail shows the Obama team were caught red handed following the rules.

Now, in a sane political world, Republican senators would have made like Emily Litella and said --

EMILY LITELLA, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Well, that's different.


LITELLA: Never mind.

AVLON: But we live in the Trump era. And so, instead, Senator Ted Cruz tweeted, wow, ongoing spying from an outgoing POTUS on the incoming POTUS directed by Obama himself is unprecedented.

Nope. The e-mail showed nothing of the sort.

But Ted Cruz's tweet showed how little facts matter in this silly season.

Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just said he's backing a new round of subpoenas against Obama administration officials, but if the truth is what he's really after, McConnell could request the release of the Flynn-Kislyak conversations as Rice and others have suggested, or explain his resistance to making a bipartisan statement condemning Russia interference before the elections, as the latest Senate Intelligence Committee report shows, or we could all just admit that this effort to investigate the Obama administration is an attempt to distract and deflect from the Trump administration's own self- inflicted scandals.

And that's your "Reality Check."


BERMAN: And 93,000 Americans have now died from coronavirus.

NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the last 24 hours, there have been 106,000 cases reported to WHO, the most in a single day since the outbreak begun.

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 as (INAUDIBLE)?


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

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If people get arrogant, if people get cocky, you will see that.