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Fort Lauderdale Gym Owners Caught Between Broward County/Local Officials Standoff; Frontline Workers Tell Congress about Fears of Going to Work Each Day; Trump & White House Coronavirus Task Force Hold Press Briefing. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 22, 2020 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The president will hold an unexpected news conference as a serious new warning comes out about a drug he has been touting and he himself is personally taking, Hydroxychloroquine.

In the meantime, a standoff in Florida between Broward County and local officials has gym owners caught in the middle. Earlier this week, Fort Lauderdale's mayor gave commercial fitness centers the green light to open as long as they followed CDC guidelines. Then, days later, that green light turned back to red.

The mayor advised gyms to close again due to country threats of fines and other measures.

Jonathan Larkin owns Upload Fitness in Fort Lauderdale.

Jonathan, thank you for joining us here today.

Take us through the past week. You got to reopen and only to turn around and close again.

JOHN LARKIN, OWNER, UPLOAD FITNESS: First off, Brianna, thank you for having me on the program on an important topic.

As health advocates, we know people that work out have the strongest immune system, which prevents these diseases. So when Governor DeSantis and Mayor Dean Trantalis said we could open, we did.

We have been preparing since March 18th to open by being bio certified and having direct CDC protocols. When we did get the green light on Sunday, we were ready to roll.

And the members were happy. In fact, they were driving in from Homestead because, as our viewers now, Dade county hasn't opened. So all these fitness enthusiasts were coming to the club. And we are also just CDC compliant with all the protocols in place.

Naturally, when we heard, got word, about two days ago, that the mayor recommended we close, from my perspective, he didn't mandate it. So we were planning to stay open until I got word, I think as early as May 26th, we could reopen.

As a small operator --


LARKIN: Yes, go ahead

KEILAR: So you are in your Boca Raton location, right?

LARKIN: Yes. Palm Beach opens up --


KEILAR: And we are seeing a lot of people behind you working out. What are the safety measures that you talk about in the protocols? What are the safety measures that you have in place? How seriously are they taking them? And are you confident this is going to keep people well?

LARKIN: I am very confident because we actually bio certified, which means we taught our staff how to use the best practices in terms of cleaning, and we're using the best disinfects.

As an example, when you walk into any of our health clubs, we take your temperature and you sign an agreement in terms of best practices and using disinfectants every time you finish a set. And then you have to use all the correct protocol and keep the six-feet distances.


We have signs between each piece of equipment saying you can't use it so that people do adhere to the CDC protocol.


LARKIN: So we're very comfortable that people are safe, yes.

KEILAR: You are very comfortable.

So tell us how this has affected you financially because, as you mentioned, there are a lot of people who are in your shoes here.

LARKIN: Well, I mean, the jury is still out. Frankly, in terms of ramping up, it will probably about four or five months because of certain demographics of the population isn't going to feel safe to come to a gym until the curve hits zero.

For that demographic, we are not going to see that revenue and we are not going to see that clientele for a while.

Frankly, it all comes down to the governors. The government is going to bail out the commercial realtors, who, at this point, are deferring rent until a latter day. If it was just discounted, that's one thing. But deferred is another.

Obviously, we are concerned. But because we are good operators and proficient a what we do, we're going to be one of the people steady because we've been very proactive in terms of being CDC protocol. We upgraded clubs as well.

Frankly, for the rest of the industry, I see a big consolidation. I am not sure how the national chains are going to last with all their locations.

Time will tell. But as an adaptable operator, we're trying to do everything right and in an expeditious way.

KEILAR: Jonathan Larkin, thank you so much for coming on and talking to us about your businesses. We appreciate it.

LARKIN: Thank you. Have a good day.

KEILAR: You have a great day as well.

More and more churches across America are defying their states to start in-person services. One priest says that many say that Jesus will protect them. They believe it strongly.

Plus, as the south sees an explosion in cases, one doctor says the virus spread for 10 days in her town before they knew what it was.

And frontline workers describe the fear of going to work, risking their lives, and confrontations with customers.


DIANA WILSON, EMT, NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: We train for Ebola. We train for active shooting scenarios. We failed on a plan for training for this pandemic at every scale.




KEILAR: We are right now waiting the president's impromptu news conference. That is the briefing room at the White House. We'll bring it to you as soon as it begins.

In the meantime, in a sobering hearing on Capitol Hill, some of the people on the frontlines of this pandemic, from health care workers to transmit employees, speak out about the fear that results just from going to work each day.


TALSA HARDIN, REGISTERED NURSE, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICAL CENTER: UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The situation that nurses are forced in are astounding. Our hospitals failed to give us the protection we need.

ERIC COLTS, BUS DRIVER, DETROIT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: The biggest fear is you have people in the bad sneeze or cough. And if you've ever been on a city bus or public transportation, you look at it as a portable incubator. You have no way of practicing social distancing.

WILSON: We trained for Ebola. We train for active shooting. We failed on a plan for training for this pandemic at every scale.

MARCOS ARANDA, CUSTODIAN, PACIFIC GAS & ELECTRIC: My job has always been essential to protecting the public's health and safety, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have to make sure we disinfect every frequently touched surface, from phones to elevators to microwave handles. We do a detailed job to make sure that people coming into work and our building during this crisis stay safe.


KEILAR: The man you saw last is Marcos Aranda. He's a custodian at Pacific Gas and Electric. He's joining us now from San Francisco.

Welcome and thank you for coming on and talk to us about this.

ARANDA: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: You told lawmakers before COVID-19 your job was always essential in protecting the public's health and safety. Tell us what you do and how your work is impacted by the virus.

ARANDA: We are janitors. We clean and a lot of times we sanitize. And now there's an emphasis on the sanitation part of it.

KEILAR: Marcos, I know you said you were not totally comfortable with the conditions at your job until yesterday, which was the day of the hearing. What changed to make you feel more comfortable?

ARANDA: Well, we had a meeting yesterday with the company. They have plans. So they are providing more masks now. They have a plan to provide reusable masks for everybody. They're giving a training on how to properly use sanitation chemicals. That was a step in the right direction.


KEILAR: That does sound like a step in the right direction.

I know one concern for so many people, and this is especially for essential workers like yourself, is just the potential to infect loved ones, right? To bring this home. And you live with your wife. You have six children. Congratulations. That's beautiful. You have several other relatives as well.

Have you -- first, tell me about your concerns about bringing it home.

ARANDA: Well, that's the biggest concern for me. I am a selfless person. If something happens to me, it's not a big deal. The biggest deal to me is not being able to take care of my family. If I am not there for them, where will they end up?


ARANDA: I don't like to think about it.

KEILAR: No, of course not. Have you gone over with them or have you guys changed anything you are doing as you try to make sure it does not happen? What's it been like?

ARANDA: We are doing a lot more laundry. My work clothes are being washed daily. That's a bit of a burden. It is for a good reason. And it is not something -- as long as it means to keeping my family safe.


KEILAR: A lot more laundry. Marcos, with six children, that's already a lot of laundry right there.

Hey, Marcos, thank you so much for coming on. It was wonderful to hear you in that hearing because there's so many people who are exactly where you are and you are giving voice to them.

Marcos, thank you for coming on. We appreciate you coming on. Marcos Aranda.

ARANDA: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: We have some stunning drone footage of coronavirus masquerades in Brazil as the cases there are surging and the government is dismissing the virus.

Also, as more churches across America are defying state lockdown orders, one priest says that many Jesus will protect them from the coronavirus.

And the unproven drug that the president took is linked to a higher risk of death in coronavirus patients. Moments from now, he, no doubt, will be asked for this and will respond.



At my direction, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is issuing guidance for communities of faith. I want to thank Dr. Redfield and the CDC for their work on this matter and all the other work they've been doing over the past what now seems like a long period of time.

Today, I am identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogue and mosques as essential places that provide essential services. Some governors have deemed the liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It's not right.

So I'm correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential. I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. If there's any question, they're going to have to call me but they're not going to be successful in that call.

These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united. The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue, go to their mosque. Many millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life.

The ministers, pastors, rabbis, imams and other faith leaders will make sure that their congregations are safe as they gather and pray.


I know them well, they love their congregations, they love their people. They don't want anything bad to happen to them or to anybody else.

The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.

Thank you very much. Thank you.



KEILAR: All right, so the press secretary Kayleigh McEnany taking over there. The president taking no questions. Let's listen back in to the briefing.

MCENANY: -- wonderful presentation pursuant to reopening America, and some great data to share with you, so I'll let her kick this off.


If we can have the first slide, please. We want to just start out with a summary of the number of Americans we have lost to date. But the exciting thing for all of us is the decreasing mortality over time, and I think it both is a real aspect of the amazing health care workers on the front line, the ability of people to share at the front line how best to care for the patients, and the continuous decrease in mortality over time.

Next slide?

The other thing that has decreased significantly over the last month is new hospitalizations. We can see now that there's over a 50 percent decline in new hospitalizations. Although every region of the country is different, we are encouraged to see these new hospitalizations declining.

Next slide?

I've talked before about the extensive surveillance that CDC has made available to this country. This is looking at their syndromic surveillance from emergency rooms.

You can see that both COVID-like illnesses -- shown in the orange -- and shown in the blue -- influenza-like illness -- taking up both of those cases together, you can see significant declines, week over week, a number of people coming to the emergency room with these illnesses. It goes along with our new hospitalizations.

What we like to do is triangulate data, put data together from multiple sources to see if we're seeing the same trends, so that we can ensure that we're making progress together.

Next slide?

This is their influenza-like illness surveillance system that has been up and running for more than a decade now. You can see each of the influenza peaks of this last year. I think that's very important to remind people of, because we had influenza A, influenza B, and then we had COVID-like illness. And while we know it's COVID, that's the last orange peak.

What we really find encouraging is, across the country, we are below baseline. Why is that particularly important? Now, these are reported state by state, county by county. So each county will be able to see precisely where they are. And then if there is changes in this, it becomes, yet again, an early alert system.

So I've showed you two early alert systems. One of them, emergency rooms visits based on our syndromic illness qualifications that the CDC has up on their website. And then, the influenza-like illness. And again, to the American people, all of these are available on the CDC website under COVID-19 Cases and Surveillance.

Next slide?

Now, I want to show you these, I'm going to go through these very quickly. This is where we started, this is influenza-like illness. The red and the darker the red, the more significant the influenza-like illness is in that state. So you want to get to green.

So this is the week ending March 28th, I think many of us can remember what that week was. And this was when we were at the very beginning of our acceleration into logarithmic phase.

Next slide?

This is April 4th, you're starting to see some of the states already turn green.

Next slide?

April 11th, more of the country.

Next slide?

April 18th.

Next slide?

April 25th.

Next slide?

May 2nd. And you can see -- and I really call your attention to -- there's an orange area on this slide, and you can see that it's the Maryland area. We've been calling that out for a while, the high plateau in Maryland. Can also see Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Next slide?

And then you can see Wisconsin still. You can see Maryland is yellow.

Next slide?

I want to turn just a moment -- and I know that took you through a lot of slides quickly, but I think we can see as a country we have decreasing amount of illness, both at the emergency room and reported through the influenza-like illness, two of the surveillance systems that the CDC has up and running.


These come from the states, they come from the counties, and many of the states have these also on their websites. We talked earlier about how we had prioritized testings to the area that had the most significant disease, and you can see now Rhode Island has led all of the states.

It's almost up to testing 12 percent of all of their citizens. It's followed by New York, and you can't see New York, but that's the very next one. New York, and then North Dakota. And so you can see that -- well, you could. Yeah. You can see that most of the high-burdance (ph) areas of the United States had more than six percent testing.

That's when, I think you heard from Admiral Giroir, we wanted every state to test at least two percent of their population during May. You can see 100 percent of the states now are over two percent of their population, and we'll fix this slide so you can see every state, but many of the states now are over four percent.

And this is just after getting all the materials to ensure that they have adequate transport media and swabs. So we're encouraged with the progress that many of the governors and states have made in their testing of their population.

It is also why we took the opportunity to really encourage governors, and it was to encourage governors to test 100 percent of the nursing home residents and staff, because many of our outbreaks that we have seen over the last two months have started in nursing homes. Next slide.

Now, this is a complicated slide, but this is trying to show you how we triangulate data. So I took you through our surveillance systems. I'm taking you now into the start of how we use laboratory data to really understand what's happening both in the metros and at the state level.

This is every single state, and you can see the triangles, the top part that you can see, the little triangley pieces or the diamonds, that is where the states were in the number of positive tests.

This is the nucleic acid test. This is diagnosing virus in your nose. You can see where it was 30 days ago, and where it is now by the red squares. You can see a dramatic decline across the states, and indeed, New York City just six weeks ago was almost 40 percent.

It is now, for the first time as a New York -- as a New York state, under 10 percent. And so this is the progress that we're making in both expanding testing, finding more people, but ensuring that we're getting testing rates at about 10 percent. This line is 10 percent. So 42 states are now -- have less than 10 percent test positive on a rolling seven-day average.

Now again, I'm going to call your attention to the top three states -- the top three states with the largest percent, and this is so you can all make your decisions about going outside and social distancing, potentially playing golf if you're very careful and you don't touch the flags, and all of those issues, playing tennis with marked balls, which is one other person, so you're only touching your ball.

We found, really, people who enjoy sports have been able to really adjust to social distancing. But you can see the top three states are Maryland, the district and Virginia.

And so there is still significant virus circulating here. That is followed by Nebraska, Illinois because of Chicago, and what we've talked about before about Minnesota. So those are our top states, as far as still having high number of test positives.

When I say high number of test positives, they're all under 20 percent. If I had shown you this slide four weeks ago, half of the country would have been over 20 percent. So this also shows progress, but also very clearly about the region we're living in right now with disease. Next slide.

Now, I wanted you to see this as a metro, because that's as a state level. So we look at this in multiple different ways. The number one metro with the highest positivity rate is the District of Columbia, which includes Northern Virginia and Maryland, Montgomery County, and P.G. County.

That is followed by Baltimore, Chicago and Minneapolis. And so these are the places where we have seen really a stalling or an increase of cases, as in Minneapolis. And you'd see all the other metros -- all the other metros are almost all exclusively below 10 percent. So we see this as great progress across the board in the metro areas.

Next slide?

So we also look at daily cases, and daily case numbers. And I know that you all know that that's a very erratic, and it depends sometimes on how the tests were reported, how the cases were reported. [14:00:02]