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NCAA Says Basketball and Football Can Voluntarily Train on Campus Beginning June 1; Trump Threatens to Open "Essential" Houses of Worship; South Carolina Allows Tourist Attractions to Open Today. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 22, 2020 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

LARRY SCOTT, COMMISSIONER, PAC-12 CONFERENCE: And we could be on a nice glide path to start of the college football season at the end of August.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Greg, I've heard you say you've eleven states in SEC with eleven different approaches toward social distancing restrictions. Larry's kind of touching on this. If some schools can't play, some schools do move toward playing, do you move forward with a conference with the season without those schools?

GREG SANKEY, COMMISSIONER, SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE: Well, the beauty of the question is it's mid-May and we're looking at football season in late August, early September. And I've said, you know, right now time is an asset. We want to use that wisely. Every day a little bit of that asset slips away.

And our hope is we can return to this activity in a healthy way. People will heed the guidance. We have coaches doing public service announcements reminding people to wear a mask and pay attention to this guidance because college football I think is a lever in our society to help remind folks that their behavior will create the opportunities across all of our eleven states and ultimately across the country to see college football, college volleyball, college soccer all return.

BOLDUAN: Larry, Ohio State's athletic director said this week that he could see playing football with fans in the stadium, but it would be about 20 percent capacity but that's still is 20,000 fans at Ohio State stadium. How likely is that for you?

SCOTT: Well, I think what we're going to see is a patchwork state by state on the fan issue. I think collectively college football will move together to start playing hopefully the beginning of the season assuming we have support from public health officials.

But I think we're going to see a wide disparity across the country. I even see it in my own conference where states will allow fans, probably initially on some type of socially distanced basis and then in a phased approach, starting allowing more and more. And some states will be a little bit more conservative and will be playing in front of an empty stadium which will be a bit surreal and challenging.

But we realize this is going to be a phased restart, reopening of society. Early steps are to safely get student athletes back to campus, to start the competition, and I think it's going to be some time until we see full stadium arena again.

BOLDUAN: Yes. You know, Greg, just yesterday Coach Saban put out a PSA encouraging people to wear masks. I know you've seen it but let me just play just a bit of it for folks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK SABAN, FOOTBALL COACH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: Hi, Big Al, you need to be standing six feet away from me, and haven't I told you have to wear a mask when you're in this building?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Greg, besides critiquing Saban's acting ability, this gets to a bigger concept of athletes being role models. When it comes to setting a good example in the era of the coronavirus, how much does that weigh on you in these very important decisions you have to make here?

SANKEY: Very much so. And, in fact, people as you would expect are quick to share their perspectives and opinions on decisions. That's part of the role that both Larry and I, and our colleagues occupy.

Yesterday on a video conference over our head coaches we actually reminded them, knowing that a number of these types of public service announcements are in the cue. That they play a role in helping the public understand how we, and I mean not just college football or higher education, but we as a society get back to normal.

And we should use that opportunity particularly when we have this universal public health crisis and the visible opportunities. Like to use that influence in a positive way. So, whether it is what Nick's done, what Ed Orgeron's done early in this pandemic to be very much out-front saying let's take care of ourselves, let's heed the public safety advice, the health advice. I think that shows the opportunity to lead from the platform that college football provides.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Looking at baby steps now. A long way to go. But time is flying. We'll see. You guys have some big decisions ahead of you. I really appreciate it, gentlemen. Thank you.

SCOTT: Thank you.

SANKEY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Good luck.

Coming up for us, Alabama's governor loosens restrictions ahead of the holiday weekend but the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama thinks it's too soon. The mayor joins me next.

[15:35:00]

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: It's been smoldering. We've had a lid on it, but it is now really having the potential to get out of control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That is the director of infectious disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on the recent spike in cases in that state. But the governor is forging ahead with reopening. Starting today athletic activities, theaters, childcare facilities, summer camps are allowed to reopen. Here's the governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): We cannot sustain a delayed way of life as we search for a vaccine. There are many viruses that we live with and have worked necessary precaution news into our daily lives, and similarly it's now time that we move forward and further open our state. If things don't get worse and I certainly hope and pray they don't, then we're going to continue putting personal responsibility on each and every individual citizen.

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BOLDUAN: Joining me now is someone who's been sounding the alarm that the state is opening too soon, the Mayor of Montgomery, Alabama Steven Reed. Mayor thank you for coming in.

STEVEN REED (D), MAYOR OF MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: Thank you, Kate.

[15:40:00]

BOLDUAN: As I listen to the governor and I've listened to you, there appears to be a clear disconnect or disagreement between you and state officials like the governor in terms of where things are in the state and where they should be? What is going on here?

REED: Well, I think there is a difference in perspective of how we should move about reopening our economy. As a former small business owner and one who was in the restaurant industry, I've sign the front of checks, I sign the back of checks. So, I understand the importance of small business which supports or economy.

However, I think that we have to take every necessary precaution we can to protect the lives of our residents and of our citizens here, and I think that we've been a little bit premature in our reopening the economy, in Alabama, I think that's led to the spike.

We've seen our numbers consistently go up. We've seen and heard from doctors and medical CEO's, hospital CEO's that people are coming in worse condition and we have a dwindling amount of ICU beds. And so, I think when we look at the data, we have to acknowledge that maybe there have been some missteps and maybe look at ways to do a course correction.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned ICU beds. What is the current status in your hospitals? You've been extremely concerned about that.

REED: Well, we're extremely concerned because since the onset of this pandemic we haven't wanted to overwhelm our health care system. And a couple of days ago when we had a press conference there was one ICU bed that was available. Now I'm told that today we have five. But that's in a geographic area that serves over 350,000 people.

So that is not a lot of ICU beds and I think any time we're at a critical point like we are right now, we have to sound the alarm and we have to tell people that this pandemic is not over. We have not won the battle versus COVID-19 yet. We will get there. But we aren't there just yet, and we need people to adhere to some of the same guidelines that got us some progress over the last couple of months by staying at home, washing their hands as often as they can, and wear a mask when out in public.

I understand COVID-19 fatigue. I understand everybody is ready to get back to the way things used to be. But in doing so they not only put their own lives at risk, but they put the lives of their neighbors, their friends and family and co-workers by doing so.

BOLDUAN: Well and more restrictions are being lifted today. I mean with all of this in mind, what are you watching out for this weekend?

REED: Well, listen, I don't think that the President lifting restrictions on churches is going to help anybody in the Bible Belt. It's certainly not going to help us in Montgomery. It's not going to help any of my colleagues that are mayors all across this country because we know while faith is important and while spirituality is important, you don't want people grouping together right now and given where things stand in Alabama.

So, what we're looking for is for people certainly to take personal responsibility but also, we want them to be aware of the circumstances surrounding them in this community. We need people to understand that now is not the time to relax and although they may not be connected to the statistics their hearing about, those statistics are connected to other people. They're connected to family. They're connected to friends.

And when you look at the fact that here in Montgomery our cases have more than doubled. We've had seven just since last night. We've had an additional death. That means there's still a crisis. And we aren't through this and we have to be patient and we have to be vigilant about our approach to this if we're going to get through it and no one wants to get through this any faster than I do. But we have to do it the right way. And I just think that right now we have to press pause a little bit and slow things down.

BOLDUAN: Well, what are you hearing from churches, from pastors, from houses of worship in Montgomery? Because you hear the President today, the White House is putting out guidance. Do you think that you're going to have a flood of churches opening up this weekend?

REED: The faith-based community has been outstanding, Kate, over the last couple of months. I've had consistent conversations with them and even a call this week. They've been great and they've been very responsible. And I don't expect that the leaders that I've been talking to and the pastors who've led these churches for years are going to make a short-term decision right now. I think that they're exercising caution, out of respect for their parishioners. And I expect that to continue.

However, there's always going to be a fringe element that's out there and I think what the President did today only gives that element more reason to do what they're going to do, and that puts their parishioners at risk.

[15:45:00]

But it also puts our first responders at risk. It also puts those medical professionals at risk and those people who are helping on the front lines at risk. Because they're being encouraged to come and gather, and that's not something that we ought to really set an example around, and I don't think now is the time for us to do that. So, I think overall we'll have a positive experience over these next few weeks, but I don't think the actions taken by the President today sends the right message.

BOLDUAN: Mayor Reed, thank you so much. Good luck.

REED: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, in South Carolina, amusement parks are reopening just in time for the holiday weekend. But how could they keep it safe for all of the families who come to enjoy? We're going to talk to one business that's reopening just today.

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[15:50:00]

BOLDUAN: Just into CNN, we now know when one of the nation's largest theme parks will be reopening. Universal Studios in Orlando just announced that it has received the green light from Florida's governor no reopen to the public two weeks from today, Friday, June 5.

Universal says it will be implementing stringent health and safety procedures in doing so including requiring face coverings for all guests as well as temperature checks before entering the park.

So, from there, let's go to South Carolina where much more than beaches are reopening this Memorial Day weekend. Today the state is allowing all sorts of tourist attractions to get back to business. Amusement parks, water parks, museums, zoos, all on the list. That includes the Fun Warehouse an indoor entertainment complex in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And joining me now is Tim Marks. He's the Vice President of Fun Warehouse. Thank you so much for being here, Tim. You've opened today at 10:00 A.M., I saw it on your website. How is it going?

TIM MARKS, VICE PRESIDENT, FUN WAREHOUSE: Well, it's been a little slow starting out. But we expected that. You know, thank you for letting us come on the show today. and, you know, we're excited to get started again. It's been a very, very long two months for us. We've really struggled.

Of course, we're a little different than restaurants or any other places because we have not reduced revenues. We have had zero revenue. And in addition to Fun Warehouse here, we also own three miniature golf courses here on the Grand Strand. And I don't want to speak just for me, I want to speak for all our amusement attractions here in Myrtle Beach, that it's a been a very tough road and we're all very, very excited to get back at this.

BOLDUAN: And getting back at this -- the Fun Warehouse is a huge complex -- getting back at it also includes new measures in place to keep people safe. What is that like?

MARKS: Yes, look, we're ready, and we know this is not a game. We've mitigated our hazards that we're going to face to the best of our abilities. Some of the things that we are required to do is to cut our capacity by 50 percent. We're actually going to go to about 70 percent.

Also, we're going to -- 95 percent of our staff has been completing some COVID training through Serviceaide, which is a really, really good thing. You know, we're requiring of course our staff to wear masks and doing temperature checks. All of our floors are clearly marked. A lot of the same things that you hear in other locations we are doing.

Some specific ones that for sure we're doing is electrostatic cleaning of our laser tag and our inflatables and go carts. We're also extending our queue lines and our cafe seating has been reduced. Our birthday parties, the number of parties that we host are going to be reduced and we've actually opened the rooms up a little bit more as well. So, there's lot of things to think of in a 56,000-square-foot facility.

BOLDUAN: For sure. And you talked about how the hit of having no revenues coming in, what that's been like for you. How long can you sustain though at this reduced capacity?

MARKS: Well, that's the million-dollar question, isn't it? It's you know, it's tough. You know, we're really not as afraid right now as what we will be, say, January of next year. You know, as Myrtle Beach is a very seasonal area, you know, we really only have three months to really get the revenues to support us. And to do so, it's very, very difficult. So, surviving the winter and losing, you know, a third of your revenues early on is tough.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Well. Good luck, thank you for coming on, and good luck for this weekend and the season.

MARKS: Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, we have some breaking news coming in, federal health officials just released new guidelines for those houses of worship that we've been discussing. The lead with Dana Bash is next, she will have that.

But first, restaurants across the country are starting to reopen but thousands of workers of now unemployed workers are still struggling as the industry tries to bounce back. 2009 CNN Hero Doc Hendley has jumped in to help. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOC HENDLEY, CNN HERO: On St. Patrick's Day we got the order from the government that all restaurants had to be shut down as of 5:00 in one day. It was devastating. So, we created this program. We just wanted it to be something that doesn't just give people food to survive during this time.

Fresh apples, fresh oranges.

But also give them thing to help them thrive.

It will be ready to hand out and will feed two people for an entire week.

I was terrified when this really got bad. But that sense of kind of fear and stress just immediately turned off and was just focused on, what can we do to help.

[15:55:00]

I saw a single mama come and literally when she opened it up, she just started crying.

I really think that we as a people are going to come through this stronger and more together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: For much more, please go to CNNheroes.com. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks for joining us. We'll be right back.

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