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Commercial Plane Crashes In Karachi, Pakistan; Montgomery Mayor Sounds Alarm On ICU Beds As Cases Soar; New Photo Shows Trump Wearing Mask At Ford Plant. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 22, 2020 - 07:00   ET


SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Which is the most populated city of the country.


Now, flights hadn't been running in Pakistan for about 2.5 months, and it's only recently that Pakistan's national flag carrier, PIA, Pakistan International Airlines, had even resumed flights and they were running at a very limited flight schedule.

So the amount of passengers from what we've been told by the aviation ministry that there were about 99 passengers and eight crew on this flight. And from what we've learned so far is that the flight crashed in a residential area, very close to the airport. I've been there. It's an extremely packed area. There are a lots of closely built apartments, boxed, et cetera. So there are concerns that the death toll, which has not been confirmed yet, would also include people on the ground.

So there is a lot of chaos in the city as of right now. A lot of confusion to kind of understand what's happened. And you have to understand that this is a festive season in Pakistan right now. It's already been muted by COVID-19, by people being within lockdown with rising numbers. But then you've also got people traveling home. They haven't been to their home towns for a very long time because of the lockdown that had been in place in Pakistan.

And it's only now, just about a week ago, that these flights have been resumed, this eve, which is a huge national holiday in Pakistan, just around the corner on Sunday. And it was a time of muted festivity which has now been dampened even more by this tragedy. John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: All right. Thank you very much. I do have to say, based on the pictures that we're seeing here in addition to the possible loss of life from the plane crash itself, I think there will be concern about loss of life and the structures that may have been damaged as this plane went down as well. So we'll stay on the story all morning long.

Our other top story, the Memorial Day weekend here in the United States, the unofficial start of summer and millions of Americans are expected to be out and about. We have some new guidance for them. But as this happens, new word of a spike in cases in some areas, in Alabama's capital, Montgomery. The mayor has issued a dire warning that the city is running out of ICU beds.

CNN's Victor Blackwell live in Alabama this morning for us with much more on that. Victor?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. The four major hospitals across this part of Central Alabama are really feeling the pressure of the increased number of COVID case. Jackson, the hospital where I am, the latest from management here is that each one of its 30 critical care, the ICU beds, is occupied. Baptist Health, which operates the other three hospitals, says that it has seen a surge in COVID hospitalizations over the last three weeks.

And the mayor of Montgomery, Steven Reed, says that there is a connection to the loosening of restrictions across this state. The governor, Kay Ivey, allowed this shelter-in-place order to expire at the end of April. And now, the retail and restaurants and gyms and salons are opening with rules. And there's a model out of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that says the entire State of Alabama, Dallas, Houston, parts of Southeast Florida, will see a surge over the next several weeks because of the reopening. And the mayor here says that this is no time to relax.


MAYOR STEVEN REED (D-MONTGOMERY, AL): Our ICU beds are almost at a capacity level. And we're in a place that is manageable but it's not sustainable. We need to remind our community that this pandemic is not over. We're still in a tough battle. And now is not the time for us to relax.


BLACKWELL: And we've also learned just in from the governor's office that she's amending her order to allow schools, public and private grade schools, technical schools, colleges and universities to reopen in June with the reasonable steps, when tractable (ph), to exercise social distancing and asking employees, not students, to wear face masks. John?

BERMAN: All right. Victor Blackwell for us in Montgomery. Victor, thanks for being there for us. We really appreciate your reporting.

Joining us now is Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Marrazzo, this is a home game for you in terms of concerns in Alabama, one ICU bed left according to the mayor in Montgomery. What are you seeing there?

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Well, good morning, John. It's very worrisome. What we're seeing is pretty much what we've been predicting all along. I mean, we were sadly set up for this. We're seeing the result of this pandemic getting into parts of the state that we knew were incredibly vulnerable all along. And that includes what we call the Black Belt, which is the area around Montgomery as well as the cities like Montgomery that do not have a huge infrastructure to care for critically ill patients like this.

So we are seeing people who are being transferred to our institution so that they can get the kind of care that they really need and because we have actually in Jefferson County, where we are, done a very early job of containing the virus and managed, like many places, to keep things under control.


I'm quite worried with the Memorial Day weekend coming and many restrictions loosening that this is going to go like a prairie fire. Again, it's been smoldering, we've had a lid on it. But it is now really having the potential to get out of control.

BERMAN: As you say, it does happen at a challenging time, Memorial Day weekend where we know people will be going out.

Dr. Anthony Fauci on CNN overnight did give some guidance about how people could and perhaps should do that. So let's listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Go out, wear a mask, stay six feet away from anyone so you have the physical distancing. And go out, go for a run, go for a walk. Go fishing. As long as you're not in a crowd and you're not in a situation where you can physically transmit the virus. And that's what a mask is for and that's what the physical distance.

I plan to go out for nice walks and hikes over Memorial Day and I'm going to do it with care, with a mask on.


BERMAN: What are you going to do, Dr. Marrazzo, and what's your advice to people making plans for the weekend?

MARRAZZO: Well, first of all, it's great to hear that Dr. Fauci is going to hike because I think he really needs it, as we all do.

What I'm going to do is do what our governor said yesterday. And, again, I want to emphasize, our leaders in an unenviable position, right? They're really trying hard, I think, to balance what we've been trying to say, which is social distancing and masks, in particular to address the respiratory spread of the virus, which we know is the primary means of transmission. They really work. That's why we've been able to get as far as we have.

So what I will be doing when I am not at staying at home, which I think I probably will do 90 percent of the time, will be doing exactly what Dr. Fauci said, which is to go out, enjoy some fresh air and have a mask on. I think that's the key thing. Again, this emphasis on personal responsibility, I think, is fantastic. It would be great if everybody did that. We wouldn't need to worry about arguing about these restrictions. The challenge is, we all have different definitions of personal responsibility in a civil society and really have to think carefully about how to live that at this time.

BERMAN: Some new figures from the CDC released overnight, and I want your take on them. First of all, the 35 percent of cases of coronavirus are asymptomatic. And then on the right, you can see a number which is jumping out to people. This the mortality rate which the CDC estimates at 0.4 percent.

Now, this is the low end of estimates we have seen. Initially, there were concerns it would be 2 percent, then 1 percent, 0.4 percent, the CDC now says. What do you think?

MARRAZZO: So, again, as we've been saying all along, it's about the denominator. If you look at the mortality rate or what we like to think of as the case fatality rate, you really get the sense that you need to define the case population when you're talking about. So if you went into a population and you had a great antibody test and you could really say, here is the 10 percent of people who really got coronavirus, you probably would find a very low case fatality or mortality rate because you would be capturing all those people who probably had very mild or even maybe asymptomatic infections.

On the other hand, if you look at the mortality rate of people who have been admitted to the hospital, let alone to the intensive care unit, you're going to see very, very different numbers. We know, in the intensive care units, the mortality rates have been as high as 20 percent. So, again, it really depends on our ability to precisely estimate who has truly been infected, and we've been challenged with that.

BERMAN: The CDC also says that the primary manner of transmission is person to person through the air, saying it isn't as easy, it turns out, to spread on surfaces. So how should we look at that?

MARRAZZO: Right. So I'm the person who publicized the, it's like glitter, analogy to talk about how it spreads on surfaces. And I do think that's still true. The key though is that it's not at home on surfaces, right? What the virus wants a moist, warm environment, like many of us. It wants to be in your nose, it wants to be in your lungs, it wants to be in your respiratory passages. It really doesn't do well on the surfaces that people are rightly concerned about.

So just think of those surfaces as potential sources of infection but in a probably transient way. On the other hand, the person across the street from you or across the seat from you is a living, breathing source of viral infection that can keep going on. So that's really why we need to focus on the masks and the physical distancing.

BERMAN: Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, always a pleasure to have you on. Have a terrific weekend. Thanks for being with us.

MARRAZZO: Thanks, John. You too. Be safe.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Okay, John. Most beach towns along the Florida coastline are getting ready for visitors on this holiday weekend. So what will that look like?

Joining us is Derrick Henry, the mayor of Daytona Beach, Florida.


Hi, Mayor. Good morning, Mayor.

MAYOR DERRICK HENRY, DAYTONA BEACH, FL: Good morning. How are you?

CAMEROTA: I'm well. Great to see you.

So let's talk about what the beach experience is going to be like in Daytona Beach this weekend. How far apart must beach-goers put their towels or their chairs?

HENRY: Well, they need to be at least ten feet apart from various different groups. And so they're, of course, in their own group, so their family, the people that they are there with and that they are with each day, they don't have to be separate. And we want them ten feet apart from each group or every other person who is not a part of their family.

CAMEROTA: And do you want people to wear masks?

HENRY: No. No one is required or even requested that they wear masks on the beach. We do believe that it is the safest place for people to be is outside. But it is advisable, but we're not requesting people to wear masks. Obviously, it's advisable at all times but I don't it's realistic or practical to ask people to go to the beach and wear a mask.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Think of the tan lines. It does gets complicated. But we did just speak to a mayor on the Jersey Shore who said that one of their rules is that lifeguards will be wearing face coverings, like bandanas, in case they have to interact closely with people. Have you considered that or what's the rule for your lifeguards?

HENRY: Well, we haven't in our county, sheriff's department haven't mandated that for our lifeguards. Although they are considering some changes as it relates to risk use (ph). And it is a great concern because the surf is very rough right now. And the other day, we had 82 rescues. So we are concerned about the safety of our beach attendees, so we are, as I say, very concerned.

CAMEROTA: Well, I don't blame you. I mean, 82 rescues is a lot. And how are lifeguards supposed to feel comfortable administering CPR?

HENRY: Well, it's a very -- this is a part of the great challenge in the time that we're in. We, you know -- it's a quagmire to say the least. It's a big concern. CAMEROTA: And do they have new guidance?

HENRY: Do they have new guidance? Well, I can't speak for the guidance that they have been given because that's under the county's jurisdiction. But they are adjusting the guidelines as it relates to how to take care of survivors or people that they rescue.

CAMEROTA: And so what if people don't comply? I mean, obviously, when you get to the beach, there's a lot of revelry and there's a lot of interaction. And so what if people aren't keeping the distance? What's the plan?

HENRY: Well, typically, people have very much complied with our directives. We really haven't had a lot of problems. I would say close to zero in terms of when you ask people to do something, they have done it.

So we are not trying to arrest people if they do not remain separate. We just give them the information and, by and large, they're compliant. Because most people who attend the beach are there just to have a good time, to be relaxed and they do not want to be pushed around by law enforcement. They just want to do what they're supposed to do and enjoy their family and their time at the beach.

CAMEROTA: Understood. Well, Mayor Derrick Henry, thank you very much for your time. We'll be watching how it goes in Florida.

HENRY: All right. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Okay. A new photo captures President Trump wearing a mask but only in private. In public, he wanted to be seen as breaking the law. Why does the president think the law does not apply to him?




DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I had one on before. I wore one in this back area. But I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it. But where I had it, in the back area, I did put a mask on.


BERMAN: So, despite a state order and posted rules, President Trump there bragging about leaving his mask off, taking it off while visiting an auto plant in Michigan. But the new photo published by the Detroit Free Press shows the president wore a cloth mask with the presidential seal backstage away from the media.

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan. Senator, thank you very much for being with us. Why do you think the president is playing this game of pandemic hide and seek?

SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI): It's hard to know why he's doing that. But I think really what it demonstrates is just a lack of leadership. We expect our leaders to lead by example. It's a fundamental concept of leadership. I served in the U.S. Navy Reserve and I'll tell you in the military, you'll learn that if you're in charge of folks, you lead by example. You show the men and women who you serve with that you're willing to follow the rules, you're willing to go the extra distance, you're willing to be out there. And to have a president that says, well, I wear it in hiding, and yet, when I'm out with the public, I don't, that's not leadership. That's not leadership by example.

And it's interesting, the folks who are around him, they were senior executives at Ford Motor Company. They are the leaders of the company. All of them had the mask on because they know the men and women who work at that plant, and I worked with them and I worked with the UAW, they are concerned about their safety, they are concerned about their health working at an auto plant. And to have the CEO and all of the senior executives all wearing masks is a demonstration of leadership, that you're a leader and you're willing to do what you expect everyone else to do. And, apparently the president hasn't really learned that concept of leadership and hasn't shown it.


BERMAN: What should the consequence be for his action, for him, and also maybe before? The state attorney general said she had some questions for Ford about how they allowed him to go around without a mask after he took it off.

PETERS: Yes. I think those questions, she will pursue that. But I think it's just par for the course of what we've seen from this president. He hasn't shown national leadership in dealing with the virus. He wants to defer it all to individual governors. I'm the ranking member of Homeland Security overseeing FEMA. FEMA should be taking a more aggressive national role on personal protection equipment, masks, for example. And yet the president has always had the position, well, let the governors do it, let them compete with each other, let them figure it out.

We need national leadership. And I think the fact that it's certainly symbolic, his willingness to wear a mask in public, when we just heard Dr. Fauci to talk about say how important it is to stop or slow down the spread of this virus. And to show that lack of leadership is just -- I think it's emblematic of what we've seen from this presidency.

BERMAN: Michigan is very much in the spotlight on many different fronts having to do with this pandemic. Another one is how to vote safely. The secretary of state has sent applications for mail-in ballots to everyone in the state. The president once again reiterated his threat to withhold federal funding to Michigan if the state continues to go through with this process to try to make it safe to vote. What's your reaction?

PETERS: It's simply outrageous. We now have no reason absentee voting, so it's more convenient for folks to be able to vote. And it is critically important to do that, particularly at a time of a pandemic. To think that the folks here in Michigan shouldn't be able to exercise their fundamental right to vote through the absentee process, which I will say the voters voted on in 2018 to allow for absentee voting by a very strong majority, the people of the State of Michigan want to be able to vote by absentee. And to have the president say that they shouldn't or to make false claims about insecurity or that there's fraud, there's no evidence of that whatsoever.

And I think it's particularly interesting that the president has repeatedly voted by mail himself. So it's okay for him to vote by mail himself, but he doesn't want to allow everyday citizens in Michigan to have that fundamental right. Again, it's lack of leadership.

BERMAN: Michiganders are certainly being tested right now. In addition to the pandemic, there's this horrific flooding in the central part of the state. Do you have an update on how that part of the state is doing?

PETERS: Well, it's really -- it's been rough. And when you think about a disaster like what we're seeing in Central Michigan and over 10,000 people being impacted by it while we're in the midst of a pandemic and folks who need to shelter outside of their home because their homes have been destroyed, have to maintain the social distancing and be concerned about a virus at the same time that they know that their lives have been turned completely upside down, it is tragic.

The waters have started to recede. Although we're expecting some more rain events here this weekend. So we'll have to wait to see what happens there. There has been an emergency declaration declared, but there will be a more comprehensive assessment done in the next couple days to determine what level of assistance will be provided from the federal government, from FEMA to the men and women who have been impacted by this horrible, horrible flooding.

BERMAN: All right. Senator Gary Peters, thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate your time. Have a healthy and safe Memorial Day weekend.

PETERS: Same with you. Stay safe.

BERMAN: A commercial jet carrying more than 100 people has crashed in Pakistan. This is breaking news, and we're getting new details about what went wrong, next.



BERMAN: All right. The breaking news, Pakistan International Airlines flight with more than 100 people on board has crashed in the City of Karachi. Officials say the flight was headed from Lahore to Karachi when it crashed before it was scheduled to land.

A spokesman for the airline confirmed to CNN the pilot did make a mayday call reporting technical problems before it went down. These pictures you're looking at, we should tell you, it's just off one of the runways in the airport in Karachi. So you get a sense of how close it was to where it was trying to land.

Joining us now is CNN Transportation Analyst Mary Schiavo. Mary, thanks for being with us. I know you've had a chance to look at some of these pictures that we're just getting in now. I want to know what you see here and also what you make of news that the pilot did make a mayday call reporting technical problems.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN TRANSPORTATION ANALYST: The mayday call is extremely important, gives the most important clue to the puzzle right now. And also the flight radar that shows it had made a prior attempt to land and did a go around. Now, that's highly significant because with the report of the mechanical problem and having done and go around it as it got down to 375 feet to try to land, couldn't do it, climbed over 3,000 feet again and came around and tried again.

So that means the pilot was having control issues with the aircraft, could not control the plane because of this reported mechanical difficulty. It could be an engine problem, it could be any number of problems that you're having with the mechanical control of that plane. So that was a huge clue.

BERMAN: If you go into that a little bit more, because it does beg the question, if you try to land, what keeps you from landing?

SCHIAVO: Exactly. What keeps you from landing can be many things. But the ability to control the plane all the way down to touchdown on the runway and to be able to keep that plane in the proper configuration, just to put it in layman's terms, the proper nose up, nose down configuration, be able to control it. So when you do touchdown on the runway, you have control of the plane as you lose the lift, in other words, the air flowing over your wings when you touch that runway.

So if you can't do that, if you're the pilot, and you're at 375 feet over the ground and you don't feel you have control of the plane, you must go around. Those are the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

BERMAN: So this was an Airbus A320, one of the work horses of the Airbus fleet.


What do we know about the safety record of the A320, but also Pakistan International Airlines?