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U.S. Marks Memorial Day As Coronavirus Deaths Near 100,000; WHO Temporarily Pauses Studying Trump-Touted Drug; Unhinged, Trump Again Baselessly Accuses T.V. Host Of Murder. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired May 25, 2020 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00]

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: I think that would be fitting bookend. But if they're going to do it, they're going to do it right, have everything in a bubble, everyone in one place, play all the games, have all the family, all the referees, everyone under one roof, basically hotels and, of course, at the facility.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We will find out soon. Christine, thanks for joining us today. And thank you for joining us as well.

Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Thanks, John. I'm Brianna Keilar, and I want to welcome viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. This is CNN's special live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thank you so much for joining me on this Memorial Day, which is unlike any that we have seen before. As the nation honors the more than 1.2 million Americans who died for their country, President Trump paid tribute today at a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.

And as the nation pauses to remember the fallen, Americans will also remember those who have lost their lives in the fight against coronavirus. This week the United States will reach 100,000 deaths in this pandemic. And at this hour, the coronavirus is blamed for 97,000 deaths in the U.S., the number of cases now topping 1.6 million.

Still that has not enough to prevent scenes like these, beaches, boardwalks and pools packed over the weekend with no masks in sight. There is video from a party at the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. One attendee acknowledged it was very tough to keep six feet apart but there were temperature checks and extra hand sanitizer there. Much more on what happened here in just a moment.

The holiday weekend is not over yet, and crowds are continuing to pack reopened beaches on both coasts for the third straight day.

CNN's Natasha Chen is in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and I wonder what you are seeing Natasha? Have you seen people practicing social distancing? Have you seen them wearing masks?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes to the first question about social distancing on the beach here, because you can see that each party is pretty much spaced out from each other and that's easier to do when there are more beach here. This is actually less crowded than it was yesterday. And the city told me that they've seen average to maybe even lighter than normal Memorial Day crowds for Myrtle Beach.

But the question about masks, take a look, there isn't a single person on this beach wearing one. And I personally take mine off to be on camera, I put it back on after and especially when I'm interviewing people. And we met someone, one other person today, who also was wearing a mask, so we stopped him and asked him about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ISIAH WHITFIELD, BEACHGOER: I feel like with things loosening up and lightening up and more families are going to come up, I felt like it's just safe to still take proper precautions. Larger group and get into the crowd around again, I feel like with my family being out here, I still want to protect them.

So, yes, I think that's just pretty much why -- still be in on the safe side of things, you know?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: And the city says that it may be easier to social distance on the beach but they are more concerned about indoor spaces, restaurants, these local businesses that so desperately need this tourism cash flow. In fact, we saw some local businesses advertising with planes overhead here on the beach.

But there were a couple of restaurants that were told to show some patrons off the door because they exceeded that 50 percent capacity and that's where we're seeing some more issues with people perhaps being a little too close together or not wearing masks. Brianna?

KEILAR: Such a good message there from Isaiah about protecting his family. Natasha, thank you for bringing that to us.

So as of Sunday, all 50 states are now in some stage of reopening. So, how is the country doing right now? For that, let's turn to CNN's Tom Foreman. Tom, as always break this down for us.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, let's go directly to the map, because the story it's telling is not really that good. Yes, we have 22 states that are in that sort of tan, steady states, but we have 18 states that are in the red to dark red area.

Remember, this is relative. This is showing how they are compared to the week before. So if you are red or dark red, you are getting more cases than you did a couple of weeks ago. If you are green, you're moving the other way. Only ten are in the green, by the way.

But it is relative. I point that out, because, for example, New York up there is green right now, but New York, we know, has a massive number of cases out there, well over 300,000 cases. So that's one of the big leading up there but they're moving in the right direction at least compared to last week. Same with Texas, a lot of cases but they're moving in the right direction.

Arkansas though, look at that, dark red, that's points important. If you look at what happened in Arkansas, the governor there says they are currently experiencing their second peak. About 30 days ago, they had a peak of around 160 new cases in one day. Now, they're at a second peak, 163 cases in this one day.

[13:05:00]

So, concern in Arkansas, they do say they have enough beds and their ICUs can handle it, but this is exactly what we've been watching state to state to state. They may be good one week, next week, they're bad. They may be steady one week, next week, they're going up, they're going down. But clear patterns are sort of hard to come by in terms of a positive direction.

Now, that may have something to do with the number of tests being administered and where they're being administered. Because if you hit one hotspot, a meatpacking plant, a nursing homes, where they have a lot of cases, that can really push these numbers up and sort of skew the picture. That's why people said all along, you've got to have more tests so you really know.

But the one place we see that right now seems to have a sustained down, Hawaii. Look at this. This is a seven-day average of new cases there in Hawaii. And they look like they have been moving pretty solidly down here from way up there if you look before the start of April there.

They have been just kind of creeping, creeping down. But, remember Hawaii is an outlier geographically. They can do whatever they want out there. But they are not like the rest of the states where people are just drifting across the border all the time the way we do here.

So, Brianna, overall the map on this Memorial Day, it is not absolutely dreadful but it is also not moving in the solid direction everyone wants to see, where we have 30, 40 states in that green zone, and that number keeps growing. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Tom, thanks for walking us through that. And, as I mentioned earlier, there is a video that's gone viral. It shows an extreme case of people ignoring the advice of medical experts.

This is a giant pool party in the Ozarks in Missouri. You can see people shoulder to shoulder instead of six feet apart, not a mask in sight. Bill Morgan is the manager of Robin's Resort on the Lake of the Ozarks. We want to point out, that video that we just showed is not your resort. But just tell us about what it was like at your resort and what you saw in scenes around the Lake of the Ozarks this weekend. Was that the norm?

BILL MORGAN, MANAGER, ROBIN'S RESORT ON LAKE OF THE OZARKS: It was not the norm. We were packed more than usual. It was busier here than any year I have been here. Most people at our resort were practicing social distancing. We've seen more Grubhub deliveries than we have in the past with any other delivery service that has been used.

And our pools didn't look like that at all. We were more of a family resort, so there're more families here. And we didn't see none of that. What you see in that video is pretty well the norm for those types of places, even without of what's going on now.

KEILAR: So it sounds like, Bill, there were a lot of people who they've been inside, they really wanted to get out, you are seeing a lot of people who just need that outlet, they need that vacation. But at the same time, I thought it was interesting, you said, there has been a lot of food deliveries because restaurants are open there, right?

MORGAN: Yes. And it's -- basically, what's going on there, the restaurants are open, they're 50 percent to 60 percent is what the governor has put out. And so a lot of people are still using the curbside pickup and like you said, Grubhub, Uber Eats, delivery from Pizza Hut and Domino's. I have seen more and more of those the past week than I have in five years that I have been a manager here at the resort. And it was just from our traction of pickup today was apparent.

And they way our resort is set up is we have kitchens in every one of them, so we have seen just from that, everybody is cooking in more here with us.

KEILAR: What precautions have you taken and how important is that to you to make sure that people don't get sick so that you have a sustainable business model?

MORGAN: Well, we do all of our staff, we take their temperatures clocking in tomorrow. There is more than one girl or one of our housekeepers or anybody working in a room together. We do provide a mask for them to wear. Each one of them has to wear. If they are in there by them self, I don't require them to wear a mask. But if they're in there together, they do wear masks.

We have hand sanitizers around the whole resort for guests to use, staff to use. I've put all of the new guidelines that are put out by our governor of the state and our president on our front door. So that's the precautions we've took and anything that's put out by CDC, we have it out there also.

KEILAR: Bill Morgan, thank you so much. Yes, you have to keep them safe. And we really appreciate it. There are so many who are people in your situation. We really appreciate you coming on and telling us about what you are doing. So, thank you.

MORGAN: Thank you.

[13:10:00]

KEILAR: There are clusters that are breaking out across the U.S. This includes at a Great Clips store, as well as a private school.

Plus, just in, the World Health Organization will temporarily stop studying the drug touted and taken personally by the president. Hear why.

And President Trump threatening to pull the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina unless the governor can guarantee him a certain demand. It has to do with crowds.

This is CNN's special live coverage.

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[13:15:00]

KEILAR: While the campus closed in mid-March, several graduating seniors of the Levitt School, a private school in Atlanta, have tested positive for coronavirus. According to several parents, they received an email from the head of the school and it stated that a student who had attended the drive-through graduation parade had tested positive.

While that student was confined to a car, the person did have company, people over later. There was no word on how many students here are affected. But just because cities are opening up, it does not mean that the threat is over. And our correspondents are showing us some of the latest clusters of coronavirus that are breaking out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jimenez in Chicago. There are concerns in Missouri after two hair stylists tested positive for coronavirus and potentially exposed around 140 clients as they continue to work for up to eight days while symptomatic.

Now, in Springfield, where this happened, and statewide, barber shops and salons are allowed to open. The hope from the health department there is that because these hair stylists were wearing face coverings that we won't see any additional cases, but only time will tell.

And as the contact tracing process continues, the county health department director says, we can't have many more of these.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ed Lavandera in Little Rock, Arkansas. Governor Asa Hutchinson here says that the State of Arkansas is seeing its second peak of coronavirus cases. The first came just about a month ago.

The governor says that there has been an outbreak of coronavirus cases connected to a high school swim party. We don't have a lot of details as to where and when all of this happened. But the governor says it was of responsible for what they believe is a cluster of new coronavirus cases.

But many places you go here in the state, there are few people wearing masks and the governor says that people, especially this Memorial Day weekend need to be mindful of their action to prevent and control the spread of coronavirus.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: Breaking news, the World Health Organization has temporarily halted even studying Hydroxychloroquine because of safety concerns. This is the same drug that President Trump has vigorously touted as a treatment for coronavirus.

This decision made following a study published in the prominent medical publication, The Lancet. This found that coronavirus patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine became seriously ill and were significantly more likely to die than patients who did not take the drug.

I am joined now by Dr. Roshini Raj. She is an Associate Professor of Medicine at NYU. And she's also a Contributing Medical Editor for Health Magazine.

Dr. Raj, thank you so much for joining us.

And I really want to get your take on what we're seeing here with this suspension from the WHO about even studying of hydroxychloroquine.

DR. ROSHINI RAJ, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, NYU LANGONE HEALTH: Well, Brianna, this is what happens in studies and they are halted prematurely when it's found that the drug that's been studied actually is doing significant harm. And they don't even want to put the study subjects through this because they think that it is harmful and that harm outweighs the benefits.

So it happens in science and it's kind of more evidence that this isn't really something that we want to be certainly not looking for in terms of hope for a cure for coronavirus. And, in fact, people who are taking it kind of without real recommendations or somehow got their hands on it that it's very dangerous, potentially, especially in terms of the heart rhythm complications.

KEILAR: And I want to return, Dr. Raj, to these outbreaks that we're seeing, the crowds that we're seeing as well. What is horrifying about this virus is that it takes a while to know the consequences, right? And it really only one person to spread this.

RAJ: That's right. It's extremely infectious and the incubation period can last up to 14 days. So what we are seeing now of Memorial Day weekend, things opening, people becoming a lot looser in terms of their social distancing, we will probably see the effects of that in the next several weeks.

And it's worrisome because people don't really realize that they can spread if they have no symptoms. It's actually more infectious, some studies are showing, before you start to show the symptoms.

So when you see those things about the schools and the graduation parties, swimming pools, it doesn't look like it's actually contracted through water, but if you're in a swimming pool and you're close to people and you're by the pool, these are always -- it can spread.

And as long as we don't have the contact tracing that we need in place, it's going to be hard to control these outbreaks and prevent them from becoming larger.

KEILAR: Yes. I mean, we see people, they're having fun, right? They're drinking and they're laughing and they're shouting and they're spraying virus all over each other potentially, right? So we'll be waiting to see the effects of that here in a little while.

Last week, Dr. Raj, Arkansas had its largest daily increase with 455 cases in a day. The governor says that his state is experiencing a second peak.

[13:20:03]

Is this what we are expecting to see in other states?

RAJ: Unfortunately, I think we are going to see it in other states and a lot of this boils down to personal responsibility. And when we talked about that hair dressing salon, where two hair stylists actually were still seeing clients, seeing people when they were symptomatic, this just shouldn't be happening.

But you have to realize when you go out, of course, you can control what you do, but you can't control what other people do, which is why masks are so important keeping your distance and really still keeping your guard up even if your community is starting to loosen some of the rules and the restrictions, realizing that, certainly, if you are at high risk.

But for anyone, we don't know what other people are doing, we don't know how vigilant they are being, how careful they're being, if they have symptoms in terms of staying home. So you really have to be as careful as you can for your own personal safety.

KEILAR: Dr. Raj, thank you so much as always.

RAJ: Thank you.

KEILAR: Once again, President Trump baselessly accusing a private citizen and T.V. host of murder. Where does Twitter draw the line?

Plus, as the president threatens to pull the convention out of North Carolina unless he can have a full crowd, one Charlotte councilman says, bye-bye.

And protesters against quarantine restrictions in Kentucky hanging an effigy, the governor, hear how officials are responding.

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[13:25:00]

KEILAR: As America honors its fallen heroes on this Memorial Day, it's usually a very solemn day for a president, but President Trump is raging on Twitter. One target, MSNBC Anchor Joe Scarborough.

The president, again, dredging up totally unfounded and debunked claims that Scarborough was responsible for the 2001 death of a woman who worked in his Florida district office when he was a GOP congressman.

The president insinuating that Scarborough's former aid was murdered even though there is zero evidence of any foul play. The tweet prompting swift criticism from Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He called the speculation a completely unfounded conspiracy. He urged the president to, quote, stop creating paranoia, adding that it will destroy us.

I want to bring in our Chief Media Correspondent, Brian Stelter, in. Not only is this just total B.S., frankly, Brian, I just think about how painful this must be for this family.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And that's ultimately why this matters so much. We know the president is the conspiracy theorist in chief, he delights in promoting these kinds of crazy and hateful ideas. But I keep on thinking of the family at the center of this story. The family of a young woman named Lori who was working for Scarborough in Florida in 2001 when she fell and hit her head and died.

Now, this happened in Scarborough's office in Florida. This was his congressional office when he was a GOP congressman. Scarborough was in Washington at the time. But when she was found dead, conspiracy theories emerged, actually from the left wing, Brianna, claiming that Scarborough had something to do with it.

And now, 20 years later, even though it has been debunked countless times, people on the right wing led by Trump are trying to use it against Scarborough because Joe is ferocious critic of President Trump on television.

I've reached out to Lori's father, to Lori's ex-husband, they have all declined interview requests. And I'm under the impression that's because they don't want to see their daughter, their wife, their loved one remembered for how she died. They want to remember for how she lived. And they definitely don't want to give more fuel and fodder to these conspiracy theorists.

What an awful place to be when you are a family member of a loved one, and you feel like you shouldn't even speak out because it would cause even more conspiracy theorizing.

KEILAR: Yes. And they can't avoid so unfortunately when you have the president who's furthering this conspiracy theory. It's moments like this that have a lot of critics saying, what's Twitter going to do, what are they doing?

STELTER: Right, because Twitter is the platform the president is promoting this idea on. He did it once in 2017, he has done it at least five times -- four times, five times this month in various ways referring to a so-called cold case that's not actually cold.

So we've asked Twitter, does this violate your policies? For example, there are policies even for world leaders, where dangerous, damaging content would be flagged. It would come with an annotation or something like that, so that users can understand what the truth actually is.

Notably though, Brianna, about 24 hours now, Twitter has not responded to our request for comment, has not commented on this particular issue.

Look, there were a lot of Trump tweets that are ugly, but don't bother asking Twitter about because they don't seem to cross a clear policy line. This one does seem to cross a clear policy line.

But what we have seen so often with the president, whether it's how Republican leaders react to him, how his base reacts, how Fox News starts to react to him, is that there doesn't seem to be a penalty within his base for promoting this kind of nonsense.

And, again, with Twitter, it doesn't seem they want to penalize it either in this case.

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KEILAR: Brian, thank you so much, Brian Stelter, we appreciate it, the Anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES."