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North Carolina Governor Responds to Trump's Threat to Pull RNC Out of Charlotte; Op-Ed Says My Mother Died of COVID But Officials Won't Count It; Broadway Stars Provide Inspiration to NYC Hospital Staff; Four Officers Fired after Black Man Dies in Encounter. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 26, 2020 - 15:30   ET



MALCOLM GRAHAM, (D) CHARLOTTE CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: We want to balance the need to reopen in a safe way to ensure that we provide economic opportunities for our businesses here locally, but at the same time balance that against the public health and making sure that our frontline workers and those in our city are safe and secure once the convention comes and leaves.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Let's go back to your point though about businesses in Charlotte. I mean we can't even ballpark how many -- I don't know, hundreds of thousands, beyond that, you know, dollars that Charlotte businesses especially in the wake of coronavirus could really use, you know, to use your phrase, you know, a shot in the arm. So, what do you say to businesses in Charlotte who are thinking, man, I really actually hope we host this thing.

GRAHAM: Well, I think they should know that there's a lot of conversations going right now on to balance just that. We clearly understand that hotels and restaurants want to get open. That they want to get people back to work. But they also clearly understand that we have to balance that against the public (INAUDIBLE) and so it's a balancing act and we're going to follow the science and the data, the governor obviously will have an executive order that demonstrates how we can cooperate.

And I think he's right, I'm looking forward also to receiving some information from the RNC in terms of the scale and the scope of the convention as we move forward. Certainly, the convention as it was planned two years ago cannot occur in August of 2020. So, I think we're all working together. We all want the same thing. But obviously the scale and the scope of the convention will look a little differently.

BALDWIN: Sure. And then Malcom, this is my final question just as a city leader, I really value your response on face masks. You know, face masks are becoming this political flash point. Who's wearing one, who isn't wearing one?

You know, and his or her political party affiliation. And just to be clear, 40 percent of Republicans, you know, favor wearing masks. Yet you see the President of the United States re-tweeting a tweet that mocked Joe Biden. In fact, that he was wearing a mask when he was with his wife at that Memorial Day event, not to mention the President doesn't wear masks.

And my question to you is, what message is the President sending here?

GRAHAM: Well, again, it's a counter message. He wants to reopen the country. We all do. So, let's follow the rules. Let's wear a mask. Let's wash our hands. Let's not touch our face. Let's follow governor's orders. He gave all of the governors the authority, quote/unquote to open up their space the way they believe is necessary to keep public health in mind.

So, let's follow the rules and as we follow the rules and get testing, tracing and tracking we could open up the country, so follow the rules and that's what I tell my constituents. Play by the rules, follow the rules and if we do that then we could open up and we can all come together as one.

BALDWIN: Malcolm Graham, thank you very much. Be well.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Just a reminder to all of you, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Dana Bash to weigh in on coronavirus and, of course, the politicization of masks. Plus, as the 2020 race continues what Joe Biden is looking for in a running mate. Tune into the SITUATION ROOM live today at 5:00 Eastern for that interview with Dana.

Do we really know how many Americans have been lost to COVID-19? We'll talk to a doctor who says her own mother's death is not being counted and she is not the only one.



BALDWIN: In just a matter of days the death toll from coronavirus could exceed 100,000. A devastating milestone but one that is likely lower than the actual total. Data suggests there are more deaths than just what we have counted so far, possibly going back even months before the country was even aware that there was an outbreak.

With me now Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal. She's the editor in chief of the Kaiser Health Network and also, she lost her mom in a last couple of months. So, I'm so sorry about the loss of your mother, but what a powerful opinion piece you wrote and thank you very much for coming on. Let me just dive in. You know, you write in this op-ed in "The New York Times" that your mother's death wasn't counted as a COVID-19 death. And I'm just wondering why wasn't it counted?

DR. ELISABETH ROSENTHAL, EDITOR IN CHIEF, KAISER HEALTH NETWORK: Well, my mother had clinically she had COVID. She had a cough, bilateral infiltrates on her chest x-ray, a fever and she was suspected COVID, but she didn't want to be on a ventilator, so she never went to the hospital. She wasn't short of breath, so she didn't need to go to a hospital and that was where testing is conventionally done, right. So, that's why she never got the test at a hospital.

Her doctor didn't need to test her because she was treated as a presumptive COVID case. She got azithromycin, she got some oxygen and then, you know, and she went on hospice and ultimately died.

And it was in no one's interest really at that point to test her because even though the assisted living facility she lived in did a fabulous job, they don't want to become known as a place that has, you know, a COVID outbreak. And think the problem we're having right now is that we talk about COVID at a government level and a personal level and state level as good numbers or bad numbers.


And numbers are not good or bad. They're just data we need to respond intelligently to this pandemic.

BALDWIN: Let me jump in on that point. Because, yes, of course, some of these nursing homes don't want to be that nursing home with all of those, you know, with all those deaths. Of course, you know, when you look at the top of the government and the White House, they certainly don't want high numbers because, you know, news flash, this is an election year.


BALDWIN: But you also argue that states also have this incentive to keep their numbers low. And so, explain to us what is in it for the states if they don't report the numbers accurately?

ROSENTHAL: Well, you know the CDC has recommended that states have 14 days of decreasing cases in order to start opening businesses. And, you know, what's best way to have decreasing cases that you're absolutely sure of. It's not to look. And the thing about testing, for any disease and particularly one that in many people doesn't show symptoms, is if you don't look you don't find.

And if you don't look aggressively and have a standard for looking, you don't find. So, I think, you know, we really don't know what to make of the data and so we don't know how to respond.

BALDWIN: Dr. Rosenthal, I guess at the end of the day, as people are listening to this conversation, what are the risks in not having an accurate count of deaths?

ROSENTHAL: Well, you know, knowing whether my mother had positive COVID or not wouldn't have impacted her care, but it would impact our knowledge about how COVID spreads in an assisted living community. How many people actually have it in these communities? I've gotten notes since I wrote the column from people who said everyone in my mom's memory care unit got. Everyone. And 14 people died.

But that's not being reported now because, you know, some places are testing, some not and we tend to like celebrate the ones who say we have no COVID but is the reason they have no COVID because they have no COVID, or because they're not looking. And that's the real tragedy here.

BALDWIN: Thank you for speaking up. Not only on behalf of your mom but so many others out there. Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, the last line from your piece, my mother had a love and meaningful life being counted would give her premature death meaning as well. Thank you.

ROSENTHAL: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Plans are being made to raise the curtains again on Broadway in New York City but what would that look like? I will ask two actors what it would take to make them feel safe on stage?




MEGAN HILTY, BROADWAY ACTOR: Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side.


BALDWIN: Goosebumps. That was Broadway star Megan Hilty performing a song for hospital workers in New York City who, of course, are on the front lines of this coronavirus pandemic. She is one of many performers just sort of stuck in limbo as Broadway remains closed. But this afternoon there is new hope that Broadway could be back in business in January. So, with me now, Broadway actors Jordan Dean and Megan Hilty. It is so nice to talk to you both. Thank you so much for coming on.

HILTY: It's nice to be with you. Thanks for having us.


BALDWIN: Listen, I know it is your dream, it is your superpower, your resting state, right, to be on stage, to be performing, to sharing your passion with those of us in the audience and right now you're not able to. And I'm just curious, first of all, what that's like, to both of you, Megan, first to you.

HILTY: Well, it's devastating. I mean, not only is it my life's work and my dream and it's how a feed my family, you know. Whether it's a Broadway show or one of our concerts, I make my living off of performing in front of people and it's not just monetary but that's who I am.

So it's -- I want to preface it by saying, I have my health, my family, we all have our health, so it's not devastating in those terms, but it's hard to put your life and your work on hold. But at least we have our health.

BALDWIN: Amen for that. Jordan, same question, how is it going for you? DEAN: Yes, I mean it's heartbreaking to see the community on pause,

to hear from friends who are trying to, you know, think about where they're moving, how they're living, how they'll pay their bills. Everything's connected. It's what we've trained to do, to perform and the theater is a place that you go to in a time like this and the fact that that's not available is sad and heartbreaking.

BALDWIN: So, let me inject hopefully a little bit of positivity. This is the news today. The President of the Broadway League, Charlotte St. Martin, says, that she is hopeful that theaters will reopen January 2021. She's hoping full crowds, you know, folks sitting next to one another, obviously people wearing masks. I mean I imagine, you know if you're on stage, you love a full house. But if audience members are forced to sit feet apart, if they're forced to wear masks, what will that be like for you onstage as a performer -- Jordan?


DEAN: It's definitely going to be a new paradigm. I think theater is just a contact sport in general. And onstage and sometimes in the audience. So, it's going to be -- it's going to take some getting used to. But I think it's important to put safety first, to think about the safety of the actors onstage, and the safety of the audience at large.

But as soon as we get the green light from the experts, from the health and safety experts and our unions and the powers that be, I think everyone in the community is going to be really eager to get back to doing what they love and sharing their passion with audiences.

BALDWIN: In the meantime, let's talk about the Clear Day Project. Jordan, you have pulled together, we saw the video of Megan singing, you have pulled together some of the best and brightest of your Broadway friends, like this. Here is a little bit more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at where you started, the fact that you're alive is a miracle. Stay alive that would be enough.

HILTY: Smile when your heart is aching, smile even though it's breaking, when there are clouds in the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You'll hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night it's the music of the people who are climbing to the height.


BALDWIN: I miss the theater. I could weep listening to all of this. Jordan, what is the Clear Day Project?

DEAN: Yes, sure. So, the Clear Day Project is a living theater project that I started with my friends, fellow actors, and Carnegie Mellon alums, Dan Amboyer and Kersti Bryan.

And the project focuses on groups particularly affected by the pandemic, whether that's hospital workers, pharmacists, grocery store employees, the disabled community. We're trying to use art to spread some joy, raise awareness, and potentially raise funds for those groups.

BALDWIN: And how has Megan and Jordan, how has the joy been received? And I had read specifically it was a lot of the front-line workers at Mt. Sinai. What would you want to say to them now?

DEAN: Personally, I mean I owe them my life. About a year ago at this time I underwent two heart surgeries at Mt. Sinai, one of which was a 13-hour open heart procedure that fixed two aortic aneurysms. And I owe them essentially my life. So, when I was seeing the community, the arts community get together giving back to groups in need I also wanted to jump in.

So, I reached out to the team at Mt. Sinai and said, what can I do, you know, you were so helpful to me and my family and I owe you so much. So for us and for the performing community at large to give back to the front lines and those who are doing so much every day, on a normal day they're doing so much, let alone what they're going through now, I think is what the arts are for, and it's what the community is -- what makes the community so special. That even though actors are also going through their own struggle, when it comes to groups like front line hospital workers, they wanted to jump in and get involved.

BALDWIN: Megan, quickly, just close us out, final thought.

HILTY: I can only imagine that day when we all get to go back into the theaters again together. One thing that this whole time has really taught me is how to be grateful for every little thing that I have. And the things that I possibly took for granted before, just like walking into a theater, it was as normal as everything.

And now, the next time I step into a theater, just like every audience member, every front of house worker, every person in the crew, we're going to be so excited. I'm so excited for the day that we can all get back together again.

BALDWIN: And we can't wait to be there right there with you. Megan Hilty, Jordan Dean, if you want more information, it's Thank you both. And here's to gratitude.

Here's another sign that things are starting to return to normal. Traders allowed back on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, that's next.



BALDWIN: Here's some breaking news now regarding that man who died after a confrontation with police in Minneapolis. The mayor has just announced the four officers involved in the death of George Floy are now, his words, former employees.

Floy died after being taken to the hospital in police custody. The video did not record what led up to the arrest and did not show parts of the arrest that the police described as the victim resisting arrest. Here is the video taken by a bystander.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE OFFICER: Get up get in the car, man.

FLOY: I will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE OFFICER: Get up get in the car.

FLOY: I can't move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE OFFICER: Otherwise the (INAUDIBLE). Get up get in the car.

FLOY: Mama!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE OFFICER: Get up and get in the car right.

FLOY: Mama!