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NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update On Coronavirus Response; Disney World Proposes Phased Reopening Of Parks On July 11; Fauci: Wearing Mask A Symbol Of "What You Should Be Doing"; Astronauts Arrive At Launch Pad As Historic Liftoff Looms; Pastor Ron Hill Discusses Signing Petition To Open California Churches & Will Open Church Because The Holy Spirit Told Him To, Not the Governor. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 27, 2020 - 13:30   ET



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: And the trains go through two tunnels. Those two tunnels are old. They're dilapidated. If there's a problem in those tunnels, you stop train service to the entire northeast United States.

It would be devastating for the nation because, while in Washington, we have this fragmented view of the country, either the national economy works or none of it works. You cut out the northeast, you're cutting your nose to spite your face. So those tunnels have to be replaced.

Amtrak, federally owned, has a proposal to build two new tunnels so there's additional capacity. That's a project that New York and New Jersey said, we'll pay 50 percent of, just to be good partners.

There's a project called the Second Avenue Subway in New York, which goes up Second Avenue, hence the Second Avenue Subway, and it's pending federal approval, and we could start building on that immediately.

There's also a project, which is the air train, which goes from LaGuardia Airport, where we're building a new airport to Manhattan. That would cut down traffic congestion. It would be a great advancement. People have been talking about that for 30 years.

And it's pending an environmental review by the federal DOT. And I asked if that could be accelerated, because we've already done an environmental review, and nobody's more environmentally sensitive than our government. But can we get the bureaucracy to move faster so we can get that project done?

And it was a good conversation. You know, the president is from New York, so he has a context for all the things we're talking about.

I think the president also acknowledges and realizes that New York, we're very aggressive about getting these projects done and getting them done on time. This is not the typical government project. We actually get these things done. We're building the first new airport at LaGuardia in 25 years in this

country. We built the largest infrastructure project in the United States, which was a bridge that went across the Hudson River, now named the Mario Cuomo Bridge. It was the largest infrastructure project in the United States. We got it done on time, on budget.

So, if he gives us the green light --

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: You're listening there to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He's speaking here in Washington, just after meeting with President Trump at the White House.

Cuomo really taking lawmakers in Congress to task there for delaying and refusing to inject more money into economic recovery, specifically in the local governments and state governments.

He also acknowledged political differences with the president, but he did not reveal too many specifics about this conversation. He just said they were talking about supercharging the reopening, especially in New York.

They were talking about infrastructure, a big pitch for him for some big infrastructure projects there in New York to get some jobs going.

And cases, of course, are rising, or they're remaining steady in many states. We have been watching scenes of summertime crowds with people close together, few of them wearing masks.

And this has Dr. Anthony Fauci making this plea.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you have situations in which you'll see that type of crowding with no masks and people interacting, that's not prudent, and that's inviting a situation that could get out of control.

So, I keep -- when I get an opportunity to plead with people, understanding you do want to gradually do this, but don't start leap- frogging over some of the recommendations and the guidelines, because that's really tempting fate and asking for trouble.


KEILAR: As the nation's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Fauci also stressed that he tries to set an example by wearing his mask to show individual action is key to stopping the spread of coronavirus, a stark contrast, of course, to the president, who still does not wear a mask in public.


FAUCI: I mean, I wear it for the reason that I believe it is effective. It's not 100 percent effective. I mean, it's sort of respect for another person and have that other person respect you. You wear a mask. They wear a mask. You protect each other.

I mean, I do it when I'm in the public for the reasons that, A, I want to protect myself and protect others, and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that's the kind of thing you should be doing.


KEILAR: We'll have more on that in just a moment.

First, though, just in, two of America's popular summertime destinations have just revealed their reopening plans, Disney World and SeaWorld. Temperature checks and reservations will be required for entry. And you can say good-bye to those sweet character meet-and- greets, at least for now.

CNN's Natasha Chen is covering the story.

Natasha, these places are known for big crowds. They're synonymous with them. So when they reopen, what are they going to be doing to take precautions?


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Brianna. It's going to feel very different. Disney said today they would like to reopen their four Orlando-area theme parks in mid-July, starting with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on the 11th of July, followed by Epcot and Hollywood studios on the 15th, all pending approval by the state of Florida.

Now, this is much later than some of the other attractions in the area. Universal Orlando is opening next week and SeaWorld said today they would like to reopen to the public on June 11th.

Now, what you might expect, if you were to go back to any of these theme parks, similar requirements: required face masks, temperature checks, social distancing in the parks. There will be an encouragement to use cashless options for transactions. And there are more sanitary stations as well.

Now, Disney said today during a presentation that there will be some things you won't see if you were to return. Here's what they said.


JIM MACPHEE, SENIOR V.P. OF OPERATIONS, WALT DISNEY WORLD: We are closing several of our higher-touch experiences, again, including character meet-and-greets, high-touch areas, such as playgrounds and water effects that may draw gatherings that may compromise physical distancing.


CHEN: And parades and fireworks typically draw large crowds, so those are also temporarily suspended. And there will be, for Disney, an advanced reservation system. Details on that to come later, the company says, but that's a way to reduce guest capacity.

And Disney would not tell me exactly the target percentage. They're trying to get there but that there will be reduced capacity.

We have our CNN Business Reporter, Frank Pallotta, interviewing Disney's CEO Bob Chapek today, and that story will be later on

Right now, we're awaiting on the state of Florida to approve these plans -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Natasha, no more pictures, at least for now, with Minnie Mouse. We appreciate the update.

Natasha Chen, thank you.

I want to return now to Dr. Anthony Fauci's comments saying that he wears a mask as a symbol of the right thing to do.

With me now is Dr. James Phillips. He is a CNN medical analyst and physician at George Washington University Hospital.

Always good to see you, Doctor.


KEILAR: And of course, we know masks are effective, right? They prevent the spread of coronavirus. So, what is your message to people who are still not wearing one?

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We do know that they help prevent infection.

You know, about a week ago, my wife gave birth to our second son, and --


KEILAR: Congratulations!

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

Prior to going to the hospital, I was tested to make sure I wasn't bringing in disease to the hospital asymptomatically. And as soon as I got done getting my test results, I went to the grocery store and I still wore a mask. I wore a mask, even though I knew I did not have the disease, by the best test that we have available.

And the reasons for that is exactly what Dr. Fauci said, it's respect for my fellow Virginians. And it's also a symbol. It's a reminder to other people that this is still happening and we have to take precautions to prevent spread.

So, what he's doing is leading by example and being responsible, and we could certainly use more of that right now.

KEILAR: Congratulations to you. It sounds like you guys really have your hands full right now, even amid all that we're dealing with.


KEILAR: You heard Dr. Fauci. He warned not to be overconfident as people are going out more, they're interacting more with others. What would it take to avoid a second wave of the virus?

PHILLIPS: Well, there's so many things. We should be proud of ourselves, as a country, as a people, as individual states as well, for the flattening of the curve that took place in the United States. We lost a lot of people, and it's tragic. And our economy and individuals have lost their jobs. It's been a tragedy on multiple levels.

But the worst thing I think we can do right now is just forget it all and say, OK, we're back, it's time to get back to business, our economy deserves it.

Look, I know it's a struggle. And I know I see things through a purely medical lens. And that tells me to tell everybody to stay home.

But realistically, we do have to start to reopen some things. But if we just forget about masking, forget about physical distancing, start shaking hands again, going to choir practice, and holding large gatherings, we are going to see a significant increase in the amount of disease that's spreading out there. There's just no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

KEILAR: But now you're also seeing this through the lens of a parent, right, at this moment in time? And there's a lot of parents out there who are looking for answers when it comes to schools returning. And Dr. Fauci says that reopening schools, it's not a one size fits all.

What does it take, do you think, to make it safe to reopen in the fall so that you don't have, you know, kids, who largely have been able to have better numbers, certainly, when it comes to death rates, than, say, older Americans, but are very capable of bringing this home to their families?


PHILLIPS: And that is the real risk, right? Is not that we're going to have a bunch of children very sick. Obviously, we know that there are some rare complications of this disease, the Kawasaki syndrome-like illness that's happening. But by and large, kids are safe and, for the most part, asymptomatic whenever they do catch this virus.

But it's the risk of bringing it home to more vulnerable people, whether that's their parents, grandparents, neighbors, things like that. And so, the risks of reopening are real.

And what we want to be able to do is to screen kids. But so many present without fevers, without symptoms, and without adequate testing, it's going to be really difficult to know if sick kids are coming to school and spreading it to their friends.

KEILAR: Dr. James Phillips, we really appreciate you coming on here. Again, congratulations. What a big moment in your life.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

KEILAR: And best to your wife as well. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

KEILAR: So, I want to go live now to Florida, because, just a short time from now, there's a big-deal thing happening, the first manned rocket launch on U.S. soil in nine years. That is taking place today.

CNN's Rachel Crane is there.

And, Rachel, we've been watching the astronauts there arrive to the launch pad. A big day for America. A big day for SpaceX.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATION & SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. We're all hoping here that the weather holds up and that we will be go for a launch in just, you know, a little under three hours now.

As you said, the crew just arrived at launch complex 39A, which is the historic launch pad that the "Apollo" astronauts blasted to the moon back in 1969.

Now, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are suited up. They'll be soon crossing through the crew access arm and getting into the capsule.

And at that point, there will be a series of checks that happen to make sure that the rocket is a go for launch. There will be many weather checks, many flight-control checks, and then the critical go for launch poll 40 minutes out before launch.

But as I said, everybody here at Kennedy Space Center is crossing their fingers, hoping that the weather holds up.

But it's important to remember that it's not just the weather here at the Kennedy Space Center. It's all across the eastern seaboard, across the North Atlantic. I don't know if you hear, but there's thunder happening here at Kennedy Space Center. But across the North Atlantic and also off the coast of Ireland.

That's because they have to make sure that the weather is clear across the whole ascent path just in case a rescue operation is necessary.

And this spacecraft, NASA says, could potentially be the safest spacecraft they've ever flown. That's because there's an end-to-end abort system. Meaning that in any part of the ascent, the astronauts would be able to propel themselves away from the rocket and to safety -- Brianna?

KEILAR: I mean, that is really amazing, right, that they've been able to look at that, because they haven't had that before, that precaution for the astronauts.

So, tell us a little bit about what they're going to be doing. What is ahead of these astronauts, assuming that this is going to be a go. I covered launches, it seems like -- it was years and years ago now. And you never know with these things. You sort of can't really know until they're up in the air.

But what are they going to be doing?

CRANE: Right. Well, if this is a nominal mission, which, of course, is what everybody is rooting for. It will take off at 4:33 Eastern Standard Time here at Kennedy Space Center. And this mission is expected to take 19 hours before they rendezvous with the International Space Station.

Now, it's actually unclear how long the astronauts will be on board that floating laboratory. That's because they need to see how well the solar panels stick up or hold up, rather, to the atmosphere or space, rather, because they do degrade in space. So they need to see how long they can actually withstand.

But you know, it's also important to remember that this is a test flight. This vehicle has not yet been certified by NASA to fly humans to space. So you know, there's a lot of excitement here. And of course, there are humans on board.

But important to remember that there's a lot of systems that SpaceX and NASA are testing here in order to certify it for crew.

KEILAR: Yes. No, it's such -- you can't really understate what a big day this is. It's been so long since we've seen a rocket launch from U.S. soil. And SpaceX, I mean, a first for them with a manned flight. So, we are certainly looking there towards Florida and hoping for the very best.

Rachel Crane, thank you so much for giving us a glimpse of what's going on there on the ground. We appreciate it.

As California's allowing churches to reopen, there's one pastor who says the Holy Spirit will tell him when to reopen, not the governor. And he's going to join me live to talk about his decision.

Plus, at a time when Americans need the truth, the president threatens to shut down social media sites for fact-checking him.


And tensions boiling in Minneapolis over the death of a black man in police custody. You're going to hear from George Floyd's family.

This is CNN's special live coverage.


KEILAR: Houses of worship across the state of California have been cleared to reopen with some restrictions and the approval of their county health departments. Los Angeles County said it will allow sanctuaries to reopen starting today. The guidelines set by Governor Newsom include this: Limiting

attendance to 25 percent of building capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower. Asking churches to practice social distancing of at least six feet and requiring face coverings. Also avoiding singing, passing of collection plates, and the sharing of Bibles. The guidelines will be reassessed in three weeks.


And this move is following a petition signed by more than 1,200 California pastors who vowed to reopen church doors this Sunday despite the governor's initial orders.

Governor Newsom saying today this should not be about politics.


GAVIN NEWSOM, (D), CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR; I have deep respect for those that want to practice their faith in person, not just virtually, but we have to do so safely. It's not a political issue for us.

No one's immune from political pressure, but that won't be determinative of decision making. We'll do it on the basis of public health.


KEILAR: One L.A. County pastor from the city of Compton who signed the petition to reopen services this Sunday said he would not open when the governor told him but the Holy Spirit told him to.

Ron Hill is the pastor of the Love and Unity Christian Fellow Church.

Pastor, thank you for joining us. I really appreciate it.


KEILAR: You signed this petition and when you did, at the time, you said you were not necessarily committed to reopening this Sunday but that you were showing support for the other pastors who wanted to resume in-person services.

Now that you have the governor and you have county officials saying that you can reopen but with limitations, what are you planning to do this weekend?

HILL: First of all, when the governor first came out and gave the restriction for the church, I was offended by the fact he lumped us up with the entertainment industries in southern California, and now he's telling the church you can only have 100 people.

We have a 46,000 square foot building here and we can accommodate far more than 100 people. And I'm offended by that, because of like Disneyland, Tesla, nightclubs and bars are not restricted as to the numbers they can accommodate. And I feel he should give us a freedom to accommodate as many people as we can safely.

I'm in favor of the CDC's procedure for safety, the hand washing, the temperature checks, the distances, all of that but it bothers me they're going to restrict us to 100 people. That's my problem.

KEILAR: It bothers you. Are you thinking though you're still going to reopen in some shape or fashion this weekend?

HILL: Not myself. First of all -



HILL: First of all, when they closed the churches down, I remained open two or three weeks because, as a man of God, I have to be led by the Holy Spirit. And all Christians are called to be led by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit did not lead me to shut down.

The next day, the police were at our door to bring a citation for me being open longer than they wanted me open. That was offensive. And now, I will open the church back up when the Holy Spirit leads me. And I will do so in the fashion it leads me.

I think it's a slippery slope to have the government to tell you how to worship and how many people you can minister to inside the local church.

Because when you think about the fact, today, suicides are up, domestic violence is up, alcohol and drugs is up. We deal with spiritual issues as well as assisting the poor.

Last Thursday, our church gave away $45,000 to the poor and we had over 900 people to come to our church, not inside. But we are serving the communities from a spiritual standpoint and a social standpoint. And I don't think the government should restrict us.

They talk about separation of church and state, and that should be in place even now.

Although I must say, we will abide by the hand sanitizers, the temperature check, the distances, but we should have the freedom to accommodate as many people as we have space to accommodate.

KEILAR: Even if they can't socially distance appropriately?

HILL: Well, that's what I'm saying. We have a 46,000-square foot building.


KEILAR: So you can move -- you have a lot of space.

HILL: Yes --

(CROSSTALK) KEILAR: Can I ask you, Pastor -- can I ask you, Pastor Hill, because you say that you want to reopen when the Holy Spirit tells you to, and how the Holy Spirit guides you to. Do you --

HILL: Right.

KEILAR: I mean, you're saying you are -- I mean, you've made decisions, though, you're going to use hand sanitizer. Are you going to make sure that people don't share Bibles? Are there going to be masks? Are you -- do you -- I mean, do you expect that there would be a way you might be led to reopen that is not in compliance with county and state and CDC guidelines?

HILL: No, I do not. I do not. And in the same way I wash my hands before I eat, I will make sure that we have procedures in place to protect the people.

We love the people, we pastors. We don't want to put them in a position to get ill or contract the virus. We'll have masks on. We'll have hand sanitizer. We'll check their temperature. And we'll have distances for them to be safe.


But at the same time, at the end of the day, the church has to be led by the spirit of God. And it's a slippery slope to have the government to tell us what we can do and cannot do inside the church.

Give us the same respect that you give Disneyland or any other company that's going to be having the thousands of people coming in. They're not going to restrict them. And they shouldn't restrict us.

And give us the freedom to use wisdom to protect our people, but don't tell us how many people we can preach to and, of course --


HILL: -- we won't do anything in terms of passing Bibles around or the offering plate around. We're going to be safe as possible.

KEILAR: I want to ask you, before I let you go, because you're someone in this situation where you are balancing what you're being told by the state to your highest authority.

And we've heard from a lot of people who say they're not wearing masks because they believe that they will be protected, that they'll be protected by Jesus. We've heard people say that.

I wonder what you would say to them when they say, I'm not going to wear a mask because Jesus will protect me from coronavirus.

HILL: There's a scripture where Jesus is told to do something that would put him in danger and he said, don't tempt the Lord your God. There's a scripture that talks handling snakes. I don't handle snakes.

I'm not going to do anything to put myself in danger. Just like I drive the speed limit, I obey the sanitary laws, I do the same thing now.

The sticking point with me is for them to limit the number of people that we could have in the sanctuary safely. If they do the same thing to the amusement parks and to cafes and to restaurants, then I'm fine with it. But to just do this to the church, I think that it is heavy handed against the church.

KEILAR: Pastor, thank you so much. We really appreciate you joining us and giving us your perspective.

HILL: Thanks for having me.

KEILAR: Pastor Ron Hill there with us of Love and Unity Christian Fellowship Church.

President Trump is threatening to strongly regulate or shut down social media companies. The warning is aimed at Twitter after the site, for the first time, added a fact-check to a couple of the president's false tweets about mail-in voting.

While the president threatened, quote, "big action" in one response, did not elaborate what he'd actually do.

Renee DiResta is a researcher at the Stanford Internet Observatory and she studies digital misinformation around the world. She's the person to talk to about this.

And I wonder what you think about the president's, first off, threat because he seems to be confusing fact-checking with censorship.

RENEE DIRESTA, RESEARCH MANAGER, STANFORD INTERNET OBSERVATORY: Right. And the idea he's going to close tech companies is fantasy. A fact- checking link is not censorship.

We've seen this erosion in what the president thinks is censorship, unfortunately. Originally, this pertained to accounts being taken down that expressed conservative points of view. And then extended to shadow banning, which was down ranking some of the accounts. And now it's extended to just a fact-checking link.

That is not censorship. That never has been under any definition of the term we've ever had in free-speech debates in America.

KEILAR: What did you think about Twitter's reaction? It was under considerable pressure. But it was under a rock and a Trump space as it made this decision. What did you think about it?

DIRESTA: Fact-checking shouldn't be politicized to this extent. It's disturbing that it's gotten to this point.

I think what we're seeing is, particularly in the case of the pandemic that we're all living through right now, bad information can have life-or-death consequences.

So incorporating a degree of fact-checking, trying to assign more reliable information or to say, hey, this information was wrong or even this information is now outdated, that's the kind of thing we actually want to ensure that people are getting better information.

One of the real challenges with Twitter, with Facebook is that the misinformation will go viral but the correction will not, which leaves people with a misleading or false impression.

So by trying to have some degree of fact-checking to very specific well-defined, narrowly defined topics, they're trying to ensure people get better information about things that have potentially significant consequences.

This is not being -- not every comment that the president makes is being fact-checked.

KEILAR: What do you think about what Twitter might do going forward? How sustainable is it for them to consistently fact-check the president's tweets? Do you expect they'll be surgical about it?

DIRESTA: I think they'll be surgical about it. As we saw yesterday evening, the gripe was about the fact-check related to the mail-in ballots, the fact-check that actually happened.

The morning controversy, if you recall, was about the president insinuating a TV anchor he didn't like was potentially a murder suspect. I don't believe that was fact-checked.

So there's a lot of tailoring within 24 hours we've seen. So it is possible.


And again, companies may have decided that health misinformation, voting misinformation are two things that have very significant consequences on people's lives.