Return to Transcripts main page


Virus Kills More Than 100,000 Americans In Less Than Four Months; Violent Protests Erupt In Minneapolis Over George Floyd's Death. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2020 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


100,000 coronavirus deaths, that marker surpassed now in this country in just four months. And this is all happening just less than four months. And moments ago, the president acknowledging those losses, finally, tweeting, quote, we have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all the families and friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy and love for everything that these great people stood for and represent. God be with you.

Well, this morning, we're learning more about who has been impacted most from this pandemic. Much more on that in a moment.

But, first, breaking overnight, violence in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed, handcuffed black man who died shortly after a police officer pinned him to the ground and put his knee on his neck for more than 7 minutes.

SCIUTTO: Floyd's death not just fuelling anger across the City of Minneapolis, but many across country. And not long after those protests started, they turned dangerous, frankly, buildings set on fire raging throughout the night, many still burning as the sun rose over the city. Businesses like this Target store were looted. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. That's the Target store there.

The mayor reportedly asking the governor to call in the National Guard now. He also had this statement on CBS This Morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that was murder?



FREY: I'm not a prosecutor, but let me be clear. The arresting officer killed someone.


SCIUTTO: Let's go to CNN's Omar Jimenez. He is in Minneapolis. He's been following the events there overnight. Has it calmed down now, police have been able to get a handle on these protests?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At this point, yes. But we have seen this cycle, where every morning, there is morning after sort of sense where you survey and see what damage was done the night before and then try to pick up the pieces. And then this is all happening prior to what will likely be more protests this evening, all until we see any sort of charges filed against these officers.

Now, some of what people are finding as they wake up in this part of Minneapolis are things that are unrecognizable. This used to be a Wendy's. And the reason I know that is that just two nights ago, my crew and I ate here after a long day of covering protests, and it was one of the first things we remarked as we drove back here, saying that this was a place that was completely burned to the ground.

And you look over in this direction here. You see these crews that are working on these trailers. But in the background, you see that building that, at one point, was supposed to be a six-storey building, but all of that caught fire over the course of just a few hours, and all that's left is just that level of foundation there as well.

And as you look over this way as well, smoke completely fills the air, but you see nothing but flashing lights because the scene isn't just in one spot despite the focal point of these protests being across the street from the police precinct, which is right around the corner but it stands out. And the message behind this all comes from how George Floyd was killed or how he died later on, and the circumstances over what is being done about it.

We know the four officers were fired, but we heard the strongest language yet, as you played from the Minneapolis mayor. He believes that George Floyd was murdered, and people will be moving on this tension until it seems criminal charges are filed.

HARLOW: And, Omar, I think it's important for people to understand the outrage here has a history too, right? This is not the first incident that has sparked outrage from the Minneapolis Police Department. People are calling for the transparency and for that video, for the body camera video to be released. Is there any update on when that may come?

JIMENEZ: That's, again, what many people are calling for in this. We've seen the cell phone video that is obviously so awful and hard to watch. We've seen surveillance video from businesses nearby, but that body camera footage might give the clearest picture yet as to what was done wrong in this and any circumstantial evidence as to why these action were taken, but we haven't seen that just yet, Poppy. [10:05:06]

HARLOW: Okay. Thank you, Omar, for the reporting there. That is a stunning, stunning thing to see.

To the coronavirus now that has killed more than 100,000 Americans in less than four months, but, you know, the data show that minority communities are facing the brunt of this pandemic, both in terms of their health and financially.

SCIUTTO: Listen, it's in the numbers. It is. It's in the data. CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has been following it. Elizabeth, tell us what these new studies are showing us to the African-Americans, but also Latinos disproportionately impacted.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Timid (ph) is in the numbers, and these new numbers coming out in the New England Journal of Medicine yesterday really quite stunning.

Let's take a look at them. This is from the Oxner Healthcare system, which is a large system in Louisiana. They said, that, typically, without COVID, about 31 percent of their hospitalized patient population was -- about 31 percent of them were African-American. Now, with COVID, when you look at COVID patients, specifically, 77 percent of their COVID patients are African-American. We've also seen numbers that show that Latinos are being disproportionately affected.

This is a serious, serious problem. There are probably many reasons for this. There may be some genetic reasons, there may be socioeconomic reasons, but the picture is becoming more and more clear that these communities are becoming disproportionately affected.

HARLOW: Absolutely. Elizabeth, thank you very much.

The CDC is highlighting a new forecast which shows an uptick, actually, in new coronavirus cases being hospitalized into the end of June, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. This is a concern, right, that as you have reopening, and, again, this is in the numbers. It's in the studies. You're more likely to have more cases, more hospitalizations.

CNN's Brynn Gingras, she joins us now. So, Brynn, where are we seeing this and how big are those jumps expected to be?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, Jim, we're primarily seeing the cases going up in the southeast part of the country, in states like Alabama, where there has been a surge, Tennessee, Virginia. If you remember, the governor earlier this week was begging its residents to start wearing masks, practice social distancing.

Remember, many of these states are typically the ones that opened a little bit quicker than the CDC was recommending, making those moves, not really tracking the data or giving time to track the data and continuing to -- with bringing some of those restrictions, 16 states in all seeing an uptick in their numbers of coronavirus cases.

Now, on the flip side, states that are seeing the cases go down, there are 24, New York where I am included. Of course, we know New York saw the largest number of cases in the entire country, but, again, they're following those CDC guidelines.

In New York City, we haven't even seen any reopening yet because the numbers just aren't there yet, even though the governor just came out and said that we're getting there very, very quickly or very, very soon. But, typically, the states that did give that time to see where the numbers go after loosening some restrictions are having much more success. And at this point, Jim and Poppy, ten states in the country are holding steady.

SCIUTTO: Brynn Gingras in New York, thanks very much.

Let's speak now to CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, always good to have you on the program, and I know folk's ears perk up when they see you on the screen.

I want to begin, if I can, with a big picture question here, right? Because, listen, every governor, every mayor has a difficult decision to make now about how to reopen, what to reopen, what not to reopen, what the pace is, et cetera. I mean, given that some states and communities do have lower infection rates, in some cases, much lower, if look at Missouri compared to New York, for instance. Is there anything wrong with those states opening more quickly and more aggressively?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's quite possible. You look at some of these communities that have lower infection rates, you look at some of these countries around the world that have lower infection rates, and you start to get an idea of what is possible.

I think there is two important caveats. One is that you've got to make sure that, in fact, the infection rates are low, and that's -- meaning that you have adequate testing that's already been done, and that you have adequate testing in place to quickly identify people who will become newly infected.

The problem is you get new infections, they start spread and you can go quickly and exponential growth again. That's what you're trying to avoid.

And second thing, you have to sort of define, I think, more clearly, I'm realizing, for people what close contact really means. You talk to contact tracers and you say, so you're contact tracing, what does that mean? What do you look for? I spent time with Jim Sciutto yesterday. Is he now at risk because I have the virus? How do you define that? And I think really getting as specific as possible.

You can't be totally certain about these things because we're learning as we go along, but as specific as possible, within six feet, under 15 minutes, the type of environment that we were in, inside and outside, how big was the inside environment if it was inside, of these things play a role.


So defining that for people, making sure testing is in place and making sure that there are low enough infections that you can keep on top of.

HARLOW: Sanjay, to the point about minimizing here and potentially eliminating infections, Jim and I were both struck by this comment made last night to our colleague, Anderson Cooper, from Dr. William Haseltine. Here he was.


DR. WILLIAM HASELTINE, PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: We could have prevented it by behavior. And had we been prepared, only a handful of people in the whole world need to have died.

It can be stopped without a vaccine and without a drug if we change our behavior.


HARLOW: And you've talked about this. I mean, you've talked about different countries like South Korea, for example, where the vaccine came on at the same time, but the death toll was just so much less. Could you -- I mean, what's your take on that? Is he right?

GUPTA: I totally agree with him. I mean, it's a painful thing to acknowledge, right, because I know there are a lot of families that are watching whose family members may have died from this virus. And they're hearing today that, you know, many of these deaths could have been prevented, the majority of these deaths could have been prevented, and that's difficult, I think, to say for anybody as a journalist, as a doctor, anybody. But it's true.

I mean, there was no magic therapeutic in South Korea. There was no vaccine, obviously. They didn't have anything that we didn't have. I mean, I think there was willful ignorance in this country with regard to this.

At the end of February when the CDC, which is arguably the best public health agency in the world, not just the country, but the world, when they were saying, look, it's no longer a question of if but when, they got silenced and threatened. One of the people was threatened to be fired having said that. That's willful ignorance.

100,000 people have died. Fewer than 300 people have died in South Korea. Yes, it's 1/7 the size of the United States. Multiply that times seven. That would be 2,000. Multiply it times a hundred. It's still far lower than what happened here. And that's going to be a painful thing to acknowledge. But, you know what, we're still in this.

So, hopefully, to your first question, we can apply these lessons. Places start to reopen, do we have the testing in place so that we can be more like South Korea and not sort of do the same things we did the first time around?

SCIUTTO: But do we, Sanjay -- I mean, you talked about willful ignorance that the president is tweeting this morning, questioning whether masks help and it might be a form of self-control. If you talk about willful ignorance, I mean, we still have information being spread about this from the highest levels.

GUPTA: I know, and it's nuts. I mean, he has said the same thing about testing. I'm not sure testing is important. It is. It's fundamental to this whole thing. Again, those countries that had tremendous success, it was because of testing, and masks, we now know, have evidence of how well they can work. They are not a panacea, but they can dramatically reduce the amount of exposure.

Look, again, if I say I'm going to stay six feet away from you, I'm not going to interact with you for more than 15 minutes, I'm going to try to do it in an open -- outside environment as much as possible, I can decrease the likelihood of spread. By wearing a mask, I decrease that much further. All these things help.

And right now, we're looking at the numbers on the right side of the screen and we're still in this. I mean, we've got to do everything we can. It is true that the mask thing has been, I think, a little confusing in this country, because until it was confirmed that there was asymptomatic spread, it wasn't clear that healthy people, people who weren't symptomatic, should need them. But now, we know that they should and it works.


HARLOW: 100 percent, as you've said, and as Dr. Fauci said again to Jim yesterday, it's the right thing to do. Thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You got it.

So tonight, join Sanjay and Anderson as they welcome science writer David Quammen, author of the book, Spillover. Why he says viruses, like coronavirus, are going to keep happening. The town hall, Coronavirus, Facts and Fears, tonight, 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Still to come, protesters are demanding justice for the life of George Floyd. One of his longtime friends remembers him and joins us. He remembers him as his twin.


STEPHEN JACKSON, RETIRED NBA PLAYER AND GEORGE FLOYD'S FRIEND: Well, he was my brother, man. We called each other twin brothers. Everybody knows me and Floyd called each other, Twin.


HARLOW: Former NBA star Stephen Jackson will join us.

SCIUTTO: Plus, sorting through what is true and what is not when it comes to the coronavirus, why other governments could be behind the flow of disinformation into this country.

And in one Alabama city, there are only three ICU beds left to treat COVID-19 patients as the number of cases there rises. We're going to speak to the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama.



HARLOW: Violent protests erupting overnight in Minneapolis. This follows the death of an unarmed, handcuffed African-American man, George Floyd, while he was in police custody.

A warning, you're about to see video that is very graphic and very disturbing. You see a police officer with his knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd pleads for help. Look at that. That happened for seven-plus minutes.

The mayor of Minneapolis says this morning he believes that George Floyd was murdered.

Retired NBA player Stephen Jackson grew up with Floyd in the Houston area. The two men remained close through all these years. They even had a nickname for each other.


They called each other, Twin, because friends say the two looked like each other and because they were like brothers.

Here is Jackson soon after learning of Floyd's death.


JACKSON: This is what I got to wake up to, huh? Floyd was my brother, man. We called each other, Twin, bro. Everybody know me and Floyd called each other, Twin.


HARLOW: Stephen Jackson is with me now. Thank you, thank you for being here to honor his life. And I know words can do nothing to ease your pain, but I'm so sorry.

JACKSON: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Can you just tell us about him? You didn't call him George, you called him, Twin.

JACKSON: Yes, I've heard George in the last couple days more than I've heard my whole life, and we had a 20-plus relationship. His name was always Floyd, my twin. And nine out of ten times we called each other, Twin.

He was just a great dude, somebody that supported me genuinely, somebody that wanted to be a protector and provider for everybody around him. One of those guys where you live on one side of the town and your side of the town is not agreeing with the other side, and they hate each other. But he's the only guy that can move around the city and everybody gets along with him. That was Floyd.

And I'm going to miss my friend, man. You very seldom get people, especially when you have the success I've had, you very seldom get people that support you genuinely with no motives. Floyd was that for me, and I'm going to miss him.

HARLOW: Yes, that he didn't want anything from you. You said he didn't have a hateful bone in his body. Obviously, he was a father too. He had a six-year-old daughter. Can you just tell people about what we have all lost in losing him?

JACKSON: Yes, he has two daughters, and what really bothers me about that is, last night, I was talking to his youngest daughter, Gigi, and mother, and when I was talking, Gigi was screaming in the background and crying, and just not doing well, man. And it sucks the whole world had to see my friend go that way. This is not the way he was supposed to go.

He didn't deserve that, but the way that people are supporting him, standing up for him, the way I'm going to stand up and support him, his death will not be in vain.

HARLOW: Well, you're going to Minneapolis tomorrow. What are you going to do and say there? Why is it so important to you to be there?

JACKSON: My main three reasons for going are three reasons why I love Floyd. I'm going to make sure that people know who he is. It happened to me my whole NBA career. I got into one situation with a brawl, and it shattered my whole career, stopped me from making All-Star games because people labeled me as something I wasn't. I couldn't control my own narrative.

Now, I have one of the biggest podcasts in the world, All the Smoke, and I can control the narrative for my brother. I can't let them demean his name, because every time something like this happens with police, the first thing they do is try to dig up dirt on you and make you seem like you deserved what happened to you. I'm not letting it happen.

So my first reason for going down there is to let people know who my brother is because I knew him. Second, I want justice for his kids. I want his kids to be taken care of. Their father is not here. Their kids still have a life to live and somebody needs to provide for them. I'm going to do my best to be there and fill in for Floyd, but the police department in the City of Minnesota needs to take care of those two kids and their mother to make sure their life is straight. And three, I know it's basically impossible, but I've seen impossible happen.

And I think we need a death conviction for the main cop that had his hand casually in his pocket and killed my brother. He needs to have the death penalty. The only way these cops will stop senseless killing of people, especially killing black men, is if they see one of their own get fried in a chair, just like the whole world had to see my brother get killed on the street. That's the only way.

HARLOW: They don't have the death penalty there, but your pain is palpable, and I have a few more questions for you. I mean, one of them is just -- I want you to listen to this from the mayor of Minneapolis and what he said to my colleague, Chris Cuomo, last night.


FREY: This is not just about that five minutes of time. We're talking about 400 years worth of this kind of racism. We're talking about 400 years worth of practices that this incident has stood on.



HARLOW: What do you think when you hear that, and what is justice, overall justice, for your twin?

JACKSON: Justice is -- you know what, that's a good question. What is justice? We don't know. We're not getting it. So what is justice? I can't even answer that question. I've seen so many black men get killed, officers get laid off jobs with pay, no jail time.

Last year, a black cop shot a white woman, was arrested immediately, charged immediately. Four cops killed my brother blatantly in the daytime for the world to see, you get fired, nobody is in jail? What is justice? I'm sorry, I can't answer that. I honestly don't know.

HARLOW: Yes. You see what has happened, and you know have close ties in Minnesota. It's my hometown, and just looking at the footage also of what happened overnight, businesses on many blocks, a wide radius, just burned to the ground. You're going to be there tomorrow. Do you have a message for protesters?

I mean, the family has called for peaceful protests, social distancing protests, but you also see their rage and their anger over years of actions here.

JACKSON: How can you tell them not to? I'm furious. I'm angry. I have enough intelligence not to do nothing stupid, but I'm angry. I'm angry. But I'm not going to do that, and that's not the answer.

Perfect example, I just posted on my page of a young white man that I never met in my life apologizing for what happened to my brother. My reply? You didn't do it, there's no need to apologize. I love you. That was my reply to him. Because that's not what Floyd would want and that's not my stance.

Floyd would want people to come together. He definitely would be overjoyed seeing everybody stand for him, but he would want people to come together. He would want his daughters taken care of and he would want justice, whatever that is. If that is them going to jail, so be it, but I actually have no idea what justice is anymore.

HARLOW: Stephen, his better half, his fiancee, told our local affiliate there, WCCO, that he is one of the most spirited men she had ever met. And what struck me about what she said is that he told so many people to move to Minnesota because it's a place that gave him opportunity. And he said to people, come here, and you can have a good life. And then his life was taken.

JACKSON: He was only in Minnesota to work. He didn't go down there for no woman, he didn't go down there for anything else but to better his life. I talked to him before he went. When he got there, he was telling me everything that he needed and how he wanted to save money and he needed clothes. The first thing I did was send him clothes and make sure he was straight. All he was worried about was getting a job and doing better.

Every conversation -- the last time I talked to him was about a year ago, and every conversation we had in that year was about bettering ourselves and being better fathers. And that's all he talked about.

HARLOW: Stephen Jackson, again, we're all so sorry for your loss and I thank you for being with us here today to help remember him.

JACKSON: Thank you. I want to send condolences to his family and to his kids.

HARLOW: Of course. We'll be right back.