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U.S. Death Toll Surpasses 100,000; Economic Fallout Hitting U.S. Small Business Owners; U.S. Jobless Claims Last Week Forecast to Climb by 2.1 Million; Protests Intensify Over George Floyd's Death; Pompeo Says Hong Kong No Longer Autonomous from China; Remembering Some of the 100,000+ Americans Who Died. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 28, 2020 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: More than 100,000 people in the United States have now died from the coronavirus. A staggering and heartbreaking milestone in a very short period. It's only been 16 weeks since the first U.S. death was reported. Since then COVID-19 has killed an average of 900 Americans per day. President Trump has not said anything publicly about this grim statistic. And even as the U.S. begins reopening businesses, churches, and public spaces, health experts warn of possible new surges in infections. More than a dozen U.S. states are still trending upward in their numbers of new cases.

Well the rising death toll is raising a lot of concern and uncertainty in the state of Wisconsin. Its small business owners seem divided over President Trump's handling of the crisis. Some spoke to CNN's Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Forest County, Wisconsin, where the pandemic has left nearly a third of the workforce unemployed. Some here unsure how they'll make it through the summer.

LORI LOCKRIDGE, STYLIST AND OWNER, LUSCIOUS LOCKS: I still owe for rent here. I owe for rent at my home. Like so I'm behind two months there. I'm behind two months there. And thank god that I have lovely people who I lease from here and lease from there.

MARQUEZ: Lori Lockridge owner of Luscious Locks salon says she still hasn't received her $1,200 stimulus check and she's applied for small business loan but still hasn't received an answer.

LOCKRIDGE: We depend on every bit of money that we get coming in. And when we were shut down, we got nothing. And then we were promised things and never got it. So I just would like to see everything get back better and back to normal.

MARQUEZ: One small business owner feeling forgotten. The experience so frustrating she's upset at the handling of the crisis and not sure she'll vote for Donald Trump again.

SHAWN SCHMIDT, CONCERNED TOURISTS MAY BRING THE VIRUS: When I do a car, I take it completely apart.

MARQUEZ: Shawn Schmidt restores muscle cars.

SCHMIDT: That will be going back up pretty soon.

MARQUEZ: He supports the President and thinks he's doing a fine job but he's still concerned the states may be reopening too quickly.

SCHMIDT: In fact, this past weekend the town was just flooded with people that aren't from here. Southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Chicago, you know.

MARQUEZ (on camera): And you think they could bring it here?

SCHMIDT: Oh, absolutely. And I think they probably will.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): It was just about two weeks ago that Wisconsin's highest court invalidated the statewide stay at home order creating a rush to reopen for some, hesitation for others. Yvonne Domke was just about to open her second business when the pandemic struck.

YVONNE DOMKE, OWNER, YVONNE'S CLASSY CLOSET: One minute I was in business, the next I've had to shut my doors.

MARQUEZ: She laid off two employees and has since hired them back. She hopes to hire a third soon but is concerned for their safety since everyone seems to be playing by different rules.

DOMKE: This past weekend I was a little concerned with memorial weekend and more traffic.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Why were you concerned?

DOMKE: Just people not being respectful of other people. Everybody has their -- it's going through the -- we're all in the same storm, different boat.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): For businesses opening up here, the biggest concern avoiding a second wave of infections that could shut them down again.

BRUCE WALENTOWSKI, OWNER, FLOWERS FROM THE HEART: Some people are just ready to go gangbusters and a lot of them are taking it slow. But there just very nervous of what the futures going to bring. Because they keep saying a second wave of all this is going to come. OK, what's that going to do to us?

MARQUEZ (on camera): A couple of things to note as well, is that the death rate here and the rate of overall cases, positive cases, is going up across the state. They're testing a lot more. So that may have something to do with that. But as we travel across the state, we see sort of a mish-mash. Retail stores opening, some of them requiring masks, some of them not. Restaurants, some of them very busy, some of them aren't even open yet. The only thing the state right now can do is urge people to keep up the social distancing, stay home until they think they are clear of the worst of this virus. Back to you.



CHURCH: Well, the latest unemployment figures in the U.S. will be released in just a few hours. Analysts expect as many as 2.1 million Americans filed for benefits last week. That increase would push total claims to 41 million over a 10-week period. And CNN's John Defterios joins me now live from Abu Dhabi. Good to see you, John. So when COVID-19 locks down the U.S. economy two months ago we saw shocking jobless numbers. And while we're expecting this lower number, it's still extremely high, isn't it?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: I'd agree with that, Rosemary. Just over 2 million is extremely high historically. But it's not the nearly 7 that we saw at the end of March your making a reference to. But crossing this threshold of better than 40 million for jobless benefits is alarming. And it could top out at 50 million when COVID-19 finishes its work on the U.S. economy here.

Now the big question people are asking, why is the stock market going up then if we have these jobless levels? People are looking forward here, particularly in the investment community, to the first half of 2021 when the recovery should be into place right now. But there is a disconnect. You have the Dow Industrials go up 2 percent, the S&P 500 go up 1.5 percent yesterday while you see the economy starting to enter recession in the third quarter of this year and we're in the worst quarter right now. If this is the bottom, that's why investors are feeling better about the future.

But we have the ratings agency, S&P, say we have 1,200 companies getting downgraded here. They're caring a huge amount of corporate debt. Boeing laying off employees. Small and medium sized enterprises that we heard from there need money to survive. And even Blackrock which manages better than $7 trillion worldwide are saying the valuations on Wall Street are really disconnected from the real economy -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, John Defterios, many thanks to you. Joining us there live from Abu Dhabi.

Well in Minnesota, protests over the death of George Floyd have continued into the night. Some turned violent as multiple buildings were set on fire and stores were looted. The front of this Target store was heavily damaged. And you can see windows were shattered and hear alarms blaring in the background. A police spokesman says these unlawful actions don't honor the memory of Floyd. The mayor of Minneapolis said he, like the protesters, wants justice.


JACOB FREY, MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS: For the last 36, 48 hours I have been asking myself that core, underlying question why is the officer that killed George Floyd not in jail right now? And I can't answer that question. And because of that, that's why I called for the county attorney to charge the arresting officer earlier today. That's why we need to make sure that we are seeing justice, justice for our black community, justice for George Floyd, justice for our whole city. There have been so many people that have said, well what do we need to do to start the healing? You know, we can't start the healing until we stop the bleeding, and it is very real right now.


CHURCH: The mayor of Minneapolis there. We want to go back to Monday and the events that sparked the protest. CNN's Randi Kaye breaks it all down for us. And we need to warn you, her report does contain some disturbing video.


GEORGE FLOYD, VICTIM: Please, please. Please, I can't breather, please man. Please I'm dying.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the scene in Minneapolis Monday evening. That police officer has his knee buried in the neck of a man named George Floyd.

FLOYD: There's water or something, please, please. I can't breathe. And kill me. And kill me man.

KAYE: Officers have responded to an alleged forgery call and found Floyd sitting in his car. This surveillance video from a nearby restaurant shows officers making contact with Floyd then handcuffing him. Police would later say he physically resisted, though that is not apparent from this portion of the video. Nor does the video capture the incident leading up to the arrest. After police escort Floyd away, bystanders captured this video of Floyd face down on the ground still handcuffed. The officers' knee forcing his face into the pavement. Listen closely as the officer simply tells him to relax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well you got him down man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him breathe man. Leave man.

FLOYD: I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been trying to help out --


FLOYD: Why don't you try to see?


FLOYD: Man I can't breathe, my face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want?

FLOYD: I can't breathe. Please your knee in my neck. I can't breathe here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well get up and get in the car man.

FLOYD: I will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car.

FLOYD: I can't move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Otherwise the hold (INAUDIBLE), Well get up and get in the car.

FLOYD: Mama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up, you got to get in the car right.

FLOYD: Mama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They could have tased him, they could have mace him.

KAYE (voice-over): Floyd struggles on the ground for five minutes

FLOYD: I'm through, my stomach hurts.

KAYE (voice-over): Witnesses on the street plead with the officers to back off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long I'm going to hold him down?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's stop and he's breathing right there, bro.

KAYE (voice-over): The officer does not remove his knee from Floyd's neck nor do the other officers do anything to help him. Soon, George Floyd lay motionless on the ground, his eyes closed. Police say Floyd appeared to be suffering from medical distress and that he died at the hospital. The four officers involved have been fired. Their chief pointing out the knee in the neck technique is not approved.

JACOB FREY, MAYOR MINNEAPOLIS: What we saw was horrible, completely and utterly messed up. We watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man.

KAYE (voice-over): In response protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis clashing with police, who resorted to tear gas and non- lethal projectiles. In the pouring rain protesters echoed some of George Floyd's final words.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

KAYE (voice-over): The FBI in Minneapolis has launched a full investigation, though George Floyd's family is calling for the officers to be charged with murder. And they want justice.

FLOYD: Please, I can't breathe. Please man, please, I'm dying.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, West Palm Beach Florida.


CHURCH: And the death of George Floyd has sparked reaction all across the United States. The governor of Illinois said it's dangerous to think race is not an issue in the U.S. saying the time for change is now.


J.B. PRITZKER, ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: As a white elected official I feel a special responsibility to speak out today. And to own the obligation that I have to shape public policy in a more equitable direction. Being black in America cannot be a death sentence, but it is. In some ways it is. And it's dangerous to pretend otherwise. We must actually do something to change that reality, to make it so that men like George Floyd are not killed on a street corner gasping for air in broad daylight, one moment alive and the next moment gone.


CHURCH: We'll be back in just a moment.



CHURCH: Well, the move hours ago by China's National People's Congress to proceed with a controversial security law for Hong Kong may be setting up a showdown with the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certified to Congress Wednesday that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China. That declaration could jeopardize Hong Kong's special trading status with the U.S. President Trump and Congress are expected to decide what actions will come next. But two sources say Mr. Trump could take executive action as soon as Friday.

So let's turn now to Kristie Lu Stout. She joins us live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Kristie. So China's approval of this new security law for Hong Kong means it may now lose its special trading status if the U.S. follows through with this threat. What could be the ramifications of that?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot of ramifications to go through. And, Rosemary, you're right. You know, all of this is setting up to a showdown between the U.S. and China with Hong Kong caught right in the middle. No longer autonomous from China. Those are the words from the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the declaration he made to the U.S. Congress. That declaration more than just words. It opens up the door for significant U.S. action. Namely the possibility that the U.S. could revoke Hong Kong's special trade status.

So what does that mean? You know, it means a couple of things. First of all, that the United States would treat Hong Kong the same way as it treats China for trade and other purposes. It means billions of dollars' worth of trade between Hong Kong and the U.S. would be jeopardized. It also means that people and companies could be dissuaded from investing here. It could also hurt China. You know, Hong Kong is very valuable to China. Hong Kong is a valuable

East-West conduit for international finance, international business. A number of big mainland Chinese companies have their regional headquarters here, have their international headquarters here in Hong Kong. And perhaps because of the economic toll, such an action would exact, that is why we've been hearing praise for this move from high profile protest leaders here in Hong Kong, including Joshua Wong.

In fact, it was just hours after Secretary Pompeo made that declaration Joshua Wong took to Twitter and called on other international leaders to follow suit and do the same. Let's bring up the tweet for you.

In the tweet he says this, I also urge U.S., European and Asia's leaders to reconsider whether Hong Kong's special trade status can still be held since, once the law is implemented, Hong Kong will be assimilated into China's authoritarian regime, on both rule of law and human rights protections.

But, Rosemary, we still don't know let's say in the event that the special trade status is indeed revoked, would it necessarily help restore timelier freedoms to Hong Kong? Would it work? Back to you.

CHURCH: Yes, a lot of questions. Kristie Lu Stout joining us live from Hong Kong. Many thanks for that.

Well still to come. So many Americans lost to COVID-19. They came from all walks of life and left behind grieving families and friends. We will take a closer look at some of those lost.



CHURCH: We want to end this hour the same way we started, reflecting on the more than 100,000 U.S. lives lost to the coronavirus. That's 100,000 families impacted. A growing tragedy that experts say did not have to happen. These are victims from all walks of life, and CNN is remembering some of those who lost their lives. Here's Wolf Blitzer.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER: Valentina Blackhorse was a member of the Navajo Nation. She won several pageants, including Miss Western Navajo. The As the pandemic swept through her reservation, she warned others to stay home, wash their hands, and wear masks. She died one day after testing positive for coronavirus. She was 28.

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman worked at the White House under 11 U.S. Presidents. He started as a cleaner during the Eisenhower administration. He was promoted to butler under President Kennedy, a move his granddaughter says was orchestrated by then-first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In all, he served more than 50 years, ending with President Obama. Forty-two-year-old Sundee Rutter was in remission from breast cancer when she became ill with the coronavirus. Her six children said their last words to her through a walkie-talkie placed at her bedside. Rutter had been a single mother since her husband's death in 2012. Her six children, age 13 to 24, now left without a father or a mother.


Leslie Leake, her daughter Enekee, and her son John Leake Jr. all died in the span of one month. Surviving daughter Shanta says her mother always helped others despite being on a fixed income herself. She says her sister was the social butterfly of the family, and her brother John was the chef who cooked at every family gathering.

Ellis Marsalis Jr. was a New Orleans jazz legend and the patriarch of the Marsalis family. The mayor of New Orleans called him a teacher, a father and an icon. Ellis Marsalis was 85.

Mary and Wilford Kepler were married for more than 73 years. They went to the same high school in Wisconsin and wed in 1946. They had three children, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Because they both had coronavirus, they were able to stay in the same hospital room with their beds pushed together. They died within six hours of each other. Their family says in their final hours they were able to hold hands and say I love you to each other one last time.

Assistant school principal Joe Lewinger was a father of three. In his final moments, doctors handed him his phone so his wife Maura could say goodbye.

MAURA LEWINGER, WIFE OF JOE LEWINGER: Every single day my husband wrote me beautiful love letters in my lunchbox -- not just have a great day, but just beautiful letters about what I meant to him.

I thanked him. I thanked him and then I prayed. And then the doctor took the phone and he said I'm sorry, but there's no more pulse. And then I played our wedding song for him and then -- and then, that was it.