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CDC Warns of Increase of Cases in Coming Weeks Amid Reopenings; Officer Says, "I Don't Care" When Black Man Said, "I Can't Breathe"; White House Refuses to Disclose Companies That Received COVID-19 Relief; Merriam-Webster Revised "Racism" Definitional after Request. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 12, 2020 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Public health officials must be willing to quit or be fired if they're asked to make decisions based on politics. That's what two former CDC directors write in an open-ed in "Barron's" magazine.

This reads, in part, quote, "A line must be drawn when politics collides with public health. It pays to have this red line in mind when truth is compromised, science ignored, or sound advice is repeatedly obstructed."

I want to get to CNN correspondent, Nick Watt, in Los Angeles.

Nick, she CDC has issued new guidelines today. What are they saying?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bottom line, Brianna, interacting with more people raises your risk. They say, if you're holding a cookout, don't serve family style. At the gym, no high fives. If you're in a hotel, think of taking the stairs, not the elevator.

But there's a kicker, and it's crucial. As the CDC said themselves today these aren't commands. These are just suggestions.


WATT (voice-over): Today, in Houston they're prepping to reopen, not more businesses, but maybe the field hospital at the Texas NRG stadium. COVID-19 hospitalization rates in Texas just hit an all-time high.

JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: I'm growing increasingly concerned that we may be approaching the precipice of a disaster.

WATT: Oregon just slowed reopening due to an uptick in case count. And the CDC team today traveled to northwest Arkansas to investigate an outbreak.

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR: We're in the early days of the pandemic and if only 5 or 10 percent of the population has had this infection, we have a really long way to go, and it's not going to be easy.

WATT: New case counts rising in 19 states. Florida's average new case count is about double since June 1st.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): As you're testing more, you're going to find new cases.

WATT: But he admits there are new outbreaks in farming communities.

DR. AILEEN MARTY, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: A small part of it is testing. But it truly is an increase in cases. And part of that is because people are getting too close together without using their masks.

WATT: Another new study says making masks mandatory in New York City on April 17th prevented more than 76,000 infections over the following three weeks alone.

The president doesn't wear one and his campaign is asking everyone attending next week's MAGA rally in Tulsa to sign a waiver saying they won't sue if they catch COVID-19.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: It's almost certain we will see super stutter events come from these rallies. And I also fear that when we start to do contract tracing of these large rallies, that will overwhelm the public health infrastructure.

WATT: Missouri will life all statewide restrictions next week.


WATT: Georgia will allow concerts and conventions July 1st.

But many say the messaging on reopening must change.

BESSER: What we're hearing from the political leaders is that it's a one-way road. You go from under total lockdown, to a little less, to bigger gatherings, to everybody going to a baseball game. And it doesn't work that way.

WATT: They say we must be prepared to dial back, if, when and wherever cases rise too high, too fast.


WATT: So, here in Los Angeles today, zoos, museums, movie theaters, movie production can all reopen. But the mayor says they'll keep an eye on the numbers. And, if in a few weeks, they're going up and if they're worried, they may look at tweaking the rules and regulations -- Brianna?


KEILAR: Nick, thank you so much for that report.

Next, an Oklahoma man saying he can't breathe as he's being arrested by an officer who says, "I don't care." You'll see the video for yourself.

Plus, what happened to billions in taxpayer relief funds for the coronavirus? The Trump administration now saying it won't reveal who got the money.


KEILAR: Oklahoma City police just released body cam footage from 2019 of an officer arresting a black man who died shortly after he was taken to custody. The man can be heard saying he can't breathe and the officer can be heard telling him, "I don't care."

CNN's Martin Savidge is here with more.

On what's really a disturbing video, Martin. And what officials are saying now?


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, let me set the scene for you. I will warn you. It is disturbing video. If you don't like to see this sort of thing, this is the time to turn away.

It's May 20th, 2019, Oklahoma City. And police are confronting 42- year-old Derrick Scott in the middle of the day after they received 911 calls reporting a man pointing a gun at people.

Initially, Scott appears to comply, but then he turns and runs.

Here is the body cam video.





UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Put your hands behind your back.


UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Get your hands out of your pocket.









SAVIDGE: You saw them, they tackle him and struggle to detain him. One of the officers straddles Scott, spears to pull his arm behind him.

And in the struggle, Scott says, "I can't breathe." One of the officers responds, "I don't care."

Several more times during the arrest, Scott repeats, "I can't breathe." Not long after, a female officer notices Scott is no struggling or speaking. She says he's acting unconscious. An officer finds a gun and removes it from Scott's pocket.

And more than eight minutes since the struggle begins, officers continue to check on a now silent Scott. They move him to recovery position.

About nine minutes later, you have paramedics arriving. And Scott appears to struggle with police again. But they get him on a gurney, to the hospital, but he dies about an hour later.

The medical examiner determined there was no fatal trauma, as he put it, as the cause of death, but did outline contributing factors, such as Scott had asthma. He had a collapsed lung. And there were signs of methamphetamine in the toxicology report.

There was an investigation done by the Oklahoma district attorney. He put out a statement, which reads, in part, according the D.A. "There was nothing inappropriate on the part of the officers, nor was there evidence of misconduct by officers." Therefore, he cleared all officers of any criminal wrongdoing.

We should point out, the family was not notified of Scott's death for four days.

The reason the video is coming on now is because of the protests and demands by Black Lives Matter.

But again, we hear now that infamous plea, "I can't breathe." And again, another death follows -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Martin Savidge, thank you.

Just ahead, a woman asked Merriam Webster to change its definition of racism, and the dictionary responded. She will join us live.

Plus, Dave Chappell weighs in on George Floyd's death and goes after several people in the process. We'll discuss.


[14:48:17] KEILAR: The federal government has distributed more than $500 billion in taxpayer-backed loans to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. But now treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is refusing to detail where that money went.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: As it relates to the names and amounts of specific PPP loans, we believe that's proprietary information. And in many cases, for small businesses, is confidential information.


KEILAR: OK. Catherine Rampell is joining me now, a CNN economics commentator and opinions columnist at the "Washington Post."

Catherine, there's already chaos over the initial rollout of this loan program. Several large institutions received loans. This resulted in some of them giving money back.

And initially the small business administration said it was going to release this information, be transparent. But now it's breaking that promise.

So, how are we going to know who got the money and if they should have?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR: That's an excellent question. This is more than half a trillion dollars of our money. We have a right to know how it is being spent, whether it's being used wisely and for the purposes Congress laid out. There should be accountability and transparency of this size.

But I would argue, especially in this administration, that has proven time and time again that it has no qualms of injecting taxpayer dollars into the pockets of the president or his cronies. He's lost the benefit of the doubt this money is being spent wisely. They need to open their tell us how the money is being spent.


KEILAR: There's still $130 billion left in this program. I was speaking to someone at a company that received PPP funds and they have to furlough workers but then they reopened. So things were certainly going better for the employees.

But now they're at the point where they're about to run out of money and they don't know what they are going to do next. How widespread is that?

RAMPELL: There are a lot of companies finding themselves befuddled on how the formula works, when to keep people on. It is a complicated formula.

To be fair, this is a program that was built from scratch. Got off the ground relatively quickly. It had a lot of flaws with it. The rollout was in no way smooth. A lot of companies had difficulty getting loans and are trying to decipher how much is forgiven. It is a difficult challenge.

This is all the more reason why we, the taxpayers, should be able to have some disclosures that we could look at that the administration, in fact, promised us we would be able to see so we could now how many companies are in this situation, how many companies were improperly given funds and had to give it back, how many companies are having loans forgiven.

Is this money going to the purposes that were promised to the American people and to the small business community as a result of this crisis?

KEILAR: Yes, and Mnuchin's excuse about proprietary information is quite the fig leaf. They said they would give us this info.

KEILAR: Catherine Rampell, thank you so much.

As President Trump waivers on police chokeholds and whether they're OK, the New York governor is taking action to ban them in his state.

Plus, a college student gets Merriam Webster to change its definition of racism. And she'll join us live to talk about it.



KEILAR: Kennedy Mitchum didn't think anything would come of it. She emailed Merriam-Webster to ask them to update the definition of racism.

This was their definition: A belief that race is the primary determinate of human trait and capacities and that race racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Well, Kennedy emailed to let them know that definition is inadequate. And they responded and agreed to grant her request.

And Kennedy Mitchum is joining us now.

Kennedy, thank you for joining us.

And I know you have a specific reason for doing this. But first, because we don't know the definition yet, what did you ask them to include in the definition?

KENNEDY MITCHUM, PERSUADED MERRIAM-WEBSTER TO CHANGE DEFINITION OF RACISM: I asked them to include that racism not only is prejudice but it also includes certain social and institutional power that oppresses people of color.

KEILAR: So more to the idea of there being systemic racial injustice.

MITCHUM: Yes. KEILAR: And you say I'm going to email Merriam-Webster.

MITCHUM: So I kept getting into little feuds and people kept trying to disprove my point, what I was experiencing was racism, so I just had to email Miriam Webster because people kept using their definition to disprove it.

They said, no, the definition of racism, it doesn't go hand in hand. That is not racism, what you're experiencing must be something else. So I had to reach out because they were misinforming people.

KEILAR: And so what was the response from Merriam-Webster?

MITCHUM: After it was a lot of back and forth, I did have to fight but they did say they would change it to include more systemic aspects because that is very important and they would look into different research, different literature including what people of color have to say about the term before publishing it.

KEILAR: And what do you hope comes of all of this, Kennedy?

MITCHUM: I hope that there's a lot more conversation about what racism is truly, not just blatant racism but covert racism that people do and people of color have to face on a daily basis so people could acknowledge their own privilege and just try to do better so we don't keep doing the same thing over and over again. And actually move forward this time.

KEILAR: Kennedy Mitchum, it is amazing. You emailed them and you got a response back and forth and then a change. We'll be awaiting the new definition along with you.

Thanks for joining us.

MITCHUM: Thank you.

KEILAR: Band-Aid is now answering the calls to be more representative of its customers by offering bandages for different skin tones. The 100-year-old company posted pictures of the new bandages on Instagram saying it is dedicated to inclusivity.

Band-Aid saying in a statement, quote, "We're committed to launching a range of bandages in light, medium and deep shades of brown and black skin tones. We stand in solidarity with our black colleagues in the fight against racism, violence and injustice."


And the company also promised to make a donation to Black Lives Matter.

Our special coverage continues now with Brooke Baldwin.