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Key Model Projections for Coronavirus; MLB May not have 2020 Season; Ursula Burns on Protests and Reform; North Korea Blows up Office. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 16, 2020 - 09:30   ET



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: All sorts of data into them to see what's going to happen.

I think one thing is clear, that in areas where there is more mobility, where people are getting together, where they are not observing social distancing rules, where they have -- are not observing advice about masks, that those numbers are going to go up. So this model looks at a sharp increase in September and October. But I -- but we what to be very clear, that does not mean that things are fine from now until September. On the contrary, hundreds of Americans are dying every single day in this country from Covid-19. So we don't even need to think about the future in order to do the right thing. Think about now, hundreds of Americans dying every day. We need to do our best to get this under control.

There's also, Poppy, an advancement or some preliminary news about a possible advancement in the treatment of Covid-19. A British group is saying that when they give steroids, very commonly used steroids in the hospital, to patients who were on ventilators, that it helped increase their ability to survive.

Now, other places need to try this, see if it's true. This is preliminary. But steroids have been helpful certainly in other illnesses. It will be interesting to see what happens with this one.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That would be a big deal since they're so widely available.

Elizabeth, thank you for that reporting.

COHEN: Thanks.

HARLOW: Just a few days ago, baseball's commissioner said he was 100 percent confident about playing resuming this year. Maybe not any more.

Andy Scholes is with us to explain.

Good morning, Andy.

What happened? ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, I'll tell you

what, you know, it's just so sad that the sport that can naturally socially distance the most can't get back on the field because they continue to just fight over money.

Now, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, he's calling this whole situation, this whole negotiation just a complete disaster and now he's saying he's not confident in a season. The league and players, they remain far apart on how many games they should play and what the players pay should be. Both Manfred and the Baseball Players Association, they're accusing each other of negotiating in bad faith.

The Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark says the players are disgusted right now, adding, this has always been about extracting additional pay cuts from the players and this is just another day and another bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.

Now, the NFL, meanwhile, remains optimistic that the football season will start on time, but several players from the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans have reportedly tested positive for Covid-19. According to NFL Network, none of the players were in their team's facilities and both teams followed proper health protocols. The Cowboys tell CNN they cannot provide any information due to privacy laws. In the meantime, the Texans confirm that at least one player has tested positive. Now, Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN last night, Poppy, that positive tests, they're going to happen. The issue is preventing as many of those positive tests from happening and then, when they do happen, isolate those cases so that they don't spread across an organization.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes, for sure.

All right, so, Roger Goodell with a bombshell, surprise statement on Colin Kaepernick. What did he say?

SCHOLES: Yes. Well, you know, it's looking more likely than ever that Kaepernick might actually get another fair chance at playing in the NFL. You know, six months ago, Commissioner Goodell said that the league had moved on from Kaepernick, but now Goodell, he's encouraging a team to sign him.


ROGER GOODELL, COMMISSIONER, NFL: If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, that, obviously, is going to take a team to make that decision. But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.


SCHOLES: Now, Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season when he began kneeling to protest social injustice and police brutality.

Now, Cowboy's star Michael Bennett, he told CNN's Don Lemon last night that trying to bring Kaepernick back now, it might be too little, too late.

HARLOW: Well, yes, I think the question is, why is Goodell saying this now, encouraging teams, and he didn't do it before? It's been four years and Kaepernick's action hasn't changed from the first time he did it.

The NBA scheduled to resume at Disney World at the end of July. Some players, though, speaking out. Dwight Howard talking about bigger, bigger issues than sports in this moment, not wanting to distract.

SCHOLES: Yes, Poppy, Dwight Howard, one of a handful of players now, a growing number of players, I should say, that don't want to resume the season because they say it would take away from the Black Lives Matter movement. According to ESPN, a coalition of players, led by the Nets Kyrie Irving and the Lakers Avery Bradley, they sent a letter to the league saying social justice reform should be the players' focus right now and that they can't just shut up and play. And that was a message echoed by Lakers Center Dwight Howard on CNN last night.


DWIGHT HOWARD, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: I would definitely want to play, win a championship. But I don't want anything to distract us from really what's going on in our world. It's hurting. It's hurting me. It's hurting my family. It's hurting all our families and everybody is feeling it right now. And, you know, I just think that we need to focus on this -- what's going on.



SCHOLES: Yes, the players also concerned about how they'll be able to stay safe from the coronavirus when they start playing their games in that bubble in Orlando starting late July.

But, Poppy, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he hopes that he can address all of these issues in the coming weeks and that everyone will be happy once they're able to start playing games there in Orlando.

HARLOW: OK. Such important conversations and those athletes elevating these voices so importantly.

Andy, thank you, on all that. Good to have you.

SCHOLES: All right.

HARLOW: Up next, the first black woman ever to run a Fortune 500 company for a message with all the white men in power right now, you can change things. Ursula Burns is here.


HARLOW: Right now, America's facing a critical test.

[09:40:03] Will the pain, the anger, the protests unfolding on our streets really change anything? Real change, is it coming for black people in America? Real justice, is it coming for black people in America? Real equality in the workplace, will it come?

Ursula Burns is here. She is the former CEO of Xerox. She was the first black female ever to run a Fortune 500 company. She now serves on the boards of Uber, Exxon and Nestle.

And, Ursula, as a young girl, you were told that you had three strikes against you, that you were poor, you were black, and you were a woman. And look at all that you have achieved. This is a moment of reckoning in our country and one in which you have said, despite being part of the 1 percent, you are scared of the police.

URSULA BURNS, FORMER CHAIR AND CEO, VEON AND XEROX CORPORATION: Yes. And I think the interesting thing is that I was told I was a girl, not even a woman then, which was -- was -- was I guess appropriate.

I think where we are today is that we've had many moments of reckoning leading up to today, right? Or up to two weeks or three weeks ago, Memorial Day. And I think for the first time in a long time it comes at a time when people are more willing to listen and to become disgruntled and disgusted with the status quo.

So I think that there's a chance here that we can make progress. It's not going to wipe everything out. We're not going to be able to undo 400 years of injustice and unjust inequality. But I think starting the conversation and starting to move forward in the right direction, this is the first time in a long time that I started to feel a lot more hopeful than I did in the past.

HARLOW: Why are you still scared of police officers? Because you've called this the scariest moment of your life.

BURNS: Yes, I mean, we were -- you know, I was -- I'm a black woman. I was raised in the lower east side of Manhattan. I have two children, black children. And one of the things that's very standard in the black culture, in the United States, is that you raise your kids to be respectful, you know, all of the things that are right and you raise them to be very wary of the police because history between African- Americans and the police is not one that was built on a high level of trust or respect, from one side to the other. And, quite honestly, we're seeing it now come to play, you know, with cameras and tapes and et cetera. But it's been going on for a very long time. I told my boy when he was going to -- this is a boy who's a Stanford graduate, MIT graduate, he knows very clearly that when he leaves the house, he has to be very careful. If a police person approaches him, he should first shut up and make sure that he is listening carefully and being respectful. This is the way that we're raised.

HARLOW: Ursula --

BURNS: We're raised that way because we're paranoid because basically we're seeing what some of the worst case actions against wayward police are towards black people. But we're raised that way from the beginning.

HARLOW: You were, candidly -- I've known you for years and covered your career -- when we spoke last week you were hesitant to do this interview. And I'm hoping you can share with people why, because I was so struck by what you said.

BURNS: Yes. I -- you know, since this George Floyd and, you know, the -- in the pandemic and in the Trump era, the number of calls that black Americans, particularly business black Americans have gotten from corporate America, generally the white compatriots who we, by the way, love and work with, so this is not a down to them, has gone through the roof. I could be on a call -- I could be on the phone all day speaking to CEOs. And it's -- and I said to you, it's kind of like -- and I do it, but I -- you know, every -- after every call I feel a little bit -- a little bit concerned because it's almost like speaking to the slaves who were slaves back then and said, can you tell me how to undo slavery? And, you know, they would say, I can give you some advice here, but I think you should be talking to yourselves, the slave owners, about figuring out a way to undo slavery.

Now, obviously, corporate America, it's not slavery, so I don't want to get a thousand pieces of e-mail about that. It's -- but it's like speaking to the people who are the oppressed and telling -- asking them to help me -- not to help me but lead the undoing of the oppression.


BURNS: My point, and my concern with you, and my point to you was, I love these conversations. I think it's a great time and I welcome them. So, please, keep calling and keep calling my African-American peers in social justice and business, et cetera, but, please, also call yourselves because what you have to do is not only speak to us, you have to speak to yourselves about, you are the architects and you're the beneficiaries of a system today that you can undo.


You can help to undo. You can do it more -- ten times, 50 times more than we can.

HARLOW: Well --

BURNS: We'll help, we will lead the way, but you have to be part of the conversation and lead the conversation with your peers and your compatriots that are not African-American, that are not female.

HARLOW: You're -- and to your point, there are only four --


HARLOW: Only four black CEOs in the entire Fortune 500 right now. That is unbelievable. I think it's -- it's an embarrassment. It --

BURNS: And there's zero of those four are women. Zero of the four are women. HARLOW: Are women. I know. I know.

So Darren Walker (ph), who's a friend of yours, and the president of the Ford Foundation, said last week that corporate America has failed black America. I know you agree with that sentiment. What do -- what is mainly white men in power in these companies now, what do they have to do to make room and not just make the pipeline more diverse but make the top of companies more diverse and the boards more diverse now? Quotas?

BURNS: So part of it is what you said. One is, can you just make the boards more diverse now. I mean this is something that is doable. I mean there are African-American men and women, African-American men and women and women who actually are capable and willing to serve on boards. They haven't all been CEOs, because, as you can tell, we probably only have 15 of those total including the retired guys. But there are absolutely talented African-American men and women who can actually help to diversify boards. That diversification helps them diversify the thought, diversify the language and diversify the culture, everything about the companies.

So start there. Go down to the c suite. A large amount of the c suite is developed internally, but also hired from the outside. Diversify your c suite.

And then there's a whole bunch to do in the middle, but I also -- my next thing would be, look at your intake. Intake back down. How many people do you hire and what -- what inclusive culture do you have in your company to inspire these people to stay and grow in the company?

HARLOW: But -- but, Ursula, you know, the message from many of these leaders is, we are working on it. And I know a lot of them and I know genuinely that a number of them are. But is it a -- is it at the point where you've talked before about, you know, can corporate America keep policing itself? Because you used to be very against quotas, mandates for diversify on boards, et cetera, and higher up in companies.


HARLOW: Has your mind changed on that? Is this the moment where if we need to see real equality, it's only going to come through actually forcing hands?

BURNS: My mindset, I used to be dead set against this idea of quotas. Because I actually don't believe that governments can manage this a lot better than companies can and in many cases not near as well. But I think about this as policing yourself, right? We have left it to corporations for 100 years. Let's say 40 years of real hard work to get to where we are today for African-American CEOs, very few CEOs, very few board members, very few and core penetration of women, and we've left it to corporations to monitor themselves and do it themselves in America. And they've failed, across the board, continuously we've failed.

So the question we -- my question now becomes, hmm, do we just leave it to another 50 years of saying they're going to do their best? They've tried. We've done it. You know, I only want to hire from the inside. Or do you then -- or do you say, enough is enough? You've proven that you're incapable of doing this. We have proven that we are incapable of diversifying the boards and the leadership structures and just a surface structure of corporations, do you turn it over to a set of mandates that forces it?


BURNS: And I don't know yet Poppy if I'm quite there, but every time I'm in a conversation that goes like you started, Poppy, you're trying -- we're all -- I say, OK, you know, how many more years do you say to the people who have been excluded, just hold on, give them ten more years they'll get there. And, you know, another generation kind of just goes by the wayside of people who can be helpful, who can increase shareholder value, who can represent all of the stakeholders and community, who can create a more just and balanced set of corporate America and America in general and the globe, how long do you wait? You just say, OK, we'll give them another 10 years, another 15 years, and we'll end up the same place.


BURNS: There are fewer women CEOs today than when I was CEO. And there are significantly fewer black CEOs than when I was CEO. And so we're not making a lot of progress here. And I just don't know if it -- if it's worth waiting another 10 or 15 years.

HARLOW: Yes. I can't believe we are where -- where we still are.

Ursula Burns, your journey and your story and your rise has been remarkable. Thank you for being a voice and for being with me today.

BURNS: I'm so happy that I came on board, Poppy. Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: All right, we'll talk soon. Thank you, Ursula.


We'll be right back.


HARLOW: We do have breaking news.

Look at these images. South Korea's government is issuing a warning right now to North Korea after the North blew up an office that the two had used for talks between the nations.

Will Ripley joins us now.

It's been a rather rapid escalation in tensions and now this, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, this is the North Koreans basically sending a very clear message to South Korea and the United States, that this is how they feel diplomacy, more than two years of it, has ended up, a big pile with a black plume of smoke rising above it.


I mean they blew up the office that they've shared with South Korea.

Now it's on North Korean soil, so it's not like they fired shots across the border. They blew up a building that was on their territory, but it was a building paid for by the South that they used to facilitate communication. It was a symbol of peace between North Korea and the South, and, of course, its number one ally, the U.S. And all of that is now up in smoke, Poppy.

What this means is that North Korea is back to its militaristic stance. After trying the peace route, they've been very unsatisfied that they haven't gotten sanctions relief. They've been unsatisfied with the progress of diplomacy with President Trump. But instead of launching an ICBM, which would cross President Trump's red line, they blow up this building to get South Korea's attention, but also get Washington's attention to see if they can get what they want.

Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo-Jong, is the one who's been calling the shots here. Very interestingly, Kim Jong-un has barely been seen in public over the last three months. We don't know for sure what that means, but what it does mean is that his younger sister is being positioned within military and political ranks to have far more authority moving forward.

HARLOW: OK, Will, thank you very much for urgent update on that.

This morning we are also now learning that the former Atlanta police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks has several citizens' complaints against him for use of force. We'll have the latest on that.

Be right back.