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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is Interviewed about her Coronavirus Policies; Fire Erupts on U.S. Navy Ship; Disney World Reopens in Florida as Cases Soar; Juggling Life During the Pandemic. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 13, 2020 - 08:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We've seen it work other places. But the governor said -- well, the governor's spokesperson said, like all of the local mask mandates, Mayor Bottoms' order is unenforceable. We continue to encourage Georgians to do the right thing and wear a mask voluntarily.

Why is your order of a mask unenforceable?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: Well, the governor believes that what he has signed trumps everything that we can do locally. But having this mask mandate gives us a lot of power to enforce it, specifically in buildings and places that the city owns and operates.

For example, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is owned and operated by the city. And so to even be able to enforce a mask mandate in the airport is significant. It is one of our largest job centers in the state and certainly full of passengers each and every day.

And so the irony of it is that the governor has been on this tour, so he claims, across the state, encouraging people to wear masks. He did not push back against the city of Savannah. But when Atlanta issued its mask mandate, he took exception with it. And only he can speak to his motives. But I think that it's unfortunate that when we know that the science says that wearing a mask is one of the easiest ways to stop the spread, that we have the leader of our state taking exception with it.

CAMEROTA: On Friday you went further. You issued an executive order to roll back Atlanta from phase two back to phase one. The governor also didn't like that. Here's what he said. Once again, if the mayor actually wants to flatten the curve in Atlanta, she should start enforcing state restrictions, which she has failed to do.

Do you know -- do you have a response to what you're not enforcing?

BOTTOMS: I have no idea what he's referencing as his office has not told us what we're not referencing. But we are following data and science and metrics in Atlanta. And so we convened an advisory committee a few months ago and this advisory committee was populated by people who work with Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, health care professionals, and it was so that we would have guidelines in Atlanta because at some point it became abundantly clear that our state as a whole was not following science, data and metrics. And if you recall, our governor said that he had just learned that this virus could be spread through asymptomatic transmission. I think he referred to it as a game changer and we were well into this pandemic at that point.

So with the advice of the advisory commission, it takes away any subjective analysis that I would have on how we move forward. We followed the data and the science. And the data and the science say we needed to go back to phase one, which is a stay-at-home order. It is simply recommendations for people who actually care about data and science, but, thankfully, many businesses are following those recommendations.

CAMEROTA: Let's look forward in terms of politics now. All eyes on former Vice President Joe Biden to see who he will pick for his vice president. And you were asked about this, I think, over the weekend. And I just want to play what you said.


BOTTOMS: I'm a leader. And I believe that when you are searching for a vice presidential candidate, you need someone who's able to lead in a crisis.


CAMEROTA: It sounds like you would like the job. Is that right?

BOTTOMS: To the extent that people are discussing who's being vetted, I certainly stand ready to answer any questions about that. But I have a very big job in front of me leading Atlanta. But I -- if I'm asked, then I -- I will respond. And my response remains the same, I am a leader with proven leadership. That being said, this decision will be left up to Vice President Biden and I trust that he will make the decision that is best for our country as a whole.

CAMEROTA: And have you had conversations with him or with his campaign about it?

BOTTOMS: Well, I've endorsed Vice President Biden over a year ago. So I'm in constant contact with the campaign. And -- and so my speaking with the campaign on a weekly basis is -- is nothing out of the ordinary.

CAMEROTA: Have you filled out any paperwork or been officially vetted?

BOTTOMS: I'm going to refer all questions about any type of that process to the Biden campaign.

CAMEROTA: Understood.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, thank you very much for all the information. And we really hope that your husband now is on the mend. Thanks so much for sharing your personal story. It's -- it's really frightening and I think it speaks to a lot of people.

BOTTOMS: Thank you for having me.


CAMEROTA: A fire aboard a Navy battleship is still burning out of control at this hour. What we're learning about the possible cause here.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Developing this morning, crews continue to battle fire on board the USS Bonhomme Richard at the naval base in San Diego. Twenty-one 21 people were hurt in the fire and explosions.

CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with the latest.

The pictures here really frightening, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: They are indeed, John, and the Pentagon this morning saying that five sailors this morning in San Diego still do remain in the hospital there. The fire broke out yesterday and apparently spread very hot and very quickly. They rushed to get all 160 people off the ship, which they were thankfully able to do.

The initial reports are the fire broke out in what is called the well deck, that is underneath at to the bottom of the ship. It's where on this amphibious ship small vehicles that go out to sea go to a beach, come back. They go back and forth from that well deck.

The ship was in port for maintenance. The smoke continuing to spread.


Firefighters on board. Also dropping water from helicopters. Authorities say the smoke is not a danger to civilians in San Diego. They have moved two other nearby warships to different piers to get them out of the way.

A top Navy admiral says they do hope to repair the ship, get it back out to sea eventually. But when you look at these pictures, the damage is so significant, it's hard to see how they will quickly be able to do that.

These amphibious ships, a significant part of U.S. naval power. They carry Marines around the world. Their job is mainly to put Marines on a beach in the world's hot spots if it comes to that, but they are also, because they're so large and they have so much room, often used in humanitarian operations.


CAMEROTA: OK, Barbara, thank you very much. Please keep us posted on that.

So while Florida was setting the national record for new coronavirus cases, Disney World reopened. It welcomed thousands of visitors this weekend but it was not quite what they expected.

CNN's Christine Romans has more.

So what was it like, Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, there were far fewer people there, about 25 percent capacity, and that was on purpose. Disney is trying to make sure that people can social distance, they can wear masks and they can communicate with everyone and make sure there are no problems. I mean the idea here, this is a place you're supposed to be happy and carefree and optimistic and sunshiny in the midst of a pandemic that has killed so many people in this country. And those case counts there are going up so dramatically, they're opening at exactly the time when the top story in Florida is this raging coronavirus problem.

Look, if you're riding the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, you're going to see empty rows. They're very carefully spacing people out on these rides. There are going to be temperature screenings on the way in. Your little girls won't be able to have their picture taken with a Disney princess, but it will have to be six feet away or with Chewbacca or the storm troopers either. You know, there will be distancing between the cast members and the fans as well -- visitors as well. No parades. No fireworks.

Now, there were some people, die-hard Disney fans, who felt disappointed by that, but mostly what you're hearing from people who have been in the park the last day or so is that they've never seen so few people there and they feel like this is kind of a once in a lifetime kind of situation.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom in Florida are open. Epcot and Disney, Hollywood Studios are scheduled to open Wednesday. A very different experience.

And there are those who are asking mostly on social media, people who haven't been to Disney in the past couple of days and don't intend to, who are saying, is this the right time? Are we sending the right message when you have such a dire public health situation and you have a big, major, multinational corporation that's trying to get out there and show that it can safely reopen for entertainment reasons, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: I mean part of the picture you've painted sounds fantastic, being able to go to Disney World for once with few crowds and, you know, not long lines. Part of that sounds wonderful.

But on the flipside, has Disney talked about what their trigger would be, what does the number have to hit in Florida for them to rethink this and maybe shut it down?

ROMANS: They're not giving a number like that. Their point is that they are going to try to show that they can safely reopen. Their new head -- their brand new head of parks told CNN that, look, this is the new normal and they are going to sort of stage into this, phase into this to show what you can do in the new normal, to be open, to be open safely.

You know, the temperature screenings at the front gate and the temperature screenings for all the people who work there, 75,000 people work at this location. I mean it's a remarkably big operation.

But there were reports over the weekend of some people feeling uncomfortable when the line was getting too crowded, right? But Disney is saying their most important factor here is communication with guests. The guests have to wear a mask. People who work there have to wear a mask. You have to stay six feet apart. And they're going to stage manage the experience so that you are not jostling with a lot of people like you used to, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Really interesting.

Christine Romans, thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: So these past months have been a big challenge for parents. How do you juggle your work life and kids at home and kids with their remote learning? Our next guest believes parents are going to have to make a very tough choice soon.



CAMEROTA: If you are a working parent who has been trying to work from home, I don't have to tell you how frustrating this time has been with your kids around, trying to help them with remote learning, or whatever the hybrid model was that your school presented, it has been a very stressful time.

Our next guest is a working mom. She's dealing firsthand with the challenges of parenting during this pandemic. She wrote an opinion piece in "The New York Times" entitled, in the Covid-19 economy, you can have a kid or a job. You can't have both.

Joining us now is Deb Perelman.

Deb, great to see you and have you here.

So, what do you -- what do you mean that people have to make a decision right now between parenting their kids or having a job?

DEB PERELMAN, MOTHER, WRITER AND BLOGGER: It's felt since March like we're in this impossible situation where you can either home school your kids, for example my son needs to start sixth grade soon, or you can pay your bills on time, but you can't really do both. Like, you can't keep a job and also school your kids properly.

[08:50:01] So I'm just curious which one we're supposed to be doing. I think we already know which position will fire us first.

CAMEROTA: And so you are a food blogger. You are used to working from home. That's your job. So what changed for you suddenly when the schools shut?

PERELMAN: Well, I am used to working from home. So, tactically speaking, my day-to-day didn't change. But I had a lot more people in my home. So it was, obviously, as anybody whose worked from home with kids over -- over and around you, it's actually impossible to work from home. I basically just stopped working during the day because I needed to manage their home schooling and then I would try to work until about 2:00 in the morning each night.

And, again, this is just a fraction of what I know other parents have been dealing with. Like, we felt like we actually managed OK, but it wasn't great. But I was just thinking that if we are having this hard of a time, how -- what -- how does this even work if you're an essential worker? What happens if you have a job that doesn't have flexibility? How are we going to survive this fall?

I think that what we're going to be seeing is that for a couple months I think bosses in jobs might have been slightly more forgiving, although there are a lot of people will tell you they've already been pushed out of work. But what happens in the fall? I think we're going to see a lot of compassion fatigue, where there's a lot less empathy towards working parents. And I hear the -- I'm getting a ton of e-mail since I wrote the articles and DMs and messages and they're all from overwhelmed parents trying to figure out like, we have no idea what we're going to do this fall. We also don't even know what's going to be expected of us because we're not going to find out how school is really going to be probably until late August. We can't even tell our bosses whether we're going to be there in September. Nobody knows.

CAMEROTA: That's such a great point. I mean the lack of guidance, the lack of a plan. And what you often hear is that even if kids go back to school, there will be this hybrid plan. So they won't necessarily be at home all week, but they might be home some days of the week, or some hours of the day. And I think what you're saying is, that doesn't help.

PERELMAN: It doesn't help. And I don't expect the school to be a daycare and I don't actually think that schools can come up with these solutions. Most schools are overcrowded, especially New York City. That's why our school in particular, but I know a lot of them in the city, have told us that the kids are actually going to be home more often than they're at school. They just don't have the space to expand. They don't have the budget to expand. They don't have the budget for supplies.

I think that we're putting a lot of pressure on schools and it's kind of unfair because they're doing their best. They're just trying to keep their staff and teachers and the kids safe. I think we need to be moving our efforts up the chain. What we were kind of hoping to see at this point were that state

governments and federal government would be stepping in, in some way, and infusing the schools with the money that they need to make the changes that they have to make, or expand into open spaces. And, instead, we're being told that, like, it's going to be exactly the way it was in March. But by September, when you've barely worked for six months, why would your job keep you on or -- or you're just not supposed to home school your kids? Like, it's my -- are my kids not going to have kindergarten and sixth grade this year? Is that like no longer a priority?

CAMEROTA: Betsy DeVos was on CNN yesterday, the education secretary, and she feels very strongly that all kids need to be back in schools. So let me play a little portion of that for you.


BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: There is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them. And, in fact, it's more a matter of their health and well-being that they be back in school.


CAMEROTA: Obviously, Deb, that doesn't mention the health and well- being of the people around them, the teachers, who could get sick, the parents who they could bring sickness home to.

What do you think?

PERELMAN: Yes. No, I don't -- I don't think that's particularly helpful. I don't think that we just need to announce that schools should be open. Nobody doesn't -- nobody is advocating for schools to like not start. I mean teachers, everybody agrees that school is good for kids. I don't think it's really a matter of the philosophy. It's the matter of the reality. And it's the matter of, how are you going to get enough PPEs for teachers. What happens when a teacher needs to quarantine? How is the teacher going to manage two-thirds of her class outside the classroom and one-third in? Where is the space going to come from? What happens when kids don't want to wear a mask? There's so many questions that are not being answered. And I hear from teachers and they are just -- they have no idea how this is going to happen this fall and they don't wish to walk into this fire if they don't have to.

CAMEROTA: I mean --

PERELMAN: I've heard from a teacher (INAUDIBLE) they're saying, we're having these calls and meetings about, you know, school reopening. We're having them remotely. What does that tell you about the safety of school?

CAMEROTA: That's a great question. And so from all of your research and writing this, and from hearing from so many parents and teachers, what is the answer? Have you heard of any plan that you think could work? PERELMAN: I mean it's definitely interesting to see what they're have

-- what they're doing. And first you need to have an area that has flattened the curve and the numbers are down enough. I mean it's just not going to happen in some states at this point. But once you've done that, it's -- while you have a couple -- especially in New York where you have a couple more months left, can we look at tents in Central Park, can we look at the empty Javits Center?


Can schools move into the streets in front of them the way we've done with restaurants?

But, more importantly, and I really wanted to speak from the working parent perspective, because I am -- I'm not an expert on schools, I'm just trying to listen and reflect what I'm hearing and -- but for working parents, it would be really nice if we had a bailout, too. We bail out airlines. We bail out banks. We're just trying to figure out which job we can do and how we're going to do both. And I hear from parents who are already being pushed out of their jobs or pushed into part-time or they can't take the job that they were going to start this fall or they can't do -- like we're being pushed out of the workforce because we don't have any kind of bailout protecting us. Could we have workplace protections? Could you have guaranteed paid leave if you need to home school your kids? Because if you don't have some sort of paid leave, you're just not going to educate your children. And I think it's crazy on a policy level that we would advocate for that.

CAMEROTA: Yes, really troubling stuff and you bring up so many valid points.

Deb Perelman, you are the creator of Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

PERELMAN: Thanks for having me on.

CAMEROTA: CNN's coverage continues after this quick break, John.

Yes, it does. Yes, it does.

BERMAN: Yes, it does.