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As States Reopen, Some Schools Limiting In-Person Classes This Fall; Warren Grills Mnuchin Over Lack Of Penalties; Volusia County, Florida, Sheriff: 3,000 Attend Weekend Block Party; Report: FL Data Chief Removed After Refusal To Censor Information; New Study Suggests People Who Recover From Coronavirus Cannot Infect Others. Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired May 19, 2020 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNE KEILAR, CNN HOST: All 50 states are moving to reopen in some form or fashion by this weekend.

I want to get back to CNN's Erica Hill.

We've been seeing decisions coming everyday about how to more and more plans to reopen schools across the country, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR & NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've heard a little bit more about what will happen here in New York City today. Brianna, I have to be honest, some kids may not be that excited about it.


HILL (voice-over): Summer in the city will be different this year. Some of New York's more than one million public school students will continue their online learning.

BILL DE BLASIO, (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Distance learning creates challenges, but also creates a world of possibilities. For so many kids, this summer will be a chance to keep learning.

HILL: A handful of universities planning to limit in-person calls this fall, some ending the semester before Thanksgiving.

DAVID LEEBRON, PRESIDENT, RICE UNIVERSITY: A large concern was the potential of the resurgence. That's why we decided to shorten the semester.

HILL: As more colleges announce layoffs and furloughs as a result of the pandemic, the financial fallout only just beginning.

Texas restaurants can increase capacity to 50 percent on Friday, but even that may not be enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be tough. Houston will lose some good restaurants. HILL: Outdoor dining and in-person retain begins to Connecticut

tomorrow. A planned opening for salons has been pushed to June to coincide with neighboring Rhode Island, as concerns go about how many small businesses will survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm afraid there could be a sea change.

HILL: In California, in-person shopping could return, welcome news for struggling retailers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People want to try clothes on and feel them.

HILL: While states still try to ease restrictions, many require face coverings in public areas. One often cited model, which revised the death toll down, shows that may be healthy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And 40 percent wears it all the time, about 80 percent wears a mask sometimes. That's probably helping that impact in rising mobility.

HILL: States are monitoring new cases. Numbers in past weeks are up in 17 cases, including Florida, where Miami is planning to reopen parks and businesses tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just readying to back to work.

HILL: Hawaii, among the 16 states seeing a decline in new cases, just expanded its mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors through the end of June.


HILL: There's been so much talk about the Memorial Day weekend. Beaches, pools, what will or will not be open.

Memorial Day is not just about barbecues. Governor Cuomo addressing that today. He does see there could be memorial observances but limited to 10 people. He followed up by saying he hopes they will be televised so people can be part of honoring that tradition.

KEILAR: Erica Hill, thank you so much.

The Senate tried to get answers today on the emergency economic relief fund paid for by you, by taxpayers, as more than 36 million Americans are out of work.

Senator Elizabeth Warren pressed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on why some businesses are getting federal funding are not required to keep their workers employed. Here is that exchange.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Are you going to require companies that receive money from this half a trillion-dollar slush fund to have to keep people on payrolls? It's a simple question, yes or no, are you going to require that? STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: First, let me say that our number-

one objective is keeping people employed.


WARREN: Good, so that's my question.

MNUCHIN: Again, we negotiated very significant restrictions on employee compensation, on dividends, on buybacks. And in the main street facility, we have put in a provision that we expect people to use their best efforts to support jobs.


KEILAR: Rana Foroohar is our global business columnist and associate editor at the "Financial Times." She's also a CNN global economic analyst.

Rana, what do you think of the secretary's the unwillingness to commit to say to Senator Warren, yes, we will place these limitations?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You know, I think what we are looking at here is big-money politics. One of the major criticisms since the beginning of the relief, is that big companies have been able to get to the front of the line to get bailout money.

There's a lot of small businesses stuck in the box ticking exercises trying to get the funds they desperately need. And oftentimes, they can't go to the public markets. They have no other options than to ask for relief.


These are 60 percent of the job creators in America. So I think what you're seeing is this bailout money becoming very politicized. Frankly, it reminds me of what happened of moral risk going back to the great financial crisis ten years ago.

KEILAR: Certainly. State and local governments have laid off at this point close to one million workers. What happens if they don't get money from the federal government?

FOROOHAR: They're going to be in big trouble. We've already got more unemployed people in America right now than in the entire nation of Australia. We have a country within a country of unemployed workers. The idea that one-off payments or expiring aid is going to be enough is just foolhardy.

I hear the Treasury secretary laying off options. I think most economists would say that, even if, you know, by some miracle, we're able to get a vaccine quickly, all of the things that need to happen did happen, you're still looking at, at least, a couple of years of pretty severe economic pain. People will need ongoing help for that.

KEILAR: Rana, thank you. You always make is so clear. Rana Foroohar. Next, the woman who was in charge of creating Florida's public Web

site for coronavirus data, a Web site that was proclaimed by White House officials, she was suddenly taken off the job and she reportedly says it's because she wasn't willing to censor the numbers.

Plus, why one Oklahoma Catholic school says it went ahead with an in- person graduation ceremony.



KEILAR: Some stunning scenes playing out across the nation as more states reopen and more Americans gather together in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Norman, Oklahoma, one Catholic high school held an in-person graduation with the approval of the city manager.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Churches are allowed to be open. We shared the gospel. It was a church service-type of event as well. Another reason why we are within the guidelines. Not everybody was required to wear mask, but people did wear masks. We had available seating there. We pointed them to other directions. We did not force anybody to sit where they didn't want to sit.


KEILAR: And in Volusia County Florida, another blatant disregard of social distancing guidelines. The sheriff's office says a massive crowd showed up for a street party on Saturday.

CNN's Rosa Flores is following.

Rosa, what have you learned?

ROSA FLORES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, a block party advertised on social media Saturday turned into a public health and a public safety hazard, according to police.

Take a look. About 3,000 people gathered in a central Florida city in Volusia County. Police say the daytime activities turned violent after police attempted to disrupt the gathering.

It should be noted there's a governor's order advising against large gatherings, but there's no law against them. Officers made arrests for possession of two firearms.

Police say at least two officers were injured. One was hit in the knee, another in the head.

Law enforcement here say they're concerned with not just the violence, but the spread of the deadly coronavirus -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Rosa, thank you.

Also out of Florida, the women in charge of tracking the state's cases, deaths and testing efforts is saying she was ousted from her job because she refused to change the numbers in order to help the state open back up.

In an e-mail to colleagues, Rebekah Jones wrote, in part, quote, "as a word of cautions, I would not expect the new team to continue the same left of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months. After all, my commitment to both is largely arguably and entirely the reason I am no longer managing it."

With me now is a Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon , a reporter with "Florida Today," which broke this stores of Jones' departure.

Alessandro, welcome and thank you for sharing your reporting.

You talk about the story. The White House has praised -- this is a Web site that's been widely praised for its transparency. It's been held up as a model. Your reporting shows that that transparency decreased in recent weeks since Rebekah Jones and her team were booted out. Tell us what happened.

ALESSANDRO MARAZZI SASSOON, REPORTER, "FLORIDA TODAY": What we're seeing is a steady progression, where they had lots of data, very easy to access. You could download it in formats that made research easy.

And over time, what users of the data have reported to me and what has been observed is that the data has become harder and harder to access certain data points at times have gone missing.


This most recent development, with Ms. Jones being removed. And the updates on the portal, cause concern.

KEILAR: What are officials say have this you report on the piece about this is the basic stuff we need to fight this battle. What are officials saying?

MARAZZI SASSOON: Officials, so far, have not said much the governor's spokesperson has issued some statements, but not said much. They simply confirmed her removal and said the operation of the dashboard is continuing under the remainder of the team.

The reasons for her removal have not been explicitly addressed. The allegations that the data is going to be less available or tampered with have not been addressed either.


KEILAR: Then you -- sorry, go on.

MARAZZI SASSOON: Sorry, I think there was a second part to your point.


KEILAR: No, please go ahead.

MARAZZI SASSOON: If you could please restate it. I'm sorry.

KEILAR: That's OK. Actually, what I want to ask you about -- I had asked you, have they said anything? I asked you what would their interesting be in not allowing that information?

I'm just going to follow on that, too. You talked to some researchers who said they were trying to get to data that they have gotten before, and now they're being told they won't get it under 2021.

MARAZZI SASSOON: Those requests for data and that data is very important for researchers to look for patterns.

The front-facing data we were say is that which has been cleaned up, organized, sanitized in various ways for ease of consumption, but the underlying data is important for the scientists to see trends we might otherwise not see.

What data scientists have reported to me is that data is now going to be a year or more away from being accessible, which speaks to this issue of, this is data that normal would be available for any other natural disaster. In Florida, we have the sunshine laws and I think this issue spoke es speaks to that principle of open government and open reports.

KEILAR: You quote one of them in your story, comparing it to cutting off hurricane forecasts as it approached, as we look to bright spots, this was one of them. You tell a great story, describing and raising questions about what's going on.

Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon, thank you for joining us.


KEILAR: A new study suggests people who have recovered from coronavirus cannot infect others. What that means for the next year in this pandemic.

And plus, one of the pastors who held a service on Mother's Day has now positive.

And as Memorial Day approaches, area swimming pools open. What about beaches? We'll talk about that ahead.



KEILAR: A church in northern California has announced its pastor has coronavirus after presiding in person over a live-stream church service with singing over Mother's Day. Health officials learn that two others from the Redwood Valley Church tested positive. It comes after 180 people tested positive at another church in

California after attending a service on the same day. That service was held in defiance of governor's order that bans large gatherings.

A South Korean study shows that coronavirus patients who test positive after recovery are not contagious. Let's take a look at the numbers here. And 285 people tested positive for coronavirus after they had the illness. And during the two weeks of study, they were in contact with 790 people. Of those contacts, there were no newly confirmed cases during exposure of the re-positive period.

CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Jennifer Lee, is here with us now. She's an associate professor of emergency medicine at Georgia Washington University.

What do you think when you look at that study? I think so many people wonder what is up with the positive to negative to positive and if you have it, how long are you contagious for?

DR. JENNIFER LEE, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right. This study is reassuring, you know? These are the findings of a study that was done after we heard reports from South Korea about a month ago that several hundred patients who had COVID-19 and seemingly had recovered were testing positive again.

So there were a lot of questions. You know, are they getting re- infected with coronavirus again? Is the virus getting reactivated somehow? Or are these false/positives?

What the study tells you is that they were not getting re-infected again with coronavirus because, as you said, none of the contacts that they followed and traced developed the virus. So they were not contagious.

This is very reassuring because what that implies is that they developed immunity that they developed antibodies to the virus.

And when you look at the time period of this study, on average, when they were testing positive, the second time, it was about 45 days after the first day that the patients had symptoMs.

So you know, at least for that time period, they were immune and did not get the virus again and were not contagious. So this is reassuring -- a reassuring study for us.


KEILAR: It's reassuring. It is raising questions. A place we don't have answers on. So, of course, medically professionals and proceeding with caution getting the tests positive when they feel they have been recovered for some time or maybe never even had symptoMs.

In light of that, what is that say, for instance reopening workplaces when you have people who have recovered from the coronavirus?

LEE: Right. It's a great question. And, you know, to me, it means that perhaps we have to go by symptoms and the duration of the symptoms more so than the testing.

So, right now, the CDC offers kind of two approaches that, one, if you've been diagnosed with COVID-19, that you absolutely have to have no fevers before you can go back work. And you have to have waited at least 10 days since the start of the symptoMs.

If you have testing available, they say it would be good to get two negative tests separated by 24 hours apart before you go back to work if that is available to you.

But perhaps the testing is not going to be as helpful if it's picking up some of that residual virus. You know, one of the South Korean health officials said perhaps the tests are picking up dead or inactive pieces of the virus, even though they don't have active infection.

So maybe you have to go more on the days since the symptoms started and how the person is feeling in terms of fevers and improvement and symptoMs.

KEILAR: Very interesting.

Thank you so much for breaking that down for us. Dr. Lee, we appreciate it.

In France, 70 schools have had to shut down again after suspected cases of coronavirus were detected, but the education minister points out that is a relative low number, given that 40,000 schools reopened last week.

France is also coming up with innovative ways to fight the virus. One company created a robot that is being deployed to disinfect and sanitize large areas.

For more headlines, let's check in with our CNN correspondents.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ivan Watson, in Hong Kong. China is defending the World Health Organization from criticism hurled at it by President Trump.

A spokesman for the Chinese government has accused the U.S. government of playing the blame game. He claims the U.S. is trying to distract people from the Trump administration's own failures at home in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic by scapegoating other organizations and countries.

And he is reminding the U.S. that it has responsibilities to pay annual fees to keep the WHO functioning during this time of global health crisis.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN BRAZIL BUREAU CHIEF: I'm Shasta Darlington, in Sao Paulo. Brazil has topped 250,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, surpassing the U.K.'s total, and making it the third highest in the world. The death toll is over 16,000. In Sao Paulo, with 90 percent of intensive beds fuel officials have

declared a five-day holiday this week to try to get people to stay home.

Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro is focusing his efforts on expanding the use of malaria drugs to treat COVID-19.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Melissa Bell in Paris. The French president made remarks last week that a vaccine found by his company might be given to the United States ahead of European markets in preorders. Now having clarified that, he is now explaining himself to the French president of how the world awaits some kind of solution to this pandemic.

In France, the figures continue to improve as restrictions continue to ease on people's movements. We have now reached fewer than 2,000 people in intensive care units in the country. The government continues to watch them very closely to see whether another stay-at- home order will be necessary or not.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR; I'm Max Foster, in Windsor, England, where the government is increasing funding for a project to train dogs to sniff out people with COVID-19. They have already had success with malaria and prostate cancer.

If dogs are trained properly, one of their first deployments could be at the airports where they could be screening up to 250 people per hour in the airport each. That is much faster than any existing technology.


KEILAR: Thank you so much to everyone for those reports.

A reminder, CNN is investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Don't miss Fareed Zakaria's special report "CHINA'S DEADLY SECRET," this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.


And our special coverage continues now with Kate Bolduan.