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New Day

Reports on the Coronavirus from Around the Country; Staying Safe as Lockdowns Ease; Blacks and Latinos Bear Brunt of Coronavirus Cases; Surge in Demand for Virtual Safaris. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 07, 2020 - 06:30   ET



ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Which were exempt from phase one of his reopening plan could reopen soon. DeSantis says he has been looking at the trends and even though Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Countries are not quite ready yet, he says he is optimistic that the region will be ready soon. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez echoing the governor's comments saying his county wants to open up as fast as possible while being as safe as possible.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Athena Jones in New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo says that while new cases and hospitalizations continue to decline, there is a new coronavirus hotspot in two upstate counties, Madison and Oneida. Dozens of employees of a greenhouse farm testing positive for the virus. Another example of dense working conditions aiding the virus's spread.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Omar Jimenez in Chicago, where we are seeing a surge in coronavirus cases among Hispanic residents here where 30 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases in the city are in Hispanic residents, when just four weeks ago that number was at 14 percent.

This comes as we are getting new data from the state of Illinois that shows Hispanic residents are testing positive for coronavirus at a rate higher than any other demographic we have seen. And it is why both Governor J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot are adding additional scopes to the racial inequity plans in this pandemic.


In Pittsburgh, an international airport became a refuge for Americans reeling from the economic impact of the pandemic. On Wednesday, a parking lot that would usually be full of air travelers became the site of a drive-through food bank. According to the non-profit, Feeding America, food banks across the country have seen an average of a 40 percent increase in demand during this crisis. Volunteers and advocates have rushed to catch up. At Pittsburgh International, 764 cars rolled through in two hours. More than 53,000 pounds of food were distributed.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, by the end of the week, the majority of states will have started reopening. We have tips for you on just how to reduce your risk as restrictions ease. That's next.



BERMAN: Breaking this morning, the Associated Press is reporting that the White House has rejected a comprehensive 17-page guideline from the CDC aimed at helping businesses, schools and churches reopen safely. CNN first reported on the CDC report last week.

So, if the administration doesn't want you to see the guidance, we want you to get some advice. So we asked a doctor to come in to provide that.

Joining us now is Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes. He's a physician in Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the chief of their division of infectious diseases.

Doctor, thanks so much for being with us.

You gave us a full list of advice for people going back to work, and if we can put it up on the screen so people can see.

The first thing you have to worry about, I think, going back to work is how to get there. You say avoid public transit. And taxi drivers, if you're going to take them, they should be wearing masks and have barriers between the drivers and passengers.

Talk to us about the commute.


First of all, I think it's important to emphasize that for most of the country, it's way too soon to be opening up. But for those areas where it makes sense to open up, I do think there are common sense things that people can do to minimize their risk. And trying to avoid crowds as much as possible, to continue to distance socially as much as possible, and that includes things like not taking public transportation if you have an alternative means of transit or trying to stay as far away from other people on a bus or a subway and to be washing your hands when you get off and wearing a mask at all times.

BERMAN: What about cracking the window if you're in a taxi or an Uber?

KURITZKES: I think that's a terrific idea because the concept here is to try and both dilute out any virus particles that might be in the atmosphere if it turns out that the driver is, in fact, shedding virus, and also to have more air flow from the breeze that would be created by having the window open.

BERMAN: All right, so that's the way to work. What happens when you get there? What about elevators? What should you

do in an elevator?

KURITZKES: Well, you know, it's really interesting, at our hospital, we're not allowing more than four people on an elevator at a time. And that's a big challenge, especially if you have a 30-story building and you have thousands of people, which is why it's so hard to -- to be getting back to work until the case load comes down. So staying away and wearing masks for sure.

BERMAN: I heard one person say, face the wall inside of an elevator rather than face inwards. Any merit in that?

KURITZKES: I'm not sure that would be sufficient because the real concern is not just the droplets from somebody who's coughing or sneezing, but the -- the aerosol, the really fine particles that just get into the air and hover there from somebody who's in the pre- symptomatic stage of infection where we know transmission is the -- is greatest.

BERMAN: I want to put up this list again so people can see it. You have some practical advice. Some stores have started opening. You say, and this just seems like common sense, know what you're going to buy before you go. Think about that so you can get it and get out.

And then you talk about sports. Which sports might be safer than others. Explain that.

KURITZKES: Well, you know, I think being outdoors is really terrific. It's healthy for you. And there are a number of sport activities that you can do safely outdoors because they involve just you individually, like jogging, or very small numbers of people, like playing a round of golf or playing tennis with partners. Maybe not doubles, but singles matches, because you're going to be distanced and because you're outside, again, where there's enough air flow and a large volume of air to dilute out any infectious particles.

I'd be much more concerned about contact sports or sports where people are really closely getting together, like soccer or rugby or, obviously, football and basketball.

BERMAN: Yes, contact sports, right there. The very phrase tells you what the problem is.


BERMAN: Talk to us about gyms. You say, really, we should be avoiding gyms.


KURITZKES: I think, for the time being, I would still be pretty cautious about going to a gym because the issue is, how many other people are going to be there and what do we know about those people and whether they are healthy or not and how frequently can the equipment be cleaned. There may be ways of setting up -- I saw on your program the other day a gym that had stations set up six feet apart and people could only be in for a half an hour at a time. Maybe that is a sensible compromise. But I don't think there's any rush to have to get back to gyms until we know that the case load is low enough that the risk of encountering the infected person is sufficiently low that we can be more secure.

BERMAN: Dr. Kuritzkes, this is really helpful. We really appreciate your time. And I hope we get to talk to you again because these are the questions that people are facing, right? The decisions have been made to begin reopening these states. People are going to start getting out there. They need to know how to do it well. You're providing some concrete advice. I really do appreciate it.

KURITZKES: It's been my pleasure. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, this morning, new evidence that African-Americans are being disproportionately affected by coronavirus. Why and what can be done about it? That's next.



HILL: This morning, a new study is highlighting the disproportionate impact coronavirus has on African-Americans. It shows that while blacks represent just 13.4 percent of the U.S. population, as you can see there, there is a significantly higher toll for the population. They account for more than half of all cases and nearly 60 percent of deaths. Why?

Joining me now is Dr. Selwyn Vickers, dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.

Dr. Vickers, good to have you with us.

As we look at those numbers, they really stop you in your tracks. And the reason for those numbers is something that has been discussed I know within the medical community for decades at this point. It's really a vicious cycle of access and environment in many cases.

DR. SELWYN VICKERS, DEAN, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM, SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: You're absolutely right. I think that this crisis has really shown a spotlight on a problem that's existed for some time. And health disparities have been around for a significant period of time. We've been working on them. But this crisis has linked lethality to these chronic diseases like no other time we've seen. And you're correct, these are driven by a combination of both medical issues and social determinants of health that really compound this for those citizens who are often the least underserved.

HILL: And just break down what some of those, you know, social determinants are.

VICKERS: Yes. So those really relate to some structural issues related to where people live, their living setting, their access to food, their need to be on public transportation, their access to medication and, in this case, it's compounded because of the density of where people live. There need to be -- and use public transportation and because they're often the essential workers. Those sort of combinations have created a lethal grouping that's really affected a number of populations, particularly African-Americans particularly when they live in these areas.

HILL: As you point out, it's affecting not just African-Americans, a number of populations. And just to put that in context for people at home, we're seeing out of Illinois some numbers there which show us that Latinos are the hardest hit community. Twenty-five percent of the cases, yet they're 17 percent of the state population.

And what you brought up, too, about disproportionate numbers of African-Americans, of Latinos who are essential workers. That also is having an impact economically for them. As we know, they can't work from home. They have to be out there.

So in terms of that exposure, how concerning is that to you?

VICKERS: It's very concerning. I think that the combination of the things, even if they weren't the essential workers, are really lethal in their own right. Their preexisting conditions where many of them, particularly African-Americans, but including Latinos, suffer from hypertension diabetes or kidney diseases or lung diseases. All of those, when you get infected with coronavirus, really put you behind the eight ball and make your risk of recovery much more difficult.

But the other piece that you highlight is that these vulnerable populations, we have to take care of them because they're on the front lines. And if we don't make sure both they're tested or treated, it affects us all. And this is other -- this is another unique attribute of this pandemic.

HILL: In terms of taking care of them, you know, as we just discussed, some of these underlying issues, whether they're -- it is this cycle, right, it goes from access and environment, which leads to, you know, other health conditions.


HILL: And it just -- it sort of keeps going. But we've known about this for decades. Do you think that this virus will in any way really make people sit up and pay attention so that there is a move for real change?

VICKERS: You know, I surely hope so. It's certainly caught the attention of the president and his task force. It's caught the attention of the broader communities. And as I step back and mention again is that in many times these chronic diseases, we've looked at them in sort of an smoldering ember and really not paid much attention to them because we saw them as the problems of a community that we didn't have in our high priority list for treatment. But now we've linked this virus and this virus has linked, if you would, these diseases to really being lethal when they get infected.

The other piece is that, you're right, to make a difference, there needs to be both a systemic approach, as well as some ownership from the communities, to really change these social factors that impact their lives and their outcomes and their health. It won't go away overnight, but it won't go away if we don't organize in a totally different way to make an impact in these communities.


HILL: And it won't go away unless we -- you know, we need to keep talking about it, too, to make that change happen.

VICKERS: Absolutely.

HILL: So Dr. Selwyn Vickers, appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

VICKERS: Thank you very much.

HILL: If an African safari was on your bucket list, get this, virtual safaris are becoming a thing during the pandemic. A CNN exclusive report from South Africa is next.


BERMAN: This morning, a remarkable look at one of the side effects of this pandemic. Wildlife is the lifeblood of South Africa's tourism industry, which has been crippled by coronavirus. It has led to a big demand for virtual safaris.

CNN's David McKenzie had exclusive access to one of the country's largest safari parks to see how the industry and the animals are adapting.

David joins us now from South Africa with more.

I can't wait to see these pictures, David.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's such a privilege to be here.


Good morning, John.

We're here at Sabi Sands Reserve in South Africa. Just to be in this time where everyone's constrained in their homes or their apartments, they fear -- have this fear of the coronavirus. You know, the places like this, Cheetah Plains, normally have people coming, paying top dollar to see the animals. Now there's a virtual window onto this world.


MCKENZIE (voice over): In South Africa, the elephants at least are free to roam.

TRISHALA NAIDU, WILDEARTH GUIDE: It's just beautiful. The light it just stunning.

MCKENZIE: But its conservation tourism industry is under lockdown, which means Trishala Naidu and her cameraman are some of the last people left in Sabi Sands.

They broadcast animal sightings twice a day for free.

NAIDU: His trunk seems to be stuck on its tusk.

MCKENZIE: That people would normally pay thousands of dollars to see in person. It's live.

NAIDU: You still have this feeling like, you know what, I can do it. I can do it.

Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh.

MCKENZIE: And unscripted.

MCKENZIE (on camera): What do you -- what do you see over there?

NAIDU: Dogs. We see wild dogs. I had a dog feel today.

MCKENZIE: So there's a pack of wild dogs just coming in the middle our interview to this small dam. And this is incredible to see. I mean my entire life of coming to the bush, I've never seen wild dogs like this.

NAIDU: You beautiful puppies. Just gorgeous.

I mean we give them the space.

MCKENZIE (voice over): Wild Earth was around long before the pandemic, but now its viewership of safari life has shot up five-fold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jonathan, age six in the USA.

GRAHAM WALLINGTON, CEO, WILDEARTH TV: So birds will alarm (ph). Call (ph) it a leopard (ph).

For our viewers around the world to be able to be here with us sharing this experience is --

MCKENZIE: Graham Wallington never imagined his company's success could signal a collapse of the industry. Across Africa, nearly 8 million tourism jobs are now at risk.

WALLINGTON: That's what we've got to figure out now. We've got to figure out how we can book private safari experiences, how we can create online experiences that can get revenue, you know, down here to the people and keep this whole conservation engine running.

JAPIE VAN NIEKERK, OWNER, CHEETAH PLAINS: We need people to sustain this nature and to sustain these businesses.

MCKENZIE: Owners here know it's not as easy as locking their front doors and coming back when the pandemic is over. VAN NIEKERK: Tourism keeps the rhinos alive. Keeps the elephants

alive. Keeps the lions alive, the leopards. Tourism pays for that. No one else will.

JAMES HENDRY, WILDEARTH GUIDE: On camera today is Owen. That is Owen's son.

Look at this. We've managed to come right with our kitty cats.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Someone suck in their apartment in Italy or in New York, what does this mean, do you think, for them?

HENDRY: I hope that it means some kind of healing. The whole of our species has been infected or affected by one thing. And there's a tremendous feeling of solidarity. Nature is just doing its thing. Nature just carries on.

MCKENZIE (voice over): But for this iconic reserve to survive, they desperately need to adapt.


MCKENZIE: Well, John, just this reserve here employs at least 3,000 people from local communities. It's that buy-in that means a conservation can happen. And so they worry the next few months, even a year as people stay away, what impact that will have. And I have to say, I, for one, can't wait until people from around the world can come and enjoy the wildlife like we have just in the last few days. But, in the meantime, they can watch it online.


BERMAN: It is such an incredible challenge. It is such an incredible challenge for institutions like that, David. But, as you point out, those are remarkable pictures you just showed us and a privilege for us to be there and a privilege for us to see them. So, thank you very much for that.

We do have breaking news this morning.

NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

Alisyn is off. Erica Hill in this morning.

We do begin with breaking news.

A major development in a story that CNN first broke last week. We reported that the CDC had compiled a comprehensive 17-page document with guidance for businesses, schools, churches that wanted to reopen. A manual for how to do it safely. Well, CNN has just confirmed that the White House apparently doesn't

want anyone to see it. It has rejected the release. Why? We've reached out to the White House for response. But the question is, if you're going to encourage reopening, what could be wrong with instructions about how to do it safely. It's like telling someone to go walk a tightrope with no training and then refusing to provide a harness.

HILL: As of this morning, 19 states are seeing an upward trend in new coronavirus cases over the last 14 days. And keep in mind, by the end of the week, all 19 of those states will have started the process of reopening. And that will actually bring the nationwide total to 44 states.


Also keep in mind, not a single one of them has satisfied the White House guidelines to reopen.

I want to get straight to CNN's Nick.