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Trump Administration Draws Up Plans To Punish China Over Virus; 9/11 Responder Beats Coronavirus While Helping Frontline Workers; Hundreds More Meat Plant Workers Test Positive For Coronavirus. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 1, 2020 - 07:30   ET




DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems like a contradiction, right, Alisyn?

And you hear that and I think partly, the Chinese are a little bit confused as they're receiving this. But at the same time, they kind of go forward with the same contradiction. That is to say, they will throw critiques back at the U.S. but they do not attack President Trump specifically. They're very strategic in that.

What they are doing is they're going after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And we have seen that ramped up in recent days coming straight from state media and the state broadcaster, CCTV. That's the government-controlled media.

And they will put out in their propaganda message their real concern with Pompeo. They believe, in their harsh words, that he is spreading a political virus, as they have put it. And this is a message that they will continue to hit as they see the U.S. continue to politicize the origin theory, in particular.

But you've got to remember the real concern from the Chinese perspective is that the blame is being placed on that lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. I can show you some video, actually, that we shot last week when we were down there for our return to Wuhan and this is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It's on that same campus.

And one of the origin theories that the U.S. Intelligence Community is looking into is that perhaps it started there. Now, we know U.S. Intel sources say that it's not likely it was manmade. However, they're still evaluating that theory.

China pushes back against that. They say that is not likely to be the case. They believe it's to be natural. And they again, point to that central epicenter of the Huanan seafood market.

All in all, though, you can see that the Chinese are really going to try to push against this and use the lag time that the U.S. had when they first issued that travel ban back in early February and say well, why wasn't the U.S. using that time to prepare properly? And they put that, again, back on the U.S. as a whole.

Again, Alisyn, they're careful not to criticize President Trump.

CAMEROTA: It's an interesting rhetorical dance.

Julia, what can President Trump really do if he wants to punish China? Can he really renege on the U.S. debt to China?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's interesting, Alisyn. I think global investors woke up this morning actually wondering if "Tariff Man" is back. Whether tackling China with pandemic punishment is Trump's campaign strategy. There is a lot of loss, there's a lot of anger out there.

Let me show you because you asked the right question of perhaps what our reporting suggests is being discussed behind the scenes. Perhaps debt cancelations, perhaps some form of sanction on China. Perhaps new trade policies.

To your point about canceling U.S. debt obligations, the reason why the United States can borrow so much and why people flood into U.S. bonds when they're afraid is because America always pays its debts. We are not canceling U.S. debts. Even the president talked himself out of that in a roundabout way when he discussed it yesterday.

The fear today -- and we saw this in global markets and we're seeing it in U.S. futures -- stock markets today -- is that is the president planning another trade war on top of fighting a war against this pandemic?

And, guys, I'll be very clear. Remember, U.S. companies pay these tariffs when they get placed on Chinese goods coming into the United States. And I think it's a very different prospect when you start or escalate a trade war when economic growth is OK, when you have 50-year lows in unemployment.

Doing this now when 30 million Americans are asking for government help, when spending has collapsed at the fastest rate in 40 years is a really bad idea. So it may be a campaign strategy that resonates.

It may be a distraction from the government's own manhandling -- mishandling of this crisis in many people's eyes, I think. But it will have economic consequences that will escalate a path to economic depression. That's what the president's risking here, I think.

CAMEROTA: Julie Chatterley, David Culver, thank you both very much for trying to analyze what is happening at the moment. We really appreciate that.

So, a first -- a 9/11 first responder refused to let his own personal battle with coronavirus stop him from helping health care workers on the front lines. You know this hero. He's a friend of the show. John Feal makes a very welcomed reappearance on NEW DAY, next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, some 4,000 New York City police officers are back on duty after getting coronavirus. A thousand still out sick. So many police, firefighters, health care workers battling this virus. They are the first responders who risk their lives -- it's their job.

Now, one man has made it his life's mission to protect them. John Feal fought Congress to get crucial assistance for 9/11 first responders. He, himself, was injured at ground zero after 9/11. And now, he is fighting for the coronavirus first responders even after getting it himself.

Joining me now, our friend John Feal, founder of the Feel Good Nation. John, it is wonderful to see your smiling, handsome face this morning.

Look, you don't scare easily. In fact, you say you don't get scared. But coronavirus sacred you. How?

JOHN FEAL, RECOVERED FROM CORONAVIRUS AND DONATED PLASMA, FOUNDER, FEEL GOOD NATION, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER (via Cisco Webex): Well, one, thank you for having me again, and man, you need a haircut.

I was scared and COVID-19 kicked my butt. And I've been diagnosed with pneumonia before, but being diagnosed with pneumonia, this time with COVID-19 -- John, it was like getting hit by a bus and then backed up by that bus over and over again.

And between the cough, the chest, the stomach virus, the fever, the chills, there were about three or four days where I don't remember anything. Literally, I don't remember anything. Losing my taste buds, losing my smell.


And here I am today. You know, I think I have survivor's guilt because even after 9/11 when I got hurt and I spent 11 weeks in the hospital, and now this, just makes me want to do more for others who are less fortunate.

BERMAN: And you're doing that. You're out there now --

FEAL: Yes.

BERMAN: -- or I should say in there because where can we go? Where is out there now?

But you've been busting your ass to get supplies and gear to these first responders. Tell us what you're doing.

FEAL: Yes. We keep calling these men and women the essential workers -- the front line. John, you and I are the front line -- the American people are the front line. Those doctors, those nurses, those hospital workers, the FDNY, firefighters across the country, military, law enforcement, they're our last line of defense.

And as front line workers like us, we have a responsibility to ensure that that last line of defense stays intact against this virus. That's my mindset. And we need to make sure that they have the proper PPEs. We need to make sure that they're fed.

And the American people need to put aside their differences and come together so we ensure that those last line of defense people are taken care of. It's that simple.

You know, John, after 9/11 -- you remember it. You remember 9/11.

And if it wasn't 18 1/2 years ago and if it wasn't out of sight and out of mind, more people would remember how we came together on September 12th. It didn't matter our political affiliation, our religion, our genders. We came together.

And that's the true spirit of the human being. Not the American, not the Republican, not the Democrat. It's to give and not accept anything in return is the best feeling in the world.

BERMAN: Yes. Look, a mask doesn't have a political party. Neither does a coronavirus test.

John, it's a vulnerable community, the 9/11 survivors and first responders, and they have a lot of underlying conditions since then.

How has this community handled the coronavirus pandemic?

FEAL: Well, just like 9/11 has decimated the 9/11 community, which is a fragile community, COVID-19 is now starting to show its ugly face. And we've lost about three dozen 9/11 responders. Many of them were cancer survivors or had cancer. And now they've been taken because of COVID-19.

And a week before I got sick I did a tape -- a video and posted on Facebook, and I told the 9/11 community to heed the advice of the professionals. You're at a higher risk, you're compromised, and you will get sick and you can die from this illness. And that video over two months (audio gap) validity.

BERMAN: John, I want to ask you about something and you're uniquely qualified to weigh in here. So many people are dying to coronavirus but we can't be there to say goodbye. We can't even be there to mourn. You can't do a funeral right now. You can't do a wake.

You've been to, what, 185 funerals for 9/11 first responders, which is an astounding number. So what's your advice? How do we deal with this loss without being about to mourn in person?

FEAL: You know, you're going to make me cry. Mourning -- when we mourn it just means we loved so much. It means we don't want to let go. And anybody who lost a loved on to COVID or anything, keep loving -- don't stop loving too much.

And while this is an inconvenience that they cannot be with their loved ones and they can't physically all be there together to mourn and lend a shoulder and a hug to each other, there will be a time when we can do that again. And I hope and I pray that they're able to give their loved ones a proper send-off.

But right now -- right now, which is important, is that we maintain that social distance. That we maintain the experts' advice on how to get past this. There's another wave coming. More people are, sadly, going to die -- American people.

John, we talk about religion and about politics dividing us. It's geography in this country that divides us because in New York, in Missouri, in Utah and Oregon and California, we live our lives and we conduct ourselves to different -- the way we eat, the way we think.

And we all need to come together. This is the United States of America and if this disease and this pandemic can't bring us together, then I'm afraid of what's going to happen for us in the future.

I don't care about anything other than helping people.


BERMAN: Right.

FEAL: That's all I know how to do and that's what we're going to continue to do.

BERMAN: I've got to say --

FEAL: We're going to continue to get PPEs, we're going to continue to donate food and candy and energy drinks, and whatever we can do. Because if this is the least I can do, then I haven't done enough --

BERMAN: Oh, yes.

FEAL: -- and I'm ashamed of myself.

BERMAN: You are doing everything you can. We know you're out there helping and we're grateful for that.

John Feal, you are a beautiful man. I don't know that I need haircut advice from you but you are a beautiful man. We're so glad to see you and doing better. Thanks so much, John.

FEAL: And you guys stay safe.

BERMAN: Thanks, John -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: It was so good to see John Feal and we're so happy that he's on the mend.

Now, we want to remember some of the 63,000 Americans who were lost to coronavirus.

Ben Schaffer was a train conductor in New York City for more than 20 years. He was a real-life hero. In 2018, he risked his life to evacuate passengers when a rider tried to set his train on fire.

In the last few weeks, Schaffer's union appealed for plasma donations to try to save his life. By the time he got that treatment, it was too late. Ben Schaffer was 53 years old.

Lt. Garry Duplessis was a 27-year veteran of the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana. He was assigned to the central control center which manages inmate tiers at the main jail.

Duplessis is the second deputy from Orleans Parish to succumb to the virus. Seventy have tested positive. Garry was 51 years old.

And, Brian Miller worked for the Department of Education. He spent a lifetime helping disabled students, inspired by his own blindness. In the hours since Miller's death became public, his mom says that she has been flooded with messages from people eager to share how much her son helped them. Brian Miller was 52.

We'll be right back.



CAMEROTA: Fighting on the front lines of the pandemic, Miami paramedics are going beyond the call of duty, risking their own lives to test homebound seniors for coronavirus.

CNN's Rosa Flores has more.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighty-seven-year old (INAUDIBLE) Rodriguez says he developed a fever and feared he had contracted the coronavirus. To make matters worse, he has three bad spinal discs and says he couldn't leave his home to get tested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: City of Miami test line, how may I help you? Are you having shortness of breath?

FLORES: He and thousands of other homebound seniors have called the Miami COVID-19 testing hotline. And just under 4,000 have been tested inside their homes by the brave men and women of the City of Miami Fire Rescue.

LT. GILBERT MARTIN, MIAMI FIRE RESCUE: All cases hit home because you originally start thinking about your family.

FLORES (voice-over): Eighteen firefighter-paramedics, like Lt. Gilbert Martin, have been reassigned to six mobile teams and dispatched to test homebound seniors all over the city.

MARTIN: We sent in one of our paramedics in full proper protective equipment, which pretty much includes a face shield and a gown, along with gloves and booties.

FLORES (voice-over): The senior swabbed, the sample is secured and sent for testing.

FLORES (on camera): Was the person tested?

MARTIN: The person was just tested, yes.

FLORES (voice-over): The coronavirus is so contagious and a higher risk for the elderly that the first responders we talked are not visiting their parents. Lt. Martin is not seeing his dad.

MARTIN: Just in case if for any reason I may have come in contact with it, I don't want to -- I don't want to spread it to him.


FLORES (voice-over): Battalion Capt. Steven Carroll talks to his mom, but only by phone.

CARROLL: My mother, she's 75 years old. And I'm one of four boys and we are very closely attached to her, so it's difficult to not be able to go and embrace her.

CARROLL'S MOTHER: Oh, I miss them so much.

FLORES (on camera): What's it going to be like to hug your mom for the first time?

CARROLL: Words can't describe it -- can't describe it. It's going to be great.

FLORES (voice-over): The risks are real. Two deputies in South Florida have paid the ultimate price. And until recently, a firefighter in Miami-Dade was fighting for his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You feel so isolated.

FLORES (voice-over): Fellow firefighters making him an emotional visit before was released from the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is love. The brother and sisterhood at the firehouse.

FLORES (voice-over): And seniors, like (INAUDIBLE) Rodriguez say --

RODRIGUEZ: Take it easy.

FLORES (voice-over): -- they are forever grateful.

CARROLL: I love you. I'll call you in a little bit.

CARROLL'S MOTHER: OK, I love you, too.

FLORES (voice-over): Rosa Flores, CNN, Miami.


BERMAN: Good for them. So, growing concern this morning for workers at meat processing plants. Ninety-two new positive tests have been announced at one processor in St. Joseph, Missouri alone.

The Georgia Department of Public Health announced that a total of 388 poultry plant employees in that state have tested positive.

In Iowa, the governor is easing pandemic restrictions just as President Trump ordered meat processing plants reopen nationwide.

CNN's Miguel Marquez joins us this morning from the Iowa-Nebraska state line with the very latest -- Miguel.


So in town after town, as you mentioned, those meat-packing plants -- they get infections in there and that leads to community spreads here in Nebraska, across Iowa, and other places. Not only do employees work very closely to each other in these places but up until recently they were sharing common spaces like cafeterias and locker rooms, for instance.

Now, some employees are speaking out.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Dakota City, Nebraska, just across the state line from Sioux City, Iowa, Tyson's beef processing plant there. Massive -- one of the country's largest, 4,300 hundred employees. The person I'm speaking to, he's one of them.

When you hear the number of people getting sick every day, they say, you just wait your turn. Out of fear for losing their job, we are not identifying this person who says it was clear something was wrong at the plant for weeks.

MARQUEZ (on camera): How many have gone missing in the last several weeks?

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Three, four, or 500, they say.

Tyson has now tested everyone at the plant but this person says the company could have done more earlier.

MARQUEZ (on camera): They only started giving you masks a couple of weeks ago. Only masks, yes? No other -- no other protective gear?

MARQUEZ (voice-over): No gloves, no face shields, no gowns, they say.

MARQUEZ (on camera): So well into the crisis over COVID-19, this was the only protection offered to employees at the plant in Dakota City.

It is something that we also heard from officials at another Tyson plant in Waterloo.

SHERIFF TONY THOMPSON, BLACK HAWK COUNTY, IOWA: We walked out of that plant knowing that we had an enormous problem.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson and health department officials inspected Tyson's Waterloo, Iowa plant on April 10th.

THOMPSON: About one-third of their staff was wearing masks at that point. Some of them had masks but they were dangling around their necks.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Thompson says his county is now in a full-on health crisis. Black Hawk County has more confirmed COVID-19 cases than any other county in the state.

THOMPSON: Our front line of defense has all kind of fallen back now to the E.R. front doors, to the long-term care facility front doors, to my jail front door.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And now, concerns about reopening parts of the state to regular business and forcing meat-packing plants back to work too hastily.

THOMPSON: President Trump does this Defense Production Act telling the Tyson plant they've got to open back up, I don't know what that's supposed to say to the citizens here that have contracted the disease or the citizens here that are at twice the risk of catching the risk than anywhere else.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And that Tyson employee in Nebraska also has a message for the president.

I just want him to know, they say, we are human and we have families that care about us and we care about them, too.


MARQUEZ: Now, we called and e-mailed Tyson several times to ask them about some of these allegations and they never got back to us. But, the union representing the workers here and at least one health department official in Waterloo, Iowa says they believe that Tyson and meatpackers now understand the risks here and are taking steps to prevent further infections.

For instance, the meat-packing plant behind us in Dakota City, it is shutting starting today and they will clean it up over the weekend and then start production next week. The one in Waterloo, Iowa has been shut for several days now and they expect that one to open up at some point before too long as well.

Back to you guys.

BERMAN: All right, Miguel Marquez for us in Nebraska. Miguel, thank you very much for shining a light on this.


BERMAN: So, some major new developments in the coronavirus pandemic. And breaking news just in involving Joe Biden. NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By this weekend, more than half of our states will have started to reopen. Pain and frustration --

TEXAS PROTESTER: Open Texas now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do have a right to fight for your inalienable rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because people are going to go back to more association, it's very likely that they'll be a huge repeat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a chance the U.S. will have a COVID-19 vaccine by January.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: That's an assumption that it's going to be safe and effective and we're going to be able to do it quickly. Each of those are maybe likely. That's what I mean when I say by January we'll do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You certainly don't want to put an unsafe or an infected vaccine out to the populous.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

Big changes this morning in states across the country. As of this morning, many businesses can reopen. That is new.

What is not new is that an alarming level of people are dying from coronavirus and getting infected. Take New Jersey, for example. More than 450 new deaths reported there, the single-highest day yet in terms of deaths.

The number of deaths nationwide surged past 63,000 with 2,000 new deaths reported. The number of new deaths and the number of new cases nationwide, it's not really dropping. You can see by this chart. And it's not really clear to me why this isn't the biggest story every day here.

Still, in the coming days, two-thirds of the country will be partially reopened.

In Michigan, hundreds of protesters stormed the Capitol.