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New York City Bars and Restaurants Limited to Takeout and Delivery; Churches Close Over Coronavirus Fears; Health Officials Warn the U.S. is at a Tipping Point. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 17, 2020 - 07:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: And cafes and theaters are shut down right now. I mean, obviously, they're opened for takeout, but that's a different experience --


CAMEROTA: And so as I understand it, 154,000 people work in the city's bars and restaurants. In your office, whatever models you're looking at or scenarios, how long do you think they're going to be shut down?

DE BLASIO: OK, first of all, they're open for takeout and delivery, so thank God some people will still be employed, and a lot of people will need that food as another option. This is going to be months. There's no question about it. And I'm very worried about the employment impact, the impact on people's livelihoods. I think one of the fallacies in this whole discussion nationally is that there's not even a recognition of the sheer human and economic dislocation that's happened already, let alone what we're going to see as we go into April, May, June.

The Congress passed that -- or the house passed that initial stimulus bill, it's good but it's small. We need direct income replacement at this point. We need to do what Franklin Roosevelt did in the new deal, he created government-backed jobs, put people back to work, saved the country. We can't create jobs now because people can't congregate. The federal government needs to actually put money back in the hands of people, not companies, people who, if they don't get that income back in their pockets, they have no choice, they want to work, they have no choice.

If they don't get their income, they won't be able to pay their rent, they won't be able to buy food, they won't be able to buy medicine. We have to be honest about that.

CAMEROTA: When I hear you say months and you used the terms April, May, June, is that what you're thinking for how long?

DE BLASIO: Oh, absolutely. We -- even longer in fact.

CAMEROTA: That's how long these will be closed? DE BLASIO: My health commissioner said a week ago she believes it

will go all the way to September. But we don't have a crystal ball, but I think people need to have in their minds -- no one can predict, but we need to have in our minds that this could be a crisis of at minimum several months. Just looking at the numbers trajectory right now, but it could take us well through the Summer.

And we have to start being honest about the human impact if people are without their income for months on end -- you know, God bless Mitt Romney, I'm glad he's offering an idea. But a $1,000 is not going to cut it for people if you're talking about a three to six-month crisis.

CAMEROTA: So you're calling upon the federal government to do more than a $1,000 a month to send to people?

DE BLASIO: A 100 percent, Alisyn. I'm saying let's be honest, people want to work, we're telling them they can't as a matter of law, if you will. It's not safe to work. But the cost of living doesn't go away. You still need food. You still need medicine. You still need to pay the rent. What are people going to do? And if you can't get an income, I mean, employers I'm sure will try for a period of time, but at a certain point, they're not going to be able to pay people.

If the federal government doesn't say we're in the great unknown, just like we were in the great depression. My family went through the great depression, I remember the stories, in fact, my older relatives told 25 percent unemployment almost overnight in this country. The federal government under Franklin Roosevelt stepped in and said we're going to do something we've never done before.

And they made sure there was money back in people's hands through jobs and other forms of relief. Now we can't do that. Let's be honest. The federal government prints money, they bailed out the auto industry, the banks, et cetera. Time to bail out the American people.

CAMEROTA: It sounds like you are also signaling that New York City schools will not open on April 20th.

DE BLASIO: I've been honest that April 20th is when we're going to make our first attempt. This is exactly what we've said. We would love nothing more. But watching the trajectory, it's hard to imagine that's going to work. So, we're going to plan for the best, be ready for the worst. The worst is we lose the whole school year, which is -- look, I'm a parent, my kids went to New York City public schools.

Idea of our kids losing months of their education and the food that they get and so many other things, it's very painful to me. But I'm also a realist that this crisis, Alisyn, is like nothing we've seen. I mean, I think the only models right now are the great depression in terms of the economic impact. I think it's going to blow by the great recession. I think the great depression and the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic.

Those are the only things that you can point to that even resemble -- and this is the beginning. Talk to us -- you know, let's have a conversation in a month and see where we are. CAMEROTA: San Francisco has last night ordered a shelter in place

Edith(ph) for the whole bay area.

DE BLASIO: Right --

CAMEROTA: Would New York consider something like that?

DE BLASIO: We're absolutely considering that. I mean, right now, we have taken a series of steps to reduce the number of people who are circulating around, yet people telecommute, obviously social- distancing, closing the schools which was particularly painful, closing the bars and restaurants. But we're going to look at all other options. And it could get to that for sure.

It could get to that for the whole country. But here's the thing I'm worried about. So, let's say we do that. You're still going to have a substantial number of cases of people who need hospitalization under any scenario, even the most perfect shutdown scenario. We are going to have to build a huge amount of new hospital and medical capacity.


I just announced yesterday a plan to create at least 8,200 new beds through a variety of means or make available 8,200 new hospital beds. We're going to get a lot more than that. And the thing we don't have, Alisyn, which the federal government is the only solution on, those ventilators, we have some, we don't have enough, the surgical masks -- all the things you need for a hospital setting, even the basic things we need to protect people, the hand sanitizer.

The federal government -- I've used the word mobilization, nationalization, there's different ways to think about it. But the federal government has to ensure that the industries that create those vital supplies are at maximum production and then they're distributed where they are needed most as we do in war time, and we need the United States military on the ground.

Right now, we should have hospital-ships going where they're needed, to places like New York for sure. We should have the extraordinarily well-trained medical personnel of the United States military deployed forward to the parts of America that are suffering the most. I say, look, anyone -- any member of the military who's working on a border wall or anything that's not coronavirus right now in the United States -- I'm not talking about --


DE BLASIO: Our troops based overseas. But if you're a member of the military, we need you right now at the front, and the front is in the places where the coronavirus epidemic is worse.

CAMEROTA: On a personal note, I want to ask you how you're coping. You went to the gym yesterday and Twitter lost its mind.

DE BLASIO: I don't get it but we'll move on with our lives. The gyms are all closed now, Alisyn. CAMEROTA: Yes, I know the gyms are closed. Is there any sense that

you were late personally to get your arms around what -- the sacrifices required?

DE BLASIO: No, everyone is going to have to make a sacrifice. But as our health commissioner said yesterday, people still are in -- new ways are going to have to get exercise. Whatever scenario we're going to tell people how to stay healthy. It may be a walk, it may be a jog, but obviously socially-distanced. Until and unless we get to the point of literally ordering everyone indoors.

So, this is going in stages. Somehow people are going to have to stay healthy and sane through this, and it's going to take a lot of improvisation for sure.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Bill de Blasio, we really appreciate all the information --

DE BLASIO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We always like seeing you in studio. Thanks so much.

DE BLASIO: Thanks so much, Alisyn.


JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: So, one of the things I'm most concerned about in this crisis is mental health. The moment is especially hard for people with anxiety and depression. And coming up, we have a treat. One of our favorite people, Comedian Gary Gulman who does battle depression joins us to talk about how he's getting through this. That's next.



BERMAN: This morning, for Americans already dealing with mental health issues, the uncertainty from the coronavirus pandemic can be particularly difficult. Comedian Gary Gulman has been very vocal about living with depression, and spoke about his struggle in his "HBO" comedy special "The Great Depresh" and with us here on NEW DAY, and Gary joins us now.

Gary, it's terrific to see you. I love seeing you smile this morning. I have to say, I reached out to you a few days ago because I am curious, given how difficult this is for everybody, it must be particularly hard for people struggling with mental health issues. How have you been getting through?

GARY GULMAN, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: Well, I put on my serious glasses this morning and I think that helps so that I'll be understood as a serious man. And I feel like my hair is at a really cute length, so I'm liking how I'm appearing this morning. I will say that I had to revisit some of the things that got me out of my depression and my anxiety and I actually wrote them down. I made a list and made sure that I was -- I was approaching each one

the same way I did when I was sick. So, the exercise portion, the eating right, the cutting down on sugar, no alcohol. I am very serious about my medications, so I made sure that I'm taking my medication at the right times and in the right dosages. I'm also not hesitating to call my psychopharmacologist and see if I can increase my medication should things get more stressful.

I also take an anti-anxiety and I have not hesitated to take that when my anxiety has been ramped up over the past few days. So, a lot of people think I'm going to tough this out, I'm going to white-knuckle it, but that's really foolish. And the other thing I urge people is if you're having trouble with money and paying for your medication, reach out to a friend if you -- or family member. If you have my phone number, call me, I will lend you the money to get your medication because you cannot -- you cannot skip a dose, you cannot -- not during these times.

It's serious that you maintain your routine, and I know that I can't go to the gym, but I can go for short jogs and long walks and do things that will get me out of the house. And that -- those endorphins, the serotonin increase from exercising is really helpful. Just swear -- just tell yourself I'll just do it for five or ten minutes, and invariably I go longer than that.

I go half hour, 45 minutes, whatever you feel like you can maintain, higher heart rate for five or ten minutes, you usually will try to do it for longer. We're built that way that the hardest --

BERMAN: You are --

GULMAN: Part is overcoming the inertia of sitting around.

BERMAN: The first thing you said to me that the hardest thing with this pandemic is it knocks you off your routine. Routine --

GULMAN: Yes --

BERMAN: Is so important to you personally, and I know when people struggle with mental health, and the coronavirus pandemic has knocked America off --

GULMAN: Yes --

BERMAN: Its routine. Let --

GULMAN: Yes --

BERMAN: Alone individuals.

GULMAN: Yes, so I think making adjustments and improvising and just doing the best you can and feeling good about doing the best you can and understanding that in a few months or few weeks, hopefully, you'll be able to get back to some of the things that you do. But I also -- I remember when I was really struggling with anxiety, especially in the morning, I would listen to podcasts, informative podcasts. [07:45:00]

I would listen to books, I remember listening to -- I think it was "Just Mercy" and it was -- it was so helpful to --

BERMAN: Yes --

GULMAN: Get out of my head and listen to something that was informative and that would make me feel a little bit better about the world and --

BERMAN: Right --

GULMAN: About people, yes --

BERMAN: My son -- my son who is 13 just read that. I'm not saying that you're reading at a 13-year-old level, but no, he read that and loved it too. So, that's a great book --

GULMAN: Yes --

BERMAN: To read --

GULMAN: Yes. And it's so full of hope, and I really think that sometimes it's great to hear and read stories of people overcoming great odds and difficulties.

BERMAN: How are you reaching your audience if you can at all during this?

GULMAN: Well, I've been tweeting and mostly I've been trying to just reach out to friends and -- because that was a big part of my recovery was not isolating. And it's so easy to isolate during these circumstances. But I've found that even talking on the phone or face- timing with people is raising my energy and giving me a little shot of dopamine and just telling people how I'm feeling and that I'm anxious and it does the trick.

It really makes me feel less --

BERMAN: I know --

GULMAN: Anxious, and we are connecting in that way. And it's not as ideal as being with somebody and hugging somebody, but just hearing somebody's understanding voice has been really helpful to me.

BERMAN: I know --

GULMAN: I'm really grateful for you reaching out --


GULMAN: Yes --

BERMAN: And I'm grateful for you getting back because I think you have a lot to share that's very important. And I know you're wearing your serious glasses --

GULMAN: Yes --

BERMAN: This morning --

GULMAN: Yes, but sometimes I put them on my head to let you know that I'm that teacher who sits on the front of the desk and connects with you.

BERMAN: That's what I want. I want to know what is -- where are you finding the humor in the pandemic?

GULMAN: Well, I don't know that I'm finding the humor, but I'm finding some -- some lightness and I'm finding some people who are trying to cope, and I'm finding people who are more than willing to be generous and help out. And I remember a great Mark Twain quote, "if you want to cheer yourself up, cheer somebody else up." And so I made a donation to the food bank last night and I urge people to do that.

And you can also donate food, you can donate your time. And people are taking steps, and I think it's a really great way to cheer yourself up is to -- is to reach out in these generous ways.

BERMAN: Well, Gary Gulman, you've cheered us up this morning, thank you --

GULMAN: I hope so, you cheered me up --

BERMAN: Thank you for joining us --

GULMAN: But it's important to get out of the house and you helped me do that. Thank you --

BERMAN: We're good. Please look, stay in touch over the next --


BERMAN: Few weeks and months. We want to know how you're getting through this and the advice you have for so many people, because it's very helpful. And check out Gary's special on "HBO", there's time to watch it, "The Great Depresh" --

GULMAN: Thanks, John --

BERMAN: Get it -- get it on demand. And if you or anyone else needs help, you know, contact the national suicide prevention live line at 1-800-273-8255. Our thanks to Gary for being with us this morning --

CAMEROTA: That was so helpful and entertaining to boot.

BERMAN: Yes, he wore the glasses. I mean, I give him credit for wearing the glasses --

CAMEROTA: And sometimes on his head. In addition to all of that, many churches are closing as well just during this time when so many people need to be together and to congregate and need words of faith. And of course, we're approaching Easter? So, how will the pandemic affect Easter? Well, Cardinal Timothy Dolan joins us next with the message for Catholics during this crisis.



CAMEROTA: Houses of worship all around the world are closed because of the coronavirus. Here in New York City, the archdiocese has canceled all public masses including those at the iconic St. Patrick's Cathedral ahead of holy week. Joining us now is his eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan; the archbishop of New York. Good morning Cardinal.

TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK: Good morning to you, Alisyn and happy St. Patrick's Day.

CAMEROTA: Oh, thank you very much. I know it's a subdued one here in New York. But you're looking well. Did you ever imagine a scenario by which you would have to shut down church services and mass to the public?

DOLAN: Never. This is when people need their faith, they need the Lord, they need the church most of all. So this is a very difficult decision to make. But I think a wise one, we have a moral responsibility to protect the health of our people in the wider community, and one of the ways the experts told us we need to do that is to avoid big crowds. So, as painful as a decision was, I think it was very prudent one.

CAMEROTA: Cardinal, what about Easter? Easter Sunday is April 12th. Will Easter services be canceled?

DOLAN: I sure hope so, once again, we're going to have to depend upon the professional counsel of those who know a lot better than we do. But right now, we're planning full speed ahead for holy week and Easter. Let's see what happens.

CAMEROTA: So when you say you hope so, you hope you will be able to conduct mass?

DOLAN: I hope we'll be able to. Now, remember, Alisyn, whatever happens, we still celebrate mass even though privately -- and we do our best to get that out to the folks. It's just so we can't do it in a large setting.

CAMEROTA: And how are you getting that out to the folks?

DOLAN: Well, I was very happy to know that Sunday morning, I offered mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral as I do every Sunday at 10:15, and it's carried on Catholic satellite radio, Catholic faith network, and we were told that the ratings skyrocketed. That makes me happy. This is a bad way to achieve that good goal, but it's apparently hundreds of thousands of people are plugging in literally to get the benefits of their faith and worship.

You know, Alisyn, in our Catholic belief, while the mass and the sacraments are the most effective ways to stay close to the Lord, they're not the only ones. So, we're encouraging our people still to pray at home, to join in through whatever way we can, in unity with the rest of the church family, and I hope it's working. Well, it sure not as perfect as being there, but I think it's better than nothing.


CAMEROTA: I hear your optimism about Easter and I think people appreciate it, but April 12th is soon. That's an even closer date than the New York City schools are saying they might be able to reopen. So how realistic do you think it is that you'll be able to do in person mass on Easter?

DOLAN: It would not be realistic of us not to plan for the fact that we will be unable to do it. But we haven't made that decision yet. So if that happens, we'll consult with our priests, our deacons, our pastor leaders and especially medical experts as to what's the best way to provide our people with the benefits of holy weekend Easter while still avoiding the crowds and having to keep our churches closed.

I think the -- while the Vatican doesn't instruct us on these matters, Pope Francis has set a very good example of trying to be as available as possible while not in physical contact with the people. So we'll try to follow those kinds of examples.

CAMEROTA: Well, on that note, I don't know if you've seen this video, I assume you have, of Pope Francis going out into the streets. This is an incredibly quiet Rome. I mean, you know, it never looks like this. But this was the Pope on Sunday afternoon, he left his home in the Vatican, to pray for those affected by the coronavirus, he went to a famous crucifix, that believers claim it helped to save the Romans from the plague in the year 1522. And so tell us what this moment means to you.

DOLAN: I thought it very moving, Alisyn, and I'm glad you did too. I was not surprised the minute someone said, did you hear the holy father visited two places in Rome to intercede for Italy and the world and the coronavirus, I said, I bet you it was Salus Populi Romani; the famous icon of Mary, the mother of Jesus at Saint Mary Major.

And I bet you, it was the crucifix at San Marcello on the Via del Corso. And sure enough, when I saw it like you, I was struck by the absence of traffic. When I saw it, I said, look, he's going to San Marcello -- oh, look, he's going up the steps to Saint Mary Major -- extraordinarily effective pastoral move. I'm planning some of those myself, Alisyn --

CAMEROTA: Where are you going to go?

DOLAN: And though sadly, when I do it, I won't be able to have people with me. I'm making plans to visit the shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, I'm making plans to visit the shrine of our lady of Mount Carmel up in Middleton, and our lady help of Christians up in the Rockland County. And I just want to pray with and for our people, and hopefully I know -- I know those prayers will be effective. But I'm hoping the example of solidarity and prayer is a good one. I

was so touched by Gary, your guest right before me, I could have -- he probably would have been better in encouraging hope than I am. But when he said we can't stay locked up in ourselves, we've got to keep in mind other people, and I would add that we have to keep in mind the Lord, we need Him.

And to go to Him, to trust Him, to ask His help, that's always effective, especially during the adversity we're going through.

CAMEROTA: And very quickly, Cardinal, we're almost out of time, but I know that you have a 91-year-old mom who is in assisted living. How is she doing?

DOLAN: She's doing fine. You're kind to ask, Alisyn, I talk to her every day, she's a little lonely because of the assisted living that she's in is on lockdown. But she says, boy, I'm safe, at least, we got our meals, I got company here, not bad.

CAMEROTA: Timothy Cardinal Dolan, we really appreciate your words and your message this morning as well. Thanks so much.

DOLAN: We appreciate you, Alisyn, thanks for keeping us together and keeping us informed.

CAMEROTA: Thanks Cardinal, we'll talk again soon.

BERMAN: Yes, what a great combination, having Gary Gulman, then Cardinal Dolan, you know -- I'm neither Catholic nor funny, and I found both of them really helpful.

CAMEROTA: I agree, that was a wonderful -- I feel uplifted after both of those things.

BERMAN: Yes, sort of putting my soul and my mind at ease all at the same time. So, we do have breaking news on what doctors on the frontlines are finding as this pandemic worsens. And by that, I mean, what they're finding this morning. NEW DAY continues right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My administration is recommending that all Americans avoid gathering in groups of more than ten people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't conduct an election in Ohio and meet that recommendation.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would hope that governors listen to the public health experts. I'm thinking about some of the elderly people sitting behind the desks does not make a lot of sense. I'm not sure that it does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been behind this disease all along and let's get ahead of it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my major concern is that, am I going to live

through this. So, whatever we need to do to stay alive, then that's what we need to do.


CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and all around the world. This is your NEW DAY, it is Tuesday, March 17th, 8:00 now in the East. The global coronavirus pandemic is getting worse.