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CNN NEWSROOM

Workers Struggling with Layoffs; Bill de Blasio is Interviewed about the Coronavirus Affects in New York City; Students in Chicago Depend on Schools; Coronavirus Survivor Talks about His Health. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired March 20, 2020 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:30:00]

JEN SHOEMAKER, RECENTLY LOST JOB AT NEW YORK COMEDY CLUB: And then you get through, like, two or three or six pages and you're so excited because you got to six pages and then the system kicks you off. And that happens repeatedly.

And so I've been doing that literally for four days. I still don't have unemployment. I haven't been able to file. I've spoken to about 40 to 50 friends. Maybe three of them have been able to actually get through. One of them got a message that said your benefits for this week are zero dollars. So I don't know if that's because the cases are pending, or because she's literally getting zero dollars.

So it's pretty frustrating. We're stressed out.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: What are -- what you going to do? I mean how -- how are you going to pay your rent?

SHOEMAKER: I can't pay my rent. I need the government to step in and help me pay my rent. The government needs to literally stop rent payment on people in industries that aren't having income coming in. Luckily, I live with a roommate who's very kind and has told me that he will help me get through this, but who -- that's not his responsibility. I -- I should be able to pay my rent. I'm a hard worker. I work all the time.

HARLOW: You are.

SHOEMAKER: It's not fair for me to not be able to pay my rent. It's -- it's not fair for the government to bail out the airline industries and things like that when service industry, who is the backbone of the nation, can't literally survive.

Some of us work paycheck to paycheck. Most of us work paycheck to paycheck. Some of us work shift to shift.

HARLOW: Yes.

SHOEMAKER: Literally go in, and the -- the cash tips we make are the money that keeps us going for, like, the week until we work again. HARLOW: Yes.

SHOEMAKER: It's wildly frustrating.

HARLOW: Jen, I know. And it's so, so true. Just before you go, you -- you lost everything in Katrina as well. And now you're going through this.

SHOEMAKER: I did. Yes.

HARLOW: But you say this is -- this is very different for you in a way.

SHOEMAKER: It's so different. Like I -- one, for me, to -- I'm a minimalist. I -- to me, material things don't matter. I think that comes from going through losing everything at one point in my life to -- it does -- that stuff doesn't matter. It's the day to day surviving. With Katrina, we had community. We could meet each other and hug and talk about our experiences. There was an end. There was an end with Katrina. We knew it was over. The storm had hit, it had passed, it had destroyed everything and then we got to rebuild.

With this, we don't know what's happening or what's going to happen in the future. There is no end in sight, literally. No end in sight. And we need help. We need people to step up, like, Chef Jose Andreas is stepping up and starting community kitchens and there's things in the world that just need to happen that aren't happening here.

HARLOW: Yes.

Look, for anyone watching, who maybe can help, I know some companies are hiring. Walmart, Amazon, some other ones stepping up. Anyone -- Jen's plight is so many people's plight.

Jen, good luck. Let's keep talking. And thank you for -- thanks for reaching out to me.

SHOEMAKER: Thanks, Poppy. It's good to see you, from a distance.

HARLOW: From a distance. Thank you. Good luck.

SHOEMAKER: Thanks. Thanks so much. Appreciate that.

HARLOW: All right -- of course.

We do have breaking news out of New York City. The FAA tells us the control tower at JFK International Airport in New York's very busy air pace is now closed for a cleaning. A worker there just diagnosed with coronavirus. The other huge and startling headline for New York City, the mayor says New York's hospitals will run out of their necessary medical supplies in just two to three weeks.

I'm glad to be joined by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Mayor de Blasio, thank you very much for being with me.

OK, so where are we this morning in terms of the urgent need for supplies? Because everyone was stunned to hear you say that yesterday.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Poppy, I have to be honest with the people of my city. And I have to be honest with the federal government that's not doing its job right now. And particularly the president of the United States, who's absent.

Here are the facts.

As of late last night, 4,000 cases confirmed in New York City. Twenty- six people have died. That means right now, Poppy, we constitute 30 percent of the cases in the United States of America and about 70 percent of the cases in New York state.

We are now, whether we would like it or not, we're the epicenter. And I have made repeated appeals to the federal government to get us basic medical supplies and there's no meaningful response. I have appealed to the president to activate the United States military, that could actually -- one force in this nation, Poppy, that could save us because they could mobilize quickly, effectively to get us medical supplies, personnel.

They could get the supplies that are elsewhere in the country here in record time. We know what they can do in wartime. They can do it in peace time. And you know where they are, they're at their bases right now because the president of the United States, the commander in chief, has not given the order.

And I got people right now, Poppy, in my city, and a lot of them are older people, a lot of them are people who are suffering from other diseases.

[09:35:03]

If help doesn't come, we're going to lose people who should not die. People will die who should not die, because in two or three weeks, my hospitals, some of the finest in the nation, will run out of ventilators, surgical masks, other protective gear, all the things that we need to run a hospital and provide care. And it will endanger our healthcare workers.

And they're showing up, Poppy. They keep coming to work.

HARLOW: I know.

DE BLASIO: And retirees, we asked retirees to come forward from the healthcare field, and over 2,000 already in 48 hours have said, we volunteer, we're coming back to do this work to protect people.

But where the hell is the federal government in the middle of the biggest crisis we've seen in generations?

HARLOW: Where -- what can you update as in terms of -- we know the USS Comfort, a ship that can help and maybe take some of -- some of the health, you know, the people that need different treatment to treat them outside of the existing hospitals, what's the update on when that may arrive? DE BLASIO: Look, I want to thank Governor Cuomo, who helped make that

happen.

HARLOW: Yes.

DE BLASIO: And we are waiting for the specific moment when that ship will arrive. My impression it, it's at least a week away, maybe more.

HARLOW: OK.

DE BLASIO: But that will help, but we need, you know, for all of our existing hospitals --

HARLOW: I hear you.

DE BLASIO: If they don't get that reinforcement, even the fact that that ship is coming won't be enough.

HARLOW: The president has said that he will only use the Defense Production Act that makes companies make this stuff in the worst case scenario. Clearly you think this is that moment.

DE BLASIO: Poppy, I never, in a million years, thought I would have -- literally never thought I'd have to tell the people of my city. 8.6 million people, that in two or three weeks our hospitals will not be able to provide the kind of healthcare they are capable of because they won't have the supplies. And that will endanger everyone.

I -- this is -- this is like we're talking about, you know, a country 50 years ago, 100 years ago, or an underdeveloped country. This is not (ph) the United States of American in 2020. It is impossible to even think about, but it's happening right now. And I'm sounding the alarm. If the president would just act, mobilize the military and maximize the use of the Defense Production Act, there's still time to save us and a lot of other people around the country.

HARLOW: OK.

DE BLASIO: But it -- we need this to happen now.

HARLOW: I hear -- I hear your plea to him.

Finally, are you turning New York City hotels and the Javits Center into mass makeshift hospitals?

DE BLASIO: We're going to use every building we can, particularly those near an existing hospital, to become essentially annexes to hospitals. Javits Center is definitely a possibility. Hotels for sure. Particularly those near our big hospitals. We're mobilizing all of them right now.

HARLOW: OK.

DE BLASIO: We do have a lot of space that's -- thank God. We don't have supplies.

HARLOW: Yes.

DE BLASIO: And we are going to try and get the personnel we need. But we need all three of those to massively expand our hospital system to deal with the surge that's coming in April.

HARLOW: Mayor de Blasio, as a proud resident of New York, we wish you and the entire teams all the luck in making this happen and the federal government.

Thank you for your time and good luck.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: OK, also on top of all of this, our children. Educators across the country scrambling to not only educate kids but feed them. All of those children dependent on free school meals. Students in one of the nation's most violent cities tells CNN why they depend on this in the classroom every day, next.

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[09:42:49]

HARLOW: Millions of children across the country have no idea if and when they will return to the classroom this school year. And for students in some cities plagued by violence, school offers so much more than just a place to learn.

Our Omar Jimenez has this story with us out of Chicago. (INAUDIBLE) at least for a month.

Good morning, Omar.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy.

And it was just last night the mayor announced that school would now be closed for an even longer period of time, through at least this time next month. So in all cases, students are out of class. But in many cases, school, it means so much more. It can be a place for opportunity, structure and, in many cases, a place to get a reliable meal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hold that. And what grade are they?

JIMENEZ (voice over): This is what school lunch now looks like. And in some cases it's the only lunch provided in the Chicago Public's 350,000 students.

This is now becoming the norm as schools across the country find themselves at a standstill. School systems from New York, to Washington, Florida, California, Illinois, and others, are all trying to feed their tens of millions of students who depend on school cafeterias. JANICE JACKSON, CEO, CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: We've really prioritized the food distribution sites and we've had an overwhelming response. As a school system, we're relied upon for so many needs from our students and families.

JIMENEZ: Those needs aren't just for food. A lack of structure now exists with schools in many places, including Chicago, closed for at least two weeks.

MICHELLE HOOD, STUDENTS' MOTHER: We have to prepare ourself if we go longer. So that will come down the line. Right now we just, you know, taking it one day at a time.

JEREMIAH WALKER, AL RABY HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR: They just throwing this in, so I might be out of school for two weeks, and I'm just thinking like, oh, man, I've got so many events (ph), I've got so many -- I've got graduation coming up.

JIMENEZ: Their family lives on Chicago's west side, in a neighborhood too often associated (INAUDIBLE) life without school means more. Reminders of why all around. Even pinned to a jacket. Demetrius Griffin, or Nuni (ph) as he was known, was killed in 2016 at just 15 years old in their neighborhood. He was a friend of Jeremiah's.

WALKER: He was put in a trash can and set on fire.

[09:45:02]

So it made that point and turn in my life (INAUDIBLE) maintaining due to the fact that the violence in this community (INAUDIBLE), it's outrageous.

HOOD: Some kids get out of high school and say, oh, I don't want to go to school. But I don't -- I don't -- they don't have that option.

JIMENEZ: The school district, like others across the country, is unsure of when exactly school will come back. In the meantime, is working to shift classes online.

JACKSON: There will be a return to normalcy, and I want to make sure when that happens that the district is organized and that we can hit the ground running.

JIMENEZ: Meanwhile, life away from the classroom goes on and for Hood and her family, that means structure.

WALKER: (INAUDIBLE), you know, schools got stressed when I'm in, you know, you get done with (INAUDIBLE), it's like, hey, I'm done with school, but I -- I always have, like, people in my corner to keep me motivated.

HOOD: Your mamma (INAUDIBLE).

WALKER: Like my mamma.

JIMENEZ (on camera): How scary is it to have a missed call (ph) from mom (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't -- I don't (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JIMENEZ: Now they are among the families that are taking advantage of the lunches being distributed at Chicago Public Schools. Basically any family here in Chicago can go to any public school and pick up a lunch box that includes three days' worth of breakfast and lunch.

And even before these school closures across the country, it was tens of millions of people that were taking advantage of free or reduced price lunch and these are the gaps that schools and organizations are now trying to fill for what is now an indefinite amount of time, Poppy.

HARLOW: I'm so glad that you did that report, Omar. Thank you very, very much.

JIMENEZ: You're welcome.

HARLOW: Surviving coronavirus and double pneumonia that came with it. After 12 days in (INAUDIBLE) so happy to report this morning that Clay Bentley (ph) is back home for (INAUDIBLE).

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[09:51:20]

HARLOW: All right, let's take a minute in all of this for a little bit of good news, all right?

So, nine days ago we first brought you the story of Clay Bentley, a man in Georgia whose fight with coronavirus left him quarantined in a hospital room and battling double pneumonia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLAY BENTLEY: It didn't look good. It didn't look good for a while. It's been a hard road, but I'm here to tell you that when you got the word of God to stand on, there ain't no weapon (INAUDIBLE) you can prosper.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Well, his story instantly (INAUDIBLE) who called Clay just a few hours after we first spoke to him. And to after (INAUDIBLE) Clay is back home. His wife Suzy capturing the moment that he first felt the sun on his face.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUZY BENTLEY: Oh, let me put my mask on. You're alive, baby! OK, this is too much fun. Hey, baby. How are you?

CLAY BENTLEY: Hello, world! (END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Hello, world.

With me now from his home is Clay Bentley.

We are so happy. How are you feeling?

CLAY BENTLEY, RECOVERING FROM CORONAVIRUS HOSPITALIZATION: Well, I feel good today. I'm getting my energy back. I'm telling you, it's a good day to be alive.

HARLOW: Oh, it is for sure.

BENTLEY: Feeling really good.

HARLOW: Good. Good. How is your wife Suzy doing? I know she was in isolation as well in the home.

BENTLEY: Well, she's been isolated here at the house, you know, the whole time I was at the hospital. And even after I came home, she still couldn't get around me. I'm isolated in the bedroom now. So, you know, she comes in and out with a mask and gloves on. That's about -- that's about all I get to see everybody. It just feels good that we're able to be in the same house.

HARLOW: Clay, what do you want people to know about what it was like for you to go through this and the doctors and the nurses and the sort of amazing team that helped you get through it?

BENTLEY: Tremendous help. You know, I had a -- I had a doctor that believed in God, believed in the power of prayer and, you know, he stood behind me. You know, it got really bad. It really got rough there for a while. I guess about three days into it, three or four days into it, he talked to me. He said, you're worse today than you were when you came in. He said your lungs are totally filled with fluid. If we don't get that fluid out, you know, he said, I don't know, it's hard. So I think that was on a Sunday.

And, you know, God came in my room overnight, pretty much healed my body. And the doctor came in the next day and he was just surprised that I had made such a miraculous recovery overnight. He said, yesterday your lungs were totally filled and today you have hardly any fluid in your lungs at all.

So, he had me running around the room, you know, in just a few minutes and he -- he asked me, he said, I just want to ask you if you're a praying man. I said, yes, sir, I pray. And he said, well, I found in my practice that when people who pray, when they pray, he said their body seems to accept the positive energy and the body begins to heal itself.

HARLOW: Clay --

BENTLEY: I said, well, you believe that if you want to, but I'm telling you God came in my room last night and I'm healed today. HARLOW: We're so glad you are, Clay.

What -- when do you get to see family and friends and, you know, I mean I know you can't really give them a hug, social distancing right now, at least for anyone who's not your family, but when do you get to see a few more folks?

[09:55:04]

BENTLEY: I'm sorry, Poppy, I didn't get that question. You're kind of going in and out on me.

HARLOW: When are you going to get to see some of your friends and more family?

BENTLEY: Oh, yes, I will. They're telling me that -- I'm getting some paperwork from the state. I think they're going to test me again around the end of the month, around March the 31st I think it is, to see that the -- see that the coronavirus is dead in my system. Once we get that figured out, then it say I'll be in the all-clear.

And I'm just looking forward to getting back out in the world, because I know, you know, my body is immune now to the coronavirus, so when I go out there in the world, I'm not scared of the coronavirus. I mean I wasn't scared of it then, but I just didn't know what hit me. But I'm ready to get out in the world and begin to walk like I used to walk.

HARLOW: I bet you are. Clay, we'll --

BENTLEY: I'm ready to go.

HARLOW: You are ready to go. We are so happy for you, Clay. So, so happy you're better. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

BENTLEY: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Good luck.

BENTLEY: Have a great day.

HARLOW: Talk to you soon.

All right, so all of us, every day, have more and more questions about coronavirus. That is why Dr. Sanjay Gupta's podcast every day has your answers. Listen wherever you get your favorite podcast, "Coronavirus: Fact Versus Fiction."

We'll be right back.

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