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Seventy-Five Million Americans Told To Stay Home; Health Workers Warn Of Potential Shortages Of Lifesaving Supplies; U.S. Intel Warned Of Possible Pandemic As Trump Publicly Downplayed The Threat; Fashion Designer, Christian Siriano Making Medical Masks; 18,700-Plus Coronavirus Cases In The U.S., 258 Deaths; U.K. Orders Pubs And Restaurants To Close; Advice For Families, Business Who Are Being Laid Off; Maintaining Social Connections In The Era Of Social Distancing. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 21, 2020 - 07:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, so grateful to have you with us on this Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. It is good to be with you. There are some desperate measures, dire warnings this morning. There are more states: New York, Illinois and Connecticut that are joining California ordering people to stay at home, 75 million people across the country now being asked to stay where they are. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has surged to more than 18,000 and 249 people have died.

PAUL: The medical professionals across the country are sounding the alarm here. They're warning that hospitals are running out of masks, out of ventilators and other crucial equipment.

BLACKWELL: President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act where he can direct manufacturers to start making key medical supplies, but so far, he hasn't asked any of those companies to do anything. They expect the President to be asked about that decision that is Coronavirus Task Force briefing that's today at noon Eastern.

PAUL: And also, it's that questions about this new stunning report from the Washington Post that says the president and other lawmakers were warned by U.S. intelligence about a possible outbreak as early as January. But say, they took no action even publicly downplaying the threat.

BLACKWELL: Let's start this morning with CNN's Natasha Chen with some new reporting with this. Natasha, good morning to you.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Yes, we have at least 249 people dead in the United States from COVID-19. Now, and most of those people are in Washington State, as you know, followed by New York and then California. And of course, as you both were just mentioning, there are now sweeping orders for people to stay at home in California, except for essential needs like going out to get food, prescriptions, health care or commuting to their jobs that are considered essential.

And of course, those essential jobs are things in the healthcare industry or working at a grocery, or a pharmacy. There's similar guidance in New York and other states, as you mentioned, as well. And of course, even for areas that are not under stay at home orders, and there is already such a shift to everyday life with restaurants and bars shut down except for curbside and delivery orders. I want to show you something that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said yesterday, just starting out with his update for Los Angeles this week, just about how life has changed.


ERIC GARCETTI (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: This was the week that changed everything. And I know that this has been an emotional time for all of us. I know there's been a lot of crying and it's OK to cry. I know there's been a lot of fear and it's OK to be scared. But I also know that it's right to be hopeful. Because I have such rock-solid confidence in you in this city that we will get through this moment as difficult and as challenging as it feels.


CHEN: California is also leasing an empty hospital in Los Angeles, St. Vincent Medical Center. It's not clear yet exactly how they'll use it to combat this pandemic. But in general, there is a concern about lack of hospital beds as well as shortage in supply of face masks, surgical gowns. New York City said that we'll be running out of medical supplies in two to three weeks. Of course, there's a lot of discussion about how to get health care workers more of those masks. There are businesses now adjusting what they produce.

General Motors, actually, partnering with Ventec Life Systems to collaborate and produce respiratory care products such as those masks. And here in Georgia, one of the largest hospital systems is actually making their own face shields to go over those N95 masks. They say that they went through a lot of approval process for that and they hope that that will prolong the use of those N95s. Christi and Victor, back to you.

PAUL: All right, good stuff. Natasha Chen, thank you so much. Now, we're just a couple of hours away, a few hours away from Senate negotiators meeting on Capitol Hill to hammer out the details of this massive economic stimulus package.

BLACKWELL: How much money will be sent to Americans, which industries we'll get some support? The talks went late into the night in those issues but sources tell CNN, they are moving in a positive direction although they have not come to an agreement.

PAUL: So, as the coronavirus is really gripping the nation here, there are nurses and doctors across the country that are pleading for help.

BLACKWELL: Hospitals are facing supply shortages. We're talking about the masks and the face shields, and, and other protective equipment. You see the gloves there as well. Some nurses say the system was not prepared for this. CNN's Sara Sidner has more.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nurses and doctors from coast to coast are afraid and concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been a registered nurse for over a decade. My hospital is in complete chaos and confusion in regards to COVID-19.

SIDNER: Do you feel like they were ready for this when it got to the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, absolutely not. They're still scrambling. We just don't have what we need.


SIDNER: Are you afraid for yourself and your patients?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's the first time in my entire career that I've ever been afraid and I've heard other physicians say that they're afraid.

SIDNER: They are worried about how their hospitals and government are falling short as the coronavirus sweeps the nation, experts warn, we're not even experiencing the worst of the pandemic yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of hospitals are asking us to keep our mouths quiet.

SIDNER: This physician asked us to obscure her face and alter her voice because she says she believes she'll be fired for speaking out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have enough staff. We don't have enough protective equipment, and we have too many patients.

SIDNER: She works in Georgia. U.S. health officials are now asking doctors and nurses to do things they haven't had to do before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We ask (INAUDIBLE) things, you know, things are used for -- one time use only; we're asked to use for the entire day, and then we save for the next day.

SIDNER: If you're being asked to reuse something over and over going to different patients, aren't you putting patients and yourself at risk?


SIDNER: In Roseville, California, Catherine Kennedy has been a Registered Nurse for 40 years.

CATHERINE KENNEDY, NURSE: We are the frontline, and if we go down, you know, we -- were furloughed home, who's going to take care of these patients?

SIDNER: They've never talked, but both agree their hospitals and government didn't properly prepare for a pandemic.

SIDNER: Some of the hospitals will say, look, we didn't know what this was either. This is new to us. You know, how can you expect us to know what to do? How to prepare? What do you say to that?

KENNEDY: Well, we were here before with Ebola. We had a protocol and, you know, various hospitals were ready to utilize that same protocol that they did for Ebola, but the hospital said, no, they didn't want to do that. And so, then at the last minute, they started scrambling.

SIDNER: But Kaiser Permanente, the hospital system Kennedy works for said, the procedure it's using to screen test and care for healthcare workers and patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are aligned with the latest science and guidance from public health authorities. These protocols and personal protective equipment have been reviewed and approved by their infectious disease experts and are in use by the major hospital systems. They said they're committed to ensuring healthcare workers have the right level of protective equipment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) guidelines are irresponsible, and I think that they're playing with human lives knowingly.

SIDNER: You don't believe that it's now OK to use different masks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I mean, the bandana is not made for, you know, particles of a virus. It's just a decorative item ever, maybe to kind of keep pollution out a little bit but it's not meant to protect from potentially lethal disease.

SIDNER: And then, there are the fights over testing at some hospitals. Consuelo Vargas is a Registered Nurse in a Chicago Emergency Room. She says, she and other nurses were exposed to a potential COVID-19 patient at work, but days later, they have not been tested, and they've not been told if the patient has tested positive.

CONSUELO VARGAS, NURS: So, I'm supposed to return to work tomorrow. I don't know if I need to go get swab. I don't know if I need to be off until we get the patient's test result back. I'm left wondering what to do.

SIDNER: Sara Sidner CNN, Seattle, Washington.


BLACKWELL: Our thanks to Sarah for that report. I want to talk about another report this one from the Washington Post that federal government officials may have missed the chance to take on the coronavirus and the threat months ago.

PAUL: Yes, U.S. officials tell the Post: U.S. intelligence agencies warned starting in January about the spread of the virus in China and later other countries. But say, the president and lawmakers public downplayed or dismissed the threat and didn't take action then that might have slowed the spread of the virus. Now, according to the Post, the Intelligence Agency reports also warned that Chinese officials appear to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President was saying something remarkably different from what these intelligence reports were indicating. And to be clear, these reports were not saying the coronavirus is going to break on U.S. shores at date certain, but from what people we understand who've seen these the volume of this was it was coming every day and by early February, the majority of reports that get disseminated out to key people throughout the government was looking at coronavirus, it was sort of overtaking everything.


BLACKWELL: Well, the White House released a statement to the Post that says in part: "It's more than disgusting, despicable and disgraceful for cowardly unnamed sources to attempt to rewrite history. It's a clear threat to this great country."

PAUL: Well, in just a few hours, President Trump and the coronavirus Task Force are expected to give an update from the White House.


BLACKWELL: CNN Kristen Holmes joins us from the White House with more. Kristen, a lot of questions, although that news conference yesterday and the one on Thursday as well for went more than an hour, still so many questions unanswered.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, that's right. I mean, we're having these daily briefings every single day asking questions. And yet, as you say, there are still so many needed answers, particularly as we see this spike in the number of cases here on the in the U.S.

So, of course, one of the questions that we will be asking today is about what you just mentioned, this report of U.S. intelligence agencies, warning President Trump of how dangerous this could be did that slow down the U.S. reaction. And there's also a part of that report that says specifically that aides inside of the White House, were having a hard time getting through to President Trump that this was very serious.

So, big question there. Now, the other thing that we're following very closely is what is going on with the Defense Production Act? President Trump essentially invoked this War Powers Act that gives him a broad authority over the entire supply chain, he could essentially force companies to create certain products that they think are critical at a time of national security.

He invoked that on Wednesday, only to be followed by a tweet that said that while he invoked it, he wasn't going to use it in case of a worst-case scenario, then he might activate it. Then yesterday, he said he had already activated it, take a listen to why he said he was doing this.


equipment that the states are unable to get by themselves. So, we're invoking it to use the powers of the federal government to help the states get things that they need, like the masks, like the ventilators.


HOLMES: But it appears that he might be conflating two things here, which is the fact that companies have actually volunteered to help with this. We know that the business community had pushed back; they did not want him to actually invoke the DPA here. They think that there's too many unknowns that hasn't been done in years. And the other thing being that he has actually invoked this, so is it supposed to be done by law? So, a lot of questions here as to what exactly the White House is doing.

PAUL: So, I want to ask you really quickly, Kristen, about this staffer in the Vice President's office who has tested positive, do we know, for the coronavirus, do we know if there has been any direct contact with either the president or the vice president with a staffer?

HOLMES: Well, Christi, according to the White House, they say that this staffer did not really have any close contact with either President Trump or Vice President Pence. But this is very alarming, particularly as we see the number of coronavirus patients testing positive here in the U.S. continue to rise, and this is not Vice President Pence's first brush with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. He was at CPAC as well. We know that he was working with the White House position and as of earlier this week, he said he still hadn't been tested. Of course, we'll be following up on that today.

BLACKWELL: Kristen Holmes for us there at the White House. Thanks so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Kristen. So, I know that it is, it's hard to wake up to this and the news is heavy, and I know it can make you anxious, and we want to make sure that you know there are good things and good people who are coming out of this and doing some really important work. Here's one of them: a fashion designer, taking his skills from the runway to the hospital. Now, Christian Siriano is who we're talking about. He says his staff is standing by with sewing machines and they are ready to make those masks for medical workers in New York.

The Project Runway winner and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo exchanged messages on Twitter. After he made that announcement, Cuomo has said New York would "pay a premium" for protective wear from companies that make them now so he may be able to go ahead and make that happen. We'll continue to watch but we thank all of you who are, are doing things big and small, whether it's nationally or if it's just in your neighborhood to make sure that people are taking care of because it really matters.

BLACKWELL: Yes. It's unfortunate that medical professionals have to reach out in this way that the governor has to ask. But it's, it's so good to see people reach out and respond and help out in any way they can. Let me ask you, how much the coronavirus outbreak and the response affected your life, your family? Tell us. Tweet us @VictorBlackwell, @Christi_Paul, those are our handles.

We'll be, of course, reading some of yours, and if you have questions for doctors, we want to hear from you as well. We're going to have some medical professionals on throughout the morning and get answers to those questions. Again, @VictorBlackwell, @Christi_Paul on both Twitter and Instagram. We'll be checking those throughout the morning.

PAUL: And we were just talking about the shortage of medical supplies that healthcare workers are dealing with across the country and healthcare workers are begging for help here. Well, we're speaking next to an assistant professor of infectious diseases, about this crisis.


BLACKWELL: Plus, people, they're losing their jobs and they're worried about if they're able to pay their bills and take care of their families. We have some things that you can do right now to help alleviate the burden, plan a little for the future. We'll tell you in just a moment.


PAUL: So, right now, the U.S. is facing a public health crisis, as you know. Well, the New York Times is reporting this morning researchers at Columbia University say, even if the country cut its rate of transmission in half, which is a tall order, some 650,000 people might become infected just in the next two months.

BLACKWELL: Nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, they're running out of equipment. The Times reports that in New York officials have said the state would need to double its available hospital beds to 100,000 and could be short as many as 25,000 ventilators.

PAUL: And former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says never in our lifetime has there been an infectious disease threat as devastating to society.


BLACKWELL: Healthcare workers across the country, as we've discussed all morning are under pressure. They're being told to reuse their facemask or, or use bandanas as the last resort. Well, hundreds of doctors and nurses are rallying online with the #GetMePPE, that Personal Protective Equipment. Begging for the help of the public to support them.

PAUL: Well, yesterday, President Trump was asked about invoking the Defense Production Act to help with the supply shortage. Here's what he said he'd be using it for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Yes, I would say ventilators probably more masks to a large

extent. We have millions of masks which are coming and which will be distributed to the States. The states are having a hard time getting them, so we were using the act, the Act is very good for things like this. We have millions of masks that we've ordered. They will be here soon. We're having them shipped directly to states.


PAUL: Marybeth Sexton is with us now, she's an Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. Thank you so much for being with us, Professor. We appreciate it as we, we watched the people who are on the frontlines of this. And they're the ones that we also need to take care of, because they're taking care of everybody else. How confident are you that the medical community will get what it needs?

MARYBETH SEXTON, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: So, I think that there are a lot of people working to make sure that happens from our local, state and federal partners, to the community. People have been wonderful during this. We've had offers from everybody from small businesses, to our own medical students working to make sure that we have what we need.

BLACKWELL: So, we've asked all morning for questions from our viewers, and we want to give a few of those to you for answers. This is the first one: can a person who recovered from coronavirus catch it again, and if so, are his or her chances of recovery again, better built immunity or worse?

SEXTON: So, this is one of these areas where there's still a lot that we're learning about the coronavirus because it's new. I think what we assume based on our experiences with other viruses is that after you've had it, it may take a little while to build immunity. So, we're certainly going to be careful with our healthcare workers and our patients who have had this.

If they're back at work, they should continue to wear the same kind of PPE that they were wearing before. We assume that over time, you do develop some immunity to this and that likely at least in the, in the in the immediate period, you would not get it again. But there's a lot of research ongoing in this area. And until we know for sure, we're just going to have everybody take all necessary precautions.

PAUL: I have another question I want to ask you that was sent to us. What does the coronavirus mean for pregnant women?

SEXTON: So, that's another area where we still are gathering a lot of information. The very preliminary data out of China suggested that pregnant women who got this did fine, and did not have pregnancy complications related to it.

But it's such a small number that they've looked at originally, that I think that's an area where we still just don't know for sure. And it's -- this is one of those things where it's important for everybody to do what they can to avoid getting this. But pregnant women are one of those groups that we all protect when we do the things like social distancing, taking care of ourselves, washing our hands.

BLACKWELL: Third question, here is a question that so many people have looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, when can life return to normal? And that's a question maybe that you can't ask, specifically, but more broadly, what would be the indicators to determine when people can head back to work when the social, social distancing guidance can be loosened a bit?

SEXTON: So, I think that all depends on how well we do that right now. Because if we don't put all of our effort into making sure that we really slow the spread of down, this will continue for longer. And so, the better we do with that right now, the shorter this will be, because (INAUDIBLE) really is that we slow down the transmission of this so that we don't overwhelm our emergency rooms, our intensive care units, our hospitals.

PAUL: So, when we look at where we are right now with lockdowns coming from big cities: New York, Chicago, different places where this affects people's jobs, their ability to make a living and take care of their families and kids going to schools who can't do so anymore. I just want to look at this from a perspective of a lesson learned, not blame here in any way, but this is new territory.

So, from a lesson perspective, let me ask you this: do you believe that this would be more manageable right now, if the government meaning federal and state governments, had initially quarantined the 20 percent of the people who are most susceptible to this and had done that very early on rather than letting this kind of breathe for a minute and now everybody is in a quarantine situation.


SEXTON: So, I think it's impossible to know. And in these cases, as you said, they're often lessons learned for the next time that you have a problem. I think the thing to really remember though, is that while there is maybe a 20 percent of the population who's particularly vulnerable to this, it's actually the rest of us that are driving the spread.

The blessing and the curse of this is that most people who have this have a pretty mild infection, and that's great because it means they recover and they do fine. But it also means they may be out in public without knowing that they have this. It can look like a lot of other respiratory viruses; people can feel well (INAUDIBLE) vulnerable to it. So, it's everybody who needs to stay home, not just the people who are most vulnerable.

BLACKWELL: All right, having a bit of an audio issue there, but Professor Marybeth Sexton, we got the best of it. Thank you so much for spending a few minutes with us this morning.

PAUL: Thank you, Ma'am. So, starting today, pubs in the U.K. are closing their doors trying to slow the spread of coronavirus. Some people, they're not having if they still went out for one final drink. Nick Paton Walsh is live in London this morning. Hi Nick! NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Hi, I'm in London here in streets, in the heart of the city region streets which haven't been this empty for decades.



BLACKWELL: Consider this, 627 people died in Italy from the coronavirus in just 24 hours. A largest single-day death toll of any country in the world since the pandemic began.

PAUL: Yes, that's 26 people who died per hour in that time period. Now, the military has been called in to enforce a lockdown there. The Piacenza, Lombardy region, which has been particularly hard hit, is receiving 114 soldiers just to make sure people stay inside. But he says, you know what, even that's not enough.

BLACKWELL: In the U.K., all pubs will shut down to the public starting today. Now, that has not even happened in times of war. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement Friday, after a lot of criticism for not doing so sooner.

The country's finance minister also made an unprecedented move, saying the department will pay workers 80 percent of their wages for the time being to keep them afloat.

PAUL: CNN's International Security Editor, Nick Paton Walsh is with us from London. And Nick, you're doing something that you could never do on any average day in London. You're standing in the middle of the street, and you are not at risk for getting hit.

WALSH: Well, normally you'd stay away from this part of town in the middle of a Saturday. Because of the volume of people, tourists will be a nightmare, frankly, up at the Hamleys store for children there.

You'd have to walk in the middle of the road just to get around the teeming crowds, but it's clear. The warning that came out at 5:00 last night, a stark change, frankly, in Britain's prime minister's posture. We've been a bit of the outlier, frankly, for a number of weeks, saying, the perhaps spreading the disease in a controlled fashion was going to benefit Britain in the long term while new numbers have changed tack massively.

And at 5:00 yesterday, the call came out to close the pubs and just look at me around me here now, unbelievable how empty central London is. That wasn't entirely the case though. At a couple of pubs, we've got to last night.


WALSH: Last orders for what feels like forever. Three hours ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said the pubs must close. Coronavirus managing to shutter institutions, the state open even during Nazi bombing campaigns. Stragglers now, literally drinking this bar dries.

CARL BARNES DALLAS, FILM PRODUCER, LONDON: There, they kind enough gave away a little free half pints there I think clear from the taps.

RUSS BRUNTON, FILM PRODUCER: Well, I was a bit devastated. I'm not have a chance to get drunk with everyone. So --

WALSH: What is it -- what is it Boris said today?

BRUNTON: I am telling all the pubs to shut when they can.

WALSH: Literally, every pub we found closed or closing in a surreal alternate world where you can always get a seat, we had to beg for a pint here.

I have to say startling how quickly people have responded to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement that bars, restaurants, gyms, theatres, need to close. In a matter of hours, this normally bustling part of central London dead.

Oh, you're drinking.


WALSH: Half.


WALSH: I mean it could be a long time until you can get another half.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know it's very sad, but I didn't really think about it at the time when I was drinking quite scary. I went shopping yesterday and to see the shelves as empty as they were.

WALSH: All black cab across town is choosing not to come to work tomorrow for the first time in 47 years. There's just no business. And John is 71. So, he's considered vulnerable and opens his windows as he drives, but really should be inside for 12 weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boris has told me to be locked up.

WALSH: Uncertainty feeds fear, which feeds resentment. Most pubs didn't want us inside because really, they were told to shot three hours ago.

Why are you still out?

SHANE GAMER, RESIDENT, LONDON: Well, because we've got to make this an amazing moment. You know, where we're entering in --


WALSH: What is this the amazing moment that gives you coronavirus? Or you give somebody else coronavirus?

GAMER: Well, that's a good point.

WALSH: Is this the only company confined? GAMER: Same here, so we've gone, OK, it's open. Let's have a laugh, you know, because we're all going to be in confinement, we don't know how long, so, we going to have a laugh.



WALSH: Now, London got a stark warning from the prime minister that they were essentially three weeks ahead of the rest of the country that essentially puts this capital city of 9 million people pretty much even keel with some of the awful scenes we've seen in the last weeks in Italy.

It hasn't happened yet, one hospital in the north put out a warning in the last 48 hours that it then rescinded that it was struggling with a surge of coronavirus. Patients, but literally, this is a city enormously on edge, unsure about what's to come or if something's already been dismissed for some time, some slight signs of joy though. Police officers in a van will pass this just now and offer the crew a high five. There is not a blitz spirit here, but strangers looking at each other in ways they haven't done before. Back to you.

PAUL: Yes, people taking care of people. That's one of the good things about all of this is that you see a lot more of that compassion. Nick Paton Walsh, you and the crew, take good care there. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: For the economic gravity of this crisis is causing Americans to lose their jobs, millions to apply for unemployment. How to keep financial stability in these uncertain times? We have some information that your family needs, next.


[07:40: 54]

This week was the first week that so many of us were working from home, right? There are some people who've already lost their jobs, some who soon are going to be laid off. People who live paycheck to paycheck, just trying to figure out how to pay their mortgages and other bills and feed their families.

I know so many of you are thinking, I cannot keep this up for three months. Who can? We have some tips here on what you can do right now that might help alleviate that burden a little bit.

Financial expert Ted Jenkin from oXYGen Financial is with us now. Ted, thank you so much. First of all, talk to us about some of the resources that are being made available from say, mortgage companies or banks, or other lenders right now that are just trying to help people out.

TED JENKIN, FOUNDER, OXYGEN FINANCIAL: Well, Bank of America, Christi, was the first one to step up here and said, we will defer mortgage payments, auto loans, small business loans. Allied Bank recently said here that they would defer mortgage payments up to 120 days for financial hardship.

But let's be clear, Christi, it doesn't mean that you won't have to pay, they are just deferred. I think, now is the time to get your financial ducks in a row and talk to your vendors. Talk to your credit card companies, some of them are waiving late fees and interest payments, talk to your landlord and maybe more lenient on rent, talk to your mortgage company to find out where you stand and where they stand, because it may be on a case by case basis, as this goes on.

PAUL: We don't -- a few hours, Congress is meeting to try to muster through this, the stimulus package from the government. What do you see in that, that will be most helpful?

JENKIN: I mean, well, first of all, the tax filing deadline got extended to 7-15, which helps a lot of families, they don't have to stress. But in this latest stimulus package, it was said that there will be about $1,200 per adult and about $500 per child for those making under $75,000. And there will be a phase-out up to $100,000. We don't know if that will be the final package or not.

One of the big things is for small businesses. There's about $300 billion with small businesses desperately need to keep their doors open, and about $200 billion for the airline industry and other industries that are suffering right now.

But most people need some sort of paycheck right now, and small businesses desperately need help.

PAUL: So, what do you do if you get laid off?

JENKIN: Well, it's scary, Christi. There are a lot of people that are getting laid off. And the first thing that you should ask is a simple question. When is my last paycheck? Will I get it in two weeks? Will I get it in a month?

This is important. So, you know, when money is going to stop coming into your household, you should ask your employer, will I get a severance package? Can I get cash for my PTO or unused sick days? But most importantly, Christi, asked about your health insurance. Will I get state continuation? Can I go on Cobra? Will I have to go to the exchange? And if you haven't been laid off, please, please, read your benefits manual now. Ask your human resources department those questions now. So, you know how to prepare.

PAUL: Yes, I was talking to somebody who is expecting to get furloughed. And he said that as of right now, he knows their plan is that they're going to be paid one day a week. Just so they can keep that health insurance.

JENKIN: Well, we're seeing a lot of companies step up, Christi. Some of them with paid sick leave, but policies like that, that they may be keeping on payroll for a couple of days, a week or like you said, one day a week, simply to make sure that the existing benefits people have, at least, in the short term here for the next 30 or 60 days stay in place.

PAUL: Yes. And there are -- there are some good companies are doing out of this, Ted. Can you highlight some of that for us?

JENKIN: I mean, the biggest one is probably Walmart. They paid out $550 million in bonuses to their full time and part-time workers. They will have 150,000 temporary jobs. Amazon will have 100,000 temporary jobs. Kroger just announced 10,000 jobs. Companies like Facebook paid $1,000 for every single one of their 45,000 employees.

So, I think that, you know, if you lost your job right now, you may have to find some temporary fix, like one of the jobs I just mentioned. But do everything you can just to try to get through the next couple of months.


PAUL: Ted Jenkin, we appreciate it so much. You know, I had somebody tweet me saying, please also wish us some wages to live on. I mean, this is part of what makes everybody so anxious, because, if we need nothing else, we need to feed our families and get the usual, the shelter, the food, the clothing that we need. So, we certainly hope this helps. Ted Jenkin, always good to have you here. Thank you.

JENKIN: Thanks, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Another angle of this that a lot of people are struggling with is the isolation. So, how do you stay social in the age of social distancing? We'll tell you how to stay connected even while staying physically apart.


BLACKWELL: Social distancing, it's a term that -- you know, a lot of people didn't use before 30 days ago, at least. It's part of the national vocabulary now, a sign of the times. Miami Beach is one of the latest cities to shut down hotel.

South Beach will be empty. Starting Tuesday, there will be a curfew in effect from midnight until 5:00 a.m., until further notice.


PAUL: So, we're all doing our part to stay apart, essentially and help prevent spreading the virus. But there's the risk of something else spreading and that's the loneliness that comes with this.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh makes this point about social distancing.


JEFFREY MYERS, RABBI, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: I think it's, it's the wrong word. What we're looking for really is physical distancing, but we want social connection. We need to get closer to people as we pull away more from them physically.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: So, how can we practice social distancing without becoming socially disconnected? With us now is Joe Pinsker, a staff writer at "The Atlantic." His latest piece is the Art of Socializing During A Quarantine. Joe, good morning to you.

JOE PINSKER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: So, let's start here. What should people be doing? Because, you know, a lot of single people are in apartments by themselves, give us some ways that people can socialize despite the isolation.

PINSKER: Yes, absolutely. So I think people who find themselves without many people to talk to right now, unlike people who experienced other pandemics in general, have a set of communication tools that are sort of, unlike anything that's existed in the past. I'm thinking here, mainly a video chat, but also phones and being able to walk around.

I think one of the main things that I would recommend is trying to make a list of all the people who you have chance encounters -- and chance encounters with over the course of a day -- a normal day. And sort of try to set something up with them.

It's a little bit awkward to have to formalize what's usually an informal encounter. But, maybe it means setting up a lunch date with a co-worker every week or two or picking the person who you usually bumped into with the coffee shop, and saying, hey, let's both brew a cup at home. And, you know, every Sunday morning, just catch up for a little while over video chatting.

PAUL: So, I heard a psychologist earlier this week say, look, she has seen all kinds of people out in crowds and at parties who are lonely, and people who are alone at home, who are content and happy with the communications that they have.

So with that said, how much does it matter, say Facebook versus texting and e-mails? I mean, to really have that, that face interaction and the voice interaction as opposed to sitting there typing on your phone?

PINSKER: Yes. I mean, there is something special about interacting in person. And I think that is something that a lot of people are going to struggle with as we embark into this new era. That said, I think there are communication technologies that can make it just a little bit easier. People probably are going to be lonelier, but being able to talk to somebody over video chat on the phone, texting is important.

And one thing that a researcher who I interviewed about all this brought up is that sometimes it can be helpful to use a mix of different media. That is mixing phone calls with video chats, with sending little funny links.


PINSKER: Interacting over a bunch of different media can help build trust and make people feel more connected.

BLACKWELL: Listen to what Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York talked about in addressing his daughter's isolation and the opportunity his family saw here. Let's watch it.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I, as you know, had my daughter who was in isolation. And I was very aware of what she was dealing with and what she was feeling. And I'll tell you the truth. I had some of the best conversations with her that I have ever had. Feelings that I had about mistakes that I had made along the way that I wanted to express my regret and talk through with her.


BLACKWELL: Joe, the experts you spoke with, have they said that this is the time and this context and this environment to have serious emotional conversations?

PINSKER: I think, yes. I think this is a time for serious -- just as it's a time for lightness. I think that we're actually going to be -- there's nothing that would crystallize all these big important feelings like the crisis we're experiencing right now.

And I would say now would definitely be the time, provided that everybody is in the emotional space to have them. To have important conversations and talk about deep things, a lot of us are hunkered down at home and have the time to really go deep with somebody.



PINSKER: And video chat, a phone call, these technologies have a way of enabling heart to hearts, in a way that might surprise people.

BLACKWELL: Joe Pinsker with The Atlantic. Thanks so much for being with us.

PINSKER: Yes, thanks for having me.

PAUL: Thanks, Joe. Take care.

You know, all morning long that we've been asking you how the coronavirus outbreak has affected your life. We do want to know, we want you to be OK. We're going to read a few of them live on the air next. Stay with us.


PAUL: Good morning. We're so grateful to have you with us here on this Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. Millions of Americans, maybe you, waking up this morning, worried about a relative or friend. Wondering what comes next as the confirmed number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. continues to grow.