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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) Tests Positive For Coronavirus; New York's Governor Expects Up To 80 Percent Of The People To Get Coronavirus; Interview With Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) On Social Distancing And Sen. Rand Paul; Germany's Chancellor Merkel Now In Self-Quarantine; Teachers And Students Learn To Cope With Life Away From School; White House Cancels Year-End Testing For Schools; D.C. Distillery Giving Away Hand Sanitizer Amid Outbreak; Sen. Mike Lee Self-Quarantining After Senator Rand Paul Tests Positive For Coronavirus. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired March 22, 2020 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: So, Phil, Senator Paul was on Capitol Hill as late as this morning, at a lunch, at the Senate gym. What more do we know about his condition, who he was exposed to?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Yes, Fredricka, I think you kind of summarized the condition as best as we know it. Up to this point, his office putting out a statement that he is asymptomatic, he did get tested out of an abundance of caution. He is not aware of any interactions he had with somebody who was infected or had tested positive. However, he has tested positive.
And that has led to significant concerns inside the Senate Republican conference for a couple of different reasons. You mentioned Senate lunches. Over the course of the last several days, not today, but over the course of the last several days, Senator Paul has been present at the regular Senate lunches that have been ongoing as senators from both parties have attempted to try to negotiate and hammer out agreement on a massive economic emergency package that they're working on right now.
So that's one of the issues that Senate Republicans are concerned about right now, is their proximity to Senator Paul during that time period, during some of those lunches, where they often sit close to one another.
Now I will note over the course of the last several days, the tables have been moved further apart from one another. Senators have told us that they have been sitting further apart from one another. Still, there are some concern there. The bigger concern, I think, with something that was brought up at today's Senate Republican lunch, I'm told, behind closed doors, Senator Paul was not at today's lunch, because he had found out he tested positive this morning.
However, Senator Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, told his colleagues during that lunch that he had seen Senator Paul at the Senate gym that morning. And Senator Paul had been seen swimming in the gym's swimming pool that morning. Senator Moran told his colleagues.
And I can tell you, Fredricka, I have several of Senator Moran's colleagues, several Senate Republicans come to me after that lunch, which was behind closed doors, and expressed serious concern about just their proximity, what it means for their conference, the fact that over the course of the last several days, many of those senator have been leading negotiators in pretty tightly cloistered rooms where they have been trying to hammer out the details of this significant stimulus package that they're working on right now.
And several members have said and made clear they are going to the physicians on Capitol Hill to see what they need to do, based on the proximity or interactions they've had with Senator Paul over the last several days.
Haven't gotten any firm answers yet on where that stands. Senator Moran's communications director said that he had kept a safe distance from Senator Paul when he saw him at the gym, and so he is not going to quarantine at this point. But a lot of other senators are waiting to hear whether or not they actually need to self-quarantine.
And I'll tell you, Fredricka, another thing I've heard from a couple of Republican senators is some pretty serious questioning as to when Senator Paul took his tests and why he was still interacting with other senators if he'd known he had taken a test and hasn't gotten his results back yet. And we don't have any answers to that other than we know he got his results this morning and once he got the results, he left Capitol Hill.
But this is kind of rippling through the Senate Republican Conference right now at a time where, to be frank, they all need to be on Capitol Hill. There is no remote voting on Capitol Hill. And given the seriousness of the economic situation in the country, given the significance of the legislation that they're trying to work through right now, they quite literally need to be present, as I think probably, as problematic as that seems given the CDC guidelines, but to how this is supposed to work.
And so there are a lot of questions right now, not just amongst Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, when they found -- when they discovered the news of Senator Paul's positive test earlier today, they actually ended the lunch that they were all sitting in and decided to reconvene via conference call. So this is really, really had a significant impact on Capitol Hill.
To be frank, it's something I think everybody else in the country has been dealing with over the course of the last several weeks. And while lawmakers here and obviously, you mentioned two members of the House have tested positive for COVID-19, the House has been out of session. So they've been at home. So far, it hadn't really touched the Senate yet, at least on the member level. And now it has. And so, they are facing up to this right now and trying to figure out what their next steps are.
WHITFIELD: Yes. So you touched on, really, the most concerning kind of questions still unanswered, which is if Senator Rand Paul tweeted out that he tested positive, when did he take the test? At what point did he learn of the results?
You know, does his tweet indicate the most immediate fashion in which he learned it? And about being seen at the swimming pool, do we have any kind of response coming from Senator Paul's office about whether indeed that Mr. Moran would see him at the swimming pool was indeed the case that it would be Rand Paul who was at the swimming pool?
MATTINGLY: I don't think there's any question at this point. We have not heard from Senator Paul's office yet in terms of beyond the initial statement that they put out, and also making clear that he had received the results of his test this morning.
I don't think anybody is disputing that Senator Moran saw Senator Paul at the gym this morning. And the other issue as well is that Senator Paul has been at these lunches with his colleagues over the course of the last several days. There's just been this Senate concession even throughout the course of this weekend, as they try and figure out how to address the serious economic damage the country faces right now.
And so it's almost impossible for the senators not to interact with one another, even those who aren't the lead negotiators on the bill, they have been meeting for the most part as a conference every single day for lunch, and so people have come across one another, have sat at tables with one another, have spoken to one another, and I think that's the genesis of the concern you're hearing right now, is whether or not they were in the gym with the senator this morning. Everybody was around him over the course of the last several days.
I would also note a very real question that a lot of us have had as we've kind of digested this is why on earth was the Senate gym open?
MATTINGLY: There's no other gym open in Washington, D.C. right now.
WHITFIELD: When everyone else's gym -- not even just in Washington, but just across the country that are closed. Anything that encourages any close contact between people has, you know, ceased of business. And yes, why would that gym be open? And the issues there, you underscore, you know, Phil, the issues of timing. You know, all these concerns of his colleagues about their interaction with him, at what point did he know to get tested.
You reported earlier, he got tested because of his concerns out of traveling. But I think that provokes a lot more questions, too.
MATTINGLY: Yes, look, I think that's true. And I'm not -- I'm absolutely ascribing no motivation toward Senator Paul on this in any negative way.
WHITFIELD: Right. This is the discovery.
MATTINGLY: I think everybody is trying to grapple with this day by day.
MATTINGLY: At this point in time. And I think that goes for these members, too. And I think part of the thing that we're seeing right now is watching people digest something in real time and recognize, which I think, to be frank, a lot of Americans have when they find out friends or relatives or colleagues have tested positive for coronavirus over the course of the last several days or weeks is, holy cow. OK, well, what were my interactions trying to track back through, almost do a personal tracing of things? And I think that's what we're watching in real time. Now I would note --
WHITFIELD: Right. Right, hitting closer to home for so many.
MATTINGLY: Yes. That's exactly right. And again, these members have been in close contact with the physician in the Capitol for the course -- over the course of the last several days, the last several weeks. I would note that our interactions on Capitol Hill with senators are a lot different right now than they traditionally are. We are -- every operation that has scaled down their presence from a media perspective.
We are usually in very close quarters with senators when we ask them questions, when we put microphones to their faces. That has dissipated largely. We're all trying to stay six feet away from one another. We're trying to give everybody distance and be cautious with one another. But I think there's just -- the kind of -- the reality of the moment of this hitting home for a lot of senators.
And look, there's no other way around it. The Senate as a body, median age, is old. And I think when you look at the highest risk individuals related to this, the greatest concern I've heard, to some degree from senators, but very -- in particular, from a lot of their staffers over the course of the last couple of weeks has been, what happens if this comes to the United States Senate? How are we going to act? What are we going to do, because of concern of the age of a lot of the senators who are in their 70s or in their 80s?
And so I think all of this is kind of washing over everybody as we speak, in the context of trying to do emergency economic legislation that's basically needed to keep the economy moving as early as Monday or Tuesday of next week. And so I think there's just a lot going on. I know that seems like an understatement to some degree.
MATTINGLY: But that's kind of the best way I can summarize what I'm hearing from members right now.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And of course, Phil, we are all wishing Senator Rand Paul the best, and anyone and everyone.
WHITFIELD: Who has tested positive for coronavirus, but at the same time, we're all learning a lot from each individual case, as we learn of each individual case.
Phil Mattingly, thank you so much. Appreciate that.
All right. In New York, a dire warning and plea from Governor Andrew Cuomo. He predicts that 40 percent to 80 percent of people in his state will inevitably get the coronavirus. And now Cuomo is urging the president to put politics aside and help after Trump tweeted that governors should stop blaming the federal government for their shortcomings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Look, everybody has their own style in life, right? I am working cooperatively with the president. This is not a time for politics. This is not a time for venting personal feelings.
My feelings are wholly irrelevant. I have one job, I have one mission. That's to help the people of the state of New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joining me now.
So, Evan, the governor also had some strong words for New Yorkers who have not been practicing social distancing. He once again made reference to, you know, seeing people play basketball and he knows what kind of close contact is associated with that activity.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Fred, that's right. I mean, we just heard from Phil that the Senate is waking up to how serious this is and may have not been practicing all of the preaching of social distancing that we've been hearing from public health officials.
Well, the problem is that maybe here in New York, too, the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis here in the United Sates, that might not be happening either, and Governor Cuomo has some strong word for people who are just not doing what they need to do to keep this virus in check.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: We talk about social distancing. I was in these parks, you would not -- you would not know that anything was going on. This is just a mistake. It's a mistake. It's insensitive. It's arrogant. It's self-destructive. It's disrespectful to other people and it has to stop and it has to stop now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Now, listen, I live here in New York City, and social distancing is difficult in a place like this. We have small grocery stores, you want to go in, there are other people in there, people trying to get out into parks and out of their small apartments and see things.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Elevators, all sorts of stuff. Right? It's hard to do. But the reason why the governor is being so serious about this is because of the numbers in New York. We've had thousands of tests done, which is good news, but that results in thousands of cases. I mean, as of today, more than 15,000 confirmed cases. The governor trying to ramp up hospital coverage and hospital availability, because he's expecting thousands of more cases to come in.
So anything that, you know, we can do, to try and alleviate that is something that the governor and other public health officials want us to do -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Evan, one thing we didn't mention, getting in a cab. I mean, what has that been like for New Yorkers, either refraining from doing so or getting in? That's another very close quarters, commuting (ph).
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, I'll say this, on the serious side, everybody is swabbing everything down before they get into vehicles. But on the less serious side, this is the first time that everything that you ride in in New York smells good.
WHITFIELD: I gotcha. Hey, we've got to find the silver lining and find some humor in just about everything. But at the same time, we're taking it all very seriously.
Evan, appreciate it, McMorris-Santoro.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. So as we stand by for today's coronavirus briefing from the White House, let's bring in Dr. Leana Wen. She is a former Baltimore City health commissioner and an emergency room physician.
So, Doctor, thanks so much. So, when you hear today that the first U.S. senator has tested positive for coronavirus, and his colleagues saw him in a swimming pool, and we don't know any other circumstances about his testing positive, how does this information strike you?
DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Well, first of all, it means that no one is immune, which we know. COVID-19 is a new disease. Nobody has an immunity to it. But no matter your station in life, you're not immune, which also means that we all have a responsibility.
We were just talking about social distancing and I cannot stress this enough that this is the time for us to practice collective selflessness because each of our interactions and our own decisions impact everyone else. And we have this very narrow window now to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus, so that we don't overwhelm these hospitals.
I mean, the numbers that we're hearing, the tens of thousands of cases that we're hearing seem astronomical, but in a week's time, in two weeks' time, they're going to seem like a drop in the bucket because of how much this is getting out of control. But all is not lost. And it really depends on the actions that we each take today.
WHITFIELD: And then just for informational purposes, what is the span of time between when you get the results and when you have a coronavirus test? Is it a matter of minutes, hours?
WEN: It depends. It depends. I mean, ideally, it would be at the bedside within minutes and there is a test now that's just approved by the FDA that will still take a bit of time to develop. That hopefully will be able to get the result within an hour. But right now, it could take many hours, even up to five or six days, to get the result back.
And that's even if you get the test in the first place. Because we know that we still have a major issue here in the U.S., with not nearly enough tests, and now, the issue is, that we don't have enough protective equipment. So that even if we had enough tests, health care workers don't have the equipment that's necessary in order to do the test.
And they're being told, we're being told that we have to conserve the tests for the patients who are most at risk, meaning the patients who are the sickest. And that's a big problem.
WHITFIELD: The dire circumstances.
WEN: That's right. And we just don't know the spread of the disease in our communities.
WHITFIELD: So as an emergency room, you know, physician, what are you seeing on the front lines? What are you hearing, you know, from hospitals, doctor's offices, about staffing, about the welfare of the staffing, about supplies, the urgency, and who they are turning to for some expediency, answers?
WEN: Well, health care workers on the front lines are scared. We're terrified of bringing back COVID-19 to our families. And that fear is compounded by the fact that we just don't have the equipment that we need to protect ourselves, which is something that I just could not have imagined to be the case a couple of months ago.
We were watching the footage coming out of China and how Chinese doctors were having to reuse masks for multiple days and had to use garbage bags to protect themselves instead of wearing gowns. And --
WHITFIELD: And already right now in the United States, there are some hospitals who are trying to sanitize, reuse equipment, protective gear that isn't used, generally for that kind of purpose.
WEN: That's exactly right. I mean, I understand the importance of changing guidelines, but the changing guidelines should not be based on the lack of equipment. I mean, the CDC is putting out guidelines saying that health care workers in dire circumstances can wear bandanas and scarves over our mouths. I mean, that's just not acceptable. We're on the front lines trying to maintain this pandemic. And I think the very least that the federal government can do is to provide us with the supplies that we need to take care of our patients.
WHITFIELD: Dr. Leana Wen, thank you so much. Of course, I think I speak collectively, you know, to thank you and all of you on the front lines, nurses, doctors, medical staffers, for doing what it is you're doing to try and save and protect lives. Appreciate it very much.
All right, still ahead, in Florida, health care workers and first responders are getting priority testing at drive-up sites as questions are still being asked as to why beaches are not being closed statewide.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A number of Florida beaches now closed, but there is no statewide ban in effect, this after seeing images like this, large numbers of crowds spotted ignoring calls to practice social distancing.
Joining me right now by phone is Florida senator and former governor, Rick Scott.
Senator, so glad you can be with me right now. I understand, you are still self-quarantining, you say, until Tuesday after your contact with the Brazilian delegate. How are you feeling?
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): I feel fine. I've never taken my temperature like this, and so I know what my temperature is during the day. It's 97.5, and at nights, it's 97.9. I've never known this much about my health before. But I'm fine. I've been -- you know, I've just been making phone calls, probably making a couple hundred phone calls a day talking to mayors, police chiefs, sheriffs, hospitals, just trying to connect people. The White House. Just trying to connect people to get things done.
WHITFIELD: So, Senator, you saw those images, right? You know, of what everyone saw.
SCOTT: Well (INAUDIBLE), disappointed.
WHITFIELD: People enjoying the beaches. Yes.
SCOTT: Annoying. I mean, look, we can beat this, but we're not going to beat it if we don't take it seriously. I put out a plan, and we have to have a plan and then work a plan. We have got to social distance. We have got to put people in quarantine if they're tested positive. You shouldn't go out if you don't have to go out. Close our airports, close our borders. And give people relief for a while. Give people -- give them a 30-day, at least, quarantine, you know, a
moratorium on all their payments. Like, their mortgage payment, their rent, so we make it easy for people. And let our doctors use all the medicine at their disposal to take care of people and keep ramping up this testing. So we can beat this, we just have to have a plan and work a plan. I'm very hopeful.
WHITFIELD: So, when you talk about a plan, and you're hopeful, you're not just talking about the state of Florida, you are, you know, as a senator now, talking about this proposed stimulus plan. How hopeful are you that this plan is one that everyone can agree on, among your Senate colleagues, that will, indeed, address the greatest needs of the American people.
Many who are losing their jobs or losing their paychecks or worried about their health, their families' health, are really worried not just about today, but they're worried about a month from now, two months' from now, making mortgage, making rent, paying for groceries.
SCOTT: The big thing is, the biggest focus we should have every day is how do we stop the spread of this virus. That's the biggest focus. And then after that, we say to ourselves, who do we need to help? Think about what's going on all across our state and all across the country. People that are hourly workers, people that are tip workers. So many of them are getting hurt.
So my focus is, how do we help them and how do we help the small businesses. And how -- and so, I think the best thing we can do right now, the first thing we should do is have a moratorium on these payments and then ramp up our unemployment system. When I left as governor, I think it was $4 billion in the bank. So if we need to expand who's covered, let's start doing that. Because that will be immediate money to these individuals, way faster than the federal government. And let's remember, we have to be fiscally responsible. Bailouts for big companies, I'm not for them.
I think we have to -- we've got a trillion deficit already, $20 trillion with the debt. How much more can we go before we have long- term problems?
WHITFIELD: So, you are self-quarantining at your home there in Florida. Let's talk about your colleague. Senator Rand Paul, who has tested positive, the first U.S. senator to test positive of coronavirus. His colleague, Senator Moran, says he saw him at the gym this morning.
What's your response to this positive test of your colleague, Senator Rand Paul, and what should happen next? What kind of questions do you have about his interaction with others there on the hill, as they work on a stimulus plan?
SCOTT: Well, I stayed in D.C., as soon as I found out, I didn't want to get on an airplane, that I might have, you know, been in -- I might impact anybody, so I just stayed up here. So I'm staying in a house up here. But I like to understand exactly what -- where Rand was and what the risk is. I think everybody ought to be talking to the Senate physician about what their risk is and whether they need to be quarantined.
That's what I did, as soon as I found out that somebody had been tested positive with the Brazilian delegation that I was around. I called the physician at the Senate. He said, look, you probably don't have high risk. And I said, well, I decided, I can't expect everybody else to quarantine if I'm not going to do it. So I said, I'm not going to take a chance.
WHITFIELD: Good to hear you stayed put there in D.C. and there have been others, other colleagues who have expressed real concern now. Others who may have been in a lunch today, working meetings over the last few days with Senator Paul. What concerns can you identify with?
SCOTT: Yes, I think everybody is going to have to find out how close they were to him. I mean, they'll need to talk to the Senate physician and their own physician and make a decision for themselves. I hope that, you know, the Senate continues to work the way it's supposed to work, and I know they're working hard to come up with a stimulus bill that they hope is going to help Americans. So -- but, you know, I think everybody will be calling their physician to find out what they should be doing.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, we're also hoping the best for you, as you continue to quarantine until Tuesday and hopefully everything, your health, remains good and that of your family.
Senator Rick Scott, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
SCOTT: Thanks, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, breaking news out of Germany. Angela Merkel going into quarantine after her doctor tests positive. Her doctor tests positive for the coronavirus.
WHITFIELD: All right, this breaking news. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in self-quarantine at home, right now, this after a doctor who gave her a routine vaccination, the doctor later tested positive for the coronavirus.
CNN Senior International Correspondent, Frederik Pleitgen, is live for us. So, Fred, what more are you learning?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Fredricka. Well, it certainly was a troubling moment for folks here in Germany and also a bit of a strange moment as well because Angela Merkel had literally just walked offstage after giving a press conference where she announced new measures, more strict measures, to try and combat the coronavirus here in Germany when a press release came through by the German government spokesman that she had immediately been placed into self-quarantine or home quarantine, as they call it here in Germany.
And apparently, that doctor who gave her that vaccine saw her on Friday afternoon, actually. And it was today that they find out that he did, indeed, have coronavirus. And they say they immediately then made that decision to put her into self-quarantine. They say that she's going to remain there and put on her full workload, as much as she obviously can, when she's working from home, and that she'll also continuously be tested for coronavirus.
They say that because this doctor saw her on Friday afternoon and now it's obviously Sunday evening here in Germany, that probably the time period is too short for a coronavirus test to be absolutely reliable. So, they're going to continue to see whether or not she might have it, this coming on a day when the Germans announced new very strict measures, pretty much everything short of a lockdown, any sort of public gathering of more than two people is being banned here in Germany now.
Country really trying to come to terms with some pretty steep, rising numbers, several thousand new positive-tested coronavirus cases in Germany here, pretty much every day over the past week. And now it seems even Angela Merkel, the chancellor herself, affected at least having been in contact with a person who also had coronavirus, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Pretty touch and go. Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much.
All right, still to come, education in America is turned upside down as tens of millions of students are now forced to be away from school. So, how are teachers and parents coping with this new reality? A home- school educator gives us her tips, next.
WHITFIELD: All right, lots of worries still during this pandemic. And the White House says students, among them, well, they don't have to worry about year-end testing for schools across the country. President Trump saying kids and teachers have been through a lot.
So far, at least 45 states have closed their schools for now and that means taking more than 50 million kids out of the classroom and keeping them home. So, what are parents to do who suddenly have to home-school their kids and maybe juggle working from home, as well?
Bekah Hamrick is the founder of Masters Academy, which is a hybrid homeschooling program. Good to see you, Bekah. Boy, you are a godsend.
BEKAH HAMRICK, FOUNDED HOMESCHOOL HYBRID PROGRAM: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: I mean teachers are a godsend, period. But now, you are also a godsend for so many of us parents who never thought we'd find ourselves now trying to teach our kids at home. And while so many of our schools have sent home, you know, packages of schoolwork.
WHITFIELD: Maybe they're e-mailing and all of that, still, you know, it's tough for a lot of parents. So, how do parents need to approach this? What's your best advice to navigate all of this?
HAMRICK: I would say, first of all, to just take a deep breath and know that your kids are going to be okay. It's really easy to get really worried. But I think parents just taking a deep breath. This is a very unforeseen situation. We couldn't have predicted it. And so, at this time, I think parents just need to breathe and realize that everything is going to be okay.
And then next, I would say, spend some time making a plan on what might work best for your family to be able to decide the schedule and what things you'd like to accomplish in your day. There are a lot of resources out there right now. A lot of these companies are allowing some of these online resources to be available. So, I would definitely take advantage of that. Quizzes and activities and things, videos and things that you might be able to help supplement some of the learning that your kids are doing at home.
WHITFIELD: Wow. And, you know, one of my -- one of the teachers for my -- I have 7-year-old twins, and one of the teachers said, you know, you need to look at this in kind of bite-sized morsels, because it can be overwhelming.
WHITFIELD: The kids are already feeling a little detached. They're not, you know, at school. So, maybe you teach for about 30 minutes and you need to work in a lot of breaks, you know. What's the advice that you give to people about, you know, how to manage what really is new territory for so many of us?
HAMRICK: Absolute. At school, your kids would not be sitting and doing work for the entire day. And at home, they shouldn't be doing that either. They should be doing little blocks of time, maybe 30 minutes depending on the age of your kids, little blocks of time with breaks in between, a lot of activity, a lot of fun things that you might be able to have them do in addition to sitting and doing work. That's what works best for kids, really being able to break up the day like that.
WHITFIELD: It's a tough time for the kids, you know, as well.
WHITFIELD: Because they're part of their -- they were embracing their routines, right, going to school, it's being social. It means, you know, sports, activities, after school, all of that is no longer part of their routine.
WHITFIELD: So, you've got to talk to your kids, too, right? I mean, my 7-year-old daughter said to me last night, you know, I really miss my friends. Whereas my 15-year-old son --
WHITFIELD: -- says, I'm actually feeling rested, you know, a testament to his high school, you know, maybe over scheduling. So, how do you talk to your kids? What do you need to say to them to reassure them about their anxieties?
HAMRICK: Well, I would say, right now, kids are going through a lot of loss. There's a lot of things that they were looking forward to about the end of the year and they're missing that. And so, I think a allowing them to be sad and sitting with them in their sadness and telling them that it's okay and that we can get through this together and letting them process it that way I think is the most important thing that we can do for our kids, for sure.
WHITFIELD: Yes and lots of hugs, right, and just --
WHITFIELD: -- you know, also embrace that we're getting a chance to spend a lot more time with our kids.
WHITFIELD: And it's very complicated and difficult. But I can see at least through my kids -- I mean, kids are kind of appreciating having a lot more face time with their parents, so that's something really special in all of it.
WHITFIELD: All right. Bekha Hamrick, thank you so much, really appreciate it.
HAMRICK: Thank you. I appreciate it.
WHITFIELD: And thanks to all the teachers, home-school teachers, school -- you know, in the classroom teachers, all of you, amazing, amazing individuals. We can't thank you enough.
HAMRICK: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, up next, a distillery giving away hand sanitizer with every alcohol purchase and that's not all, how this small business is helping the government, straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: All right. This breaking news, Senator Mike Lee of Utah is now self-quarantining on advice of congressional doctors after his colleague, Senator Rand Paul tested positive for coronavirus. Lee just released a statement saying, I'm quoting now, the doctor advised me "that because I have no symptoms or other risk factors, a COVID-19 test was not warranted.
However, given the timing, proximity, and duration of my exposure to Senator Paul, he directed me to self-quarantine for 14 days. That means no traveling or voting. But I will continue to make sure Utah's voice is heard as we shape the federal response to the coronavirus through phone, text, e-mail, and whatever other means are available."
And this breaking news into CNN, the International Olympic Committee is now saying that it is weighing whether to postpone the Summer Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan. Up until now, Japan's government has rejected the idea that the games should either be canceled or postponed. CNN's Don Riddell joining me now, live. So, what exactly is the IOC saying?
DON RIDDELL, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, they said a number of things, Fred. I think the headline is that they've given themselves four weeks to make a decision on this, which is considerably sooner than they were saying a few weeks ago when they said that they had up until the end of May.
They have said that they are not considering canceling the games. The line was that would not solve anybody's problems. But it does now seem as though postponement or a rescheduling of the games, which are due to begin on July the 24th, is now very much on the table.
You know, the Olympics are just in such a difficult position. It has seemed for several weeks now that this is the most obvious sports event that should be canceled when you consider the global nature of these games. Some 11,000 athletes coming from all over world, more than 200 countries competed in the Rio Olympics four years ago. But because of those reasons, it almost makes it the most difficult event to schedule and put on in the first place, but certainly to reschedule, postpone, or even cancel, 33 sports, 339 events.
I've mentioned all the countries, all the athletes, some 11,000 athletes and not to mention the broadcasters and the amount of money that's at stake, never mind what the Japanese government think about it. The IOC in their meeting and in their statement today, they did say that they feel as though the situation on the ground in Japan has got better in the last few weeks.
But they did acknowledge that the situation globally has got much worse. So, I guess the headline is, they could now be off or at least off on July 24th, but they give themselves four weeks to make a decision.
WHITFIELD: They're giving themselves four weeks to make a decision now.
RIDDELL: Yes. WHITFIELD: OK. All right. Well, there's a lot at stake on so many levels. All of these athletes have been training for a very long time. At the same time, the health and then, of course, with this pandemic, so many athletes are unable to train like they would want to --
WHITFIELD: -- so as to prevent any kind of injury. All right, Don Riddell, thank you so much. Keep us posted.
So, in the midst of this pandemic, one D.D. distillery is putting its high-grade alcohol supply to good use. A small business called Republic Restoratives is now answering calls from the D.C. government to turn their entire facility into a hand sanitizer plant.
Joining me right now is cofounder, Pia Carusone. She is also the former Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. Good to see you, Pia.
PIA CARUSONE, CO-FOUNDER, REPUBLIC RESTORATIVES: Nice to see you, too. Thanks for having me.
WHITFIELD: So, I understand that before local officials actually contacted you, your company was already giving out hand sanitizer. What's the process been like to turn your liquor business into a hand sanitizer plant?
CARUSONE: Yes, certainly not something we had ever expected to do. But people really need it and it's been in short supply for some reason. So, realized that we, you know, we have a large supply of 190-proof spirit, and you need higher proof spirit to make hand sanitizer than you can readily go out and buy the liquor store.
So basically, we looked at the World Health Organization's recipe last week and figured out how to put it together on our own. And so, we've been giving it away to customers that are in need. And then, we began getting calls from public agencies like the police department, EMS, hospitals. And so, on Friday, we were commissioned by the D.C. government to produce directly for them and they'll start doing their own distribution of our hand sanitizer.
WHITFIELD: So, what does this make you feel like, personally, because so many have expressed their own personal anxieties, understandably, because of this pandemic? But now here you are, in a position to be, you know, solution oriented. How is this --
CARUSONE: Yes. I mean --
WHITFIELD: -- helping you with whatever anxieties you had?
CARUSONE: You know, it's obviously troubling that a small business like ours is actually being relied on for something as simple as hand sanitizer. So, I don't know that it gives me much personal calm. But, you know, we're happy to help. We, you know, think of ourselves as a community distillery to begin with, so are very proud to be able to play a part. But on the larger level, I mean, obviously, the whole thing is troubling. And, you know, I think we'll get through it. But certainly, for small businesses like ours, it's a very, very difficult time.
WHITFIELD: Yes, as so many small businesses have giant concerns. I mean, individuals do. But then, you know, how can you relate to the anxieties, kind of the trepidation that so many of your colleagues in the small business industry have? I mean, what's your advice to them. What are they -- what do you share with one another?
CARUSONE: I mean, it's -- it is Armageddon in the small business industry, especially in the service industry and I'm not being hyperbolic. I mean, restaurants are already closing. There's been so many layoffs and these are people that really, you know, live paycheck to paycheck for the most part and are the heart and soul of many of the neighborhoods in our country that, you know, that we're so proud of. So, it's just really very troubling to understand how the long- term impact of this is going to unfold.
So, I mean, obviously, I'm talking to a lot of fellow owners and operators like myself, just to see if there's any ideas that, you know, we can pull together to get through it. It's very, very tough. So, look, I mean, there's -- we've had an outpouring of support in D.C. and I would encourage everyone to consider supporting their small businesses for takeout food and beverage, if they can right now. It really does make a difference.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Well, congratulations on doing the good that you are doing. And at the same time, our hearts go out to you and so many small business operators who really are worried about what the next day, next week, next month will bring. Pia Carusone, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
So, as the world navigates this pandemic, "CNN Heroes" would like to take a moment to salute some of the people in communities working together to get through this crisis. Here now is Anderson Cooper.
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UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Happy birthday dear --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): At a time social distancing, empathy and compassion are alive and well.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Happy birthday to you.
COOPER (voice-over): Around the world, people are coming up with creative ways to stay connected, to share resources, and to stay healthy.
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WHITFIELD: To see Anderson Cooper's full look at people helping one another, go to cnnheros.com right now. And thank you so much for being with me this weekend. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So much more straight ahead with the NEWSROOM and Ana Cabrera right after this.