Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY SUNDAY

Hospitals Warn Of Shortages, Closures Without Emergency Aid; Emergency Relief Package Could Top $2 Trillion; Pressure Mounts For Trump To Use Defense Production Act; Europe Overrun: Number Of Deaths Soar In Italy, Spain; Worship Services Changing Due To Coronavirus. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 22, 2020 - 07:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:00:17]

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. We are so grateful to have you here as always. It's 7:00 on this Sunday. I'm Christi Paul.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Amara Walker, in for Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: Amara, we're so glad to have you here.

WALKER: Thank you.

PAUL: We are talking about this surging pandemic and we have new numbers and information to give you this morning. Medical experts are warning critical medical supplies are running out or running dangerously low across the U.S.

Now, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases are now over 26,000 nationwide with 326 people who have died.

WALKER: Those numbers just going up in the last few minutes. New Jersey now makes it five states that have ordered Americans to stay home, but there are positive signs potentially emerging. Some U.S. private companies are stepping up, agreeing to begin making important medical supplies, like much-needed protective masks.

PAUL: For now, President Trump has resisted pleas to use the Defense Production Act that would mandate, rather than just asking, companies to get to work to produce some of this equipment. Expect questions, though, about that later today when the White House's coronavirus task force holds another briefing for us.

WALKER: And in a bid to stem the economic fallout of this fast- spreading virus, senators on Capitol Hill will get back to work this afternoon on its far-reaching economic stimulus bill.

CNN's Sarah Westwood has the latest now from the White House.

Good morning to you, Sarah.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning, Amara and Christi.

Yes, President Trump's not yet wielded the powers afforded to him under the Defense Production Act, which he signed earlier this week, even as medical professionals are warning of critical shortages of ventilators, of personal protective equipment that could be looming in just the next few weeks. Now again, Trump signed that act on Wednesday, but he hasn't specifically invoked it, hasn't yet used its authority to order companies to accept government contracts that is meant to boost the U.S. stockpiles in times of crisis like this one.

And sources tell CNN that privately, aides have also warned President Trump perhaps not to invoke the Defense Production Act, that perhaps it may not even be necessary. And that's a point President Trump made yesterday at the White House briefing when he suggested that perhaps this could be done voluntarily, because companies are already stepping up.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: You've talked about the act, sir, but you have not yet compelled any companies. Why not?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because we have so many companies making so many products. Every product that you mentioned, plus ventilators and everything else. We have car companies, without having to use the act. If we don't have to use specifically -- we have the act to use in case we need it, but we have so many things being made right now by so many. They've just stepped up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now, a handful of companies have stepped up to assist in the production of these critical supplies. That includes General Motors, which announced on Friday night that they would be partnering with a ventilator company to help make more ventilators.

Also, the president announced yesterday that Hanes, the clothing company, would be helping to make fabric for masks, but still, there are shortfalls of those supplies across the country, and President Trump is likely to face questions today, later this afternoon at another briefing at the White House, about how the administration is addressing those shortages.

PAUL: So, Sarah, talk to us about Vice President Mike Pence and his wife. We know that they both tested negative, which is the really good news here, but what more do you know about that?

WESTWOOD: Vice President Pence said yesterday that he and his wife, the second lady, would be tested for coronavirus, even though he didn't view it as the doctors didn't view it as specifically necessary, but out of an abundance of caution, given his role on the Coronavirus Task Force, his proximity to president Trump. Pence said he and his wife would go ahead and take that test. And that's because earlier this week, a staffer in the vice president's office did test positive for the coronavirus.

Pence gave an update on that person's status yesterday, saying that he was in good health still, that he was at home recovering, and that he hadn't been in direct contact with that staffer, but still, getting some good news yesterday that Vice President Pence and the second lady both negative for COVID-19.

PAUL: Good news indeed.

Sarah Westwood, we appreciate it. Thank you.

So, strategies in the U.S. are beginning to shift when it comes to testing here.

WALKER: That's right.

CNN's Cristina Alesci joining us now from New York with more.

So, Cristina, who can and cannot get a test?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, I'm on the west side of midtown Manhattan, where the city is opening one of its first drive-thru testing facilities. The city of New York expanding its testing capabilities over the next couple of days. And just to give you some context, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has called New York City the epicenter of this outbreak.

[07:05:02]

And the reason that he's saying that is because New York state does have more cases than almost all other states -- all other states, in fact.

And in terms of the number of cases in New York City, they account for about 80 percent of all the cases in the state, according to the latest numbers.

So, Mayor Bill de Blasio really here stressing in announcing these testing sites that testing is critical in terms of containing the virus. Now, we have heard a little bit of a shift from some public officials over the last 24 hours, that they are concerned that some of these testing activities could be using up vital supplies that would be used for treatment of critically ill patients and -- ill patients.

Dr. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, talked about that. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Not every single person in the United States needs to get tested. When you go in and get tested, you are consuming personal protective equipment, masks and gowns. Those are high priority for the health care workers who are taking care of people who have coronavirus disease.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALESCI: Now, clearly, the issue here seems to be that the U.S. still lacks the number of tests that it would need to test everyone, and if hospitals in big cities, in New York and other hospitals, are still lacking the number, the amount of equipment like gowns and masks and ventilators that they need. This is something that we've heard from the New York City mayor, from the New York state governor. We have heard it over and over again.

So, the focus right now seems to be getting hospitals what they need -- Amara, Christi.

PAUL: Cristina Alesci, we so appreciate it. Thank you.

WALKER: So, right now, many Americans want to know that if they get infected by coronavirus, what should they be expecting?

PAUL: Yes, CNN's Brian Todd reports on patients across the country in their fight against the disease.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kevin Harris with a painful cough.

KEVIN HARRIS, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: Yes, that's the cough.

TODD: He's laid up in a hospital in Warren, Ohio, a victim of coronavirus. Experts say a cough is one of the first symptoms you feel when you have the virus, but it's a certain kind of cough.

DR. MICHAEL MINA, HARVARD CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: A cold and a flu can sometimes cause a really runny nose and sort of more of sort of mucus feeling inside and in your cough and in your nose, whereas this virus seems to be much more of a dry cough.

TODD: Fatigue, fever and body aches can set in in first couple of days you have it, experts say.

Lisa Murke, isolated at her home in Colorado, describes how that felt.

LISA MURKE, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: My muscles ached and my joints ached really bad. It felt like somebody was like stabbing me with an ice pick.

TODD: Doctors say even with those symptoms, it's sometimes hard know if you have coronavirus. Getting tested is critical, and as "Hawaii Five-0" star, Daniel Dae Kim says, unpleasant.

DANIEL DAE KIM, ACTOR, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: The test itself was really awkward and painful because they shove a huge swab into your nose.

TODD: A few days in, there's a telltale sign of coronavirus.

MINA: As the infection can progress, the symptoms will change from just a dry cough to actually difficulty breathing. TODD: Kevin Harris says his breathing got so difficult, his intense nausea actually brought relief.

HARRIS: After I threw up, I could breathe. Once you get to other side of it, you can breathe a little bit better. I mean, it's the weirdest thing. You think you're going to die during one of those episodes. I mean, you know you're going the die. But then you don't.

TODD: Then there's the feeling of isolation for those self-quarantined and even hospitalized patients. CNN checked in a few times with Clay Bentley who said his locked hospital room in Georgia felt like a jail cell even when caregivers came in.

CLAY BENTLEY, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: They have to wear these Ebola suits and masks. So, I can't see them, and, you know, they are gloved up and gowned up. They do what they have to do and leave. So, I mean, it's a terrible feeling. You feel like you're cut off from the whole world.

TODD: Kevin Harris took a Facebook live video of a visitor to his room who had to be heavily protected.

HARRIS: That's you. That's me.

TODD: Last weekend after eight days in the hospital, Bentley told CNN what it felt like to finally turn a corner.

BENTLEY: My oxygen levels are starting to rise and I'm starting to feel air in my lungs again and I'm able to breathe freely now.

TODD: But doctors say for patients like Bentley and Harris who had to be hospitalized with respiratory problems, those issues may not go away soon.

MINA: There is a chance that there could be some lasting effects on pulmonary function, on lung function, and somebody's ability to breathe in the future.

TODD (on camera): But Dr. Michael Mina is quick to point out that the vast majority of coronavirus victims will not see those lasting effects.

[07:10:04]

And he says a couple of weeks after getting infected, most of them will be clear of the virus and unable to transmit it to others because their immune systems will have destroyed the virus.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: So, New Jersey now makes it five states who are telling residents, you need to just stay home, don't go out unless it's absolutely necessary.

WALKER: California is also one of those states, and its governor, Gavin Newsom, is not holding back, telling young people in his state that they need to do their part.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Be a good neighbor, be a good citizen, those young people that are still out there on the beaches thinking this is a party, time to grow up. You know, time to wake up. Time to recognize, it's not just about the old folks, it's about your impact on their lives. Don't be selfish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Some California residents are taking the warnings to stay home seriously as well. Some maybe not so seriously?

CNN's Paul Vercammen is at Lake Hollywood, getting a sense of what life is like for families since this order went into effect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The stay-at-home order is in full effect in California, and here in Los Angeles, in talking to people in and around Lake Hollywood, they say that they just need to get out of the house and they're trying to absorb that rule of stay six feet away from everybody else. But you talk to a family, such as the Grunigs (ph), and they were telling us, after a while, you have kids and you just go stir-crazy, so you get out and about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, you have to get out. At least if we're in nature and staying away from people, separated, it makes us feel better.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Getting a little exercise is kind of keeping me up and not sitting around all day and just taking a hike is spending good family time and not, like, just sitting around stressing about this crisis and all the bad things.

VERCAMMEN: So, people are out and about. We talked to the Los Angeles police department about the stay-at-home order.

They say, let's just, for instance, say that 12 people were together at some park or somewhere around here. They would first get a warning. They would try to work things out voluntarily. If these people don't disperse, then a supervisor would come by. And if they still don't disperse down the road, they could get a citation, and that would be brought to the city attorney.

But authorities saying the last thing they want is to be heavy-handed at this time.

Reporting from Hollywood, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: Paul, thank you.

You know, with so much going on in the world, we need a little good news, don't we? We want to make sure that you're not just getting all scary, crazy, anxious news right now. So, I want to tell you about these medical workers on the front lines working to treat patients with the coronavirus.

Last night, people in Buenos Aires showed their appreciation, look at this, applauding doctors and health care workers from their balconies.

CNN's Arnaud Siad took this video from Argentina. And we want to say thank you so much to all you health care workers. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CIP)

WALKER: And as you can clearly see, social distancing didn't stop a couple in Manhattan from saying "I do." The couple shouted "I do!" from the pavement, while a friend officiated their wedding from his fourth-floor apartment. Riley Jennings and Amanda Wheeler, congratulations to you both!

Look at that. Be happy with a round of cheering.

PAUL: Listen, that is a memorable wedding, is it not?

WALKER: Totally! Who has a wedding like that?

PAUL: Awesome.

WALKER: Still ahead, as health care workers raise at alarm about a lack of critical supplies, what does the federal government plan to do to keep hospitals running if they run out?

PAUL: And as the global number of COVID-19 cases tops 300,000 now, there's one city that was once considered a hotspot, reporting now no new cases. That and the latest headline from around the globe, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:18:26]

PAUL: Eighteen minutes past the hour.

And the "Washington Post" is reporting this morning the federal government is working on updated guidance as to what hospitals should do if they run out of medical supplies and equipment.

WALKER: In a statement to CNN, the Department of Health and Human Services says, quote, federal officials are looking at recommendations on how to apply clarity to the existing crisis of care standards in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, CDC has posted strategies for optimizing the use of eye protection, isolation gowns, facemasks and N95 respirators. Among the CDC strategies for optimizing facemasks listed on their website, implementing extended use or limited reuse of face masks. And in the event of running out of face masks, excluding health care providers who may be at high higher risks themselves from seeing patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, are even using homemade masks as a last resort.

PAUL: Retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling is with us now. He's a CNN military analyst, as you know. But I don't know if you know this, since retiring from the military in 2013, he started working in health care, including launching a leadership course for physicians. In fact, he's the author of this book, "Growing Physician Leadership: Are Leaders Empowering Doctors to Improve Our Health Care."

Thank you so much, General Hertling, for being here.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good morning, Christi. It is a little bit different talking about this this morning.

PAUL: It is. Congratulations on your book, first and foremost.

HERTLING: Thank you.

PAUL: I wanted to first get your take on what New York Governor Cuomo suggested earlier this week, that the Army Corps of Engineers should be called to help retrofit and refit existing facilities to serve as temporary medical centers.

[07:20:08]

How, first of all, can the U.S. military help on a logistical scale?

HERTLING: Well, across the board, Christi, I wrote an article for CNN.com on this earlier in the week, and the military can provide a great deal of assistance in the standpoints of logistics and command and control, and having supplies delivered and contributing, and the Corps of Engineers under Lieutenant General Todd Semonite has met with Governor Cuomo and has developed a plan that might be applicable across the country.

However, you can't get your hopes up too much. If American citizens are thinking, oh, the Corps of Engineers are going to come in and start building hospitals, they can certainly do that, but not in the required time that we need. So, what the General Semonite has done is developed a plan which can be used as a blueprint for various cities that he can help them contract for builders and set up facilities that can actually contribute to bed space and the kinds of things that are needed by most hospitals.

But I've got to tell you, Christi, I think most health care organizations are already doing that. They are driving facilities to help them with additional bed space. The critical component, though, is going to be the health care providers that go into those facilities. And that's where we're short as well as the supplies.

PAUL: Yes, so, is that where, you know, military personnel can really come into play?

HERTLING: Well, not in the physician realm to an extended degree, because again, the reserve component, which provide quite a few doctors and nurses, they're already involved in their communities. Those physicians and nurses are already working in the health care facilities.

In a normal situation, they might be able to be mobilized and deployed to places like Haiti or someplace where the military has gone, but it's a lot more difficult to take doctors who are already working away from their facilities and put them in a mobilized military unit.

PAUL: There may be people wondering, how does the military maintain their preparedness to defend the country if they're also doing this?

HERTLING: Well, that's correct. And I address that in the piece I wrote, that there's always that fine balance between how do we continue to defend the nation against threats versus mobilizing for humanitarian crisis and support to civil authorities.

The military I know started in early February, very early February, reviewing their contingency plans for pandemics. And in those reviews, they'll say, hey, what's available now? What can we provide?

And in fact, it's normally not a poll situation where people are asking the military. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs and secretary of defense usually push the information, say hey, this is what we've got, here's how we can help, put us in coach. And that's the military I was involved in.

PAUL: So, I want to listen with you to Dr. Rob Davidson. He's an ER doctor from Michigan. He's also the executive director of the committee to protect Medicare. We talked to him last hour, and he has been really frustrated with the response from the government.

Let's listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR: I just want them to honestly have this not be about him, not be about his numbers and how people perceive him, and let's make it about the American people. Recognize that those of us on the front lines -- you know, I heard him ask the question that what do you say if people are scared? And he attacked the reporter. You know, people are scared.

People I work with are maybe not scared, but we're concerned. We're concerned about what could come to pass and what will come to pass in so many places that get overwhelmed.

And my patients are scared. They come in just wanting guidance. And all we can give them is some acetaminophen and tell them to go home and come back if they're having a hard time breathing or getting a lot more sick.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: General Hertling, what is your response to that and your assessment of what we've heard from the federal and the state governments thus far?

HERTLING: What I would say is the doctor is absolutely correct, that politics in medicine and in a pandemic is just like politics in war -- it should stop at the water's edge and you should look at what is important for the nation as a whole.

In a pandemic like this, we're fighting an enemy, and it should be all hands on deck. And the fact is that political dynamics should not be involved in this. What the American people need is transparent and truthful communication and conversation about what is going on.

And the critical point is, sometimes bad things happen -- lack of supplies, lack of tests. All we have to do is inform the American people and they will understand what's going on. But to try and develop smoke screens, I think that's what the physician you just interviewed was talking about -- when you have those kinds of nontransparent communications, where Americans really don't know what's going on, there's more confusion.

That's one of the things we teach in the leadership class is how artful communication is not only what you say but it's what other people hear as well as your tone of voice, your facial expression and your body language all contribute to easing the anxieties that a lot of people have in a critical crisis situation like we're going through right now.

[07:25:12]

PAUL: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, his book is "Growing Physician Leaders." His article on CNN.com right now is definitely worth a read. We are so grateful for you and all that you do. Thank you so much.

HERTLING: Thank you, Christi.

WALKER: Health officials in Spain say the coronavirus has killed more than 1,700 people. We will have the latest from Madrid when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALKER: The coronavirus pandemic is now impacting nearly every corner of the globe. Now, according to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 308,000 cases worldwide, more than 13,000 people have died.

[07:30:01]

PAUL: I know, and Italy is one of the hotspots still. There are now more than 53,000 cases there. The death toll rising by nearly 800 in just one day. Italy's prime minister says it's, quote, the most severe crisis since World War II.

WALKER: Officials in China say there have been no new cases of coronavirus in Hubei province, once the epicenter of the outbreak. CNN, though, has no way of confirming that number, so we shouldn't take it at face value.

Meantime, the Chinese national health commission did report 46 additional cases in the country yesterday, and that brings the total number of cases there to just over 81,000.

In Spain, health officials there reported a drastic spike of more than 3,600 coronavirus cases in just one day.

PAUL: From Madrid now with the latest, journalist Al Goodman.

Al, what are you seeing there? And good morning to you.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christi and Amara.

Well, the death toll, 1,720 people have now died. That's up 30 percent in the latest figures that just came out from the last 24 hours. And what we've been basically seeing is this very rapid spike, which is why the prime minister Saturday night warned the nation that the worst is yet to come and that this next wave will really test the nation.

Now, the state of emergency has been in effect for just a little more than a week, from last weekend. The streets are empty. We're right in front of the parliament building. So, people are staying inside, but there seems to be a lag between the stay-at-home order and this increase in cases.

The prime minister said that they could extend the state of emergency currently due to end next weekend. It could be extended with the approval of parliament. He's due to address the nation again in a few hours' time.

There is speculation in the Spanish media he may have something to say about a possible extension. We'll have to wait and see.

Back to you.

WALKER: Al, can you tell us more about, you know, what the medical response has been, how prepared the hospitals are or not, and who is getting tested and who isn't?

GOODMAN: Well, the number of tests, they're trying to ramp up the number of tests, but they're still behind on that. They admit that. They're really scrambling to add more hospital beds.

So at the main convention center in Madrid, they've added a 5,500-bed hospital. The military put that up in short order. A number of hotels -- there are two hotels that have already become hospital hotels, adding more than 1,000 beds and several more hotels are coming.

They have mobilized 50,000 medical personnel, mainly just out of college or early doctors early in their careers, to get in and beef this all up. So, they're really scrambling on that phase. And also, they say, these senior government officials, they're competing with all the countries in the world to try to get enough masks and gloves and testing kits, and it's very difficult because all the countries are trying to get the same material at the same time. So, they're moving as quickly as they can, but it's clearly a race

against the clock as the patient numbers rise now very rapidly.

Back to you.

WALKER: It's incredible. Similar scenes in really every corner of the globe.

Al Goodman, thank you very much.

PAUL: So, worship services may look very different for a lot of you this morning. Here in the U.S. and around the world, churches are changing their services to protect people from the coronavirus.

WALKER: Yes, Pope Francis said this morning, his morning masses today from his private chapel. It was broadcast online due to the COVID-19 outbreak. And there was a similar scene in London, where the archbishop of Canterbury held a virtual Sunday service. And during his address on Facebook, he urged people not to give into growing fear.

Joining us now is CNN Religious Commentator, Father Edward Beck.

Appreciate you joining us this morning. Good morning to you, Father.

You know, first off, I think some of the most difficult things for people to cope with is the fact that, you know, there are funerals, there are birthdays, there are weddings, there are once-in-a-lifetime events that are happening and loved ones can't attend.

EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGIOUS COMMENTATOR: Yes, that really is difficult. They're all being on hold or they're being done without the ceremony, and it's kind of a virtual blessing. I mean, priests are being cautioned, if you do a funeral and it's only the immediate family members, even you, too, have to take the precautions.

So, I think it is a really, really difficult time, when we cannot physically connect, because spirituality for us is usually not disembodied. There's a sense of presence. There's a sense of touch. There's ritual. And you sprinkle holy water. You feel things as part of that spiritual connection.

So, I think the real challenge now is, in creating these virtual communities and in live streaming, the spiritual is still there and God is still there, and yet, we have to be there with each other in another way. And I think it's pushing us toward that direction.

[07:35:01]

PAUL: So, Father Beck, I think a lot of people, when we look at what the coronavirus has done, the damage, not just from a physical standpoint but from an economic standpoint, from an emotional standpoint, it is such a memorable event to everybody in this generation now, and there are probably a lot of people who are saying, where is God in all of this? Why would he allow this to happen? How do you answer that? BECK: Yes, you know, Christi, this is one of the most basic questions,

and it's been a question throughout human history. And it's technically called the theodicy, innocent suffering, and why does God allow it? Since Old Testament times, Job wrestled with this question, an innocent man suffering.

And I'm afraid we don't get adequate answers, either in the Old Testament, perhaps even in the New Testament, but God's answer to us, as Christians, those who are Christian, is Jesus enters into the world, into the suffering, to not be distant from it.

And so, what God says to us is, I'm not taking it away. That's correct. The world is created and it's flawed. But I am with you in the suffering, and you know, the cross is the ultimate example of that.

So, I think what is really important is to not so much put it on God, but then also say, well, what are we as human beings doing?

There is a wonderful article on CNN.com about, it's not the bats, it's the human interaction with the bats and what humans did with bats that ultimately released this virus. And I think our responsibility in all of this needs to be really looked at and not put it all on God. God is with us and God is suffering this experience with us, not taking it away, obviously, but I think we have to be able to say, what is our participation in it and what is our action going to be in the midst of it?

WALKER: When you talk about what is our participation in this, I do want to ask you about, you know, some reporting that we have had about some church pastors, one in Louisiana refusing -- defiantly continuing with church services. The "Washington Post" is reporting that that church is refusing to cancel services because of the outbreak. The governor has threatened to send the National Guard to enforce a ban on large gatherings.

I mean, how important is it, in your opinion, for religious leaders in this critical time to be ethically responsible and to have their followers heed the warnings of authorities, rather than saying, look, you know, it's more important than ever right now to have people come together physically in prayer?

BECK: Amara, I think it's crucial that we listen to the civil authorities in this. I mean, love of god and love of neighbor cannot be disembodied, meaning being a good religious person right now and being a spiritual person means being a good citizen. It's talking about social isolation.

I really don't like social isolation. I prefer physical isolation because we're still connected socially, right? Social media is important to us. These virtual ways of worshipping are important to us.

But we really need to protect ourselves in order to protect others. That's what love of God looks like right now. And I know it's stressful. And for me, it's a very simple prayer I want to offer you this

morning, because I know we're all stressed out, we're all fearful. It's called the Jesus prayer. And they say breathing is so important with the body and spirituality.

And what I do is I breathe in, "Jesus, son of God," and hold it, and exhale, "have mercy on me" as a Christian. A Jewish person can do "God of the universe, protect me." Muslim, "Allah, be with me."

The simple action of breathing with a mantra, age-old tradition, can lessen some of the stress in us, some of the fear in us, center us in what's really important. But we must listen to what's happening in society and culture as religious people and respect it and obey it. That's how we love God. That's how we love neighbor.

PAUL: Father Edward Beck, we are always so grateful to have your voice in these conversations. Thank you for taking time for us today.

BECK: Thank you both. God bless you.

PAUL: You as well.

WALKER: Thanks for your insight. Appreciate it.

Still to come, eating well is especially important right now for keeping your immune in top shape. We're going to have tips for staying healthy during these uncertain times.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:44:08]

WALKER: So, you're essentially stuck inside all day, your children are home from school, and you have no idea when this pandemic is going to end.

PAUL: So, what do you do? I'm eating. I admit it.

WALKER: I am, too.

PAUL: I am probably eating wrong.

WALKER: Way more than I should be eating.

PAUL: Yes. Experts say stress eating can weaken our immune systems and dampen our spirits at a time when protecting our bodies and staying positive is so important.

So, let's bring in registered dietician, nutritionist and adjunct professor at Rutgers University, Jackie Abbot.

Jackie, so good to have you here.

Help us understand why it is so important to monitor our eating habits right now in the midst of all of this. JACKIE ABBOT, REGISTERED DIETITIAN NUTRITIONIST: Well, thank you so

much for having me. And yes, one of the things I want to stress to people is that everything that you eat provides you with energy, but not everything you eat can nourish your body.

[07:45:01]

And it's really important, as you guys mentioned, to nourish your body because you want to build and support the strongest immune system that you can. So if you do become infected with this virus or any other illness, that you can be at your best health to combat it.

WALKER: You know, it's tough, because when you're home or working from home, you have your kitchen, you have your pantry, you don't have to worry about, you know, digging out the change to go to the vending machine. So -- and I'm a big snacker and I'm pregnant and I'm a stress eater.

So please, some advice on how to just, you know, control the eating and emotion eating versus eating when you're hungry.

ABBOT: Well, again, I think you really need to look at what you're doing in terms of eating in relationship to how it's helping your overall health. So we're asking people to practice social distancing. We're asking people to stay at home. And now we're asking people to really pay attention to what they put into their body.

By putting you your body, you want the most nourishing foods, the foods that will pack the most nutrition into the calories that you're eating. So, these are going to be our fruits, our vegetables, our whole grains, our beans, our lean proteins. And even though you want to grab those kind of stress-relieving snacks, really be mindful about what you put into your body.

It's OK to have, you know, a treat here and there, but realize that it's so important right now to fuel your body appropriately.

PAUL: And help us understand what sugar does to our body, because I try -- I try to tell this to my kids. I know all of you out there can probably, you know, understand this and empathize with this, but kids just do not understand, especially if we're in a weakened state, what sugar does to you.

ABBOT: Well, in the simplest way to explain it, especially if I'm talking to children, is to equate it to fuel for a car. I say to kids, do you want to be a sports car or do you want to be a junky, rusted, old car? If you want to be a sports car, you've got to fill your body with the great, the best gas, the best fuel out there.

And if you're eating just sugary snacks that are high in salt and not a lot of nutrients in them, then you're going to not be fueling that sports car to its best ability. So that's kind of the simplest explanation that I would give.

Now, sugar-packed foods, you know, sweets and snacks, do not give you a lot of sustainable energy. They don't give you a lot of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals that are really important to supporting your immune health.

WALKER: Smoothies, though, are good, right?

ABBOT: Yeah, smoothies are --

WALKER: Depending what you put in it, I guess.

ABBOT: If people are willing to make a green smoothie and put in vegetables. But the thing I really like to suppress is that people eat the whole foods. So, I prefer people eat a whole fruit compared to just drinking the juice from the fruit, because that whole fruit will provide you with more nutrition.

PAUL: All righty. Jackie Abbot, so good to know.

ABBOT: Thanks so much.

PAUL: Things that we need to keep in mind right now. Thank you.

WALKER: Practice self-control. Now we have the information. Now we've got to act on it.

PAUL: Yes, I know.

WALKER: Thank you so much, Jackie.

ABBOT: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

A high school choir in California has learned the first rule of show business. That is the show must go on! Coming up, how they were able to pull off a virtual concert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:52:21]

WALKER: Taking selfies are a struggle in this time of social distancing.

PAUL: You know, comedian Conan O'Brien has a solution, though, but now he just needs someone to take a selfie with. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Everyone wants a selfie. Everybody! That's not good! We must keep social distancing. So I follow specific rules, six feet away, no touching.

Check it out. Sir! Sir, what your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kevin.

O'BRIEN: Kevin! OK. You may have a selfie with me, but you must stay six feet away and no touching! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm good.

O'BRIEN: No, no, you can have a selfie! You can have a selfie with me, but we have to keep our distance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm good.

O'BRIEN: Do you know who I am?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

WALKER: He's brilliant.

PAUL: Oh, he really is. He's so good. So, we took a selfie earlier today.

WALKER: Well, that's how we're kind of communicating this morning. You're so away. I'm kind of yelling at you, Christi. I don't mean it in any negative way.

Hey, Christi, come take a selfie.

PAUL: Well, and remember, Amara is pregnant, so it's more important for me to keep my distance, as much as I would love to hug you.

WALKER: Aw.

PAUL: But, yes, it's just one much those things that we have to --

WALKER: Take it seriously.

PAUL: Take it seriously. And I think it makes for good selfies. Good to see how creative we can get.

WALKER: How far away are we? I would say what, 10, 12 feet? I'm so bad, 12 feet or so. --

PAUL: I'm bad at that.

WALKER: I've been wiping down everything every few minutes. But you forget how much you touch your face, right?

PAUL: And everything around you.

WALKER: And hand sanitizer. Always got to be prepared and take this stuff seriously, especially when the doctors are saying act like you have the virus.

PAUL: Mm-hmm. Because many of us might and we just don't even know it.

WALKER: Yes.

PAUL: We want to say thank you so much for starting your morning with us and we hope you make good memories today.

WALKER: "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" is up next.

PAUL: Before we let you go, though, we do want to share something with you, hopefully to get you smiling, because there is good news and good people to talk about. These are 19 students. Listen to this -- from a high school choir in California. They recorded that version of "Over the Rainbow."

Their concert was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, so this is what they recorded, each part separately, and then an editor put it all together. Kudos to them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)