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Jobless Claims Released. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 26, 2020 - 08:30   ET



JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Says he's had to lay off the entire staff from both restaurants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Week two of this.

CARROLL (on camera): Week two. And how much longer can you -- can you sustain this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you know, it's -- that's the question. You know, that's the million dollar question. And we really can't sustain it very long.

CARROLL (voice over): Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: You know, each job affects a person and a family.

We're getting our first big indicator of just how hard this crisis is hitting American workers. We're waiting for those jobless numbers. We'll bring them to you.

Oh, they're coming in right now.


BERMAN: Christine Romans has them.

Romans, what are you hearing?

ROMANS: The number is 3.2 million.


That's a snapshot of one week in the American economy, 3.2 million, first time weekly jobless claims. This is a statistic we watch. It just shows you how many people go to their state unemployment offices for the very first time to file for jobless benefits.

That is the biggest number we have ever seen. Far surpasses anything from the Great Recession. Far surpasses the record in 1982 when there was a nasty recession and some 700,000 people had layoffs that week.

This is a big number. The question is how long does this last? That's the big question, John.

BERMAN: I'm looking at this number right now. More than four times the worst week we have ever seen, 3.2 million people, Romans.

We're going to dig through these numbers to see what else we can learn. We'll take a quick break.

We'll be right back.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: And the breaking news, the jobless claims just coming in at a staggering 3,283,000. That is how many Americans filed jobless claims last week. This shatters records and paints a bleak picture of the effects of the pandemic on the U.S. economy.

Joining us again, CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans, Julia Chatterley, CNN anchor and correspondent, also John Harwood, CNN White House correspondent.

Romans, I just want to start with you with this top line number once again.

ROMANS: Yes, 3,283,000 first time unemployment benefits last week. In one week, that's how many people went to their -- contacted their state offices and filed for unemployment benefits for the first time. It shows you -- I mean this is a staggering number by a factor of several bigger than the peak in 1982, a terrible recession then. It just shows you what shutting down the economy does. It put that many people out of work.

Now, the question is, do we see more weeks like this back to back? Does the stimulus maybe slow this pace? And at what point is the virus under control, the economy reopens, and then those people, all of those numbers there, start to go back to work? That's what we don't know.

BERMAN: Julia, it's an unemployment cliff that America just fell off there. When you look at that number, it's more than four times the highest number ever reported in one week. And when you think about how these numbers are actually reported, it might underestimate them because I'm not sure it takes into account gig workers and the like.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely doesn't. You know, John, I would describe these numbers as devastating, but they're also deliberate, of course, as Christine says. This is what we're trying to do now to suppress the health crisis that we've got going on in this country.

As you quite rightly said, up until this point, we haven't captured what's estimated to be around a third of people working in this country in some form, the gig economy, the Uber workers, contract workers, freelancers. This is why what we've seen in this survival bill, as I keep calling it, is so crucial because it will now provide benefits to those workers too. So you've got the battle here between the stimulus package trying to hold people of all forms in their jobs, the fact that we've got this flow coming through of people that are already losing their jobs and then capturing those people that have never got benefits before and now will. We have no sense of the science here, it's simply devastating in terms of numbers already.

BERMAN: Yes, I'm not sure you could find an economics class that studies or predicts an event like this.

CHATTERLEY: You can't.

BERMAN: It's impossible to fathom.

Although, John Harwood, it is safe to say that in the last few days, different analysts were looking at this. And this is in the higher range of the most dire forecasts. And it's also the specter that was hanging over politicians in Washington over the last few days.

And the Senate unanimously passed this rescue bill overnight. The House will address it tomorrow. The president will sign it.

How much does this massive rescue plan even address the scope of the problem?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a very large step toward doing that. And you've gotten it exactly right, as my colleagues have as well. This is a number that is shocking, but not really surprising. When you turn off economic activity on the scale that the United States has done, you're going to get numbers like this. This is why you have Wall Street analysts predicting drops of 10, 20 percent in GDP in the second quarter of this year. That's why -- also why, as you indicated, John, you've got 96 senators and zero dissenters voting for that rescue package.

The question again is going to be, how quickly do we get on top of the health crisis to -- that this rescue package, the relief package is supposed to tide us over until when we get to the other side of that -- of that health crisis, then you can see how much economic activity was permanently lost, how many businesses have gone under, how easy it is to restart. But the fact that people expected this, I think, is reflected in the fact that I just did a quick perusal of Dow futures on my phone, they haven't moved very much in response to this number because they knew it was coming.

BERMAN: Wow. A sign of the times, I think, as much as anything.

Christine Romans, though, you raised a question, it almost takes your breath away to think about it, which is that, what if this happens next week?


What's to keep this from happening next week? How much do we know about the shape of these unemployment numbers, if you know what I mean?

ROMANS: Well, look, you hear economists who are throwing around numbers like 14 million layoffs by June. I've seen numbers even bigger than that.

But the question here, this is -- this is not a normal recession. This is an on purpose stopping of the economy. And Jerome Powell, the Fed chief, was on the "Today" show, what a sign of the times, right, the Fed chief on the "Today" show. He was on the "Today" show this morning talking about how the Fed is building a bridge, the Fed and Congress are building a bridge over this period and the economy will come back when the virus is under control, after the virus is under control. He's saying the economy will come back.

So we could see some weeks and months of trouble, but there is -- there is a feeling that the economy overall is sound.

Listen to the Fed chief.


JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: We may well be in a recession. But, again, I would point to the difference between this and a normal recession. This isn't -- there's nothing fundamentally wrong with our economy. This is a situation where people are being asked to step back from economic activity, close their businesses, stay home from work. So, in principle, if we get the -- get the virus spread under control fairly quickly, then economic activity can resume.


ROMANS: He agreed, by the way, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, that it is the virus that determines that timeline, not necessarily politicians.

BERMAN: Yes, the virus sets the timeline. That's the public health issue. But the virus is also going to set the timeline for the economic issues as well.

You see the number, again, 3.28 million filing jobless claims in the last week. That is four times the highest number -- more than four times the highest number ever reported, Julia.

You know, it's safe to say that if you have lost your job, you know how it feels. And the answer is awful. But what does it mean for an economy, Julia, when someone is out of work? When you are unemployed, how do you behave in an economic sense and what does that mean for the overall economy? In other words, why do these numbers or how do they expand throughout the entire society?

CHATTERLEY: Well, there's an anxiety, of course, and the psychology in a recession, the belief that we're going into a recession or something deeper has an impact on spending. Remember, this is a consumer spending driven economy, John.

But I just want to cycle back to what you were saying because I think it's such an important point about even what we see between now and next week, it depends on how quickly small businesses, which represent around 80 to 85 percent of employment in this country can get access to those grants, to enable them to keep hold of the workers. So even every day the time between getting the money into these businesses, to enable them to keep workers is going to be key.

And also what you said about the cloud that's been hanging over D.C. This cloud still hangs over D.C. Senate minority leaders said to you yesterday, you know, we will come pack if we need to. We don't know if this is enough money. The bottom line is, this is just holding the economy in a steady state for the next two to three months. It doesn't account for the recovery that we have to try and galvanize.

And, you know, I was hearing even last week that they were already talking about another $1 trillion. It sort of went quiet after the weekend as they focused on the $2 trillion stimulus bill. But the mood is, if more is required, more will come.

BERMAN: The Senate's not coming back for a few weeks, so they won't start on that anytime terribly soon.

John Harwood, I didn't welcome you appropriately. I think this is the first time you've been on NEW DAY with me at least. A heck of a time to make your debut performance on NEW DAY.

Look, the White House and this president has touted unemployment and jobs numbers every chance he gets. Sometimes before they're even released, but that's a different matter. So, how is the White House reacting so far or what do you expect to hear from them about this dramatic release?

HARWOOD: Well, you saw it last night when the president was getting questioned about his desire to reopen the economy. And he went off on those people, he claimed the media, political opponents, want to prolong this shutdown because it will hurt the economy and hurt his re-election. He is plainly trying to limit the number of days and announcements of this kind that -- what that gives sure shrift to is, again, the idea, as emphasized by Jay Powell, by Ben Bernanke, that it is the -- and Tony Fauci as well, that it is the virus that's going to determine when economic activity can resume.

The one thing I think people can take comfort from, and Christine was playing that sound from Jay Powell earlier is, we do seem to see very coordinated central bank interventions around the country. Today, President Trump is going to be on a conference call with other G-20 leaders. He was asked about that last night, the question of what kind of coordinated response.


And he said, well, I don't know about coordination. We're going to have a -- we're going to have a phone call and a lot of these people I like. That was not in of itself a very encouraging sign about the coordinated virus response. However, the United States has taken the fiscal step that is most needed right now. BERMAN: John Harwood, Christine Romans, Julia Chatterley, again, I

don't think anyone a year ago could have ever imagined seeing that number that's on the screen right now, 3.28 million filing jobless claims in a single week.

Thank you for helping us understand exactly what that means.

In the meantime, this is a public health crisis, very much so, and it's leading so many people to ask such serious questions. You've been sending them our way. Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers them, next.


CAMEROTA: OK, we've been asking you to send us your questions about coronavirus.


And back by popular demand is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who has the answers to them.

Sanjay, people really rely on this segment every day.

So here's a timely one. This comes from Jean in Roswell, Georgia, who says, can a CPAP machine be used as a form of ventilator? I think we're starting to see some hospitals trying this, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question. You know, people are looking for all sorts of different strategies because we do have such a shortage of ventilators. Something we've been talking about.

I think the best way to think about the CPAP machine is not necessarily an alternative ventilator, but an alternative to a ventilator. And what I mean is that there are patients who come in who may be having breathing difficulties, they don't necessarily need a ventilator, but giving them supplemental oxygen isn't quite enough either. What we've learned just over the last day, Alisyn, and we're having conversations we never thought we'd have either, but a CPAP machine can be used as an alternative to a ventilator and even be connected to a breathing machine. Doesn't have the same pressure, doesn't have the same flow, needs to be monitored in different ways, but, yes, as we get into a situation where we may not have enough ventilators in some of these places, there is that option and also the option of possibly splitting one ventilator into something that can work for more than one patient. Again, just experimental, but those are the things people are looking at right now.

BERMAN: It's amazing how much we're learning and how much we're trying by necessity at this point, Sanjay.

I have a question from Lillian from Arizona who writes, I have a light cough. If I self-quarantine for 14 days, and don't develop any other symptoms, may I assume I don't have Covid-19, even if the cough still exists?

GUPTA: A great question. And sounds like a very diligent person, Lillian, in how you're handling this.

Look, the cough could be a lot of different things. If it's just a solitary cough, could be allergies, it could be a -- just common cold type symptoms. I think quarantining yourself for 14 days is the right thing. If you still have symptoms at that point, if they -- if they're not worsening, you have no fever or anything, it's unlikely to be Covid at that point. If your symptoms worsen in any way, then you probably need to go get tested.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sanjay, this one comes from Kelly in New Jersey. She says, excuse me, that's allergies, don't anybody panic, why can't we get enough tests to send to every American, all households, have them all be tested and go from there so we know exactly who is sick before we open everything up back again?

GUPTA: You know, you know, Alisyn, and Kelly, who wrote in the question, you know, this idea of mass testing was something that we all sort of thought about initially. Again, we've been talking about it on your program for some time. We're nowhere close to that. And there's a lot of reasons for those inadequacies.

But -- but right now the recommendation is that for people who are symptomatic, they're the ones who go get tested. And the reason that that's the recommendation is in large part because we don't have other testing.

What is likely to happen, Kelly, ultimately, is that there will be increased testing and what is start to be known as surveillance testing, where you're going into communities, trying to get a better idea of just how widespread this virus is. There will also be something known as serologic testing, which basically is a type of testing to say, OK, someone here may have had it, there should be a signature in their body in the form of something known as antibodies, let's see if we can find the presence of those antibodies and it will give us an idea if the virus were to move through this area, people were exposed to it, recovered and now we have evidence of that.

I should point out, Alisyn, I think this is an important point, that take the seasonal flu, for example, and we predict that in this country, you know, tens of millions of people get the seasonal flu every year. In any given year, there's probably fewer than 100,000 of these tests actually performed. So they look at those tests, they start to extrapolate data, match it with other symptoms from hospitals and clinics and things like that and that's how they arrive at the tens of millions of numbers. We're not -- again we're not there yet with coronavirus, but we will get to this point where we don't necessarily have to test everybody, we have to test a lot more than we have, but then we can extrapolate the data.

BERMAN: Sanjay, I have to ask you one more question, the very last one, it comes from Mary who writes, can I get coronavirus by kissing my husband? What about making out, Sanjay?

GUPTA: You always get me into these marital dispute questions, John.

Well, the answer is, yes, you can get it this way. I mean, look, I -- people are obviously making tough decisions within their own households as well. I -- think of it like this, if you had the flu and you were obviously symptomatic and coughing, sneezing, and all those sorts of things, would you still, you know, make out with your -- with your husband or your wife in this case?


Probably not. Here, it's harder to know because you can be asymptomatic and still be someone who's spreading the disease.

So everyone's going to have to make these decisions on their own. If you're living with someone and you're quarantining with someone right now, staying at home with someone, you know, you have to sort of think that if someone becomes symptomatic, you all have to continue to abide by that quarantine.

CAMEROTA: I don't think you're taking into account, Sanjay, how irresistible some of us are. So I guess we'll just have to make our decision about making out at home.

GUPTA: I'm definitely taking that into account, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Very good. Very good.

Sanjay, thank you very much for all of the marital and medical advice. We really appreciate it.

Tonight, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates will join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for a live town hall, "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears," 8:00 p.m. Eastern. There will be so much information tonight, John.

BERMAN: It's been quite a show for our viewers in the United States, around the world and your kitchen, not far from where Alisyn is sitting right now.

CAMEROTA: My office, but, yes.

BERMAN: All right. The coronavirus pandemic --

CAMEROTA: I think it's really working, John.

BERMAN: I think it's great. I think it's amazing that we can do it and I think it's terrific that we can do it.

So the pandemic is accelerating, jobless claims in the country just reached a level never, ever seen before. Our coverage continues right after this.