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Record Unemployment Last Week; Randy Rainbow Releases Parody Video; Answers To Viewer Coronavirus Questions. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 27, 2020 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Unemployment benefits last week. It is a huge number.

The secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, said that that number, in his words, is not relevant. I -- I think what he meant is that because things are so bad, we knew it was going to happen, so it's not necessarily startling, but how do you interpret that when the secretary of the Treasury says that 3.3 million unemployment claims is not relevant.

SETH HARRIS, FORMER ACTING LABOR SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think it's a little bit tone deaf to tell more than 3 million Americans that they're being thrown out of jobs, unexpectedly, really isn't relevant. Of course it's relevant, not just to the economy, but in the lives of those Americans who are really terrified that they're not going to be able to pay their bills, they're not going to be able to feed their kids, they may be afraid of foreclosure or eviction on their homes. I -- it just -- it struck me as a -- an irresponsible thing to say in a difficult time.

BERMAN: So you were really steeped in the language of these rescue or stimulus packages. So we're going to lean on you here because we've asked viewers to write us their questions on medical terms. But in the process of asking for questions on public health, we've received a lot of questions on the economy and what people can expect in their own lives. So I'm going to ask you a few of these.

This is from Dennis in New York. He writes, will the stimulus package include direct payments for people that are on Social Security and/or disability who don't file a tax return?

HARRIS: Well, Dennis, that's -- that's a great question because it raises several issues. First of all, the answer is, yes. The good news is that regardless of the source of your income, if you're on Social Security Disability or Social Security Retirement or Veterans Benefits, you're still going to get a stimulus check. If you are on Social Security, it doesn't matter whether or not you file a tax return in 2019 or 2018. As you might imagine, the Social Security folks tell the tax folks how much money you've gotten. But if you're not getting Social Security payments, I really want to encourage you to file either your 2018 or your 2019 tax returns. That's how they're going to determine who gets these stimulus checks.

BERMAN: This is so helpful.

All right, this is from an anonymous writer who asks, will the people that have exhausted their unemployment benefits in prior months be able to reopen their claims since the limitation on businesses hiring new employees?

HARRIS: Well, again, we have some good news. Congress extended unemployment benefits for 13 weeks in every state in the country. And even if you have exhausted your benefits prior to the enactment of the bill, you should be able to get that 13-week extension. So you should go back to your unemployment insurance office, let them know that you'd like to get your additional benefits.

BERMAN: And have patience, because that office is no doubt inundated right now with claims.

All right, this also from anonymous. Is there any help for self- employed businesses? No employees, just the owner of the business, like subcontractors?

HARRIS: Yes, there is good news in the bill. For the first time they've expanded unemployment insurance to independent contractors, freelancers, people in the gig economy, people who are self-employed. There's a special pandemic unemployment assistance in the bill. And the especially good news is those folks won't just get unemployment insurance, they'll get the $600 increase in benefits that will also go to other people on unemployment insurance. So good news for the self- employed.

BERMAN: And people need all this help immediately.

Just one last macro question here, again, this number we saw, 3.3 million jobless claims last week. Christine Romans, our chief business correspondent, told me, he says, one of the biggest concerns is this is just week one. What do you expect to see going forward?

HARRIS: I -- I fear it's going to get worse. Early projections are that this week, which will be reported Thursday of next week, the unemployment claims will be even higher than that 3.3 number that we saw for last week. This crisis is just in its earliest stages. Families are getting hit all around the country. It's a tsunami and it hasn't all landed yet. So folks need to hold tight, keep pushing to get your unemployment benefits, get the benefits the government's providing you in this stimulus bill and please stay out of contact with other folks. Stay safe.

BERMAN: Secretary Seth Harris, thank you for this. You've really answered a lot of questions here that I think people had on their mind. I really appreciate it.

HARRIS: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: So economic questions. There are so many public health and medical questions as well. You've been sending them to us. Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers them, next.



CAMEROTA: Every day our CNN heroes are making a difference and this current crisis is no different.

Anderson Cooper takes a look at three CNN heroes who are doing even more now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360" (voice over): These CNN heroes are on the front lines of the pandemic, bringing medical care and supplies to those in need. They're ER doctors putting their lives on the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never been a part of a pandemic. We're seeing widespread illness. It's organized chaos, organized confusion, but we are there for a purpose.

COOPER: Bringing Covid-19 testing to the homeless.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really important in these times to remember that we're all in this together. These are our brothers and sisters out here.

COOPER: And putting life-saving soap into the hands that need it most.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the last two and a half months, we have provided over 375,000 bars of soap to people in affected countries.

COOPER: Acts of selflessness and unwavering courage from everyday heroes, reminding us all that we're not in this alone.


BERMAN: For the full story on how these amazing heroes are helping fight the pandemic, go to right now.

So it has been said the comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same coin. With all the sobering news about coronavirus, this is some of Internet star Randy Rainbow's take on social distancing.



RANDY RAINBOW, COMEDIAN, ACTOR, SINGER (singing): I will break the chain. I will social distance. Though it sounds mundane. Though I'll be a grouch. My community now relies on me.


RAINBOW (singing): I will save the human race by lying on my couch.


BERMAN: So joining us now is comedian, actor, performer, legend, Randy Rainbow.

Welcome, live, to NEW DAY, Randy. It's terrific to see you.

RANDY RAINBOW, COMEDIAN, ACTOR, SINGER: Thank you, Wolf (ph). It's great to be here.

BERMAN: Where else are you going to be, honestly?

RAINBOW: What show am I on?

Truly, what else have I got --

BERMAN: So this anthem of isolation --

RAINBOW: Wait, can I say hi to Alisyn? Hi, Alisyn!

CAMEROTA: Hi, Randy. I'm so glad John's letting me be in this segment with you. He normally likes to hog these.

BERMAN: Well, I usually get the --

RAINBOW: He's very territorial, especially when it comes to me. So I'm glad we have this time together.

CAMEROTA: True. It is true.

BERMAN: All right, ignore her for a second, if you will.


BERMAN: This anthem of isolation, I watched it with my son. And after it was over, he just simply said to me, and he said, that was perfect.

Another friend said it actually made her cry.

So I want to ask you just about your inspiration for this.

RAINBOW: You know, my inspiration is always to be as amusing as possible. It's getting a little more difficult by the day these days. But, you know, I did hear that from certain people that it -- that it got them a little emotional at the end, which is nice to hear, I guess. But I'm really kind of just trying to be silly and offer a little bit of comic relief when people need it most.

CAMEROTA: Randy, I mean I do think that you have seized on one of the ironies of this entire crisis. And that is that previous generations were asked to go to war, or work in factories to help the war effort, and we're being asked to sit on our couch and watch television.

RAINBOW: I know. Yes, it is -- it is sort of a loving jab at those people, myself included, who are, you know, complaining about having to make a relatively small sacrifice to ultimately make a very big difference. So, yes, it's a little -- it's a little -- it's a little dig, a little bit.

BERMAN: I want to play a little bit more of it right now, because it's really hilarious.

RAINBOW: Yes, let's play the whole thing.


RANDY RAINBOW, COMEDIAN, ACTOR, SINGER (singing): I will save the day, while I clean my closets. I will skip the gym, until this plague has passed. From six feet away, I will social distance.

Back up.



BERMAN: So what are you doing? How has life been for you? You know, because, look, I've been in your apartment. I know that when you're doing these videos, you're actually by yourself for days at a time as it is.

RAINBOW: Yes, well, you know, John, better than anybody, because you've got an exclusive tour. But, yes, life is kind of just, you know, it's usual for me. Business attire on top and no pants on the bottom. So I'm just very fortunate to be very self-contained. And I'm happy that I can continue to create content.

But, yes, I -- it's a one-man band over here. So I'm lucky in that regard. I can just continue to do my thing.

CAMEROTA: I too am making these selfless sacrifice of skipping the gym. How are you coping doing that?

RAINBOW: You know, thank you for asking. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I am not working out at all. I've gained 40 pounds in two days. And it's fine. It's fine to be easy on myself. This is a -- you know, we're all gaining together. I think it's very healing in some way. And I'm just trying to be easy on myself. But I am today actually going to go online and try to find some sort of workout because it's getting a little ridiculous at this point.

BERMAN: Can I ask, you know, you're close to your mom. How is she doing? I mean that's one of the thing that we're all dealing with.

RAINBOW: Yes, go ahead.

BERMAN: I was just -- I was going to ask you, Randy, because, you know, you're close to your mom, who is your biggest fan. How is she doing? How are you able to talk to her?

RAINBOW: I know. I -- she's doing good, thank you for asking. You know, it's been a lot of -- I've been yelling at her a lot, like many people. At first she was a little reluctant to, like, completely lockdown. But she since, you know, she's an intelligent woman and so she is now working from home and staying at home like I've instructed and she's doing good. I have an ankle bracelet on her.

CAMEROTA: Randy, the video is so good. You're such a good singer. You're such a great entertainer. We could just -- we watch it on a loop here. It was just so great.


RAINBOW: Thank you, guys. Well, I love watching NEW DAY because you always make me smile even when, you know, in times like this.

BERMAN: Thanks, Randy.

CAMEROTA: Even did advertently.

BERMAN: We'll let you get back to work. We need you to write more of these songs and get more of these videos out, especially now. So thanks for being with us.

RAINBOW: All right, well, text -- text me your song suggestions.

BERMAN: Fantastic. All Andrew Lloyd Weber all the time.

Take care, Randy.

CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you. Thanks so much, Randy.

RAINBOW: OK, I know -- I know you -- OK.

BERMAN: All right, thanks, everyone for bearing with us there, but it's great to hear these songs. We all need a smile now.

Up next, Dr. Sanjay Gupta with his musical take. No, he's going to answer viewer questions. You have so many questions about this pandemic. Sanjay does join us next.



CAMEROTA: OK, all week we've been asking you to send us your medical questions about coronavirus. And all week we've been asking Dr. Sanjay Gupta to show up and answer them. And he has been obliging, which we really appreciate, Sanjay.

So, here we go.


CAMEROTA: Let me -- let me tell you some of our burning questions this morning.

This comes from Julia in New York City. She says, I'm a healthy 25- year-old. I work in the hospitality industry and I have some free time on my hands now. I want to know if hospitals are in need of volunteers like me or what the best way my time could be used as a resource.

What do you think, Sanjay?

GUPTA: I -- I -- first of all, I just love that we're getting questions like this. I mean, you know, I think this whole situation is really bringing out the best in a lot of people.

You know, it's funny, I asked Dr. Fauci about this last night because it came up during our town hall. And, yes, I mean there's all sorts of different ways to help out. I mean just as a basic level, you know, blood donations go down during things like this. So if you can donate blood, that's great.

And you're in the hospitality industry, food banks. There are a lot of people who are more reliant on food banks right now.

And then if you want to work in the hospitals, you know, obviously those are areas where you have to make sure, in most cases, you need personal protective equipment. And as you know, Julia, sometimes that's at a premium right now to get.

But certainly call the local hospital. Many of these places could use help. I mean Governor Cuomo put out an all call in New York, where you guys are, John and Alisyn, and 40,000 people volunteered, medical students, retirees, and so there's all sorts of things to do. But call those organizations first.

BERMAN: I'm with you, it's wonderful that people are even asking this. I know all kinds of people are sewing masks using guidelines that have been provided by some healthcare workers to, to help out how they can.

This question comes from Shirin in Santa Monica, California. Can coronavirus travel and be transmitted through the wind? If I go for a walk on a windy day and keep my social distancing, could I still be susceptible to the virus?

GUPTA: I wouldn't worry about that so much. I get it. I think about these things now. I went for a run a few days ago outside by myself and, you know, I think everyone's more mindful of their environment than they have been in the past.

Typically the way that this is going to be transmitted outside of a hospital is through coughing and sneezing and respiratory droplets that are heavier than the air, so they typically fall to the ground. There has been some studies, Shirin, which I -- is probably why you're asking the question -- about aerosolizing the viral particles. That can happen and it -- and it can last in the air for a few hours after that. Typically that's happening in hospital settings, when someone is doing a procedure, like an intubation or something like that, putting a breathing tube in, at that point the idea that the viral particles could actually get into the air in large amounts and be aerosolized is more likely to happen then running outside. That's fine. Just stay -- keep your social distance away from people.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sanjay, this comes from Brenda Farnsworth. She identifies herself as a nurse. Wouldn't widespread serum antibody testing serve as a more sure way to, one, reduce the rate of PPE use with cohort patients and, two, provide safe workforce to begin restarting the cleared areas?

GUPTA: Yes. So what Brenda's asking about is basically a test to determine had you had the virus at some point, had you been exposed at some point and recovered. When that happens, the body typically has a signature in the body left that's the antibody, it's the body's way of reacting to the virus. So the blood test that she's talking about, a serology test, or an antibody test, would measure those antibodies and say, yes, you were exposed, now you have antibodies, so you're protected against getting the infection again.

We would like to start doing that sort of testing here in the United States. We're not there yet. As you know, we're not even really adequately testing for people who have the virus right now. So at some point serologic testing or antibody testing, which is being done in places around the world, including China, and I believe South Korea to some extent, will be important here for a couple of reasons. It will give people an idea that they've been exposed and whether they have immunity. And it may feed into this trial, Alisyn, that I know you've interviewed Peter Hotez about convalescent serum and taking the blood of people who had these antibodies in it and using that blood to help treat other people who are now dealing with the infection.

And, finally, you know, as we talk about getting people back to work and things like that, as opposed to thinking about this geographically or by age, the idea of putting people back to work who know that they are protected against this virus is another strategy that people are starting to talk about because they're going to have a lot more peace of mind that they're not going to get infected again.

BERMAN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you very much for these answers. The questions are terrific. The answers so helpful. Have a great weekend, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Get some rest. If anyone has earned it, it is you.

GUPTA: (INAUDIBLE). Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, Joe Biden joins Anderson for a CNN Democratic presidential town hall on the coronavirus pandemic. That's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.


CAMEROTA: OK, John, how about a little "Good Stuff" now?

A regular customer wanted to help the staff at a Florida restaurant right before social distancing rules closed the dining room. So he left a $10,000 tip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want each person in this restaurant to get $500. Manager distributed it to all the employees.


CAMEROTA: OK, that's the best customer ever. The owner says the man behind the mega tip put a smile on everyone's face, including his own.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very, very much. You're a really decent person and you've touched our staff deeply.


CAMEROTA: That is so wonderful, John. I mean, can you imagine how the wait staff felt when they saw that? What a bonus.

BERMAN: It's wonderful. I mean I'm not saying everyone should leave a $10,000 tip. That's a lot. But --


BERMAN: But the delivery workers now coming, you know, Amazon, anything that you see, where people are still working now, just think about what they're doing. Remember them and also remember some of those cash workers who aren't employed right now, if you can help them out in any way, it's a nice time to do that as well.

So coronavirus hot spots are emerging in many places in the country. It's not just New York City. Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago. The United States now leads the world in reported cases. Our coverage continues right after this.