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FL Gov. Creates Confusion With New Shutdown Order; Hospitals Cancel Elective Surgeries, Ration Patient Care; U.S. Economy Lost 701,000 Jobs In March Worst Still To Come. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 3, 2020 - 12:30   ET

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


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[12:30:28]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Starting today, Florida is now under a statewide stay at home order from the governor. This comes after Florida's governor faced weeks of criticism for dragging his feet and even allowing spring break and images like this in the midst of the pandemic.

A statewide order should make it very clear what is allowed and not now. But the order from Governor Ron DeSantis has created even more confusion. Follow me on this one. The first order, the original executive order, allowed for people allowed exemptions. And one of the exemptions was for people to gather at religious surfaces, even though some local officials had already banned religious gatherings.

Then the governor quietly issued a second order saying that the statewide order supersedes any local ban. And then yesterday, the governor said this.

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GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): There's got to be ways where you can accommodate. So I would tell them work with the folks, work with the rabbis, work with the pastors, you know, to get it right. But I think it's got to be more of a collaborative thing. But generally speaking, yes, they can go beyond what I've done if they want to restrict access to, you know, to certain areas.

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BOLDUAN: So where does that then leave Florida on this one?

Joining me right now is Andrew Warren. He's a state attorney in Hillsborough County in Florida, which of course includes Tampa County that early on put in place a stay at home order that included a ban on religious gatherings. Thanks for being here.

ANDREW WARREN, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY STATE ATTORNEY: Absolutely, Kate, thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: So it is, look, is it clear to you now what the rules and restrictions are?

WARREN: No, it's not clear at all. I mean, as you said, Florida had left it up to the counties to take local action. And here in the Tampa Bay area, we had implemented over the past couple weeks, some aggressive social distancing orders. Then the governor signs one executive order that leaves it into place, then a second one that nullifies it.

And what this means locally is, we can no longer enforce laws about restricting religious services to, you know, fewer than 10 people and maintaining that six-foot distance. This is not only undermining our ability to implement social distancing here. It's really undermining the sacrifices that millions of Floridians have been making across the state for the past couple of weeks.

Law enforcement officials, health care workers, everyone who is working to flatten this curve, now we have a situation where it's not clear what's allowed and we're going to ended up leading to more people getting affected, more people getting hospitalized, and more people dying.

BOLDUAN: Look and this this isn't theoretical for you guys. Your county sheriff arrested a pastor of a megachurch which says as 4,000 members last weekend for holding services. This Sunday is Palm Sunday, Easter and Passover are around the corner. What are you going to do Mr. Warren? I mean, are you going to be are arresting clergy?

WARREN: No. That's -- of course, that's not the point. I mean, what we're trying to do is advocate for responsible social distancing. And most people get it. They trust the science. They believe the experts. They know that it works.

But now when we have confusion like this, it is sending mixed signals and that creates two problems. One, people don't know exactly what they're supposed to be doing, which leads to more people doing the wrong thing. And secondly, it takes away our ability to make sure that we are implementing those social distancing orders.

It's taking away the enforcement power that we have for people who are not willing to do the right thing. I mean, ultimately, you're asking what we should be doing now. Our advice is clear, everyone needs to right now at this moment, act like you have it, and thank God that you don't.

BOLDUAN: That's a clear, simple, and pretty good way to think of it. You called the governor's initial order so weak and spineless that you thought it was an April Fool's joke. Why do you think -- how do I put it? Why do you think the governor is having such a hard time getting it straight?

WARREN: OK. You know, I'm frustrated the way a lot of other leaders are. And I can't fathom what the governor was thinking. I really hope that he was not caving to powerful interests or people who think that this is all a hoax. But the governor has lifted up to counties to take action. Counties have been setting up testing sites, protecting healthcare workers, figuring out how our justice system is working. And now when the governor steps in to try to create consistency, he walks back orders that have been in place and he creates more confusion that that just doesn't make any sense to me.

[12:35:15]

BOLDUAN: But look, I mean, this evangelical pastor who was arrested, he had -- his argument was that he wasn't being reckless, that they were taking measures to abide by social distancing while holding these services in his megachurch. But he also said that he's not going to close his church until the rapture is how he put it. He put it this way. We're raising up revivalists, not pansies. I mean, honestly, I mean, is the sheriff going to be out this weekend?

WARREN: Our goal is to make sure that people are following responsible social distancing, you know, whether it's ordered by the governor or not. And so with that, pastor, he'd put us in a situation where we had to arrest and file charges against him because he simply refused to do what most of our faith based leaders have done across the country. They've found creative ways to provide spiritual guidance to people at a time of uncertainty and fear when we want it and are craving it and need it.

And instead, the pastor put his own self-interest. And frankly, the health of his parishioners at risk, and the people that they're going to come in contact with as well. Now that pastor did take a step back and say he was going to close his church, and we hope that he continues to do so. That is the responsible thing. And that's what we are preaching for everyone to do.

BOLDUAN: I heard one faith leader say this morning on New Day, it may be physical distance, but it's not spiritual distance. There are creative ways to pray together, be together, and share together in these times. Mr. Warren, thanks for coming on. Good luck.

WARREN: Thank you so much. Have a great day.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us as hospital struggle to treat coronavirus patients, there's a scary new reality that patients without the virus, they're facing that their surgeries, their procedures, they're being canceled. Details on that ahead.

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[12:41:40]

BOLDUAN: The coronavirus pandemic is having another impact beyond COVID positive patients. Hospitals now forced to cancel nonemergency surgeries and procedures and even ration care for patients. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen. She's been digging into this look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marlee Baxter was born with half a heart and had three open heart surgeries before her second birthday.

JOLENE BAXTER, MARLEE'S MOTHER: Oh, I love that smile so much. Yes, I do so much.

(voice-over): Today, Marlee is three years old. And recently her mom, Jolene, realized she's not getting enough oxygen. This number is very low. Marlee's doctors ordered a heart catheterization to figure out what's wrong.

(on camera): Has she had that heart catheterization?

BAXTER: No, she has not. The hospital called and canceled.

(voice-over): Because of coronavirus in dozens of states, governors have ordered temporary stops on nonemergency procedures, leaving patients like Marlee who lives in Oklahoma without the care they need.

(on camera): Has the hospital giving you any word for when she'll be able to have it?

BAXTER: None at all. I have not -- I haven't heard from them at all. It is very frightening.

(voice-over): With so many medical resources being diverted to coronavirus, doctors are having to make choices. about who gets care and who does not.

CNN obtain this letter from the head of the pediatric heart surgery program at Columbia University. We have had to ration care, he wrote. We have had to make decisions that I personally have never had to contemplate before. So many patients now not getting the care they need.

DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: For a lot of patients, these are crucial surgeries, procedures, tests that they need people with chronic disease, people often with an acute illness that needs to be managed. We have to make sure we don't lose track of the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans who are suffering silently because of the impact of COVID on our healthcare system.

(voice-over): Back at Marlee's house, she and her mom are making masks for nurses as they wait for the pandemic to end.

BAXTER: I'm sitting here just wondering when are we going to get this done and just pray that she stays healthy until we get it done.

Do you have some fun?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN: I was speaking with a woman from Minnesota who wears a pacemaker. And she said that she can tell from the irregular heartbeats that she's having that the battery might be wearing out. She said it's about that time, her doctor made an appointment for some tests, and then got to cancel them. Kate?

BOLDUAN: That little girl's sweet face, that is a face that is something to remember as we're all in the midst of this crisis as well. She needs care as well. This is an impossible situation for so many hospitals and doctors. Thank you for shining a light on that Elizabeth.

[12:44:35]

Coming up for us, the first monthly jobs report since the coronavirus outbreak is out. And it's not good news. And it's not even the whole story. Now there's new reporting that the relief, the much needed relief coming from the federal government that was applauded, and so needed, there might be hitting snags. We'll explain, we'll be back.

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BOLDUAN: Another gut punch to the economy today with the release of the March unemployment numbers this morning. They show that employers cut 701,000 jobs last month. Here is the important thing to keep in mind though. This is capturing just the start of the impact of the coronavirus on the economy.

At the same time, the White House says, help is on the way in the form of the stimulus packages, massive loan program for small businesses. CNN's Phil Mattingly has some important perspective on this. He's been looking into it. So Phil, you're hearing the role of the program could have some problems. What's going on?

[12:50:08]

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's been a bit of a rocky start. Look, today is the first day the program is rolling out nearly $350 billion in loans available to small businesses kicked out the door by the lenders, overseen by the SBA. And why they're important is all of these loans are forgivable. And all of these loans are designed to essentially cover payroll expenses to continue to pay your employees, to pay any debts that you have in order to keep your business open.

This addresses the very issue we're seeing, at least in its early stages in the employment report this morning. Here's the problem, ramping up a program of this size, of this scale in the course of a week is something that's simply never been done before. And so some of the issues we've heard right now talking anecdotally, both on the lender side and on the small business side is they're having a tough -- a difficult time accessing the portal to be able to get these loans out.

Lenders aren't totally sure of the guidelines. They didn't get them until late last night. So there's some rockiness as this starts to roll out, some of the largest banks, including JPMorgan, U.S. Bank haven't exactly clear the way to move forward on this yet. But people I'm talking to have been working on this program assure me and pretty much everyone that this program will be kicked into high gear already, Kate, a billion dollars in loans have gone out by noon today.

But keep in mind, they have $350 billion to work with and people need this money now, speed is of the essence, everybody knows that there's some initial problems. The goal is to smooth those out as quickly as possible and get that money out the door as quickly as possible.

BOLDUAN: To your point about speed, a lot of people took comfort in hearing that direct payments were approved by the government as part of the stimulus package and would be coming their way. But now there's more that some of these payments we're talking couldn't be out -- couldn't be sent out for 20 weeks?

MATTINGLY: Yes. This is all about how the IRS essentially has your information on file. If you do direct deposit, when you file your taxes, you will start getting the money as soon as next week. That is very fast. The concern right now is for people that are unbanked or underbanked. The IRS does not have their information. They have to send paper checks that could take up to 20 weeks is the guest right now, is kind of the expectation right now.

Here's the solution to the degree there is one at the moment, if you haven't filed your tax return yet, file it, give them the information, give them the direct deposit information. That's the quickest way to get your money. Also, the IRS is working on a portal by the end of this month to be able to input that information. Paper checks are going to take time. Direct deposit is the quickest way to get that money, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Phil. Thank you. And thanks for staying on top of it.

Much more on this Mark Zandi, joining me now chief economist of Moody's Analytics. Mark, I got a million questions. Let's start with the jobs report. It doesn't include the past two weeks where 10 million people filed jobless claims. So if this isn't the whole picture with what we're seeing, what do you put the number at? How much worse do you think it actually is right now?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: How much works, Kate, I think we're going to get -- we got 700,000 in job losses in the month of March. We'll probably get closer to 10 million in the month of April. Probably another additional several million in the month of May. So when it's all said and done, it looks like 15 million jobs will be lost. And, you know, the script is still being written here. So we'll have to see how this goes.

But obviously something we've never experienced before. I mean, just to give you a context, in the very worst month of the financial crisis back in March of 2009, we lost 800,000 jobs. And just last month, we lost 700K. So that gives you a sense of scale here. This is just completely out of bounds.

BOLDUAN: Where do you think the unemployment rate is right now? Do you think we're in double digits already?

ZANDI: I do. I think it's a 10 percent unemployment rate and, you know, headed higher. So if I had to pick a peak, it probably be closer to 15 percent. And of course, you know, Kate, that belies the stress, right? Because, you know, folks are losing jobs. But then you have many other millions of people who aren't losing jobs but are losing hours. And then an additional millions of other people who are just getting pay cuts. So the stress here is tens of millions of people, not just the unemployed.

BOLDUAN: That's important because the number kind of belies how painful it actually is. Because it's such an unprecedented situation. One thing I know you're saying -- you were telling me that you're getting a lot of questions about is, relief. I was talking about SBA loans with Phil, where is the relief? I mean, look, like mortgage payments do, what can people do there?

ZANDI: Yes, there is relief there. If you have a government backed mortgage loan, so that is an FHA loan, V.A., USDA, a loan made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that's about 70 percent of all the mortgages out there. Then you can get forbearance that means you should not have to pay your -- make your mortgage payment. And that you can have that relief for at least six months, as long as 12 months.

Now, the problem is getting it. So you have to be very persistent. You have to call your mortgage servicer, make sure that you have that government back loan and then be very, very persistent. You may have to stay on the phone for a while, but it'll be well worth it.

[12:55:03]

Now, I do want to point out, it's not like you're not going to have to make those payments at some point, you know, some point down the road, you're going to have to make them. But hopefully by then the economy is back on its feet, people -- you have a job and incomes are rising, and it'll make it easier to get through. So you need to be very persistent here. And, but that is available to 70 percent of homeowners out there.

BOLDUAN: Look, there's a lot more discuss. Let's continue the conversation. Thanks, Mark. I really appreciate it.

ZANDI: Sure thing.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, where the state -- still ahead, is where the state has just experienced its biggest increase in deaths in a single day. We're talking about New York, more from the epicenter of the crisis, next.

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