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Economy Lost 701,000 Jobs in March; Answers to your Coronavirus Questions. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 3, 2020 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, we have some breaking news now. The Labor Department has just released the March jobs report.

CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans has the breaking details.

What does it say, Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: They're much worse than we thought. We knew it would be bad. It's much worse than we thought, 701,000 jobs lost in March. The unemployment rate jumps up to 4.4 percent. Keep in mind, the labor market is deteriorating so quickly, the monthly numbers can't keep up. So we didn't think that this number would be really reflective of how dangerous the labor market is right now. But this is worse than we thought. Obviously the worst month for the job market since the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.

Leisure and hospitality lost 459,000 jobs. These are almost all in food service and bars and restaurants and restaurants. So this is just showing you exactly where we've seen the leading edge of the -- of the layoffs and the like.

I will tell you this, a lot of economists say we are already, today, at 10 percent unemployment. These numbers, as ugly as they look, are still not even keeping up with what we've seen over the past two and a half weeks. You're likely -- have unemployment right now in this country, an unemployment rate that will be -- that will surpass the great recession.


CAMEROTA: I mean they're not even keeping up with the numbers that you reported to us yesterday. There are something like 10 million jobless claims that have been reported over the past two weeks. And so this is clearly on a lag.

ROMANS: It clearly is on a lag. And when you look at -- when you look at sort of every month of job gains and loss, this looks even so much more dramatic because we had such a consistently strong labor market. In February, you know, human relations experts were telling me -- human resource experts were telling me that there was a lack of workers, right, and there was a fight for talent in every industry. You couldn't find workers. And in just seven weeks, that has completely switched to the worst job loss that we've seen since the great recession, at least.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Christine, stick around for a second.


BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN international anchor and correspondent Julia Chatterley.

This number is way worse than they were expecting.


And what Christine was saying there, definitionally this doesn't include the last two weeks where we've seen 10 million people file for unemployment claims.

This means that even before some of the shutdown orders, the most stringent ones, were in place, the economy was already shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs, Julia, which indicates to me that the scope of this -- and we know it's terrible -- but it's even worse than we can imagine right now.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This is just a painful snapshot, but in no way reflects the reality that we're seeing today. And remember this is a net number, so millions of people get jobs in a month, people lose them and it's the net figure that we see on this first Friday of the month.

What this says, and you said it exactly right, this was already a steep lack of confidence that we were seeing. And it doesn't capture the last two weeks and the most painful period. So to Christine's point, and it's happened so quickly, we're probably already looking at a 10 percent unemployment rates and it's what we see from now on in.

And the fear is that the support that was meant to be kicking in from today, particularly for small and medium size enterprises, is not there. In fact, the banks are suggesting they're only going to lend to existing customers. So the hope was that we would stem job losses from now on in. And the risk is that actually we don't see that, and we see more and more people that perhaps wouldn't have been claiming unemployment benefits will now do that. They have to fix something really quickly, not only with the cash going out to individuals, but to try and stem the job losses with the loans to the small and medium size enterprises in this country. All these numbers are going to accelerate and get worse and worse.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that cash, Christine. When are people going to see it? Is that timeline changing?

ROMANS: OK, so the Treasury secretary yesterday said that he's hoping in the next couple of weeks, two or three weeks, to get money to the people who already have an account with the government, like you file your taxes, you e-file. They have all of your bank information. They want to get that money out there quickly.

But that's not everyone. And so for the people, say seniors, well, I think with seniors who get Social Security, they're also going to put their check right into their account too. But somebody maybe who doesn't file, doesn't have tax information on file with the United States government or their bank information on file, they're going to have to go to a web portal that still needs to be built and then they're going to have to try to, you know, correspond with the government about how to get their actual paper check. That could take longer. That could take a period of many, many weeks, quite frankly.

And Julia's absolutely right, you know, what's happening with small businesses here is they've been told that today is the rollout of when they can file for their -- for their loans, but that, I mean, it's charitable to say that it's been rocky this first day because the banks have been saying, like, we need to see more information from the government and we're not sure about, you know, our risk in all of this.

So I think there needs to be more clarification between the Treasury Department, SBA and some of these lenders before you're going to get broad uptick of those loans.

BERMAN: Yes, Julia, talk a little bit more about that because it is very interesting. Today was supposed to be a key date for these small business loans. How was it supposed to work and what's the reality?

CHATTERLEY: The hope was that this $350 billion would be given out as soon as possible. I had spoken to fin (ph) tech (ph) lenders that were saying, look, somebody can come online, they can give us their application, and we can probably, in minutes, say, yes, we'll give you money.

But what I'm hearing from one of the largest banks in this country is unless you are already an existing customer, unless we also have credit with you in some form, a credit card or a loan, we simply will not today be lending you money. If you want to go to another bank, you're very welcome to do that.

This was not how this CARES Act, this lending facility was supposed to be working. They're afraid of making loans to people that they don't have all the details on, that those loans then go bad, or are fraudulent, and then the banks or the lenders themselves get fined. That happened during the financial crisis. The Treasury needs to tell these lenders, you're covered. We will back stop you. Just get the money out there. And so far the Treasury is not saying that.

CAMEROTA: Christine, what will these next couple of weeks look like? I mean we've already been watching our correspondents do stories on the increased demand at food banks. What happens if people can't get money in the next couple of weeks?

ROMANS: I mean, it's awful. I mean the first thing that goes is the -- is the personal savings. And we know that there are millions of Americans who don't have a month of their expenses saved. You know, I mean, 53 million American -- working Americans make about $10 an hour, 53 million. That's $18,000 a year. You don't have a big pot of money at the end of the year that you're saving.

So first you do the savings, right? And then you start looking for other means. You wait to get the unemployment checks. By the way, the states are overwhelmed with jobless benefits applications. I'm sure Julia has the same situation I have where people are reaching out to us saying, hey, I'm in North Carolina, I'm in Ohio, I'm in Michigan, I can't get through or they're telling me, wait, you know, come back later, you don't qualify, when they think they do.


So people aren't getting their unemployment checks yet. But that will be the next source of income when that comes.

And then, after that, there are some provisions in the CARES Act that are meant to make it easier for you to take, you know, a hardship withdrawal from your 401(k) or your IRA. That's always the worst thing to do. Every study shows that if you raid your retirement savings, you don't make it up. You know, you lose now and you lose in the end.

BERMAN: Right. Yes.

ROMANS: But there are some provisions to make that a little easier.

BERMAN: And doing it now is doubly painful given that most people's -- everyone's 401(k) is way off its high.


BERMAN: So now is probably not the time for you to be diving into that.

I just want to give people a sense of how bad this jobs report is. It's the worst monthly jobs report since 2009.


BERMAN: And, again, it doesn't even register the worst two weeks of the month. So it's already at a decade most horrible and it's not even beginning to scratch the surface, Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Absolutely. And the data for the unemployment rate here, which is in no way reflecting reality, I think, is a 4.4 percent. That's what the unemployment rate officially now looks like. That's the biggest monthly jump that we've seen I believe since 1975.

What we're seeing over a short space of time here, and we keep using the word unprecedented, but that's what this is. And that's why we're seeing all these struggles, the logistical nightmare of getting cash to people, that what we're seeing is an overwhelming amount of people saying help me. And the officials that are in the position of having to try and sort this are completely overwhelmed. But the other critical point here is it's not even just about the next

few weeks. The more damage, as Christine was pointing out to people's -- people's financial situation, their debt levels in the short-term will suppress the speed at which we can recover coming out of this. So there's a double whammy going on here. A fix is required short-term, but it matters for the long-term too.

CAMEROTA: Julia, Christine, thank you, both, for standing by all week and bringing us all this breaking news as it happens.

Also standing by is Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's going to answer your medical questions that you've been sending in about coronavirus. That's next.



CAMEROTA: OK, every day we've been asking you to send in your questions about coronavirus and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back to answer some of them.

OK, Sanjay, this comes from Laura in New York. If you've recently discovered you're pregnant, should you still go to your OBGYN for sonograms or wait this out until a safer time and get your tests done later?

What should pregnant women be doing right now?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, and we've talked to gynecologists, obstetrician about this. You know, everyone's going to be a little bit different. But here -- here's a couple of general rules. When is -- these appointments are important. You know, these are considered essential appointments. So many of these offices have set it up so that you can get these sonograms, these ultrasounds done in a safe way. People, you know, still able to maintain some sort of social distance, or the person is doing the procedure actually wearing a mask, wearing gloves, things like that.

A couple other things, though, Alisyn. Talk to your doctor because you may not need as many of these ultrasounds. You can do telehealth visits now. Very important. So you can actually FaceTime or Skype with your doctor. And another thing I might suggest, if possible, get a blood pressure cuff if you're pregnant. One of the concerns is that people can develop hypertension while pregnant. This is something you can do at home and share those results with your doctor.

CAMEROTA: Good advice.

BERMAN: I think the lesson here is, if you can do it at home, you probably should. But there are some things you just can't.

GUPTA: That's right.

BERMAN: These questions have been so interesting, Sanjay, and actually they've evolved as we have evolved throughout this pandemic. GUPTA: Yes. Into real life, yes.

BERMAN: Pat writes -- right. So Pat writes, if a person dies from coronavirus, are their organs viable for organ donation?

GUPTA: You know, another -- another important question, as you point out.

John, look, we are learning a lot together. But if you talk to the transplant societies, here's their general approach for now is that, out of an abundance of caution, they're not going to use organs transplanted from someone who's died from Covid.

Now, there's no real evidence to suggest that the virus spreads beyond the lymph nodes, upper respiratory tract and the lungs. But until we know more for, you know, out of an abundance of caution, they're not going to do this.

They also, you know, in terms of actually taking organs from someone who has died from -- from the coronavirus, they do worry a bit about the medical staff that is actually doing those procedures as well. So to protect them, and because they're not sure about how widespread the disease is in the body, they're not doing it for now.

CAMEROTA: I want to just skip to number four, because this is one that I'm really interested in as well. This one comes from George.

George wants to know, can the amount of virus a person is initially infected with affect the severity of symptoms and the body's ability to fight the virus.

Sanjay, we see people who have so many different reactions to this virus.


CAMEROTA: Some, as we know, deadly, gravely ill. Some have more of an experience of like a flu or even a cold. And so is it the amount of virus that they're infected with?

GUPTA: I think that that is a significant factor, Alisyn. We've talked to lots of people about this. First of all, in hospitals, people are getting, you know, significant exposures. You may remember even the doctor in China, the first doctor who really started sounding the alarm, I think he was in his mid-30s, he died of this coronavirus. And when we were asking about that, investigating, one of -- we don't know exactly what was going on, but one of the concerns was he had such a significant exposure.

But you're right, young people, people who are, you know, otherwise healthy, not even with significant pre-existing conditions, dying of this virus. Two things I think researchers are really zeroing in on. One is what you're mentioning, how much virus were you really exposed to?

[08:50:04] The more seems worse.

But also, you know, we don't know the answer to this, but a lot of people have alluded to it now that there must be something else that's still going on here because there are people who are not elderly, who don't have pre-existing conditions, are not healthcare workers.

Alisyn, you interviewed the widow of a gentleman I think who was 30 years old yesterday.


GUPTA: A heart-breaking interview. And what happened there, right? Is there something else that's predisposing people toward this illness, making them really sick, suddenly, and even dying?

The answer is, yes, I think, for sure, we just don't know what it is yet. And a lot of people are trying to figure it out. Is there something genetic? Is there something else that's making it more likely. Hopefully we figure that out because people are obviously going to want to know.

BERMAN: Yes, it's one of the questions I think that comes up more and more.

Now just to be clear on the mechanics, when you say exposed to a lot of virus, what does that exactly mean? How does one get exposed to a lot of virus?

GUPTA: I'll give you an example. One of the procedures in a hospital that I think medical personnel are most concerned about is the time when you're actually putting a breathing tube in, or taking a breathing tube out of somebody who has this infection. At that point, the patient who has obviously coronavirus in their system, in their lungs, is coughing, you know, vigorously, and just basically putting a lot of virus into the air at that point. And even people that are hopefully wearing personal protective equipment, but even if they are, because there's so much virus in the air at that point, that appears to be one of the most significant exposure times.

So now, you know, you have these teams in hospitals where their only responsibility is to do these intubations and these extubations. They are sort of the go team for that. And the thinking is, we want to have one team that's doing this so we can try and minimize exposure as much as possible to the rest of the hospital staff.

But, of course, as you can right away think, I mean, to be on that go team is a significant risk. You have to do everything you can to protect yourself, knowing that there's going to be a lot of virus in the environment, wherever you are, that could potentially infect you.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, you have ten seconds to answer this from Andrew. Do you think a major reason why South Korea mitigated the virus spread is that every person wore a mask?

GUPTA: I think there's a lot of reason South Korea has done so well compared to the United States. But I think that that probably is, Alisyn. You know, I mean clearly they wear masks over there more regularly. Keep in mind, the masks shouldn't be healthcare worker masks, but these are masks to protect others from you as opposed to protecting you from others, meaning that you have virus in your nose and your mouth, may not even know it, how do you not spread it? A mask can help.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I just want to protect myself from myself at this point. So that's why I'm going to start wearing a mask.

GUPTA: Don't touch your face. Don't touch your face.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay -- yes, I'm -- it's very difficult, Sanjay. Very difficult.

GUPTA: I know.

CAMEROTA: But, Sanjay, thank you for everything you've done all week for us. People marvel at your energy level and we want to make sure that obviously you stay healthy. Thank you for all of the expertise that you share.

GUPTA: Thank you. Don't get complacent this weekend, guys. I know it's tough, but hang in there.


BERMAN: So, beyond Sanjay, we want to take a moment to salute brave Americans putting their lives on the line during this crisis. First and foremost, healthcare workers and first responders playing a crucial role in battling coronavirus.

CAMEROTA: There are so many others that we always rely on, especially now. And we mean grocery store clerks, restaurants, the cooks, delivery drivers, farm workers, pharmacists, everybody like that.

BERMAN: Yes, our CNN heroes team put together a tribute to these hard working men and women getting us through this pandemic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a New Yorker. It's essential that I'm out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little risk coming outside, but I kind of feel look a superhero saving the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a war zone. It's a medical war zone.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This is an extraordinary time where you need to see people at their best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is in our heart and it is in our soul to sacrifice, to serve, to fight for you.

[08:55:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I travel coast to coast. As long as we can haul food for the American people, you will have plenty of food on those shelves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My heroes are all of the people that I work with who are showing up and helping us fight this pandemic.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we made it to Friday. Good morning, everyone. It's been quite a week. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It has, no question. I'm Jim Sciutto.


This morning, our new normal, feels like it, more than 90 percent of Americans under stay at home orders now and the nation's top infectious disease expert is questioning is why everyone is not under these orders.