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White House Reverses Course, Recommends Wearing Face Masks Amid Outbreak; U.S. Cases Surge To 278,000-Plus, More Than 7,100 Deaths; Nearly 96 Percent Of People In The U.S. Told To Stay At Home; Food Banks Struggle As Demand Soars Amid Pandemic; Leslie Gordon, CEO, Food Bank For NYC, Discusses Increased Demand For Food During Pandemic; L.L. Bean CEO, Steve Smith, Discusses Their Efforts To Aid Hospital Workers On Frontlines & Government Needs To Do More To Help Retail Industry; Trump Fires Inspector General That Sparked Impeachment; Remembering Those We Lost This Week. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 4, 2020 - 13:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with a change in the way the White House is handling the coronavirus. The administration now recommending Americans voluntarily wear masks to prevent asymptomatic spread of the disease. Despite those recommendations, the President says he will forego wearing a mask himself.

The shift comes as more people become infected. Johns Hopkins University now has the total number of U.S. cases at over 278,000 and more than 7100 deaths. Nearly 96 percent of the country is under stay at home orders covering 42 states. And we're expecting to hear more about this pandemic, when the White House hosts its press briefing a few hours from now.

We have a team of correspondents standing by to bring you what's happening right now with the nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Let's start in New York where Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today, the donations of much needed ventilators from both Oregon and China. CNN's Athena Jones is in New York. Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. That's right. That was some of the news that came out of the governor's press conference not too long ago. We've heard people at the state local, every level really talk about the need for supplies. Not just in New York but everywhere. And so that is some good news. This 140 ventilators, Oregon is lending to the state of New York and New York will send them back even said we'll add on to that number.

And then 1000 ventilators expected to land at JFK today, JFK Airport from China. We also know that New York has about 500 unused ventilators in different parts of the state. Those will be redistributed. And that's in part because of this pretty extraordinary executive order that the governor signed yesterday that allows the state to take ventilators but not just ventilators, also personal protective gear masks, gowns and the like from institutions that don't really need them right now where they're not seeing a huge surge of patience.

And to redistribute them to places that are seeing that surge to really help, especially areas like here in New York City and also Long Island where they're seeing a surge of patients coming in. Now there's -- I should mention that I'm here at the Javits Convention Center on the west side of Manhattan. This is one of the other extraordinary measures being taken to prepare for what we're talking about the apex, the big, big huge surge in cases here in the state of New York in the city of New York.

This convention center houses 2500 beds and starting on Monday, it will begin taking in patients with coronavirus, patients infected with coronavirus. Listen to what the governor had to say about the Javits Center.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It's going to be very staff intensive, very equipment intensive. But the theory there is the best we can relieve the entire hospital system downstate by bringing those COVID patients to Javits and from the intake to the treatment, and it's going to be very difficult to run that large facility. But if that works, and if that works, well, that changes the numbers dramatically.


JONES: So we'll change the numbers dramatically. We will all be closely watching how things go here at Javits. And I should mention that hospital administrators, E.R. doctors, Intensive Care Unit nurses, they're telling us look, most of the patients you're seeing in New York hospitals are COVID-19 patients, even those who are coming in for another ailment, appendicitis, a stroke, a leg infection, whatever the case may be.

Those patients when they have a chest X-ray upon admission at this hospital, that's a typical thing they do when admitting patients. They're all seeing signs of a coronavirus infection in the lungs. So pretty extraordinary times as New York still sees a growing number of cases day by day. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Athena Jones, thank you so much in New York. All right. Let's talk now about that sort of about faced from the White House on wearing face masks. CNN Kristen Holmes joins me now. So Kristen, why recommend face mask now after weeks of saying the opposite?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Fred. And a lot of people were very surprised by this guidance, particularly because these health officials had been asked on multiple occasions, if everyone should be wearing face masks, and we're told, the public was told no and that it actually could be worse if healthy people were wearing face masks but at this briefing yesterday and about face as you said Fred. [13:05:09]

HOLMES: But this really comes with the science, right? We're learning more and more about COVID-19 and it's spread. And it's coming at a time in which health officials are desperate to stop the curve, to flatten the curve here. And we are still seeing more and more cases every day. And some of that new information includes the fact that there are non-symptomatic people who have the virus who we are getting more evidence can actually spread the virus even if they don't have symptoms.

And the other part of that is we're learning from a scientific panel who wrote a letter to the White House, that there is a spread that might not just come from coughing or sneezing, but it could just come from talking or breathing. And again, this comes at a point where health officials are doing whatever they can to flatten this curve. And I want to mention what you said Fred, which was shortly after President Trump said that this was the new guidelines or these recommendations, he said he would not be wearing a face mask.

But he also went a little bit further, he said that this was just a recommendation that no one had to do this, that it might work, it probably would work, it could work. But this is just another example of this kind of push pull that we've seen between health officials and President Trump and the administration really since the beginning of this outbreak, and I want to note that while President Trump says he might not wear a mask, we have learned that the White House is taking extra precautions when it comes to the president and vice president.

Yesterday, we heard that they will actually be giving tests to people who are expected to come into contact or even be in the proximity of the President and Vice Presidents going to be those quick tests 15 minutes because of the new information that people who are asymptomatic, might actually be able to spread COVID-19.

WHITFIELD: And then, Kristen, this also comes as companies are warning that some supplies, ventilators, mass, et cetera. Just might be delayed and what are you hearing about that?

HOLMES: Well, there is a big problem with the supply chain still. We have been talking to FEMA. We have been talking to HHS, we have been talking to the administration. And it still remains unclear who is in actual control of the supply chain. For example, there is a company that both members, both Vice President and President have touted as a big company who has offered to help.

And I spoke to them late in the last week and they said that they're actually sitting on a bunch of supplies because they haven't been told by the administration, where they were supposed to send them yet. And that's actually not the first time that I've heard that. We know that General Motors has still not received a contract from the White House saying what exactly they need to move forward with ventilators.

So there's a lot of questions here as to why it is that the administration is not taking a more active role in getting out these items to the places that need them the most. WHITFIELD: Or at least very urgent role. All right, Kristen Holmes. Thank you so much. All right. As New York works to control the spread of the virus, new hotspots are growing across the country. In Louisiana, there are now over 12,000 confirmed cases. That number jumping by more than 1000 in just 24 hours. New Orleans, the epicenter of that state's outbreak is opening a new field hospital to combat the growing numbers.

CNN Ed Lavandera just took a tour of the convention center where that hospital will be. So, Ed, when is this facility ready to be up and running?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have spent most of the last week putting this -- the convention center hospital, makeshift hospital into position. Officials here in New Orleans tell us this morning that come Monday morning they will be ready to start accepting patients inside this facility. They anticipate, they don't really know for sure how many people will show up there on Monday, but it probably maybe around a hundred or so on that first day.

But we should be very clear people here in the New Orleans area should not just walk up and show up at these new -- at this New Orleans Convention Center makeshift hospital. This is not for walk-in patients. This is for patients who have already been tested and confirmed positive and then they will be transferred to this facility. So the one thing they don't want to see is a bunch of people just starting to show up there.

But this comes on the day that we see another giant spike in the number of coronavirus cases here in the State of Louisiana now close to 12,500 cases. That's almost 2200 new cases added to that total since yesterday. And now the death toll here in the state of Louisiana stands at 409, 39 new deaths announced on that announcement as well. And here Fredricka, what health officials are really bracing for is the coming weeks.

They continue to urge people to practice social distancing say that at this point is the only thing that will save hospitals from being overwhelmed here over the course of the next few weeks, and that is what they're desperately trying to prevent from happening.


LAVANDERA: And they're hoping that all of the beds in this convention center which totals 1000 will all be needed, but they're ready for that they say, if it comes to that. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right. Ed Lavandera in New Orleans. Thanks so much for that. All right, the Food and Drug Administration has officially authorized the first coronavirus antibody test. The blood tests are expected to paint a clear picture of just how prevalent infections truly are by identifying people who recovered from the virus while showing little to no symptoms. CNN's Paul Vercammen joins me now from California where a recovered patient is doing his part to help those still in the fight. So Paul, explain more. PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We'll tell you about the story of Jason Garcia, Fredricka. First, it's going to be the story of the agony and the ecstasy. Jason finds out that he's COVID-19 positive, he comes back from a work trip and he has to isolate from the rest of his family, including his adorable 11-month-old daughter.


JASON GARCIA, RECOVERED CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: Yes, that was rough because I mean, it was good and bad in the sense that I was able to interact with my family when I was in isolation, the office doors, they, you know, they have glass and I can interact with them through the glass. And then it was just kind of heartbreaking too because my 11-month-old would want to play with me.

And so she would see me in the office and want to crawl towards the door and of course, you know, they'd have to go -- my wife would have to come grab her and be like, no, you can't. Can't crawl to daddy's.


VERCAMMEN: So the good news is Jason fully recovers. He's 36-years- old, he's in great health. He has a perfect plasma donor, his plasma rich in antibodies. He's a positive. They find a match for him here at St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange County. And we understand now, the first patient to receive Jason's, please plasma is doing much better and using less oxygen than before. And Jason's plasma will also go to two more patients Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Wow, that is extraordinary and very hopeful. All right. We wish everyone the best. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much.

All right, the CDC is now recommending that all Americans wear masks, but will it help stem the rapid spread of coronavirus? We'll speak with an expert, next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. The Centers for Disease Control is now recommending Americans used cloth face coverings when they leave their homes to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The new advice comes on the heels of a heated debate inside the White House's, not every member of President Trump's coronavirus task force agrees with the reversal of previous guidance.

Joining me right now to discuss is Dr. Celine Gounder, a CNN medical analyst and a clinical assistant, professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at NYU and Bellevue Hospital. Good to see you, Dr. Gounder. All right, so what are your thoughts on all of this? Is there any evidence, you know, indicating that non-medical cloth face coverings can help stop the virus from spreading from asymptomatic people?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NYU AND BELLEVUE HOSPITAL: So Fredricka, what's become more and more clear over the last couple weeks is that asymptomatic, so in other words, people without symptoms, as well as people with very mild symptoms are very much helping to spread this virus in our communities. And the other thing that we realize is that you don't necessarily need medical grade masks to prevent somebody from spreading to other people.

So if you think about it as a hose, that spraying out right, if you put something right over the front of that hose, just like you would over somebody who's coughing or sneezing, you can prevent spread from that infectious person to others. Now the challenge is that until now, we didn't realize that just because you didn't feel sick didn't mean you couldn't -- transmitting. And so these recommendations are really geared at just, you know, you or me walking around, not realizing we could be getting other people sick.

WHITFIELD: So then now, if people do can, you know, do this, where the mass, do you worry that this will give them kind of a, you know, a sense of, of invincibility that they will, you know, ignore the social distancing guidelines because they're wearing a mask?

GOUNDER: Well, and again, the point of these masks is not to protect yourself. So you still very much in order to protect yourself need to do the social distancing. The idea here is that you're protecting other people from unwittingly infecting them. You know, and look, I wouldn't beat yourself up too much for, you know, I had somebody asked me, oh my gosh, have I been spreading this in my community? We didn't realize.

But now that we do, we do. Each of us have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent ourselves from spreading to others.

WHITFIELD: And where do you get a cloth mask? Because everyone's talking about shortages, can't find disposable ones. But cloth are we inferring now that, you know, people need to make their own bandanas. Does that suffice?

GOUNDER: Right So, you know, again, we do not need medical grade mask to accomplish this. So the surgical mask, the N95 respirators, those very much do need to be reserved for the hospital setting where you're trying to protect the doctors and nurses from getting infected. So it's a very different purpose. You know, you could even just rip up an old bedsheet or pillowcase for this purpose.

You know, we're not having shortages of bandanas and handkerchiefs and so on. So that, you know, getting your hands on something like that really should not be an issue.

WHITFIELD: Uh-hmm. And then what should, you know, Americans do with this kind of conflicting information that they've been receiving from the White House? It was only a few weeks ago, the White House said no, not necessary. And now CDC is saying yes, that would be advisable.


GOUNDER: Right. And what we were saying, you know, a few weeks ago was it's not necessary for you to wear a mask to protect yourself. And that remains -- that very much remains the case is that you do not need to wear a mask to protect yourself. You're wearing the mask to protect other people.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you so much. Appreciate it. All right, food banks across the nation struggling to navigate a perfect storm right now struggling to help Americans in need as volunteers stay home, donations dry up, we'll discuss the challenges that they are all up against and how you can help, next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Breaking news now. The pregnant partner of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says she is "On the mend" after having coronavirus symptoms for a week. CNN Bianca Nobilo is in London. So Bianca, what more do we know?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. We've been finding out about this over the last hour. Carrie Symonds announced on her Twitter account that she had been experiencing symptoms that are associated with coronavirus for a week and that she'd been in bed. But as you mentioned, she said that she's feeling stronger, and she's on the mend. Now obviously this was worrying for her and for many women across the country because she's pregnant.

She announced five weeks ago that she was expecting a baby with the Prime Minister that they will be getting married. We understand that her baby is due in the early summer. She said that being pregnant with COVID-19 is obviously worrying to other pregnant women. She referred them to a government site with advice. Now of course, there's just underscores what the Prime Minister and others have been saying that no one is immune to this.

It must have been especially worrying as after the Prime Minister himself was tested positive for coronavirus not yesterday, but the Friday before. He is remaining and self-isolation because he still has a temperature and that's a government device. But when he tested positive, his partner and fiance Carrie had to then relocate out of Downing Street to that other property. They stay out sometimes in London.

So they've been apart from each other while she's been experiencing these symptoms. We'll will let you know if we get any further details, but it does sound at the moment that she's definitely on the mend. As far as the Prime Minister is concerned. Last we heard yesterday was that he still had that fever, and so medical advices he needs to remain self-isolated despite being in self-isolation for seven days already until that subsides, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Bianca Nobilo, thank you so much for that update. We wish them well. All right. Here in the United States, more than 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment over the past two weeks as coronavirus has paralyzed the U.S. economy. Americans out of work and out of food are now having to line up at food banks which are now struggling to keep up with this sudden increase in demand. CNN's Miguel Marquez has a closer look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- come on down.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The lines never longer. The need never greater. The coronavirus switching the economy off like a light putting millions out of work overnight.

Are you stressed? Are you afraid? Are you confused?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not sure, not sure of when this will end. Just not sure.

MARQUEZ: Last month Charles Beaver was a baggage handler at JFK, his last paycheck come and gone. Five members in his house helped pay the mortgage. Four of them lost their jobs.

How long can you hold up?

CHARLES BEAVER, LOST JOB TWO WEEKS AGO: Right now all the resources -- reserves are done. That's what we just live in on base because if we had more reserves, we would have gone to the shop. Not being here.

MARQUEZ: He is one of millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck. He's waiting for unemployment benefits to kick in. He's never been unemployed. He's never had to stand in line for food assistance.


MARQUEZ: Melony Samuels founded the Campaign Against Hunger. In a normal year they serve some three million meals to New Yorkers. In the last week they've served nearly 250,000 meals. At that rate 2020 will see the organization serve more than 10 million.

SAMUELS: You know what. we all have to roll up our sleeves. We have to do what we can.

MARQUEZ: The entire country will have to roll up its sleeves. Food insecurity has spiked as the economy plummets. From Central Ohio to Louisiana, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles to Broward County, Florida massive lines for food as the recently unemployed and those already on the edge scramble to stock up. Food Banks nationwide. Overwhelmed and running short. To bridge that gap, everyone will have to pitch in.

Nick's Lobster House in Brooklyn doing its parts keeping most staff employed and providing thousands of meals to first responders and hospital workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to go day by day. You know, a lot of people are home not working, not making a paycheck.

MARQUEZ: Some of those meals prepared at Nick's now delivered by the Campaign Against Hunger. COVID-19 has overwhelmed charities and changed the way they do everything.

SAMUELS: t is complicated because it's very hard to see your neighbor and can't even go close. We have to change our entire system.

MARQUEZ: For Americans everywhere head spinning change and not since 911 has such widespread uncertainty prevailed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a prolonged 911 and it's going to take place anywhere from two, three, four months. And that's a long time to sustain anxiety.

MARQUEZ: Samuels and her Campaign Against Hunger have fed New York neediest for 21 years.


SAMUELS: We are New Yorkers. We're strong. And we can make it. But we have to unite and still keep the social distancing.


MARQUEZ (on camera): Right. Unite but apart.

SAMUELS: Unite but apart. I like that.

MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, Brooklyn.


WHITFIELD: Wow. Extraordinary.

Joining me on the phone is Leslie Gordon, the president and CEO of the Food Bank For New York City.

Leslie, you are in charge of running one of the biggest, if not the biggest operations in the country. So what's harder? Is it seeing the need or is it getting the food in order to help feed that need?

LESLIE GORDON, PRESIDENT & CEO, FOOD BANK FOR NEW YORK CITY (via telephone): Sure. So good afternoon and thank you for having us. We're pleased to be with you.

That's right. So Food Bank For New York City is one of the nation's largest food banks. For context, in normal times, we provide about 60 million meals a year. In the city, we're home to one of the nation's poorest congressional districts.

We're at the heart of a network of about 1,000 on-the-ground food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, senior centers and other amazing partners out there the five boroughs that help us get food directly into the hands of people who need it.

So they've been sharing with us that they've seen an extreme rise in the need for food. For example --


WHITFIELD: How long are some of these lines?

GORDON: Sorry?

WHITFIELD: How long are some of these lines that you're seeing in New York, in these five boroughs?

GORDON: We have agencies who might normally see during a distribution about 250. They're now telling us they're seeing up to 500, 600 people on a line.

And this is -- we're going to be in this for the long haul, right? New York recently experienced eight million unemployment phone calls this week compared to a normal rate of 50,000 calls that New York state would field, and a lot of those are coming from New York City.

At Food Bank For New York City, we're an essential service so we continue to serve New Yorkers. Our warehouse is open. Our trucks are on the road to ensure that food is making it to our neighbors.

And even in the scenario like this, we expect people to visit our partner agencies on the ground. Admittedly, we've had to change a little bit how we do business these days. And so we're nimble and we've pivoted our distribution methods.

We can't do what we do alone. We have to partner with other strategic organizations like the New York City Housing Authority where, for the last two weeks, we were on the ground at 15 different housing developments doing distributions of good, fresh produce, whole grains, and all kinds of goods to keep people well stocked in these times so they can safely shelter at home.


WHITFIELD: And then you're doing this -- you know, you're doing this with the edict of social distancing. I mean, usually, you are working in very close proximity of one another in order to distribute food.

Are you running out of food? Do you have enough food to meet the need?

GORDON: So, at the moment, happily, we've been well stocked with food. We received food from different channels, the USDA, our federal government, generosity of wholesale and other donors, including restaurants at this time. And then food that we purchase through our food procurement experts staff.

We have seen some delays, though, in food being delivered into New York City. There's a great deal of uncertainty and fear, for example, among truckers who normally come into New York City and are worried about their health and safety. There may be some delays in food.

WHITFIELD: How can people help?

GORDON: So there's really three ways people can help us right now. One is for every dollar that folks donate, we can turn that into five meals. We ask them to visit us online at

The other is visit us on social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Share our messaging to elevate awareness about the work that we're doing and the need at this time.

And then finally, we need the help of additional sustained volunteer support. So New Yorkers, if you can, call upon your local legislators and lawmakers and let Governor Cuomo know we need the National Guard now. That would be really helpful.

WHITFIELD: You need food dollars and volunteers. and all social media.

Leslie Gordon, thank you so much. Be well. And, really, kudos to all of you who are trying to help people eat. Really appreciate it.

GORDON: Thanks so much.

WHITFIELD: CNN viewers and readers from around the world have asked more than 90,000 questions about coronavirus on At 2:30 Eastern, right here on CNN, a panel of experts will join me to answer some of your questions already submitted. And perhaps you have new questions. Go to to submit your questions on health, family life and your money. Again, that's 2:30 Eastern right here on CNN.


So as states struggle to get the medical supplies they desperately need, many private businesses have stepped in to help. L.L. Bean is one of those companies. Up next, we'll speak with the CEO about their efforts to aid hospital workers on the front lines of the pandemic.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Everyone is trying to do their part. One famous American apparel brand is joining in the effort to make face masks to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

L.L. Bean said they are making at least 10,000 masks daily with plans to ramp up production. They are using the company's dog bed liners. And these masks are being tested by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As L.L. Bean shifts operations to help in the crisis, the president and CEO of the company says that, on the flip side, the government isn't doing enough to help the retail industry.


Joining me now is Steve Smith, the president and CEO of L.L. Bean.

Good to see you, Steve.

STEVE SMITH, PRESIDENT & CEO, L.L. BEAN, INC: Good afternoon, Fredricka. Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. And hope you are well.

And clearly you and a lot of your employees are doing well because you are trying to make a dent to try to help out the medical community by making these masks. What was the inspiration behind doing this?

SMITH; Yes, it's a great story actually. We're a 108-year-old family owned business. We operate under the stakeholder philosophy and our employees and our customers and communities are really the critical stakeholders there.

And when this kicked off early in March, a couple of our employees from our manufacturing center where we make our fantastic Bean boots and totes wanted to know how they could help. They started experimenting in making patterns for masks.

They came forward to our leadership team, a strong leadership team and said we want to make masks and we're experiment with our dog bed lining. It's durable, washable, breathable. And that started the process. And we immediately converted over to production of the masks.

WHITFIELD: So what about that conversion that you had to do for your production? There are a lot of companies who expressed they want to do something, but perhaps, you know, they don't know how to convert or maybe their assembly lines are not compatible with doing so. How were you able to make that transition?

SMITH: The combination of Yankee ingenuity and fantastic employees. We cut and sew. We -- that's what our manufacturing folks do. And they can cut any material into any shape and stitch anything.

So they are incredibly innovative and wanted to help. So just immediately jumped in and adapted our cutting machines to cut the right sizes of the materials. We set up a new area in our manufacturing. We, obviously, have lots of sewing machines. So we set those all up with appropriate social distancing and they got at it.

WHITFIELD: Obviously, masks for something the medical community really needs. But now the CDC recommendation asking, really, all Americans, you know, to wear some sort of cloth mask to protect, you know, their neighbors and their loved ones. Is this going to be available to the masses or is this strictly for the medical community?

SMITH: Right now, we're strictly for the medical community. We have a great partnership with the overall main medical community and specifically Maine Health and also the governor's office, governor mills and her CDC. So all of our production.

And we're also using our proprietary supply chain to be procuring PPE for the state of Maine as well. All of that is going to the medical community. And, you know, we're not built for mass production, so 10,000 a day is great. That's about the most we can do.

We are just starting to talk about, you know, what would it look like if we created something stylish and fashionable for the future. But we do not have the capacity to do that yet.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, because of this restructuring, another silver lining is, a lot of your employees get to continue working while looking at other industries, retailers, you know, manufacturers, people who are losing their jobs. And they are going to be counting on stimulus money from the government or, you know, having their hands being thrown up trying to figure out what's going to help them put food on the table.

You are doing a great service to your employees. But what is your concern about how you think the government could be doing more and, you know, how this unemployment of so many furloughs, so many could be addressed?

SMITH: Yes, first, it is great to be able to have hours for our employees to be able to make masks.

Also, just to tie back to earlier segment, early on, about three weeks ago, we converted a corner of our fulfillment center. We are an E-com business. It's about two-thirds of our business. And we converted one- third to take over the operations for the Food Shepherd Food Bank here in Maine. Most were retirees and at were high risk.

That was also a way to get hours for our employees and to do something as a great purpose in the state of Maine.

We're grateful for the government stimulus around enhancing employments. That makes it a lot easier for retailers who are moving to furloughs and layoffs.

But it is going to be very, very challenging for the retail industry. The vast majority of the brands that you know and love that are store- based retail, they already have been having a really challenged -- it's a challenged industry already. And to be at zero sales and full rent and having full payroll is a huge challenge.

And you just started to see that happen last week around layoffs and furloughs. And that's going to continue.

And what we've said is what's needed is really access to working capital so that the retailers, the vast majority of retailers of brands that you love are able to sort of weather the storm for the next 60 or 90 days.


That can be rent mitigation, that could be if we could suspend some of the tariffs, anything that could help us conserve cash or allow us, A, to employ our people for a longer period of time but also be able to recover on the back side.

WHITFIELD: Hopefully, there are a lot of listening ears listening to your suggestions there.

Congrats on the innovation. And many people are very grateful for what it is that you're doing and how you are leading the way.

Steve Smith, of L.L. Bean, thank you so much. Stay well.

SMITH: Thank you, Fredricka. Have a great afternoon.

WHITFIELD: Thank you. And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Two months after his acquittal, President Trump has fired the inspector general who alerted Congress of the whistleblower complaint that led to the president's impeachment. That inspector general was Michael Atkinson. And now he is out of a job.

Our Sarah Westwood joins us now -- Sarah?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Fred, this is just the latest in a string of actions the president has taken against people involved in his impeachment inquiry.

Recall that he removed Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council official, who testified against him, and also Vindman's twin brother, also on the NSC who had nothing to do with the impeachment inquiry other than his relation to Vindman. Both were re-assigned off the NSC.

The president also fired Gordon Sondland, the former U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Sondland delivered some of the most damaging testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

So this removal of the Intelligence Community watch dog is a continuation of that pattern.

The president late last night sent a letter to the House and Senate Intelligence Communities informing him of his decision to remove Atkinson from that position.

According to the statute, the president can't actually remove Atkinson for another 30 days, so Atkinson will be placed on administrative leave for the rest of the time in his office.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, reacted with outrage echoing a lot of Democrats who strongly disagree with the president's decision to do that.

Last night, she wrote, "This latest act of reprisal against the Intelligence Community threatens to have a chilling effect against all willing to speak truth to power."

So the president stirring up controversy with this decision to remove Atkinson last night -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

Well, it's been a pretty difficult week for many around the world as we begin to see the massive toll the coronavirus is taking, including the loss of several legends of music. Their stories when we return.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. There have been more than 62,000 deaths worldwide from the novel coronavirus and people are reeling from another week full of loss.

CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look at some of those taken by the virus.



TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When Ellis Marsalis played with his musical sons, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason, it was jazz royalty at work. Now the virus has racked their hometown of New Orleans taking Ellis away.


FOREMAN: When Chef Floyd Cardoz stepped into his New York kitchen, he brought the flavors of India with him and a special spirit, too.

CARDOZ: I believe if you want to cook you have to be happy. Happy people make good cooks.

FOREMAN: When Dr. James T. Goodrich went into the operating room to separate conjoined twins, he came out with a bond of his own.

DR. JAMES T. GOODRICH, DIED OF CORONAVIRUS: You have to think after a while they kind of become like your own kids, since you don't really have to have your own.


FOREMAN: The number of famous and influential folks falling to COVID- 19 is steadily growing. Many have been musicians, including Adam Schlesinger, Alan Merrill, who wrote "I Love Rock 'n Roll," Wallace Roney and Joe Diffie.


FOREMAN: Actor Mark Blum and playwright, Terrence McNally, are gone. Journalist Maria Mercader, too.


FOREMAN: In one Manhattan hospital, the staff celebrates every COVID- 19 patient well enough to go home. And most people who get the virus do survive.

Still, so many have fallen taking their important work with them.

Sociologist and author, William Helmreich, walked every street in New York to better understand the human condition.

Lorena Borjas came from Mexico to become an outspoken American activist for transgender rights.

Rabbi Romi Cohn survived the Holocaust but, at 91, did not survive this.

Minister Ronnie Hampton, renowned for his community outreach down south, is gone as well.

RONNIE HAMPTON, MINISTER WHO DIED FROM CORONAVIRUS: I want you to know my faith has never wavered.

FOREMAN: And Janice Preschel ran a New Jersey food pantry, a job she continued by phone even as she lay dying in her hospital bed.

(on camera): None of these folks are more important than the thousands of other Americans who have fallen or who will fall in coming days. But they are highly visible reminders of how this pandemic is changing the human geography of this country. Changing who we are.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.


WHITFIELD: Five-time NBA champion, Kobe Bryant, has been posthumously elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. The fourth all-time leading scorer in NBA history passed away in late January. Bryant, his 13- year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in southern California as they traveled to a basketball tournament.

The 18-time NBA all-star played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers and was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Bryant's induction a bittersweet moment for his family.



VANESSA BRYANT, WIDOW OF KOBE BRYANT: It's incredible accomplishment and honor and we're extremely proud of him. Obviously, we wish he was here with us to celebrate.