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President Undermines CDC Advice To Wear Masks In Public; U.S. Records Deadliest Day Since Outbreak Began; White House Resists Nationwide Stay-At-Home Order; Trump Fires Official Who Flagged Ukraine Whistleblower; Hospitals To Be Reimbursed For Treating Uninsured COVID-19 Patients; Airlines Ordered To Refund Customers For Canceled Flights; Drop In Airline Flights Could Impact Weather Forecasting. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 4, 2020 - 07:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And where you should wear a face mask. And if you don't have one, we'll show you how to make your own, at least the Surgeon General will do that for us. Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The CDC now recommends face coverings in public.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With the masks, it's going to be really a voluntary thing. You can do it. You don't have to do it. I'm choosing not to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mounting frustration among governors who are looking to the White House for help to get ventilators, mask and other life-saving equipment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will go down in history as a profound failure of our national government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we speak, we're putting in place a better system in real time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just amazing to me how quickly people turn. They come in and suddenly they looked OK, and they don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, doctors and nurses come to work to fight COVID-19.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think somebody that's going to stick with me through all of this is just kind of the initiative people are taking and the ingenuity people are exhibiting just like figuring this out as we go.


ANNOUNCER: This NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul. CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We're grateful to have you with us here this morning. Governors, mayors, doctors across the country are hoping today will be different after days of new record numbers of people who died from COVID-19.

BLACKWELL: Friday became the deadliest day in the U.S. since the pandemic started. 1,169 people died yesterday alone. We've lost more than 7,100 Americans to the virus now.

PAUL: And right now, almost the entire country is under a Shelter in Place Order. Despite recommendations from top officials, the President will not issue a national order. You see there's some of the states there are eight states who have not done so yet. President also defined new guidelines from top health officials to wear face mask, noting that he will not wear one.

BLACKWELL: There's also another angle of the effort to slow the spread of the virus. Attorney General William Barr is telling some federal prison officials to expand their early release programs. Right after he announced the new guidance from the CDC recommending that all Americans wear masks to stop the spread of the disease, the President added that he's not going to wear one.


TRUMP: So, with the masks, it's going to be really a voluntary thing you can do it, you don't have to do it. I'm choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it and that's OK. It may be good, probably will. They're making a recommendation. It's only a recommendation. It's voluntary.


PAUL: CNN National Correspondent Kristen Holmes live at the White House. Kristen, did the President give any further explanation as to why he will choose not to wear one?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christie, he was asked about that. And essentially, he said that he didn't feel like something over his face when he was meeting dignitaries and leaders in the Oval Office would really work for him. But I want to point out that this is really just the latest in these conflicting narratives that we've seen, really, since the beginning of the outbreak here in the US. I mean, one hand, we've seen these public health officials who are crying for people to pay attention and to take this seriously.

And on the other hand, we've heard a different message from President Trump and the administration. President Trump saying at one point that this was like the flu that the flu is actually more deadly than coronavirus, so that people didn't need to be worried. Of course, on the other side of that, public health officials saying that that simply wasn't true.

Another thing President Trump at one point said was that the warm weather would kill this virus that it would likely be gone by April, and of course, now we know that it's April and we haven't even hit the top of the curve yet. And health officials have continued to say, we don't know exactly when that is going to happen. They, of course, are working off of models, but they want people to be prepared to take this very seriously.

And, of course, as you mentioned, the very latest, which is that CDC, the Centers for Disease Control guidance, that recommendation that Americans were some sort of cloth or fabric over their faces when they're in public, particularly if they are in hot spots.

Then you have President Trump saying he's probably not going to do it and making sure to stress that not everyone had to do that, that this is just a recommendation. So, it's really jarring to see the two conflicting narratives particularly as we hear these health officials, essentially begging the public to stay inside to social distance now to wear these masks as they try to flatten the curve.

BLACKWELL: Kristen Holmes for us there at the White House. Kristen, thank you very much.

PAUL: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says tomorrow, Sunday is D- day. What he means by that is that is when the city is expected to run out of their ventilator.


BLACKWELL: New York saw its biggest one day jump in deaths yesterday. The state is now reporting nearly 3,000 deaths. Let's go now to CNN's Athena Jones. She's found the latest for us in New York, good morning. And what we're hearing from Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo by the day, there is still some degree of optimism, but they are just describing some very dire situations there.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. That's exactly right. These numbers, like you just mentioned that biggest jump in deaths in a single day, those are not encouraging numbers. And, you know, obviously, you could take several days to make a trend. And so, while a few days this week, it looked as though some of the numbers were maybe beginning to turn around.

It's very, very clear that we are not yet at the apex as Governor Cuomo puts it, that could still be a couple of weeks away. And that is why we're seeing a growing number of patients flooding into hospitals, certainly here in New York City, which has more than half of the cases of coronavirus in New York State.

And so, we'll focus on resources of all types: hospital beds, also supplies, things like ventilators, and staffers. When it comes to ventilators, a Mayor de Blasio said that the city will need 15,000 ventilators total to get through the month of April and May and he said that for next week, the week of April 5th, New York will need a minimum of an additional 2,500 to 3,000 ventilators.

Now, this is being addressed, I should mention of course. Governor Cuomo has signed an executive order that will allow him to take ventilators and personal protective equipment from institutions that don't need it right now and move it to places that do. So, for instance, these hospitals in New York City who are being flooded with patients and need, need those ventilators. Now, the institutions will have the ventilators returned or they'll be reimbursed for the cost of it. Take a listen to what more the governor had to say about this issue.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We don't have enough ventilators. We're doing everything possible, splitting of ventilators, using BiPAP machines by this new protocol, using the anesthesia ventilators. We're talking to the federal government to be as helpful as they can from the federal stockpile. But in truth, I don't believe the federal stockpile has enough to help all the states.


JONES: And you heard the governor saying to the federal stockpile, which has gotten so much attention, the Strategic National Stockpile is what it's called, doesn't have enough. And, you know, the President acknowledged this in a certain way at his press conference on Friday saying that he could not ensure that New York would have enough ventilators.

He said, that New York should have had more ventilators, and they should have taken out the opportunity to amass more ventilators some time ago, but you know, we're trying our best for New York. We have other states to take care of. That's from President Trump. Victor and Christi.

PAUL: So, Athena, I want to ask you about the convention center, the Javits Center because that's turning into a field hospital. What do we know about the people who will be transferred there?

JONES: That's right. Tomorrow, this is a field hospital that has been in operation. The convention center behind me, a sprawling convention center on Manhattan's west side. And originally, it was not supposed to house COVID patients. It was supposed to relieve the strain from hospitals by putting other patients who aren't COVID here.

But you know, you talk to people who work in hospitals, whether it's a doctor in the emergency room or a nurse in the intensive care unit, or a hospital administrator, they'll say, look, you know, all the patients we're seeing are COVID. This This person says, the hospital administrator saying we thought it was completely unrealistic for both the Javits Center and the U.S. Navy ship comfort to not be accepting COVID patients.

So, starting Monday, here at the Javits Center, non-critical COVID patients will be here. So, it could be people who may need oxygen but not necessarily ventilators. And that is again because you don't you talk to these doctors and they say that they've seen people coming in with other complaints, appendicitis or, you know, a stroke.

And when they do that chest x-ray to admit these patients, they're finding evidence of COVID-19. They have lungs that have the telltale signs of a coronavirus infection. They may not be testing all of these patients but all of their lungs are showing signs of this. So, they believe that it just makes sense for a place like Javits to be able to take COVID-19 patients, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: Athena Jones, we so appreciate the update this morning. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The CDC is -- excuse me, recommending the voluntary use of face coverings when in public. But health officials say, they do not want you to rush out and buy a medical or surgical mask instead, they want you to potentially make one from something you have around your house. Listen, most Americans have never had to make a facemask to go out in public. So, the Surgeon General Jerome Adams shows you how you can make one from things you probably have in your home right now.


DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL: Fold it to the middle from the bottom. Fold it to the middle from the top. Fold it again to the middle from the bottom. And again, from the top. And then, two rubber bands: one on one side, and one on the other side. Then you fold either side to the middle and you have yourself cloth face covering. It's that easy.



BLACKWELL: It's just surreal watching the Surgeon General teach us how to make face masks. That was part of an old t-shirt. You could use a bandana or scarf. We have with this now: Dr. Saju Mathew, Primary Care Physician, Public Health Specialist, CNN Medical Analyst. Dr. Mathew back with us. Thank you so much for being with us.

DR. SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST (via Skype): Thank you, Victor. So, I know you are pro mask but for weeks the CDC, the federal government is told people don't bother wearing masks. Now, they say that we should but it's for a different reason. Explain.

MATHEW: Yes, so Victor, this is the bottom line. There are three reasons why you should wear a mask. Number one, if you have an infection, it's a no brainer, you should wear a mask. Number two, if you're taking care of somebody who is sick, you should also wear a mask. Now, the third reason this is where the controversy has been with CDC and the WHO, I recommend wearing a mask for the particular reason that I'm about to mention, which is asymptomatic transmission, Victor.

About 25 percent of Americans have COVID-19 and don't know that they have it, and they're transmitting the virus. So, if you're out and about grocery shopping or walking, and if somebody coughs, sneezes, and now we're even talking about just breathing, that you can actually get the infection if you're less than six feet away. So, to me, it's a no brainer. If you're out and about, we should all assume that we have the infection and wear the mask.

BLACKWELL: Oh, you say 25 percent and we got that from the director of the CDC. One in four potentially positive without symptoms. How do you mitigate something like that when you know we don't have as much testing as we should, and now, people are going to have to find a way to make a mask? What's the public health approach to something that pervasive?

MATHEW: You know, so obviously, the, the easiest answer, Victor, would be testing, testing, testing. You know, we now have increased number of tests available. We're not quite there yet. We're not testing as many patients as we need to, but obviously, that would be the easiest answer.

If you know you have COVID-19, then you isolate yourself. Well, because it's really still difficult to do that, I still think that wearing a mask would be one way of trying to mitigate this number of people that are transmitting the virus without really knowing that they are actually spreading the virus.

BLACKWELL: So, there are still I think, eight states across the, the country that do not have these stay at home, orders Alabama next door to Georgia, where you are, where I am, as well. They -- the Governor there, Kay Ivey, announced one yesterday. There are still these states that do not have them. What's the impact of let's say South Carolina on the other border of Georgia, not having that stay at home order on Georgians, on people in North Carolina or, or the other neighboring states?

MATHEW: You know, I think ultimately, really, as Dr. Fauci has mentioned many, many times that we really should have a shelter in place for really all states in the U.S. I know the White House is reluctant to say that, they're kind of living it -- leaving it up to the governor's.

But it's a no brainer that if we all don't act together to shelter in place, we're not going to be able to really decrease and even get to flattening the curve. So, ultimately, my recommendation, you know, as a primary care physician is everybody needs to shelter in place. We need to do this together, and we need to do this in unison. That's the only way that we're going to decrease the transmission and try to even get to that top and flatten the curve.

BLACKWELL: Doctor, let's get a couple of these questions from viewers. Here's one: can we swim the salt water from the ocean or chlorine in a pool, kill COVID-19?

MATHEW: You know, back to the basics, the, the way that you really get COVID-19 infection is through respiratory droplets, somebody sneezing, coughing, talking, breathing. There are no studies to show that you can get it while you're swimming. So, I would say swimming should be safe.

BLACKWELL: All right, next question. What is the age for seniors in this? I've heard 60 and 65, why not 55? And what difference does these five years make for this situation?

MATHEW: You know, five years, 10 years really doesn't make a difference. This virus is non-discriminating. The faces of COVID-19 is everybody. The reason we mentioned 65 is your likelihood of having other comorbid illnesses like diabetes and hypertension and heart disease is higher as we get older. But that's a good question by our viewer. Really, ultimately, we all need to be careful. We all need to socially distance ourselves. And pay attention to you know what's going on out there. So, I think personally, all of us really are at risk at COVID-19. Now, we should be careful.


BLACKWELL: Last question. People cannot go and sit in eat in restaurants but they're getting a lot of takeout, they're getting deliveries. How safe is it if the virus gets into your mouth, you'd be infected? Give us some the guidelines you'd offer around takeout and delivery.

MATHEW: So, as you know, the story evolves everyday Victor, as you know, with a virus, but as far as we know, there's been no transmission of the virus through food. And the reason for that is yes, technically, if all restaurants and the people that are making the food are, you know, being protective of, of preparing the food, they're washing their hands, they're taking the right precautions.

Technically speaking, this should not be an issue. If you have food that is hot. You know, we have shown studies that the virus is actually deactivated or killed in hot food. And if you're worried about the packaging, when you're bringing the food, you should really wipe that down and clean it. So, really at this point, we have no reason to believe that takeout food is unsafe.

BLACKWELL: Dr. Saju Mathew, always offering great information. Thanks so much for doing it again.

MATHEW: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Listen, I know you have questions and we want to get some answers for you. So, tweet me @VictorBlackwell or Christi, @Christi_Paul. We're also taking some questions on our Instagram pages as well, and we will get you the answers from our medical experts. We have them all morning.

PAUL: Now, it's tough times. It's hard to wake up to all of this sometimes. But I want to give you some good news here because there are good people doing some important work. There's a woman in Maine, who's showing us how to be a hero with a little help from man's best friend. Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hit the grocery store first and pick up everything that we need. Just so that we have all of that already and don't have to go back to the store and then we just make stops along the way. Giving the dogs breaks in between. Good job, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lucas, her fiance, and another kennel helper, along with 12 dogs are picking up groceries and medical supplies for elderly and other COVID-19 vulnerable people in Aroostook County, traveling between 50 and 75 miles a day on sled.


PAUL: Do you believe that 75 miles a day. She goes just so she can make sure that people have food. I have a team of dogs is actually raced competitively for the last couple of years. We should point out, she says as long as there's snow on the ground, they're in Maine, they're going to keep delivering. Thank you so much to her. Another reason they are man's best friend, Victor. Just one more reason.

BLACKWELL: Taking care of us. Good work there. So, we answered some questions about COVID-19 specifically, now let's talk about the treatment of COVID-19. What if you have insurance but is it applicable? What costs will be passed on to you? What happens when you go to the hospital, what should happen? We'll talk to an E.R. doctor about that this hour.



PAUL: 21 minutes past the hour right now. We're so glad to have you with us. I want to let you know that President Trump has fired another key figure that's tied to his impeachment.

BLACKWELL: The President got rid of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson last night. Now, Atkinson, you may remember told Congress about the whistleblower complaint that led to the president's impeachment. Now, this is just the latest case. So, the Trump administration removing officials who played some role in the impeachment. Joining us now is CNN National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd. Sam, good morning to you.

Now, let me first talk to you about the reaction from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Congressman Adam Schiff, Chair of House Intelligence, he wrote: "At a time when our country is dealing with a national emergency, and needs people in the intelligence community to speak truth to power, the President's dead of night decision puts our country and now national security at even greater risk."

PAUL: And we have this then from Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi, in part, saying: "The president must immediately cease his attacks on those who sacrifice to keep America safe, particularly during this time of national emergency." What is your reaction to this firing?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Christi and Victor Trump has decimated his own intelligence today. And now, he's continuing that pet project at a moment when arguably, we need more, not fewer competent professionals on board. This is an all-hands-on- deck moment for the entire U.S. government including the U.S. intelligence community.

In the face of the novel coronavirus, resources are strained. We have less intelligence professionals able to come to work, able to access classified servers. And rather than trying to marshal resources at this time, President Trump has removed a competent intelligence professional from a key post. And it's also the way that he did it; let's keep in mind the President Trump did not even allow and Atkinson, the mandatory, mandatory 30-day transition period.

He's been placed on administrative leave. That means there has not been the ability to appropriately hand over Atkinson's work to his successor, the Acting Inspector General. And the President has knowingly introduced unnecessary disruption and put more pressure on the intelligence community because his narcissism is really trumping everything else at this juncture.

BLACKWELL: Remember that the complaint was determined to be urgent and credible, and that's why it was passed on. The question now of the person who will fill this role and the likelihood that Atkinson's replacement will have the confidence of the intelligence community.

VINOGRAD: Well, at this juncture, we the acting inspector general, I believe, is going to be an intelligence professional, the current General Counsel, I believe of the National Geospatial Agency. But they're two questions here, Victor: one is whether Trump actually names a nominee.

He has abused the acting system throughout his tenure to really preclude his needs to name a nominee and put that nominee through Congress so we could see that trend continue. But even if Trump named someone that has his confidence, the issue, as you mentioned is whether that person has the confidence of the intelligence community.

The inspector general's job, as described on the Director of National Intelligence Web site is to investigate and report on fraud and mismanagement. Michael Atkinson did exactly that. He maintained his independence and he was removed from his position because of it. At this point, we all know that the qualifications for having Trump's confidence really require bending the law or not meeting statutory obligations, if it means getting crosswise with the President.


BLACKWELL: All right, we'll see if the president names a nominee. Sam Vinograd, thanks so much.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

PAUL: Getting back to the coronavirus. We're talking next to an emergency room doctor who in between shifts fighting this disease has a lot that he wants to say to this administration. Federal, of course, President Trump and his administration, we're back in a moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, it's Dr. Rob here. I worked in the E.R. last night, and it's still amazing to me the last day of March, and I still can't get tests on the people who need tests.



BLACKWELL: The Trump administration now says that they have a way to help hospitals treat uninsured coronavirus patients. They say the patients will not have to pay the bill. Instead, hospitals will pay it, but they will get the help from the federal government.

According to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the money will come from a $100 billion fund. This is set up by the larger $2 trillion federal stimulus package.

PAUL: We want to introduce you to Dr. Rob Davidson, who's with us now. He's an E.R. doctor in Michigan. Gained some notoriety for confronting Vice President Mike Pence over healthcare cuts before this crisis even began.

And now he's been posting updates on his Twitter page, showing the conditions in his emergency room, his reactions to the administration's handling of the pandemic. I want to let you see him hereafter news broke of the administration's decision not to reopen enrollment in the Affordable Care Act earlier this week in response to the coronavirus.


DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT MEDICARE: These deaths are clearly on the hands of Donald Trump and Mike Pence and this administration. And their failure to act in this time of crisis is just one of the most cruel things that have heard of. This is their goal all along taking health care away from people.


PAUL: Dr. Rob Davinson with us -- Davidson with us now. You're an executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare, as well, we want to point out. Of course, yesterday, we were just talking about it, President Trump, announced hospitals will get paid if they treat uninsured Americans with coronavirus. Let's listen to what he said.


TRUMP: Today, I can so proudly announce that hospitals and health care providers treating uninsured coronavirus patients will be reimbursed by the federal government using funds from the economic relief package Congress passed last month.

This should alleviate any concern uninsured Americans may have about seeking the coronavirus treatment.


PAUL: Does that alleviate your concerns? Are you satisfied with this response?

DAVIDSON: Good morning. And no, I am not and I can tell you exactly why it's a very, very straightforward answer. I'm seeing patients all the time, we see multiple patients a day now who come in with symptoms that are classic for COVID-19, coughs, fever, shortness of breath. If they are not sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, however, these people cannot get tested.

So, we discharge them with an official diagnosis of suspected COVID- 19. And then, we tell them to go home and they should isolate themselves for a week or for three days beyond their symptoms.

Now, those patients don't show up in our official tallies in the state. If you look at, you know, the county, I mean, it shows only a couple of positives because we have a couple of tested positive.

We've had -- I would say, hundreds of patients that have come through over the last few weeks that we suspect have this disease, but they don't show up as positive. Now, I would ask them, are they going to cover all of these people that we deem clinically to have to possibly have the disease, you know, because of their failure of testing, we just can't test them.

So, I think giving these people insurance either through the Medicaid program or through -- you know, through the exchanges, or if they want to say, they will cover everybody in this time of crisis when they go in when they don't have insurance.

Those would be -- those would be adequate responses to me. But, you know, saying they'll cover all the COVID-19 patients really leaves a big gap.

PAUL: I -- that's how I wanted to ask you about, because a lot of the doctors that I have talked to have said, yes, they're obviously concerned about the COVID patients, but they're also concerned about the other patients who may not get the treatment they need because of being as overwhelmed as they are.

Help us understand what you see the level of anxiety of uninsured people who might actually come in, versus people who are covered. I mean, what's the psychological impact of not having that insurance protection?

DAVIDSON: Listen, I've been an emergency doctor for 20 years and I've been talking about this for a long time. People who don't have insurance stay home with chest pain for days upon days.

When they're having heart attacks, they stay home with stroke symptoms when they could have had a full recovery with treatment, and then they end up with disabilities. Similar things are happening, I suspect with these folks, now, we don't know until they eventually come in. But with this disease, we can have reasonably healthy people even people who are at higher risk, who feel good on one day -- might come in on one day, and within 12 to 24 hours, they are extremely ill.


DAVIDSON: We hear reports from New York, from Metro Detroit area, from Italy, people in a 12-hour span going from breathing room air doing fine to being on a ventilator. If we have folks without insurance who are concerned because they don't know how they're going to pay for it, just staying home and waiting just one more day, these people may end up not ever being on a ventilator because they could die in their homes from this disease.

And so, I think having insurance, having the knowledge beforehand that this will not make you go bankrupt is imperative. And that's what I'm asking for.

PAUL: OK. I want to -- I get to a couple of our questions that we're getting from people. Christina writes, what wipes kill COVID-19? Alcohol wipes, germicidal wipes? There's some confusion about this.

DAVIDSON: Right. I mean, really, all of the above. Well, this virus is extremely wimpy. It really is. You wash your hands with soap and water for 20 minutes, it will kill it. So, just soap and water and a spray bottle on your counters can kill this virus. So, really, any kind of germicidal wipe should do the trick.

PAUL: OK. Well, I think another person wrote, Ritchie, I'm 65 years old with diabetes and a slight case of emphysema. I've been on meds, three employees in my office tested positive. They still won't test me. I live alone and still can't get tested. What do?

DAVIDSON: I mean, you know, I tell you, I feel (INAUDIBLE) because I think we need to have widespread testing. Unfortunately, the reality is, you should stay home, you should isolate yourself away from other people so you don't get exposed further potentially, and you don't potentially expose other people.

But unless you have symptoms that require you to get admitted to the hospital, I know, at least, in my state and every other doc, I'm talking to with my committee across this country in their states, they can't get those people tested.

PAUL: All righty, Dr. Rob Davidson, thank you so much for the important work you and your teams are doing. Please let them know that we're all keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

DAVIDSON: I will. Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: A lot of vacations, a lot of work trips, just kind of disappeared for so many people. And now, millions of airline customers could soon see a refund.

Coming up, see if you are eligible to receive reimbursement for a canceled flight.



PAUL: So, in case you hadn't heard, the federal government has ordered airlines to refund customers for canceled flights. BLACKWELL: An airline industry group, says carriers are flying about half their schedules and only about one in ten of the seats are filled.

CNN Business Correspondent, Alison Kosik is with us now. Alison, good morning to you. Government received this massive number of complaints about canceled flights. What are they doing about it?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning Victor and Christi. Yes, and so, it's the Department of Transportation that actually got inundated with so many complaints from customers who are looking to fly on airlines.

That now, the federal government is stepping in and telling airlines, look, if you go ahead and cancel flights or significantly delay a flight, you can't give a credit or a voucher to the customer. You have to give a refund, and by the way, give the refund in a timely manner.

You see as the economy has been put on pause, a demand for flights has plummeted. So, we've seen airlines cut their schedules back dramatically and they've gone ahead and canceled flights, but they've given credits and vouchers.

So, as far as right now, no more. It means the airlines have to give -- they have to give an actual refund, they have to give money back to the customer.

Now, there is one caveat here, the rules don't apply to customers who decide on their own that they don't want to fly, let's say because of the coronavirus. But, by the way, the airlines are on the hook for a lot of money, $35 billion in credits and refunds are owed to customers, customers worldwide just this quarter. Victor and Christi?

PAUL: All righty. Hey, Alison, the federal government's program to help small businesses started yesterday. Understand and encountered a litany of problems. What do you know?

KOSIK: Yes, I heard words like chaotic. I heard that it was kind of like a wild, wild, west. Look, this government program by the federal government was a huge portion of the stimulus bill.

$350 billion in loan expected to go out to small businesses. These are businesses with 500 employees or fewer. And they can get -- if they're eligible, they can get loans at a one percent interest rate, or they can be loans that can be forgiven if they don't lay off workers, and they don't reduce pay of their workers.

But the thing is, there are lots of questions whether this, this was even ready for primetime. Because, you know, from the banks who look to lend the money to the small business, because there was just a lot of confusion, a lot of frustration, and I didn't get to the technical problems with the application process.

I mean, the U.S. Treasury is telling banks to go ahead and make these loans, but banks are concerned about being on the hook. How are they going to recapitalize? Who is going to take on the risk? These questions from what I'm hearing from banks, they aren't being directly answered.

And then the small businesses. There are huge hurdles to try to get these loans. They've got to go online, fill out this application. But even doing that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to get that loan.

One example, a small business went to a bank, they said they can't go ahead and give the loan, so they went to another bank who said, now, they have a requirement that the business had to have had previous business wick that banked in order to get that loan. So, a lot of questions.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, tweeting yesterday. He actually praised the first day of the program, which once again was yesterday, saying that more lenders should be available on Monday. Victor and Christi?


BLACKWELL: Alison, before we let you go, the question now about when a neighbors -- when our friends, people who are not in small business, they will get their checks, the $1,200.

Steve Mnuchin, says it will be a matter of weeks. What's the truth here about when these checks will be sent out?

KOSIK: So, we -- CNN has learned in a memo from Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee that these direct deposits should go about during the week of April 13th.

So, that's -- you know, about 10 days from now. But we're also learning that it could take a total of 20 weeks for all the payments to be distributed, which means tens of millions of Americans are going to have to wait for this badly needed assistance.

And it looks like it's going to come in ways. So, during the week of April 13th, the IRS is going to send out those 60 million payments via direct deposit. And then, three weeks later, during the week of May 4th, then, will come those paper checks.

Now, if you filed your tax return in the past with the IRS, but you didn't give your banking information, you will have an opportunity to go on a secure portal on But the thing is, that portal is not going to be available until the middle of April.

Once again, though, if you can't keep your banking information to the IRS, they will go ahead and just mail you the check, but it could take up to 20 weeks. Victor and Christi?

BLACKWELL: Alison Kosik, thank you.

PAUL: Thanks, Alison. So, you know, fewer planes in the air means that we aren't getting as much data about the weather. Something maybe you didn't think about, but a lot of people are.

I've gotten a couple of tweets from people who are saying, what does this mean for hurricane season which is coming up? We'll talk about that. Stay close.



BLACKWELL: So, we talked to a few moments ago about airlines are spending passenger flights and cutting schedules because of COVID-19. Now, the byproduct of that is a massive drop in the collection of weather data, which could impact predictions.

PAUL: Yes, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, says the virus is spreading like a "slow-moving hurricane across the U.S." And speaking of that, hurricane season itself is approaching. Experts say this year is expected to be above normal.

So, through that into what we're dealing with, CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar with us now. Talk to us about the impact that less flights are having, first of all.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and it's not just flights, it's also shipping too. There's fewer cruise ships out there. We get information from them too. But the flights, it's really the big thing, because it's the sheer volume of what we've lost.

Take a look at this graphic. Again, you can see, comparing it to last year, the green line 2019. The blue line being 2020 of this year. You see that huge drop-off in just the last three weeks.

Now, I would like to point out, this makes of a very small percentage of how we get weather observations. We get weather data from a lot of different places. Satellites, weather balloons, even buoys out in the water.

So, it's only a couple of missing components here. But those couple can make a big difference. Let's use this Lego monster truck as an example. If I were to remove just two parts, say the domestic flights and the international flights, it's just two parts. But it significantly changes the final product of what you're looking at.

And that's going to be the concern for us in terms of hurricane season when we rely on a lot of that model data to get input from some of these observations. Yes, as you mentioned, hurricane season this year is expected to be above normal.

Now, most people when they think of hurricane season, they think, OK, yes, but that's not until August and September. Hopefully, by then, the airline volume will go back up to normal.

But here is the thing, Victor and Christi, when you about short-term, just in the last five years, look at all of these named storms. They all happen in April, May, or June. And the yellow highlighted names, all actually made U.S. landfall.

So, we don't necessarily need to wait until August and September. We could end up having an early season system, and the concern becomes the lack of data helping us out with those hurricane forecasts. PAUL: All right. Allison Chinchar, good information. We appreciate it. Thank you.


BLACKWELL: Well, the pandemic has brought out some of the best in some people like the doctors and nurses who are pushing past the point of exhaustion. Up next, we're honoring the heroes.



PAUL: Listen, health care workers and first responders, they are putting their lives on the line every day to fight the coronavirus. And to add to that list of everyday heroes, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, transit workers, pharmacists, and so many more people who are just doing their jobs.

BLACKWELL: Now, to thank them, our CNN Heroes team put together this tribute.


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a more risk coming outside, but I kind of feel like a superhero saving the world.

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

CUOMO: 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.

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.