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Confusion over Supply Distributions; Unemployment Last Week was 6.6 Million; Pandemic Cripples U.S. Economy; Remembering Charlotte Figi. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 9, 2020 - 08:30   ET



LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): FEMA provided this video showing how they've chartered in more than a dozen overseas flights with supplies secured by private U.S. companies. Half of it goes to prioritized hot spots, they tell us. The other half goes to the private market, now a source of frustration for states competing with others for the same supplies.

SUSANA MENDOZA (D), ILLINOIS STATE COMPTROLLER: What's happening is that we're having to secure, hopefully if we're able to get our hands on product from China, from Australia, whether it's ventilators or PPE, and we're paying six to seven times the price that we would.

SANTIAGO: As some states compete, others have turned to each other.

California Governor Gavin Newsom sending 500 ventilators to fellow states, including New York, New Jersey and Illinois. It's relief for some, progress for others, but with such uncertainty ahead, states continue to say it's not enough.


SANTIAGO: And, Alisyn, you heard me mention those prioritized hot spots in the story. FEMA and HHS saying that that is based on CDC data. But despite our repeated requests for more details on that, a list, a map, any sort of detail that could give us a better understanding as to where those overseas supplies are ending up, what hot spots are prioritized, that information has not been made available.


CAMEROTA: Yes, that would be important information to have.

Leyla, thank you very much for all of the reporting.

CAMEROTA: We have some breaking news. The Labor Department has just released new unemployment numbers for last week.

CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now with the details.

How do they look, Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Another really ugly week, 6,606,000 new jobless claims. Those are 6.6 million layoffs. That brings three weeks of job losses to 16.5 million jobs in just three weeks. Never seen anything like it before. We'll talk about where those job losses were in a minute.

But, Alisyn, I'll tell you, the number could have been higher if the states could have processed more of these claims. They're at maximum capacity. They can't even process all the people who are losing their jobs this quickly, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh, that's really important context. And we will talk more about these breaking numbers next. Stick around, Christine.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we do have breaking news. Numbers just in, 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, 6.6 million, which makes about 16.5 million over just the last three weeks.

Back with us, CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans. Also joining us now, CNN international anchor Julia Chatterley and CNN White House correspondent John Harwood.

Romans, you've been digging through these numbers over the last few minutes. And 16.5 million over three weeks is a huge number, 6.6 million in one week a huge number. Any sense -- I guess when you have a number that big, it's got to be everywhere in the economy.

ROMANS: It is. It is. Even in healthcare. You know why? Because anything that's, you know, non-life threatening has been put on hold here. So dentist offices have closed. All kinds of other doctor's offices have closed because there's just -- everything is on pause.

This is -- this is a collapse, really, in the American job market. You've never seen this many jobs gone so quickly.

Some of these are furloughs, meaning that these employers want to keep these people sort of active and on standby so that they can come back when and if this economy returns again.

But this is a tragic kind of number when this many people are wondering when they're going to get their jobless check and how they're going to pay their rent.

About those jobless checks. You know, these numbers are big, shockingly big, but they're probably really undercount the number of people who have lost their jobs because people can't get through to the state unemployment offices. And if you go to those websites, they say, be patient, we'll get to you, your benefits will be retroactive. BERMAN: Talk more about that, Julia, because that's really

interesting, because 16.5 million, the fact that might be underestimating how bad things are, that's hard to wrap your mind around. And what's being done for these people right now with all these new rescue packages that have been passed?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: And we're seeing this all over the country. We've all seen the fact that states like Florida are resorting to bits of paper now to try and in some way capture the people that are still trying. We -- we all anecdotally hear from people, just let me give you context on what we're seeing here with these numbers when we're talking over 16 million people losing their jobs just in the last three weeks. We could be talking about a U.S. unemployment rate of between 14 and 15 percent at this moment. I said it earlier on the show, it's not just individuals, it's not just numbers, these are families, these are children that are impacted at this stage. And we are seeing delays in getting money into them.

The other point I want to bring in here, you know, if this is small and medium size enterprises, around a half of them give health insurance. So what you're also seeing in these numbers is, maybe around 5 percent of people in the last three weeks suddenly without some form of health insurance too in the middle of a health pandemic that we're suffering here in the United States and around the world. So it's not just that they can't get money, that there's delays to seeing that around the country, that we're not estimating the number of people here that are losing their jobs, but they're all in a desperate situation as far as getting ill over the next weeks and months too.

BERMAN: John Harwood, it's really interesting, we happen to have a new CNN poll out which asks people to assess the current economic conditions. And just 39 percent said they're good now. That's a 30- point drop in one month. Never seen anything like that. A 30-point drop in one month.

It's interesting, most people think that they will improve by next year, but I'm wondering how much longer they will think that if the unemployment numbers continue the way they are.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and that's what's so unusual, John, about the situation that we find ourselves in. Usually when you have escalating jobless claims, people are wondering, well, what's the policy response, what's gone wrong, how do we fix it and the economy? We know the answer, this is something that is a public health pandemic that has caused us to flip the switch on large swaths of the American economy.


We've seen in the last three weeks, more than 10 percent of the people who were employed in the United States at the start of last month now be out of work. The carnage economically is massive.

However, people understand why that is happening and the question is how quickly can we get on top of the pandemic to allow the economy to reopen? I do think that in the meantime this is going to escalate pressure on Congress. We've sort of, since the passage of the first big relief bill, gotten back into a little more normal partisan back and forth and so Mitch McConnell is putting on the floor a $250 billion addition of aid for small businesses, which is important. Democrats say, wait, what about state and local governments and hospitals and food stamps and other things to support people. I think there's going to be rising pressure as we document the damage for them to come together and overcome some of those divisions.

BERMAN: There are those two competing notions out there, Christine Romans, right now. Talk to me about what the difference is between $250 billion new dollars for small businesses, and adding money for states and local governments and also hospitals.

ROMANS: Well, it's so interesting when you talk to economists, you know, Nobel Prize winning economists, they say just push the money out, ask the questions later, you know.

And we know, after 2008, there were all the -- you know, the Tea Party was born out of spending all of this borrowed money and questioning how it was spent.

But right now this is a main street problem and every kind of -- every kind of problem that you see goes back to hurt main street first and foremost, right, when the states lose all that tax revenue and they -- they're the ones who provide services to their citizens, right? They are going to need to have some help.

The hospitals, what if there is a return of an outbreak later this fall? They're going to need money. We're also going to have -- have to have a testing protocol. That's going to take money.

So, in a way, I don't know if it's one or the other. It's, yes --

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: Everything.

BERMAN: Yes, all of the above. Option D, all of the above.

Julia, the meta question that I continue to have, as we continue to see numbers like this, is when do we get to the point when things get broken in a way that aren't easily fixable and what will those things be?

CHATTERLEY: That is such a pivotal question. And I think it goes back to what both John and Christine are saying about putting the science here first and the stimulus or the financial aid, as we're calling it, second. But we are talking about millions and millions of people who are out of work and anxious at the same time as the health pandemic.

The bottom line is, we can't jump ahead of the science. The safety net. The cushion. The need to keep as many people in their jobs, remember small and medium sized businesses represent around 80 percent of employment in this country, the need to get money flowing to them, and then to the states. You can't choose between them. But the cushion over the next four to six weeks is so important to enable us to recover more strongly off the back of it. Can't say it better than that.

BERMAN: Julia Chatterley, John Harwood, Christine Romans, I have to say, I appreciate these discussions we have every Thursday, but I also dread them because of the type of news we've been getting. Thanks for being with us.

ROMANS: Can't wait till they're not newsworthy anymore.

BERMAN: I know.

ROMANS: Can't wait.

BERMAN: Not going to happen too soon, I don't think.

In the meantime, a young girl who changed minds and captured hearts is being remembered this morning. Dr. Sanjay Gupta shares a very personal story with us, next.



CAMEROTA: This morning, we remember a special young girl, Charlotte Figi, who died this week at 13 years old. Charlotte had a rare form of epilepsy, but medical marijuana changed her life. And in the process, Charlotte changed the world. She also changed Sanjay Gupta's life and he joins us now.

Sanjay, I just read your piece for and it sounds like you and Charlotte had just a really special relationship.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Alisyn, I mean, you've been doing this work for a long time. You do -- you know, you develop these really strong, powerful relationships sometimes with the people that you cover. I know you know -- you're told not to do that, and, you know, the keep an arm's length away sometimes, but it's challenging. You really get to know people over time.

I've known Charlotte for a long time, and seen her go through so many things, her and her entire family. And, you know, just got a devastating text a couple of nights ago about what happened to her and I want you to look at what she represented, not just to me, I think, but to people all over the world.

Take a look.


GUPTA (voice over): For the last 20 years, I have straddled the world of medicine and journalism. And in both professions, I'm always reminded, stay objective, do your best work, but don't get too close.

But with little Charlotte Figi, that was impossible. She just had this way about her, that smile, that giggle, that just got you and captured your heart.

GUPTA (on camera): You remember me?

GUPTA (voice over): That was June, 2019. The last time I saw Charlotte. And she was doing great.

GUPTA (on camera): You're walking pretty good, sweetheart.

PAIGE FIGI, CHARLOTTE'S MOTHER: I can't imagine back then, imagine she'd be 12 years old and seeing her at 12 years old and what that would look like. She was dying.

GUPTA (voice over): When I first met Charlotte, it was 2013, for our first film on medical marijuana called "Weed."

GUPTA (on camera): Pitter-patter, pitter-pat, tiptoe, creep-crawls in the cave.

GUPTA (voice over): We had heard about this amazing six-year-old from Colorado who had a rare form of epilepsy. She had a seizure every 30 minutes, every one potentially fatal. No treatment had worked.

And then, one day, desperate, her parents gave her a non-psychoactive ingredient from the cannabis plant called cannabidiol, or CBD.


FIGI: This is Charlotte's web.

She didn't have a seizure that day. And then she didn't have a seizure that night.

GUPTA (on camera): Did you sit there and --

FIGI: Yes.

GUPTA: Look at your watch and --

FIGI: Right. I thought, this is crazy.

GUPTA (voice over): And it was at that moment, people started to see that marijuana, which had been considered dangerous, could also be a therapy. She changed my mind, and opened my eyes to the possibility that this was a legitimate medicine. And in the process, she changed the world.

FIGI: Probably the most important thing I'll ever do was to help my own child and then share that information and help others.

GUPTA: Charlotte Figi was the entire CBD movement wrapped up into a sweet little girl with a big smile, and an even bigger heart. Her story changed policy about cannabis. States were inspired by the story of Charlotte Figi and made CBD more accessible around the United States to treat epilepsy. And in turn, scientists around the world wanted to study Charlotte's special CBD oil. Research that before Charlotte no one really seemed that interested in doing. JOEL STANLEY, CHAIRMAN ANC CO-FOUNDER, CHARLOTTE'S WEB HOLDINGS, INC.:

I was begging researchers and physicians to work with us and help us understand the phenomenon that we were seeing. And they absolutely wouldn't even talk to us. We were laughed out of rooms. Now they beg to research our product.

FIGI: She's happy being outside and --

GUPTA (on camera): Yes.

FIGI: This is her jam.

GUPTA (voice over): Charlotte lived her short life to the fullest. And while she was almost this mythical miracle, she was also just a little girl, who loved to go tandem biking with her mom. And while the last month was not easy, she had symptoms of Covid-19 while never testing positive, she eventually developed pneumonia, which once again unleashed her seizures.

Her mother, Paige, says Charlotte was still smiling and happy until the very end, when a seizure became more than her fragile little body could handle.

Charlotte's life ended just as it began, in her mother's arms, surrounded by family who loved her and cherished her and protected her, all forever changed by this little girl who forever changed the world, and everyone, like me, who were caught in her glorious orbit.

Please rest in peace, Charlie (ph).


CAMEROTA: Gosh, Sanjay, that is such a beautiful tribute and a beautiful piece. We can see why you got so close to the family and seeing that old video of her with the seizures and then seeing her without them, I mean that's just all really powerful.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, you know, I was not somebody who really believed in the capacity for cannabis as a medicine. I had written articles about it for "Time" magazine in the past and, you know, just didn't think the evidence was there. And even when I was first going to meet Charlotte, I thought, maybe, look, this is some apocryphal anecdotal story, but it really got me thinking and it became this sort of 18 month journey that Charlotte inspired to go around the world, find thousands of other patients like her, talk to researchers and scientists, sometimes in smaller labs, labs outside the United States, labs that weren't dependent on U.S. funding for anything, and different picture started to emerge. I mean it wasn't that long ago, you know. And look how much has changed, really, over the last five, six years with regard to CBD in this country. A lot of it, if you go back and look at the origins, it was that little girl.

BERMAN: I have to say, I think one of the most meaningful legacies that someone can have is to change, either to change one person or, in the case of Charlotte, to change the world. And, Sanjay, I get the sense, you know, this is about cannabis specifically, but it feels to me, listening to you and watching you throughout the years with her, it was more than just about science with Charlotte.

GUPTA: Yes, it was. It's hard to talk about. I don't know what to say. You just get close. I got three daughters. They were asking me last night, like, how could this happen? You know -- I don't know.

BERMAN: It's hard. It's really hard. You've been close to that family for a long time. And that little girl got to you, got to all of us. And what she went through all those years and to see someone suffering get help, that's also something that's so meaningful and changes you in so many ways.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, she -- she did have a remarkable response to that therapy. I mean, you know, her mom would feel her seizing, you know, 300 times a week.


GUPTA: And, you know, she just pulled on her baby Bjorn (ph) and just feel her seizing and think, you know, every time that happened, maybe that was going to be the last time. And she went through seven different generations of these anti-epileptic drugs. I mean they were good parents. They did everything that they were supposed to do. Tried all these things. Nothing worked. And so they were just basically left with no options. Still considered very fringe, very conservative family, living in Colorado Springs, and they decided to give this a last ditch effort and it worked. And it was emblematic as well of so many other patients. It wasn't just this one little girl.

CAMEROTA: And, Sanjay, just -- we just have to end on this. The thing that's choking me up, aside from seeing you choked up, which is so unusual, is, the text that you got from her mom after finding out that she had died. And her mom told you, no more seizures.

GUPTA: No more seizures, no more suffering. You know, she -- the CBD had done such a good job, Alisyn, of keeping the seizures at bay. When she got this infection, we don't know it was Covid for sure, but when she got this, this serious lung infection, it just unleashed the seizures once again. And so it just -- it was just too much for her. You know, she was 13 years old. She lived a tough life, but she lived a happy life. And as Paige said, she gave her a good life. What an amazing mom. What an amazing example for all of us.

BERMAN: She's with you always, Sanjay. Just as I think she'll be with all of us because of how much she actually changed.

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: There's Charlotte Figi.

Sanjay, thank you very much for sharing this story with us.



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


The country is now barreling toward what is --