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Unemployment Claims in the U.S. Expected to Soar for Fourth Straight Week; New York's Suffolk County Struggles to Deal With Deaths; Japan Officials Warn 400,000 Could Die If No Social Distancing. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 15, 2020 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Unemployment claims expected to soar for fourth straight week when we get the new numbers tomorrow morning. More than 16 million Americans have already filed for unemployment in just three weeks. Joining me now are Laura and Andres Shelp from San Jose, California. They were both furloughed from their jobs. Laura, I know you were director of a surgical center, Andres, a plumber for new construction furloughed one month ago exactly.

Laura, you've been trying to access your unemployment benefits. How has that process gone for you?

LAURA SHELP, FURLOUGHED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS: Well, we had a really difficult time putting in the applications because the system was so overloaded. We actually had to get help from the district assemblyman's office to do that. So, the application was completed on the 20th and we haven't received any money at all.

BERMAN: No money at all yet?


BERMAN: And how badly do you need it?

SHELP: Well, we -- we have a lot of food. I don't want anyone to think that we're short on food. We're not short on necessities. But we've gone through all of our savings, we've tried to help our family. So it's just -- you know, we've really had to dig in. We've had a lot of mounting bills. We had to contact all of our creditors and tell them that we weren't able to meet our obligations right now because there's absolutely no money. We're down to about a few hundred dollars in our account. Yes, just, dig in, that's what --

BERMAN: It's --

SHELP: We're doing.

BERMAN: Hard. Listen, do you have any expectation or what's your expectation for when you'll receive these unemployment benefits?

SHELP: Well, this Governor Newsom did say that the money should start coming out today. I don't know if everybody that filed for unemployment gets it today. But I expect sometime, hopefully, in the next few days or weeks that something does start to come through.


BERMAN: We certainly hope that it comes through soon for you. Andres, I notice you're wearing a mask, I should ask right away, how has your health been through all this?

SHELP: Well, he's wearing a mask because she started coughing and sneezing. We're not sure if it's allergies or something, so he just decided to put the mask on.

BERMAN: Well, we certainly hope -- we certainly hope that everything goes well on that front. How have your creditors been? Talk to me about rent, for instance.

SHELP: Well, we have an excellent landlord. We actually got scraped together enough money to pay the rent, and we sent the rent check off. We notified him that we were able to pay this month's, but we weren't sure what would happen next month. And he actually is only going to charge us half the month, this rent, half month rent now and half month's rent next month.

And he said he won't put the check in until May 1st. So, we at least have the first two months covered, which was a huge relief.

BERMAN: That's terrific. That's great to know. And I also know you got a new car, started with car payments in February, that timing is tough too. But in general, it does sound like people have been understanding?

SHELP: Yes, everybody has been really understanding. Most of the credit-card companies have set up -- they make it really easy. You just call in, they say that if you have problems with COVID-19, and you press one button. Most of them have extended -- they say -- we don't have to make a payment for two or three months. It was only one credit card company that said that they would talk about that again in a month.

Most of the creditors have waived the interest fees. Some of them have not. But for the most part, everybody has had an attitude that they wanted to -- it's just -- it's still really scary because once we do go back to work, we owe a lot of money --

BERMAN: Right --

SHELP: And that's -- yes, that uncertainty is really scary.

BERMAN: It's going to be a long way back. Listen, I hope you get those unemployment benefits soon. I hope anyone who is listening to you can help, does help. Thanks so much for being with us, Laura Shelp, Andres, we hope you feel better, thank you for being with us this morning --

SHELP: Thank you so much, bye. BERMAN: So leaders of communities on Long Island have a message for the rest of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything you can to prepare because once it does come, you're in for something that you've never seen before.


BERMAN: More from this fast-growing hotspot, next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: One New York City suburb has been a big hotspot of coronavirus cases. The numbers of deaths there have been so big that it's pushed Suffolk County to its limit. CNN's Miguel Marquez joins us now with more. What have you found, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's disturbing, and I want to warn viewers that what they're about to see is disturbing. But it is the hard reality of what one locality, not a big city, one locality is facing, and the warning is that many more across the country will be facing the same thing soon.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Suffolk County morgue nearly overflowing with victims of coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only are we seeing that death toll rise now, unfortunately, we're expecting to see it rise for the foreseeable future.

MARQUEZ: The county added two semi tractor-trailers, those two filled to capacity. A month ago, Suffolk County had no coronavirus-related deaths. Now, the toll in the hundreds and growing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have on average, 30 trauma deaths a month in this county. We're seeing a total of 50, 60 people dying a day from the virus.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All COVID-related, yes, it's -- the numbers are staggering.

MARQUEZ: So staggering, the county has now called back into service the coolers of an unused meat processing plant.

(on camera): How many total will you be able to get into this facility?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is set up right now to hold 300. We can get to 450 in this facility if need be.

MARQUEZ: Four hundred and fifty?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four hundred and fifty.

MARQUEZ: Let's hope it doesn't come to that.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): The county wants farm land and wide open spaces, now a second home for many of New York City's wealthiest families. But about 20 percent of its 1.5 million residents are Latino, many speaking Spanish only.

The virus is much worse for the Latino community, she says, because we have no guarantees of work, healthcare or education. Maria Cortez(ph) has a family of six. Now laid off from her job, she says she knows many people with coronavirus and several who have died. The entire family now home. Today, they're loading up with food they hope will last for two months.

It's hard to keep a job if you haven't been tested, but you can't get tested unless you have symptoms, she says. And now with the virus, healthcare and everything is very expensive. Hospitals and healthcare workers have seen a constant stream of critically ill patients, old, young, minority and white.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being an emergency room nurse, this is what you sign up for. You sign up to be there no matter what comes in the door. This is on a much bigger scale.

MARQUEZ: Here at Southside Hospital, the wave of patients in the ER has slowed with the hospital that had 305 beds, now has 418. A new tent is being constructed for coronavirus-only patients.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're maxed out. We've been maxed out for a while and everyone is talking about New York City. But our local community has had a widespread disease and we've actually within the health system have had a very high percentage of patients in the ICU.

MARQUEZ: For the many suburban counties nationwide, Suffolk's executive has a simple message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I can convey anything to people across the country who haven't been hit, it's how quick this happens and how intense it gets and to do everything you can to prepare because once it does come, you're in for something that you've never seen before.


MARQUEZ: So Suffolk has started to sort of flatten that curve out. They're at a very high level, their neighboring county Nassau is also at a very high level. So, those suburban and ex-urban areas are really struggling under the weight of this. They hope, they think they are beyond the worst right now but they are urging people to stay home, keep that social distancing so that they don't have to go back at this again. John?

BERMAN: Yes, there are so many counties, so many parts of the country that are right on the edge, Miguel, and they need things to go nearly perfectly in some cases as they have been going forward to stay on that edge. Miguel Marquez, thank you so much as always for your reporting. I want to take some time to remember the people lost to coronavirus.

Gregory Hodge was a 24-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, he helped at the World Trade Center site after 9/11, also working in the Bronx in Harlem. His latest role was with the city's Emergency Management Department. Gregory Hodge was 59.

Thomas Martins of New Jersey, a young man with down syndrome and a love of birthdays died on the eve of his 30th. Just nine days earlier, his mother Carolyn also succumbed to coronavirus at just 55. Her greeting widower, her husband says Thomas and Carolyn were each other's whole world. Her entire life revolved around making sure Thomas was healthy and loved.

And the Indianapolis community is mourning the loss of beloved local athletic director Paul Loggan was 57. He started with North Central High School in 1988. Students remember him as encouraging on and off the field, and say, he treated them like family. Loggan leaves behind his own family, a wife and three kids. At chartered high schools across Indiana, football stadiums were lit in Loggan's honor. We'll be right back.



BERMAN: New this morning, Japan's Health Ministry has a stark warning, coronavirus could kill more than 400,000 people, 400,000, if there is no social distancing. And that's not the only issue there. CNN's Will Ripley is live in Tokyo with this developing story. And Will, it's so interesting to hear this, because Japan's response has been all over the place.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, they waited until after the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, John, to increase their messaging, their dire messaging to the public. They were embracing a strategy early on of contact-tracing, focusing on clusters and deliberately testing very few people which epidemiologists say is necessary to test a lot of people so you have a sense of what you're dealing with when it comes to coronavirus.

And now Japan is finding itself in a situation where they don't know how many people are walking around with the virus. But what they do know, according to a panel of experts, commissioned by the Japanese Health Commission, these are highly respected epidemiologists, leaders in their field across Japan, they say that without social distancing measures, 400,000 or more people could die in this country of coronavirus in the coming weeks and months, especially because of the fact that Japan has an acute shortage of ventilators.

Japan chose not to bolster its public health system. They only have seven ICU beds for every 100,000 people, and they only have 22,000 ventilators in the entire country. A country that prides itself on being a leader in manufacturing. Now, they're scrambling to make more, but that takes time, and hospitals are running out of time. We have just heard a report from Japanese state broadcaster NHK that there was a patient, suspected of having coronavirus, who was turned away by 110 hospitals.

He had to wait 10 hours before they could find a hospital that would take him. And these are likely the early days as Tokyo continues to see a spike in coronavirus cases as they start testing more people and they start discovering more cases, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Those numbers are alarming, Will. Thank you very much for an update there. Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on the U.S. Postal Service here. Revenues are plunging and house Democrats warn that the system is just months away from service interruptions or being unable to pay the 600,000 Americans who work there.

But President Trump is standing in the way of efforts to fix the problem. CNN's Jessica Dean is live in Washington to explain why? So, what have you learned, Jessica?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Alisyn. We know that the Postal Service has struggled economically for a while now. But the Postmaster General is saying that the pandemic is having a devastating effect on its business and calls this moment a critical juncture.


DEAN (voice-over): The U.S. Postal Service is sounding the alarm. Without financial assistance from the government, it will be out of cash by the end of September as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates its pre-existing financial perils.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): We expect to see a 50 percent decline by this Summer. That means half the volume of mail will not be there including the revenue associated with it. That's catastrophic.

DEAN: Virginia Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly chairs the House Oversight Subcommittee that oversees the USPS.

CONNOLLY: If there were a disruption in service or severe curtailment because of these financial circumstances, the areas that will be immediately impacted are rural parts of America, largely you know, represented by Republicans. So I have a lot of Republican allies on postal issues in the house.


DEAN: The bipartisan Postal Service board of governors appointed by President Donald Trump has asked for $25 billion in direct funding, $25 billion in borrowing authority, and $25 billion in grants to modernize the Post Office. But when house Democrats asked for $25 billion in funding during the stimulus talks, sources tell CNN, the Trump administration rejected the idea, instead the Postal Service was offered the opportunity to apply for $10 billion in loans --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll tell you who is the demise of the Postal Service, so these internet companies that give themselves to the postal service -- well, I don't run the postal service.

DEAN: President Trump has repeatedly criticized the Postal Service, often blaming its economic problems on companies like Amazon.

TRUMP: They lose money every time they deliver a package for Amazon or these other internet companies, these other companies that deliver, they drop everything in the Post Office and say you deliver it. And if they'd raise the prices by actually a lot, then you'd find out that the Post Office could make money or break even. But they don't do that.

DEAN: Connolly says package delivery accounts for roughly 5 percent of total mail volume and about 30 percent of revenue.

CONNOLLY: I think the president loves to have enemies, and one of his favorites is Jeff Bezos; the head of the Amazon. And in his press conference last week, he absurdly asserted that the Postal Service would be fine if they just raised prices on companies like Amazon. Now, nobody who knows the economy of our postal delivery system believes that.

DEAN: The country's founding fathers believed the Postal Service was so essential, they put it in the constitution. It ensures many Americans received necessary medicine and other critical items. The United States Postal Service is now at a critical moment of its existence amid an unprecedented pandemic. And Connolly says it's President Trump and his administration who must act.

CONNOLLY: His own understanding of the constitution is clearly lacking very fundamentally, and unfortunately the Postal Service is one of the casualties of that lack of understanding.


DEAN: Now, as for the postal workers themselves, they have of course continued working throughout all of this pandemic, and like so many essential workers, that puts them dangerously close to exposure to the virus. At the beginning, Connolly says they didn't have access to things like hand sanitizer and protective equipment. We know that many people have fallen ill and sadly, John, the Postal Service has also suffered some deaths among its employees.

BERMAN: They're right there on the frontlines doing such important work. Jessica Dean --

DEAN: Yes -- BERMAN: Thanks so much for that story. So, this is a challenging time

for children and families. A new book aims to help children cope. It's called "My Hero is You: How Kids Can Fight COVID-19". It features a young girl who befriends a dragon-like creature, the two fly around, empowering other children by teaching them ways to help like staying at home and washing hands.

The book developed by UN agencies and dozens of charities is free online and available in several different languages. You can access it by going to where you'll find a link to the story in other ways to help. NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves, a face mask, where your temperature is checked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we might see is this kind of on-off intermittent distancing until 2022.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there have been some missteps by the World Health Organization, but to stop funding in the middle of a pandemic, I'm not sure that makes sense.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health, I wouldn't do it.

TRUMP: I will then be authorizing each individual governor to implement a reopening --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until we have a vaccine, we're not going to be totally back to normal.


BERMAN: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, this is NEW DAY, and one thing is pretty clear this morning, that many people have been asking the wrong question about coronavirus. The question isn't when the country will reopen, the question is how and to what extent? And this morning, we do have the beginnings of an answer.

Whatever does reopen, if that's the right word, will be radically different than what we have seen before, unrecognizable in some cases. The California governor who just released new details of his plans envisions everyone wearing face coverings for the foreseeable future, temperature checks in public places, waiters wearing masks and gloves while handing out menus that are disposable.

For schools, stagger student arrival times, reconfigure classrooms and of note, what is not under consideration anytime soon, allowing large gatherings including sporting events and concerts, nowhere close to happening. New York City's mayor told me moments ago that he agrees with that. As for timing, Dr. Anthony Fauci calls a May 1st reopening overly optimistic. He says the country is not there yet on crucial testing. President Trump made a radical reversal or concession to

constitutional reality, he now acknowledges that governors will make these decisions.

CAMEROTA: So this morning, John, we're also getting our first look at the national plan being developed by FEMA and the CDC.