Return to Transcripts main page


Economists Cite 4 Million to 8 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment Benefit Last Week; Report: China Took 6 Days to Warn Public About Scope of COVID-19 Threat; Underserved Communities Hit Hard By Coronavirus Crisis. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 16, 2020 - 07:30   ET





CHRISTINA MICKENS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, C. NICOLE PR FIRM: Everything was just prospering and just growing.

KRISTOPHER PAINE, OWNER, WELL PLAYED GAMES: Everything was actually really good.


YURKEVICH (voice-over): But then for these small business owners, it all came crashing down. Like many businesses around the country, COVID-19 changed everything.

CASTILLO: It was like apocalyptic. It was the scariest day ever.

YURKEVICH: Americans who are self-employed, gig workers or freelancers can now apply for unemployment. Ana Castillo is one of them. Her family owns a cruise parking lot in Miami, but with no cruises, her income is zero.

CASTILLO: Me and my parents have put blood, sweat and tears into not only coming to this country and like building something for themselves, but in general, like Safe Cruise Parking was built from their savings, from every penny they've ever worked for.

MICKENS: How business works.

YURKEVICH: Christina Mickens owns a PR company in Atlanta, and business is slow. As a single mom to a 9-year-old, she's the family's bread winner. She hasn't heard back about her unemployment and her rainy day fund is drying up.

MICKENS: Speaking to the bare minimum, I would say by the end of April, maybe first two weeks of May, that will be gone.

YURKEVICH: Kristopher Paine is in the same boat. PAINE: And the bills don't stop between now and then. And the money

is rapidly running out.

YURKEVICH: His gaming shop in North Carolina is a month away from shutting down.

PAINE: I applied for the PPP, the loan, the grant and I've also applied for unemployment. Nothing has worked out at this point.

YURKEVICH: With the backup in unemployment processing, Paine believes he's weeks away from a check.

PAINE: If the unemployment came through, I would be able to turn all of that money into, you know, money that I would use for my business.

YURKEVICH: Forty three percent of small business owners say they have less than six months until they'll close because of COVID-19. According to a survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For some, the pure will to survive could be enough.

MICKENS: Failing is not something that's in my radar or even in the back of my mind when it comes to my business. I know I won't be that 40 percent to 50 percent.

YURKEVICH: For others, the wound may be too deep.

CASTILLO: It's not just like the business. It's like the people behind it. And everything that they do to provide a service to you and to make a living for themselves. So, I would just say support your local businesses.


YURKEVICH: And small businesses are running out of lifelines, John. They are having to string together multiple federal, state, local programs, one including the Payroll Protection Program that the federal government funded with $350 billion. That fund is already close to drying up, and with these small business owners still waiting for their unemployment checks and not having access to these federal dollars, a lot of them are wondering how they're going to be able to survive this, John?

JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: That money is drying up. There are discussions of getting new money, but there are also concerns that the initial batch of money wasn't distributed in exactly the ways that were most optimal. Vanessa Yurkevich, thanks so much for that report, really important to see those stories.

A new report from the "Associated Press" says that China knew about the potential scope of the coronavirus threat but sat on the critical information for six full days before alerting its citizens. CNN's David Culver live in Shanghai with the details. You've been there from the very beginning, David. What have you learned?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll walk you through this report, John, it's coming from the "AP" as you point out, and it's based on what they characterize as a leaked memo from a confidential teleconference involving the head of China's National Health Commission. Now, CNN has gone through the government's public report from that teleconference which highlights the worries expressed by health officials to other leaders six days before officials alerted the public here.

Here's what we know of what China knew and when based on CNN's reporting. Let's take you back to December 8th. That's when the Wuhan government notes the first patient symptoms of the then unknown virus. Nearly a month later, on January 3rd, Wuhan health officials stressed, there is no obvious human-to-human transmission, on the same day, China notifies the U.S. of the virus.

On January 7th, President Xi Jinping's first public awareness is made known and he ordered actions to be taken. A week later, on January 14th, this is the teleconference we're talking about. The government release says a sober understanding of the situation was made known to top government officials. They add that clustered cases suggest that human-to-human transition is possible. Here's the concern. Publicly as late as January 19th, four days after that teleconference, the Wuhan Health Commission said the outbreak was controllable and preventable, not contagious.

Then the next day, we see a very different narrative come out, leading health officials acknowledge cases of human-to-human transmission and even stress that medical personnel had gotten infected. Three days later, Wuhan went on lockdown.


And as of now, we know that China's foreign ministry, they say that this has been an open, transparent and responsible handling. China has kept the W.H.O. and relevant countries updated on the outbreak. That's how they're couching this, John.

BERMAN: You can see by looking at that timeline though, there do appear to be some gaps in terms of exactly how things were explained and when. David, it's interesting. In this country, there's this discussion now about how and when to reopen. And there's some alarm among the community by being told, you know, if we do open a restaurant, for instance, it's not going to be like it was before. People want things to be back to normal. But as you've seen in China, that's hard to do, and it means some extraordinary measures.

CULVER: It is hard to do. I want to show you, though, some video that's two months old. And the reason, it's relevant for you guys now is because this is possibly what you'll be going through, it's a restaurant experience that we had when we first came here to Shanghai. And it was a rather lonely experience because restaurants were still just starting to reopen. As the governor of California suggested, people will be wearing face masks, that's something we're seeing here still.

You go in, you record your name, your temperature, your cell phone number, that's all part of that contact tracing so that they can track you. And then when you sit down, the first thing that comes to the table is hand sanitizer, the appetizer, if you will, that they have you use before touching the menu, and then after touching the menu.

And one of the things they were doing early on, which has since stopped is that they would keep a buffer space between you and other diners. So several tables would sit empty intentionally so that they could keep that social distancing, and they would also limit the party size. So, the restaurant we went to, for example, you couldn't have more than four people sitting at a table, John.

BERMAN: Really interesting to see, David, and maybe a window into our future. David Culver, thanks so much for that report.


BERMAN: Coronavirus is hitting underserved communities so hard. What's being done to help ensure that help gets where it's needed most? That's next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: This morning, nearly 7,000 people in New York City have died from coronavirus. There are also more than 4,000 probable deaths here from the virus. The virus is killing and infecting black and Latino communities at a much higher rate than others. And for people who are poor, the double whammy of losing their jobs and getting sick is devastating.

Joining us now is New York Assemblyman Michael Blake, he represents the Bronx, one of New York's five boroughs. Assemblyman Blake, great to have you this morning. You know, we've all become so painfully aware of the disproportionate impact that the coronavirus is having on communities of color. But I'm not sure that our viewers know that the Bronx, the district where you're from and that you represent is the poorest congressional district in the country, and so what does coronavirus look like in the Bronx?

MICHAEL BLAKE, ASSEMBLYMAN OF BRONX: Well, Alisyn, first of all, thank you and respect you and all women journalists around the country, around the world for all that you do. There was a pandemic of poverty and institutionalized racism before coronavirus hit our shore. And what we have to do now is find and fund a cure for both. You know, it has been challenging to say the least for what we've been launching on the ground.

Because we've seen communities who always come together, but still have so much challenges on themselves. And what do I mean by that? This is everything from the family that is of the essential worker and God bless our essential workers, whether if you're a healthcare hero or grocery worker, someone at the airport, someone at the restaurants.

But then when you leave and you have two children at home, what happens to the child for remote learning?

CAMEROTA: Yes -- BLAKE: What happens to the small businesses that does not have the

support because the federal government has not helped us fast enough. What happens to the person that needs food to eat? And that's why we're partner with World Central Kitchen and Beach Stroke, so many places.


BLAKE: And so Alisyn, the Bronx have been hit hard, but you know, we understand, you know, in the Bronx things happen, and we're going to find a way to overcome these challenges due to coronavirus.

CAMEROTA: Well, let's dive into that a little bit because what is happening for children in the Bronx? If they -- if they don't have access to a laptop, how are they doing remote learning, and how are they being fed right now?

BLAKE: So for education, obviously, we have to figure out a faster way to get devices out to everyone. We have been incredibly frustrated by the delay. Part of it, unfortunately, is because workers that were doing the processing delivery became ill. But then we have to still figure this out. And so, if you don't have a laptop or tablet as of yet, they're essentially giving you paper why you go home to complete the assignments.

But the challenge, Alisyn, is that we are currently only tracking engagement and not true attendance and progress. We always tell people there's a difference between activity and progress. So if we made sure that the child has a tablet in their book bag rather than try and arrest them for a dime bag, things would be better and there would be better priorities here.

And so, within that, there's also the food challenges. And so, we are giving out 17,000 meals a day in the Bronx due to our partnership with World Central Kitchen with Here-to-Here, Dream Yard, Beach Stroke, Bronx Strapped House(ph), Bricks and Hubs(ph), so many different restaurants, Mott Haven Bar and Grill. We've surpassed 325,000 meals, we've given out since March 17th.

But we have to keep going. And so we encourage everyone in the Bronx to obviously follow us at mrmikeblake or follow wckitchen, and God bless chef Jose Andres(ph), so we can get food out to everyone --



BLAKE: And also when it comes to the kids, we're going back to that, we're going to get tablets out through Dream Yard, through more than 700 current books that have been purchased for our Bronx students.

CAMEROTA: That's a Herculean effort that you are engaging. Let's talk about the $2 trillion of stimulus funds. So, the relief, the financial relief from the federal government that is supposed to be going out to people, you know, in dire situations. Why isn't that trickling down to the Bronx? BLAKE: Unfortunately, Alisyn, it's not trickling down because I don't

think Donald Trump cares if black and brown people die, and doesn't care if black and brown businesses die. And when you think about the PPP program, it has not worked at all significantly on the ground, and thank God for partners like Michael Brady at the 3rd Avenue bid for Demetrius Junolius(ph) at Spring Bank.

We've been able to find other creative ways on the ground. Alisyn, we've launched the Bronx Community Relief effort to help with this as well. Eight Pacific Verticals led by Derrick Lewis(ph), Judith Diamond Foundation(ph) and so many others, so that we can help our small businesses who are not being assisted.

CAMEROTA: But just explain --

BLAKE: And when people have asked us --

CAMEROTA: Mr. Blake, sorry to interrupt you. Just explain that to us. I mean, I understand that you're relying on philanthropy, and again, thank God for these folks who are giving money directly to the Bronx. But why wouldn't the federal dollars make it to the Bronx, just help us to understand that disconnect?

BLAKE: Absolutely, so number one, when you have a cash economy, whether if you had a restaurant, a barbershop or a beauty salon, to tell someone that everyone has to sign up with a 1099 contractor is unrealistic. You have an immigrant community that has not been able to be engaged, and they're afraid of the government. And therefore, those businesses are not able to come online.

The larger banks through a first come, first serve approach did not engage with us on the ground at all. And it was not sufficient technology to help our smaller banks get the support to be able to process the loan applications. When only 70 applications were approved in the Bonx when there's more than 23,000. It demonstrates the broader problem.

It's the reason why Natalie and Melina, Mino and I co-authored an op- ed in "Newsweek" to say that the next Cares Act can either be a lifeline or assault on black and brown businesses. And so we have to make sure that we partner financial technology companies with the community development financial institutions so that the next bill actually provides relief in the way it's needed.


BLAKE: What's happening right now, Donald Trump is not working and our black and brown businesses are on the verge of extinction in the Bronx and so many communities of color if we don't resolve this immediately.

CAMEROTA: Well, Assemblyman Michael Blake, thank you for sounding the alarm for us and explaining how your community feels forgotten during all of this. We really appreciate talking to you.

BLAKE: Thank you, Alisyn. CAMEROTA: John?

BLAKE: So, we want to take a moment to remember some of the people lost to coronavirus. Billy Birmingham was an EMT in Kansas City since 1998. He is the first city employee to succumb to the virus. The city's firefighter fountain and memorial was turned on early this week in Birmingham's honor. He was 69. He had seven kids, more than a dozen grandchildren and great grandchildren.

David Shingledecker was just 49 years old. He loved to fish and be around family. His daughter says he was initially turned away for treatment, eventually, he was put on a breathing machine. His organs started shutting down and his heart just gave out. David's widow Juanita is still battling the virus from a medically-induced coma.

And Douglas Childs leaves behind a wife and two sons. He was a beloved member of the Bedford, New York Community managing a hardware store. And I can tell you from personal experience he was delightful. Always smiling, always helpful. Never made you feel silly or incompetent even when you were asking something silly or incompetent.

The store says the outpouring of love and memories is a true testimony to his sincerity, his authenticity and the relationships he made with so many. His big smile and welcoming heart will be sorely missed. Douglas Childs made things better. We'll be right back.



BERMAN: So the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci giving a little hope to sports fans.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There is a way of doing that. Nobody comes to the stadium. Put them in big hotels, you know, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled and mainly a surveillance, but have them tested like every week and make sure they don't wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out.


BERMAN: That's Dr. Anthony Fauci talking to Peter Hamby about a plan that is being discussed by Major League Baseball to play games in Arizona. Joining us now to discuss what that would look like, CNN's sports analyst Christine Brennan; she's a sports columnist for "USA Today". And Christine, I should note, the governor of Arizona Doug Ducey is open to this idea. It's not impossible that this happens, put all the players in hotels, test them all the time, play games in empty stadiums in Arizona, how would this work? What do you see as the benefits and perhaps the pitfalls?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: John, there's a chance that this could happen. And I think right now, for where we are in our society and our world, I think a chance -- a little slice of optimism is probably a really good thing. I think we're going to get used to another term here soon, in addition to social distancing and some of the other catch-phrases of our last month or so.

It will be spectatorless sports. And I think this is the only chance that we have at least for the time being with professional sports. Dr. Fauci has said this as well. And the idea would be that it would look a little weird on television, but you would have the games. And I know you know this as well as anyone, as a sports fan, that basically sports is a TV entity.


It's television for most people. Obviously, a lot of us love going to games, but there are most -- most fans don't. And so the idea that it is a TV show actually is not that foreign to many fans and even people who just would love a distraction from being at home right now.

CAMEROTA: I mean, I've been practicing spectatorless sports for my whole life by not watching. So -- but even I recognize, even I recognize that this is the life blood of American culture. And that this is one of the universal experiences that people like to all gather around and celebrate together. So, Christine, I mean, you think that -- will it make a big difference if there is nobody in the stands or will everybody still enjoy it?

BRENNAN: Alisyn, it will look strange at first, and I think we'll get used to it very quickly. You know, there are golf tournaments now that you watch, you see no one around a green, you know, as fans, they're not happening to be sitting there, standing there at that particular moment. There certainly are early season men's and women's basketball games in the tournament where you see big gaps where the fans from the other team are going to come later.

So, I think that's a very minor point in this conversation, as I think we'll get used to it. The bigger issue is, if someone tests positive --

BERMAN: Yes --

BRENNAN: You're going to -- you know, you've got these 30 major league baseball teams theoretically in Arizona. What happens if a hotel worker tests positive. You're in a big hotel, but now that person has been delivering meals to the rooms of the players, that's what we saw with the NBA. Of course, keep in mind, the sports really kicked us off, that was March 11th when the NBA said it was shutting down.

And I think it woke the world up, woke the country up to what was going on with coronavirus. And so sports may well be the way back, but it also, I think, been a lot of lessons that were learned in March that we will need to take into May, June, July when --

BERMAN: Two quick points. One, I'm a soccer fan also, sometimes European games, soccer games are played in empty stadiums because of violence reasons, but they do it. It can be done and people will still watch on TV and in this case, we all need the distraction. But your point about what happens if someone gets sick. That's real. And it's also proximate because I think we just learned that the first NFL player that we know about has tested positive.

Brian Allen, I think is a center for the Rams, has tested positive. That would create a whole series of problems because you can keep fans separate from this, but you can't keep players from each other. They're all over each other during the game, and they're shedding all kinds of things from their bodies when they're hitting each other and grappling.

BRENNAN: Oh, without a doubt, John. And that just happened, we learned that over the last, you know, 8, 12 hours about Allen; the Rams center. And yes, so that is exactly what happened a month ago, past his prologue, we saw that with the NBA. The reason the NBA shut down on March 11th, because of a positive drug test and the dominos fell soon after. Within 48 hours, pretty much every sport was shut down.

If in fact that we decide to gear up, and I know that everyone would like to see that in a healthy environment, once, of course, our people on the front lines get all of these supplies that they need. Once we gear up with sports, what happens? Key question, what happens when there's another positive test like the one in the NFL? And what does that do?

Does that then shut us back down? These are the key questions that these commissioners, that our officials, that Dr. Fauci and others have to deal with before they can definitively say that sports are back.

CAMEROTA: And have they figured out what they would do? I mean, since this is a very real probability and they've seen it already happen.

BRENNAN: They're playing a lot of different models and different scenarios, but I don't think they know. I think the bottom line on this is we have to tell sports fans because I know people are -- I get it all the time from people, Alisyn, you know, wanting to know, e- mails and texts and whatever, when are sports coming back? The answer is we just don't know.

Golf, because those acres and acres of a golf course, they've been social distancing even before there was social distancing, the game of golf. We may well see men's and women's golf tournaments come back before almost anything else.

BERMAN: I think the interesting answer to the question what could happen to team sports is someone ended up positive, it's testing, it's the same thing affecting every level of society now, the medical story and the economic story of sports are going to come back. It's going to take mass testing. Fingers crossed because I think these games could be some of the most watched games in history. Christine Brennan, thanks so much for being with us.

BRENNAN: Thank you very much, John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right, we are just minutes away from what is expected to be a devastating report on unemployment. NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands anytime soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are going to unveil this new guidelines. The president has been hinting that he believes there are some states that can reopen.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want the states to administer these tests, and if we're not happy, we'll take very strong action against a state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why doesn't the president want to go near testing? Because testing is a quagmire. No one can bring it up to scale quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Checks are starting to be cut by the Treasury Department. We have almost 17 million Americans who are out of work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So much of the transmission occurs from asymptomatic people. Perhaps the way to really put this fire out.