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Four States in U.S. May Meet Criteria for Reopening Economies; Experts Say U.S. Still Lacks Testing Necessary for Reopening Economy; Beach in Florida Reopens to Public; Report Indicates Several Employees Who Tested Positive for COVID-19 at Tyson Factory in Georgia Now Dead; Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) Interviewed on Congressional Negotiations to Continue Economic Stimulus During Coronavirus Pandemic; Studies Looking at Home Testing for COVID-19 and How Widespread Disease Is in U.S.; Many Attend Food Share Event in Ventura County, California; Mall in Nebraska to Reopen. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired April 18, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: I want to wish you a good morning and thank you so much for sharing your time with us. It's good to have you. Saturday, April 18th, I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. You are in the CNN Newsroom.
And this morning, at least four states, Vermont, West Virginia, Montana, Hawaii, may soon open back up. That's if the governors choose, but several others may need more testing and time.
PAUL: Former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden says the country's current number of tests, less than 150,000 a day, are not nearly enough. The White House disagreeing with that. Vice President Pence says there are enough tests to reopen states under the White House guidelines.
BLACKWELL: The governors across the country are really trying to figure out when they can reopen. And one of the big questions is, do they have what they need to do it safely?
PAUL: Some seem to be more worried than others. In Florida, for example, hundreds of people are going to some of the beaches there that have reopened. They reopened actually just last night. But you can see, not really a lot of social distancing being practiced there.
Our reporters are standing by with the very latest. I want to begin with CNN's Kristen Holmes at the White House this morning. Kristen, good to see you. Talk to us about this discrepancy that we're hearing, the vice president saying there are enough tests, some governors, including some Republican governors, saying we don't have enough.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. That's right, this really is a discrepancy that we've heard since this pandemic broke out on U.S. soil. We know it was just over a month ago that President Trump said that any single person who wanted a test could get a test, and it wasn't true then and it doesn't seem to be true now. That, of course, is according to both Democratic and Republican officials.
There are two things going on here, and this is what I'm hearing from state officials on the ground. One is the length of time it takes to test. We know the administration has really been pushing these states towards certain labs, private labs, as well as state run public labs, and I hear from the officials on the ground that the turnaround time is just too long, four to five days. You can't open the economy and then pull people out of the workforce for four to five days while they wait for these test results.
On the other hand, a big missing component is the supplies. There is a shortage of supplies that are used in the test kits, and that is, one, a chemical, a reagent that is used to do the testing, and another is these cotton swabs that they used actually to take the test. This is something President Trump said that they were going to fix. He said just yesterday they were going to send 5.5 million swabs to states this week. And I'm going to tell you, they have said this before, a Republican official said, it seems too good to be true, I'll believe it when I see it on this one.
BLACKWELL: Kristen Holmes for us there at the White House. Kristen, thank you.
PAUL: Let's go to Florida. This is a state with nearly 25,000 coronavirus cases. Hundreds of people went to Jacksonville beaches after they officially opened last night.
BLACKWELL: CNN's Randi Kaye is following the latest from Jacksonville beach. What's the beach like this morning, Randi?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Christi. It is -- it's pretty busy. It's not as busy yet as it was yesterday evening when they first opened at 5:00. They've been closed since March 20th, so it's been a month or so. So people are excited to be here. In fact, I just talked to a woman who drove from another county because her beaches are closed, so she came here. She said beach is like therapy for her in Florida, and Floridians flock to the beach. That's exactly what they did last night.
But I can show you the scene here this morning, even though it's cloudy and hazy, you can see it's fairly crowded. I'm not sure if you can see, but there's a couple folks here close to us where they're just sitting. That's exactly what the mayor here of Jacksonville says is not allowed. But yet nobody is telling them that they can't do that. He doesn't want people congregating, he doesn't want sitting and sunbathing or bringing their coolers. What we did see a lot of and what we're seeing today is people biking and running and fishing and surfing and swimming. That's allowed. The mayor considers that essential activity, and he says that that is right in line with the governor's executive order that that is allowed.
The beach hours are limited, I should point out, from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., so they will close soon, and then they reopen again from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. So very limited hours. But we talked to folks about why they came here, and we also asked them if they were concerned about social distancing, because, quite honestly, we're not seeing a whole lot of it. Take a look at what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: How does it feel to be back on the beach?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fabulous. We all live on it, and so it's been torture to be looking at it and not being able to be out here.
KAYE: What have you been did doing instead?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sewing masks. Reading, sewing masks, cooking, eating, gaining weight.
KAYE: Do you think people are social distancing out here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, sadly. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't last very long. But I'm just hoping people are kind of smart about it and -- just try to stay as far apart as they can and not ruin it for the rest of us.
KAYE: How does it feel to have the beach open?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's great. We live just over there and we've been waiting for this day to happen. Now I just hope it'll stay open. There are so many people standing around, everyone is so close together. I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, but it can't be worse than being in a golf course or being in the grocery store.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: And that's what people are saying. They feel that these beaches never should have been closed here. A lot of people that we talked to said, look, if you can go to the grocery store, you can go to the pharmacy, you can come to the beach. But I have noticed that nobody here this morning, and only a couple people yesterday that we saw were wearing masks. So people are supposed to social distance, they're asked to wear masks if the they can in public, but we're not seeing much of that. Victor?
PAUL: Randi, will you talk to us about the Jacksonville mayor and the reasoning that he gave for going ahead and opening the beaches now?
KAYE: Sure, Christi. He says that the number of tests are on the rise here, that they can get through a lot of tests. The National Guard is here helping. But there is some conflict with that statement, because the governor is still saying we need more tests. So even though the mayor of Jacksonville is saying there's enough tests and the National Guard is certainly here helping out, that is questionable if they have enough testing happening. He also points out that five percent, there's just five percent of the tests here are positive, which he says is pretty low for a metropolitan area in Florida. So he points that out as two good reasons why, as he says, this is the beginning to a path to normal life. He thinks it's very important. Christi, Victor?
PAUL: All right, Randi Kaye, good to see you, thank you so much for the report there.
So let's go from Florida to New York, because obviously there are some states feeling that they are able to reopen, others such as New York, not so.
BLACKWELL: Let's go to CNN's Cristina Alesci in New York for the latest there. What are we hearing from the governor? Sometimes optimism, but also balancing with the challenges ahead.
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. He is giving the news and the facts to New Yorkers very straight here. He's saying, look, the virus can be under control in the state because of the mitigation efforts. We've seen hospitalization stabilize, we've seen ICU admissions stabilize. But, and this is a very big but, 2,000 people are still walking into hospitals around the state every day with COVID, and the numbers of deaths in New York is refusing to come down. Those are the very -- those are the very words that the governor has used. So it feels, to most New Yorkers, that it's premature to talk about reopening the state, getting back to some semblance of normalcy.
However, like other states across the country, New York is trying to balance keeping people safe and getting the economy up and running. And in order for that to happen, really two things are necessary -- more testing and more money. The states across the country asking for $500 billion. Just to put that into perspective, you might think the government has already passed $2 trillion in stimulus funds A lot of that money did not go to the states. It actually went to unemployment benefits and small business lending and rescuing the airlines. It didn't flow directly to the states, which are now being tasked with this massive undertaking of doing more testing, and Governor Cuomo is saying that, essentially, because President Trump is putting the responsibility on the states to do this testing, that he's passing the buck, which arguably should be with the federal government, without passing the bucks. So we have this health crisis going on, but soon we're going to have a financial and economic crisis, and that is going to require way more funding and support for the states. Christi, Victor?
BLACKWELL: Cristina Alesci for us there in New York, thank you so much.
PAUL: So let's go to Nebraska, because that's a state that's banning gatherings of more than 10 people. But there's an outlet shopping mall planning to reopen next week. We're going to be speaking with the owner of that mall a little bit later in the hour.
BLACKWELL: Right now in California, there are about 30,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, more than 1,000 people have died, nearly half of the deaths have been in Los Angeles county. The local economy is also troubled there. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says that fewer than half, fewer than half of residents in that county still have jobs. The federal Paycheck Protection Program was supposed to help small businesses make it through this crisis, but it's run out of money.
I'm joined now by Democratic Congressman from California Tony Cardenas. Congressman, thanks for being with us this morning.
REP. TONY CARDENAS, (D-CA): It's my pleasure.
BLACKWELL: So let me start with PPP. Two weeks, $350 billion already gone through, the administration wants another quarter trillion dollars, Democrats want, in exchange, money for state and local budgets, for hospitals, food stamp programs. Where are those negotiations this this weekend?
CARDENAS: The negotiations are going on day-to-day every day, and we're holding strong to make sure that the money gets into the pockets of individual families, small businesses. We trusted the SBA to do the right thing. And on the first third of the $349 billion, too much of that money made it into the bigger businesses, and the small mom and pops on main street are hurting right now throughout Los Angeles and throughout the country. So we're holding strong to make sure that we can hold this SBA accountable and that the money gets to where the law said it should go.
BLACKWELL: So we've heard from business owners as they were trying to apply for this support, these loans that eventually, if used as expected, will be forgiven and turned into grants, who say they cannot wait, and every week that this goes on puts into jeopardy their ability to stay in business. So what do you say to those who don't care other than getting the money they need to pay their employees that maybe the rest of it should be in another bill? What do you say to those who just need some help now?
CARDENAS: Well, unfortunately, the SBA put too much of that money into the larger businesses, and the businesses that have been 80, 90 percent, 100 percent effected, all of their employees are out on the streets without a job, those companies, we've been getting a rash of calls saying that we can't get through. But oddly enough, the bigger company that already had relationships with these SBA lenders got their money in the bank before these other companies could even get an answer as to whether or not their application was being accepted or not.
So it's really important that we hold this administration accountable. Unfortunately, Congress today has to write the language much more prescriptive than ever before, because we can't trust this administration to get back to us on a day-to-day basis, a weekly basis. Some of the answers they haven't even answered to Congress, much less the American people.
BLACKWELL: Let me ask about three of the priorities for you in the next response bill. You say infrastructure is one of them, which both parties have said they want to do for so long but it never gets done. You also talk about pension relief. This was actually part of the negotiation for the $2.2 trillion bill that was passed last month. Multi-company plans in jeopardy if companies go under and they can't pay into these funds to support current retirees, also current workers. What specifically do you want in this bill as it relates to pension relief? CARDENAS: Pensions are a big part of our economy. And you know the
baby boomer bubble is huge. We have a lot of seniors across America that depend on their pensions, and the local grocery store depends on that pension from that senior, and all of the local businesses. So it's really important that we get this right. What the Democrats have been trying to do is we've been trying to negotiate with this administration for the last three-and-a-half years, and they just don't want to hear it, they just don't want to deal with it. But we have to deal with that.
CARDENAS: One more topic here that you highlight. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 to 30,000 health care workers in the U.S. are DACA recipients, and you, several other Democratic members of the House, there's a letter sent over from more than a dozen Democrats in the Senate who are calling for the president to automatically extend their work authorization. Clearly, we need every health care worker we can get. Some of the offices they need to get documents are closed or are closed to the public. Are you making progress with the administration? And give us an idea how close you are to getting any progress with that with DHS.
CARDENAS: We're trying to make progress with this administration, it's just not going very far because they don't respect the fact that if you're in the country, and you're working hard, and you are actually paying taxes, they think that you don't deserve what every other taxpayer in America deserves. But many of us in Congress and many Americans believe that they do. These people are in America. They're part of our economy. They're part of our infrastructure, like you just mentioned, they are literally on the front of the lines. They are nurses and doctors and health care workers literally putting their lives on the line. And yet this president believes that they should not receive the basic dignity that any other American deserves.
And the last thing I'll say is, testing, testing, testing. If we don't get to up two plus to three million tests across America per week, our economy is going to suffer for a long, long time. It's really simple. If you get hurt and you don't listen to the doctor, let's say you break your ankle and you don't listen and just do it the way your doctor prescribed, you're going to be limping for the rest of your life if you take the cast off too soon.
And our economy, yes, it's important, we all want everybody to get back to work, we want to get back to the new normal, but at the same time, if they listen to this president and not listen to the doctors, we are going to have a longer term problem economically and for the health care of the American people. So let's listen to the experts, please.
BLACKWELL: California Democratic Congressman Tony Cardenas, thank you so much for being with us this morning.
CARDENAS: Thank you.
PAUL: There are hundreds of workers at meat processing plants that are sick across the U.S. And now we're getting reports some have actually died. How worker safety is being addressed now. We'll talk about that. BLACKWELL: Plus, researchers are working to develop an accurate antibody test to find out if coronavirus patients grow some or develop some immunity to the virus. But some health officials cautious the results are not yet reliable. We'll ask two experts working on antibody studies what they think.
PAUL: A union representative says several employees who tested positive for COVID-19 at a Tyson factory in Georgia have died now.
BLACKWELL: The meat processing plant in Camilla, Georgia, across the country is impacted by the coronavirus. CNN's Natasha Chen joins us now. Safety is clearly an issue for workers at these food processing plants. We've seen this in several states.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor and Christi, this is an example of what you're talking about in Georgia and similar processing plants for beef, poultry, and pork, in several states, State Department, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Iowa. About 10 plant that we know of have actually shutdown because of outbreaks, but some have decided to stay open and say that they are bringing in extra precautions to protect their workers, such as requiring face masks, distancing when they can, doing temperature scans.
But for example, in Waterloo, Iowa, more than two dozen local and state officials yesterday called Tyson Foods, asked them to voluntarily close their facility there after what they see as an outbreak. Again, the company is talking about extra measures that they're taking now for precautions. But already, as you mentioned, we're seeing tragic instances across the country, including one woman who spoke on Tuesday about her father who'd worked more than three decades at a JBS facility in Colorado. Here's what she said about his passing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEATRIZ RANGEL, DAUGHTER OF JBS EMPLOYEE WHO DIED OF COVID-19: When I called to let them know that he was sick and to let the rest of the employees know that he was positive for COVID-19, I got no response. And it really told me that they did not care, and I worried about what other people were at risk. It's too late for my dad, but it's not too late for those other employees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: JBS told me they have since spoken with the family after she made that statement. They gave us a statement saying in part, "We understand and share their anguish. Our condolences are with our fallen friend and his family. While we cannot know for certain how, where, or when our team members were infected given the widespread nature of the virus, each case is heartbreaking. Our sympathies go out to everyone who has been impacted by this common enemy we all face." And of course, we're also hearing that thousands of tests have been
sent to facilities like this across the country and at clinics in those areas to try and get more employees tested, and to do some contact tracing in order to get a handle on the situation. Victor and Christi, back to you.
PAUL: Natasha Chen, thank you so much for the report. Appreciate it.
I know there are feelings of isolation for all of us, and they're really setting in for a lot of people who are elderly in nursing homes right now because they can't see the people that they love during this pandemic. So there's a senior living facility manager in California, Victor, who came up with this really clever idea, right?
BLACKWELL: He built this Plexiglass box in his garage and placed it outside the senior center so residents can interact with visitors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON REYES, MANAGER, ROCKVILLE TERRACE SENIOR LIVING: We've had several family members who didn't think they were going to see their loved ones on birthdays. And we've had many, many tears.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is great because we would just be able to wave at him. Now we get a chance to talk to him and see that he's doing well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: This is just a fantastic idea. Fantastic idea. There are now several meetings scheduled each day. The cubicle is disinfected between visits.
PAUL: It's good for people on both sides of that, isn't it?
PAUL: That's awesome.
BLACKWELL: To think of that, we've seen the video of people sitting at the windows and holding up signs at senior centers, this's a great option.
PAUL: This is, for sure.
So we've talked a lot, too, about antibody tests, right, that they could help answer one of the most important questions about coronavirus. Do people who get infected therefore become immune? We're talking with two experts who are working on antibody tests of their own to get an update on what they're learning about it. Stay close.
BLACKWELL: There's an influential statistical model tracking the pandemic that shows that Vermont, West Virginia, Montana, and Hawaii, all states with fewer than 800 reported cases, could open in just a couple weeks, but others may need to wait until late June or even early July.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. CHRIS MURRAY, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, GLOBAL HEALTH: Even the earliest states, let's say Hawaii, which has had a very small epidemic, doesn't seem to be taking off, that's probably the first week of May that could be thinking about it. And then we're seeing states where they really shouldn't be thinking about relaxing social distancing right out into mid-June.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So we have some scrutiny on antibody testing, as you might have heard, what role it may play when we get back to our normal daily lives here. The tests could reveal whether someone has been infected in the past and if they have been, have they developed antibodies to the disease. So far only four tests have received emergency use authorization by the FDA. There are other antibody testing studies under way right now, though.
One study involves 10,000 volunteers from across Major League Baseball. The researchers leading it say it's the largest and first nationwide study. Scanwell Health, by the way, is tackling at-home antibody testing. They're developing a finger pick blood test and an app that's used. It's a yearlong study, actually, funded by the state legislature there in North Carolina.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who is a professor of medicine at Stanford, working on the MLB study, is with us, as well as Dr. Jack Jeng, chief medical officer of Scanwell Health, working on the at-home antibody tests. Thank you both for being here. We certainly appreciate it. Dr. Jeng, I'd like to start with you, in terms of the tests that you're doing, help us understand, if you are tested and if you show that you have had -- that you have antibodies, does that immediately equate to you being immune?
DR. JACK JENG, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, SCANWELL HEALTH: That's a great question, Christi, and that's the purpose of doing the study with Wake Forest is to answer that very question. Right now, we don't know the answer to that question, and we have to do more studies. But we do use some of the information we know about other coronaviruses, like the SARA-1 virus that happened years ago, and we know that in those situations people do have immunity for months if not years. So we hope to answer that very question with our Wake Forest study.
PAUL: Dr. Bhattacharya, When we talk about the testing with Major League Baseball, what is the value of testing those people specifically?
DR. JAY BHATTACHARYA, RESEARCHER AND PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: The value is to just get to know how widespread the disease actually is. The antibodies, as you said, provide evidence that you had a previous infection or even a current infection. The current case counts depend on actually having the virus active in you. So you undercount the people who had the virus and cleared it. It doesn't necessarily, as my colleague just said, provide evidence of immunity. That's still to be determined. But it does provide evidence of how widespread the disease is, which is necessary for forecasting where we are in the epidemic and how deadly the virus actually is.
PAUL: So Dr. Jeng, if people, it turns out, are building an immunity if they have had this virus and they've recovered, how does that shape, then, the models being tested and are being crafted and the plans, actually, to their being crafted to get the country to reopen and bring some more normalcy back?
JENG: Yes, I think if we have the evidence that antibodies mean that you are immune or partially immune to becoming re-infected, we can start thinking about sending people with those antibodies back to work. So I'm a practicing anesthesiologist at UCSF. I take care of patients every day. And if I had antibodies, I may be the one that's interacting with the patients that are affected by COVID-19. And you can imagine that that can also be the case for people that work in factories and warehouses. If they have the antibody and it shown to provide immunity, that would be a great way to start opening our country back up slowly.
BERMAN: All right, Dr. Jay you had said last month that you were astounded that states were closing the economy based on the fact that we just didn't have a clear picture of mortality rates. Based on now with the questions about the veracity of this virus, and how complicated it is, how unpredictable it is, what else should the country have done?
BHATTACHARYA: I don't really have time for recriminations. I'm more interested in what to do now. I think we need to know how widespread the virus actually is. These sorts of population level surveys of antibody presence in populations will help us answer that question. That will inform policy in a way that -- we just -- we need these answers, we need to know how widespread it is.
I've been working in Santa Clara County and Los Angeles County on this MLB study to try to get some evidence on the presence of antibodies or how common the presence of these antibodies are in people across the country. And I think once we have those answers, we'll be in a better position to answer what the right policy should be.
PAUL: Dr. Jeng, on Wednesday the FDA approved this fourth antibody test. How confident are you in the reliability of what we see in front of us right now?
JENG: So Scanwell takes the reliability of our test extremely seriously, which is why we're doing our own internal validation studies. We've also partnered with different labs across the country to validate our test's performance. We'll be kicking off our clinical trial in the coming weeks. We'll be evaluating how accurate our tests are when they're performed by a layperson at home. So accuracy is extremely important for us, and we take it very seriously at Scanwell. PAUL: Dr. Jay, help us adjust our expectations here. I was listening
to Professor Marc Lipsitch talk about how he believes the world we knew before all of this happened is not going back to that until the year 2022. When you look at a timeline here, do you see that as being accurate?
BHATTACHARYA: I guess it depends on what you mean by "normal." I think we can't go back to a system where we're not systematically scanning the population for these kinds of viruses and very quickly trying to get a picture on what the nature of the epidemic actually is. I think we're going to need to improve that considerably.
Will we go back to normal activity? Yes, and I don't think it's likely to be 2022. The question is, will we be more cautious? Will people wash their hands more frequently? Will you see flu vaccinations go up? I think yes to all of those questions. I don't think it will be normal.
The question for me is, what information base are we going to use when we're making decisions about opening and closing? To me the most important number is how extensive the disease is. And then secondarily to that, as a result of knowing that you can answer how deadly it is. We need those numbers, and I'm working very hard to try to understand the disease and the epidemic by getting those numbers.
PAUL: Dr. Jeng, what do you need to see to start reopening the country? We know that testing and contact tracing are two of the big elements here that people say and most of the medical community say we can't do it without those two things?
JENG: I think at-home tests like the ones that Scanwell is working on will be incredibly important for this. The reason, because testing at home prevents people from going out and potentially transmitting the virus or becoming infected themselves. It also frees up our physical health care facilities, which are currently overwhelmed in many states. And lastly, when you're testing at home yourself, a health care worker doesn't have to put on personal protective equipment to test you. And as we all know, PPE is in shortage right now. So I think at-home testing will be a very important tool in getting to that place.
PAUL: Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Dr. Jack Jeng, so appreciate your expertise and you taking the time to be with us today. Thank you so much, and best of luck.
BHATTACHARYA: Thank you.
JENG: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Still to come, a shopping mall in Nebraska is going to start the process of reopening, a soft opening next week, despite the growing number of cases of COVID-19 in the state. We have the owner of that outlet mall with us next.
PAUL: It's 41 minutes past the hour right now. Their work keeps food on Americans' tables, of course. Farming communities across the country, though, are facing their own coronavirus crisis right now.
BLACKWELL: Here's CNN's Paul Vercammen.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Agrobusiness communities throughout California suffering, unemployment now 5.3 percent. This is Santa Paula, population 30,000. And at this Food Share event, everybody driving up to get a box of free food and a bag of produce, and the people at Food Share Ventura County saying they're seeing a lot of new faces, people who never before needed that helping hand.
MONICA WHITE, CEO AND PRESIDENT, FOOD SHARE VENTURA COUNTY: It's work furloughs, it's reduced hours, it's actually losing their job. It's a combination of all of those that is causing people to have to go out and wait in line to be able to get their food.
JASMINE HERNANDEZ, FURLOUGHED: I work at the Santa Paula unified school district, and so I work for the afterschool program. Since the kids aren't in school, I'm not in school. And since the kids aren't back in school, I probably won't be back until August.
VERCAMMEN: And then the growers here in this county, they say people are just not demanding their produce, not the restaurants, and not the stores. We came upon one farmer who basically had to just hack up a bunch of celery and leave it in the field because there was no one to buy it.
SCOTT DEARDORFF, OWNER, DEARDORFF FAMILY FARMS: It's not going into the garbage. It's going back into the ground which puts some nutrients back into the ground, but it's a very expensive way to do that. Because of the decrease in demand, we're only harvesting a few days a week just to cut to order and special orders for customers that already have contracts with us. So consequently, our employees are working less hours and less days.
RENE GUZMAN, WORK STOPPED DUE TO COVID-19 CRISIS: I'm married and have three kids, so it's been hard for us to provide like some food, because we have some bills to pay. We have to pay the rent.
VERCAMMEN: Food Share here in Ventura County says they are in this for a long haul, but the numbers are unprecedented. The money they need to raise the most ever, the people coming through the lines also the most ever. When that will end, that is still anyone's guess. So in the meantime they continue to try to feed anybody who needs that box of food. Back to you now, Christi, victor.
PAUL: Paul, thank you so much. Listen, we asked and you answered, and we're so grateful for that.
We're going to share what your fellow viewers are saying about how life has changed since this pandemic, and what quarantine is teaching us.
PAUL: During the pandemic, it's important to keep your immune system strong, and diet plays a big part in that. CNN's Jacqueline Howard tells us which foods can help us do just that.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Studies have linked having a good gut health with boosting your immunity. All-natural yogurts are a good source of probiotics, which can have big benefits for your gut health. Garlic can also have a powerful effect on your immune system. Garlic is a good source of a mineral called selenium which plays a role in protecting against cell damage. Selenium can also be found in food like broccoli, sardines, and enriched breads.
Another way to boost your body's immune system, go for bone broths. Research shows that broths, like the one in chicken soup, can help ease symptoms of infection.
To keep your immune system strong, think zinc. Zinc can be found in seafood like oysters which are high in the mineral. And of course, Vitamin C. Citrus fruits like oranges are full of the tried and true vitamin, but it can also be found in green vegetables, like spinach, kale, and Brussel sprouts.
Lastly, drinking fluids, especially water, can help your body flush out waste and keep its temperature normal. By staying hydrated you're creating the optimal environment for your immune system.
BLACKWELL: A shopping mall in Nebraska is reopening next week despite the governor of Nebraska asking people to stay home. And the number of cases in the state, they're growing. Just this week cases jumped nearly 30 percent. Right now, the state has more than 1,100 cases of COVID-19 and 24 deaths. Now, the owner of the outlet mall says their experience will be a case study of best practices for other malls to reopen. And the owner of Nebraska Crossing, that outlet mall, Rod Yates is with us on the phone now. Rod, thanks for joining us.
ROD YATES, OWNER, NEBRASKA CROSSING OUTLETS: Thank you, Victor, appreciate you having us on.
BLACKWELL: So let me start here. Nebraska is not one of the four states that scientists highlighted as potentially opening in May, does not meet the CDC's gating criteria to start phase one of the reopen. Why reopen a mall next week? YATES: Well, thank you for the question. And obviously there's been a
lot of discussion with what we're trying to accomplish with this. But the mall has been closed down for about four or five weeks now, and what we decided to do is we started thinking about all of our retail brands in the center. We have got Nike and Under Armour and Coach and Kate Spade and a lot of great global brands. And so what we started thinking about if we were in the boardroom of those stores or those brand, what is it going to be like to get stores opened.
So what we decided to do is let's start thinking about a soft opening. So what a soft opening means for next week is most of these employees have been furloughed and laid off, and so the process of reopening a store can take up to four to six weeks. And so we looked at where things are headed, and may be a good time to get the mall up and running, but you have to have a soft opening to start getting the stores back-trained, start developing best practices. So we started working with our retail brands to look at Nebraska as a case study, so to speak, of how you're going to interact with customers, employees, brands, landlords, how we're all going to work together to create a safe environment. So that's what we're working on.
BLACKWELL: Let me ask you this, Rod, I hate to jump in, but we're low on time. When you say the mall has been closed, I understand that it really has not been closed. There was at least one store that was still operating, a uniform store, but it's the corporate officials who decided to close their stores. You didn't officially close the mall. So what's your degree of confidence that Nike, that Cole Haan, that other stores will open on the 24th, or in May when you have the grand reopening?
YATES: It's totally up to them. As a landlord our role is to create a venue and an environment that's very safe for customers and employees to come and work. And so we don't control what happens in the four walls. All I control is the venue. And so what we're trying to do is create the venue where the stores can start the process of reopening. And so I don't see many of our stores opening on the 24th. What I see happening is them starting the rehiring process, starting to develop the best practices and training that they need to do for the new economy.
So I see very, very limited stores open on the 24th. Yes, we had Uniform Destination stay open. They were serving the nursing and medical markets, which was great, we're glad they did that. Then we had a number of brands that were basically using the stores as fulfillment centers for online orders. So that's how we interacted in Nebraska since we didn't have a stay-at-home order, the employee could work out of the back of the store and do online orders and fulfill --
BLACKWELL: Two things I will add here. You didn't have the stay-at- home order but the governor urged 21 days to stay home and healthy. That ends on April 30th, six days after your soft opening. And the president of the Nebraska Hospital Association says that reopening could nullify efforts to flatten the curve, and she also said it poses a serious risk of health of all Nebraskans.
Rod Yates, I wish we had more time. Thank you for spending some time with us this morning.
YATES: Excellent, Victor. Thank you very much.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Christi?
PAUL: We are all adjusting to this new life during this pandemic, right. I want to show you what our team looks like on our end. Look at us here, waking up dark and early every weekend. A look at Adam (ph), he's our E.P. And there we have everybody in the control room because we cannot do this without them. Mara (ph) there, Jamie (ph), we just saw. But Mara (ph) from her living room. Guys, we miss you. I just want to let you know, Colby, we miss seeing you all in person.
BLACKWELL: Chloe (ph) in the sweatshirt.
This weekend we asked how this has changed your life, and perhaps the most common response we've seen -- morning Marcus (ph). I'm just saying hello to everyone who is on the team. I haven't seen them in a while.
PAUL: I know, I know.
BLACKWELL: And growing appreciation for our loved ones. This is from Gina. "It's given us an opportunity to slow down and see how awesome our kids are and that we're doing pretty awesome as parents."
PAUL: And then Jordan says "I've learned to appreciate life a lot more than I ever have, so I think I'll treasure the life with my family more. As a sophomore in college, it's been nice to spend time with them, and I'm going to continue to try and cherish the time we have together."
Great, great words of wisdom. We'd love to hear from you again, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, what you think matters to us. Thank you so much for watching. Make good memories today.
BLACKWELL: Fredricka Whitfield is up next. Have a good Saturday.