Return to Transcripts main page


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Holds Press Conference on Need for Testing in New York; Vice President Mike Pence Attends Graduation Ceremony for U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado; President Trump Criticizes Democratic Senators after Senators' Phone Call with Vice President; Food Banks Overwhelmed Due to Coronavirus Pandemic; Officials Say Centers for Disease Control Lab's Likely Contamination Caused Delays in Coronavirus Testing; President and CEO of National Urban League Marc Morial Discusses Effect of Coronavirus on Minority Communities; Medical and Financial Experts Answer Questions Related to Coronavirus Pandemic. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 18, 2020 - 14:00   ET



EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Listen, the governor opened his press conference today talking about those hospitalizations that you mentioned, that are down, and the focus on the future everybody is having now. And he mentioned that he had talked to his own daughter and found she was a little bit confused about this testing thing. This is sort of the big question now is testing. We have to do a lot of it in New York to be able to reopen New York. The governor mentioned, look, we've done 500,000 in a month here, which is a good number, but the number has to go up dramatically for the state to reopen.

The challenges are, for example, the chemicals required to do testing called reagents. They are hard to get at the moment, and he needs testing to be able to get those reagent chemicals to do that. Also, in order to have testing work, you have to have both testing and tracking where you test people and then track who they talk to and track who they're around, and he said you need an army of people in New York to be able to do that successfully, he just doesn't have that yet. So good numbers coming out of New York, better numbers, but the numbers that we need to think about now are those testing numbers need to go up quite a lot for this city to start looking like it is supposed to look like on a Saturday like today.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And then there are questions about the coronavirus data that is being reported in New York's nursing homes. What more is being said about that?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, look, nursing homes, of course, have been the worst hit parts of all over the country when it comes to this disease. Obviously, it targets people that are older and more vulnerable, and so the nursing home data is very important for people who are trying to figure out what is going on. There's been some concern here in New York that makes it hard to get. The governor pushed back on it pretty firmly today in his press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The numbers are going to come out. Any person that thinks they're going to sit there and people are not going to figure out how many people passed away in that nursing home, they're kidding themselves. I've spoken to a number of nursing homes. I think more than anything they're overwhelmed. They're overwhelmed. They have staff shortages. Staff are getting sick.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, look, the governor is saying data is on its way. There is data already out there. But if you think about what he is really talking about in that quote, where he is talking about these nursing homes overwhelmed by this disease, dealing with staff that are getting sick, this is part of the weird thing about coronavirus is that sometimes if you're not in a hospital or you're not in the nursing home, you are just in your house waiting this thing out, you maybe miss how hard this really still is for so many people in New York. And that I think was the more important part of that quote from the governor.

WHITFIELD: Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much for that in New York.

Right now, Vice President Mike Pence is attending the graduation ceremony for the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. CNN's Sarah Westwood is following that for us. Sarah?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Fred. We saw Vice President Mike Pence land in Colorado just a few moments ago. He was greeted by the Colorado governor who was wearing a mask, a sign of the times. Vice President Pence notably was not wearing one. This is the first time really the vice president has traveled anywhere since the coronavirus outbreak lock down has sort has sort of kept the president and vice president more or less grounded in Washington for weeks now. So it is significant that we are seeing the vice president travel to this commencement ceremony.

The vice president's office tells me that initially this is going to be a video speech. The vice president was going to give a message via video to these cadets who are graduating today. But when the vice president's office learned the Air Force Academy was going to forge ahead with an in-person ceremony, they decided the that vice president would be going there in person as well.

There are a number of precautions being taken at this graduation ceremony. It is not going to look like a typical Air Force Academy commencement. The cadets, for example, marched in six feet apart. They are sitting eight feet apart. And if you look at images of the stage, you can see that the vice president and other distinguished guests there on the stage, they are sitting six feet apart as well, eight feet apart on that stage.

President Trump yesterday said he thought it was great that the vice president was going for this commencement address, and Trump also announced that he plans to give a similar graduation speech at West Point next weekend. This, of course, Fred, as the White House is pushing this message that they want to see states start to implement plans to reopen. Heading into May they want to encourage governors to try to get life back to normal. But significant, Fred, that we are seeing the vice president travel for the first time in weeks.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Westwood, thank you so much for that.

Just a short time ago President Trump slammed Democratic senators in a tweet after a phone call they had with the vice president on Friday. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House for that. Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Fredricka, the president is once again lashing out at Democratic lawmakers, this time focusing his fire on these Democratic senators who had a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence yesterday. We're told that the call focused on testing and that several Democratic senators as well as independent Senator Angus King, who caucuses with Democrats, really pushed back against the vice president's claims that the federal government has everything under control as it relates to testing.


And now we are seeing the response from the president, accusing Democrats of being too negative. He also says that the vice president gave them everything that they would have wanted to hear in terms of gaining ground on the coronavirus. And the president accused those Democratic senators of being rude and nasty, and also suggesting that this is part of a political playbook by Democrats focused on the 2020 election.

Of course, we know that beyond this interaction between the Democratic senators and the vice president yesterday, testing has really been a huge, huge focus. And several governors -- Democrats and Republicans of other states -- have said that they do not have what they need in order to ramp up testing to the point where they can begin to reopen their states' economies. Of course, we know that the president and vice president have insisted that they do have all of the testing necessary. At the same time, though, we know that the federal government is helping the states ramp up testing. They say that they're going to be sending 5 million testing swabs to various states by the end of the month. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much.

So with some 22 million unemployment claims filed nationwide over the last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom says his state is experiencing a serious economic downturn.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Today I stand in front of you sobered by the reality of the last few weeks. We are now in a pandemic induced recession here in the state of California.


WHITFIELD: And now food banks are struggling to keep up with the huge increase in demand as supply chain issues begin to drive up costs and hurt efforts to feed needy families. CNN's Paul Vercammen joining me now from Los Angeles. Paul, what is the situation there?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as the governor highlighted, crucial, critical unemployment situation -- 5.3 percent now in California. So when you go to one of these food banks, especially in the counties that have a lot of cropland like Ventura County, we observed yesterday people were just flocking through to pick up that box of food, that bag of produce, all of them so grateful for the handout, but very needed as unemployment rises. Of course, California is the capital of the gig economy. Whether it's farm workers or showbiz people, a lot of them just get paid by the job. And we saw them rolling in to this food bank, the director just overwhelmed.


MONICA WHITE, CEO, FOOD SHARE VENTURA COUNTY: This has been the craziest last month of my professional career. I can honestly say that. So what we normally do is serve 75,000 people every month. And in the last four weeks we have had to set up a completely new distribution system of these pop up pantries, and then we've also had to find new volunteers to be able to help us, and thank goodness for the National Guard has been able to come in and help us pack these emergency food boxes. And then on top of that we have to order more food than we've ever ordered in the past, and be able to find the money. We have to fundraise for it.


VERCAMMEN: So, let's say, compared to Los Angeles County, there's 850,000 people or so in Ventura County. They do need more volunteers, and anybody from another county could go up and help them there. We saw members of the National Guard. We also saw people with Honda dealers and then other volunteers just out there doing anything they could to help those people. We should also note that Governor Newsom has offered up paid sick leave of two weeks for anybody in the food services industry, whether they are a packer or a grower or someone in the field. That way they don't feel pressured to work if they do come down with COVID-19, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, everyone trying to help each other. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

Let's take you to Colorado Springs, Colorado, now. Vice President Mike Pence speaking to the Air Force Academy.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You did it, class of 2020. You proved yourself. And today you will graduate from this storied institution, and you will become officers in the United States Armed Forces.


PENCE: And all of you that will take on those new responsibilities, let me assure you, you will be entering a military that is better equipped and better financed and better supported than any military in American history. Under your commander-in-chief's leadership, we've made historic investments in our national defense. We've made the strongest military in the history of the world stronger still. And you'll be joining that military and making it even stronger.


Nearly half of you are going into pilot training, I'm told, and you'll go on to fly some of the most sophisticated aircraft ever known to man. Thirty-one of you will fly unmanned aircraft, keeping watch and taking action on battlefields around the world, defending our troops and defending our freedom.

And dozens of you will ensure that our military remains as dominant in space as we are on land and sea and air. Just two years ago, President Trump laid out a bold vision for American leadership in space. And last December, the president made that vision a reality when he put his signature on an historic law that created the sixth branch of our armed forces, the United States Space Force.


PENCE: And I'm proud to stand here today with 86 members of the Air Force Academy, class of 2020, will commission as the first company grade officers of the space force. And I'm proud to report to all of you and all of you gathered here that nearly 10 years from the last time American astronauts launched into space from our native soil, thanks to the president's leadership, NASA just announced that next month American astronauts will return to space on American rockets from American soil. And some of you may be flying those rockets in the years ahead.


PENCE: You know we live in a remarkable moment in the history of our armed forces. The class of 2020, this is your day. But you know you didn't get here on your own. Back in Indiana, we have an old saying, that when you see a box turtle on a fence post, one thing you know for sure is he had help getting there. And I know each and every one of you know that is especially true with such accomplished men and women seated before me.

You've been taught by some of the best military faculty anywhere in the world. You've been supported by your fellow cadets on those long days and late nights. But long before you arrived on campus, your families were there. Your moms and dads, your brothers and sisters. And I know family is especially important to this class, this class of 2020. I was told on the way here 51 of you had siblings who are already Air Force Academy graduates. Five of you have two siblings who are alumni, 63 of you are children of Air Force Academy graduates, and I even heard that four of you, both of your parents are Air Force Academy alum. Your families couldn't be here because of the extraordinary times in which we live, but we know they're watching from afar. And they couldn't be more proud of each and every one of you.

WHITFIELD: Vice President Mike Pence there with encouraging words to the cadets of the Air Force Academy, graduating class 2020, telling them that they are helping to maybe the U.S. military stronger still.

All right, breaking news just into the CNN Newsroom. We are learning contamination at a CDC lab was likely the cause of critical early delays in rolling out testing. Breaking details next.



WHITFIELD: All right, this breaking news into CNN. Officials say a Centers for Disease Control lab was likely contaminated earlier this year, leading to delays in coronavirus testing. CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is with me, along with political correspondent Sara Murray. Let me go to Sara Murray first. What are you learning about this?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. I've been reporting this with my colleague Nick Valencia who talked to a number of officials across government, and there's always been this question of why it took so long back in February once the CDC tests weren't working to sort this out. And what we are learning is that the problem appeared to be not the design of these CDC tests, but the problem was actually there was contamination in the manufacturing line for these tests. And so essentially it took until the later part of February when officials tell me that the CDC couldn't figure out if it was a design issue of the test, if it was a manufacturing issue. At that point an FDA official actually went down to Atlanta to visit the CDC labs where they were creating these kinds of test kits. An administration official tells me that they determined that there was contamination in the manufacturing process and that the CDC was actually violating its own manufacturing protocols, and that that is what was causing these tests to essentially malfunction when they had been shipped out.

So what the FDA and CDC did in tandem to try to solve this was to set up with an outside manufacturer for production of these test kits. They essentially remanufactured them outside of the CDC. Those kits worked and were shipped out to public health labs across the country.


WHITFIELD: And that is interesting chronology, though, Sara, because you say the contamination happened in February. We know that there were warnings in January, but the president says -- he disputes when he was told about the pending pandemic.

MURRAY: That's right. I think what we see from this is the CDC actually turned around its initial tests pretty quickly. It was in early February when they started shipping those out. It was pretty quickly after the first case of the coronavirus emerged in the U.S. But when you talk to the public health experts, they really look at this lag in February when the CDC test was failing and there was no real alternative out there for public health labs, there was no real commercial tests on the market. And they sort of look at that gap as these lost few weeks when the virus was spreading across the United States essentially undetected. There was only a very limited way to test for the coronavirus at that point, which involved sending back a sample to the CDC labs to have them test it. You couldn't conduct the test yourself if you were a public health official on the front lines of this.

And that was a really frustrating period for a lot of folks out west, in Washington state and in California, who kind of knew they had a lot of travelers back and forth from Asia and they were very aware that the virus could be spreading in their communities at that time.

WHITFIELD: Elizabeth, why is this significant in your view?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it is significant because Sara and Nick's excellent reporting points to a larger picture. I was speaking with someone inside the CDC, and they said, look, they had been trying to get a feeling for what was going on here. What happened with the contamination? Were there manufacturing problems after that? I think everyone agrees that this was a mess and a failure and has cost lives in the future, but even someone within the CDC talking to multiple sources could not figure out what was going on.

And I'll tell you, Fred, over the years, and this predates coronavirus by far, there has been concern. The CDC is a venerated institution. When I talk to people all over the world, they want their CDCs to look like our CDC, and with good reason to a large extent, but that recently over the past few years it has become what some would call, some have said to me -- they don't want me to use their names -- but that it has become bloated, it's become a bureaucracy, and there have been leadership and managerial issues.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. All fascinating and incredible reporting by both of you. Thank you so much, Sara Murray, Elizabeth Cohen.

Meantime, newly released data from New York City shows that black residents are twice as likely to die from the coronavirus than white Americans, this as numbers from Louisiana show that African-Americans account for 59 percent of the state's death despite making up just 33 percent of the population. And other states can attest to two and three times disparities as well between blacks and whites.

Joining me right now to discuss is Marc Morial, the president and CEO of the National Urban League, and the 59th mayor of New Orleans. Good to see you, Marc.

MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Hey, Fred, good to be with you. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much for being so patient today. We have had a lot of breaking news. So what is the Urban League suggesting should happen to address the systemic disparities contributing to the now disproportionate numbers?

MORIAL: So the first thing to understand is that these chronic conditions and these health disparities have been part of reality for a long time, and what the coronavirus has done is shed light on longstanding, if you will, disparities. And these disparities are between blacks and whites, whites and Latinos, as well as whites and Native-Americans and American Indians. So it's a widespread set of disparities.

With respect to blacks versus whites, the data is now showing a disproportionality in the severity of the disease and in the number of deaths by African-Americans. But let's underscore this. This is not, quote-unquote, a black disease or a Hispanic disease. This is a disease that affects everyone, it's just disproportionate in how it is impacting African-Americans.

WHITFIELD: Right, so many contributing factors, contributing factors from uninsured, underinsured, poverty, lack of access to health care as a whole. And like you said, a lot of preexisting conditions. So now the Urban League, with your leadership, is now suggesting that there needs to be some priorities in the rescue plans, the national rescue plans. What are you proposing, and what do you think is going to realistically be tackled?

MORIAL: So the National Urban League, we're working on two fronts.


On one front we're working on the ground in community after community hosting virtual career fairs, and one Urban League affiliate, we're doing testing, in others we've conducted food drives to make sure food insecurities are being dealt with. We are an on-the-ground, economic first responder.

On the broader policy front, from a systematic standpoint, we need to expand Medicaid. We need to make sure that these states that refused the expansion, embrace the expansion. We need to, I believe, lower the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 down to 50. We need to create a public option. And what we need to do is create an airtight system so that all Americans have access to quality health care through an insurance system.

WHITFIELD: And you are hopeful this could happen in the short term?

MORIAL: It can happen if the will of the leadership of this country is here. Doris Kearns Goodwin was on with you earlier. This is a time when leaders have to rise, and these systemic, economic and health inequities need to be dealt with. What we don't want to do is just do a paper-over fix with respect to responses by the federal government. So there's a long list of things that need to be done. The Paycheck Protection Program was ingenious in its design, and I think there are lots of problems in its execution. You now see that major corporations applied through their subsidiaries to get under the 500-employee threshold, and therefore took money that was supposed to be for small businesses. And many very small businesses didn't get an opportunity to participate in that.

So there has got to be a fix on some of the elements that are designed to be the bridge over troubled waters. But long term, we have got to fix the broken public health system by investing in it, doing it in a smart way, and doing it in a way that is equitable. WHITFIELD: Got you. All right, Marc Morial of the Urban League, thank

you so much. Be well to you, your wife, Michelle, and the rest of the family.

MORIAL: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: Stay well.

MORIAL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, tonight on CNN, a look at coronavirus in communities of color. Join Don Lemon and Van Jones for a special conversation and messages of hope from celebrities. Here is one message from Snoop Dogg.


SNOOP DOGG, RAPPER: What up? This is big Snoop D-O-double-G, and I want to send some words of encouragement to all of my people out there. Yo, I want you to have some fun, I want you to make the most of your time at home. Spend some time with your loved ones. Get in tune with yourself. Go to Instagram. Watch some funny stuff. Check out some good movies. Keep your spirit up. Drink a lot of water. You can work out on the house, too, on the solo tip. You can do some body lifting. You can do some push-ups. You can do a lot of things to keep your mand moving. But I want you to do the most important thing -- stay positive, and stay in the house, because this thing will be over soon, and it takes all of us in order for this thing to work. I'm big Snoop D-O-double-G and I'm telling you this because I'm at the house. I'm on the inside. Check me out on Instagram having a good time, partying, laughing, making the most it, because God don't put nothing on us that we can't handle.

Love is love. To all my peoples out there, I love you more today than I did yesterday. Peace be on to you.


WHITFIELD: All right, huge motivation there. Tune in tonight for much more from Sean Diddy Combs, America Ferrera, Charles Barkley, and many more. "The Color of COVID" live tonight at 10:00 eastern time.



WHITFIELD: All right, it has been 12 weeks since the first case of coronavirus was reported in the United States. And with each new headline comes more questions. And all week long you have been posting coronavirus questions on our website. And for the next 30 minutes our panel of experts will answer them. This has been really popular, so we wanted to bring it back and hopefully answer as many questions as possible.

I'm joined now by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, infectious disease chief at Massachusetts general hospital, good to see you, Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and author of "The Power of Different," good to see you as well, and personal finance columnist for "The Washington Post" Michelle Singletary. Great to see you all. Thank you so much.

So let's begin with some medical questions. Dr. Walensky, a viewer asks, "How and when will we know it is safe to re-open the country?"

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Great. Thanks for having me. Good afternoon. That is a question we're getting a lot. I think the first thing we need to do is sort of get through this peak of cases, this peak of deaths, which are probably going to follow, unfortunately, about two to three weeks after the peak of cases. We are starting to see that peak in Massachusetts, and as the epidemic sort of drives inward from the coast I think we'll see some of those peaks inside the country and the south and the midwest soon to follow.

But I think we'll start knowing when it's safe when we can sort of start reopening our hospitals, when our hospital capacity has some availability, and then, of course, what everybody has been talking about, when we can test. And that is really going to be key to make sure that we have enough tests available so that everybody who has symptoms and even people who don't can test and test frequently.

WHITFIELD: OK, so you may have already answered this next question, but perhaps there is more in which to elaborate on, because Kathleen (ph) from Virginia wants to know how "Are we sure the curves are flattening if we haven't done enough widespread testing?"


WALENSKY: Yes, it's a really important point. So we know that in Massachusetts, anyway, and many states that are peaking, that about one in five people who get tested have disease. So that actually means that we're only testing sort of the cream of the crop, the people who are most likely to have infection because we have such high infection rates.

So what I'd really like to see is there are so many tests available that people who are less likely to have infection, who have milder symptoms or even no symptoms at all, and so when we start seeing that that number of people who test positive starts driving down, then I think we'll know. We are starting to have more and more tests available.

Right now in Massachusetts we are really still only testing generally people with symptoms and generally people who come into the hospital. There are some exceptions to that, but we certainly are not testing everybody who is interested in having a test yet, and we're certainly not testing everybody who has symptoms but is well enough to be home.

WHITFIELD: And some parents are worried about taking their children to the doctor, visiting a hospital to treat minor injuries. Is it safe? I can attest to this. I've rescheduled all of my wellness checks that are due about now in time for summer camp and fall registration. But how do you answer that question? Is it really safe to take your kids to get medical attention right now?

WALENSKY: I will admit that I have done the same. So I would say, if you feel this is something that needs medical attention you should certainly go and get it. And in fact we worry quite a bit that we're not seeing people who might have had a mild stroke, might have had a mild heart attack, and they are worried about coming in when in fact they should have. That said, if some of these appointments could be potentially deferred, then I would suggest they are deferred, largely because we really have been taxing the medical system right now, and we're trying our best to keep people home to the extent they can be.

WHITFIELD: Vish (ph) asks this, "There is a lot of talk about remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients. What do you know about them?"

WALENSKY: Right. Remdesivir has been all over the news. So remdesivir is a drug made by Gilead. It is not currently FDA approved for any indication right now. It's a drug that's been on the shelf. It has some antiviral activity, and international it was thought that maybe it would have some good activity against Ebola, it did in the lab, but less so in people. And the initial trials against Ebola I don't believe were ever published.

It was taken off the shelf because it looked also in the lab like it might have good activity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. I would say the trials are still enrolling, and they have not definitely reported. We're getting a lot of news about it because there have been, there was data in the "New England Journal" last week of 53 patients who got compassionate use remdesivir, and they presented the outcomes and demonstrated that 68 percent of people got better.

What we really don't know is what would have happened to those people if they hadn't gotten remdesivir, and everyone in the scientific community is really trying to encourage folks to wait for the randomized control trial data, data which we do not have yet, in order to understand how this drug works.

WHITFIELD: Yes, I guess that is what helps raise the anxiety everywhere, is that there is still so much we don't know.

All right, stay with us, ladies. We've got so many more questions about family and finances right after this.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We're answering your questions from testing to treatment. We're separating fact from fear. You posted a lot of these questions on, so here they go. We welcome back our Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Dr. Gail Saltz, and personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary.

Dr. Saltz, Angela from California asks, "How do you deal with housemates who are not taking contagion precautions seriously?" That's frightening. DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST AND PSYCHOANALYST: Angela, I am hearing a

lot about this, people who either live with a friend, roommate, or who actually live with a different generation family member, like an older parent, who is not taking it seriously. This is where you really have to communicate, like you would about anything that you really, really disagree with, but not with, hey, you, I'm going to blame you for doing everything wrong, in which case they'll get defensive and not listen at all. But I'm feeling very -- I'm feeling afraid. I'm feeling unsafe. Here is why. Here's what I'm doing for myself. What are you doing to help keep us together safe?

And that's really the best way to approach it. But honestly, there will be times when someone won't listen anyway, and I would advise you to do everything you can to keep yourself safe. Stay in your own room more of the time. Clean any shared things much of the time. Try to separate things you use. You use this pot, I'll use this pan, et cetera. And if need be, consider moving temporarily to a parent's home, to another friend who is likeminded. It's OK to do that temporarily if that's what you need to feel safe. But some roommates have been able to work this out just by talking about how it makes them feel.

WHITFIELD: That is a nice way, that's a very gentle way of engaging. That is my mom's advice, always says instead of going at it, at the throat, just ask some of the questions, like how would you feel if or what if? And that is a nice way of starting that, as you suggested.

So Michelle, a viewer writes, "Some of my friends received their stimulus checks, but I am still waiting. So why the delay?"

MICHELLE SINGLETARY, SYNDICATED PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": So millions of people are in a holding pattern because they didn't either get a refund for 2018 or 2019, and that was the first batch that went out. If the IRS had direct deposit information for you, then you were in the first wave. And obviously a lot of people are upset about that. I got an e-mail from a veteran that said I served my country. Why am I not first in line? And that is just how they set it up. They want to send out the electronic payments first, and then the next wave, and then checks.


WHITFIELD: And it really does widen the gap between people who feel comfortable with filing electronically versus those who did it traditionally or through mail, and now they're perhaps having to wait a lot longer.

Dr. Walensky, Danielle (ph) from Long Island writes, "Pool season is right around the corner. Does chlorine kill COVID-19? And is it safe to swim in a pool if just my family uses it?"

WALENSKY: Great question. I think all of us are anxious for outside time in the summer. I'm hopeful that by the time summer comes that some social distancing six feet apart around pools will actually be totally fine. Certainly, if you are quarantining with your family now and you want to go to the pool with your family, then I think there is probably no risk there at all.

We know that chlorine actually kills viruses. There is not a lot of data on whether chlorine kills coronavirus or this virus, but it does generally kill viruses. We know that alcohol is actually better than chlorine, but it is probably pretty safe to go in a chlorinated pool.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Saltz, Jacqueline (ph) form Michigan writes "Some children are in households with domestic violence, substance abuse, depression. What safety nets are in place for those children?"

SALTZ: The reality is that, unfortunately, this problem predated this pandemic. And however, we are seeing in the tinderbox of being tremendously stressed and perhaps economically stressed, incidents of both domestic violence and violence against other members of the family like children is going up. It's important to note that the same safety nets that existed before exist now. Call the National Domestic Violence hotline. Call safe haven. There are programs that are in place. They are figuring out amongst the coronavirus situation how to keep social distancing but still provide shelter, still provide someone to talk to, someone to help you figure out how you can maneuver in the situation, and remove anybody who is in danger from the dangerous situation. Social services, etcetera, those things are still present, and you should, believe me, now is the time before things get worse to absolutely reach out for help.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh, because the feeling of being trapped is only magnified especially in the case of people that stay at home, edicts. So, Michelle, here is a question for you. A viewer asks "Should I take advantage of one of those low or no interest car financing options, or is it better to take the cash back incentive?"

SINGLETARY: So if you actually can qualify for the zero percent, take that, because a lot of people aren't quite sure what is going to happen with their jobs down the road. And if you have a zero percent interest loan, you're going to have to pay back less, obviously, because interest is not attached to it.

But I would say, just make sure that if you're going to make a purchase you actually can afford it, that you've got a reserve, you have an emergency fund, you have what I call a life happens fund, which is things break down in a house or home. You can pay the extra utility bills. Really think through before you make these big purchases, because people were not thinking that through even before this all happened and going ahead with these major purchases.

So right now cash is king. You want to make sure you have a reserve even if you still have a job, because as we see, as this goes on longer and longer, some companies are furloughing people. And you want to make sure that you have the money to take care of the necessities. Hang on to the hooptie for a little bit longer before you make a big purchase.


WHITFIELD: That's right. Necessities -- food, sustenance, water, power, all that. Dr. Rochelle -- go ahead. SINGLETARY: Even just helping other folks, too, right. This is the time to not be thinking about just yourself. So you may have the money to do some things, but there might be people in your sphere of influence, your family, coworkers, people from your church who might need you to help make a rental payment or a mortgage payment. We are all in this together.

WHITFIELD: We really are.

SINGLETARY: And to whom much is given, much is required. So think about that. I don't want to discourage people from spending some money because that helps businesses and other people who are working, but just think about your purchases right now, and where is your money best used right now.

WHITFIELD: Great advice. We have got more great advice coming from these amazing women answering your questions right after this.



WHITFIELD: All right, viewer questions answered right now. Michelle, here is a question for you. "What help is available for home owners facing foreclosure or eviction?"

SINGLETARY: So right now there is a moratorium on both. You've got a reprieve for the next couple months. But I would urge you to contact your lender ASAP, because in the CARES Act there was a provision to prevent you from going to foreclosure and/or to get a forbearance on your mortgage, 180 days initially, and then another 180 days. So call your lender if you can get through, and if you can't, just keep trying.

WHITFIELD: Michelle Singletary, thank you so much. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Susan (ph) asks "Do you think it will be safe to send my kids to overnight camp this year?"

WALENSKY: This is the discussion at my dinner table every night. I think time will tell. I think summer camp will look different if it happens. I think it will potentially have less visitors. There should be a lot of screening going on. We'll need to make sure all the kids are well when they get there, and that probably not a lot of outside contact and not a lot of people coming in.


WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, Dr. Gail Saltz, I am taking copious notes on this one. An anonymous viewer writing "How can I keep my child focused on school work when they constantly want to watch TV and play games?"

SALTZ: This is hard for everyone. It really is hard for the children. I think you have to expect less in this scenario. This is just not a typical attention-grabbing way of learning. And believe me, it's even harder if your child has a learning disability, has attention deficit disorders, on the autism spectrum it is even harder.

But I think that with time schools are going to get better at finding ways to engage them online. I think there have to be multiple breaks where you give them time for play in between meeting to attend. And I think that you have to find ways to make it real for them in the present. So reach out to the school and ask them to give you something you can do with your child that is a little more pleasant.

WHITFIELD: Now you've just told me to be less hard on my kids on this one. Thank you so much, ladies. You are all fantastic. So glad you could be with us. And thank you, viewers, for submitting your questions, appreciate it.

Thank you so much. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. CNN Newsroom continues in a moment with Ana Cabrera.