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NYC Mayor Cancels All Public Events Through June; Experts Warn A Coronavirus Vaccine Could Take Years To Develop; Answering Your Coronavirus Personal Finance Questions. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 21, 2020 - 07:30   ET



MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: The bottom line Alisyn is we're going to overcome this -- there's no question -- but we have to do it the smart way. We have to be careful to not allow this disease to reassert itself -- reassert itself.

This, to me, is the bigger point here. Fight it back and make sure that it cannot reassert. Make sure we can actually restart our economy once and do it the right way. Protect lives, save lives.

Don't jump the gun. Some countries went too fast and they found themselves back on their heels. We're not going to take that chance here after everything we've been through.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You know, you made this announcement yesterday and you talked about all the things that you and fellow New Yorkers are missing right now and will be missing. And you said things like playing sports, watching sports, community gatherings, family gatherings. You talked about the street fairs, the festivals, the parades, outdoor concerts. All the things that New Yorkers look forward to in the month of June --


CAMEROTA: -- and beyond.

And you talked about three big parades that every -- that people look forward to -- the Gay Pride parade, Puerto Rican Day parade, the Salute to Israel parade.

What beyond that? So, I mean, since you're talking about family gatherings, beyond those three things, what else is being canceled through June?

DE BLASIO: Yes, Alisyn, we're talking about things like street fairs and outdoor concerts, outdoor plays.

I mean, look, you're talking about -- in New York City, things like this gather thousands of people at a time in a very close space. Now, I'm not talking about small family gatherings, I'm talking about the kinds of things that literally go contradictory to everything we're talking about now as to how we protect people. Why are we even able to discuss progress in New York City and New York State? Because people practice social distancing, because they did shelter in place, and we've got to stick with it until this disease is beaten. You're talking -- it's so sad that we're still talking about hundreds of people dying a day.

We've got to make sure we get this right once and for all, and I think that's the point for the whole country, Alisyn. We have one chance to restart the right way.

And what I'm amazed at is sort of the dissidence between Washington, D.C. and New York and so many other places where we're fighting the battle still on the ground and you have people in Washington acting like it's all over. It's not over. When the president tweets liberate Michigan or something like that, it's a misunderstanding of this enemy that we are facing.

The president needs to focus on getting us the testing so we can make sure we beat back this disease once and for all. He needs to focus on the stimulus that will help cities and states back on their feet.

He's doing this kind of false optimism, acting like it's going to be easy to come back. It's not going to be easy but we will do it. But I'll tell you if we jump the gun we're going to regret it.

CAMEROTA: Well, I want to get to the stimulus in a second. But first, what do you think about what Georgia and South Carolina are doing?

South Carolina is -- some of their retail stores are open for business today. As of yesterday, the governor there made that decision for different stores like clothing stores, furniture stores, et cetera. South Carolina, on Friday, as you know, is going to open gyms, it's going to open nail and hair salons.

So, what's your take on that?

DE BLASIO: Every place is different but I would say to leaders, governors, mayors all over the country, make sure you get it right. If you're going to relax some of those standards, where are the facts that back that up? I'm sure everyone has their own information but make sure that the trend really shows that there's very, very few cases happening anymore and that you can contain them.

One of the things we're saying in New York is when we go to a situation where we're going to open up more is when we have the number of cases that we can actually trace each one individually. Know who came in contact. If someone, God forbid, tests positive, who have they been in contact with so we can trace those people, test everyone, and isolate and quarantine the people who need it and really keep this disease contained.

That's what we're going to need to do to be able to allow bigger and bigger gatherings --


DE BLASIO: -- and less and less social distancing.

But I'd say to any governor, any mayor, make sure that you're certain that you're going to bring people back together. You're doing it with the right smart standards. You're going to keep telling them to do things like social distancing and --


DE BLASIO: -- wearing those face coverings. That you do not want to miss on this one.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Do you worry that what -- the choices they're making in, say, South Carolina and Georgia are going to have some sort of ramifications for New York? What if somebody from -- what if it spikes in Georgia? What if people from Georgia come to New York?

DE BLASIO: Alisyn, I'm thinking about this as an American. I'm worried for all of us that if some of these reopenings are done the wrong way it's going to affect all of us.

Look, the notion here is this is the worst health care crisis in a century. You get one chance to beat it back. So if any state or any city jumps the gun -- and my first concern, of course, is for them and their people -- but we all, as Americans, should be concerned because, of course, that could lead to the disease reasserting in a lot of other places.


It's the kind of enemy you should never take for granted. So when you open up again you better have the facts on your side and you better do it slowly and carefully and make sure it's not coming back.

CAMEROTA: You, on Sunday, asked President Trump if he was telling New York City to, quote, "drop dead" a la President Ford. What gives you the impression that President Trump wants to drop dead? And how much money exactly are you looking for from the federal government?

DE BLASIO: So, I've asked President Trump repeatedly not just to help New York City and New York State, but to help all cities and states get back on our feet.

We have lost now over $7 billion in revenue. That's our projection on how much is already gone because of this crisis. That is the money we use to pay police, to pay firefighters, teachers, sanitation workers, health care workers. That money ain't coming back. The only place it can come from is the federal government.

They gave $58 billion to the airline industry to bail them out. How about bailing out America's cities, America's states?

And you're not going to have -- this is the part that's amazing to me, Alisyn, and why I'm so shocked by his silence. You're not going to have a restart -- an economic recovery if the cities and states that lead the American economy are back on their heels and can't provide basic services. And I said this to the president. I said I know you want to restart; I want to restart. We can't do that if we cannot even function as cities. I heard dead silence. I've had a number of conversations with him -- have heard nothing back.

And he's a New Yorker -- he was. Now he lives in Florida. But he's literally said nothing about how to help the place that's been the epicenter to get back on its feet.

So what I think the president should be thinking about is two things and only two things. Testing, so we can actually all beat back this disease, and the stimulus to allow our cities, our states, our economy to fully recover. These are the two things he has dropped the ball on and he's not even talking about.

When you ask him how are we going to get cities and states going again, he has nothing to say about it. He wants to talk about immigration. He doesn't want to talk about what's actually happening on the ground with the people he's supposed to be serving.

And I think history is going to judge him very harshly and put him in the same camp as Gerald Ford and even Herbert Hoover, who ignored what the Depression was doing to people and failed to bring the country back. That's where this president is now.

And he should kiss his reelection goodbye if he thinks he is going to be able to convince the American people to want four more years of a guy who can't even get the basics right.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Bill de Blasio, we really appreciate your time. Thanks so much for being on NEW DAY.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: So how soon until there is a coronavirus vaccine? Some experts warn it could take years. So we're going to speak with two leading researchers about what the real time line is, next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: As some states take the first steps toward trying to resume some type of normalcy, the risk of spreading the coronavirus infection remains high until there is a reliable vaccine. So, how far are we from that?

Joining us now is Dr. Ofer Levy. He's the director of the Precision Vaccines Program at Boston Children's Hospital. And, Dr. Paul Goepfert, director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Goepfert, I want to start with you. Paul Offit was quoted as saying the record for developing a vaccine is four years -- four years -- and that was with mumps. So, when Dr. Fauci and others say a year to 18 months for COVID-19, really, how realistic is that? DR. PAUL GOEPFERT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE RESEARCH CLINIC, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Well, that's a good question, John. It is very optimistic because, exactly, our history is that we don't develop vaccines that quickly. This is an unprecedented time and COVID-19 has sort of been on warped speed and we're hoping that it will happen more quickly.

There are some things that would indicate it may be a little bit easier to develop a COVID-19 vaccine but it's not for certain. And things such as the fact that the COVID-19 is not a very diverse virus. The fact that most people who develop infection actually get rid of the infection without major complications.

Those things are actually very optimistic that may lead to an optimistic indication that this could actually be developed quickly. But it is extremely optimistic to think that we're going to have a vaccine a year from now.

BERMAN: So, Dr. Levy, if you can, in basic terms that people as, sort of, dimwitted as me can understand, what are the stages in developing a vaccine?


Typically, vaccines would be developed -- the first step would be to define an antigen. An antigen is the part of the vaccine your body remembers after you inject it into somebody. And, in fact, the term antigen comes from the fact that it is an antibody-generating substance -- an antigen.

So you inject the antigen into somebody and their immune system recognizes it as foreign and makes, for example, antibodies against it, and those antibodies may protect against subsequent infection. So that's the basic concept of a vaccine.

And all vaccines would typically have some sort of antigen in them. Now, that antigen is typically discovered in a laboratory and then you find a way to make it -- to synthesize it -- and then you might test it, for example, in mice to find out if you inject the antigen into mice, do the mice make an antibody response against the antigen. And how high is that response and how long does it last, and is it the kind of antibody that's really protective.


These are all questions that scientists ask.

And then eventually, these kind of studies progress to larger animal models. And you might want to have a model where you can actually infect the animal with coronavirus, for example, and see if the vaccine would protect an animal against actual infection.

And then if all of that looks good you eventually work with FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, to get permission to get all the way to a phase one human trial. BERMAN: And, of course, you need to test it on humans to figure out -- even if you can produce the antigen that will fight the virus to figure out if there are any side effects.

I want to ask you about antibody-dependent enhancement. This is something, apparently, where there's an extra threat for coronaviruses. Sometimes developing a vaccine for a coronavirus, which is what COVID-19 is, is more complicated because historically speaking, it's somehow produced a reaction in the body that leads to more infection.

Can you explain that?

LEVY: Yes. Our immune system is smart. It recognizes a foreign threat and it will form antibodies against it to fight that threat.

That said, what you hope to induce are the right kind of antibodies that not only bind very well but dispose of the virus. If we get unlucky -- if we don't have the right kind of antigen, there is a risk that we induce antibodies that may bind but actually help the virus get into our cells.

There are examples of this. There's an infection called dengue. And there was a vaccine against dengue that unfortunately, induced antibodies that actually made the infection worse.

So we're going to have to be very careful. You know, there's a tension here. We want to move very quickly and at the same time, we don't want to cause any harm.

BERMAN: So, talk about the tension of trying to move quickly because one of things that people often push for is look, the situation is so bad we need to speed up the trial process. Yes, in a perfect world we test it on mice and then humans, and them more humans before we put it to market.

We have to skip some of those levels there. What's the risk of skipping certain levels or pushing it? For instance, the challenge level where you might give it to people and then deliberately try to infect them. What's the risk of trying to skip that?

LEVY: Well, you know, there are inherent risks to any development of any medicine or vaccine. We've been there before.

There have been -- you know, I'm one of the biggest proponents of vaccines and the current vaccine schedule is excellent. Everybody should comply with it. I received my yearly flu vaccine and all my vaccines.

That said, there are examples where vaccines failed or on rare occasions even caused some harm. So we are really going to have to keep our eye on the ball. There are a lot of smart people in academia, government, and industry -- unprecedented levels of collaboration now trying to define the right path to strike that balance between speed and safety. Another thing to keep in mind is even when we have an announcement

hopefully, in the coming months, and it appears safe and induces the right kind of antibodies, that will be a great moment for us.

But we still are going to have to scale the solution to make hundreds of millions or billions of doses. That's not trivial. And I think part of the solution there will be to add an adjuvant, a molecule that may boost an immune response (ph).

BERMAN: The scale thing is fascinating, right, because normally, we vaccinate newborn children and that's in the several million in the United States a year. We're talking about vaccinating 300 million people here. It shows you why you need to be sure it's safe, but it also tells you about the problems in scaling.

LEVY: Exactly, exactly. And I think we're going to be looking to -- I mean, we're seeing a lot of innovation in the vaccine space. There are probably over 100 different groups developing vaccines and we wish each and every one of them the very best.

But we're going to be looking for innovation, but also we're going to be relying on the big pharma that has the experience for scaling to this degree. The unprecedented speed and scaling, yes.

BERMAN: Dr. Levy, we really appreciate you being with us and trying to manage our expectations here of what is possible and we can all hope what is realistic. And we also thank Dr. Goepfert. We lost the technical connection there. So we appreciate your time.

LEVY: Thank you so much, John.

BERMAN: Alisyn.


We want to take a moment now to remember some of the people lost to coronavirus.

Sheila Rivera was a corrections officer in Cook County, Illinois. She was just 47 years old. Rivera noticed flu-like symptoms just a week ago and then just tested positive for the virus on Friday.

She grew up in Mississippi on an Indian reservation where her family lived for generations. She eventually moved to Chicago with her son after she met her husband at a law enforcement conference.


Ray Kenny was head of rail operations for New Jersey Transit. He spent 40 years rising through the ranks at the MTA, from an entry-level job to acting chief of the Long Island Railroad. Ray Kenny was 69 years old.

And, Franklin Williams was a firefighter in Detroit for 32 years. He was hospitalized with the virus and he died of a heart attack while they were trying to put him on a ventilator. Franklin enjoyed golf, family, cooking, and his beloved Detroit Lions.

He was just 58 years old and he is survived by his wife and seven children.

We'll be right back.


CAMEROTA: At least 22 million people have lost their job in the last month. So, how is the coronavirus affecting your personal finances?


Here to answer some of your questions is Jean Chatzky. She's a personal finance journalist and the CEO of Jean, great to have you here. Great to see you. I know so many people have questions for you, so we're happy to have you.


CAMEROTA: Excellent. Let's start with Mo. Mo has a question about his stimulus check and the consequences it will have on his taxes.

"Is the virus stimulus check going to be adjusted for when I file 2020 tax returns? For instance, I got $2,900 in my account. Is this amount going to reduce my refund for next year?"

CHATZKY: It is not, but there's an awful lot of people who believe it is.

So by my calculations, Mo is probably married, so he got two $1,200 payments with a child, plus another $500. So that's his $2,900.

This is not counted as part of your adjusted gross income. He will not have to pay the money back. The government put it out there because they wanted people to be able to put food on the table. So don't worry about that.

There is a little bit of confusion though about those extra $500 payments for people who haven't been able to report to the government that they actually have a child.

And the IRS just released some guidance that if you receive Social Security survivor or disability or you get a railroad retirement benefit, you have to go to the IRS Website by tomorrow at noon. Click on the non-filers button if you don't file a tax return and let them know that you have a dependent under the age of 17. Otherwise, you won't be able to get that additional $500 payment when you get your stimulus payment. You'll have to wait and file taxes for 2020.

CAMEROTA: Good to know. Let's hope people can do that by tomorrow at noon. That's a great alert for them.

OK, this comes from someone whose name we don't know in Canandaigua, New York. "My employer is lowering my weekly salary due to my receiving a

stimulus check. His logic is I am still breaking even. Is this even legal?"

CHATZKY: So we are hearing a lot about paycheck reductions at this point. Usually, it's the higher-paid people at a company. They're doing it because it's a way to keep more people on the payroll as we roll through this crisis. But the bottom line is it is legal as long as you satisfy a few ground rules.

They have to let you know that you are receiving a salary cut and you basically have to accept it. You have the right to quit. They can't cut your salary for work that you've already done.

It can't be discriminatory, so they can't say OK, we're going to cut the salaries of men but not the salaries of women. And if you have a contract or if you're a member of a union, there has to be some sort of negotiation. They also can't take you below minimum wage.

But other than that, they are allowed to do it.

CAMEROTA: OK. This comes from Cheryl in Massachusetts.

"I was wondering when and if people on Social Security disability would receive a stimulus check. I get my monthly check through direct deposit but I don't pay taxes. So where do I stand?"

CHATZKY: So, we expect that those benefits will go out by the end of April and be received by early May. That's the guidance that we are getting. You'll get it, again, through direct deposit.

But once again, if you are one of these people and you have a child dependent under the age of 17, you've got to go to the IRS Website and click the non-filers button. Otherwise, you won't get the extra $500.

CAMEROTA: OK, this next one is at the other end of the age spectrum -- a college student who says "I've heard billions of dollars from the stimulus are going to colleges and universities. As a college student, will I see any of that money directly?" That comes from Alex in Philadelphia.

CHATZKY: So, he's absolutely right and we haven't heard a lot about this. There was $12.5 billion in the Cares Act to go to 5,000 colleges and universities. And the universities have to disburse half of the money that they received directly to the students in the form of emergency financial aid grants.

Go to your college and university's Website and see what they've put up. Some of them are allowing students to apply for these grants. Some of them are dispersing the funds to students who received Pell grants.

But the good news is, especially for these people from age 17 to 24 who are not going to receive those $1,200 checks, there is money available through these colleges.

CAMEROTA: Jean, great to have you here. We're going to bring you back every week to answer people's personal finance questions, so if people have questions for you we want to direct them to You can leave your question for Jean and she will come back and answer.

Great to see you.

CHATZKY: Nice to see you, too -- thanks.

CAMEROTA: OK, so we have some major developments on the coronavirus.