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Interview with NYC Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop; United Nations Warns of Possible Famine; Detroit Bus Driver Jason Hargrove Dies. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 22, 2020 - 10:30   ET



MAYOR QUENTIN HART (D-WATERLOO, IA): -- falls on deaf ears. This isn't a political issue, it's not a Republican, it's not a Democrat. This is a humanitarian issue, and we need proactive steps to be able to squash this spread.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let me ask you this, finally. I hope that this helps contain the outbreak. But if Waterloo does become one of the next hotspots, are you prepared? Do you have the hospitals with enough isolations rooms, ICU beds, PPE? Are you ready for what could come?

HART: Well, we are as prepared as we can possibly be and still seeking out for state resources. You have no idea, the tremendous impacts that it has on a smaller community. So we are ready, but we need all the resources and support on the state level to be able to make sure that we can meet this challenge.

HARLOW: For sure. We hope you get it. Mayor Hart, thank you very much .

HART: Thank you.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, lawmakers here in Washington are one step closer to another huge round of funding for small businesses struggling through this pandemic. But will the business owners who really need the money, get it? There were real questions last time for many small businesses.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back. The House is expected to vote now tomorrow on the $484 billion -- that's half a trillion dollars -- pandemic relief package for small businesses. It's already been passed by the Senate. This includes money for hospitals, health care providers and expanded COVID testing. Also seeks to correct some of the issues with the previous tranche of money. Here with me now is the commissioner of New York City's Department of

Small Business Services, Gregg Bishop. Commissioner, we appreciate you taking the time this morning. We know you got a lot on your plate.


SCIUTTO: So there were some issues with the first round of funding. A lot of businesses, minority-owned businesses or businesses that didn't have existing relationships with big banks, they couldn't get the money or they couldn't get it quickly enough. Does this next round, from where you're sitting, correct some of those problems?

BISHOP: Yes. So, you know, we're -- I'm cautiously optimistic. You know, one of the things that we saw with the first round was the fact that there wasn't a set-aside for our smaller community banks or CDFIs, who tend to have the relationship with the smaller businesses.

Most small businesses have 10 or less employees, their capital needs are between $50 and $80,000. And a lot of major banks, they're not playing in that space. So the first round of the PPP, you know, the first-come, first-served model, just didn't work. When you do that, bigger businesses will always win.

So the $60 billion that we saw that's set aside for CDFIs and for community banks, we think is a step in the right direction. We've spoken to a lot of CDFIs here in New York City, who have expressed also cautious optimism about this set-aside.

The big question, though, is that, you know, nationwide, there are so many small businesses that are -- are in desperate need of this capital. You know, how quickly would this money -- even though it's set aside for these smaller --


BISHOP: -- businesses, how quickly would this money last?

SCIUTTO: Are you finding -- have you found that big businesses have taken of this money? We saw stories like this, whether it be a Shake Shack, which returned the money, or a Harvard University that the president is asking to return the money, Ruth's Chris Steak House. Are you seeing that in New York State?

BISHOP: Yes. So, you know, we saw it here. You know, one of the biggest challenges -- and you know, our agency's Small Business Services, we help businesses find capital. And one of the things that we heard from our smaller businesses is that it was just a race to get all the documentation together.

It was compounded on the fact that some of the guidance from the SBA did not come down to some of the businesses that even had a banking relationship, so those banks weren't prepared, day one.

So there was a lot of, I think, hiccups in the first installment of this. And hopefully, with the lessons learned from the first installment, that we'll see more small businesses getting the access to capital that they need.


BISHOP: What we've done is , you know, all our support services have now gone remotely, and we are helping our small businesses prepare for the documentation that's necessary to apply. And that's the important part, it's the technical assistance that the smaller banks and the CDFIs are providing to those smaller businesses.

You know, you've got to understand, these are -- these are businesses owners who -- they're -- you know, they're family-owned, they're focused on running their business. So when you're asking them to produce all the documentation that's necessary, it takes time for them to do that. They may not have an accountant on speed dial, they may not have the software that's necessary --


BISHOP: -- and when you are releasing a program where it's first- come, first-serve and it's a race to the finish, obviously, big businesses who have this infrastructure will always win.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, we wish you a lot of luck and we wish those small businesses a lot of luck. I know a lot of them had been waiting a long time for this, and they need that money quickly. Gregg Bishop in New York, we appreciate what you're doing.

BISHOP: Thank you, thank you very much. Stay safe, everyone.


HARLOW: Yes. Great to hear from him.


OK. So this morning, a dire warning from the World Food Programme that the pandemic could cause food shortages of, quote, "biblical proportions" in some parts of the world. How soon officials say we must all act on this, next.


HARLOW: United Nations this morning with an urgent warning that immediate action is needed to avoid food shortages of, quote, "biblical proportions" within just months. The desperate warning comes as the coronavirus threatens to push millions of people in dozens of countries to the brink of starvation.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Just remarkable prognostications there.


SCIUTTO: CNN's David McKenzie joins us now from Johannesburg.

David, tell us what the situation is on the ground there. We're not getting a lot of data out of Africa, South Africa included. DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right.

I mean, Jim and Poppy, this is a very dire warning from the World Food Programme. The U.N., saying that the worst affected countries, 10 of them could face a famine because of the underlying issues in those countries, and because of this pandemic.


They're talking about shortfalls of funding, the logjam of supplies coming in because of the stopping of air freights, and just the need for cash that isn't necessarily coming in for these programs.

Now, a famine means that people aren't just hungry, it means people will be dying. They say it's not there yet, but they are sounding this warning, I think, to say that people need to pay attention, particularly to Sub-Saharan Africa, on the effect of these lockdowns and the economic and social effect of this virus as well -- Jim, Poppy.

HARLOW: What -- I mean, I know you've been visiting some of these communities where, you know, it just is not a scenario where people can socially distance and wash their hands all of the time, et cetera. So what are you seeing on the ground that would exacerbate even this food crisis?

MCKENZIE: Well, we were saying this morning, we were in an area that should be lockdown in South Africa, in (INAUDIBLE), informal settlement. Many people, just milling about. They live in shacks in these areas sometimes. One woman was telling us, 10 people to a shack.

You can't self-isolate, you can't social distance, it really is a privilege that many people across this continent and elsewhere just cannot do physically.

And the lockdowns, particularly in South Africa and other sort of middle-income countries, it really is squeezing the economy. $26 billion has been announced in South Africa to try and kind of boost people's livelihoods, give them handouts of food and cash.

Because, you know, if you're earning -- Poppy and Jim -- you know, $2 or $3 a day in the informal sector, a couple of days under lockdown can push you over the edge, can push you to being hungry. That is a scenario many of these countries are dealing with, so maybe lockdowns are not realistic but they have to fight the virus -- Jim, Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Just a different scale of things. David McKenzie in South Africa, thanks very much.

Well, after the break, back here, home in the U.S., remembering Jason Hargrove. We'll be speaking with the wife and a friend of the Detroit bus driver who lost his life to COVID just days after making a memorable, emotional plea for people to stay at home.


[10:52:07] HARLOW: All right, welcome back. Jason Hargrove was a beloved husband, a dear friend and a bus driver in Detroit, who lost his life to coronavirus. He tested positive for it just days after he posted this plea to everyone on Facebook.


JASON HARGROVE, DETROIT BUS DRIVER: This -- this is real. You all need to take this serious. It's just real. I'm out here, we out here, we moving the city around, back and forth, trying to do our jobs and be professional about what we do.


HARLOW: Well, last week, when I spoke with Detroit's mayor about Jason, he said, Jason Hargrove was, quote, "everything good" about public service. His family is now preparing a different service, a funeral service for the man who warned us all about this virus and how quickly it spreads, and lost his life helping others.

With me now is Jason Hargrove's wife, Desha Johnson-Hargrove and Jason's very good friend and fellow Detroit bus driver, Eric Colts. Good morning.


ERIC COLTS, BEST FRIEND OF JASON HARGROVE: Good morning, good morning.

HARLOW: I know words don't do anything, but I'm just so sorry for your loss, to both of you. And, Desha, let me just begin with you. I mean, April 19th, a few days ago, would have been your 12-year wedding anniversary. Tell us about the man you loved.

JOHNSON-HARGROVE: Gentle giant. Very loving, hard-working husband, friend. Just all-around great man, just all-around great man. Sorry. Just a wonderful father, and like I said, just to everyone that knew him, he would make you laugh, he was a lover of music. So just a great -- just a great guy.

HARLOW: Eric, you guys were so close. I think you went to high school together, you both decided to be bus drivers together in 2016. And you've talked about being on the phone with him while he was in the ICU, just a few weeks ago, and you could hear the fluid in his lungs. Can you tell me about --

COLTS: Yes, yes.

HARLOW: -- what would be your last conversation with him?

COLTS: Actually, it was the Friday before his passing. We had a conversation, and we were just -- I was venting about something that happened at work. And even in his -- his time in the ICU, he still was there to allow me to vent to him.

And by the end of our conversation, we were laughing and we just told each other that we love each other at that point, and that was the last time that I actually got a chance to -- that was actually the first time and the last time that I got to tell him I love him, at that point, so.

HARLOW: You know, Desha, I mean, he was young, he was 50 years old and he posted -- I think we can pull up this image -- he posted this image on Facebook, and it said, "I cannot stay home. I am on the road for you."



HARLOW: He knew, right? He knew what he was, what he was risking.

JOHNSON-HARGROVE: Absolutely. He proudly put that uniform on every day. Even after he was sick, not even understanding how sick, not even understanding that he had actually had the virus at the time, but being home, very distressed, and just he was really going through -- but his mind was still on going to work every day --

COLTS: Focused (ph) on work.


COLTS: Focused on work.

JOHNSON-HARGROVE: -- transporting the people of Detroit.

COLTS: Yes, because he would even call me at times, and just ask me about what's still going on at work, and I told him, just relax, just rest, bro. Just -- that's what I need you to do, just rest and relax so you can get back to us and we can do what we've got to do from here to take over the city.


HARLOW: Desha, you have a plea for people because you are, understandably, so worried that his death could be in vain?

JOHNSON-HARGROVE: Absolutely, absolutely. My plea is to -- you know, for everyone to please -- I mean, this is serious, this is real. We are not actors. We are real people, we are real, hurting people that have suffered a tremendous loss.

And all I can ask is that everyone, you know, follow and obey the orders of your state, of your county, of your cities, whatever they may be. Stay home.

COLTS: Stay home, stay home.

JOHNSON-HARGROVE: It's that simple, just stay home.

COLTS: Stay home.

HARLOW: Can -- Desha, you said he was a wonderful father. JOHNSON-HARGROVE: Oh, yes.

HARLOW: Can you tell me --


HARLOW: -- about -- because I think it changes the way you view your husband when you watch how they father, and how amazing that is, right? And I just wonder --


HARLOW: -- if you can tell me how your kids are doing, tell us a little bit about what he was like as a dad.

JOHNSON-HARGROVE: Wow. So, understandably, I mean, my kids are very, very, very much hurting. They miss their dad. My youngest is 14, and we have five, we have five -- we have six total. But Jason was really the one -- you know, he was the one going to school, and doctor visits and you know, he used to be a bus driver for our church so he was all the activities, you know. He was hands-on with the children.

So just watching him cook for the family, he just was amazing, he really was. I'm not just putting on because that's my husband, but of course --


JOHNSON-HARGROVE: -- that's the person that I know. Amazing father, amazing father.

COLTS: Great father.


COLTS: Great father.


HARLOW: He sounds exceptional. I bet you're very glad that you guys have those six kids together, to carry on his memory for sure.

JOHNSON-HARGROVE: His legacy, absolutely.

HARLOW: And they will, absolutely.

JOHNSON-HARGROVE: Absolutely, absolutely.

HARLOW: Eric --

COLTS: Yes --

HARLOW: -- you're driving -- you're driving the Detroit city buses now, you're going to work later this afternoon. The mayor --

COLTS: Yes. HARLOW: -- told me last week, they're doing everything they can for

you guys, there are masks, people can't sit right behind you. I know before you didn't feel safe. Do you feel safe now?

COLTS: I still have that feeling of the -- you're not sure. It's just, you're not sure exactly what's going to happen. In my line of work, you never know who you're picking up from the next stop to the next stop.


COLTS: That's something that we don't know. So to say I feel safe is -- I can't really say that because we're just not sure. But as far as us having PPEs at work, you know, they started out initially not having everything that we needed --


COLTS: -- we've been assigned masks, we still get gloves and wipes and things like that. But there's never going to be enough because, again, we're dealing with a situation where we're unsure who we're picking up. So, you know, you're never going to have that sense of security or safety because we never know from one day to the next, who we're actually picking up at that point.

HARLOW: I know you're putting your life on the line every day you do this --



HARLOW: -- public service, so you are among --


HARLOW: -- the heroes, Eric. Thank you to you and all your fellow drivers.


COLTS: And I appreciate that, I appreciate that.

HARLOW: -- what you're doing.


HARLOW: Desha, maybe we can just end on one of the many beautiful photos of you two together. And I'm just so sorry for your loss, and I hope you can --


HARLOW: -- find some comfort for you and your children and your memories of him.


HARLOW: Thank you both.

JOHNSON-HARGROVE: Thank you so very much.

HARLOW: Thank you both.

COLTS: Thank you, thank you.


SCIUTTO: Well, just quickly, a sign of hope amidst the crisis. New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio, has announced this morning that the city will hold its annual Macy's Fourth of July celebration. That celebration, to include fireworks of course, though no details have been hashed out yet.


De Blasio, saying, quote, "This is a day we cannot miss. There is no day like the Fourth of July. One way or another --