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Food Bank Demand Skyrockets While Farmers Forced to Dump Food; Interview with E.R. Physician Jeremy Faust; Universities Under Financial Pressure to Restructure for Coronavirus Safety. Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired April 29, 2020 - 10:30   ET



SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- aware that this funeral was going to take place. They were aware that it was going to draw this large number of people. And as the evening progressed, the crowd just got very, very large and then more police officers responded, and then they tried to disperse the crowd.

The mayor, just moments ago, addressed this. He said he was told sometime around 6:30 last night, that this was taking place. He then went, goes out there and sees for himself that's going on. Obviously, he is very unhappy, he's been unhappy for quite some time over some of the religious gatherings, particularly in this community.

And then he tweeted about it, and his tweet certainly upset a lot of people, a lot of people in the Jewish community, who felt that he was singling them out. In a tweet, he wrote that he had a message, right?

TEXT: Mayor Bill de Blasio: My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.

PROKUPECZ: He writes in his tweet, "My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: The time for warnings passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately."

The mayor now, after starting his press conference this morning, just moments ago, reacted to all of this.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): I have a long, deep relationship with the Orthodox Jewish community, a lot of personal relationships, a lot of people I know and respect. I have a lot of love for the community. The notion that people would gather in large numbers -- and even if they didn't mean to, would spread a disease that will kill other members of the community, is just unacceptable to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PROKUPECZ: And so, yes, while there is this issue, Jim and Poppy, that this large number of people had gathered here, what's really upset the Jewish community, is that tweet and the way the mayor had responded to it, the way the mayor tweeted. Of course, they're upset, leaders in the Jewish community have responded and others, and the Anti-Defamation League also have responded. The mayor, finally responding just moments ago.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Shimon Prokupecz, thank you for following.

Well, another measure of the effects of this pandemic? Food banks across the country, struggling to meet increasing demand during the pandemic.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: That's right. So demand is up nearly 70 percent, but less food is being donated. They also have a volunteer issue. Our national correspondent Jason Carroll's in New York.

Jason, I'm so glad you're following this story because so many people are dependent on them that never thought they would be.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. You know, and it's really alarming. I mean, when you talk to people there at the food banks, Poppy, they'll tell you what they're seeing is unprecedented demand, demand that's coming from people who have never had to ask for help from them before.


CARROLL (voice-over): The line of cars stretched for more than a mile.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many people are in your household?

CARROLL (voice-over): The wait for food at this emergency distribution site in Newark, New Jersey? More than an hour. But the need's so great, those who came looking for help were more than willing to wait.

RITA (PH) CHARLES (PH), IN LINE AT NEW JERSEY EMERGENCY DISTRIBUTION SITE: I've never done this before. It's a shame that I have to do this --

CARROLL (voice-over): Many here say it is their first time asking for food.

CHARLES (PH): There's two families in here, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open your trunk, right here --

CARROLL (voice-over): People like Rita (ph) Charles (ph), who brought her elderly neighbor.

CHARLES (PH): We're alone, you know? Even my neighbor, you know, she's alone, too. So that's why we appreciate it.

CARROLL (voice-over): Julio (ph) Ortega (ph), a furloughed truck driver, came with his wife, who was laid off from her job at a dry cleaner.


CARROLL: An experience?

ORTEGA (PH): First time. Because it's hard for them.

CARROLL (voice-over): Week after week, as the number of unemployed rises across the country, so too does the number of people needing food assistance. Feeding America, the nation's largest group of food banks, says it is now seeing a staggering 100 percent increase in demand at some of its distribution sites. Like this one in Little Rock Arkansas, where they ran out of food in less than an hour, Tuesday.

The states seeing the biggest spike? Ohio, Florida, California and Texas, where, in San Antonio last week, people lined up for hours.

And with the increased demand comes more worries about meeting those demands, given diminishing donations food banks once received from what were reliable sources before the pandemic.

ERIC COOPER, CEO SAN ANTONIO FOOD BANK: Restaurants, hotels and caterers aren't donating. Grocery stores are selling out, and so there's not as much food to collect while the demand has doubled.

CARROLL (voice-over): So much need and yet so much waste. Down the food chain, hogs in Minnesota to be euthanized; chickens slaughtered, their carcasses thrown out; while dairy farmers such as Paul Fouts, forced to dump 8,000 gallons of milk last week.

PAUL FOUTS, DAIRY FARMER: It kind of makes you feel sick to your stomach, really.


CARROLL (voice-over): Part of the problem? Restaurants and schools now closed, so farmers have fewer outlets to sell in bulk to. And with so many people sick, it has crippled their distribution channels, like the trucking industry.

FOUTS: I mean, the food's here, the farmers -- farmers have it and the consumers need it. Somehow, we've got to get the system in between to work for that.

CARROLL (voice-over): Billions in federal assistance is scheduled in the next few weeks to aid farmers, along with a program to get distributors to work with food banks. And at the state level, New York, which saw a 60 percent jump in food bank demand, launched an initiative to help cut the waste.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We're also immediately to stop this dumping of milk, and get it to people who need it.

CARROLL (voice-over): In the meantime, the lines and the demand keeps growing.


CARROLL: And here's another concern, and that is there's been so much demand as of late that the worry is that some of these food banks are going to run out of food before the federal dollars can get in there to fill some of those gaps.

And so what they're looking for, Poppy and Jim, is they're asking for the private sector to get involved, to donate money where they can. Hopefully, they can try and fill in some of these gaps because this is an issue that's not going away any time soon -- Poppy, Jim.

HARLOW: It's certainly not. Jason, thank you so much for that reporting.

SCIUTTO: Yes, all that wasted food when people need it.

Well, the next big crisis perhaps? One doctor fears it could be a shortage of key medications, but he says it's not too late for the government to take action to prevent that.



HARLOW: Welcome back. Throughout this pandemic, we've heard frustrating stories about equipment shortages, test shortages, countless hospitals around the country, waiting for what they need.

Now, there are fears that those shortages could soon include medications, even everyday medications. E.R. physician Dr. Jeremy Faust writes in a new piece in "The Atlantic," quote, "Widespread critical medication shortages are the next big crisis of the coronavirus pandemic." But he is also laying out a road map that he thinks could help.

Dr. Faust of Brigham and Women's Hospital joins me. It's nice to have you, it's a fascinating piece. And you lay out a road map that can help, but let's begin with diagnosing the problem.

And part of that, you point to China and the fact that so many of the key ingredients in our -- in everyday drugs come from China. Chinese companies have supplied more than 90 percent of U.S. antibiotics, vitamin C, ibuprofen, et cetera. And 70 percent of the key ingredient in acetaminophen, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Is that the crux of one of the issues we're facing?

JEREMY FAUST, E.R. PHYSICIAN, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: Thank you. I think that is a major part of it. We have, for far too long, been reliant on partners who we can't control. And in a moment such as this, when a crisis occurs, that's the moment when you want to be able to use whatever power you have to increase supply lines. If we were getting most of our supplies and drugs from companies based

in the United States, then the administration could lean right on them, right now, just the same way they've done with 3M and the N95 masks -- albeit late -- they could have done that with drugs, so that's the major point. Yes, that's one of the major points.

HARLOW: Can you lay out what you're suggesting here? Because you point to a 20-year program. For 20 years, the FDA has run this tracking program for drugs. And in 2011, you say President Obama, responding to a need for -- a shortage of some drugs, issued an executive order to drug manufacturers, essentially, to supply more. Is that what you're saying needs to happen now?

FAUST: That and more. You're correct that this has been a problem that's been with us for a long time. This emergency just exposes that and takes it to another level of severity. And in fact, it's such a big problem that there's literally an app for that, the FDA has an app that tracks this problem. But we need to do more than what we've done before. And one of the things that I am suggesting is that -- to require that the drug companies tell us where they get their supplies on each ingredient.

And I'll give you, for instance, an example. One of the drugs that we use to paralyze patients when we put them on a mechanical ventilator, has ingredients that are also used in the cosmetic industry. Now, if we don't know where that's coming from or who's making it, and that ingredient is in short supply, we couldn't find that out until it's too late.

So we want to tell these companies, don't sell your ingredients to a mascara company, sell it to the company that's making that paralytic drug so that we can get it --

HARLOW: Right.

FAUST: -- to the frontline. So opening that up is how you kind of get that to move more quickly.

HARLOW: There have been so many headlines about -- and the president has talked a lot about a drug called hydroxychloroquine that has not been proven to be efficacious in treating COVID, but some have suggested it is, right? You, interestingly, write about this and say there's a shortage of it in your hospital and others, but not for COVID patients.

FAUST: The shortage is for everybody in the sense that there's just not a lot of it around because it's being used on COVID patients. There are --

HARLOW: Right.

FAUST: -- patients with Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis who can't get this drug in their pharmacies, or they're running around town, looking for the one place that has it left, because we're using this medication without any proof that it works. And that's an unfortunate situation. So we should stockpile that medication for the Lupus folks, who are

getting harmed by this strategy, but not because of COVID. There are plenty of things that we need to stockpile that are COVID-19-related.

HARLOW: The -- finally, the easiest thing that federal -- the federal government could do -- or if states have the ability -- to try to start curbing this crisis that you see as not too far down the road?


FAUST: Well, one thing is to make sure that we're keeping that curve as flat as possible so that we don't have to use all the medications at once, so the supply lines can come through. We --


FAUST: -- know that rural hospitals are a big problem because they're understaffed and understocked, so we need to kind of figure out where the problem's coming and get the meds over there as quickly as possible.

What I would add, one thing is that the CDC has a tracking system that they've unrolled for how many beds are available in every hospital. I'd like to see them add to that capacity a drug-tracking program to say, hey, look, where are we running low on drugs? So that we can say where they need to be.

HARLOW: Sure. That's an interesting point. Dr. Jeremy Faust, it's a fascinating read. Thanks for bringing it to a lot of our attention.

FAUST: Thank you, thank you very much.


SCIUTTO: Well, despite a $14 billion bailout from the CARES Act, some colleges and universities are facing millions in losses. More on that, coming up.



SCIUTTO: Right now, colleges and universities across the country could be facing their own multi-million-dollar budget shortfalls. This as several institutions are trying to gauge when it will be safe to allow students to come back.

HARLOW: Our Evan McMorris-Santoro joins us with more. Evan, $14 billion in the CARES Act went to colleges and universities. There was controversy over some, right? Like Harvard, that's returning some of it. But talk to us about the big picture here.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey, gang. Yes, look, that $14 billion money number is interesting to think about because half of it was earmarked for direct aid to students, so schools have to give that money to students one way or another. Not totally clear how they're going to do that yet.

The other half was earmarked specifically for dealing with the COVID crisis this school year. And in my reporting and our reporting over the past couple of weeks, we've learned that the real challenge is the next school year.


JENNY BUYENS, EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANT: It's going to be a bloodbath, to see which colleges survive this.


MARK SCHLISSEL, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: The level of disruption to not just one university, but all universities --

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): There's a financial crunch coming to college campuses that school presidents like the University of Michigan's Mark Schlissel have not seen in their lifetimes.

SCHLISSEL: it could be analogized with Pearl Harbor at the start of the Second World War, which came on much more gradually than the COVID-19 pandemic did.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The quarantine is leaving school finances decimated.

HARTLE: Every college and university in the country is facing a cash flow crisis. First, it's the need to refund money to students, particularly for room and board --

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Most schools in America also heavily rely on non-tuition revenue. Room and board is one stream, but colleges turn campus into a money-maker by renting out space, hosting events, and selling tickets to sports games.

HARTLE: That works out to $50 billion a year for colleges and universities. And that has just come to a complete stop.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The worst news for school finances hasn't arrived yet.

HARTLE: The big revenue boost for colleges and universities will be in the fall. But what happens if 20 percent of your students don't arrive?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): A significant number of students are rethinking their plans for next semester, according to surveys conducted by higher education groups. That could mean tough choices are coming. Some schools have already announced layoffs, pay cuts for employees, and potentially cancelling big construction projects.

Johns Hopkins University is preparing for losses of more than $100 million this year. Other schools predict bigger losses. The federal government passed the CARES Act to prop up the country as

it reeled from the pandemic. $14 billion went to colleges and universities.

HARTLE: Of that amount, roughly half will go to students. We estimate the total cost of room and board refunds alone at $8 billion, but it is not going to provide money to save institutions over the long term.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): There's not really a debate about if colleges will reopen this fall, but a question of how, like Harvard told students this week.

HARTLE: College dormitories can be places where infections spread very quickly.

BUYENS: Social distancing is going to be a huge impact on these students, whether it's in the dorms, in the cafeterias, at a sporting event --

SCHLISSEL: We could have smaller seminars or teaching labs or smaller groups in larger rooms.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Schools have to convince students that they can create a safe environment for them.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: If a school's like, look, we're going to reopen campus, would you go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE : I think it depends on, really, you know, what other people are saying, what government agencies are saying. But, you know, right now, within the next month or two, no, I wouldn't feel safe.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, look, what this actually has created is a very interesting environment for colleges. The haves and have-nots thing we've seen play out in the K through 12 education when it comes to internet access, is now happening with colleges themselves when it comes to students.

Some of those bigger schools -- you know, Harvards and the nicer schools -- they're going to get students to come in the fall. The smaller schools don't know if they will, and that's where the financial problem comes in.

HARLOW: That's really interesting, I didn't even think of the disparity in that sense. Evan, thank you for that reporting.



HARLOW: Thanks, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: Well, New York City couples will soon be able to lock down their love life while the city itself is on lockdown. The city is introducing something called Project Cupid, which will allow people to get marriage licenses online by the end of next week.

SCIUTTO: People across New York State have been required to complete the process in-person until New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order waiving that rule earlier this month.

HARLOW: Look forward to some of those weddings ahead, even if they are by Zoom.


Thanks for joining us, we'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. NEWSROOM with John King starts right now.