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Rent Comes Due as Millions Joins Ranks of Unemployed; Mnuchin Says Private Schools Should Return PPP Money; Tyson Foods Temporarily "Pauses" Nebraska Plant Beef Processing as Others Reopen in Iowa; NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update on Coronavirus Response. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 1, 2020 - 11:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It is May 1st, a new month. Also the time, though, when for many the bills come due, especially rent. That's a particular hardship for the more than 30 million Americans who have applied for first-time unemployment benefits in a number of weeks.

International business correspondent, anchor of business "FIRST MOVE," Julia Chatterley, joins us.

Julia, first of the month. That's one part of the economic story. You have to pay your rent. Other factors you're watching as well.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I'm so pleased you're pointing this out because it's a core part. Spending is what drives the U.S. economy.

It's payday today. For the second month in this crisis, millions of people are having to make incredibly tough decisions over what payment to make, mortgage, rent, utilities, and then essentials like food.

Let me explain to you what happened this time last month, because I do think it's key. So 31 percent of renters didn't make their rental payments. That's according to the National Multifamily Housing Association. And that actually doesn't include subsidies to rental payments, so it probably underestimates how bad it was.

Since then, as you and I discussed, another 20 million people-plus have applied for first-time benefits. So it's tough to compare March and April. But even just based on those numbers, today, I think probably is going to be a lot worse.

The saving grace here, of course, is the stimulus checks that people have got in their deposits but we still know millions more are waiting for the paper provision, and the bump on unemployment benefits.

The hope here, John, is that today will be the most painful day for Americans making decisions, because this time next month we'll have a sense of what back to work looks like. But today is a tough day and we shouldn't underestimate that for the

millions of people making these choices.

KING: We hope, we hope next month is a better position. We shall see as we go through these weeks.

Another big controversy has been who is getting some of this stimulus money, the PPP loans. Among them, private schools, including one that the president's son attends. What are you hearing about that today?

CHATTERLEY: Well, I heard that the Treasury secretary isn't so pleased because he tweeted in the last couple hours. Just take a look at this. He said, "It's come to our attention that some private schools with significant endowments have taken PPP loans. They should return them."

Let's be clear, John, this school did nothing wrong based on the initial conditions. They've come out and said we're keeping the money. They're going to pay their workers. But the principle remains. This school, like any other, is going to have to prove that it couldn't have gotten the money elsewhere.

I looked at their Web site. A year of pre-kindergarten is just under $33,000, John. Just an observation. They're going to have to prove they couldn't have gotten the money somewhere else.

KING: Right, and somebody out there who couldn't get the money who runs a small mom-and-pop business --


KING: -- somewhere is not going to look favorably on the optics of that.


KING: Julia Chatterley, very much appreciate the updates there.

Tyson Foods has shut down yet another plant in Nebraska, one of its largest beef processing facilities. This, as several businesses across neighboring Iowa reopen today.

CNN national correspondent, Miguel Marquez, spoke to some employees in this industry who have been deeply impacted.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dakota City, Nebraska, just across the state line from Sioux City, Iowa, Tyson's beef processing plant there. Massive, one of the country's largest, 4,300 employees.

The person I'm speaking to is one of them.


When you hear the number of people getting sick every day, they say, you just wait your turn.

Out of fear for losing their job, we are not identifying this person who said it was clear something was wrong at the plant for weeks.

(on camera): How many have gone missing in the last several weeks?

(voice-over): Three, four or 500 they say.

Tyson has now tested everyone at the plant, but this person says the company could have done more earlier.

(on camera): They only started giving you masks a couple of weeks ago. Only masks. Yes. No other protective gear?

(voice-over): No gloves, no face shields, no gowns they say.

(on camera): So well into the crisis over COVID-19, this was the only protection offered to employees at the plant in Dakota City. It is something that we also heard from officials at another Tyson plant in Waterloo.

SHERIFF TONY THOMPSON, BLACK HAWK COUNTY, IOWA: We walked out of that plant knowing that we had an enormous problem.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson and health department officials inspected Tyson's Waterloo, Iowa, plant on April 10th.


KING: The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, in Albany.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Today is day 62. It feels like just yesterday.

Before we look at the numbers, I just want people to recall the context for these numbers and remember what we have accomplished. We were faced with a situation where the infection rate and those numbers were going straight up. That was only 30 days ago that we saw the number of cases, the number of people coming into hospitals, the infection rate, everything was going straight up.

That number would have just continued to go straight up. And that's why all the projections, national projections, state projections, local projections turned out to be incorrect. Because they were all believing that that line was going to continue to keep going up.

What happened is New Yorkers, Americans, changed reality, literally changed reality. They literally changed the path of the virus spread and reversed the spread. And that's what the close-down procedures did. That's what the masks have done. That's what the socially distancing has done.

And New Yorkers and all across this country, you saw that number change from that up trajectory to the downward trajectory. That shift in the trajectory reduced by about 100,000 the number of New Yorkers who would have been hospitalized, 100,000 hospitalized. To be hospitalized, you have to be seriously ill. A portion of those 100,000 would have passed away.

So all this inconvenience, all this turmoil, for what? To keep 100,000 people out of hospitals, that's for what. And the 100,000 people into hospitals would have overwhelmed the hospital system, would have been chaotic. That's where Italy was. And a number of those 100,000 would have died. So remember that context.

And not just for the retrospective but for the prospective. Our past actions changed the trajectory. Our present actions will determine the future trajectory. It is that clear. It is cause and effect. You tell me what we do today, I will tell you the number of people sick tomorrow.

So every day we get up, every day everyone says, oh, my gosh, I have to do this again. Yes. But what you do today is going to determine the number of sick tomorrow.

And New Yorkers have continued to do what they have to do, and you see that number of hospitalizations dropping. And that is all good news. And that is a credit to the community and the social conscience and the responsibility of New Yorkers.

The question now is, as we're on the decline, how fast is the decline and how far is the decline? How low will the number actually wind up?


Right now, we're at about 1,000 new cases per day. OK? In the 900s -- 954, 933, 970, 973. That's four days. Day before that, it was 1,076. That looks like the number is flattening, is plateauing at about 900, 1,000 cases. Three, four days, five days, if you want to say between 900 and 1100.

That is still too high a number of new cases to have every day. It's not where we were. It's a lot better than where we were for sure. But 1,000 new cases every day is still a very high infection rate. It's still a burden on the hospital system.

So we now want to take it to the next level. Let's drill down on those 1,000 new cases. Where are they coming from, why is the infection rate continuing, who is getting infected? And let's get more targeted in our response, right?

We're fighting this statewide, but you have to wage the battle, wage the war on many fronts. It's a statewide battle. Now that we have it basically stabilized and on the decline, the enemy is on the run, the virus is reducing, let's get more refined, more targeted.

And I'm going to be speaking with the hospitals this afternoon and say that we want to get more specific information on those new cases that are coming in the door. Where are they coming from? Who are they? To see if we can come up with a more specific target.

If you look at the past few days, where the cases have been coming from, this is a three-day what they call rolling average. But you see 17 percent from Manhattan. Much of it correlates to population. But much of it also correlates with Downstate New York.

So 17 percent Manhattan, 17 percent Kings, 12 percent Bronx, 11 percent Queens, but then 10 percent Nassau, 7 percent Westchester/Suffolk. So it's a Downstate region. And then upstate, it's Erie County.

So it gives you a snapshot of where the cases are coming from, but we need more specific information to have a specific battle plan.

Literally, where do the new cases come from? Are they essential workers? Are they people who are staying home and getting infected by a family member? Or are they essential workers who are still traveling and possibly getting infected at work?

Where do they work? How do they commute? Is this a question of getting infected on public transportation? We just announced new subway buses, Long Island railroad, metro north protocols.

Where in the state are these people who are being transferred from a nursing home? What's their sex? What's their age? What's their previous health status? What are the demographics?

Let's get more specific information from the hospitals to see if we come up with a strategy that is more tailored to the reduction of these 1,000 cases per day.

The number of deaths, 289, lower than it has been, but still tragic and terrible. And all the good numbers, all the good news for me every day, this number just wipes that all away.

We announced a statewide policy for our schools. We did it last March 18th. We said we were going to close schools all across the state, K to 12, and higher-education schools.

We waived what was called the 180-day requirement, which was the state regulation that schools had to have 180 days of teaching. Schools then transferred to distance-learning programs, meal delivery services, childcare options for essential workers. That has actually worked out well, not perfectly. We had to do it in a rush. But there are lessons we can learn here.

That could change teaching going forward and teaching in these types of situations going forward. But it did work. It basically functioned well. And teachers did a phenomenal job stepping up to do this. It was a hardship on everyone, but we made the best of the situation.


Colleges and universities were also moved to distance learning. Campuses were closed unless a student really needed housing on the campus.

Schools, obviously, by definition have higher density, they have transportation issues, kids who were getting on a bus. We didn't have the protective measures to put in place. You have 700 public school districts, 4800 schools in this state. Then you have 1800 private schools, 89 SUNY and CUNY campuses, private colleges. In total, it's 4.2 million students.

So the decisions on the education system are obviously critically important. We must protect our children. Every parent, every citizen feels that. We must protect our students. We have to protect our educators.

And given the circumstances that we're in and the precautions that would have to be put in place to come up with a plan to reopen schools with all those new protocols -- how do you operate a school that's socially distanced with masks, without gatherings, with a public transportation system that has a lower number of students on it? How would you get that plan up and running?

We don't think it's possible to do that in a way that would keep our children and students and educators safe. So we're going to have the schools remain closed for the rest of the year. We're going to continue the distance-learning programs.

Schools have asked about summer school and whether we'll have attendance in schools for summer school. That decision will be made by the end of this month.

Again, nobody can predict what the situation is going to be three, four weeks from now. So we're trying to stage decisions at intervals that give us the information but also enough time for people to make the preparations they need to make. So any decisions on summer schools will be made by the end of this month.

But in the meantime, programs will continue, the childcare services for essential workers will continue.

Then we want schools to start now developing a plan to reopen. And the plan has to have protocols in place that incorporate everything that we are now doing in society and everything that we learned.

We're going to be asking businesses to come up with plans that safeguard workers when they reopen. We need schools to come up with plans also that bring those precautions into the school room. And that's for schools. That's also for colleges. And the state will approve those plans.

Related issue that we need to discuss and we need to pay attention to, this COVID crisis has caused significant disruption and many unintended consequences and ancillary issues that have developed.

And one of them is when you have people who are put in this situation immediately with no notice, it has caused serious mental health issues. You have anxiety, depression, insomnia, loneliness, that feeling of isolation. We're seeing the use of drugs go up. We're seeing the use of alcohol consumption go up. This is a chronic problem.

If you're feeling these issues, you're not alone. As a matter of fact, half of all Americans have said that their mental health has been negatively impacted. Don't underestimate the stress of this situation.

And it happens on a lot of levels. Three out of four say their sleep has been affected. You don't know where your next paycheck is coming from. You don't know if your job is going to exist.

You're at work one day, the next day they say everything is closed, stay in the house. You're in the house in a confined situation, or you're in an apartment in a confined situation. You can't get out. It's difficult.

For emotional support, we have a hotline that is set up. People shouldn't be shy in any way or have any second thoughts about calling for help. It is a pervasive problem. And people should make the call and get the help if they need the help.


We also see, in line with what we're talking about, a dramatic increase in the incidence of domestic violation. There was a 15 percent increase in March, a 30 percent increase in April. That's -- March is when this started, 15 percent. April, 30 percent. That is a frightening rate and level of increase.

Again, New Yorkers in needs, we have a domestic violence help line, 844-997-2121.

You can call, you can discuss the issue. You don't have to give your identity. You don't have to say where you live. But people who need help should reach out. There's no shame in reaching out and saying I need help. This is a national epidemic. It's a statewide epidemic. Ask for help, and we're here to help.

We're especially concerned about these issues for the front-line workers. I mean, just think about what the front-line workers are going through. Think about what the health care workers are going through.

They're working extended hours. They've seen a large number of people die. They're working in very frightening situations. They're worried about their own health. They're worried, if they get infected, they then have to go home. Worry if their infected, are they bringing the infection home.

This is a terribly stressful, difficult time especially for the front- line workers. We want them to know that we not only appreciate what they are doing but we are there to support them. Right. Saying thank you is nice. Acting in gratitude is nicer.

So we have special emotional support hotline for our essential workers. We'll also direct all insurers to wave any cost-sharing co- pay or deductibles for mental health services for essential workers. Which means the mental health services will be free for front-line workers. And they'll be at no cost.

And too many people and their families have said to me, I would go for services but I don't want to pay the cost. I can't afford it. I don't want to take that money from my parents. That's gone. There's no cost to get mental health services. Wipe that reason away and get the help that you need. It's even in the best interest of your family.

Last point, personal opinion. Who said, "When life knocks you on your rear, you learn, grow up, and get backup." Was it A.J. Parkinson? It was not A.J. Parkinson. It was me. Nobody ever said that. Just me. When life knocks you on your rear, dot, dot, dot, learn, grow and get backup.

This has been a difficult, difficult situation for everyone. But when life knocks you on your rear, learn and grow. And we will collectively learn and grow. We'll learn many difficult lessons from this situation.

We'll learn about public health threats that we never saw before and heard of and never really anticipated and we never actualized. And everyone talking about global pandemics and that possibility, but, you know, until it happens, people don't really get it.

Our hospital system and how it works in how it works in an emergency. How tele-education works. How tele-medicine works. How you keep society functioning during an emergency.

How you communicate to people the dangers of a situation without panicking people. Because you still need essential workers to come out to do their job. You don't want to panic people where they say, I'm not leaving the house.

But you need to communicate the facts so people act responsibly. How do you do that? In a short period of time?

What do you do about public transportation? We learned the whole lesson with the Downstate public transportation system.

So there will be a lot to learn from this, which we'll learn and we'll be better for it. I believe that. That's part of life.


And in the meantime, we have to go day-to-day and we try to make the best of a bad situation. You try to find that silver lining through the dark clouds. All of us try to do it in our own way. Everybody is struggling with this in their own way. And that's all across the board.

In many ways, this is the great equalizer. It does not matter who you are, where you are. This impacts your life dramatically. But personally, if you work at it, maybe you can find a little silver lining.

I'm sitting there last night with my daughter, Michaela. She's my baby. The baby is now 22. She says to me, you know, dad, think about it, I've spent more time with you now than I will probably spend with you in the rest of my adult life.

I said, wow. What does that mean? She said, well, think about it. I have been with you for over a month.

I won't be with you for another month for the rest of my adult life. Which is kind of jarring because I still think of her as my baby.

But you know what? That's probably right. She's 22 and she's going to go off and do whatever she does. And then you see her at holidays for a few hours a day, maybe you steal a Saturday once in a while. It reminded me of the Harry Chapin song "Cats in the Cradle," which was a great old song from a great man, great New Yorker, too.

But these are -- with all the bizarreness, I have not been able to see my mother in two months. But I have my daughter probably for a longer period of time than I will probably have for the rest of her adult life. That's probably true.

So you try to find the silver lining. You try to stay positive. We stay socially distance and but we stay spiritually connected.

New Yorkers have been so supportive of each other. You can feel it. There's a spirit of community and mutuality. People are there to help one another. People understand that everybody is going through this, everybody is in stress.

You look at the way people have complied with these rules, as annoying as they are, masks, six feet, this. That's out of respect for one and another.

I love the metaphor of the masks. The mask does not protect me. I wear the mask to protect you. What a beautiful sign of caring, of mutuality. I wear a mask to protect you. That's the spirit, even in this terrible time of difficulty.

So, yes, you can be socially distanced but you can be spiritually connected and closer in ways you have never been before. And I believe that's where we are. Because we are New York stuff, which means tough, smart, united, disciplined and loving.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- reopening plans. Will schools start to reopen as early as fall, possibly sooner? And we're that New York City, they're teachers are looking at permanent learning, possibly in the fall. I am just wondering of the timeline of all this and what could happen --


CUOMO: There will be no opening of any schools in the state for the remainder of the academic calendar year. We have to decide on summer school. That decision will be made by the end of May. There's no decision on the fall because the fall is a long time away.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When do schools have to be submitting their plans by? CUOMO: It depends when they open. But they should start preparing

their plans now. Because this is going to be a real exercise, you know. We are talking about how manufacturing companies socially distance, how construction companies socially distance. How does a school socially distance, you know?

This bizarre set up here, right? Look at this room. How do you run a school like this? How many more rooms would you need to do this? How many more buses to you need to socially distance on a bus? There's a whole -- how about a cafeteria? There's a whole set of questions. How about a dorm room?

So they should start working on those plans now.


KING: Karen?



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- Do you that think teachers can realistically do this and school administrators? I mean, kids are kids. They're going to want to run around and be together in a school setting.


CUOMO: Well, look, that is a very good question, Karen.