Return to Transcripts main page


20.5 Million Jobs Lost In April, Worst Jobs Report In U.S. History; Manufacturer Says, Only Enough Remdesivir For 200,000 Patients Worldwide; Suspects Won't Face Hate Crime Charges In Ahmaud Arbery's Death. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 8, 2020 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Friday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


The devastating numbers this morning, more than 75,000 Americans dead from coronavirus and now over 20 million Americans have lost their job in just the month of April. Just a single month, unemployment has soared to 14.7 percent, that is depression-era levels. And Senior White House Economic Adviser Kevin Hassett just told us it could get worse.


KEVIN HASSETT, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The next one should be around 20. I was thinking this one might be as much as 20 but we had a big decline in the labor force as well.

And so the numbers are going to be probably -- is probably going to be best to look at, as you said E6 (ph). And so that's at 22 percent, it will probably be 25 percent in the next report. And then hopefully from there, it will start to head back in the right direction.


SCIUTTO: Those are depression-era numbers. It's just remarkable, devastating. Today's numbers already the worst we've seen since the great depression.

Let's get to CNN Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans and Douglass Holtz-Eakin, he's former Director for the Congressional Budget Office. Thanks to both of you.

Christine, perhaps I could begin with you. This caught my eye today, a poll in The Washington Post, when people were asked will they get their jobs back, do they expect to, 77 percent answered yes, likely. Is that likely?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We certainly hope so, don't we? We know that a lot of those are furloughs and temporary layoffs so we know that there are companies who have kept people on the books and are paying their healthcare as they go and get those federally enhanced unemployment benefits to tide them over, but the speed of this is just devastating.

Let me show you this one picture over a couple of months, 21.3 million jobs lost. That's over just two months. How does that compare with the great recession? It took months during the great recession to lose 8.7 million jobs. So this is already worse than anything any of us can remember. And this is ten times, ten times the worst previous record for job loss, 20.5 million jobs lost in one month. Last time, September 1945 was the last record. That's when Japan surrendered and America shut down its big industrial war machine.

So you're seeing the losses across the board here. Half of restaurant workers lost their jobs last month, half of them. And you saw jobless rates spike for women, people of color and teenagers in particular.

HARLOW: Yes. There you go, Christine. I mean, that is just so telling. And Douglas Holtz-Eakin, let's build on that. Because the pain here, the economic pain is not equally shared. It's just not. And you see it with African-Americans at almost 70 percent unemployment and Hispanics at almost 19 percent in this report.

DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE: Yes, there's no question about it. You see big jumps up to over 16 percent for blacks, almost 19 percent for Hispanics. This is an enormous amount of pain, and we see it spread unequally across the economy. So, hopefully, the recovery will also be unequal and we'll get those folks back to work first.

I think, you know, this is a staggering report, not unexpected, but trying to digest losses of this magnitude is really very hard.

The one thing that stands out to me, and I want to echo something that Christine touched on, is in the report of those 20.5 million lost jobs, over 18 were described as temporary layoffs. We want to make sure that turns out to be true, that we get enough support for the economy, that those people can get back to work and relatively quickly. That's the challenge now.

SCIUTTO: We're going to bring in John Harwood now at the White House for the Trump administration response to this. And, John, consistently, the president has said this will be a V-shaped recovery, everything will bounce back very quickly. Does the White House have data to back that up or is that the president cheerleading here?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's mostly cheerleading. Nobody has data to back this up because we've never been in an experience like this before. What you saw from the president this morning interviewed by Fox and Friends was a two-fold response. One, to say it wasn't his fault, this was a deliberate shutdown of the economy. He said even the Democrats are not blaming me for these unemployment numbers. And the other, as you mentioned was to cheerlead for a rapid turnaround. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We had the strongest economy in the history of the world, the strongest economy we've ever had, and we had to close it, which is artificial.


We artificially closed it. Those jobs will all be back, and they'll be back very soon. And next year, we're going to have a phenomenal year. People are ready to go. We got to get it open, and safely. People are ready to go.


HARWOOD: So he says they'll be back very soon. Next year is going to be robust.

I would point out that when I talked to Doug Holtz-Eakin last week, he said to me, Doug, you'll remember, this is not going to be a V. Let's face it. We've got to start preparing for what the new shape of the economy is going to be after this crisis passes.

HARLOW: Yes. And, Doug, to build on that, you ran the Congressional Budget Office. And on April 24th, the CBO just put out their, you know, non-partisan numbers and they say unemployment, even at the end of next year, at the end 2021 is going to be 9.5 percent. So they see something very different than what the president just promising the American people.

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Yes. I think that most forecasters do see a return to growth in the second half of this year, so that's a great piece of news, given it's going to fall at essentially an annual rate of 40 percent in the second quarter. But that's not going to get us back to levels of economic activity that we had in January. It's not going to get us back to levels of employment that we had in January. That's a much harder task and that's going to take well over a year to get accomplished.

SCIUTTO: Christine, tell us what folks at home who are watching this, what they should prepare for? You heard Kevin Hassett say to Poppy in the last hour that he expects the next month's job report to be even worse, right? I mean, as if it could but yes it can apparently. How should Americans expect this to play out over the coming weeks?

ROMANS: I think it's going to be really choppy, and here's why. Until schools open, you can't really have -- for example, a two-parent working family, you can't really go back to work. A single parent family, you're having trouble figuring out, A, how to get the unemployment benefits that you need, and B, trying to get child care, and maybe you're also trying to care for a parent or a grandparent.

This is a really multilayered problem. You've got the health risk, which is so scary. You've got the job loss, which is devastating. You've got childcare and parents situation. I think that for families, this is really a unique moment here and painful. Every single one of those numbers, every one of those data points is just like a heartbreaking story, and there's just no playbook for it.

HARLOW: Yes, no playbook. Yes, you're so right, Christine. Thank you very much, Christine Romans, Douglas Holtz-Eakin and John Harwood, appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: And she's so right there, that each one of those numbers, those millions is a family struggling to respond.

Now to the push to reopen the country, to help the economy, to help families like that. This time, Sunday, 47 states will be partially reopened. This despite the fact that only 11 states right now are actually seeing a steady and consistent decline in cases.

HARLOW: And this, CNN has learned over 1,000 employees in a meat processing plant in Iowa have tested positive for COVID-19. Dianne Gallagher has that news in a moment.

But, first, let's go to Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles with more on what they are doing in terms of somewhat limiting and lifting restrictions today. Steph?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So it feels like a big moment here in California to some extent, Poppy and Jim. And what we're looking at here is that the state is saying that the data here shows a stabilization in the hospital rates. And that is why they are saying it is time that they can start loosening some of the restrictions that we've seen here. So that means some manufacturing can come back online, some construction, rental cars, all of that can come back.

They're also saying that curbside and delivery for retail is now going to be available for some businesses. So that would be maybe a toy store, clothing, sporting goods. But they're also saying florists fall into the category, which is a big deal because they have missed much of the time of the year that they have most of their sales, except Mother's Day is this Sunday.

So we talked to the woman that owns this business here behind me, Diana's Flower, named after her daughter. Mihaela Caldarescu (ph) is saying that this is a different time though, and how she's going to operate her business is going to be different. Take a listen to what she told me.


MIHAELA CALDARESCU, CALIFORNIA BUSINESS OWNER: I am not going to open yet, no. I am not going to open for walk-ins. We are going to do -- even if it's until the end of the year, we are just going to do online and curbside pickup. I'm not going to open for walk-ins.


ELAM: And one bit of sunshine for people in her position, she says she sees orders coming in are larger because so many people can't be with their mothers or the people they want to honor on Mother's Day, and so that is one bright spot, but still probably not going to be enough to make up for what they lost, Jim and Poppy. SCIUTTO: Dianne Gallagher, I mean, stunning numbers here, a single meat plant in Iowa, a thousand employees at Tyson sickened.


I mean, there was a big push to close this plant for weeks. It stayed open. What happens now, particularly as the president has ordered a lot of meat processing facilities to open, despite outbreaks like this?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it did stay open for a little while as the community around it was asking it to close. Tyson did close, this Waterloo plant, for almost two weeks. They reopened for the first time yesterday for the slaughter side of the plant. And then today, they're bringing back the processing.

But the county announced that 1,031 of the roughly 2,800 employees there have tested positive for COVID-19.

Now, just the day before, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds have said that 444 employees of that plant had tested positive. And it appears it's not that the number doubled. They're just using different numbers here. The governor is going with only the number of employees that have tested positive from the on-site testing at Tyson. Meanwhile the county is going with anybody who is an employee of Tyson, including those who tested positive on site, as well as those who went to local healthcare providers and those that have tested positive for antibodies in that serology testing.

Something else just to point out here at this point, Jim and Poppy, the Black Hawk County health director said that, again, something we're seeing across the country, minorities being affected disproportionately here. 5 percent of the minorities in Black Hawk County, Iowa are positive for COVID-19 compared with 0.8 percent of the white residents.

HARLOW: That is so telling. Dianne, thank you. Stephanie Elam in L.A., thanks again.

Manufacturers of the drug Remdesivir warning they only have enough doses for a fraction of the COVID patients worldwide. Doctors say they're not sure how to decide who gets it.

SCIUTTO: Plus, from football to baseball, to basketball, small signs that sports may start to come back under restrictions. Are the right precautions though in place?

And farmers across the country have had to destroy, imagine this, destroy produce and dump milk as demand evaporates. But one dairy farm has found a way to keep business going. We're going to have their story, ahead.


[10:15:00] SCIUTTO: This morning, there are new questions about the rollout of remdesivir. This is a drug you may have heard about, the only drug that has been approved so far to treat coronavirus patients. The drug's maker says to date it only has enough for 200,000 patients worldwide, and keep in mind, 1.2 million cases here in the U.S.

And as Elizabeth Cohen reports, doctors say they have received little guidance about how to decide who gets the drug.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was announced last week with great fanfare.

TRUMP: An important treatment for hospitalized coronavirus patients.

COHEN: It's remdesivir, the first and only drug shown to work against COVID-19 in a rigorous clinical trial. Made by the company Gilead, preliminary results show it shortens the patient's hospital stay by about four days.

MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Our task force will be working very closely with Gilead to make sure that those medicines starting on Monday are distributed to hospitals where patients are struggling.

COHEN: But there's a problem. Gilead says there's only enough remdesivir for 200,000 patients at most worldwide, not nearly enough.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco was happy last week when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of remdesivir for COVID-19.

PETER CHIN-HONG, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO: I think there was that excitement, and then there was sadness and disappointment.

COHEN: Why do you feel sad or disappointed?

CHIN-HONG: Every day you don't get a drug. It means more patients are potentially going to do badly because time is of the essence when you're talking about treating a virus.

COHEN: So doctors have to choose which of their patients will get remdesivir.


COHEN: They're kind of asking to you play god, who gets the medicine and who doesn't.

WALENSKY: It's been challenging. I do believe that people who merited are not going to get it because we simply don't have enough.

COHEN: Doctors want to give to their patients who could benefit most but they don't necessarily know who those patients are since the study on remdesivir still hasn't been published. The National Institutes of Health sponsored the study and told CNN in a statement that it plans to publish a report in the next few weeks.

Would it be helpful to you to be able see the actual published results?

CHIN-HONG: Oh, yes, 1 million percent.

COHEN: Another mystery, why some hospitals were sent remdesivir and others were not and how those hospitals can get the drug. The Department of Health and Human Services, which is allocating remdesivir, did not respond to CNN's request for comment. Dr. Chin- Hong says he's asked and received no answers.

CHIN-HONG: What is the process of applying? We were told don't call us, we'll call you.

COHEN: Gilead says it's ramping up production, hoping to help a million patients by December. But until there's more, doctors will continue to fight for their patients.


COHEN: Also news about another drug, hydroxychloroquine, that's the drug that President Trump has been so enthusiastic about, last night, a study was published, largest study of its kind, in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, the New England Journal of Medicine, showing that it didn't work.


This is yet another study showing that it didn't work in hospitalized patients. Maybe it will help prevent it or help people early in their illness, but it does not seem to be working in hospitalized patients. Poppy, Jim?

SCIUTTO: Yes, it shows. Listen, you've got to take time. You have to look at the studies before these treatments get advertised as the solution, really. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Let's talk about this with Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist and Director of the UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health. Good morning to you, Anne.


HARLOW: Could you hear Elizabeth Cohen's reporting on remdesivir there?

RIMOIN: I did.

HARLOW: Okay. So, I mean, that is an impossible decision for doctors to be making, who gets it until the supply gets ramped up a lot. And it sounds like that's going to take a long time. Where does it leave us as a country? RIMOIN: Well, I think it's, you know, a problem that with supply chain and being able to ramp up. We have a very unique situation here, an unprecedented situation where we're coming up with drugs as fast as we can, and then they have to get into production. And production takes time, and distribution takes time. And we are still in the very early stages. We don't know about the efficacy of this drug. We only have very small pieces of information at this point that it shortens the number of days in a hospital. And so we're in very, very early days.

So, you know, the fact of the matter is we still don't have treatments that we are able to use en masse, we don't have the appropriate testing and we don't have a vaccine yet. So we're still in very early days.

HARLOW: On the other drug that was touted so much by the president, not just touted but he talked about buying up millions of doses for the National Stockpile, that is hydroxychloroquine, this new study that Elizabeth just mentioned showing no efficacy, that it really didn't do anything to help COVID patients. Is the time as a country to move on from any hope placed in that?

RIMOIN: I think that this just underscores the need for rigorous, randomized clinical trials to be sure we know the utility of the drugs that we are going to be using. And this is just -- this is why there was so much discussion early on about what we know about these drugs, what we don't know.

It's understandable, everybody wants to have therapeutics that are ready and able to be distributed to the rest, to everybody, but the point is, we don't know what works, what doesn't, and if there are any side effects. You have to know these things before starting to distribute them widely. Otherwise, it's just false hope.

HARLOW: One thing we do know that is really promising and probably the best news I've heard all week, if not, in a couple of weeks, is what The New York Times reported about this new study that gives us a lot of insight on antibodies and immunity, right? Because we didn't know before this study, how effective having antibodies to coronavirus might be.

This says, quote, nearly everyone who has had the disease, regardless of age, sex or severity of illness, makes antibodies to the virus. The study also hints that anyone who's recovered may return to work safely. Of course, it's unclear how long a protection might last. But, I mean, is that as promising as it reads?

RIMOIN: I think this is a great first study that shows that antibodies do exist after infection, and that there is some potential for immunity. But, again, we don't know how long it lasts, and if there are differences in certain people who may have immune deficiencies, that we still don't understand everything we need to know about what kind of -- what happens in particular in asymptomatically infected individuals and what kind of immunity they may have, and, really and truly, this issue of how long does immunity last, and can people get re-infected, because it could be that you have partial immunity. You may not have full immunity.

And so these things are going to be very important to be able to understand, so that we know who is protected, who isn't, and the extent of immunity. It's all very promising, it's important work, but there's still more to do.

HARLOW: For sure. Thank you so much, Anne Rimoin, Department of Epidemiology at UCLA. I appreciate your time.

RIMOIN: It's my pleasure.

HARLOW: Well, now, a critical update on the story we brought you earlier in the week, weeks after an African-American man was shot and killed, there he is, Ahmaud Arbery, just while jogging. A former police officer and his son have now finally been arrested, and they've been charged with murder.



HARLOW: Officials in Georgia say the father and son charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man killed while jogging will not face hate crime charges. Two white men, one a former police officer, and his son, were arrested and charged with murder and felony assault last night after Arbery was shot and killed. This happened back in February.


SCIUTTO: If you've seen the video and have the stomach for it, you have to watch it. It's shocking in broad daylight. These charges come just days --