Return to Transcripts main page


Jersey Shore Towns Put Restrictions in Place for Holiday Weekend; Big Tech Including Facebook, Twitter Embrace Working Remotely as Possible New Normal. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 22, 2020 - 16:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: In our national lead, the long Memorial Day weekend will look drastically different this year, not just for families grappling with new restrictions, but for towns where the economies depend on tourism and summer activities to survive. Some beaches in New Jersey are allowing groups of up to ten people but the hours are restricted. No one is allowed to get into the water and police will be enforcing social distancing rules.

Just listen to the mayor of Point Pleasant Beach in New Jersey earlier today.


MAYOR PAUL KANITRA (R-NJ), POINT PLEASANT BEACH: We're trying to give everybody the benefit of the doubt but we're not going to be so laid back that we're going to let the public be in danger. Nobody wants to be the mayor from "Jaws" who lets the people back in the water a little too soon, right?


BASH: And as CNN's Kyung Lah reports, this weekend is one of the first major test to figure out exactly how to reopen the country.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: Well, we're about to start a very important weekend.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first summer holidays weekend, a major test of America versus the virus as millions head outside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nice to have the option to at least come to the beach and have some fun with friends for once.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it will be very busy. And I'm confident that people are going to want to do this in a safe manner because we know if things don't work, we may go back to a lockdown situation and I don't think anybody wants that.

LAH: Beaches up and down the East Coast will be enforcing social distancing.

RON WILLIAMS, DEPUTY CITY MANAGER, VIRGINIA BEACH: If we don't get volunteered compliance to it, a beach ambassador will ask for law enforcement to come and actually enforce the governor's executive orders for the distancing.

LAH: But different rules depending on where you are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, it's advisable all the times, but I don't think it's realistic or practical to ask people to go to the beach and wear a mask.

LAH: While America dives ahead, data shows this week, more states are heading in the wrong direction. In the weekly average of new cases, nine states here in green are down. 24 states are steady. And 17 states in red and orange are up. Twenty-five thousand new cases in the U.S. added just yesterday.

Among the steepest climbs, Arkansas. The state saw a 65 percent increase in the rate of new cases compared to a week ago. The state still opening water parks and pools today with restrictions.

And nearby Alabama, crowds packed beaches today, despite warnings that more cases would stress an already stretched Montgomery hospital system, where ICU beds run short.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: I'm quite worried with the memorial day weekend coming and many restrictions loosening, that this is going to go like prairie fire again. It's been smoldering, we've had a lid on it, but it is now really having the potential to get out of control.

LAH: Trying to control a crisis in Navajo Nation, home to the highest per capita infection rate in the country, the territory will order a 57-hour lockdown starting tonight. In Texas, bars are open for the holiday weekend. But in California, far slower movement, despite improvement in some cities, the first state to order a statewide shutdown is now seeing a rate of new cases at twice what it was at the start of April.

This ominous image at an L.A.'s Dodgers stadium showed the strain on California's tourism. These are unused rental cars. So many, the empty ballpark lot is now storage.



LAH: Here is something that bears reminding. As you decide where to put that beach blanket down on the beach, as you decide how close to sit next to a fellow patron at the restaurant or a bar that might newly be opened this weekend, the virus deaths, if they continue on the pace that they are in the United States, Dana, are expected to top 100,000 by the end of this Memorial Day weekend. So certainly a grim marker, Dana.

BASH: Grim and chilling.

Kyung, thank you so much for that report.

And joining me is the mayor of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, Anthony Vaz.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for joining me.

I first want to ask about this week, and it's a first since the coronavirus lockdown. So, you will allow people to sit and stand on the beaches. Before, they were open for walking, for exercising. But there are still a lot of restrictions, right? No one is allowed to go swimming, for example.

How are you going to enforce those rules beyond having police officers around -- I mean, how aggressive will they have to get?

MAYOR ANTHONY VAZ, SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NEW JERSEY: Again, we want to use caution. We purposely did not open our swimming area, for lack of manpower for a better word.

We had a soft opening last week and it went very well. We watched people courteous to one another, social distancing. Things went well.

This is a weekend now that we're going to watch again, to make sure that we're following the mandates of the state, the guidance of the state. So we're watching closely.

BASH: What kind of punishment will people face if they don't follow the rules that you've laid out?

VAZ: Again, we're looking at both the community, the businesspeople on the boardwalk, and we're looking at the beach itself. We're hoping that people reacted like they did last time.

But if they don't, we will enforce it with summonses, and they'll have to pay a fine and they'd be told to leave the beach or the boardwalk.

BASH: So, as you well know, New Jersey has been one of the hardest-hit states by the coronavirus. And just today, your governor announced more than 1,300 cases, 146 new deaths.

So, how hard is it for you as a mayor to balance health risks that you're seeing every day versus the economic toll that staying closed would have on your shore town?

VAZ: It's very difficult. And we position ourselves with our preplanning, where health conditions would be a primary goal to achieve. The business area is suffering. There's no question about it. We're a community of businesses.

It runs from May to September. Livelihoods are all affected by desires. So, we're looking at phasing. We're looking at phasing in. We work cooperatively with the governor's office, with the governor

himself, his team. We offer our suggestions. We offer solutions that we believe could possibly be beneficial to our community as well as for health.

BASH: Real quick, you have said that the pandemic has been worse for your town than Hurricane Sandy. How so?

VAZ: During Hurricane Sandy, everything was visible. You saw infrastructure, you saw damage. We had no water, no electric and so forth. There were things you could see and repair.

The virus is not seen. And there are three groups of people. The groups of people are -- I fear everything, I'm not going anywhere, I'm staying in my home. And there's the other group that says, I've had it, I can't stay home anymore, I've got to get out. And then the third group says, you know what, I know there's a virus out there, I'm frightened, but with caution, I think we'll survive.

And we're looking at the third group and saying, let's see what we can do to have a livelihood, to have a good summer, to have enjoyment.

BASH: Well, let's hope that all happens. As a Jersey girl, I have fond memories of your town of Seaside Heights.

I appreciate it. Good luck, Mr. Mayor, this weekend, and I hope everybody is safe and sound.

VAZ: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: Thank you.

And some employees may never return to the office, instead working at home. What that means for your workplace and the future of American cities. We'll talk about that next.



BASH: Facebook says remote working will be more permanent in the wake of this pandemic. In fact, within the next five to ten years, Facebook expects about half of its employees to work from home full-time.

CNN tech correspondent Brian Fung joins me now.

And, Brian, you've gone some really great reporting on this. And it includes the fact that Facebook is hardly the only Silicon Valley company to adopt remote working, right?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: That's right, Dana. The tech industry has really led the way on remote work. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google have all told their workers they shouldn't expect to come in until the fall or perhaps even the end of the year. And Twitter last week became the first company to move to adopt a permanent work-from-home solution that could apply to many of its employees.

But really, it's Facebook that really is going to set a milestone here, because it's the biggest social media company on the planet. And it really -- a lot of companies take their cues from this, you know, much larger behemoth. And, ultimately, it could have an impact on everything from wages to real estate to the way new startups are going.

BASH: OK. So you mentioned real estate. Let's look at that. Tech companies have spent billions on perks and office space. Not even two years ago, Apple built massive doors that slide open for an indoor/outdoor dining space. Salt Lake City, is there. They built its -- the campus with a perk of that -- look at that incredible mountain view.

What happens to this kind of real estate if employees aren't going into work?

FUNG: Yes, that's a great question.

It's going to be different for different companies. But some start-ups are downsizing, moving more to on-demand-type office spaces, kind of like Airbnb for office space. Others, big companies, those aren't going away. They own them.

And so now they have to figure out what to do with them. And experts say they're just going to have to be a lot more creative with that use of space, and maybe that companies like Cisco, which only expects 15 percent of its workers to be back by the fall, that that square footage will be just as important, because workers will need to be spaced out for social distancing purposes.

BASH: Right.

FUNG: Meanwhile, remote employees are going to have to consider taking potentially a pay cut.

You have Facebook saying that they're going to be essentially tailoring compensation to -- based on where people are living, and they're going to have to report where they're working from by January 1.

BASH: Yes, that makes sense.

And then we have been talking mostly about white-collar jobs, obviously. But if white-collar workers work from home, that means that other workers who serve those white-collar workers will be without a job, right?

FUNG: That's right.

A lot of people could be left behind by this, people like cafeteria workers, security guards, cleaning crews, and even shuttle drivers. Some experts say these people might end up working in the gig economy, which offers certainly some flexibility, but very little in the way of benefits -- Dana. BASH: Brian Fung, thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it.

And up next: Brazil now the number three in the world for coronavirus cases. CNN is on the ground there in one of the worst-hit areas, where cases are rapidly spreading.

You will want to see this -- up next.



BASH: In our world lead: Coronavirus cases are exploding in Latin America, the latest coronavirus hot spot.

Mexico is reporting nearly 3,000 more deaths on Thursday, the largest one-day increase for that country. Brazil also had its deadliest day and is now the country with the third highest number of total cases, surpassing 300,000, behind Russia and the U.S.

In some of the poorest areas in Brazil, cramped living spaces have created breeding grounds for this virus to spread.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh went inside a so-called favela in Sao Paulo to see how this disease is spreading among the most vulnerable.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice- over): Brazil has always had the haves and the have-nots, but, in Sao Paulo, coronavirus has the poor of its favelas going it more than ever alone.

We follow emergency workers through the dense streets that fuel the fire they're fighting. This is the place people don't want to live in. Yet poverty means it's packed all the same.

(on camera): It's in these densely packed alleyways you can tell the real risk of a high infection rate.

(voice-over): In these tiny rooms, a sickness means kids must look on at those who would care for them.

Renata says she tests only when her patient has three symptoms. And even those tests are paid for by private donations. Mostly, the test is done, she tells me, when the person is already in an advanced stage of the disease. Cases can be tough.

One obese woman needed eight people to carry her to an ambulance, and a man with Alzheimer's, well, we had to ask the family if we could physically remove him from his home. It's hard.

Up above is Maria, 53, who caught the virus, despite being masked up in the market, she says, so she's distancing from up high. Even yesterday, the owner of the pharmacy died, she tells me. Many are losing their lives due to someone's carelessness. Renata is part of a wide operation, medicine, but masks here too,

teaching people how to make them and giving them machines to do it, and also food, 10,000 meals a day, sent out in small numbers into the community, because lockdown means they can't put food on their own tables.

This is a community, in some ways already isolated economically, saving itself. They have a place where the sick are sent to isolate in, a former school. We can't film patients inside. Everything here is done at a distance and says that the worst is yet to come.

(on camera): It's pretty likely these beds will, sadly, soon be full, a school given over to this purpose by the government, but an operation here funded by private donations.

(voice-over): The bigger test here, how this amazing spirit of community holds up when the peak makes these streets seem even deadlier.


WALSH: Now, that peak could just be a matter here in Sao Paulo of a week to two weeks away.

We saw on Wednesday how the deaths reached a record 1,188 in just 24 hours. But these are the deaths that are known to be reportedly connected to coronavirus. Testing is hard to come by here.

Officially, you do need three of these symptoms often to get a test from government sources, even in a place like that favela, where there isn't much government to speak of.

That means those numbers don't reflect the whole picture. That means things are likely to get bad in the weeks ahead, and the government here, as you know, putting out conflicting advice -- Dana.


BASH: Absolutely. It's such a heartbreaking story, and an important one.

Thank you so much for bringing that to us, Nick Paton Walsh.

And be sure to tune in to CNN this Sunday, Sunday night, as Fareed Zakaria investigates the moment the pandemic was born.

"China's Deadly Secret" airs Sunday night at 9:00 p.m.

As schools and colleges across the nation are trying to figure out how to reopen and when, CNN will talk to the president of a major university about what their semester will look like ahead.


BASH: Be sure to tune in Sunday for CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."