Return to Transcripts main page


Beaches Brace For Huge Memorial Day Crowds As States Reopen; U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Surpass 96,000, New Cases Rise To 1.6M; South Carolina Coastal Town Reverses Stance, Removes Checkpoint At Beaches; Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-FL) Discusses Self-Isolating, Concerns Over Nursing Homes, Governor DeSantis Lifting Restrictions On Youth Activities; Schools Worldwide Balance Students' Curriculum & Social Distancing. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 23, 2020 - 13:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me on Fredricka Whitfield. This holiday weekend is looking very different than usual as the U.S. grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. Right now, beaches and parks from coast to coast are allowing people to return for the first time in months. But in many areas, this newfound freedom comes with restrictions on capacity and social distancing.

All of this as the number of new cases in the U.S. is holding steady or rising in 42 states. Some experts worry reopening could cause new spikes of the disease. The number of deaths is now over 96,000. And new cases are up over 1.6 million.

Even as states ease some restrictions President Trump is demanding governors do even more calling on states to fully reopen houses of worship, even saying he will override any governor who doesn't comply. Although it's unclear what authority the President is actually working. furring to.

CNN has a team of reporters across the country covering all of the reopening this holiday weekend. But we begin this hour in Georgia where thousands are expected to flock to Tybee Island this weekend and are already there in droves. A small beach town made national headlines when the mayor went toe to toe with Governor Brian Kemp back in April, can't open beaches right after Tybee Island's mayor and city council had closed their beach -- their beaches rather.

CNN's Natasha Chen joining me now from Tybee Island and clearly the word is out, you've got a lot of people enjoying the beach. What kind of restrictions are in place?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the only restrictions are that the parties need to stay six feet apart from each other, of course, socially distance and you can't have groups of more than 10 people. Otherwise you wouldn't really know that this Memorial Day weekend is any different than any past Memorial Day weekend. I don't know if you can tell by just looking at the scene right here that we're in the middle of a pandemic. But you know, we talked to beachgoers who say they just wanted to enjoy life. You don't see anyone with masks on, we are trying to wear them ourselves when we're interviewing people at closer range but they don't seem terribly concerned about covering their faces at least not on the beach. We did talk to some local residents though because they rely on these people behind me for their tourism dollars. They were really dependent on that.

But that comes at a risk. Here are Don and Mary Macklemore.


MARY MCLEMORE, TYBEE ISLAND RESIDENT: We're not making this stuff up. We're not being crybabies. We're not being alarmists. We're just saying this is happening. And young kids just don't think that they're vulnerable.

DON MCLEMORE, TYBEE ISLAND RESIDENT: It's like letting the air out of the balloon right now. Everybody is coming out, and they're anxious to get out. That's all good. It's understandable.


CHEN: So, that couple actually told me that they live in near the back river where they saw last year weekend about 100 to 150 students gathered together, not social distancing at all. The mayor also told me about that and she said Tybee police had to be sent out there. And the police even got pushback from some of those kids' parents who were there. So this has not been terribly easy to enforce.

Even with the crowds that they would like for those tourism dollars, it has been difficult to enforce keeping them apart and the state has sent the Department of Natural Resources to help out with that, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Natasha Ken. Thank you so much in Tybee Island. All right. Folly Beach, outside of Charleston in South Carolina is one of the most popular in that state. Officials there originally resisted state orders to reopen but this past week, the checkpoints came down after the county filed a lawsuit and it's now open for beachgoers. Tim Goodwin is the mayor of Folly Beach.

Mr. Mayor, good to see you.

Folly Beach among one of my favorites there and a very popular one for the surfers. So why were you initially resistant to reopening the beach?

MAYOR TIM GOODWIN (R), FOLLY BEACH, SC: Well, we resisted to reopen the beach because governor McMasters gave us the power to manage our beach presence in a state per each individual beach in each individual city. While we were trying to have a gradual reopening, there was a lawsuit presented but our decision to reopen the beach had nothing to do with a lawsuit at all.

It was the fact that Governor McMasters took away the basic powers for us to manage the opening of the beaches when he just said all beaches are open and all roads, you know, all parks and all state parks and all that are open. So, we opened up the beach and we saw a lot of folks across the whole generation gap, not just young people but across the whole generation gap.


GOODWIN: That was gathering in groups and not social distancing and not wearing mask and just like nothing's happening today.

WHITFIELD: So does that frustrate you?

GOODWIN: It is because. you know, this is a -- this is a true problem. And, you know, you ask this thousands of people who've lost family members or loved ones to this pandemic and, you know, you would get a different answer about things I believe. But as people were pinned up, and it's all about me, and I need to get out and I need to enjoy the beach, or I need to enjoy the parks or I need to go shopping, you know, it's -- we can't, for some reason, as a society, get over this all about me process.

WHITFIELD: And what do you think is behind that? I mean, how does one explain that psychology that you just described knowing that so many people have died more than 96,000 in this country?

GOODWIN: You know, take somebody other than me to explain that to you because I don't know, if I knew that answer I could be a rich person tomorrow probably. But, you know, we're such a mobile society before all this happened, and everybody just moves that will wherever you want to, whenever you want to, however you want it to, that to be shut down or to be quarantined or to be stuck at home with homeschooling your kids and, you know, everything just kind of society as you knew it fell in around your ears pretty much and I think people were just, oh, I got to get back to normal. I can't stand this any longer.

WHITFIELD: Uh-hmm. So what has been the sentiment that you've, you know, gotten from particularly a lot of business people in your community and Folly Beach? Were they, you know, expressing to you the worries they had about the economic impact, were they, you know, adding to the pressure of, you know, reopen now?

GOODWIN: You know, our businesses really did not and they are -- they are opening very cautiously and slowly as a business. We have outdoor dining in the restaurants and bars and we blocked off parking spaces to give them more room and better seating and outdoor facilities.

Our hotel here we have one hotel who's only at 50 percent capacity of their own free choice. So they're opening carefully and cautiously trying to help prevent people from being sick and trying to help society ease back into this process.

WHITFIELD: How worried are you for your first responders or, you know, those on the front line of opening their businesses even though there's some reluctance as you just described?

GOODWIN: Yes. The folks the folks that are out there every day are the ones that you worry about. Of course, they were the ones you worried about when everything closed down because they depended on, you know, those restaurants and waiters and waitresses and clerks in the stores to make a living when you close everything off and they are out of job. Our first responders has always been busy helping out and doing what they can do.

Unlike a storm, you know, this, this is all around us and still around us. It's not here and gone and it's not as easy to protect our first responders as it is to another crisis. But they're out there working and they're doing the best they can do to protect ourselves and protect their families, as they protect the citizens of Folly Beach.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Folly Beach has had its share of knowing what it is to endure a hurricane or storm. Folly Beach, South Carolina Mayor Tim Goodwin, thank you so much.

GOODWIN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All the best. All right. Now to California where rising temperatures are expected to drive big crowds to the state's beaches there. This despite the fact that California has registered more than 2000 new cases each day over the last four days. The state's death toll also sharply up over the same four-day period. CNN's Paul Vercammen joining us from Santa Monica in Southern California.

Paul, a warm weekend expected there. What are you seeing in terms of crowd sizes?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the crowds can't get too big because the rules are the parking lots are close here in Santa Monica and much of L.A. County. So what you can do at the beaches, you can recreate, you can go for a jog or you can ride your bike, surf, swim, skate, play, catch with the Frisbee, but there is no congregating if you will. You can't throw down your tents and your blankets and all of that.

So we're going to see the crowds restricted and you look behind me the fame Santa Monica Pier. Well, it's closed and that's a really important thing because that means that the economic lifeblood of the city in a way has been turned off. We're going to bring in the Mayor of Santa Monica Kevin McKeown.

And Mayor, it's got to be a tough situation for you because you want that pier open but you know you need to social distance. So how do you recommend that?


MAYOR KEVIN MCKEOWN (D), SANTA MONICA, CA: Well first of all, welcome to Santa Monica, the home of the three-piece bathing suit, a bikini and a face mask. It's Memorial Day weekend. We're trying to have some fun here. But the reality is, things are financially pretty grim. We want to get the city reopened as quickly as we can. But we need to protect people not only from each other, but from themselves.

Our local economy has tanked. We were a tourism town, people have been coming here for over 100 years, tourism has ended for the time being. Our hotels are empty, our restaurants are doing just pickup and delivery. The city revenue therefore has cratered. And we've done an estimate that over the next two years, we're down by $220 billion in this city. And that's money we need to provide police and fire to pick up the trash to have clean pure water in the pipes.

So that's going to mean other services now in this city have to be cut and that's very hard to do.

VERCAMMEN: And you made the tough choices. You had some layoffs. You've also had some, you know, voluntary retirement through buyouts.

MCKEOWN: We offered voluntary retirement and over 125 city employees took that. Even after that we had issued layoff notices to I think 137 employees. Now, I've been on this city council over 20 years. These are people I've worked with. These are people I know personally. This is a really tough time for this city. And we need help, we need the Federal government to step up and fund cities because that's what's not happening right now.

VERCAMMEN: So if you could say something to -- let's say the U.S. Senate, what would you tell them?

MCKEOWN: Well, U.S. Senate, what are you doing going on break before you pass a bill that sends money to cities across the country? We are the local governments who provide needed services to people and if we don't have the revenue and we don't have the ability to spend money, we don't have we have to balance our budget. We have to turn to Washington. And Washington needs to listen to what's happening at the local level.

VERCAMMEN: As a mayor of a city of 90,000 people, what has this been like you in terms of what seems to be just a grand sleep deprivation experiment?

MCKEOWN: It's been about 10 weeks since I've really had a good night's sleep or had a day off. And I'm not saying that for pity. It's just it's the reality of trying to run a local government in these unprecedented circumstances. We've had recessions before, but never anything that happened this suddenly or this deeply that took that much money out of the city coffers so quickly. So trying to figure how to run a city on roughly 40 percent less money is a real challenge.

You know, we have tourism and restaurants provide a great deal of our city budget. And with the restaurants closed and the hotels, the very few that are open have five or 10 percent occupancy. That revenue is not going to come in for some time. We know it's not going to come back overnight. So we have to plan for a restructuring. We have to reinvent Santa Monica.

VERCAMMEN: We wish you the best of luck, Mayor. We super thank you for taking time out there. And there you have it, Fred. That's the reality right now in a city like Santa Monica, I mean (INAUDIBLE) behind me but very, very, very tough times as they try to reckon with how to reopen and stay safe. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: Harsh reality. All right, thank you so much, Paul Vercammen. All right. Up next, the President deems houses of worship essentials sparking a national debate, is it really safe to return?

And as the nation's restaurants begin to reopen their doors, CNN investigates how you can safely grab a bite and not put your health at risk.



WHITFIELD: The President says it's time for churches and other places of worship to reopen, deeming them essential. And now he's threatening to override any governor who takes action to prevent religious services from restarting. CNN Kristen Homes is at the White House. So Kristen, you know, these new Federal recommendations are just that recommendations. How is the President plan to enforce them when he says he can override any governor?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, that is the question and the administration has not been able to provide us with an answer on that. But really, this is just the latest in this back and forth tug of war over power that we've seen between the Federal and state governments. You know, who is responsible for what? Who is paying for what? And it was just a few weeks ago that we were talking about President Trump saying it was his decision solely to reopen the states.

Now, obviously, we have learned since then that that was not true. We've watched these governors really open up at their own pace, some of them quicker or slower than others. But again, this goes back to this shifting power dynamic. And I want you to listen to how President Trump said this, about these institutions of faith.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now for this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the governors.


HOLMES: So again, the same language that we heard when he was talking about opening up the states. But why is this important? Well, first of all, this comes at a time when the CDC just issued updated guidance about high transmission rates at church events. So that's one part. The other is that people are trying to go to church, they're trying to get out there, but the CDC has issued some guidelines and I want to bring them up here just in case people are considering going out to these church events.

One is promoting social distancing, limiting sharing objects, and cleaning and daily providing soap and hand sanitizer. Actually, I want to restate that, cleaning daily and providing soap and hand sanitizer. So just in case people are thinking about going into these church events or these various faith places, to keep in mind what the top health agency is saying that they should do in these circumstances. WHITFIELD: And Kristen, the President said that Knowing that 47 states either have churches open or churches are partially open.


WHITFIELD: There are just three remaining states that are discouraging at -- meantime for today, the President was spotted golfing?

HOLMES: Well, that's right, Fred. And for the first time in months, the last time we saw him play golf was early March, he was down in Mar-a-Lago was after that visit to the CDC. And it was just later that week when everything really erupted. Now, there's a lot of messages that are being sent here by President Trump. One is that the states should be reopen, that everything is coming. He wants to send a message that we are back to normal.

But the other thing I want to note here is how this vastly differs from how he acted when President Obama was in office. Just to keep in mind, he often called into Fox and Friends and complained about the president, then Obama going out and golfing. At one point he actually complained when President Trump went out and golf when they were to Ebola cases in the United States.

So something to keep in mind there one of the things that President Trump often griped about his predecessor.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kristen Holmes, thank you so much. All right. Coming up coffee filters, as masks trash bags as nursing gowns. The dire conditions facing nursing home workers are driving some to take legal action.



WHITFIELD: A dire warning from nursing home workers who say they are not receiving the safety equipment they need. Some forced to use coffee filters and garbage bags instead of masks and gowns. One family is suing a Texas long-term care facility after a man who worked there died from coronavirus. They claim he did not have the essentials needed to protect himself. Here's CNN's Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: For 25 years, Maurice Dotson worked as a nurse's assistant at West Oaks Nursing Home in Austin, Texas. Changing bed pans, diapers, sheets, and just being a friend to those elderly who no longer had any friends.

That ended when he died on April 17th, the cause? COVID-19.

QUENTIN BROGDON, ATTORNEY FOR DOTSON FAMILY: He wasn't given basic personal protective equipment such as a mask.

GRIFFIN: Maurice Dotson was one of 111 cases of COVID-19 at this nursing home. The state sent in Texas National Guard soldiers to disinfect West Oaks and other facilities.

Quentin Brogdon is the attorney representing Dotson's family in a lawsuit which says the nursing home failed to properly prepare, respond and provide its employees with personal protection equipment as required.

BROGDON: He gave his life to care for the residents of West Oaks. They were his second family. He could have called in sick. He could have quit. But it just wasn't in his DNA. He protected them but he wasn't protected.

GRIFFIN: West Oaks will not comment on the lawsuit, but in a statement the company said, our operations and protocols changed profoundly with the release of the CDC guidelines.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities from the start of this pandemic had been hotbeds of illness and death. One study shows 41 percent of coronavirus deaths in 36 states are connected to nursing homes. The virus spreads quickly to patients and staff who then leave work and spread it to others.

DEBBIE BERKOWITZ, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT: In this pandemic, if a worker is infected with COVID-19, then they cannot only spread it to their coworkers, but they spread it out into the community

GRIFFIN: A CNN review of hundreds of complaints to Federal and state governments show that workers at long term facilities feel their own lives are at risk. Writing complaints like, employees are not provided personal protective equipment such as masks, using coffee filters as masks, and garbage bags as gowns.

Health care workers have died from the COVID-19 and the employer is unwilling to report it.

MARK PARKINSON, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION: We have been begging for additional equipment in nursing homes for the last two months and unfortunately, no one has listened. In some cases, we have had to go without it and the results have been tragic.

GRIFFIN: Mark Parkinson, president of the American Health Care Association says in the rush to find protective gear for unprepared hospitals, nursing homes have been ignored.

PARKINSON: Unfortunately, with the resources that were denied to nursing homes and were instead were to hospitals have had really tragic results because it's impossible to stop this virus if you don't have the face masks that you need to keep it from spreading.

BERKOWITZ: It's like government malfeasance and how little they have done.

GRIFFIN: Deborah Berkowitz is former chief of staff at OSHA, the government agency charged with protecting workers. She says the government has failed by silently allowing nursing home deaths to multiply without acting. BERKOWITZ: OSHA put out no specific guidance and just recently has no mandate. And, you know, guidance is voluntary. Employers can follow it, or they can ignore it.

GRIFFIN: OSHA's guidelines on protecting nursing home workers during the COVID-19 pandemic were published only this past week, three months after the first deaths were recorded at a nursing facility in Washington. Far too late to help workers like Maurice Dotson.

BROGDON: He was 51 years old. He didn't need to die.

GRIFFIN: OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it investigates all complaints and has been paying particular attention to protections for those health workers who have high exposure to coronavirus. That is of little comfort to the family of Maurice Dotson.

Drew Griffin, CNN Atlanta.



WHITFIELD: Thank you so much, Drew.

All right, joining me right now is Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. She's currently self-isolating after she was possibly exposed to the virus while touring a nursing home in her state of Florida.

First Congresswoman, how are you feeling?

REP. DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL (D-FL): Hi, Fredricka. Thank goodness I have no symptoms. I went to get tested today. I had to wait a few days to make sure the test is as accurate as possible. I'm feeling optimistic that the test will come back negative.

WHITFIELD: How much longer are you --

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Cross my fingers.

WHITFIELD: -- going to give yourself to self-quarantine or self- isolate?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: I'm following the guidance of our medical professionals. I've been in contact with them. And after I receive the test results I'll be giving them a call and following whatever guidelines I need to abide by.

WHITFIELD: Great news that so far, so good.

All right. I understand that you were touring these nursing home facilities as part of a personal investigation. What have been your concerns and what did you find?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Look, what's happening to me right now actually is shedding a light on the issues that so many families are struggling with. Sending your loved one to a nursing home or long-term care facility should not be a death sentence.

We have a personal rehab center in the Keys. The Keys have been very responsible. They shut everything down very early on. We only have about 100 cases in the Keys.

And a couple of weeks ago, families learned from reading an article in the newspaper that there had been 13 confirmed positive cases in that nursing home and long-term living facility and three deaths.

So I went to meet with family members. I spoke with the parents of Brittany, a 30-year-old woman, young woman, who had severe head injury and has to be at that facility. They still do not know if she -- if her test has come out negative or positive. They told me there were issues with the testing. They're not getting any responses.

So I went and visited with the center. I went immediately to the center because they weren't responding to our phone calls. I was outside. I was wearing a mask following every guideline, and the director invited me into the reception area. And I went in. She assured me it was a safe zone.

I was then notified she should never have done that, which confirms that these nursing homes are not following guidelines. And it's putting a lot of people at risk.

And so in Florida, those deaths are coming from nursing homes, which is a huge concern for me in my area but in our state as well.

WHITFIELD: And then what is your response to, say in Drew's piece there? He talked about how nursing homes, many of them, are not even reporting the deaths. So it's not being, I guess, logged or documented what is happening at a number of the nursing homes beyond the home.

MUCARSEL-POWELL: So we have been sounding the alarm on the lack of transparency for quite some time. Which, last week, in the Heroes Act, we included a provision to put into law the guidelines that these nursing homes have to report any COVID cases to the CDC and also be in communication with the family and report these cases to the family members immediately within 24 hours.

I can tell you that from what I heard from family members, Brittany's parents have a camera in her room, and they've seen some very concerning things in that nursing facility. People not wearing PPE, which was shocking to me.

Understaffed. They know that one evening there was only one staff member caring for over 70 residents at a nursing home facility that's becoming a hot spot in the Florida Keys.

We know from a report this week -- the General Accounting Office released a study that half of nursing facilities in our country are not following federal guidelines. So we must provide oversight. There has to be transparency and accountability. WHITFIELD: Let's shift gears a little bit. Florida Governor DeSantis

has lifted all restrictions on youth activities, including summer camps effective immediately. Is the state ready for that?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: I don't think so, Fredricka. The governor was very slow to shut things down, and now is very quick to reopen. He's following the president's guidance, not really listening to the scientists and public health experts.

We have been now seeing some troubling cases of children that have gotten COVID-19 here in the state of Florida.

And what we saw is Governor DeSantis with Vice President Mike Pence going to a burger joint without wearing any masks.

So we've seen a spike on positive cases here in the state of Florida. A 38 percent rise in cases just in the past two weeks.

We need to make sure that as we start with reopening through various phases, we are strict in our guidelines. We have contact tracing in place, an incredible amount of testing, especially for these hot spot areas.

In Miami-Dade County, we have the highest number of cases in the entire state. So I'm concerned. I'm seeing people really getting a little bit too relaxed.


Look at what just happened to me. I've been following every guideline in the book and I've been exposed now, so I have to self-quarantine. This can happen to anyone.

And I just want to people to be responsible and careful as we have this governor opening everything up, especially for parents with kids that may have any, any underlying health condition.

They should not allow their children to go to camps or to be outdoors with -- I mean, outdoors, outside of their home but not with other kids or other people in the community.

WHITFIELD: Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, thank you so much. And all the best to you as you continue to self-isolate.


WHITFIELD: As the number of COVID-19 cases surpasses now five million, school officials around the world are learning their new reality. How to keep their students on track while keeping them healthy. That's next.



WHITFIELD: Masks, six feet of space between desks, constant hand washing, even police tape. School children navigating the coronavirus pandemic are facing a different set of challenges from country to country.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen looks at how schools worldwide are getting creative to ensure that they are doing their part to prevent the virus from spreading.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It looks almost like a normal school break at this school in Copenhagen, except for the police tape dividing the school yard. Just one of many measures meant to keep kids from bunching up and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the head of secondary education says.

JIMMY SKOV GLASDAM ADETUNJI, HEAD OF SECONDARY EDUCATION, HENDRIKSHOLM SCHOOL: If you follow the guidelines, if you keep distance if you make sure to wash your hands, keep sanitizing, coughing in your sleeve and not in your hand, and so on and so forth, I think we'll be safe.

PLEITGEN: Denmark started reopening schools more than a month ago and, so far, new coronavirus cases in the country haven't spiked, the government says.

What's surprising, neither students nor teachers wear masks. Instead, they keep distance and wash hands and sanitize very often.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: It's a bit challenging, but you get used to it after a time.

PLEITGEN: It's a different picture in South Korea. Children there not only wear masks, but some are seated behind Plexiglas dividers to prevent infections. Still, the country shut down dozens of schools after two kids tested positive.

Even the first major coronavirus epicenter, Wuhan, China, brought kids back two weeks ago. Here, too, masks are mandatory and the school's president says other strict measures have been taken.

"We rearranged the facilities on the campus to ensure each class has its own rest room," he says, "its own boiled water room and its own alternative classroom."

France reopened schools last week but has already had to shut some down again after recording dozens of coronavirus cases. Still, France's education minister says he believes the kids are doing their part.

"The pupils understand the social distancing rules," he says, "the wearing of masks. And, in some cases, they show the way, including for adults because they understand what's at stake."

Denmark says it hopes to have all students back in school next week, but physical distancing rules means they don't have space for them all. So they are getting creative, moving some classes into local churches and even the church graveyard. All to try and ensure children can have their lessons even in times of


Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


WHITFIELD: Coming up at 2:30, right here on CNN, a panel of experts will join me to answer your coronavirus questions, especially when it comes to schools, teachers and our kids. Go to to submit your questions on education. Again, that's at 2:30 Eastern right here on CNN.

We will be right back.



WHITFIELD: Right now, people around the world are coping with the stressed caused by a serious health crisis, which has been compounded by an economic crisis and a major shift in societal norms.

Joining me to discuss is Wendy Walsh, psychologist and host of "Mating Matters" podcast.

Wendy, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So what kind of impact is all of this having on mental health?

WALSH: Well, it's having an enormous impact on mental health because humans are wired to bond. We're social creatures. And we are many one neurochemistry as we work together.

So depending on your type of neurochemistry, the effects may be greater or less. Extroverts tend to be suffering the most. People who need others to get their energy. Introverts tend to be doing a little better. And people who had pre-existing mental health conditions, who are more prone to anxiety and depression, are hurting the most.

WHITFIELD: And so when we talk about all 50 states that are now, at least, you know, partially open, as we mark the unofficial start of summer this Memorial Day weekend, how do we manage the sort of coronavirus fatigue that is also kind of permeating out there where people feel like, OK, I'm ready to get back to normal, knowing that normal is going to be very different from this point forward?

WALSH: Well, there's a lot of social strife going on right now as people fall on one side or the other regarding continuing to quarantine.

What we know and what epidemiologists have told us is while you can't predict the upward slope of a curve you can predict the downward slope. Meaning that if, in eight weeks, 90,000 people died, we now know if we quarantine strictly, that another 90,000 will die. So any opening up continues to increase death rates.

This has caused a lot of strife between those who are just dying to get together and have cocktails in the backyard and get together with neighbors and book groups and think that wearing masks and being six feet away -- I don't know how you drink wine with a mask on, by the way -- is going to be OK.

So I'll say that people are having to find their individual ways. And we're really seeing the difference between those who think about what is best for the group and those who focus on individual rights and freedoms.

WHITFIELD: Let's talk about the people you were talking about, who are already suffering varying degrees of mental health issues. When you talk about social isolation, you know, for a lot of people, that translates into feeling depressed by not being around people. We're not hugging like we once were. We're not handshaking.


How are people, who are suffering from mental health setbacks, how do they protect their physical health while, at the same time, try to be, I guess, reintroduced to what it is to be social again?

WALSH: It is good that you mentioned hugging and handholding because we do know that is how we get a real boost of dopamine, feel-good hormone, by touching someone.

I always tell people, if you are quarantined with family members, make sure when you are watching TV together, that you snuggle on the couch. I've got teenage daughters. They are sometimes in my bed all night. I think that is good for our mental health.

If you are absolutely alone and isolated, then you can get the benefits of touch by touching yourself, giving yourself a foot massage, taking hot baths, putting lotion on. That can help.

Use the other technological surrogates out there, not just Zoom because we are getting Zoom fatigue. What about picking up the phone and putting a dear friend in both your earpieces and really connecting and having a long conversation and really, really feeling them in some way?

WHITFIELD: What about in kids? Do you see it exhibited in different ways, whether this is putting certain anxieties or stress on the mental fitness of a lot of kids? They're not seeing their friends, teachers, which was very comforting for a long time. And now they've gotten used to school at a distance from their teachers and friends.

What is this doing to them, especially the notion of being reintroduced again to the masses in some way?

WALSH: I don't know about you but I have one introvert who is very happy to be staying home and not being in school because --


WHITFIELD: We have a 3-year-old feeling that way.

WALSH: Exactly.


WALSH: We have to remember that children's mental health is usually an offshoot of parents' mental health. They're little sponges. It is really incumbent on us to self-regulate and manage our own stress and come up with good coping strategies for ourselves so we can help our children.

Also, be comforted by the fact that children have so much neuroplasticity that this is a bump in their social development but they can repair very easily.

Finally, small children are getting the most important thing they need in the world, which is close attachment to their parents.

WHITFIELD: Yes, being together.

I must say, while my three kids are happy about being home and not necessarily at school, one of my kids did express recently being nervous about the idea of eventually going back to school. How will they know it is really safe? What do I say?

WALSH: I think we all have that question. And I think we want to talk to our kids very plainly in words they can understand about trusting scientists, trusting the guidelines that are put out there, knowing that schools and, indeed, workplaces will not put their people in harm.

Eventually, as I tell everybody, the lawyers will take care of it all. We'll see wild lawsuits flying if people do enter workplaces and schools and become ill. And that is one of the reasons why these organizations are being particularly cautious.

WHITFIELD: All right. Wendy Walsh, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

WALSH: Good to see you.


WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Car rental giant, Hertz, says it is filing for bankruptcy due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its business. Hertz says two-thirds of its business came from its airport locations and the drop in demand was, quote, "sudden and dramatic."

Hertz also operates the Dollar and Thrifty Car rental brands. The company is not going out of business but will reorganize its operations and says it has notified 12,000 of its 38,000 employees in North America they will be losing their jobs.

Now to the airlines. Check your tickets if you plan to fly. Overnight, the Transportation Department issued a tentative go-ahead to 15 airlines allowing them to temporarily halt service to 75 airports due to coronavirus and lack of passengers. This is just the latest snafu troubling air travelers since the pandemic began.

As we navigate what would normally be a busy weekend of travel, CNN's Pete Muntean, looks at what you'll face if you venture out.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: This would typically be the start of the busy summer travel season and airlines are only now starting to see a few glimmers of hope. More than 300,000 people are now passing through security at America's airports, a number not seen since March but still only 10 percent of the norm.

Airlines are trying to entice passengers back, especially as photos keep popping up on social media of what appear to be full flights.

American Airlines says it is restricting the number of people onboard its flights. Delta Airlines says it is adding flights to make sure that planes are at no more than 60 percent capacity.


JetBlue is restricting the use of middle seats through the July 4th holiday. And United has announced it is partnering with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to guide its health practices.