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Florida Reports More Than 9,000 New COVID-19 Cases In One Day As Death Rates Rise; Millions In Limbo As $600 Unemployment Benefit Set To Run Out; Remembering Congressman John Lewis. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired July 26, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Bianna Golodryga, in for Ana Cabrera.
We began with the unrelenting coronavirus crisis, now more than 16 million cases globally and more than a quarter of them are in one country, ours, the United States.
The State of Florida has reported more than 9,000 cases in a single day, something it has done for 23 days this month; and a troubling statistic out of Maryland where 60 percent of the new cases being reported are people under the age of 40.
Meantime, in the state that was once the epicenter, New York, much more promising news. The Governor reporting that hospitalizations continue to reach new lows and the positivity rate remains at one percent.
And while coronavirus rates differ across the country, one thing millions of Americans have in common is an increasingly urgent economic crisis. The extra $600.00 unemployment benefit runs out this week.
The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says more relief is two or three weeks away, quote, "hopefully." The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she's been anxious to negotiate for more than two months and that Congress can't go home until a stimulus deal is reached.
But let's begin this afternoon in Florida where today the state is reporting more than 9,000 new coronavirus cases. Now, as we mentioned, this is the 23rd day this month at Florida has seen at least that many infections. CNN is also learning that in Miami-Dade, police have issued hundreds of citations to people not wearing masks.
CNN's Randi Kaye is in West Palm Beach. Randi, this is like a broken record. The mask issue continues to be a huge problem.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the mask issue and the numbers are certainly still a problem, Bianna, here in the State of Florida, 9,259 new cases here in the state and another 77 deaths, so now more than 5,800 Floridians have died from the coronavirus.
Florida now has the second highest number of COVID cases in the country; statewide, still about 9,000 people are hospitalized and about 18 percent of all adult ICU beds are left in this state right now.
Meanwhile, in Miami-Dade, one of the hardest hit counties, you have a daily positivity rate today of 18 percent, and also the ICU beds there still running low. They're at 146 percent capacity, which means, Bianna, they are already converting regular hospital beds to the ICU bed so they can accommodate all of those people.
And as you mentioned, the masks, it's hard to believe with the number of spiking, people still are not paying attention. They're not following the safety guidelines. I spoke with the Miami Dade Police Department today and they told me that they've issued 150 citations to businesses and 174 citations to individuals for not social distancing, not wearing the mask inside and outside when they can't safely social distance, which is the rule in Miami-Dade. Those fines are $500.00 for businesses and $100.00 for individuals.
Meanwhile, with all of this going on, they're talking about opening the bars and the breweries again in the State of Florida. They were closed at the end of last month, and now the business regulation chief says, he is trying to figure out how to safely do that.
And the Florida Brewers Association is certainly on board with that because they say that they represent 300 breweries, and that a hundred of them would close if they don't open soon. They also say they contribute about 10,000 jobs in this industry to the State of Florida and a third of those would be lost if they don't open.
So as you can see, the restaurants are still open here in Palm Beach County where I am. They can be open to 50 percent capacity, but the bars and the breweries were shut down at the end of last month -- Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: The bar issue is just beyond me. I understand the economic impact there. But Randi, when you talk about nearly 6,000 deaths, you have to put things into perspective and all of the medical experts say that these bars continue to be a real hotspot and trouble area.
All right, Randi, thank you.
Well, in the meantime, the Trump administration official overseeing critical coronavirus testing admits that turnaround times are still too long in the United States. CNN's Kristen Holmes is in New Jersey near the President's Bedminster estate.
And, Kristen, this comment comes as we hear reports that people are still waiting seven to 10 days to get their results.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bianna, and I have to tell you, it was somewhat reassuring to hear Admiral Giroir admit that there was a lengthy turnaround time. I actually asked him that directly last week, and he seemed to imply that the examples I gave them of seven, ten, twelve days were outliers, which we knew not to be true. But today he was clear. He acknowledged that there is a problem with
testing right now in this country and that there has been a problem and they're doing everything they can to fix it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Are you happy where testing is right now?
ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, H.H.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY: I'm never going to be happy until we have this under control and we're going to continue to push every single day to improve the testing.
TAPPER: In March, President Trump said falsely, anyone who wants to test can get a test. At what point will it be true, sir, that anybody who wants to test will be able to get one with a quick turnaround so as to be effective? When will that be true? ' GIROIR: What is true now is that anyone who needs a test can get a test. We are not in a situation -- and I want to be really clear, whether it's Mick Mulvaney or anyone else -- I feel like going somewhere so I need a test. That is not where we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now, Admiral Giroir also made some big announcements through H.H.S. later after that interview. They announced a contract between them, the Department of Defense, and a company that will make the chemicals to process the tests meaning that more tests can be done on a daily basis.
They also announced that LabCorp, which is one of the biggest processing private labs has increased capabilities to get that wait time down to two or three days.
But Bianna, of course, a lot of questions here still as we are months into the pandemic and still talking about testing.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, he was clearly on the defensive there. But how did Admiral Giroir respond when asked if the Taskforce was afraid to raise the issue of testing with the President who has, of course, falsely said that the only reason we have more cases is because we have more testing?
HOLMES: Well, that's right, Bianna. So Admiral GIroir denied that. He said no one on the Taskboard is afraid. He even really directly responded to President Trump saying that every single person knows the importance of testing.
Of course, that is not the message that we have gotten from President Trump. At times, he said, I asked my people to slow down testing. He said that he would end testing or try to diminish testing in order to, you know, like, not have as many high cases.
This was something that President Trump has said on a regular basis, but it does appear that the administration, the Taskforce is working to try and get more tests, particularly as they're trying to ramp up that school reopening. We are just weeks away from that.
We know there are a lot of parents who are afraid to send their kids back, particularly if there are still all of these problems with testing. But Bianna, before I let you go, I do want to point out one thing. President Trump here in New Jersey this weekend, we actually got a glimpse of him today, which is rare when we're here.
He spent the weekend playing golf and then today, this. He went and greeted some of his supporters outside of his Country Club, I'll show you here, a small group of supporters cheering for him. He is throwing hats into the crowd, obviously mask-less there.
This is how President Trump really spent this weekend. We know that yesterday he also met with supporters at a round table and he played golf with Brett Favre.
So while his administration and while his advisers and aides are working back in Washington to pass the Stimulus Bill that you mentioned, to at least come up with a proposal, as well as to try to ramp up testing, this is how President Trump has been spending his weekend -- Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, you noticed the President wearing a mask, his entourage not wearing a mask either, though the President just days ago said that it was patriotic to wear one.
All right, Kristen Holmes, thank you so much.
And for more on testing, I want to turn to Dr. Wayne Riley. He is the President of Downstate Medical Center in New York. Dr. Riley, the Harvard Institute of Global Health says that the U.S. should be conducting 3.5 million to 5 million tests per day. We're doing less than one million right now.
And yet this morning, Admiral Giroir defending the steps that the administration has been taking, saying that he believes there's a Manhattan Project like effort going around testing, while also raising doubts and being pretty dismissive, I would say about the calls coming from people like Dr. Ashish Jha at the Institute of Global Health. What is your take?
DR. WAYNE RILEY, PRESIDENT, SUNY DOWNSTATE MEDICAL CENTER: Well, good afternoon, Bianna. Good to be with you. I agree with my distinguished colleague, Dr. Jha. We are nowhere near in July of 2020 where we need to be with testing in this country.
Testing remains frustrating. It remains uneven in certain parts. It's not surged to the hotspots around the country where we know we can make a difference by determining whether someone is positive or negative.
So unfortunately, testing remains so frustrating to many of us on the front lines. We need more testing, we need turbocharged testing, and we need to lead the world in testing. And unfortunately, we're not. GOLODRYGA: We're not even close to leading the world and testing and
as we've heard anecdotes, people waiting up to 10 days if not more.
The Trump administration is saying that the average turnaround for coronavirus test results is around four days. How does that impact getting this virus under control? We also know the huge role that contact tracing plays. How can you do that if you don't get the results right away?
RILEY: Well, Bianna, precisely. You just articulated what the problem is. Five days is too long. The ideal is about 24 hours because if I, as a physician have a test result within 24 hours, I'm able to counsel a patient, hey, stay away from your loved ones. Do not go to work. Do not go into any situation where you could potentially expose the virus to other people.
RILEY: But to get folks to sort of wait five days for a test result is counterproductive to our whole public health strategy to stem this virus.
And again, you know, again, I hope that the Admiral understands the difficulty at the local level -- state and local level, about how testing remains frustratingly insufficient.
GOLODRYGA: On a somewhat optimistic note, you're aware that the F.D.A. has authorized the first test for asymptomatic COVID cases, and it includes testing for people who don't think that they are infected at all.
They say that this could be helpful in regards to reopening schools, hospitals, businesses, the economy overall, and they're calling it a game changer. Are you as hopeful?
RILEY: No, I would not go that far. It's welcome, but not sufficient in and of itself. The pool testing and testing of asymptomatic individuals is yet one piece of a giant puzzle we need to put together for testing.
Pool testing really only is a value in communities where there is low likelihood of the virus existing. So for example, in some of the hotspot counties and cities around the country, as we approached the beginning of the school year, you're going -- if pool testing is used alone, there are going to be a lot of false negatives.
Now just think of the implications of that, Bianna, if you have a negative test that turns out to be false and you send your kid to school or a teacher goes back into the classroom, that could be a recipe for disaster.
So again, pool testing is helpful because it decreases the amount of supplies we need to perform tests, but they are not -- it's not a sufficient tool for some of the outbreaks, particularly in Florida and some of the southern states where, as you've just seen and just reported, Florida is still struggling. That approach in and of itself will not do what we need to do as a
public health measure.
GOLODRYGA: And accuracy of these tests is still key as well. We reported at the top that New York State is really seeing some promising improvement with hospitalizations. Are you at all concerned that we could see yet another spike here perhaps from people traveling from the southwest?
RILEY: Well, absolutely. The Governor and our great Health Commissioner, Dr. Zucker are forewarning all of us in the New York City Health Community to be on guard for patients and families who have returned from some of the hotspot cities and counties around the country.
That is a clear and present danger to the hard work that we have performed in New York to stem this virus: the social distancing, the closing of bars and restaurants and gyms, and discontinuation of personal care services.
All of these great measures -- public health measures, the wearing of masks are why New York is in such great shape today. And again, we do worry and we're on guard and we're preparing for the possibility that we'll have a resurgence because of what's happening around the country.
So you're right. New York has made tremendous progress, and, you know, we hope, pray and we'll work hard that we don't return to the bad old days of March and April in New York.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, vigilance is key. Dr. Wayne Riley, great to see you. Thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
RILEY: Good to be with you, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: And coming up, Civil Rights icon, John Lewis in one last journey over the bridge that was part of a defining moment in his life and in history.
GOLODRYGA: The power of just one quiet historic image. This was a short time ago in Selma, Alabama, the final crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge by a lion of the American Civil Rights Movement, Congressman John Lewis. The man who took pride from getting into good trouble crossing that bridge on the journey to his final resting place.
The wagon carrying the late Congressman is modeled after the one that carried his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And if you look carefully, you can see that the bridge is covered in red rose petals.
It's the same bridge that John Lewis crossed leading a march for equal rights more than 55 years ago. And let's go to Montgomery, Alabama and CNN's Martin Savidge. Martin,
what a moving and really important moment that that was and now Congressman Lewis and his family are there in Montgomery where his body is lying in state.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, it was a moment and we're going to talk about that in just a minute, but you can't overlook also to the moment of what's going on right now, and that is that John Lewis is now lying in state in the Alabama Statehouse.
This is the same place where George Wallace at one time, the man who was absolutely a segregationist, laid in the state. But now, John Lewis is there. He is a son of Alabama. He was greeted by the people of Montgomery. And now his body will lie and state for those who can come and pay their respects.
It's a remarkable moment if you know the history of what John Lewis and all of those in the Civil Rights movement stood for.
But let's go back to the bridge because as you point out, this is probably going to be one of the most powerful moments as we sort of look back on the six days -- and we're only in day two now of what is a goodbye to John Lewis and what he meant to so many people.
The crossing of that bridge in Selma goes back to, of course, 1965 when he with a group of several hundred people demonstrators were actually peacefully going across that bridge. It was part of a voting effort -- a voter rights effort and they were to go across that bridge and come here.
SAVIDGE: They were interrupted by violence, and it nearly killed John Lewis, and it severely injured a number of other people.
So today now, in the aftermath of that, you re-follow that course. But this time, of course, history has changed and instead of an angry mob, he is greeted by the adulation. He is greeted by the praise, and he is greeted by the memories of so many people.
John Lewis would go over that bridge a lot. He was dedicated to its memory. He was here in March in Selma, I should say, and talking about that bridge and a commitment. It shocked many because they knew of his prognosis, but here's the last time he was on that bridge alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): Fifty-five years ago, a few of our children attempted to march from Brown Chapel AME Church across this bridge. We were beaten, we were teargassed. I thought I was going to die on this bridge.
But somehow, in some way, God Almighty helped me here. We must go out and vote like we never, ever voted before.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SAVIDGE: Always committed. And today, John Lewis crossed that bridge,
of course, on a carriage in a casket alone initially, but then joined by his family and by State Troopers, significant because of what you may remember 55 years ago.
Just a really powerful moment, and there were cheers, there were tears, of course. There were people who wanted to document it with a camera in some way with their children, they brought them.
But for a lot of people, it was just a chance to say goodbye. And John went over that bridge alone crossing over in symbolism in many ways -- Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: His was a life that wasn't lived in fear after being confronted with so much brutality. He said he lost the sense of fear, and then obviously, his sense for fight and justice continued for decades as well his legacy.
Martin Savidge, thank you so much for bringing that to us. We appreciate it.
And we'll be right back.
GOLODRYGA: Families across the country are grappling with how to go back to school safely amid the pandemic. Some school officials are deciding to begin the fall term entirely online as COVID cases surge across the south and western U.S.
In Georgia's largest school district, hundreds are pushing for teachers and kids to return to in-class instruction this fall. Let's bring in CNN's Natasha Chen in Atlanta. Natasha, how are Atlanta school districts handling back to school decisions for the fall as you continue to see the spike in cases?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bianna, some of the school districts, the larger ones around the Atlanta metro area have seen those numbers and made decisions to go all virtual and delay the start of their school year.
I talked to one Gwinnett County teacher who said she and her colleagues are relieved at that decision and she feels more confident in how structured the virtual learning will be in the fall after they learned from issues in the spring.
However, some Gwinnett parents tell me that this just leaves them in a bind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GROUP: That's our future. That's our future.
CHEN (voice over): During a typical summer break, children aren't usually running toward a school building demanding to go to class. But in the midst of a pandemic, these students and parents in Gwinnett County outside of Atlanta are protesting the state's largest school districts change of hearts on reopening, going all virtual instead of offering some in-class options.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELL WILLYARD, MOTHER OF TWO FIFTH GRADERS: All of a sudden, two weeks before school, you know the rug is getting pulled out from underneath us all and we're scrambling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN (voice over): Kelly Willyard told CNN's Chris Cuomo, she understands the health risks and respects parents who wish to keep their kids at home. But she and her husband also need to leave home for work during the day creating a potential childcare problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLYARD: Dollywood is open. The grocery stores are open. The airlines are open. Corporate America is opening up. Gas stations, what have you, and then we, as parents feel like we just got left in the dust and you all just figure it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GROUP: Kids over COVID. Kids over COVID.
RUTH HARTMAN, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA PARENT: Look, you they can protest and that's their right. However, there's no science behind it. So even if they decide to keep their kids, you know, make them go face-to-face, that's on them. I can't back that at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN (voice over): Ruth Hartman runs an unofficial parent Facebook group for Fulton County Schools. She said the argument over in-class versus virtual and whether masks should be required, has gotten political when it should just be about the science.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: What I can't tell you for sure, despite the South Korea study, is whether children under 10 in the United States don't spread the virus as the same as children over 10.
I think that is still an open question that needs to be studied in the United States. We certainly know from other studies that children under 10 do get infected. It's just unclear how rapidly they spread the virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN (voice over): The overall data in Georgia shows a staggering rise in COVID-19 cases with the highest number of them in the red zones including Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
In nearby Cobb County, the virus is also spreading aggressively.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS RAGSDALE, SUPERINTENDENT, COBB COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: And we are in that high spread or high transmission section right now and we, as an organization cannot add to the transmission rates increasing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN (voice over): Parent opinions vary by zip code and if they can afford child care or private tutoring. In a June survey, 43 percent of Gwinnett County parents said they'd want all in-classroom learning, while just over half of them said they'd be uncomfortable with that.
In the urban core, parents in the south and west parts of Atlanta, were more likely to strongly prefer virtual learning compared to parents in the north.
It's a preference often based on personal experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARTMAN: And I've actually attended to COVID related funerals recently. I mean, it's happening even if it's not happening to you, it is happening and it's terrifying.
CHEN: I heard from another parent from Cobb County who said that she feels relieved that her district is going all virtual because before that decision, she said she just had too many questions about how the schools would provide the proper precautions to keep kids and staff safe -- Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: There's one area that shouldn't be politicized, it's the safety and wellbeing of our children.
I can tell you covering this beat that a lot of these districts had hoped that schools would reopen for in-person even as recently as June, but obviously given the spike, they're having a lot of discussions right now about whether that's a wise decision or not.
Natasha Chen, thank you.
CHEN: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, still ahead, falling behind. Brand new polls show voters are not happy with the President's handling of the virus. Are the swing states he won in 2016 slipping away? CNN's John King is at the magic wall.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:35:50]
GOLODRYGA: Today marks 100 days until the election and brand new polls from states Trump won in 2016 show that he is in deep trouble as Americans give him failing grades when it comes to the pandemic.
CNN's John King breaks it down from the magic wall.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One hundred days to the election and brand new CNN polling shows the President in trouble in three states that were absolutely critical to his big 2016 victory.
Let's take a look at the numbers. In Arizona, normally reliably red in presidential politics, Democrat Joe Biden, with a small but still the lead, 49 to 45 over the incumbent President, Donald Trump.
Move on to Florida, always the battleground of all battlegrounds, right, and always close, 51 percent for Biden, 46 percent for President Trump; again, close enough, but still the President, the incumbent on his heels.
Michigan, a blowout at the moment, 12 points, 52 percent for Biden, 40 percent for Donald Trump. This remember one of those blue collar states the President surprised us flip from blue to red in 2016.
Three important states, Joe Biden on top in all three and the coronavirus is why without a doubt.
How is the President handling the coronavirus? In Arizona, six in 10 disapprove, only 35 percent approve. Very similar, Florida, only 57 percent approve of how the President has handled the pandemic hitting the state very hard right now; 39 percent approve. Michigan, 59 percent disapprove; 36 percent approve.
Underwater on the biggest issue facing the country right now. Also underwater on another big issue facing the country right now. Race relations, policing, law and order. Well, if you look at the President, how has he handled racial inequality, underwater again, only 35 percent in Arizona approve, nearly six in 10 disapprove.
Pretty similar in Florida, 37 percent approve, 57 percent disapprove. Michigan, a third approve, six in 10 disapprove. Coronavirus race, the President underwater that's why he is losing to Joe Biden right now in these important states.
So what does that mean when you look at these polls, and then you look at the 2016 map? The President got 306 electoral votes back then. Where are we now?
Well, if you take Michigan away, Florida away, and Arizona away, that's just today. That's our polling today, but the President is in trouble in those states.
We also know from recent polling, Wisconsin is a trouble spot; Pennsylvania is a trouble spot. North Carolina is a trouble spot -- just those six -- just those six. Imagine this, right? If you took those off the map, and you went here, this is how we write
2020 at the moment. You take those states away from the President, we make them toss ups here. You could lean some of them blue, just make them toss ups. The President is at 205.
There are also political strategists, both Democrats and Republicans who say the President has to be careful about Georgia, and about Texas. Two states, we at CNN still lean red because of their history. But where there is polling that tells you they could be in play.
So if you look at this map, and if you look at these brand new CNN polls, 100 days out, don't rule anything out. But the incumbent Republican President of the United States is in trouble.
GOLODRYGA: Team Trump having a lot of work to do in the coming 100 days. All right, John, thank you.
Well, rent is due in just a couple of days, but the next Coronavirus Relief Bill is still weeks away. So what is Congress doing about it? And W. Kamau Bell digs up the truth on farming in America. Why the people growing your food are fighting to keep their land? An all new episode of "United Shades of America" tonight at 10:00 p.m. on CNN.
GOLODRYGA: California now leads the nation for the most confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 448,000 and these surging case numbers are having a big impact on businesses.
CNN's Paul Vercammen joins us now from Los Angeles. Paul, what can you tell us about the impact?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the restaurant business here in Los Angeles, Bianna, we are seeing a devastating impact. Closures all over the city, and now a shoe drops here at Trois Mec, arguably the most acclaimed restaurant in Los Angeles.
If you look behind me, it looks just like a faceless restaurant in a strip mall. But Ludo Lefebvre's restaurant is a tasting room of high renown, where people sat and watched him cook up what many described as masterpieces.
So this is reverberating throughout Los Angeles, because Trois Mec is closing and now you're seeing other restaurants go down. It's something that is really having a dramatic impact.
We talked with an expert from Eater Los Angeles, EaterLA about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FARLEY ELLIOTT, EATERLA: We saw the advancement of the dining scene in Los Angeles after the 2009 recession. A lot of that was built off the back of chefs like Ludo who came in and weren't afraid to make a little bit of noise. They had a big presence of fan base and he started doing pop ups
before he got this, and it was all built on this idea that you could be young and nimble and you form a breakthrough.
And to lose a star in that regard is really going to be challenging moving forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: And the chef's wife e-mailed me this weekend and said, "Our how our hearts go out to all the small businesses, independent restaurants and their employees. Let's hope that the Federal government recognizes the value of the independent restaurant, and its importance to the economy," referring to all those restaurant jobs, anything from a dishwasher, to a chef to a maitre d'.
Throughout LA, we're seeing the loss of those jobs, and of course, those people then don't have a check to spend money and then you're seeing businesses linked to them, vendors et cetera, also fighting to stay afloat.
We're going to hear more on this all afternoon on CNN. Back to you -- Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, and the Stimulus Bill may still be weeks away to help some of those business owners. Paul Vercammen, thank you.
Well, joining me now Justin Wolfers, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Michigan and Betsey Stevenson, Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Wharton School.
Thank you both for joining us. Can you hear me, Betsey? You look startled. You okay?
JUSTIN WOLFERS, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: We can, Bianna. Betsey is at the University of Michigan. She's in the office next to me, I promise you.
GOLODRYGA: You are in the University of Michigan. Okay. Well, duly noted. We will make that correction. I should have known. We are personal friends. So that is on me. I am glad you flagged it.
BETSEY STEVENSON, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BUSINESS ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: And, you know, it's true that I always tell people, I have an easy to read face.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. Well, I thought right away. I knew something was up. I thought you couldn't hear me, but we will definitely correct that.
Let me begin by asking you though, Justin, you heard Paul's piece. If California was a standalone country, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world. What impact is it having that restaurants are once again having to close down? WOLFERS: Look, this economic recovery was meant to be pretty
straightforward. You shut down the economy and you have to reopen a couple of months later, once you've beaten the bug.
And the problem, of course is we haven't beaten the bug, and so exactly the period where we should all be getting back to work, we should be creating millions of jobs; instead, the recovery is either flat lined, faded out, and maybe even it's going into reverse.
It's not just California, of course, it's Florida. It's Texas. It's Arizona. You see those states already up to nearly a third of the U.S. economy. And that, of course, is causing the rest of the country also to slow down any plans to reopen as well.
GOLODRYGA: And the truth is that you're not really going to solve the economic crisis without solving the medical and healthcare crisis.
People just aren't going to go where they don't feel safe. Betsey, let me ask you about this bill that's being negotiated. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he hopes to have another Stimulus Bill sent to the House in the next week or two.
Lawmakers can't seem to agree on what to do with the $600.00 weekly unemployment benefits, and Republicans are basically saying it's too generous to the point where people aren't going back to work and looking for a job. So they're offering up to 70 percent of somebody's prior income. And here's what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took issue with on that front.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Let me just say this, the reason we had $600.00 was its simplicity and figuring out 70 percent of somebody's wages, people don't all make a salary, maybe they do, they make wages and they sometimes vary.
So why don't we just keep it simple. Unemployment benefits, and the enhancement which is so essential right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So Betsey, correct me if I'm wrong, but regular unemployment benefits, aren't they typically based on replacing some share of previous earnings? So is this concept of using prior earnings as a base really as complicated as the Speaker is suggesting it is?
STEVENSON: So that's a great question, and with modern technology, it shouldn't be that complicated. In fact, the way most states already work is that you do get some share of your previous quarterly earnings.
So she is right. Pelosi is right to say, we don't know -- it's not based on like your hourly wages. It's based on your average earnings over a period of many quarters, and the state then gives you some fraction of that up to a cap. So the problem though, is when you add the Federal amount, is we have
to go through those state unemployment insurance systems and reprogram their computers so that they're calculating a different amount, and then that they're apportioning those different amounts to the different funding sources.
Is the state paying for it? In other words, is the employer going to ultimately pay for it, in terms of maybe higher taxes down the road? Or is the Federal government covering it?
Did you see what a hard time the states had getting unemployment insurance out to people who never really qualified before? People who are like gig economy workers, there are still people who filed in March or April who haven't received their payments.
STEVENSON: So when she says, look, this is adding complexity. I get why it's frustrating to hear that, but the reality is, we're not dealing with the most modern and the most up-to-date technology in our state unemployment insurance offices, and it absolutely will take them weeks and weeks to program that, maybe a month or more for them to be able to do that.
So people will qualify, but they're not going to get those payments maybe until October, and now the problem is, people are worried about eviction notices going out tomorrow, turning around and telling your landlord, don't worry, I'm going to get some money from the Unemployment Insurance Office. Can you hold on two or three months for the rent until they get me those payments? It is not going to go so well.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, urgency is key.
STEVENSON: So that is why it matters. Yes.
GOLODRYGA: Justin, I want to play for you what the White House Chief Economist, Larry Kudlow said about the current state of the economy this morning. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Most economists, Wall Street elsewhere are suggesting we are in a self-sustaining recovery.
And I still think the V-shaped recovery is in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So I have not one but two economists before me. Justin, let me ask you, what is your reaction? Is he correct that there's the self-sustaining recovery? And it does one actually depend on the need for additional stimulus.
WOLFERS: You know, I am going to try and be polite about it, but Kudlow is a clown, and he hasn't gotten a single thing right in at least six months.
He told us the disease wouldn't hurt, it has. He told us that we'd bounce back to work, we're not. And he just said -- and patently misrepresented economists in saying that economists think we're on the path of a self-sustaining recovery.
What there is -- there's a shutdown, you lift the shutdown, and automatically part of that reverses. The big economic question is at the end of that, how much damage have you done? The longer that that draw is out, the more damage we do.
And what we're seeing right now is with the resurgence of the bug, it is drawing out how long the economy is remaining in hibernation, and as a result, we're seeing an increasing number of firms that are not going to survive that hibernation.
So we are going to bounce back somewhat, but we're not going to bounce back to where we were and the longer it takes, the more pain it'll exact and the worse the longer run recession is going to be.
STEVENSON: You know, what's great about Kudlow saying that is if the next employment report comes out, and we don't have a lot of job growth in it, is he going to then say, I was wrong? No V-shaped recovery is coming.
Because I think that even the data we're seeing right now do not indicate that there's a V-shaped recovery.
Last week, just last week, we saw 1.4 million people apply for unemployment insurance for the first time. That is a greater number in one week than in any single week during the 2008 recession. So, we're obviously not in a recovery period when the job loss is continuing to exceed the maximum job loss in 2008.
So this isn't about he said she said. The facts on the ground don't match as being an upward trending recovery right now.
GOLODRYGA: Well, he actually doubled down. He said that he thinks that the July unemployment numbers will be better than June. So we shall see, obviously, the numbers will be out shortly.
Let me quickly ask you because obviously, you're not just economists, but you are a couple. You have a family together. You are parents. You have young children.
I know this is a very important topic for you, as is for millions of Americans and parents. Do you feel safe at this point sending your children back to school? And if so, why? If not, what impact does that have on the economy being able to rebound?
STEVENSON: So I want to say just right away that every parent needs to make the right decision for themselves on this and, you know, I'm hesitant to even say what I'm thinking because I don't think it should influence you because it's not just about, am I putting my children at risk? I think the risk to children is pretty low, but then you have to think
about who your children are going to interact with. Are they going to want to spend time with their grandparents? And are you concerned about them bringing the virus into your household and infecting somebody else you love that is more vulnerable or is immune compromised?
So every person is going to have to make a very different set of decisions about what they should do. So there's no easy answers.
But also we keep talking about the children. We've got to remind ourselves that schools are workplaces. And we do have to think about workplace safety for the teachers, the people who work there.
And so I also am very worried about whether the schools have the capacity to open in a way that meets the safety standards that, you know, teachers have been promised on the job.
WOLFERS: Look, Bianna, we've heard variance with the argument, it's lives versus livelihoods for the last few months, but right now, it's absolutely clear. If you want to save livelihood, you've got to save lives.
You've got to beat the bug in order to allow the economy to heal. Sending the kids back to school so mom and dad can work won't work if the kids then come home with the bug. We've got to beat the disease.
STEVENSON: But let me say, policy-wise, we have seen work done on this. You know, Congress can be putting more in the Stimulus Bill to make sure that there is child care there for the people who need it, that there is in-person school there for the people who absolutely need it.
STEVENSON: So there are things Congress should do and we should be blowing up their phones and telling them that child care is an urgent priority.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, time is of the essence. Betsey, Justin, great to see you. Betsey, University of Michigan. I hope they don't hate me for that mistake. It was a simple error and we won't make it again.
WOLFERS: Absolutely. You're already forgiven.
GOLODRYGA: Great to see you both. Thank you so much.
STEVENSON: Great to see you.
WOLFERS: Thanks, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: And we'll be right back.