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U.S. Plunges Into Recession, Worst Economic Drop on Record; Eviction Threat Looms for Millions of Americans. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 30, 2020 - 16:30   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The money lead, new economic numbers confirm the United States has plunged into a recession. The pandemic is largely to blame. Look at this, U.S. economy shrinking at an annual rate of 32.9 percent between April and June. That is eight times higher than the worst of the financial crisis in 2009.

And adding to the economic pain today, the Labor Department says another 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment for the first time last week. This is the second week in a row that number ticked up.


I want to bring in CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley.

Julia, the president's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told me just last Sunday he believes the U.S. economy will grow a stunning 20 percent in the third and fourth quarter. Again, we're down 32.9 percent now.

Is Kudlow's theory possible?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, FIRST MOVE: You know, we're all thinking and talking about a seriously hopeful world theory there, to be honest.

Let's be clear, we could see a dramatic rise in the third quarter because some level of activity is better than a shutdown. But for the fourth quarter, who knows? That's going to depend on the path of the virus, what measure we have to talk to contain it and simply how frightened people get.

And, Jake, the warning signs are already there. I mean, if you pointed to them. As of the late this week, we got more people taking home jobless benefits. That number should be going down in a recovery. The direction is wrong, and that's a warning sign.

TAPPER: And the Department of Labor reported today, Julia, that some 30 million Americans, 30 million have filed for various forms of unemployment benefits. And yet, some Republicans believe that extending the $600 additional weekly payments will encourage some people to stay at home. What's your take on this?

CHATTERLEY: I'll diplomatic and say stupid and short sighted.

Jake, I think we should continue to pay people $600 a week and let them go back to work if they can. Pay people to work.

Let me explain. As of the last data, we've got job openings of around 5.5 million. So, even if by some miracle we could fill all those jobs, we've still got tens of millions of people sitting on the sidelines. I think it's a good thing, actually, if people are earning more money today that they were pre-crisis and spending more money, that's what we're seeing in many cases because that's supporting economic growth.

And if the estimates arrive that two-thirds are earning more money today than they were pre-COVID, then we need to be asking some really tough questions about what the living wage in America is today, because you could argue many people aren't earning enough.

Jake, the old rules don't apply. Pay people to work, even if it's just a short time to get through the pandemic.

TAPPER: And, Julia, these coming months are going to be crucial. We'll know if this is the shortest recession ever. We're going to learn that only five days before Election Day. That's going to be a huge report card for President Trump.

CHATTERLEY: Huge. And it could be hugely positive, too, as we've just discussed. Based on the path of the virus, actually, it could be as good as it gets. Perhaps someone should have pointed that out to the president, Jake, before he tweeted about postponing the election this morning.

TAPPER: All right. Julia Chatterley, thank you so much.

This huge economic loss numbers represent, obviously, real pain. Millions of Americans not able to pay rent the first of the month, which is coming up just this Saturday. They are facing the terrifying reality of being kicked out of their homes.

There was a temporary pause on evictions but that has now expired. And neither the president nor Congress has come forward to fix it.

And as CNN's Abby Phillip reports for us now, one community is expected to be hit particularly hard by this looming eviction threat.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even on a good day, making ends meet was a struggle for Georgia resident Pamela Frink.

PAMELA FRINK, GEORGIA RESIDENT: Every month, even working multiple jobs I'm robbing Peter to pay Paul.

PHILLIP: Then can the coronavirus pandemic and Pamela lost one of her jobs working at the Atlanta Hawks arena, a job she needed in order to pay her $1,200 a month rent and take care of her 6-year-old daughter Jada.

FRINK: One job is not going to cover my day to day bills, which are necessities, like your rent, your lights, your car, you car insurance, food.

PHILLIP: Like millions of Americans, unemployment insurance and that crucial extra $600 a week injection into the system by the federal government has been a life line, and one that could soon disappear.

FRINK: So now that I have the fear, or knowing that it will end soon is kind of like, OK, so now what do I do to maintain my livelihood.

PHILLIP: Experts estimate that about 20 percent of the 110 million renters in the United States could face eviction later this year due to the pandemic, especially when a federal boost in unemployment insurance expires at the end of the month.

PIERCE HAND, STAFF ATTORNEY STANDING WITH OUR NEIGHBORS: Folks have not been paying rent since possibly February, March. I mean, that's six months of not being able to make rent.

PHILLIP: Atlanta lawyer Pierce Hand works with tenants like Pamela, who have lost jobs and are at risk of falling into a deep hole of housing debt, the consequences could be dire.

HAND: I think what we are facing is a possible mass eviction scenario.


PHILLIP: Black Americans are already more likely to contract and die from the coronavirus, and they are also disproportionately at risk of losing their homes.

ZACH NEUMANN, FOUNDER, COVID-19 EVICTION DEFENSE PROJECT: The rent crisis affects everyone but it's especially affecting our communities of color here in Colorado and around the country.

PHILLIP: A U.S. Census survey in the last week found that when it comes to paying next month's rent, more than 40 percent of black renters said they had little or no confidence they'd be able to pay rent in August, nearly twice the rate of white renters. And it's not just missed rent payments that can trigger eviction proceedings.

HAND: Where there's water or election, and if you can't pay it, you could you're your subsidized housing and face homelessness as well.

PHILLIP: Meanwhile, as lawmakers haggle over how much unemployment insurance should be extended, Pamela agonizes over the unthinkable.

FRINK: So, honestly, I try not to think about that, but I don't know.

PHILLIP: Her message to lawmakers?

FRINK: Please don't make us go back to being able to possibly call a shelter because we can't afford to pay our rent for this month or the next two months.


PHILLIP: Republicans on Capitol Hill are looking for perhaps a way to extend these unemployment benefits in the short-term but for far less than $600 hoping to push people back into the workforce. But in a state like Georgia where Pamela lives, the coronavirus is still raging, and the prospect of going back to work in that kind of environment seems really farfetched for her, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Abby Philip, thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it.

Some surprising news about a potential coronavirus vaccine just in to CNN. That's next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you in our health lead.

When the coronavirus vaccine gets approved, it could be highly effective, in the 90 percent range. That's coming from the first TV interview with the head of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration group working on the coronavirus vaccine.

But there will not be enough to give everyone the vaccine on day one, of course.

I want to bring in CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, who sat down with Moncef Slaoui, along with chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

Elizabeth, first, what everyone wants to know, when is this vaccine going to roll out? Is it definitely a when and not an if?


We're trying out many different vaccines. It is possible that none of them will work. But, of course, there is hope that at least one of them will. Jake, there's been a lot of talk of getting vax shots into arms this year.

But Dr. Slaoui told me, for most Americans, it's going to be next year, perhaps even well into next year.


COHEN: When do you think I will be able to get a COVID vaccine, walk into my doctor's office, walk into a pharmacy?

MONCEF SLAOUI, CHIEF ADVISER TO VACCINE EFFORT: We are working very hard to have vaccines tested appropriately, manufactured appropriately, assessed and approved independently by the FDA, and available for use in the population by the end of this year or early next year.

Now, we will not have doses for the full U.S. population on day one. We will probably have a few tens of millions of doses in December and January. And probably it would be appropriate to immunize those individuals that are at highest risk of severe disease with the COVID virus.

But I am optimistic that we will have vaccines for everybody within the year 2021, ideally within the first half of the year 2021. That's our objective.


COHEN: Dr. Slaoui tells us that Operation Warp Speed is funding eight different vaccines.

And, hopefully one, two, three, maybe even eight of them will work -- Jake.

TAPPER: Well, let's hope so.

Sanjay, it makes sense that health care workers on the front line and the people who are most vulnerable, the highest-risk people will get the vaccine first. But then who? Is it just then a free-for-all for everyone?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, if you start to look at the health care workers, people who are essential workers, people who are going to be higher risk because of their -- the type of work that they do, even if they're not necessarily health care workers, they're going to be closer to the front of the line.

People who are the least vulnerable, least likely to get sick, children who are otherwise healthy, are probably going to be later on in the line.

But I don't think there's an exact science to this. There are different types of ways of looking at who is the most vulnerable as well, Jake. So that's probably going to be part of this.

It also may depend a little bit on -- as we get more data from the vaccine trials, which are still ongoing. As Elizabeth pointed out, we don't know if it's going to work or not. But as we get more data back, it might become clearer who's going to be most responsive to the vaccine as well.

TAPPER: And, Elizabeth, Dr. Slaoui also said that he expects the vaccine will be highly effective. Tell us about that.

COHEN: Yes, I was really surprised at this, Jake.

Government officials have talked about a COVID vaccine that's 50 percent effective, 70 percent effective. But Dr. Slaoui was much more confident than that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Some vaccines are 97 percent effective. Others are 60 percent effective. Where do you think we're going to fall with a COVID vaccine?

SLAOUI: Well, it's very hard to predict, of course. That's why we're doing the trial.

My personal opinion, based on my experience and the biology of this virus, I think this vaccine is going to be highly efficacious. I wouldn't be surprised if it's in the 90 percent.


I think the question that's open is, for how long will the vaccine afford efficacy?


COHEN: So, a vaccine that is in the range of 90 percent effective would be tremendous, Jake.

It also means that we don't need to vaccinate as many people. If some people refuse to get it, then it's less of a concern, if the people who are getting it are getting a vaccine that's 90 percent effective.

TAPPER: So, Sanjay, let's talk about that in terms of the effectiveness.

If Slaoui says he's hoping it's going to be in the 90 percent, but the length of time that it is effective, he doesn't know. I guess that would suggest that a booster shot would be needed, not unheard of when it comes to vaccines.

Do you think the process and the logistics of getting the American people vaccinated once a vaccine has been approved is going to be difficult?

GUPTA: It very well may be more challenging than I think people realize.

As you know, some of these vaccine trials already have required two shots separated by about a month, 28 days. He's -- I don't know if he was referring to a specific vaccine. There are several different vaccines that Operation Warp Speed is looking at.

But one of them, like the messenger RNA vaccine, that's the one that Moderna, we have heard a lot about. They were the first to go into these phase three clinical trials. That's a more difficult vaccine to distribute. It requires a certain temperature. It can become unstable if the temperatures are off with that.

You have to make sure you get it to people in a certain amount of time. So, that part of it -- they're looking into some of those challenges already. Are refrigerated trucks going to be repurposed that are already being used in the country for other things?

But it can be challenging. Now, there are other viruses, there are other vaccine platforms which are just much more well known. And some of those vaccines are more stable, easier to manufacture, easier to distribute at least. So, we will see.

And then, as Elizabeth said, there may be more than one vaccine ultimately that becomes available to people around the same time.

TAPPER: All right, hoping for the best, of course.

Elizabeth Cohen, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

We're about halfway through 2020, so bring on the aliens -- the Pentagon revealing its secrets about unidentified flying objects.

That story is next.



TAPPER: Out of this world lead today.

With all the dominating headlines, the coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming election, the new recession, what normally would be front- page news has sometimes fallen onto page D-15. But this is pretty significant.

The Pentagon does not talk about mysterious unidentified flying object or UFO sightings, but, soon, government findings will be available for public view.

CNN's Tom Foreman reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa! Got it! Woo-hoo!

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When military officials released three videos this spring of Navy pilots encountering UFOs in 2004 and 2015, it seemed out of this world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that thing!


FOREMAN: But now the Pentagon's Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force is expected to start releasing more information about such encounters, prompting unusual questions for some elected leaders.

QUESTION: Are we alone?

FOREMAN: Florida Senator Marco Rubio, acting chair of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, says there are mysterious craft of unknown origin flying over U.S. military installations. And that requires action.


FOREMAN: Not quite like what we saw on the hit movie "Independence Day," but at least genuine investigations into what they are and where they are coming from.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I would say that, frankly, that if it's something outside this planet, that might actually be better than the fact that we have seen some technological leap on behalf of the Chinese or the Russians or some other adversary that allows them to conduct this sort of activity.

FOREMAN: That's the real worry, that these UFOs might be advanced military airplanes, spaceships or weapons capable of astonishing things, as a retired Navy pilot told CNN in 2017.

CMDR. DAVID FRAVOR (RET.), U.S. NAVY: As I got close to it, it rapidly accelerated to the south and disappeared in less than two seconds.

FOREMAN: The president has been told about such things.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are saying they're seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly.

FOREMAN: Still, Virginia Senator Mark Warner was briefed on UFO reports last year. And despite all the conspiracy theories about Roswell, Area 51, and alien abductions, he says:

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): One of the key takeaways I would have is that the military and others are taking this issue seriously, which even previous generations may not have been the case.

FOREMAN (on camera): For many years, government investigations into these close encounters were shrouded in secrecy. Now the curtain may be lifted a bit, but that still won't answer the basic questions: Just who is out there, and what do they want? -- Jake.


TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

Be sure to tune in tonight for a CNN global town hall. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Admiral Brett Giroir will join CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. That's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now. I will see you tomorrow.

The truth is out there.