Return to Transcripts main page


Small Businesses Fear for their Future; Worst Economic Plunge in History; Lewis' Funeral Held Today; Best Face Mask to Wear. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 30, 2020 - 08:30   ET




VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Only received one for $5,000. That doesn't even cover one month's rent.

MONA BIRJEEB, OWNER, SAFARI RESTAURANT: Being a black and immigrant's even harder. Like, the resources is very limited. So it's a real struggle just -- not being just a small business and being black, on top of that you have -- you are immigrant and you are a woman on top of that. So it's not easy.

YURKEVICH: The iconic Sylvia's is one of Harlem's largest minority employers. Dining at the neighborhood institution is a rite of passage for celebrities and presidents. To date, the owner says only 30 of their 117 employees are back on the job.

TRE'NESS WOODS-BLACK, OWNER, SYLVIA'S: When the nation bleeds, Harlem hemorrhages. Everything impact us. So if we're in a community that has a large number of unemployed, then where's the spending coming from?

YURKEVICH: Pre-pandemic, half of Americans in the U. S. private sector were employed by small businesses. Since then, the hospitality industry has taken the brunt of the economic pain.

WOODS-BLACK: I don't know what's in the stimulus package. But if it doesn't include a specific amount, large amount, for the restaurant industry, then shame on America.


YURKEVICH: Another big reason why small businesses are struggling right now is because states have been struggling with reopening. Here in New York City, indoor dining is still not allowed and the business owners we spoke to say they understand, they want to open safely, but they also need that financial assistance, Alisyn, and that is why this stimulus package that's being negotiated right now is so critical for small businesses and for all of the people who have lost jobs and are currently unemployed.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Understood. They really spelled it out well.

Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you very much.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we do have major breaking news. An historic and record-breaking plunge in the U. S. economy in the second quarter, all from the pandemic. CNN correspondent and anchor Julia Chatterley joins us now with the breaking numbers. Also with us, CNN White House correspondent John Harwood.

And 32. 9 percent, Julia, 32. 9 percent contraction. That is by far the largest on record.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Record breaking and devastating, I think, John, in equal measure. I can't give you a comparison. It smashes through everything.

Let me give you the best I can. We'll have to take you back to 1958 when the first quarter growth then collapsed some 10 percent. The worst we saw during the Great Recession, down 8.4 percent. Just compare the scale of the numbers that we're talking about and the impact that we have. This is what happens when you tell everybody to stay at home, you have lockdown orders all across the country. People don't go out and spend and the economy falls off a cliff.

Then, of course, what we saw when you get beyond April, states starting to reopen. So we saw activity picking up in those couple of months. So this number would have been far worse, actually, if we hadn't have seen states reopening as early as they did. The cost of that, of course, is what we've seen in the -- in the health crisis, in the ensuing cases.

This isn't the reality of today, of course, and for that reason specifically, which is why looking at the weekly data is so important. And what we're still seeing is initial jobless claims. people claiming first time benefits inching higher again on the past week. A further 1.4 million people simply asking for help.

John, if ever I could give you an excuse for needing to extend those enhanced jobless benefits, this is it.

CAMEROTA: So, Julia, let's just underscore this for people. So the GDP, the second quarter, historic plunge. Never before seen. The closest you can come is, as you said, 1958, and that is nowhere even in the same -- in the same vicinity.

CHATTERLEY: Nothing like.

CAMEROTA: And then you're also saying that the new jobless claims, again, for this week have gone up over last week?

CHATTERLEY: Yes. It's incremental. It's around 12,000 people. But, come on, of all the millions of people that we've seen asking for jobless benefits and asking for support here, you would hope that we would see more people coming off benefits, that we wouldn't have these people still having to ask for help.

The reality, of course, and this is what we're seeing all around the country, particularly in the south and the west, business closures, people having to ask questions about whether they should be going out and spending. And we're seeing this. This is what the numbers in the last week are telling us. The challenges are immense and they continue and the recovery's splattering (ph).

BERMAN: John Harwood, it's great that we have you here because you're not just a terrific political reporter, but you've also got a long history covering financial news as well.

This 32.9 percent number, it's hard to get your arms around and it's notable that if you listen to the Fed and you listen to people giving warnings, they are suggesting it could get worse again because of where the pandemic is headed.


In other words, we may not be on the way up, on the right end of a "v" at all at this point, which makes this discussion over extending these unemployment benefits, which expire tomorrow, $600 a week extra to people who are jobless right now, all the more important as a discussion.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. And, in fact, we appear to be in the process of compounding mistakes in the response to this. Remember, at the beginning, when we turned off the economy, everyone knew that Congress and the administration needed to flood the zone with money, to try to support people, get us to the other side of this.

Unfortunately, the administration did not have the patience to stick with the strategy to curb the coronavirus and so instead of having the economy shut down, you get -- you crush the virus and then you gradually come back, they rushed the comeback. Now the coronavirus is rushing back. And what's happening in Congress right now? The Republican leadership of Congress, and the Republican rank and file, as well as the administration, is reluctant to provide the money that the Federal Reserve says that they need to provide to keep things going. Money is cheap and the economy now needs support because of the impatience. The recovery is now endangered. Consumer confidence is down. We're seeing some of this in the spending data that credit card expenditures have been declining the last few weeks as the virus has resurged. Until we get control of the virus, calm public fears, reduce business uncertainty, we are not going to have a v-shaped recovery. And, at the moment, it does not appear that the administration and Republicans in Congress are on board with doing what it takes to ameliorate that.

CAMEROTA: I mean, John, you've just spelled it out so perfectly, the tragic irony. Of course everybody wants to get back to work and back to normalcy, but they didn't -- the White House didn't even hit their own metrics, what their own guidelines were of the Trump administration, they didn't wait for it, because, as you said, he got impatient. And so it has these diminishing returns that end up being, you know, horribly tragic. And so now what?

HARWOOD: You know, you have to have some capacity to delay gratification and do the hard things you need to get on top of this. And because, as you just said, Alisyn, they laid out guidelines and then ignored the guidelines and pushed states to ignore the guidelines. And we're seeing the consequences. You know, we -- the president talked initially about the economy roaring back.

If you -- if you knock the GDP down low enough and you start to get a recovery, you're going to generate big percentage increases in GDP and it's going to sound fantastic. But if you do not sustain the public health advances, you're not going to be able to sustain those increases and you run the risk of simply dragging out the economic agony and that's the situation we're in as people try to figure out, can we open schools, can we have professional sports and we saw the blow that baseball hit in the last few days. If the major leagues can't sustain a safe reopening, how are schools without comparable resources going to do it?

CAMEROTA: John, Julia, thank you both very much for this upsetting news. Thank you very much.

We have some live pictures to show you right now. That is the casket of the late Congressman John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Today is the final good-bye to Congressman Lewis. And we're going to share with you next his final words that he wanted everyone to hear on this day.



BERMAN: All right, breaking news, these are live pictures of the casket of civil rights icon and 17-term Congressman John Lewis. This is inside the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Former President Barack Obama will deliver the eulogy at 11:00. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also in attendance.

This morning we're reading the final words of Congressman Lewis. He wanted them to be published in "The New York Times" on the day of his funeral. Near the end of the stirring 750-word essay, Lewis writes, quote, ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful non-violent change agent you have in a democratic society.

He goes on to write, though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrated that the way of peace, the way of love and non-violence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

Just stirring words from Congressman John Lewis, who, again, wanted them to be published on the day he is laid to rest.

CNN's Martin Savidge joins us now live from Atlanta, in advance of what will be, I think, Martin, a very moving day.


Yes, the body of Congressman Lewis arrived just a short time ago. The final preparations for his funeral are now underway. You've already mentioned three presidents to be in attendance. Of course, with President Barack Obama delivering the eulogy, the two of them were very close. And we also anticipate that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be in attendance as well.

This is the sixth day of what has been a remarkable farewell journey for Congressman Lewis.

It began in his hometown of Troy, Alabama, where he was born. It moved to Selma, Alabama, where he nearly died on the Edmund Pettus Bridge marching for voting rights. You had that remarkable moment of his casket being carried across there one last time.

Then, to Washington, D.C., where he lay in state.


Congress is where he served for 30 years. Then back to his adopted city of Atlanta here, lying in state in the capital last night. Lines of people waiting to pay their last respects. And then here, Ebenezer Baptist Church.

And this is a church that is probably among the most historic churches in America. It's where Dr. Martin Luther King preached. It's his where his father preached before him. It's where Congressman Lewis was a member of the congregation. It's where he got married. It is where -- well, it's been the heart of faith for the African-American community in Atlanta for over 130 years. And it's a place where people have come to celebrate good times and come in times of sadness and today is going to be a bit of both.


CAMEROTA: Martin, thank you very much, as we look at those pictures from inside Ebenezer Baptist Church. Thank you for all of that.

OK, on a lighter note, kids, of course, want to get back on the sports field, but when will it be safe? What precautions should be taken? We're going to ask our expert, Erin Bromage, to weigh in on this, next.



CAMEROTA: We watched Congressman Louis Gohmert really struggling with the face covering during a hearing on Tuesday and then yesterday he announced he'd tested positive for coronavirus. So what is the right face covering to wear? What's the right way to wear one? What about for kids? What about when they play sports? Will they play sports this fall? We have so many questions. Let's bring in the man with answers. Joining us now is CNN contributor

Erin Bromage. He's a biology professor at UMass Dartmouth.

Professor, great to see you, as always.

I don't know if you've seen that video during the hearing of Congressman Gohmert, he had a bandana on, and he was really wrestling with it. He was struggling with it. He was -- his nose was itchy, clearly, he was moving it all around his face. It wasn't sitting right. He was trying to scratch his nose. It was falling down. I mean he was really struggling with it. And he himself admits that his struggle with his face mask, he believes, may have made him more vulnerable to catching coronavirus and becoming positive for it. So what is the right mask to wear, how do you feel about bandanas, which is what he was wearing, and how do you know that you're wearing it properly?

ERIN BROMAGE, BIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UMASS DARTMOUTH: Well, I certainly sympathize with him about face masks. I find them -- wearing them terrible. They get hot. And especially if you're speaking. When you're speaking over and over and over, you end up -- the mask, it gets hot, it gets clammy. So I understand why he's touching it and adjusting it a lot.

So, you know, they are a problem. They're not perfect. But they are part of the solution to get this virus under control.

And what is the best face mask? Well, it's the one that you can wear that you don't touch a lot. So if a bandanna was working for him, that's about the lowest level of mask you'd want to wear. There's some pretty conclusive studies that show they don't block a lot, but it's better than nothing.

But then you start to move into things like t-shirt masks. Then, when you get to cotton masks, two layers are better than one. Three layers are better than two. But, again, it's about, does it feel comfortable, does it fit and how much air escapes around the sides depends on how they actually work, or their effective of how they work.

CAMEROTA: I'm starting to see more people wearing the face shields. How do you feel about those plastic face shields versus masks?

BROMAGE: Yes, so face shields are not a substitute for masks. What they do is they stop those ballistic drops coming out of off your mouth or something coming out of somebody else's mouth and landing in eyes, the nose or the mouth. But what they don't stop is those smaller droplets that can just come around the side of that shield and then you can breathe them in. So if you're in a customer facing situation, so if you are a clerk at a grocery store you don't have the Plexiglas shields or maybe you work on the front door of a business where people are walking in, the face shield is like Plexiglas that is attached to your face, it gives you that protection of, if someone is not wearing a mask, you are protected from the droplets coming from their mouth. And the same way if you're not wearing a mask, you're protecting them from the droplets, just not the little ones that waft around in the air. CAMEROTA: Let's talk about sports, in particular kids sports.

Professional sports we saw this week that I think, at last count, 17 Miami Marlins had tested positive for coronavirus despite their 130 pages of protocols. So clearly something was going wrong. I know that kids don't suffer as many symptoms as adults, so do you think it's safe for them to start playing sports next month?

BROMAGE: I do. I mean I'm a youth coach myself. So I will admit my bias there. So I coach youth soccer and I do believe playing youth sports can be done safely. But when you look at what happened with the Marlins, I very much doubt it was actually the sport on the field that actually did this. This was sitting together too closely. This was in change rooms. It was situations that you get brought close together for an extended period.

Most sports you don't have that. So as long as the coach gets good training and as long as the kids will actually listen to that, you can end up creating a safe or should I say safer outdoor environment where the kids can release their energy, have lots of fun and we don't have to worry about it spreading throughout the team. It's all about the interactions that the coach makes on the field with those players.

CAMEROTA: But do you draw a distinction between the higher contact sports, like football, soccer, then baseball for kids?

BROMAGE: So, baseball is safe, except for say the dugout. The dugouts worry me. So I've seen some local games where they've got the kids spread out along the sidelines so we're not stuck in this little box where everyone can be breathing their own air.


One of the sports that does worry me, for example, is wrestling. That brings two people really close together.

So there's this balance. Outdoor basketball is safer than indoor basketball. You'd want to think about not as many substitutions. There's -- there's ways that you can do it to make it safer. And, remember, it's all about interactions, proximity and how long you're around somebody.

CAMEROTA: Professor Erin Bromage, we always appreciate getting your really helpful tips as we continue to wrestle with this virus.

Thank you very much.

BROMAGE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: CNN's coverage continues next.



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto. POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow.