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Evacuations in Western U.S.; Oregon Mother Battles Coronavirus; Honoring September 11th Amid the Growing Crises. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 11, 2020 - 08:30   ET



ERIKA SMITH, COLUMNIST, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": L.A. about homelessness. But, you know, we're really suffering out here and it would be good for him to actually pay some more attention to that.

But I think that, you know, if you're not here in California and you don't wake up with that orange sky or you can't walk a block without being winded because you're, you know, smelling so many particulates in the air, it's hard to really appreciate that. I mean the scope of these fires, it's -- it's massive. It really, really is.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I know you also write, again, you mentioned it before, how coronavirus has complicated it, in very practical ways in some cases, because you can't evacuate to a packed shelter. You've got to figure out something else different. But I also think it has broader implications. How so?

SMITH: Well, it had broader implications just in general for -- as you mentioned, the shelters, but also it's the packed hotels. So we have people who, right now, we have a large homeless population in California and because of the coronavirus we have been sheltering a lot of folks in hotels. Now we have a competition for those hotels between fire evacuees and people who are already in those hotels, in the rooms.

I think it has implications for firefighters who are just struggling. Usually they would be in fire camps out in the field and be more packed together, but now because of coronavirus restrictions that does limit where they can be and how close together they can be.

And I think there's just long term implications on, you know, on the people (INAUDIBLE). I mean we're kind of figuring out what to do with this pandemic, but luckily the cases are -- have been declining, going down. So there's a hope that that will stay that way, but there's also a fear of a Labor Day spike after so many gatherings.

BERMAN: Erika Smith, as we said, we really appreciate you being with us. Thank you for the work you're doing and your writing.

People should go check it out to understand, I think, the range of feelings and the complicated factors for things that we don't often think about in the rest of the country. So thanks for being with us.

SMITH: Thank you for having me.

All right, now here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: Soon, New York 9/11 Ceremony.

9:45 a.m. ET, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 9/11 ceremony.

11:00 a.m. ET, Dr. Fauci speaks.


BERMAN: All right, for the survivors of coronavirus, symptoms can linger for months. A mother who's been in and out of the hospital since March shares how her life has changed.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But first, heading back to school is complicated for many parents, but it's even more challenging for the 400,000 children in foster care who often do not have support or resources. Some have no access to the technology needed for distance learning.

2013 CNN Hero Danielle Gletow and her organization One Simple Wish grants wishes to foster youth to make sure this population is not neglected.


DANIELLE GLETOW, 2013 CNN HERO: We immediately created a Covid-19 response fund and started focusing on the things that we knew our young people were going to needed, those being laptop and other technology to keep them current with remote learning, as well as basic essentials, like food and assistance with rent or utility payments. We've seen an over 300 percent increase in needs coming in from our kids and young adults.

If you have ever been in foster care and you are struggling right now, please don't be ashamed to ask for help. We just want to make sure that everybody has a sense of support at a time when the whole world just feels completely out of control.


CAMEROTA: To learn more about Danielle's organization and how you can grant a wish to the foster child in need, you can go to heroes -- cnn-



CAMEROTA: A mother from Oregon has been sick with coronavirus for six straight months. She had no underlying medical conditions. She had a healthy diet. She exercised. She's only 40 years old. She's been on bed rest for six months. She's had multiple hospital stays. Jenifer Johnston joins us now from her home in Portland.

Jenifer, your case is so striking because you don't have any of the risk factors that we normally associate with this. What -- what have these six months been like? What are your symptoms today?

JENIFER JOHNSTON, BATTLING CHRONIC CORONAVIRUS SIDE EFFECTS: Today I can only stand for a few minutes at a time. I turn purple, my hands and legs, and I get light headed. I have to sit in the shower. My blood pressure gets to really scary ranges where it's like you'd be considered possibly having a heart attack and I go to the ER almost nightly. My heart rate doubles just standing and I have blurry eyes. I feel like I'm going to faint, in and out most days, but sometimes I'll go a few days without feeling like that. I can't watch TV or read and my memory's gone.

CAMEROTA: My God, Jenifer, it sounds like hell. I mean this is not what most people experience.

What have doctors -- have doctors been able to give you any answer why you, a healthy woman with no pre-existing conditions, is having all of these -- these symptoms for so long?

JOHNSTON: I think at first doctors were really confused. They didn't know what to do with me when I finally got in to see one, which was quite a while later. But when I was hospitalized, they ended up saying I developed post-viral POTS, which means it's a tachycardia, so heart rate goes really super high. And I have damage to my autonomic nervous system. They said some of these things happen with serious viruses. And at first they were like, we haven't heard of this. But as the months go on, it becomes more and more of a normal thing and the doctors and nurses are like, oh, you're a Covid long hauler. Oh, we know about people like you. Like when I was in the ER last weekend.

CAMEROTA: Last weekend it sounded like you were having shortness of breath. What drove you to the hospital last weekend? What were you feeling?

JOHNSTON: At night I wake up and I gasp for air pretty often and my whole left side goes numb. My blood pressure skyrockets to really scary ranges and my heart rate gets to like 180, which is really fast. And it happens a lot, but it started happening really significantly for days in a row.


And normally I get kind of breaks with it. And so I called the doctor and I was, like, something's got to give. Like, can somebody see me this week. And they were like, no, I need you to go directly to the ER, which I avoid doing at all costs otherwise I'd be there every night.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, Jenifer, what an ordeal.

You also say that you've had cognitive issues and hallucinations. JOHNSTON: Yes, when I wake up with those whatever symptoms, it feels like I'm having a heart attack or a stroke, my eyesight's really blurry and there was one night that I saw a witch in front of the closet and it's -- I've seen just like weird visions and it's -- I'm not sleeping. I'm very awake and coherent and I can move, so it's not sleep paralysis or anything like that, but it's very real and very scary.

CAMEROTA: I believe you, Jenifer. You're not crazy. We've had other people on who have described hallucinations. You're not alone. I mean I'm sure you feel alone, but I know that online there are groups of long haulers who discuss this. What do doctors say they can do for you at this point?

JOHNSTON: They -- doctors seem to not really be getting too much information on what to do, so they're just treating symptom by symptom based on what they did for POTS previously. And autonomic nervous system damage doesn't have treatments. Neurological issues don't have treatments. So it's rest. We don't know. We're really, really sorry.

I'm on heart medications, which is insane. And I'm -- I take about 10 to 15 different vitamins and salt pills to everything to help.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, Jennifer, well, we're praying for you. We're thinking of you. We hope that this ends soon. I know you've endured this for so long. We'll check back with you because you shouldn't have to go through all of this, obviously, alone. Thanks so much for sharing your story and letting the rest of us know what can happen when you test positive for Covid.

JOHNSTON: Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Take care of yourself.

Joe Biden has just arrived at the September 11th ceremony in lower Manhattan. We have a reflection on this somber day, next.



BERMAN: A moment of silence to honor the victims of the attacks on September 11th, 2001, 19 years ago this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gordon M. Aamoth, Jr.

Edelmiro Abad.

Marie Rose Abad.

Andrew Anthony Abate.

Vincent Paul Abate.

BERMAN: What you're hearing now is the reading of the names of the victims of the September 11th attacks. This time, this year, for the first time, they have been recorded, obviously, because of coronavirus concerns. They can't be done in person.

8:46 a.m., the time when we heard those bells moment ago and this moment of silence, the exact moment the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, struck the North Tower.

There will be commemorations throughout the day here in New York City, also at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And we will be following this throughout the day.

In the meantime, we're joined by minister and social justice activist Bishop William Barber II. He's the author of "We are Called to be a Movement" and co-chair the Poor People's Campaign.

Reverend Barber, thanks so much for being with us this morning. We appreciate your time here.

Obviously, this is such a poignant day for all of us, those of us who lived through it, those of us who were here in New York and as an entire country. And it is remembered as a time when we, as a country, did come together. Why is it important to have those moments and I think in some ways to have those memories of coming together?

REV. DR. WILLIAM J. BARBER II, AUTHOR AND SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCATE: I was holding my five-month-old son when the first plane hit the tower. And I wondered what kind of world had we brought him into. And I'm thinking this morning on September 11th, we must remember all those who died. And as a person of faith, I must remember all the innocent people who were killed here as well as all of the innocent people who would be later killed, thousands of them in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the decisions of a few with power and weaponry.

We must develop an eternal commitment to stand against needless and senseless death, be unified about that, and to remember those who died must mean that we resolve to stand against all forms of what I -- what's called necropolitics (ph), the politics of death. Whether it be international terrorism, the domestic terrorism of white nationalists, the terrorizing of black and brown communities, police brutality, the nearly 200,000 deaths we've suffered this year because of lies and refusal to face a pandemic, the deaths from poverty and the lack of health care, deaths from raging fires pause we have refused to address climate change. This is what 9/11 says to me. We can't hide from the death. We can't forget it. We must let ourselves be horrified by it and hopeful that it -- that it scares us to life, that it scares us to unity, that we be reminded that we must make -- be more dedicated (ph) to peace and justice and love.


And we (INAUDIBLE) no matter how big and powerful our bond are and our weaponry, this world cannot survive this unified. We cannot survive constant wars and rumors of wars and nations against nations and race against race. We must find ways to be committed to unity together with one another, rooted in love and justice and truth.

CAMEROTA: So, Bishop, 19 years ago I was on my honeymoon. I was in Italy. And we watched live as the towers fell. And I'll never forget the way the Italians and other tourists around

us lifted us up that day. They wept with us. There were store fronts in Italy for all of -- you know, for weeks saying, we stand with America. People were so heartbroken. You know, because I had that international experience, I got to see everybody was on the side of the Americans after that. And everybody just was with us in grief and solidarity. And I do aggrieve the loss of that feeling of unity. And I don't know how we're supposed to get that back.

BARBER: And I think in some ways, even more than being on the side of Americans, people were on the side of humanity. For a moment we saw that the senseless death, the killing of children and women and people and people ended up jumping, you remember, out of the tower and people got caught up in what it means to be human. And what it's -- what we need again is that same reality -- that same sense.

You know, it is a sad thing when we have leaders dividing us now in the midst of thousands of people dying, nearly 200,000 people, more than died on September the 11th. More than have died in times of war. Humanity -- there's a sense in which humanity -- we must become not just Americans and Afghanistanians (ph) and Iranians, but human beings who -- who are -- who are great in one sense but also terribly fragile in another sense and recognize that this country and this world cannot stand, the center cannot hold if we're constantly destroying one another and dismissing once another and living in the politics of death and division. We just can't.

BERMAN: So people know --

BARBER: And so we have to (INAUDIBLE) of people to come together.

BERMAN: We've been looking at live pictures from Ground Zero here in New York City, near the World Trade Center. We saw former Vice President Joe Biden moments ago with Governor Andrew Cuomo. We should tell you that current Vice President Mike Pence is there as well and there was a moment when Joe Biden and Mike Pence did greet each other there. So there was a moment, at least, where people did come together.


BERMAN: You talked about death and you said something before that struck me. You said, we need to be horrified by death. And I wonder now, as we talk about the pandemic, another tragedy, another disaster, we have the number on the screen, 191,000 Americans have been killed. I wonder if you think we are sufficiently horrified by death or whether, over the last few months, we've become numb to it and why.

BARBER: Well, one of the things I think is, we have not faced the reality that America must come to the place -- I preached a sermon at The National Cathedra called "America Must Decide Death is Not an Option Anymore." However that death comes. Particularly when it comes as the result of public policy. You know, before Covid ever happened, we had a quarter -- 700 people dying a day from poverty and low wealth. We had thousands of people dying from the lack of healthcare. And then, of course, we've seen the horrible deaths and lynching on camera of black men and -- and -- you know, from police brutality.

But at some point we have to decide that this death, all of this death, particularly created by public policy and decisions of people in power, is contrary to our first commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It's contrary to the establishment of justice. It's contrary to promoting the general welfare. It's contrary who we're called to be and who we say we are.

And we have to get past ceremonial unity. I really am bothered by ceremonial unity, to be quite honest. When you can go to an event like this and shake hands and then this evening be right back at one another's throat.

My question would be, when is somebody like a Pence and all going to -- an going to say, wait a minute, if we can stand here at this memorial for just a second, and we can be for just a second, then why can't we unify to make sure that everybody has health care and stops dying? Why can't we unify around masks? Why can't we unify around PEEs? Why can't we unify around the stimulus? Why can't we unify around making sure people having sick leave and unemployment and their water is not cut off? Why can't we do that? Because for some reason, after the ceremony, people go back to their individual greed and meanness.

In my faith tradition, that's called sin.


That's what that's called, sin, and the -- and sin always has wages. And the wages of sin is always death. And so the people -- we're going to have to start making sure that we say no more of this ceremonial stuff because we've learned that lives and (INAUDIBLE) -- we learned it in the Iraqi War where there was lives (ph). But now we've learned it at another degree. Lies, disunity and hatred cause death. People die innocently that should not have to. And I'm praying that we will be scared to life, that all of this death will scare us to live and scare us to coming together.

CAMEROTA: And, Bishop, last, and we don't have much time left, I know you're planning a national voter event this Monday. The Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, is coming. I know you've invited President Trump as well. You've not received a response.

Just tell us what you're hoping to get out of this.

BARBER: It's called the National Moral Monday Voting is Power Unleashed. The Poor People's Campaign has been pushing for years to mobilize poor and low wealth people, 25 percent of the electorate. In 16 states, poor and low wealth people hold the key of changing the Senate, changing the presidency, but if they just vote, between 1 and 19 percent of those that didn't vote the last time.

I'm thankful that Vice President Biden said he's coming to speak to poor and low wealth people from Alabama Appalachia, from California to Carolina. We'll focus on voter protection, voter participation, because we recognize that voter suppression actually not only hurts black people, but voter suppression gets people elected who then vote against living wages, vote against health care and actually vote in ways that hurts all Americans. So we're inviting everybody to join us on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. www (INAUDIBLE)

BERMAN: Dr. Barber, as always, we do appreciate your time. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for all your thoughts.


CAMEROTA: We want to leave you with another look at the 9/11 ceremony in lower Manhattan. CNN continues right after this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Fredrick (ph) Beatini.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alan Anthony Beeben (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lawrence Ira Beck (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Manette Marie Beckles.




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Poppy Harlow.


This morning, our nation remembers one of its greatest national tragedies.