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COVID-19 Case Counts Continue to Rise; Millions in U.S. Entered Poverty in Last Three Months; QAnon Numbers Rose During Lockdown. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 16, 2020 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, look at the map, it's concerning. This morning, 32 states across this country are seeing a rise in new coronavirus infections. Many of those are reporting their highest levels -- record levels -- since this outbreak began.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Our correspondent Adrienne Broaddus joins us, she's following the numbers. Good morning. So much of that map is orange, which means cases are up 10 to 50 percent there. And it seems like it's even more states every single day.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does. You can throw a dart and it can land anywhere on the map, and they're seeing an increase in cases. Experts say students returning to college campuses has helped lead to the spread of the virus. And think about it, back in September, folks celebrated the Labor Day holiday, so small family gatherings has also contributed to the spread.

Let's take a closer look at what we're seeing on this map. Let's start with Michigan. Michigan reports a new record high of COVID-19 cases. Michigan isn't alone, let's slide to the south and you see Arkansas reports the highest daily COVID-19 cases count on record. And Ohio's governor reports a record number of cases for the second day in a row.

North Carolina, also reporting the highest daily COVID-19 case count. And as we've been telling you throughout the morning, Wisconsin reports the highest daily total of COVID-19-positive cases with more than 3,700 cases.

Listen, we're in the middle of a crisis. We've said this repeatedly, but it's worth saying again. A tiny mask like this is small, but health experts say it can solve a big problem -- Poppy and Jim.

HARLOW: So true.


HARLOW: Undeniable facts, Jim's favorite phrase, "follow the science" --

SCIUTTO: Yes. HARLOW: -- a good reminder for us, Adrienne. Thank you very much.


Well, according to a new study, in just the past three months, 6 million Americans have been pushed into poverty, 6 million. And it's getting worse. We'll talk about it with an economist, next.


HARLOW: Welcome back. So we're learning new and devastating details about just how many people's lives have been derailed by this pandemic economically. Researchers from the University of Chicago and Notre Dame say that poverty has grown by 6 million people in the U.S. in just the last three months, with circumstances worsening particularly for black people and children. All of this as the federal government fails to support the American people with a new stimulus bill.

Joining me now to discuss the implications here, Michelle Holder, economics professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Good morning and thanks for being here.



HARLOW: Of course. So we heard the president say last night in his town hall, quote, "We have the strongest economy in the world." That may be true for the top earners, when you look at how unequal this has been, the top 25 percent of earners are actually -- there are more jobs in that space and there are so many fewer jobs for those in the bottom quarter.

Researchers at Columbia this week, saying that 8 million people in the U.S. have slipped into poverty since May, and there's still no stimulus deal. So I guess my question to you this morning is, is this really any sort of economic recovery for most Americans?

HOLDER: No, not really for most Americans. I think that those Americans who were well positioned before the pandemic occurred -- and of course the resulting pandemic recession -- are still OK. But for lower wage workers, for struggling families, for working-class families, this is simply not a recovery for them, no.

HARLOW: I was looking at some data yesterday from Northwestern, and I was so stunned by the chart, I kept re-reading it. But what it shows is that 41 percent of black households in America right now with children -- 41 percent -- do not have enough to eat, 36 percent for Hispanic households with children.

You've done a lot of research on the overall economic picture and economic recovery, and the inability to bounce back without lifting up black families. What policies would do that right now?

HOLDER: Well, we certainly need another round of stimulus. And it is unfortunate that right now, the Congress, the Senate, the president, Secretary Mnuchin can't seem to come to an agreement. The sooner the better with a new package. We are going to get a package, the question is the timing. So that would go a long way in helping black families.

Also, you know, about half of black children in the U.S. grow up in single-parent homes. As you might imagine, these homes have few resources to rely on. And certainly with school reopenings across the country being quite uneven, one might imagine that there are many single black mothers who are struggling, particularly if they need to be physically at their work environment while their children are potentially doing schooling from home.

So those women may have no recourse other than to leave the job market. We don't want to see that, we don't need, you know more --

HARLOW: But it's happening.

HOLDER: -- unemployed single mothers. Go ahead, Poppy.

HARLOW: Michelle, it's happening, it's happening! I mean, look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics --


HARLOW: -- data from September, 865,000 women left the workforce in the month versus 216,000 men. And McKinsey says as many as 2 million women, right now in America, are considering leaving work. And a lot of it's because of a lack of a child care plan, so what do we do?

HOLDER: Right. Poppy, you know, it's -- I've been warning about this. If anyone sort of, you know, has followed me or followed my comments in the media, I have been warning about the issue of moms having to leave the workforce because their children are either doing distance learning or in hybrid models.

What do we do? We need some significant child care options for mothers who have to be physically at their workspace, but their children may be doing schooling in a hybrid model or completely remote model. We've got to figure out some type of child care model for those children --


HOLDER: -- or else these women, it's what we've seen with mass exodus from the labor market.

HARLOW: I also think for fathers too, who are often equal and primary caregivers as well, not as often as women -- who bear a lot of the burden --

HOLDER: Right.

HARLOW: -- but still for dads too. And by the way, I think it's not just on the government, it's also on the private sector. There are some big companies -- Bank of America, for example -- that are giving stipends to employees to help with child care in a moment like this. Final question -- 30 seconds left -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

said yesterday it's going to be really hard to get a deal done before the election. Not impossible, but hard. What is the economic consequence of not having one?

HOLDER: I mean, we're seeing it, right? The number of people in poverty has increased by 6 to 8 million over the course of the last three months. We -- I personally don't think we're going to get a new stimulus package before Election Day.

This is -- we just simply cannot delay this any further. We need something quicker, something sooner. You know, short of that, what we're going to find is more children, more families dealing with poverty, dealing with hunger, dealing with homelessness.


HARLOW: Yes. Well, it's a dire situation for sure. We appreciate your expertise this morning, Michelle, thanks so much.

HOLDER: Thank you, Poppy.


SCIUTTO: Goodness, yes, and all this in America in 2020, such poverty. Great to do that story.

Well, we heard the president refuse to denounce the far-right conspiracy group QAnon last night. Coming up, one former believer shares his story: how he got out and his message to those who still believe.


HARLOW: So on the same day that YouTube said that it will crack down on QAnon conspiracy theories, the president refused to denounce the conspiracy theorists.





TRUMP: -- I know very -- you told me, but what you tell me doesn't necessarily make it fact. I hate to say that. I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia, they fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it.

If you would like me to --

GUTHRIE: They believe it is a Satanic cult run by the deep state.

TRUMP: -- study the --


SCIUTTO: And that's the key point there, this whole sex cult thing that the president said, maybe it's true, maybe it isn't. That's where we are.

CNN business reporter Donie O'Sullivan joins us now with the story of how one former QAnon believer got out. Donie, remarkable to hear this view from the inside.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN TECH REPORTER: Hey, Jim. Yes, as you mentioned, it's -- QAnon is essentially a virtual cult and it's quickly gaining popularity not just here in the U.S., but also around the world. And now a former follower is speaking out, telling CNN how the conspiracy theory drew him in. And he says it's tearing families apart. Have a listen.


JITARTH JADEJA, FORMER QANON BELIEVER: Looking back, it seems so obvious. That I was like probably in a deep depression when I found Q.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Jitarth Jadeja, who is 32, says he found QAnon on the internet in 2017. Though he's Australian, he had previously lived in the U.S. and was already interested in American politics.

JADEJA: I think superficially, it did seem like it gave me comfort and I didn't realize the nefarious kind of impact it was having on me because it was very insidious, how it slowly disconnected me from reality.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): QAnon is a baseless conspiracy theory with a growing online community of believers.


O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): At the heart of the theory is Q, an anonymous insider who purportedly reveals information via cryptic posts. The theory claims there is a deep state within the U.S. government that is controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, and that President Donald Trump is trying to take them down.

JADEJA: I would have been so happy to see Hillary Clinton dragged in front of a military tribunal. That still bothers me to this day, that how willing and happy and joyfully I would have reacted to something that I would normally want no part in.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Jadeja followed QAnon for over two years: long enough, he says, to share the theories with his father.

JADEJA: We used to talk about it a lot. We'd show each other things, like, did you see that? Did you see that? CINDY OTIS, V.P. OF ANALYSIS, ALETHEA GROUP: We tend to underestimate

the extent to which these sorts of narratives are appealing. You have people who are essentially looking for answers. They want to know why bad things are happening in their lives, and so it's a very compelling narrative to say, all of this is orchestrated. There's a cabal coming after you, they're trying to make your miserable. You want an answer for why bad things are happening? Here they are.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): While there aren't good estimates for the number of Q followers, it's clear their ranks are growing. And now, the FBI has warned that conspiracy theories like QAnon could very likely motivate criminal, sometimes violent activity in the U.S.

For Jadeja, cracks had already begun to form about QAnon when he started noticing logical inconsistencies in theories. The turning point came when he watched a video that disproved the final part of the conspiracy he believed in.

JADEJA: That kind of like shattered me. Like, I've never felt so down -- it was the worst feeling I've ever had in my life, it's like, I'm like, I cannot trust my thoughts and emotions any more. I don't know what to do. I was full of self-loathing.

O'SULLIVAN: You know, you obviously went down the Q rabbit hole and got back out. For people who are very deeply entrenched and believe in it now, is there any way to sort of bring them back?

JADEJA: Yes, there is. But it has to start with empathy and understanding, allowing them to keep their dignity. Because otherwise, what's their incentive? You have to admit you were wrong, so wrong for so many years and that you were made a fool of.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Jadeja says he feels deep guilt over sharing QAnon theories with his dad. Jadeja's father did not respond to CNN's multiple attempts to contact him.

JADEJA: And that is why that this is a big problem, not just because people are being taken in and their families are like being ripped apart. This is an existential battle between good and evil that these people think they're fighting.


HARLOW: Wow, what a story, Donie. How significant that just yesterday, YouTube finally cracked down on people spreading these conspiracy theories on their platform just after Facebook did the same. For years, they've been using those platforms.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. All these social media platforms now are basically trying to close the barn door after the QAnon horse has bolted. QAnon and all these conspiracy theories really became very popular over the COVID lockdown. You know, so many of us are at home with a lot more time on our hands, and a lot of people spent more time online.

[10:55:09] I've been at QAnon events, Trump rallies with so many people who told me they got into QAnon because they saw it on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and YouTube. It's good these companies are taking a step now, but it is a bit too late.

HARLOW: Donie, thank you for the reporting.

And thanks to all of you for joining us today and all week. We'll see you back here Monday morning, have a good weekend. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: I'm Jim Sciutto. It's Friday, enjoy it. NEWSROOM with John King starts after a short break.