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Cuomo Prime Time

CDC Guideline to Reopen Economy is Under Editing Phase; Michael Flynn Set Free by DOJ; One in Five U.S. Workers Filed for Unemployment Since Mid-March; Ameri-Can's Extraordinary Sacrifice for Health Care Heroes; A Woman Takes on $600,000 in Debt to Offer Health Workers PPE; The Ameri-Cans Looking Out for Others. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 07, 2020 - 23:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. I'm Chris Cuomo. And welcome back to a bonus hour of Prime Time.

CDC guidelines for how to safely reopen are still in the editing phase. According to Dr. Birx of the White House task force. That is an excuse for why those guidelines weren't being made. The baseline for how to reopen according to senior official at the CDC. OK?

Now let's take on this discrepancy with dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Always good to Harvard in the house. Welcome back to Prime Time, doctor.

Listen, with all due deference to Dr. Birx she's welcome on the show. I don't like her side of this controversy. The idea that it's in the editing phase wouldn't prompt a CDC official to say they're ignoring us.

Because as you probably are aware people are worried inside the CDC. They think that they are not being taken with the same kind of wait as the economic exigencies. What is your perspective on what matters here?

ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, absolutely. So, thanks for having me back on, Chris.

A few things, first of all, the open up America again plan that the White House released as I've said before was directionally right. It had the right principles.

One of the things was I said, you know, it's pretty vague. It doesn't have a lot of details. So, guess what, the White House asked the CDC to fill in the details. And the CDC did. And they put together an evidence-based approach and then it sat around for three weeks.

And I don't know what it means in the editing phase. But what I know is that the American people aren't getting the benefit from the advice and that's a problem. CUOMO: Well, also, when contextually -- again, you know, if the

reporting bares -- you know, bares out as accurate. Is that they didn't like on the White House side that the testing and the tracing that was made as a condition. You know, not just for the common sense of restoring confidence in people and creating demand, right, to go out and use these places that are reopening, but that prophylactically you had to have a basis of truth to report to people before rationalizing reopening.

And what the White House wants is testing to come whenever it comes but reopen first. What is the problem with the latter approach?

JHA: Yes. So, this is hugely problematic. And you know, the White House is well aware that testing is very, very important. You know, the president and the vice president are getting tested all the time. If you remember --


CUOMO: Every day.

JHA: -- when the vice president didn't wear this mask. He said --

CUOMO: Every day the president is going to get tested now. And rightly so because of one case of a valet in his proximity. And they have traced everyone that valet came into contact with. That's what we're asking for. Why can't this country get that kind of protection?

JHA: Exactly. Well, that's my -- that's my point exactly. Is that, if that testing is how we protect the president, turns out I want to protect my family too. And it's not some secret sauce that only the president gets to have. It's something that we all should have access to. Ongoing testing. Tracing and isolation.

And here's the problem, Chris. If you wait until after you open up to try to put all that together, case numbers will start climbing, you will fall behind and your life is going to be much harder as a state or as a country.


So that's why many of us have been saying please do this now before you open so you can stay open and keep people safe.

CUOMO: Now, the response from the White House is what they would teach you in debate class as RAA reasoning, reductio ad absurdum. Which is to take an idea and strip it down so much that it becomes a ridiculous idea.

To wit, in this situation testing, Jha wants to test everybody in the country every day. And that is like crazy, unnecessary and impractical. And then the president echoed that today. You know, the testing thing, you know I can go too far, you know, what these guys are asking for.

They are saying they don't want to do the testing. So, they are going to say that guys like you want to do it to a level that doesn't really even matter.

JHA: Yes. So, look, that is obviously not what we have ever said. And I have been pretty aggressive on testing. But even my testing approach which, you know, we've updated our numbers basically saying we should be doing a million test a day. That means every American in my approach would get tested once a year. That's not a lot.

In fact, we probably should be doing more than that. But that's the bare minimum. But what the president has laid out has every American getting tested once every four to five years, which is absurd.

CUOMO: Right.

JHA: So, the bottom line is more testing is better. No one is saying everybody get tested every day. What we're saying is if you have symptoms you should be able to get tested. If you are high risk you should be able to get tested. And that is the level of testing we need if we want to open up safely.

The president by the way knows this, the White House knows this. I don't know why they're not acting on it. But it's really disconcerting and leaves us all a little less safe.

CUOMO: And look, you do this within the study. But just to be very clear with people, you know, your projection study. It is not one- size-fits-all. Wyoming does not need what Washington, D.C. does where you have the density.

JHA: Yes.

CUOMO: Where you have different case considerations. You need a different level of protection. And that makes common sense. You know, Suffolk County where I live in New York out on the island is not as ready to reopen, unfortunately, as other counties in New York State.

So, we need to have more testing, more tracing, more changes in our caseload than Cayuga County has to have in upstate New York. That's not unreasonable.

JHA: Yes. And that's been our entire approach. You know, there are people who said, well, you want to make, you know, just because New York is having a problem doesn't mean the whole country is.

You know, the way I think about is Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, North Dakota, these are places that probably could open up safely now. They have, you know, probably not quite as much testing as I'd like but pretty close. They can be pretty reasonably ready to open. Georgia, not even close.

So, it really is a state by state issue. The problem is we need federal guidance on what the science is that's much more consistent that every state can then apply to its own local circumstance.

CUOMO: Now, this is your favorite part of the show. It's, tell me why I'm wrong segment. Which is, I see the polls, I get that people even in places like Georgia are afraid to go out and start exercising their economic mandate even if they are given opportunities.

And yet, I feel to use a word that means nothing in science, that you guys are losing the argument. That with the seasonal change, and the opportunities and the momentum of states reopening now almost every state doing something, that people are getting sick of it.

Fifty-six, fifty-seven days is enough. The thing seems like it's not as bad as it was. And I don't really follow the numbers because they are too high and I want to get back out and live my life. And by the way, a lot of us are getting killed by this economically.

So that is starting to overwhelm. But then you have these poll numbers on the other side that suggest that people aren't open. Where's your head on where the country is moving towards right now?

JHA: So, I'm sympathetic, Chris, to people who are feeling like it's been a long time. They've been cooped up, there's been huge economic costs are being shut down. I'm very sympathetic to that. Particularly being for our hourly wage workers for people who are poorer. They don't have a big reserve that they can count on.

So, I'm very sympathetic to how people are feeling. I also look around and people are genuinely scared about going out and getting sick. And so, my question is why are we putting this as the only two set of choices in front of the American people?

We basically said choose your life or choose your economic survival. And I have always argued there's a third path. Build a great testing, tracing isolation infrastructure. We can let people get back to work. We can keep people safe. It's not some crazy idea that only academics are talking about. Lots of countries have done it.


And we can do it. We have every capacity to do it. We just have chosen not to. And that is what frustrates me because we are giving people false choices.

CUOMO: We still haven't used the mightiest muscle of manufacturing in the world, which is ours, to make PPE here at home and to make what you need to have tests here at home.

JHA: Yes.

CUOMO: It is mind boggling. Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you very much for being on the show.

JHA: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Another thing that has people kind of shaking their heads. What happened with General Flynn? The Justice Department dropped all charges against the former Trump national security adviser. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Tonight, the attorney general says it was his duty to drop the charges. Duty to whom? Duty to what? Let's debate what happened with former FBI insider. Asha Rangappa, next.



CUOMO: The Department of Justice has dropped its case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn who admitted to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russian officials.

Now we know the president has been pushing for this. But Attorney General Bill Barr says tonight that he the president had no influence on what we're led to believe was his call.


WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: A crime cannot be established here. They did not have a basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn at that stage.


BARR: Well, you know, people sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes.


CUOMO: Very rarely. This is always been an unusual situation. The Flynn case has always been a weird case. Let's take up this debate with Asha Rangappa. Very familiar with the FBI having worked there and understands the process well. Law professor as well. It's good to see you. I hope the family is well.

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's good to see you, too, Chris. I'm glad that you're doing well.

CUOMO: Are you standing? Because that gives you an unfair advantage.

RANGAPPA: I am standing. Yes.

CUOMO: I didn't know that. I didn't know this would be one person standing. All right. So, obviously, you take the side of scrutiny on this. And I'll defend it from what we understand of the disposition of the DOJ. Why does this move bother you?

RANGAPPA: This move bothers me for a number of reasons. But primarily because it really turns the idea of having a special counsel on its head.

Remember that when Mueller was appointed the entire idea was to have an independent prosecutor investigate and take actions in this case without any political influence. And he did this under the auspices of Rod Rosenstein who was one of Trump's appointees. And also, under the auspices of Christopher Wray who is the FBI director. Another one of Trump's appointees.

All of those decisions were vetted and approved by those people and Mike Flynn's prosecution took place under that entire investigation.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: And what's happening now is someone who is a political appointee coming in after the fact and basically trying to undo the results of that investigation. And in my opinion, Chris, also trying to accomplish under the veneer of the law what Trump wanted to do --

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: -- in my opinion, with a pardon.

CUOMO: Right. I agree with that point. My counter is that Barr has done far worse in the same vein with how he handled the investigation and how he edited what came out to us and how he interpreted how things should be carried forward or not to the president's benefit.

And here you do not have a strong appoint because the Flynn case was a flawed case from the beginning. You never really had him on a crime. This was all about catching him in his own words and the only thing you have on is that he admitted it. But you guys box people into admitting stuff all the time.

RANGAPPA: No, and I think what this does -- that argument essentially starts to conflate the idea of counterintelligence and criminal investigations. You know, when you have a contact with an official a foreign agent of a hostile nation in this case Russia, and you keep it secret from the government, that creates a counterintelligence threat.

When the FBI investigates you about that, which they will do, so P.S. to anyone who might be in contact with hostile foreign agents. If you lie to the FBI then you have -- you have created like a compromised situation.

And I think that the FBI was entirely within their jurisdiction to interview him about this. He was going to be the national security adviser.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: And in the position of making significant foreign policy decisions on behalf of the United States. And then he lied to the FBI on top of this. He doubled down. Which suggested that he was unwilling to come clean and maybe in a position where he would be beholden to a foreign power.

So, I don't see that they're not being a clear crime when they went to interview him. The lying in itself created a problem and one that I think the FBI was entitled to prosecute so that they could essentially neutralize the threat in the situation.

CUOMO: So, the push back is that I accept the analysis all the way up to what the DOJ had to do with it. Should Flynn have told the truth or be more candid, yes. Does he regret it, I bet he does? But he wasn't compromised. He wasn't an agent. There was no underlying crime. He didn't do anything with the Russians. He didn't allow the Russians to do anything.


And why he explained it that way, he'll have to explain for himself. But he wound up getting caught in his own words. There was never any threat to national security. That the theory that the Russians now had something on him is farfetched at best.

RANGAPPA: Well, it's not farfetched. Remember that at the time deputy attorney general Sally Yates went and actually notified the White House about it. But in addition to the lies that he told about his contacts with Ambassador Kislyak about sanctions.

This was happening right after President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the United States and imposed sanctions for their interference in the 2016 election. So, what he was contacting Kislyak was about was to basically say don't do anything. It was undermining the position of the government -- of the U.S. government which should be speaking with one voice.

CUOMO: It happens all the time, Asha. One administration trying to make up for what the last one was doing. Have a better relationship. Have a new relationship.

And by the way, these people lie all the time. That's why people are so fed up and picked an agent for their cause like the president to be disruptive. People lie in politics. It's not always a crime.

RANGAPPA: Well, I push back, Chris, that this happens all the time. It may very well be that incoming administrations have a different position than the previous one. But they will typically coordinate with the administration that's in power in order to, you know, make sure that everything is on the up and up.

They're typically not having secret conversations and they're definitely not lying to federal investigators who are acting in the interest of the United States about it.

But let's also remember that he was acting as a foreign agent for Turkey. That is something else that he pleaded guilty to. That is by the way a crime to be an undisclosed foreign agent, and definitely when you take on a position of public trust like the national security adviser.

I think the entire DOJ memo is really kind of cherry picking, you know, the events that led up to this in a way to exonerate Flynn of something that I think in any other administration Republican or Democrat, we would be concerned about.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: And basically saying, you know, --


CUOMO: But that's his big -- that's his best argument by the way. You're right. We would be concerned about it. But we wouldn't prosecute it. That Flynn got prosecuted for something where there was really no underlying crime and he didn't register the right way for Turkey. And these are things that you'll never give me another example of somebody being prosecuted for these kinds of things in any other administration.

RANGAPPA: Well, probably because in any other administration nobody would be doing it. You know, I think we become --


CUOMO: Come on. Come on. You're making a little money on the side. Helping out somebody. Wearing two hats at the same time. There are people who go in and out of public and private service all the time. Look at the FDA. Leek at those kinds of agencies where this stuff happens. This guy has got to go to jail for it?

RANGAPPA: Yes. They -- you know, the idea of doing something secretly to undermine a sitting U.S. government. I think that the way that we can look at it is if Trump loses in November and let's say a Biden administration comes into power, I mean, imagine if the Biden administration were secretly, you know, negotiating with the Chinese or undermining official foreign policy. It really, you know, does not do a service to the United States.

And our position, you know, globally to have two different avenues happening. This is why we have laws against private citizens doing that.

And I think that the idea that you can lie to the FBI with impunity in an investigation is something that's so fundamental to the administration of justice. And let's just go back to this idea that, you know, that Barr is chipping away at the idea that this was a legitimate investigation.

This was an independent investigation by the special counsel appointed by Trump's own appointee overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: And this is really, in my opinion impugning their own judgment.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: Because they were the ones overseeing this during the time that this was all happening.

CUOMO: Now I give you that point.

RANGAPPA: So, I think that if anyone has to answer for it, it should be Rod Rosenstein.

CUOMO: I give you that point. That it seems like an encroachment and done for political payback purposes. And the irony of it is that Mr. Barr, the attorney general is arguing well, I want to make sure that people know that there's one system of justice.

Well, if there is, then when you do something like this, you're going to get busted. And in fact, what he's doing is enforcing a two-tiered system where you can give someone a benefit of nuance and context and what the underlying thing was when not everybody gets that.

There are a lot of people sitting in jail for having admitted to things where they admitted to it to get out of a situation instead of being threatened that it was going to get much worse if they continued. And that's what Flynn is saying happened to him.

Asha Rangappa, thank you very much for making the argument.

RANGAPPA: Thank you.


CUOMO: And it's glad to hear the family is well. I hope everybody stays healthy.

RANGAPPA: Same to you.

CUOMO: All right. Now, that argument is going to be had a lot over the next few days. What will be different about this one is she and I aren't pushing political agendas. But that's going to be the sole context for this going forward.

But what about Obama? But what about this one? But what about Trump? Strip it away. Look at the facts. Find what the understanding is about the law was, what he did and what's been done in other cases like it or not.

All right. We know it's going to be bad tomorrow morning when the unemployment numbers for April are revealed. We have never seen anything like this since the Great Depression. So, what are we supposed to do now? How do you ignore that pain?

The man who two presidents trusted during good and bad financial times will argue what the situation means not just for the short term but for the long term. Next.



CUOMO: The numbers are going to be bad on job losses. The economy in general is getting crushed. The reality is, for too many, things are getting worse. One in five American workers had filed for unemployment since mid-March. This week was another 3.2 million. Tomorrow's monthly report is going to be historically bad.

The question becomes, what do we do about it? But more importantly, when? I know I always say the big question is how. That's in terms of balancing health with economics. But let's just talk just economics for a second, right? Gene Sperling ran the National Economic Council for presidents Obama and Clinton. He is also the author of a new book, "Economic Dignity." Now, Gene, it is always good to have you. I grew up with Gene. He worked for my father when he was governor. So, I know him as "Geno" because we made everybody Italian.

The book will not be given enough service because of the context we're talking about tonight. So I also need to get you on the radio show to do more time about it because you talked about income inequality, and you talked about economic justice in ways that go far beyond what we're dealing with acutely right now in terms of, you know, the immediate, and talked a lot about how we should be build better after this.

So I highly recommend the book for that reason. We will have a longer discussion about it. But in the context to the immediate, Gene, the people are going to look at the numbers and they are going to say, and that's why we got to reopen, the cure is worse than the disease, we got to reopen right away because we can't take this, we're going to lose a generation of businesses.

GENE SPERLING, AUTHOR, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRESIDENT CLINTON: You know what, Chris, you know, the Jiminy Cricket song, you know, wishing on a star, it's a great kid song my father used to sing me, it's not much of an economic strategy for opening. You have to have the kind of trust that comes from progress and testing, tracing, you know, perhaps on treatment.

And I think what's going to happen is I think there's two big questions about how we open, which is, one, do we do so in a way that gives the people, who are going to be risk adverse no matter what their leader say, the confidence that this is right? And what I think will happen is that for people like myself and my family, you know, we're making our own judgments with what's safe for us.

And if the economy opens too quickly and people rush back and you get a new rise in community spread, a new surge to the emergency ward, all of those people who are already risk adverse become even that much more risk adverse, and that means that it is going to be harder to ever get them back because they are going to feel like, fool me once, you know, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

The second thing about reopening that I really do think goes to this question of economic dignity is how we reopen in terms of how we treat our workers. And I think what you saw with Donald Trump ordering meat workers back when you have 5,000 who already been hospitalized and have deep symptoms, when you have poultry workers that already faced such deregulation, that they have twice the amount of serious injuries, seven times the amount of carpal tunnel syndrome.

There an (INAUDIBLE) story that said they -- some of them have to wear diapers because there's not a time to go to a bathroom. And when you say you are essential and you have to go back, but we are not going to treat you with that dignity of ensuring your employer makes sure you're safe, makes sure you have paid sick leave, makes sure you have hazard pay, then I think you're going to have a deeper type of harm, a feeling that people were used for other people's ends, and their intrinsic value and worth as people was not realized as we reopened.

CUOMO: Gene, quickly, before I lose you here. There's another argument they're making, that you have an interesting counter to. They say, look, I get all Gene's points, we got to do better with workers, but right now, we have to get reopen because that is the key to bring in the economy back. Is that once we can just get it open, everything will come back very quickly, says the president. You say no, that the damage that has been sustained can't be fixed quickly. Why not?

SPERLING: I mean this is this false (ph) choice that you hear. Chris Christie, the president, and others are making that.


SPERLING: You know, let's just get it back. We'll be strong and there's like a trade-off between the health, even accepting deaths of older loved ones for reopening the economy. I don't think it works even as a reopening strategy because remember, you know, you still got to convince me that it's safe to go into that restaurant.

If I think that my governor, my mayor, my president has put regulations that ensure the workers coming there are truly safe, you have massive and I mean massive testing that gives people that confidence, then I'm going to reopen and I'm going to stay more engaged.

But how is it going to help the economy if you have not just a dramatic second wave, but you open at a time when people say, wow, people rushed out, they decided they are going to football games, they are going to go to the beach? If they see that illness happening, me, you, the customer, the people have to make the decision to buy a car or go to a nail salon or go to a restaurant, are going to stay home. They're not going to spend.

You can't wish this economy open. It's really about the four big Ts, right? It's testing, tracing, treatment, and that adds up to trust. You got to create that trust. And if you don't, I don't think you can improve the economy. And I think we could have double-digit unemployment for one two years from now if we don't get the health part right and reopen in a careful, thoughtful way.

CUOMO: So, Gene lays this out in a very, very comprehensive way in "Economic Dignity," his new book. And the interesting part about it is so many of us are talking about, well, are we going to build back better now? Are we going to do things differently now given what we're learning? That's what his book is about. That's why I think it is such an interesting read.

Gene, thank you for coming on to deal with the immediate. I'll hit you about coming on Sirius and come on the POTUS channel and we'll have a longer discussion about the book. It warrants it.

SPERLING: Thank you so much, Chris. Appreciate you having me.

CUOMO: Be well. All right, so, I got somebody for you who is not just a hero to us, she is a hero to the heroes. Her name is Rhonda Roland Shearer. She is so serious about PPE and getting it personally to our health care pros on the frontlines. She took out a second mortgage. Why? You could ask some of the veterans of Ground Zero after 9/11, but we'll ask Rhonda herself, next.




CUOMO: Tonight's "Ameri-Can" is a woman who wholeheartedly embodies the "we" before the "me" spirit. Her name is Rhonda Roland Shearer. She's known by some as New York's patron saint of PPE. Why? Well, she travels to neighborhoods hit hardest by this outbreak with a truck full of much needed PPE. She gives it to hospital workers for free. That's the video we are showing you right now.

So how did she buy all this stuff? She put her own home on the line by taking $600,000 in debt. And no, it is not some recent fit of madness. This is what she's about. She did this after 9/11. She was at Ground Zero, distributing millions of dollars in supplies to first responders, all of which she mobilized herself.

It is a pleasure to introduce you to Rhonda on "Prime Time" tonight. I know you don't like being taken away from the grind of giving people the PPE, but thank you for taking a moment to be with us tonight.

RHONDA ROLAND SHEARER, FOUNDER, CUT RED TAPE 4 HEROES: Thank you, Chris. I'm honored by your description. But let me point out to your audience the real heroes are the nurses, the doctors, the maintenance workers, the security officers that are all exposed to this horrible disease. They are willing to go and march into that hospital through those doors and maybe never come back out in the same way due to the illness.

That's what inspires me and all the different volunteers that help me. There's no way I can do this by myself. I'm safe on the outside of the hospital, passing out PPEs. The real heroes are those that know that they're taking a risk and despite taking that risk are on ward to take care of patients and be professional and help our whole country.

CUOMO: I agree with you, 99 percent. You are totally right about who the heroes are. But the fact that they are lining up outside your truck tells us that they are not getting enough of what they need to do their job where they do the job. Therefore, if not for you and your volunteers, they would be exposed to worse risk. And therefore, you must be a hero once again.

ROLAND SHEARER: Well, I don't feel that way. I'm humbled by the suggestion of that. Truly, the seriousness of the need can't be forgotten.


ROLAND SHEARER: We have to remember these workers at all times because they don't have what they need. And basically, what we're doing is giving personal use items. In other words, a nurse or a doctor or a maintenance worker, they work for 12-hour shift, but what do they wear at home? What mask do they have to wear home? This is what we are supplying.

They can choose how to use their mask and have the ability to share it with their family. They do not have time to shop for PPEs and let alone try to find it and be able to pay for it. I went to all of the different pharmacies outside of these hospitals in very poor areas --

CUOMO: You can't find it.

ROLAND SHEARER: -- you can't find it or you find them and they are unbelievably priced.

CUOMO: Right.

ROLAND SHEARER: Something that I buy 36 cents, they are selling for $4.

CUOMO: I totally get it. We have problems with gouging. Some would call it supply and demand. I don't think so. The biggest problem is that we don't make this stuff in the country even though it is really national security interest equipment now. We got one company in the entire country, in Maine, making swabs for tests and PPE were almost nowhere. So the need is great. And, you know, I looked into why hospitals would not want to work with you. And the best argument you get is -- that's what you call it the "Cut the Red Tape 4 Heroes," because that's what it is.

They're saying, well, we don't know that this stuff is FDA-certified, but I'm told that that's not a problem, that when she buys, it comes with the same invoice tickets that we were using in procurement processes for New York State, because I know that process very intimately, and it's just red tape.

So you're getting around that. But I want the audience to get exposure to one other thing. You and I will not debate hero anymore, we will settle on "Ameri-Can," because you are definitely that. You are a regular person doing extraordinary thing for others. That's "Ameri- Can" in terms of "Ameri-Can" do attitude. How did you arrive at the conclusion that it was worth taking on that much personal debt to do this?

ROLAND SHEARER: Unfortunately, like so many others who served at Ground Zero supporting first responders, as well as the families of first responders themselves, I have experienced extreme loss.

My partner of 15 years, an FDNY staff member, he died of Ground Zero- related cancer in June of 2019. And here I am, at the end of February, my daughter, who is the one who actually initiated the 911 recovery supply operation, had Ground Zero-related cancer surgery right at the beginning of the pandemic.

So, I have a personal stake in this cause. And I want to fulfil a leadership position where everybody feels the same way. And once there is an avenue to be able to take action, then they do it. I've gotten so many e-mails now. One was from Dawn (ph), 81 years old. She said that she wish she could pay for the entire operation, but she said that she's on a fixed income and could only send $20 to the GoFundMe.

And this to me was like a million-dollar gift, to have it be where every day Americans can participate and help these heroes. And I want to do that and continue to do that as long as I am able.

CUOMO: Well, let's do this. I just put up the GoFundMe page. I put it on my social media. The cause is obvious to everybody. Your commitment is rare. And I understand that it comes from your heart and from a place of loss, and you wanted to see people not have to go through that kind of loss. So Rhonda, thank you for sharing your story. We are happy to do the same with our audience. I hope you keep helping people for a very long time.

ROLAND SHEARER: Thank you. Thank you very much for this opportunity.

CUOMO: Thank you for making the most of the opportunity to help others. We are call away if we can help get the word out. Be well, stay healthy, God bless.

ROLAND SHEARER: God bless you. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Look, not everybody can do what Rhonda is doing to honor our pandemic warriors, but there is something you can do each night, especially in the big cities where you have case density (ph) and a lot of workers, the health care workers. Open your windows. Shout your lungs out. Not only it is good for you, but it is good for them.


CUOMO: If you happen to be part of the New York City Fire Department, you got one more way to make some noise for our health care angels. Check this out.



CUOMO: Ordinarily, that noise drives me crazy, but not in this context. It is America at our best. But it doesn't stop there. Right back with more of tonight's "Ameri-Can." Good news, next.



CUOMO: How about a big jolt of American energy for you tonight? We need the good news. We need to remember that there's good around us. Near Detroit, teachers and staff from Utica Community Schools wanted to give their seniors a special memory since, to be honest, the end of their school year is going to be atypical, which is to say it's going to suck, right?

So, listen to what they did. They hand delivered every senior in the district, roughly 2,200 students, caps, gowns, certificates, honor cords, and of course, a token 2020 graduate lawn sign. They did this all during Teacher Appreciation Week. What a way to turn a sour situation into a sweet memory. Thank you, educators, for teaching the graduates and the rest of us a profound lesson in gratitude.

Thanks for watching. Stay tuned. The news continues here on CNN.