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New Day Sunday

Trump Attempts To Bypass Congress On Economic Relief; More Than 56,000 New Cases Reported In The U.S. In 24 Hours; Doctor Warns Massive Biker Rally Could Be A "Super Spreader" Event; Two Georgia Officers On Leave After Shots Fired At Car Carrying Minors; Researches Test Which Face Masks Are Least Effective. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired August 09, 2020 - 07:00   ET


ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There are organisms, living things that live in that epishelf lake that once it flows back out into salt water, it could no longer survive.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Allison Chinchar, so interesting. Thank you so much.

Stay with us. The next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Therefore, I'm taking executive action. I'm going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American workers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Democrats have already put out a statement slamming these executive actions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They stretch the limits of the Constitution far beyond what any other president has done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you get to Sturgis, South Dakota, one thing you notice right off the bat, the traffic has swelled here. This city is full of people as thousands have descended on the city to be a rally they said they wanted to be part of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is called freedom. I spent the year in Vietnam to keep people free and they didn't want to fight for their own freedom.

I'm fighting for my own freedom. I love to ride. Freedom is riding.



ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND, with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

PAUL: Look at the sunshine on Capitol Hill. Good morning to all of you there, as the sun is coming up.

And wherever you happen to be, we are always grateful to have your company on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Want to talk about the U.S. and this important milestone that is really just right in front of us as President Trump and Congress are fighting over some necessary economic relief for millions of people.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: So close now to 5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus. There is no national plan that is in place to try to mitigate this, to stop the spread. And experts are warning that this could get worse.

PAUL: South Dakota is reporting more than 100 new COVID-19 cases. Take a look at some of the pictures from there. As a quarter million bikers gather for the Sturgis motorcycle rally. And there were no social distancing or mask requirements and some people there did fear that the rally could become a super-spreader event.

We'll have more on that coming up.

BLACKWELL: Let's start with President Trump's attempt to sidestep Congress, taking executive action on unemployment benefits and taxes and more.

Let's go to the White House now. Sarah Westwood is there.

So, the measures will likely face legal challenges and will likely be difficult to implement.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Victor, difficult to implement to say the least. And when you look at the fine print of these orders, you see the limitations that the president does have in trying to use his executive authority to pursue policies that Congress should have implemented in a stimulus bill, but as you mentioned, those talks collapsed on Friday night. Besides, the two sides still very, very far apart there.

And one that is the most highly anticipated that people around the country would wait to see how it shook out is that enhanced unemployment benefit, people were getting $600 a week under the previous program, that expired at the end of July and Congress failed to act on that.

Now, under the president's program they could get an extra $400 a week but there is a catch there. States have to put up $100, a quarter of that money, the federal government would provide the other $300 but only if the states opt into the federal government terms and they have to set up -- setting up entirely new programs to administer that so there could also be a major delay involved with some of the people getting that money.

The president is speaking at his golf resort in New Jersey yesterday acknowledged that some states may not actually implement the programs and some people may not end up getting that assistance.


TRUMP: Well, if they don't, they don't. That is up to them. If they don't they don't. That's going to be their problem. I don't think the people will be too happy. They have the money.

So I don't think that people will be too happy. But if they don't, they don't. But again, the states have the money. It is sitting there.


WESTWOOD: Now, another one of the president's executive actions purported to revive the eviction moratorium, that was also allowed to lapse a couple of weeks ago, but it doesn't directly do that. It simply asks a part of the federal government to look at the question of whether a pause on evictions would be helpful and it also doesn't provide any money to help ease that process.

Democratic congressional leaders were quit to hit the president on these actions. I want to read you a statement from Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

We're disappointed that instead of putting in the work to solve American's problems, the president instead chose to stay on his luxury golf course to announce unworkable week and narrow policy announcements to slash the unemployment benefits that millions desperately need and endanger seniors' Social Security and Medicare.

And one of the president's other executive actions also had to do with a payroll tax deferment that something companies would have to opt into as well.


And something that lawmakers from both parties have resisted putting in stimulus bills through multiple rounds of negotiations this year.

So, not a super popular idea, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much for the update.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in now, CNN Political Analyst, Alex Burns, national political correspondent at "The New York Times."

Alex, good morning.


BLACKWELL: So the president said when he assigned these executive actions, quote, that this take care of this entire situation, it doesn't obviously. It doesn't resolve most of the contentious issues that local funding, stimulus checks.

What does this actually do other than make the problem a little more difficult to solve in Congress?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Victor, I think we need to see the president's announcement as intensely political and really directed more towards his political messaging and the presidential campaign than towards resolving the profound underlying issues in the economy. The line we just heard him say about how the states have the money if they use it and if they don't, that's on them.

You know, that sounds a whole more like trying to shift blame away from himself and towards the nation's governors who actually do not have the money lying around and then trying to make sure that an unemployment support system is fully funded. Even if everything that he announced this weekend turned out to be legally viable, which is a giant question mark at best, it would still do a fraction to support the economy of what the legislation that Congress passed back in the spring as a much larger rescue package has done so far. So this is at best a very small band aid. And I think we all need to look at it with some cynicism about what the underlying motivations are.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, it seems reminiscent of the shutdown. After Congress couldn't come to an agreement, the president comes with this questionable executive order that is dragged through the courts that really didn't get to the initial question that Congress was facing.

Let me move to the payroll tax holiday for people making less than $100,000. The president said that if he's re-elected he'll make that permanent and everybody wanted it. It is a nonstarter for Mitch McConnell. In fact, Republican Senator Ben Sasse released a statement calling this executive lawmakers unconstitutional slop.

Is there any evidence or any indication that there will be other Republicans 86 days out from the election who are willing to pick this territorial fight with the president?

BURNS: You know, the Victor, the safe bet is almost always no as to whether Republicans are going to be willing to fight with the president.

But I do think that one might end up being a little bit different because of where we are in the political cycle and how the payroll tax fits into the larger scheme of funding government. The Democrats have already indicated that they intend to use that comment, that President Trump made this weekend, to argue that he wants to defund Social Security, which, of course, is funded by the payroll tax.

And that is one of the red line issues in political campaigns, that even Republicans who are very loyal to President Trump are weary of getting into it. So I think that is a classic president Trump political moment where he went in trying to essentially deliver this pretty narrow messaging event and then ends up saying something much broader that is going to be a problem for his party.

BLACKWELL: More than the content, let's talk about the setting. And I want to air what a lot of people did not see. This is the very end as the president walked away from the podium. Watch and listen here.


TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much. (CHEERS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the $1,200, sir?



BLACKWELL: So you've got the folks there in their khaki shorts and their polos, cheering the president, booing the media and you could hear YMCA from the Village People playing. I mean, the president has his rallies back.

BURNS: Or something like it, right? It is a very, very good indication of his rallies. And, you know, we have seen over and over the president tried to replicate those ecstatic events on the campaign trail even in this moment of social distancing and whether it is in violation of the public health requirements in the state of New Jersey.

But I think we're going to see this over and over the next couple of months, that we tried to do the convention, in North Carolina, it didn't work out and had to move it to Florida and didn't work out there either and now you see the president trying over and over trying to cobble together something that feels like 2016 campaign.

BLACKWELL: YMCA was just a unique choice.

BURNS: It's a nice touch.

BLACKWELL: I mean, I just don't get how it goes with anything he was saying.

But let me go here with the VP choice.


We learn this week because the convention is obviously coming up next week.

Congresswoman Karen Bass, Senator Kamala Harris, former national security adviser, Dr. Susan Rice, among those who are at the top of the list. Day by day, they rise and fall in possibility or potential for the pick.

Is there anyone who is pulling ahead of or behind the pack as we start this new week?

BURNS: You know, I want to be very careful about how I characterize who is up and who is down and what we've seen over and over again in the VP process is we could say how far people have advanced and who does done what kind of interviews, who has given what kind of documents. But at the end of the day, even Joe Biden closest advisers will say privately that this is going to be his choice, it is a governing choice, something that's based on who he feels like he could work with closely day in and day out. And as of at least yesterday, they didn't know who he was going to

choose. So the names that you mentioned are people who have clearly advanced very far in the process. I would add Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan to that list. The one name that you mentioned is Karen Bass, who was the beneficiary of a huge lobbying push from his colleagues in the House. It was just seen as somebody with broad support across the party and a really gifted legislator and elected official.

But largely unknown nationally and a lot of the information that has come out in her first real turn in the national spotlight about her past views on Cuba and other comments in California politics have not aged well and left senior Democrats with the feeling she would be a safe choice for vice president.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, you mentioned Gretchen Whitmer. We know that she has been interviewed as part of this final round of discussions as the VP pick. That announcement is coming in just the next few days we expect.

Alex Burns, good to have you sir.

BURNS: Thanks a lot.

BLACKWELL: Enjoy the week.

One of President Trump's go-to lies is his role -- is his role, I should say, in passing veterans choice. You saw it at the end of the news conference there, we walk away. Well, that one when he was faced with the question about why he said that he passed choices and accountability for the V.A. He either hasn't heard or is lying to you. And he is done so more than 150 times.

Here is President Trump announcing his role in passing veterans choice and accountability and here is the president who actually signed it into law six years ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They've been trying to get that passed for decades and decades and decades and no president has ever been able to do it and we got it done so veterans have choice and now you have accountability.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In a few minutes, we'll take another step forward. When I sign into law the V.A. reform bill that was pass the overwhelmingly with bipartisan majority and that doesn't happen often in Congress.

TRUMP: We passed choice as you know, veterans choice.

OBAMA: For veterans who can't get timely care through the V.A., this bill will help them get the care they need someplace else.

TRUMP: And now you have accountability that if you don't love your vets, if you're in the V.A. and don't love or take care of the vets, you could actually get fired. OBAMA: Finally, we're giving the V.A. secretary more authority to hold

people more accountable. We have to give Bob the authority so that he could move quickly to remove senior executives to fail to meet the standards of conduct and confidence that the American people demand.


BLACKWELL: The Veteran's Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 was signed on August 7th of that year, six years ago. What President Trump signed in 2018 was the V.A. Mission Act that modified and expanded eligibility criteria from the choice program.

PAUL: Breaking overnight, one person is dead and several more are injured after a shooting in Washington, D.C. Take a look here.

Rescue crews saying nine people were taken to hospitals in the area. They were called no the scene in the southern part of D.C., just happened after midnight. The investigation into exactly what happened is what is going on right now.

BLACKWELL: Thousands of bikers are in South Dakota for this weekend rally, in the middle of a pandemic. We'll talk with people about why they're taking this risk.

PAUL: Also, how haircuts are turning into therapy sessions for men and boys of color, and this is thanks to something called the Confess Project. The founder is with us later this hour.



PAUL: So, right now, the U.S. is on the verge of surpassing 5 million coronavirus cases.

BLACKWELL: Now, that's more than a million cases additionally in just a little more than two weeks. The CDC says the true case count is likely ten times that of what we are seeing on your screen.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): If doctors and health care experts are correct, the wave of COVID-19 infections is not even close to over.

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, PHYSICIAN & ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: We failed early on to adopt the testing that was necessary and even more so, we failed to ramp up that up to what we're going to need in the coming season.

BLACKWELL: One important University model predicts that the number of Americans who could die from COVID could reach 300,000 by December 1st.

Public health professions are pleading with people to wear a face covering in public but many are refusing. DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: There should be a federal mask

mandate. We know from studying across the country that when there is a mask mandate in place, the number of infections dropped dramatically. There have been studies suggesting that mask mandates are actually more effective than lockdowns.

BLACKWELL: On Saturday, the California Department of Health reported 7,371 new cases. The Florida Department of Health reported more than 8,500 cases. Health officials in Texas said the state's seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate had risen to more than 19 percent, the highest seven-day average since the pandemic began.


Doctors say one important factor to reopening the U.S. while maintaining safety is rethinking the national strategy on testing for the virus.

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Testing is so important because it helps you distinguish who is a case from who is not, who needs contact tracing. Right now, we're only doing about 800,000 tests a day which is so far below the minimum daily target of at least 2 million tests a day if not 4 million tests every day. That's what we need to get a handle on this.

BLACKWELL: New York's governor is allowing schools to reopen this fall with a reduced number of students in each classroom and with the help of parents.

RICHARD CARRANZA, CHANCELLOR, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: If your child is sick or exhibiting symptoms, do not send them to school. If you're feeling sick, stay home. But we're going to have temperature checks. We're going to have randomized temperature checks.

Everyone will be wearing personal protection equipment. Face masks will be required. We're going to have 24/7 people walking around disinfecting doorknobs and handrails.

BLACKWELL: A new report from the CDC supports the belief that most coronavirus cases in children appear to be either asymptomatic or mild. But the reports say that when children are hospitalized, they need intensive care as often as adults do.


PAUL: So, the latest from South Dakota Department of Health is that there are now 106 new COVID-19 cases. And this is happening as we see tens of thousands of people ride into Sturgis this weekend for the annual motorcycle rally.

BLACKWELL: The masks and social distancing are not required.

CNN's Ryan Young is there in South Dakota.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When you get to Sturgis, South Dakota, one thing you'll notice right off the bat, the traffic has swelled here. This is a town of 7,000 normally, but right now, this city is full of people.

Look all the way down on the road here and I could tell you, this multiplies itself mile by mile. It takes half an hour to go a mile here as thousands have descended on the city for the rally they say they wanted to be part of it.

One of the things that stands out here is a lot of people are choosing not to wear masks and that he believe that is their right and you do see some people wearing masks and that is the decision they have to make before arriving here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're trying to social distance. When we went to the bar, just a drink here or there and then leave. But if it is too crowded we stepped out. So, trying to still practice social distancing while enjoying the event.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing I know is I know how the people act. Look at everybody out here. They're ready to ride. Everybody is cooped up from the coronavirus and everybody is ready to have fun and, hell, so am I.

YOUNG: And there's the economic piece to all this as well, when you have so many people flooding into a city, businesses are counting on this weekend to make it. It is a tough few months with the coronavirus. There are people who traveled thousands of miles to be here, they wanted to see if they can make their year in this one weekend and that is why they say it was all worth the risk.

Ryan Young, CNN, South Dakota.


BLACKWELL: Thank you, Ryan.

Brazil is now reporting more than 100,000 people have died from coronavirus, the number of cases passed 3 million behind only the U.S. now.

In Rio de Janeiro, a nonprofit placed a hundred crosses in the sand and released balloons on the same day Jair Bolsonaro on Facebook celebrated a win by his favorite soccer team. People are still packing the beaches there in Rio. The state of Sao Paulo which reported 25 percent of the country's deaths recently extended the hours that bars and restaurants could be open in its capital.

PAUL: And in India, at least nine people have died in a fire at a temporary hospital that is treating coronavirus patients. The site is a converted hotel in southeastern part of the country, and investigators say their initial probe suggests a short circuit at the reception area sparked the fire and then spread to the first floor and there were 30 patients and 12 medical staff inside at the time. A father wants to know why a Georgia police officer shot at his

teenage children during what he said was a routine traffic stop. We have the latest on investigation in a moment. Stay close.



BLACKWELL: Two police officers in Georgia are on administrative leave. One of them shot at a car with minors inside.

Take a look at this cell phone video of the officers making arrest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my child, man. That is my child. Those are my children. Those are children, man.


PAUL: So CNN's Natasha Chen has been looking into this. What have you found out, Natasha?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Christi and Victor, obviously, the family is upset that police fired shots at a car with children in it. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into this.

This is one of four officer-involved shootings across state of Georgia that they're working on at the moment. This one they said happened yesterday morning at 8:00 a.m. when one way cross police officer saw this vehicle with a traffic violation, tried to, quote, a license plate information, and at one point the three younger kids, ages 9, 12 and 14 ran out of the vehicle.

The family tells our local affiliate WJXT that the older teens were scared and told the younger ones to get help. At that point, GBI says a second officer arrived to assist on the front end of the car and the GBI press release said the vehicle continued to approach the second police officer and that is when the officer fired multiple shots. Well, the 15 and 16-year-olds in the car fled the car with that vehicle still in drive, it came to a stop later down the road.


And that 15-year-old had a struggle with that second police officer, eventually got in handcuffs and was treated by EMS for some minor injuries.

The two older teens were taken into custody on several charges including possession of a handgun by someone under 18. The family says that the gun in the glove box is registered to the mom.

The 15-year-old also charged with attempting to remove a firearm from an officer. But that 15-year-old told our local affiliate that he never tried to touch the officer's gun, that the officer had his gun in his hand pointed at him and the mother the whole time.

Here is what the father of the children said to local affiliate WJXT.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got out and we start the running toward the house and they started shooting.

DOMINIQUE GOODMAN SR., FATHER: We opened the door and we see my 9- year-old, my 12 and 14-year-old running from the police behind them with gunshots coming behind them. We go down the street and we see our 15-year-old, our 16-year-old on the ground.


CHEN: And, of course, the family is very upset saying there should be no reason that police are shooting at children when, of course, the youngest is 9 years old.

And keep in mind, again, that the two officers are on administrative leave. The family and community have met yesterday to discuss this and plan to have another meeting on Tuesday, according to our local affiliate WJXT.

PAUL: All right. Natasha Chen, thank you for walking us through that.

CHEN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Up next, researchers confirmed what a lot of people assume, that wearing a bandana over your mouth may look good, but it's not great at stopping the spread of coronavirus.

We've got to look at best worst performing face coverings.



BLACKWELL: Health experts have been now for months emphasizing the masks are one of the most effective tools to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Well researchers at Duke University are out with some new analysis that shows the effectiveness and lack thereof of different types of masks and they discovered that some of them are just useless.

PAUL: So the most effective was the fitted N-95 as you would suspect, three layers and cotton masks which a lot of people have been making at home, they performed well. Commonly used neck fleeces and bandanas were the less effective.

I want to bring in Dr. Jeff Pothof. He's an emergency room physician and a chief quality officer at the University of Wisconsin, Madison Health.

Thank you, Doctor, for getting up so early with us. We appreciate it.


PAUL: Absolutely. So, when we talk about this mask, we have something we want to show you here regarding how far a cough could travel, which is something that we often forget about or even just in our conversations, you know, our breath and the particulates there that get out.

Do you think that we are doing enough in terms of the masks that we're wearing and in terms of the kind that we're wearing and do we have a false sense of security, say, with a bandana?

POTHOF: Yeah, I think the masks are an interesting question. Masks are confusing because just five months ago, a health expert said unless your symptomatic don't wear a mask.

PAUL: Right.

POTHOF: But as we've learned more about coronavirus we've made changes and there was two things that led to that. So, one, we learned that many people have no symptoms whatsoever and could be spreading the virus. So it wasn't enough just to tell sick people to wear a mask and then we also learned that just the mere act of talking is enough to create a droplet that could infect somebody around you.

Now, this study out of Duke is interesting because we looked at how much droplet is contained by various masks even with talking and they found that most masks perform really well. So the gold standard that fitted in N-95 contained 100 percent of the droplet, a surgical mask, 95 plus percent of the droplet.

But even the most of your cotton masks, the worst performing cotton mask contained 80 percent of the droplet, the better ones up to 95 percent of the droplet. So these masks, in general, are extremely effective.

Now, when you mentioned that some didn't fare as well. And when we looked at a knitted mask or a bandana, they're only captured 50 percent or 60 percent of the droplets, so a reduction, but not merely as effective as the cotton mask.

And now, the interesting thing that they found is they tested a fleece mask and what they found is that the fleece mask didn't actually stop the droplet, it broke it up into smaller pieces so there was more droplet than if you had not worn a mask. So the big recommendation coming out of this study and it is a small study, it needs to be repeated, is that fleece masks might be something you want to avoid, knitted mask and bandanas are not nearly as effective, but any cotton masks, and especially some of those surgical masks are really effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

PAUL: You know, one of the things people are really look at right now and waiting for is a potential vaccine.

How comfortable and optimistic are you that we'll have one that is effective, say, by the end of the year, and even if we get that, how comfortable are you with the thought that there will be enough in production and enough distribution of said vaccine?


POTHOF: Yes, so the vaccines are coming along. So I think right now there is three that I have my eye on. They're part of Operation Warp Speed.

And there is a vaccine that is being worked on by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. There's one by Moderna and there's one by Pfizer and the German partner BioNTech.

And these vaccines are in phase three trials, where they are doing large scale, you know, placebo-controlled randomized trials and those trials -- if they are successful would really give us kind of the final bit of information we need to know the vaccine has two things that are super important. One it has to be effective. But just as important, it needs to be safe.

And with a manufacture starting to manufacture these vaccines before we even have the results, that's not a usual thing we do. That does give me some hope that we might see a vaccine that's safe and effective sometime early next year.

PAUL: All right. Dr. Jeff Pothof, so appreciate your time and your expertise, sir. Thank you.

POTHOF: You guys have a good morning.

PAUL: You as well.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Doctor.

Listen, up next, we're going to have this conversation about an innovative program that is helping barbers offer more than just a good cut and some conversation. It's helping them offer encouragement and emotional support to their clients who would otherwise not know where to or how to ask for support or help. We've got the founder of the Confess Project and one of the barbers who is involved.

They're with us, next.


PAUL: You know, if you don't like chemical sun screens, you might want to try a mineral blend. In today's staying well, we are reminded nothing should stop us from protecting our screen. But there are different ways to do it.


RENEE, "GOTHAMISTO" BEAUTY BLOGGER: Mineral sun screens have come such a long way. I actually find myself reaching for them a lot more than I used to.

So I am a skin care bloggers. A lot of viewers will ask about mineral sun screens, because, you know, mineral sunscreens have a reputation of just being less problematic.

DR. MELISSA BABCOCK, DERMATOLOGIST: Mineral sunscreen is applied and it stays on top of the skin. So, it sort of floats on top, whereas is a chemical sunscreen gets absorbed into the skin and works that way. A mineral works to reflect the rays and divert sun, whereas a chemical sunscreen absorbs the rays, dissipates them into heat into the skin.

Mineral sun screens definitely improved with the technology. They are micronized now which means very small particles. That means they are easier to apply. They go on thinner and are not as white and chalky as they used to be.

RENEE: You are supposed to apply until you see a sheen, just to make sure that you have it evenly dispersed and have it all over.

BABCOCK: There are some people who are sensitive to the chemicals found in the chemical-based sunscreen. So, the zinc and titanium sunscreens are much better tolerated. So, someone with a history of rosacea, sensitive skin or young children, absolutely the mineral sunscreen could be a fantastic choice.

Some people are concerned about safety with chemical sunscreens. There have been a few studies to show that with the absorption, there might be some risks, although that hasn't really been proven.

Studies have found that when people love the sunscreen and love the application, they're going to wear it more. And that's what's most important, is to get the patient to wear the sunscreen consistently.





UIDENTIIFED MALE: Mental health in the black community has been a problem for decades. A lot of it plays into the sigma about mental health and the reason why people don't want to get the help that's necessary. Barbershops are a safe place for young men of color. Barbers are the only people we are allowed to get in close proximity with a razor, we realized that barbers become affluent.


BLACKWELL: The coronavirus is having a devastating impact on the black community. The coronavirus is new. What is not new are the generations of health disparities compounded by racial inequality.

PAUL: And the Confession Project is a group of people looking to open up dialogue about mental health among black men. They're somebody that maybe they have a relationship with already, as you saw there, the barber.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, let's bring in now, Lorenzo Lewis, the founder of the Confess Project, and Darius Campbell, owner of 3D Beauty and Barbershop.

Gentlemen, good morning to you.

I said my entire style, everything I do on this show, the ability to interview the way I do and jump between topics I learned at Coleman's Barbershop at Corner Cuts, at barber shops with black men over my youth. This makes sense to bring mental health to that conversation.

Lorenzo, let me start with you, how you came up with this and just explain a little bit of it.

LORENZO LEWIS, FOUNDER, "CONFESS PROJECT": Yeah, absolutely, Victor. Thank you for the opportunity. You know, this came about as a child. I went to my aunt's beauty salon every day from 5 to 14. I realized during those years and experience that I had there at the beauty salon, I was also growing into being a young man and now, an older man. But also, I found my first mentor that worked in the salon.

And I can remember the experience, the leadership that we shared and the accountability that I garnered from that relationship. So, during that time of being a young person, I did face some trauma along the journey.


And so, the relationship that I had in the salon, I saw people's lives being transformed. I would see people come in to the shop, they would be struggling. Maybe just going through just a hard time, and much from that, their lives will be transformed.

So, you know, I just think about my younger years as going through the different struggles I had and so, how that helped to mold me. And using the salon as part of my growth and who I'm now, the work we are doing now with the Confess Project.

PAUL: So, Darius, help us understand from your perspective. The owner of a barbershop here and a beauty salon, what do your barbers say about the conversations they have and what that means to them to hold that space of someone who is a client who maybe having conversations with them that they're not having with other people?

DARIUS CAMPBELL, OWNER, 3D BEAUTY AND BARBERSHOP: Well, in my shop in particular, we all are close-knit, like family. So, everybody that comes in, we treat them like they are family. So, a lot of the time, the conversation we have (INAUDIBLE).

So, you know, when we open up the conversation, I want to open it up with dialogue, just asking how their day is. My stylists are the first ones I make sure they are intact, make sure they're not having any issues. Once we get through that the first part of the morning we conversate (ph).

First clients come in, we discuss different things, open discussion, dialogues about something that may happen just to break the ice to see where everybody is. Any time we have an issue that might not be very serious, my clients talk to me and I listen. Later on, can we get with them and talk a little bit more? That's pretty much what we do and have been doing for quite some time now at the barber shop.

BLACKWELL: Lorenzo, I looked at the CDC numbers this morning and suicide is the fourth leading cause for black men 20 to 44, third leading cause for black men and boys under the age of 20, the absence of mental health services in some communities is atrocious. I watch your training video this morning, and you framed barbers as gatekeepers, empowering them, but also telling them you can't solve the problem.

Give us a little bit more of what I saw in that video.

LEWIS: Yes, absolutely. So, you know, realizing that barbers is a part of the solution, the larger macro solution of realizing it's going to take a unity and we're going to have to come together to really solve these problems that we see around our metro healthcare system and around stigma.

So barbers serve as a gatekeeper to start the conversation, to help validate their clients' response, and also help to reduce stigma, which a lot of us watch stigma and why people don't go get the care that's necessary, because of the shame and the issues that come along with seeking mental health treatment.

So more particularly, in our community of strength and triumph, you know, we're utilizing barbers there at the epicenter of the barber shop that we know so many people go to. Most of the people who go to these shops may not even go to a doctor at times.

And so, these barbers are trained to be great listeners, not to be experts and to be those who can help alleviate the concern and issues and hopefully see that those people can have a quality of life.

PAUL: Yeah, that's what's interesting, about 60 barbers have been trained over the past year to deal -- to help their clients and deal with that.

Darius, have any of your barbers gone through that training, or are they expected to? Because I would think -- would they welcome that kind of training?

CAMPBELL: Actually, we haven't reached that point to where we're making it mandated in the shop, but it is a discussion we're having right now. Lorenzo and I are going to get together on that, because I feel like it's essential. If you're going to be that close and that personable with people, you have to have the proper training to be able to handle any situation that may occur inside the shop dealing with a client that you have.

And like we discussed earlier in our conversation, Lorenzo and I, to make sure that we know when to give Confess Project a call to let them know, hey, we have somebody we believe really needs to speak to you guys. And so, yes, I think in the near future, we're going to make that a mandatory thing inside the 3D Beauty and Barbershop.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, I'm going to tweet out the training video if that's all right with you, Lorenzo, because I think some of the resources, the numbers to call, what you can do, what you can't do, and to know your power and limitations is important.

Lorenzo, you've done 60 -- trained 60.


Very quickly, if you could in ten seconds, what's the capacity of now people seeing this interview that you could bring more people into this program?

LEWIS: Yes, absolutely. So, we have over 150 barbers in 14 cities. Mississippi is one of those cities. And so, we look to train -- also now we're doing it virtually, we look to train more barbers across the U.S. here in the next few months as we know that COVID-19 has become a greater issue.

PAUL: Lorenzo Lewis, Darius Campbell, you are doing such important work and we are so grateful for the two of you and what you're doing. Thank you so much. Best of luck to you.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

LEWIS: Thank you.

PAUL: Absolutely.

And we thank you for being with us this morning.

BLACKWELL: Dana Bash is in for John King.

"INSIDE POLITICS" is up next.