PBS NewsHour full episode, Apr 30, 2020

PBS NewsHour full episode, Apr 30, 2020

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: Federal social
distancing guidelines expire, as the global health and economic impacts of the coronavirus
deepen. I speak to a leading Senate Republican on
the economy, testing and Congress' ongoing response to COVID-19. Then: feeling the pain. The latest jobs report
shows more than 30 million Americans have been laid off in the last six weeks. We answer
your personal finance questions, as rent and mortgage payments are due. Plus: the food fallout. Applications for federal
assistance skyrocket, as millions more Americans struggle to feed their families. JOEL BERG, CEO, Hunger Free America: If this
goes on much, much longer, then we could start to see actual starvation in America.

We're
doing far, much worse than any developed Western nation. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's
"PBS NewsHour." (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: Economic wreckage from the
pandemic is on painful display again tonight in the latest government data. There's also
new talk about how and how much to help state and local governments. White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor
begins our coverage. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: One in every six Americans
is now jobless. Last week, another 3.8 million filed for unemployment.
That means, in the last six weeks, more than 30 million people lost their jobs. But at
the White House, President Trump held out hope for better times to come. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
I think next year is going to be a spectacular year in terms of growth, in terms of bringing
our country back. I think we're going to have a really good year. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The president spoke at a
sit-down meeting with Phil Murphy, New Jersey's Democratic governor.

Murphy made his pitch
for federal aid to help states cope. He said New Jersey alone could need $20 billion to
$30 billion. GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We don't see it as
a bailout. We see this as a partnership, doing the right thing in what is the worst health
care crisis in the history of our nation. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Today, House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi said, all told, states could need $1 trillion in aid over the next few years. The mounting economic losses are pressuring
officials to lift restrictions on certain parts of the economy. And, today, federal
social distancing guidelines expired. The Trump administration says those older rules
are now incorporated into guidance for states on loosening their own safety measures.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes
of Health urged states to be careful in rolling back restrictions. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID Director: There's
no doubt, when you pull back, there will be cases. And what we need to do is make sure
they have in place the capability of identifying, isolating and contact tracing individuals. If they do that… QUESTION: And do the states that are — yes. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: … I feel cautiously optimistic. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Idaho Governor Brad Little
announced his stay-at-home order will expire tomorrow. He will let places of worship and
day care centers open, but will keep closed hair salons and other sites. California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered beaches
in Orange County to close, after people defied health restrictions last weekend.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Specific issues
on some of those beaches have raised alarm bells, people that are conjugating congregating
there that weren't practicing physical distancing. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: While, in Lansing, Michigan,
protesters, some with weapons, crowded into the state capitol building, demanding an end
to pandemic-related curbs. Today, NASCAR also announced it will resume
its season without fans starting May 17. NASCAR joins the Ultimate Fighting Championship as
the first major sports organizations to announce specific return-to-play plans. But the Little League World Series will not
be played this year, for the first time since the organization began, because of the pandemic. In the meantime, the White House today issued
new guidance for nursing homes. The facilities have been hard-hit by COVID-19. DONALD TRUMP: We are working very hard with
our seniors, and we're working very hard with our nursing homes. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: According to analysis by
the Associated Press, at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the past two
months, more than 11,000 people have died due to COVID-19. Across Europe, some governments are also lifting
restrictions, in the face of stark economic losses. In the first quarter of the year,
the overall European economy shrank by 3.8 percent.

HUBERTUS HEIL, German Labor Minister (through
translator): The entire global economy, and also our national economy in Germany, is confronted
with the biggest economic slump in our history. We expect the worst recession in postwar history. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Meanwhile, coronavirus cases
in Russia surpassed 100,000, with the country's prime minister now among the infected. In Africa, trucks lined up for miles in Kenya,
waiting to enter Uganda, as the country issued new restrictions on drivers. One driver said
he had been waiting for days for a health check. GEORGE MURARA, Truck Driver (through translator):
It is taking too long. So slow. This is the third day since I got to the border. They
should at least add more officers, so the testing can be done faster. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: For "PBS NewsHour," I'm
Yamiche Alcindor. JUDY WOODRUFF: The day's dismal economic numbers
weighed down Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 288 points to close at 24345.
The Nasdaq fell 25 points, and the S&P 500 slid 27. For the month, the indexes gained 11 to 15
percent, thanks partly to rescue measures from Congress and from the Federal Reserve. With more than 30 million Americans losing
their job or business, and millions of others forced to take pay cuts, many homeowners and
renters are finding it increasingly difficult to make their monthly housing payments.

Given the job losses and tomorrow's monthly
payment deadlines, we spoke with some of you about the challenges you are facing. Here's a sampling of what we heard. BRENTON MATTOX, Pennsylvania: My name is Brenton
Mattox. I currently live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. EVANNA BACON, Mississippi: My name is Evanna
Bacon. And I'm from Tupelo, Mississippi. CHRISTOPHER LAND, Michigan: My name is Christopher
Land. I live in Taylor, Michigan. CANDACE ROGERS, Virginia: Hi. My name is Candace.
I am 28 years old. So, I just bought a house prior to being laid
off. And it's been difficult because there haven't been a lot of relief efforts that
I have been able to take advantage of.

So, I'm just, you know, trying to make payments
on time. And wherever — however that comes, whether it's through freelance projects or
just from savings, that's really how I'm coping with being laid off at the same time as owning
a home. CHRISTOPHER LAND: Our mortgager, they immediately
were like, yes, we're just doing a flat 90-day forbearance. So they just tacked the next
three months onto the back end of our mortgage. If they hadn't done that, we'd be in much,
much worse shape. BRENTON MATTOX: My landlord was very accommodating.
I had always kept an open dialogue with him about when I could pay something, when I was
expecting to pay something. He sympathized with that and was able to accommodate me accordingly. I can't — honestly, I can't imagine what
I would do in this situation if he wasn't flexible. EVANNA BACON: This month, I'm also going to
have to ask our landlords to cut our rent in half.

It's kind of one of those situations
where, if they say no, then OK. We will scrape it together and, I will have to use, you know,
part of my check from the government, which I was hoping to make sure that we have food
with that. There's no — absolutely no buffer in our
income. CANDACE ROGERS: Because I have this mortgage
note, I'm just hoping that employment prospects just pick up for me in the next few weeks,
because I would love to be able to not have to worry as much on a day-to-day basis about
providing for necessities and also just carrying on with regular life. CHRISTOPHER LAND: If we had not gotten that
mortgage forbearance, it would be — you know, it would be time to start looking at potentially
going to — not yet, but we would we would be in range of talking about, like, where
do we find different food banks. You know, what is that going to look like? Not paying for a mortgage for three months
is the difference between life and death.

It's unimaginably — it's unimaginably huge. JUDY WOODRUFF: John Yang explores now what
kind of relief and options might be available for people who are struggling to make their
mortgage payments. JOHN YANG: Judy, just as strapped homeowners
are scrambling for solutions, so are lenders. Diane Thompson oversaw mortgage regulations
at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She now works with the National Consumer Law
Center, which is a nonprofit focusing on consumer issues for low-income people. Diane Thompson, thanks for joining us. I know there's no-one-size-fits all answer
to the people, the concerns we just heard. But — so, let's try for the size that fits
most. I know that 70 percent of the mortgages in
America are backed by the federal government one way or another, federally backed one way
or another. If I hold one of those mortgages and I lose my job, what should I know? DIANE THOMPSON, National Consumer Law Center:
The immediate thing to do if you are in that situation is to call or contact, e-mail your
mortgage servicer.

Under federal law, for homeowners that are
suffering any kind of financial hardship related to COVID-19, they can get up to 12 months
of forbearance. So they — 12 months where they don't have to make the mortgage payment. In most of those cases, what should happen
with the mortgage payment is, it will just get put on the back end of the mortgage. JOHN YANG: You say 12 months. We heard one
of the gentlemen in the tape just say that his lender gave him three months automatically. Can he go back and ask for more? DIANE THOMPSON: Yes, that's exactly right. Many lenders, we're hearing, are giving people
three months automatically. But under the CARES Act, you have a right to ask for up
to 12 months, if you need it. JOHN YANG: And we have heard he was getting
that time, the three months tacked on to the end of the life of his mortgage.

We have heard some people say that their lenders
tell them that they will get 90 days' forbearance, but, at the end of the 90 days, they are going
to have a balloon payment of the three months that they missed. What should the people say
if their lender tells them that? DIANE THOMPSON: Well, in the vast majority
of the cases, people will not have to pay a lump sum. All of the federal regulators have been working
on making clear that most homeowners will get the payments moved to the back of their
loan. They will not have to pay a lump sum.

There has been an awful lot of misinformation
out there, which many of the federal regulators are working now to correct. If people — people should go ahead and accept
the forbearance. If they get to the end of the forbearance period and the lender then
says, now you have to pay me this back in a lump sum, they should contact a housing
counselor.

They should see if they're eligible for free legal services. They should complain to the Financial Protection
Bureau, and they should complain to their state attorney general. JOHN YANG: And what are — are there other
kinds of help or forbearance that homeowners could be asking for right now? DIANE THOMPSON: Yes. All lenders have a whole suite of assistance
options, opportunities for people who are having trouble making their mortgage payments
for one reason or another. If you want something different than the regular forbearance, you
know that your income has been permanently reduced now, you should just call up your
mortgage company or, again, contact them by e-mail and say, I need help, I need to pursue
some kind of loss mitigation. And they can work with you to figure out,
what's the option that best fits your circumstance, anything from a short-term repayment plan,
to a loan modification that will permanently lower your payments on your mortgage. JOHN YANG: Everybody's taking a hit in this,
including the lenders. Is there a threat to the housing market and
the home mortgage system and the home mortgage industry? DIANE THOMPSON: I think there is a pretty
significant risk here.

We are already at 7 percent of — roughly,
of all mortgages in the country in forbearance. Those numbers are going up every week. We
expect to see a large surge in the next week, when we get to the May 1 payment date. That's a significant fraction of the mortgage
system. And we're going to need concerted, effective leadership at the federal level
to prevent another major housing crisis, like we saw in 2007 and 2008.

One immediate risk is that the lenders have
to keep advancing the payments on the mortgages. Even though the homeowners aren't making them,
the lenders have to keep advancing those payments to the ultimate investors in the mortgages,
and for at least four months. And if they — if that goes on, and we keep
seeing these increasing numbers of forbearances, there's a real question about when the mortgage
companies will start to run out of cash. At that point, we could start to see bankruptcies.
That could be devastating for homeowners, as their mortgages get transferred from one
company to another, and loan records get lost. And we could, at that point, see a pretty
significant uptick in unnecessary foreclosures. JOHN YANG: Diane Thompson of the National
Consumer Law Center, thank you very much. DIANE THOMPSON: Thanks, John. JUDY WOODRUFF: The economic crisis also means
that demand for food stamps will swell. While Congress did pass additional benefits
for some recipients, a high percentage of the poorest households didn't get an increase.
Questions over additional money will undoubtedly be debated in Congress in the weeks to come.
But many people are already facing complications when using their benefits right now.

Economics correspondent Paul Solman has the
story for our series Making Sense. PAUL SOLMAN: A mile-long line at a Pittsburgh
food bank, and it's hardly unique. Dave Wellons manages a food warehouse in El
Paso, Texas. DAVE WELLONS, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food
Bank: Usually, by 8:00 in the morning, there's vehicles lined up a mile to a mile-and-a-half
long. PAUL SOLMAN: Michael Lopez is in New York. MICHAEL LOPEZ, The Hungry Monk Rescue Truck:
There's a tremendous need. Typically, The Hungry Monk Rescue Truck serves
about 200 meals a week in our food pantry. Over the past 35 days, that number has grown
to about 2,000 families that we are serving. BROOKLYN DOTSON, Nashville Resident: I don't
have any income coming in. I don't get any food stamps. It's just hard to get any help
right now. PAUL SOLMAN: Nashville's Brooklyn Dotson doesn't
get food stamps, not yet anyway, but nearly 40 million Americans do, as so-called SNAP
benefits. No one is starving, says Hunger Free America's
Joel Berg, but: JOEL BERG, CEO, Hunger Free America: They're
rationing food. If this goes on much, much longer, then we could start to see actual
starvation in America.

We're doing far much worse than any developed Western nation. PAUL SOLMAN: Economist Hilary Hoynes: HILARY HOYNES, U.C. Berkeley: Prior to the
crisis, about 11 percent of Americans suffered from food insecurity. And we have every reason
to believe that those statistics are increasing dramatically in the current time period. NATOSHA MCCRAY, SNAP Recipient: I'm Natosha
McCray, and I live in the Bronx, the nation's hungriest urban county. This is my daughter,
Ariana (ph), and my son Ethan (ph). PAUL SOLMAN: Three years ago, McCray was struggling,
even with SNAP. But the pandemic has her kids, now 4 and 16, home from school, where they
got their morning and afternoon meals. Suddenly, says McCray: NATOSHA MCCRAY: You got to have breakfast,
lunch, dinner, snacks, and with them both being home, everybody is hungry all the time.

PAUL SOLMAN: McCray gets about $550 a month
for her family of three. But her income as a tutor to low-income kids has plummeted. So, how about free food? She was using New
York City's Grab-and-Go school meal program, which expanded to adults on April 3. NATOSHA MCCRAY: And then, shortly between
week three and four, when I went to pick up a breakfast or a lunch or two, there weren't
any more breakfast or lunch available. PAUL SOLMAN: Joel Berg isn't surprised. JOEL BERG: Even in the best of times, the
charitable sector only handles a small portion of the need. The federal nutrition assistance
programs still provide more than 10 times the dollar amount. PAUL SOLMAN: But for those like McCray, already
getting maximum SNAP benefits before the pandemic…

NATOSHA MCCRAY: You have to wear a face mask. PAUL SOLMAN: … the assistance hasn't gone
up, while prices have. NATOSHA MCCRAY: Hamburgers $18.99, $31.99. PAUL SOLMAN: At least they have in her food
desert stretch of the Bronx. NATOSHA MCCRAY: When the pandemic first started,
they were gouging prices. I mean, the cost of eggs was around $8.00. Milk was $7.00.
Over the past five weeks, it has been a nightmare. PAUL SOLMAN: And the crisis has caused lots
of SNAP snafus. Quincy Pettis is home from college, so he
isn't getting meals there. But he can't get SNAP either. QUINCY PETTIS, College Student: I applied,
but they denied me, because they were saying that I would have to work 20 hours. NARRATOR: Your pizza stays untouched from
here to your table. PAUL SOLMAN: He got a job at Domino's Pizza,
even though he's taking 21 class credits online, and still no food stamps.

QUINCY PETTIS: I would have to go and have
my own apartment. But I am currently living with my — at my parent's house. PAUL SOLMAN: So, because you're living at
your parents' house, as opposed to having your own apartment, you're not eligible for
SNAP? QUINCY PETTIS: Yes sir, correct. PAUL SOLMAN: Did you get a stimulus check? QUINCY PETTIS: No, I didn't get a stimulus
check. PAUL SOLMAN: Because he's in college.

The
rules are a problem for millions of students right now, says Ken Regal of Just Harvest. KEN REGAL, Executive Director, Just Harvest:
College students can't get food stamps at school, can't get food stamps at home. The
parent can't get food stamps for the child in their household. Parent can't get the stimulus payment for
the child. And the child, the college student, can't get the stimulus payment of their own.
So, it's a quintuple whammy. PAUL SOLMAN: Are you hungry at all? QUINCY PETTIS: Yes, I am hungry. PAUL SOLMAN: Another SNAP snafu, online shopping. Alisa Grishman, a Pittsburgh disability rights
advocate, has six autoimmune diseases. ALISA GRISHMAN, SNAP Recipient: The main ones
that affect me are multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease. But I also have forms of
arthritis. I have diabetes from steroids for my other conditions. And so it's extremely dangerous for me to
go out. I haven't left my house in a month-and-a-half. If I get sick, I'm going to get very sick.

PAUL SOLMAN: So, if you can't go out, can't
you just shop online? ALISA GRISHMAN: Unfortunately, no. Pennsylvania
doesn't allow you to use your food stamps to order online delivery of any sort of groceries.
I also can't use it to do a pickup order and have someone pick it up either. PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, only six states do allow
it, under strict conditions.

KEN REGAL: So, this is a huge problem for
large numbers of people, people who are immunocompromised, people who have disabilities, people who have
difficulty getting around, people whose buses have been cut. PAUL SOLMAN: Tens of millions of Americans
are food-insecure right now. Doesn't bode well for them or the economy, says Joel Berg
emphatically. JOEL BERG: Even before this crisis, food insecurity
cost our economy over $160 billion a year, because hungry children don't learn as well,
hungry workers don't work as well, and hungry seniors can't stay independent. PAUL SOLMAN: And all of their numbers are
growing. This is Paul Solman. JUDY WOODRUFF: And that brings us to this
week's Ask Us segment, where we take your questions on the pandemic to experts who can
help us make sense of these difficult times. Fears about the economy have fueled an incredible
response across our Web site and our various social media platforms, Twitter, Instagram
and Facebook.

For the record, Facebook is a funder of the
"NewsHour." Amna Nawaz has more. AMNA NAWAZ: Thanks, Judy. And thanks to all of you for sending us your
questions. As we have been reporting, the economic fallout
from the pandemic has been unprecedented. So, this week, we're focusing on all your
concerns about your money and your jobs. To answer those questions, we are joined by
Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post's personal finance columnist. Michelle, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
It's good to see you.

MICHELLE SINGLETARY, Personal Finance Columnist,
The Washington Post: Good to see you as well. AMNA NAWAZ: It will surprise you not at all
to learn people have a lot of questions on the topic, so let's jump right in. Our first one comes from Ann Nagahiro. She
lives in the state of Washington. She reached out on Instagram. Here's the question from Ann. ANN NAGAHIRO, Washington: For those of us
who are planning on retiring in the next year or two, what would you suggest to make up
the losses to our retirement funds? AMNA NAWAZ: Michelle, a lot of people in this
position.

Is there a way to make up those losses? MICHELLE SINGLETARY: No, not really, not in
the short term. Lots of people are wondering, should I sell,
sell everything? But the fact of the matter is, that is sort of trying to time the market.
And you don't want to do that. And you're probably going to have years until retirement. What you really want to focus is on making
sure that you have enough income to weather this storm for another year or two. So, you
would tap your emergency savings, maybe some bonds. But you really want to leave your portfolio
alone.

If it's already well-diversified and you have
a good retirement plan, there really isn't anything you can or should do right now. AMNA NAWAZ: Now, Michelle, it strikes me that,
depending on how old you are, this economic pinch is hitting you differently. I want to go now to one of our younger viewers. Kevin Kamto reached out on Facebook. He lives
in Raleigh, North Carolina, and he sent us this question: KEVIN KAMTO, North Carolina: Staying home
as I continue my studies and begin a job search, I'm finding it really hard because I can't
network. What advice would you have for a college student
like me with limited skills entering the job market right now? AMNA NAWAZ: Michelle, there's so much uncertainty
for college students, recent college grads. What advice do you have for Kevin? MICHELLE SINGLETARY: Yes, it's really — it's
really tough. And it just so happens my son is named Kevin,
and he's a senior in college.

And he right now is trying to get an internship for the
summer. And you know what was key for him? He stayed in contact with the career office
at his school. He goes to the University of Maryland, Baltimore county. And they have a fantastic office that is actually
working to help kids or students finding some internships. There's some that are actually
virtual now. He's looking at a NASA internship that would be virtual. He has got a job, actually,
for the summer. Now, he has to go in, so momma is a little
worried about that, but he was able to land an internship. So, one of the things is, contact the career
office at your school, and just continue to put those applications out. Even though companies
have pulled back, you know, the economy will start again, and they are going to need those
summer workers that they're used to. AMNA NAWAZ: Good luck to your Kevin, Michelle,
and to Kevin Kamto out there, who wrote in. One last question now coming to us from Lisa
Quinlivan. She's a Pilates studio owner.

And she reached out to us on the "NewsHour" Web
site. Michelle, here's what Lisa had to say: LISA QUINLIVAN, Oregon: I'm bleeding financially,
not unemployed, yes, not fully employed as I was prior to COVID. What can I do to survive when I'm under the
radar of the CARES Act and its economic distribution? AMNA NAWAZ: Michelle, of course, that CARES
Act she is actually talking about, the massive congressional plan to provide some kind of
economic relief for America. What do you say to Lisa, who is stuck in this
position now? MICHELLE SINGLETARY: Well, there's actually
two avenues she might want to pursue, both at the same time.

So, the CARES Act expanded unemployment for
the self-employed gig workers. So, she should check on her state unemployment office to
see if she qualifies. Lots of states are behind on that, but that's a possibility for her
to get some income. And you can get an extra $600 per week up
until July from the CARES Act. She should also pursue a small business loan. She's self-employed
and those small business loans are also available to self-employed folks like herself.

Now, that program has been plagued by issues,
and, obviously, some people already know it ran out of money, like, right away. But there's
a second funding. And so if she has a good relationship with a local bank, that she should
contact them and get in line for that loan. AMNA NAWAZ: Great advice for people who really,
really need it right now. Michelle Singletary of The Washington Post,
always good to talk to you. Thank you for being here. MICHELLE SINGLETARY: Thank you for having
me. AMNA NAWAZ: And thanks to all of you for your
questions.

America

You can send us more on "NewsHour"s Twitter,
Facebook or Instagram accounts or on our Web site. That's PBS.org/NewsHour. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: The
nation's top elected Democrat defended Joe Biden, the party's presumptive presidential
nominee, against an allegation of sexual assault. A former staffer says that Biden attacked
her in the mid-1990s, when he was a U.S. senator. His Democratic presidential campaign has strongly
denied it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed him on
Monday and said today she is satisfied with his response. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): There's been statements
from his campaign — or not his campaign, but his former employees who ran his offices
and the rest, that there was never any record of this.

There was never any record, and that
nobody ever came forward or that nobody came forward to say something about it, apart from
the principal involved. JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump, who has faced
and denied multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, wouldn't say if he believes the
allegations against Biden. He did say that he thinks Biden should respond. The president also said today that he would
consider having Michael Flynn back in his administration. He said his former national
security adviser was tormented by — quote — "Dirty cops." And he cited internal FBI
records. Defense lawyers claim the documents show that Flynn was set up during the Russia
investigation. He pled guilty to lying to the FBI, but is
seeking to withdraw the plea. Reports of sexual assaults in the military
are still rising, but not by nearly as much. The Pentagon's annual review finds reports
were up 3 percent last year to just over 7,800.

A year earlier, the increase was 13 percent. And Britain paid tribute today to Captain
Tom Moore on his 100th birthday for raising $37 million for the National Health Service
during the pandemic. The World War II veteran earned financial pledges by doing laps around
his garden. Today, vintage warplanes did flybys, as Moore
celebrated his centennial with family and cake. He said there's more to be done. CAPT. TOM MOORE, World War II Veteran: I'm
delighted that we have got so much money for such a good cause, because, at the moment,
that cause is still necessary. They haven't finished. They're still working their socks
off, aren't they, for all these poor ill people? JUDY WOODRUFF: Moore's fund-raising feat has
also earned him a place in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for most money raised by
one person walking.

We celebrate you, Captain Tom. Still to come on the "NewsHour": Republican
Senator John Barrasso on the economy, testing and Congress' ongoing response to COVID-19;
an examination of the World Health Organization's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and what
funding cuts could mean; plus, much more. As the debate over reopening states rages
across the country, a similar dispute is under way in the nation's capital. The House of Representatives remains in recess,
but senators will return to Washington in just a few days, for the first time in more
than a month.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming is the third
highest-ranking Republican in the Senate. He's also a physician. And he joins us now
from Casper. Senator Barrasso, thank you very much for
joining us again. It's good to see you. I want to start out by asking you, as a doctor,
how encouraged are you by these latest reports about this antiviral drug remdesivir as a
treatment for the coronavirus? SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Well, I'm very
encouraged by this. I will tell you, Judy, this is very important
for all of America, because that's what we need, a treatment for this virus.

That's the
way that we get beyond this terrible medical condition, as well as the economic disaster
that has occurred to the country. We need to have therapeutics available, and
this is really a good sign of hope. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you see it as turning a
corner? SEN. JOHN BARRASSO: Well, I really do. It
is a light at the end of the tunnel.

It's an opportunity to more quickly open the economy. In Wyoming, we are opening our state tomorrow.
We're doing it the right way. The governor is working closely with our health officers.
We're going to do it smartly, safely. And we're going to be returning, as the Senate,
to Washington on Monday. But I think this is really good news.

When
you take a look at the fact that we have 30 million Americans who are unemployed right
now because of the pandemic, we need to do everything we can to help those people get
back to work. JUDY WOODRUFF: I also want to ask you about
testing, Senator, because people are asking, how long is it going to take to get to where
the United States needs to be on testing? Right now, per capita, we are only about half
of where Germany is, and we're behind a number of other countries. What — when can Americans
look for testing to be where it needs to be? SEN. JOHN BARRASSO: We're getting closer. Dr. Fauci said we need about three million
tests a week. We're at about two million tests a week. We lost about six weeks by the delays
in the contamination from the Centers for Disease Control back in February and early
March. We're moving in the right direction. We're now at a point in Wyoming where we have
enough tests that we feel we can safely open, because we have the medical supplies, we have
the hospital beds, and we have the testing to make sure that, if there's a flare-up,
we will be able to detect it quickly.

We have been fortunate in Wyoming to not have
that many cases, only about 400. But the impact of this virus has hit everyone in America.
In Wyoming, it's hit us more from the economic standpoint than it has from the medical standpoint,
because it has flatlined our economy in terms of energy, in terms of agriculture, in terms
of tourism. And that's why people of Wyoming are so happy.
They want to get back to work, and we're going to get back to work tomorrow. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of the economy
and struggles that states are having, as you probably know, Democrats, as Speaker Nancy
Pelosi is saying — in fact, she said today, she's looking for there to be a need of up
to a trillion dollars aid in coming years to state and local governments hit hard by
this pandemic. Revenues are not coming in. At this point, Republicans are not on board
with that. And, in fact, your leader, Mitch McConnell, said just a few days ago he thinks
it's acceptable for states to think about bankruptcy. Where are you on this? SEN. JOHN BARRASSO: Well, he certainly got
everyone's attention with that statement, but I think that's much too early to go down
that line.

We had a conference of all of the Republicans
today by phone, talking specifically about the needs. We all know there are 30 million
Americans who are out of work today because of coronavirus. We know they are going to
need help. We want to do it in a way that is targeted and is temporary. It needs to be bipartisan, which is what we
had last time with the CARES Act, 96-0 in the Senate. But it has to focus on the impacts
of coronavirus. What we have said is, it's time to temporarily
push the pause button, to make sure that all of this $2.7 trillion that has been committed
is being used wisely. The states are asking for more money. The states just got $150 billion
last Tuesday. So, none of those states have had an opportunity
yet to see how far that's going to go, what the needs are. What we really need to do is
push the start button to get the economy moving again. And the sooner we can do that, Judy,
the better it's going to be for everyone.

So, my goal is to get the economy moving.
And this medical breakthrough, I think, is one of the big helpers to help us down that
line. JUDY WOODRUFF: In connection with all that,
as you know, a lot of complaints, a lot of criticism about the facts that businesses
that were big and successful have gotten big chunks of the money that has gone out that
was intended for small, struggling businesses. How confident are you that, going forward,
there are going to be the safeguards, the guardrails in place to make sure the money
goes to the people who need it? SEN. JOHN BARRASSO: No, I have heard the stories
and share the concerns of those people who have seen those reports of, whether it's the
L.A. Lakers or whoever getting it. In Wyoming, we have had over 7,000 loans to
small businesses, mom-and-pop small businesses, over $800 million. The program is working.
And it's going to need to continue to work to help get these people back to work and
make sure these businesses are there. The early goals were to just get the money
out as quickly as we could to try to keep people on the payroll.

This was such an overprescribed
program that what we saw is, it ran out of money and sat empty for about 10 days, while
the Democrats played politics and tried to get political leverage under Speaker Pelosi
and Chuck Schumer. That should have never been allowed to happen.
We now have this funded again. It is working for small businesses. And any business that
signed an affidavit that said, we need the money and it's coronavirus-impacted, they
are not going to have those loans forgiven if they really didn't need the money. And, rightly, a number of them that's been
pointed at have returned the money, so that can be used for the mom-and-pop small businesses
all across the country who really need it badly, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Senator, I want
to ask you about President Trump's leadership. You have certainly defended him. You have
said he's done a very good job of leading the country through this. But I just want to quickly quote something
he said at the end of February. He said, at this point, there were 15 people
in America who had died, He said: "This is going to be down close to zero. We have done
a pretty good job." Senator, here we are, two months later, more
than 61,000 Americans have died, over a million cases, a third of the cases in the world.
The president's son-in-law is saying it's a big success story.

How do you square this? SEN. JOHN BARRASSO: Well, Dr. Fauci, just
a couple of weeks ago, was talking about hundreds of thousands of Americans dying. The New York
Times talked about millions of Americans dying. The president has led from in front. He has
listened to the medical experts, to Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, has done that regularly. And I
believe he has now put the entire force of the United States government in this fight
against coronavirus. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
And the president is pointing that road to the future for a return to a healthy economy.
And the quicker we can get America back to work, the better. The president has a lot of things to balance,
national security, economic safety for the country, the physical safety of the country,
and he's continuing to work hard day to get that balance right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But he also said at the end
of February the country was close to zero. SEN. JOHN BARRASSO: Well, we know what the
numbers are today. And that's what I'm doing. We can spend a lot of time pointing fingers.
I know the House wants to put a commission together to go after the president. I want to focus, as a doctor and as a senator
for Wyoming, on getting Wyoming open again, getting businesses going, getting a strong,
healthy, robust economy back to place, and saving as many lives as we can in the process. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming,
joining us from Casper, thank you very much, Senator. SEN. JOHN BARRASSO: Thank you, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, the World Health Organization
hosted an emergency meeting. And the Trump administration once again blamed the WHO for
not being forthcoming about COVID-19. That comes as the president also said today
that he believes — without offering evidence — that the virus originated in a Chinese
laboratory, while the U.S.

Intelligence community said today that it had made no judgment on
that score. President Trump has frozen U.S. contributions
to the WHO. The U.S. has been the largest funder, paying more than 14 percent of the
WHO's budget, double the next largest individual country. But, as Nick Schifrin reports, the administration
blamed the WHO for echoing China, and the WHO says it's just doing its job. NICK SCHIFRIN: Today, in Geneva, the WHO's
director general led a rare emergency committee meeting to confront emergencies that are medical
and diplomat. MIKE POMPEO, U.S. Secretary of State: We shouldn't
pretend that because some organization has health in its title that it's actually capable
of delivering the outcomes that we need. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
They're literally a pipe organ for China. That's the way I view it. NICK SCHIFRIN: The administration argues the
WHO failed to warn the world about COVID-19 and failed to question China's incorrect initial
assessments of no human-to-human transmission.

DONALD TRUMP: We give $500 million. We have,
over the years, from 400 to 500, for a long time, for many years. And China is giving
$38 million. And yet they seem to work for China. NICK SCHIFRIN: WHO Director General Tedros
Ghebreyesus has pushed back, arguing he has to accept country's assessments, and the organization
did its job. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WHO Director General:
From the beginning, WHO has acted quickly and decisively to respond and to warn the
world. We sounded the alarm early, and we sounded it often. NICK SCHIFRIN: Here's the U.S. criticism:
Four times in early January, the WHO released statements and tweets repeating China's incorrect
claims and praising China's response, despite an early cover-up in Wuhan. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS: I'm declaring
a public health emergency of international concern. NICK SCHIFRIN: By January 30, Ghebreyesus
declared the organization's most urgent warning and continued praising of China. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS: The speed with
which China detected the outbreak, isolated the virus, sequenced the genome, and shared
it with WHO and the world are very impressive and beyond words.

NICK SCHIFRIN: The administration's critics
accuse President Trump of deflecting blame from his own failings, and note he too praised
China and the WHO early on. DONALD TRUMP: I think China is very professionally
run, in the sense that they have everything under control. I really believe they're going
to have it under control. We just sent some of our best people over
there, World Health Organization, and a lot of them are composed of our people. They're
fantastic. NARRATOR: Within the framework of the United
Nations, a new organization exists to promote the welfare of all people. NICK SCHIFRIN: In July 1948, the WHO was born
with an American director general and an agenda to help the sick across the world. NARRATOR: All peoples of every race and belief
will be helped by doctors from all races and nations. NICK SCHIFRIN: WHO has launched successful
polio campaigns in some of the world's most dangerous countries, like Syria, coordinated
and trained vaccine efforts going back to cholera, and battled diseases like Ebola in
the developing world.

Senior U.S. officials tell "PBS NewsHour"
they're looking to redirect money to other health organizations. But the U.S. might also
decide some WHO programs are irreplaceable, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday. MIKE POMPEO: If there is a function that only
the WHO can do, and we think it is important for American national security or because
we are good humanitarian partners around the world, I'm confident we will find a way to
deliver that outcome. NICK SCHIFRIN: So, is the Trump administration's
criticism of the WHO valid? For that, we get two views.

Dr. Michael Merson is professor of global
health at Duke University. He held a number of leadership positions at the WHO for 17
years, including directing their acute respiratory infections control program. And Lanhee Chen
is director of domestic policy studies at Stanford University. He also served in the
George W. Bush administration as a senior official at the Department of Health and Human
Services. Thank you very much. Welcome to the "NewsHour"
to you both. Dr. Merson, let me start with you. What do you make of the fundamental critique
of the WHO? Is it valid? DR. MICHAEL MERSON, Professor of Global Health,
Duke University: I think one can argue that the Chinese government didn't act fast and
strong enough to the appearance of this new coronavirus. They ignored some early signs, and they stifled
some whistle-blowers, and this needs to be looked into. But I think, from the standpoint of WHO, I
think they, for the most part, acted quickly and decisively. NICK SCHIFRIN: So, Lanhee Chen, what about
that? Did they act quickly and decisively? And, as we just reported, the Trump administration
said that they accepted China too much at face value.

LANHEE CHEN, Stanford University: Well, I
don't think there is any question that the WHO was more interested, in this case specifically,
of parroting what the Chinese government was telling it, as opposed to truly evaluating
the situation. Now, some will argue that's because of systemic
issues at the WHO, limitations on its own power and authority. And that may be. But
the fact remains that the WHO waited for 10 weeks between the first manifestation of symptoms
in Wuhan before even sending a group of individuals to go to the ground in China to investigate
what was going on. NICK SCHIFRIN: Dr. Merson, we just heard the
word parroting.

But the WHO argues it has to pass along what
its member countries give it. And, in this case, China wasn't giving it anything. And
when it did give the WHO some information, it was that there was no human-to-human transmission
in late December, early January. DR. MICHAEL MERSON: I think soon, within 48
hours of hearing about this coronavirus, WHO put the word out to institutions in 70 countries
about the presence of the virus. They then continued to hold almost daily briefings.
They sent information to countries, all of this in the first few weeks of January, about
the virus, how it was spread. They were able to share the genetic sequence of the virus,
so that countries could make diagnostic tests, even begin to make a vaccine.

They produced a booklet, information on how
you could even go ahead and make a PCR diagnostic test. The director general and his team went
to China to talk to the authorities there. And by the end of the month of January, they
had convened an emergency committee that had declared a public health emergency, which
is, under the international health regulations, the highest alert that WHO can issue. So I think, within a month, that's a very
impressive track record. NICK SCHIFRIN: So, Lanhee Chen, what about
that? From the time that China did officially declare something in late December, all the
way through late January, WHO took those steps, and the director general saying yesterday
and for the last couple of weeks that they sounded the alarm early and often.

LANHEE CHEN: Well, there were critical missteps
early as well that I think contributed, unfortunately, according to some scientific analysis, to
the spread of the virus much more widely and much more virulently than it had to. So, the early notation, for example, on January
14, essentially repeating China's claims regarding the virus not being transmissible between
humans, and, in fact, not even providing the same caveats that China provided at the time,
that was a crucial early mistake. The failure to, as I said earlier, investigate
more thoroughly until mid-February exactly what was happening on the ground, contrast
that, by the way, to how the WHO very forcefully addressed SARS back in 2002, when it sought
information from non-governmental sources, when it sought information on the ground,
when it actually provoked China to finally admit stuff was going on there in country
at the time.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Dr. Merson, when I talk to
administration officials, they emphasized that they're trying to get positive outcomes
and they want to reform of the WHO and to try and give the WHO more power to, for example,
not just repeat what China is telling them. Are those ideas for reform valid? Are they
possible? DR. MICHAEL MERSON: It's always a good idea
to see how U.N. agencies can be improved. WHO, over its history, has had various looks
at how its administrations and operations can be improved. But it's not time to do this
now. We are faced with the worst pandemic in the last 100 years. We have had mostly,
so far, our attention on initially China, Europe, United States. But the real fear is, this pandemic is now
going to really strike the low- and middle-income countries. There are over 110 of these. And
these countries depend on WHO for their technical advice, for their strategic thinking, for
their equipment, for supplies. And they need WHO. Their health systems are fragile. They don't
have equipment that they need. And they're going to get that from WHO. And there's a
projection from Oxford that there might be as many as 1.4 million deaths in the next
year in these low- and middle-income countries.

So, this is just not the time to break a key
lifeline that these countries have to keep their populations as healthy as they can be.
If we continue to have hot spots anywhere in the world, that's a threat to our own security,
and that, unless all countries are healthy, no country is safe from this pandemic. And by going after WHO now, we're basically
threatening our own global security. NICK SCHIFRIN: And, Lanhee Chen, what about
the idea that the timing is bad, that the WHO does things that it needs to be allowed
do in this pandemic, and also the criticism of President Trump? Should President Trump be blaming the WHO
for some of the mistakes that he's made? LANHEE CHEN: Well, undoubtedly, the WHO does
important work. And the WHO is not solely responsible for the pandemic outbreak.

But I think we have to take a cold look at
the numbers and realize that, of the U.S. contribution in 2018-'19 to the WHO, only
1.6 percent of our contribution went to pandemic preparedness and response. The notion that somehow the organization is
going to be crippled because the U.S. takes a pause in looking at how it wants to fund
and potentially reform the organization, in my mind, is a red herring. We need to continue to ensure the organization
is able to do what it does best, but that doesn't mean by continuing the status quo.
And as Secretary Pompeo noted in the opening piece, the U.S. is going to find a way to
ensure that critical needs are funded. But the idea that somehow pandemic response
is going to be curbed or going to be completely shut down because the U.S.

Takes a hold on
funding is untrue, given the numbers and given the actual contribution we make to the organization. NICK SCHIFRIN: Lanhee Chen, Dr. Michael Merson,
thank you very much. LANHEE CHEN: Thank you. DR. MICHAEL MERSON: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: In tonight's Brief But Spectacular,
author and former Hindu monk Jay Shetty has a message for those living alone during the
pandemic. He's currently leading a 20-day live meditation
series on Instagram, and his first book, "Think Like a Monk," will be out this fall. JAY SHETTY, Author, "Think Like a Monk": My
first message to anyone living alone at the moment is, I want you to know that you're
not alone. We often refer to loneliness as something
negative. And we look at it as a weakness. But when I lived as a monk, solitude is often
spoken of as a strength.

And so the first thing I'd recommend is finding one thing that
you can do every single day that brings you joy. It may be reading a book you love. It
may be looking at a beautiful piece of art. Doing one thing by yourself, for yourself,
that creates joy is such an important habit. Don't see social distancing as the end of
your social life. It's so important that we use the incredible technology at our disposal
to have more human connection. And ask for support when you need it. Don't
feel ashamed or embarrassed. We are all in this together. We're all experiencing it,
and we're all going to be there for each other. Some people are fearing the loss of work.
Some people are dealing with the loss of work. People are dealing with the loss of family
members or the rescheduling of procedures and surgeries that were already planned.

So, give people the time around you to accept
their loss. One of the best ways that we can experience
gratitude right now is to look through our phones at the 72,928 pictures that you have
taken. And take a moment to feel grateful for three things, the people in your life,
the places that you have visited, and the projects that you have worked on. During this pandemic, I believe that we're
going to get to see the best of humanity. Often, we think of change as being raising
a million dollars or helping 100,000 people. But true change, real change could be just
calling one person who you know is lonely every single day. It can be delivering some food to someone
who can't go out themselves. So, don't measure your impact by how many people you can help.
Measure it by how deeply you can help the people around you.

My name's Jay Shetty, and this is my Brief
But Spectacular take on why we're never really alone. JUDY WOODRUFF: Some very good advice. And you can find all our Brief But Spectacular
segments at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief. And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm
Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening.
For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon..

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