August 6, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
August 6, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: elusive relief. We're live with one of the White House's top
economic advisers to discuss what the president is prepared to do to help millions of unemployed
Americans in the pandemic.
Then: schools' dilemma. As the pandemic persists, an increasing number of districts opt for
remote learning, despite the challenges of learning from home.
And searching for justice. Small businesses owned by the formerly incarcerated are hit
particularly hard amid limited access to the Paycheck Protection Program.
QUAN HUYNH, Jade Janitors: I built my company since I came home from prison. My taxpaying
dollars and those of my employees are helping to support other small businesses throughout
this time, but why couldn't we qualify?
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
JUDY WOODRUFF: Fresh data tonight highlights the U.S. economy's deep scars from COVID-19
amid negotiations on a new government relief package.
Another 1.2 million people filed for state unemployment benefits last week. That is 20
straight weeks of more than a million claims.
The talks between the White House and Democrats include restoring federal jobless benefits,
but there is no agreement in sight.
We will hear from congressional correspondent, Lisa Desjardins, after the news summary.
The pandemic's nationwide toll in human lives is nearing 160,000, as confirmed cases approach
4.9 million. One of the latest to be infected is the governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine. He tested
positive today and canceled plans to greet President Trump in Cleveland this afternoon.
In Beirut, Lebanon, authorities have detained 16 employees at the city's port, as they investigate
Tuesday's catastrophic explosion. The blast killed at least 135 people, injured more than
5,000, and fueled a new wave of public fury.
Special correspondent Jane Ferguson reports on the day's developments.
JANE FERGUSON: After the massive blast destroyed much of Beirut, now comes the monumental clean-up.
Groups of volunteers are working together, salvaging what they can.
In some small way it helps distract from the trauma.
MAN (through translator): You can't feel anything in Lebanon. There's nothing to be sad about
or to think about.
JANE FERGUSON: The shatter of falling glass continues, as if the city keeps breaking.
The funerals of rescue workers began today, this one for a young female firefighter. Distraught
family and colleagues wept goodbye.
The scale of this tragedy has drawn the attention of the world. French President Emmanuel Macron
walked the streets of Beirut and was quickly mobbed by angry people.
"It's unacceptable. The corruption is unacceptable," a college student shouts at him.
"Help us. There is no future for our kids here," pleads another person.
France has led efforts to gather aid for Lebanon, in the grip of an economic collapse in recent
months. Now even more help will be needed.
EMMANUEL MACRON, French President (through translator): We will launch a European and
international initiative to bring money and help directly to people. All this fear, this
anxiety, the anger you have is against politicians and against corruption in the country.
JANE FERGUSON: Protests calling for justice have begun. Mass demonstrations against government
corruption and mismanagement have rocked Lebanon for nine months.
Now, with the blast seemingly caused by negligence, highly explosive chemicals carelessly left
in a warehouse, the fury is growing. America is sending help, too. General Frank McKenzie,
commander of U.S. Central Command, pledged continued support, including shipments of
food, water and medical supplies.
Even before this disaster, Lebanon was bankrupt and unable to afford food and fuel. Now several
hundred thousand of its people are homeless too, with a government incapable of helping
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jane Ferguson.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Today marked 75 years since the United States dropped the world's first
atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. It leveled the city and killed some 140,000 people.
Elderly survivors marked the event at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The pandemic
reduced turnout to fewer than 1,000. That's a fraction of past years.
We will return to Hiroshima later in the program.
New York state went to court today in a bid to dissolve the National Rifle Association.
The civil suit accuses top executives of siphoning millions of dollars in funds for personal
The state attorney general, Letitia James, says that it's a blatant violation of the
NRA's nonprofit status in New York, where the group is incorporated.
LETITIA JAMES, New York Attorney General: It's clear that the NRA has been failing to
carry out its stated mission for many, many years, and instead has operated as a breeding
ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The NRA called the suit a baseless attack on Second Amendment rights. President
Trump called it a terrible thing, and he suggested that the NRA move to Texas.
New campaign fund-raising numbers are in, and President Trump outpaced former Vice President
Biden last month. Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee reported taking in $165
million. The Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee brought in $140 million.
Still, the two campaigns now have almost the same amount of total cash on hand.
The U.S. Senate today voted unanimously to ban any use of the video sharing app TikTok
from federally issued devices. The House had already approved it. Lawmakers pointed to
TikTok's Chinese ownership, and said it raises national security concerns over data collection
by China. President Trump has threatened to ban TikTok outright.
And on Wall Street, stocks soared -- scored new gains and hit a new benchmark. The Dow
Jones industrial average was up 185 points, to close near 27387. The Nasdaq rose 109 points
to finish above 11000 for the first time, and the S&P 500 added 21.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": Congress and the White House struggle to counteract
the economic damage inflicted by COVID-19; an increasing number of school districts opt
for remote learning and all of its challenges; 75 years on, survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
say they're running out of time to pass on their message; and much more.
A deal on the next coronavirus relief package seems far from sight, as Democrats and Republicans
continue are still at an impasse on key issues.
Our Lisa Desjardins joins us now to report on where things stand.
So, Lisa, what do we know at this hour?
LISA DESJARDINS: Judy, hopes for a deal this week are very dim. There has been no real
progress between the two sides in the last 48 hours.
Though they have continued to meet, it doesn't seem like any side is giving in on some of
the key issues here. And, in fact, Republicans tonight and all day today, they are saying
that, if there is no deal, they are increasingly considering executive action by President
But, Judy, it's not clear exactly what President Trump would do. Perhaps he could initiate
a payroll tax cut of some sort, but that's not even popular with all of his own Senate
So, some Democrats think the executive action idea may be a bluff. It's not clear.
Judy, I can tell you right now the timeline seems to be moving away from this week and
into a potential deal next week. Republicans don't like that, but that seems to be where
we are. Overall, Judy, it's a staring contest at this moment over a dozen different issues.
And think about this. This -- these negotiations are probably the largest divide our two parties
have had in terms of dollar figures in modern American history. They are maybe $2 trillion
apart on what this deal needs to look like.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Lisa, let me ask you to drill down a little on one issue that I know
a lot of people care about, of course, and that's aid to schools.
What is known about the differences on that at this point?
LISA DESJARDINS: Right. It's worth looking at that.
Let's talk about the dollar figures, first of all. Republicans at this time are proposing
- - or Democrats, rather. Republicans are proposing $90 billion for schools. That's K-12 and higher
ed. Democrats have upped what they would like from their original ask in May. Now they are
requesting $345 billion.
They would divide it different ways. Republicans, in their offer right now, would like two-thirds
of that money for the K-12 schools to go to schools which reopened, so Republicans pushing
for reopening in some form.
Democrats instead would distribute that money by population. So, there, Judy, you see the
crux of the impasse right now. The two sides are divided over dollar figures by a large
amount and over philosophy over how to handle the coronavirus and reopening itself.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Such a frustrating moment in so many Americans watching these negotiations
Lisa, I know you will continue to. Thank you.
LISA DESJARDINS: You're welcome.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now, for the Trump administration's view of these negotiations, we are joined
by Larry Kudlow. He's the director of the National Economic Council.
Larry Kudlow, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
We just heard our Lisa Desjardins say this is like a staring contest. There doesn't seem
to be any tangible progress. What do you see? Do you see any -- the two sides any closer
LARRY KUDLOW, Director, National Economic Council: Well, thanks for having me back on,
Look, they are negotiating right now, as we talk. They're up on the Hill, Chief Mark Meadows,
Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, and the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership
of both houses and both parties. So they are talking.
I think it's fair to say that the tone has probably improved a bit. They are going through
a number of lists of items that divide them, see where compromises are possible.
But, no, I think the reporting was accurate. I don't think any deals have been made. Chief
Meadows has said, if nothing is achieved by Friday, we might conceivably walk away from
it. That is, the Trump people might walk away from it.
And the president has said repeatedly -- and he said it again today -- that he can do a
lot of important things on unemployment extensions, on preventing evictions, on a payroll tax
cut. He can do many things by executive order or presidential fiat. And he doesn't necessarily
need these negotiations.
So, we will see how it turns out. At the moment, I don't think I have much new to report.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about what the president is saying there.
Just clarify something, first of all. We heard Lisa say some Democrats say they think the
president is just bluffing about acting unilaterally. You're saying he's serious?
LARRY KUDLOW: I think he's quite serious.
And I myself have been engaged in a lot of the drafting of these orders, and particularly
the payroll tax cut. But we are, again, looking at the eviction stuff, student loans, and
various unemployment, employment reforms, and possibly added benefits for reemployment.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well...
LARRY KUDLOW: So, this is a very serious matter.
Right now, the lawyers up in the White House Counsel's office are poring over a payroll
tax cut draft.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about that, a number of things.
But, on the payroll tax cut, as you know, a number of Republicans oppose this. All the
Democrats oppose it. Does the president have the authority to cut the payroll tax, which,
after all, goes to Social Security and Medicare?
LARRY KUDLOW: Yes, of course.
But our lawyers think he does have the authority. A lot of people have the authority. Certainly,
as you know, we have deferred payment of the income tax.
In the legislation last March, there was a business side payroll tax holiday. A lot of
people think he has the authority to defer the payroll tax on the workers' side.
I don't think Republicans oppose it. I think the issue was rather lukewarm. I think, right
now, Republicans on the Hill are looking to put more economic growth incentives into a
I think many of them would welcome the payroll tax. It creates a terrific incentive for hiring,
for new employment, and for people to return back to work.
You know, if you tax something less, you will get more of it, and I think that thought is
uppermost in Republican minds.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I have actually heard several Republican senators say they're against
it, including, I believe, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell.
But what I want to ask you, also, about Larry Kudlow is unemployment benefits. The president
mentioned that he thought he might be able to do something by executive order. How would
he do that? Where would the money come from? I know there's some unspent money from what
was passed in the spring. Is that what the White House is looking at?
LARRY KUDLOW: There may be some repurposing of unspent funds, Judy.
I can't say. I'm not a lawyer. They're combing through a number of things. I don't want to
give away, I don't want to negotiate here. I'm just saying, it's something we are worried
about, first of all.
I mean, look, the economy is doing much, much better. We all still believe in the V-shaped
recovery. We had very news today on unemployment claims dropping for -- again. We have seen
a housing boom, a manufacturing boom, inventories at rock bottom.
It looks to us like a self-sustaining recovery. But there is still hardship, there is still
heartbreak, as we deal with the virus. And we want to make sure that people have a good,
constructive unemployment plan, with, I might add, added benefits for returning to work.
So we are looking at all that carefully.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, just to clarify, this is the 20th straight week when over a million
Americans have filed for unemployment benefits.
Over 30 -- what is it, 33 million Americans have lost their jobs. So, for you to say the
economy is doing better, I think, you know, that needs to be in perspective.
But I do want to ask you, are you saying that there's money that was appropriated that you're
saying the president, that the White House believes that he could then create unemployment
benefits, what, $600 a week, which is what was flowing up until last week?
LARRY KUDLOW: Well, I don't want to put numbers on it, and I don't want to give away any of
the legal drafts. I'm just saying it is something he is looking at very carefully, along with
the eviction and along with the payroll tax and along with some student loan breaks as
These are all part of what our counsel is looking at,Treasury, NEC, OMB and so forth.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And...
LARRY KUDLOW: And, yes, we have been very keen on that.
I just want to say one thing, Judy, though. I appreciate the context of the jobs. As I
said, there is still a good deal of hardship going on out there. However, jobs have come
back by nearly eight million in the last couple of months. Unemployment claims have fallen
substantially from the highs of this winter.
And a lot of people have gone back to work, and some of that was because of a bipartisan
rescue package last March, which really helped the job story and really helped deal with
Unfortunately, we can't seem to find anymore bipartisanship. And that is a problem, which
is leading the president to act on his own.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But I'm sure you don't deny that, until there's a vaccine, until there's
a -- some sort of a solution that is not in sight right now, many small businesses will
remain closed. Businesses are just not operating anymore and they can't employ people.
But, very quickly, Larry Kudlow, I want to ask...
LARRY KUDLOW: Well, I think, Judy, on that last point, if I may -- you know, you mentioned
Look, we have spent an inordinate amount of money on vaccine research. Right now, there
are six or seven companies that are in stage three, phase three of a vaccine, which are...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Correct, but it's...
LARRY KUDLOW: Experts are suggesting may come before the end of the year.
So, I'm really proud of that and hopeful and prayerful that we can get that done.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. And I know everyone shares that hope and that prayer.
But, just quickly, on the divide on schools, as you know, the Republican proposal is to
make two-thirds of that money contingent on schools being physically open, in-class experience.
A lot of teachers, a lot of parents just are not prepared to send their children back to
school. Why have, if you will, a punitive approach in terms of giving money to schools?
LARRY KUDLOW: Well, look, I mean, we have offered over $100 billion.
And so many groups -- I mean, there's divisions here, like everything else, but so many groups
of doctors and experts and psychologists and psychiatrists have said, the very best thing
for our kids is to get them back in school.
Now, there may be some mix that is acceptable, Judy, in terms of in the school, as well as
by computer. But, no, we think the overwhelming weight of the evidence is what's good for
the kids, K-12 in particular, get them back to school.
And, by the way, it has economic impact, because a lot of parents can't afford additional care
at home. So, from an educational standpoint, from a psychological standpoint, so many professional
groups have said, get those kids back to school.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
And in just a few words, how long is President Trump prepared to wait before he acts unilaterally
LARRY KUDLOW: Well, I will let him make that decision.
All I want to say to you this evening -- and I appreciate coming on the program -- is,
he's working very hard at it, and we're looking at all of our executive options.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Larry Kudlow with the Council of Economic Advisers, thank you very much.
LARRY KUDLOW: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Many schools -- speaking of schools -- around the country are changing
their plans, and they have decided to start the school year with distance learning. In
some cases, school districts have reversed course in just the past few weeks.
William Brangham is going to look at the dilemmas that school districts, teachers, parents and
public officials are all facing in two states.
But, first, let's hear from teachers, who have been grappling with their own tough choices.
This was produced by our Student Reporting Labs teams.
MICHELLE CORO, Teacher: Our school has really ambitious plans right now. They have decided
to use a hybrid, in that there is a plan for us to go back in person and a plan for students
to take classes online. It's ambitious and a little scary right now.
NANCY OZON MORENO, Teacher: I love my career. I want to go back to the classroom. I just
want it to be a safe classroom.
This is historic. We have never had a school year like this. So, the challenges are going
to range from my own child care, to my own health, to my mental health, to the students'
mental health, and just actually learning and engaging and feeling that this year is
LEIGH WALTERS, Teacher: My husband has heart disease. I really worry about bringing the
virus home to him. So, I have really had to think about what decision I will make if we
do go back in person, because I might need to take a year off from teaching. And that's
been -- that's been tough.
LAURA NEGRI, Teacher: I have thyroid issues, which complicate everything. There's so many
things you have to become conscious of in a situation now, like touching your face.
And it's kind of frustrating for me, because I'm sure my students are the same way. And
we get in the classroom, and that's a concern I have. Nobody's going to do anything wrong.
We are just going to forget something.
DONNA GRIFFIN, Teacher: There is a lot of people saying, we shouldn't go back to school
or we should go back to school. And what I know is that education has needed some kind
of an earthquake for a very long time.
I think that we need to learn from this time, and fundamentally change, make it more equitable
and make it better for everyone.
KRISTA MCKIM, Teacher: Our county released a 16-page document to the teachers about a
week ago, and then it was released to the community, and it was over 20 pages at that
point in time.
There's a lot of debate going between the county and the families and the teachers union.
SARAH HAMILTON, Teacher: Teaching in a remote world is hard. Like many educators, I have
been working 10-12 hour days preparing classes for online.
RAEF WILLIAMS, Teacher: A point of difficulty is student engagement. When school is not
in person, when you are not physically with the kids, it's really hard to build a relationship.
It's really hard to get them connected and wanting to do more, do more.
DENNIS MADRIGAL, Teacher: The other big concern that I have is student accountability. Our
district had this policy where no student was allowed to receive anything less than
a D. We had countless students that would have applied themselves further.
JULIE TIEDENS, Teacher: Sometimes, a lot of our students do have socioeconomic -- are
from a lower socioeconomic group, and that makes it difficult often for them to have
access to the Internet.
KRISTA MCKIM: I don't know how it's going to look. And that is so hard to just say,
I don't know. And I, as a teacher, and teachers in general are flexible, and they're adaptable,
and we will make it work no matter what happens. And we just got to keep the students right
in front of us.
LISETTE OLER, Teacher: I think the best possible thing to hope for is that my students know
that I care for them and that I'm there for them, even if I'm not physically in the classroom,
that I care that they have an education, even if that education is different in form.
LAURA NEGRI: I don't know what else we can do, other than say, hey, this is the plan
for right now, and when the plans change, I will let you know.
MARGIE RAPER, Teacher: This is a situation we can't control. And if we can give ourselves
grace, and we can model to our students resiliency, we're going to be OK. It's not going to be
perfect, but we're going to take care of each other.
MICHELLE CORO: I hope that we go back to school safe, sound, and healthy and that this just
becomes part of our history that we are able to tell people about some day.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Some of those concerns that you just heard are part of the reason why
school districts nationwide are changing course.
In Indianapolis, families and students had been told that they would soon be returning
to in-person teaching. That changed last Thursday, when officials announced that all classwork
will be done virtually, at least until October.
To help us understand more about that decision, I am joined by the superintendent of Indianapolis
public schools, Aleesia Johnson.
Superintendent, very nice to have you on the "NewsHour."
Help us understand what it is that you saw going on in your community that made you want
to say, whoa, we got to change course.
ALEESIA JOHNSON, Superintendent, Indianapolis Public Schools: Sure. Thanks for having me.
The decision really for us came down to what we saw happening in our community more broadly.
We know and understand that schools are not in bubbles, we're not in isolation, we are
a part of our greater community.
And we were concerned that we saw the positivity rates in our community going up, and not coming
down, and were really concerned about what that meant in terms of the impact it would
have on our students and families returning to school with a pretty high rate of community
spread at this point.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, you see the virus spreading in your community at levels that you didn't
like, and you say, OK, we're not going to be in person, we're going to go virtual.
That obviously changes what the teachers have to do. How did they respond to this change
ALEESIA JOHNSON: I think that we said in June, as you said earlier, that we were going to
return in person, and so our educators were getting ready for that.
But we also said that we were going to always be responsive to what was happening in terms
of the health data in our community. So, they were certainly ready to take that pivot, as
they needed to do and they have been able to do.
I also think there has been, overall, a feeling of relief of knowing that we are concerned
about the safety of our staff and students foremost, and that they be in a situation
where they can teach comfortably and safely for the time being.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And how was that received by the parents? I mean, obviously, as a parent
myself, every parent wants their child to be safe when they go to school, but it's very
hard to hold down a job if your kids are still at home.
How did they take this decision?
ALEESIA JOHNSON: I mean, you know, that's one of the things that is heaviest on my mind
during this time.
I knew that, in making a recommendation to go fully virtual to our board, and our board
signing on and agreeing with that, that you can't deny the fact that that creates burden
for working families, who now need to make (AUDIO GAP) decisions (AUDIO GAP) choices.
So, I -- on the one hand, we have had a number of parents, again, be very supportive of that
decision and, again, feel good about the district's position on keeping students and staff safe.
But I also know that there is a burden on a number of our working families who are having
to make other accommodations for their children. And that is incredibly challenging and hard.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A lot of students and a lot of parents and I think a lot of teachers
would acknowledge that the distance learning this last go-round was difficult. There was
a lot of steep learning curve for everybody involved.
What is your -- how will you -- how do you think that will improve when we try this again
in the fall?
ALEESIA JOHNSON: Well, I think we have had, first of all, more time during the last several
weeks to plan for the possibility of being all virtual, which we knew was going to be
a potential scenario, even as we were planning for the other ways in which our students might
For us, for example, we were not a one-to-one school district, meaning one device per student,
in March. And so we had a mixture of devices for high school students, paper and pencil
for elementary students, which obviously makes it quite challenging to have live instruction,
real-time instruction happening.
We are now a one-to-one district. Every student will have a device. We have purchased a number
of hot spots for our students who still need Internet access, so that at least we have
those fundamental tools available.
And then we have also been engaging with our teachers, who, obviously, were not trained
to teach school in a virtual environment, and a lot of professional development to make
sure that they are comfortable in thinking about the ways in which their instruction
shifts from being in-person into that virtual environment.
So, I know we will have bumps along the way, I fully expect that. We will all be navigating
these new experiences together. But we feel much more prepared now, prior to, you know,
March, when we had to sort of flip everything on a dime.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What will it take for you to feel confident that you can bring kids
back into school?
ALEESIA JOHNSON: So, we're talking regularly with the director of our local public health
department and taking her guidance under consideration, obviously.
We have also, as a district, set our metrics at looking at the 5 percent positivity rate
over a 14-day period, seeing that average of 5 percent as being an important indicator
for us to know that we can more safely return students into our classrooms, into our school
So, we're really committed to making sure, until we get to that point, that we have a
high-quality virtual experience and learning environment for our students to have during
these first few weeks of the school year.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Aleesia Johnson, superintendent of the Indianapolis Public
Schools, good luck and thank you very much for being here.
ALEESIA JOHNSON: Thank you so much for having me.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Speaking of schools and difficult decisions, we wanted to widen our
focus to look at another state that is also dealing with a very serious outbreak.
Mississippi is one of the nation's worst hot spots, and has been for several weeks. It
is among the worst in the country when it comes to confirmed cases per 100,000 people.
And it has very high positive test rates. Hospitalizations and deaths are also up.
Two days ago, Governor Tate Reeves issued a statewide mandate on wearing masks in public
I'm joined now by Dr. Thomas Dobbs. He is Mississippi's chief health officer.
Dr. Dobbs, thank you very much for being here.
We just heard from the superintendent in Indianapolis about the difficulty they're happening, opening
I know a few days ago you said that you were urging Mississippi schools not to open, and
you said cases would soar even more if they did.
How did that message go over?
DR. THOMAS DOBBS, Mississippi State Health Officer: You know, I think it went over well.
I think it does reflect a lot of people's concern in our state about opening schools
in the context of having such high community transmission. It's not something that other
countries have done or other places have really tried to open up schools, in-person classes,
and certainly not full-on traditional school, in the setting of so many kids who are going
to have it coming in.
And we have learned pretty quickly. We do have a school system in North Mississippi,
in Corinth, Mississippi, that has a really good plan. They do have online options.
But I think 80, 85 percent of the kids were coming in-person. And White House the first
week or so, we had eight cases.
Now, it's not eight cases that were transmitted amongst kids or the teenagers that were at
the school. But there's just so much out there in the community. When you bring these folks
in, they're just going to bring it in with them.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And I know that the governor had said that he would close or ask schools
in certain particular hot spots in Mississippi to close, but didn't want to try to ask them
statewide to do the same.
Do you wish he had taken your advice on that and just asked all schools to go remote initially?
DR. THOMAS DOBBS: You know, in Mississippi, we do defer a lot of authority to the local
school districts like some states.
But we have spoken with the different school boards across the state. I personally recommended
that they delay in-person school opening. And we will be sending out additional conversations
with them to try to make sure that they understand that we feel strongly that they need to delay
school opening, if possible.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As we are learning more and more about this virus and how it spreads,
it certainly seems that indoor close contact between individuals is how this virus gets
That's bars, restaurants, gyms, any time people congregate inside, a lot of which are open
in Mississippi still. Why are those places - - given what we know now, why are those places
still open in your state?
DR. THOMAS DOBBS: You know, there are significant restrictions. And I think some of them make
a lot of sense.
With the bars, essentially, you can only serve drink in a restaurant style, where people
are sitting down. We do have a reduced capacity at 15 -- at 50 percent. So, might could be
lower, but that's kind of where we are.
But, to be honest, when we investigate the cases -- and I have been investigating some
personally to have that sort of -- that personal sort of conversation with people to see where
they're getting it, mostly, where people are getting coronavirus are at social events that
fall outside of the public sphere.
It's going to be a wedding shower. It's going to be a birthday party for 15 people. It's
going to be a funeral. It's going to be a few people went out for drinks, or -- and
the big one we're seeing are family get-togethers among extended families. Say, cousins are
in town, or so and so came in from out of town, and the extended family gets together.
indoors and outdoors, we do have a lot of transmission outdoors to where we see our
greatest vulnerability. We have also heard a good deal of concern about hospitals being
able to take care of a surge in cases. How are the hospitals in Mississippi doing and
the ICUs? So are you guys doing OK so far? Well, it's a stress, it's been very difficult
When people let their guard down in these social circumstances, indoors and outdoors
- - we do have a lot of transmission outdoors too -- where we see our greatest vulnerability.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We have also heard a good deal of concern about hospitals being able
to take care of a surge in cases.
How are the hospitals doing in Mississippi and the ICUs? Are you guys doing OK so far?
DR. THOMAS DOBBS: Well, it's a stress. It's been very difficult to maintain the capacity.
We have been working very closely with our health systems, and they have really done
a fantastic job of surging up and basically creating new intensive care space. We have
almost 400 COVID patients in intensive care in Mississippi. And this is in the context
of a health system that had very little flexibility or surge capacity in hospital space anyway.
So they have done really a great job. But we're really sort of hitting up at the brim.
We really need the community to focus on limiting transmission, not doing those things that
we know will spread disease. We're very excited to have a statewide mask mandate.
We do notice, as public health folks, more compliance. But it's going to take some sustained,
focused compliance with these simple measures that we know will work, you know, space, a
mask, and small groups or no groups, and -- before we're really going to have any relief.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer of Mississippi, thank
you very much, and good luck out there.
DR. THOMAS DOBBS: Thank you for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As we mentioned earlier, today marks 75 years since the atomic bombing of
Hiroshima. Another blast hit Nagasaki three days later.
More than 200,000 Japanese died in the two attacks. The horrifying aftermath has been
told and retold by survivors through the years.
The youngest of them are today in their late 70s and 80s. Now a younger generation is trying
to ensure those memories are not lost.
Special correspondent Grace Lee in Hiroshima has the story.
GRACE LEE: In a room full of his peers, 17 year-old Niho Ishibashi asks an important
NIHO ISHIBASHI, Student: How will young people learn the truth about Hiroshima now?
GRACE LEE: He learned about the horror from his great uncle, a survivor of the Hiroshima
bombing who lost his eyesight due to the blast.
NIHO ISHIBASHI: When August 6 is coming, I often go to his house and hear testimony,
GRACE LEE: Now Ishibashi is sharing that testimony with his high school peace studies class.
It's a regular part of the curriculum for many schools in Hiroshima, different from
the rest of Japan.
Takeda High School's program was developed by vice principal Muneo Hotta.
MUNEO HOTTA, Vice Principal, Takeda High School: My father was a bomb victim. So I'm second
generation of Hibakusha.
GRACE LEE: Hibakusha is the Japanese word for survivors of the atomic bombings. With
their numbers dwindling, the race against time to preserve their memories has been a
rallying cry for young people in Hiroshima.
SHUNTA YAMANQUE, Student: I would like to do something that I can keep Hibakusha stories
in the future.
GRACE LEE: Some have found unique ways to do just that.
At Fukuyama Technical High School's computer club, students are working with virtual reality,
under the watchful eye of their teacher, Katsushi Hasegawa. They let me experience their project
firsthand. With a headset and some earphones, I'm transported to Hiroshima in 1945 before
the city is bombed.
KATSUSHI HASEGAWA, Teacher, Takeda High School (through translator): We want people to know
what happens when nuclear weapons are used. People tend to think about using it to attack
others, but nobody thinks about what it's like to have the bomb explode right above
GRACE LEE: Students here understand that message, especially when they're able to stand right
on top of ground zero.
YUITO KAKIHARA, Student (through translator): There's a park there now, but the site of
the bombing used to be a town called Nagashima Honmachi.
I hope that, by knowing that town existed and seeing it there through V.R., people will
be able to feel the reality of the atomic bombing.
SENA HIRAKAWA, Student (through translator): It's awful to see that a place so beautiful
could be turned into a pile of rubble like that. When you watch the moment of the bombing
in the V.R. program, it happens in a second. There's a blinding light, and everything is
GRACE LEE: The students aim show their project to as many survivors as possible, in hopes
of creating a more accurate version of a pre-bombing Hiroshima.
Education about the bombings starts as early as elementary school in Hiroshima. This elementary
school tells a story on its own. Located about a third-of-a-mile away from the bombings epicenter,
the school's west wing was the only structure left standing after August 6, 1945.
It was used as a relief station for survivors. This part of the school is now a museum. Several
of its walls served as message boards for victims trying to reach loved ones.
YACHIYO HARADA, Guide (through translator): This is a note from one teacher to another,
saying that a badly burnt student undergoing treatment has become orphaned.
GRACE LEE: Students here make paper cranes every year for the museum. They were seen
as symbols of hope after the bombing.
YACHIYO HARADA (through translator): Students know about what happened here. They learn
about it in peace studies. The fifth and sixth graders are even trained to be guides for
GRACE LEE: Hiroshima Archive is another massive feat by local students. It relied on student
volunteers to gather messages from A-bomb survivors and put them onto a digital archive.
So, the app shows you where survivors were at the moment of impact. So, if you take a
look here, you can see we're standing right where this survivor, Michiko Takano, was on
that day. And if you click their names, you can see their testimony. This is hers.
"At that moment, there was a flash, as if someone had lit a huge amount of magnesium
on fire. And the house was blasted to pieces. For a moment I thought, our house was hit
directly with an incendiary bomb. But when I looked around, the whole city was destroyed,
and I saw people covered in gray ash standing in a daze on street corners. It was like seeing
a scene from hell."
This year, ceremonies marking the anniversary of the bombings have been scaled back due
to COVID-19. And for survivors like Setsuko Thurlow, the pandemic has been a difficult
SETSUKO THURLOW, A-Bomb Survivor (through translator): You know, when I saw a pile of
dead bodies of the COVID-19 victims, that reminded me of what I experienced in Hiroshima
75 years ago.
GRACE LEE: She still remembers vividly what it was like when the bomb hit her hometown.
SETSUKO THURLOW: Although it happened in the morning, it was dark like twilight. And as
my eyes got used to the situation, I started seeing some moving dark objects nearing me.
And that was the procession of injured people. Their -- parts of their bodies were missing.
The hair was all burnt and standing up. And the skin and flesh were hanging down off the
bones. They were bleeding, burnt, blackened, and swollen.
GRACE LEE: Thurlow is an activist and a leading figure for the International Campaign to Abolish
Nuclear Weapons. Her advice to young people: Reach out to local politicians.
SETSUKO THURLOW: Get in touch with them. Let them know how you feel. I think you deserve
the decent future waiting for you. Your lives are just starting. You deserve better.
GRACE LEE: Her message is well-received in Hiroshima, where the next generation has already
been planting their seed.
MUNEO HOTTA: Hibakusha is passing away a lot year by year. So, we should keep this memory,
this idea for a long time.
GRACE LEE: And the generation after that is well on their way.
NIHO ISHIBASHI: I'd like to spread any countries what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
GRACE LEE: On August 6, 1945, 150,000 lives were lost in Hiroshima.
Three days later, another 75,000 people were killed in Nagasaki; 75 years have passed,
but their deaths are still fresh on the minds for many here every summer. And every year,
new voices are speaking up on their behalf.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Grace Lee in Hiroshima.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Businesses hit by the pandemic have received hundreds of billions of dollars
in loans since the Paycheck Protection Program opened for applications about four months
But, as our economics correspondent Paul Solman discovered, accessing that funding has been
a challenge for business owners with a criminal record.
This report is part of our new series, Searching For Justice.
QUAN HUYNH, Jade Janitors: I went to prison for a murder.
SHARON RICHARDSON, Just Soul Catering: I was charged with murder in the second degree.
I was charged with killing my abuser.
DONTAE THOMAS, Team Chizel Fitness: I was incarcerated for selling crack cocaine.
PAUL SOLMAN: Meet Quan Huynh, Sharon Richardson and Dontae Thomas, among them, more than four
decades behind bars, but since coming home, successful entrepreneurs.
Dontae Thomas runs a one-man personal training business in New Jersey, begun, in a sense,
with fellow inmates during his 11-year stint.
DONTAE THOMAS: I would train them for a dollar a day in there, and that's how I got good.
I started learning more about the body. So I learned more about nutrition, supplements.
So, I'm like, all right, I get good at my craft. I can utilize this when I go home.
So, every day I would just study for 12, 16 hours a day.
PAUL SOLMAN: Released in 2017, Thomas' Team Chizel built up to almost 40 clients. Quan
Huynh, in for 16 years, began working on the cleaning crew at the prison hospital.
QUAN HUYNH: So, I knew about sanitizing. I know about cleaning. I know about blood-borne
pathogens. So it just gave me an extra eye for detail.
Six months after I had been home, I saw an opportunity of a building that needed a cleaning
company. And I just created a company and got the e-mail of the building owner and e-mailed
him. And that was when we got our first contract.
PAUL SOLMAN: His Jade Janitors in Anaheim, California, cleans office buildings, TV studios,
and restaurants. His main labor pool, ex-convicts.
Same for Sharon Richardson, who launched Just Soul Catering in New York after she came out.
SHARON RICHARDSON: We hire, you know, women to come and actually work with us so that
they don't have to feel that stigma or feel judged about being incarcerated. That's not
something that I ask.
I just need to know, can you cook? Are you friendly? Can you work with a smile? Do you
love people? Do you love food?
PAUL SOLMAN: Actually, Richardson and Huynh think those who've done hard time become better
SHARON RICHARDSON: Formerly incarcerated people just come with a passion. And the reason why
we come with a passion is because we just want to be accepted.
QUAN HUYNH: They're resourceful. They're loyal. They're go-getters. They go the extra mile
to work. I mean, the vast majority of them are just looking for a second chance.
PAUL SOLMAN: Moreover, says Dontae Thomas, a lot of convicted felons have serious business
skills, however ill-gotten, like what he learned dealing crack.
DONTAE THOMAS: It was illegal. It was wrong. But it taught me how to actually be a businessman
today. It taught me actual numbers. I had to deal with numbers. I had to deal -- with,
basically, like, I'm employing people, because the way -- what I was doing in the streets
myself was like I almost had employees working for me.
PAUL SOLMAN: OK, so we have got felons who turned their sword skills into profitable
ploughshares, hire ex-cons, whose unemployment rate is seven times the average.
They're thriving entrepreneurs who actually seem rehabilitated. And then along came COVID.
The pandemic cost Thomas most of his clients. Huynh laid off four workers. Richardson's
And so, like hundreds of thousands of others, they turned to the paycheck protection program,
or PPP, part of the government's stimulus package. There was one not-small problem.
The Small Business Administration's PPP form asked about applicants' criminal status.
Facing charges? On probation or parole? Convicted or pleaded guilty to a felony in the past
five years? It even asked about pre-trial diversion. If the answer was yes to any of
these questions, SBA application denied.
DONTAE THOMAS: It's like, oh. Then you're like, oh, that's where the heart drops and
you're, like, well, that don't apply to me.
QUAN HUYNH: Right when I clicked yes, the computer just grayed out. I couldn't hit next.
And I realized, OK, that means I don't qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program.
PAUL SOLMAN: Were you surprised?
QUAN HUYNH: Yes, I was surprised. I was discouraged. I'm a small business owner. I built my company
since I came home from prison. And my taxpaying dollars and those of my employees are helping
to support other small businesses throughout this time. But why couldn't we qualify?
PAUL SOLMAN: Sharon Richardson applied for multiple loans.
SHARON RICHARDSON: I never heard from them. And, to be honest, it did cross my mind, kind
of like, you know, maybe I'm not hearing from them because they did a background check on
me and realized that I'm a formerly incarcerated individual, and they're like, we're not giving
this loan to her.
PAUL SOLMAN: Not to her, nor even to those facing just misdemeanor charges.
Of course, not getting loans, or even jobs, has long been a barrier for ex-inmates. Literally,
tens of thousands of laws in the U.S. still stand in their way. But a government program
to revive the economy barred basically everyone in the criminal justice system?
ANDREW GLAZIER, President and CEO, Defy Ventures: They have managed to start a business. They're
making good. They're employing other people.
PAUL SOLMAN: Andrew Glazier run Defy Ventures, a post-prison entrepreneurship program.
ANDREW GLAZIER: Why does it make sense for us to prevent them from getting the same aid
as every other small business owner? This is somebody who is paying taxes, paying wages.
PAUL SOLMAN: Helping keep the economy afloat.
In June, the SBA changed the application language, once after lawmaker criticism, and then again
after Defy Ventures, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the government.
Now the application only asks about current felony charges and besides certain financial
crimes, about felony convictions, guilty pleas and parole or probation going back just one
ANDREW GLAZIER: I don't know how they came up with that to be the rules. I just have
no idea. And, frankly, they obviously had no idea either because they changed it as
soon as it was challenged.
PAUL SOLMAN: Why the restrictions in the first place?
We asked the SBA. A spokesman declined comment.
But, for Sharon Richardson, the application change was vital. She reapplied and got her
loan. She's been cooking for essential workers, hospitals and needy residents in New York
Quan Huynh also successfully reapplied. He offered four former employees their jobs back.
Two returned, both ex-inmates. He's pivoted to sanitization against COVID, and his business
has now actually grown. Dontae Thomas has tried everything.
DONTAE THOMAS: We ain't giving up. No excuses.
PAUL SOLMAN: Facebook and Zoom training, even selling Team Chizel apparel. And what about
his PPP application?
DONTAE THOMAS: I haven't even looked back into it. It discouraged me from even trying
to file for it, to tell you the truth. Every time you go back, you know, you think you
get a second chance, but it's always what you did in the past that keep coming up.
PAUL SOLMAN: It turned out he had no idea the application had changed.
Let me be the first to tell you, you should reapply, because they have changed the rules.
DONTAE THOMAS: OK, so I will definitely look into that now.
PAUL SOLMAN: And maybe he, too, will be back in business.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Paul Solman.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The signs of systemic racism often appear in small daily actions.
Author Dawn Turner shares her humble opinion on why the incidents that don't make headlines
need to be examined too.
This is also part of our ongoing Race Matters series.
DAWN TURNER, Author, "An Eighth of August": My nephew, who's Black, is 22 years old and
6'9''. He's been stopped by the police twice for minor traffic violations.
When he was asked to step out of his car, he did so with this warning: "I'm getting
out, sir, but I want you to know that I'm really tall."
In both cases, the officers smiled, taking in his height. My nephew breathed a sigh of
relief. Both encounters were good ones. And yet we, his family, worry: What happens if
he runs into an officer unwilling to give him the benefit of the doubt, one who simply
wants to cut him down to size?
Black people know that there are good police officers out there. We want to believe that
there are only a few bad apples. But imprinted on our brains are decades upon decades of
painful images of encounters with the police, officers siccing dogs on protesters. Rodney
King being beaten, engulfed in a flurry of batons, and, in this cell phone era, videos
of men, women and children dying at the hands of the police.
We know that there are good officers. But we are terrified by the police, and not only
because of the ones who inflict lethal harm, but because of the ones who intimidate, who
humiliate, who wield their power in ways that may not cause bodily injury, but are harmful
Black people, like everybody else, want law and order. And those who live in the toughest
zip codes need both the most. So, even though we know that there are good police officers,
they're not the ones we imagine when we sit our children down and give them the talk.
They're not the ones we contemplate, even in our most desperate moments, when we have
to decide whether our desperation is worth dialing 911. That's because we are unsure
what type of officer will answer.
We pray for the day when we encounter the police and won't have to worry about our height,
our hoodie, our hair, our hands, or our blackness.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Dawn Turner, we thank you for giving us that to think about.
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.
More Episodes (238)
September 28, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episodeSeptember 28, 2020
September 27, 2020 - PBS NewsHour Weekend full episodeSeptember 27, 2020
September 25, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episodeSeptember 25, 2020
September 24, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episodeSeptember 25, 2020
September 23, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episodeSeptember 23, 2020
September 22, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episodeSeptember 22, 2020