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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here`s what`s coming up.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This state has been shut down long enough.
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AMANPOUR: A coronavirus politics drowning out common sense health policy amid organized anti-lockdown protests? I speak to Connecticut senator,
Then, the British government under fire for failing to act quickly enough. The former health minister, Anna Soubry, joins me.
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JOHN B. KING, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE EDUCATION TRUST: We`ve got to invest in our kids. That`s the future of our economic well-being and the future of
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AMANPOUR: Out of school and struggling to eat. America`s former education secretary, John King Jr. tells our Hari Sreenivasan about the crisis facing
And more men continue to die from coronavirus. Best-selling author, Dr. Sharon Moalem, tells us why.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I`m Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
Anti-lockdown demonstrators took to the streets across America this weekend. Demonstrators in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Washington and other
states demanding that governors reopen their frozen economies. It`s a sign of the times as coronavirus becomes part of the fabric of President Trump`s
re-election campaign. The president appeared to back Conservative activists who led these protests urging people on Twitter to “liberate” their states.
In some areas, medical staff held counter protests.
Now, these are shocking images and this is a troubling story in the midst of a dangerous global pandemic. But, it`s important to note that a majority
of Americans do not stand with those protesters. A new poll from NBC and “The Wall Street Journal” shows that nearly 60 percent of people fear
easing lockdown rules too soon.
Meantime, Congress is negotiating another $450 billion to support small businesses and taxpayers. My guest Democratic senator for Connecticut,
Chris Murphy, is staying in Washington to do the peoples` business. And he joins me now.
Thanks for joining me from your home in Washington.
And I just want to know what you think about this, I think it`s a third or fourth of these big bills that are going through, is this targeted to the
right people? Will it get to them quickly enough? And when do you think it`s going to be voted on?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, thanks for having me. This legislation that we are right now crafting is really just an amendment, an adjustment,
to the prior $2 trillion bill. This bill is designed to replenish the account that is keeping small businesses alive. Right now, if you are a
small business you can apply for a grant up to $10 million in order to keep your employees with you throughout this crisis. That money ran out last
week. We need to replenish the account.
We also need to make some adjustments to it. We have heard and I have heard personally that a lot of very small businesses have not been made eligible
for those dollars or at least, are being forced to wait in line behind bigger clients of the private banks that are actually distributing the
money. And then we also need to do something about the fact that testing is flatlined in this country. Testing right now needs to grow. It probably
needs to double over the course of the next few weeks in order to be able to make the tough decisions to reopen the economy and this, sort of,
interim package will have some funding to increase testing capability.
So, we`re constantly trying to make adjustments to keep the economy afloat and to make sure that we are getting out ahead of this virus. And
hopefully, will have the latest legislative package sown up sometime early, middle of this week.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, because the testing is one big, big issue for unlocking the lockdown. But as you can see as we pointed out, and
obviously you have been watching for several days now, there are these protests being organized against Democratic governors, some of them are
Republican governors, who are, you know, enacting their lockdown mandate.
Can you tell me how you assess what`s happening on the street? Is it something that is going to potentially, you know, reach a tipping point
that potentially might cause governors to want to ease the lockdown sooner rather than later or sooner than the scientists say is the right time?
MURPHY: Well, I mean, these are fringe protests and they`re made for TV. So, they obviously get a lot of attention but Americans don`t support
opening up our economies right now. You read a statistic that suggests 60 percent of Americans are worried about opening up too early. But if you ask
people whether they support opening the economy today, that number would be well north of 60 percent.
And so, you know, I worry that, you know, there`s interest in covering conflict and this looks like conflict but this is a very small percentage
of Americans that are calling for the reopening of America today, even as public health experts tell us that that would be catastrophic, leading to
hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Of course the risk is that President Trump starts to get behind these protests and if he does more than send out an occasional tweet in support
of them, if he becomes a full-throated defender of these protests, then all of a sudden, that number could move from, you know, 10 percent support to
20 percent or 30 percent support and then you do have a legitimately political problem, but we are not there yet.
AMANPOUR: Well, look, it is interesting because even, as I said, you know, it`s affective some Republican governors, Larry Hogan of Maryland, he`s
been a target of these small protests. He says, “It is not helpful for President Trump to encourage demonstrations against his own policy.” But
how do you assess the word liberate? I mean, that is a pretty dramatic word to use. It just is. Liberate your state. Conjures all sorts of images,
frankly. I don`t even want to go there.
MURPHY: Well, and in one of those tweets he used the word liberate and then quickly followed up with a suggestion that the liberation should be
connected to the protection of Second Amendment rights, which, of course, an invitation for citizens to engage in armed rebellion against their
Listen. The president is treading on very dangerous ground. He is encouraging, in some cases, the armed revolt of citizens against the
government. And as you mentioned, the president is encouraging people to revolt against the very policies that his administration is recommending.
So, as usual, the president wants to have it both ways. He wants to stand at these press conferences and tell the American people that he is
listening to the public health experts. But then, in the early morning and late nights, he goes on to social media and encourages the very people who
are resisting his government`s recommendations to keep up that resistance.
This is about what you`d expect from this president. It`s irresponsible, it`s reckless, it`s unconscionable but governors are having to maneuver
around a president who is just giving wildly inconsistent messages.
AMANPOUR: I`m going to get to the politics of this a little bit later because I want to stick with the science and the very real necessities for
protection right now. The president has also said recently that testing is up to the states to get up and running. Do you agree? And if that is the
case, how are some of the states doing?
I mean, we hear that one state made an independent negotiation with a South Korean firm to get lots and lots of testing into his state. Can you tell me
when`s happening in your state? I know you`re not the governor, you`re the senator. But how is it — how are you doing with infections, with deaths
and with trying to get the right equipment and testing for your front-line workers?
MURPHY: We`re struggling in Connecticut. I spent much of this morning talking to my governor and governor`s office about trying to get more
testing capability into our state. We are competing with other states. We are competing with other hospital systems to try to get some of these new,
faster testing machines into Connecticut. And the reality is that right now it`s kind of the hunger games out there. It is lord of the flies. Every
state competing against each other and there`s no way to do the kind of testing we need to do nationally without a national approach.
What we know is that we have the ability to probably do twice as many tests as we are today but there are shortages and surpluses all in the wrong
places today. And so, the reason we need a national approach is because that way the federal government can find the place where there`s an excess
of swabs and get those swabs to the place where there is a deficit of swabs. But it`s hard for the State of Connecticut to be able to understand
the national inventory of the equipment necessary to do more testing. That`s why the federal government has to step in here and that`s why I
think this legislation that we`re contemplating right now will require the federal government to do that.
AMANPOUR: OK. But one of the fellow senators, Angus King, independent of Vermont, I think. Is it Vermont or Maine? Sorry about that.
AMANPOUR: He apparently was on the phone call with the federal government. Maine, yes. You`re right, of course. And he apparently said to Vice
President Mike Pence that the administration`s failure to develop adequate national testing is “a dereliction of duty.” Do you know whether that`s a
faithful, you know, reporting of that phone call? Did he share with you all? And do you agree?
MURPHY: Well, I was on that phone call. And Angus was as frustrated as we all are. It is a dereliction of duty. The federal government months ago
should have taken control of the testing for coronavirus. This never, ever should have been left to the states alone.
What the administration told us on that phone call was that they were just now starting to survey all of the labs around the country to see who could
do more testing and fill in the gaps. Why was the administration doing that in the middle of April? The administration should have been doing that in
January, in February. Coming up then with a catalog of available testing resources that we could use to scale up.
It is just an abject failure of this administration that they have waited so long to get involved in testing. And even to this day, are basically
telling the states that they`re on their own, even though there are certain functions that only the federal government can provide, functions related
to the matching of surplus capacity and need. I can`t do that in Connecticut because I don`t know where the surplus exists. Only the federal
government can do that and the federal government is just now getting around to starting the stand-up that capability.
AMANPOUR: Back in February, you actually tweeted after a — you know, about the White House response, just left the administration briefing on
coronavirus. Bottom line, they aren`t taking this seriously enough. and you just said only now are they beginning to sort of stand up in some kind of
federal and coordinated effort.
But we`ve also just heard, as we`re speaking, that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, says, there will not be a deal voted on, there
won`t be a deal on what we spoke about, the extra $500 billion or so, for the small business administration. I mean, are you surprised by that? Is
this just procedural? Do you believe it will go through? It won`t be happening today?
MURPHY: Well, you know, you referenced the tweet that I sent out in February. I was walking out of one of the first briefings by this
administration in that meeting, Democrats and Republicans were begging the administration to take coronavirus seriously. Was asking them to request
supplemental funding in early February so that we could start buy supplies, we could start getting the tests ready if the virus eventually became a
pandemic in the United States.
And in the meeting, the administration told us that they didn`t need extra funding, that they had it under control, that the travel bans were going to
be sufficient to stop coronavirus from becoming a problem in the United States. It was a fatal mistake by this administration not to take the virus
seriously enough early enough.
As to the existing debate that we`re having, listen, we need to replenish the small business account program. But $250 billion is a lot of money,
especially when it`s all borrowed and we should make sure that we aren`t spending that money only on businesses that can find financing from private
sector markets. We need to make sure that every small business is eligible for that money, and that`s what we`re fighting to do. If we`re going to
appropriate that kind of money, let`s make sure that it`s spent wisely.
AMANPOUR: Now, look. You have been, you know, pretty vociferous critic of the administration and we`re just quoted one of the tweets and here`s
another one. This is, of course, on the W.H.O. It appears that the president and his allies are fixating on the W.H.O. and fixating on China.
Some are suggesting that this is a good re-election tactic to fixate on China and blame China, attach Joe Biden to China, et cetera.
But regarding pulling U.S. funding from the W.H.O., you said cutting off funding to the W.H.O. at the peak of the pandemic just to score cheap
political points will go down as one of the most reckless, dangerous things Trump has done during this crisis.
So, what will happen? I mean, is this money in the president`s discretion to just yank or is it up to Congress? What do you think should happen?
Should these hundreds of millions of dollars that the U.S. does, you know, fund to W.H.O. continue?
MURPHY: Well, they should. They should, first and foremost, because the W.H.O. is, as we speak, on the front lines of trying to stop this epidemic
in all sorts of places around the globe. And what we found out at the beginning of this epidemic, is that travel restrictions alone cannot stop
the virus from arriving in the United States.
So, even if we were successful over the course of the next few months in turning the corner domestically, as long as this virus exists overseas
somewhere, we are still always at risk of it returning. So, the W.H.O. needs to be funded in order to fight that fight. But remember, the W.H.O.
does all sorts of other things that are important to the United States beyond just fighting epidemics. For instance, millions of American dollars
go to the W.H.O. to try to eradicate polio, that is really important to the United States, as well.
And so, what the president is trying to do is just find scapegoats, find somebody else to blame for what is really, first and foremost, his own
failing in not taking this virus seriously enough. China on his list. China has got lots to account for. The W.H.O. is imperfect as well. But the
president right now is just trying to engage in a political shell game, trying to get people to blame somebody else other than his own
administration. And that, you know, I think is very dangerous and very irresponsible.
AMANPOUR: Can I just shift directions just slightly but it is really important north of your border? As you know, there was a terrible, terrible
shooting in Canada. 16 people have been killed. It is their worst ever. And you had mentioned that, you know, some of these protests are also talking
about Second Amendment rights and these are the protests in the United States against the governors.
I just want to know, you`re such a gun safety advocate, especially after Sandy Hook in your own state, just your comment on what happened in Canada
and just even bringing gun rights into this current, you know, real health crisis.
MURPHY: Well, I mean, we have to talk about the role that guns play during a crisis like this. Remember, home is not always a safe place. And so, when
you have two spouses or a boyfriend and girlfriend that are now locked together in a home, with an inability to leave, that confronts — that
arises dangerous situations.
And what we also know is that there has been a spike in gun sales in this country. And many of those guns were bought online without a background
check being done. So, we need to understand that, right now, there probably are a lot more people with felony records, a lot more people that have
serious mental illness that have guns in their possession. And there are a lot of abused spouses or girlfriends that are now at home with the abuser
fearing for their life. And so, we always have to be talking about the threats that firearms present to our country but especially now, when a lot
of folks can`t get away from the very person that they fear.
AMANPOUR: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you very much, indeed.
MURPHY: Thanks a lot.
AMANPOUR: Now, here in the U.K. as Prime Minister Boris Johnson recovers from COVID-19, his absence from Downing Street coincides with a blistering
attack on his initial response to the virus. With the U.K. shaping up as one of the worst hit in Europe, a bombshell investigation by the London
Sunday Times revealed that Mr. Johnson missed the first five emergency cabinet meetings as the disease began to spread. Downing Street has fired
back on all cylinders against this report. But the Conservative government is also under fire for the severe shortage of protective gear for front-
line staff. Even as we speak, a big shipment due in from Turkey is stalled.
For more on this, I`m joined by Anna Soubry. She`s a former health ministry under David Cameron`s Tori government.
Anna Soubry, welcome to the program.
Can I just start by asking you, you obviously read what became sort of viral over the weekend, this investigation, by the Sunday Times into the
what they claim to be the initial missteps by the government. Because you`re a former minister, a former M.P., you are a Tori or former Tori,
just how do you assess it?
ANNA SOUBRY, FORMER U.K. HEALTH MINISTER: Oh, I thought it was a damning indictment. Look, people are going to make mistakes. I mean, the great
catchphrase at the moment is, we`re living in unprecedented times. That`s true. And there`s result of course government of whatever color, whatever
competency will make mistakes.
But when you put it all together, to me the striking point was this initial utter complacency, this almost feeling, well, it is not going to come here.
And for many weeks, when important things should have been done, they simply weren`t done. And whilst it is absolutely to the credit of the
government that our hospitals are coping with this terrible disease, that is to their credit, no debates about that, there are lots of things we are
failing and that failure is from government and it`s as a result of that complacency at the beginning.
AMANPOUR: Anna Soubry, can I just ask you because there were a lot of different accusations, there was the business of the prime minister missing
the five Cobra meetings, those are the — for new viewers, those are the emergency meetings in any regard, in any crisis facing this country that a
prime minister and senior ministers take part in.
Downing Street has said that, well, that`s neither here nor there because many of them are chaired by other senior ministers. What do you — you
know, knowing the way this all works, is missing the meetings a big problem?
SOUBRY: You see, that is not my understanding. Remember, I attended cabinet and I served in three government departments of what Cobra is
about. Cobra doesn`t just sit randomly when there`s a bit of a problem. My understanding has always been Cobra is saved for those genuine, serious
emergencies because it`s not a — forgive me, it is not a special cabinet meeting. What it does is it brings together all the people that should be
round the table or on video links if they`re not physically round the table. You need to be there in times of emergency.
So, for example, we had some very, very bad flooding in parts of the United Kingdom back in 20 — at the end of 2015, and those — and Cobra came
together. It was seen to mark the need for urgent action in this emergency. And the initial meetings were chaired by David Cameron. Then as the
emergency began to be tackled, other ministers of a senior rank stepped up and chaired them and minions and juniors like me were allowed to come into
them if you like.
But now, in all seriousness, I think this is a — I think people are being misled. If Cobra was meeting, for goodness sakes, given what we knew was
happening with this new disease, we knew what was happening in countries like Italy, you know, it`s not that far away, I think it is a damning
indictment on Boris Johnson. And I think I so at the time. He should have been fronting up those Cobra meetings. That`s his job as prime minister.
And I think it is a mark of his arrogance, that feeling of self- entitlement, that somehow it wasn`t going to affect our country and indeed him. And I`m afraid to say, I think it marks a laziness with him which is
deeply unattractive. Now, he`s had this awful disease and damn nearly died from it, it seems. Then, let`s hope he changes his attitude. And when he is
better, he will come back with a better attitude and a determination to work damn hard to get on top of this.
AMANPOUR: I want to read, because you have raised a very interesting point, because he, obviously, when he came out of hospital and out of ICU,
out of the normal ward and he`s gone now for much needed recovery period, he did speak very thankfully of the national health service. And I want to
play that for you in a second.
But I want to read you this from the Sunday Times and see whether you agree with it. Described as a comment from a senior department of health insider.
I had watched Wuhan but I assumed we must have not been worried because we did nothing. We just watched. A pandemic was always at the top of our
national risk register. Always. But when it came, we just slowly watched. We could have been Germany but instead we were doomed by our incompetence,
our hubris and our austerity.
That`s a pretty extraordinary indictment. I just want you to unpick that for me.
SOUBRY: I think it`s astonishing. Look, I think — can I just deal with the austerity question? And obviously — and I am going to be defensive
because I sat in that government of David Cameron`s from 2010 to 2015. I believe that we did the right thing. Our economy was on its knees. We need
to repair it. We needed to make tough decisions which we made working with another political party in that coalition government.
And by doing that it put us in a position whereby now in this terrible crisis and emergency we are able, the government, is able to do some of the
extraordinary things that they have done and to their credit, whether it`s helping businesses or whether it`s, you know, putting more money into our
NHS and other sectors. So, we can only comport to do that because, as George Osbourne calls it, we fixed the roof when the sun was shining more
favorably on us, which we believed passionately, the previous government hadn`t done.
So, austerity is, in my opinion, part of, I accept, some of our still profound failings in the social care. What I am struggling with the NHS, I
know they want more money, but we were getting the levels to whereabouts the sort of level that they should have been. I think that this idea of
complacency, I`m afraid, comes from a feeling from — and that I felt in this government when Boris Johnson got that terrific majority, which a
shock to him and indeed others, I just think they thought, you know what, nothing can stop us now. And I don`t like saying these things.
But I do think there`s that sort of public schoolboy attitude of, I`m the king of the castle, you know. All my privilege and entitlement, nothing can
get in the way now and I can pretty much do what on earth and what the hell I want to do, which is why in that critical period in February, our half
term in our schools and in our parliament, Boris Johnson went away. We had really serious floods, you might remember, and he was holed up in a country
residences sorting out the private life, God knows what. He wasn`t on the ball. And neither as a result was the rest of the government.
And I think the other thing is, which is really interesting, well, it is not really interesting, it`s actually a very serious problem and, again,
he`s got to solve it when he`s back and he`s healthy, is this is — this also shows a profound failing in number 10, that there is basically him,
Dominic Cummings, maybe one or two others in a national crisis, you can`t run government with just one or two people sat round the table maybe. And
that speaks a lot.
And finally, there is this, and I think this is a real indictment of just how bad things were at that time. You know, we have had our chief medical
officer, two health ministers, including our secretary of state and our prime minister all get this disease. I think that speaks a lot. But our
hospitals are coping. And that is to the government`s credit and our NHS, of course.
AMANPOUR: I just want to — for new viewers, Dominic Cummings is prime minister`s senior advisor, unelected member of his inner circle. So, just
to put that in context there.
I wonder whether all that you have said now, and clearly you were politically opposed to Boris Johnson`s Brexit project, you were on the
other side of this. So, we`ll just put that out there. But he did have a brush with mortality. When he came out, he said that it could have gone
either way and that he did thank the NHS an all the key workers. I want to play a little bit of it to you, because I want to know what you think might
be the reaction coming out the other side.
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BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: In the last seven days, I have, of course, seen the pressure that the NHS is under. I have seen the personal
courage, not just of the doctors and nurses, but of everyone, the cleaners, the cooks, the health care workers of every description, physios,
radiographers, pharmacists who have kept coming to work, kept putting themselves in harm`s way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, clearly, he`s thankful he survived and he knows why, because of the fantastic workers who have put themselves at risk in
every country, including this one. But, you know, we — when we go out on our allowed exercise, all our bike rides or whatever, we see all these
lovely posters of solidarity for the NHS, all these global concerts for the, you know, health workers around the world.
And I just wonder, you said that money was beginning to get back into the NHS. But look, you know, these people, many front-line workers barely make
a living wage and they are having to really, really risk themselves. And not only that, we can see that in a post-Brexit reality, some of the visa
requirements for much needed NHS and other health workers to come to this country cost huge amounts. I mean, unprecedented costs for the visas to
come in here and the salary level for which they might even be, you know, judged on whether they can come in here is much lower than they make right
So, something has to change for the world to be prepared whether it`s here, America or wherever it is, in health systems around the world. Would you
agree to that?
SOUBRY: I would agree very much that when it comes to health, you have to invest in it. And I don`t disagree with that at all. And the argument that
was held was that, although, the amount of money that we were putting into our NHS was going up, the argument on the other side was that, it wasn`t
going up by enough. And I understand that argument.
Look, I think there`s a couple of things here that are really important. I mean, I think we are very blessed in our country because we have a national
health service. We still have huge problems at the very top of it because it is incredibly burdensome. And I could go into the real detail, I think,
of what is the very serious problem, which is about the procurement and why that`s a problem, and a lot of the extension, the reforms. And put my hands
up that we voted for.
But I think it is important to say this, is that, you know, in a way, no money can ever thank and reward people who are doing the most extraordinary
work. Some of my very best friends, members of my own family, are on the front-line and they are genuinely risking their lives. And I think that the
British people see that in a way that they — and across the world, have never seen before. And I think the other good thing that will come out of
this, and my God, we need some good (INAUDIBLE) because it`s so bad, is that people will now begin to realize and appreciate a huge benefit of
Some of us have been saying that all our political lives. And I think that`s something good that will come out of it. And I think Johnson, who
always did understand that when he was mayor of London, he will be reminded of that.
But don`t get it wrong about the NHS. You know, the Conservatives often get accused quite wrongly of wanting to privatize it and abolish it and so on
and change it. That is not true. The Conservative Party, which was — I was proud to be a member of, we did believe in our NHS. We use it. Our
families, our friends work in it.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Everybody values it and knows the importance of it. But likewise, they need their PPE. And as many people have said about America,
how come the greatest nations in the world, America, the U.S., you know, have people sharing masks or wearing garbage bags instead of, you know,
proper clothing? So, that`s a discussion for another day. But I really appreciate you being with us.
Anna Soubry, thank you very much, indeed.
AMANPOUR: And now, another casualty of COVID-19 is education. In the U.K., and the United States, and all over the world, over a billion-and-a-half
children and youth remain out of school.
Former U.S. secretary of education, John King Jr. says the pandemic will have a lasting impact.
He joined our Hari Sreenivasan to talk about the challenges some 50 million American students are facing right now and how a place of learning became a
shelter when tragedy hit his own home.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right now, we have 50 million kids out of school; 29 states are not going to come back this
school year. And most of the research says that, to do distance learning well, you needed to prepare.
And, right now, most of these school districts just went into this overnight.
JOHN B. KING, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE EDUCATION TRUST: This COVID-19 crisis is going to have a very detrimental effect.
It is clear that there are families that don`t have the devices, don`t have the bandwidth access. It is clear that there are districts that, because of
the pace at which they had to move to distance learning, couldn`t provide the professional development that teachers need to deliver online learning
It`s clear that there are districts that didn`t have that experience with some of the online resources that might make distance learning more
successful. It`s clear that kids, particularly in the highest-needs districts, weren`t themselves familiar with many of the edtech tools,
weren`t used to learning in an online environment.
And so we`re going to see, I think, academic loss as a result, and we`re going to need to invest in summer school, after-school programming,
intensive tutoring to make up for that academic loss.
We`re also going to see real socioemotional risk that kids for whom school is so central to their socioemotional well-being. They will be without that
for months. And that will take a toll. And we will need to invest in counseling and mental health services to try to make up for that toll that
this period will have taken on them.
SREENIVASAN: The Northwest Evaluation Association said that students who lack steady instruction during this shutdown might only retain about 70
percent of their reading skills.
And depending on the grade level, it drops almost to 50 percent of math. I mean, this is a pretty consequential set of numbers. Obviously, it`s not
every school district and every child. But if that`s the average, there are some students that are going to fare worse from this and other students
that might do a little better.
KING: I think that`s right.
And what that means is that we need an intervention strategy. And so our hope would be that Congress would invest in additional funding for schools
to be able to offer summer school, if possible this summer, if not, certainly next summer and summer of 2021, but also extended learning time.
We need a longer school day. We need more opportunities for students to get the kind of academic support that will allow them to make up that lost
SREENIVASAN: So, Congress is going do say, listen, we approved $30 billion towards education. Isn`t that enough?
KING: It is not nearly enough, unfortunately.
It is about $30.75 billion out of $2.2 trillion in this most recent stimulus bill. They`re going to have to go back and put in a lot more, for
two reasons. One, states are seeing huge declines in revenue because of the COVID-19 economic crisis, and the federal government`s going to have to
step up to ensure that we don`t see very serious cuts to public education.
But, two, because of the learning loss that we are seeing, as students miss instructional time, we are going to need an additional investment in
academic supports and also socioemotional supports. Kids are experiencing a lot of trauma. We are going to need more investment in school counselors
and mental health services as well.
SREENIVASAN: What is that strain on counselors going to be like? When some of the kids go back to school, there`s a really decent chance that they —
their personal family might have been impacted by a death in the family, or there`s a much higher chance that someone in the family is now unemployed,
that the stress levels in their household has gone up.
And they have been living with it really since March, all the way through the fall.
KING: That`s exactly right.
And so students are going to need that additional support. I think about my own experience as a kid. School played this essential role in any life. My
mom passed when I was 8, my dad when I was 12. And it was school that was the place that was consistent and stable and nurturing. And kids are
They`re missing that during a period when they might have a sick family member, when someone in the family might lose a job. There are kids who are
in homes where there`s abuse or addiction. And so this will be a very traumatic period.
And we know we already have too few school counselors in school , states with a ratio of something like 700 students to one counselor. We`re going
to need a big investment here.
And we can`t be shortsighted. Obviously, there are going to be revenue challenges at the federal and state level. But we have got to invest in our
kids. That`s the future of our economic well-being and the future of our democracy.
SREENIVASAN: One of the things that you have said there is that school is one of the safe places.
For about 30 million kids, it is the safe place that they get food, that they can rely on school as a place to get nutrition. What is happening
during this time, when I know schools in my neighborhood, some of them are still open to try to hand out brown bag lunches and so forth.
But it is not the same.
KING: That`s right.
We know from the summer meals program that only about one in six students who participate in the free and reduced price lunch meals program during
the school year participate in the summer.
It is challenging for families to get to the school site to get meals. Now, districts are doing heroic work to distribute meals, to distribute grab-
and-go meals. But it is not enough. We are very worried about the impact of child and family hunger.
There is an option for states to do something called pandemic EBT, using an ATM-like card that families can use at the grocery store in order to get
meals, rather than having to come to school to pick up meals.
Michigan is already launching a program like that, Rhode Island as well. We are hoping more states will do that to make sure that kids have access to
food during this period of school closure.
SREENIVASAN: Whatever studies have been done on distance learning, one of the things that we see that`s common is that it takes planning, that it`s
not just about flipping a switch and sending a child home, putting them in front of a laptop, that educators need to prepare for lessons as much, if
not more so, than they did when they had all the children sitting in a classroom.
KING: That`s right.
And we have had districts have to go to distance learning overnight without professional development, without knowing for certain that every student
has access to a device and to an Internet.
Parents, as a result, are really worried. We did a poll recently of parents in New York and California. We found that nearly 90 percent of parents were
concerned that their kids were going to lose ground as a result of this period of distance learning.
We also know that there are real challenges around Internet access in high- needs communities, particularly in our high-needs rural communities. And then you have the challenge of teachers` readiness to deliver instruction
through an online mechanism.
And that`s hard. You need to have training, support. You need the right curricular tools. Now, the good news is, some of those stimulus dollars can
be used to make investments in devices, hot spots, teacher professional development.
But this is a huge challenge for districts all over the country.
SREENIVASAN: According to the Federal Communications Commission, it`s somewhere around 21 million people that lack broadband access.
And even when you get down into students, there`s probably about 12 million, roughly, students that don`t have that as well, when we`re kind of
looking at this as an expectation almost or a baseline level that, , a child could get on a laptop at home, or what if there`s multiple children,
that means multiple devices need to be wired and connected at the same time.
We are just having a level of assumption that people can afford to have access to education.
KING: That`s right.
And so districts really have to focus on communicating with families, understanding what the needs are.
I think about the San Antonio school district that ordered, I think, some 30,000 computers in March to try to prepare to get their largely low-income
families access to devices.
I think about South Bend, Indiana, that`s putting Wi-Fi on the school buses and parking school buses in neighborhoods where they know there`s less
Internet access, so that kids can connect to school.
We have really got to tackle this digital divide. I think the telling thing is that this was a problem before. We had this huge digital divide before.
This crisis has just brought it into sharper relief.
SREENIVASAN: This also points to the decentralized role of education. What is the federal government`s role in trying to get through this, when you
have 50 states, you have all these different school districts that are responsible for matriculating kids through K-12?
KING: Thirteen thousand school districts, that`s a lot of places where these decisions are being made differently.
But the federal government can do pretty important things, one, provide resources. And, certainly, we are hoping that the next stimulus will have
more resources for schools, including dedicated funding for summer school. Two, guidance, access to best practices, highlighting things that people
are going that are working.
I think about the Phoenix Union High School District in Arizona that has the Every Student, Every Day initiative, where they have a staff person in
the district contacting every student each day to check in with them, check how they`re doing, check on their socioemotional needs, and also figure out
if they need other supports for the next food or access to temporary housing.
So, the federal government could be highlighting those things.
And then the third, importantly, is protecting students` civil rights, making sure that districts do communicate with families in multiple
languages, making sure that students with disabilities get their services during this period or get compensatory services when we`re back in school.
SREENIVASAN: You touched on it briefly, but your personal story.
For you, schools were a fairly crucial portion of your success because of what you didn`t have at home.
KING: Yes. I mean, school saved my life. If not for the teachers I had, and created a space that was safe and nurturing and engaging and loving, I
wouldn`t have survived.
When my mom passed, I was 8. That next few years, it was just my dad and me. My dad was sick with undiagnosed Alzheimer`s, almost scary and
unstable. And I had to figure out how to get food in our house, how to keep our household going.
And it was school that was consistent and structured, and where I had positive relationships with adults. That`s just crucial for kids. And so
I`m very worried about kids today whose schools are closed and they don`t have that source of structure and support.
SREENIVASAN: One of the things I want to ask about is the Andover portion of your life. You make it through New York City public schools. You get a
prestigious scholarship to a high-end school, one of the elite schools in the country.
KING: Like many kids who experience trauma at an early ages, because I`d lost my parents as a kid, and I was really angry at adults, I really
struggled in high school, like many young people do.
And I rebelled against authority. I was just angry. And I got in a lot of trouble. And that led me to get kicked out.
And I would say to folks, part of my life`s journey is a story about second chances, about the willingness of family members and mentors and the school
counselor to see me as more than the sum of my mistakes and to see that it was worth investing in me.
It would have been very easy for them to say, here`s an African- American/Latino male student, family in crisis, kicked out of school, and given up on me. But they didn`t. They invested in me.
And that`s really, I think, the challenge for our society. How do we make sure that we don`t give up on any child, that we invest in kids, and even
if they`re struggling, find ways to support them so they can get back on track?
SREENIVASAN: What is the opportunity for us here coming out of this mess? And then,also, what`s the cost if we do nothing right now and try to go
back to school in September without making some of these structural changes?
Well, I think the cost of not doing anything is that we will have students who will be permanently behind academically and who will deeply scarred by
The opportunity is to not only make sure we address the loss that students have experienced, but that we fundamentally address the inequities in our
system. Low-income students and students of color have less access to early childhood education, less access to well-prepared teachers, less access to
resources, less access to counselors, less access to advanced coursework.
And all own of those equity challenges, those were true before. But now we have an opportunity to rethink that. Hopefully, this is a moment, like the
New Deal, where, as a society, we say, we learn from this crisis. We`re going to restructure to address these fundamental inequities.
We need to do that in health care. We need to do that in our economy. We need to do that in education. That`s really the hope of this moment.
SREENIVASAN: John King, President and CEO of The Education Trust and former education secretary, thanks so much for joining us.
KING: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And I couldn`t agree more. The hope that we hang onto in this moment is that we do learn those important lessons and are prepared for the
Now, as we do learn more about the coronavirus, we`re also discovering who it`s hitting the hardest. Early stats show that men are at least 50 percent
more likely to die from the disease than women.
For more on the science behind this, I`m joined by Dr. Sharon Moalem. He`s the author of “The Better Half” on the genetic superiority of women.
We started this conversation last week, but technical troubles interrupted our conversation. And these are the pitfalls of interviewing in our new
So, we have got Dr. Sharon Moalem back again, from where he is stuck, in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Welcome back to the program, Doctor.
And just to say, so that we don`t waste too much time, that you were on a conference there. You got stuck during the lockdown, and you`re still
DR. SHARON MOALEM, AUTHOR, “THE BETTER HALF”: That`s right.
AMANPOUR: So, we started to talk about your book “The Better Half” and how it applies to this current crisis.
So, again, just give us the overall stats as you see them.
MOALEM: So, everywhere we`re looking essentially around the world, 60 to 70 percent of men are dying.
And, well, it`s key here that there`s almost a dozen countries that we know of where more women are becoming infected, but more men are still dying. So
this is really leading us to understand that there`s a basic biological fundamental difference between the sexes.
And this is exactly actually what I saw as a neurogenetics researcher, at the far end of life, when there weren`t a lot of men. And when I asked my
colleagues the — it always came back down to behavior. I was told men drink more, they smoke more, they take more risks, and that`s why there`s
not a lot of men that make it into the far ends of life.
But then, when I switched to working as a physician with premature babies, I saw the same pattern again. And that`s that boys really struggled.
Females just have this survival advantage.
And so, after doing a lot of research, I came to the conclusion that this is rooted in the fact that every female has two X chromosomes, and every
male has only one. And so what that means is, Christiane, even you, you have two populations of cells in your body.
Each one is using an X chromosome, and they`re working together with that extra genetic knowledge to really overcome all the challenges of life. And
so, even though men have more muscle mass, men are physically stronger, they`re actually more fragile.
AMANPOUR: So, obviously, I`m really pleased to hear that, being a woman and having those two X`s.
AMANPOUR: But can you just sort of explain why, to those of us who just may not understand, what is it that the two X`s do…
AMANPOUR: … other than being two, instead of one?
MOALEM: So, for many years, we thought that the X, the extra X chromosome, is — it`s like an extra pair, almost like a spare tire that women have,
genetically speaking, that it really just helped them. Whenever there was a problem with one X, they would rely on another.
But now we actually know that females use both of the X`s in their bodies at the same time. And, now, this is very crucial, because the X isn`t just
some random chromosome. It`s actually very rich in genes that are related to the immune system.
One gene specifically, TLR7, is a gene that recognizes single stranded RNA viruses, just like the coronavirus that`s the pandemic that we`re
experiencing right now.
So, practically speaking, what this means, in your body, you have two immune cells that are using two different TLR7 genes to recognize the
virus. So you have a big advantage there, because, not only can you recognize it. You can then have on the other X a better gene to kill it.
On the other hand, all my immune cells are using the exact same X. So I just have to hope that I have an X that`s good enough not just to recognize
the virus, but to kill it as well.
AMANPOUR: So, one of the things obviously you and everybody would need is stats, stats, stats.
And we know for sure that, in the U.S. and the U.K., they`re not breaking down the fatalities and infections by sex or gender. They`re not doing
that. But other places are. Let me just read a couple of things.
MOALEM: Well, they`re starting, yes.
AMANPOUR: There`s more data since we last — yes, I was going to say, since we last talked, Finland, Mexico, South Korea, Austria.
And, in Finland, 72 percent of all recorded deaths are male. In Italy, 67 percent are male. And in China, men accounted for 64 percent of the deaths,
according to the WHO.
And so this is really important, because this is actually — this signifies that there`s some innate biological fragility. And this is — this is
really the basis behind the book.
“The Better Half” was — the idea was, let`s study female genetic superiority. Let`s see how females are much better at fighting pandemics
and surviving famines, and apply that to males, because the flip side of this, unfortunately, is what I`m seeing.
There`s a lot of blame and shaming of men going on. It`s almost like kicking men while they`re down, while they`re filling up morgues.
Unfortunately, we`re falling back on old behavioral tropes, such as handwashing.
So, blaming men for being dirty or lacking hygiene is morally indefensible. And the reason is, because if handwashing was the reason that more men
would be dying, what we`d be seeing, we`d be seeing around the world more men becoming infected with COVID-19 and more men passing away.
But, actually, what we`re seeing, we`re seeing, in almost a dozen countries, more women becoming infected. And even now there`s interesting
data out of China where we`re seeing health care workers, which about 75 percent of them are usually made up of women, even in those situations,
more male health care workers are dying.
So, I think falling back onto these old behavioral…
MOALEM: I was just going to say, falling back on these old behavioral tropes, it actually stops us from taking the next step and actually helping
I mean, that really should be the goal here. I`m not really hearing a lot of people coming in and saying, what could we actually be doing to help
these men? Because not only do they make up the majority of the people passing away, most of these people…
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you that. What — where does this lead us?
AMANPOUR: We have only got a couple minutes left. How important is this information to leading us out of this issue now?
MOALEM: Well, I think this brings us back to something that`s very concerning.
I don`t think any scientists worth their salt really can say that, in six to 12 months, we`re going to have a vaccine that`s approved and enough
produced to protect everyone in the world that`s going to need one.
And then there`s this other — another concerning issue that we`re facing now, which is those cases out of South Korea in Japan of reactivation
possibly or reinfection with COVID-19. And so what we actually have to do, we have to, as soon as possible, start looking at, what are the biological
differences between men and women`s reactions to the virus, and why are more men dying?
And in so doing, we may be able not to just help men, but find a new treatment to help women as well.
AMANPOUR: Can you, in 10 seconds, tell me why more women are being infected?
MOALEM: Likely, in certain countries, it could be health care workers. That`s the assumption in South Korea. If more health care workers are
women, they`re going to be more infected, or for the ones being more — or they`re in a situation where they`re being more exposed.
But that`s a really good litmus for us to find out that blaming men for handwashing isn`t the reason, if more women are being affected, and yet
more men are dying.
AMANPOUR: It`s really fascinating.
Dr. Sharon Moalem, thank you very much, indeed.
MOALEM: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, many, many of you may have watched over the weekend this concert, when more than 100 of the biggest names in the music
industry joined up for the online One World Together at Home concert.
They belted out tunes, playing homage to key workers, and they raised nearly $130 million for the World Health Organization. Led by the movement
Global Citizen and by Lady Gaga, everyone from Taylor Swift to the Rolling Stones got involved. And fans especially loved peeking into their homes,
The Rolling Stones always come through. I`m not sure what Charlie Watts was banging there. It wasn`t the drums. He was improvising.
Now, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli`s duet, “The Prayer,” ended the night, with a little help from Lady Gaga herself, John Legend, and the Chinese
pianist Lang Lang.
We leave you now with that piece.
And thank you so much for watching. Goodbye from London, and we will see you tomorrow.