MetroFocus: March 24, 2021

The one point 9 trillion dollar COVID relief bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Biden will bring a huge infusion of money for state and local economies across the country and according to one estimate, one hundred billion dollars, overall, to New York State. But perhaps the most historic piece of this unprecedented legislation is the child tax credit… a measure that would result in most American families with children receiving monthly payments from the federal government. New York congressman Ritchie Torres, one of the key proponents of the measure, now wants to go a step further by making the child tax credit permanent, arguing that it will significantly reduce child poverty in the country’s poorest communities which includes his own district in the south Bronx. Tonight he joins us to discuss what could be the most consequential expansion of the nation’s social safety net in generations.

New York City high school students returned to their classrooms this week for the first time since November. The return to in-person learning for high school students marked another milestone for the New York City public school system, which went completely remote when the pandemic began last spring, and has had a stop-and-start return since the fall. The re-opening coincided with another big development that may help get more students back to in-person learning, not just in New York but across the country, and that’s the new CDC guidance on social distancing in the classroom. The previous 6 feet of distance between students has been reduced to 3, with other proper protocols in place. But many families are asking themselves, is that really safe? And what will this look like as we move forward? Former NBC chief medical correspondent, Doctor Bob Arnot joins us with answers.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS.'

WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JIMMY KIMMEL FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONEL FOUNDATION, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THE $1.9 TRILLION RELIEF BILL SIGNED BY CONGRESS AND SIGNED BY PRESIDENT BIDEN WILL BRING HELP TO STATE AND LOCAL ECONOMIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

ACCORDING TO ONE ESTIMATE $100 BILLION OVERALL TO NEW YORK STATE.

PERHAPS THE MOST HISTORIC PIECE OF THIS UNPRECEDENTED LEGISLATION IS THE CHILD TAX CREDIT, A MEASURE THAT WOULD RESULT IN MOST AMERICAN FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN RECEIVING MONTHLY PAYMENTS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES, ONE OF THE KEY PROPONENTS OF THE MEASURE, WANTS TO GO A STEP FURTHER BY MAKING THE CHILD TAX CREDIT PERMANENT, ARGUING IT WILL REDUCE CHILD POVERTY IN THE COUNTRY'S POOREST COMMENTS, WHICH INCLUDES HIS OWN DISTRICT IN THE SOUTH BRONX.

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT WHAT COULD BE THE MOST CONSEQUENTIAL EXPANSION OF THE NATION'S SOCIAL SAFETY NET IN GENERATIONS AND OTHER ISSUES AFFECTING THE CITY AND THE STATE IS CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM, ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

AN HONOR TO BE HERE.

FIRST OF ALL, CONGRESSMAN TORRES, WHAT EXACTLY IS THE CHILD TAX CREDIT?

WHO IS IT GOING TO GO TO, AND WHEN ARE THE PEOPLE WHO IT'S GOING TO START BEGINNING TO GET IT?

THE CHILD TAX CREDIT IS A -- BASICALLY AN INCOME FOR FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN.

I REPRESENT WHAT'S SAID TO BE THE POOREST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT IN AMERICA.

AND THERE IS NO SINGLE POLICY THAT WILL DO MORE TO LIFT THE SOUTH BRONX OUT OF POVERTY THAN AN EXPANDED CHILD TAX CREDIT.

BEFORE THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN, THE ORIGINAL STRUCTURE OF THE CHILD TAX CREDIT WAS SO AGGRESSIVE, 3712 CHILDREN WERE EXCLUDED.

IN MY DISTRICT, TWO-THIRDS OF THE CHILDREN WERE EXCLUDED FROM THE FULL BENEFIT.

BY EXTENDING THE CHILD TAX CREDIT TO THE FAMILIES IN GREATEST NEED, WE ARE GOING TO CUT CHILD POVERTY BY 50%. I CONSIDER THE EXPANDED CHILD TAX CREDIT THE MOST PROGRESSIVE ACHIEVEMENT SINCE THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.

YOU AND CONGRESSWOMAN DELARO FROM CONNECTICUT AND CONGRESSWOMAN DELBENET FROM WASHINGTON STATE, THE OTHER TWO PRINCIPAL ARCHITECTS OF THIS MEASURE, WANT TO MAKE THE CHILD TAX CREDIT PERMANENT, ALSO WANT TO IMPROVE IT, WANT TO CHANGE IT.

TELL ME WHAT DIFFERENCE WILL IT MAKE, WHAT DIFFERENCE TO YOU HOPE TO MAKE, AND WHAT DIFFERENCE WILL MAKING IT PERMANENT MAKE?

THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ONLY EXPANDS THE CHILD TAX CREDIT TEMPORARILY.

SO I'M PARTNERING WITH CONGRESS MEMBERS DELORO AND SUSAN DELBENE TO COSPONSOR THE AMERICAN FAMILY ACT TO PERMANENTLY EXPAND THE CHILD TAX CREDIT.

PRESIDENT BIDEN HAS COME OUT IN FAVOR OF PERMANENT EXPANSION.

CHILD POVERTY IS EXPENSIVE.

IT'S A COST TO CHILDREN, IT'S HARMFUL TO THE EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF A CHILD, IT HAS LIFELONG CONSEQUENCES, IT LEADS TO LOWER GRADUATION RATES, LOWER TEST SCORES, LOWER LIFETIME EARNINGS.

NO CHILD IN AMERICA CHOOSES TO BE POOR.

IT'S AN ACCIDENT OF BIRTH THAT HAUNTS YOU FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT CHILD POVERTY COSTS THE AMERICAN ECONOMY UP TO $1 TRILLION A YEAR.

ENDING CHILD POVERTY IS NOT ONLY GOOD MORALS, IT'S GOOD ECONOMICS.

BY THE WAY, YOU SAID IT WOULD REDUCE CHILD POVERTY IN YOUR DISTRICT BY HALF.

I HAVE THE FIGURES.

FROM 45% TO 20%. THAT'S MORE THAN HALF.

IN NEW YORK CITY, FROM 21% TO 12%. AGAIN, BY HALF.

YOU'VE SAID THAT THIS PROPOSAL, THIS MEASURE, IT'S MORE THAN JUST LEGISLATURE TO YOU, IT'S PERSONAL.

EXPLAIN HOW.

IT'S HISTORIC.

I WOULD ARGUE THAT THE CHILD TAX CREDIT IS GOING TO BE TO CHILDREN WHAT SOCIAL SECURITY HAS BEEN TO SENIOR CITIZENS.

IT WILL END EXTREME POVERTY AMONG THE MOST VULNERABLE AMERICANS.

IT REPRESENTS A HISTORIC TRIUMPH IN THE WAR ON POVERTY.

AS YOU SAID, IT'S DEEPLY PERSONAL BECAUSE I SPENT ALMOST ALL MY LIFE IN POVERTY.

I WAS RAISED BY A SINGLE MOTHER WHO HAD TO RAISE THREE CHILDREN ON MINIMUM WAGE.

WHICH IN THE 1990s WAS A MERE $7.25.

AND SO IF WE HAD ACCESS TO AN EXPANDED TAX CREDIT DURING MY CHILDHOOD, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A GAME CHANGER.

MY LIFE WOULD HAVE BEEN FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT.

AND I WANT -- I WANT THOSE WHO FACE THE SAME COLORS I HAD TO FACE, TO HELP THOSE GROWING UP IN THE WRONG.

WHAT SUPPORT DOES THIS HAVE IN THE HOUSE AND POTENTIALLY THE SENATE, DO YOU KNOW?

I'M OPTIMISTIC THERE'S GOING TO BE BROAD BIPARTISAN, BICAMERAL SUPPORT FOR THE CHILD TAX CREDIT.

THERE SEEMS TO BE RECOGNITION WE OWE A HUGE DEBT TO OUR FAMILIES.

OUR FAMILIES ARE OFTEN LED BY WOMEN, AND WOMEN WERE OFTEN THE ESSENTIAL WORKERS THAT PUT THEIR LIVES AT RISK DURING THE PEAK OF THE PANDEMIC SO THAT MOST OF US COULD SAFELY SHELTER IN PLACE.

WE OWE IT TO THOSE FAMILIES, WE OWE IT TO THOSE HOUSEHOLD HEADS TO GIVE THEM THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO LIFT THEIR CHILDREN OUT OF POVERTY.

REPUBLICAN SENATOR AND FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY PROPOSED SOMETHING THAT AT LEAST TO THE NAKED EYE LOOKS VERY SIMILAR TO THE PROPOSAL THAT YOU AND YOUR FELLOW CONGRESSWOMEN ARE PROPOSING.

WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES.

BUT I GUESS THAT'S A SIGN OF HOPE THAT THIS WILL HAPPEN, MAYBE?

THERE ARE DIFFERENCES AT THE LEVEL OF DETAIL.

BUT THERE ARE SEVERAL REPUBLICANS, LIKE MARCO RUBIO AND ROM, WHO HAVE COME OUT WITH THEIR OWN PROPOSALS WHICH DEMONSTRATE BOTH THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF SUPPORT FOR ENDING CHILD POVERTY IN AMERICA.

WHAT POSSIBLE ARGUMENT CAN EXIST AGAINST ENDING CHILD POVERTY?

WELL, I'LL TELL YOU WHAT THE ARGUMENTS THAT I'VE HEARD ABOUT THIS ARE.

WITHIN CONGRESS AND OUTSIDE OF CONGRESS.

AND YOU'VE HEARD THEM TOO.

THEY SAY THAT THIS BILL WOULD SIMPLY BRING BACK THE WELFARE DEPENDANCE THAT THE WELFARE REFORM LAW OF 1996 TRIED TO END, DEPENDANCE THEY BELIEVE INCREASED RATHER THAN DECREASED POVERTY IN THE LONG RUN.

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

AND THEY SAY THAT IT DOES THAT BY DEINCENTIVIZING WORK AND MARRIAGE.

WELL, FIRST, NO CHILD CHOOSES TO BE POOR.

RIGHT?

SO IT IS MUCH WISER TO LIFT THE CHILD OUT OF POVERTY THAN TO CONDEMN A CHILD TO A LIFE OF SENSELESS SUFFERING SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT OF BIRTH.

THE RESEARCH IS CRYSTAL CLEAR.

WHEN YOU LIFT CHILDREN OUT OF POVERTY, YOU RADICALLY IMPROVE THEIR LIFE OUTCOMES.

IF YOU KEEP THEM IN POVERTY, YOU WILL HAVE LOWER TEST SCORES, LOWER GRADUATION RATES, A LESSER QUALITY OF LIFE.

IT'S GOING TO POISON EVERY ASPECT OF THEIR LIVES.

THE RESEARCH IS CRYSTAL CLEAR ENDING CHILD POVERTY IS A NET BENEFIT, NOT ONLY TO THOSE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, BUT SOCIETY AT LARGE.

OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRIES HAVE SOMETHING SIMILAR TO A PERMANENT CHILD TAX CREDIT.

FOR EXAMPLE, CANADA.

WHAT LESSONS CAN WE LEARN FROM THEIR EXPERIENCE?

I'M GUESSING YOU LOOKED INTO IT.

WE SHOULD FOLLOW THEIR EXAMPLE.

WE'RE ONE OF THE FEW INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES THAT DOESN'T HAVE BASIC INCOME FOR CHILDREN.

PROGRAMS LIKE MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY RECOGNIZE WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO CARE FOR THE VULNERABLE, PARTICULARLY SENIOR CITIZENS.

WE SHOULD APPLY THE SAME COMPASSION AND EMPATHY TO OUR CHILDREN, WHO ARE BLAMELESS FOR THEIR SUFFERING IN LIFE.

NO CHILD CHOSE TO BE BORN INTO POVERTY.

SO WE SHOULD GIVE EVERY CHILD IN AMERICA A FIGHTING CHANCE AT A DECENT LIFE.

THIS IS HISTORIC, LAND LARK LEGISLATION.

IF IT SHOULD PASS, AND I'M READING IT'S LIKELY TO PASS BECAUSE OF YOUR EFFORTS, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?

IT IS BEING CALLED THE EQUIVALENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY FOR CHILDREN.

YOU AR FRESHMAN CONGRESSMAN, THREE MONTHS INTO THE JOB, AND YOU ARE ON THE BRINK, PERHAPS, OF BEING ONE OF THE ARCHITECTS OF A LANDMARK PIECE OF LEGISLATION.

IF IT HAPPENS, HOW DO YOU THINK YOU'D FEEL, AND HOW DOES IT FEEL GETTING THIS CLOSE ALREADY?

IT'S A GREAT SATISFACTION OF PUBLIC SERVICE.

EVEN WHEN I LEAVE THE BRONX FOR WASHINGTON, D.C., THE BRONX NEVER LEAVES ME.

IT'S DEEPLY GRATIFYING TO KNOW THAT I HAD A SMALL ROLE IN CRAFTING LEGISLATION THAT WILL LIFT CHILDREN IN MY DISTRICT OUT OF POVERTY, THAT'S GOING TO HAVE A TRANSFORMATIONAL IMPACT ON THEIR LIVES.

I'VE BEEN ADVOCATING FOR THE CHILD TAX CREDIT LONG BEFORE I ASSUMED OFFICE IN CONGRESS.

I WROTE AN OP-ED ABOUT IT NEARLY A YEAR AGO.

I FELT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING THIS WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY COULD ADVANCE.

IT WAS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO DEMONSTRATE TO AMERICA THAT WE WERE RETURNING HOME AS THE PARTY OF FDR THAT WE ARE THE PARTY OF FAMILIES AND CHILDREN.

LET ME GO BACK TO LOOK AT THE COVID STIMULUS PACKAGE AS IT MIGHT AFFECT NEW YORK CITY.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT, IS THERE SOME PART OF IT THAT YOU -- IT'S GENEROUS BUT IS THERE SOME PART THAT YOU THINK IS DISAPPOINTING FOR NEW YORK CITY?

NO LEGISLATION IS PERFECT.

BUT A $1.9 TRILLION INVESTMENT FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IS A GAME CHANGER.

MY VIEW IS THAT WE HAVE MORE TO FEAR FROM DOING TOO LITTLE THAN FROM DOING TOO MUCH.

IF WE HAD CHOSEN TO DO TOO LITTLE, IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN US THREE YEARS TO RETURN TO PREPANDEMIC LEVELS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH, IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN US A YEAR TO RETURN TO FULL EMPLOYMENT.

AS A RESULT OF THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A FASTER AND STRONGER RECOVERY, WHICH IS A WIN FOR NEW YORK STATE.

NEW YORK STATE IS SET TO RECEIVE ABOUT $100 BILLION IN FUNDING.

MOST OF THOSE DOLLARS ARE GOING TO BE PUT IN THE POCKET OF STRUGGLING FAMILIES.

NOT ONLY IN THE FORM OF AN EXPANDED TAX CREDIT, BUT ALSO IN THE FORM OF A ONE-TIME STIMULUS PAYMENT, $1,400 PER DEPENDANT, WHICH FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR IS $5,600, REAL MONEY.

THERE'S GOING TO BE AN ENHANCED EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT.

THERE'S GOING TO BE A CONTINUATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE, $300 A WEEK UNTIL SEPTEMBER.

IT'S WORTH KNOWING THERE'S GOING TO BE AN EFFORT TO RESTRUCTURE THE CHILD TAX CREDIT.

NOT AS AN ANNUAL, BUT AS A MONTHLY PAYMENT.

WE ALL PAY OUR EXPENSES MONTHLY.

AND SO IT'S MORE LOGICAL TO STRUCTURE IT AS A MONTHLY PAYMENT.

SO FAMILIES WILL RECEIVE UP TO $300 PER CHILD EVERY MONTH, WHICH AGAIN IS A GAME CHANGER.

THAT'S MONEY THAT CAN GO TOWARD FOOD, PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, HOUSING, HEALTH CARE, ALL THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE.

NOW THE STATE BUDGET IS SUPPOSED TO BE SIGNED BY APRIL 1st, A FEW DAYS AWAY.

HOW DO YOU EXPECT THAT BUDGET TO HELP THE CITY AND TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU BELIEVE THE SCANDAL SWIRLING AROUND THE GOVERNOR IS GOING TO IMPACT NEGATIVELY THROUGH THE WHOLE PROCESS?

LOOK, I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT DESPITE THE CONTROVERSY, THE GOVERNOR AND THE ASSEMBLY SPEAKER AND THE MAJORITY LEADER ARE GOING TO NEGOTIATE A BUDGET THAT WORKS FOR NEW YORK STATE AND THE FUNDING FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO RADICALLY IMPROVE THE FISCAL CONDITION OF BOTH THE STATE AND THE CITY, AS WELL AS THE MPA.

THE MPA RECEIVED $6.5 BILLION FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

NEW YORK STATE GOVERNMENT RECEIVED ABOUT $12 BILLION OF LOCAL AID, THE LOCAL CITY GOVERNMENT $6 BILLION OF LOCAL AID.

IT'S GOING TO BE MUCH EASIER TO NEGOTIATE BUDGETS WITH AN INFUSION OF FEDERAL FUNDING.

DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNOR -- WHAT'S YOUR TAKE, QUICKLY?

40, 50 SECONDS LEFT.

SHOULD THE GOVERNOR STAY, RESIGN?

THE DECISION LIES WITH THE ASSEMBLY AND THE GOVERNOR.

I'M GOING TO WAIT FOR THE FINDINGS OF THE INVESTIGATION BEFORE I RENDER JUDGMENT ON THE SUBSTANCE OF THE ALLEGATION.

BUT THE DECISION RESTS WITH THE GOVERNOR AND THE STATE ASSEMBLY.

ALL RIGHT.

WE HAVE A LITTLE MORE TIME, SO I'M GOING TO ASK YOU THE QUESTION THAT I WANTED TO ASK.

THERE WAS AN IMBROGLIO WHEN YOU GOT ELECTED.

YOU WANTED TO BE BOTH IN THE BLACK CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS AND HISPANIC CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS, WHICH WAS NOT ALLOWED.

YOU RILED SOME PEOPLE.

DID YOU GET TO DO WHAT I WANTED TO DO?

HAPPY TO REPORT THAT THE BARRIER HAS BEEN BROKEN, AND I'M PROUDLY A MEMBER OF BOTH THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS AND THE CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS.

I DIDN'T THINK IT WOULD BE OTHERWISE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, CONGRESSMAN.

A PLEASURE TO TALK TO YOU.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE, TAKE CARE.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

> NEW YORK CITY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS RETURN TO CLASSROOMS THIS WEEK FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE NOVEMBER.

THIS RETURN TO IN-PERSON LEARNING MARKS ANOTHER MILESTONE FOR THE NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM WHICH WENT COMPLETELY REMOTE WHEN THE PANDEMIC BEGAN LAST SPRING AND HAS HAD A STOP AND START RETURN SINCE FALL.

THE REOPENING COINCIDED WITH ANOTHER BIG DEVELOPMENT THAT MAY HELP GET MORE STUDENTS BACK TO IN-PERSON LEARNING NOT JUST IN NEW YORK BUT ACROSS THE COUNTRY AS WELL, NEW GUIDANCE FROM THE CDC ON SOCIAL DISTANCING INSIDE THE CLASSROOM.

PREVIOUSLY THE GUIDANCE HAD BEEN SIX FEET OF DISTANCE BETWEEN STUDENTS.

THAT'S NOW BEEN REDUCED TO A SUGGESTED THREE FEET OF DISTANCE WITH OTHER PROPER PROTOCOLS IN PLACE.

MANY FAMILIES ARE STILL ASKING THEMSELVES, IS THAT REALLY SAFE?

WHAT WILL THOSE SAFETY PROTOCOLS LOOK LIKE?

TO HELP US ANSWER A NUMBER OF QUESTIONS, WE'RE PLEASED TO HAVE WITH US A GOOD FRIEND, NOTED PHYSICIAN AND AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, AMONG OTHER POSITIONS, THE FORMER NBC NEWS CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT, OUR GOOD FRIEND, DR. BOB WARD.

I'M SEEING YOU WITH A DARKENED BACKDROP.

A FORMER YALE FOOTBALL PLAYER WHO LOST TO DARTMOUTH A COUPLE OF TIMES, A LITTLE PAINFUL, BUT WE'LL ALLOW THAT TO EXIST NONETHELESS BECAUSE YOU ARE SUCH A GOOD FRIEND.

LET ME START OFF IF I CAN WITH THIS NEWS THAT I MENTIONED.

SO ORIGINALLY WE WERE TOLD THAT SIX FEET OF DISTANCING, IT'S BEEN THE MAGIC NUMBER EVERYWHERE.

BUT INSIDE CLASS MANY ROOS.

NOW CDC SAID, ALL RIGHT, WE ARE WILLING TO SAY, REDUCE THAT SIX FEET TO THREE FEET.

I SUSPECT PEOPLE ARE SAYING, WHY?

IF YOU WERE SAYING SIX FEET IS NEEDED, WHAT'S THE SCIENCE BEHIND NOW SAYING THREE CAN REMAIN SAFE?

WHAT'S THE ANSWER TO THAT?

JACK, THE SCIENCE ISN'T NECESSARILY THERE, THAT IS, SINCE THE 1930s WE'VE KNOWN THAT IF YOU HAVE A DROPLET COME OUT OF YOUR MOUTH, IT DROPS IN ABOUT THREE FEET.

THE NEWER SCIENCE SHOWS IF YOU'RE TALKING LIKE THIS LOUDLY, IT MIGHT BE SIX, EIGHT FEET, WHATNOT.

SO IT'S PREDICATED ON THE FACT THAT PEOPLE ARE WEARING GOOD, HIGH-QUALITY MASKS.

THIS IS MORE AN OBSERVATION, THA THAT IS, THE CDC LOOKED AT ALL THEIR DATA AND SAID, WE DON'T SEE ANY MORE INFECTIONS WITH THREE FEET THAN SIX FEET.

SO IT'S REALLY A DEDUCTION AS OPPOSED TO ANY SCIENTIFIC PROOF.

LET ME ALSO ASK YOU ABOUT THE IDEA OF SCHOOLS THEMSELVES IN TERMS OF WHAT WE'VE SEEN WITH REGARD TO AN INCIDENCE OF THE SPREADING OF THE VIRUS WITHIN SCHOOL SYSTEMS AND SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTS.

WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN?

SO HERE'S THE INTERESTING THING.

65,000 SCHOOLS IN ITALY.

THEY FOUND 90% OF THE CASES WERE JUST A SINGLE CASE.

HERE IN THE U.S., VERY, VERY LITTLE, IF ANY, SPREAD WITHIN A CLASSROOM.

SO WE TURN THE ARGUMENT ON ITS END.

PARENTS ARE SO FEARFUL OF THE SUPER SPREADERS, LIKE PUT KIDS INTO CLASSROOMS, THEY ALL GET SICK, TEACHERS GET SICK, IT'S GOING TO BE A MESS.

WE GOT IT EXACTLY WRONG.

RHODE ISLAND AND CALIFORNIA AND VERMONT, WE HAVE GOOD DATA THAT SHOWS THOSE KIDS WHO HAVE REMOTE LEARNING ARE MORE LIKELY TO GET INFECTED THAN THE KIDS AT SCHOOL.

WHY?

IN A HOUSE LIKE MINE RIGHT HERE, THERE'S NO VENTILATION.

SOMEONE COMES IN, THE KID'S DOING REMOTE LEARNING, THE DELIVERY PERSON COMES BY, PIZZA, THEY SAY HELLO THAT VIRUS SITS UP THERE FOR HOURS.

SO I THINK THAT WE'VE HAD THIS FEAR WHICH HAS BEEN UNFOUNDED.

IT'S ACTUALLY IN THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT SAFER FOR YOUR CHILD TO BE AT SCHOOL THAN DOING SOME KIND OF REMOTE LEARNING.

THIS ALL HAS TO DO WITH WHAT WE CALL A RING DEFENSE.

THINK BACK TO MEDIEVAL MOVIES, THE MOAT, THE WALL, WHATNOT.

THEY ALSO CALL IT THE SWISS CHEESE DEFENSE.

YEAH, THERE'S A LITTLE HOLE IN EACH PART OF THE STRATEGY, BUT PUT ALL THOSE PIECES OF SWISS CHEESE TOGETHER, YOU WIN.

YOU HAVE THE MASK, THE DISTANCE, THE VENTILATION, THE QUALITY CONTROL, YOU HAVE ALL OF THIS, STACK IT TOGETHER, WE'VE DONE VERY WELL.

I'M STILL AN ADVISE TO THE SOUTH UNIFIED UNION SCHOOL BOARD.

SO I AM OUT IN CLASSROOMS TWO, THREE DAYS A WEEK.

I HAVE MY CO2 METER HERE.

I'M RUNNING AROUND AND CHECKING ALL THE ROOMS FOR CO2 AND VENTILATION.

I THINK WE'VE DONE A NUMBER OF THINGS REALLY WELL HERE.

GRACIE REDD, OUR SUPERINTENDENT, NINA SLATER, OUR LOGICAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, HAVE BEEN FANTASTIC.

SCIENTIFIC PAPER, THEY INSTANTLY SAY, GO DO THAT.

EARLY ON, WHEN WE REALLY DETERMINED THAT THIS WAS A VIRUS SITTING OUT THERE -- IT WASN'T PLOP AND DROP, YOU COUGH AND THE DROPLET GOES ON THE FLOOR, YOU WEAR A MASK, YOU'RE FINE.

NYT, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY NOW SAY, SIX FEET OR THREE FEET.

AND MASKING IS SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH.

THE BIG, BIG, BIG POINT IS YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE GOOD, CLEAN, FRESH AIR.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THAT.

I'LL GET TO THAT IN A SECOND.

I SUSPECT SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING, OH, BOY, WE'RE A SMALL SCHOOL SYSTEM, DOES THAT MEAN WE HAVE TO TEAR OUT OUR WHOLE HVAC SYSTEM AND COME UP WITH SOMETHING NEW AND HIGH-POWERED AND STATE OF THE ART?

WE TALKED ABOUT THIS LAST TIME WE CHATTED A NUMBER OF MONTHS AGO.

WHAT CAN YOU SAY TO SCHOOLS ABOUT, OKAY, HOW DO YOU IMPROVE THE AIRFLOW IN YOUR SCHOOL IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO TEAR OUT THE WHOLE SYSTEM?

MOST SCHOOLS DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO TEAR OUT THE WHOLE SYSTEM.

RIGHT.

THE NEW YORK TIMES TO THEIR CREDIT HAD A WONDERFUL ARTICLE ON THIS, GREAT ILLUSTRATIONS.

THEY SHOWED ONE SINGLE INDIVIDUAL IN THE CLASSROOM.

YOU HAVE THE VIRUS SPEWING OUT OVERHEAD.

MIXING AROUND SO IT'S JUST A WHOLE SORT OF SWARM OF VIRUS IN THE CLASSROOM.

I SAW THAT.

IT WAS FRIGHTENING.

WHEN YOU GOT TO THE LAST PANEL OF ALL THE LINES OF VIRUS, IT WAS SCARY.

ACTUALLY, I JUST -- I SAID TO THE WHITE HOUSE, YOU'RE MISSING ONE BIG POINT THAT PEOPLE ARE WALKING INTO BUILDINGS AS IF THEY'RE ON FIRE WITH NO SMOKE DETECTORS.

YOU HAVE ALL THIS VIRUS OUT THERE.

WASHINGTON STATE, IF YOU GO INTO A RESTAURANT THERE THEY ACTUALLY MONITOR THEIR CO2 LEVELS.

SO MONITORING IS EASY.

WE RAN INTO THIS, JACK.

I HAD A HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL WHO SAID, I DON'T WANT YOU TO MEASURE.

SHE DIDN'T WANT TO FIND OUT.

AFRAID OF WHAT THE VALUES WOULD BE.

AFRAID SHE COULDN'T DO SOMETHING.

WE WENT IN AND FOUND THERE WERE TWO SIMPLE FIXES.

WINDOWS.

NOW THAT IT'S SPRING, WINDOWS.

WE FOUND OPENING THE TOP WINDOW IS MOST IMPORTANT, THE BOTTOM WINDOW -- AS LONG AS YOU HAVE A WINDOW IN THAT CLASSROOM, YOU CAN OPEN UP.

THE OTHER THING IS THERE HASN'T BEEN A DOMAIN EXPERT, A REAL EXPERT, IN OTHER WORDS, YOU HAVE THE HVAC PEOPLE.

THEY KNOW ALL THE SYSTEMS AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERING.

THEY'RE GOING, DON'T MESS WITH MY SYSTEM.

BUT THE FACT IS, YOU CAN'T BREAK IT.

IF YOU IN THE DEAD OF WINTER LEFT ALL YOUR WINDOWS OPEN, YEAH YOU'D FREEZE SOME PIPES.

BUT WHAT WE DID HERE IS OPENED THE DAMPER UP, BROUGHT MORE FRESH AIR IN.

THE SHORT-TERM SOLUTION IS, YES, NOW THAT SPRING IS HERE, OPEN YOUR WINDOWS, IT'S YOUR FRIEND, IT'S NO EXPENSE.

BUT KNOW IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM IN A PARTICULAR CLASSROOM, AND WE'VE BEEN ADVOCATING FOR FOUR MONTHS TO ALLOW THREE FEET BECAUSE WE RECKONED, HEY, YOU'VE GOT A MASK ON.

THE VIRUS ISN'T GOING OUT AT SOMEBODY ANYMORE.

YOU HAVE A MASK ON, RIGHT?

THE VIRUS IS GOING UP LIKE THIS.

IT'S GOING UP, FORMING A CLOUD THAT'S COMING DOWN AT YOU.

SO YEAH, I DON'T THINK YOU EVER NEEDED THAT SIX-FOOT RULE, YOU NEED HIGH-QUALITY MASKING AND FRESH AIR INSIDE.

EASILY AVAILABLE, OPEN THE WINDOW.

TELL ME ABOUT THE MONITOR, THE CO2 MONITOR.

WHY IS, FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE NOT SCIENTISTS, WHY IS IT THE CO2 THAT'S THE IMPORTANT FIGURE?

WHAT DOES THAT SHOW YOU WHEN YOU'RE WALKING INTO A ROOM WITH THAT IN YOUR HANDS?

WHAT WE KNOW, JACK, IS THAT IF YOU HAVE SIX OR MORE AIR EXCHANGES AN HOUR -- THE AIR IS COMPLETELY EXCHANGED SIX OR MORE TIMES -- ON AN AIRPLANE IT'S EVERY TWO MINUTES -- YOU'RE GETTING RID OF 97% OR MORE OF A VIRUS.

IN TAIWAN, THEY HAVE ONE OF THESE DEVICES, MEASURES CO2, CARBON DIOXIDE.

IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CARBON DIOXIDE ITSELF.

THIS IS SIMPLY A MEASURE OF, IS THE AIR MOVING OUT OF HERE QUICKLY OR NOT?

IF YOU'RE BELOW 800, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE REASONABLY SAFE.

BELOW 600, YOU MAY HAVE NO INFECTION AT ALL.

HERE IN MY HOUSE, I'M 1445.

YOU KNOW, IF YOU CAME HERE, YOU'D PROBABLY GET SICK.

SO IT'S --

IT'S JUST SHOWING YOU, IS THE AIR BEING EXCHANGED?

IS IT MOVING ALONG?

AS YOU SAID, OPEN THE WINDOW AND IT WILL BE.

I BOUGHT THIS FOR ABOUT $300.

I'VE BEEN THROUGH FOUR SCHOOLS WITH IT, LOCAL BUSINESSES, RESTAURANTS, DELIS, SUPERMARKETS.

ONE OF THESE, THE WHOLE LOCAL DISTRICT HERE.

REASONABLY INEXPENSIVE.

I THINK THE CDC HAS GOT IT RUN IS THE SHOTGUN LIST OF A MILLION DIFFERENT THINGS TO DO.

WASHING YOUR HANDS WE'RE TELLING YOU IS A MISTAKE, BECAUSE YOU'RE VIEWING VIRUS ON THE WAY TO THE BATHROOM, ONCE YOU'RE IN THERE PROBABLY NO VENTILATION, TOUCHING FAUCETS -- I THINK THEY'VE GIVEN -- THEY'RE SO WORRIED, THEY WANT TO BE SO CONSERVATIVE, THEY'VE GIVEN US ALL THIS STUFF.

THE FACT IS YOU PRIORITIZE.

NUMBER ONE, FIRST AND FOREMOST, GET THAT FRESH, OUTDOOR AIR INSIDE.

NUMBER TWO, WEAR A VERY HIGH FILTRATION MASK.

MASKS PEOPLE WEAR, BELOW THEIR NOSE, DOWN THEIR CHIN.

THREE, PROTECTION.

IF YOU HAVE A HIGH-FILTRATION MASK, LIKE WE TALKED ABOUT LAST TIME, THE KEY THING, AS YOU WERE SAYING, ON THE BRIDGE OF YOUR NOSE, ALONG THE SIDE --

UNDER YOUR CHIN.

I GOT THE ONE THAT YOU RECOMMENDED TO ME.

LITERALLY, FINISHED OUR VIEW, GOT ON THE PHONE, THEY'RE FABULOUS.

TIGHTENED AROUND HERE, AROUND YOUR CHIN, YOU FEEL PROTECTED.

THIS IS 97% PROTECTION.

NOW AT HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL, THEY HAVE A COUPLE OF PROFESSORS WHO ARE SAYING, EVERYBODY OUGHT TO BE IN AN N95 MASK.

THEY HAVE THE HEALTHY BUILDINGS PROBLEM AT HARVARD.

EVERYBODY OUGHT TO BE IN N95 STYLE MASKS.

'STYLE' BECAUSE WE'RE OUT OF THE N95S.

BOUGHT A SUBSTANTIAL EQUIVALENT THAT'S GONE THROUGH THE SAME TESTING AT NELSON LABS, IT DEFLECTS MORE PARTICLES, IT'S SUPER BREATHABLE, AND THERE ARE A NUMBER OF MANUFACTURERS, THEY'RE AVAILABLE IN THE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS, JACK.

SO EVERYBODY COULD HAVE THESE.

THEY'RE EASY TO GET AND INEXPENSIVE.

I WENT ONLINE AND GOT THEM.

WHAT ABOUT THE IDEA OF MASKS AFTER YOU'VE BEEN VACCINATED?

NOW WE'RE SEEING TEACHERS ARE GETTING VACCINATED.

PEOPLE IN OUR AGE GROUP ARE GETTING OUR VACCINATIONS.

AND CERTAINLY IT LIFTS THIS CLOAK OF ANXIETY, BUT I'M STILL WEARING MINE WHEN I GO TO THE FOOD STORE AND THEY'RE SAYING YOU SHOULD STILL WEAR -- YET SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING, WHY DO I HAVE TO WEAR IT IF I'M VACCINATED?

THE ANSWER IS YOU SHOULD WEAR THE MASK BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE THE DATA YET TO PROVE WE CAN'T SPREAD THE VIRUS IF WE WEAR A MASK.

WE'RE SEEING A DRAMATIC DROP IN HOSPITALIZATIONS AND DEATHS AND INFECTIONS AND WHATNOT.

THEY HAVE NOW THE HIGHEST VACCINATION RATE IN THE WORLD.

BUT WE JUST DON'T KNOW.

AND IT MAY BE, FOR SOMEONE THAT'S OVER 65, SO ACTUALLY MAYBE 80% EFFECTIVE.

SO MAYBE YOU ARE INFECTED, BRINGING IT FROM ONE PERSON TO THE OTHER.

THE OTHER IS, JACK, LOOK, ALL OF US WILL BE VACCINATED BY MAY OR JUNE, RIGHT?

WE HAVE TENS OF MILLIONS OF CHILDREN FOR WHOM THERE IS NO CURRENT VACCINE THAT WE'VE GOT TO PROTECT.

BECAUSE NOT A LOT OF KIDS GET SICK, BUT THEY HAVE THIS MULTI INFLAMMATORY CHILDREN THAT KILL KIDS.

AGAIN, NOT A LOT GET IT, BUT IF IT'S YOURS, THAT'S ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW.

WEAR THE MASK.

VACCINATION IS PART OF THE RING PROTECTION.

THE ONE FROM ASTRAZENECA, 67% PROTECTION.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON, PROBABLY LESS.

THE GOOD NEWS IS IT'S OUT THERE BUT WE'VE GOT TO FOLLOW ALL THESE PROTOCOLS.

WE REALLY DO, IT'S VERY IMPORTANT.

>'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONEL FOUNDATION, AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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