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Coronavirus Pandemic; Italian Hospitals Strain Under Flood Of Patients; Many Countries Imposing Lockdown; U.K. Mother's Day Warning; Spain Now Among Hardest Hit By COVID-19; Nigeria Prepares For Possible Surge Of Infections; Iran's Ayatollah Addresses Nation Amid Pandemic; Working To Meet Growing Demand For Ventilators; Human Impact On Environment May Drive Spread Of Disease; Distillery Halts Liquor Production To Make Hand Sanitizer; Coronavirus Outbreak Leads To Street Wedding. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 22, 2020 - 03:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Italy marking nearly 800 deaths in one day from the coronavirus as health care workers and officials continue to urge people to stay home.

In America, the government approves a new coronavirus test which could give results in less than one hour. We'll look into that.

And a distillery in Pennsylvania has put a pause on liquor production to make a different sort of alcohol.


ALLEN: Thank you again for joining us, it's 3:00 am here in Atlanta, Georgia.

And as the world wrestles with an unprecedented pandemic, a California biotech company may help turn the tide. The U.S. government has approved a new coronavirus test kit that promises to deliver results in under an hour instead of days.

The number of known cases in the U.S. has soared to well over 25,000 with more than 320 reported deaths. Rapid testing could save countless lives.

In Europe, health officials in Spain report a dramatic spike of 5,000 cases across the country in 24 hours. And the prime minister warned the crisis is only beginning.


PEDRO SANCHEZ, SPANISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Unfortunately, the worse is yet to come. There are still hard days ahead. We will still have to receive the impact of the hardest, most damaging wave which will put all of our material and moral capacities to the limit. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: CNN is covering this story from all angles around the world from hardhit Italy to Nigeria, which has weathered the Ebola crisis, and many cities in between.

Italy, of course, has far more COVID-19 cases than any other country in Europe. On Saturday, it reported a staggering number of fatalities, nearly 800 deaths in 24 hours. In hardhit northern Italy, hospitals are at the breaking point. Melissa Bell has our report.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The front line of Europe's battle against coronavirus. With its soldiers in a race against time that is so far being lost. Northern Italian hospitals like this one in Cremona already creaking under the strain.

Dr. Angelo Pan shows us around its operating rooms now transformed into makeshift intensive care units, the ICUs overwhelmed by the sheer number of COVID-19 patients.

DR. ANGELO PAN, CREMONA HOSPITAL: There is not enough room in the ICU. If Milan will be badly spiked by the outbreak, it's going to be corona for everybody.

BELL (voice-over): Beyond the shortage of beds and ventilators, the doctors getting sick themselves. Dr. Pan has had one day off in the last six weeks, he said total confinement is the world's only hope.

PAN: We can win the battle. If the people will keep on having contacts with each other outside in the restaurants, in the bars, in the supermarkets and so the infection will spread, will keep on spreading, it's going to be very tough.

BELL (voice-over): And his message to the outside world?

PAN: If you're not involved in the war, in the hospital, if you're not a (INAUDIBLE) worker, stay home and think about life. This is a good opportunity.

BELL (voice-over): Melissa Bell, CNN.


ALLEN: CNN's Delia Gallagher joins us from Rome.

You've been covering this terrible, terrible news from Italy. We know many doctors have lost their lives in Italy trying to curtail this. But it seems every day the numbers keep growing.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: That's right and the numbers from yesterday prompted the prime minister late last night at 11:30 to go on Facebook and announce even more strict measures.

He is closing all non-essential factories and business. He says this is the most severe crisis to hit Italy since World War II.

Now the health authorities are still pointing to age as a major factor in these deaths, Natalie. They say the average age of those who have died is 80 years old and 98 percent of them had one or more underlying health conditions. Italy has a very large elderly population, so they are really pointing to that as a major factor in the high death toll.

Another aspect of this story, Natalie, is that the people who die under lockdown don't have funerals. Funerals are suspended.


GALLAGHER: You can imagine the psychological toll for family and friends who cannot accompany their loved ones in the last moments of their lives or give them a proper funeral. In one of the hardest-hit cities in the north, they don't even have space in their cemeteries to be buried.

In many cases the coffins are taken by military convoy to a neighboring city. You can imagine for friends and family not able to accompany those coffins or bury them in their hometowns, the psychological toll this is also taking on those people.

ALLEN: I can't imagine. Every day, Delia, we talk about the death toll. And you never see a face of the victims. We never hear their names. It's just too overwhelming.

So I want to ask you, how are Italians responding to this news of the high death tolls?

How are they coping with this?

GALLAGHER: Well, look, everybody is devastated. We get news every day at 6:00 from the civil protection authorities that give us the latest tallies. And, of course, it takes a huge toll on everybody.

I have to say, Natalie, Italians are stepping up. They called for 300 doctors to come out of retirement to help volunteer in the north. They got 7,000 responses for that. So that's one example of how Italians are also willing to go and help out, especially in the north. Those doctors and nurses who are really being heroes there on the front lines.

ALLEN: I hope they can feel the world's support for them. Delia Gallagher, we'll see you again.

As we mentioned, the U.S. government has approved a COVID-19 test that could speed up the verification of new infections. That kit promises to deliver test results in just 45 minutes. But as cases soar in the U.S. past 25,000, there are new guidelines on testing. Melisa Raney has the details of that.


MELISA RANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The number of coronavirus cases climbing as tens of thousands of people have been tested. And now some doctors are signaling a shift in testing strategy.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Not every single person in the United States needs to get tested.

RANEY (voice-over): Health officials in Los Angeles and New York City are recommending doctors avoid testing patients except in cases where the result would significantly change treatment.

FAUCI: When you go in and get tested you are consuming personal protective equipment, masks and gowns.

RANEY (voice-over): This comes as health care workers are sounding the alarm, saying medical supplies like masks and gloves are starting to run out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We absolutely feel like we are in this alone as doctors, nurses, paramedics and even hospitals.

RANEY (voice-over): The White House coronavirus task force says those much-needed supplies are on the way.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: HHS just placed an order for hundreds of millions of N-95 masks that will be being made available to health care providers across the country.

RANEY (voice-over): Meanwhile, President Trump urging Americans to heed warnings from federal health officials to slow the spread of the virus.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every American has a role to play in defending our nation from this invisible, horrible enemy.

RANEY (voice-over): On Saturday, more than one-fifth of Americans were under orders to stay home. That's about 75 million people in Connecticut, Illinois, New York and California, where authorities say only essential workers are allowed away from home.

TRUMP: Stay at home and save lives. There's a time of shared national sacrifice.

RANEY (voice-over): I'm Melisa Raney reporting.


ALLEN: With us from Reading, England, is Al Edwards, an associate professor of biomedical technology at the University of Reading School of Pharmacy.

Good morning to you.


ALLEN: Thank you. We'll talk about the United States in a moment. But I want to start with Italy, one death every two minutes. On Saturday, officials reporting almost 800 additional deaths, the largest single day increase so far.

What is Italy's story, what are the lessons learned?

EDWARDS: I think the real tragedy is that the lessons we're learning now are coming home really hard. Once this virus takes hold in terms of spreading, it spreads devastatingly quickly.

And there's no question that health services can set up, this is one of the most funded, most well established public health systems in the world. And it's completely overwhelmed. We're seeing these dramatic scenes, it's really devastating.

ALLEN: Yes, and now France, Spain, the U.K., the U.S. clamping down on people's movements, ordering citizens to stay home. Let's talk about the countries that have gotten ahead of the spread, because it seems like these countries are catching up.

Who's gotten it right?

And what did they do?


EDWARDS: So it's definitely clear that in South Korea the extensive testing and tracing has been able to contain the spread.

And what's happened in countries where it's spread more dramatically is, by the time countries have noticed that there's widespread transmission in that country, it's actually become too late to slow down the transmission.

But it's very, very hard for us all to follow that lead of places like South Korea, because I don't think many people have the capacity to do the testing at the scale it's needed to keep this virus contained.

ALLEN: And a story from the United States, which has less hospital beds per capita than Italy, doctors and nurses expressing not just frustration but fears.

And now health officials in New York City and Los Angeles County are signaling a change in local strategy when it comes to testing, recommending doctors avoid testing patients, except in cases where a test result would significantly change the course of treatment. Talk with us about this approach.

EDWARDS: So it's exactly what we saw, probably -- it feels like a long time ago but really only a week ago in the U.K. The resources get stretched. You have to send somebody out, they have to have personal protective equipment, otherwise there's a risk they will get infected and spread the infection.

They have to take a swab from a patient at home, take it to a testing center and we'll just run out of testing capability. That's happening in the U.K. already. We're maxed out in Italy as well, in terms of testing.

Even though we're doing tens if not hundreds of tests, we're running out of capacity. It's really important that people understand that they have to stay at home. They have to look after themselves at home, not spread the virus around. And the test is not such an important thing for them right now.

ALLEN: Right, and that is the key, that people adhere to what they're hearing about staying at home. You know, there's been complacency. There's been misinformation. We've had politicians saying one thing. We've had the experts, like you, saying another.

How critical right now for the U.K., for Spain and now for the United States is compliance?

EDWARDS: It's a really tough one because we're asking people to make dramatic sacrifices.

People are losing their jobs because they're staying home. But it's also very clear that the reason we're getting this one death every two minutes in Italy is because large proportions of the population have, unfortunately, without knowing, been spreading this virus around.

So this is a fire that we're fighting. And the fire is burning on humans passing the virus around. And it's very difficult to stop.

ALLEN: Right. This virus is in the U.S. for two months without really any action. And we're seeing that now as these cases come to light. We really appreciate your expertise, Al Edwards, expert in biomedical technology, thank you so much.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

ALLEN: Well, COVID-19 is changing way we live, even the way we honor our loved ones. In the U.K., the prime minister has a stark warning for British Mother's Day, which is today.

Plus, we'll show you how Nigeria is using past outbreaks to prepare a surge in the coronavirus. Much more ahead here. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.






ALLEN: We continue to look at different countries around the world and what's happening there. COVID-19 cases have spiked dramatically in Spain with more than 5,000 new cases reported in one day, bringing the number to 25,000, making it the third hardest hit in the world behind China and Italy. Meantime, in the U.K., the prime minister has issued a stark holiday

warning. We're covering all of it, joined by Hadas Gold in London and Al Goodman in Madrid.

Mother's Day is something that will not be celebrated as usual there.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Natalie. Today is technically Mother's Day for the United Kingdom. But yesterday Boris Johnson issued that warning that the best gift you could give to your mother on Mother's Day is to stay away.

It says, "Stay away from Mum," saying it's the best way to protect the elderly and vulnerable, many of them who may be our mothers. This is part of the warning the prime minister issued yesterday, saying if people don't take the social distancing order seriously, the National Health Service here in the United Kingdom will be overwhelmed.

The U.K. are on track to meet with place like Italy, where we are already seeing overwhelmed hospitals. He said yesterday Italy has a good health service like the United Kingdom. If they're being overwhelmed, the U.K. will not be far behind unless people take social distancing seriously.

They've closed the restaurants, pubs, gyms, clubs, movie theaters. Pretty much everyone is staying at home except for walks and exercise and going to the grocery store.

U.K. officials said U.K. citizens have bought more than $1 billion worth of food that they necessarily would not normally have in other normal circumstances. They are urging people to calm down, saying the supply lines are fine and warning that, by clearing the shelves, they're making it harder for front line workers to get the food and supplies they need while they're trying to fight the virus on the front lines.

ALLEN: I've seen people being all in for themselves. They're allowing seniors to get to the grocery stores first.

What about bright moments in this right now, as the full brunt of the virus really starts to settle in with people?


GOLD: Yes, Natalie, also in the United Kingdom, some grocery stores are setting aside hours for the vulnerable population and health care workers. Some grocery stores are setting aside the first hour of each day just for those who have a health care badge with them.

There was also good news in that there that there was a call for retired nurses and former health care workers. In the first 48 hours, they got more than 4,000 nurses and 500 doctors to sign up. They're expecting more so that's really great news of people stepping forward, stepping out of retirement to help in all of this effort.

ALLEN: Absolutely.

When you consider people in retirement may be older and doing this, that's just unbelievable service, isn't?

Hadas Gold, thank you. Let's turn to Al Goodman in Madrid.

The streets have been emptying out and that's a good thing, because Spain is about to see a really huge spike as well.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Natalie. The nearly 25,000 cases in Spain that you just mentioned, that's tripled in just a week. And, of the 1,300 deaths, that's about 10 times as many as we had just a week ago Saturday, because we're using the figures this day Sunday, the latest figures are from Saturday. We'll get new figures. So the wave is really coming on.

That's why the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addressed the nation on Saturday evening in prime time yet again. He's been on many times, saying that the worst is yet to come, that this wave, the next wave is going to test the medical facilities and the will of the people to the very limit.

This is all happening because the state of emergency has been in effect for a week. This gets to the lag time. They've cleared the streets basically and have had the streets cleared for most of a week.

All the sort of traffic on the streets, train service, airplane service, bus service, the ridership is way down. Police are issuing thousands of fines and doing thousands of road stops to keep those kinds of people off the streets who want a test.

But basically the people are cooperating and staying off the streets except to go to the food store and pharmacy but still this is about to hit Spain with a wallop.

ALLEN: Do you sense a calm before the storm, I guess?

GOODMAN: You've got that. In the meantime, the medical teams are trying to ramp up. The main convention center in Madrid is now a 5,500 bed hospital the military set up. We talked about two empty hotels turning themselves into hospitals with more than a thousand beds. Seven more hotels in the capital are doing that.

Officials talking about ramping up the testing, trying to get more supplies. One senior official telling the nation at a news conference yesterday, it's a very competitive and aggressive market because all the countries are trying to get this hands on these masks, gloves, sanitizer and testing kits. It's very difficult.

So this is a moment that is extremely difficult for Spain, the calm before the storm.

ALLEN: Al Goodman in Madrid, thank you so much.

An Italian man who was the first case reported in Nigeria has been released from an isolation facility. Nigeria is restricting travel from 13 countries over fears of the spreading. But this is not the first time the country has dealt with an outbreak. CNN's Stephanie Busari explains. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN PRODUCER: Nigeria has been here before. In 2014, during the West Africa Ebola epidemic, the world feared the worst when a virus arrived in Lagos. But the country's health care system was quick to act in tracing and contain its spread.

AKIN ABAYOMI, LAGOS STATE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: This is ward two. It's empty at the moment.

BUSARI: Then as he is now, Lagos' state commissioner of health Akin Abayomi was at the front line of Nigeria's public health response.

ABAYOMI: We were very accustomed to dealing with pathogens of high consequence. It's a skill. And it's something that we've started to refine ever since the Ebola outbreak. We knew what happened during Ebola. We didn't want to see another situation like that in Lagos.

So we've been building capacity since 2014.

BUSARI: Abayomi shows us a hospital where there are isolation wards, field hospitals and makeshift tents.

ABAYOMI: We're preparing for a surge. If it doesn't happen, it's fine. But if it happens, we'll be -- we'll be ready.


BUSARI: There was construction everywhere here, as the city prepares for potentially large numbers of patients with COVID-19. He says he lost colleagues during the Ebola epidemic and is working to make sure that doesn't happen again.

ABAYOMI: We've been training and we've been expecting this situation. It wasn't a matter of if. It was a matter of when, you know. We've had minor threats before this but this is a big one.

You know and so we were prepared for it. We had the facility, where we can actually receive samples and make diagnosis without threatening the welfare and lives of our staff, you know. We didn't have that before.

BUSARI: Nigeria has managed to contain one outbreak before. But with a weak overall health care system and poorer, densely populated neighborhoods across the country, it very quickly could become overwhelmed if cases of coronavirus rise sharply.

And these are among the worst fears of everyone here. Surveillance and prevention are key, the health commissioner says. Nigeria has announced restrictions on travel from 13 countries, including the U.K. and U.S., as lawmakers debate the viability of shutting down one of the world's largest megacities. The situation here is far from over -- Stephanie Busari, CNN, Lagos.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: The coronavirus pandemic is hitting Iran extremely hard. And now the country is turning its biggest mall into a hospital. We'll tell you what the supreme leader is saying about the outbreak in a live report.

Plus, the U.S. is facing a severe shortage of ventilators. We go behind the scenes of one company working to meet the needs.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen with the headlines.


ALLEN: The death toll in Iran has topped 1,500 people. It reported 123 new deaths in just the past 24 hours. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei is addressing the nation. Sam Kiley is following it for us.

The numbers are still climbing but it's not as bad as it has been, I understand.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, it is not soaring but climbing steadily. And that is what is of deep concern to the Iranian authorities.

And more widely, it's a concern to the Middle Eastern community, because a lot of -- almost all of the infections more widely in the Middle East were traced to Iran, which, of course, was infected from China.

But let's take a look at those figures, 123 in the last 24 hours. In the next hour or so, the Iranian government likely to publish more updated figures. Official infection rates around 15,000-18,000.

These are, we should stress, infections, numbers of recorded infections, really reflect the ability of a nation or the energy behind the testing process rather than the known numbers of infections.

The critical issue, really, is the numbers of dead which are climbing in Iran. The supreme leader speaking on the eve of the Iranian new year, saying that the forces of Islam, particularly the Islamic revolution that he presides over, as well as the supreme leader of Iran, is beset by "devils and genies," and suggesting, he was, the rulers in Saudi Arabia and Israel were part of a demonic conspiracy, driven by the United States, which was a nation now ruled by individuals, he said, were mean and greedy. At this time, of course, Iran is suffering deeply from American-

imposed sanctions after the United States pulled out of the very tediously and minutely negotiated deal that was supposed to suspend Iran's nuclear program in return for lifting of sanctions, therefore crippling the Iranian authorities, saying their ability to react to the coronavirus, they say.

But at the same time, they have been receiving help from the World Health Organization, the United Arab Emirates where I am has sent 32 tons of material in, because nobody has figured out how to send money in the context of the sanctions to help out.

But the situation in Iran now being overtaken in terms of scale of catastrophe. Of course, by, what's going on in Italy but they're also facing severe problems with recent efforts now being made to convert Tehran's main shopping mall into temporary hospital housing, it's estimated, some 3,000 patients, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, it's one to watch and we'll wait and see what the supreme leader says after we heard from Rouhani just yesterday. Thank you, Sam.

For those fighting the pandemic, the demand for life-saving ventilators far exceeds the supply.


ALLEN: Sara Sidner here in the U.S. takes us inside one company working it 24/7 to get the equipment to those who desperately need it.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Washington state is still home to the highest number of deaths related to coronavirus. There is a deepening fear here that, if the situation in Italy is mirrored here in the United States, that people could die here because there simply aren't enough ventilators.

SIDNER (voice-over): The vast majority of us will survive novel coronavirus. But for many of those who become critically ill, their lives will depend on whether there are enough ventilator systems to save them.

MIKE LEAVITT, FORMER SECRETARY OF HHS: We simply are not going to have enough ventilators, not going to have enough capacity if we allow this virus to take the natural course that it will. We're at war.

SIDNER (voice-over): The virus has now hit every state. And if the U.S. outbreak tracks similarly to what happened in Italy, experts say hospitals will be overwhelmed.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, U.S. NATIONAL CENTER FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: We are so incredibly underprepared for a major onslaught of hospitals, which is basely inevitable.

SIDNER (voice-over): The desperation for ventilators made clear by governors around the country.

ANDREW CUOMO (D), GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: We have about 5,000 or 6,000 secured. We need 30,000. I mean, this is a bad situation.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): We do not want to be in a position that the poor people of Italy are, where, you know, they're deciding who's going to live and who's going to die because they don't have enough respirators or equipment.

SIDNER (voice-over): Yet that's exactly where we could find ourselves, experts warn. There are only about 12 global companies that produce ventilators but there are startups trying to fill the gaps. One is in the middle of where the highest rate is.

CHRIS KIPLE, VENTEC LIFE SYSTEMS: All of our different sub assembly lines here.

SIDNER (voice-over): Ventec Life Systems is located just outside, Seattle, Washington, racing to produce ventilator systems called VOCSN, trying to go from making hundreds of units a month to thousands.

SIDNER: It's not just a matter of having enough ventilators. There are many other things that work in conjunction with the ventilator. We're talking about oxygen, cough assist, a suction unit and a nebulizer. All these have to work properly to keep someone breathing.

And this company has been able to put all these things into one device that can work in the hospital but it can also work at home.

Who is reaching out to you, asking about your product?

KIPLE: We are literally having conversations with states, federal and local authorities on a regular basis. We're trying to do as much as we can to increase our production capacity to meet the demand and help save lives.

SIDNER: He says government officials from 65 other countries are in talks with them as well as hospitals. The Society of Critical Medicine says, according to a 2009 study, there are about 60,000 functional machines in the U.S. Nearly 100,000 that were obsolete but could be used.

And even with all those, it would not meet America's needs if the Italy scenario happens here.

KIPLE: The only way you save lives right now without a vaccine is having access to a ventilator.

SIDNER (voice-over): Those in America's stockpile are only supposed to bridge the gap until industry can ramp up. That's why this operation is now going 24/7. His employees can't work from home, so there's a serious effort to ensure they don't contract the virus. They are greeted, as we were, with a thermometer, hand sanitizer and gloves.

The product is tested here and shipped here. SIDNER: Show me how the machine works.

KIPLE: Everything can be accessed literally at the touch of a button. Let's say I want to activate a patient's cough. I go to the cough icon here, I can preset any amount of cough, all I have to do is hit start.

SIDNER (voice-over): The question still unanswered?

How many units will be needed to ensure no one dies simply because there weren't enough ventilator systems to breathe life into them?

SIDNER: And that is the big question.

Just how many of these ventilators may be needed once the novel coronavirus hits its peak in the United States? -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Seattle.


ALLEN: The coronavirus has spread rapidly around world in a matter of months.

But where did the disease come from?

Some scientists think they have the answer and we will have that next.





ALLEN: And look at this. A salute to doctors and nurses in France. The Eiffel Tower lit up in tribute to the medical staff working to treat patients with coronavirus. The iconic landmark sparkled for 10 minutes in a brief but beautiful show of gratitude. More of that.

Well, scientists are trying to figure out how the coronavirus first started. Many think it came from bats but they say humans are actually to blame for the spread. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more on how our impact on the environment may drive the spillover of diseases.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): We live in extraordinary times. True, well before coronavirus, the Amazon aflame, Australia's skies clogged with forest fire smoke that seemed to swallow a way of life.

But now a pandemic tearing up daily norms, which may also have been caused by human choices and behavior.

Did this coronavirus originate in bats? Scientists can't yet be sure. But they've seen similar in Chinese horseshoe bats, not these ones being tested in South Africa. Yet even if that's the case, bats have dealt with many viruses for years. They have a high metabolism and temperature when they fly and that often keeps these infections in check. That's until they or where they live comes under stress.

ANDREW CUNNINGHAM, ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON: We believe the impact of stress on bats would be much the same as it is on other mammals and people. And that is that it would allow infections to be increased and excreted and shed.

You think of people getting stressed and infected with the cold sore virus, they will get cold sores. So that's the virus being expressed. This can happen in bats, too. It's easy to point the finger at the host species. But actually it's the way we've entrapped them, due to habitat encroachment, increased hunting.

WALSH (voice-over): Experts point to shipping bats near other animals in so-called wet markets in China, this one in Wuhan believed to be the epicenter, where stressed animals transfer diseases easily to each other and then maybe humans.

WALSH: There's a term for this you're going to have to get familiar with. It's changed our lives. It's called zoonotic transfer or spillover.


CUNNINGHAM: The underlying causes of zoonotic spillover from bats or from other wild species is almost always, I think, it's always shown to be human behaviors, it's human activities causing this.

WALSH (voice-over): In the past, people infected by animals in remote places would die or recover before they could spread it. Today they can get on a plane to a different city that night.

KATE JONES, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Humans say that any kind of spillover that might have happened in the past is magnified by the fact that there's so many of us and we're so well connected.

So it's not OK to transform a forest into agriculture without understanding what that impact has on climate, carbon storage, on disease emergence, on flood risk and flood defenses on climate resilience. You can't do those in isolation without thinking bout all of the things that the ecosystem provides.

WALSH (voice-over): A cost that we are quickly realizing now -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


ALLEN: Many people across the world are being told stay at home. But for the homeless there is no good place to isolate from the virus. In Rome, one homeless man said he used to be able to get by. But the lockdown has cut off any opportunity for him to earn money. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMILIO, HOMELESS IN ROME: What is so difficult, because I can't find work some days in the week. Everything is closed. So I've been without work for the last three weeks.


ALLEN: In Cannes, it's opening the pavilion used for its famed film festival to the homeless. City officials say they'll hand out food and blankets to those who need it and set up beds in keeping with social distancing guidelines.

Spain, too, is setting up cots for the homeless. Authorities say they hope to provide safe spaces for 1,000 people in the next few days.

We want to keep bringing you these hopeful stories of people helping people.

Next here, your favorite whisky or vodka could help you handle the pandemic but not just in an obvious way. How a Pennsylvania distillery is mixing up something the community needs to fight the virus.






ALLEN: As the coronavirus spreads, communities are pulling together in inventive ways. Our Miguel Marquez met up with a distiller in rural Pennsylvania, who's stopping the production of liquor to make a much needed product for his community.

Can you guess what it is?

Hand sanitizer. His neighbors are helping. Here's the story.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eight Oaks Distillers in Eastern Pennsylvania, like everywhere, was about to shut down and wait out the pandemic. Then its owner, Chad Butters, husband to a cancer survivor, saw another need for the main ingredient in hand sanitizer: alcohol.

CHAD BUTTERS, EIGHT OAKS DISTILLERY: We're very good at making alcohol. That's our business. So what we can do is we can take that alcohol and we can add some inactive ingredients and create the hand sanitizer that people are in need of.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The local cancer support group needed it, so did hospitals, emergency services, nearby towns and businesses that had to keep working.

BUTTERS: This is an unprecedented time that we're in. I don't think it's a time for panic or chaos but it is a time for a sense of urgency and purpose. And I think that's what's happening within the community now.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): So appalled at reports of hoarding and price gouging, Eight Oaks stopped making vodka, gin and bourbon and cranked up the sanitizer.

BUTTERS: What we are doing is literally taking what was going to be a bourbon run and we are going to make that a high proof alcohol instead. We'll add ingredients like glycerin to make it more miscous (sic) on your hands and a little bit of peroxide. That's the World Health Organization's recipe.

MARQUEZ: Simple as that?

BUTTERS: It's very, very simple. The thing is just the alcohol is the hard part. We already know how to do that.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Just hours after hatching the plan, the first batch, only a few hundred bottles; the requests, way more than they can fill. They were in desperate need for even more bottles.

LYNN ELKO, BOTTLE DONATER: This is bottle stock that we have left over. We had a soap and lotion business where we employed adults with disabilities.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Lynn Elko shut that business down a few years ago due to personal reasons. She heard about Eight Oaks Distillery and had just what they needed sitting in storage, all for free.

MARQUEZ: What does this say about what we have to do now?

ELKO: It says, the last time I checked, we're not in this alone, that we all have to come together to keep moving everything forward, to keep everybody healthy and well.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Butters, who retired from the Army in 2015, is now scaling up. The Army chief warrant officer 5 turned entrepreneur expects to churn out 10,000 bottles a week. Not only is he keeping his 25 employees working but, if it turns out right, he'll be hiring.

MARQUEZ: I'm sure you didn't think you would be busier given what happened?

BUTTERS: No, but we are 100 percent committed to providing this product out to the people who need it in the community. It's perfect.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): One business, one community in rural Pennsylvania, coming together in a time of need. Scrawled on a white board in their makeshift workspace, their simple mission: get hand sanitizer to those in need.

MARQUEZ: And if you think this story can't get any sweeter, it does. How much are they selling the stuff for?

They're actually giving it away, asking for donations only. But if they can't afford it, you can get it for free. This is also becoming a bit of a trend with distillers big and large in the U.S. and around the world, getting off the liquor and onto the hand sanitizer -- Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: I love that story. People reaching out trying to do good in these times. How wonderful.

The coronavirus outbreak couldn't stop true love.


ALLEN: Amanda Wheeler and Riley Jennings got married on Friday on the streets of Manhattan. They were supposed to be wed in seven months but they tied the knot now because of the outbreak. Their friend officiated by calling the vows from his fourth floor window.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are gathered here today to witness the exchanging of marriage vows of Amanda Wheeler and Riley Jennings.

Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and keep her for as long as you both shall live?

If so, say I do.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the (INAUDIBLE) by the state of New York, I pronounce you married.


ALLEN (voice-over): Love it. The couple had intended to get married at the city's marriage bureau but, of course, it's closed now because of the pandemic. Good for them.


ALLEN: A little comic relief now as comedian and night talk show host Conan O'Brien offers a stranger a selfie while social distancing.


CONAN O'BRIEN, NBC HOST: Everyone wants a selfie. Everybody. That's not good. We must keep social distancing, so I follow specific rules. Six feet away, no touching. Check it out.

Sir. Sir, what's your name?


O'BRIEN: Kevin, OK. You may have a selfie with me but you must stay six feet away and no touching.


O'BRIEN: No, no, you can have a selfie. You can have a selfie with me but we have to keep our distance.


O'BRIEN: Do you know who I am?



ALLEN: Good one, Conan.

Of course, his show is on TBS, a sister network of CNN.

All right. Please stay with us. We're going to be right back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM, actually two hours, I'm Natalie Allen. See you in a moment.