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U.S. Senate Approves $2 Trillion Stimulus Deal; Coronavirus Pandemic; Louisiana Getting Hit and Shutting Down; U.S. and China Escalate Blame Game over Outbreak; Financial Benefit in Package for Single Americans; Asian Markets Mixed after Wall Street Climbs Again; Number of Cases Across U.S. Rise, Peak Feared Weeks Away; Germany's Death Toll Remains Low as Cases Surge in Europe; Putin Urges Russians to Stay Home to Combat Virus; Prince Charles is Self-Isolation after Testing Positive; Keeping the Olympic Spirit Alive in the Face of Adversity. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired March 26, 2020 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.
Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the global epicenter of the coronavirus may soon see the crisis peak but what happened in Italy is likely what is yet to come in Spain and United States.
In China, far from normality as the Communist government tries to muddy the waters over the origins of the coronavirus.
And the cost of partisan politics: 47,000. As Republicans and Democrats argued for five days over a stimulus package, 47,000 new cases were reported in the U.S.
VAUSE: When Republicans and Democrats sat down on Friday to haggle over the biggest stimulus bill in U.S. history, there were 18,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
In the past, hour that bill was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate. And the number of cases nationwide stands at more than 65,000. This was also the deadliest date in the U.S. we have seen so, far with a one day death toll of 233.
The bill will now head back to the House. Then, to the president, who's already said he will sign it as soon as he gets it. The huge stimulus package though would not do anything to slow the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. is on track to repeat what happened in Italy, the global epicenter of the virus for weeks, more people dying there than anywhere.
The World Health Organization is giving Italy some hope. A peak in new infections could happen this week.
The news is not so good for Spain. The death toll there has now surpassed 3,400, making it the 2nd hardest hit country in the. World. More lives have been lost to the pandemic in Spain than in China.
The Spanish government is now expanding its state emergency until April 12. As of last count, the death toll in the U.S. was 938, the number of confirmed cases in California is doubling every 3-4 days. That's comparable to New York State and it comes as more than half the U.S. population is under stay-at-home orders, more states issuing those and those that haven't, many cities and counties are doing it anyway. CNN's Erica Hill begins the coverage.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A virus that once seemed distant hitting closer to home with each passing day.
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R), MARYLAND: The vast majority of people in our state who have tested positive so far are in their 40s. And we have children as young as 10 months old, who have the virus.
HILL (voice-over): In Alabama, Emmarie Grace, just a month old, is now isolated as a precaution after a nurse in the NICU where the baby has been, since birth, tested positive. Her father telling CNN he felt this moment was inevitable given the number of people tending to his daughter every day.
Here in New York state, Governor Cuomo is also looking to address mental health needs, talking about the emotional trauma that many people are going through, especially as their lives change so rapidly. He has set up a hotline here of 6,000 mental health professionals, they are now volunteering their time. Back to you.
VAUSE: Erica. Hill thank you for the. Report
In the meantime the leading expert on infectious diseases says anyone hoping for a question answer on when normal life will return should just settle down. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the virus makes the timeline.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You talk to the WHO, the World Health Organization. What perspective did you get, just macro, lessons learned and also insight into why us, Doctor?
Why are we growing faster than other places --
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Yes.
CUOMO: -- we assume we're better set up than? FAUCI: Well, you know, the insight you get is when you look at the different patterns of what happened in different countries, China versus South Korea, versus what we're seeing in Northern Italy, it really gives you some interesting insight into things, not only in the explosive nature in certain places versus others, but also as you start to get to your peak, when do you know that you're actually turning the corner.
And the data we went over at the WHO call today, which was representatives from countries all over the world, was that you take a look at the number of new infections on any given day.
So, five days ago, it was 600. And then, four days ago, it was 800. And then, three days ago, it was a 1,000. You're going way, way up.
It's when the new infections each day starts to level off to be the same and then start going down, then, you see the curve go down. And that's exactly what certain countries like China and South Korea have seen. Italy is not there yet.
Italy got hit really badly, almost certainly and I think this gets to your question about us here in the United States, is Italy got hit very badly because they had a large number of importations from China by Chinese tourists.
And before they even knew what was going on, there was enough baseline people spreading that essentially got out of hand and it became difficult for them as good as they are and they're very good, to be able to contain it in a way that is contact-tracing all that kind of thing.
It was more mitigation, how do we deal with what we have. They're in a very difficult position.
If you go now to the United States, we're a big country and there are different patterns, Chris. Remember, weeks ago, the hardest-hit part was in the Washington State and that was a cluster of - of nursing homes and --
FAUCI: -- and extended care homes.
That was a different kind of thing than what you see in New York City, which very likely got seeded because New York City is a hub of influx of travelers, not only originally from China, but also from Europe, which has become the new China in the sense of the number of cases.
So, New York City is dominating the situation in the United States. About 60 percent of the infections are in the New York City Metropolitan area and 56 percent of the new infections are coming from the New York City Metropolitan area.
So, you guys are getting hit terribly hard and it's so unfortunate, but that's the reason why it looks like this big explosion, because it is what it is. Whereas other areas of the country, although they're seeing cases, they're at different levels in that curve of kinetics.
FAUCI: But New York is right in the middle of it.
CUOMO: All right, until Louisiana and now you have The Big Easy is getting crushed, specifically New Orleans. And all the sudden, they went from like a 100 cases last week to now they're like 10 times that, plus what's going on down there?
FAUCI: It's the same thing. What it is, is that what likely happened, they've done it now.
I mean I have - I have spoken to the political officials in New Orleans and in the State of Louisiana. They're now shutting things down in a very vigorous way. It is likely that that should have been done a little bit sooner.
Not blaming anyone on that, but you get caught unawares because the nature of this outbreak, Chris, that's so frustrating.
FAUCI: And, in many respects, you know, a bit frightening and intimidating, is what you and I discussed, you know, several shows ago.
It putters along and you think you're OK and then it starts to go up a little and then bingo, it goes up in an exponential way.
CUOMO: So --
FAUCI: That's what's happening in New Orleans now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: That was Dr. Fauci, the leading authority on infectious disease in the United States.
In Spain now, the number of cases and numbers of dead is surging and officials are warning the worst is still to come. Already, a huge shortage of medical supplies and equipment and, in the capital, the bodies of those who died from coronavirus are no longer being collected.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The coronavirus has not only sickened tens of thousands of Spaniards it's also reach into the highest levels of government, the Prime Minister's wife, the president of Madrid region, 2 cabinet ministers, now also the deputy minister have now had positive coronavirus tests.
The Spanish parliament voted yesterday to extend the state of emergency. That means Spaniards will be homebound until at least April. 11th. Spain has a shortage of military supplies that is so severe that its military has asked NATO for help. Spain has now made a deal with China to buy nearly half a billion dollars worth of medical supplies. The full order won't be filled until June.
Similar to the U.S. Defense Production Act, this gives Spain the power to force private companies to produce the medical supplies they. Need. But just like the U.S., the power has not been invoked yet. I asked the foreign minister. Why not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARANCHA GONZALEZ LAYA, SPANISH FOREIGN MINISTER: In a way, some market that is organizing itself. We've got into text. The (INAUDIBLE) company of zarah (ph) that has decided to start producing gowns and masks, we didn't have to mandate them because they realized that now they have to play their part in helping the country and the government respond to the virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLEAN: One other thing here in Madrid, the state run funeral service had stopped collecting the bodies of coronavirus patients because they didn't have enough PPE. The government has changed the rules to require less protective equipment so the workers can go back to collecting the hundreds of bodies going to city morgues every day -- John.
VAUSE: Scott, thank you so much for reporting on the latest from Spain.
Now as the number of cases continues to fall, like in China, is returning to normalcy. But for Beijing, the scramble is on to repair its economy as well as its global image. CNN's Steven Jiang live in Beijing in this.
Let's start with the fact that they first exported the virus I guess. Now they're exporting equipment and aid to help countries that are suffering like they were just a few weeks ago.
STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: That is right. But there are controversies regarding the origin of the virus. As we, know the U.S. and China have engaged in a war of words about who is to blame, who is responsible for the pandemic for some time.
From Beijing's perspective, they were simply defending themselves after the U.S. started a smear campaign against its efforts. That is why you see tweets by Chinese officials, including by the foreign ministry spokesman, saying the U.S. Army may have brought this virus to Wuhan during a sporting event last.
Then Trump insisted on calling it the Chinese virus. But the latest twist in the saga is that we may be seeing signs of de-escalation, because the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. distanced himself from the conspiracy theory. Then Trump said he would stop using the term Chinese virus. He had
made his point. He would no longer make a big deal out of this. There are still mixed signals from both sides, including the U.S. secretary of state, insisting that Beijing is launching this massive disinformation campaign, not only to sow doubt and confusion on the origin of the virus, but to damage the U.S. on the global stage, doing things as you mentioned, sending assistance and personnel to other countries.
There are still ongoing tensions between the 2 countries. But I think a big test will come later on Thursday when both President Trump and President Xi participate in the virtual G20 summit. If the 2 leaders could agree on some sort of joint statement on this virus because one thing many experts do agree on, it is no matter where you stand on China politically, because they are ahead of the curve, if you will, they do have valuable lessons and experiences to offer, not to mention a surplus of medical supplies -- John.
VAUSE: I'm just wondering, Steven.
VAUSE: Are we still seeing Chinese foreign officials tweeting out conspiracy theories about where the virus came from, suggesting that it was in fact a man-made virus, made in a lab somewhere they noted states. Others tweeting out possibilities that it was in Italy long before it was in China.
These are not just your youthful hackers that they've often used in China in the past to sort of send out disinformation, these are actually officials. It's on their accounts. These are conspiracy theories.
Are we still seeing that in any major way?
JIANG: The foreign ministry spokesman you referred to, he has since pulled back, mostly tweeting about the importance of cooperation and international coordination on this effort.
But some, of course, will say this is good cop/bad cop propaganda strategy on part of the government here because still you see a lot of outlets continue to push out different theories, including conspiracy theories, as you mentioned, against the U.S. and other countries.
I think this is very much an ongoing kind of saga. That is why I think a lot of people are saying, this is the time, this is not the time to assign blame. Right now the focus for both countries and, indeed, for the international community, is to cooperate to fight this virus. The blame game, if you will, can come later -- John.
VAUSE: There will be plenty of time for that, Steven, thank you. Steven Jiang live for us in Beijing.
Still to come, it seems it takes a global emergency to get agreement in the U.S. Senate. Coming up, the long-awaited vote on an historic plan to try and help the U.S. economy jump-start during this pandemic. Also ahead, Wall Street, another rally on the backs of their stimulus
plan but can the market sustain this momentum?
We will take it there in just a moment.
VAUSE: The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved what is essentially $2 trillion of economic triage for the economy. Now headed to the Democratic-controlled House for a vote on Friday morning. They argued to the very end one sticking point had been unemployment benefits.
Republicans wanted to make sure laid off workers did not get paid more than what they earned on the job. That amendment failed. CNN's Brian Todd breaks down what is in the package for average Americans.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Americans are hearing there are $2 trillion in this rescue package that is the largest economic stimulus measure in modern American history.
But of course, what many of them are asking is, how much money am I going to get?
And when am I going to get it?
We have a basic breakdown for you. Let's start with, if you are an American and you are single, if your adjusted gross income is $75,000 a year or less, you will get a full $1,200 check from the U.S. government.
But the more you earn, the less you are going to get. If your income is $80,000, you will get a check for $950. If you make $85,000, you get $700. If your income is $90,000 a year, $450. If you make $95,000, it is $200.
TODD (voice-over): If you make $99,000 a year or more, you get nothing.
We should point out this is all based on tax returns for the year of 2019; if you haven't done those returns, yet they are going to base it on your 2018 tax returns.
Now let's talk about married couples. Couples earning $150,000 a year or less, are going to receive $2400 from the U.S. government. Couples making $160,000 a year get $1900 , couples earning $170,000 get a $1400 dollar check, those making $180,000 get $900. Couples making $190,000 a year get $400 and couples earning $198,000 a year or more will get nothing. We also talked about the child credit that many people, of course, are
asking about. Parents with children who are 16 years old and younger, they will get $500 for each child. But that child credit also phases out if your income is higher.
For one child, a single parent, who makes $109,000 a year or more will get nothing. For one child, married parents, who are making $208,000 or more a year, they get nothing.
Now unemployment benefits, with this package, if you are getting those benefits, those unemployment benefits, you're getting $600 a week -- excuse, me $600 a week more on top of what you're state gives you for up to 4 months.
We should also talk about so called gig workers like Uber drivers and Amazon flex delivery people, they are going to be eligible to apply for these benefits but it is not clear how much money they are going to get.
One key question is, of course, when will all of this get sent out?
People want it as soon as possible, of course. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and President Trump have been pushing to get this money sent out by early April. That is very likely not going to happen. The best estimates that we could come up with based on previous stimulus packages is that the money will not get out at least until May -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: CNN economic commentator and "The Washington Post" opinion writer Catherine Rampell joins us right now from New York.
Catherine, if there was one big lesson from the financial crisis, whereas the stimulus bill that Congress passed back then just wasn't big enough.
Considering this unprecedented action that we have taken by not just the U.S. but all other major economies around the world, is it possible to know if this will be enough?
Will they have to do more?
Will the Congress have to come back and do stimulus package again and again?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The first thing to be clear about, is that usually talk about stimulus, it is about boosting economic activity. That is not exactly what we are looking for right now at this point.
This is more about disaster aid. It is survival. I think, in that sense, even at that, it won't be enough. It is almost certain that Congress will be called upon once again to provide more relief going out the door. States are in major fiscal trouble in the months and years ahead. They are going to need more money. And once we get this pandemic under control, assuming we do, and I
believe we will at some point, then there will actually be a need to stimulate the United States economy because we are going to have to encourage people to go back outside and start engaging in economic activity again. But this is not the end of the story for sure.
VAUSE: How many times can they do this?
How many times can the government just turn around and print money?
Eventually, that piece of paper becomes meaningless.
RAMPELL: It is easier for the United States than other countries. The United States has the world's reserve currency, interest rates are still very low, despite the fact that we have been running huge deficits for the past four years, even when the economy was good.
There is a lot of demand for dollars which makes it easier, cheap and at the very least for the United States to borrow. There is a rush to save assets at this point.
For other countries, it is much more difficult. They actually have to live within their means, so to speak. So I think we will see other countries run into big trouble in the months or years ahead as they find that their tax revenues have fallen because of this collective economic that everyone has gone into.
While there is an additional need for services, including unemployment benefits, health care, other kinds of things that the governments generally supply and will not have the funds to produce.
VAUSE: Nouriel Roubini, also known as Doctor Doom, is warning of a risk not just of a great depression but of a greater depression. It's part of what he wrote in "The Guardian."
"The contraction that is now underway looks to be neither V nor U nor L shaped; rather, it looks like an I, a vertical line representing financial markets and the real economy plummeting."
That is why governments need to throw everything at this and then some. Beyond, that there is not a whole lot of innovative ideas in the stimulus package.
VAUSE: It's like the financial crisis from 2008 but just bigger.
RAMPELL: At least here, in the United States, some of what we are doing is we are trying to get checks out the door, meaning, regardless of who you are, regardless of whether you have actually lost work or had hours cut, we are trying to get money to you as quickly as possible.
And we did some of that here in the United States in the Great Recession and in previous recessions as well. We are also beefing up unemployment insurance. There are also other measures designed to help households.
A lot of what is new here, though, relates to the measures to try and encourage firms to keep people on their payrolls because that is really the challenge. We want to help households, make sure they can pay their rent, pay their mortgages, pay their grocery bills, et cetera.
But if and when the economy sort of reopens, we want to make sure that they have jobs to go back to. So it is a slightly different strategy that is needed for this economic crisis then those we have seen in the past.
We are not trying to encourage people, necessarily, workers, to go out and apply for whatever job they can, which is normally how the unemployment insurance system works in the United States.
We are saying we get the fact that the reason you are not working is that there is this lockdown, essentially, in large swaths of the country. We don't want you knocking on doors and applying for jobs. We are hoping that we can preserve the job that you were hopefully temporary laid off from.
So there are different kinds of measures that are necessary for those types of concerns.
VAUSE: Denmark is taking a different approach. They are paying 75 percent of salaries, the government, for workers and businesses impacted by the virus. Employers are expected to pay the other 25 percent, workers are also going to give up 5 days of paid leave.
Over in France, they delayed the deadline for tax payment. They have suspended rent and utility payments, for smaller businesses. The government says it is necessary, industries will be nationalized and Ireland has extended sickness benefits for those who have to self isolate.
A 14 day period will be covered by the government. There will be a scrapping of the 6-day waiting period for payments and the amount that they are actually paying this people have increased by 50 percent.
But it is really Denmark, which is receiving a lot of shoutouts for the approach instead of unemployment benefits for those have a job and that means that those jobs should still be there. But this costs a lot of money in a 3 month period. That's all they could do it for.
After that, who knows?
This could go on for much longer than that.
RAMPELL: There have been calls for similar types of programs here in the United States, I think it is unlikely that they would happen. There are some incentives that small businesses in particular will face, encouraging them to keep as many people on their payrolls as they can but nothing nearly as generous as what we have seen in Denmark. And Denmark may have the right attitude here as long as they're able
to afford it because what we want is we want people to be able to stay home, to not have to go to work, unless their jobs are essential. But if they stay home, there will be a job waiting for them once this thing is over.
VAUSE: We're out of time but thank you so much. Appreciate you being with us.
Stock markets appear to be cooling off after the U.S. stimulus helped fuel 2 days of rallies. Stocks in Asia have been mixed on Thursday with the Nikkei seeing biggest losses so far. Wall Street finished higher on Wednesday, the Dow was up for a 2nd day in a row, its first back to back gains since last month.
Live now to Tokyo, Kaori Enjoji.
I guess what the shine is off the stimulus package, already, that didn't take very long.
KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: I think for the last couple of days, John, there has been a decoupling of some of the Asian markets from the U.S. markets. I think that is happening again today.
The fact that you have to remember the market here in Tokyo did rally 8 percent yesterday; it was a monster rally of 1,400 points, that kind of thing hasn't happened in 26 years.
There is a little bit of reality sinking in and pushing the market down. And the fact of the Tokyo governor came out after the close of markets yesterday, reinforcing the view that people should stay at home, encouraging them and asking them to stay at home this weekend, that sort of renewed the concerns about the ongoing threat from the coronavirus.
And that was an excuse for some profit taking across-the-board. It really hasn't been quite as acute as we have seen in the past. I think the big number that people are watching for right now in the markets is the jobless claim number.
We saw a big spike last time these numbers were announced and the economists are saying that, going forward, these economic indicators are going to show figures that are eye-popping, that we have never really seen before.
I think people are bracing for some bad news. Plus we're going into earnings season. With these businesses shuttered for many weeks now, people are expecting weak guidance.
Some companies are already pulling their forecasts altogether, saying they have zero visibility going forward and giving some kind of meaningful estimate is no longer possible.
So I think that's a drop -- backdrop that we're seeing Tokyo equity markets fall. A bit of a mixed picture elsewhere in the Asian regions.
Getting back to your point about stimulus, some governments can't afford this type of measure. People are -- some countries are heavily indebted. They would have to issue huge deficit bonds to finance this kind of measure. People are -- some countries are heavily indebted. They would have to issue huge deficit bonds to finance this kind of measure.
But I think, in general, people are expecting more moves, a fiscal stimulus. There's a G-20 meeting going on later on tonight. This is a teleconference. But I think it will show. And people are expecting it to show. That there is going to be a discrepancy in how governments can respond, given the difference in their fiscal positions.
But right now, we're seeing a little bit of profit taking, John. A lot of anxiety ahead of the jobless claims numbers coming out of the U.S.
Back to you.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, they will be devastating, we believe. But we'll wait and see.
Thank you. Kaori Enjoji with the very latest, from Tokyo.
When we come back, a lesson from Europe on how to save lives, from Italy to Spain. What should not be done. And from Germany, a case study on why early testing is so important.
VAUSE: Well, from the file of if only, if only the world acted sooner; if only we were more prepared. The head of the WHO suggests maybe some of the heartbreak we've seen, and it's still to come, could have been prevented. But he adds, even at this late point it's not too late.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WHO: This virus is public enemy No. 1. It's a dangerous virus. And we have been saying to the world that the window of opportunity is narrowing. And the time to act was actually more than a month ago, or two months ago. That's what we have been saying.
But we still believe that there is opportunity. I think we squandered the first window of opportunity, but we are saying today, and my message, I made it clear that this is a second opportunity, which we should not squander.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And the World Health Organization is warning of a major global shortage of medical supplies.
CNN medical analyst and host of the podcast "EPIDEMIC," Celine Gowder, is with us now this hour from New York. So Celine, thank you for taking the time. Around this country,
hospitals in Atlanta have maxed out their ICU capacity already. New Orleans could be about a week away from that point. And the number of patients New York is expected to peak in two to three weeks, and the state governor, Andrew Cuomo, outlined what they have and what they need. Here he is. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Right now, what we're looking at is about 140,000 cases coming into the hospitals. The hospital capacity is 53,000 beds. That's a problem.
We're looking at about 40,000 ICU cases coming into the hospitals. We have about 3,000 ICU beds. That's a challenge. What is an ICU bed for these purposes? Basically, a bed with a ventilator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So assuming that shortfall can't be made up in such a short period of time, at least completely. This, then, gets to the point of, basically, who gets what, and who makes that decision. And there are guidelines for this. It's called triage and ventilators.
But you know, one of the guidelines from New York, for example, say target -- say saving the most lives, as defined by the patients' short-term likelihood of surviving. So who ultimately makes this choice?
CELINE GOWDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, Washington state has already had to tackle this question of how do you ration the few ventilators that you have. And so that really does come down to older people are not going to get the ventilator. People with chronic medical conditions, people with obesity. People -- maybe smokers, I don't know. I mean, it's going to be people who are much higher risk for death, even with the ventilator support.
And so if you have very few ventilators to go around, you're going to use them for the people who are most likely to survive.
VAUSE: It is just horrendous to think someone has to make that call. And on the eve of the worst of this pandemic, this country is putting its faith and its hope in a healthcare system, where hospital-acquired infections are already considered a leading cause of death.
So if hospitals can't control the spread of disease under normal circumstances, how will they cope in the midst of pandemic?
GOWDER: Well, and it's especially challenging now, because we're running out of all kinds of masks. We are basically out of the N-95 respirator masks which are really what would be the standard of care, or standard protection in this situation.
We're also running low on surgical masks, which are the loose, thin masks. We're running low on gowns. We're running low on face masks. So all of the things that you would need as a healthcare provider to protect yourself, we're running low on. And then, you know, if a healthcare provider picks up an infection, then their chances of then transmitting that on to other patients, you know, even if they don't get that sick themselves, that's a concern, as well.
VAUSE: And we have seen a high rate of infection and death among healthcare workers around the world.
Also, if you look at the rate of spread of the virus, in terms of new cases, the U.S. is set to pass Italy and China in a couple of days. And the virus is spreading faster here than any other nation. Why is that? Why did this country end up a lot more like Italy, and a lot less like South Korea.
GOWDER: You know, I think there's a few reasons. One, we didn't respond quickly enough. We let this go on for too long. By the point -- or by the time we started to respond, it was really too late to implement the South Korean approach, which was really more about contact tracing and testing.
And you can only really do that when you can actually track the person-to-person transmission of the virus. When it's so prevalent that it's basically everywhere, you can't do that anymore.
And I think that unfortunately, people just didn't take it seriously, didn't believe this was a real problem. And unfortunately, in many parts of the country, that remains the case.
VAUSE: Yes. There's also a concern that, once the crisis, at least, has peaked, that doesn't mean it's over. I want you to listen to Dr. Fauci, who was on CNN a little earlier tonight?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: After talking to my colleagues on the WHO call, I think it's more likely than not that this is going to turn around and come back in another season. Because right now, in the southern hemisphere, in southern Africa, they're starting to get cases as they go into their winter. And if that happens, this is not going to disappear. I don't think it will. Which makes me more fortified.
Chris, when you ask about how I feel about these things, of why we've got to get that vaccine tested. We've got to get it proven to be effective. We've got to get it out. And we've got to develop drugs so that, when we come around next year, it is not like this again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And we are seeing this happen in real time in places like Hong Kong. And I guess the concern, obviously, is that, you know, will we be prepared the next time around?
GOWDER: Well, you know, I think we're going to have to keep a very close eye on this, even if after this peaks, we could, even without re-infection from the Southern Hemisphere. We could still see waves of infection where we would have to tighten and loosen some of these social distancing measures here.
And then, of course, also, as Dr. Fauci mentioned, the risk of -- even if we could completely suppress things here that other countries, including the Southern Hemisphere, could be reservoirs of transmission back to us.
So, you know, I do think we're going to have to be very vigilant. We're going to have to be pragmatic, that we may have to re-implement social distancing at some point, even after a peak.
And hopefully, you know, a vaccine is here within the next 18 months or so, because that will really be the tool that can put a definitive end to this.
VAUSE: Very quickly, it seems like some of the early data out of China, which indicated the virus spared younger people from the worst of this, may be an anomaly, because you look at the numbers everywhere else, the infection rate among young people is on par with almost any other age group.
GOWDER: Yes, and I've seen it myself. Young people are getting the disease. And why the patterns may have been different in China versus, say, Italy and the U.S., I'm not 100 percent sure.
One thing I am definitely seeing is people who are obese or overweight are at higher risk for complications, and a third of Americans are overweight. And another third are obese. So if that is a major risk factor for more severe disease, that really does set up even our young people for severe disease, critical illness and death.
VAUSE: OK. Celine, we'll leave you there, but thanks so much. CNN medical analyst and host of the podcast "EPIDEMIC," Celine Gowder. Thank you for being with us.
GOWDER: Good night.
VAUSE: Germany has more than 31,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but at the same time, with 149 reported dead, the mortality rate seems incredibly low. Which raises the question: What are they doing in Germany that is not being done in other countries?
CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports now from Berlin.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a race against time, a critically ill patient from France makes it to Germany, where hospitals are not yet overwhelmed, despite some of the highest number of coronavirus cases around the world. A fact that baffles many. Even Germany's Center for Disease Control, the Robert Koch Institute, as they try to explain. LOTHAR WIELER, ROBERT KOCH INSTITUTE: In Germany, we tested widely
from the start. And that's why we discovered the virus early. And we also discovered many mild cases through it.
PLEITGEN: While the Trump administration took time to initiate mass coronavirus testing, the Germans began their campaign in early January.
With a population of around 80 million, Germany says it can test about 160,000 people a week. That means fewer infections missed.
While Italy acknowledges their actually number of people carrying the virus could be 10 times higher than the number of confirmed cases, the Germans believe they've missed fewer people who've contracted COVID- 19.
But some of it also appears to be pure luck, Berlin says. The coronavirus has simply infected younger and healthier people in Germany than in many other countries.
WIELER: Not many old people are ill in Germany yet, which is also a factor that results in deaths and age fluctuations.
VAUSE: Germany also has a strong healthcare system with one of the highest number of intensive-care beds and ventilators in the world. And it's currently working to double the capacity.
The head of a Munich clinic dealing with at least 100 coronavirus patients tells me getting critically-ill patients top-notch care without bottlenecks is also key to keeping many alive.
DR. CLEMENS WENDTNER, MUNICH SCHWABING CLINIC: We've had already cases just coming back from the intensive care unit with another ward (ph). So telling us it's easier to save lives once you get the right treatment, intensive care unit treatment. But enough in order to rescue the patient.
PLEITGEN: But of course, Germany's response is not flawless. There are many people in this country who wanted to get tested for coronavirus but were not able to because of limited capacity. And even the German government warns the worst might yet still come.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.
VAUSE: Well, during a televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a stay-at-home week next week, with pay. Moscow's mayor has announced mandatory self-isolation for everyone older than 65, as well as the chronically ill.
Officially, Russia is reporting less than 700 cases. That incredibly low number is raising some suspicion that maybe -- maybe the Kremlin is not being entirely honest.
CNN's Matthew Chance has details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Does Russia have this coronavirus under control? Well, its orthodox churches are still open. Worshippers still kissing icons, which are then disinfected. It's not ideal, but the church says it's trying to keep Russians calm.
"He closed the churches that orthodox people could stop panicking, as they want to pray," says this priest. "We would rather they abstain from kissing the icons," he adds.
It doesn't seem to be much to ask amid a viral pandemic.
But Russians have good reason to be uncertain of the threat. In a country of more than 140 million, and a vast border with China where the virus originated, fewer than 700 people have so far been confirmed as infected. [00:45:09]
Officials say timely action to seal borders, quarantine infections, and monitor, with face recognition technology, people who could spread the virus has spared Russia the catastrophe now befalling other states.
Just like the church, it's a mention of calm, not caution, that Russia's political leaders most want to spread. Even President Putin, 67 years old, so at higher risk, has been declaring the outbreak under control and better than in other countries, while pictured on state media meeting crowds and shaking hands. It's certainly not social distancing.
But even the Russian leader admits the country's low official tally may obscure a much deeper crisis.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Here's the thing. The authorities may not possess the full information, because people, A, sometimes don't report it; and B, they do not themselves know that they are sick.
CHANCE: And this is not the action of a government relaxed about the coronavirus. A new hospital being thrown up rapidly outside Moscow, which would significantly increase Russian capacity to deal with a surge of infections.
Kremlin critics, including one doctor close to a leading Russian opposition figure, suggest what's been happening in Russia up until now is a cover-up.
DR. ANASTASIA VASILIEVA, DOCTORS ALLIANCE: Doctors from hospitals are practically being turned into centers for treating patients with coronavirus are reaching out to us. Instead of honestly talking about this, the authorities are masking the assignment of beds and calling them beds for patients with pneumonia and acute respiratory viral infections. CHANCE: Russian officials deny there's been any misleading
information. And in recent days, Putin is finally being shown in full protective gear visiting a hospital, engaging with this crisis.
While the number of confirmed infections in Russia remains suspiciously low, it seems to be bracing itself for much worse to come.
Matthew Chance, CNN.
VAUSE: The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, is among the latest to test positive for the coronavirus. But who in the royal family may have caught the virus from him? Anxious days for the commonwealth of nations.
VAUSE: The family of a former FBI agent who disappeared in 2007 believes he is now dead.
Robert Levinson was on an unauthorized mission for the CIA and vanished after traveling to an island under Iranian control. He was last seen in 2010, appearing in a hostage video. His family says information from U.S. officials suggests he died in Iranian custody.
Iran continues to insist that Levinson was never in Iranian custody.
VAUSE: The heir to the British throne has tested positive for the coronavirus. Prince Charles's office says he is self-isolating in Scotland, and officials are racing to find anyone who he may have interacted with during his busy schedule.
CNN's Max Foster explains.
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 71-year- old next in line to the throne started displaying mild symptoms on the weekend, and was tested on Monday and received his positive result on Tuesday, according to a royal source.
He's in good health, the source told CNN, and self-isolating on the family estate in Scotland, as is his wife, Camilla, separately from Charles, though her test came back negative.
According to a royal source, Charles has been advised by medics that he became contagious on March the 13th at the earliest. The day before, he was at Buckingham Palace with the queen. She remains in good health, according to her office, though they wouldn't confirm if she'd been tested, too.
The queen's canceled all her public engagements and withdrew to Windsor castle outside London with husband Prince Philip last week.
It's not clear where the Prince of Wales caught the virus, due to the high number of public engagements he attended in recent weeks, his office said. He didn't stop working, in accordance with government advice of the time.
The royal source says the prince has been advised his case is unlikely to escalate into anything more serious. And efforts are underway to track down anyone he's been in contact with over the last two weeks, and possibly exposed to the virus.
Max Foster, CNN, Windsor, England.
VAUSE: Tokyo's Olympic stadiums will have to wait until next year to be filled with fans. So after the break, we'll get the spirit which is keeping the Olympic flame burning.
VAUSE: How long would you be willing to wait in line for crucial supplies like toilet paper? It's one of the first things which flew off the shelves as people started self-isolating because of the coronavirus.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, they've been waiting up to three hours in line of more than kilometers to get their hands on that bathroom tissue. The very soft stuff.
A manufacturer there decided to sell his product directly to the community to try to ease the shortages. The company says it doesn't normally sell to the public but wanted to offer some comfort and help in a time of need.
The last time the Olympics were canceled was 1940. World War II meant the Turkey games that year never happened. Eighty years on, and not a cancellation but a postponement. And a reminder of what the Olympic spirit really is.
Here's CNN's Nick Glass.
NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As rituals go, it takes some beating. But there was hardly anyone there to witness it. This was Athens earlier this month, the official handover of the Olympic flame to the new host city, Tokyo. With sight, an ancient Greek stadium made entirely of marble, home to the first modern Olympics way back in 1896.
Usually, the public packed the tiers of seating. But the Greeks and their visitors weren't taking any risks with the coronavirus.
The applause was enthusiastic but polite. How could it be otherwise? There weren't enough people. If you are looking for a potent of things to come, perhaps this was it.
Of course, historically, we remember Olympics for great Olympians, for great athletes. Berlin, in 1936, and the African-American sprinter, Jesse Owens, in the far lane, blasting the hundred meters. So much for Hitler's Aryan supremacy.
The Nazis gave their salute, but Owens topped the podium four times with his.
Owens didn't know it. Nor did anyone else. This would be the last Olympic games for 12 years.
1940, the summer games were supposed to be in Tokyo. Commemorative stamps were issued for games that never happened, canceled because of the Second World War, as were the games in London in 1944, for the same reason.
So London in 1948 marked a new beginning. Back then, the Olympic games were a quarter of the size of the modern. Strictly amateur, so frugally hosted they were dubbed the Austerity Games.
These were the first summer Olympics since Berlin in 1936. Neither Germany or Japan were invited. The undisputed star of the game turned out to be a 30-year-old mother of two, Fanny Blankers Koen, the so- called Flying Dutch Housewife. She won four gold medals.
Tokyo finally got its turn to host an Olympics in 1964, and we remember those games for the great Ethiopian Abebe Bikila, winning the marathon for a second Olympics in a row. He won his first in Rome in 1960, running barefoot in the dark.
In Tokyo, he wore socks and sneakers and came home four minutes ahead of the next man.
And so to Tokyo 2020 and its various stadia, ready for the Olympics. And with billions of dollars invested by the host city and by broadcasters at stake. Who was to know that this would be the first Olympics to be postponed because of a global virus?
Pierre de Coubertin, the first French aristocrat who revived the modern Olympics in the 1890s, always stressed that sport should be about a certain mobility, a certain chivalry.
After some prevarication, the Olympic authorities and their Japanese hosts have bowed to the inevitable. The games will still be called Tokyo 2020, but they'll happen next year. And the Olympic cauldron will burn rather longer in its host city than anyone ever imagined.
Nick Glass, CNN, in London.
VAUSE: Thank you watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. "AMANPOUR" starts after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)