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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Cases Four Times Greater Per Capita Than China; Italy's Outbreak a Preview for America; China Banning Most Foreigners from Entering the Country; Asian Markets Rally after Dow Surges for Third Day; G-20 Leaders Meet Virtually, Commit to Overcoming COVID-19; Record 3.3. Million Americans File Unemployment Claims; Japan Braces for Economic Impact of Postponing Olympics; Hundreds of Trekkers Stranded in Nepal's Mountain Trails; Syrian Refugees Brace for Coronavirus 'Tsunami'. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 27, 2020 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, coming to you live from Atlanta.

[00:00:40]

And ahead this hour, first China, then Italy, and now the United States have become the country with the most cases of coronavirus worldwide as the number of global infections tops half a million people.

China braces for a second wave, sealing off its borders to foreigners to help prevent another battle with the virus.

And we're getting a clear picture of the economic cost of the pandemic. Millions of jobs wiped out in the U.S. alone.

Thanks for your company, everyone. As we now come on the air, the world has passed a number of sad but very important milestones we have to tell you about.

Consider this. Less than three months ago, on New Year's Eve, the first cases of what we now know as coronavirus were reported to the World Health Organization.

Well, today, according to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than half a million cases reported around the world. Think about it. Half a million.

And the United States has now reported more cases than any other country, outpacing China, also outpacing Italy. At last count, there have been at least 82,000 cases reported in the U.S. Nearly 1,200 deaths.

And months after its first case, China has announced it is closing its borders to most foreign nationals. The ban will begin Saturday and is meant to stop the spread coming to what it calls imported cases, those from outside China coming in.

Well, per capita, there are now almost four times the number of cases in the U.S. than reported in China. And there are a number of new hotspots in the U.S.

For example, Michigan. Less than 350 cases a week ago, now almost 3,000. That's just in a week. But the central point of concern in the U.S. is still New York.

CNN's Erica Hill is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Empty streets lead to packed emergency rooms across New York City, the country's epicenter for the pandemic.

COREY JOHNSON, SPEAKER, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: It is insane that in the wealthiest country in the world, that our heroes that are on the front lines do not have all of the personal protective equipment to protect themselves.

HILL: The need for critical gear, including ventilators, is unrelenting as the number of patients soars. At Elmhurst hospital in Queens, 13 people dying in just one day.

DR. COLLEEN SMITH, ELMHURST HOSPITAL: All the feet that you see, they all have COVID.

HILL: Dr. Colleen Smith documented 72 hours inside Elmhurst for "The New York Times."

SMITH: Leaders in various offices, from the president to the head of health and hospitals, saying things like, We're going to be fine. Everything is fine.

And from our perspective, everything is not fine.

I don't have the support that I need. And even just the materials that I need physically to take care of my patients. And it's -- it's America. And we're supposed to be a first-world country.

HILL: CNN has reached out to Elmhurst Hospital about Dr. Smith's statements.

Further south, at New York City's Bellevue Hospital, a makeshift morgue is being set up for a possible surge. And NYU is allowing senior medical students to graduate early to help meet the demand for healthcare workers.

Across the country, leaders are watching, urging people to stay home, knowing they may be next.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES: What we see in Italy, from what we see in Spain, from what we see in New York City, it's coming here. Nobody is immune from this virus. GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Just over two weeks ago, we had zero.

This crisis is ramping up exponentially.

HILL: In Louisiana, on the heels of America's deadliest day for this virus, cases are skyrocketing. And in hospitals everywhere, doctors are preparing for the possibility of difficult questions about who is treated.

DR. MICHELLE GONG, CRITICAL CARE CHIEF, MONTEFIORE MEDICAL CENTER: We want to do our best to save every life that comes through our doors. But during a pandemic, when resources become scarce, sometimes we have to engage in uncomfortable conversations.

[00:05:09]

HILL: More proof that this unpredictable virus is changing how we live every day.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You have a whole new generation who have never lived through anything like this. They never went to war. They were never drafted. They never went through a national crisis. And this is going to shape them.

HILL (on camera): As the medical professionals were leaving this hospital earlier today, they told CNN that inside it is bursting at the seams. And when asked about how they were feeling, what the mood was, one said there's a state of panic.

Healthcare workers are worried. They're concerned they could get the coronavirus. They could be a carrier and give it to someone And not just among their colleagues or potential patients but their families, as well, when they go home.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: All right, Ryan McGarry is an emergency room doctor in Los Angeles, Keck Medicine, USC Medical Center. I think I got that right. He's also the co-creator and executive producer of the Netflix series "Pandemic," which is somewhat prescient.

Great to have you. The president has said multiple times he would like to open up large parts of the country, get back to normal; have states rated as high, medium, or low risk. Let's just have a quick listen to something he said earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, people want to go back to work. I'm hearing -- I'm hearing it loud and clear from everybody. I think it's going to happen pretty quickly. A lot of progress is made, but we've got to go back to work. We may take sections of our country. We may take large sections of our country that aren't so seriously affected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: How risky is that, given the lack of testing, which means there is no real clear picture of actual spread? What do you think?

RYAN MCGARRY, EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR, KECK MEDICINE OF USC: Well, I can give an analogy, I think. As a frontline physician, physicians like myself, nurses like myself, custodians on the front line, you know, we're all in a battle together right now.

And if I -- if I may use an analogy from World War II, certainly, my grandfather was in World War II. You know, imagine approaching Normandy, seeing a barrel of cannons ready to shoot you, and then knowing that the commander-in-chief has pulled back your Air Force.

I think there's a sense here that folks sheltering in place, staying at home, is our Air Force. They're our coverage. They're helping us right now. To have that pulled back prematurely, boy, I wouldn't want to run into that battle.

HOLMES: Yes. I'm wondering how much it concerns you in terms of how little we know about spread. When, you know, it comes to testing, we don't really know who's carrying without knowing they're carrying it and so on. And that requires widespread testing into all kinds of places.

MCGARRY: That's absolutely correct. And here in Los Angeles, there is a sense of some of that mystery, I think, is surrounding us. We are seeing our numbers go up. "L.A. Times" reporting today that it has been doubling in the last 24 hours. And of course, you know, imagine waiting for what could be, you know, Italy, New York, here coming to L.A. And so yes, I think that that is very concerning to us.

HOLMES: Yes. You know, when it does come to testing, it's interesting. You've got Donald Trump saying that, you know, it's -- it's not real. That it's a failure. Donald Trump is not saying it's a failure. Everyone else is. He says it's not necessary in these places without many cases.

But again, that's precisely the ones that need to be tested now, to see the prevalence before the spread, to isolate and to trace. It is what South Korea and Singapore and Hong Kong did pretty well. Even Iceland. The U.S. has not done it.

MCGARRY: I don't think there is much debate that, as far as chapter one of a pandemic as a system, I think we've not passed it. OK? On my show on Netflix, we talked to many scientists who spend their careers studying this, preparing for it, and ubiquitously, a story that we heard over and over again was that their budgets were cut.

We actually have footage of some of these folks coming to hospital systems, giving presentations. And we pan the room, and there's folks snoozing. And so, you know, it's quite stunning to be on the other side of that now going, Wow, you know, everything that they think about in research is coming true. And you hope that we collectively, you know, as a system would have paid more attention to that. HOLMES: Yes. Your documentary is one thing. I mean, when you think of

the exercises that were held in recent years, including last year, actually. Exercises that identified precisely these sorts of issues.

As you said, you literally did a documentary, a pandemic on Netflix about this very issue. Are you surprised that the U.S., in particular, was so unprepared, given there were all kinds of heads up?

[00:10:05]

MCGARRY: Well, I -- I obviously don't speak for all emergency physicians and nurses out there. But I bet, at least in this country, if you were to poll most of us, there's a bit of a familiarity about what's going on right now, and that's called, like, Tuesday or Wednesday or any Thursday night in the week in this country, most ERs are packed. Most ERs were asked to do more with less. Most ERs, you know, you get a sick patient, they need to go to the ICU. The first thing you find out is that the ICU is full. And that's during peacetime. OK, that's during not a pandemic.

So you know, I don't think that we're surprised, no.

HOLMES: You know, when you look at things like budget cuts, not just in the U.S. but, you know, around the world, things like cuts to research programs, investments in perhaps unsexy things like pandemics and microbiology.

Do you think that this could change some minds about funding for such things? I mean, the CDC in this country has been cut numerous times. Or is the risk that a year or five years for now, governments get complacent again and cuts come back? How do you think that will play out?

MCGARRY: I would hope that this is all the -- you know, this is all the fire and warning that we need to not want this to ever happen again, particularly on the concern of PPE. I mean, the most basics here of tools, we're systematically falling short with.

Now, I will say, at USC, we've been lucky. We've had -- within the university, even some donors out there have helped us out.

And I do want to paint a picture that maybe has not been said enough about the PPE. You know, our leadership team, even my chairman today, was down there with us in scrubs in the same PPE I'm wearing or lack thereof. So, you know, I think systematically, we could do a lot better.

But I want to point out that a lot of institutions like mine were still all in it together. I'm not saying that's OK. Obviously, I think we need to do better. But there is something very cool about being shoulder to shoulder with our leadership and knowing, you know, hey, we're doing the best we can.

But boy, as a system, I know we can do better than what we've been doing. HOLMES: Yes. Yes. Dr. Ryan McGarry, thanks so much. And the Netflix

series "Pandemic," if you haven't seen it, check it out. You watch that and you look at what's happening now, and you -- you're just going to shake your head.

Thank you, Doctor.

MCGARRY: Thank you.

HOLMES: Well, in hard-hit Italy, hospitals overwhelmed by what has been a crushing surge of infected patients. And it could be, really, a preview of what is in store for America's virus hot spots and the ethical dilemmas that doctors might soon face.

CNN's Delia Gallagher with more on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In some of northern Italy's cemeteries, there's no space left for the dead killed by the coronavirus. Hospitals are crumbling under the sheer number of patients. And U.S. experts warn if this disease could cripple Italy's strong healthcare system, the U.S. could be next.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: It essentially got out of hand and 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.

GALLAGHER: In this exclusive footage given to CNN, doctors show us operating rooms in a hospital in northern Italy, turned into makeshift intensive care units. Barely conscious patients. Doctors and nurses pushed to the brink.

They now have to choose who will live and who will die. Some medics have described it as wartime triage. Patients with the highest chance of survival get priority.

And it's doctors, nurses, and emergency workers who are exposed to the greatest risks. At least 39 medical professionals have died in Italy since the crisis.

DR. ANGELO PAN, HEAD OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, CREMONA HOSPITAL: Even a smaller error can -- can give you an infection, and then you have to hope it's not to -- to get any serious problem.

GALLAGHER: It's a stark picture for those in the U.S. now fighting the disease. America's doctors are already planning for the ethical challenges they will soon face.

In Italy, exhausted doctors struggle physically and mentally from the strain. They hope other countries will learn from them.

DANIELA CONFALONIERI, NURSE IN MILAN: We're not even counting the dead anymore. Look at the news that's coming out of Italy and take note of what the situation really is like.

GALLAGHER: A dire situation, and a warning for the world.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Turning our attention now to Spain. It has more deaths from the coronavirus pandemic than any other country except Italy.

The total number of infections in Spain has topped 56,000, with more than 4,000 fatalities. But the death toll in the past 24 hours was smaller than the record 738 fatalities reported on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Spain joined Italy in refusing to sign onto the E.U.'s joint economic response to the pandemic. The Italian prime minister said there needs to be a better mechanism for affected countries to access funds.

And China is now banning most international travelers from entering the country. People not going there on official government business now have to apply for new visas. Steven Jiang is in Beijing for us.

Steven, you know, so for a while, other countries were banning travelers from China. Now it's China stopping the outsiders coming in.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, Michael. The table has turned.

But it's also interesting to note it took them a while to reach this decision and take this action. Despite the continuously rising number of imported cases from overseas, a big reason for that, Michael, is what you mentioned.

When the epicenter was China, during the early stage of this pandemic, a lot of other governments were shutting their borders towards Chinese citizens, suspending, canceling flights to and from China.

At the time, the Beijing government was obviously condemning these actions, saying they were against the WHO's advice for not stopping global movements of people and trade.

But now, of course, the table has turned. So they were mindful of not being seen as taking the exact same action they were accusing others of taking earlier.

So that's why, in a statement, they said they were compelled to take this action as a last resort, to protect its citizens.

It's also worth noting that, ostensibly, this new policy only targets foreign nationals. But the government also announced on Thursday they were cutting, dramatically, the number of international flights to and from China, starting this weekend.

So when the new policy takes effect, there will be only about 130 flights per week into China. That means the number of international arrivals via flights will be down to 5,000 people per day, down from 25,000 per day right now. So that's going to be a dramatic reduction, which also means a lot of Chinese nationals living overseas will be stranded, as well.

So that's why the government is in a tricky position. They want to address domestic concerns of imported cases, but also do not want to be seen as abandoning their own, stranded overseas. So there is already talk of them considering arranging some charter flights to pick up these Chinese nationals stuck abroad -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Thank you, Steven. Steven Jiang there in Beijing for us.

All right. Going to take a short break, when we come back, U.S. stocks soared after the $2 trillion stimulus plan sailed through the Senate, and headed towards the house.

How stocks in Asia are reacting this hour. We'll have that when we come back.

And also, a look at the economic fallout of postponing the Olympics could have on Japan. That's when we come back.

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[00:20:10]

HOLMES: Welcome back, markets across Asia are rallying after Wall Street stayed in the green for a third day in a row. Let's have a look at the numbers there. You can see the Nikkei up nearly 2 and a half percent. The Hang Sang also well up, Seoul nearly just over 2 and a quarter percent, as well. Shanghai Composite in the green, as well.

Now, in the U.S., the Dow jumped about 6.4 percent on Thursday. This comes despite 3.3 million workers filing for unemployment benefits. That's the most ever reported, by a long shot.

Stocks surging, though, after the Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus plan. The House of Representatives expected to vote on that bill in the hours ahead.

Now, in a time where social distancing is crucial, G-20 leaders took to a virtual setting to coordinate a global effort to fight the coronavirus. In a joint statement, they said they are, quote, "committed to do whatever it takes to fight the pandemic."

CNN's John Defterios joins me now live from Abu Dhabi.

Yes, a virtual summit, unusual designed to address the economic plight. But it seems to be some disappointment that this package was not really defined for the poorest nations. Tell us about it.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, indeed, Michael. No one can argue with the firepower of the G-20. They've allocated $5 trillion to the fight against the virus, but most of that is for domestic spending to address unemployment, to help the healthcare systems, to prop up industries like we're seeing in the United States.

But there's -- we have 80 countries right now that are knocking on the door of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, saying, We need assistance.

So what do we know out of this summit? Nearly $100 billion allocated to these countries from the IMF and World Bank, about $15 billion of debt relief, which is helpful right now.

But we're talking about huge countries, Michael. Nigeria, Pakistan, are 400 million combined, which is larger than the United States, and about the size of the European Union. So you can hear the challenge.

In fact, the U.N. secretary-general addressed this virtual summit and said this is the global south, from Asia, Africa, to Latin America. It's going to be a global crisis if we don't funnel money in. And this was not defined at this virtual summit. I know it's a tough agenda, but that's the reality.

HOLMES: You know, you think back 10 years, and the G-20 was, you know, central to tackling the global financial crisis. Why not coronavirus crisis?

DEFTERIOS: Well, you know, this is interesting, because Gordon Brown was the prime minister of the U.K. at the time, Michael, and he made it a point to use the G-20, because it represents 80 percent of the GDP amongst the 20 countries.

I think we're living in different times right now. It's almost a populist fervor to take care of your own. And I think two key challenges are here, President Trump is not a globalist. He doesn't like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, World Trade Organization. You could put the G-20 in that category.

And the two largest members are the United States and China. They are accusing each other of the virus, and how to handle it, and also have their trade tensions. And I think also, even the host country, Saudi Arabia, is trying to revive the G-20. It's a good opportunity for the emerging markets for the Middle East.

But they're in a price war on oil, for example, with the United States and Russia. So you can hear the tensions I'm talking about, and I think it's holding back collaboration.

HOLMES: Great to have you on, John. Great analysis, as always. John Defterios there for us.

And joining me now from Cambridge, Massachusetts, is Megan Greene. She's a global economist and senior fellow at Harvard's -- Harvard's Kennedy School of Business.

Great to have you back on the program. Jobless claims, boy, 3.3 million, and that's really just a fraction of the number of people who are actually hurting economically. What's your take on what those sorts of numbers mean for the broader economy? MEGAN GREENE, GLOBAL ECONOMIST: Yes. So look, that number was

apocalyptic. And as you point out, it was probably also understated. So it just reflects the number of people who actually successfully claimed unemployment, not those who actually needed it.

And there were a whole bunch of technical issues, given the surge in claimants. You know, phone lines went down. Internet connections went down.

So the real number's probably bigger.

The qualifications for how to actually get unemployment insurance has changed. So that makes it more difficult to compare with history. That being said, it was four times the previous record. So comparisons with the past, you know, have been blown out of the water anyhow.

I do think that the package that's been passed now, the fiscal package, has ambiguous implications for the jobless claims. On the one hand, because people claiming unemployment are getting $600 more. It means that some employers might actually be more willing to lay their people off, so they can maybe even make more than they were by claiming unemployment.

[00:25:10]

On the other hand, some parts of the package encourage small businesses to maintain payroll, so that would actually reduce the jobless claims. So I think we can expect jobless claims to be pretty high for a while.

HOLMES: And when you look, the U.S. has already thrown a trillion into the economy before this. There's already calls for a new plan in Washington. Do you think that is likely, or necessary going forward?

GREENE: So I think it's pretty inevitable, actually. And I -- you know, you can't really overstate how huge this package was. If you leverage it up with money from the Fed, it amounts to about 30 percent of the U.S. GDP. That's gargantuan. That's about double the size of the U.K.'s fiscal package, and compare it with the 2 percent of the GDP that the European institutions are offering. So it's massive.

But I think one hole still needs to be plugged, and that's for states, actually. Because states are incurring all kinds of extra costs. Think of all the ventilators that they're having to purchase, and at the same time, their tax revenues are coming to a screeching halt. So I do think we'll have to see another bill following this.

HOLMES: Wow. Yes, when you put it like that, true.

I mean, let's talk globally for a minute. The biggest economies in the world, of course, are worried about there is. But there are smaller economies, ones that are already in recession. You've got the emerging markets.

The U.S. in many ways has a cushion as a wealthy nation. What is going to be the potential economic impact in those countries without that cushion that the U.S. has? It could be catastrophic, wouldn't it?

GREENE: It could be. And I think the story in the emerging markets is a really underreported one. The emerging markets are going to get absolutely slammed. Not only because they don't have the same level of health services that we have in the U.S., for example, but also, social distancing is really difficult in, you know, slums in Johannesburg, for example.

And then on top of that, while everybody is piling into U.S. dollars, it's pushing the U.S. dollar up broadly. And so that puts a huge pressure on emerging markets that have, in many cases, issued their debt in U.S. dollars, and they're paying them in local currency. And the dollar is getting stronger, so that debt burden is just getting even more crushing.

And a lot of them are invoicing trade in U.S. dollars, as well, so importers are having to pay much more in emerging markets. So that's an extra pressure that they just don't need right now.

HOLMES: Wow, yes. There's been a lot of talk about a lack of preparedness in the U.S., bad initial decisions in the U.K., lack of faith in China's transparency, and you have countries competing for resources. Speak about the lack, in many ways, of global coordination for this pandemic, and what that means sort of going forward in terms of, you know, international cooperation and so on.

GREENE: Yes, so this has been a huge disappointment, I think, in this crisis, though it's not surprising, given the increasingly go-it-alone attitude of most countries.

We just had a G-20 leaders call that was inconclusive. Even within the E.U., we just had an E.U. leaders' summit pretty much fall apart without any real, you know, branches laid out for countries that are having more trouble.

And so we are seeing a complete dearth of international cooperation, which is too bad, because this is a truly global pandemic.

And I do think that the kind of go-it-alone, beggar thy neighbor approaches has echoes in what we saw and what really exacerbated the Great Depression. Not that we're necessarily on that specific path, given the causes that are so different, but the fact that we're not cooperating is very similar.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, and I wanted to ask you to, too. I mean, confidence is everything in the economy, as you know as an economist. When this passes, I mean, the president is already saying, Oh, wow, there's pent-up demand. It's going to be huge. The economy is going to be bigger and better than ever.

Do you think that's true? Or do you think people, financially, are going to hunker down for a long time? And especially those whose retirement friends may have been decimated by the drop in the markets.

GREENE: Yes. So those who are retiring face real sequence risk now. And, also, all those who have lost their jobs, who are now, you know, included in the jobless claims data, there are really at risk now. Especially those who lost their jobs, and who are now included in the jobless claims data. They're going to have a hard time. They have to go out and find new jobs.

So I would say it all depends on epidemiology and how long it takes us to actually contain this virus.

And there's been this weird, bifurcated approach we've had. We've kind of had this panicked approach to economic policy on the one hand, but a fairly relaxed approach to the health policy side.

I think the best way to explain it is that, without dealing with the health policy side, it's a bit like there's a comet careening towards Earth, and we're cutting interest rates. Right? It's just not going to matter.

So as long as we can't find out what the natural peak of this virus is, all the economic policy measures will necessarily be insufficient, and I think our economy will continue to be in quicksand.

So if we can contain this in a few months, maybe we get a strong recovery. If it takes longer, we'll be starting up from standstill, and it will take longer.

HOLMES: Great points, well made. Megan Greene with Harvard's Kennedy School of Business. Thank you so much. Good to see you.

GREENE: Thanks for having me.

[00:30:10]

HOLMES: All right. We'll take a short break. When we come back, the decision to delay the Summer Olympics was a heartbreaker for athletes and fans, many of whom spent big money planning to go to the games. But the cost and the chaos are skyrocketing across Japan. We'll have Will Ripley tell us all about it when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes, updating you on the headlines this hour.

There are now more than half a million cases of coronavirus reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. And nearly a third of the world's population is under some type of pandemic-related restriction.

The United States now has more reported cases than any other country in the world: at last count, more than 82,000 cases. Almost 2,000 people have died. That number rising almost by the hour. In fact, literally by the hour.

Per capita, the U.S. has almost four times the number of reported cases as China.

And China is now banning most international travelers from entering the country. People not going there on official government business will now have to apply for new visas. The government hoping the measure curbs new cases of coronavirus coming into the country.

Japan preparing itself for the economic impact of delaying the Olympics over the coronavirus pandemic. By some estimates, it could wind up costing tens of billions of U.S. dollars.

For more on this, let's go to CNN's Will Ripley, joining us live from Tokyo. I guess a necessity, but logistical and financial nightmare, right?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. When you look at the price tag, you can see why Japanese officials might have been hesitant to postpone the Olympics. They were already on track, Michael, to spend 20 million -- 20 billion -- with a "B" -- dollars on the games. And we spoke with an economist who says that price tag now is going to more than double.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY (voice-over): No visit to Tokyo's Asakusa neighborhood is complete without a ride on a rickshaw. But this year, almost no one is riding.

(on camera): This is a lot of empty rickshaws here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we have to fight. Like, you know, like the coronavirus.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Fighting customers is like fighting over scraps for rickshaw drivers like Yoshi Furiya (ph). And now that Tokyo 2020 is postponed at least until next year, the road ahead is looking long and lonely.

Japan's tourism industry is bracing for an economic bloodbath. Millions of jobs and billions of dollars are on the line.

[00:35:02]

(on camera): When you combine postponing the Olympics and the coronavirus outbreak, can you put a price tag on how much that's going to cost Japan?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's likely that the loss will be around 36 -- 36 billion U.S. dollars.

RIPLEY: Thirty-six billion U.S. dollars?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That number is quite big.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Keio University Professor Sayurishi (ph) says that astronomical cost includes cancellation and maintenance fees for more than three dozen Olympic venues; compensation for thousands who have already purchased condos in the Olympic athletes' village; billions in broadcasting rights and prepaid advertising.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do it next year, we don't know how successful this 2020 Olympics will be.

RIPLEY: More than four million tickets are already sold, some seats costing up to $3,000.

(on camera): Eight hundred dollars for two tickets?

KENJI FUMA, OLYMPIC TICKET HOLDER: Yes.

RIPLEY: Wow.

(voice-over): Demand was so high, ticket holders like Kenji Fuma had to enter a lottery. He wonders if his luck has run out.

(on camera): Has anyone told you what's going to happen with your tickets?

FUMA: Nothing has happened yet. So even the government didn't send any emails and didn't make any announcement. So we're just now waiting for the next steps.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Fans are not the only ones waiting. Olympic organizers need to sort out a mind-boggling jigsaw puzzle, resolving scheduling conflicts with other major sporting events, rescheduling Olympic qualifiers.

Kaori Yamaguchi is a 1988 Olympic Judo bronze medalist and a member of Japan's Olympic committee. She knows postponement has a huge impact on athletes.

"If the games are delayed by a year, their training schedule drastically changes," she says. "But I think the athletes can handle it."

Yamaguchi says this is a marathon, not a sprint.

The coronavirus crisis will and. The Olympics will go on. Japan will have its moment in the global spotlight.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY: But given that tourism has essentially evaporated overnight, a lot of those businesses are really going to struggle, Michael, to make the finish line.

HOLMES: Yes, I mean, it's interesting. I saw you in a coffee shop there during that interview. I'm curious that -- whether Japanese people -- I mean, the postponement of the Olympics, whether that's sort of brought all of this home to you. Because they're still on the streets a lot. You posted on Instagram. A lot people out, looking at the cherry blossom.

RIPLEY: It's so interesting, Michael. The government's messaging before the Olympic postponement was, frankly, pretty relaxed when compared to other countries. Japan was one of the last to, you know, put on firm restrictions on travel. It just raised a travel alert level for the entire world after the Olympic announcement. But because their messaging has been so relaxed, a lot of people not

necessarily heeding the new warnings of the government that the situation and the number of cases is accelerating here.

And so we were out around town, and yes, there were huge crowds of people lining the Meguro River. A lot of them did not have masks or gloves. They were very close together. They were taking pictures of the cherry blossoms.

But then there are others who are taking things more seriously, Michael. The neighborhood supermarket where I lived for four years, the same building I lived in for four years, was busier than I've ever seen it yesterday. A lot of the shelves are empty. It seems like panic buying is really setting in.

HOLMES: Wow. Yes. Panic buying setting in, but not -- you know, social distancing. Not yet.

Will, good to see you. Great reporting, as always. Will Ripley there in Tokyo, his old stomping ground; there for us again.

A coronavirus lockdown in Nepal has left around 500 trekkers stranded on mountain trails. The Nepal tourism board says it is working to rescue the trekkers and bring them to Kathmandu, where arrangements will be made to fly them back to their home countries.

Well, joining me now from Nepal is Curtis Drevets, an American citizen caught up in the lockdown there.

Great to see you. A beautiful part of the world; been there in different times. Tell me, you're on this beautiful place, a dream trek, blissfully unaware. How did you hear about what was going on? And what went through your mind?

CURTIS DREVETS, U.S. CITIZEN STRANDED IN NEPAL: Yes. So it took about maybe 11 days, because the storm had knocked out the wi-fi on most of the mountain trails. And so I finally found out about it through, I think, about a 20-minute Internet connection I was able to make in Johnson (ph).

And my just phone kind of blew up with messages, and then suddenly was kind of confronted with the extent of the global situation that I had no idea about. Yes, so it was crazy, and I found out about the lockdown right then and then kind of started looking into options. But it was a very, very surprising 20 minutes.

HOLMES: So where -- I mean, like, what is your situation now? I mean, I think other people are still out on the trails; haven't even got back to where --

DREVETS: Yes.

HOLMES: That's true, isn't it?

DREVETS: Yes. Some people that I am in contact with are still stuck up in kind of the trekking area. I think that there are going to be some different options for them getting off the mountain and to Kathmandu, but there's a lot of, like, misinformation and kind of conflicting messages floating around. It's hard to know what are rumors and what's true. And what -- what's actually going to happen.

[00:40:15]

HOLMES: So you're American. There's probably a lot of other nationalities around where you are. What is happening with you all What are you hearing various governments are doing?

DREVETS: Yes. Yes. So I, luckily, on the day right before the lockdown, I made it to Pokhara, which is a city not too far from Kathmandu and has lots of hospitals and kind of services. So I'm chilling. I'm safe.

But a lot of people from different -- different countries, there's a lot of French here, a lot of other nationalities around. And each, kind of, country is contacting and dialoguing with their embassies to figure out kind of what the arrangements or what type of assistance the embassies will pay for.

But there's just kind of a lot of confusion, a lot of waiting and just trying to stay patient. And I'm happy that I'm safe and have food and am in a good spot.

HOLMES: Yes, yes. Yes, like I said, I have been there. It is a beautiful part of the world. But it obviously must be worrying for your family back home.

What are the conditions like for you? Not just for you but for locals? You know, what's closed? What's open? The level of concern?

DREVETS: Yes. Yes, so right now, the lockdown is pretty strict. There aren't any cars or vehicles allowed on the road. There's some police vehicles kind of patrolling and making sure that people stay home.

There are some different food options, and that's pretty much the only reason you're able to leave your home or your hospital. There's a place that's giving out free Dal Bhat, which is a Nepalese curry dish, to foreigners stuck here.

And then also there's a lot of stories that kind of have their metal gates just a little bit open and so you can kind of peek your head in and say hello and ask if you can get some food. So there's still food available, but the lockdown is pretty strict.

HOLMES: Yes. Tell me. When this is over, as it will be at some point, going back to finish the trek?

DREVETS: So hopefully, yes. I'm very fortunate. I made it through the best parts of the trek and was able to cross the path with good weather. So I'm very thankful. I only had to cut off maybe three or four days of kind of the end, the kind of back side of the trek.

But yes, would love to come back. It's a beautiful, beautiful area, just breathtakingly gorgeous. It's been amazing to stay in the guesthouses with the Nepalese hospitality.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes. In Pokhara, Nepal, a lovely part of the world, Curtis Drevets. Great to talk to you. Sorry you're going through this. Hopefully, you'll be back soon. Appreciate your time. Take care.

DREVETS: Thank you. I appreciate it. Goodbye.

HOLMES: Thanks, Curtis.

Well, life in war-torn Syria is already hard, of course. And now fears about coronavirus, an extra burden for the refugees. We're going to go inside one town and hear what a doctor says the outbreak would do to those people. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:45:30]

HOLMES: Welcome back. First-world countries struggling to battle the coronavirus, but things are unfathomably worse in Syria, where years of war have left so many people homeless and desperate.

Many refugees who fled the fighting, well, they don't even have soap or running water, basic essential items to fight anything like this outbreak.

Arwa Damon with their story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How do you explain to a population that has lived through bombs and airstrikes, that has been forced to flee multiple times, and seen children die of the cold, that now there is another potential killer? An invisible enemy? And that their best line of defenses self- isolation or social distancing and handwashing?

Fatima (ph) doesn't even have running water when she has water at all.

"The tanker did not arrive yesterday, so look. This is all we have left. It's nearly empty," she says.

Soap is expensive. She washes the kids' hands as much as she can with the little they have, or kids as well. She can't go to the store and stock up. Like all other displaced and living like this, she relies on food distribution.

Fear has a different flavor in opposition-held Syria than for most of the rest of the world.

"We fled from the bombing, from the shelling, everything. And what now? Are we going to be afraid of this?" Fatima (ph) asks.

And that's part of the problem. This is a population that is already resigned to death. But really, what can they do? Even before COVID-19, illnesses and

disease ran rampant through the camps in the displaced communities, cramped into any space they can find.

There is an effort to try to sanitize some areas, but the resources aren't there. There is one lab here, and the test kits have only just arrived.

By Skype, we got in touch with Dr. Munther al-Khalil, with the Idlib health directorate.

DR. MUNTHER AL-KHALIL, IDLIB HEALTH DIRECTORATE: We think that -- that the number of people will die in this area will be more than 100,000 people, at least, in this area.

DAMON: He fears a coronavirus tsunami.

This, for example, is the Utma (ph) camp, a massive sprawling city in its own right. There is nothing to stop a rampant spread in living conditions like this.

The medical infrastructure has been decimated by years of war that saw hospitals and clinics deliberately targeted. First-world countries are struggling to handle COVID-19, but what they have is a luxury compared to what is here.

There are 600 doctors in Syria's last rebel-held enclave, less than 200 intensive-care beds, and around 100 ventilators for a population of more than four million.

AL-KHALIL: After corona, the suffering in this area will continue. And nobody actually is doing what they have to do to stop this catastrophe.

DAMON: For nine years, the international community abandoned Syria to the ravages of war. With hospitals already overcrowded, doctors killed and forced to flee. Aid, slow to come. What can really protect this population from the ravages of COVID-19?

Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: When we come back, honoring those who answer the call to duty. How people around the world are greeting the heroes on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:50:42]

HOLMES: Welcome back. The U.S. president, Donald Trump, wants Americans to return to work by Easter. But Dr. Anthony Fauci says we have to listen to the virus. Fauci, of course, is the director of the National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases, and a member of the White House coronavirus task force. During our earlier global town hall, "Facts and Fears," CNN's Dr.

Sanjay Gupta asked him how the rising number of confirmed cases in the U.S. will impact that projected timeline.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You've been saying that we should wait for the data to decide whether or not to start pulling back on some of these recommendations and maybe allowing people to go back to work.

I've been looking at the data. I know you have, as well. It seems pretty clear that the numbers are not only increasing, but accelerating in places that had no cases or a very few cases last week. They're now in the thousands. So why raise the idea that a pullback is even close, Dr. Fauci?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Well, I think the president was trying to do, he was making an aspirational projection to give people some hope. But he's listening to us when we say we've really got to re-evaluate it in real time. And any decision we make has to be based on the data.

I mean, you know, the numbers that you showed, when you have a situation when the cases today, compared to tomorrow, is increased dramatically. And then the next day is increased dramatically, that's no time to pull back. That's when you've got to hunker down, nail down, mitigate, mitigate, mitigate. Get the people taken care of. That's what you've got to concentrate on. You have to go with the data.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And much more of our global town hall, "FACTS AND FEARS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS." That's coming up next, immediately after CNN NEWSROOM. About less than 10 minutes from now.

Healthcare workers paying, of course, a heavy price, caring for people infected with coronavirus. But their sacrifices are not going unnoticed. CNN's Isa Soares takes a look at how they are being recognized and what some of those heroes on the front lines have to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In lockdown, isolation, or in quarantine, the world is uniting. Briefly opening their windows and doors and honoring their healthcare heroes.

The hundreds and thousands of men and women around the world, putting their health and their lives on the line for all of us. They do it out of duty, or calling, or passion. But still, the world applauds.

The tributes have been global. From Spain, where the medical staff came out to welcome the recognition. To Italy, France, the United States, and right around the world. These are some of the faces of our healthcare heroes, the soldiers on

the front lines. And they have the physical and emotional scars to show for it. Their faces? Exhausted and bruised from wearing tight protective masks for hours on end.

But the scars of war go deeper. Ruben Herrera is an emergency room nurse from Spain and tells me he hasn't seen anything like this in his 14 years on the job.

RUBEN HERRERA, EMERGENCY ROOM NURSE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)

GRAPHIC: At this hour, really, I feel as if my chest is about to explode. I've spent most of my evening injecting patients in wheelchairs, because there are no free beds available, not even to put out in the corridors.

SOARES: Across Italy, medical staff say conditions remain dire.

DANIELA CONFALONIERI, NURSE IN MILAN, ITALY: (SPEAKING ITALIAN)

GRAPHIC: We're working in a state of very high stress and tension. Psychological tension has gone through the roof. Unfortunately, we can't contain the situation in Lombardy. There's a high level of contagion and we're not even counting the dead anymore.

DR. SAMIN SEDGHI ZADEH, HOSPITAL OF CREMONA, ITALY: (SPEAKING ITALIAN)

GRAPHIC: All the doctors and nurses have been selected to give a hand in a situation that is something like a movie. If you didn't see this, you wouldn't believe it.

PAOLA ARLETTI, NURSE IN MODENA, ITALY: (SPEAKING ITALIAN)

GRAPHIC: It's hard, above all to see people who are sick and don't have family close to them in this moment.

SOARES: And here in the U.K., experts say the peak could still be weeks away.

[00:55:04]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm on a rest day before nights. We're still going. It's scary, but we're still showing up for work.

SOARES: So to slow down the virus, they're calling on all of us to do more than just clap.

FRANCESCO PREZIOSI, NURSE IN MODENA, ITALY: (SPEAKING ITALIAN)

GRAPHIC: I'm Francesco and I want to say this. I'm getting applause when they see me, because they know I'm an ICU nurse. That doesn't make sense. The best way to thank us nurses is by staying at home.

SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: And to find out how you can feed the hungry, protect health professionals, aid refugees, and support service workers during the pandemic, do just go over to CNN.com/impact.

Plenty of advice there.

Now, it's hard to connect with people while social distancing, especially for children. So many people around the world are leaving messages of hope in their windows. It's not clear how the trend started, but photos decorated with hearts and rainbows and other symbols are popping up on social media.

Sisters Josephine and Norah, ages 5 and 2, helped put up these hearts on their window in Michigan. Their mother, Jenna Webb (ph), said she wanted to bring love and joy to essential workers in their neighborhood.

Now, Natasha James of British Columbia, is the founder of the group Hearts in the Window. She told CNN she wanted to make an online community giving families an activity to do while they're inside.

And 8-year-old Olivia and Christopher (ph) in Norway show off their rainbow drawings in the window.

While in Norfolk, Virginia, Nora Sibbles (ph) shows off the work of her mother, Tori (ph), on their front door.

Finally, a heartwarming moment from the front lines of this fight. This from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Listen as Dr. Elvis Francois (ph) pauses from his work with patients to post this rendition of "Imagine." He says to remind us we're all in this together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELVIS FRANCOIS, PHYSICIAN (SINGING): Imagine all the people, living for today. You might say that I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Thanks for spending part of your day with us here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes.

The CNN global town hall, "CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS," starts after the break. I'll see you with more news in about two hours.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END