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U.S. Leads World in Cases as Death Toll Jumps; Infection Strikes Highest Levels of U.K. Government; China Bans Most Foreign Visitors; Scenes of Kindness and Hope amid Outbreak. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired March 28, 2020 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am Michael Holmes.

And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, no signs of slowing down. Coronavirus cases hit new cities and existing hot spots prepare for the worst.

Forced to self-isolate, the British prime minister now setting an example after testing positive.

And --


HOLMES (voice-over): Much-needed music for all of our ears. How students, police and ordinary people, are doing their part to spread some hope.


HOLMES: If it seems that we often have grim milestones to tell you about, you are right but those numbers, as grim as they are, are extremely important.

In the U.S., there were more than 400 deaths reported Friday due to the coronavirus. That is the most of any day so far in the U.S. It brings the death toll to almost 1,600. The number of confirmed cases, topping the 100,000 mark, at least, as of last count, there was 101,000 or more cases.

It goes up all the time and let us remember, there has not been much testing. There are more, hopefully, positive numbers to tell you about as well.

In an afternoon briefing, President Trump said over the next 100 days, there would be 100,000 of those critically needed ventilators produced or procured. That is what he said. He also touted his administration's performance so far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We have distributed vast numbers of ventilators and we are prepared to do vast numbers. I think we're in great shape. I hope that's the case. I hope that we're going to have leftovers so we can help other people, other countries.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So everybody who needs one will be able to get a ventilator?

TRUMP: Look, don't be a cutie pie, OK?

Nobody's ever done what we've done. Nobody's done anything like we've been able to do.


HOLMES: New York's governor has repeatedly called for the U.S. government to do more to help those on the front line and Andrew Cuomo stressed that he makes decisions based on facts, not rosy hopes and wishes.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Look, I hope that the president is right. I'll go better than what the president said. I hope I don't need any ventilators. I hope this is a bad dream and it all disappears tomorrow.

But I cannot govern that way. I govern on the data and on the numbers and on the science. I have projections done by some of the best companies on the globe; I am talking to world health leaders, Dr. Fauci, studying what happened in China and South Korea.

And if you look at the numbers and count the numbers and the trajectory, we are looking at 40,000 possible ventilators.


HOLMES: As the number of deaths and cases skyrocket, a massive $2.2 trillion U.S. stimulus bill is now officially law. President Trump signed it in the Oval Office on Friday afternoon. It is meant to help workers and businesses decimated by the coronavirus shutdowns.

New York City now reporting more than 26,000 cases of coronavirus, that is a quarter of the nation's cases and there is growing concern about emerging outbreaks in other major cities. CNN's Erica Hill has more.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Los Angeles, the latest city to see a spike in cases, tripling in less than a week. Across California, the numbers jumping, 26 percent in one day, to more than 3,800.

With more than 100,000 confirmed in the U.S., new hot spots expose a growing need. In Detroit, the city's police chief and 39 officers among those testing positive. Hospitals pleading for help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not have enough masks. We do not have enough gowns. We need more from the federal government and others.

HILL (voice-over): Chicago and New Orleans battling a surge as Atlanta braces.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The anecdotal information I have received is that the ICU beds are already 90 percent at full and that we will exceed our capacity by May 3rd.

HILL (voice-over): In an effort to stop the spread, one North Carolina county is banning all visitors and nonresident property owners, sending the unprecedented health threat posed by COVID-19.


HILL (voice-over): As Massachusetts tells all travelers entering the state, to self quarantine for 14 days.

And Rhode Island announces plans to go door-to-door in coastal communities, looking for anyone from New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now we have a pinpointed risk that we need to address and we need to be very serious. And that risk is called New York City.

HILL (voice-over): As Americans across the city grow restless, those on the front lines are increasingly clear: stay home if you want to stay out of the E.R.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know we are at the epicenter. We are the tip of the spear here. And to use a analogy, our concern is that, at this point, we are perhaps just at the outer bands of a category 5 hurricane. This may get worse, before it gets better.

HILL: Elmhurst Hospital just behind me is one of the hardest hit in New York. As for cases here, Mayor de Blasio said earlier today, there are more than 25,500 confirmed cases in New York City.

He said that when he spoke to the president on Friday, he specifically mentioned this hospital here in Queens to the president, because the president is from Queens -- back to you.


HOLMES: Erica Hill there.

State and local leaders across the U.S. have been crying out and pleading for more help from the federal government; at the very least, more coordination. Now President Trump says that he is using what is now called the Defense Production Act. For that, we turn to CNN's Kaitlan Collins of the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After days of prodding by state governors, the president says that he will actually use the Defense Production Act he signed in recent weeks.

That gives him federal powers to tell private companies that they have to make a certain product. It is normally used during wartime but is being used in this pandemic. It's notable the circumstances in which is using it.

His administration had been in talks with General Motors and a smaller company to produce ventilators that hospitals say they are in desperately short supply of but those talks were put on hold. There was a disagreement with the administration and GM over the price tag and, timeline of how long it would take for them to produce those ventilators.

Despite those talks being stalled, General Motors said that it was still moving forward with the process like it was going to be producing them. It did not appear that there was a lot of time to be lost.

However, we are told by sources that the president grew irritated with reports about the hold on those talks and, today, he moved ahead without much notice, saying that he would use the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to make these ventilators.

People familiar with the discussion say that it will not really change the timeline that much. GM still has to retool its factories to get them to be able to make ventilators and these are complex machines. They take a lot of time.

We should also note that we are told by sources that the administration did not give General Motors a heads-up that it is going to be signing the DPA to get these ventilators made. Of course, it comes as the president had been pretty critical of some of the governors who said that they were not getting what they needed from the federal government.

People like New York governor Andrew Cuomo who says that his state will need 30,000 ventilators, he expects, when they hit their apex of these cases, these cases of coronavirus, in New York City.

For now, the president is putting his trade adviser Peter Navarro in charge of coordinating the DPA, so the question is whether or not they're going to start using it more aggressively or if that's just as one company for now -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: The lack of supplies is forcing many medical workers into dangerous situations where they are very much risking their lives as they attempt to save the lives of others. One nurse at Emory Hospital in Atlanta took to Facebook to express her fears and frustrations while making an emotional plea to the public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SONJA REINERT, EMORY HOSPITAL: Going to work, it is a choice that I make, because I love being a nurse. When I became a nurse, I never thought that I would have to choose between my job and my family. It is shown me that way.

We live in the richest country in the world. I understand that no one could predict a global pandemic. But the feeling, as a health care worker, to go to your work and being told that you have to re-use masks that are meant for one use and for individual patients.


REINERT: It is just insane.

A month ago, nobody would've ever told you to do that. So I am asking, if you have, if you can just look in your basement, anywhere, a basement, an attic, a storage shed, if you have any face masks, supplies, please consider donating them.



HOLMES: Dr. Armand Dorian is the chief medical officer, he is also a emergency room physician at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, joining me now from Glendale, California.

Doctor, I really appreciate your time, not the least of all because you've just come off a shift.

I wanted to ask you, can you give me a sense what is going on in your ICU unit right now?

DR. ARMAND DORIAN, USC VERDUGO HILLS HOSPITAL: Right now, we are at the beginnings of the eye of the storm. We noticed the increased influx of patients but now we are actually feeling the really sick patients that are going to start or are starting to get intubated and occupying our most critical beds, which are ICU beds.

HOLMES: More than 50 doctors have died in Italy.

Do you and those who work with, have what you need to do your job safely?

DORIAN: Currently, we have what we need. The fear of not having that is almost enough. You realize that fear is probably one of the most difficult things to overcome.

This is the first time, ever, as a physician and now as a chief medical officer, I have had to take calls from physicians on a nightly basis, where they are worried and anxious, to go back in the next day for their shifts. They are concerned of their own livelihood.

That is a lot to expect for someone to do, especially with the concerns of not having the proper gear. HOLMES: To that point, try to give us a sense of what sort of

emotional toll is being put on workers. Given what they are dealing with for hours and hours, on end.

DORIAN: It is not the fact that we are not prepared from the science standpoint, from the medical standpoint, it is the fact that the unknown creates mass hysteria and fear. When you go into battle and this is back a battle, we are fighting against a virus for the human race.

When you are there, it is one thing when you take care of the mild cases. But when you have to take care of somebody who is critically ill and even though we know that most of them will have multiple medical problems, when you are intubating somebody who is your age, with no medical problems, it really hits home.

At that point, you sit down and you think, I have a family, I have kids, I have to go home.

Am I possibly getting contaminated?

Will I be taking this home?

There are so many emotions of pile on top of this. When you get home, you turn on the news and you hear what is happening in New York and you know that it is going to happen in L.A. That is overwhelming.


HOLMES: That was Dr. Armand Dorian talking to me a little earlier from California.

The virus is striking at the highest levels of the British government. On Friday, prime minister Boris Johnson said that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Shortly after that, his health secretary also revealed a positive test result. Both men now self isolating and say they are working from home.

Mr. Johnson taking to Twitter to explain how he was still on the job.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: I am working from home. I am self- isolating and that is entirely the right thing to do. But be in no doubt, I will continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all of my top team to lead the national fight against coronavirus.


HOLMES: For more on this, we are joined by CNN International's diplomatic editor Nic Robertson in London.

I guess if the public was not getting the message now, the prime minister getting coronavirus will probably wake people up.

What is the impact on governance?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Providing that the prime minister continues in the same reasonable health, the message is very clearly, that they will continue the same. It does seem to be a little bit diminished.

The prime minister working from Number 11, instead of Number 10. His staff are in Number 10 can knock on the door, leave food, papers, whatever he needs and he can continue. Dominic Raab is the foreign secretary of state, so when the prime minister became more incapacitated, he would step up to lead the country a bit.


ROBERTSON: When you have not only the health secretary but the chief medical officer, who told Boris Johnson that he should get a test, who is now self-isolating as well because he has symptoms, that is a very strong indicator that this is reaching the top of government.

The message has been that at yesterday's press conference, the government continues to build more hospital capacity, centers, exhibition centers in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

They were pains to point out that 6200 hospital beds now have coronavirus patients in them. There are 33,000 hospital beds across the country and across England, that is, that is still available, 3000 of those in London. The message is, stay at home. Stay off the streets. Do not spread the infection.

The prime minister now embodies that. But as you say, rightly, this raises the question, not only of how the government can carry on but of how deeply this will impact the country.

That, of course, has people worried, not least of all the health service providers who really though this weekend, beginning to get the tests in for the virus itself, something they've been calling for a long time.

This really shows you that if the government is only providing it for them and those in hospital already, the idea of sort of these drive- through testing facilities that you may have in other countries, has not happened yet. It is not the way Britain is working, which gives an indication that, in terms of testing, the U.K. lags over some other advanced countries; whereas Britain would normally measure itself.

HOLMES: Also that affects knowledge of how wide the real spread is as well. Nic, thank you.

We will take a short break, when we come, back China's new plan to keep out new coronavirus cases. That has kicked in. Meanwhile, some other Asian countries are seeing a spike in new infections. We will have the details when we come back.




HOLMES: Welcome back.

China's tough new ban on most foreign visitors kicks in today. The government tries to keep out what they call imported coronavirus cases. Only foreign nationals who were granted visas after March 26th will be allowed entry.

Officials say people who traveled into the country from abroad account for all 54 of the new cases reported on Friday. The government reported 3 additional deaths from the disease, by the way, taking the country's death toll to nearly 3300; the official death toll, anyways. CNN's Will Ripley watching developments today, joining me now from Tokyo.

An uptick in the number of cases there in Japan.

Give us a sense of why that might be?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it is a symptom of what we are seeing around the world. As more countries start testing more people, they find more cases. Here in Japan, they're testing a tiny fraction of other countries.


RIPLEY: They've only tested 27,000 people in the entire coronavirus crisis as of Friday, compare that with the United States or South Korea, certainly China and you can understand why Japan has a low number of confirmed cases.

On the Diamond Princess cruise ship, it's more than 2000 but the government has pointed at that case number for a reason why there's not a need for a state of emergency.

Now just after the postponement of the Olympics, the government's tone is drastically changing. They're seeing an uptick in cases, particularly here in Tokyo. And the governor of Tokyo is saying that a lockdown of the city may be necessary in the coming days if they continue to see cases accelerated as they have been.

HOLMES: Very quickly, why the change in tone?

Is there a sense that perhaps the postponement of the Olympics and the change in tone, perhaps, might be connected?

RIPLEY: There are certainly talking Japanese media. Some are speculating that the government wanted to make things look like they were just fine on the ground pre-Olympic postponement and, now all of a sudden, they are striking a much more serious tone.

Or it could be a coincidence. It could be a matter of timing. But I do know this, we are hearing more and more cases, parks are starting to close after people were ignoring social distancing guidelines, they were out viewing cherry blossoms earlier this week.

Some major department stores are closing, a lot of tourist hot spots are now empty, we are also learning that this is affecting U.S. service members here in Japan as well. At the naval base, it is now in a modified lockdown after 2 sailors tested positive for coronavirus. That makes 3 active duty service members who have tested positive here in Japan.

HOLMES: Confined to base. Will, good to see you, thank you so, much Will Ripley, appreciate it.

From the dark clouds of the coronavirus outbreak, perhaps a couple of rays of light.



HOLMES (voice-over): How this school choir and many others are trying to brighten the day amidst the pandemic. We'll have that when we come back.




HOLMES: Family time during the coronavirus pandemic, Alyssa Burks (ph) posted this photo was posted of her husband, a doctor, on Facebook, saying hi to his son safely through a glass door. They've been self- quarantining from each other for a couple of weeks now.

She says that she wants to remind people of the sacrifices that health care workers are making.

Amid the turmoil of the pandemic, many people come together to do what they can to make their day and their neighbors' day and maybe your day a little better. CNN's Tom Foreman looks at how some Americans are bringing light to the darkness.



TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the spring concert was canceled for this California high school chorus, the members sang anyway, each person recording his or her part, stringing them together online and the results are magical.

They are not alone. Coast to coast, people are finding ways to be brave, optimistic.


CHIEF TOM VAUGHN, SOUTHPORT POLICE: We're just kind of all getting together and figuring out how we can help in the best way.

FOREMAN (voice-over): In Indiana, police have been delivering groceries and medicine to older and disabled forks.

In Florida, volunteers are offering drive up service for long lines in need of similar help.

And in Tennessee, country star Brad Paisley.

BRAD PAISLEY, COUNTRY STAR: We are mobilizing a group of volunteers to deliver groceries, one week's groceries, to elderly people that should not be out shopping on their own in these times.

FOREMAN (voice-over): In Maryland, volunteers have been working almost around the clock, making, so far, more than 35,000 face shields for hospital workers.

A half hour away...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pledge allegiance to the flag --

FOREMAN (voice-over): The Lawrence (ph) family started saying the pledge of allegiance in their driveway each morning. Now the whole neighborhood has joined them, saying hello, checking in on each other.

A call for help went out from NBA star Frank Kaminski (ph) and many others, hearing that a lot of animal shelters are closing. Now record adoptions are reported, including at this shelter, which was set to shutter with 50 dogs. Now all have homes.

And on it goes, from Texas where a couple learned that a local restaurant was going dark and left the staff a $9,400 dollar tip, to Wisconsin, where an artist rendered a fast mural for all who might pass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just glad that I was able to do something that is bringing a little happiness to people.

FOREMAN (voice-over): So, sure, the future is uncertain, the economy is in turmoil but the businesses of kindness, gratitude and hope is booming.

FOREMAN: And remember, all these generous folks are facing the same dangers, the same questions we all are. But they are doing good anyway -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: Finally, on the program, a major figure in American social justice has died. Joseph Lowery was known as the dean of the civil rights movement, he cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr. and later, established a foundation for justice and human rights.

Lowery died Friday, surrounded by his daughters. He was 98 years old. That is our time, thank you for spending yours with us and watching

your CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Michael Holmes, "AFRICAN VOICES CHANGE MAKERS" up next.