Return to Transcripts main page


More Than 90 Percent of Americans Under Stay-at-Home Orders; U.S. Stocks Rally Despite Jobless Claims; Ecuador Struggles to Cope with Overwhelming Death Toll; Russia Sends Medical Supplies to U.S.; Health Officials Warn Tokyo Could Be Next Hotspot; Funerals Turn Small Georgia City Into Virus Hotspot; English Football Clubs Criticized for Taking Government Money. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 3, 2020 - 00:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello. Welcome to our viewers joining us from around the world. I'm John Vause.


Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the month that changed the world. From a few thousand cases of the coronavirus, to now more than a million as governments try to find new ways to flatten the curve.

Plus, can those numbers from China be trusted? New questions over the data coming from Beijing.

And on the front lines in the fight against coronavirus, how first responders are preparing before they're even called.

As the coronavirus outbreak accelerates worldwide, a growing number of scientists are convinced it is spreading via airborne transmission, not only by droplet transmission from a cough or a sneeze or via direct contact.

For now, the World Health Organization says airborne transmission is possible, but only in a small number of medical situations which involve caring for COVID-19 patients. The evidence, they say, remains inconclusive.

But if this virus can spread when we speak or even breathe, it may partly explain the speed of this outbreak.

Just one month ago, confirmed cases were in the thousands. Just 10 small towns in northern Italy were on lockdown outside of China. Spain had not recorded a single death, and the unemployment rate in the U.S. was, a record low 3.5 percent.

Now, John Hopkins University counts more than a million confirmed cases. Countries without restrictions on movement are the exception. The death toll in Spain exceeds 10,000. Economists believe the U.S. jobless rate has jumped to 10 percent. And schools in 185 countries have been closed. UNESCO says that accounts for about 9 out of every 10 school-age children worldwide. And while April will be worse, there is a glimmer of hope. By month's

end, researchers in Spain may have vaccine ready for government approval.

And until there is a vaccine, the only way to control this virus is by limiting contact. And right now, 93 percent of the U.S. is under a stay-at-home order. And with the worst of the pandemic about a week away, major hospitals in cities like Atlanta and New York and New Orleans are increasingly overwhelmed. Medical staff exhausted. Supplies are running low.

Here's CNN's Erica Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): More than 90 percent of the country today ordered to stay home. But an exemption in some states for religious services is raising concern among experts and some faith leaders.

DANNY DE ARMAS, SENIOR ASSOCIATE PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST ORLANDO: We love our city. We love the people here. The last thing we would want to do is to put people in danger.

HILL: In Texas, one state lawmaker is sounding off. More than 40 students there have now tested positive after going on spring break.

DENNIS BONNEN (R), TEXAS HOUSE SPEAKER: Quit being an ass. Whether you think this is an issue or not, it is.

HILL: And there is new information about transmission. Experts telling the White House currently available research supports the possibility that coronavirus could be spread directly by patients' exhalation.

In other words, it's not just sneezing or coughing, but simply talking or breathing. This as the nation's second largest city tells people to wear masks.

ERIC GARCETTI, LOS ANGELES MAYOR: When you have to go out, we are recommending that we use non-medical-grade masks or facial coverings and not take the ones that are reserved for our first responders.

HILL: Laredo, Texas, threatening residents with a $1,000 fine if they don't wear one in public.

In New York, Mayor de Blasio says his city may run out of medical masks and other critical supplies by Sunday. Nurses there warning of dire consequences if they are not protected.

JUDY SHERIDAN-GONZALEZ, HOSPITAL NURSE: We are dying. We are getting sick. It doesn't matter how many ventilators we get if we are dead and cannot run the ventilators.

HILL: In Detroit, at least one hospital is already at capacity as the city's convention center is transformed into a temporary facility with 1,000 beds. In Boston, one of the New England Patriots' planes arriving today with

critical supplies from China. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting a dramatic scene: China giving them just three hours to land, load, and leave. And they took almost every minute.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): Thanks to the generous hard work and generosity of the Kraft family and many other partners, Massachusetts will receive nearly one million N95 masks.

HILL: And new warnings from those closest to the disease.

NICOLE BUCHANAN, WIDOW OF CORONAVIRUS VICTIM: I need everybody to know that this is serious. People think that it's just going to affect people with underlying health issues, old people, but it doesn't.

HILL: Nicole Buchanan's husband, Conrad, was just 39 when he died from coronavirus complications.

(on camera): Here in New York City, there is now new guidance from the mayor, who is advising all New Yorkers of when they go outside to cover their face with either a scarf or a bandana. He stresses that masks should be left for healthcare workers.

He also says that by Sunday, the city needs an additional 1,000 nurses, 300 respiratory therapists, and 150 additional doctors.

Back to you.


VAUSE: Joining me now from New York is CNN medical analyst, Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. So Doctor, thank you for taking the tie to be with us.


VAUSE: Until now, the guidance was that this virus could spread just simply via droplets, someone sneezing or coughing and you may touch that on a surface or it may land on you directly.

But now it's believed it can spread from someone who is just talking or even breathing. It's a possible airborne transmission, the same as SARS. If this is true, would this mean that the virus is more contagious and more dangerous than we first thought?

SEPKOWITZ: Contagious. I think we understand how contagious it is. It's mighty contagious. This does not add much to our understanding. The predominant mode is still droplet. There's always the opportunity for airborne, but droplet is the main mode.

So I think this is interesting. I think it's a small part of the story, though. It certainly does not make it more dangerous. Dangerous has to do with the host who receives the infection, not how the infection is delivered.

VAUSE: So I guess with this new information, though, does that bolster the case in any way for face masks in public? SEPKOWITZ: Face masks are an interesting idea. If we had enough, we

would have done it a month ago. We don't have enough. So it's about prioritizing.

But face masks works if I have the virus but I'm without symptoms, and I wear a mask. I will not spread it. So it works well keeping me from spreading it to you through the television screen.

It doesn't help me if I don't already have the virus. It doesn't really protect me as I inhale. It protects me -- if I'm positive and I exhale, it protects you. But it doesn't protect me if you are the positive one and I am the negative one.

VAUSE: So on the issue of the shortage of supplies like face masks and ventilators and a whole bunch of stuff, the U.S. president had an update on the situation via Twitter.

He said, "Massive amounts of medical supplies, even hospitals and medical centers, are being delivered directly to states and hospitals by the federal government. Some have insatiable appetites and are never satisfied (politics?)" -- question mark. "Remember, we are backup for them. The complainers should have been stocked up and ready long before this crisis hit."

I want you to -- I want to play the message that was coming from the president in the weeks leading up -- in the months leading up to this point. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus.

They tried the impeachment hoax, and this is their new hoax.

When you have 15 people, and the 15, within a couple of days, is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.


VAUSE: So, you know, the point is made that, obviously, the federal government was not prepared.

But in a pandemic, is the federal government meant to play a backup role? Would you -- also, secondly, would you know of any medical hospital overstating their needs in a moment like this? And I guess the last point of this, what impact does this have on the morale of health workers who are already exhausted and dying?

SEPKOWITZ: Yes, those are great questions. To take the last one first, this is incredibly demoralizing and cruel, I would say, ultimately, to say this, that there is some immaturity on our part. This strikes me as completely misguided and incorrect.

There are -- I get the sense from him that he's doing the old "The check is in the mail." None of these supplies have arrived. There's still an acute need for testing. There is an acute need for testing supplies. An acute need, a desperate need for masks and N95's, and a huge need for ventilators.

So maybe the check is in the mail, and we'll get them tomorrow. But we've been hearing this jabberwocky for weeks now, and it's -- it's demoralizing, infuriating and embittering. I think that the next thing I'm worried about is the morale of the healthcare workers.

VAUSE: You know, the president often talks about, you know, no one would have predicted this crisis. No surprise that just doesn't seem true, because there is a 69-page pandemic guidebook which was written during the Obama administration. It reads almost like a "Pandemics for Dummies."


On page 37, for example, when there appears that there could be a serious outbreak in the U.S., it has this guidance: "Prepare public messaging and steps public should take to protect itself." It doesn't say anything about calling the whole thing a hoax.

And then, on page 38, it recommends, "Determine a need for medical providers."

So then the rest of this guide goes into, like, a yes/no flow chart. On page 44, it has, "Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care? If yes, what are the triggers to signal exhaustion of supplies? Are additional supply is available? If no, should the strategic national stockpile release PPE to states?"

Politico reports that the Trump administration was aware of this book, but one official said it was outdated, and there were new guidelines. If that is true, would it be fair to say that there is no -- there is no way possible that this Trump administration has followed any kind of plan, any kind of guidelines throughout any of this crisis?

SEPKOWITZ: Yes, there's no evidence to me that they're following any sort of methodical, systematic guidelines at all. I don't know if they are, but it doesn't feel like it.

And one point about being out of date, it's like a recipe. It's like the way you baked a cake in 1936 is the way you bake a cake in 2020. These things don't change much for the operational stuff. Yes, the supply quality might change. The type of machine might change. But this is bread and butter. It's been the same for decades.

And all they had to do is open the book.


SEPKOWITZ: And it's very disappointing. And you know, it hurts the healthcare workers. It hurts everyone, much less the patients with the virus. VAUSE: If they had followed that guidance that was written there

beforehand by the Obama administration and been left for them, fair to say we wouldn't be in this crisis as deep as we are now?

SEPKOWITZ: Well, I think that it would be a very different situation. We would still have a lot of infection. I think that what we see in Germany is more or less what I think we would have seen here, which is a very orderly, well-designed, well-executed implementation of smart, forward-thinking healthcare.

We're good at healthcare here. We're good at intensive care unit care. What they don't have in Germany is the panic, the sense of betrayal, and the sense of when are we getting the help that's promised?

So I think that we were not going to dodge a bad outbreak. What we should have dodged and, unfortunately, did not dodge, is a well- managed outbreak.

VAUSE; I would have rather been in Germany's position and a lot less like Italy at this point. Doctor Sepkowitz, thank you so much for being with us.

SEPKOWITZ: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: The first country hit by the coronavirus is also the first to return to some kind of normalcy. China is slowly lifting population controls, but doubts are growing over the transparency and accuracy of the numbers being released by Beijing.

Here's CNN's David Culver reporting from Shanghai.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the United States and the rest of the world locks down, China cautiously opening back up, easing travel restrictions. And next week, it will allow people to freely leave Wuhan, the birthplace of the pandemic, for the first time in more than two months.

The World Health Organization has consistently praised China's handling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're rapidly finding these cases, rapidly containing them. They're using the principles that China employed.

CULVER: President Donald Trump also applauding the Chinese efforts just a few weeks ago.

TRUMP: I know this. President Xi loves the people of China. He loves his country. And he's doing a very good job with a very, very tough situation.

CULVER: But as numbers in the U.S. continue to rise, so does the skepticism over just how reliable China's numbers are and how transparent it's been with its data.

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reality is that we could have been better off if China had been more forthcoming.

CULVER: Video shows Wuhan's grieving residents collecting the remains of their loved ones. Daeshin (ph), a leading Chinese business publication, claimed there were thousands more urns delivered than the official coronavirus death toll.

But worth pointing out, two days after the lockdown, Wuhan officials halted all funeral services in the city of 11-plus million. So it is plausible the urns are also used for those who died from something other than coronavirus.

But CNN's early reporting inside Wuhan back in January suggested the numbers were not adding up when compared with the stories from the front lines, in part because of something that now many countries are challenged with: a shortage of tests.

DORA JIANG, NIECE OF CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: It's really difficult. You know, like, and it's really emotional for me.

CULVER: Dora Jiang told us it took four days for her uncle to get tested. The results? Also delayed.


JIANG: I don't think it's because they really want to control the numbers, but I think it's more about the capacity.

CULVER: Kyle Hui (ph) told us by phone his mother died in mid-January in Wuhan. "She never had a nucleic acid test," he told us. "Her cause of death was officially listed as severe pneumonia. But during her treatment, the doctor said that it was very likely that she had coronavirus." And yet she was not a confirmed case, and hence, could not be counted.

China says they first detected the virus on December 12, at this Wuhan seafood market, but they did not shut it down until January 1. And during that three-week period, the people of Wuhan continued on with their normal lives, as local government officials censored so-called rumors about the then-mysterious illness and silenced whistleblowers like Dr. Li Wenliang who tried to sound the alarm. He was reprimanded by police, later died from the virus, and now, the Chinese government is hailing him a hero.

The country's national health commission officially began releasing daily figures on January 21, almost six weeks after the first detection. Within days, they had reported a total of 1,052 confirmed cases in Hubei province alone.

But almost immediately, health experts at the University of Hong Kong challenged those figures, believing the real number to be 40 times that, just in the city of Wuhan.

One possible reason? China in the early days, not allowing international experts in the country. For weeks, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the CDC was ready to deploy, hoping to get a handle on the problem before it got out of control. ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We are ready to


CULVER: But a World Health Organization team did not land in China until February 10, again, almost two months after the first detection. And now, two months after that, experts still doubt China's official count.

HO-FUNG HUNG, POLITICAL ECONOMY PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: The Chinese government data is definitely not transparent. The local government has incentive to under-report the cases to boost their appearance of a good performance. We really don't have the information evidence needed to be more confident about the Chinese government's numbers.

CULVER: It's a claim the Chinese government has repeatedly shot down.

HUA CHUNYING, SPOKESWOMAN, CHINA'S MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): The fact is THAT China has always been open, transparent, and responsible, on informing the World Health Organization, and THE international community.

CULVER (on camera): China's health officials also heavily stress the recovery rate, pointing out that, of the about 82,000 reportedly infected here in China, more than 76,000 have survived this illness.

And just this week, after some pressure, health officials began releasing data on asymptomatic cases. A new concern here, as lockdown restrictions ease, both people without symptoms, and those infected coming in from other countries may expose others to the virus and lead to a second wave of infections here, the place where it all began.

David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.


VAUSE: Wall Street rallied on Thursday despite record unemployment numbers. In just two weeks, almost 10 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment benefits. Regardless, the Dow drove up by 2 percent, driven mostly by energy stocks.

Journalist Kaori Enjoji joins me now live from Tokyo.

You know, this rally in the U.S., it was based on a hope that maybe President Trump could moderate this dispute between Russia and the Saudis and have some kind of cut in oil production?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Yes. I mean, this was a factor for Asian markets, as well, yesterday, John, with hopes that maybe this -- the price war that we've been seeing, that has been depression oil prices. might abate a little bit.

I think that optimism is fading a little bit in Asian trading, because this is day 2 of that speculation. And as a result, we're seeing a bit of a mixed picture for the equities across the region. The ongoing coronavirus, and the fear that cases are growing,

particularly here in Japan, amidst fears that the government might call a state of emergency, I think that is still the prevailing factor for the markets. And so long as we're still in that situation, and with the amount of cases still increasing around the world, traders tell me that they just don't see a bottom, and it's just too early to call a bottom, particularly because we're heading into earning season.

Remember, the eight largest Japanese automakers are all in some kind of temporary shutdown of their factories here in the domestic market. This is one of the biggest employers in Japan. It's a huge industry that has tentacles all throughout society.

And when you have a situation like that, and more and more retailers announcing today that they're going to close up shop over this coming weekend, you can see, and feel, it's very palpable the way the industry and factories and businesses are shutting down across the region.

And I think, John, so long as we're in that situation, I think it's very difficult for anyone to get back into the equity market. And hence, we're seeing a continued mixed picture for Asian stocks today.

VAUSE: And just very quickly, on these unemployment numbers, there -- there's no official jobless rate yet put out by the U.S. government. Economists believe it's at 10 percent, which is a massive spike, from 3.5 to 10 percent in, you know, in just a couple weeks.


But we're not seeing a surge of unemployment in other countries around the world. So why is it so different between the United States? Obviously, they have a lot more cases, and it's a lot more people, and other countries, I guess, like Denmark?

ENJOJI: Yes, I mean, different -- one, I think, is the labor laws. Labor laws are very different from country to country. You can't let people go as quickly and -- as quickly when situations warrant, particularly in some Scandinavian countries, and also in Asian countries like Japan and South Korea. I think that's part of the reason. And that's part of the reason why companies like to keep more cash on hand, to try and weather the storm.

And in good times, companies are criticized for keeping that cash on hand and not returning it to shareholders. I think this's part of the reason.

And I think the other reason is the safety net. You -- I mean, you mentioned Denmark, but a lot of European countries are like that. Even if you are unemployed in situations like these, there are social nets, social safety nets that are in place that guarantee some kind of income when situations like these arise. And I think in countries that don't have that system, they are trying to address that in forms of a stimulus package, trying to pay out cash handouts to people that might -- that might -- that may need it most, John.

VAUSE: Kelly, we appreciate that. Thank you very much. The update there on the markets, as well, as the situation with the unemployment.

When we come back, the grim reality of a world gripped by a pandemic. One city has so many dead families they're leaving the bodies of loved ones in the streets.


VAUSE: Latin America could soon be in the grips of this pandemic. For three days now, Brazil has reported confirmed cases increased daily by more than 1,000. Makeshift hospitals have been open now in the iconic soccer stadiums of Brazil, and according to Johns Hopkins University, the death toll has risen to more than 320.

In Ecuador, with more than 3,000 confirmed cases and 120 dead, the government is ordering most workplaces to close, so, too, schools and has canceled public events through April. Police have been deployed to enforce stay-at-home orders.

And health officials in Canada report more than 1,100 cases and 139 dead, but a third of that number are among the elderly, living in long-term care facilities. Most Canadians are under stay-at-home orders, and schools are closed for more than two weeks.

But one city in Ecuador has been overwhelmed by the number of dead. Morgues are full, and many bodies have been left in the streets. And while lockdown orders remain in place, relatives, it seem, are unable to do much about it.

And a word of caution: this report by CNN's Matt Rivers contains graphic images.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the deserted streets of Guayaquil, a body left discarded on the sidewalk. This is the morbid new reality in the epicenter of Ecuador's coronavirus crisis. As the outbreak spreads, there is no more room for the dead.


"We have been waiting five days. We are tired of calling," says this man. Pleading with authorities to pick up a corpse, still laying inside.

With a lack of testing for COVID-19, most have no way to know who among the dead are infected. Some feel forced to leave the bodies of their loved ones outdoors, fearing contagion as their corpses decay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's the odor from the body that we can't handle any more. There are also elderly neighbors, and I have my mother who is 80, and having respiratory problems.

RIVERS: In one video obtained by CNN, a group of people in face masks appear to be removing a body from a car. Moments later, a police vehicle approaches and seems to speak with them as the corpse lies on the ground.

After the interaction, the group puts the body back in the car, and the police drive off. Authorities tell CNN they could not offer details about the video.

National figures show Ecuador's police have collected more than 300 bodies from homes in Guayaquil from March 23 to the 30th, and officials say they're struggling to keep up.

JORGE WATED, HEAD OF CORONAVIRUS BODY DISPOSAL (through translator): This unit, in the last three days, went from taking away 30 deceased per day, to 150. That's independent from the work of the private funeral homes and graveyards in the country.

RIVERS: With morgues, funeral homes and cemeteries strained, the government is bringing in containers to temporarily store dead bodies. One Guayaquil official says they also plan to build a large number of burial plots, as authorities expect over 3,000 may die in the Guayas province alone.

Meanwhile, healthcare workers say hospitals are also beyond capacity, as reports surface of patients dying while waiting for care.

In a video posted online, the mayor of Guayaquil pleaded for help and demanded the federal government give answers.

Ecuador's president has since mandated transparency about the scale of coronavirus inside the country. Officials have also announced new measures to slow its spread, and promised to prioritize, quote, "dignified burials" of the dead. But it may be too little, too late for many in Guayaquil, who are left with no way to lay their loved ones to rest.

Matt Rivers, CNN.


VAUSE: Well, from Russia with love. The Kremlin sends a cargo plane filled with aid to New York to help in the fight against the coronavirus. But was it goodwill, humanitarian aid, and who paid for it?

Also ahead, how the pandemic is putting enormous strain on emergency services across the U.S. Find out how many precautions first responders have to take before they head out on just one call.



VAUSE: Well, and welcome back to our viewers all around the world. Thank you for staying with us. I'm John Vause with an update on the top news this hour.

One of the hardest-hit countries, Spain, is hopeful for a coronavirus vaccine candidate by the end of the month. The science minister says they're advancing at good speed. Spain could be the first with a vaccine.

One hundred and twelve thousand cases are now reported in Spain. Over 10,000 people have died.

U.S. President Donald Trump says nationwide recommendations on wearing face masks are coming soon. The guidance would stop short of requiring all Americans to use some kind of face covering when leaving their home.

The president again suggested people wear scarves or bandanas when they head out.

The U.S. death toll from the virus is almost at 6,000, with more than 245,000 total confirmed cases. More than 90 percent of the country is under a stay-at-home order, but one doctor on the White House corona task force says more people need to follow the guidelines to try and help stop the spread.

Russia sent a cargo plane to New York on Wednesday loaded with ventilators and other crucial medical supplies. Donald Trump called it a very nice gesture, even though the U.S. may have paid for at least some of it.

It's also raising questions about why. Why would the Russians parts with equipment they may need themselves?

CNN's Matthew Chance takes a closer look.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know it's getting bad when even Russia sends in urgent medical aid. This giant plane load of essential supplies from Moscow, including testing and protective gear, is a humanitarian gesture, says the Kremlin. One for which New York air traffic control, at least, seemed grateful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romeo Foxtrot Foxtrot 8640 Heavy, we sincerely thank you for all the assistance you are bringing in. Contact Kennedy Tower 119.1. Have a good day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are welcome. Any time.

CHANCE: But help like this is rarely free. In this case, it seems the U.S. government paid for part of it. The Kremlin says at least half was donated by Russia. The question is, what does it get in return?

It's odd, because Russia is currently struggling itself with the coronavirus pandemic. The streets of the capital deserted amid an enforced lockdown.

Meanwhile, official casualty figures are relatively low. The Kremlin is slowly admitting their problem is far from under control. In fact, the Russian president has just appeared on state television, extending the national lockdown through April.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator); The threat still remains. According to virologists, the peak of the epidemic in the world has not yet been passed, including in our country.

CHANCE: Hardly the time, say critics, to be sending much-needed medical resources abroad.

TRUMP: Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn't that be -- wouldn't that be nice?

CHANCE: But Moscow may have other considerations. It wants painful American sanctions lifted, imposed for its meddling in the U.S. election. And its military interventions in Syria and Ukraine. Humanitarian aid to the U.S. could obscure its misbehavior elsewhere. But even if it doesn't, this potent image of Russia helping one of the world's most powerful countries may be the Kremlin's richest reward.

Matthew Chance, CNN.


VAUSE: The pandemic has upended life for first responders who face increased and complicated risk because of the virus. And now, it seems nothing is routine.

CNN's Brian Todd explains.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One fire official here in Washington told us they're hearing estimates that tens of thousands of people in this city could get sick from coronavirus. This is, of course, stressing the resources of firefighters and EMTs here in Washington and across the country. In fact, just the precautions that they have to take to go on one give call are jarring.

(voice-over): In New York, frontline EMTs and paramedics face an avalanche of calls.

ANTHONY ALMOJERA, LIEUTENANT PARAMEDIC, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT: Where I lift to Brookdale Hospital, they -- there was about maybe 15 ambulances outside, waiting to be two hours.

TODD: An EMT in Queens says it's overwhelming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call volume is -- it's just ridiculous. It's one after another after another. Most of the station is out with symptoms. The ones that are still working, we're so tired. We are extremely tired. We're working over 16 hours a day.

TODD: So many patients hospitalized, they are spilling over.

ALMOJERA: The hospital doesn't have any beds. And they're using our stretcher to work up the patient, and the patient's on ventilator at the moment. And I can't get the stretcher back.

TODD: And the dangers are real. On Tuesday, Israel Tolentino, an EMT firefighter in Passaic, New Jersey, died of complications of coronavirus. While it's not clear how he got infected, his fire department is considering it a line-of-duty death.


In the nation's capital, first responders are also decimated and bracing for an onslaught.

JOSEPH PAPARIELLO, UNION REPRESENTATIVE, D.C. FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION: Our firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics are used to handling emergencies that they can see and feel, whether it's running into a fire ground, or treating somebody in cardiac arrest, or an asthma patient. This is an unknown enemy that we are -- we haven't dealt with before. And that definitely raises the anxiety level.

TODD: Paramedic and D.C. firefighters union rep Joe Papariello told us about 10 percent of D.C.'s paramedics and firefighter EMTs are out of commission tonight, having tested positive for coronavirus or under quarantine.

With potentially tens of thousands of cases on the horizon for Washington, Papariello and his teams are telling D.C. residents only call 9-1-1 if it's an emergency like difficulty breathing. Not just because you think you might have coronavirus.

On the call, describe all your symptoms so they can prepare. Meet the paramedics outside if you can, so they don't have to come in your house. And wear a mask if you have one to protect them from your germs.

PAPARIELLO: I think our members' biggest fear is bringing the virus home to our families.

TODD: If a responding team in D.C. arrives at a home with a suspected case of coronavirus, Papariello says, each responder has to take an extra few seconds to don a mask, face shield, gown, and foot covers. He doesn't believe there's enough of a delay to compromise a patient's safety, but sometimes it's out of a responder's courageous hands.

New York paramedic Anthony Almojera gives a gut-wrenching account of trying to comfort a coronavirus victim's husband while social distancing.

ALMOJERA: When he realized that his wife had passed away, and we worked her up and did everything we could, and then afterwards, I went to tell him. And normally, I would put my arm around him. But this time around, I had to keep distance. And I watched this man's grief come over him, his anger, his sadness. For the first time in my 17- year career, I went back inside the truck, and I cried.

TODD (on camera): The anxieties and the taxing of resources are piling up across the country for first responders. And that doesn't even include the simple steps that they all have to take each day to prevent coronavirus.

At this station, a truck like this one has to be wiped down two or three times a day. And after a given call where there might be symptoms of coronavirus, an ambulance has to be taken to a separate site and disinfected with some kind of a decontaminating spray.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: The commanding officer of a U.S. aircraft carrier has been relieved of duty after a memo he write -- wrote calling for decisive action to combat the coronavirus on board was leaked.

Captain of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Brett Crozier wrote, "We are not at war. Sailors did not need to die." One hundred sailors on board have tested positive for the virus.

The acting secretary of the Navy said the memo showed extremely poor judgment and added Captain Crozier was not stepped down because he raised concerns but, rather, the firestorm created by circulating those concerns over an unsecured system outside the chain of command.

Well, the U.S. president says the administration will soon have new advice on wearing face masks. And one of the president's top health advisers spoke about that at a CNN global town hall. Here he is.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: We were discussing it actively today in the task force. And I can assure you it's going to be on the agenda tomorrow. You know, and it really gets down to the point we're not changing any of the things where we say regarding masks for healthcare workers.

But, you know, we say six feet away from each other. But when you go out for food, you go out to the pharmacy, there's going to be times when, you know, unwittingly you're going to be closer than that.

And given the fact that we know that asymptomatic people are clearly transmitting infection, it just makes common sense that it's not a bad idea to do that. It's not going to be 100 percent. And it's more, not to protect you from getting infected, but to protect a person from getting infected from you.

So if everybody, in an altruistic way, said, "I'm assuming I am infected, and I don't want to infect anybody else, so when I go out in a situation where I can't guarantee I'm six feet away from someone, why don't I just put some sort of covering there?"

And that's the thing that some people are already spontaneously doing anyway. But whether or not it's going to be an official recommendation, I think is going to come soon, one way or the other.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Fauci, we've got a question from viewers. The first one is from Robin in California. She wants to know, "If we've been under stay-at-home orders in California for two weeks, why is the peak still yet to come?"

FAUCI: Yes. That's a really great question, Anderson. And the fact is that there is a delay, because the way it goes, you have people who get exposed. They get infected. The number of new infections, hospitalizations, critical care and deaths.

So even when you suppress or stabilize the number of new infections, it's still going to take a while before you see a decrease in hospitalizations, a decrease in intensive care, and a decrease in deaths.


And in fact, deaths are the last thing that lag. So you could be doing well and having a good effect on mitigation and still see the deaths go up. A guarantee, that's exactly what's going to happen in New York City.


VAUSE: Please join us in the next hour. We'll bring you the rest of the CNN global town hall, "CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS" with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. That's 6 a.m. in London, 1 p.m. in Hong Kong.

We'll take a short break, but when we come back, Hey, Japan, stay at home, please. That's the message from the government. And one doctor has a stark warning if you don't.

Also ahead.


ALICE WISE BELL, DAUGHTER OF CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: I knew things were going to be bad, but until it hits you, you know, that's when you really are just, like, wow. It's here and it's now.


VAUSE: The coronavirus domino effect. How one small rural U.S. city emerged as a virus hotspot.


VAUSE: Well, from the doctor who warned about failures on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, another grim warning. Tokyo could become the next New York, and drastic changes are needed to avoid that fate.

Here's CNN's Will Ripley.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what doctors call a mild case of novel coronavirus.

(on camera): Your cough sounds very painful.

(voice-over): Issei (ph) Watanabe struggles to breathe as he speaks to us from his Tokyo hospital room. Watanabe is 40, a nonsmoker, in good health. When he asked for a coronavirus test, he says he was turned down. (on camera): How long did it take before they actually allowed you to

get tested for coronavirus?


RIPLEY: Five days you had to wait for that test?

(voice-over): Watanabe says he infected at least two people that he knows of during that time.

(on camera): Is that a problem?


RIPLEY (voice-over): Kobe University infection control specialist Kentaro Iwata is worried about a spike in cases in the Japanese capital.

IWATA: In the beginning of the first of the infection in Spain, France, Italy and New York City, that was really like Tokyo right now.

RIPLEY: Iwata fears government warnings about the danger of spreading the virus may have reached many people too late.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are pleading with the public, asking people to stay home, avoid travel, and practice social distancing.

The government still has not declared a state of emergency or called for a lockdown of Tokyo.

(on camera): They have imposed tough new travel restrictions, banning foreigners from more than 70 countries, including the U.S., and asking everyone who arrives in Japan to self-quarantine for 14 days.

IWATA: Japan needs to have the courage to change when we're aware we're on the wrong path.

RIPLEY: What happens if Tokyo doesn't change the plan?

IWATA: We might be the next New York City in Tokyo.

Watanabe says the Japanese government is not acting quickly enough, a claim the health ministry denies, saying, "We believe appropriate measures have been taken."

"There is a real lack of good information," he says. "Your life is in your hands. Stay home. Please stay home. Don't go out."

He worries about the tens of millions of Japanese over 65. He knows he'll recover. Many in Japan's aging society won't.

Will Ripley, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: A rural county in southwestern Georgia has emerged as an unlikely virus hotspot, with almost one in four of the state's 5,000 confirmed cases. State health officials believe it may have started at two funerals in the city of Albany.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher reports.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Emell Murray has endured a lot of pain over the last 30 days. Back on February 29, hundreds of family and friends came to the small Georgia city of Albany to say goodbye to Andrew Mitchell, the man that she loved for the past 20 years.

After several hours of crying and hugging each other, Murray started feeling sick.

BELL: That night, my mother went to bed. She had a fever. We didn't even know it at the time.

GALLAGHER: The 75-year-old was presumably one of the first in Albany to be exposed to the coronavirus. She was hospitalized but not immediately tested. Other members of their family, their friends who attended the funeral, began to get sick, as well. And since then, several have died.

BELL: I knew things, that we were living in the last days. I knew things were going to be bad. But until it hits you, you know? That's when you're really just like wow. It's here and it's now.

GALLAGHER: A positive test on March 10 from a visitor who attended the funeral tipped the Phoebe Putney Health System off. At least 20 of the first patients to be diagnosed with coronavirus in Albany had attended one of two funerals in town. A second trip to the hospital confirmed Murray was one of them. From there, the cases jumped.

SCOTT STEINER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PHOEBE PUTNEY HEALTH SYSTEM: Two the first day. It was six the next day. It was eight the next day. And it just began to cascade from that point.

GALLAGHER: So far, more than 5,400 people have been infected with the virus in Georgia. More than 175 have died, nearly a quarter of those from the Albany area. As the virus rips through their rural community, for so many here, it's overwhelming.

CAMIA HOPSON, GEORGIA HOUSE DEMOCRAT: With this being a small city, we were not -- we're not New York. But we are still impacted. And when you look at the percentages of our population that's impacted, I mean, that's still a significant number.

Scott Steiner, the CEO of the Phoebe Putney Health Systems, which serves southwest Georgia, says they blew through six months' worth of personal protective equipment in just one week.

STEINER: We've got 4,500 warriors. That's what these people, they are flat-out warriors that do this day in and day out. They put themselves at risk. They run into the fire when other people might run away from it.

GALLAGHER: Some of the hospital's office workers have now traded their computers for sewing machines, making mask covers, an attempt to extend the use of PPEs.

But even still, Steiner says they only have enough right now for less than two weeks.

STEINER: We have seen that curve go up. We have not seen it bend over yet.

GALLAGHER: The governor deployed the National Guard to set up additional intensive care units.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): We have shipped necessary supplies and planned more shipments based on the needs of Phoebe Putney System in the future.

GALLAGHER: As for Murray, she's back home now, but her daughter says, like many in this family and small community, the road to recovery will be long.

BELL: It's hard watching her suffer.

GALLAGHER (on camera): The statewide stay-at-home order in Georgia goes into effect on Friday. But they've been dealing with the effects of this virus for weeks now here in Albany.

I asked the hospital CEO if he thought that they had turned a corner; things were starting to get better. He simply took a deep breath, looked down, and told me no. They've likely not seen the worst of it just yet.

Diane Gallagher, CNN, Albany, Georgia.


VAUSE: And to find out what you can do to help during this global crisis, please go to

When we come back, we'll head to England, where they're asking who should get government help and who should not. One British lawmaker has accused some of the most famous football teams in the world of living in a moral vacuum.



VAUSE: Well, a handful of the wealthiest and top clubs in England's Premier Soccer League have accepted financial aid from the government to help pay wages during this pandemic.

Critics say they shouldn't because of the huge revenue they earn from the league's staggering TV rights deal. One British lawmaker even accused the clubs of living in a moral vacuum.

Christina Macfarlane has details.


PEP GUARDIOLA, MANCHESTER CITY MANAGER: We miss football. We miss the lives that we had a few days ago, but now we stand to listen, to follow our scientists, doctors and nurses. You are my family, football. We will come back from this stronger, better, kinder, and a little bit fatter. Stay inside. Stay safe.

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN SPORTS (voice-over): Sound advice from the manager in one of the richest clubs in the richest football league in the world. But at a time when everyone is pulling together, the English Premier League and its stars are being accused of moral bankruptcy.

That's after four top-flight teams this week opted to use a British government scheme designed to help businesses survive during the coronavirus. With stars like Putnam's Harry Kane, as well as CEO Daniel Levy reportedly each making millions in 2019, government ministers are fuming they're now being asked to cover 80 percent of club staff wages.

MATT HANCOCK, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: Given the sacrifices that many people are making, including some of my colleagues in the NHS, who have made the ultimate sacrifice of going into work and have caught the disease and have, sadly, died, I think the last thing, the first thing that Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution. Take a pay cut, and play their part.

MACFARLANE: This stands in stark contrast with some of the biggest clubs in Europe, after Barcelona's entire squad took a 70 percent pay cut to support 413 non-playing staff. While in Germany, four Bundesliga teams created a fund to help other struggling clubs.

And Italy's Juventus stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo, agreed to a four-month reduction to save the club $99 million.

(on camera): Here in the U.K., as football authorities meet to decide how to share the financial burdens imposed by the coronavirus, the clock is taking on their reputation.

GARY LINEKER, FORMER PLAYER: Yes, they get paid a lot of money, but I'm sure they want to help. They're consistently very good in the communities. And I'm sure over the coming days that footballers will stand up and to be counted, either taking pay cuts or making donations to charities or -- or staff workers that are non-playing.

So I'm confident that will happen. But it takes time. And everyone here is jumping on the bandwagon. Politicians do tend to do that occasionally, especially at football's expense. If I'm wrong, then I'll be as critical as anybody else.

(voice-over): Football's most lucrative league must move swiftly or face a reckoning that could be far more costly than money alone. Christina Macfarlane, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Well, with a worldwide shortage of masks, some have found creative ways to meet demand. In Italy, a family-owned tailor shop is now using dressmaking material to sew face masks. They've already donated more than 1,000 to their fellow residents; and one group in particular was their focus.


LISA DE VIRGILIO, TAILOR SHOP OWNER (through translator): Every mother who gives birth during this period will receive a free mask with a heart from our town as a gift.


VAUSE: A makeshift workshop in Gaza with artists putting designs on the face masks to encourage people to wear them. One of the artists says she came up with the idea after her children refused to wear the face masks at home.

And in Algeria, volunteers are making disposable masks from paper towels. They hand out the finished product to motorists and others on the streets of Algiers.


We'll finish with Anna Stewart bringing us today's dose of the good stuff. How people are doing their best to survive and thrive during the pandemic.


ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One family in the U.K. vented their isolation frustrations with an adaptation of a "Les Miserables" song. Online shopping delays, cancelled football, not enough phone data, and missing their grandparents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): They can't work Skype. We're broken- hearted!

STEWART: While much of the world is staying at home, penguins all over the world are having a field day. Andy the Humboldt in the St. Andrews Aquarium and his meerkat neighbors, following in the waddle of Wellington, the Rock Hopper in Chicago, and Jasmine in Cape Town. Some very happy feet.

A nurse in Springfield, Missouri, is keeping spirits up on TikTok, with the help of Mercy Hospital's finest backup dancers. And they have some advice. Seriously, she says, don't touch this.


VAUSE: And also on that note, every cloud has a silver lining. With stay-at-home orders and social distancing in place around the world, birds seem to be the big winner, free to roam without any concerns about what us humans will do. Many experts now want to find out how these measures are actually impacting the birdlife.


JOHN WEAVER FITZPATRICK, DIRECTOR, CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY: We've never seen anything like this. And so indeed, we're learning about the very questions you're asking, namely, how -- how much does the human behavior actually change bird behavior? We've got citizens and scientists asking that question, actually, literally all over the world.


VAUSE: A number of studies in the U.S. and Europe have shown birds respond to human-made noise by reducing their own songs or changing their frequency. So, with a lot less human activity, birds are more likely to sing. Bird experts -- I don't know who they are -- I can't say who they were, also believe the bird population may also increase.

So although sheltering in place may be for the birds, we should be glad that there will be more of them to see and here. And that certainly is the case right here in Atlanta. You can hear them late into the night.

Thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause. CNN NEWSROOM continues after the CNN town hall on the coronavirus pandemic. Stay with us.