Return to Transcripts main page


CDC Advises Americans to Cover Faces in Public; Worldwide Cases Surpass 1.1M; Fauci: Ban Markets Selling Wild Animals as Food; U.K. Urges Social Distancing; Sports Broadcasters Using Their Voices to Lift Others. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired April 4, 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, the CDC now recommending Americans use masks in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

So why is President Trump saying that he will not be one of them?

In Europe, Italy appears to be finally flattening its curve, as the U.K. prepares to see a peak in cases.

And what does a sports commentator to do when there aren't any sports?

Well, you go to the park, make up some commentary of your own, of course.


HOLMES: We start in the U.S. where the coronavirus pandemic is taking an ugly toll. On Friday alone, more than 1,100 Americans died, the country's deadliest day so far. Johns Hopkins says that COVID-19 has killed more than 7,100 people in the U.S. overall.

Almost 96 percent of people across the country now under orders to stay where they are, shelter in place. But eight Republican led states are still resisting. President Trump has not issued a nationwide stay at home order. He says that he will leave it up to the governors of those states.

Meanwhile, the CDC recommending people wear face coverings when they leave their homes. Mr. Trump was the one who announced the guidance but he is not going to apply it to himself.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, with the masks, it's going to be really a voluntary thing. You can do it. You don't have to do it. I'm choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it, and that's OK. It may be good. Probably will. They're making a recommendation. It's only a recommendation. It's voluntary.


HOLMES: Well, through the conflicting messaging at the federal level, U.S. cities and states are preparing for a surge in COVID-19 patients. Erica Hill shows us how a lack of overall directive from the top is making that much more difficult.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Am I willing to deploy the National Guard and inconvenience people for several hundred lives?

You're damn right I am.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the heels of the second highest single day increase in deaths and hospitalizations in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing an executive order to move desperately needed equipment around his state.

CUOMO: The burn rate is about 300 ventilators per day. If you find 300 excess ventilators, you found another day.

HILL: This as the mayor at the epicenter warns critical supplies may not last through Monday and is calling for a nationwide enlistment of doctors to meet urgent staffing needs.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): If there's not action by the president and the military literally in a matter of days to put in motion this vast mobilization, then you're going to see first hundreds and later thousands of Americans die who did not need to die.

HILL: But there are beds. Many of them still unused. The Navy hospital ship "Comfort" has room for a thousand overflow non-COVID-19 patients. As of Friday, just 20 had arrived on board.

CUOMO: The Navy's position is they don't want to put COVID people on the ship because it would be too hard to disinfect the ship afterwards. That's my rough interpretation of what they're saying.

HILL: The sprawling Javits Center, with space for 2,500 beds, will become a COVID-only field hospital starting Monday. Similar changes to facilities in New Orleans and Dallas as the number of infected Americans continues to rise. 93 percent of the country is under a stay-at-home order. Dr. Anthony Fauci making the case for a nationwide mandate.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If you look at what's going on in this country, I just don't understand why we're not doing that. We really should be.

HILL: Yet in Florida, confusing orders from the governor, who says religious services aren't subject to social distancing rules, leaving local officials scrambling.

ANDREW WARREN, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY STATE ATTORNEY: This is not only undermining our ability to implement social distancing here. It's truly undermining the sacrifices that millions of Floridians have been making across the state for the past couple of weeks. Everyone needs to, right now at this moment, act like you have it and thank God that you don't.

HILL: In California, 71 infections and one death have been linked to a single church, raising new concerns about what's to come this weekend. In cities across the country, Americans now told to cover their faces if they must leave the house.


HILL (voice-over): At least 10 states have closed schools for the remainder of the year. And in New Jersey, which has the second highest number of cases in the country, flags being lowered to half- staff in honor of the lives lost to this virus.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Since families at this time cannot even hold funerals for their lost loved ones, this is a way, a small way, but I think an important way we can make sure that their loss is not forgotten.

HILL: Governor Cuomo also made the case today that whatever happens in New York is going to be needed across the country and that New York stands ready to help.

Mayor Bill de Blasio in the meantime, writing an op-ed in "The New York Times" a short time ago, saying, and I quote, "If the nation's largest city does not have the help we need, other cities will not, either."

Back to you.


HOLMES: All right. Now, since Erica filed that report, that percentage of Americans under the stay at home order has now risen as we said, to almost 96 percent. That is more than 314 million people.

Let's bring in Keith Neal now. He is the professor emeritus at Nottingham University, specializing in epidemiology of infectious diseases, so a good voice to have.

After a slow start and a change of tactics, how do you see the virus evolving there in the U.K. where you are to begin with?

KEITH NEAL, NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY: I would not necessarily say that we have a particularly slow start. We were slightly getting places later. The worst thing you can do, is do too much, too soon and cause problems.

But certainly, we have been on lockdown now for nearly two weeks and a week before that, we also advised people, who had a cough or a fever to stay at home for a week or two weeks if one of their family members in that situation. These are the people we would've wanted to test and in a way, we have

bypassed the testing argument because we have just excluded the people we would have tested. The biggest, only real problem with that strategy, is the number of key workers across the country who are self isolating when they didn't need to.

That did actually mean me weren't in a position to do the tests, so we did the next best thing.

HOLMES: When it comes to testing, it is still a major issue here in the U.S. and still not widespread enough for many people. I guess it is now a mitigation situation.

How important is it, even now, to get ahead of spread by testing, knowing where it is, isolating people who may not know they're positive and contract tracing?

NEAL: I think what we know about the virus, we need testing for certain groups and particularly people in hospital with respiratory symptoms so that we can isolate COVID-19 patients from non COVID-19 patients and prevent cross infection in the health care setting.

In an ideal world, it would be nice to test everybody with symptoms but this has logistic difficulties.

How do you get people actually tested?

Do you have a drive-through testing system?

What do you do with people who cannot drive who don't have cars?

If you have to go out to someone's house, you probably would then have to drive, put on the PPE outside the house, go in, take off the PPE. It would take you at least an hour, probably to do that and to get everything back. There are a lot of logistic difficulties in doing mass testing and to do it equitably.

HOLMES: It is interesting. In South Korea, they seem to do it but there are specific difficulties in other places. I wonder what you, as an expert in epidemiology, where your concerns are elsewhere in the world?

In particular, Africa, where many nations on that continent do not have advanced infrastructure medically. People are crammed together in tight quarters, unavoidably, millions don't even have the ability to wash their hands. It's terrifying to contemplate what might happen there.

NEAL: The only good thing you could possibly say about all of those situations is that the population is young and they seem to be less affected by the disease. That is not to say that people will not die and it will not continue to spread.

And the big risk, it becomes a possible source of reservoir for reinfection across the world. The more we can do to help, the better. But the more we can sort that out in addition to our own problems is a

huge logistical struggle. Just providing clean water to people is actually a major difficulty for some countries.

HOLMES: Where do you see promising signs globally?

What gives you hope and all of this?

NEAL: I think I'm going to talk about the U.K. figures because I have more a handle on them as per an interest because that is where I am. We have been on restrictions now for nearly three weeks. If you plot the number of cases on a log (ph) curve.


NEAL: Essentially, that creates a straight line for exponential growth. That curve, certainly in the last 5-7 days in U.K., is beginning flatten. This has been consistent with the 5-7 incubation day periods in the sense we seem to be beginning to interrupt chains of transmission.

HOLMES: Let's hope that that curve flattens in more than just the U.K. I really appreciate you coming on, Professor Neal, thank you, Professor Keith Neal at Nottingham University. Appreciate it.

NEAL: Thank you.

HOLMES: Now to a major story, we have been following out of Washington over these last few hours, U.S. president Donald Trump firing the intelligence community's inspector general. That is significant.

This is according to a letter sent to Congress, obtained by CNN. We are talking about the man on your screen, Michael Atkinson. He is the one who told Congress last year about the whistleblower complaint that led to the president's impeachment, as he was required to do. CNN's Evan Perez reports.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, is out of a job. The president informed the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate that he has lost confidence in Atkinson.

Atkinson is the one who forwarded to the intelligence communities the whistleblower complaint that said that the president was trying to pressure the Ukrainian government into announcing investigations into Joe Biden and his son.

We have been waiting, for some time, that Atkinson may be out of a job and it appears that in the middle of the coronavirus emergency, the president has decided that now is the time to get rid of the inspector general for the intelligence community -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: The United Kingdom racing to get ahead of the growing pandemic. When we come back, we will take you to the streets of London and Nic Robertson, to see how the country is balancing Brexit with an international response to the disease.

And the sporting world has come to a complete standstill. And instead of calling games, some sports broadcasters are calling everyday life in their own unique style. It's a story you will not want to miss.




HOLMES: Welcome back.

Dr. Anthony Fauci from the U.S. Coronavirus Task Force says markets that sell wild animals for food must be shut down if we want to prevent another pandemic going forward.

It is believed that the current global crisis had its origins in a wild animal wet market, as they are known, in Wuhan, China. Dr. Fauci said what we are experiencing now is a direct result of those types of markets.


HOLMES: The world must pressure nations where they are operating to close them down. CNN's Will Ripley is in Tokyo, he knows all about the story.

Tell us about these markets, their role in China and, in a cultural sense, as much as anything.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is a big difference, Michael, between wet markets that you, see not just in China but at my home base in Hong Kong and all over Asia, where for many people it is the only affordable source of fresh produce, meat and seafood. You can talk to the person who is selling your food and you can learn more information about it. It is the antidote to the overpriced, over processed foods that are available at the supermarkets that are so common in the West and that the Chinese government is trying to encourage people to transition to.

But China also has a dark side to these wet markets and that is these wildlife markets. We see the videos, that are very graphic and disturbing for a lot of people, when you see some endangered species of animals crammed into cages, ready to be sold, slaughter and skinned.

It is also potentially dangerous, epidemiologists say, because of the conditions that these animals are kept in and the fact that you do not necessarily know, if they are interacting so closely with each other, what viruses are being spread. A lot of major pandemics around the world have been directly linked to

human consumption of animals, not just wild animals, sometimes pork as well. But the point is, when you do have these unsanitary conditions in these markets that have gone underground, in China, because the government has made the sale of wildlife illegal during this pandemic.

But even if it is illegal, it is very, very difficult to stop consumer consumption. These are the kind of exotic meats that some Chinese consumers have a taste for or want to use for traditional Chinese medicine. It is difficult to break people from these practices, even given the fact that we can correlate directly these kinds of potentially dangerous and unsanitary environments with this huge health crisis that is sweeping the world.

HOLMES: Absolutely. Thank you for the context, there Will, appreciate it. Will Ripley in Tokyo there for us.

The United Kingdom is racing to get ahead of the growing pandemic and among the developments there, health experts say that it is too early to know when the infection rate will peak in the U.K.

The government says it is not recommending the public wear masks in public if they have to venture out of their homes, as opposed to the U.S., where it is now recommended.

The E.U. and U.K. have said they have reached a deal to eliminate import taxes on medical goods, making it easier to get needed supplies quicker. CNN's Nic Robertson is in London with the latest.

You were messaging me earlier, and we are talking about a change in weather there and worries that people will, heaven forbid, take advantage of it.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. This is always a government concern. Having told people to stay at home and given the opportunity to just go out to buy shopping, only when you need to and to go out for one form of exercise a day. It was always going to be difficult to get people to stay indoors. Every country is experiencing this.

In Britain, where the weather is not so good very often, it is been reasonable over the past few weeks. But this weekend, it will be the first warm one of the year. There is a real concern that people will take that opportunity to go outside, go to those beauty spots and hang around and not observe social distancing measures.

It was really a sort of touching moment for the nation, that was picked up widely here, when the chief of the nursing staff spoke of a government press conference yesterday, she invoked the name and the memory, of everyone in the country, to honor the first two nurses to die in the U.K.

Both were mothers of three children, both in their 30s, both dying to the virus. To honor them, do not go out this weekend, stay at home. Every time a government gets asked a question, when does this end, when does the lockdown end, the answer comes back and it is the factual answer, that depends on how people stay at home to flatten the curve.

HOLMES: One other big issue and certainly still in the U.S., where people have been promised millions of tests and they do not seem to be appearing in those numbers. That is a big issue there in the U.K. as well?

ROBERTSON: It's a very big issue. The government's number one has been failing in his messaging to put across a convincing narrative that it can actually stick to. It has been talking about numbers up into the 25,000 tests a day.

In reality, that is probably going to be some ways off. It tried to correct that narrative, put its resources together and come up with a hard-credible figure. It pinned to the masthead 100,000 tests by the end of the month. At the moment, the government is barely doing 12,000 tests a day.


ROBERTSON: So 100,000, very ambitious, designed to give confidence to the country, that the government has this under control. But the National Health Service laboratory, which is central to a good part of the testing facilities in the country, have said, look, we are very concerned.

The reagents, the things that are required to make these products, are just not available on the international markets. Neither is the precision plastics that are involved as well. The experts within the country are saying, to the politicians, great vision but we do not think it is deliverable.

So now the government's in this position, particularly with the antiviral tests that shows whether you've had it or not, about how to get the population back, out back to, work when they lift some of the restrictions, how it went and wonder what restrictions.

It is not just that the tests aren't there, it is all about how you in the lockdown. It goes to the question on how long people will be locked up on another sunny weekend?

HOLMES: Hopefully they do hear the advice and stay indoors. I appreciate that, Nic Robertson there in London for us, good to see you.

There is hopeful news from Italy where the government says that the coronavirus curve is flattening. Even though it is flattening, more than 766 deaths on Friday. That is with the flattening curve. Johns Hopkins University says Italy has more than 119,000 infections.

And meanwhile, the pope, Pope Francis, urging people to make the most of their isolation. He says, in difficult times, we need to help others through what he called the creativity of love.

Let's turn our attention to Spain, the city of Madrid, working to open its third makeshift morgue as the coronavirus death toll there continues to soar. The government is using to ice rinks in a forensic center to temporarily hold the bodies of COVID-19 victims. Johns Hopkins University reporting more than 11,000 deaths in Spain.

Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, something to lift our spirits. Right now, sports commentators have no professional sports to discuss. So they are finding some clever ways to keep their skills sharp. We will show you what they are doing when we come back.




HOLMES: Well, with the sporting events of the world on hiatus amid the coronavirus outbreak, sports broadcasters now have no games to call but no sports broadcaster is going to be defeated. Some of the best voices around the world have taken to adding a bit of magic to the mundane while also lifting spirits in the process. Patrick Snell with the story.



PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the ongoing global pandemic, the British broadcaster, Rob Walker, like so many in his field, is having to adapt to a new reality these days.


SNELL (voice-over): No actual sport to commentate on. So Walker now inviting members of the public to send in clips and he will do the rest.

ROB WALKER, BRITISH BROADCASTER: Gotten off to an absolute blind here, now he begins to follow, Peter Rabbit coming through on the line, I think we are going to need a replay.

SNELL (voice-over): Elsewhere in England, the creative talents of rugby commentator Nick Heath have been on full display, thanks to a whole series of videos capturing scenes plucked from everyday London life.

NICK HEATH, RUGBY COMMENTATOR: This is the final of the two lonely blokes in a park contest. And, whoa, that was absolutely terrible. It's what we've come to expect really from these two. A few runners in the distance, not keeping enough distance, frankly.

SNELL (voice-over): Nick has featured instant online hits such as the 2020 Crossroad Dash.

HEATH: He's got a decent start -- oh, there he comes, a bit distracted over the shoulder, and Leggings is going to get there.

SNELL (voice-over): And the international 4x4 Push Chair Final.

HEATH: The reaction has been incredible. People seem to want an amount of levity during these pretty unprecedented times. I have had hundreds, if not thousands, of messages from people who are finding this time pretty difficult, whether they are frontline key workers, health workers, people anxious about loved goods and they're just enjoying having a bit of a belly laugh over something very silly.

SNELL (voice-over): After all the apparent levity, there is one touching moment that has really broken through in recent days, one that will likely resonate with Nick for a long time to come.

HEATH: This spaniel clip that I put out. I've been contacted by the lady who is in that clip. She said she had what she thinks was the COVID-19 coronavirus. She had been feeling rough for 3 weeks. That was her first walk outside in that time, with her dog. I happened to catch it and have a bit of fun with it.

She said she loved it and it was the first time she had laughed in a good couple of weeks.

SNELL (voice-over): Nick, who until recently was covering Women 6 Nations Rugby, says he has been humbled by the overall response he's had, one that has also helped meet a very real and practical need.

HEATH: I've seen my livelihood disappear before me but one thing I did do, seeing the enjoyment of the clips, I, said, look, if you can spare the price of a meal, of a coffee, then that would be an awful lot. And a number of people have. While I was wondering where the income stream would come from, I've been lucky enough to get a few quid in and it might just help go towards the mortgage payments for a month or two.


HOLMES: Patrick Snell with that report.

It is @NickHeathSport, check it out on Twitter. I've tweeted out the story, check him out, it lifted my spirits. Twitter followers, went from 15,000 to 120,000 because of what he is doing now. Good for him.

Thank you so much from CNN NEWSROOM, "AFRICAN VOICES CHANGE MAKERS" up next, I will see you tomorrow.