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U.S. Marks Highest One-Day Death Toll from Coronavirus; U.S. Ventilator Shortage; CDC Advises Americans to Cover Faces in Public; Impeachment Fallout; China's Day of Mourning for COVID-19 Victims; Virus May Have Been in Humans for Years; White House to Nominate Attorney to Oversee Stimulus; COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories; Worldwide Cases Surpass 1.1M; Miss England Back in U.K. after Isolation; Remembering Those Lost to COVID-19; Singer-Songwriter Bill Withers Dies at 81. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired April 4, 2020 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The CDC now recommending all Americans wear face masks to slow the spread of coronavirus but at least one person is not convinced.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think I'm going to be doing it but --


ALLEN (voice-over): Also ahead at this hour, conspiracy theories, bad information, deflection: the dangerous game some media outlets are playing.

Plus, after a harrowing quarantine in India, she's back in the U.K. and ready to join the front lines as a doctor. Miss England 2019 will join us.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, yes, some of us are still here.

Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world, I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: It is 5:00 am here on the U.S. East Coast and many of us all have to wonder how bad will it be today. Friday was the deadliest day yet for coronavirus in the U.S. Well over 1,100 deaths were reported.

Nearly 280,000 people, more than 250,000 people have tested positive here in the U.S. The rapid spread of the disease has led to stay-at- home orders for some 96 percent of the population. But the governors of eight states still don't think it is necessary. Now U.S. health officials are telling everyone to wear a face mask in

public. That's new. But people looking to the U.S. president to set an example, well, Mr. Trump says he won't be wearing one.


TRUMP: I just don't want to wear one myself. It's a recommendation. They recommend it. I'm feeling good. I won't be doing it, personally. It's a recommendation.


ALLEN: Of course, New York is getting the worst of it, with more than 100,000 confirmed cases. It accounts for more than a third of all cases in the U.S. The surging number of patients is quickly draining resources. Emergency field hospitals such as this one in Central Park, yes, set up in Central Park, could reach capacity within days.

Officials fear New York City will run out of ventilators next week. So the governor is sending out the National Guard to round up as many as they can, anywhere they can find them in the state.

One New York nurse tells CNN, compared to last week, the patients are sicker and that tends to happen with a virus that that's this vicious. A view echoed by another doctor as she spoke with CNN's Don Lemon.


DR. LAURA UCIK, NEW YORK PHYSICIAN: Working right now is unlike anything I've ever imagined. Things are totally chaotic. Patients are sicker and dying at higher rates than I've ever seen before and we're running out of basic supplies.

We've been talking a lot about the lack of protective equipment. But actually what people don't know is we're running out of everything. Last shift I worked at I was told there are 15 oxygen masks left in the entire hospital, where we have over 500 patients with coronavirus.


ALLEN: New York's police department has been especially hard hit. More than 1,600 uniformed officers and 220 civilian employees have been infected. Eight officers have now died.

But there are brief moments of light.


ALLEN (voice-over): New York City firefighters, sirens blaring, saluting the heroic men and women on the hospital front lines.


ALLEN: Across the United States, officials at the state and local level are taking on the crisis with whatever powers they have. Erica Hill has that for us. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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. 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.


ALLEN: And now the new Trump administration guidelines are now that everyone wear cloth masks while in public. There are a few important points to doing that and we learn about it from our Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Now you may ask, why do I have to wear a mask?

Here's the thinking, it is the sort of idea that, even if you don't have any symptoms, if you are asymptomatic, as you have heard this term now, you are not coughing, you are not sneezing, you could still harbor the virus in your nose and mouth and you could still spread the virus that way. That is what asymptomatic spread is.

So by wearing even a cloth mask like this, you are decreasing the amount of virus you are putting out into the environment. So when you wear a mask in public, that is to protect other people, not to protect yourself necessarily. So that is an important point that I want to make sure people understand.

The other thing again, it goes without saying, that the first recommendation is that you stay home. I mean, this is still about social distancing.


ALLEN: Let's talk about that with our guest, Diana Bell, an expert on emerging infectious diseases with the University of East Anglia. She joins me now from Norwich. Your reaction to the new policy, we were told to wear a mask and before we were told not to. Why the change now?

DIANA BELL, EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES EXPERT: Well, I think that's a sensible recommendation. I've been reading the literature, as it's been coming out on this. There was some compelling evidence yesterday. Interestingly, we haven't gotten the same recommendations in the U.K. But I've got masks.


BELL: And I will be wearing them, when I go to visit the supermarket.


BELL: I think they are sensible, because this is -- we heard about washing hands but this is aerosol-borne.

ALLEN: Right. And we heard from Dr. Fauci this week, that just breathing could be at risk, not just sneezing and coughing. President Trump, unfortunately, stressing that he's not going to do it.

But I want to talk to you about the federal government for a moment. The Trump White House has been at odds with state leaders pleading for a more coordinated robust federal response. Health workers are just trying to save others the best they can, while they don't have this support.

How much do you think that disconnect has affected what we're seeing right now in the U.S.?

BELL: I think this problem isn't only in the U.S. It's happened in the U.K. and a number of other countries.

But I think -- but you know, the message is that we all have to work together, both within countries and between countries. We saw China sending masks and, indeed, doctors to Italy, Russia sending ventilators to Spain.

Really, people have to be working together, the private sector has been working with the public sector, which is happening here in the U.K. There seem to be various obstacles to jump over. But as a biologist I don't understand. So there must be political barrier, rather than biological barriers.

ALLEN: And, Diana, there's no real data on testing, either. I don't know about in the U.K. but especially here in the U.S. We don't know how much testing is going on. The most tests that went on were back in mid-March.

Doesn't that mean it's kind of impossible to know what areas are in jeopardy and every minute is lives lost, when data isn't being tracked?

BELL: You're absolutely right. The WHO has been telling us now for weeks, test, test, test. And we haven't been doing that. And, so, countries that have been doing that like South Korea, their numbers are low.

And also, they've been tracking positive cases and their contacts. A lot of contact tracing as has happened in Vietnam. So other countries have done far better than we have.

So here, there's been, in the U.K., there's been a discussion about getting it right. The message is that a wrong test is worse than no test. I completely agree with that.

But we've had weeks, we've had weeks. China put up the flag and said, this is what's happening, learn from us. And we have had weeks to prepare. We haven't been. And it's only by testing that we'll get some idea of the real scale.

We don't know what it is in the U.K. I'm sure our number of positives is far higher. And it's only the mortality cases that we can rely on.

ALLEN: Diana Bell, we appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much for your insight.

BELL: And I'm sorry for what's happening in America.

ALLEN: Thank you so much and likewise there.

Another story we're following from Washington but not about the coronavirus. The inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community is now out of a job. Late Friday night, President Trump sent a letter informing Congress, which was obtained by CNN.

Michael Atkinson is a nonpartisan career official. Last year, he was the one that informed Congress about the anonymous whistleblower complaint that led to impeachment.

U.S. law requires 30 days' notice for the dismissal of an inspector general. A source says Atkinson will be placed on administrative leave for the duration. For more about it, here's Evan Perez from Washington.


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.


PEREZ: 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.


ALLEN: Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, the Italian nurse who became an icon of the coronavirus fight returns to work. That's not the only sign of hope for this hardhit nation. We'll go live to Rome.

Also, so where did the coronavirus come from?

Well, that's a question that's stumped scientists around the world. We'll have a new study suggesting the virus may have been lurking around us for years.





ALLEN: This is China, where they're having a national day of mourning, where COVID-19, of course, first showed its lethal strength. Sirens blared and flags flew at half staff as they observed three minutes of silence to honor the dead. Johns Hopkins University here in the U.S. reports more than 82,000 cases of the virus in China and over 3,000 deaths there.



ALLEN: Friday was a traditional day of mourning in China. It's customarily spent visiting the graves of ancestors, even burning paper or money as an offering to their spirits.

The nurse who became a symbol in Italy's fight against the coronavirus says she is healthy and ready to return to work. How about that. You may recall this photo here of Elena Pagliarini, head down and exhausted after a long shift on the front lines.

She's now won her battle against the virus after a 23-day struggle. However, many of her colleagues were not so lucky. At least 73 doctors and 24 nurses are among the dead in Italy.

But there is a sign of hope. The government says the latest numbers show the increase in infections is stabilizing. Let's go to Barbie Nadeau in Rome.

Barbie, it's a sign that the curve may be flattening.

What can you tell us?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, once that curve is flattening, we see the curve down go, the cases begin to decrease. We're in the fourth week of this draconian lockdown. And it's really taking its toll.

We see that in the south where there aren't as many cases but the economic pressure is building there. We've got police on the streets of Palermo, worried about organized crime exploiting the situation. As long as the country stays on lockdown, it's not just focused in the north where the virus outbreak has been so strong.

It's a nationwide issue and the authorities recognize how hard it is for so many people.

ALLEN: Right, we did have a heartening story in the last hour, our Ben Wedeman, talking about the doctors and nurses volunteering to come back. When you think about the risks they take to save people's lives, it's really remarkable.

NADEAU: It really is. We saw so many people call -- to answer the call for volunteers. You do see a national unity here in this country. People are really suffering for the dead, they're suffering that people have lost their families. They can't have funerals. They can't say farewell.

All of these things play into the whole situation, in all of Europe but especially here in Italy, where we've seen the epicenter of the cases.

But people are hopeful. And I think that's what the message is. The lockdown seems to be working. If we can just stick it out a little longer, everybody who lives in this country, making their own economic and personal sacrifices ,then, perhaps, we'll be the ones to lead everyone out of here in Europe, Natalie.

ALLEN: We'll be looking for that, Barbie Nadeau in Rome.

The origins of the coronavirus remain a mystery but while cases were only detected several months ago, a new study suggests it may have been circulating in humans for years. And as CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports this virus looks a lot like something we've seen before.



LAURENCE FISHBURNE, ACTOR, "DR. ELLIS CHEEVER": As of last night, there were 32 cases.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): If you feel you wake up every day in a movie, perhaps it's "Contagion," that near imagined our world today. Real life and art are jumbled up, too. Epidemiologist Ian Lipkin, he was assigned to be an adviser to the movie but mid-March tested positive for COVID-19.

DR. IAN LIPKIN, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: The first couple of days, you feel like an elephant is sitting on your chest. I was in China the second half of January, returned in early February; not ill whatsoever also I was placed in isolation. And I became ill in the streets of New York.

WALSH (voice-over): Our pandemic is no movie and Lipkin is one of many scientists with something very new and real to say today about where the virus came from. The dominant theory, that it leapt in its current dangerous form from animals, maybe a bat, into humans late last year is being questioned.

A recent study in "Nature Medicine" magazine say it may have happened months or years ago and that the virus circulated less lethally in humans and adapted to be more infectious to them before becoming the monster that it is now.

LIPKIN: I think it probably circulated in humans for some time. How long, we may never fully reconstruct that.

What people try to do is use genetic evidence to look at the time of the most recent common ancestors -- examining -- I'm sorry, my cough is already contagious as you can see -- it could have been circulating for months or years.

WALSH (voice-over): Before we hear from an author of the study, here's Kate Winslet from the movie, telling you how to wash your hands.


KATE WINSLET, ACTOR, "DR. ERIN MEARS": The water doesn't need to be that hot. And any soap will do.



WALSH (voice-over): Professor Robert Garry (ph) wrote in his study that the virus could have been in humans for years.

DR. ROBERT GARRY, TULANE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: We start getting behind this, surely only took place a few months ago. There could have been, you know, other sparks that were set up and made smaller fires and we just didn't detect it.

It's a wide range of time that you can select. There are certain coronaviruses we know about. Some of the milder ones that circulated for decades before we actually first discovered the first one.

WALSH (voice-over): Before we ask a veterinary epidemiologist's opinion, it's Matt Damon's turn.


MATT DAMON, ACTOR: That was a movie, this is real life. Stay six feet away from another person.


WALSH (voice-over): Has the virus been in us for a while? ANDREW CUNNINGHAM, ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON: Even simple viruses do. It probably had some adaptation to humans before it jumped into humans but it probably then adapted further and improved its ability to infect and transmit between people once it got into people.

FISHBURNE: The virus travels through human contact.

WALSH (voice-over): The movie and reality will probably end the same way, except in the movie, the vaccine took days, not months.

"CHEEVER": There's no vaccine at this time.

LIPKIN: But ultimately, we have to have a vaccine, because this virus is going to be endemic in the human population. It's going to recur.

WALSH (voice-over): Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


ALLEN: And again, Friday was the deadliest day for the virus in New York.

So coronavirus cases are on the rise but not according to everyone. Next here, we take a look at dangerous conspiracy theories surrounding the virus.

Well, first of all, looking for a little pick-me-up?


ALLEN (voice-over): Check out this trio of Spanish roommates who formed a band while their country is stuck in lockdown.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): These guys are calling themselves The Stay Homers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Like so many creators around the world, they're trying to use this time of isolation to connect with those far and wide and to share their very own clear message.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, I'm Natalie Allen, 5:30 here in the morning in Atlanta. This is CNN NEWSROOM. Here are our top stories.


ALLEN: Whether Americans should wear face masks in public has been hotly debated for weeks. We get more from CNN's Kaitlan Collins from the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The CDC is now recommending that Americans cover their faces going out in public, they're urging them to wear a homemade cloth mask, instead of using a medical-grade mask, instead, urging them to save those for the health care workers who need them since they are in short supply.

As the CDC is putting out this guidance, President Trump said he is not going to follow it. He said he personally will not be wearing a mask. And made clear this guidance from the CDC is just that, guidance and it's voluntary.

He said you do not have to follow it and he said he himself is not going to follow it and that comes after a heated debate at the White House over whether or not he can recommend this. Because people are concerned can lull people into false insecurity that they won't need to do as much social distancing because they're wearing the masks.

The president is also undercutting what his health official said on CNN, which is why he cannot understand why all states, governors haven't all instituted stay-at-home orders. We know there's at least 10 states that have not done that. And Dr. Fauci said they should.

But the president says he's leaving that up to governors. And now the White House is nominating a White House attorney to oversee that $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill recently passed on Capitol Hill.

There were concerns who is going to conduct oversight over it. The White House is nominating this attorney, who now must be confirmed by the Senate -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Since Kaitlan filed that story, two more states have issues for stay-at-home orders. That means eight states have not. Even though the U.S. now has the most COVID-19 cases in the world and thousands have died, many people, however, continue to downplay the seriousness of this disease, somehow, even spreading dangerous conspiracy theories about it. Our Brian Stelter has that story.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "If you could see my hospital," this physician says, "you would know the horror of COVID-19."

But most people can't see inside the beleaguered hospitals in New York and New Orleans, Miami and Detroit and other hot spots. And that's given rise to heinous conspiracy theories and even some denialism (sic) that could hurt public health. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are saying, film your hospital.

STELTER (voice-over): Users on social media are showing quiet scenes outside hospitals and suggesting it's not that bad inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sick and tired of hearing about all these fake news.

STELTER (voice-over): But they are lucky to be on the outside because on the inside --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a war zone. It's a medical war zone.

STELTER (voice-over): Weeks of rhetoric from President Trump and right-wing stars downplaying the dangers looks ignorant now.


STELTER (voice-over): Patricia Cowden, whose husband died from coronavirus at a veteran's home, now worries if the home's administrator was influenced by the president.

PATRICIA COWDEN, HUSBAND DIED OF CORONAVIRUS AT HOLYOKE SOLDIERS' HOME: The commander in chief was saying it was nothing, you know.

STELTER (voice-over): And wonders if he heard broadcasters who soft- pedaled the threat.

COWDEN: I just can't be mad about it. I just think there was a lot of confusion, too much confusion for something so serious.

STELTER (voice-over): Talk radio personalities and other people close to the president spread faultily information about the virus.


STELTER (voice-over): That was Rush Limbaugh back in February. As recently as last week, Rush was doubting the government's medical professionals.

LIMBAUGH (voice-over): We didn't elect a president to defer to a bunch of health experts that we don't know. How do we know they're even health experts?

STELTER (voice-over): He dismisses true expertise. And this week, he is still focusing on the politics.

LIMBAUGH (voice-over): They want you to blame President Trump for it.

STELTER (voice-over): The pro-Trump media is on defense, looking for any which way to prop up the president amid new scrutiny of Trump's belated response to the pandemic. Some are still trying to downplay the severity of the disease, but most are shifting blame to China, to Democrats and to the news media.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Incessant, never ending constant complaining and frankly lack of accountability of that guy.

STELTER (voice-over): Sean Hannity training his sights on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo while ignoring the Trump administration's failures. As "The New York Times" reports, blame the left is a big part of the playbook. And right-wing websites are still promoting anecdotes that suggest things aren't that bad.

But the growing number of widows indicates otherwise -- Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: There are no words about that report.

Like much of the rest of the world, normal life, I know conspiracy theorists don't believe this, it has come to a halt across the U.K. as well. We'll have a live report from London.

Also, Miss England is back in the U.K. to join the fight against coronavirus because she's also a doctor. And she'll talk about how she got stranded in India. She'll join us in a moment.





ALLEN: All right. Here's a little ditty that we like, upside to social distancing, more quality time with deer.

This herd and its forbears have been coming into the London suburb of Romford for decades. But locals say because of the lockdown people are having more time to enjoy them. Very sweet there. Anything uplifting, even feeding a carrot to a deer can make your day these days.

U.K. authorities say the number of confirmed cases stands at over 38,000, though, with at least 3,600 deaths. But people are doing little things to keep spirits up. Here's an example.


ALLEN (voice-over): This is the Anya Court Care Home in Rugby, England, giving the people who care for them and all medical professionals a healthy round of applause. Something we keep seeing around the world, so wonderful.


ALLEN: We're joining with our own Nic Robertson, live from London.

Good morning to you, Nic. I'm told that the change in weather there may leave people to -- who have been inside to want to take a walk outside. What's the latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, this has officials here concerned. The records seems to show that perhaps 85 percent of normal journeys that people would make are not being taken. That's a real positive for the government. They are concerned that the longer people have to stay indoors due to social distancing that it was going to get harder.

The U.K. doesn't get so many wonderful days. This weekend, apparently, is going to be quite warm. Typically, that would tempt people out to beauty spots, the parks.

The prime minister, remember, he's still in isolation at this point, he's saying, look, stay at home, don't go out, you may catch more than the sun if you go out this weekend.

There was a touching tribute to two nurses, Irina Nasrin (ph) and Amy O'Rourke (ph), who passed away in the past 24 hours, both nurses in their 30s, both healthy, both mothers of three children.

And the head of the nursing association, at the government press conference yesterday said, look, honor these nurses and the other health care workers, four doctors have died in the U.K. as well treating the virus and two other health care workers as well, honor these nurses, she said, by not going out this weekend.

Stay at home. This is the only way to stop the spread of the virus. So yes, absolutely, the weekend, the warm weather that appears to be coming, that's a concern for the government at a time when they're facing criticism for their pronouncements on how many tests they're able to do there, saying they have 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month.

And at the moment, that is being questioned by the brave people that would perform those tests within the health service. They're saying that the reagents and the precision plastics that they need to do it just aren't available on the global market. So it's a big concern.

ALLEN: Absolutely. All right, we appreciate it, Nic, thanks so much, stay safe and keep us posted.

Well, the U.K. is going to need all of the health care professionals they can get to fight the virus. And one of them has finally made it back home after a 30-hour-long journey back to the U.K.

Miss England 2019, Bhasha Mukherjee is a junior doctor who was traveling in India for just a few weeks. But when the lockdown started going into effect there, she found herself trapped. And Dr. Bhasha Mukherjee joins me live from Derby, England.

Good morning to you, Miss England, nice to have you with us. I want to start by saying tell us about your ordeal. You were doing charity work in India. You got caught up in a lockdown there and had quite an ordeal to get back.



MUKHERJEE: Yes, sorry. Yes, we were blissfully getting along with our charity work. We went to seven different states. And it was right in the last week of doing this charity work that the rules were changing on the global scale as well as India.

And we couldn't act fast enough. All of us, we tried to book flights on the day before the lockdown was going to officially get enforced.


MUKHERJEE: But about three days before lockdown, even before made official, the flights started getting grounded. So yes, I found myself stranded there. My mom is still stranded there, in fact. I was lucky I only had to be there for just over a week. And I got to stay with family before I was rescued by the British embassy there.

ALLEN: Well, you got tested and you don't have the virus, after what you've been through getting back to the U.K., I'm sure you feel fortunate about that. But let's talk about the fact you that hold the title of Miss England and you're also a doctor. And I understand it, you're going back to work.

Or you already returned to work?

Tell us about that.

MUKHERJEE: Because I've been traveling and actually I haven't been tested yet.


MUKHERJEE: There's no testing done at the airport, so was at Frankfurt, at Kolkata, Frankfurt and in Heathrow. There's been no testing done. So I've been told to stay in self-isolation or at least quarantined to my house for at least 14 days.

So that's what I'm doing currently. There's also new training that we have to do because, before I left, there was no COVID and now there is. So I have to do that before I return to work. But that should be very shortly.

ALLEN: How do you feel about that?

Because we've heard so many grim stories about people falling ill on the front lines, in desperation and health workers not having enough supplies.

Are you ready and willing to get back in there?

MUKHERJEE: I think the way I was feeling back in India was useless and my colleagues were doing it as well, they were putting their lives at risk. And I felt a sense of -- I guess you could say, I took the Hippocratic Oath just like them, ,to be helping in a situation like this.

You know, we have had four doctors who died and two nurses. And so many health care workers who were doing this, in this time, I feel, you know, it's not just about my life. It's about the greater good.

And I'm not trying to act like a hero at all. But where my friends, my colleagues are doing that, I felt a sense is that I would like to join them and join this fight and make use of what I do best, essentially and what I still need to do.

I think I'm more afraid not of my own life but rather not doing something wrong where I cause someone else harm because things are so fragile at the moment, you know, with the lack of PPE and so much else.

I'm more scared that should I -- that I don't cause anybody harm whether it be because I carry something back with me to the community or somewhere else, that's what I'm more afraid of.

ALLEN: Totally understand. Well, Miss England, Dr. Bhasha Mukherjee, we wish you all the best in your support and help of others suffering. Thank you for joining us. All the best.


ALLEN: Well, it has been a difficult week for many around the world as we continue to see the massive toll this virus is taking. Next here, a look back at some of those lost to the disease.





ALLEN: We want to now take a moment to remember some of the lives recently lost to the coronavirus as the total number of reported deaths near 59,000 people. Among them, a growing list of very recognizable and influential figures. And that has really hit home the realities of these times. Here's our Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Ellis Marsalis played with his musical sons, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason, it was jazz royalty at work. Now the virus has racked their hometown of New Orleans, taking Ellis away.

FLOYD CARDOZ, CHEF: I grew up in Bombay.

FOREMAN: When chef Floyd Cardoz stepped into his New York kitchen, he brought the flavors of India with him and a special spirit too.

CARDOZ: I believe that if you want to cook, you got to be happy. Happy people make good food.

FOREMAN: And when Dr. James T. Goodrich went into the operating room to separate conjoined twins, he came out with a bond of his own.

DR. JAMES T. GOODRICH, SURGEON: You got to think after a while they kind of like become your own kids. In a sense, you don't really have to have your own.

FOREMAN: The number of famous and influential folks falling to COVID- 19 is steadily growing. Many have been musicians, including Adam Schlesinger, Alan Merrill, who wrote "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," Wallace Roney and Joe Diffie.

MARK BLUM, ACTOR: Where is the man from the backwoods?

FOREMAN: Actor Mark Blum and playwright Terrence McNally are gone, journalist Maria Mercader too.

In one Manhattan hospital, the staff celebrates every COVID-19 patient well enough to go home. And most people who get the virus do survive. Still, so many have fallen, taking their important work with them.

Sociologists and author William Helmreich walked every street in New York to better understand the human condition. Lorena Borjas came from Mexico to become an outspoken American activist for transgender rights.

Rabbi Romi Cohn survived the Holocaust, but, at 91, did not survive this. Minister Ronnie Hampton, renowned for his community outreach down South, is gone as well.

PASTOR RONNIE HAMPTON, NEW VISION COMMUNITY CHURCH: I want you to know that my faith has never wavered.

FOREMAN: And Janice Preschel ran a New Jersey food pantry, a job she continued by phone, even as she lay dying in her hospital bed.

None of these are more important than the thousands of other Americans who have fallen or will fall in coming days. But they are highly visible reminders of how this pandemic is changing the human geology of this country, changing who we are -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.


ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: We leave you with one more person that we lost, though in this case, not to the coronavirus.

Singer-songwriter Bill Withers has died of heart complications. He was 81. You'll know his music. He had a career that spanned decades, giving us hits like "Lean on Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine." Both found a new generation of fans when they were featured in films years after their initial release.

But he's also known for another song, one that reminds us that when everything around us seems to be going wrong, sometimes one person can make it better after all. You're watching CNN.