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Eight U.S. States Still Without Stay-At-Home Orders; Javits Convention Center Becomes 2,500-Bed Hospital; Louisiana Bracing For Onslaught Of Virus Cases; COVID-19 Kills Almost 8,500 In The U.S.; Queen Elizabeth To Address U.K. In Rare Broadcast; U.K. Ramps Up Testing Health Care Workers; Inside A Hospital Dealing With COVID-19; Gig Economy Falters As Virus Spreads; Spain Overtakes Italy In Reported Virus Cases; Hurricane Season Could Be Disastrous; Woman Visiting Dying Mom Is Solo Passenger On Plane. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired April 5, 2020 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A tragic day in America, lives lost, doctors, nurses running on fumes, equipment badly needed and the worst is yet to come.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week. There will be a lot of death, unfortunately but a lot less death and than if this wasn't do but there will be death.


ALLEN: Also this hour, CNN goes inside a Seattle, Washington, ICU, the tiring process medics go through just to prepare to save a coronavirus patient.

Plus, millions struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table. The real-life pain behind those unemployment numbers.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in our Atlanta studios. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: Thank you, again, for joining us. It's 5:00 am here in Atlanta and here are our top stories.

President Trump has a stark warning for the United States now, where the coronavirus is most out of control. First, the global perspective. Johns Hopkins University has now tracked 1.2 million cases of coronavirus worldwide, a number that ticks up hour after hour.

The global death toll is approaching 65,000. In the past month, the disease has spread to more than 312,000 people in the United States. Most of them will recover. But so far, 8,500 have died. Mr. Trump telling the country to be prepared for the crisis to worsen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week. There will be a lot of death, unfortunately but a lot less death and then if this wasn't do but there will be death.


ALLEN: Saying it straightforward to the American people there.

Staying home is the surest way to protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming infected. Yet Mr. Trump has resisted that as a national policy. As a result, eight states all with Republican governors have not told their residents to stay home. But the president's top health advisers are saying exactly that.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This is the moment to not be going to the grocery, not going to the pharmacy but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe. And that means everybody doing the 6-feet distancing, washing your hands.


ALLEN: Not going to the pharmacy, not going to the grocery store, those were the places they had said we could go. That's how dangerous it's becoming. Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci was quick to reinforce that message, only to have the president suggest that shutting down the economy is the bigger threat.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: But the one thing I am confident in, so let's take this to the bank, that mitigation works. So it does. We've seen it in other countries. We've seen it in our own country.

That's the reason why I keep coming up to plead with the American people to please take a look at those guidelines that the vice president keeps putting up with his chart because every single one of those points has something to do with physical separation.

TRUMP: And mitigation does work. But we're not going to destroy our country. We have to get back because, you know, at a certain point, you lose more people this way through all of the problems caused than you will with what we're doing right now.


ALLEN: More than one-third of all U.S. coronavirus infections are in New York, 114,000 cases and counting, with New York City hit the hardest.

The governor predicts the next week will see the sharpest rise in sick and dying patients, a scenario that threatened to overload the city's hospitals, which are already struggling. You're seeing the sprawling, Javits Convention Center, very well known conference center.


ALLEN: It has been turned into a 2500-bed hospital to take some of the patients, the loads they will be seeing of people.

A U.S. Navy hospital ship is also on duty to take non-coronavirus patients. But most of those beds are still empty. The Navy says a few of the patients who have been brought to the ship have tested positive.

At least one hospital has been setting up a makeshift morgue. Others have been storing the deceased in refrigerated trucks, a very morbid part of this terrible saga. The mayor says the city is going to need massive amounts of help and equipment to get through these tough weeks ahead. He talked about it earlier with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.


BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK MAYOR: We think at some point next week, we could have 5,000 people on ventilators. We're going to need 45,000 doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, et cetera. We have to add 60,000 more beds in the course of the next month or so.


ALLEN: Throughout this crisis, there's been a lot of focus, of course, on ventilators, a crucial piece of equipment that can mean life or death for people with the virus. And it's often coming down to a verbal tug-of-war between the White House and state officials over how many ventilators actually exist and who will get them.

When asked about it by CNN's Jeremy Diamond, President Trump finally conceded there might not be enough to go around.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Is it time for you to level with the American public that there likely will be shortages of ventilators in some cases?

TRUMP: Could be. Could be you have shortages and you have some that have overestimated the number of ventilators they need.


ALLEN: Andrew Cuomo has been publicly pleading for ventilators, saying hospitals only have enough to make it through this coming week. Now though, a wealthy benefactor has stepped up.

Joe Tsai, a co-founder of online retailer Alibaba, donated 2,000 ventilators as well as millions of pieces of protective gear. And the state of Oregon is sending 140 of its ventilators, a gesture that earned a public thank you from New York's governor.


ANDREW CUOMO (D), GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: I want to thank Governor Brown, I want to thank all of the people in the state of Oregon for their thoughtfulness. Again, this was unsolicited. But the 140 ventilators will make a difference. We're all in the same battle here.

And the battle is stopping the spread of the virus, right?


ALLEN: We've also been telling you how the New York Police Department has been waging its own battle against the coronavirus. Sadly, a 10th officer has now died of the disease. More than 1,600 uniformed police, about 18 percent of the city's force, and hundreds of civilian employees have tested positive for the virus.

Now we go south to Louisiana. Horrific words from the mayor of New Orleans, the city's mortuaries have reached their limit and cannot even pick up any more bodies. The mayor has asked the federal government for additional refrigeration to store the deceased.

This comes as the case count went up by more than 2,000 in Louisiana on Saturday alone. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in New Orleans.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The state of Louisiana is bracing for what could be a very difficult week. These are the coming days, where the governor of this state and medical officials have been warning that the onslaught of coronavirus cases here in this state could begin to tax hospitals across the state, with a shortage of beds, ventilators, medical equipment that they so desperately need.

The latest numbers we have is that there are nearly 12,500 cases in the state, just over 400 deaths as well. And the numbers that state officials and medical officials look at the most is the number of beds and ventilators being used. And that continues on an upward trend as well.

To prepare for all of this, medical teams here have unveiled and say that the makeshift hospital at the New Orleans Convention Center, it will be up and ready to go by Monday morning and will be accepting its first patients.

That thousand-bed hospital unit set up there will treat coronavirus patients but not necessarily the ones that need the most acute and serious attention. These are people who are not quite ready to go home, still need around the clock medical attention.

The first patients will be arriving there and the hope is that will alleviate pressure on the hospitals, especially here in the New Orleans area. This is the area that has seen by far the most cases in this state.


LAVANDERA: And it has become so dire here, this is what the mayor has said here in recent days of just how dire the situation is in this city.


LATOYA CANTRELL, NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: Our coroner's office is at capacity as it relates to our dead bodies of our loved ones. Mortuaries cannot even go pick them up or store because they're out of capacity.

I've had to ask the federal government for additional refrigeration so that we can take care of our people while they're resting in God's peace but not resting well, because they haven't been laid to rest as they deserve.


LAVANDERA: Medical and state officials here say they have been basing a lot of their projections on what will happen in these hospitals on the scientific models and data coming in to these teams.

And one of the grim predictions that they are looking at in these numbers is the projected death toll, the death toll that could be reached here in the state of Louisiana and that total they're seeing right now is just over 1,800. And that is the same number of people that died here during Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, New Orleans.


ALLEN: And now another hot spot, the state of Michigan. A staggering rise in numbers there, nearly 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Saturday alone. Michigan's National Guard has almost finished building a 1,000-bed field hospital inside Detroit's convention center; 540 people have died due to the virus in Michigan with more than 14,000 cases. The state is now second only to New York and New Jersey. Representative Debbie Dingell had a message when she spoke with CNN earlier.


REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI), SENIOR WHIP: Too many people aren't taking this seriously and every last one of us has a job to do.

For most of us who don't have the skillset to be on the front line as a nurse or doctor -- and I'm grateful to those grocery store workers and those drugstore workers and the Amazon workers and the drivers of these trucks and the mail people.

Our job is to stay home and not enough of us are. They don't understand how important it is and the only way we mitigate this is for each and every one of us to stay home, sit on the couch and stop mingling with other people.


ALLEN: If you think about it, that's not asking too much, is it, to save lives. So important, especially right now, as the U.S. will see a horribly ravaging spike in the next two weeks.

We have been covering the race to create a vaccine to stop the spread but scientists are also investigating other treatments, including existing medications. One of them is the malaria and lupus drug hydroxychloroquine.

Scientists in China report it has benefits in COVID-19 patients but U.S. officials say the research on its effectiveness is anecdotal. That has not stopped President Trump from pushing for it.


TRUMP: There's a possibility, a possibility -- and I say it, what do you have to lose?

What do you have to lose?

Take it. I think they should take it. But it's their choice and it's their doctor's choice or the doctor's and the hospital. But hydroxychloroquine, try it, if you'd like.


ALLEN: For now, no product is approved by U.S. authorities to prevent COVID-19.

Let's bring in now Dr. Natalie MacDermott, a clinical lecturer at King's College London.

Good morning, Nathalie, thank you for coming on. President Trump there expressing a lot of optimism around this anti-malarial drug. He talked a lot about it but only anecdotal reports and one small clinical trial have shown any benefits. I want to talk about your reaction to the president's support of this.

DR. NATHALIE MACDERMOTT, CLINICAL LECTURER, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: So I think we have to be careful with any experimental medication about what we assume it can do.

We saw during Ebola that there were several experimental medications that showed great promise in cell studies and animal studies but actually when rolled out and given to humans had no benefit whatsoever.

So I'm not saying hydroxychloroquine doesn't have benefit. There's some good data from cell studies. But we don't have any data in human trials of COVID-19 that is robust enough for us to say it's effective.

ALLEN: For that reason, could it be dangerous if someone took it, someone who was positive for coronavirus? MACDERMOTT: Well, I think we don't know that yet. We know that hydroxychloroquine, as a medication is a relatively safe medication.


MACDERMOTT: It's been around for a long time. It's widely available and cheap and we use it in inflammatory conditions such as lupus and joint conditions and we know it's safe in those.

But we haven't trialed it widely in people with COVID-19 yet. So I think we need to be cautious and determine if it is safe in people with COVID-19 but we also have to see if it demonstrates efficacy.

And we need to caution that people shouldn't be using it unless they have tested positive for COVID-19 and advised to try it by their doctor who is looking after them. There have been reports from Nigeria that, because of what's been said, people have been stocking up on chloroquine and taking it.

And chloroquine is an earlier form of hydroxychloroquine. It's a slightly different drug and it's highly toxic if taken at too high of a dose. So there has been inadvertent harm caused to people in Nigeria by people taking this.

ALLEN: It shows the confounding -- the way that this disease is and the mysteries surrounding it, that some people are looking for anything to try to help them overcome it.

You, Doctor, have significant experience. You mentioned Nigeria in medical responses to disaster in Africa and Asia.

Where do you put this pandemic in relation to others right now?

MACDERMOTT: So I think that this pandemic is unprecedented, certainly in our time, in its nature. It is a virus that is very adept at spreading between people. And we've seen that. And it also seems to be fairly adept at spreading before people show significant symptoms.

And any virus that can behave like that is more difficult to contain because people don't know they're infected with it yet to prevent them from spreading it to others. That's why we've seen these measures put in place of the lockdowns of entire populations just to try and reduce the spread.

ALLEN: Hopefully at this point people are getting the message. As we've heard, the next two weeks could be really horrendous for people there in the U.K. and the United States. We appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much, Doctor. Thanks.

MACDERMOTT: Thank you.

ALLEN: Coming next, the U.K. is pleading with people to follow the social distancing rules as the queen is set to deliver a rare, televised address on the coronavirus.

Before we go to a break, amid the coronavirus pandemic, some New York grocery stores are creating special express lanes for first responders. It's a move welcomed by Brooklyn's borough president.


ERIC ADAMS, BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT: After coming off a 12-hour shift or going in early or late at night, they should not have to navigate the grocery aisles to find the basic products that they need.


ALLEN: Some stores are also giving first responders priority access, allowing them in while limiting the number of other shoppers. All first responders have to do is show their identification. Just one more way people are trying to help the situation.

Much ahead here. Please stay with us.





ALLEN: The U.K. is warning people to stay indoors and resist the sunny weather this weekend to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The British health secretary says it is unbelievable that people have continued gathering and going to parks.

The U.K. is trying to cope with more than 41,000 confirmed infections as of Saturday and more than 4,300 deaths. Health officials say it is too soon to say when the outbreak will peak.

The pregnant partner of prime minister Boris Johnson says she's showing symptoms of the disease. She says she's on the mend although she adds she has not been tested for the virus. Mr. Johnson has tested positive and continues to self-isolate.

And just a bit later today, Queen Elizabeth will address the British people about the coronavirus in a rare televised speech. The queen's message will be broadcast at 8:00 pm London time. Nick Paton Walsh joins me now from London with the latest from there.

Interesting that the queen feels moved to speak to the British people and will encourage them to cooperate with all the safety measures.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, signs a difficult fortnight ahead as we expect the surge in deaths to continue. She's thanking them for their resolve and urging them to continue social distancing here at Hampstead Heath, this busy park in London. It doesn't seem that message is getting through that much.

It's crowded in there. A lot of runners and prompting the government to say, if you do not obey the rules, we will ban exercise. Currently advice is to do it once a day. But there's another race in the United Kingdom and that's to test as many front line health care workers as they can, so they can get back to work and assist with the nightmare ahead here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is no longer needed for us to identify every case.

WALSH (voice-over): For the U.K., testing was not a priority a month ago, yet now it is.

BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Because it is so important.


WALSH: The U.K.'s sudden rush to testing perhaps explained by a rapid health care testing center. Behind me here, nearly a tenth of health care workers aren't turning up to work because they are not sure if they have the disease. That's a question increasingly difficult for Britons to answer.

Here in Cambridge is a gold standard, Samba 2 and yes, it is named after the dance, results in 90 minutes and it's easy to test and process.



LEE: If you know how to cook, you know how to do Samba, which leaves half of the men out.

WALSH (voice-over): One line means negative. Two, a slight infection. Three, a bad one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you are negative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kickstarted by $3 million from a wealthy donor. The company says it costs $24,000 a machine and $38 a test. But they can't make enough of them to ensure its 99 percent accuracy fast enough. The U.K. health service wants a lot, now, they say. Health workers, officials everyone all want a test but that's just not possible.

LEE: It's really, I said, like a worldwide tsunami and you don't have the life jacket for the whole world.

WALSH (voice-over): And here in a cramped, airless office in Old Street, London a life jacket for sale. Right Angled used to do health DNA testing and is now repurposing kits to test the coronavirus for about $250 less if you are a health care worker. You receive it at home and express mail it to their lab. The results come about three days later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are talking thousands in the period of time of one week since we launched.

WALSH: So something in the region of 200,000 pounds at least worth of inventory coming to you at the moment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's not all coming from individuals. We're talking about bulk orders coming from private clinics.

WALSH: So you open this straightforward, sterile there, put it in your mouth, back of your throat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the back of your throat and gag. And keep doing this for a minute.

WALSH (voice-over): It's cramped here, not ideal. They declined to name the lab they use, yet say it has government approval. But no home testing method does yet, U.K. officials told CNN, we don't have confidence in their reliability.

WALSH: What would you say to anyone looking at what you are doing here and was torn between deciding whether you are a good Samaritan offering a service in whole or whether you are making money out of a crisis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We say we are simply offering a service at a very reduced price from what other providers are doing.

WALSH (voice-over): The U.K. behind in a global race to test with still no mass solution at hand.


WALSH: It's startling hearing the government warnings to see the volume of people coming out behind me. It's their one bit of exercise a day. But one figure matters and that's that yesterday there were over 700 deaths reported in 24 hours.

This warm weather getting people out when they should be in, at just the worst possible time for the United Kingdom. It's really the fortnight ahead and the death toll to see how well prepared the United Kingdom is prepared for this crisis.

ALLEN: And we see people talking behind you and they're not wearing masks, either. Thank you, Nick.

In the U.S., most people are at home, on lockdown. Doctors and nurses in hospitals are scrambling to keep people alive. Ahead here, an inside look at one of the front lines in one of the states who first saw coronavirus in the U.S.

Also most businesses are shut down, causing historic levels of unemployment. Heartbreaking stories from people, COVID-19 hitting every economy hard. Some U.S. workers tell us their stories -- right after this.



[05:30:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, I'm Natalie Allen and here are our top stories from CNN.


ALLEN: You're about to see inside a frontline hospital, a place where only doctors, nurses and infected patients experience. It is where the physical fight against the virus is going on day and night. They don't have enough protection.

We talk about the lack of ventilators as well. They don't have enough space. And they don't know how long all of this will last. Our Sara Sidner has this report from Seattle, Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has changed how we run this place.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nurses and doctors at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center suit up to go to battle with coronavirus. They have to go through an exhausting dressing regimen, hoods and tubes and masks and gowns just to enter a patient's room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think the greatest risk actually for health care workers is when they remove things, that they contaminate themselves.

SIDNER (voice-over): They have a checklist and a spotter helping with every step. They also have to adapt to new realities and shortages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are what are called PAPR hoods. These are the hoods that hook up to these machines that filter air.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) hose goes on the back of the hood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you get cleaned inside and out so they can be reused because the way, they were built was for one-time use. But that is not the way. If we did, that we would already be out.


SIDNER (voice-over): They have completely revamped two intensive care units.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this whole unit was meant to be for people with brain injuries and strokes and so forth; so now we have to move all of them someplace else because we have to continue that care.

SIDNER: So all the people with brain injuries removed and this was turned into a COVID-19 ICU?


SIDNER (voice-over): All to try and help coronavirus patients live, isolate them from others and keep the staff safe, too.

SIDNER: So I am not wearing the full personal protection equipment, because, in these rooms where the actual COVID-19 patients are, these are considered negative pressure rooms. That means that we are considered in a safe space not wearing full personal protection.


SIDNER: (INAUDIBLE) cared for (ph) but we don't need to wear the full apparatus unless you are a doctor or nurse, who has to go into the room to care for the patient.

SIDNER (voice-over): Inside the rooms, patients are hooked up to a shocking number of tubes, using those precious ventilators, the only thing keeping them breathing.

DR. JOHN LYNCH, HARBORVIEW MEDICAL CENTER: So for the ICU patients, they tend to stay -- they get very sick and they stay sick very long. So you could require the ventilator for weeks at a time. That's really the big issue.

SIDNER (voice-over): Across just their four hospitals, 60 coronavirus patients were hospitalized last week. Already this week, it's at least 100. For each one, a delicate dance to keep staff healthy and patients alive.

SIDNER: It is -- just coming in here and seeing the work that is being done and seeing the patients being cared for, it is stressful. It's -- I am scared for their families as well. And so as you walk through and see the hard work being done and the people doing everything they need to take care of patients, it is awe inspiring, considering the fact that they, too, could be putting themselves in harm's way.

SIDNER (voice-over): Outside the hospital, a large tent has been erected to assess and test potential coronavirus patients. This is happening before the anticipated surge here.

SIDNER: I feel dread and I feel fear and I am not working on the front lines.

What are you feeling as you are dealing with all of these COVID-19 patients?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is certainly a sense of anxiety, because we, right now, we are kind of wondering what it's going to be like when that peak comes and when people are flooding in.

SIDNER (voice-over): While the number of new infections in Washington seems to be slowing down, there is a growing sense they have not seen the worst of it yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they do every day is heroic, going and taking care of patients without protection is not acceptable.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: President Trump warned that the next two weeks are going to be

very deadly for the United States. But just days after extending social distancing guidelines, the president is, once again, talking about getting America back to work.

He says he's considering putting together a task force focused on reopening the economy. A staggering 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment in the past week alone. That doesn't even include millions of workers in the so-called gig economy. Here's our Kyung Lah with some of their stories.


ANTONIO WILLIAMS, LFYT DRIVER: The average worker, what do we do?

By the time we get them, they're not going to be any help.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Newark, New Jersey, Lyft driver Antonio Williams says it's too late for Washington stimulus checks. He is down to his last $65.

WILLIAMS: Currently unemployed. No rides. I don't know how to feel right now. I'm definitely lost. I want to be mad, but I can't demand at anybody. There's nobody to be mad at.

LAH: The calls and the cash flow have simply stop for Williams and millions more who are living in the gig economy, the workforce that relies on booking appointments, or gigs for their income.

TY MAYBERRY, ACTOR: If they could be out every day, working and constantly thinking about where that next job is going to come. So, something like this, they are unable to get out there and work. It's making us realize just how fragile -- how fragile this is.

LAH: In Los Angeles, actor Ty Mayberry is used to gig, after gig, after gig. But now, the married father of twins is experiencing a frightening new scene.

MAYBERRY: I do wake up without any auditions in my email, without my manager calling, without my agent calling. And it's kind of a shock to the system.

LAH: And a shock to the U.S. economy. According to a 2018 research poll, nearly a quarter of the American workforce relies on gigs for their income. Now, all but gone.

Employers that are still busy, from supermarkets, to drugstores and online retailers, have stepped up their hiring efforts, but it's not nearly enough to absorb the 10 million unemployment claims made last month.


LAH: America Gonzalez and her son Jayson used to clean 10 to 15 homes a week in Houston, Texas. JAYSON GREY, HOUSEKEEPER: We've seen a 50 percent drop. A drastic drop, actually. It feels like we are in the desert. It feels like really, really tough.

LAH: While they are grateful for the few clients that continue to support them, they have had to speak frankly about what might come next.

GREY: The thing we agree on is that if worse is to come, we cannot pay stuff and we end up being without a home or a car, we are still going to be OK.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Within two weeks, the first money will be in people's account.

LAH: Two more weeks in Washington's best scenario is longer than many can afford to wait.


WILLIAMS: What about people like us right now?

You know, we're just waiting.

LAH (voice-over): Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.





ALLEN: We want to bring you the latest on two European countries hard hit by the virus. Spain's state of emergency will be extended by two weeks. The death toll there stands at nearly 12,000. That's according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.

There are more than 126,000 confirmed cases in Spain and more than Italy and second only to the U.S. But there are signs that the rate of new infections may be slowing. Let's go to our journalist Al Goodman, who is in Madrid, where he's been covering this for weeks.

Al, that's a bit of good news that people will take on this Palm Sunday.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Spanish people and especially the Spanish health authorities, they've been waiting for this moment for about two weeks, talking that they would be getting close to the peak so they can start to push that curve of new infections and the number of deaths downward.

As you say, Natalie, the -- there are still a number of new infections. There are numbers of deaths. There were 809 deaths in the most recent 24 hours for the records. But the percentage increases of those are both going down into the single digits; whereas, at the height of this crisis here, they had been in the double digits at 20 percent.

Now we're saying single digits. And specifically, the new entries into the intensive care ward in the most recent 24-hour period, just 116 new patients went into the really overburdened intensive care wards across the country and that's good news.

So we see a nearby field hospital set up next to one of the major hospitals is ready to go but hasn't yet taken on patients.


GOODMAN: Still, the prime minister announcing on Saturday that he's asking parliament this week, approval is expected, to extend this lockdown stay-at-home order for another two weeks.

But they will tweak it a bit. So what they call nonessential workers, like construction workers, these kinds of workers may be able to go back to work under this order.

This all coming as it is Palm Sunday here in Spain and around the world. Spaniards would normally be doing to church. This is a heavily Roman Catholic country. This extended order will now include Easter. So it's a major impact healthwise, economic wise and on the very culture and traditions of the country -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. A glimmer of hope there. We'll take it. Al Goodman for us in Madrid. Al, as always, thank you for your reporting. Stay safe.

Italy, of course, has also been extremely hit hard in this pandemic. The country reporting the most deaths from coronavirus in the world, more than 15,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

But that number seems to be leveling off as well as the number of coronavirus patients needing ICU beds. CNN's Delia Gallagher is in Rome for us with that glimmer of hope.

Certainly, we'll take it, as you've been reporting now for weeks and it hasn't been good.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Natalie. Italy had some good news yesterday with the question of new patients in their ICU. For the first time, they saw a drop in that by 74 patients. That's a small but significant number because it's the first time it's happened.

And the authorities here say that that has lessened the pressure on those hospitals and on the doctors and nurses that are working so hard to confront these cases. So that was a little glimmer of hope.

In addition to the total number of new cases, we see daily increases now that are far fewer than in weeks past, so that is also giving some hope that this curve is flattening. Of course, as in Spain, here in Rome, Palm Sunday, this would normally

be a time, Natalie, when we would see thousands of people out in St. Peter's Square for the pope's mass. He's saying it right now from inside an empty, basically, St. Peter's Basilica, just a handful of priests and nuns and a reduced choir.

And this is a scene that you're going to see played out around the world for countries in lockdown, for Christians that cannot go to mass today and in the next few days, leading up to Easter weekend. A big change for everybody.

We know of one priest in the north of Italy who's asked his parishioners to send in their photos and he's taping them to the backs of the pews as kind of a way to make them feel more part of the ceremonies there.

We'll see if priests around the world can come up with other creative ways for Christians at this Easter time to feel part of their congregations, even if they can't be together -- Natalie.

ALLEN: That is a really cute idea. And certainly hope it catches on. And no doubt, people listening very closely to the pope, even though they cannot be there. Delia Gallagher for us. Delia, as always, thank you.

Well, the world is already at a standstill because of the coronavirus but the upcoming hurricane season in the U.S. could make things worse. Our meteorologist Derek Van Dam will have that for us in a moment.





ALLEN: New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo -- you know him by now -- has a warning for U.S. residents about COVID-19.

In a tweet, he said this, "The virus will roll across the country like a slow-moving hurricane."

He meant that in a symbolic way but there are growing concerns about actual hurricanes. Forecasters are predicting an above-average season. Normally, data would be collected with the help of airplanes but that is proving difficult with the airline industry at a standstill.



ALLEN: Now we have this, a woman traveling to see her dying mother got a surprising show of support from very sweet strangers. Sheryl Pardo was flying from Washington to Boston last week when she found herself the only passenger on the plane. Just what Derek was saying about air travel is way down. The flight

was empty because of the coronavirus crisis. The crew lavished her with attention and gave her unique attention: an upgrade to the front of the plane.


JESSICA, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Good morning. Welcome aboard American Eagle's service to Boston. My name is Jessica. Dion and I will be your flight attendants. And we have Sheryl as our passenger, livin' it up in first class.

Yes, everybody shout out to Sheryl, the only passenger on the plane.

Thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate and value your business and we hope you fly with us again.


ALLEN: She certainly deserved that. Sheryl was able to spend the day with her mother before she died and she said she's grateful to the flight attendants for making her journey a bit easier.

Thank you so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. "NEW DAY" is just ahead. Stay safe out there.