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CNN NEWSROOM

Shinzo Abe to Declare a State of Emergency; Asian Markets Ended in Green Arrows; Coronavirus Hurt Millions of Businesses; A Solemn Holy Week for Christians; U.S. COVID Cases is Now Compared to Painful History; No Shortage of Boastful Lines Amidst Crisis; New York City Not Out of the Woods Yet; Prime Minister Boris Johnson Brought to Hospital; Italy and Spain Finally Got Their Needed Medical Supplies; Robot Help Doctors in Northern Italy. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 6, 2020 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers, joining us here in the United States, and from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, CNN Newsroom starts right now.

We are now entering what could be the most crucial week yet in the U.S. fight against coronavirus. The top experts warning it is going to be extremely painful, there are already more than 1,000 people dying each day in this country. And the number of confirmed cases is approaching 340,000.

The U.S. surgeon general making a startling comparison, likening the coming week to the two biggest attacks on U.S. soil in living memory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans lives, quite frankly. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized, it's going to be happening all across the country. And I want America to understand that. But I also want them to understand that the public, along with the state and the federal government, have the power to change the trajectory of this epidemic.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We are struggling to get it under control. And that's the issue that's at hand right how. Just buckle down, continue to mitigate, continue to do the physical separation, because we've got to get through this week that is coming up because it is going to be a bad week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: The U.S. death toll is now soaring toward 10,000, making up about one-seventh of all fatalities worldwide. That is according to John Hopkins University. Global ling -- globally, the number of confirmed cases is approaching 1.3 million.

Well, meanwhile, the U.S. president claims that 1.6 million Americans have already been tested and received results. And he keeps touting an unproven treatment for the virus.

Jeremy Diamond has the details.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump on Sunday stepping out into the White House briefing room, talking about the grim reality that Americans are going to face over the coming weeks as it relates to the death toll for coronavirus.

But the president at the same time, still saying that he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. So, it was once again, a story of mixed messages from the president.

But one other thing that the president was focused on Sunday was once again touting the use of this drug hydroxychloroquine, which so far there is no conclusive scientific evidence showing that this drug is effective in the treatment of coronavirus. I press the president on why he continues to promote this drug.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND: Why not just let the science speak for itself? Why are you promoting this drug?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm not. I'm not. I'm just very simply, I'm not at all. Look, you know what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to save lives.

(CROSSTALK)

DIAMOND: You come up here every day, right, sir? Talking about the benefits of the drug.

TRUMP: I want them to try it, it may work and it may not work. But if it doesn't work, it's nothing lost by doing it, nothing. Because we know, long term, what I want, I want to save lives. And I don't want to be in a lab for the next year and a half, as people are dying all over the place.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND: The president of course has been promoting that drug, appearing in the White House briefing room or the Rose Garden day after day to talk about the benefits of this drug, hydroxychloroquine.

Again, there are clinical trials underway, and some doctors are able to prescribed it off label in emergency cases, but there is not yet a body of scientific evidence backing up the use of this drug. And that is why when Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, when he stepped up to the podium, I tried asking him about that, the president though would not let him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DIAMOND: And would you also weigh in on this issue of hydroxychloroquine? What do you think about this and what is the medical evidence?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: You don't have to answer that question.

FAUCI: Yes.

TRUMP: (Inaudible) 15, 15 times. You don't have to answer the question.

DIAMOND: He's your medical expert, correct?

TRUMP: He's answered that question 15 times.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND: Now Fauci, of course, has been on the record talking about this drug and saying that there is not yet conclusive proof that this drug is effective in the treatment of coronavirus.

But I think it's especially notable when you see the president there, acknowledging earlier in the day that he is not a doctor, as he dolls out this advice about this hydroxychloroquine drug, and then when you actually see a doctor at the podium, the top government expert on infectious diseases, it's notable that the president won't let him speak.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: Joining me now is Dr. Jennifer Lee, CNN medical analyst and clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at the George Washington University. Dr. Lee, thank you so much for talking with us.

[03:05:04]

JENNIFER LEE, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Great to be with you. Thank you.

CHURCH: So, the whole world is struggling to control COVID-19, and here in the United States the surgeon general warns that this will be a Pearl Harbor, and 9/11 moment. As we face this crucial week ahead, what more should all we be doing to help flatten that curve, and should we all, perhaps, be wearing homemade face masks? Because we still getting some very mixed messages about that.

LEE: Well, Rosemary, it was really sobering news to hear that. Although for a lot of us frontline clinicians, like myself, was not surprised. You know, each week in this pandemic has been worse than the last.

And the projections that the White House task force is using show that the peak here in the United States won't really be hit until the middle of April. And it probably will be even farther out for many specific states across the country here. So, it's a great question, what else can we do? You know, first of

all, we still don't have stay-at-home orders all across the country right now. I mean, we have been talking about social distancing over and over again, and I can't say enough how important it is that people really tried to stay at home as much as possible and just limit any reason to go out to just essential, essential trips only.

But when you do go out, I think another thing that people can do to help protect themselves and others, is to wear a mask. And I was actually very pleased to see on Friday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control put out new guidance saying that everyone, when they go on public, should wear a mask.

Now they say a cloth mask, frankly because there is a serious shortage here in the United States of personal protective equipment, of face masks, and healthcare workers really need those N95 respirators and those surgical face masks to be prioritized for those who are at highest risk.

But for others, wearing a cloth mask is definitely better than nothing. Especially because we know that this virus is spread by respiratory droplets. And also, that many people can have the virus and not even know it. Up to 25, to even 50 percent in some studies show that people can carry this virus and be infecting others and just not even know it.

CHURCH: Yes.

LEE: So that is why that new guidance came out, and I was very pleased to see that.

CHURCH: It is a critical message, isn't it? And with these next few days being so very crucial, protective equipment, ventilators, and adequate testing for COVID-19 are all still in limited supply, aren't they? Despite what we hear from President Trump. What is the solution to this?

LEE: Well, you're right, we still -- the situation has improved over the last few weeks but we still have a shortage of personal protective equipment, of equipment like ventilators that are absolutely needed to save lives, of testing, and all of the various supplies that go into testing. The re-agents, the swabs, and all of these things, again, we're not going to be able to solve this pandemic until we really get a handle on the supply chain.

A lot of the issue has been the disruption in the supply chain out of China. A lot of these products were not manufactured in the United States. The vast majority were purchased from -- were made abroad and sold here. And so, we really struggled, as many other countries have in addressing that.

And I think what we really need to do, and we've seen some movement here, but we need to see so much more, is have the private sector manufacturing base really ramp up production of all of this. Equipment, the ventilators, the masks, the testing supplies in order to make sure that we have enough of these vital components to really tackle the pandemic.

And again, we've seen some companies step in, some of that has been voluntary and it's been fantastic to see but we need to scale that up so much more and we need it fast.

CHURCH: Yes, exactly right. And of course, President Trump has been touting the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine. In his Sunday briefing he said, what have you got to lose? The AMA president says, possibly your life. So why would the president be touting an unproven drug when it could potentially do more harm than good?

LEE: Well, you know, when you are faced with a virus like this that is so new and so deadly and dangerous, I can understand why one would look for drugs for hope in treating and in battling the virus.

[03:10:02]

But it is too soon and a little bit dangerous, I would say, to be encouraging people to use hydroxychloroquine, the -- also known as Plaquenil and Azithromycin so widely.

You know, one thing I would say is that, again, as a physician, seeing COVID patients, we already have these drugs available to us, and if someone really needed it, of course we would try everything possible to save them, to help them.

So, I do think, it's not necessarily helpful to be telling the general public to go out and try this. Because again, the data is not there, it's not proven yet. There are many trials right now that are looking at it, and we hope, we hope and pray that we'll see good scientific evidence that it works.

But until then, I think people can feel comfortable that doctors know that they have this in their arsenal to use when they need it. But the general public does not need to feel like they have to go out and get these drugs and hoard them or store them up for use because it's really not for mild symptoms right now.

CHURCH: Still so much to learn and we are learning as we go along sadly. Doctor Jennifer Lee, many thanks to you for joining us. We appreciate it.

LEE: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: New York is the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. And on Sunday, the state reported fewer coronavirus-related deaths. While encouraging, Governor Andrew Cuomo told CNN it is too soon to say this is a trend. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Every day we're waiting for this, quote, unquote, "apex of the curve." And there is a theory that the apex is actually a plateau, where you'll hit a high number and then you'll stay at about that high number for some period of time, and then start to drop on the other side. But it's the first time we've seen any drop at all. So, you know in a

place where we're just hoping and praying to see a light at the end of the tunnel, it was -- it was good news. We'll know better tomorrow and the next day when we see what those results are.

(END VOICE CLIP)

CHURCH: But the situation remains dire. New York City is still desperately short of medical supplies with the mayor warning that they will run out of ventilators in just a couple of days without help.

Meantime, nearly 20 percent of the city's police force was out sick over the weekend and it has lost its 11th officer from suspected coronavirus.

Well, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in hospital. His office says he was admitted last night as a precautionary measure because he is -- he is still has persistent coronavirus symptoms some 10 days after announcing he'd been infected.

Our Nic Robertson is in London, he joins us now live. Good to see you, Nic, out front of 10 Downing Street where Boris Johnson is not there today. Of course, we are just learning, we learned a few hours ago. In fact, he was hospitalized 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. So, what's the latest on his current condition?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, on the advice of doctors admitted to hospital, as you say, spent the night overnight in hospital, he would've been there about 12 hours by now. We don't have a readout on what the doctors have discovered.

We don't know what tests have been performed. We were told that they are routine tests. This was a precautionary step that the prime minister falls into that category by age, and also by the fact that he has had the symptoms for 10 days now. That quite often this is the type of time where people can begin to exhibit more extreme symptoms or the concern grows.

It does seem to be a matter of, you know, that he hasn't -- his fever hasn't diminished, and therefore further checks were required, that required him to be in hospital, he is.

However, according to Downing Street, he is still leading the country, still leading the government's effort to fight back against the coronavirus. The cabinet meeting this morning with the government's experts on combatting the virus will be chaired by Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, who is also the first secretary of state and naturally the person who would step up once the prime minister is unable, it seems to be this morning to be at a tea party in that morning.

But he is still leading the country. That's a very clear message from Downing Street here. So.

CHURCH: Right. We'll continue to follow that. But also, I want to ask you, because Queen Elizabeth spoke to the nation in a rare televised address. So, what all did her majesty have to say? And how was her message received?

[03:14:56]

ROBERTSON: I think quite simply, the message was received well. But it was a message that would've been coordinated with Downing Street. That Downing Street would have wanted her to deliver. And it was clear at many levels.

At first, she thanked all the people working in the health service, working in the, you know, in the front line of treating the virus and combatting the virus. She was very clear on that. But she was also clear to sort of reinforce the government's message about how important it is for people to stay at home. And she thanked them for doing that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH ALEXANDRA MARY WINDSOR, QUEEN OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: I also want to thank those of you who are staying at home. Thereby, by helping to protect the vulnerable, and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones.

Together, we are tackling this disease. I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: And she also said that, you know, how we measure up to this world compare us to previous generations who have been through tough times before, and that we would be owed it in the future to reflect back on doing our part and doing it well.

And perhaps, you know, another message that really sort of touch people's hearts here, harking back to World War II, a song by Dame Vera Lynn, the queen saying she knows how difficult it is for people to be separated from those that she, that they love.

She said, we'll meet again, quoting from Vera Lynn song. Something that really is reminiscent of people of courage and determination through which they got through World War II.

CHURCH: Absolutely. Thank you so much. Our Nic Robertson bringing us the very latest there from 10 Downing Street. I appreciate it.

Well, Spain is getting a boost for its COVID-19 testing. We are live in Madrid next with more on a huge new batch of rapid test kits. Also, a live report from Italy where there are hopeful signs of stabilization for one of the hardest hit countries in this pandemic.

We're back in just a moment.

[03:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Well, some promising news out of two European countries hit hard by the coronavirus. On Sunday, Italy reported its lowest rate of deaths in at least two weeks. Italy has struggled to consistently stabilized its number of new infections. The death toll there, nearly 16,000. The highest in the world.

Meanwhile, Spain has begun distributing its new batch of one million rapid coronavirus tests. The tests are going first to hospitals and nursing homes. Globally right now, only the United States reports more confirmed cases than Spain.

Joining me now with the latest from these two hotspots, we have journalist Al Goodman in Madrid, and CNN contributor Barnie Nadeau in Rome. Good to see you both. So, Barbie, let's start with you. And some promising news coming out of Italy with those numbers. Talk to us about what doctors are saying about this.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they are really looking at the numbers today and anticipating whether or not this trend is true or not. You know, we are looking at a slow decline in numbers after a week of stabilized new cases in the percentage of the contagion.

They are also looking at fewer people going into the ICU wards, fewer people going out -- coming out of the -- going out of the hospitals, and those are really, really enlightening signs here. And it's something that they have been looking for which has caused the government now to look at what phase two of this lockdown might look like.

That's what's on everyone's mind. How do we get out of this, where do we go from here, Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes, so very true. This is, it's good to see some encouraging news there. Many thanks to Barbie Nadeau there.

And Al Goodman, let's go to you now in Madrid. What is the latest from across Spain, and of course, tell us about these new rapid tests and where they are going, where they are being distributed?

AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: Hi, Rosemary. Let's start with the tests. Spain is finally, finally, getting the kind of personal protection equipment and the rapid tests and the ventilators that it's been clamoring for, for weeks as this crisis has just increased, increased.

So, the health minister announcing that one million of these rapid tests will be distributed in Spain, 17 regional governments, especially here in Madrid and in the area around Barcelona, the two hardest hit areas.

The Reference Lab for Spain says these rapid tests are 80 percent reliable if they can determine that you do have coronavirus. So, if you have it, you've got it. If you don't, they are still going to make you take a different kind of test later.

This is the first of a batch of five million. And on the numbers, similar situations as in Italy where the number of deaths and new cases is stabilizing much to the -- that's good news for Spain. But for instance, in the intensive care ward there was 329 patients

who entered in the last 24-hour period of records which was three times as many as the day before and the highest number in the week.

So, as they progressed statistically, there is still that issue of how are humans, people, how are we reacting to this virus? And clearly, the more pressure on the intensive care wards now in this most recent period. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Right. Many thanks to Al Goodman, joining us there live from Madrid, and Barbie Nadeau in Rome.

Well, a hospital in northern Italy is hoping that six new helpers will cut the risk of doctors and nurses becoming infected with coronavirus.

This is Tommy, he and his five robotic colleagues are taking on some of the roles that would usually require face-to-face interactions. The friendly looking robots can travel through the ward and relay vital signs to doctors.

Staff can also use them to talk to patients without face-to-face interaction, as well as minimizing the risk of infection. The hospital's director says that robots are also helping but in other ways.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIANNI BONELLI, DIRECTOR, VARESE CIRCOLO HOSPITAL (through translator): It allows us to use less protective clothing like masks and overalls, which at this time are in scarce supply. The advantage is therefore doubled.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:25:01]

CHURCH: All right. Well, it's good to see those moves in the right direction. And the hospital also hopes the robots will make isolated patients feel less lonely.

Well, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many small businesses to shut their doors, and now they are struggling to survive.

Just ahead, I will speak with a comedy club owner in the United States about the challenges he is facing right now. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States, and of course, all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he sees, quote, "a light at the end of the tunnel in the COVID-19 crisis." His remarks at the coronavirus task force briefing came hours after a top health official said this week would bring a Pearl Harbor or 9/11 moment. Mr. Trump admits the death toll in the coming days would be bad, but says it would soon begin to change.

New York's governor says the number of deaths in the state has been dropping over the past few days for the first time. But Governor Andrew Cuomo adds the state is still desperately short of critical medical supplies, however, the federal department is deploying an additional 1,000 medical workers to New York fight the coronavirus.

With a surge in the number of cases and deaths New Jersey and Louisiana are emerging as major coronavirus hot spots in the U.S.

[03:29:56]

New Jersey's governor said Sunday his state had past 900 deaths, along with nearly 3,500 new cases. The governor of Louisiana says his state could run out of ventilators by the end of the week.

[03:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: -- along with nearly 3,500 new cases. The governor of Louisiana says his state could run out of ventilators by the end of the week.

Well, reports out of Japan say Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to declare a state of emergency as soon as Tuesday over the coronavirus, though it might not be nationwide. Until now, he is said that Japan's outbreak didn't warrant such measures.

On Sunday, though, the country reported nearly 400 new infections, bringing Japan's total number of cases to more than 4,000.

Meantime, the commander of U.S. forces Japan has announced a public health emergency for a large part of Japan's largest island.

So, let's go live now to Tokyo with journalist Kaori Enjoji. She joins us now. So, Kaori, Japan's prime minister preparing to declare a state of emergency in some parts of the country. What changed his mind?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, I think the record number of cases, particularly in Tokyo has been alarming for both the government and the public. Topping 143 yesterday, taking the total number of cases in Tokyo beyond 1,000.

When the state have -- if his state of emergency is declared and the expectation is that it might come as soon as on Tuesday it's likely to be specific to Tokyo or other hotspots across the country and not nationwide.

And bear in mind, Rosemary, that Japan can't announce a lockdown per se. By law, it can't. And so, when they do announce they will probably we've request people to stay at home, which is going to be interpreted as a demand and the public usually tends to obey.

But the numbers have been fairly alarming. There was a group of doctors in charge of intensive care that issued a statement recently and said that out of 100,000 people the number of ICU beds in Japan is just seven. And that compares to about 13 or 12 for Italy and 35 for the U.S.

So that just reinforces the view from a lot of doctors who have been saying for weeks now that they need to take more, that they need to take stronger measures and to test more aggressively.

CHURCH: Yes. It's incredible, isn't it? For so many countries that sort of allowed themselves to fall behind when they're seeing what's happening in the rest of the world. It's giving them an indication of the future.

So, let's turn to the economic impact to all of these. And we are seeing Asia markets rise. Talk to us about what is pushing that. Is it in some parts of the world we're seeing this flattening of cases?

ENJOJI: I think that's right for today, and I think the fact that there is a little bit of expectation that the OPEC and the oil producers might reach some kind of agreement to try and prevent a further decline in oil prices seems to be helping sentiment somewhat. But it doesn't change the view that the economic reality for Japan is as dire as it is elsewhere in the world.

Tomorrow, there is likely to be an economic stimulus package amount -- announced by the government which could be 60 trillion yen. That would be a record figure. And on top of that, the fact that the tourism dollars that they were expecting this year from the Olympics has been canceled and now postponed. Consumption is drawing up.

This is a heavily export-driven economy that can't export at a time when a lot of countries are in lockdown. And you have to put on top of that the supply chain fears. So, although you're not seeing companies lay off people like you do in some parts of the world because the labor laws are just so much stricter here, it doesn't mean the companies are suffering.

And I think economists agree, it's already in recession and they are saying, some of the most pessimistic numbers, Rosemary, we're seeing are a decline of some 7 percent in GDP in the months ahead.

CHURCH: Right. Kaori Enjoji joining us there live from Tokyo, many thanks to you.

And Wall Street is looking to recover from yet another week of declines amid the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. stock futures point to a big jump at the open for all the major indices. That increase also a driver in pushing Asian markets higher as well.

Japan's Nikkei index saw the biggest boost, closing as we saw up over 4 percent. But there is pain for oil, both U.S. and Brent crude are down, but off their lows for the day as investors react to the delay of an OPEC meeting originally set for Monday.

And John Defterios joins me now from Abu Dhabi. Good to see you, John. So, let's talk more about Asian markets and U.S. futures. Because those numbers are pretty incredible, certainly compared to what we've seen in recent days and weeks. So, let's talk more about what's driving this and how long we can see those, or how long we're likely to see those sorts of numbers.

[03:34:59]

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, I wouldn't bank on a continuous market rally right now, Rosemary, because of the uncertainty. But they were looking at figures in New York State investors, also in Italy, the progress has been made, and even neighboring Japan, South Korea, and we saw improvement there.

So, if you are trying to project six to nine months down the road what's the state of the global economy. You can take these three examples, say, and we have a roadmap going forward. It's not a continuous roadmap, there may be some brakes on the road but we see European futures higher as well. And the U.S. futures lifted oil prices as well.

We were down 8 percent in the Singapore trade at the start. We've heard from the Russian direct investment fund suggesting that that we're very close to a deal. That could be a huge turnaround from what we saw over the weekend, Friday evening, and then into Saturday.

We had Russia and Saudi Arabia pointing figures at each other for the price was that we've seen in the last month in the oil market.

And these three big players here, Vladimir Putin, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and then Donald Trump decided to weigh in Saturday evening, saying I never like OPEC anyway, it's like a cartel or a monopoly, and if they don't get a deal I'm dangling these tariffs on the imports of Russian and Saudi crude and other OPEC producers.

So, the pressure and the incentive is on to try to get a deal by Thursday.

CHURCH: And how likely is it that they'll achieve that?

DEFTERIOS: Well, it's extremely complex because of the makeup of the players. Within the so-called OPEC-plus alliance there are 23 producers and they were thrown basically a wild card by Donald Trump, suggesting that they need to do the cutting. And we're looking at record cuts, Rosemary, I mean, we're talking about 10 or 15 percent, something that's never been done before.

And OPEC sources have been telling me, look, on a scale of that large of a cut we need support. And they are thinking of the United States, and Canada, Brazil, and Mexico, even Norway.

Now, there is a discussion emerging that maybe they have the meeting on Thursday and Saudi Arabia as chair of the G20, 24 hours later would call the energy ministers on the G20 and say, OK, we've done our work, what are you going to do now to get us across the line to the 10 to 15 million barrels. That's a big ask, Rosemary, in the span of three and four days.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. We'll see what happens there. John Defterios joining us live from Abu Dhabi, many thanks. I appreciate it.

Well, the coronavirus is having a severe and disastrous impact on the U.S. economy. Look at the red lines on this graph. Nearly 10 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims in the last two weeks of March. That's a new record.

Small businesses where almost half of all Americans work are being hit by the virus especially hard. Many are trying to access $350 billion worth of loans set aside in an historic aid package. It's meant to help make small businesses pay their employees, but the roll out has been far from smooth.

DEFTERIOS: Joining me now is Adam Norwest. He is a comedy club owner based in Tacoma, Washington who relies on being able to fill his clubs with lots of people, and that clearly is not happening at this time.

Thank you so much for talking with us under these incredibly difficult circumstances.

ADAM NORWEST, COMEDY CLUB OWNER: Of course, thanks for, thanks for having me on.

CHURCH: So, I wanted to start by asking how you're coping right now?

NORWEST: I mean, as best I can, really. Emotionally, you know, it's -- it's tough but, you know, I watch CNN all the time and I watched the news and seeing what other people are going -- or have going on is so much more devastating that, you know, I try to count my blessings as far as that goes, and you know, just trying to get through every day, you know, stay happy and healthy, and quarantine away in my house, and doing the best I can.

CHURCH: You're doing -- you're doing all the right things that I know --

NORWEST: Yes.

CHURCH: -- you had to lay off some employees. Talk to us about how difficult that was.

NORWEST: Yes. I mean so tough because I -- we have about 100 employees across our four comedy clubs. And at first, you know, the announcement was, you know, nothing bigger than 250 people, and then down to 100, and then down to 50.

So, first, it wasn't even all of the restaurants, and so I didn't know if, you know, it was just our industry, the entertainment industry that was laying people off at first because, you know, the news was so vague about things, you know, personally from I don't know, if just trying to protect us or not knowing.

And so, I had to have really tough conversations about, you know, I want to help you but I don't know where my next dollar is going to come from.

CHURCH: Yes. NORWEST: And, you know, hopefully, we are supposed to open in two weeks but I wouldn't be surprised if it was June, July, August, September. And I'm so sorry. And you know, I'll do whatever I can, but.

CHURCH: It's a difficult message to send people, isn't it? And how will the federal government stimulus plan help your small business enterprise? And what has been your experience with that process so far. Is it being easy? Is it being straightforward?

[03:40:09]

NORWEST: No. I mean, it's been pretty difficult. So, the idea of the stimulus plan is very exciting. However, actually getting it done, I don't know what's going to happen. I mean, the whole process with help from the government on the state level and the federal level has been a little bit difficult, as far as like unemployment goes. I have employees that are being declined unemployment and we can't figure out why, and we can't get anyone on the phone.

And so, you know, from there and then, you know, we applied with SPA and then we applied to our bank and no one has a timeline, no one knows where we're at in the queue, no one knows what the next step is.

And so, if, you know, if that money comes through we are going to be OK, we are going to be able to breathe, and we are going to be able to at least bring back on like some of our managers and help them out, and hopefully be able to use some of the money to help other employees out who aren't getting it.

But it is kind of day-to-day that we just have to hope at this point that it comes through.

CHURCH: It's so difficult. And just finally, how might this perhaps change the way you run your business and your various clubs going forward? And what advice would you have for other small business owners?

NORWEST: Yes, I mean, we are at this point are, you know, I think we're going to get to the other side of this. And that, you know, I think that as a comedy club that's going to be important. You know, we have a club in Wisconsin, one in Oklahoma and two in Washington.

So, we're all over the country and I know that, there's other comedy clubs all over the country and after this people will need to laugh again. So, again, we're holding on to the hope that things will be OK at the end of it.

Running our business going forward I think that, you know, we're going to be a little, you know, a little more protective of our money and maybe have, you know, a little bit more of a savings or an (Inaudible) that is prepared for this type of situation which we weren't before.

And you know, I know it's tough, so many businesses in this industry are week to week or day to day than on their money, but, you know, that's all we can really do, you know. And I don't know. I think that in general if you, you know, take care of your staff and your customers and therefore your community, and they are going to support you on the other side of things.

So, you know, if you give to your community, if you give to whoever you can, we support our military community and we just have to hope for the best.

CHURCH: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Adam Norwest for talking with us.

NORWEST: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And we wish you and all your former employees, who will be your future employees --

NORWEST: Yes.

CHURCH: -- the very best. Thank you so much.

NORWEST: I appreciate it. Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And we'll take a short break here. Still to come, the Christian Holy Week has officially begun, but celebrations will look very different this year as the coronavirus forces millions of worshippers to stay home.

[03:45:00]

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CHURCH: Well, Holy Week is now underway for millions of Christians around the world. But this year church services and celebrations are being adjusted to allow worshippers to stay home and practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN's Natasha Chen has our report.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Following stay-at-home orders can be complicated, especially for the faithful as we head into one of the holiest weeks for Christians and Jews alike. So how do you gather for these sacred events? Palm Sunday, Easter, Passover when you can't gather for the sake of everyone's health?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I don't think the government has the authority to close the church. I'm certainly not going to do that. I think particularly coming up on the Easter season I think people are going to want to have access, you know, to religious services, whether it's online, whether it's in a more socially distant type of service.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: Out of 42 states with stay-at-home orders signed by governors, 14 of them offer exemptions for places of worship or religious institutions. They often include guidelines encouraging services to be done online. And for example, in Texas, the attorney general says, if gatherings happen in person, they have to follow CDC social distancing guidelines. But most stay-at-home states are not making exceptions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): With all due respect it's essential that we practice physical distancing everywhere. Period. Full stop.

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CHEN: In Sacramento County, California, health officials say 71 people infected with coronavirus are linked to the same church. A congregation attended by many Russian speaking members of the community. The church closed its doors on March 18th, but the Health Department believes the virus is still being spread during fellowship meetings in people's homes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYEDMILA PETROV, RUSSIAN AMERICAN MEDIA: We do have a language barrier. We're doing a lot of material and products that are going to be coming out in Russian and English side by side to help the Russian community understand the severity of this coronavirus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: Around the world, practicing religion like everything else is increasingly becoming an isolated act even if it's in spiritual unity. In early March, Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended travel for the year-round Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina for the first time in modern history.

Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in late July has yet to be canceled but Saudi officials said this week Muslims should not make travel plans just yet. And until the resurrection of regular traditions, many of this week's seders and messes will be held in the most un-traditional way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE FRANCIS, HEAD OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): We will celebrate Holy Week in a truly unusual way. Which manifests and sums up the message of the gospel. That of God's boundless love. And in the silence of our cities, the Easter gospel will resound.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And that's from CNN's Natasha Chen reporting for us.

Coming up next, from fine art museums to wildlife safaris, people stuck inside because of COVID-19 are still finding ways to enjoy the wonders of the world. We will take a virtual tour after this short break.

[03:50:00]

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CHURCH: Well, the coronavirus may be keeping you inside but that doesn't mean some of the wonders of the world aren't available to you. Some safaris from safaris to sports to concerts, it's all still virtually there.

Robyn Curnow has more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's she doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now someone is going to clamp on him. Watch. Can't help it. You can't help it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Young elephants playing in the bush, a welcome distraction from the grim headlines of the coronavirus. And one that anyone stuck in their house can share in through the growing use of virtual experiences to pass the time in lockdown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM WALLINGTON, CEO, WILDEARTH: We don't know what's going to happen. Nature will do what it will do, but we'll be there to capture those moments. And it's really exactly like going on safari.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: The outside world is just a click away for the virtual game drive in South Africa. It may not be the vacation that had to be cancelled but it is a reminder of what still could be.

The crack of a bat in South Korea and baseball fans are back in the game even if they aren't in the stadium. One team is live streaming its practice games to fill the void until it's safe enough for the season to begin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM JIN-WON, VIRTUAL BASEBALL FAN: Each team broadcasts their internal games around two times a week so I feel less sad. But the crowd is the best part of the baseball game, so it does feel a little empty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Museums around the world are also empty but that doesn't mean they don't have visitors. Italy's Uffizi Gallery opened a Facebook page for people to virtually browse its hallways and to take many tours of its famous artwork.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This initiative allows people who can no longer physically visit the museum to admire the masterpieces and have a window to appreciate priceless works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:55:06]

CURNOW: Or how about a night at the opera? There's no dress code. Even pajamas will do. The Metropolitan Opera in New York is streaming some of its most famous performances for free. But if it's just a view of the outside you crave, you can find that too online, a window to the world that's still turning not even the virus can stop that.

Robyn Curnow, CNN, Atlanta.

CHURCH: Yes. Some great ideas there for you. And actress Jane Seymour is encouraging people to share their talents during this time of social distancing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANE SEYMOUR, ACTRESS: So, what are you going to paint today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's Drew (Ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Seymour is encouraging everyone to do something good for someone. She started the chain by painting in California with a senior citizen in Dallas over video call. During the call she shared some of her expertise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEYMOUR: You take the brush, you do them the regular markings and then I took a dry brush and just pulled it. And that got the fur look. And then -- for the whispers I scratched it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Isn't it fantastic. Well, Seymour wants people to consider doing something for others and then share it online using the hash tag openhearted challenge.

Great idea there as well. And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Do stick around.

[04:00:00]

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CHURCH: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States.

END