Return to Transcripts main page


Johns Hopkins: Nearly 10,000 Americans Have Died from Coronavirus; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Admitted at Hospital; Infection Rates of Coronavirus Spikes in Louisiana and New Jersey. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 6, 2020 - 05:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Hi, welcome to all of our viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world. So you're watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Robyn Curnow. Just ahead --


JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: 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 over the country.


CURNOW: A blunt warning from America's top doctor, prepare for a sad week ahead. Why President Trump though says we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've seen things that I sort of like. So, what do I know? I'm not a doctor. I'm not a doctor, but I have common sense.


CURNOW: Plus, the queen gives a primetime address to rally the U.K. as its Prime Minister spends the night in hospital. Thanks for joining me this hour. So top U.S. officials are warning Americans that it is going to be a tough week ahead. Deaths and coronavirus infections are expected to rise, and there are already more than a 1,000 people dying each day in this country, and the number of confirmed cases is approaching 340,000 people.

That's according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 10,000 Americans have died. The doctors leading the U.S. response telling Americans to brace for many more losses.


ADAMS: 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 over 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, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We are struggling to get it under control, and that's the issue that's at hand right now. Just buckle down, continue to mitigate, continue to do the physical separation because we've got to get through this week that's coming up because it is going to be a bad week.


CURNOW: So the hotspot remains New York, but some hope to see a slight drop in the death rate. The state reported 594 deaths compared to 630 on Saturday. While that is encouraging, the situation remains dire. New York City is still desperately short of critical medical supplies. The mayor says they could run out of ventilators in the next couple of days if they don't receive any help.

Well, the city is also coping with sickness among police, 20 percent of the force is out due to various illnesses, and it has lost its 11th officer from a suspected coronavirus case. But again, the U.S. President is expressing hope.


TRUMP: We see light at the end of the tunnel. Things are happening. Things are happening. We're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. And hopefully in the not too distant future, we'll be very proud of the job we all did. You can never be happy when so many people are dying, but we're going to be very proud of the job we did to keep the death down to an absolute minimum.


CURNOW: Well, President Trump claims 1.6 million Americans have already been tested and received results, and he keeps touting an unproven treatment for this virus. Jeremy Diamond has the details on that.

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


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

TRUMP: I'm not. I'm not. I'm just -- you know, very simply, I'm not at all. I'm not -- look, you know what I'm trying to do, I'm trying to save lives --

DIAMOND: Well, you come on here every day, right, sir, talking about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine --

TRUMP: I want them to try it. And 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 it to be in a lab for the next year and a half as people are dying all over the place --

DIAMOND: It's already --


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 prescribe 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.


DIAMOND: Would you also weigh in on this issue of hydroxychloroquine? What do you think about this and what is the -- what is the medical evidence?

TRUMP: Didn't I just answer that question?

FAUCI: Yes, I may be 50 --

DIAMOND: I'm talking to the doctor --

TRUMP: Fifteen times. You don't have to answer the question.

DIAMOND: He's your medical expert, right?

TRUMP: He's answered that question 15 times.


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.

CURNOW: Thanks Jeremy for that. So let's discuss further with Amy Pope in London, she's an associate fellow at Chatham House, and was a former U.S. Deputy Homeland Security adviser. Good to see you. Jeremy Diamond couldn't have said it better, he ended off that piece with a very strong analysis there. What do you make of that?

AMY POPE, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, CHATHAM HOUSE: I think it's dangerous for the president to be suggesting that there are medical counter-measures out there when he doesn't have the evidence to back it up. And there are a couple of reasons why? I mean, first of all, we know already that people are starting to hoard that drug.

People may try to treat themselves without oversight by a physician, and ultimately, they may end up worse off than they were before they actually heard the president speak about it. I think the president doesn't understand that his words carry extreme weight, when particularly when people are really feeling very anxious and panicked, and he needs to take some more care.

CURNOW: In terms of the language, the U.S. President says he wants to use this drug because -- but there's nothing to lose. Some critics would say, well, that's not the attitude you should be having at this stage, there needs to be a plan rather than sort of throwing things willy-nilly to the wind saying, let's try it.

POPE: Yes, I think there's actually a lot to lose. There are possible side effects for people who take this drug, particularly if they're not taking it with the oversight of a physician who knows their medical history. Likewise, as I said, if people are hoarding the drug who don't need it, then it actually can create a shortage. So, I think there is quite a lot to lose. It's the reason why you want your medical experts at the front and why politicians shouldn't be the ones hypothesizing about what the right answer might be.

CURNOW: More than 10,000 Americans have already died. That's more than those who died in 9/11 and predicted just in the coming weeks. This coronavirus is projected to kill more people -- more people expected to die than all the soldiers who died over the years in Vietnam. It's an astounding projected death rate in terms of the immediacy of what's happening. Do you think that these mixed messages coming from the White House are confusing Americans or even creating a sense of complacency?

POPE: I just think it doesn't help for politicians, again, to be at the forefront of something like this. It's really important that we have the medical experts taking the lead, that they have the room and the authority to come up with projections, that they have the resources that they need. You know, one of the interesting things about your analogy to terrorism is that we just haven't made the same kinds of investments in protecting Americans from infectious disease as we have with respect to terrorism.

And to me, this is really a signal that the best thing that members of Congress and the president can do is to actually really enforce the need for resources, for political priority and to make sure that this doesn't lose focus or attention after this particular pandemic is gone.

CURNOW: OK, so you're looking down the line, also looking back. I know that you dealt with Zika and Ebola in terms of your role within the U.S. government. Have any lessons been learnt from that?

POPE: It's really disturbing because after Ebola, we set up a directorate, an office within the National Security Council, whose primary role was to be looking for potential outbreaks that could have a significant impact in the United States. And then to make sure that we have relationships with the international governments and the states and their governors and the mayors, so that we could very quickly respond.

And unfortunately for whatever reason, the White House took that office down about a year after President Trump came to office. And so he effectively dismantled the most effective warning system that we could put in place to make sure that this kind of thing didn't happen again.


CURNOW: What were in terms of the way authorities and experts dealt with Zika and then also with Ebola that you think could have been helpful in this situation?

POPE: There's so many. I mean, the first is early warning. All signs were that this was going to cross borders late in December, early January. That was the moment when the U.S. government needed to start to focus on building rapid diagnostics so they could know as soon as the first cases came to the United States. Second, making sure that there was strong relationships with the governors and with the mayors.

Right now, we're seeing governors give very different advice depending on where they sit in the country, and that's quite dangerous because, of course, people can travel across state lines. So, making sure governors and mayors are speaking with the same voice. And third, just elevating this issue, making it a priority, making sure that the White House and National Security adviser have the information they need as soon as it came in and acted very quickly on it.

CURNOW: Amy Pope live from Chatham House, thank you very much for joining us and giving us your expertise. Thanks, Amy.

POPE: Thanks very much.

CURNOW: OK, so at this hour, if you're staying in London, the British Prime Minister is in hospital. He was admitted on Sunday night for tests as a precautionary step as he deals with persistent coronavirus symptoms. It's been 10 days since Boris Johnson here was tested positive. Well, Nic Robertson is in London, he joins us now with more on all of this. So, what's happening? What's going on here?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, well, what has happened is that the Prime Minister falls into that category of people that have had the symptoms now for 10 days. And therefore, there's a concern that the symptoms could become worse if you will -- excuse me --


And the Prime Minister on the advice of his doctor went to the hospital to get what are being described here as routine tests. So, we don't know what those tests are, we do know that Downing Street says that the Prime Minister continues to lead the country's effort to fight coronavirus. However, this morning, the Prime Minister's routine morning meeting with cabinet members, that happens at 9:15 in the morning, here about 45 minutes or so ago.

It was not chaired by the Prime Minister as it usually would be, but chaired by Dominic Raab; the Foreign Secretary, the first Secretary of the State, the person who would most naturally step up to take over where the Prime Minister isn't available. That meeting didn't last too long. It was probably focusing on the coronavirus, but as to the health of the Prime Minister, we asked the Health Secretary as he went into Downing Street this morning, he offered no comment on that.

It does seem by the fact that the Prime Minister was not able to chair that meeting and has been -- has been kept in hospital for these routine tests overnight. That does give an indication of how serious a situation it is, but we don't know precisely the nature of the concerns or the tests or the results of those tests so far. Those have not been disclosed. Robyn?

CURNOW: It's certainly worrying no doubt, no matter how much Downing Street tries to spin it. The Prime Minister is in hospital and certainly hasn't been able to shake it the way other people have in the first 10 days. So keep us posted on any new details. Meantime, also, we heard from the queen, so while you have the Prime Minister out in hospital, a nation trying to struggle with the soaring death rate, you have the queen doing what she does best, which is trying to keep a steady even keel here.

ROBERTSON: Absolutely. And there's no doubt that the queen's message would have been one that Downing Street wanted to hear, very likely they would have asked her to speak. The words, of course, would have been her own. She was very clear, offering her thanks and gratitude for all those frontline medical workers, doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals who are combating the disease, who are taking the big risks.

She also thanked the public for staying at home. And that I think was a very important part of the political message here, the one that Downing Street would have wanted communicated to people, that you must stay at home. And in this, she said she hoped that people would be able to reflect later and see how well they'd done. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH ALEXANDRA MARY, QUEEN OF UNITED KINGDOM: Together, we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it. I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any, that the attributes of self- discipline, of quiet, good-humored resolve and a fellow-feeling still characterize this country.



ROBERTSON: And as strong as any, there is really a reference to how the people of Britain withstood the difficulties of World War II. And she referenced that again as well, saying her first national address was when she was still a child speaking to all those children who have been evacuated from London to the countryside for safety. She was sort of invoking that memory and invoking as well the idea that while we are separated from people that we love, this won't last forever.

And here she sort of reminded everyone the words in Dame Vera Lynn for a famous song, and that was, you know, "we'll meet again". And I think that really, with the British people, that really strikes a note, saying that this is difficult, but it won't last forever.

CURNOW: Yes, there was certainly even just the language, Nic, sort of shades of Churchill there, using the words resolute and we shall overcome and a variety of other tone, even as she took. She certainly is trying to play that very -- that war leader-like role -- fascinating stuff, particularly when it comes to perspective as well from such a woman. Thanks so much, keep us posted on Boris Johnson if you get anything. Thanks, Nic.

So aside from New York, which remains of course the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., other hotspots are emerging around the United States. Take a look at this map, and as you can see, New Jersey and Louisiana are a concern. New Jersey is second to New York in confirmed cases with more than 37,000 people, over 900 people, 900 people have died there. The governor says that's more than the number of people lost -- New Jersey lost in the 9/11 terror attacks. He spoke with CNN on Sunday.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We are in a fight. This is a war. There's no question about it. We're doing everything we can to stay out ahead of it. I suspect all of us would have liked to gone into this tragedy and this challenge, this healthcare crisis with a lot more weapons at our disposal. So, the communications are open, I think there's a real spirit of trying to find common ground and do everything they can.

But we've been dealt a tough hand right now as a country, and we're living that right now in New Jersey. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: So the number of cases in Louisiana has passed 13,000 with nearly 500 deaths there. The governor there warns the state could run out of ventilators by the end of the week. So you're watching CNN NEWSROOM, still to come, signs that the coronavirus is slowing in two European hotspots. Are mitigation efforts finally paying off? We're live in Rome and Madrid just ahead.



CURNOW: Guitarist as you can hear, playing his instrument high above the nearly deserted square of Rome. The musician says he wants to give hope to people who are isolating in their homes because of the coronavirus. When his song ended, people with a near shock applauded the impromptu concert and the guitarist waved the Italian flag.

So, there is some encouraging news coming out of Italy and Spain. These two countries of course, as you know, hardest hit by the coronavirus so far. In Europe on Sunday, Italy reported its lowest death rate in at least two weeks. Italy has struggled consistently to stabilize that number of new infections. The death toll there nears 16,000, the highest in the world.

Meanwhile, Spain has begun distributing its new batch of 1 million rapid coronavirus tests. The tests are going first to hospitals and nursing homes. Globally right now, only the U.S. reports more confirmed cases than Spain. So, joining me with the latest from these two areas is journalist Al Goodman in Madrid and CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau in Rome. Barbie, to you first, so a little bit of good news coming from where you are.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. You know, we're hoping that the numbers today confirm that we have stabilized and that the trend is going to start going down. You know, you've got to consider, February 23rd is when that -- the outbreak broke in the north of Italy, March 10th is when they locked down the entire country.

So, everybody is really ready for some good news and a way out of this. The government today is meeting to discuss how a phase 2 might look or how they're going to unlock this country eventually. They're saying it's too soon to do that now, but the idea that they're even talking about that gives so many people so much hope, Robyn.

CURNOW: Certainly does, thanks Barbie, you've doing some great reporting over the past few weeks there. Al Goodman as well, you and your team there on the streets of Madrid. What's the view from where you are?

AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: There is some cautious optimism. The people are seeing these numbers, that the number of new cases and the number of deaths while rising is rising more slowly, but everyone concerned with the most recent figures in the last day, 329 more people went into the ICU, intensive care wards. That was almost three times the day earlier and the highest in a week.

That's more than 6,800 people who have gone through the ICUs. That's such a serious concern for the medical community to have enough beds and to have enough ventilators. And that's one of the reasons that although some of the numbers look stable, this ICU number is not so stable. So, the government announcing this and extending the lockdown, the stay-at-home order for another two weeks.

It will be an entire six weeks, almost to the end of April. They don't want to let everybody out early and have a whole thing all over again. So they're trying to really get it right this time.

CURNOW: Yes --


CURNOW: No one wants a second wave. Al and Barbie, thanks to you both. And we also have some breaking news this hour. Japan's Prime Minister is proposing a state of emergency over the coronavirus there. Will Ripley joins us now. Will, hi, what can you tell us about this state of emergency?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. This announcement made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just minutes ago. We know the state of emergency will take place on Tuesday. And Prime Minister Abe was careful to point out that it will be different from state of emergencies that we're seeing in western countries. For example, he says the basic economic activity will continue. That means the public transportation will still operate, supermarkets will still be open, that kind of thing.


Also, you won't see police or military telling people to get off the streets. This is basically a request, a strong request by the government and it only affects seven Japanese prefectures. It doesn't affect all of Japan because the coronavirus situation in many prefectures is believed to be under control at this point. But in some of Japan's largest cities including Tokyo and Osaka, the number of cases is skyrocketing right now.

In fact, the daily infection rate has more than tripled over this time last week. Prime Minister Abe also announcing details of an unprecedented massive economic stimulus package worth 20 percent of Japan's GDP, $989 billion in economic stimulus. Let me read you some of the details that we've just got about it.

It includes $54 billion in cash handouts for families who have lost significant income and also small business owners. It also includes $238 billion in emergency loans for Japanese corporations to keep their workers on their payroll. Other details of the stimulus which are expected to be announced in more detail tomorrow, tax breaks for Japanese corporations.

After weeks of kind of dragging their feet, Robyn, it seems that now things are starting to get very serious here and the government is taking some serious action.

CURNOW: OK, thanks for that update. Thanks, Will. So you're watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Robyn Curnow. Still to come, the United States is injecting $2 trillion into the economy, but could more cash be on the way already? We look into that ahead. Plus, 900 million children are out of the classroom because of this pandemic. Coming up next, advice on how to help your child, especially if you think they're struggling.