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U.S. Suffers Most Deaths in One Day; New York City Reports 800+ Deaths Tuesday; U.S. Surgeon General Says Black Population at Higher Risk; Trump Slams W.H.O. and Threatens to Cut Off Funding; France COVID-19 Death Toll Surpasses 10,000; Wuhan Lifts Lockdown and Outbound Travel Ban; U.K. Prime Minister is Stable, Not on Ventilation. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired April 8, 2020 - 04:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, the United States suffers its most tragic day since the pandemic began, logging the most new deaths in a single day. Data shows the virus is infecting and killing African-Americans at a disproportionate and disturbing rate. And after almost three months on lockdown, the epicenter of the coronavirus is letting residents leave their homes.

Well, just days after the U.S. predicted a tough week in the coronavirus pandemic, the country has recorded its highest number of new deaths from the disease. According to Johns Hopkins University, officials confirm more than 1,900 new fatalities on Tuesday alone. Nationwide, the virus has now claimed nearly 13,000 American lives and infected close to 400,000 people. Only Italy and Spain have suffered more death since the pandemic began, but the U.S. President says America's outbreak could get worse in the days ahead.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be a very painful week. And next week, at least part of next week, but probably all of it. Look, if one person dies, it's a painful week, and we know that's going to, unfortunately, happen. This is a monster we're fighting, but signs are that our strategy is totally working. Every American has a role to play in winning this war, and we're going to be winning it.


CHURCH: Meantime, New York City has reported another massive spike in virus-related deaths. CNN's Nick Watt begins our coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today in New York City, more than 800 deaths reported. That's triple yesterday's total. But here on the front line, the new case count in the state appears to be flattening.

DR. RODRIGO KONG, STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: For the past couple of days, discharging more patients than we are admitting. But this is actually the time when we should redouble our efforts.


WATT: The battle's not over. The war goes on. The NYPD just announced a 13th member has now died from the virus, and more than 500 New York fire department personnel have it.

ANTHONY ALMOJERA, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT, EMS LIEUTENANT: I'm still getting EMTs and medics calling because they're upset. They are upset they got sick, because they're not out here. That's -- I mean, I don't know what to say. I mean, that's who's taking care of you.

WATT: Nationwide numbers still rising.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: A lot of the other parts of the country are not anywhere near flattening the curve. They're still rising exponentially.

WATT: Michigan one of few states keeping racial data. The black population there is around 14 percent, yet 40 percent of coronavirus deaths are in that black population.

TYRONE CARTER, MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC STATE REPRESENTATIVE: There's still a huge gap between races when it comes to health care. And this is magnifying it.

WATT: In Chicago, black people make up 30 percent of the population but 72 percent of COVID deaths and Louisiana, similar numbers.

DR. CAMARA PHYLLIS JONES, FAMILY PHYSICIAN AND EPIDEMIOLOGIST: They're dying more because their bodies -- our bodies -- have borne the burden of chronic disinvestment, active neglect in our communities. All of those insults on our bodies have given us more of these so-called pre-existing conditions. So, once we are infected, we have more severe outcomes.

WATT: The administration is now looking to a light at the end of this tunnel.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Normal is going to be a different normal, whenever we do reopen. We know that once we get a vaccine, we can get more back to the way we treat flu season.

WATT: They're watching how other countries gradually reopen. Just hours ago, severe lockdown restrictions were lifted in Wuhan. People are now allowed to leave. And four months after the first case in that city, China now claiming a whole day without a single COVID-19 death nationwide. (on camera): Here in California, the governor says the curve is

bending and stretching, so peak sometime in May. So here in Los Angeles County, they've designated this stay-home week. So, we're a few weeks out from that peak, so if we all stay home, hopefully, that peak will be as low as possible.

Meantime, California is lending ventilators to other states in the U.S. that need them right now. These are loans. These are not gifts. The governor making it clear that at some point, California might need them back.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHURCH: In the middle of this global pandemic, President Trump is bashing the World Health Organization and threatening to withhold funding. CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta has more.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump spent much of his press conference on the coronavirus blaming the World Health Organization for the pandemic. The President blasted the W.H.O., accusing the organization of, quote, calling it wrong when it came to the global impact the virus would have. But the President was also occasionally wrong about the pandemic himself, at times telling Americans that the coronavirus would disappear by this month.

At one point during the briefing, the President said he would halt U.S. funding to the W.H.O., but when he was reminded that would come during a pandemic, the President seemed to back away from the idea. Here's what he had to say.

TRUMP: We're going to put a hold on money spent to the W.H.O. we're going to put a very powerful hold on it, and we're going to see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A quick follow-up on that. So, is the time to freeze funding to the W.H.O. during a pandemic?

TRUMP: No, maybe not. I mean, I'm not saying I'm going to do it, but I'm going to look at it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did say you were --

TRUMP: We give a tremendous -- no, I didn't. I said we're going to look at it. We're going to investigate it. We will look at it. But we will look at ending funding.

ACOSTA: The President also weighed in on a memo that was written back in late January by his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, who warned the coronavirus could become a deadly pandemic, leading to scores of deaths in the U.S. The President said he hadn't seen the memo and didn't look for it. The President has described the coronavirus as an unforeseen problem in the past.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: Sterghios Moschos teaches cellular and molecular science at Northumbria University in England. He has been leading research into a device to collect breath samples which could be tested in minutes to detect coronavirus. Thank you so much for talking with us.


CHURCH: Before we get to specific questions relating to COVID-19, I don't want to put you on the spot, but I did want to get your reaction to President Trump's threat to cut funds to the World Health Organization in the midst of this pandemic. What impact could that potentially have on the work of the W.H.O.?

MOSCHOS: I think the impact will be mostly felt by the developed nations, because the W.H.O.'s primary role is to ensure that developing nations are able to cope with outbreaks such as this one. We saw what the role of the W.H.O. was, in the west African Ebola outbreak.


And President Trump at the time wasn't the President and he was calling for the closure of airports and so on. The outbreak was contained in west Africa and the rest of the world didn't suffer. That was the W.H.O.'s role.

Now we've gone past that point and it has nothing to do with international travel why we've got to this point. The question is, are we interested in restarting the economy and not have a continuous cycle of interruption, or do we want to get to the point where the economy can function after coronavirus has been fully contained and put a close on it?

CHURCH: Very important points. All right, let's go back to this device that you've come up with. So, this could be a quick check for COVID-19 through breath. How's that going to work and when would that be available?

MOSCHOS: OK. So, the principle here is quite straightforward. Coronavirus 19 gives you disease in your deep lung, and the best sample for detecting coronavirus is when we go in with some kind of tube to collect a sample from your lungs. Now, as you can imagine, this is not something you can readily do on everybody. And that's why we rely on these nasal swabs.

What we propose is that we collect breath, because it comes from inside your lungs, and we look at whether or not the virus is there. At this point in time, I can report that we have detected a bacteria, we have detected fungi in that breath sample. We are certain that that breath sample does not contain saliva or contamination. We have publicized that data on Twitter, of all places, and we are actively seeking out ways by which we can confirm the presence of viruses in that breath sample.

The physics of it are quite straightforward. There's no reason why it shouldn't be there. As soon as we have early data showing that the virus is detectable, we will report it. And as soon as we have validated that this is the case and it's better than doing the nasal swabs, then we will be seeking to get emergency authorization for use of this technology worldwide.

CHURCH: And how quick could you get a result? Because we know President Trump has been touting this quick 13-minute, 15-minute test that he has been taking along with the Vice President. How would that work in comparison to that?

MOSCHOS: It would work with that test or any other test that the laboratory in question decides to use. We are just providing a sample right now. We're not carrying out any testing. And we think we are providing a better sample than that nasal swab, which, the least of things, as President Trump has probably found out himself, is highly unpleasant.


MOSCHOS: What we are proposing is just breathing out into a tube.

CHURCH: Right. And I did want to ask you this as a virologist, because some countries have done better than others. We know that New Zealand has somehow, because it moved so quickly and so aggressively on this virus, it has only lost one person, although that is one very important person.

And then in the United States, we've seen a very different outcome. We're starting to see some encouraging news, though, and certainly, also from Italy and from Spain. But where do you think, when you look at where this stands across the globe, what does that tell you about where this virus is right now?

MOSCHOS: I think the virus is pretty much everywhere. And if we want to prevent this being something that causes havoc in health care systems for years to come, potentially, we should really collectively, as a planet, try and stop it and do what New Zealand did.

CHURCH: All right. Sterghios Moschos, thank you for talking with us, and we look forward to hearing more about your test. Many thanks. Appreciate it.

MOSCHOS: You're very welcome.

CHURCH: In France, the coronavirus death toll has reached 10,000. The government says more than 1,400 died on Tuesday, the largest single- day increase so far. And as you can see, the trend has been climbing over the last few days. The director of public health says the peak is yet to come.

And CNN's Cyril Vanier is in Normandy, France. He joins me now. Good to see you, Cyril. So those numbers, very disturbing. What more is France trying to do to contain this virus? CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR, YOUR WORLD TODAY: Well, Rosemary, the sad

reality is that the numbers of both new patients and deaths continue to climb, and that is why the government has warned that we have not reached the peak of this crisis.

As to what they're doing. Well, they want to tighten the lockdown restrictions. So the lockdown has already been very strict and French people are now well into their fourth week of lockdown. But several cities are taking individual measures based on their individual circumstances.

So, in Paris, for instance, you're no longer allowed to go out between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. to do your exercise, something which has been allowed over the last three weeks.


But the Paris municipal authorities noticed that there were just too many people out and about, especially over the weekend, especially with the weather getting better.

At some places, in some towns and in north of France, if you spit in the street or if you leave your mask or your gloves in public or if you fail to protect your mouth when you cough, well, you could be fined up to $70. In some other places, you can't sit on public benches, and facemasks have become mandatory in Nice and the city of Bossier.

So, individual towns taking individual measures to help the government succeed in its mission to keep people locked down. Because the government has been very clear that the French health system has never been under so much pressure since World War II. This system is designed for 5,000 people in intensive care, and it's currently treating more than 7,000 -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Wow. It sounds like they're now doing all the right things, and it's -- you've got that two-week lag time, of course, so they will see, perhaps, in two weeks the results of these mitigating situations that they're trying to work upon. Cyril Vanier, bringing us the very latest from Normandy in France, many thanks.

Well, a sense of normalcy is settling over the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak began. That, of course, is Wuhan, which is now reopening its borders after a 76-day lockdown. That unprecedented effort to contain the outbreak has now become the standard operating procedure across the globe. Anyone deemed healthy or low risk in Wuhan is now allowed to travel, but some restrictions will remain in place.

And CNN's senior producer, Steven Jiang, joins me now from Beijing. Good to see you, Steven. So, let's talk about those restrictions that remain in place. What all is that, and how are people dealing with their newfound freedom?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, Rosemary. It's been a gradual process. We've seen the city resume its public transportation as well as workers returning to their jobs in the past few weeks. But still, this lifting of these major travel restrictions was a milestone because millions of people had been stuck in their homes or residences for over two months with the lockdown and measures really wreaking havoc on their lives and livelihood.

Now that's why we saw people, really cars lining up on major expressways hours before the official reopening. The first driver in line was telling state media he was from a city only 80 kilometers away from Wuhan, but he had been separated from his family because of this lockdown, and that's why he arrived at the checkpoint eight hours before midnight. That kind of eagerness was really being shared and echoed throughout the city.

The authorities say they're expecting at least 65,000 people leave Wuhan today on Wednesday. Now, this is quite a large number but still a very small percentage of the city of 11 million people. Remember, more than 5 million people had already left town even before the January 23rd lockdown, so now the outbound traffic is mostly consisted of out-of-towners stuck in the city, migrant workers trying to go back to their jobs as well as limited amount of business traffic.

Now, the authorities say most people will be leaving by trains. That's why you see authorities dust off their bullet trains, you know, disinfecting them, cleaning them, and these trains, they're running 276 trains from Wuhan on Wednesday. They're going to carry about 55,000 passengers out of the city.

The airport has also reopened 54 flights today. Not a major amount of traffic, but still, it's the first time in over two months we see commercial flights take off and land in the city. But you know, one thing, despite all that, the authorities are reminding local residents, because most of them, remember, will be staying put, the authorities are telling them, stay at home as much as possible and avoid all nonessential travel and activities, because a lot of these health checks as well as restrictions you mentioned -- schools remain closed, temperature checks everywhere. They will remain in place because the authorities say that right now the biggest enemy facing the city is complacency -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, very important point. Steven Jiang bringing us the latest there from Beijing. Many thanks to you.

Well, all eyes on London this hour, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care. We will go to Max Foster next, who's live outside the hospital as the death toll soars past 6,000 in the United Kingdom. Back with that in a moment.


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to London, outside the hospital where Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, spent another night in intensive care. And beyond that, you can see Westminster, where there's a bit of a leadership vacuum right now, leadership being shared between Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary. And some questions about how that's all going to play out. We have had some sort of update this morning an informal one, at

least, from the junior health minister speaking on radio, suggesting that the Prime Minister's position is stable, his condition is stable, and said that the Prime Minister's, quote, comfortable and in good spirits. He added that Mr. Johnson had had some oxygen, but he wasn't on ventilation, crucially, so it hasn't escalated his condition and worsened, it appears. Though we will get more updates, hopefully, through the day. CNN's Nina dos Santos is over on Downing Street behind me in the distance there because that's where all the updates are coming from. What are you hearing -- Nina?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far, what we've seen is various key members of the government arriving for an early-morning meeting, in particular, Dominic Raab, who's standing in for the Prime Minister during the three nights that he's been absent here at Downing Street, as he receives hospital treatment where you are at St. Thomas' on the other side of the river.

Also, Matt Hancock, the health secretary arrived here and Chris Whitty. He's chief medical officer of the U.K. Now, all of those gentlemen were pretty terse when they greeted the press. They didn't give us any updates on how the Prime Minister is doing.


As you said, it was the job of a more junior health minister to hit the airwaves. But essentially, a message of more of the same.

Yesterday we heard in a press conference in the late afternoon, Dominic Raab saying, look, the Prime Minister is a valued colleague. He's our boss. He's also a personal friend. We know him well. We know him to be somebody who will be battling this disease. And he said that he was confident that Boris Johnson would soon be back in Number 10. Take a listen.


DOMINIC RAAB, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: I think it's probably worth just remembering that, as will be the case for many people up and down the country who know someone at work who's fallen ill with the coronavirus, it comes as a shock to all of us. He's not just the Prime Minister for all of us in cabinet. He's not just our boss. He's also a colleague and he's also our friend. So, all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Prime Minister at this time, with Carrie, and with his whole family, and I am confident he'll pull through. Because if there's one thing know about this Prime Minister, he's a fighter.


DOS SANTOS: Either way, though, Max, it's going to take some time, though, for Boris Johnson when he comes out of ICU to recover. And one of the big concerns that many people in the Conservative Party, senior former figures of the Conservative Party like Lord Hazleton, who is an important member of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet 20 or so years ago, starting to say that, really, there needs to be a clearer path as to who is in charge. Because whether or not the Prime Minister ends up on a ventilator, when he comes back, he will need some time to recuperate fully.

In the meantime, between now and then, there's a lot to get on with. Notably, how to keep people indoors with an Easter long weekend looming, the weather getting better, as spring kicks into full flow here in the U.K. And then later on next week, they're also going to have to have another meeting about whether or not to extend those lockdown measures.

There's also people who have been former defense secretaries, other MPs who are concerned about who's in charge of the army. So, big question marks here about who really is in charge and whether or not Dominic Raab does have the full panoply of the government instruments at his disposal while the Prime Minister remains in intensive care, albeit in a stable condition as you said -- Max.

FOSTER: Nina dos Santos in Downing Street, over the river from where I am now. Thank you very much.

Rosemary, it really is a glorious day here, normally positive news, but very worrying for the government, as Nina was saying, worrying that people might come out at the weekend and start mingling, which is exactly what they don't want. But at the moment, they're heeding, it seems. Quite an eerie sight when you look down where the empty streets, as you know, normally bustling here.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. So important that people stay home and stay safe. Our Max Foster bringing us the latest from London. Many thanks.

Well, striking, new numbers revealed a huge impact the coronavirus is having on African American communities across the United States. Health officials explain some of the troubling possibilities for it. That's next.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are incredibly safe to go out.


CHURCH: Announcements like that, we will tell you how Wisconsin held an election in the middle of a pandemic.