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Trump Resists Criticism; New Models Estimate 60,000 U.S. Deaths; WTO: Global Trade May Plunge Up to 32 Percent This Year; Millions More Expected to File Jobless Claims in U.S. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 9, 2020 - 05:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. Good to have you this hour. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So, just ahead on the show, the U.S. president plays a defense after another huge single-day rise in the death toll. Donald Trump deflects blame from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. We'll have that as well.

New polling shows us how Americans feel about the state of their economy.

And Bernie Sanders drops out of the Democratic race for 2020, why he gave up and the legacy he leaves behind.


CURNOW: So there are encouraging signs here in the U.S. that social distancing is helping in the battle against the coronavirus. So, according to new modeling put out by the White House, the measure is helping lower projections for the number of deaths.

However, the nation has reported the largest number of deaths in a single day. Nearly 2,000 people died on Wednesday, that's according to Johns Hopkins University. The total has passed 14,000 people.

So, during a briefing on Wednesday the U.S. president, Donald Trump, says he learned about the seriousness of the coronavirus just prior to enacting travel restrictions on China back in early February. But a former military official tells CNN, American intelligence agency were tracking the rise of the virus as early as November, weeks before the information was included in the president's daily briefing. Some say the administration hasn't done enough.

Here's Mr. Trump's reaction to our Jim Acosta. Take a listen to this.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Why is it we don't have enough masks? Why is it we don't have enough -- DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They gave us very

little ammunition for the military and very little -- let me gist tell you. You know it. You know the answer. The previous administration, the shelves were empty. The shelves were empty.

So what you should do is speak to the people from the previous administration, Jim, and ask them that question.


CURNOW: And as a number of hospitals continue to deal with the supply shortages, there's certainly a concern over which areas could become the next hot spots.

So take a look at this map. Officials are keeping an eye on Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Meantime, in Chicago where the death toll continues to mount, the city is preparing refrigerated warehouse space that could potentially store more than 1,500 bodies by the weekend.

CNN's Nick Watt has more on the day's developments -- Nick.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A glimmer of hope, a model used by the White House now predicts the nationwide death toll is down about 20,000 largely due to social distancing, but --

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Today is a day in the state of New York with very mixed emotions.

WATT: Because day after day, the state is still seeing a rise in reported deaths, and --

CUOMO: The number of deaths will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a longer period of time pass away.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's very sobering to see the increase in deaths. It's going to be a bad week for deaths.

WATT: And about 60,000 Americans are still projected to die by early August. Right now, we're not even a quarter of the way to that grim total. And every number is a person, a story.

Zenobia Shepherd's daughter Leilani just died, age 27.

ZENOBIA SHEPHERD, MOTHER OF COVID-19 VICTIM, LEILANI MARQURITE JORDAN: My husband and I were both in the room, and it was -- I want to hold my baby's hands for the last time, and I wasn't able to hold her feet. It's my baby.

WATT: The new modeling also highlights some regional disparities of projected deaths in New Jersey, more than doubled to over 5,200. Projected deaths in California down from about 6,100 to about 1,600. DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We're

looking very carefully at California and Washington to really understand how they've been able as a community of Americans to mitigate so well.

WATT: A new CNN poll shows the majority of Americans now think the federal government has done a poor job in preventing coronavirus spread. It's 55 percent, up 8 points in about a week.

The administration also still watching hot spots popping up around the country.


BIRX: We are concerned about the metro area of Washington and Baltimore, and we're concerned right now about the Philadelphia area.

WATT: Some states now stockpiling a malaria drug to treat COVID-19. That's not proven to work, potentially dangerous. Florida expecting a million doses today. Georgia already given 200,000.

TRUMP: I really think it's a great thing to try, just based on what I know. Again, I'm not a doctor.

WATT: Adam Jarrett is.

DR. ADAM JARRETT, HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER: So, we are using hydrochloroquine but we really don't know whether it works.

WATT: And still, we're told, there's not enough testing going on.

BIRX: A lot of lab directors can look in their laboratories, if they have an Abbott m2000, if they can get that up and running, we could double the number of tests that we're doing per day. Right now, about 80 percent of them are idled, over a million test kits sitting ready to be run.

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, ER DOCTOR: Well, I hope that the federal government is doing more than, you know, speaking this at a press conference. This is a key to opening us back up again, getting these tests online.

WATT: So are antibody tests. The White House says they'll be ready inside two weeks.

CUOMO: That is going to be the bridge from where we are today to the new economy, people who have been exposed and now are better, those are the people who can go to work.

WATT: But for now, still this must be our normal.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: We have to recognize the progress because people are doing the right thing.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: If you're watching from Jersey, please stay home. WATT (on camera): A quick note on those models. Models can change.

They can go up or down. And also, the model projecting a drop in the deaths is based on social distancing continuing through the end of May. That's another seven weeks or so.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


CURNOW: Great, Nick. Thanks for that update.

So, the U.S. President Donald Trump has been criticized for his initial response to the outbreak in the U.S. But now, he's slamming the World Health Organization for its handling of the crisis, and drawing a strong reaction from the WHO's director general. Take a listen.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don't politicize this virus. It exploits the differences you have at the national level. If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don't want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.

TRUMP: And he would have been much better serving the people that he's supposed to serve if they gave a correct analysis. I mean, everything was, I said, China-centric. Everything was going to be fine. No human to human. Keep the borders open.

He wanted me to keep the borders open. I closed the borders despite him and that was a hard decision to make at the time. We were altogether. We made a decision against the World Health Organization. So, when he says politicizing, he's politicizing. That shouldn't be.


CURNOW: Well, Keith Neal is a professor emeritus in epidemiology at Nottingham University. He joins me now live from Derby in England.

Sir, good to speak to you. Thank you.

Before we get to the virus, I do want to talk about that spat we just heard between the White House and the WHO. Yes, it is political.

But does the U.S. president have a point? Should the WHO have declared a pandemic sooner, for example?

KEITH NEAL, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, EPIDEMOLOGY OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think -- I think one of the issues is after what swine flu pandemic, the term pandemic was dropped as a term that -- in use anyway. I think they declared it as an incident of major concern or some other technical term that they use. I think we look at it as a pandemic but really these are a series of epidemics across the world because each country's somewhat different.

And in the United Kingdom, where I am we're seeing different patterns of spread and speed in different parts of the country but like you saw in the States, you've got hot spots started around the country, most of them being in larger cities.

CURNOW: OK. So when we talk about the way this is -- the patterns and the models here, I know at least here in the U.S. there's been a pull back in terms of the modeling from the initial high death tolerates, but that should not make folks complacent, should it? Whether you're in the U.S. or the U.K., or whether you're even in Italy?

NEAL: I think the issue is in England, we've been on some form of lockdown for 2-1/2 weeks, and in addition to that we had a week before that where people were asked to work from home and more importantly, for those people with a fever or a cough to self-isolate, even -- even if they had a -- somebody in the household with those symptoms.


This got around the point of not being able to test everybody. So those people we would have wanted to test we've had in isolation. It has taken us until about probably from the beginning of the month to begin to see a reduction in the rate of increase in the number of cases we're seeing. Quite clearly, social distancing or in the sense that you don't meet as many people must reduce the speed of spread of a disease like this, which is spread by contact between people.

I mean, people don't need a complicated model to know the less people you meet, the less people you can infect, which is the basic message here.

CURNOW: You've obviously followed and studied viruses and epidemiology. What is the one big question you would still like to know about this virus?

NEAL: If I had a magic wand --


NEAL: -- and could get information, the information I would want to know is what is the prevalence of people who have the infection in the population, which is information we don't have. We know that there are people with very mild symptoms and probably met a number of people with asymptomatic symptoms who never really got ill enough to notice.

The importance of this is that we can work out how far it has spread through the population. And also, if we could identify those individuals, they would definitely be safe to return to work in high- risk areas.

CURNOW: Yes. So that would be about whether they have the antibodies.

Any other questions that you would like to know in terms of the way this is transmitted? NEAL: We know that it -- we know how it's transmitted. It's spread

essentially by respiratory droplets and aerosols, which so an infectious person breathes in and out, and the viruses come out when you breathe out. When you cough and splatter, they come out in droplets. They fall to the floor quite quickly, which is why you need to be in close contact with somebody and quite a prolonged contact.

I think people -- we got people who are worried that you can catch these walking past somebody on the street, and this is incredibly highly unlikely. I understand -- some of the figures I've seen from China suggest only 30 percent of household contacts became infected with the virus.

Whether some extra ones were asymptomatic, no one is really quite sure. But we do know if you're in the household with somebody, and in Wuhan they were with them 24/7, only less than half got infected.

CURNOW: Oh, that's interesting. But that's also probably an indication of why bus drivers or nurses and doctors seem to be getting infected even more often, it's because they are in constant contact as well with many of these patients?

NEAL: Yes. I think it's slightly different with the two groups. You have doctors and patients saying people who we know are very ill who are putting out large amounts of virus because the ill you are, probably the high your viral load, because your immune system hasn't got on top of it. Bus drivers, just the sheer number of contacts.


NEAL: That's why we come back to the social distancing as many people as can.

CURNOW: OK. Professor Neal, I really appreciate you joining us. Thanks for your expertise. Have a lovely day.

NEAL: Thank you. Good bye.

CURNOW: Bye-bye.

So, be sure to join us a little bit later today. There are still some questions we have, don't we? So, you really want to ask Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They will bring you the latest facts and on some of your questions about the coronavirus. So, do join us for this town hall, 8:00 in the evening New York, 8:00 on Friday morning in Hong Kong, only on CNN, of course.

So, still to come this hour, Americans are quickly losing confidence in their struggling economy after a U.S. report with the record number of job losses. But now, a new unemployment report could make matters even worse. We'll have that, next.


TRUMP: It would be nice to open with a big bang, open up our country, certainly most of our country. And I think we're going to do that soon. You look at what's happening. I would say we're ahead of schedule. Now, you hate to say it too loudly because all of a sudden things don't happen.




CURNOW: So, leading economists are saying this pandemic will hurt worldwide trade even more than the financial crisis of 2008. So, the World Trade Organization warns global trade could plunge as much as 32 percent this year. The director general says the numbers are ugly and warns of painful consequences for people and businesses, with North American and Asian exports being hardest hit.

We also know that millions of Americans have already lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic, and in the next few hours, a new labor report may show another huge spike in unemployment claims, all of this now causing Americans to really stress out about the economy. According to a new CNN poll, only 39 percent of Americans surveyed say the U.S. economy is in good shape while 60 percent say it is in poor shape. That number is the worst since 2014.

Well, Christine Romans joins me now from New York.

You've been looking at these numbers, these polls, and they certainly give an indication of the mood and the feeling within the country.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and how quickly that mood has soured. It's so interesting, too, Robyn, because so many -- a majority say they don't think the federal government is doing a good enough job to slow the spread. More specifically, the response bills, these record historic never before seen bailouts that are on their way from Congress to help the American people, people who have lost their jobs, their wages, 55 percent say they're not doing enough.

Small business owners, 53 percent, the coronavirus response bills are doing too little to help. Regular people like you, 44 percent, large corporations, 16 percent. So, interesting just how pessimistic the American people are about what's happening, the federal government's role in preventing the spread, and Congress's role in trying to fix things.

Now, in just a little over three hours, Robyn, we're going to get these weekly jobless claim numbers and they're going to be just awful, I mean, really awful. Many more millions of people losing their jobs.


The unemployment rate today probably 12 or 13 percent, that's what the former Fed Chief Janet Yellen says. When you add in the most recent layoffs, you're talking about 14 percent unemployment. At the worst of the Great Recession, we saw 10 percent unemployment in October 2009. In 1982, a terrible, terrible recession in the United States, 10.8 percent.

So, you're talking about the worst economy today in terms for jobs for people than we've seen in most people's lifetimes. And so, that's why the poll numbers are terrible because the grim reality is just everybody life for people right now in this country and it's all going in the wrong direction still.

CURNOW: Yes, it is. I mean, everybody is feeling it. Thanks, Christine.


CURNOW: Keep an eye on those numbers. We'll come back to you.

So, as the job numbers rises, the U.S. health officials are trying to get essential employees who may have been exposed to the virus back to work. Under new guidelines, employees including health care workers, those in food supply and others, can return to jobs if they don't have symptoms and agree to practice safety measures.

Jason Carroll has this report. He's met some of them. Take a look.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Business is closed, streets empty, as New Yorkers, like many people across the country, continue to live under a stay at home order. But for those who are deemed essential --

(on camera): A lot of stress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of stress.

CARROLL (voice-over): -- staying home is not an option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just pray to God that I make it through the day.

CARROLL: A number of so-called essential workers we found shared a common worry. Thankful to have jobs when so many now do not but also grave concerns about working during a pandemic.

KHAJA KHATEEB, PHARMACIST, THOMAS DRUGS: It's not easy. It's scary, I'm telling you. Every day we come in. We pray to God, you know, to keep us safe, you know? But is's our responsibility at this time to take care of the customers and the patients.

CARROLL: The focus here at Thomas Drugs on Manhattan's Upper West Side, ensuring the staff's safety while keeping up with customer's needs for items such as thermometers, gloves and masks.

KHATEEB: It's hard to get it from the distributors. So, we're just trying to get it but still it's not easy.

CARROLL: But for some essential workers, they have to deal with scenes like this before they can even get to work.

Myriam Varela works at an emergency room and shot this video in a Bronx subway station last Friday.

MYRIAM VARELA, HOSPITAL BUSINESS ASSOCIATE: What do us essential workers do? How do we stay safe? We're not even safe at work where we're supposed to be safe because we have to deal with this pandemic and we're not safe getting to work.

CARROLL: Varela says she has no choice but to take the subway. She says she doesn't have the luxury of a car so she has to commute by train an hour and a half each way every day from her home in Harlem to Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. She says the CDC recommendation of six feet of social distancing is challenging at best.

VARELA: To be honest with you, that doesn't exist on the train. That's like --

CARROLL (on camera): Doesn't exist.

VARELA: It's like nonexistent, to the point that you're lucky if you get on where there's a little bit of people. Usually, it's very crowded in the morning.

CARROLL (voice-over): The city's transportation authority says ridership is down more than 90 percent and they do watch for hot spots, but they say it is difficult operating even a reduced schedule because there are fewer healthy people to run the trains.

Jazzmen Cloye works at Trader Joe's and commutes by train as well. Cloye says she does what she can to keep her distance on her way to work where her job is to help customers keep their distance.

JAZZMEN CLOYE, GROCERY STORE WORKER: It's risky to come to work. I'm trying to keep the safe precautions of trying to keep six feet away, constantly wear my mask, change my gloves, wash my hands frequently. So, I mean, it is scary but you've got to stay safe.

CARROLL: And it's not just grocery store workers. Keeping spirits in supply is deemed essential as well. At 67 Street Wine and Spirits, customers wait outside for their orders. Here, they've hired some furloughed restaurant workers to keep up with demand.

DAVID WEISER, MANAGER, 67 WINE & SPIRITS: At the end of the day, ultimately, it's about people. So, if we can keep people employed, we feel happy.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: So from New York to southern California where dozens of patients at a nursing home were forced to evacuate to other facilities. The reason? Wednesday was the second consecutive day that employees didn't show up to work to care for their patients. The nursing home has been hard hit by the coronavirus with at least 34 patients and five staff members testing positive. That's a difficult one, isn't it?

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Still to come, what's it like to be an emergency room doctor during this pandemic? I'll ask an E.R. doctor in London in just a moment. So, stick around for that.

You're watching CNN.




DR. LAKSHMAN SWAMY, BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER: Last night, I was speaking with a young parent who could have been someone in my own family, and I had to tell them that we needed to put the breathing tube in. And we all watched while they called their child at home and said, I love you so much. I love you so much. I love you so much. And, you know, that was it.

It almost reminded -- this may not be appropriate, but it almost reminded me of the phone calls from 9/11 where people are saying good- bye to their loved ones.


CURNOW: Powerful comments there from Dr. Lakshman Swamy of the Boston Medical Center. He is, of course, expressing some of the pain that medical professionals around the world are witnessing as they try to save people from the coronavirus.

And we've seen videos of overcrowded ICUs spilling out into hallways. From this one, as you can see, you might remember this story from CNN in New York. There's this in France. Always the center of these things are overworked but organized doctors driving the life-saving action.

So, I want to speak to one of those doctors now, a firsthand perspective, what it's like to work in an E.R. during this pandemic.

Dr. Harrison Carter joins from London.

So, good to see you. Thank you.

You work in a London hospital. What is it like being there when a lot of these patients are coming into your E.R.?

DR. HARRISON CARTER, JUNIOR DOCTOR IN EMERGENCY MEDICINE: Hi there, Robyn. Very nice to speak to you.

What I can tell you is that over the last week or so we have started to get busier. We have had an increase in the number of patients needing care and support and an increase in the number of patients who are very sick and very unwell with suspected coronavirus, who we are trying to look after as best as we can.

The team is -- staff morale is still really high. END