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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 16,000; Italy's COVID-19 Death Toll Surpasses 18,000; Boris Johnson Out of Intensive Care; Doctor Relays Positives and Negatives of Ventilator Use; African Elites Get Their Own Healthcare; OPEC, Russia Agree to Cut 10 Million Barrels a Day; U.S. Workers Struggle as Jobless Claims Spike; Some European Countries Prepare to Ease Lockdown. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 10, 2020 - 00:00   ET

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


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes.

[00:01:10]

And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, a grim milestone for New York City again. It now has the most COVID cases in the world, and the number is still growing.

Despite that, the U.S. president says mass testing isn't needed to pull the country out of the crisis.

Meanwhile, Britain's prime minister is on the mend. He's out of intensive care but still in the hospital.

And OPEC and Russia agree to an historic cut in oil output, but the deal isn't done yet.

Welcome, everyone. There are now more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide. That's according to Johns Hopkins University, which says the virus has killed more than 95,000 people. Think about that number.

There are some signs the tide might be turning in Europe, which of course, was once the epicenter of the outbreak. Denmark and Austria are among the countries looking to scale back lockdown restrictions. They're aiming to reopen schools and shops after Easter.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care. We're told he is still in the hospital, though, being monitored for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the number of hospitalizations is decreasing in New York and several other states, but the death toll continues to surge. The U.S. has surpassed 16,000 virus-related deaths.

It's worth noting the U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world's population but 17 percent of the world's deaths, at least 30 percent of the cases. And of course, the most reported cases in the world, more than 465,000.

But the country will not be doing any mass testing as it tries to pull out of the pandemic and get back to work. President Trump said Thursday it's not necessary to test every American for the virus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to have it, and we're going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes. We're talking about 325 million people, and that's not going to happen, as you can imagine. And it would never happen with anyone else, either. Other countries do it, but they do it in a limited form. We'll probably be the leader of the pack. Please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Mr. Trump says more than two million tests have been done so far, and there could be, in his words, massive testing in certain areas. Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, wouldn't say if there were enough tests available now to reopen the country.

We've got more for you now on the latest developments from CNN's Nick Watt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 16,000 have now died nationwide. And in Detroit, health workers say people are dying in E.R. hallways.

This Chicago jail, now America's largest known site of infection outside medical facilities: 400 plus cases among inmates and staff.

In New York, military doctors now deployed not just in field hospitals but inside city hospitals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they are suffering from is doctors getting sick or nurses.

WATT: This city, the crossroads of the world, now has more confirmed cases than any other city on earth, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It's been 18 days since we closed down New York. I know it feels like a lifetime.

WATT: New York state's curve is now flattening. The numbers are now encouraging, but the message stays the same. Do not stop social distancing.

CUOMO: Because we can't handle the worst-case scenarios. We can't even handle the moderate case scenarios.

[00:05:04]

WATT: The president regularly hails his imposing travel restrictions on China in late January.

TRUMP: I cut off China very early. I closed down our country to China, which was heavily infected.

WATT: Nearly 17 million Americans have now filed for unemployment in just these past three weeks. That's more than 10 percent of the total workforce.

JACORY WRIGHT, FURLOUGHED ELEVATOR DISPATCHER: I already can't swim, and I literally feel like I'm drowning.

WATT: Air travel in the U.S. down a stunning 96 percent year on year, according to various metrics reviewed by CNN. Dr. Fauci says we might still be able to take summer vacations this year.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: It can be in the cards, and I say that with some caution. We have to be prepared that, when the infections start to rear their heads again, that we have in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contact trace, and make sure we don't have those spikes that we see now.

WATT: This summer might still be very different to the last. Just listen into the Santa Clara County, California, supervisors' virtual meeting.

DR. JEFFREY SMITH, SANTA CLARA COUNTY EXECUTIVE OFFICER: I do not expect that we will have any sports games until at least Thanksgiving. And we'll be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving.

WATT: For now in Brook Haven, Mississippi, a drive-by show of support for 90-year-old Bryant Johnston, sick with the virus that just killed Betty, his wife of near 60 years.

BRYANT JOHNSTON, WIFE DIED FROM COVID-19: I didn't get to see her. I didn't get to hold her hand. I didn't get to tell her goodbye.

WATT (on camera): A political and now legal battle escalating in Kansas tonight. The governor wants to limit all religious services to 10 people or fewer in the run-up to Easter Sunday. Some of her political opponents disagree, so Thursday afternoon, the governor had to file a suit in the state's supreme court. The battle goes on.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Well, Coronavirus is claiming the lives of those on Italy's front lines in increasing numbers. The government now says 105 doctors have died from the virus. Italy's death toll stands at more than 18,000. But as CNN's Ben Wedeman reports, some Italian mayors claim the actual number is much higher.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the last photo of Fiorio Federici (ph), joking he was a prisoner in quarantine. He died on the 27th of March from coronavirus.

"I brought groceries, because he couldn't go out, recalls his daughter, Roberta. I left it outside the door. He said goodbye from the window. That was the last time I saw my father."

On the same day her father died, Roberta's maternal uncle died at home. A veteran of the Carabinieri, Italian paramilitary police, Delio (ph) had coronavirus symptoms, pneumonia and high fever, because he was neither hospitalized nor tested. However, he wasn't included in the coronavirus death toll.

Another uncle, Mario (ph), died the week before in a nursing home. Roberta believes the cause may have been coronavirus.

Nursing homes in northern Italy last month saw a sudden spike in deaths. Italy has suffered the world's highest death toll from the virus, but the actual number of COVID-19 deaths may be much, much higher.

Early on, mayors in northern Italy, where the virus has hit hardest, sense the data was amiss.

"From the beginning, we understood something was happening that wasn't reflected in the official data," says Claudio Cancelli, mayor of the small town of Nembro.

The mayor of the nearby city of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, noted the same irregularities.

"I received the data and saw that the dead were many more than those who had been infected," he says. He contacted other mayors, who confirmed his suspicions that the number of deaths was much higher than the same period last year, although the vast majority of this year's deaths weren't attributed to coronavirus.

Bergamo journalist Saia Vernizzi (ph) also investigated the anomaly, which was plain to see in the obituary pages of his newspaper, "L'Eco de Bergamo."

[00:10:05]

"Usually we would publish one page of obituaries, maximum two," he tells me. But last month saw sudden rise, with as many as 13 pages a day of obituaries.

The coronavirus death toll, Vernizzi (ph) and others concluded, was at least twice what was being reported.

Health ministry officials tell CNN the priority now is dealing with the crisis, but that eventually, they hope to come up with a more accurate reporting.

Roberta, who lost a father and two uncles, understands the authorities are overwhelmed.

"Here in Bergamo, it was like a tsunami," she says. "Perhaps we're paying for the illusion of omnipotence. When we first heard about the disease, we thought we would overcome it, that we were stronger. But it's a hard battle, and it" -- coronavirus -- "is stronger than us."

And indeed, whatever the actual numbers, Italy is paying a very high price.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: The French health officials are reporting for the first time a drop in ICU patients, reducing the need for beds and vital equipment. The death toll was also down for a second straight day, 424 on Thursday. And that brings the total to just over 12,000 in France.

The health ministry says social distancing measures are starting to pay off.

And turning now to the United Kingdom, where nearly 8,000 people have died so far from COVID-19, more than 65,000 people infected.

The government says it is too early to say when cases will peak and too early to stop social distancing. But the country's leader is out of intensive care. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent several days in ICU with persistent COVID-19 symptoms. He is still in hospital, but his office says he's on the mend.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in London. Good news for the P.M., Nic, but still fighting this.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, and I think good news for the country, as well, Michael. It really shook a lot of people that the prime minister actually ended up in ICU and apparently on the verge of going onto a ventilator. And -- and it was, you know, two days before we really got information about him saying that he was sitting up, engaging positively. And the messages from there continues, that he was -- you know, that things were going in a positive direction.

He's now been moved to a regular ward for the next phase of his recovery. How much more time he'll have to spend in hospital, where he will recover after that, when will he return to work, these already seem to be open questions still.

And I think all the information that we've had when we hear that the prime minister is in very high spirits, which is one of the lines that came from Downing Street late yesterday. We still don't have a real medical assessment of how bad he was and what the likely path of recovery is going to be.

But this is a huge weekend in the U.K., as everywhere. Easter weekend. But the weather here is going to be sunny again, and that's a huge concern for authorities, because they want people to stay at home, to keep at social distancing, because they say they are beginning to see some indications that the coronavirus numbers are not running away, not accelerating out of control. There is some improvement. But way, way too soon to -- to back off from the controls in place, as

you said.

HOLMES: Yes. Well, it was interesting to see people out and about last time it was sunny there. And -- and you know, it's going to be interesting to see if they do adhere this time.

I mean, what -- More broadly, though, you had the U.K.'s chief scientific officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, say he would expect the number of deaths to keep going up for at least for awhile. Is that what you're hearing?

ROBERTSON: Yes. He said a couple of weeks. You know, when they're looking, the graphs that they're presenting at their daily briefings track things like deaths, but they also track hospital admissions and the number of people going into intensive care.

So over the past couple of days, we've been told that ICU admissions and hospital admissions, as well, the numbers there are -- they're not plateauing, but they're not going up as steeply as they were before. And that's reason to -- that's reason to be hopeful.

But the death toll, because of the nature, that it's a couple of weeks in ICU, or in hospital before people, unfortunately, pass on, that's why they say that you can expect to see those numbers continuing at the rate they're continuing at.

But that said, they're still in the -- they're still in the sort of 12, 15 percentage region for the last few days, which if you go back a week or so, they were up at 30 percent. So even the rate of death is not accelerating that fast.

[00:15:16]

And one of the other metrics, of course, they measure this by is the rate of doubling. And a couple of days ago, they were speaking about doubling being three to four days. Now they are saying it's six days or more for doubling.

So there's some encouragement in the statistics. As we've seen everywhere, this is the way it plays out, but it does depend on the social distancing.

HOLMES: Yes, absolutely. Good to see you, Nic. Thank you. Nic Robertson there in London, staying at home.

All right. Well, healthcare workers around the world are scrambling to get more ventilators for coronavirus patient. When we come back, why that might not be the best option for some of them.

Also, African leaders forced to come to grips with the healthcare systems they've long neglected as the continent braces for its surge in COVID-19 cases.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

As healthcare workers battle to get the coronavirus under control, officials are pushing to get more ventilators to treat patients, but keep this in mind. A significant number of people who are put on ventilators won't ever come off them. In fact, the reality, doctors say, is most do not. They die.

And the patients who do successfully come off of ventilator often face daunting challenges on the road to recovery.

In a sobering piece for "The New York Times," Dr. Kathryn Dreger writes, quote, "It breaks my heart that Americans who get sick enough to need them won't know what desperate situations they face, nor will they understand what ventilators can do to help and what they can never fix."

And Dr. Dreger joins me now from Arlington, Virginia. She's an internalist and assistant professor at the Georgetown School of Medicine.

It's great to have you on. Your article in "The New York Times" struck me as a very important one when it comes to realistic expectations. I mean, obviously, being on a ventilator, well, straight away, that automatically means you're -- you're in a serious condition, pretty much.

But I think a lot of people are going to be surprised at the mortality rate or the survival rate, really. It's sadly no miracle cure. What is the harsh reality?

DR. KATHRYN DREGER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: So I think it's important to think about how a ventilator work. What happens when you're on the ventilator is somebody puts a tube kind of in your mouth, down your airway, into your main airway here, your trachea, and it blows into the lungs.

And many of us go on a ventilator if we have surgery. You know, they put you to sleep, put you on the ventilator. It's all lovely, because as you blow that air in, that lung expands very nicely, and then it relaxes.

[00:20:12]

And in COVID-19, what seems to happen is, if you imagine those airways branching, they branch and branch and branch until they're very, very, very tiny, at the end of these tiny little sacks. And that's where air goes in and out. And in COVID-19, the air, those sacks fill with fluid, and the air can't get in.

So the ventilator has to blow extra hard. The lung, instead of being sort of soft, like whipped cream, becomes stiff like a marshmallow. And you have to blow air into the lung to inflate it. And blowing that air in actually can, in and of itself, damage the lung.

But you can open the lung up if you try really hard. And you can also deliver more oxygen to the lung.

But with COVID, you're not fixing the disease. The disease is continuing unabated, because we don't have any treatment. You're just buying time.

HOLMES: And the thing is, even if you survive, and there are some pretty, you know, sobering statistics on how many survive.

DREGER: Yes. Yes.

HOLMES: It can be as few as 20 percent on ventilators with COVID. But there can be serious and lasting impacts afterwards, even if you do make it.

DREGER: Yes. So if you make it, and the other thing that can happen when you're on the ventilator, is you're on, for COVID-19, seems to be typically around 2 weeks. And because -- we call them the ventilator settings, you know, how much air you have to push in, how much oxygen you have to give. Because they're so intense, people have to be maximally sedated. And that sedation, if they do come off the ventilator, causes a great deal of harm. And we know that.

It seems to damage the nerves. Makes it hard for people to feel and operate their bodies, and it damages the muscles. It makes it hard for people to walk again. And they are very, very, very week. And so recovery usually takes months, if not years from other causes or ARDS, and -- which is acute respiratory distress syndrome.

HOLMES: As I said, it's incredibly sobering. And it's not what people think, that it might be some sort of miracle. I'm wondering the reaction to your "New York Times" piece, you know, why you decided to write it in the first place. I think you described it as "a letter to my patients."

DREGER: It actually was a letter to my patients. It was a much longer letter, because "The New York Times" trimmed it appropriately.

One of the things that happens is that, you know, this is life support, right? This is being hooked up to a machine. And a lot of people are dying on these machines. And some people never wanted to die on a machine. And they haven't made their wishes clear.

So what tends to happen is they come to the hospital, or they're in the hospital, and they suddenly take a turn for the worse. And now they suddenly can't breathe. Their family's nowhere nearby. They can't say goodbye.

And the doctors say, OK, do you want to go on the machine or not? And it's -- it's a split-second decision. And it's a terrible way to make such a difficult, difficult decision.

And then, if they do choose to go on the machine and they get worse, so a large number, a lot of these people are developing kidney failure and shock. They can also get other pneumonias on top of everything. If they get worse, the doctors have to call the family who aren't even at the bedside, and say if you want to keep going. And I felt like that was -- it was just a terrible amount of

suffering.

HOLMES: Yes.

DREGER: And I wanted to kind of bridge that gap, to say, OK, listen, this is what it is. This is how it works. And decide, decide what's right for you. What do you want? Only you can make the choice.

HOLMES: (AUDIO GAP) here, Dr. Kathryn Dreger, thank you so much. We really appreciate your time.

DREGER: Thank you. Thank you very much.

HOLMES: Important conversation for people, perhaps, to have with their families.

Healthcare workers, meanwhile, trying to put smiles on their patients' faces by wearing pictures of themselves on all that personal protection gear. It's a great idea. Derek DeVault took this photo of his colleagues at Los Angeles Hospital.

He says patients are isolated from visitors, so seeing what their nurse looks like under all that garb actually helps ease their stress. It makes sense when you think about it. What a great idea.

Robertino Rodriguez took this picture for his patients. He says he felt bad when they couldn't see him through the PPE, so he printed out the large picture and his name to wear. What a great idea. The World Health Organization says some African nations will see a

huge spike in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks. It warns, without help, those countries will face, quote, "massive devastation."

This is an important issue in that part of the world. When Africa's work and rich and powerful need medical care, they usually go abroad, but as the coronavirus spreads and entire countries are locked down, Africa's elite are being forced to confront and even use healthcare systems they've neglected for many years.

CNN's David McKenzie reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The late Robert Mugabe made frequent trips to Singapore for treatment. Cameroon's often absent Paul Biya prefers doctors in Europe.

Muhammadu Buhari criticized medical travel as a newly-elected president, right before jetting off to European hospitals.

African heads of state are top-tier medical tourists. But in the time of COVID-19 lockdowns, while there's more pressure than ever for leaders to seek care at home, their citizens have no choice.

ED KEAZOR, NIGERIAN HISTORIAN: The reality is this. You know, if you -- if you can't leave the country, you have to use what's here. So it's that simple.

MCKENZIE: He's in good shape now, working out their daily during the Lagos lockdown, but when he got cancer and then Crohn's disease, Ed Keazor says he had no choice but to move to the U.K., where he's also a citizen, to get treatment he could afford, not an option in Nigeria.

KEAZOR: Well, the healthcare's there. It's just not affordable. So the public healthcare facilities, I mean, come on.

MCKENZIE (on camera): What is your message to these leaders who have frequently gone overseas for treatment, who are now seeing the situation in their own countries?

KEAZOR: As we do in Nigeria, if you -- rather than fix your road, we buy Jeeps. You know, we're all going to be affected by this. So I think it was ever a wake-up call to the consequences of simply fiddling while Rome is burning. I think the present circumstances are the biggest wake-up call.

MCKENZIE: The wake-up call is this. Nigeria is more ready than many for the pandemic. They stopped Ebola in 2014, gaining experience in surveillance, testing, and isolation.

But overall, the vast majority of African countries, including in its most populous nation, have the lowest level of health spending globally, according to the WHO. So those who can often leave to get treatment.

DES PANTANOWITZ, VASCULAR SURGEON: There are a lot of countries in Africa where they do very basic medicine. So they do need to come here, or some go to England and some go to America.

MCKENZIE: In normal times, South African surgeon Des Pantanowitz gets a steady stream of medical tourists, including cabinet members and government officials.

PANTANOWITZ: It is what it is. If they have to get the right treatment and so they have to go somewhere else.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Because it's not in their country.

PANTANOWITZ: Because it's not available.

KEAZOR: It's just that the investment is not there. And a lot of ministers (ph) who control the investment in public health care. So you know, means (ph).

MCKENZIE (voice-over): But Keazor hopes that the pandemic will show the elites and leaders what the rest of Africa already knows.

KEAZOR: If we felt we could sit down in our bubble, in our little comfortable bubble, and just coast through life as people, no. This crisis has showed us that you can't sit there in that bubble any more You can't.

MCKENZIE: David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: We're going to take a short break. When we come back, it is the biggest oil production cut ever agreed upon. OPEC's new deal with Russia amid the coronavirus and the possible snag in the deal. We'll have details when we come back.

Also, more people in the U.S. filed for unemployment in the past week than the population of Croatia and Slovenia combined. What the Fed is doing in response, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:55]

HOLMES: The oil industry hemorrhaging, and no one can really stop the bleeding. That from -- that the opening message from OPEC secretary general to non-OPEC members in a video meeting on Thursday.

Now, it ended with OPEC and Russia tentatively agreeing to cut global oil production, slashing 10 million barrels a day for the next two months. It's a deep cut, and it comes amid a steep drop in demand due to the coronavirus, paired with an epic price war. You've seen crude prices crashing to historic lows.

To dig into all of this, founder and CEO of Vanda Insights, Vandana Hari, joins me now, live from Singapore.

Good to see you. OK, so for the uninitiated, what's going to be the immediate impact, and will it be a lasting impact?

VANDANA HARI, FOUNDER/CEO, VANDA INSIGHTS: Hi, Michael. Good afternoon.

So the 10 million barrels per day that they agreed to cut, first and foremost, needs to be weighed against the demand destruction, if you will, that's happening because of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated lockdowns and shutdowns globally, which is now estimated at up to 30 million barrels per day, at least in this month.

So the 10 million barrels per day of reduction clearly is not going to be enough to mop up the surplus oil, which is why we saw oil prices actually climbing down at Thursday's close after this decision was known.

HOLMES: You know, the U.S. president was praising lower prices for consumers at one point, but then he turned around and he wanted prices to go up, of course, for the oil producers. Which is better for the economy?

HARI: I think probably President Trump has felt the most conflicted on oil prices ever in his life. So indeed, he's been a huge champion of lower prices at the pump. And I think all the more so now, you know, when economies, not just in the U.S., globally, are struggling and will be struggling to come out of this pandemic crisis. However, there is a bit of a conflict right now for the U.S.

administration. So the country has always held energy independence as a traditional goal. And the sheer (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the past few years has actually enabled the U.S. to achieve that. It has become a net exporter of oil after being a net importer for decades.

And now, that is in great jeopardy because of, you know, the blood bath that is expected in the shale sector. And the shale sector, obviously, has been the major driver of this energy independence in the U.S.

HOLMES: That's a very good point. And it is an election year, we must remember.

The price war, is -- is it over? Or is this a truce? I mean, what's the short to medium outlook?

HARI: Yes. The price war in the sense that Saudi Arabia and Russia a month ago had declared that all their deals to curb output were off the table, that they were each going to pump as much as they can, especially Saudi Arabia, raising output by up to two -- more than two million barrels a day.

In that sense, yes, what yesterday's agreement tells me is that price war is over. I think the biggest question for the oil markets and in terms of those trading oil right now, rather on Monday, is whether this -- this cutback that has been announced will be enough to offset the demand loss.

HOLMES: Vandana Hari, thank you so much there in Singapore. Appreciate it. Helping us understand what can be a complex story. Thanks so much.

Well, the European Union is pledging to -- is pledging up to $546 billion to target the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The stimulus package will amount to two percent of each member state's GDP, with the fund focusing on workers, companies and the state.

European leaders are celebrating the agreement on Twitter, as well as the solidarity of the union. Previous failed attempts for the funds sparked high tension between member states.

[00:35:08]

The Italian prime minister warning the future of Europe was at risk if they could not agree on the stimulus package.

Here in the United States, the senators locked in a stalemates of sorts over additional coronavirus aid. Proposals to approve more money for small business loans blocked down the aisle.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve unleashed another $2.3 trillion in loans for small businesses, states and cities. The Fed's chairman urging the need to avoid a false start.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: When the virus does run its course and it's safe to go back to work and safe for businesses to open, then we would expect there to be a fairly quick rebound as people do go back to work and start resuming normal levels of economic activity.

We need to have a plan, nationally, for reopening the economy. While we all want it to happen as quickly as possible, we all want to avoid a false start, where we -- we partially reopen, and that results in a spike in coronavirus cases and then we have to go back again to go to square one. We all want to avoid that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, the Fed announced its new landing after a dismal jobs report: 6.6 million people filed for unemployment just last week. That makes nearly 17 million claims in just three weeks. Roughly 11 percent of the U.S. labor force out of work in three weeks, a deeper and faster job collapse than the U.S. suffered during the Great Recession [SIC].

Unemployment systems across America are crashing, overwhelmed by the staggering number of people who, because of all of that, are now seeking benefits. As they struggle and wait to get their claims processed, the unemployed find themselves facing a harsh new reality.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the millions of Americans applying for unemployment, this probably sounds familiar.

JACORY WRIGHT, ELEVATOR DISPATCHER: You have to hang up and call back. Hang up and call back. Hang up and call back.

ED CHAN, GIG WORKER: It was tough. The system does crash.

YURKEVICH: Right now, millions of Americans, no matter their age, sex or race, are confronting a chilling but shared reality. Unemployment offices around the country, ill-equipped to deal with the sheer volume. Phone lines jammed, sites crashing and lines of Americans in Miami, waiting for paper unemployment applications.

WRIGHT: I already can't swim, and I literally feel like I'm drowning.

YURKEVICH: Jacory Wright lives in Dallas, furloughed from a job he loves on Tuesday. It was the most he's ever made. $18 an hour. But Wright still lives paycheck to paycheck. And now, without health insurance.

WRIGHT: My insurance is gone. I'm HIV positive, so now I have to go through the process of being able to get my medicine paid for again. And it -- it doesn't just take people out of a financial comfort zone temporarily. It literally does a domino effect to certain people. YURKEVICH: It was a domino effect for Stephanie Bonin, too, who has

owned Duo restaurant in Colorado for 15 years.

STEPHANIE BONIN, RESTAURANT OWNER: In order to be able to reopen down the road, we had to make the hard decision to lay our entire staff off.

YURKEVICH: That's 20 people, including herself, without jobs, now applying for unemployment.

BONIN: We are creating an entirely new population of -- a new population of people who are not used to being in the social services program. It's a change of identity for, I think, many many people in the United States right now.

YURKEVICH: Ed Chan from Queens, New York, is a gig worker, stringing together four jobs to make $40,000 a year.

CHAN: I think it might take me at least another year to rebuild my -- my life, my portfolio of work right now. So it -- it kind of sucks. I mean, and it's a dreadful thing to think about, but that's what keeps you up at night.

YURKEVICH: If March's unemployment numbers are a sign, April will bring more sleepless nights. Last month, jobs in the restaurant industry fell over 400,000. And the unemployment rate for black workers shot up to 6.7 percent.

WRIGHT: You don't have a job at the moment, you don't have insurance in the moment. If you didn't save up, if you don't have wealthy parents, you are shut off at the moment. Their life is on hiatus.

YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Meanwhile, a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel could be getting closer. Just ahead, how some countries across Europe might relax their lockdown restrictions in the coming weeks.

Also, we'll take a look at the bigger picture. How this pandemic affects the way the world works as a whole. We'll discuss when we come back.

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[00:42:11]

HOLMES: Welcome back. Countries in Europe are hoping they've weathered the worst of the coronavirus. Germany's health minister says his nation could see a gradual return to normalcy perhaps after Easter. This coming as other countries in the region are also hoping to ease some of their lockdown restrictions in the upcoming weeks.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen takes a look at what they plan to do.

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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Qasim Khan's restaurant in central Copenhagen is still taking orders for delivery while the country has been ordered to stay at home. He's hoping for better days ahead as the crisis drags on. But --

QASIM KHAN, RESTAURANT OWNER: I think it's a bit too soon to talk about reopening. Even though it would be really good for us, I just think it's going to extend the whole period of the sickness of the virus.

PLEITGEN: Khan is referring to a decision by the Danish government to begin lifting restrictions and easing out of the current measures.

The government plans to reopen daycare centers and first through fifth grade by early next week. The prime minister says the decision is based on the fact that the number of those infected has been stable for a while.

More than 200 people have died from the virus in Denmark thus far. It was one of the first European countries to restrict travel.

In Norway, the government says kindergartners will be returning to school the week of April 20. And those in first through fifth grade will go back a week later.

ERNA SOLBERG, NORWEGIAN PRIME MINISTER: What we see now in Norway is, of course, that we have managed to get the reproduction number down below one. That means that everyone who has become ill is not infecting more than one person, has been infecting less than one person. And that means that we are feeling that we are in control of the development.

PLEITGEN: In both Norway and Denmark, authorities are cautioning that the crisis is not over. In fact, other social distancing restrictions remain in place.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is allowing some shops to reopen this week. And some travel restrictions will be lifted next week.

Authorities have also stepped up contact tracing to further stem the spread of the disease, hoping that would lead to the lifting of more restrictions.

And the Austrian government has also announced plans to begin easing restrictions as of next week.

SEBASTIAN KURZ, AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): So Tuesday after Easter, small businesses up to a size of 400 square meters, as well as DIY stores, can open again.

PLEITGEN: The government says shop owners are still required to observe very strict safety measures such as allowing only a few people in and insisting that every shopper wears a mask.

Masks can now be bought from vending machines, including this machine at an underground train station in Vienna.

On the streets, people cautiously welcomed the government's decision to begin a gradual return to normality.

[00:45:07]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The light at the end of the tunnel sounds good to me.

PLEITGEN: Here in Germany, there's also been talk of a gradual return to normality. Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany will evaluate the decision after the Easter break.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.

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HOLMES: Well, this pandemic does appear to be upsetting the world order, the global economy and the balance of international power, but some of these changes may not be surprising.

Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in "Foreign Affairs," quote, "The world that will emerge from the crisis will be recognizable. Waning American leadership, faltering global cooperation, great-power discord: All of these characterized the international environment before the appearance of COVID-19, and the pandemic has brought them into sharper than ever relief. They are likely to be even more prominent features of the world that follows."

And Jamie Metzl joins me now. He's a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and also author of the book "Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity," just out in paperback.

Always a pleasure to see you, my friend. We're still in the middle of this, but once it has passed, once the worst is over, how different will the world look in terms of leadership, global cooperation, or lack of it, geopolitical power structures?

JAMIE METZL, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: The world is going to look very, very different on the far end of this crisis than it did at the beginning.

There are a lot of people who even still are feeling this is something like a big snowstorm where we sit it out. Then the plows come out, plow away the snow. The sun melts it, and we go back to our normal lives.

But when this melts, when we get back this crisis, the world is going to be fundamentally changed on every level, personally, nationally. Our national politics are going to change. And global geopolitics are going to change.

The United States has been the key actor getting the world through these kinds of crises for 80 years. And that there is this big crisis. The United States isn't playing a leadership role. China has a very curious but a new position in the world. And even more significantly, we're recognizing that there's a

fundamental mismatch between the global nature of the problems that we all share and the national way that we're organized to address them.

HOLMES: And --

METZL: And if we don't fix that -- yes, go on, Michael. Sorry.

HOLMES: No, no. And to that point, I mean, there are some that think that, well, we will learn that we're all in this together, and it will lead to a new age of greater globalization or working together.

But then others think that, you know, it could push the pre-pandemic trend towards nationalism, political and trade isolation.

METZL: Yes. We don't know. I mean, those are two definite possibilities, and we see the walls going up now. We see opportunistic leaders, like Orban in Hungary and others, who are using this as an opportunity to pedal a dangerous nationalism.

But we're also seeing that the virus doesn't respect our national boundaries. It doesn't respect all of these same kind of crazy divisions that sometimes we put up between ourselves. And if we want to face, not just the challenge of deadly pathogens, but all of these other big existential common threats that we face, we're going to have to recognize that we're all one humanity.

HOLMES: Yes. I mean, before this even began, and you touched on this, and let's explore it. We saw where -- you know, we've seen the slow and many would say incoherent American response to this.

But before that, there was a decline in the U.S. reputation as a world leader in a whole lot of areas. But since the crisis, especially, as a leader in time of global crisis, it's interesting. You know, U.S. military strength has grown, the economy and so on, but its reputation globally has gone in the other direction under the so-called American first.

METZL: The most powerful tool that America had in its arsenal, more powerful than any carrier battle group, was the power of the American model, American ideals, American leadership that had led the world through two world wars, and it helped reconstruct a world in an image of something that was much better than what had existed before the Second World War.

And very, very sadly, the United States has given up that role. That's what America first is all about. And you don't need allies until you need them.

And this is one of these moments where having American leadership, having strong allies and partnerships, could have really made a difference. And it still can. The American ideal isn't dead, but it certainly needs to be resuscitated.

HOLMES: Yes, you don't need allies till you need them. That's so true.

[00:50:03]

I mean, you're one of our many -- one of our best experts on China. I mean, I've read opposing views on how China will emerge. So say it will be an even more powerful force and -- and world leader. Others say that, you know, President Xi Jinping may have been weakened by this and is even vulnerable because of his initial response to the pandemic. What's your take?

METZL: Well, certainly, China really screwed this thing up, especially in the first few weeks when this whole crisis could have been prevented by a smarter Chinese response.

But since then, the Chinese government has rallied in a pretty significant way. And in doing so, it's also strengthened its authoritarian grip on Chinese people and Chinese society, partly in the name of suppressing the resurgence of -- of this -- of this virus.

And if it continues, if current trends continue and the United States proves incapable of really getting its arms, in a meaningful way, around this crisis, and China is able to keep its economy going and get stronger, this could really fundamentally change the global balance of power.

You think of the U.K. in 1956. At the end of that year, Britain had the same number of ships and soldiers and weapons as in the beginning. But there was the Suez crisis in the middle that shrunk Britain from a global power to a regional power.

China has very big aspirations, and the United States really needs to get its act together if it wants to defend the world that we've helped build.

HOLMES: Jamie Metzl, always a pleasure to have you on. I appreciate it. Thank you.

METZL: My pleasure, Michael.

HOLMES: Well, being sent to a government quarantine center can be a strange and surreal experience. Our colleague, Tara Mulholland, has found that out firsthand. She was isolated in Hong Kong after a friend tested positive for COVID-19.

Here's her inside look at what it was like.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TARA MULHOLLAND, CNN PRODUCER: I've just been told by the Hong Kong health authority that I'm being taken to government quarantine, because one of my friends has tested positive for coronavirus.

I've actually been self-isolating in my room since I found out that my friend was positive, which is why it's such a mess. There's been a bit of a delay in getting people to quarantine centers, because so many people in Hong Kong recently tested positive. So I've just been hanging out in my room, on my balcony, in Hong Kong, waiting to get picked up. It did feel a little surreal to be taken through the street outside my

apartment block by a fully Hazmat-suited medical worker.

I've just been picked up by a bus to take me to the quarantine center.

When the health department bus arrived at the quarantine center, it felt like a cross between arriving at a school trip and a prison. But the conditions actually turned out to be quite good.

This is my room in the quarantine center. Here's my desk. I managed to get in some fruit. The bathroom is very well-appointed, so it's not too bad.

In the camp we're allowed outside while wearing face masks, and we can even socialize with each other as long as we stay a healthy distance apart.

There we go, a healthy 36.8.

This is a sample cup for my coronavirus test. I need to spit into this tomorrow morning before I eat or drink anything. And then they'll take it away, test it, make sure that I'm definitely not positive.

In some ways, life in quarantine is quite strange. I get my meals delivered to me by healthcare workers. I have to take my temperature twice a day, and obviously, I can't leave.

But in some ways, it's not that different to what life in Hong Kong is like at the moment. I'd been working from home for about three months, and pretty much everyone is practicing some form of social distancing at the moment. So talking to my friends on video calls is just what happens now.

But I am looking forward to getting out and seeing my friends again, and celebrating my birthday.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Tara Mulholland there.

From healthcare workers to checkout clerks at the grocery store, not to mention your local garbage collectors and delivery people, we owe a debt of gratitude to the frontline workers around the world. When we come back, we'll say thanks.

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[00:55:56]

HOLMES: Cities across the United States joined in a show of support by lighting up buildings in blue for first responders. Sports stadiums leading the way, illuminating the night skies with the Light it Blue initiative. It's a way to say thank you to all the doctors, nurses, and other first responders on the front lines fighting the coronavirus pandemic. But of course, it's not just medical workers who are working while

most of us, rightly, do our part by staying home. So spare a thought, as well, and a thank you, next time you go to the supermarket for supplies. Or bring in a trash can that's been emptied, as I did this week.

Because the truth is, COVID-19 impacts the less well off more than the wealthy, because they're often more exposed to the risk. Literally exposed. And have fewer tools with which to fight it.

They staff those supermarkets. They packed that stuff you ordered from the sofa and they deliver that stuff to your door. They're often economically more likely to have to work and not be able to work from home. Those people, they're on the front lines, too.

And COVID-19 is also disproportionately impacting people of color in the U.S. and those less healthy, and those less likely to have health insurance because, of course, in the U.S., affordable healthcare is not a right, and nearly 30 million Americans just don't have any. Millions more don't have enough. In the U.S., getting sick can bankrupt you surprisingly quickly.

So next time you get a chance, say to those folks, thank you.

Be well, love those around you, and if you can, stay home. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. A CNN global town hall, "CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS," up next.

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