Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump To Announce Council Aimed At Reopening Economy; U.K. ICU Doctor Writes A Letter To President Trump; South Korea To Hold Parliamentary Election Wednesday. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 14, 2020 - 05:30   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN. It is 5:32 in the morning here on the east coast.

So, the U.S. President Donald Trump says the White House will announce in the coming hours the creation of a committee focused on reopening the country for business. Mr. Trump also insists that as president, he has the ultimate authority to reopen the U.S.

But governors in at least 10 states disagree with that assertion. On Monday, states on both coasts announced they've created their own regional pacts to work together on how to reopen their economies once it is safe to do so.

Alison Kosik joins me now with the latest from New York. And how are markets reacting to all of that? Hi, Alison.


I think right now, you're looking at markets focusing more on earnings season, which kicks off today. It's when we're really going to get the first glimpse as to how American companies have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis. And first up we're going to be hearing from JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo as well, and Johnson & Johnson as well.

And S&P 500 companies are expected to show a 10 percent earnings decline for the entire earnings season. Already, we've seen warnings coming from companies. They're also not issuing forward-looking guidance because of all the uncertainty surrounding the impact of the coronavirus on the U.S. economy.

So now we see this pivot ready to happen. We don't know which day this will happen, but a pivot from the unprecedented closing of the U.S. economy to the opening.

And you mentioned the state-by-state approach and now we've got the federal approach. The White House announcing this council to focus on the reopening -- this council called Opening Our Country Council -- and they're going to be tasked with just how to go ahead and reopen the U.S. economy. It looks like there aren't going to be any business members in this -- anyone from companies in this. It looks like it's going to be filled with a lot of administrative -- administration officials led by Mark Meadows. He's the chief of staff.

It will include Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross, along with advisers Larry Kudlow, Peter Navarro -- even Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. They are expected to be part of this council as well.

Now, there are questions, though, how this council's going to work with the Coronavirus Task Force. It's not clear how the two panels will wind up interacting. But one official said reopening -- the reopening council would likely focus more on economic measures to stimulate the economy and less on public health. That would be left to the Coronavirus Task Force.

So we will get more word today from the White House -- we're expected to get, at least -- on who will fill up this council and what the next steps will be -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, thanks so much. Alison Kosik there. Have a lovely week.

KOSIK: Thank you.


CURNOW: So around the world, medical workers are facing new challenges as they fight the coronavirus.

Dr. Matt Morgan has been describing what it's like on the front lines in the U.K. and has also got a message -- an open letter for the U.S. president saying quote, "Intensive care can save thousands of lives, yet the true power in this global health threat lies not with the doctors but with the people. Simply staying at home, socially distancing and reducing transmission will save far more.

So, too, in politics. Giving your power to the people around you, the experts in truth, the experts in science, and the experts in health is how you, too, can save millions."

Well, that's a powerful message there. Intensive care Dr. Matt Morgan joins me now from Cardiff. He's a consultant at the University Hospital in Wales.

Powerful letter you wrote there to the U.S. president and you wrote it on behalf of patients, globally. But you also asked for time. Why?

DR. MATT MORGAN, INTENSIVE CARE DOCTOR, CONSULTANT IN INTENSIVE CARE MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL OF WALES CARDIFF (via Skype): Well, time is really the most important tool we have in the intensive care units. Yes, we've got machines and powerful drugs but especially in this COVID epidemic, the thing which helps people is time and their own body.

And I hope the letter I've written aren't the words from me. They are the words from the founder of the NHS in the U.K. who was a coal miner's son who lived just an hour away from where I live -- Aneurin Bevan.

And he really had three powerful phrases which I've used in this letter. This is my truth, tell me yours. The purpose of power is to give it away. And the final one, especially for America, is no society can call itself civilized if the sick are denied through lack of means.

CURNOW: OK. So, really quite foundational stuff, particularly for health care and as a doctor for you in the U.K. And I know that doctors across the world have all been facing these challenges.

When you look at your day in the ICU and you talk about time, how difficult has it been for family members not having that connection with people in the ICU, particularly those that die -- not having the time to say goodbye?

MORGAN: I must say after all the changes over the last month or so, the things we can cope with are the changes in machines, the changes in area, the changes in workforce and in medicine.

The things I've struggled with the most, and certainly families have struggled with is that time to be there when people are critically ill. That's something that's engrained normally in our practice and now we're having to work around new ways to support patients, especially those that don't make it.

My last shift, for example, was with patients who despite all of the things we were doing were sadly going to die and in that time he could not be alone. And so I was there -- I was there with nursing staff, holding his hand, playing his favorite song, actually, on an iPad that his family asked us to do.

So my plea to the people --

CURNOW: What was his family's favorite song?

MORGAN: I think I'd rather keep that to him, actually --


MORGAN: -- because that's something for him and his wife. But it was something which brought tears to all of our eyes. It was very poignant.

But that's some of the small little gestures that we can do at that time. And it may not seem much but I think for that family member knowing somebody was holding his hand, knowing that he was listening to something that he loved, hopefully will bring some solace.

CURNOW: What has the death rate been and have you been overwhelmed by just the amount of saying goodbye that you and your nurses and the staff where you work have had to do in the past few weeks?

MORGAN: Well, certainly in intensive care, end-of-life care -- and that support is fundamental to what we do every day -- we are still coping with the results locally in Cardiff. So if people are at home feeling unwell we still have the ability to care for them and that's really important to know. We also have a psychological team locally that is there to help support families and to support staff, actually.

But you're right, this is something new for us to go through as health care providers, being one step back from that family support.

CURNOW: Have you had to make difficult ethical choices? I know that a lot has been talked about -- you know, doctors have to make these hard choices about who to save and who not to. Has it come to that where you are?

MORGAN: We are not in a resource-limited setting at the minute, so the decision-making that we make -- shared decision-making with patients, families, and caregivers is the same as we do every day in intensive care. And I've written another letter, actually, to the elderly, the frail, and those with chronic health conditions to explain and frame some of that decision-making.

But as of now, here where I work in Cardiff, that decision-making is exactly the same as it is every day.


CURNOW: You're a dad, as well. How are you managing? This is -- this is a life-changing experience for doctors in many ways. How do you balance all of this?

MORGAN: Yes, that's a great question. You're right, I'm a researcher, a scientist, a doctor, but I'm also a son, a dad, a husband. It was my wife's 40th birthday yesterday.

And I think it's important to remember for viewers that even though things are tough, it's still important to find joy and to find happiness in the things you can.

It's a lovely sunny day here. It's one of my off days today so in between these phone calls I'm going to sit in the garden, I'm going to talk to my children. I'm going to do those normal things and find joy in those things, and it's OK to do that.

CURNOW: Yes, I think we all need that space.

Thanks so much. Dr. Matt Morgan there. Appreciate you and all of your staff. And thank you for sharing some of those moments with us -- appreciate it.

Have a lovely day --

MORGAN: Thank you.

CURNOW: -- in the garden.

So, you're watching CNN. Still to come, the pandemic has already forced dozens of countries to postpone upcoming elections, but South Korea refuses to be one of them. Take a look at these images. How the country plans to vote without spreading the virus, hopefully.


CURNOW: Welcome back, I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks for joining me this morning.

So, it may have taken a back seat to so many developments surrounding coronavirus but in the least few hours we have seen a big moment in the race for the White House. Bernie Sanders has endorsed his former rival Joe Biden for president, saying he will do all he can to help him defeat Donald Trump. The quick endorsement is important and it comes as Democrats seek to unify and turn their focus towards November's election.

So, sticking with elections, how do you hold an election in the middle of a pandemic? Dozens of countries have already postponed or canceled elections because of the coronavirus.


But South Korea might just be the how-to blueprint for early voting for the parliamentary election, and that has already happened. Take a look at these images. People lining up to vote. Strict measures are in place to monitor voters' health at the polling stations for the main event on Wednesday.

So, Paula Hancocks is in Seoul and she joins me now with more. Paula, hi.

I mean, everybody's been told to stay behind doors around the rest of the world, but where you are, folks are being encouraged to come out and make their vote. How are they doing this? How are they getting that balance right?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's an interesting one, Robyn. There was never an official lockdown here in South Korea although social distancing is still very much supposed to be in place. Now, we didn't see that in some of the campaign rallies that we went to.

But certainly, what officials are hoping is that they will be able to pull off this election without infections spiking at all. We have seen a low level of infections over the past week or so hovering around or below the 50 level. So certainly, South Korea appears to be doing fairly well in that respect.

There will be 20,000 more people though -- officials hired for this election to make sure that the health, sanitation, and those elements of it can be carried out well.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): Queue at least one meter apart, have your temperature checked, sanitize your hands, put on disposable gloves, and then vote. This is a South Korean Parliamentary election during the pandemic. More than a quarter of the electorate came for early voting last Friday and Saturday, a record, to avoid the crowds on Election Day, Wednesday. President Moon Jae-in was one of them. This election seen as a midterm referendum for him and his party.

More than 14,000 polling stations will be disinfected regularly. For those who tested positive for coronavirus, they were encouraged to vote by mail before the end of March. If you tested positive after that date, you then vote at eight special polling stations so long as your symptoms are mild. If you're in quarantine, you can vote in the hour after polls close but only if you're symptom-free.

When it comes to campaigning, some of it was virtual but most of it was not.

HANCOCKS (on camera): It feels like it has been a long time since I saw a crowd like this in central Seoul. It is packed with media, supporters, and candidates. Nothing about that crowd really says social distancing to me at this point but what we're hearing from candidates if they still have to campaign and they still have to try and get as many votes as possible.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Following one ruling party candidate, the mask was on and off, as were the gloves, and physical contact was frequent.

LEE NAK-YEON, CANDIDATE, DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF KOREA (through translator): So-called non-verbal language can have more an impact than spoken words. This election has a sad limitation for us to use non-verbal language.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): But as a candidate, when a supporter wants to hug you it's very hard to say no.

Officials don't believe turnout will be affected too much, borne out by those we spoke to on the streets of Seoul.

This construction worker says, "Korea has had elections even during wartime, so I think the election should go ahead as planned."

This mother says, "I have no choice but to come out today to get schoolbooks for my daughter. But I'm keeping social distance from others so I think I should be OK on the election date."

With close to 44 million registered voters, this election is a big test for South Korea and its efforts to fight the virus and countries around the world who head for their own elections this year will be watching very closely.


HANCOCKS: And we'll be watching the turnout rate very closely, Robyn. As I said, more than a quarter of the electorate has already voted in early voting trying to avoid what they could perceive to be big crowds on Wednesday, tomorrow. But the turnout will be very interesting to see.

CURNOW: Yes, it's fascinating, isn't it? Thanks for that report. Let's see what happens.

But also, I know you've been busy because we got a message from North Korea -- essentially, a short-range -- expect a short-range missile test. What about the timing on that? Why now -- why?

HANCOCKS: Well, it was a fairly busy morning for North Korea according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff here. They launched some short- range cruise missiles. They also had a separate air drill where they were firing air-to-surface missiles from fighter jets.

There could be a number of reasons for it. It's worth pointing out that tomorrow, April 15th, is not just the South Korea Election Day.

For North Korea, it's the biggest day on the calendar. It is the birthdate of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung, which is often marked by a large military parade. It's the day where the North Korean experts are peeled at the screen trying to figure out what new technology, what new missiles North Korea might have.


But there's a chance that might not happen tomorrow. We simply don't know. So this could be connected to that as well.

CURNOW: OK, thanks for that. Thanks for that update there, Paula Hancocks.

So, India's prime minister is extending his country's nationwide lockdown for another few weeks until May the third. Narendra Modi made that announcement earlier on Tuesday. He thanked citizens for abiding by lockdown restrictions and says he appreciates the difficulties they have faced.

India has a population of more than a billion people. So far, they've reported just over 10,000 positive cases of coronavirus.

So we're watching that story and many more. We're going to take you to a quick break. CNN NEWSROOM will be right back.


CURNOW: Welcome back, I'm Robyn Curnow.

So, on Easter Sunday, Brazil's famous Christ the Redeemer statue was transformed. Have you seen this? Isn't that fantastic? More technological wonder, I must say, than a miracle.

But the iconic statue was lit up in scrubs to look like a doctor. It was a tribute to all the front line health care workers battling the coronavirus around the world. Isn't that powerful? Also projected onto the statue, various national flags, video of health care workers, and messages of gratitude that I think we all share.


And then also, another touching final tribute from one set of health care workers to another. Take a look at this one.




CURNOW: You're listening to members of the MD Anderson Cancer Center employee choir in Texas singing Bruno Mars' "Count on Me" -- their tribute to medical staff fighting the coronavirus pandemic. They recorded their rendition from nearly 30 different locations -- beautiful.

Well, thanks for your company. Of course, let's help our medical workers and everyone by staying at home and staying safe. I hope you have a wonderful day.

I'm Robyn Curnow. "NEW DAY" is next with Alisyn and John -- enjoy.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: We're starting to see in some areas now that kind of flattening, particularly in a place that was a hotspot like New York.

DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: If you keep the course, you'll get transmission essentially down to zero.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: We have had the deep collaborative spirit of a shared vision for reopening not just within our states but more broadly as a region.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The authority of the President of the United States having to do with the subject we're talking about is total.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: The president doesn't have total authority. We have a Constitution. We don't have a king.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I have to make a decision. That's my responsibility. But we're certainly going to consult with the White House.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world.