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Barack Obama Endorses Former V.P. Joe Biden For President; China Says U.S. Move To Cut Funding Will Weaken World Health Organization; Spike In Cases Overwhelming Japan's Health Care System. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 15, 2020 - 05:30   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN. It is 5:30 in the morning here on the east coast. Thanks to all of you joining us here in the U.S. and around the world.

So, staying in the U.S., the Internal Revenue Service started sending out -- this is good news -- sending out stimulus payments this week to millions of Americans -- much-needed relief.

Those receiving paper checks, though, will notice President Trump's name on it. "The Washington Post" reports this will be the first time a president's name is featured on an IRS disbursement return. The first batch of those checks are slated to go out next week.

So Alison Kosik joins us now with more on all of this from New York. Hi, Alison, good to see you.


It's interesting that we did see -- that we did learn that in this last-minute order from the Treasury Department that Donald J. Trump -- President Donald J. Trump -- his name is going to be added to the memo line on the left side of the checks. And this is the first time a president's written name will appear on an IRS check, which you said will go out next week.

Now, the first wave of direct deposit checks, they went out over the weekend and Americans who were eligible -- individuals will receive $1,200 and $500 per child. But almost one-third of adults believe these $1,200 stimulus checks are just not enough money to sustain their lifestyles for one month. So kind of think of this as less than a stimulus check and more of sort of some economic support to try to get through these tough times.

And even before this pandemic and the U.S. economy was forced to a standstill, just 41 percent of Americans were able to pay for an emergency of $1,000 from their savings. So while these stimulus checks aren't a panacea, they are certainly sorely needed by millions of Americans -- Robyn. CURNOW: Yes, they certainly are. Alison, thanks so much.

So, the man hoping to replace Donald Trump this November got another major boost on Tuesday. Former President Barack Obama has endorsed his former V.P. Joe Biden. Obama says -- Obama says Biden has the character and resilience to lead America through uncertain times. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there's one thing we've learned as a country from moments of great crisis it's that the spirit of looking out for one another can't be restricted to our homes or our workplaces or our neighborhoods or our houses of worship.

It also has to be reflected in our national government -- the kind of leadership that's guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy, and grace. That kind of leadership doesn't just belong in our state capitols and mayor's offices, it belongs in the White House. And that's why I'm so proud to endorse Joe Biden for President of the United States.


CURNOW: Well, Obama didn't mention Donald Trump specifically but he accused Republicans of being interested in power, not progress.

So, after Obama's endorsement, Biden tweeted, "We're going to build on the progress we made together."

Well, Jeff Zeleny, who has actually covered both men, has more on the significance of this endorsement. Jeff, hi.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, that message from Barack Obama certainly no surprise. We have known for so long that he would, indeed, endorse Joe Biden, his longtime friend and former vice president during the Obama administration.

But it was his message that I found so interesting. Former President Obama called on Americans of goodwill to unite. He called on Americans of all political strife to pay attention and focus their minds on this moment in the race. In fact, Mr. Obama talked as much about this moment and the challenges, and the coronavirus even, than he talked about Joe Biden's presidential candidacy.

Now, he did not mention Donald Trump by name but that certainly was the subtext to the entire message. He talked about the importance of empathy, about humility, honesty, even science. So clearly, it was a moment for Barack Obama to try and insert himself and try and reset this conversation.

Also, a pointed message to Bernie Sanders, calling him an American original and extending his hand to progressives -- the supporters of Sen. Sanders who may be reluctant to join the Biden campaign.


So certainly, this was a critical step in the Biden candidacy -- his ascension, really, to becoming the Democratic nominee.

Now, going forward, Barack Obama plans to campaign as much as he can. Of course, that is an open question. What does a campaign even look like now over the next six months? One thing he can do is raise money and he'll start doing that straightaway.

But, Robyn, the key takeaway here I think is Barack Obama is back on the political scene after being on the sidelines for more than a year, of his own choosing. He's coming back as a unifier and, of course, he believes Democrats and Independents should focus their attention on beating Donald Trump -- Robyn.


CURNOW: Jeff, thanks for that.

So, you're watching CNN. Coming up, we have some breaking news -- a developing story out of China. China is reacting to the U.S. President Donald Trump and his criticism of the WHO. We have a live report from Beijing -- that's next.


CURNOW: Yes, we do have some breaking news for you.

China is now slamming President Trump's move to cut funding from the WHO, the World Health Organization. The Chinese foreign ministry has defended the work of the WHO and says Mr. Trump's decision will not only weaken the institution but it will also affect every country on earth.

So let's go straight to China. David Culver joins us now from Shanghai. So what are the Chinese saying? Hi, David, good to see you.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Robyn, good to see you as well.

We did expect the foreign ministry here to respond to President Trump's decision to suspend funding to the World Health Organization. And as you point out, they say this is going to be damning to trying to control this epidemic and this outbreak as a global community.

They point out, in particular, that the current global epidemic situation is grim. They say it's WHO's capacities and undermine -- that the decision, rather, by the U.S. weaken WHO's capacities and undermine the international cooperation against this epidemic.


Now, you've got to understand the back-and-forth a little bit here because it's a little bit of a contradiction coming from the President of the United States, President Trump, where you don't have to go back too far. He has really praised China's handling of this outbreak and referring to his friend, President Xi Jinping, and saying that he's done a good job. And the World Health Organization has, likewise, praised China's handling of this.

However, what we also need to point out is what some of our early reporting uncovered here, and that was that there were allegations of cover-up. That there was underreporting at the source of all of this -- the epicenter in Wuhan. And that that was really an issue at the local level as portrayed here in China that the central government had to essentially step in, push aside, and then take over and take charge in a military-like fashion.

However, this back-and-forth is likely to intensify, at least from the U.S. perspective, as it gives President Trump somebody to blame in all of this, and that now seems to be the World Health Organization and China. So it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out further Robyn because --


CULVER: -- I don't think we've really heard the end of the back-and- forth here.

CURNOW: No. In many ways, this is an opportunity for deflection for the U.S. president. But there are also people who say he has a point that the WHO is too China-centric. That they have dropped the ball on some level.

How is China going to manage that as well?

CULVER: Well, China says that they have been forthcoming with the WHO and that they respect the WHO's position and they consider it to be a neutral one. But as you point out, there are those who believe that the WHO is heavily influenced by China and will simply go along with the Chinese health officials and what they're telling them.

But they've laid out the timeline -- China, that is -- and saying that they revealed in late December -- December 31st -- to WHO what they had initially discovered. And then a couple of weeks later, revealed publicly what they seemed to be following along here within this virus and this outbreak in particular.

Here's what's interesting, though. As you look at the action that was taken by the U.S., in particular -- President Trump -- and he really touts his -- the travel ban against those coming from China -- something that was very positive and showed decisive action early on.

I think the question is now posed that even if you weren't being told exactly what was going on and you feel things were covered up and the WHO was misleading, why then put in that travel ban? So it must have been that serious.

Why then close your conflict in Wuhan? And why then not go in full preparation mode to the United States for what could be coming your way? And we now know it was a two-month delay essentially that the U.S. had in preparing for this.

CURNOW: Yes, you make an excellent point there.

David Culver, great reporting -- thanks so much -- live from Shanghai.

So, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still to come, if you've been having rather strange dreams during this pandemic you are not alone. We discuss what may be behind the phenomenon just ahead. Lockdown dreams -- that's coming up.



CURNOW: So it is no secret the coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted people's daily routines all around the world. Some people are reporting changes in their sleep patterns, waking up at odd hours in the night since they've been in lockdown, while others say they're experiencing an increase in really strange and bizarre dreams.

Actually, the hashtag #pandemicdreams has been making the rounds on Twitter with people sharing their good and bad dreams. I want to share some of them with you.

John tweets that he encountered a duck in deep snow. He asked the duck if I were a chickie would you take care of me? The snow duck replied yes. A very reassuring dream, he says.

But Sarah tweeted about an Uber -- about calling an Uber but instead, a hearse showed up instead. A little less reassuring.

So, to try and make sense of all of this I want to bring in Jason Ellis. He's a professor of sleep science and the director of the Northumbria Sleep Research Laboratory in the U.K., and he joins me now from Birmingham.

I know on some level it's kind of fun to talk about dreams or maybe not listen to other people's dreams. But this has become a real thing, lockdown dreams, pandemic dreams. Why?

JASON ELLIS, PROFESSOR OF SLEEP SCIENCE AND DIRECTOR OF NORTHUMBRIA SLEEP RESEARCH LABORATORY: Well, it's interesting. I mean, people are not dreaming more. That's the first thing that we need to say. What's likely happening here is people are waking up more often in the night and that's why they're remembering more dreams.

CURNOW: Why --

ELLIS: Interestingly --

CURNOW: Why are they waking up more in the night then if you're on lockdown?

ELLIS: Yes, it's because -- I think because of the uncertainty, changes in routines, some of our habits. We're more likely to have poorer sleep at the moment, which means we're more likely to wake up in the night.

CURNOW: So you say it's about a change of routine. Even though you might be at home, you might be getting a little bit more sleep because you're not having to sit in traffic in the morning, for example. So is it just about the change in routine or is it about anxiety and fear and concern as well?

ELLIS: It's both. I mean, we've seen that when people are stressed and when they feel uncertain about things, they're more likely to have problems getting off to sleep and waking up a lot more frequently and for longer during the night.

CURNOW: So what are you hearing? I mean, if this -- this is your job to monitor folks' dreams and sleep patterns, what kind of -- what are the -- what are the stories you're hearing?

ELLIS: Well, we're seeing, really, two different types of dreams that are occurring at the moment. There's some which are going back into people's memories and that makes sense because they're trying to make sense of the situation at the moment by comparing it to what they may have experienced in the past.

The other side of it of the very fantastical dreams where people are almost trying to emotionally problem-solve some of the issues they might be going through at the moment.

CURNOW: So, can you give us some examples?

ELLIS: I had one the other day which was a giraffe that was a talking giraffe. And what it was doing was trying to show somebody the way to move around a supermarket safely. So clearly, there was an anxiety about going to the supermarket and social distancing.

But the giraffe -- when I asked this individual about what the giraffe meant to them --



ELLIS: -- they were very comfortable. And one of their best experiences was a trip to Disney when they were a child. And so, they combined the two as a way of trying to navigate the emotional distress caused by even going out to the supermarket.

CURNOW: Yes. I mean, it makes total sense, doesn't it? I mean, that's why our brains, perhaps, are doing a better job of this when we're asleep than when we're awake.

So is this a good thing, having lockdown dreams? Are our brains processing stuff? Is it good to feel confusion about some of the weird dreams we're having?

ELLIS: It's interesting -- it's a two-part thing here. One -- yes, dreams are OK -- they're good. They help us get over emotional issues. We know that people who are going through divorce, for example, how they dream and what they dream of does determine how well they adjust to the divorce.

The difficulty here though is that if people are remembering more dreams, they're waking up more frequently in the night and that's something we might need to manage.

CURNOW: And how can people do that because they're stuck at home, the kids are at home? They're working from home so maybe their bosses are not, you know, being OK with boundaries. They're getting phone calls at 10:00 a.m. or 6:00 a.m.

How can people, wherever you are in the world, manage this?

ELLIS: Yes, there's a few simple things that we can do. The first thing is try to keep a sleep routine. Keep it to what it was previously.

More importantly, getting-up time. Going to bed, that can be shifted a little bit. But going -- getting out of bed at the same time in the morning really does set your biological ribbons for sleep the next night.

I would also say put the day to bed before you go to bed. So give yourself some distance between your working sphere and your sleeping sphere -- maybe an hour or two. Write a list of all the things that you've done and all the things that you've got to do tomorrow. It leaves you in a more sense of control and that will make it easier for you to sleep at night.


ELLIS: The final thing I would say is alcohol. We are going to be consuming more alcohol. The problem with that, of course, is it makes us wake up later in the night more frequently and that's when we're going to be having all of those weird and wonderful dreams.

CURNOW: OK, all good advice. Great to speak to you, Jason Ellis -- appreciate it. A professor of sleep science. Some valuable, valuable tips as well. But also, that hashtag has also had me giggling as well.

Thanks a lot, sir.

ELLIS: Thank you.

CURNOW: Have a lovely day. Sleep well.

So, I do want to bring you some breaking news now. We have a panel of experts in Japan warning of a staggering number of COVID-related deaths.

Will Ripley is following the story. He's in Tokyo. Will, hi. I know you want to bring us this news and it is staggering, isn't it?


This just breaking here in Japan, reporting on state broadcaster NHK and other Japanese media within the last hour or so that a panel commissioned by the Japanese Health Ministry estimates without social distancing measures, a staggering 400,000 people could die in Japan, largely the result of a lack of ventilators in this country. There are only about 22,000 ventilators available nationwide at last count for a country of 126 million people.

This is a country that delayed its coronavirus response as it was fighting to keep the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on schedule. After the Olympics were postponed the government started to increase its messaging, but some analysts are fearful that the messaging reached a lot of people too late.

We saw people who were out and about -- people who are still going to work on crowded subway trains because 80 percent of Japanese companies are not equipped to allow people to work from home.

And now, you have this warning that if more people don't stay home, a huge number of people here in Japan could die because their initial strategy of focusing on clusters and minimal testing has essentially left the country unable to assess how many people are actually walking around with the virus.

And they have such limited ability in hospitals to treat patients because of a shortage of ICU beds -- just seven ICU beds for every 100,000 people -- it could be a catastrophic situation if more people here in Tokyo and other Japanese cities don't stay home.

And, Robyn, also breaking during the overnight hours in the U.S., U.S. Forces Japan has expanded its public health emergency declaration for all of Japan. It did have the declaration for the Kanto Plains region, which includes Tokyo. Now, all of Japan is considered to be a public health emergency by the U.S. Armed Forces, which means that they are restricting movement of personnel on and off U.S. military bases to try to prevent the infection spread there.

CURNOW: OK, thanks for bringing us that and hopefully, there is some quick response to those numbers. Appreciate it. Will Ripley there in Tokyo.

So, a New York woman who has recovered from coronavirus is opening up about her experience. Here's the emotional moment when 33-year-old Janet Mendez was discharged from hospital.



JANET MENDEZ, RECOVERED FROM COVID-19: All I remember is when I woke up I didn't even know my name, who I was, where was I standing. And so in the beginning, it was difficult because I felt so lost and like, where am I, who I am, and why am I here.

Take it seriously, protect yourself. If you don't have to go outside, stay home. Because at the beginning you're like oh, yes, yes, it's just the media, but this is real and it knocks you down. Even though you think you're healthy it knocks you down.


CURNOW: Well, doctors cheered as Mendez left the hospital after three weeks. As part of her treatment, she was intubated for 10 days before a critical care team was able to get her to breathe on her own again.

Huge deal. The doctors call her case a miracle. Her warning also very sober.

So, thanks for your company. It's been a busy hour. Let's hope you have a beautiful day. Medical workers are telling us all to stay at home and stay safe, so please listen to them.

I'm Robyn Curnow. "NEW DAY" is next. You're watching CNN.



GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: You may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves, a face mask, where your temperature is checked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we might see is this kind of on-off intermittent distancing until 2022.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there have been some missteps by the World Health Organization but to stop funding in the middle of a pandemic, I'm not sure that makes sense.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health, I wouldn't do it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will then be authorizing each individual governor to implement a reopening.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (D), OHIO: Until we have a vaccine we're not going to be totally back to normal.


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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, April 15th.