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Trump Set to Unveil New Reopening Guidelines; U.S. Jobless Claims Expected to Rise Another 5.1 Million; Germany Plans to Gradually Scale Back Lockdown; U.K.: Curve Flattening, But Country Not Yet Past Peak; Researchers Around the World Race to Develop A Vaccine. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 16, 2020 - 05:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, good morning. Welcome to all of our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. Good to see you. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So, just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM:

An eager President Trump pushes to reopen the country but state and local officials say they are not ready for it.

Labs around the world are testing for a vaccine. We'll speak to one expert who's leading the way.

And then also a new report says China delayed releasing critical details about the coronavirus. We have those details from Shanghai ahead.

So, in just a matter of hour, the U.S. President Donald Trump will roll out new guidelines, aimed at getting Americans back to work, even as the number of state and local officials say they are nowhere near reopening. Now, those new guidelines are set to be announced by Mr. Trump later today. And they are part of the continued effort to get the economy open by May 1st.

The governors, of course will have the final say. And it is likely Mr. Trump will face pushback from several states. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the companies will determine that, and the governors will determine that and the federal government. And if we're not happy, we'll take very strong action against a state or a governor, if we're not happy with a job the governor is doing, we'll let them know about it. As you know, we have very strong action we can take, including a closedown.

We have the right to do whatever we want, but we wouldn't do that. But, no, we would have the right to close down what we want if we want to do that. I don't think there would be any reason to do that, but we have the right to did that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Well, all of those comments could start up further clashes with governors about when and how to reopen. Mr. Trump pointed to recent data, though, to make his case.


TRUMP: New cases are declining throughout the New York metropolitan area. Cases in the Detroit and Denver metro areas are flat. Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and St. Louis are showing great signs of progress. And new cases in Houston and New Orleans are declining. The battle continues, but the data suggests that nationwide, we have past the peak on new cases.


CURNOW: But, but there are a number of states now bracing for their peak. Take a look at this map. And cases and deaths continue to rise. The death toll in the U.S. has now climbed past 30,000 people.

Now, President Trump's big show of reopening the economy sits in stark contrast to the current economic reality. In just a few hours, we expect to hear that another 5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. Now, that would bring a total of jobless claims to nearly 22 million in the last month.

And weak bank earnings and record decline in retail sales has brought the U.S. markets on Wednesday to their lowest point since April 1st, as you can see from these numbers. The Dow is once again 20 percent below February's peak.

Let's go to Alison Kosik. Alison joins me from New York.

Hi, good to see you, Alison.

I mean, the numbers are, to state this, 22 million Americans altogether filed for jobless claims just recently. I mean, there's some estimates that unemployment will be about 15 percent. These are troubling times, generational tough times.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, tough times, Robyn. Good morning.

The unemployment claims, by the way, are all over the place. We're seeing in a few hours it could be 3.8 million to as high as 8 million. I think the consensus of what you said, another 5 million are expected to file for unemployment for the week ending April 11. And you said, either that puts the unemployment rate somewhere above 10 percent, somewhere around 13 percent which is mind blowing considering it was just February the unemployment rate in the U.S. was at 3.5 percent.

Now this additional 5 million people who are expected to have filed for unemployment claims as you said brings that total number to 22 million people filing for unemployment just in the past month. That's 22 million people. Not just claims. This is 22 million people trying to pay their bills. 22 million people out of work.

Now, we do look at these numbers to get a really good snapshot of how the economy is faring.


The impact that the coronavirus is having on the economy, and right now, Robyn, economists believe that the U.S. economy is in a recession.

CURNOW: And this talk about these 22 million people and others in particular, small business owners, those mom and pop shops. I mean, they're still struggling to get access to loans. How are they managing?

KOSIK: So, yes, this is a problem, just a reminder that offering these forgivable loans to businesses here in the U.S., it's had problems with the start, whether it was the technical issues or lack of communication between lenders. And then, of course, the lack of communication coming to the businesses who need the money.

So this was $349 billion up for grabs. It was a "first come, first served" basis where business owners would go online and apply for these loans. And a lot of these small businesses, the owner, many who I talked to said they were just left in the dust, that they couldn't even get any of these loans.

And the thing is, the money is almost out. There's about $25 billion remaining. So, now we have Democrats and Republicans and Democrats, they want to owe more to this program, $250 billion. But the problem is they're at an impasse, they can't come together on whether to add restrictions to the funds.

The good news, talks are ongoing. But the reality is these business owners are desperate. The clock is ticking and these business owners are desperate to stay afloat -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, I think the word "desperate" is well-chosen there.

Alison Kosik, great to see you, live in New York. Thank you.

So, while President Donald Trump pushes to reopen the country sooner than later, the leaders of several major U.S. cities and states say don't expect any major public gatherings to take place for months, if not longer.


MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: It's difficult to imagine getting together in the thousands anytime soon. We've got many, many miles to walk before we're going to be back in those environments.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: We're taking it one step at a time. But I think everyone should recognize that those big events should be one of the last things that we bring back online. The last thing we should do is gather, you know, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 people in one place. That's like the exact opposite of social distancing. We shouldn't do that until we're really sure that we're out of this crisis. So, I think it could take quite a while.


CURNOW: But the longer Americans and people around the world practice social distancing, the more restless some are becoming.

In the state of Michigan, take a look at this, thousands of protesters actually gathered in the capital on Wednesday. They argued the governor's executive order to stay at home through April 30th had gone too far. But the governor shot back, saying the protest put more lives at risk.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: I can give you one clear example of how that is. It was a car protest and they were backed up to in front of a hospital. There was an ambulance that could not get into the bay for ten minutes. They absolutely impacted people's lives today, and threatened people's lives. And we'll never know the precise number of COVID-19 cases that come as a result of this gathering, but we know that there will be some.


CURNOW: Michigan has more than 28,000 cases of coronavirus, and more than 1,900 deaths so far.

So, joining me now is Muhammad Munir, a virologist at Lancaster University in England.

Good to see you, sir.

So, I know your job is essentially to study how viruses work, how they mutate. So, what do you make of these images of people protesting and deadlines and dates to reopen?

MUHAMMAD MUNIR, VIROLOGIST, LANCASTER UNIVERSITY: Well, this is really unfortunate. Well, in the last four months since the start of this outbreak, we have gathered enough information. I think there's no uncertainty, any ambiguity that this has spread through close contact, and two meter or six or seven feet minimum distance, to keep the other person from contracting near vicinity. So, this data gathering is certainly something that we'd love to read in and will start very effectively, and that's what we've been avoiding by social distancing.

And I do understand that the patient will be probably (INAUDIBLE) but this is the situation where we contact (INAUDIBLE) just the virus is driving us. So certainly, such gatherings should be condemned to the extent we can.

CURNOW: You heard a number of politicians, and I know this is a conversation taking place globally, saying, you know, as this virus spreads, social distancing will need to be in place for a while. One study said until 2022.

From your perspective as a virologist, how long do you think it's going to be until folks can go to parties and concerts and sports games?

MUNIR: Look, one thing is really clear, Robyn, that post-pandemic coronavirus life will be completely different from pre-pandemic.


It will shape our daily lives to the extent that even if the pubs and the gatherings which are essential to some extent after a couple of months if they are opened, there will be new rules never seen in history before. So, this will be a complete unprecedented life after the end of this epidemic.

It's very difficult to really predict when exactly this will end. Someone has to have a crystal ball to predict on that because the disease is at different scale in different countries across the globe. And as we are hearing, that some of the countries, they're already starting opening and easing the lockdown and control measures. They would also risk the spread of the infection, but at the same time, the diseases as we stated in the developing countries will always remain.

So it's really difficult to predict exactly when it will end. That is certainly important. That the social distancing and the lockdown and controls that we're putting in place need to be carried on until we really see a significant drop in the cases around the world.

CURNOW: And as I said, you study viruses for a living. There is a lot more known about this virus in the last four months. But what still needs to be understood? From your perspective, what is the one big question you still have?

MUNIR: Well, one of the major questions that has surprised many of the communities in the virology, in the research field is the contagiousness of this virus, because the virus has no significant differences in the blueprint or in the surfaces compared to the previous coronaviruses. So, we still need to explore at large how it became to be so contagious. And specials since it was asymptomatic which really no rooms for anyone to really know they're least contagious. So contagiousness is one thing.

And the second thing that will remain to be explored in a really (INAUDIBLE) is really understanding how replicating within our cellular and organs, because that is the time when we'll be able to understand how we can cope and build resistance and immunity against it. That will be the decisive factors for the vaccine development.

CURNOW: Still so many questions. Our thanks for all your work that you are doing. I know so many people behind the scenes are trying to understand this which will help us all. Thank you very much, sir. Muhammad Munir in England, appreciate your expertise.

So, CNN is now reporting that U.S. officials are looking into a widely held conspiracy theory that that the coronavirus was created in a Chinese laboratory, not in a wet market in Wuhan, and was accidentally released. There are reportedly been concerns over the safety and management of that lab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

U.S. intelligence sources now tell CNN it's believed the virus was not associated with any kind of bio weapons program. President Trump was asked about these reports at Wednesday's White House briefing. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I will tell you, more and more we're hearing the story. And we'll see, when you say multiple sources, now, there's a case where you can use the word sources. But we are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened.


CURNOW: Well, stay with us, for more on that story and decline's response to the virus, David Culver joins us live from Shanghai. That's just ahead.

So, you're watching CNN. Still to come, we will look at the different strategies of two major European cities to ease these lockdowns. We're live in London and Berlin, next.



CURNOW: One year ago, one year after the fire devastated the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the cathedral's great bell, as you see here, ringing out across the capital. That was at 8:00 p.m. local time in France.

It would also contribute to the landmark's resilience and health care workers putting their lives on the line to fight the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the work to rebuild the structure was suspended in March, amid this outbreak.

And staying in France, the country's reporting that more than 600 sailors from one of its aircraft carrier groups has tested positive for COVID-19. Four U.S. sailors we also know assigned to that aircraft are in quarantine. And a U.S. Navy official says two of them have tested positive but they are receiving excellent care. That's good news.

And in the U.K., the peak might be in sight, but it's not passed yet. The government said restrictions are working. One top medical adviser says some form of social distancing will likely be in place until a vaccine is available. Nearly 30,000 people have died in the U.K. so far.

And more than 300 people have died in one day in Germany, the highest the country has seen in a 24-hour span during the pandemic. It comes as Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the country would begrudgingly begin scaling down its lockdown as it carries out tests in the case -- increase the contact leads to a second wave of infections.

Well, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in London. Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin.

And I want to talk about these different reactions in different places.

Fred, to you first. I mean, a rather disturbing one-day death toll where you are.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it certainly is a disturbing one-day death toll. And it shows how difficult in a country like Germany which in so many ways has been exemplary at fighting the coronavirus pandemic, how difficult it is going to be to scale back measures to get control of it. One of the things that the Germans say, Rosemary, to be positive, the number of infections in Germany is a lot lower than a week ago or two weeks ago. And so, the Germans are saying they are moving in the right direction.

However, it is interesting to see how a country like Germany has to move very gradually when it comes to scaling back the measures. The Germans are saying the social distancing measuring in place for a couple weeks are in place for at least until May 3rd. And large gatherings are not going to happen in this country until at least the end of August.


Now, some smaller shops are going to be able to open. But Angela Merkel yesterday said that all the gains that have been made so far are so fragile that the government wants to be very, very careful. And there's one thing that she catching the eye of many people, the Germans are saying, with all the things that they've done so far which is being praised internationally, right now they're at a reproduction factor of the virus of about one, that means one infected person infects about one other person.

She says if that factor even moves to 1.1, even Germany's very robust health care system could be overwhelmed in a matter of months. If it moves to 1.2, it could be a matter of weeks. Angela Merkel, the German government saying they're loosening measures. Still being very, very careful about it and warning all of the gains made so far can be reversed.

Shows how difficult it is even in countries that have had so far a very, very robust response to the pandemic, Rosemary.

CURNOW: It's Robyn here. But don't worry, I'll call you Fred and we'll go to Nick.

Nick, what is the view from where you are. London taking a different approach?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Well, obviously, we've had a very different scale of deaths so far. And this is a comparatively good figure as we heard yesterday and that was still 767 dead reported in the last 24 hours. It's gone as high as 950. The problem the British government have in the next hours is they have

essentially made it clear they're going to leave in place the restriction measures that have been putting much of the economy, frankly, and population in lockdown entirely for the last three weeks. They're going to leave them in place for probably another three weeks. We don't know the details.

And they're doing this at a time when they had to accept that the numbers are looking better. But still 767 dead a day is not good news but it's not bad possibly has it has been in the previous days and it may get worse in the days ahead as the reporting from the holiday weekend kicks in.

Other good news, about 2,000 spare beds are considered spare capacity here. So, the concern in Britain, it always been, that if the infection and death rate gets high enough, you may see the health system here possibly overwhelmed. Now, that hasn't happened yet but at the same time, they're still moving forward with continuing the lockdown.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, is out of that decision-making process that would occur today so there are cabinet ministers vying for different concerns here. The economy, versus the physical health of the nation, those are the complicated factors here. But the broader question is exactly what is the U.K.'s exit strategy from this.

And, publicly, they don't have one. The junior minister on Twitter suggesting they have social distancing factor that can be eased, and an epidemiologist making similar noise. But a central strategy of this has to happen and this has to happen is not being laid out by the government yet, perhaps because its leader Boris Johnson is out of action recovering from coronavirus himself, as his prime minister resort in Checkers.

We may see that exit strategy in the week or so ahead. The challenge, though, today is to emphasize the seriousness of the continued risk of the British government by the government that simultaneously has to tell the government that the numbers are looking better and try to get everyone to still say at home. That's difficult indeed.

Back to you.

CURNOW: Thanks so much. Nick Paton Walsh there and Fred Pleitgen, thanks a lot.

So, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Still to come, researchers are scrambling to develop a vaccine for this virus. Ahead, we'll speak with one scientist who helped developed a candidate at a record pace.



CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow. It is nearly 5:30 a.m. here on the East Coast at CNN Center in Atlanta. Welcome to all of our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.

And let's get a tally of where we are. More than 2 million people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus so far. And according to Johns Hopkins University, more than 100,000 people have died.

Scientists around the world have been racing to develop a vaccine. At Imperial College London, for example, this team developed a candidate within two weeks of receiving the virus' genetic sequence. One of those researchers is also working as part of a global collaboration to find a treatment.

The group says: We are scientists, physicians, funders and manufacturers who come together as part of an international collaboration, coordinated by the World Health Organization, to help speed up the availability of a vaccine against COVID-19. While a vaccine for general use takes time to develop, a vaccine may ultimately be instrumental in controlling this worldwide pandemic.

Well, Robin Shattock is one of the signatories of that letter. He's also a part of that team that developed a candidate vaccine within 14 days of getting the genetic sequence from China.

Robin, good to see you. So, you are racing to find a vaccine. You've done pretty well so far. Where are you in your testing?

PROF. ROBIN SHATTOCK, HEAD OF MUCOSAL INFECTION AND IMMUNITY, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON: So, we're about ready to start clinical trials. Those should start the beginning of June. So, we've really gone from a discovery piece to first in human trials within six months which is faster than usual. And we're trying to push things as quickly as possible.

CURNOW: Well, tell us about it. I mean, certainly, there must be a lot of energy in your labs. And just talk us through getting the sequence from China and then starting and just to be able to go so fast.

SHATTOCK: Well, one of the reasons that we and many other groups are able to move quickly is because technology has changed so fast. So everybody is working from the sequence that the Chinese groups published. And because a lot of experience is gained with previous coronavirus like SARS and MERS, it was very easy to identify what the surface protein on the virus was that was appropriate to target with a vaccine. And that's what most groups are using in their vaccine candidates.

CURNOW: I mean, you're not the only one. I read out that letter of collaboration.

How much collaboration and how much competition is there?

SHATTOCK: So, there's a lot of collaboration but also competition. And competition is healthy because it kind of drives people to move quickly. But the coordination is important as well, because we ultimately want, you know, good quality vaccines that are safe and highly effective that are made available for the world.

And so, there needs to be rapid comparison of these different approaches, looking at their strengths and weaknesses so that we can then focus on getting something out, as fast as possible, to make a difference on the pandemic.