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U.S. States Grapple with Reopening; Trump Deflects Blame for Response Failures; U.K. Launches Vaccine Task Force; South Korea Investigating COVID-19 Reinfections. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired April 18, 2020 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am Michael Holmes.

Worldwide there are now more than 2.2 million coronavirus cases, that is according to Johns Hopkins University. And while some countries are beginning to lift their COVID-19 restrictions, it is leaving many to wonder what the new normal will look like going forward.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, says the European Union is facing what he calls a moment of truth. He is calling for solidarity as the bloc decides how to handle the financial fallout of the pandemic, warning, if we do not approve a debt sharing plan, the populists will win and that could mean the end of the E.U.

In U.K., hospitals are being pushed to the brink. Government is now advising that health care workers may need to reuse some personal protective equipment, which is not meant for reuse. Medical unions warning some hospitals could run out of gowns as soon as this weekend.

Once again, U.S. president Donald Trump calling out China, saying the country was not forthcoming and warning the rest of the world about the virus. Meanwhile, the U.S. now nearing 707,000 confirmed cases. Again that is according to Johns Hopkins University. It says the virus has killed more than 37,000 people in the U.S.

President Trump pushes for some states to begin easing their restrictions, some governors argue his guidelines are missing a key factor: testing. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports from the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After telling states yesterday to call the shots on when to reopen, President Trump is now openly encouraging conservative protests in three blue states with stay-at-home orders.



COLLINS: Earlier today he tweeted "Liberate Minnesota, liberate Michigan, liberate Virginia, it is under siege."

After governors in those states voiced concerns, he was inciting further protests, Trump defended his all caps message.


TRUMP: I think we do have sobering guidance, but I think some things are too tough.


COLLINS: But the president is only encouraging protests in states led by Democrats. All three he mentioned are considered battlegrounds for the presidential election and he made no mention of Ohio, where there were also protests, but the state is led by a Republican.

Those protests are also defying his own federal guidelines, which urges Americans to avoid gathering in groups larger than 10. Asked if he's concerned about protesters possibly spreading the coronavirus, Trump said he wasn't.


TRUMP: These are people expressing their views. I see where they are. I see the way they're working. They seem to be very responsible people to me.


COLLINS: Trump began the week by incorrectly claiming that he had total authority as president but he ended it by passing the responsibility for conducting nationwide testing to governors. Advisers inside and outside the White House say it's a clear tactic to protect himself from any political fallout that comes with reopening the nation.

Tonight, he made no mention of his latest feud with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a clash that started earlier today.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If we do not have federal help on testing, that is a real problem.

COLLINS (voice-over): While he was mid-briefing, Trump fired off this tweet from the second floor of the White House residence, telling Cuomo to stop talking and start doing.

CUOMO: First of all, if he's sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work, right?

COLLINS (voice-over): Cuomo pushed back on Trump's claim that he hasn't thanked the federal government enough for its efforts in New York. CUOMO: What am I supposed to do, send a bouquet of flowers?

I said thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

COLLINS (voice-over): Instead Cuomo said the president is hesitant to help with testing on a state level because it is too complex.

CUOMO: He said 11 times, I do not want to get involved in testing. It is too complicated. It is too hard. I know it is too complicated and too hard. That is why we need you to help.

COLLINS: The White House sought to reassure some concerns over testing on the briefing on Friday, laying down the models that they're using right now. The question is whether it is going to reassure some people, those Democrats that you heard on the call with the vice president on Friday. Their number one concern was testing.

At one point Senator Tim Kaine did bring up the president's tweets about those states, encouraging protests. He asked the vice president why the president was inciting violence.

Instead, Pence said that they're trying to be respectful of the governors.


COLLINS: But Kaine responded that he did not find the president's tweets respectful at all -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.



HOLMES: Joining me now in Glendale, California, Dr. Armand Dorian, chief medical officer of University of Southern California's Verdugo Hills Hospital.

Great to see you again, Doctor. I wanted to kick off with the president on Twitter, essentially egging on protesters, demanding an end to precautions in their states -- Minnesota, Michigan, Virginia.

What did you make of that not in a political sense but coming from the president in the current situation?

DR. ARMAND DORIAN, USC VERDUGO HILLS HOSPITAL: I am not too happy about it. We have done so much, we have built so much with regards to trust, confidence, in the public, understanding how important it is for us to be at home.

While we are trying to respect the economy, the need to gradually reintroduce ourselves, just to create this type of situation is exactly the opposite of the things we need.

HOLMES: We continue to talk about testing or the lack of it, the ability to isolate, contact trace, as we, have been saying.

Without that widespread testing, talking about opening back up, does it not just invite a 2nd wave?

The ability to test is nowhere near where it needs to be, not to mention the president is leaving it to the states to fight it out.

DORIAN: Without proper testing, we are going about it blindly. Michael, it's not like there is one person in the public who is infected, everybody who is out there is susceptible. There are few people who are not susceptible. Everybody has not contracted COVID-19. One person turns into 2, turns into for and it doubles every 3 to 4 days.

If we are able to contain it, as long as one person gets out, it is a matter of time. In one month, from one person, you average about 1,000 people get infected. You can do the math there.

HOLMES: Wow, when you put it that way. The president says are plenty of ventilators, masks, gowns. I'm curious, you're in the hospital every single day.

Are you seeing that, are you hearing that?

DORIAN: There are certain things that we have adequate supplies of and some we don't. Here's the tricky part, in California, in Los Angeles, because of great social distancing, we have been able to avoid the massive surge. We have kept it at bay.

What happens now is that this becomes a marathon. The sprint becomes a marathon. Our supplies are gradually going to get hit. They're going to do dwindle. It puts an extreme strain on our supply line.

Literally our CFO is panicking on a daily basis, wondering when we're going to run out. So it's a different race that we are in. Especially, when we are worried about a 2nd or even 3rd surge every time we go out, are we going to be ready and prepared for the influx of patients, specifically with regards to ventilators.

HOLMES: You talked about it, what California has done to flatten the curve. It is important to pointed out. It's not a sign that the virus is waning per se; it's a sign that social distancing is working. If that distancing is successful, it would seem obvious what could happen if you stopped and went back to normal.

DORIAN: I tell you what would happen. We are skiing down a slope, we applied the brakes. The brakes are social distancing, as soon as we let go the brakes, guess what?

We accelerate back down the hill again. In L.A. County, if we were to go back to normal, letting everybody out, do what they were doing, like they were doing in December.

By August 1st, 95 percent of Los Angeles County will be infected. If that isn't startling enough, I don't know what is.

HOLMES: Yes, that is sobering. I wanted to ask you something, I'm not sure if you have seen it, have heard about it, possible long-term damage. If you survive, get over, there can be lasting damage. In any number of areas, there are troubling signs from heart

inflammation, kidney disease, neurological malfunctions, even liver problems. There is still a lot we don't know.

Are you concerned about those aftereffects, those other impacts?

DORIAN: Extremely. We are in the middle of the battle, we are not even talking about they post-traumatic stress, the damages that are going to happen to our warriors, our patients. They are fighting this fight.

What happens to their lungs, they get chronic scarring? They will have difficulty breathing, multiple medical problems. This COVID-19 process is not just focused on the lungs. It's an inflammatory cascade which scars a lot of different organs.


DORIAN: And people, unfortunately, are going to have consequences years down the road. It's going to be a huge burden on our health system and our economy. We also have to keep that in mind.

HOLMES: It's a good point. You don't just get better, go home, not everyone does get to go on with life. There are going to be lasting impacts for many. Great to have your expertise as always, Dr. Dorian. Thank you so much.

DORIAN: Thank you, Michael.


HOLMES: The U.S. president trying to blame Democrats and anyone else for the country's economic downturn, also accusing them of not working to approve more money for the next stimulus measure.

The current bailout gave money to individuals and created a loan program for small businesses, which quickly run out of funds. Now lawmakers are pushing for a new influx of cash and Democrats have fought for hospitals, states and local governments to be included. For now, Mr. Trump says he is on board to approve more money.


TRUMP: Nobody knew it was going to be this successful. When you said the money is gone, it has been a tremendous success as a program.

People really want it. Some people will not be able to keep their businesses open unless they get this money. It has been a tremendous success. It has been executed flawlessly. With a few exceptions, it has been good.

I think that the Democrats are going to do it. Nancy Pelosi, she is away on vacation or something. She should come back. She should come back and get this done. I don't know why she is not coming back. The fact is, she's not doing her job. There's nothing unusual about that for her.



HOLMES: Joining me now, in Washington, White House reporter for CNN Politics, Stephen Collinson.

Always good to get you on, my friend. I want to start with Donald Trump and the tweets. The three of them, all in caps, quick succession, declaring, liberate Michigan, liberate Minnesota, liberate Virginia. Save your great 2nd Amendment.

Is there any way to view them other than encouraging resistance against Democratic leaders?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think that is exactly what is going on. Contrast these tweets with the impression that the president tried to leave yesterday. He was rolling out the phased opening of the United States.

Then, he was posing as the responsible commander in chief who was taking his medical advice. What we know about Donald Trump throughout his entire presidency, the impeachment situation, is that his political priorities always take precedence over what you might say is a wider national interest.

Those 3 states that you mentioned, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, they are all states that Donald Trump thinks he can win in November. They are swing states in the Democratic column.

Clearly, what he's trying to do is what he has done throughout his entire presidency. It is to rare up his political base, to get intensity, to use outrage and what he is trying to do is create a rebellion against Democratic governors.

Donald Trump wants to be on the side of the opening. If the country does not open up, he can say it's Democrats that are harming the economy. That is what he needs to win the reelection.

HOLMES: To that point, this notion that states can deal with everything themselves, from testing to PPE, everything, governors are already saying that's impossible. There is no federal coordination, it is essential. Yet Donald Trump is saying they're on their own.

Speaking to that as an election strategy, this shifting a blame for his own failings ahead of November.

COLLINSON: It is interesting what we are seeing. We are seeing clear indications how President Trump is going to rationalize this crisis as he goes into November. He spent months denying that the coronavirus pandemic was going to come to the United States. He said that when it did, it would go away quickly.

It did not happen. So he has to look for other people to blame. You are seeing that he's trying to put blame on the states for the failings of the federal government. Of course, states do have responsibility. But the federal government basically has responsibility for the well-being of the United States. That's a job of the president. When everything else fails, the president has to come in and fix things. And Trump has clearly failed to do that. So he needs to offload the blame. We see the same thing happening when he attacked the WHO and China. He is looking for people to blame for his own shortcomings.

HOLMES: When it comes to a strategy, what do you make of his press briefing?

His demeanor, his comments in general. He wants the country opened as soon as possible.


HOLMES: He wants to protect the precious economy. But a resurgence of the virus would be even more economic harm. I was reading your article on He is taking a victory lap, of sorts, over a crisis that is far from over.

Risks of that?

COLLINSON: Definitely. One of the things that is working so far in the president's favor is that the rural red states, real Republican states, where he has most of his support, have been less affected by the coronavirus than the coasts, the big cities, like New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles.

He is working with that because he is basically saying to a lot of his voters, well, the bigger threat to you is not the coronavirus, it is the fact that the economy is shutting down. It's a politically popular position I think for the president to be in favor of opening the economy.

I think there is a risk if some of the states, for example, Texas, is starting to think about opening up perhaps in the next few weeks, if there is a resurgence of the virus, the president looks again like he has messed this up.

He was late to recognize the threat. He could be early, lifting some of these restrictions and getting his allied Republican governors to lift some of these restrictions. That could be a political risk.

But I think it is a risk that the president is willing to take -- because the economy is the most important thing for this president. It is the only area in which he's had majority support for his presidency.

HOLMES: It will be interesting. Stephen, a pleasure. Good to see you. Thank you.



HOLMES: The British government says it is forming a vaccine task force to help fight the coronavirus. It is investing more than $17 million U.S. to help bring a vaccine to market as soon as possible. For more on this, let's turn to CNN's Nina dos Santos, joining us from London.

Tell us about the task force and the mission.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: Good morning to you, Michael. The aim here is to try and leverage the significant academic expertise -- the U.K. has some world class institutions like Oxford University and Imperial College London, who are working on things like vaccines for the coronavirus.

And what they want to try to do is harness that and give themselves the support they need and also leverage the private pharmaceutical sector in the United Kingdom that we have.

Earlier on this week we learned that the big drug czars, like GlaxoSmithKline and also AstraZeneca would be teaming up to try and help spearhead some of these efforts to create some kind of vaccine against COVID-19.

And the reason why they need to do this is basically to try and find some way out of this lockdown that is now being extended. As you mentioned, the government is going to be committing 14 million British pounds sterling, that's about $17 million U.S. Some academics say much more money will be needed.

The chief scientific adviser to the government yesterday in the daily coronavirus press conference in the afternoon was keen to caution though that this is not something that is going to be ready to go, that will be safe and effective within the next few weeks. It is likely to take many months from here -- Michael.

HOLMES: And you know, in the U.K., as here in the U.S., testing is a massive issue. Tell us about the status of it there, the targets versus reality.

DOS SANTOS: Yes. It's a massive issue. It's also a massively embarrassing issue for the Conservative-led government here. On the one hand, there have been big embarrassments about whether or not the government can meet the kind of targets that it set, very aggressive targets, that it is continuing to set, despite the fact that it hasn't come any closer to meeting the targets thus far.

Especially with testing, the frontline workers of the National Health System, who are the most at risk. What we learned yesterday was that the government also said it is going to be rolling out testing for other frontline workers, whose jobs are public facing and deemed key at the moment, people like the police force, firefighters and so on and so forth.

But if you take a look at the level of testing in the National Health Service staff and that, again according to the government's latest statistics, is woefully below target. The government's business secretary Alex Sharma, whilst unveiling that aforementioned vaccines program that we were discussing before, yesterday, Michael, said that the government did had capacity now to test about 38,000 people a day.

Remember earlier this month they had a target of 100,000 by the end of this month. But so far the latest data shows that only 20-odd thousand people among NHS workers have managed to be tested every single day. So the government is even not even meeting a quarter of its targets by the end of this month.


DOS SANTOS: And the other embarrassment, Michael, is that they have also bought antibody tests that can test whether or not somebody has had the virus and is immune, that it turns out don't work.

So it is vaccines and mass testing that are going to allow this government to ease the lockdown restriction measures that they, again, extended by three weeks just a couple of days ago.

At the moment, the big question is how exactly without the mass testing or the vaccine for months from now, they are going to be able to ease those lockdown measures and get the economy back up and running -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. Nina, thank you. Nina dos Santos there in London.

And we will take a short break here on CNN NEWSROOM, we will be right back.




HOLMES: Now the South Korean government is investigating why roughly 2 percent of known COVID-19 patients in South Korea who recovered have retested positive. CNN's Paula Hancocks spoke to health officials there about what could be causing this to happen.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jin Kim tested positive for coronavirus three weeks ago after returning from the United States. He has been in hospital ever since. One negative test this week gave him hope he had recovered but the next day he tested positive again.

A patient needs two negatives in a row to be considered recovered. But Kim says even after he is discharged, he will self-isolate for two weeks to protect his family.

JIN KIM, COVID-19 PATIENT: If my virus activates again, I need to go to hospital again and, at the time my family should do self-isolation again.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): It's a concern around the world. Cases are testing positive after appearing to recover from the virus. Deputy director of Korea's CDC says there are four possible explanations.

KWON JOON-WOOK, KCDC: First of all, just the weakened immunity and finding just the remnant of virus particle and the possible test error and finally the reactivation of the very low undetectable level of virus particle.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Kwon says tests on a family of three who retested positive have already been completed and there is no evidence of the live virus still in their bodies.

He believes remnants of the dead virus is the most likely explanation at this point. He also says there is no indication recovered patients are contagious when they retest positive.

KWON: There is no -- until now -- no danger of further secondary or tertiary transmission.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Kwon hopes he'll know more in about two weeks when tests are finished on over well over 100 other cases, where people have recovered and tested positive. Half of them, he says, have no symptoms.

The CCDC has now changed its guidelines, recommending that all recovered patients self isolate for a further two weeks, just in case.


HANCOCKS: They also say that they are going to start testing 400 recovered patients from this weekend to check levels of antibodies in an attempt to see what kind of immunity, if any, having this virus will give you.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): For Kim, it's just a case of waiting.

HANCOCKS: How are you feeling at the moment?

KIM: Actually, after I got tested positive for COVID-19, I was frustrated. But now I'm feeling better.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


HOLMES: We will take a quick break. When we come back, the 99-year-old British veteran capturing hearts around the world. How much his fund- raising laps around his garden brought in. That is coming up.




HOLMES: Well, if you think that you as just one person can't make a difference or think that the chance to do some might have passed you by, I want you to think about this man. We have been telling you now for the past couple of days about 99-year-old British war veteran Tom Moore.

Captain Moore has raised just under $27 million for the U.K.'s National Health Service after setting a goal of doing 100 laps of his garden before he turns 100 years old at the end of this month. He told our Hala Gorani he is blown away by the amount raised.


CAPT. TOM MOORE, BRITISH ARMY VETERAN: I'm absolutely overwhelmed by this sum of money. And may I remind you that when it converts into American dollars, it's even bigger. And we really -- we never, ever thought for many that we would get to this sort of money, which started off with a little modest figure, but when we (INAUDIBLE) and made 1,000 pounds.


HOLMES: He was planning on raising 1,000 pounds, $27 million, the pledges still pouring in. The money is going to go to a charity that helps hospital staff, volunteers and patients affected by the pandemic.

Good on you, Captain.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me and watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. We'll be back in half an hour with more news. See you tomorrow.