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Trump Uses Task Force Briefing to Lash Out, Point Blame; Centers for Disease Control Lab's Likely Contamination Caused Delays in Coronavirus Testing; Japan's Sex Workers Struggle amid Pandemic; South Korea Using Digital Contact Tracing to Curb Virus Spread; African Americans Disproportionately Impacted by COVID-19; Inside an Israeli ICU; Gold Medalist Puts 2020 Olympic Dreams on Hold. Aired 1- 2a ET

Aired April 19, 2020 - 01:00   ET




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

Now as we come to you right now, there are more than 2.3 million cases of coronavirus worldwide and the death toll more than 160,000. Now against that backdrop, growing frustration, some glimmers of hope as well.

In Great Britain there were fears the National Health Service would run out of some personal protective equipment or PPE this weekend. But what's being called a significant shipment from Turkey may be a lifeline.

A state of alarm will be extended until early May in Spain at least. In Italy, the pope will hold mass outside the Vatican for the first time since the crisis began.

Here in the United States, word that critical, early delays in testing were likely caused by contamination at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab. As the Food and Drug Administration commissioner says, antibody tests will indeed play a role in deciding when to reopen the country.

And at the White House, U.S. president Donald Trump using Saturday's Coronavirus Task Force briefing to lash out again and again, point fingers and say any problems with testing or anything else aren't his fault. Here's CNN's Jeremy Diamond.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was the latest attempt by the president to shift blame elsewhere. The president on Saturday during a White House briefing blaming Democratic governors, accusing them, in fact, of not even wanting to use some of the testing capacity in their states, amid critical shortages. TRUMP: Now they're giving you the other, it's called testing,

testing. But they don't want to use all of the capacity that we've created. We have tremendous capacity. Dr. Birx will be explaining that. They know that. The governors know that. The Democrat governors know that. They are the ones that are complaining.

DIAMOND: As the president shifts blame to those Democratic governors, the president's own public health experts have acknowledged that there are shortfalls in the government's testing capacity across the country.

In fact, it was the president himself who just on Friday was talking about sending 5 million additional testing swabs to states that needed it because of the shortfalls they're facing.

But now the president once again blaming Democratic governors. And it is not just Democratic governors who are saying they need help from the federal government. We've also heard from the Republican governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, saying he also needs some of that critical chemical reagent to actually conduct those tests and to ramp up testing capacity across his state.

But this, of course, fits a pattern of what we have seen the president do as he has come under criticism for his response and faced questions about shortfalls in the government's nationwide testing capacity and other issues.

The president instead has shifted blame to others, a rotating cast of characters we've seen, everyone from the media to the Obama administration to the World Health Organization as well as China. That was also a focus of the president's on Saturday as the president sought to build the case that China's lack of transparency contributed to the pandemic we are now seeing in the United States.

Of course, as the president is now criticizing China, during those critical weeks when that virus began to spread here in the United States, the president was praising China, particularly its transparency -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: Harvard researchers say the U.S. needs to conduct at least 500,000 coronavirus tests per day in order to safely reopen the economy. That is more than three times the amount of testing currently being done.

And we are learning more about why the U.S. has fallen so far behind in developing reliable tests. Sara Murray with the details.


SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we knew the CDC had problems with their initial round of test kits they sent to states in early February. And now we're beginning to learn why.

It turns out there was an issue of contamination in the CDC's lab. That is what administration officials are telling me as well as my colleague, Nick Valencia. And the CDC itself was confused in early February about whether there was a problem with the design of their test or whether there was a problem with the manufacturing.

An FDA official actually went down to the CDC labs in Atlanta to check it out. The official determined that there was a contamination problem in the lab and that was most likely what was causing these tests to malfunction.


MURRAY (voice-over): Now it took a little time to sort out between the CDC and FDA and the states how they could use the tests they already had on hand, how to remanufacture some of these tests.

And this is happening at a critical point in the outbreak in the U.S. It was happening as public health officials, especially in states like Washington and California, knew that this virus was likely spreading among their communities and they had very limited ability to test for it.

A CDC spokesperson said there are quality control measures in place but obviously they were insufficient this time around. This issue is under investigation from Health and Human Services.

We should also note the testing remains a problem today. It is one of the key hurdles for the administration as they try to move to reopen the economy -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: It is not just the testing issue holding the CDC back. Elizabeth Cohen with that part of the story.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: After talking with people inside the CDC and who are tied to the CDC, it seems that CNN's reporting is pointing to a larger problem at the CDC. And this is it.

Even someone I was talking to within the CDC, they said that it wasn't clear to them whether all of this happened because of just a contamination problem or just a manufacturing problem or some combination.

They said even when you're inside the agency, this does still seem a bit chaotic, that no one knows exactly how all of this went wrong. And it also points to an even larger problem.

People around the world tell me how much they admire the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. They say that want the CDC in their countries to be like the U.S. CDC.

But for several years now I've been hearing from people that somehow the CDC has become a bit too bureaucratic, that it's got managerial issues. Of course, there are some of the greatest scientists in the world --

they care deeply about public health; that's why they're there -- but that there could be some tweaks in how the agency is run so that it's less bureaucratic. Back to you.


HOLMES: Elizabeth Cohen, our thanks.

On Friday, the Republican governor of Texas announced a phased reopening of his state. On Saturday, there was this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let us work. Let us work. Let us work. Let us work.

HOLMES (voice-over): Hundreds of protesters gathering outside the state capital in Austin, in what was called the, quote, You Can't Close America rally. Social distancing guidelines, as you can see for yourself, out the proverbial window.

The rally reportedly promoted by at least one website known for supporting conspiracy theories. And we should point out, so far, more than 18,000 people in Texas have been infected. The death toll so far, the official death toll, nearly 500.


HOLMES: And officials in Jacksonville, Florida, have reopened the city's beaches to the public. There are limits. They say going to the beach is an essential activity as long as people don't sit around and sunbathe. Randi Kaye was there.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Jacksonville Beach, everybody seems to be really happy that the beach is once again open. It's been closed for about a month. It closed on March 20th. It has reopened again.

It's open just limited hours, from 6:00 am to 11:00 am in the morning and then again from 5-8 pm in the evening. But there are some stragglers who are trying to come out in between those hours.

The police are doing a fairly good job of warning them and enforcing the fact that the beach is closed during those hours. But if you take a look, you can see that the crowds are certainly coming. They're excited to be here, Floridians say that this is therapy.

The water, the ocean, the beaches, this is their therapy, certainly at a time when they are dealing with a pandemic, this is what they need. They are supposed to social distance here on the beaches. And they're only supposed to come here to exercise.

These are considered essential activities by the Jacksonville mayor. You can swim, you can surf, you can bike, run, walk, exercise your dog but you're not supposed to congregate, bring coolers or a blanket and sit out and sunbathe. That is not allowed.

And we are seeing some enforcement of that but others are still continuing to do that. I called the mayor's office to ask what he thought about how this soft reopening is going and we got a statement from the mayor.

He says that people are taking social distancing seriously. He is pleased that people are following the guidelines. He did go on to say that everyone needs to follow the rules, because clearly everyone is not.

And he once again said, please stay six feet apart from anyone who does not share your household and only use the beach for exercise purposes. So once again, a reminder from the mayor of Jacksonville's office that this is not just a free-for-all. You can't come here and hang out.

There is a purpose here. Come here, exercise. Enjoy an essential activity and go home -- Randi Kaye, CNN, Jacksonville Beach, Florida.


HOLMES: And joining me now is CNN medical analyst, Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. He is the deputy physician-in-chief of quality and safety at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York.


HOLMES: Great to have your expertise on this. I wanted to start off with these reports of CDC contamination being a likely cause of the testing delays we've seen.

The FDA reportedly said, if you were private sector and under our control, we'd have shut you down.

I'm just wondering, when you look at the slow rollout of adequate testing, how concerning is it that the premier disease authority was viewed that way and testing was delayed by something like that?

DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It's a total disaster, without question. I think contamination does happen, even in the best labs. That isn't as shocking as the fact that there was no plan B. Every lab knows that something might happen. You always have to have a backup plan.

In this case, the backup plan was offered to us. WHO had a test that worked just fine that they offered us. And someone, somewhere up and down the line of the chain of command, said, no, we're better. We're better than that. We'll fix it here or we'll do it here.

So I think that yes, contamination is almost always a culprit but having no plan B or having so much hubris as to not invoke a plan B is absolutely not acceptable.

HOLMES: Well, yes, especially when the WHO had a test, instructions they were passing out all over the world --


SEPKOWITZ: A lot of local state labs had a good test ready to go but they were told to stand down, the real CDC test is coming, so don't use your valid local test.

HOLMES: And look where we are now on testing. I'm curious what you see in the big picture emerging from the various studies going on right now, in terms of spread, potential development.

Is there anything troubling?


SEPKOWITZ: Both a little encouraging and mostly discouraging. I think that what we're seeing increasingly is outbreaks showing up in smaller areas, smaller towns, you know, Island City, Nebraska; Hall County, Grand Island, I'm sorry, Hall, Nebraska, has a meat packing plant. They have more cases in this 50,000 people town that anywhere else in Nebraska. They've got almost 500 cases.

Everybody knows about the Smithfield plant in South Dakota. The Navajo Nation in Arizona and on and on. So we're seeing the drama of New York City and Seattle, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, those outbreaks are burning out, getting under control. And now we're going to see it in smaller places that are going to be totally overwhelmed.

HOLMES: This is radiating out, that people said indeed would happen. We're seeing that.

As the president shifts blame for the spread of the virus everywhere from China to the WHO to the Obama administration, we keep hearing him push on reopening at least parts of the country from current guidelines.

We're already seeing demonstrations in some places. Right wing media are pushing reopening. The president tweeting liberate certain states.

What are your concerns about that?

SEPKOWITZ: It's incredibly shortsighted and incredibly dim-witted, I think, and it's as bad a public health approach to the problem as one could imagine. It's like sending soldiers to battle without, you know, any idea where the enemy is, without guns, without helmets, you know.

It's so beyond sane that all of us are just scratching our heads. Obviously, we all want the economy to function. We are all suffering that, some more than others. But to just say, ah, what the hell, let's just pretend like nothing happened and just run out there and hope for the best, is beyond, beyond appalling.

HOLMES: Yes, it seems in some corners, there's acceptable loss of life, which seems extraordinary.

This is primarily seen as a respiratory illness but hearing more and more about other health issues for people with COVID, a reported surge in kidney failure among those undergoing treatment. Now there's shortages of dialysis machines and medication.

How big a concern is that?

SEPKOWITZ: Medium compared to the others. Very real, there will be real suffering and loss from it. The kidney failure likeliest is not a direct impact from the virus itself but rather the collapse of the vascular system as the body shuts down and the circulation to the kidneys is insufficient.


SEPKOWITZ: That's a common problem in intensive care units. It's not a shock at all. Dialysis machines are dear. There aren't enough around for what's ahead, if indeed this becomes a large feature of the next wave.

HOLMES: I wanted to also ask you before we let you go, from a public health standpoint both in the U.S. and in the global sense, what do you make of the Trump administration withholding funding from the WHO in the middle of a pandemic?

The president accusing the WHO without evidence of deliberately withholding information. Yet as "The Washington Post" says, 15 officials with the Trump administration were embedded with the WHO in Geneva and were in on the developments all along.

Isn't this the exact time the WHO and the global response is vital?

SEPKOWITZ: Yes, I'm flabbergasted and obviously disappointed. And, you know, we're just, we're just shaking our heads. This is not the way to do business. This is the way a vengeful person looking for a scapegoat behaves. It's very distressing.

HOLMES: Right. Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, thanks you so much. Appreciate you joining us.

SEPKOWITZ: Thanks for having me.

HOLMES: We will take a short break. When we come back, controlling the spread of the coronavirus. We'll show you how one country is using digital technology to track infected patients. And we'll look at how the spread of the coronavirus is affecting one of Japan's most marginalized groups. We'll be right back.





HOLMES: Welcome back. One group often forgotten about in the pandemic is sex workers. Since

the spread of the coronavirus began in Japan, Tokyo's bustling red light district has all but gone quiet. And that is leaving many who work there wondering how they will get by.

For more on this, let's turn to CNN's Will Ripley, joining us from Tokyo.

A delicate topic perhaps but a very real problem.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. And just as in every country around the world, these are people who often put themselves at risk for infection. But when you have a pandemic and there's no known effective treatment or cure, you have a whole group of people, 300,000 of them here in Japan alone, who have to make a very tough choice every day.

Should they put their health and their family's health at risk or do they put food on the table?


RIPLEY (voice-over): The rain normally doesn't keep people away from Kabukicho, Tokyo's red light district. I remember my first visit here five years ago in 2015. The cold, wet streets of this sleepless town were always full, just like the shops lining these dimly lit halls.

Prostitution is against the law in Japan. But everybody knows what's really for sale.

Fast forward five years to 2020, coronavirus is doing what the rain cannot, turning off the neon lights.

RIPLEY: In all my years of living in Tokyo, I've never seen Kabukicho this empty. Normally these streets are lined with women, who are trying to lure customers into their shops. The shops are closed now and the women well, they have to find other ways, more dangerous ways to make a living.

RIPLEY (voice-over): A woman we'll call Mika asked us to hide her face and change her name. Her family doesn't know she's been a sex worker for 10 years. These days, with all the shops closed, she goes directly to customers, often older men, a risky proposition with the virus spreading quickly.

"Of course I worry about my health," she says, "but I worry more about how to survive. What if I can't afford to buy food?"

As a young girl, Mika wanted to be a journalist. Life didn't work out that way. She's not asking for sympathy. She's asking for help.

"Sex workers can't stop working," she says. "But we don't want to spread the virus."

Japan's estimated 300,000 sex workers are eligible for the government's coronavirus cash handouts, about $1,000. Advocates for sex workers say that money won't be nearly enough to keep most off the streets.

"There's a lot of discrimination toward sex workers," this man says, just before his toddler makes a brief appearance.

"There are many different types of people in the sex industry," he says, "Like single moms who need to earn money. They may be scared about coronavirus but they're more scared of losing their jobs."

His non-profit tries to help sex workers find new jobs, jobs they're not afraid to tell their families about, jobs that won't put them and their children at risk.


RIPLEY: If you think about it, going into other people's homes for this kind of work, there couldn't be anything more risky at this time that the government is trying to cut down human-to human contact by 70-80 percent.

It's also a time where, frankly, we don't know how many people are walking around here in Tokyo and other Japanese cities asymptomatic because even though the case numbers are inching toward 12,000 nationwide, that is just the official number and we know the testing is still extremely limited here.

On Wednesday Tokyo tested just 277 people in this entire city of 13.5 million. So you have to wonder how many cases are out there that we just don't know about.

HOLMES: Way behind the testing curve. Thank you, Will Ripley in Tokyo for us.

South Korea announcing eight new cases of coronavirus, that is the first single digit increase in the country since February. South Korea has been using digital technology to track people who have the infection. Paula Hancocks explains how it works.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A patient tests positive for the coronavirus. Time is critical to trace where they have been and who they've seen. South Korea says it can access that information in as little as 10 minutes.

HANCOCKS: If I was confirmed with coronavirus, what would you do then?


PARK YOUNG-JOON, KCDC (through translator): We put in the mobile phone number, the credit card number, set the time period and all the information we need appears in our system.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Your location from at least two days before you noticed you had symptoms, how long you spent in each place, how busy the area might have been. Mobile emergency alerts are then sent out to the public, sometimes six or seven a day, telling you about cases in your area.

It wasn't always this fast. The KCDC says it took up to 48 hours to get the same information five years ago during the MERS outbreak. Criticism of a slow response at the time led to the law being changed.

So officials can now use patient statements, mobile records, credit card transactions, CCTV footage for an accurate tracing of transmission.

HANCOCKS: One recent example in my neighborhood shows just how much detail is being shared with the public by both the government and local businesses. For example, I know the exact locations this individual went to.

I know the door that they used in order to get inside my local supermarket. I even know that they bought dried chili peppers at the self-checkout.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): So could this model be used elsewhere?

PARK (through translator): This is not advanced technology. The difference is will other countries have laws allowing them to use this personal information?

HANCOCKS (voice-over): There are plenty of coronavirus apps here, a map showing every case in your neighborhood and around the country, started by students, adopted by the government, and an app showing which pharmacies currently have masks in stock.

But the government says it is this system using big data to track citizens who tested positive that has been the key first step in their policy of trace, test, treat -- Paula Hancocks, CNN Seoul.


HOLMES: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, we'll be right back with more.





HOLMES: Here in the United States and all around the world, I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Now earlier on this network, CNN's Don Lemon and Van Jones hosted a star-studded special called "The Color of COVID." They took a look at how the coronavirus pandemic is devastating communities of color in the U.S.

Just take a look at some of these numbers. The rate of COVID-19 deaths in the black community, more than double that of any other race. And in at least nine states in the Midwest, the South and the East, the death rate exceeds the population rate for blacks by more than 20 percentage points.

Celebrities like Snoop Dogg, America Ferrera, Sean Combs and George Lopez participated in the CNN special. Former basketball star Charles Barkley with a message for young children frustrated by social distancing orders, keeping them from their sporting activities.


CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER FBA PROFESSIONAL: I would tell these young kids what I've been telling them for years, man. You know, a lot of people complain about college players not getting paid and things like that.

This is a -- I tell those guys, man, get that free education because this thing has divided. We talk about brown and black tonight, because black people and Hispanics, we are the most vulnerable because of economics and systemic racism.

But it really comes down to education and the type of job you have. So I would tell everybody out there in the black community, man, you got to make sure you get your education. You know, because we can talk about it all we want to. This thing ain't working the same on everybody.

It's really having a negative effect on the black community because of poverty and the Hispanic community because of poverty and systematic racism.

But if you're a young black kid and you get a chance to go to college for free, man, take advantage of that situation and make sure you get -- you going to get to use the system and the system don't get to use you.


HOLMES: And joining me now is Dr. Patrice Harris, the president of the American Medical Association.

And it's great to have you on. You are dealing with many things but we did want to discuss this issue of the racial disparity in terms of COVID-19, who it's affecting. You've got data from New York City showing black residents twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than whites.

Same in Louisiana, New Jersey; African Americans are 59 percent of the deaths, 33 percent of the population.

The thing is that these are terrible numbers, obviously, but they aren't for new reasons, right?

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: They really aren't. These numbers are troubling but, unfortunately, not surprising particularly when we learned early on that if you had high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, you were at greater risk of having a more severe course of COVID-19. So knowing that African Americans were already disproportionately

impacted by those diseases, these numbers, unfortunately, are not surprising.

HOLMES: It raises the issue of, among many other things, the health care system in this country, a for-profit system, unaffordable to millions of Americans who are forced, basically, to be uninsured or underinsured. But African Americans are disproportionately affected by the inequities of that health care system, right?

HARRIS: Particularly in the South. African Americans and other members from communities of color are overrepresented when it comes to a lack of insurance, which is one of the many reasons why the American Medical Association supports Medicaid expansion in all states.

We certainly need to have a strong safety net. So access to health care is just one issue, social determinants of health, structural determinants of health, such as past racism and other policies that were biased, and misinformation and trust all contribute to these very, very tragic numbers.

HOLMES: Speak to those underlying conditions, the socioeconomic conditions a part of it, poor access to, in many cases, poor access to good, affordable food, housing, health services, housing instability, employment opportunities and so on.

And what coronavirus has done, and correct me if I'm wrong, is basically expose things that were already there.

HARRIS: You're absolutely right. Among many things, including our underfunded mental health system but certainly COVID-19 has shined a bright light on what I call preexisting conditions, again, these social determinants of health, folks living in food deserts.


HARRIS: Lack of access to transportation and, again, some of those structural determinants of health, all are contributing to this disproportionate impact on African Americans.

HOLMES: I imagine it must be intensely frustrating to you and others in your field, that this was exposed before in other health crises. There is an AMA letter to the Health and Human Services in the U.S.

And it points out that the 2009 H1N1 pandemic exposed these very issues in terms of disparities in racial and ethnic impacts. And yet here we are.

HARRIS: We at the American Medical Association, you know, many organizations -- the former surgeon general, Dr. David Sacher -- have been elevating these issues for years. Certainly, these are amplified even more with COVID-19.

But here's what we all must commit to do and we will get on the other side of this epidemic. There are -- pandemic. There are certain things we can do now. But when we get on the other side of this pandemic, the AMA and, of

course, I know many others I've been speaking with about this over the last month or so, will be there, committed to addressing this issue.

The AMA just established a Center for Health Equity and we also hired our first chief health equity officer, Dr. Aletha Maybank, about a year ago. So the AMA is planning to lead this conversation going forward, continuing to, because we have been working on this issue.

HOLMES: And what needs to happen?

I mean, structurally, the question is, whether what's noticed now in terms of these underlying factors will be remembered post coronavirus.

What needs to change fundamentally when this is over?

HARRIS: Well, we certainly are going to have to, again, elevate the conversations about the uninsured. We certainly are going to have to continue to partner. And, again, physicians and the health care system cannot do this alone. This will require an all-in effort to relook at policies that have contributed to this.

Make sure that we are ensuring equitable access, equitable access to housing, looking at neighborhoods where there are no fresh fruits and vegetables and making sure that residents of those zip codes have access to that, transportation.

So all of these issues will require partnerships and commitment, again, not just from the health care system but really from everyone at all levels, government, public-private partnerships, certainly an all-in effort to address these issues.

HOLMES: It's a societal issue. And if any good comes out of this, hopefully it's structural change in those glaring inequalities. Thank you so much.

HARRIS: Thank you for having me.

HOLMES: We'll take a short break. When we come back, Israel has more than 13,000 cases of coronavirus, more than 150 dead. Up next, we go behind the scenes of one ICU unit in Tel Aviv as doctors try to save patients there.





HOLMES: On Sunday, Israel plans to start easing restrictions put in place to combat coronavirus. Industrial and high-tech workplaces as well as certain stores would be allowed to reopen under health and social distancing rules. Israel hospital workers are used to treating victims of attacks and

even war. But now it's an entirely different battle. CNN's Oren Liebermann has more from an intensive care unit in Tel Aviv.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deep inside Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center, even the simple answers are hard to find.

DR. ADI NIMROD, TEL AVIV SOURASKY MEDICAL CENTER: It's something else, it's another disease that we are learning all the time more and more about it.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): This is an intensive care unit for COVID-19. The toughest coronavirus cases come here.

Before we were allowed in, we had to dress like the medical staff for protection. My blood sugar monitor for type 1 diabetes required an extra wrapping. I've stood under rockets from Gaza, near artillery and sniper fire and more.

And yet a part of me was more nervous here. As we step inside, I meet Dr. Adi Nimrod, who shows us around the 16-bed unit. Most of the patients here are sedate; many on ventilators. Here patients get individualized attention around the clock. The risk of anything less is too great.

There is no set treatment for coronavirus.

NIMROD: You have to sense them and to see them every day to check them, to see their faces, to check all the parameters. There is the atmosphere around the patient.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): An external control room allows remote monitoring of every bed and a place to breathe. Part of head nurse Ceres Berman's (ph) job is to keep everyone positive.

CERES BERMAN (PH), HEAD NURSE: It's very tough. Sometimes I'm not so positive. But I think if I won't be positive, no one will be.

LIEBERMANN: One day at a time in there?

BERMAN: Yes, one hour at a time.

LIEBERMANN: Within a few minutes of putting on all this protective equipment and walking into the intensive care unit here, I started sweating, my mask, as you can see I think, fogged over. But I have the luxury of taking this off in a few minutes when I step outside.

The doctors and nurses will wear this hour after hour, treating patients who need intensive care. They'll take a quick break; they'll step outside and then they'll do it all over again.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Israel's mortality rate has hovered around 1 percent, among the lowest in the world. Israel has put restrictions on travel and public gatherings very early and the country's health care system is among the most advanced, which has helped lower the mortality rate.

But that number soars for the critical care patients who need to be ventilated. Like many here, sometimes the outcome is measured very differently.

NIMROD: You try, you do your best. You're just a doctor, just a human being, as they are. And if you cannot succeed, be compassionate.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Dr. Nimrod's treatment is guided by the latest science and also his experience. He was in the army during the 2006 Lebanon war. That's him treating the soldier on the stretcher. This, he says, is a different fight, one he calls much more complicated.

NIMROD: The virus taught us to be more modest, more humble. And a lot of compassion for legions of families. And it's just a virus.


NIMROD: But not just a virus. It's something much bigger.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The doctors and nurses are tested every week for the coronavirus. The hospital says everyone has so far tested negative. In this most sterile of environments, families are only allowed in if it's to say goodbye. Otherwise messages are recorded and sent through the nurses.

And prayers must penetrate the layers of protection around the ICU. The patients see only the unit's staff. There is solidarity here through a common vulnerability.

LIEBERMANN: The closer you get to the patient as a doctor, does that make it harder and more personal as a human?

NIMROD: It's all personal. We are human. We are fragile just like they are. Now he is in this bed, tomorrow I might be here or my family. We are very fragile.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Oren Liebermann, CNN, Tel Aviv.


HOLMES: Turkey taking a different approach to battling the coronavirus. It is restricting the movement of certain age groups and it has put in place a limited curfew in some provinces. Arwa Damon reports.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It feels more like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" in one of Istanbul's busiest squares, normally parked with Turks and tourists alike.

But what is normal these days anymore anyway?

Turkey is gambling big that its coronavirus measures will be a winning bet, implementing a curfew just one weekends in 31 provinces and a lockdown that applies to those who are under 20 or over 65.

To ease the burden on those who are not allowed out, there are call centers in every district, where you can do anything from order groceries or request a pharmacy run, even get your monthly retirement salary.

"My parents are elderly. They live in another city. Someone there is doing this for them," a volunteer says. "So to do this for the elderly here, it is like I'm doing it for my own parents."

Schools, bars, restaurants, public places are all closed along with most small businesses. Many people are staying at home but the measures in place during the week are not as severe as they are in other countries.

It's a risky strategy. Turkey is in the global top 10 when it comes to confirmed cases of COVID-19. Its mortality rate is just over 2 percent, something the minister of health attributes to the country's treatment.

Turkey is using the malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine and favipiravir, a Japanese antiviral, much earlier in the onset of COVID-19, he told the nation. And delaying intubation by using high frequency oxygen for a longer period of time.

And the government insists that Turkey does not have a capacity problem and has plenty of personal protective equipment. The ministry of education vocational schools are turning out face masks, full body suits and surgical gowns, made by teachers and students. Gallons and gallons of disinfectant are produced at other schools turned into small makeshift factories.

DAMON: Masks are now obligatory for everyone to wear but you actually cannot buy them, not even in a pharmacy. You apply online and, every week, each person gets 5 masks.

For the elderly who are not allowed out, they are delivered. This woman is in her 70s living alone. Her children are married. It has been 2 or 3 months since she last hugged her family. We asked if they're in Istanbul.

"Yes, they are," she responds."

That almost makes it even harder -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.


HOLMES: When we come back, many athletes were ready to achieve their dreams and go for gold in Tokyo this summer. Now of course, due to the coronavirus pandemic, those dreams very much on hold. We talked to one swimmer on how he is adjusting and what he felt when he heard the news. We'll be right back. (MUSIC PLAYING)




HOLMES: Welcome back.

The Tokyo Olympics for 2020 were postponed until next year, of course, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Athletes train for years to a dream to compete on that world stage. Coy Wire now with the story of one gold medal winning swimmer putting his latest Olympic dreams on hold.



CAELEB DRESSEL, COMPETITIVE SWIMMER: I just miss seeing people. I'm not like a social butterfly or anything. But I just miss seeing even, like, my friends. I mean, everybody does. I miss seeing my parents.

I don't want to go home and risk anything, in case I am a carrier. So I don't get to swim in a pool. OK. I'm fine with getting pushback because there is a lot of things that are bigger than swimming. This is life or death.

So (INAUDIBLE). That's exactly what the mindset needs to be. I don't want this vacation. No one wanted this vacation. I wasn't ready for it. I didn't need a mental break. I was confident this year. I was getting ready for Olympic trials, I was getting ready for Olympics.

As of right now it's postponed so that's what we're getting ready for. If it's postponed or cancelled, we'll move on. My career as a swimmer will not be over.

COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How would you describe your training right now?

DRESSEL (voice-over): I never wanted to be viewed as just a swimmer. I wanted to be viewed as an athlete. It's the way I have always seen myself. I do get bored of stuff very easily. That's why my coaches have to keep giving me fresh stuff, day in and day out.

Because I like that new challenge, I like those new puzzle pieces. It's just about maintaining. I'm not trying to look for those record- breaking results right now because I don't want to be burned out. Not limited in any way and it's fund. I get to work out shirtless. I hate wearing shirts. Most of the time I'm just in Speedos.

So I get to lift without a shirt on now. So there's actually some -- some better -- some better things.

WIRE (voice-over): How challenging has it been to stay disciplined during this time? During quarantine, during self-isolation, tell me about your diet because I know you love your cheat foods. You told me before you'd eat a whole family pack of Oreos if you had your ideal cheat meal.


WIRE (voice-over): How are you handling this?


DRESSEL (voice-over): I want to try to home in on cleaning up my diet. You don't want to be putting lawn mower fuel in a race car. I want to try to give my body what it needs.

I don't really like cooking, So I'm going to be honest. It kind of sucks. I'm not going to sugar coat it. I don't like cooking at all. But my fiancee is really, really good at cooking and she's been cooking for me more, which is really, really good.

WIRE: Recently engaged. I'd imagine you have some more time with your fiancee.

How's that going?

DRESSEL: She's knocked out most of the wedding planning.

WIRE: Did you get involved at all?

Did you help?

DRESSEL: Listen. Listen. I did my part on the guest list. I got my -- I put my guests in. But like, I mean, I don't really care what flavor cake we have and stuff. So I don't really want to get involved with that stuff. I just don't care.


DRESSEL (voice-over): We only have a couple things left. I think she has to get her dress and we've got to pick out a flavor of cake, apparently. I said coconut but she's like, no, you can't have a coconut cake at a wedding. So I tried.


DRESSEL (voice-over): -- she shut it down.


HOLMES: It'll be a good wedding. All right. A reminder that we're all in this together.

Stars from every corner of the entertainment world, joining hands, so to speak, to give all of us a bit of hope and encouragement and to support frontline health workers and the World Health Organization.

It was the Global Citizen special. "One World: Together at Home." And it included two very impressive ladies who used to call the White House home. Have a listen.


LAURA BUSH, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY: The spirit and courage of the American people is most eminent in times of crisis. And during this difficult period of physical separation, we've never been closer. Not just in our great country but, tonight, we stand with the people of the world.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY: Laura and I want to express our overwhelming gratitude to the medical professionals, first responders and so many others on the front lines, risking their lives on our behalf.


HOLMES: On that note, thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. This has been CNN NEWSROOM. Do stay with us, though. Another hour of NEWSROOM in just a moment.