Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Uses Task Force Briefing To Lash Out, Point Blame; Centers For Disease Control Lab's Likely Contamination Caused Delays In Coronavirus Testing; Inside An Israeli ICU; Turkey Shipping PPE To The U.K.; Spain Extends "State Of Alarm" Until May; Hundreds Of Americans Protest Stay-At-Home Orders; "The Color Of COVID"; Viral Video Shows Immigrant Workers Key To U.K. Economy; Health Care Workers Head To NYC To Help. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired April 19, 2020 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Across the world, more infections, more deaths. We're learning why there were delays in testing for the coronavirus in the United States.
Also inside intensive care. We take you to a hospital in Israel where some say treating patients for the coronavirus is harder than war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know how it feels to live in fear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you clap for me now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of this that you're bringing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But don't forget when it's no longer quiet.
ALLEN (voice-over): "You Clap for Me Now," have you seen it?
It's a video that went viral celebrating the diversity of the U.K. We talk with a comedian about that this next hour.
We're live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
ALLEN: 4:00 a.m. here in Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you so much for joining us.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has now surpassed 2.3 million with more than 160,000 deaths. And according to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has the most of both, more than 735,000 infections and at least 39,000 deaths.
For some Americans, patience is running out. Protests against the shutdowns and physical distancing restrictions are popping up in several states. And President Trump seems to agree with demonstrators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There are a lot of protests out there and I just think that some of the governors have gotten carried away. We have a lot of people that don't have to be told to do what they're doing. They've been really doing everything we've asked them. We have a few states where frankly, I spoke to the governors and I could have gotten them to do if I wanted them to do what would have been politically correct. But they've been doing incredibly anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: The president and governors are fighting over who is responsible for expanding testing, the states or the federal government. Meanwhile, CNN has learned that contamination at a federal laboratory here in Atlanta might have delayed a test rollout in the early days of the outbreak.
As testing shortfalls past and present take center stage, governors of the hardest hit states say there's a long way to go. Karen Kaifa has more from Washington for us.
KAREN KAIFA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump says a few states are ready to open some businesses within the next week.
TRUMP: We continue to see a number of positive signs that the virus is past its peak.
KAIFA: The president pointing to Vermont and Montana and Texas, where the governor says a phased reopening will begin Monday. Still crowds gathered in front of the state capital in Austin, calling for more openings faster.
But governors in the hardest hit states say large-scale testing capabilities need to come first.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Testing is how you monitor the rate of infection and you control for it. And that is the whole tension in reopening.
KAIFA: There's new insight into how testing got off to a slow start in the U.S. in the first place. FDA officials say contamination in the CDC's manufacturing of the tests likely led to weeks of delays.
Right now, Chicago and Boston are areas of concern to Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. But she says national trends are pointing in a better direction.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This is really reassuring to us, the progress we're making, across the country.
KAIFA: Meanwhile, weekend negotiations continued between congressional Democrats and the White House on a deal to add more money to a small business relief program. Initial funding ran out in about two weeks -- in Washington, I'm Karen Kaifa.
ALLEN: As Karen mentioned, it is believed that contamination at a federal government lab is to blame for early days in testing in the U.S. Here's Sara Murray.
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.
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.
MURRAY (voice-over): 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.
ALLEN: Let's take a closer look at New York City, site of more than 135,000 cases and more than 13,000 deaths. Both of those numbers are higher than all but a handful of countries outside the U.S.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state will not reopen until testing has ramped up. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio even adds that major cities like his are running out of money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: We can't make testing appear out of thin air. The federal government is supposed to marshal the resources of this country. He's never used the Defense Production Act to the fullest. He's never really taken charge of this situation.
Donald Trump blew it in January, in February, in March. He did not get us testing. If he had, it could have changed the entire course of this crisis. I can't tell you how many thousands of lives, I mean, we'll never know. But I know it would have been thousands and thousands of lives that could have been saved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: President Trump has pushed back on calls for a national testing plan, saying some states, this is from the president, just don't know how to use those tests.
We're joined now by an expert on viruses to dig deeper into this. Sterghios Moschos is an associate professor of molecular virology at Northumbria University, joining me live from Newcastle.
Thank you so much and good morning to you.
STERGHIOS MOSCHOS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MOLECULAR VIROLOGY, NORTHUMBRIA UNIVERSITY: Good morning.
ALLEN: Thanks for joining us again. The U.S. government is calling for a phased-in approach to reopen societies.
But without widespread testing -- and we've seen the president's reluctance to that -- how is that done safely?
What are the risks?
MOSCHOS: To put it quite bluntly, it's not done safely. It's impossible to be done safely. And the simple reason for that is you will effectively give the people the (INAUDIBLE) probably to begin with celebrating the fact that the lockdown is over and then initiate normal communication and interaction with each other, which will result to rapid dissemination.
Two to three weeks later, we'll look at an upsurge of cases that was going to be a lot more damaging than the first round of lockdowns.
ALLEN: And of course, that would be disastrous. Even though people want to move on, it's very close to impossible without the testing. And now we have this report from the CDC that showed contamination in the lab, slowing tests.
This happens, we're told but apparently there wasn't a plan B, as I understand it. The World Health Organization offered another test but it wasn't taken.
What can you say about this?
MOSCHOS: I cannot comment about the logistical choices within the U.S. government and the different states in how this is managed. All I can say is that we get contamination of the materials that we use at the laboratories to test for viruses, that happens, as you rightly said.
But many times we get contamination of the environment. And what we need to do then is a complete wipedown of the environment to make sure there's no trace of the material that could be contaminating.
It could have nothing to do with the sugar or coffee you put into your cup. It could have to do with the kitchen that you do the cooking in, to use an analogy.
ALLEN: President Trump also pulled back, you know, funding for the World Health Organization; some suspect he's trying to use the agency as a scapegoat. We won't ask you about that.
But how do you feel overall about making this local where, instead of just one nation doing the testing that, you know, states in the United States are relying on their own testing and deal with it more on a local basis?
MOSCHOS: I think it's important that there is a degree of command and control within each territory, whether that's in a U.S. state or an African state or a nation state, that allows the implementation to be effective and in line of what the people are used to in that country.
MOSCHOS: There is also requirement for an international approach to stopping this. The scale right now is a lot larger than it was a month or two months ago. It is still possible to actually contain the virus.
But the way to do this is to maintain the lockdowns for as long as it's necessary in order to stop transmission, implement testing to catch people that are emerging as new cases, even though we've done as much as possible with a lockdown, and then try open borders to those countries that is also doing the same.
This is not easy. It's going to be very, very difficult for people and countries. Let's try and remove as much as possible from the equation for testing by preventing transmission. If we're not transmitting, we don't have as much need for testing. And that will buy us enough time to build that capacity so we can test effectively and stop the pandemic.
ALLEN: I want to talk to you about Germany. It has started antibody testing and hopes to test the entire population.
How important is this?
What could it reveal?
MOSCHOS: OK, Germany started publishing some of the work-around the antibody testing. And they have already seen evidence that antibody tests are not good enough. So without getting into the details, it's not going to give us the kind of information we hoped for.
Even if we do have an antibody test, what that test will tell us is if somebody has had the virus in the past. And what is becoming increasingly clear is that there are people out there who have suffered the disease, gone into hospital and they haven't got antibodies.
So there will be those who have been exposed to the virus and have not got any immunity. You won't be able to see that using the antibody test. The other thing that is clear, we still do not understand what being immune to the virus means.
If you don't understand what immunity means, how do you let people back into the community at risk of being exposed to the virus again?
ALLEN: Well, as you say, it's complicated. It's going to take some time. We appreciate your expertise so much. Thank you.
MOSCHOS: You're very welcome.
ALLEN: In the hours ahead, Israel plans to start easing restrictions put in place to combat the virus. Industrial and high-tech workplaces as well as certain stores will be allowed to reopen under health and social distancing rules.
More than 13,000 cases of coronavirus are reported in Israel with more than 160 deaths. CNN's Oren Liebermann has more from an intensive care unit which cares for those hit the worst by the virus.
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.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): 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. 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.
ALLEN: Much more to come on CNN NEWSROOM. Workers in the U.K. were concerned they would run out of personal protective equipment this weekend but one NATO ally has come to the rescue.
Also social distancing restrictions in Spain will not end this weekend, despite some positive signs the Spanish government is making some changes on that. Stay with us for a live report.
ALLEN: Turkey is coming to the rescue for the United Kingdom. Just as Britain was expected to run out of gowns, certain masks and other personal protective equipment needed to battle this virus, Turkey is sending a large shipment of gear expected to arrive Sunday. Phil Black joins me from London with more on this.
And thank goodness countries reaching out and helping other countries, Phil.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a big delivery coming from Turkey, including 400,000 gowns, which sounds like a really big impressive figure. But balanced against the need across the health system here, it is barely enough to last a few days.
This isn't a new problem. From the beginning of this crisis, doctors here have been talking about the fact that they don't believe they have enough personal protective equipment to deal with the scale of all of this.
And from the very beginning, the government has acknowledged the need to tap into international supplies and indeed boost or even create new domestic production.
But the government has also conceded that at this point, its efforts are not meeting demand so much so that public officials in this country have issued new guidelines on how PPE should be used in hospitals to the point where they're saying, certain items, which should be disposable and single use, now suggesting those items should be reused. The government says this is an extraordinary situation and globally
demand is so high that it's understandable, perhaps, that supply is also a little tight. But there's tremendous anger on this point among the broader public and among doctors and nurses and frontline workers as well because those health workers, while they are doing their job, are risking their lives and indeed some of them are dying as a result of COVID-19 as well, Natalie.
ALLEN: What are the latest numbers there in the U.K., Phil?
BLACK: So we're talking about more than 114,000. That needs to be viewed in the context of this country's testing regime, which hopes to get to 100,000 tests a day but is currently somewhere around the capacity of 30,000 tests a day.
And there's very little testing taking place in the broader community. A lot of that is still hospital-based or targeted at front line workers. In terms of known deaths in this country, it is now more than 15,000 people.
We're in a situation where it's believed the lockdown measures are having an effect. There's some evidence to suggest that transmission is coming down significantly.
But those daily death figures that we're getting updates on, still very high, in advance of 800 at least or so a day. And it's expected to stay that way for some time, Natalie, for at least the next week or so before those figures will taper off gradually, Natalie.
ALLEN: This gear from Turkey can't come soon enough. It arrives on Sunday. Phil, thank you so much.
Spain is extending restrictions on movement through the first week in May now. The coronavirus death toll has passed 20,000. But officials say the rate of new infections is slowing. Let's go to our journalist Al Goodman out in Madrid.
We've seen you for weeks now and it seems that Spain's been looking to try to reopen but it shows how precarious that decision is to move forward or stay hunkered down.
AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Natalie, the percentages, the rate of increase is looking better to the experts and the government but not enough.
GOODMAN: So the rate of increase of new cases is at about 1.4 percent. It's been hovering around that range for several days now. The rate of increase in deaths has been about 2.9 percent.
Still Spain on Saturday passed a grim milestone of 20,000 deaths and, in the last week, that means that 300 people to 500 people have been dying from coronavirus every day, a tragedy for each of their families. All of this prompting the prime minister to announce that the lockdown
will be extended until May 9th. That makes a total of eight weeks that started in mid-March. However, he had some good news for kids. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEDRO SANCHEZ, SPANISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Therefore, from April 27th, the Spanish government will take measures to alleviate the lockdown of our children so that they can go out and enjoy at least those numerical improvements that we are seeing in the evolution of the pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOODMAN: But it's going to be limited. They're not going to let all the kids out right at once. There's been a rising call from various regions from the area around Barcelona and other regions to the prime minister to let the kids out.
Psychologists are wondering how this is affecting the kids cramped up and a lot of the apartments here in Spain are quite small. This will be good for the kids. The prime minister saying this will probably be for children 12 years old and younger but the details still need to be worked out.
You're not going to be parks -- this park has been closed for the lockdown. Not expected to open anytime soon.
ALLEN: Al, thank you.
Coming up, a city in Florida deems going to the beach an essential activity and many agreed on that.
Plus, coronavirus in communities of color. America's minority groups have a much tougher battle even though this virus doesn't discriminate. We'll get into that.
ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta.
Less than six weeks after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, there are more than 2.3 million confirmed cases worldwide and more than 160,000 deaths. That according to Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. accounts for more than 735,000 cases. President Donald Trump is feuding with governors over who is responsible for expanding testing for the virus. The testing is crucial for reopening the country.
We're seeing protests pop up across the U.S. as people demand an end to stay-at-home orders. There were more demonstrations Saturday with many people ignoring social distancing guidelines.
In Maryland, people rallied from their cars demanding the governor lift restrictions. In the state of Indiana, people protested outside the governor's residence. The gathering was organized by two conservative groups. They say the stay-at-home order is an overreach by the government.
In New Hampshire, hundreds gathered outside the statehouse, calling for officials to reopen the state. And in Texas, protesters gathered outside the state capital in Austin. It was called the You Can't Close America rally and it was promoted by at least one website known for spreading conspiracy theories.
Officials in Jacksonville, Florida, have reopened the city's beaches to the public but with limits. They say going to the beach is an essential activity as long as people aren't sunbathing. Our Randi Kaye is 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.
ALLEN: In New York, one of the worst hit cities on Earth during this pandemic, Hispanic Americans are especially at risk. Data shows Latinos and African Americans are dying at a higher rate than their populations. And minorities make up half of the nation's 30 million uninsured, which doesn't help.
Here's one big reason why: Native Americans, blacks and Hispanics are often the faces of poverty in the United States. CNN's Nick Valencia reports on why Hispanics may be more at risk and the community's reaction to that.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Anthony Acevedo says he honestly can't remember the last time he got sick.
VALENCIA: But two weeks ago, he tweeted that he felt an itch in his throat. More severe symptoms followed.
ANTHONY ACEVEDO, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: Yes, so I got the results that I was positive with the COVID-19.
Body aches. I had a whole lot of body aches. And recently, I developed a lot of night sweats.
VALENCIA: His condition hasn't improved. Acevedo thought he was turning the corner, only to be diagnosed with pneumonia.
The 35-year-old works in hospice care, making home visits to terminally ill patients. He knew he was at higher risk of contracting the virus and said he had been taking precautions. But in his line of work, that doesn't always guarantee your safety.
ACEVEDO: Latinos are mainly, you know, the CNAs and the janitors. When you go into these facilities, that's where you see us. You see us as the janitors cleaning everybody's room. And you see us as the once changing all the diapers, you know, giving them showers, you know, feeding them face-to-face.
VALENCIA: Dr. Genoveva Ollervides O'Neill, who serves the Latino community in Vancouver, Washington, says Latinos are often found in these essential but lower-level hospital jobs. She says such employees may not have health insurance or the option to stay home if they get sick.
DR. GENOVEVA OLLERVIDES O'NEILL, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: This leads not only to worsening health for those people, but also spreading of this pandemic and prolonging the illness and the effects that this is going to have.
VALENCIA: According to the Pew Research Center, concern about the virus is even more pronounced among Latino than the wider American public. About two-thirds say the outbreak is a major threat to the health of Americans, compared to about half of the general public.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: There are clear inequalities, clear disparities in how this disease is affecting the people of our city.
VALENCIA: In the epicenter of the outbreak, New York City, the mayor says Latinos are dying at rates higher than any other group, making up 34 percent of deaths.
Other locations have been slow to release a breakdown of deaths by race or ethnicity, so no national trends are clear yet.
Meantime, Dr. O'Neill and other medical professionals say underlying health conditions and economic disparities, which disproportionately affect communities of color, play a role.
O'NEILL: Oftentimes, you'll find us living in multigenerational households with grandparents, along with newborns and just creating a situation where it's very hard to contain the spread of disease.
DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Do it for your big mama. Do it for your pop pop.
VALENCIA: This past week, the U.S. surgeon general addressed how communities of color are getting hit hard by the virus and urged blacks and Latinos to protect themselves. But he was criticized for the language he used while doing it. Dr. Jerome Adams said he was only using words he would with his own family.
Latinos, used to getting together many times a week with family and friends, are now finding themselves having to change their normal routines. Like these coffee happy hours at Ventanitas in South Florida.
Acevedo sees the risk for himself and others. It means not pushing to go back to work before he's ready.
ACEVEDO: To me, that's the worst fear is to hurt people, to put other people in danger. So just to know that I have it so I can, you know, stay home and try to take care of this properly without infecting other people.
VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.
ALLEN: Coming next here on CNN NEWSROOM --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come, all you Gretas...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You Malalas...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You immigrants.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See what we have learned.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It only takes the smallest thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To change the world.
ALLEN (voice-over): It's a viral video and it's a poem that gives thanks to the millions of immigrants keeping the U.K. running during this pandemic. I'll speak with someone involved in the campaign, coming next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN (voice-over): Cheers and applause here in London for British health care workers and the National Health Service, part of a weekly show of appreciation for everyone fighting this coronavirus pandemic.
The effort is organized through a social media campaign called Clap for Carers, which sees people around the U.K. join in for a moment of solidarity while the nation is under lockdown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: The applause for health care workers is the inspiration behind a viral video called "You Clap for Me Now." The video highlights the important work that immigrants and ethnic minorities are doing to help the U.K. up and running during this pandemic and it has been watched more than 8 million times on Twitter. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it's finally happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That thing you were afraid of.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something has come from overseas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And taken your jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Made it unsafe to walk the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kept you trapped in your home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A dirty disease.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your proud nation gone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But not me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you clap for me now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You cheer as I toil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bringing foods to your family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bringing food from your soil.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Propping up your hospitals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not some foreign invader.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delivery driver.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teacher.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life saver.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: don't stay, go home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: don't say not here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: It's all about coming together now. Comedian and actor Tez Ilyas is featured in that video and credited with helping it go viral. He joins me now from Blackburn, England.
Tez, good morning to you. Thanks for coming on.
TEZ ILYAS, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
How are you?
ALLEN: I'm fine, thank you. I've been watching your comedy routines, you're a sellout comedian and I want to begin with your style of humor, which is about racism and stereotyping. If you can give us an example, I saw one that said that you were on stage, saying you came out as Asian.
And of all the Asians, I think being British Asian is the best one. (LAUGHTER)
ALLEN: But you're quite funny. And tell us where that comes from, that your style of comedy tries to bring people together, regarding Muslims in particular.
ILYAS: Yes, so I was born in Britain. I've lived here my entire life. I've always called it home. And in comedy, they say the golden rule is talk about what you know.
And what is unique to me, what makes me stand out in the U.K. comedy circuit, is the fact my background is different to most people who do comedy in the U.K. So that's what I can bring to the stage, a unique perspective on the way I grew up. So that's the way I want to bring people together, is talking about my perspective, my upbringing, my background.
ILYAS: And the jokes that you can get from that and particularly the stereotypes that people might have from watching the news or reading papers.
ALLEN: Right. You also said in one sketch, people -- you also say that people don't know about Muslims, they can always learn more from that hit TV show called the news. That cracked me up.
ALLEN: Here you are.
ALLEN: Let's talk about this video. Your comedy helps foster understanding with racism; it looks to do that. Now this video emerges to highlight that all of a sudden immigrants are cool, they're loved, their cheered because they're on the front lines saving lives, supporting lives.
The underlying message is, well, actually, we have been here and we have been working for you. And the whole point is, you're just cheering for us now.
ILYAS: Yes. We've seen that there's been a discourse over the last four or five years both in America but in my own home country, that I don't feel like immigrants have been appreciated for the work that they've been doing since they've been in those countries.
They're just like anyone else, who is like me born, in this country. But I think there's been a certain discourse that says that these people are negative and shouldn't be in my country or possibly, probably the same applies to America as well.
And that discourse has seen the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit in my country. And I think this video highlights quite powerfully, I feel, that the contribution that immigrants are making particularly now, at a time where the economy has been shut down but we've seen that key services are still up and running, like our National Health Service, which is the best in the world.
But a large percentage of frontline services are made up of immigrants or sons and daughters of immigrants who are part of the negative discourse sometimes. And it just highlights that actually, without these people, these wonderful people, who sometimes are British themselves, that the key services would be struggling.
You might not be able to get food from the local grocers or you might not be seen in the hospital in time. So this aims to highlight that. It would be nice if people, the work that they do, would be appreciated not only in a time of crisis but also (INAUDIBLE) the entire time and will be hopefully in the future.
ALLEN: Right. And it shows, like you say, from all kinds of careers, it also represents how they are integrating into society, something you make jokes about a lot in your comedy routine.
Statistics show that nearly half of medical staff employed by the National Health Service come from minority backgrounds and nearly a third of doctors are immigrants, according to official U.K. statistics.
The question is, where do you take this campaign from here, that, hopefully this is a game changer to help tamp down racism and negative thoughts over minorities in the U.K.?
ILYAS: You would hope so, wouldn't you?
There have been some pushback in some quarters, from the usual quarters online, who see it as a passive-aggressive hostile video. But I don't think that's the case. I think the people behind this video, Sachini Imbuldeniya, the creative director, who put this together, she was very clear that we should appreciate all of our care workers, all of our key workers from across all backgrounds, regardless of faith, background, gender, creed.
Also there should be a specific focus on those immigrants who had been demonized in certain quarters and those quarters need to look at themselves hard and say now we're relying on these people to help us.
So maybe this piece could be on TV, maybe it could be replicated in other countries. I think there's talk about people in the U.S. getting together to do something similar and that could be applied across a number of countries, both in Europe, in North America, possibly Asia and I'm sure in Africa and Australia, too.
So hopefully people from all over the world can recognize the contribution that migrants make in their country.
ALLEN: We hope so and it's -- again, "You Clap for Me Now," and, Tez Ilyas, your humor is helping foster goodwill among people who tend to be racist. We appreciate your efforts and thank you so much for joining us.
ILYAS: Thank you for having me. Peace.
ALLEN: All right, peace to you too. Stay safe.
More about health care workers coming up here, going beyond the call of duty. We're talking about workers in the U.S. They're putting their lives at risk by traveling to the U.S. epicenter of this virus to contribute. Their stories next.
ALLEN: Celebrating medical workers is an every night occurrence in New York. It's in a lot of cities as well. But New York is the city that has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus in the U.S.
The situation has been so dire, health care workers from all over the country have gone beyond the call of duty to volunteer at the epicenter. CNN's Brynn Gingras has our story.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every night, New York City erupts in cheers. A show of gratitude for those continuing to fight COVID-19 on the frontlines. Among the native New Yorkers are thousands of healthcare workers who choose to be here.
(on camera): Is this your first time to New York City?
JESS ESPERTI, VOLUNTEER NURSE: It is, yes.
GINGRAS: This is such an unusual welcome to New York City.
ESPERTI: I'd like to go where I'm needed or where people are needed. That's always been in me.
GINGRAS (voice-over): Jess Esperti; a critical care nurse and former Marine, flew from Arizona, leaving behind her children.
ESPERTI: I tell them all the time, if you see someone in need, you help them. You know, you give them all you've got.
GINGRAS: That means little rest and lots of stress for the next month. Esperti is assigned to the Intensive Care Unit at one of the hardest hit hospitals in the city, Elmhurst.
ESPERTI: I haven't seen one non-COVID patient.
GINGRAS: She took a video diary after an especially tough night.
ESPERTI: It's a nightmare. People are dying left and right.
GINGRAS: There's a bond that's formed between all the volunteers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you!
GINGRAS: Nurses and doctors from across the country who she's never met before, but who together provide normalcy amidst the chaos.
ESPERTI: All of us understand that we don't have time to talk to families and it helps us to share our families with the other nurses and say, you know, this is me here, but I have this whole group of people back home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A group of 20 heroes are heading from UCSF to New York.
GINGRAS: Among this group also putting their lives on hold to help, Dr. Tomas Diaz. For him, New York is a return home, a chance to help the community where he grew up.
TOMAS DIAZ, VOLUNTEER DOCTOR: I would say in emergency medicine, we're the folks who run towards danger, not away from it. And so, to me, this feels very consistent with sort of why I entered medicine.
GINGRAS: Diaz is assigned to the E.R. at the New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.
DIAZ: I think the providers here understandably, pretty exhausted. And so, the relief that I'm able to provide by taking over a few shifts is I think really helpful.
GINGRAS: So keep up the noise every night.
ESPERTI: Especially when we're missing our loved ones, especially when sometimes we think what we're doing isn't working and we just can't, you know, do it anymore. It's all that support that really literally pushes us through and it's like, well, I can do anything now.
GINGRAS: They can hear you. Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.
ALLEN: Too many heroes to count in all of this.
Coming up in a few minutes, Dr. Jane Goodall joins me live in our next hour. We'll be right back.