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CNN NEWSROOM

Hundreds Of Americans Protest Stay-At-Home Orders; Trump Uses Task Force Briefing To Lash Out, Point Blame; Global Calls To Shut Down Wild Animal Markets In China; Pope Celebrates First Mass In Rome Post-Lockdown; Turkey Shipping PPE To The U.K.; Americans Flock To Food Banks As Farmers Dump Crops; "The Color Of COVID"; Japan's Sex Workers Struggle Amid Pandemic; Sean Penn Helping To Bring Free Testing To California; Music Events Spread Hope. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired April 19, 2020 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:00:00]

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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The coronavirus death toll in the United States continues to climb and now we're learning why there was a critical delay in early testing.

As wet markets reopen again in China, Dr. Jane Goodall will join me live. Why she says disrespect towards animals caused COVID-19. Also this hour --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can Mom or Dad do better?

More than half of the responses I get from kids is pay more attention to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN (voice-over): The pandemic and your phone. Why now it is so important to try, oh, try, to put it away.

We're all staying connected, aren't we?

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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ALLEN: It is 5:00 am here on the East Coast in the U.S. and we want to begin with the latest on the global health crisis. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 2.3 million with more than 160,000 deaths.

According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 735,000 cases are in the U.S. and more than 39,000 deaths. Still, President Trump says some governors have -- and this is a quote, "gotten carried away" with measures designed to keep their citizens safe, like the so-called social distancing restrictions.

Meantime, some states have started to ease back toward some sense of normalcy. Jacksonville, Florida, has opened beaches for a few hours each day. And officials in Texas and Minnesota said they will lift some distancing measures.

At the White House, President Trump used Saturday's Coronavirus Task Force briefing to lash out, point fingers and say any problems with testing aren't his fault. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House for us.

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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.

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ALLEN: And we're seeing protests pop up across the United States as people demand, some people, 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 Indiana, people protested outside the governor's residence.

[05:05:00]

ALLEN: 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 that 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 Web site known for spreading conspiracy theories.

U.S. officials on Saturday offered their first possible explanation for early testing delays in the country. FDA officials say tests created by the CDC were contaminated. They say the CDC did not adhere to protocols when the tests were made.

But the design is good so the two agencies remade the tests with an outside manufacturer. This as experts warn the U.S. must conduct half a million tests every day to reopen safely. That's about three times what is currently being done. Our reporter, Elizabeth Cohen, says testing isn't the only problem at the CDC.

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ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: I'm joined by Professor Allyson Pollock. She's the director of the Newcastle University Centre for Excellence and Regulatory Science. She joins us like from Edinburgh, Scotland, via Skype.

Good morning, Ms. Pollock.

ALLYSON POLLOCK, PROFESSOR, NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY CENTRE FOR EXCELLENCE AND REGULATORY SCIENCE: Good morning.

ALLEN: I would like to begin with a response from you to this report, that testing in the United States was compromised after a CDC lab here in Atlanta was contaminated and that caused delays in rolling out testing. It's not totally unusual that a lab has an issue. But it was critical in this instance.

POLLOCK: Well, I wouldn't like to comment because I haven't seen the actual facts. But if we look at the U.K. experience which, again, we've been abysmally poor at testing, it's been due to a number of things.

One is massive cuts in the decimation of communicable disease control and that includes the public health laboratory service, with a lot of centralization and also privatization and fragmentation.

And that fragmentation meant there's been quite a delay in the response. And I think it's really important that we don't overemphasize -- I think testing is important but you have to remember that, from the Chinese experience, they didn't have sufficient capacity to do a lot of testing. And they also found that tests were 50 percent negative.

So you got a lot of false negatives. And so, therefore, what was much more important and which is happening in some of the states is contact tracing, track and trace. You really have to hunt down all of the reservoirs of infection in the community and isolate the individuals and quarantine the contacts.

And that really needs a lot of hands-on physical resource. You need to expand your capacity, your workforce, using the army, volunteers, using redeploying staff on furlough. And train them up to do the meticulous contact tracing.

In China what they did, they went door to door, doing symptom checking. And they would take people's temperatures if they complained of symptoms and then they would quarantine and isolate them.

You are not going to wipe out the virus unless you get to the reservoirs of infection. So testing is just an important support but it's not the end of the story. It is important but we mustn't put too much emphasis on it.

And I can see now that San Francisco and Massachusetts and other states are now beginning to do track and trace. And that is really, really vital, to get there in the community and to build your community capacity.

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ALLEN: Right. How challenging is that?

China can be very aggressive and democracies may not be, so that people find it invasive.

POLLOCK: Well, it's not at all challenging because we've had notifiable diseases for over a hundred years, we've had legal requirements for many diseases. So this is not out of the ordinary. What is out of the ordinary is the scale.

But this is no more different from having to expand your acute hospitals. You're seeing huge numbers of new beds being put in, ventilators being put in. But what you have to do is in parallel to what you're doing in the hospital, is you have to build up that community resource in general practitioners and the environmental health side, in the local authorities.

You have to build that up and they should be working very closely with the labs on communicable disease control. All of this is possible. It's nothing to do with an authoritarian regime. It's to do with political will and investment.

You're not going to get rid of this virus unless you do the parallel measures in the community. So you have to put as much emphasis on the community track and trace as you're doing with your acute hospitals and your ventilators.

And you know, we got a hundred years of experience in the U.S. and the U.K. of dealing with communicable disease control. The great tragedy is the way in which our country and your country has decimated and ripped up the (INAUDIBLE).

ALLEN: We just lost your audio but, Allyson Pollock, thank you so much for your expertise. We heard you until the very end. We really appreciate your input. Thank you.

Now that the spread of coronavirus seems to have slowed down in China, wet markets there are back in business. Sometimes these markets are the only affordable source of fresh produce and meat. But CNN has seen video showing at least some selling wild animals.

Wild animals have been tied to previous outbreaks like SARS. But so far the Chinese government has not been able to stop the sale of wildlife, usually enjoyed by the elite in that country. I want to bring in someone who has been leading her field in half a century and helping us understand the importance of wildlife, where they should be and where they shouldn't.

Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall joins me live from the U.K. via Skype.

Dr. Goodall, good morning to you.

DR. JANE GOODALL, PRIMATOLOGIST: Good morning to you.

ALLEN: You have said that this pandemic goes back to global disregard for nature.

How pervasive is it?

GOODALL: Well, it's very unfortunate that we have been destroying forest after forest, environment after environment. This has made animals get closer together than they normally would. And that makes viruses able to cross the species barrier from one animal to another.

And some have been driven into closer contact with people, enabling the virus to jump from animal to person. And particularly in areas where animals of different species, sometimes from different countries, are brought together to sell, like the wildlife market, wildlife meat markets in China, but where hunting and killing them, eating them, we've got the bush meat being sold in Africa.

We've got wild animals being hunted all over the world, (INAUDIBLE) and pig hunting and we've so disregarded the natural world.

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GOODALL: Big difference between the so-called wet markets and the wildlife meat markets. And most wet markets don't sell wild animals in China. It's just some that do, like Wuhan.

ALLEN: Right, this one market in Wuhan that was mixing animals that don't live close together and here they are in this market. They're in cages. They're under duress.

As long as this continues, the danger will persist for something else happening in the future. Is that right?

GOODALL: That's right. But China has closed down the wildlife markets and they've reopened the wet markets because so many people don't -- where they buy fresh vegetables and at a reasonable price and they trust the vendors and it's a bit like the farmer's markets in the U.S. Not all of them even sell meat, like chicken and so on.

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ALLEN: You began studying chimpanzees in Tanzania 60 years ago and have worked nonstop since then to teach the world we need to respect animals and their habitats. Yet forests are falling to development at alarming rates around the world. Business seems to be more important than preserving natural resources.

Do you ever lose hope?

GOODALL: I get angry and frustrated but, you know, my reasons for hope is the Jane Goodall Institute has this program for young people, which began in Tanzania in '91. It's called Roots and Shoots and it's now in 65 countries with kindergarten, university and everything in between.

Hundreds and thousands of young people, many of whom are now adult, and the values they acquire in this program, that every individual matters, every one of us makes an impact every single day and every group working on project to help people, to help animals, to help the environment because we're all interwoven.

And these young people are making a huge difference. And, you know, my biggest hope is that, for the first time in many people's lives, those in big cities have actually been to breathe clean air because of the --

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ALLEN: Absolutely.

GOODALL: They look up and see starry night sky. And my hope is that there's enough millions of them to push business and push governments to do the right thing by the natural world.

ALLEN: Absolutely. It also shows, you know, we can do the right thing and we can have an impact on climate change. I can't stop staring at the blue sky here in Atlanta. It's really amazing.

And a lot of people don't want to go back, once this is over, to pollution and the threat of climate change. Dr. Jane Goodall, thank you so much. We appreciate you so much and all the work that you do.

GOODALL: Thank you very much.

ALLEN: Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, just as the U.K. was about to run out of personal protective equipment for health care workers, a crucial shipment from one ally is set to arrive in the coming hours. We'll go live to London for more about that.

Plus, for the first time since Italy went under lockdown, Pope Francis went just outside the Vatican to celebrate mass in Rome. Why he made a point of going there.

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ALLEN: Right now Pope Francis is celebrating a mass outside the walls of Vatican City for the first time since the pandemic took hold of Rome. The Catholic Church is celebrating the Feast of Divine Mercy one week after Easter Sunday.

And for the occasion, the pope wanted to go to the Roman church that is specifically dedicated to that devotion. For more about it, Barbie Nadeau joins us live from Rome.

Tell us about why the pope wanted to do this, why it's important for him.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Natalie, any good reason to get out of the house I think is a good reason. But this is a very important church, especially for the Polish community and of course, April marks 15 years since Pope John Paul II died and that's an important church for the Polish community.

Normally it would have been filled with Polish pilgrims and religious people who live here in Rome. Of course it was empty today. And Pope Francis has been, you know, particularly bothered by having to be caged up. He's spoken about it and many of his homilies, he gives a mass every morning in Rome that's livestreamed.

And it's to give hope to the people of Rome. The city is really suffering. And after Easter a lot of people who would have normally been able to celebrate were stuck in their homes and the pope is doing everything he can to inspire people to be faithful and to have hope that this is going to end soon.

ALLEN: Barbie Nadeau in Rome, thank you so much, Barbie.

In the coming hours, a major shipment of personal protective equipment, PPE, from Turkey is expected to arrive in the U.K. That will be a relief for British health care workers as hospitals are warning some places will run out of supplies this weekend.

Government officials report the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose Saturday with more than 5.5 thousand people diagnosed in the past 24 hours. The death toll in the U.K. climbed to more than 15,000 people who have died from complications. Phil Black joins me now live from London.

Good morning to you, Phil. This is quite a gift from Turkey to the U.K.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly needed. The shipment we're told includes 400,000 gowns for frontline hospital staff. But as big as that figure sounds, it's a fraction of the need across the health system in this country, just enough to last a few days.

Stocks here are incredibly low but that is not a new problem. From the very beginning of this crisis, frontline hospital staff have been talking about the shortage of personal protective equipment.

And the government has been saying, we know. We're aware. We're working on it. We're doing what we can to source materials internationally and also to boost and build domestic production.

But it hasn't worked. So public health officials here have now issued new guidelines to hospital staff telling them as required to even reuse what is supposed to be single-use disposable items according to best and safest practice.

The argument says it's a necessary compromise because of the shortage, the pressure on supply chains around the world. But there is tremendous anger about this, not just among frontline

hospital staff but across the wider public as well because those hospital staff are seen as being heroic in their efforts to save and care for people while putting their own health and lives at risk.

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BLACK: And really there is now a growing trend in this country that is heavily critical, far greater scrutiny of the British government's early response and planning to the pandemic. It is criticism that the government and Downing Street largely refutes and denies.

But it is all a growing sign of the pressure that the government here is under here as this crisis continues, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Phil Black for us in London. Phil, thank you.

Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, another crisis in the U.S. related to the pandemic, millions of people waiting in long lines for food while farmers dump crops that are rotting. We explain about this next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What could we be doing better than spending so much time on our phones?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spending a little more time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spending more time with us and outside.

ALLEN (voice-over): Also, we'll have this, how much screen time is too much during this pandemic when we're already separated from one another?

I will talk with the director of "Screened Out" coming up here.

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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. Our top stories here.

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[05:30:00]

ALLEN: The coronavirus pandemic is hitting farmers and ranchers in the United States hard. Milk and produce are going bad and having to be dumped. Meat plants are shutting down, leaving ranchers with surplus of stock. Meanwhile, record numbers of Americans are waiting in long lines at food banks. Here's more on the story.

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NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This bumper to bumper traffic wasn't caused by any car accident nor is it any rush hour commute. For many of the people in these cars, there is no more commute because there's no longer a job, no longer a paycheck. And because of that, with increasing alarm, there is no more food.

DR. VALERIE HAWTHORNE, NORTH TEXAS FOOD BANK: As people are getting furloughed and losing their jobs, they need to get access to food.

(voice-over): Across America, from coast to coast in red states and blue, in big cities and small towns are scenes like these. People who can no longer afford to go to the grocery store, people who don't know where their next meal will come from or how they'll pay for it. They're lining up in many cases for miles for donations of food banks.

HAWTHORNE: We're seeing a lot of folks out here that have never had to seek food assistance before. So we're very sensitive to that.

DALAI PATINO, OUT OF WORK MOTHER: It's really going to help us a lot because we don't have no income at all.

(voice-over): No income?

PATINO: No. None of us is working and we have kids and they don't know that we don't have money to support them.

(voice-over): At a time when the word unprecedented is used frequently to describe the pandemic's havoc, these unsettling images do have a precedent and it's a sobering one.

The New York Times Editorial Board called it the contemporary equivalent of the old black and white images of Americans standing in breadlines during the Great Depression.

In some states, the demand has been so great the National Guard has been called in to help food banks with coordination and distribution.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): Thirteen hundred ninety-six, Louisiana National Guardsmen who are working on COVID missions. They've helped package 1.1 million pounds of food at food banks across the state.

(voice-over): Meanwhile, some farmers across the country have been left with no choice but to dump the crops that are typically sold to restaurants that are now closed. Some have tried to donate like this Wisconsin Creamery leaving milk for people to take.

But delivering mass quantities of fresh produce in a small window of time before it goes bad is a challenge. The American Farm Bureau along with the nationwide network of food banks, Feeding America, have asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to streamline a system that connects farms and food banks. But until that happens --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have a buffer that there's no safety net for these folks. There's no savings.

CHEN: (voice-over): We're likely to see more food going unused and more lines of people that could certainly have used it -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Earlier on our 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. Take a look at the numbers here.

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

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

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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.

[05:35:00]

BARKLEY: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Charles Barkley there, always a lot of wisdom from that man. These days, most of us are spending a lot of time on our devices. We

want to stay connected and right now technology is the only way to do that safely.

But can we become dependent on our gadgets or the feelings we get when using them?

Experts call it tech addiction. It happens when you cannot control the amount of time you spend using various kinds of technology and it's the subject of a new film called "Screened Out."

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Children up to age 8 are spending up to three hours a day consuming screen media. Children 8-12 spend closer to five hours and teenagers can be more than six and even up to nine hours. Just decide on where you want your attention to be focused, in the real world or in theirs.

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ALLEN: We're joined by the maker of that film, Jon Hyatt. He comes to us live from Toronto.

Good morning to you.

JON HYATT, FILMMAKER: Good morning.

ALLEN: Do you have any devices close to you right now, other than your device that's bringing you live with me?

So we appreciate that one. But talk about why you made this film. I know there's something about your kids flipping out when you would take their devices from them.

HYATT: Yes, I'm the father of three young boys and I'm sure all parents can relate to this. When you take away the screen, they flip out. They get a lot of anxiety. They want to get back on the screen right away.

To me, this was a strange thing and it kind of reminded me of withdrawal and then I looked at my own self and I said, I'm on social media. And I put down my phone and then I immediately want to get back on that.

So I took a step back and said, what's this doing to my children's brains?

What's it doing to my brain?

We decided to get some answers.

ALLEN: Talk about that and talk about the fact that we are needing to stay connected right now. Yes, limits for children but some of us need limits as adults, too.

What did you find out?

HYATT: Well, first of all, I want to say when we're talking about screen addiction, especially with the film, we're talking about -- we're talking about social media and we're talking about online gaming. We're not talking about video conferencing with your friends. We're not talking about using it for work and we're not talking about your kids using it to do their schoolwork right now.

Right now is an interesting time because really this is a time when we're all celebrating bad behaviors. People are having that extra glass of wine or 10. People are not working out as much. And people are using screen devices more.

What we found out, talking to the experts here in South Korea, is that, you know, these social media and gaming companies had made them addictive by design so, you know, the more we use them, the more addicted we would get. In a time like this, when we're all stuck in our homes, we're sitting ducks right now for tech companies. And it's difficult.

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely. And you talk about -- I play way too many -- too much Words with Friends. I did buy a whiffle ball set to go outside and play. But it's hard right now when so many of us are isolated. The question is, too, will we come out of this -- or will we be worse off when we can move on from this pandemic?

HYATT: That's a great question. And I will say that, you know, when we're -- when we do take a walk now or we go to the grocery store, what's one thing we notice?

We're saying hi to people that we don't even know. We're reaching out to people and just trying to connect with them because real human interaction is very, very important.

And I think we're all getting a little sick of our screens right now and talking to all of our friends through video conferencing. We want to get back, go to concerts, have a good time. And I really hope the lesson we learn here, when this is all done, is when we go to a restaurant.

[05:40:00]

HYATT: And we're with our family or our friends and we're sitting there, we're not staring at our phone and we're paying attention to the person in front of us because real human interactions are what is important.

ALLEN: It might happen naturally after all of the screen time we're getting. Yes, when I have had to go out, people -- instead of saying have a good day, they're saying stay safe. It seems that although we're all behind masks, we're all wanting a little real connection.

We appreciate your film and thank you for your time. Jon Hyatt, we wish you the best. HYATT: Thank you so much. Stay safe.

ALLEN: You, too.

After the break, we take a look at how the spread of the coronavirus is affecting one of Japan's most marginalized groups.

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ALLEN: On Friday, Japan reported more than 500 new coronavirus cases and six deaths, officially bringing the total number of cases to more than 10,000.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe earlier extended the state of emergency nationwide to curb the spread of coronavirus infections. Previously the state of emergency applied to seven urban prefectures, including Tokyo.

One often forgotten group in the pandemic is sex workers. And with the spread of the coronavirus in Japan, Tokyo's bustling red light district has all but gone dark and that's leaving many of these workers wondering how they'll get by in a complicated situation for them.

And our Will Ripley joins us to talk more about it.

Hello, to you, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. You're absolutely right. Some of these sex workers are parents who have to make a choice, forgoing food for their children or leaving their house, going directly to clients' homes, as this virus is spreading quickly here in Tokyo, as in many other countries, putting themselves and families at risk.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[05:45:00]

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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY: The problem with finding a new job right now, Natalie, as so many people well know, nobody is hiring. Companies are laying people off here in Japan and around the world.

And even though the brothels themselves are closing, sex workers are communicating with customers directly. So they're going in and out of people's houses all day long. It's really a catch-22. They know it's dangerous, they know the number of coronavirus cases is increasing in Tokyo but they don't think they have another option.

Even if they do qualify for the government's $930 cash handout as a result of the pandemic.

ALLEN: Right. It shows desperation that so many people in the world are having to go through right now. Will Ripley in Tokyo, thank you for your report, Will.

Next here, Academy Award winner Sean Penn is teaming up with the city of L.A. to get more people tested. We'll tell you what his non-profit group is doing right after a short break.

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ALLEN (voice-over): All right, no one can sing "New York, New York" like Frank Sinatra but that didn't stop people there from belting out the city's signature song with the recording by Ol' Blue Eyes. It was a salute to medical professionals fighting to keep New York City safe.

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ALLEN: How about that?

More than a month into the pandemic here in the U.S., testing for COVID-19 remains a problem because of critical shortages in supplies and staff. But now some private enterprises are stepping up to help. Actor and humanitarian Sean Penn is one of them. He's teaming up with the city of Los Angeles.

His disaster relief non-profit Community Organized Relief Effort or CORE is working with the Los Angeles mayor and other officials to offer free testing across California. And he spoke earlier with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

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SEAN PENN, ACTOR AND HUMANITARIAN: As of this evening, we'll be north of 20,000 tested in the city of Los Angeles and on pace to do -- with the current sites, 100,000 a month. We are looking to expand.

But because Mayor Garcetti and the L.A. Fire Department has such an extraordinary plan in place and the fire department was already running sites that we took, the -- we were able to just be plugged into their system and relieve the firefighters with their exceptional skillsets and responsibilities on the street and the station, relieve them, get them back to serving people in the ways that they do best, the paramedics, et cetera.

And because the lane of testing is not -- doesn't take an enormous amount of experience, we can train our testers very quickly and move people very deliberately through the drive-through test site and then come up with both surveillance and notification for people in their own circumstances and those with whom they're in contact.

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ALLEN: Actor Sean Penn there.

And many entertainers, a few hours ago, brought millions of people together for a great cause while keeping them apart. The World Health Organization and Global Citizen found a way, with some help from Lady Gaga.

They produced, you might have seen it, "One World: Together at Home," a global broadcast Saturday to encourage people to fight the virus by staying home and to support health care workers on the front lines.

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ALLEN: It featured entertainment legends and a couple of former White House residents.

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MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We're thankful for our pharmacists, the veterinarians, the police officers, the sanitation workers and those of you working in grocery stores or delivering food and supplies to our homes.

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ALLEN: The event also featured rock legends playing a hit that truly hits home right now.

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ALLEN: Ah, yes, thank you, Rolling Stones. Global Citizen tweeted it has raised nearly $128 million from this program to support health care workers. We'll end on that one. Thank you so much for watching. I'm Natalie Allen. "NEW DAY" is just ahead. See you soon.