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Donald Trump Praises Himself as U.S. Approaches 41,000 Deaths; New York City to Increase Testing; At Least 16 Dead in Canadian Shooting Rampage; Italy Weighs Antibody Tests in Effort to Reopen Country; Trump Praises Those Protesting Stay-at-Home Orders; U.S. Crude Plunges Below $15 a Barrel in Early Trading; Brazilian President Attends Rally to End Quarantine; Mexican Government Downplaying Coronavirus Pandemic; 'Adopt a Grandparent' Program Has Spike in Volunteers. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 20, 2020 - 00:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers here and in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. CNN NEWSROOM starts now.


The United States, with far and away the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, is now approaching 41,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. And as the numbers continue to rise, the debate over the government's response, and when to reopen, is also escalating.

President Donald Trump, on Sunday, promised to have more testing swabs, like the ones he's holding up, produced. There they are.

He also says there is progress on funding for more tests, and hospitals, and for small businesses devastated by the pandemic.

Now, the president also defended protesters who are fed up with the coronavirus restrictions, restrictions that his own administration has put into place. He called them great people who have cabin fever and denied inciting such protests with his tweets to, quote, "liberate" certain states.

Now on Sunday, the president again touted his own record, praised himself, and lashed out at the media. CNN's Jeremy Diamond with more.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And the president, in a large part, was focusing on the accomplishments of his administration. And the president talking about the successes of his administration's response. And also playing clips, and reading clips, of praise from other people for his administration and his personal response.

The president reading, at one point, clips from a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed entitled, "Trump Rewrites the Book on Emergencies." And then the president also played a clip from the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, praising his and the federal government's response. That's what I pressed the president on, on Sunday.

Everything you played and what you read earlier was praising you and your administration.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I played today was Governor Cuomo --

DIAMOND: -- to do that, sir.

TRUMP: -- saying very positive things about the job the federal government has done. And those people -- those people have been just absolutely excoriated by some of the fake news. Like you. You're CNN. You're fake news. And let me just tell you, they were excoriated by people like you that don't know any better, because you don't have the brains you were born with.

You should be praising the people that have done a good job, not doing what you do. Even that question. So just so you understand, if we didn't do our jobs --

DIAMOND: Excuse me. The question is why now? Not why are you doing it? Why now?

TRUMP: OK. Are you ready? Because these people right now in hospitals, it's dangerous. It's going to a battlefield.

DIAMOND: Now, the president's response there isn't truthful. The president wasn't focused on healthcare workers, doctors, nurses on the front lines of this coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the president was talking about praise from individuals about him and his response and his administration's response. Now, the president did take other questions, and he was pressed on this issue of testing.

Now, the president in recent days has not to pass the buck over to governors, suggesting that testing is no longer a federal responsibility but something that states and localities have to focus on.

We heard that once again from the president on Sunday. But at the same time, we did hear the president say that he will be invoking the defense production act to increase production of those testing swabs. That is one of the requests that we've heard from Democratic and Republican governors across the country.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: Anna Rimoin is a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has done a lot of research into how diseases spread. So we're delighted to have you, Professor. Thanks so much.

I mean, the president, again, praising himself, his own administration on everything, but including testing. Even though, per capita, the U.S. is still well behind other countries. And again, he's putting the responsibility on state governments.

Two questions. How vital is it that testing ramps up? And should not the federal government be coordinating procurement and distribution?

ANNA RIMOIN, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES: Well, absolutely. Testing is so critical to understanding where we are on the curve, where we need to go, and how we need to get there.

Right now, we just do not have enough testing in place. And the testing is, the roadblocks to testing are multiple, are -- you know, are significant, and for multiple places. But the big things are re- agents, swabs, and just accessibility in general. That's for the general public. Until we have wide instead testing available in the United States, everywhere, and testing, in particular, for vulnerable populations, and repeat testing available for healthcare workers, we really are just not in a place to -- to be reopening, or even thinking about reopening.


HOLMES: Yes. I mean, do we still -- we still don't know, right, if having had COVID, whether you're immune are not? And if you're not, does that mean -- what does that mean going forward for managing this virus in a community sense?

RIMOIN: Well, this is a very important point that you're bringing up. And there have been -- over the weekend, the World Health Organization also made -- made a comment about this, suggesting that it was just -- we just did not have enough information to understand what these antibody tests mean.

This is really what we're referring to here. Because all of these antibody tests that are rolling out everywhere tell you if you have been exposed to the virus, if you may have been sick with the virus. But it tells you nothing about whether or not you have immunity to the virus, whether or not you can fight off another infection.

So there are some very important questions that need to be answered. These are things that we were answering at UCLA right now. We're looking at if you get infected, does that produce immunity?

First you have antibodies. You have a trace of having, you know, the trace in your blood, that you may have been infected. But does that actually mean that you are immune to the virus?

If you -- and if you are immune to this virus, how long does that immunity last? We don't know. And if -- if you do have immunity, does it wane? And can you get reinfected? And these cases in South Korea, and reports of this in other places, really beg the question as to what immunity means in this case and for how long?

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, exactly. I mean, so you have the situation where the president and, you know, the president himself talking of opening the economy, businesses, and so on. And yet, you know, his same task force doesn't know that immunity situation. It seems a contradiction. I mean, surely, until we know such an important thing. Large numbers of people going back to being in close quarters. It seems incredibly risky.

RIMOIN: Well, exactly. It's this idea -- you know, I mean, everybody is interested to know if you can have some sort of immunity passport, saying that you've had the virus. And, but you know, you may need your visa renewed over time if -- if immunity doesn't last.

And so I think it's very, very important that we understand these things before we move too quickly. You know, the issue is, we're going to lose all the gains that we've all sacrificed, everybody around the world is sacrificing, really taking on a lot of hardship to be able to flatten this curve, and to reduce -- and to slow spread.

And it's kind of like deciding, after you jump out of an airplane, and you've pulled your parachute, if -- you know, now that you've started to slow down, that you say, Hey, I don't need this parachute anymore, and just cut the cord.

HOLMES: What a good analogy. I haven't heard that one. That really paints the picture.

You know, there's going to be more demonstrations Monday in the U.S., organized protests against stay-at-home. And we've already seen a couple in recent days. As a healthcare professional, what goes through your mind when you see that -- that sort of thing?

RIMOIN: Well, I just -- I think it's this -- this whole situation is just so stressful for everybody. And it's so fraught.

And -- and to think that people are going to be putting themselves at risk in close proximity, we know that this virus is very infectious. I just -- I think it's, you know, something that is not advisable to be undoing all of the hard work.

Because any time you have these large groups of people, this is really undoing all the hard work and sacrifice that everybody else has been working so hard and sacrificing so hard to be able to -- to slow the spread.

And, you know, we have these -- these phases that -- that the government has said that we need to go through. And, you know, some of these gates include having, you know, reduced spread, and -- and reduced number of deaths. And -- and this will actually slow the opening of -- of these states, as opposed to accelerating it.

HOLMES: Yes. And just finally, then, you know, this is your field, I guess. This is primarily seen as a respiratory illness. But hearing a lot more about other health issues for people with COVID. I mean, there's reports of a surge in kidney failure among those being treated. But also, even after recovery, reports of heart, kidney, lung, neurological issues. That -- that's quite concerning, isn't it?

RIMOIN: Absolutely. I mean, these are all things that just -- just demonstrate how little we know about this virus. I mean, this is a virus that's new to humanity. We're still trying to learn about it. And as we learn more about what this virus does, the -- the more we realize, you know, we're just kind of scratching the surface in trying to understand it.

I mean, don't forget. We -- people can spend decades working on diseases and trying to figure them out and understand. You know, we -- we still don't know everything we need to know about many diseases that have been with us for, you know, a very, very long time. So it shouldn't be surprising that we still don't have this all figured out already.


HOLMES: Ann Rimoin in Los Angeles with UCLA. Professor, appreciate it. Thanks so much.

RIMOIN: My pleasure.

HOLMES: Well, a potential ray of hope in hard-hit New York state. Governor Cuomo saying that, if the data holds, New York may have passed a high point and is on the descent.

But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had some tough words for President Trump.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: It was that famous "Daily News" cover that said, "Ford to City: Drop Dead." So my question is, Mr. Trump, Mr. President, are you going to save New York City, or are you telling New York City to drop dead? Which one is it?


HOLMES: According to Johns Hopkins University, New York state has more than 248,000 cases of coronavirus, more than 18,000 deaths, at least.

Evan McMorris-Santoro with more from New York City.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that there is some good news in the new numbers around the coronavirus here in New York. Hospitalizations are down. And he's ready to begin a new randomized testing plan to check for antibodies in the New York population.

But there's still massive challenges ahead for New York. Testing capacity isn't high enough, the governor said, to allow for broad- based opening of anything.

And he says, in order to get to that point, he needs federal help. Resources from the federal government to help to fill state and local coffers that have been decimated by the economic downturn caused by this virus. He called on the president and the leaders in Washington to pass a new

bill that would send millions of dollars in to New York to help build resources up, to move things along to the next phase here in this pandemic.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: We're going to take a short break. When we come back, 16 people dead after a shooting rampage in Canada. We'll get the latest on the investigation in a live report, coming up.

Also, the U.S. president has kind words for protesters demanding governors reopen for business. Why experts say they're asking for something dangerous.



HOLMES: Welcome back.

Police say at least 16 people are dead after a shooting rampage in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The shooting began late Saturday in the small town of Portapique. The suspected gunman led police on a chase that ended more than 90 kilometers away in Enfield on Sunday morning. Police say the suspect is dead.

For more on this, let's turn to CNN's Paula Newton, who's joining us live from Ottawa. Obviously, shocking for -- for Canada. What more do you know?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Where do you even begin, Michael? I mean, this began, certainly, in the late hours of Saturday evening. And it turned into, really, a reign of terror that went on for more than 12 hours, Michael.

This is a very small community. The suspect, a 51-year-old, a business owner. No inclination that he had ever been violent in his past.

Apparently, at at least one property, police say they found, at this one property, several casualties, as they describe it, both inside and outside.

But then, what unfolded, Michael, were properties, several dozen miles away from each other, many of them on fire. Police trying to attend multiple crime scenes at once. At the same time, trying to track down the suspect.

People in the community, and you can imagine, at this point, in lockdown already from coronavirus, now told to, if they can't lock themselves in their basement, and be on the lookout for this suspect.

The suspect himself, they then reported, had some kind of an RCMP, a police uniform on and perhaps even a police vehicle. That was not where he -- how he was eventually apprehended, though. He was in another type of grey vehicle. He was spotted at a gas station.

Police are not saying exactly how he died but did report that, in some kind of standoff, he did die. And what he left in his wake is just incredible at this point in time, Michael.

The grieving continues, the heartbreak continues. And just one personal story. There will be so many more. The RCMP confirmed that at least one constable lost her life. It was Heidi Stevenson. She is a mother of 2, a 23-year veteran. And Michael, I can't begin to tell you how much these personal stories of heartbreak will begin to come out now in the coming hours.

Again, coronavirus, right? People are even just trying to come to grips with trying to mourn for these people, when funerals, proper ones, aren't really possible.

And it's fair to say, this is one of the largest, most devastating mass tragedies in Canada, in history. This will be a day of national mourning that will not be able to happen, at least in the near future, because of the coronavirus -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. When you can't even have a funeral. Paula, appreciate it. Thanks. CNN's Paula Newton in Ottawa.

Let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst Jonathan Wackrow, joining me now from Middleton, in New Jersey.

I mean, what do you make of what happened? I mean, especially this angle the suspect was wearing something similar to a police uniform, driving something that was made to look like a police car. That -- that suggests pre-planning.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It absolutely does. I mean, unfortunately, what we're left with is a lot of unanswered questions right now. And, you know, having the suspect deceased, you know, it poses a challenge for law enforcement, where they're not able to question the suspect any longer. So we actually don't understand the full motivation and actually what had happened leading up to this.

So that leaves investigators, you know, with an uphill challenge, where they have to now go out, and they have to reassess who this individual was. They have to go out and look at this person's network. Everything from their friends, and relatives, coworkers. They have to do the digital forensics, looking at everything that he touched online. To try to piece together now a motive, to just fully understand and comprehend how somebody could, you know, undertake this horrific act.


HOLMES: Yes. Police say that they believed he had an initial motivation that turned to randomness. I guess that -- that sort of complicates -- initially, his apprehension. I mean, he went on a 92- kilometer journey afterwards.

And does the -- sort of the breadth of where he carried out these crimes, that complicates the investigation, as well. They're still looking for bodies, only a little while ago.

WACKROW; Well, that -- you're making a great point here. The size and scope of these crime scenes is immense. I mean, just the distance between the crime scenes that we actually know are significant.

But I'm just concerned with what don't we know. I mean, this person left a path of destruction in his wake until he was finally stopped. But what don't we know?

And that's going to be the challenge for law enforcement over the next few hours, is -- in coming days, is to actually trace back every actual step that this person took, every interaction, just to see if there are additional, you know, crime scenes out there, any other victims. You know, again, just trying to piece together, you know, why this happened, how it happened. Again, a lot of unanswered questions.

HOLMES: And so often, too, people in retrospect, you know, look for red flags, as well. Whether he gave off any signals about this. We don't know much about him yet.

But in your experience, in the -- in the field, which is considerable, what sort of commonalities are there among mass shooters like this?

WACKROW: Well, listen, first of all, let's just put a baseline out there that, you know, shooting and killing somebody is not a normal behavior.


WACKROW: And behavior runs on a continuum. And, you know, what we have seen in research that has been done by the U.S. Secret Service has indicated that there are always commonality in mass attackers, in what they do.

And you know, what they have seen and research has proven, that in over 50 percent of the time that they've researched attackers, some sort of grievance has been at the core, whether that's a domestic issue, a workplace issue; but some sort of grievance has been a trigger to enact this -- this horrific, you know, act.

And then, you know, more telling is over 75 percent of the time, the attacker has telegraphed some sort of communication that they were going to actually undertake this type of violent act.

And so that's what investigators are going to look at. They're going to look at the digital forensics. Was this person talking to people? Was he on a chat room? Was he influenced by anybody? You know, what are these things, these key indicators based upon the patterns that we do know? Does this individual fall into that? And how do we find out that information?

HOLMES: Great to have your expertise, Jonathan. Thank you. Jonathan Wackrow there in New Jersey. Appreciate it. Thanks so much.

WACKROW: Thank you so much.

HOLMES: There's so much more to learn.

All right. Italy is now looking to adopt antibody tests designed to see if someone had the virus in the past. This is a quick test. It could be a key to reopening the country, but there are questions about reliability.

CNN's Ben Wedeman and his team tried one of the tests under consideration with mixed results.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just three drops of blood are enough for a Chinese-made antibody test for the coronavirus, now going through a trial run in Italy. Just one of several tests being examined by the Italian government.

Other countries have had mixed success with such quickly-designed tests, but we gave it a try.

(on camera): We were up in the north of Italy in the red zones for 17 days. So we are very anxious to see the results of this test.

(voice-over): Unlike swabs, this test gives results in just eight minutes.

The result, says Dr. John Dominic Balsoni (ph), can tell us three things. Either you never had anything, or that you are currently infected, or that you had the infection but overcame it and have antibodies that are no longer contagious.

I received a clean bill of health.


WEDEMAN: Negative?


WEDEMAN: And never had it?


WEDEMAN: Never had it.


(voice-over): Alfredo, who drove us all over northern Italy for two weeks, also negative.

CNN Rome's veteran cameraman, Alesandro Dentilli (ph), however, had a different result. Positive, says Dr. Balsoni (ph). He had the virus in the past and has brilliantly overcome it.

Alesandro never had any symptoms.

But our bodies can take time to produce antibodies, so experts caution that these tests may miss some recent current infections, unlike the more common swap tests, which should be able to detect whenever someone is shedding the virus.

Antibody tests like the one I got -- quick, painless and inexpensive, just around $20 -- can show who's already been infected with COVID-19 and may now be immune to the virus. A critical step as Italy shifts into phase two, the phase when the country reopens.

PIERPAOLO SILERI, DEPUTY HEALTH MINISTER: It means the tests will be done eventually.

WEDEMAN: Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri, who caught the virus and has since recovered, says such tests will initially focus on critical sectors before becoming widespread.

SILERI: Just so example, I mean, with working in the health system to do the test, was working for every public unit to do it. Plus, I'm going to check the population, especially the north.

WEDEMAN: The number of new coronavirus cases in Italy is slowly declining, but the daily death toll remains high.

While the international monetary fund warns the country's gross domestic product could plummet by more than 9 percent this year. Striking a balance between the economy and public health will not be easy.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


HOLMES: Fascinating.

All right. Protestors are asking to go back to work have the sympathy of the U.S. president, and he's using Twitter and his press briefings to add fuel to the fire. We'll talk about that coming up.

Also, U.S. crude taking a beating in Monday trading, hitting a low like that hasn't been seen in decades. We'll have a live report.



HOLMES: And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. Want to update you on the headlines on coronavirus, and in fact just crossing in the last new few minutes in New Zealand.

The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced New Zealand will stay at its top level. They're calling it alert level 4. And will stay in lockdown for an additional week. That goes through Anzac Day, a big public holiday down under. And then it will move to level 3.

So another week of lockdown for the New Zealanders. The prime minister, Ardern, has had remarkable success in containing COVID-19 in New Zealand. Now, the U.S. has more than three-quarters of a million confirmed

cases, more than 40,000 deaths. That's according to Johns Hopkins University. Both figures, by far, the highest in the world.

President Donald Trump says he will compel the company to make more swabs for testing, meantime. And he says a deal could be announced Monday to bring more relief for small businesses still suffering mightily under the nationwide stay-at-home orders.

Now, the U.S. president says people who are protesting stay-at-home orders -- his own administration's advice, by the way -- he says they are great people. They just have a little cabin fever and want to get their lives back.

But medical experts say there will be deadly consequences if states reopen too soon.

Despite the warnings, protesters are out there anyway. CNN's Natasha Chen with that story.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): vProtesters stood shoulder to shoulder in many states over the last several days to voice frustrations with stay-at-home orders and to demand an end to the economic shutdown brought on by coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom and liberty. We're losing it.

CHEN: Ignoring social distancing measures that had been key in slowing the deadly pandemic spread, many gathered at the steps of state capitols, directing anger toward governors whom President Trump criticized Saturday.

TRUMP: Some of the governors have gotten carried away.

CHEN: But it's the Trump administration who told those very governors to enact state-by-state mitigation efforts. When asked about people who choose not to listen to his own administration's guidelines --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you urge those protestors to listen to the local authorities?

TRUMP: I think they're listening. I think they listen to me. They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion.

CHEN: And they did, evidenced by the Trump 2020 flags and the actions that seemed to follow what the president called for in his tweets, to quote, liberate Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): This is just grossly irresponsible. And it is dangerously bombastic, because it inspires people to do dangerous things.

CHEN: Those who dangerously flouted the rules to protest their government's authority said it was out of frustration. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a small business owner, and my business was

shut down forcibly on the 17th of March, and I have yet to see any unemployment, any money come through from the government. And I'm sitting here without a paycheck, with no definitive answer on when I will be returning to work. And I don't think that's right.

CHEN: Desperation is high, but so is the risk.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): With all due respect, I think there's -- anybody who thinks we're doing this just to take away people's liberties and rights isn't looking at the data that we're looking at. We're doing what we're doing to try to save lives.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein is in Los Angeles for us. Always good to see you, sir.


HOLMES: These press briefings. Boy, they're head shakers, if you watch them from start to finish. And this was another one full of deflection, blame shifting, self-congratulations. And just a whole bunch of things that weren't true. I mean, reading a fawning op-ed and playing clips of him being praised. You've got to remind yourself, these things aren't normal. What do you make of it?


BROWNSTEIN: Well, I mean, first of all, for the president it clearly replaced his rallies, and they are kind of the functional equivalent of the kind of monologues that he gives at his rallies, but also allowing him to have the added benefit of kind of attacking the press and individual reporters on a regular basis, which is another kind of, you know, theme that he does for his base.

I look at this as -- you know, I felt about this president for a long time, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And no matter what challenge he faces, politically, he always comes back to the same focus on energizing and mobilizing his base, and that is what these are about from a messaging point of view.

And there is a price. I mean, you know, he is facing a reality. In the "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll today, again, two-thirds of the country, as in the Pew poll this week, say he was too slow in responding. His approval on responding to this, even on an ongoing basis, while pretty solid still, is now underwater again in most polls.

It's hard to say that these briefings are helping him do anything but what he does best, which is mobilize his core supporters.

HOLMES: Yes, yes. By -- by taking zero responsibility in the face of -- BROWNSTEIN: Yes, yes.

HOLMES: -- evidence. Overwhelming evidence.

I want to ask you about these Trump supporters in the streets demanding reopening. I mean, more coming up in the next day or so. You've got right-wing media encouraging them.


HOLMES: And a lot of questions about who's behind the protests. A lot of reporting that they've been planned and these people are manipulated by interest groups, and that it's far from organic or grassroots. What are -- what are your thoughts on that?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, this is very reminiscent of 2010 with the Tea Party, when the Tea Party developed as a response to Obama's first two years, and particularly the Affordable Care Act. And there was a lot of Democrats who kind of consoled themselves by thinking it was, you know, kind of what they call Astroturf in the U.S., kind of fake grassroots, and it was manipulated from above.

But in fact, while there was a lot of that, it ultimately did have a big impact at the ballot box.

So I think Democrats are being a little passive here on both fronts that we're talking about. You know, they have never developed a daily response to the briefings that Trump is doing that bring together all the different voices they could mobilize, from former Obama health officials, to congressional office -- committee chairs, to frontline doctors and nurses, to kind of give a more accurate vision of what is happening out there.

Nor have they really seen their own grassroots troops mobilize in protest against what we are seeing. I mean, we are past, as you know, over 40,000 deaths. We are well on the way to having more Americans die this spring from coronavirus than died during the entire Vietnam war. And yet, the one source of kind of public expression of discontent is from the right at the moment, even if it is being funded and manipulated from above. That's kind of remarkable.

HOLMES: And the thing -- the thing that gets me, too. I mean, they're encouraged by the president's all caps, "LIBERATE" three Democratic states. Or two states and a commonwealth. I mean, it does seem extraordinary when -- when those -- those states are enforcing his own administration's guidelines. So you've got protesters protesting Trump guidelines and Trump encouraging them.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. It is the way he has kind of governed, trying to keep himself apart from the -- the administration, all the way through, really, for consequences.

Look, I would say, obviously, there's a real economic pain. Everyone is feeling real economic pain. But there is ideology and geography at work here, as well. Ideology is obvious. So much of Republican messaging, really, for the

last 20 years has been that elites are disdainful of, you know, quote, "real Americans," average Americans. They are trying to run your life. They look down on you.

And medical experts are not at all immune to that kind of argument and kind of messaging. You know, there were people chanting in Texas this weekend, "Fire Fauci" at one of these rallies.

But geography matters, too, Michael. As I noted in a story this week, working with an economist, if you look in virtually every state, the case rate is much heavier, even accounting for population size, in the densest big metros, which tend to be Democratic, than it is in the rural, small-town places that tend to be Republican.

Someone said to me a few weeks ago -- I think I quoted you this before -- and I think it holds up very well to explain a lot of the politics we're living through in the U.S. In blue America, this is primarily a public health crisis. So far, in much of red America, it is an economic crisis. And I think that explains some of these protests, as well.

HOLMES: Yes. Until they catch it, of course.

BROWNSTEIN: Until it spreads widely into small-town America, Republicans are just going to be less oriented toward, you know, the most maximum measures you can do.


In polling, there is a gap reopening. It kind of closed in early April, but it is beginning to open again, between Republicans and Democrats about what we should do next, what we should prioritize.

And now that Trump and FOX have turned -- you know, turned the switch, I think you're going to see a lot of Republican governors feeling pressure to follow this idea of loosening up on restrictions, even though we're adding 25,000 cases a day, at least, every day in April.

HOLMES: Yes. They've given me the wrap, but you're our poll whisperer. And I just wanted to, you know, note that Trump's approval is 43; disapproval 54. That sort of rally-the-flag bump was small and fleeting, wasn't it? I mean, 30 seconds. I mean, what does it say?

BROWNSTEIN: It was small and fleeting, both compared to previous presidents in moments of crisis but also to other world leaders at this moment of crisis.

And it is notable. Obviously, he can still squeeze out the -- an Electoral College victory by holding a few key states. But the fact that he never went ahead of Biden in any poll head to head, even during the rally-around-the-flag moment, I think has to be sobering for Republicans. Almost all polls have him at 45 percent or below. Hard to see how he's going to poll much above.

And the other point, to my earlier point, he lost the 100 largest counties in America by a combined 15 million votes. That's where this is hitting hardest. He could lose them by even more. To win, he's going to need to squeeze even bigger margins out of rural places that are either stagnant or shrinking in population. He can do it, but it's a tight rope.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, good points. Good to see you, Ron. Thank you for that.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

HOLMES: Ron Brownstein.

All right. Well, Wall Street could struggle to keep last week's rally going. U.S. stock futures have been down. Now, they're mostly flat. Actually, as you can see there, pretty much literally flat, as investors await some big earnings reports this week from companies like Delta and Netflix. Delta, one of those airlines that's been hit hard by all of this.

They're also watching to see if the White House and Congress can agree on more relief for small businesses. U.S. crude plunging below $15 a barrel in early trading Monday. Fifteen dollars a barrel. That is the lowest level in more than two decades. The collapse in demand during the pandemic has battered oil prices, despite a deal to cut production.

Journalist Kaori Enjoji is in Tokyo with more on the markets. I mean, this big production deal, wasn't that meant to have calmed things down?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: It was supposed to. And initially, I think the reaction was a little bit of relief, Michael, when OPEC announced that they were cutting 9.7 million barrels per day in production.

But take a look at the Asian trading and the oil prices this morning in Singapore, collapsing below levels we haven't seen since 2001, as you pointed out.

And it just goes back to the familiar story that the economy is being crippled all around the world. Domestic -- excuse me -- demand is drying up in all of these countries that we talk about. So even if you have the OPEC cuts, which were dramatic, it doesn't offset the fact that there is a lot of demand destruction going on, possibly to the tune of some 20 to 25 million barrels per day, according to some estimates. And that's one of the reasons why we're seeing a continuing big drop in the oil price today.

Looking at the May contract, which expires on Tuesday, so when you take a look at the forward -- a little bit of the forward contracts in June, the drop has not been as dramatic.

But I think, you know, people are saying that the oil price movement is probably a better barometer of sentiment, economic sentiment out there right now, Michael, because take a look at the equity market. It's been rallying for the last two weeks in a way that we haven't seen in 80 years. So I think this move in crude, in Asian trading, might be a wake-up call for some investors out there.

HOLMES: Yes, yes, yes. Great analysis. Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo. Appreciate it. Thanks so much.

And we're going to take a short break. When we come back, in Mexico, officials are continuing to downplay the threat of the coronavirus. Just how that is affecting public opinion. We'll have a report.

Also, a new friend is only a click away. People around the world connect with residents of a British care home during a dangerous and lonely time. Be right back.



HOLMES: While most world leaders are doing their best to lead their countries through this pandemic, Brazil's president, it seems, is just one of the crowd.

Jair Bolsonaro joining a rally on Sunday, calling for an end to quarantine measures in his own country. He was there without a mask, coughing every now and then, while addressing a couple of hundred supporters.

The president fired his health minister last week after weeks of disputes over the isolation measures, which have been imposed by state governors.

Mr. Bolsonaro has insisted the economic fallout should not be worse than the virus itself. Brazil has the most confirmed cases in Latin America, more than 38,000 reported so far.

Meanwhile, Mexico's deputy health minister downplaying the coronavirus outbreak in an interview to "The Wall Street Journal," despite confirming over 700 new cases on Sunday alone.

And as CNN's Matt Rivers reports, the government's attitude towards the pandemic is shifting public opinion.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Over the last six weeks or so, President Lopez Obrador's administration has received criticism from people who say the administration's response to this outbreak, in terms of putting in place the kind of preventive measures that experts say would help slow the spread of this virus, but they didn't do it fast enough.

And there's some talk of that again today, thanks to an interview given by the deputy health secretary here in Mexico, who is leading this country's fight against the coronavirus.

Deputy Health Secretary Lopez-Gatell spoke to "The Wall Street Journal" and, in that interview, he basically says that he's not convinced that this particular pandemic is any more lethal than an ordinary influenza outbreak.

He said, in part, quote, "I don't know yet. The WHO says it could be 10 times that of influenza, but I think we need to see more evidence."

Now, the deputy health secretary is certainly right when he says that it is too early to know, ultimately, what the death rate will be as a result of this virus. But there are a lot of epidemiologists who would disagree with him and would say that this outbreak is more lethal than an ordinary influenza outbreak.

But no matter who is right, ultimately, there, what's clear is that what Mexican public health officials are saying will help shape public opinion here in Mexico.

So I've spoken to several Mexicans, lots of Mexicans over the past several weeks, and some of them have expressed to me that they don't think, they say -- I was speaking to a security guard yesterday who said to me that he's been listening to what the government has to say, and he's looking at the numbers. And he doesn't think that this virus is as bad as, let's say, the media, in his opinion, says it is.


Now, to be fair, the deputy health secretary has always said this is a serious issue, that people need to stay at home, that people need to socially distance.

But at the same time, when he says things publicly like that he's not sure that this pandemic is any worse than an ordinary influenza outbreak, that can help shape the opinion, not of all Mexicans, that perhaps they're -- you know, they don't need to take this threat of this virus as seriously as they probably should.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


HOLMES: When we come back, fighting loneliness and serving others. How volunteers are reaching out to residents of care homes at a time when visitors are not allowed through the doors. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: With Britain's care homes closed to visitors because of the pandemic, one home is opting for virtual visitors instead. Now, this all started an "adopt a grandparent" program, where volunteers can spend time online with the home's residents. And the idea has really taken off.

Anna Stewart reports.


FREYA, VOLUNTEER: I have a video chat going at my school.

SHEILA, CARE HOME RESIDENT: Have you? With your friends? [00:55:04]

ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seventy- four-year-old Sheila and 5-year-old Freya (ph) have been keeping each other company over video. They aren't related. They're part of a program called Adopted a Grandparent that puts virtual volunteers in touch with care home residents.

These two hit it off immediately.

SHEILA: Oh, that's lovely. You are a clever girl.

STEWART: For residents like Sheila, whose family can't visit her at the moment, this new little companion has become another member.

SHEILA: Her name is Freya. I thought, "Oh, she's such a lovely little girl."

STEWART: The program's organizers say interest has skyrocketed, with over 70,000 volunteers signing up in the last four weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been absolutely amazing and so heartwarming. We never expected anything like the numbers of volunteers we've received. And people from all over the world: Australia, America, Greece, India, Africa.

STEWART: And what better way to fight loneliness then with a bit of dressing up with new friends?

FREYA: Where did your bunny ears go?

SHEILA: This one. Oh, my bunny ears are like yours.

STEWART: Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Well, finally this hour, a little creativity to kick those quarantine blues, not to mention a lot of skill. Two talented young girls in Italy turned their rooftops into a tennis court, lofting shots over the guardrails and the street below. Their ingenuity even impressing some big-time tennis stars.

Former world No. 1, Tracy Austin, tweeting, quoting, "This is next level. I don't think this can be topped."

That's pretty good. Wouldn't want to be the ball girl or boy, would you?

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM, spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. Do stay tuned. "INSIDE AFRICA" up next. I'll see you again in an hour with a full bulletin.