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Americans Not United in Reopening Their Economy; Critics Pointing Fingers to British Leadership; Europe Slowly Going Back to Normal Flow of Life; Turkey's COVID Cases Escalates; U.S. With More than 700,000 COVID Cases; Business Owners Eager to Reopen Up; Sixteen People Killed in Nova Scotia Shooting; U.S. Condemns Arrests Amidst a Pandemic; Doctor Survived COVID-19. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 20, 2020 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, no signs of letting up the global death toll from the coronavirus climbs relentlessly as it does here in the United States. But protesters in several states backed by Donald Trump are pushing for a quick reopen. And results in just eight minutes. Could this child test in Italy become our new normal?

The United States with far and away the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world is now approaching 41,000 deaths. That is according to Johns Hopkins University, which confirms nearly 760,000 cases nationwide. And you can see which states are the most affected. More than 2.4 million cases are reported worldwide.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump said that the U.S. is rapidly expanding its testing which experts say that is key to reopening the economy.

On CNN, the mayor of New York warned against acting too soon.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): I fear that the president is sort of his endless desire, sort of rah, rah, let's start, are is ignoring the facts, ignoring the science. He is going to lead us that will boomerang back on us very harshly. He's only got one chance to get this right.


CHURCH: And governors say that they need more tests before they can safely reopen. The White House says that they have plenty.

Natasha Chen looks at the state of the nation right now. NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been 50 days since the first

coronavirus death in the U.S. Tonight, the death toll is more than 40,000. Nearly doubled from one week ago. Yet with 22 million people who filed for unemployment in the last month there are increasing calls for and indications of Americas soon reopening.

Florida is reopening beaches, Texas is ruling out plans to soon resume commerce, and people are protesting in several states against stay-at- home orders.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom and liberty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are losing it.


CHEN: President Trump is itching to reopen America.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We are going to start to reopen our country.


CHEN: Not just a reboot in economy and freefall, but with his poll numbers sliding and an election just months away, to resume a treasured pastime.


TRUMP: I hope we can do rallies. It's great for the country, it's great spirit. It's for a lot of things.


CHEN: But Trump has acknowledged it's the governors who are the authorities when it comes to reopening society.


TRUMP: The governors will be empowered to tailor and approach that meets the diverse circumstances of their own states. Every state is very different.


CHEN: And many of those governors from both parties have said it won't be safe to reopen until the Trump administration extends them one critical lifeline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): More help is needed from the federal government on testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We simply have not had enough test kits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We governors are doing the best we can with what we have.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The president doesn't want to help on testing.


CHEN: Trump fired back, calling governors complainers and saying he's already created, quote, "tremendous capacity when it comes to testing."


TRUMP: They do not want to use all of the capacity that we've created. The governors know that. The Democratic governors know that. They are the ones that are complaining.


CHEN: Republican governors have been sounding the alarm too.


GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): To try to push this off and to say that the governors have plenty of testing and they should get to work on testing somehow, we aren't doing our job, it's just absolutely false.


CHEN: And just a day after Trump sent a trio of tweets urging his supporters to, quote, liberate Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia, all states governed by Democrats, he supported the actions of the protesters who have chosen to disregard social distancing measures while millions more heed the expert's advice and stay at home.


TRUMP: I just think that some of the governors have gotten carried away.


CHEN: Offering only blame, instead of the assistance governors say they so desperately need.


CUOMO: Don't pass the buck without passing the box.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHEN: Already we are starting to see one plan state planning to

reopen some things this week. According to the Charleston, South Carolina paper the Post and Courier, the governor there is expected to announce tomorrow that beachgoers and visitors will be allowed public access to rivers and lakes, and that retail stores that have been closed for two weeks will be allowed to start accepting customers purchasing clothing, furniture, and jewelry according to the new order.


CHURCH: Well, a new poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows most American voters, 58 percent, are worried that the government will loosen stay-at-home restrictions too soon. And that is compared with 32 percent who are more concerned that U.S. will take too long to loosen restrictions which will harm the economy.

Well, the United Kingdom's government is slamming a Sunday Times article that says British Prime Minister Boris Johnson didn't attend five coronavirus meetings in January and February. A spokesman is refuting claims that the government missed key opportunities to slow the pandemic and say that it started to act as soon as it was alerted to a potential outbreak of coronavirus.

Well here to discuss all this is CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson. Nic, good to see you. And of course, like the United States, the U.K. is being criticized for its slow response to this coronavirus pandemic. How damaging is all this? And how is the U.K. government pushing back on this damning report in the Sunday Times?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, its pushback is quite unprecedented really, which it shows you how keenly the criticism is being felt and also how strongly they believe that the article is wrong. They are broken it down into what they claim is, and what their response is, and there are over 10 points that the government chooses to pick apart.

It says that the prime minister was at the helm of the government that the government was doing everything that it should have been doing, that it was having the appropriate meetings with appropriate ministers in charge these Cobra meetings. These five critical important meetings that the prime minister didn't attend. The government said nothing was done wrong, that it was on the ball, that it was preparing the country for the pandemic.

There is a credibility gap here. And there continues to be a credibility gap. And it continues to be made worse by some of the things that the government ministers are saying. The current sort of tests of that credibility, if you will, particularly for the frontline doctors and nurses. Is that going into this weekend, there was a critical an acute shortage, government words, of a vital personal protection equipment for in some hospitals.

The sort of fluid repellent apron's desperately in short supply. Some hospitals are expected to run out. The government saying extraordinary circumstances, we're trying really hard but you're going to have to re-use some of this equipment. Never normally in that situation.

Then on Saturday the government minister said that there is a delivery of this equipment, 400,000 of them coming from Turkey over the weekend. They'll be here in time. You know, 84 tons of medical personal protection equipment coming from Turkey over the weekend. It didn't materialize.

So, you have this current credibility gap that the government is saying things that it can't deliver on. And that sort of fundamental understanding that if the government, as this newspaper article charges, wasn't on the ball properly, this explains in part why there are such shortages in this personal protection equipment at the moment.

The government of course says well, everyone is trying to buy this equipment on the global market. The thrust of the article is, is that if the government was better prepared, it would've been ahead of the curve and go into these big suppliers before a lot of other countries stepped up to replenish their stocks as well, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to Nic Robertson joining us there live from London.

Well, weeks into the lockdown, many governments looking at how and when to safely get things back to normal. But in countries like the U.S. and the U.K., essential steps like proper medical testing and constant contact tracing have been lacking.

And I want to discuss this further with Dr. Richard Dawood, a medical director at Fleet Street Clinic in London. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, it has to be said that both the U.S. and the U.K. have dropped the ball when it comes to testing their own citizens for COVID-19, unable for whatever reason to offer extensive coronavirus testing and contact tracing. What have these two nations failed so miserably to do these? And why is extensive testing so important during a pandemic?

DAWOOD: Well, it is just so hard to ramp this up from nothing to the kind of volume and level that is needed now. There, I mean, there are essentially two kinds of tests. There are the PCR test that are used to tell if the virus is actually present. We've seen big increases in capacity and speed with which these tests can be done but we are nowhere near the volume that's required.


And to create this out of almost nothing is very hard. We have to -- I'm just not sure whether governments, any government really, has got the skillset that's needed. It's not just the production of these tests. It's the management, the implementation, the handling of the results, what you do with the information and how you interpret it, and how you react to it. These are skills that take a long time to hone. And I'm not sure that

the government as it stands is capable of managing that. I think what's needed, rather than constantly looking back at what we could've done better and how things were done wrong, is to develop a coherent plan for what can be done moving forward to get us out of this mess.


DAWOOD: And I think what (AUDIO GAP) is a much more collaborative involvement in experts, outside of government, in the medical sectors, in public health, in business, in the supply chain, the whole mass of skills at this moment of lockdown are sitting idle.

We have the brain power and the ability to bring lots of people together to help manage this crisis. We can't expect that people, civil servants, politicians have innately got the skills to handle this kind of crisis.

CHURCH: Right.

DAWOOD: I wish --


CHURCH: The only problem with that is we have seen Germany do it, we've seen Taiwan do it, Australia, and New Zealand.


CHURCH: So many other countries have been able to do this. But if the United States in the U.K. don't have extensive testing and contact tracing in place, then how wise is it to open up the country as the U.S. is preparing to do it despite having the highest death toll in the world, at more than 40,000 right now.

DAWOOD: Yes. Well, so the countries that you mentioned have done this from a base of being much better prepared and having rather different systems. I think in that respect what we need to be able to do is to watch what they have done and to learn from the experience of other countries as the situation evolves.

It is very hard for us, you know, to watch them emerge from lockdown and think that we can just do the same without putting in place much more by way of testing and infrastructure to deal with that. And I think also there is a problem because we've had a certain period of lockdown.

And you know, I think what's happening in the U.S. shows that you've got to find a way to carry the public with you on this. You've got to make a good case for the lockdown continuing. You need scientific input that people can trust and follow. And that's really the only way at improving the level of testing and the level of test. I mean, the other kind of test is the antibody test. We're really --


DAWOOD: -- at a very early level to know what those mean and how best to use them.

CHURCH: You make a good point about taking people with you. Because you may have seen pictures and video of protesters out in the streets in Michigan and other states pushing to get the country opened up and rejecting stay-at-home orders, all in response as an effect to tweets from President Trump. Calling on these very same protesters to liberate themselves against his own administration's recommendations.

So, as a doctor, what are your thoughts when you see those protesters shoulder to shoulder, ignoring calls to social distance, protesting in the midst of a pandemic?

DAWOOD: Well, I mean, it's all very deeply depressing. I think the other thing that people may not realize, looking at the United States, is that we think of the United States as one country but the circumstances in each state and in each city are entirely different. You know, you can't compare New York to rural, I don't know, Midwest.

Each of these states is at a different point in the curve. And that's why a lot of expert's advice and opinion needs to be sort. We need a collaborative approach to inform each state of where they are and what needs to be done, and appealing to the populace in this way I think it's incredibly counterproductive.

CHURCH: You're absolutely right. Dr. Richard Dawood, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your insight. I appreciate.

DAWOOD: Thank you.

CHURCH: So, is it possible to have had the coronavirus and not known about it? Antibody tests could hold the answer to that but are they viable?

CNN's team in Italy tried one out and we'll show you the results. That's next.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, in Europe a few more countries are starting to ease some of the restrictions they imposed to contain the coronavirus. Starting today, Germany is allowing small shops to reopen as long as they follow hygiene plans. Officials say the number of new infections has been falling. And it's giving them the chance to slowly restart the economy.

Similarly, neighboring Denmark is lifting some of its own restrictions. Small businesses like salons, chiropractors, and driving schools are now allowed to resume operations. And Italy is now looking to adapt antibody tests designed to see if someone has had the virus in the past. The quick test could be a key to reopening the country. But there are questions about their reliability.

CNN's Ben Wedeman and his team tried one of the tests under consideration with mixed results. BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just three drops

of blood are enough for a Chinese antibody 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.


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 these tests. Unlike swabs, this test gives results in just eight minutes.


WEDEMAN: The results say Dr. John Dominic Bosony (Ph) can tell us three things, either you have never had anything or that you are currently infected, or that you had the infection but overcame it and now have antibodies that are no longer contagious.

I received a clean bill of health.


WEDEMAN: Negative?


WEDEMAN: Never had it? Never had it. Alfredo, who drove us all over northern Italy for two weeks also negative. CNN Rome's veteran cameraman Allesandro Quintile (Ph), however, had a different result.


WEDEMAN: Positive, says Dr. Bosony (Ph). He had the virus in the past and has brilliantly overcome it. Allesandro (Ph) 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 swab tests which should be able to detect whatever 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.


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

SILERI: I mean, working with the health system should do the tests. With working for every public utility should do it. Plus, I would check the population except in 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 warrants 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.


CHURCH: Well, Turkey has surpassed China in the number of reported coronavirus cases. The Turkish health ministry reported almost 4,000 new cases on Sunday. Bringing their total to more than 86,000.

The country had already overtaken Iran for the most cases in the Middle East.

And CNN's Arwa Damon joins me now from Istanbul to talk more about this. Good to see you, Arwa. So, what's Turkey's government doing in response to this increase in COVID-19 cases with the death toll of more than 2,000 people now?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the moment, Rosemary, they haven't actually changed the restrictions that they have in place. And here is a summary of what those restrictions are.

If you are under 20 or over 65, you are under a full curfew. You are not allowed to go out on weekends. Only that curfew applies to the entire population in 31 provinces. So about three quarters of Turkey's population. But the problem that they are facing right now is that the weather is getting nicer.

And so on Friday, for example, before this curfew went into place some areas were packed, and yes, people were wearing face masks but they weren't necessarily paying that much attention to the social distancing measures.

And Turkey has been reluctant to implement a full-on curfew that would apply to everyone during the week as well. Because like so many other countries, it's trying to balance itself between taking precautions and implementing restrictions, but also trying to salvage what it can of the economy.


But experts are saying that with the kind of growth that Turkey is exhibiting in terms of confirmed coronavirus cases, these types of measures may not be sufficient at this stage. The country may find itself in a rather precarious position as others have as well, that tried to save their economies whilst trying to protect the population.

Now at this stage, and this is good news for Turkey, its hospitals are not overwhelmed. There is still plenty of room in the ICUs. There are plenty of beds that are available in COVID wards. Many hospitals responding very quickly to this crisis. And they are not facing, unlike other countries, the United States, countries in Europe, a shortage in personal protective equipment. They don't have a shortage in lifesaving medical gear.

But doctors who we spoke to over the weekend in one of Turkey's Istanbul ICU said that they from the get-go have been warning the government that they need to implement more severe measures. They are ready for an influx up to a certain degree should that happen. Of course, they hope that it's not going to.

But at the same time, there is this sense that maybe the government is going to have to do something stricter. Right now, they are gambling that their partial lockdown strategy is going to work. But, Rosemary, it's a very risky gamble.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. Arwa Damon bringing us up to date on the situation across Turkey from her vantage point there in Istanbul. Many thanks.

Well, the pandemic's impact on the oil markets is deepening with demand all but gone. The U.S. crude prices have plunged to levels not seen in decades. And Canada has just seen one of the worst killing sprees in its history. We will bring you the latest on the shooting rampage in Nova Scotia. That's ahead.



CHURCH: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Updating some of our headlines on the coronavirus. The U.S. now has more than three quarters of a million confirmed cases and 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 a company to make more swabs for testing. He's also pushing back on the nationv's governors, saying they have ample testing capacity for some states to start reopening their economies sooner than later.

And as the pandemic batters the economy, U.S. business leaders insist they need more testing to reopen and bring back lost jobs.

President Trump opened his Sunday briefing by discussing the negotiations on Capitol Hill. Saying a deal on funding small businesses could be announced by Monday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We are continuing to negotiate with the Democrats to get our great workers and small businesses all over the country taken care of. I think we are getting close to a deal. It could happen. It could happen. A lot of good work has been going on. We could have an answer tomorrow. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich says the financial toll already taken on small business owners.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This everything was prospering and was just growing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything was actually very good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Business is great.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: But then for these small business owners, it all came crashing down, like many businesses around the country, COVID-19 changed everything.


ANA CASTILLO, PRESIDENT, SAFE CRUISE PARKING: It was like apocalyptic. It was the scariest day ever.


YURKEVICH: Americans who are self- employed, gig workers or freelancers can now apply for help. Ana Castillo is one of them. Her family owns a cruise parking lot in Miami, but with no cruises, her income is zero.


CASTILLO: I mean, my parents have put blood, sweat, and tears, into not only to coming into this country and building something for themselves. But in general, like Safe Cruise Parking was built from their savings from every penny they've ever worked for.



YURKEVICH: Christina Mickens owns a P.R. company in Atlanta and business is slow. As a single mom to a 9-year- old, she is the family's breadwinner. She hasn't heard back about her unemployment and her rainy-day fund is drying up.


MICKENS: Taken to the bare minimum I would say by the end of April, maybe first two weeks of May that I'll be gone.


YURKEVICH: Kristopher Payne is in the same boat. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISTOPHER PAYNE, OWNER, WELL PLAYED GAMES: The bills don't stop between now and then and the money is rapidly running out.


YURKEVICH: His gaming shop in North Carolina is a month away from shutting down.


PAYNE: I applied for the PPP, the (Inaudible) loan, the grant. And I've also applied for unemployment. Nothing has worked out at this point.


YURKEVICH: With a backup in unemployment processing, Payne believes he is weeks away from a check.


PAYNE: If the unemployment came through, I would be able to turn all of that money into my old money that I would use for my business.


YURKEVICH: Forty-three percent of small business owners say they have less than six months until they'll close because of COVID-19, according to a survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For some, the pure will to survive could be enough.

MICKENS: Failing is not something that's in my radar or even in the back of my mind when it comes to my business. I know I won't be that 40 to 50 percent.


YURKEVICH: For others, the wound may be too deep.


CASTILLO: It's not just like the business. It's like the people behind it, and everything that they do to provide a service to you and to make a living for themselves. So, I would just say support your local businesses.


YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: And U.S. futures are down, suggesting Wall Street may not be able to extend last week's rally. Investors are waiting some big earnings reports this week from companies like Delta and Netflix. And of course, are hoping that that small business relief we mentioned comes through.

And U.S. oil prices have plunged to lows not seen in more than two decades. The collapse in demand appears to be outweighing last week's agreement by OPEC, plus to slash production.

And our John Defterios is in Abu Dhabi, he joins us now live. Always good to see you, John. So, do we just need to accept that in the midst of a pandemic supply and demand are going to be out of kilter?


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: I think out of kilter is a perfect way to describe it, Rosemary. You know, if you go back to 2008, we had record prices of $147 a barrel. And they plunge to $30 a barrel because of the correction of demand in that second half of the year due to the financial crisis.

This is a much worse situation. If you look at prices today it's most acute in the United States because the spread between the U.S. benchmark and the international benchmark is around $12 a barrel because we have an oversupply of about half a billion barrels in the U.S. market.

You said the OPEC plus group decided to cut production. They ended their price war last week. Donald Trump took a victory lap saying we've solved the problem. But here is the real problem. They're cutting about 10 million barrels a day starting May first through the end of the year. It will be a huge correction, of course. They're going to take about two billion barrels.

But the demand, according to the International Energy Agency has dropped three times that amount. You can't cut fast enough to make up for the oversupply that we see in the market today. And you are 100 percent correct, it's all due to the pandemic.

CHURCH: And John, what will this sell-off mean for the U.S. oil patch this year and next of course?

DEFTERIOS: Well, it is a bit of irony because the U.S. was the number one producer, projected to hit 13 million barrels a day. In the first quarter we had prices at $65 a barrel for the U.S. benchmark due to the tensions with Iran. And they plummeted because of the pandemic right now.

They're probably going to lose three to four million barrels a day of production in 2020. Reese Energy which is a consultancy, said we'll probably lose 140 companies in the oil patch this year, and then another 400 companies in 2021, Rosemary. And it takes a while to correct.

I was suggesting two billion barrels between May 1st and the end of the year by OPEC, plus another three to four by the United States. It will take about two and a half billion barrels off the market. And we probably won't see prices really start to rebalance until August or September depending on the economic recovery.

CHURCH: That is such a domino effect in the midst of this pandemic. John Defterios, joining us live from Abu Dhabi, many thanks.

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

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government will help the people of Nova Scotia recover from this tragedy.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: My heart goes out to everyone affected in what is a terrible situation. I want to thank the police for their hard work, and the people for cooperating with authorities.


CHURCH: Police say that the suspect's motive remains unclear at this time.

CNN's Paula Newton has more now from Ottawa.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Canadian police really described this as a reign of terror that went on for more than 12 hours. The 911 calls started to come in late Saturday night. Police say they went to one property and saw several people, several victims both inside and outside the property.

But at the same time, they saw lots of fire in that area and in other areas. In some cases, dozens of miles apart. They were trying to attend to all of these multiple crime scenes. And at the same time, there was a man hunt on for a local businessman. People say they had no indication that anybody would try and attempt this kind of a rampage in what is really a rural and very quiet community.

The manhunt continued throughout the night, people terrified already, already in lockdown, we're told, to really barricade themselves in the basement if they had one and to look out for this man.

He was said to be perhaps wearing some type of an RCMP uniform, a police uniform, and perhaps in a police car. Police point out that this means that these acts were in some way should perform premeditated, they also say that in terms of the victims that he may have known some of them but others, the acts really look senseless and absolutely random.

They finally track the suspect down at a gas station. They won't say exactly how he died but do confirm that he is in fact deceased. Now the heartbreak will be coming in the next few days. But one personal story already.

RCMP lost Constable Heidi Stevenson, a veteran of 23 years, a mother of two. And this is in the middle of this pandemic where people cannot even properly mourn, just trying to process all of this. Certainly, it will be one of Canada's worst mass killings in history. And really, a national tragedy which will be so difficult for that community and for the entire country really to cope with given what so many are already dealing with.

Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.


CHURCH: Well, the United States is condemning the arrest of 15 well- known pro-Democracy leaders in Hong Kong. You are seeing one of them here. The lawmakers and activists were arrested by police over the weekend for their alleged involvement in some of the anti-government protests that swept the city last year.

And CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is live in Hong Kong. She joins us now. good to see you, Kristie. So why is Hong Kong's government focusing on the arrest of these pro-Democracy activists in the midst of a pandemic? And how is it being viewed there?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, you are right. The timing is remarkable. Amid a pandemic. There was a sweep of arrests taking place at the weekend here in Hong Kong. Fifteen high-profile, pro-democracy activists have been arrested on charges of organizing or taking part in unauthorized gatherings during the 2019 Hong Kong protests.

And among those 15 arrested include 81-year-old Martin Lee, a man known as a father of democracy. He is the founder of the Democratic Party. Also Jimmy Lai is seen on your screen. He is a publisher of the Apple Daily, a publication widely known for being very critical of the Chinese central government, as well as Hong Kong.

Other people arrested include veteran Margaret Ng, and former opposition lawmaker Albert Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan. Earlier today, I spoke to Martin Lee for his reaction to his and the other 14 arrests.


MARTIN LEE, FOUNDER, HONG KONG DEMOCRATIC PARTY: I was hoping that it would come. Because I don't want to be left out. When so many of our young people are arrested, and many of my old friends are arrested and brought court without me joining them. I mean, I think we've been fighting for democracy in a peaceful way all these 30 odd years but not going anywhere.

I believe the way forward is to continue to ask the Chinese government simply to carry out its (Inaudible) made to Hong Kong and to the international community, not just a British government in 1984. Because Hong Kong people are being martyrs in their own houses.


LU STOUT: So why are these arrests taking place now in other well- known pro-democracy activists here in Hong Kong, Joshua Wong, took to Twitter to say that he believed China was acting under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic to clamp down on Democratic movements here in Hong Kong. On that point, Martin Lee told me that he believed the Hong Kong

government was advised to proceed with these arrests at a time when other countries were too busy dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

As for the Hong Kong government itself they have issued a statement saying that the investigations will proceed in accordance to the law. Adding this, prosecutions will be made independently and free from any interference, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, the timing is very questionable. Kristie Lu Stout bringing us that live report from Hong Kong. Many things.

Well, a remarkable story of hope in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Ahead, one doctor turned patient shares his recovery story and the medicine that saved his life.



CHURCH: To get back to normal -- taking a walk, grabbing coffee with friends -- the world needs a vaccine for the coronavirus. On Sunday, the American president announced a new program to help speed that effort along, as well as looking for a vaccine, there's a hunt for effective treatments that could be available almost immediately.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen explains where we stand on that.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems to be President Trump's favorite drug.


TRUMP: I think it could be something really incredible.


COHEN: It's hydroxychloroquine and early study results suggest it might not work and it could cause heart problems. Thursday the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told the Washington Post that he doesn't feel political pressure to push this drug forward as a treatment for COVID-19.


STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUGS ADMINISTRATION: I can promise the American people that FDA will use science and data to drive our decisions always.


COHEN: And there are other drugs being studied to see if they might work against the novel coronavirus. On Thursday, in just one day, nearly 40 new clinical trials to study potential treatments for COVID- 19 were registered here on this government list of clinical trials. Biotech company Genentech announced Thursday that the FDA had given

approval to move on with the next stage in trials for each drug called Actemra which is already used to treat arthritis and other ailments.

A similar drug called Kevzara from manufacturer Regeneron is also being used to treat COVID-19. And in a video leaked to the health news web site Stat doctors from the University of Chicago discussed how their patients taking an experimental antiviral drug called Remdesivir were recovering quickly but it was literally just talk, not published research. So, no one knows for sure, not yet anyways, whether Remdesivir which was designed but didn't work for Ebola, will work for COVID-19.

And beyond drugs, the FDA has put out a call for people to donate blood plasma if they've already recovered from coronavirus. Their antibodies could help people who are currently suffering.

Studies are underway in New York and in universities around the country. The ultimate weapon, a vaccine is moving along at research centers around the world including at the University of Oxford in England. They announced that they've teamed up with an Italian manufacturer to make a vaccine, all with an eye towards putting an end to the pandemic.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, reporting.

CHURCH: And as the pandemic grows, it's easy to feel scared and to wonder how we're going to come out of this. But remember, people do. The majority of patients recover.

Take Dr. Arnold Weg, he is a gastroenterologist, a father and grandfather in New York and he contracted COVID-19 early on before New Yorkers were told to stay home. He was still seeing patients and he later learned one of them had COVID-19. Then his condition deteriorated until one night he was in bed gasping for air.

He was admitted to the very ICU where he often treats patients. His family went online and pleaded for help. They asked for prayers. They asked pharmaceutical companies to make experimental drugs available and for the FDA to allow for more drug trials.

This is Dr. Weg returning home to family after being released from the ICU, something his family says they weren't sure they would ever see.

Well, now that Dr. Weg is out of the ICU and he spoke to CNN's Ana Cabrera about his recovery.



ARNOLD WEG, RECOVERED COVID-19 PATIENT: The experience was something that I must tell you I've never ever had the experience in my life, nor could I ever have imagined how difficult it was between the fevers and the shortness of breath and the sense that I was drowning. There was this overwhelming sense of doom that ultimately wound up in

my transfer to the intensive care unit where I narrowly avoided intubation.

I'd like to take a second just to share what I think really made the difference acutely was a medicine called Actemra which is an anticytokine that reduces inflammation in the lungs taking the water out of the lungs.

My physicians were eager to intubate me when I went into the intensive care unit, but I had an instant sense of wellbeing after having received this medication. I think it contributed to my sense of wellbeing to the degree that I was able to avoid intubation. And it was followed by Remdesivir which is an antiviral that after (Inaudible) subsided helped kill the virus.


CHURCH: All right. So, you heard Dr. Weg there credit the drug Remdesivir for part of his recovery. And here's what we know about it. Remdesivir is an antiviral medication made by the company Gilead Sciences. It's administered intravenously and tricks the virus by mimicking its building blocks.

It's an investigational drug and not approved in any country for use. It was developed back in 2014 to fight the Ebola epidemic and it also demonstrated some success treating MERS and SARS in animals. Those two viruses are of course similar to COVID-19. So, we'll continue to watch and see what happens with that treatment.

We'll take a short break here. We're back in just a moment.



CHURCH: An inventive way to practice social distancing while staying active. This will put a smile on your face. Two young girls in Italy put their creative minds and talent to work. They took to the rooftop of their respective building to play tennis. The 14 and 11-year-olds (Inaudible) over the guardrails and the road.

Their ingenuity has impressed some global tennis stars. A former world number one Tracy Austin tweeted "this is next level. I don't think this can be topped."

Incredible. Well done, girls. And thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with another hour of CNN Newsroom in just a moment. Do stay with us.


CHURCH: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.


Just ahead, re-open America rallies.