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Trump Touts Successes, Defends Response at Briefing; Trump Defends Protesters Defying Stay-at-Home Orders; Nursing Homes Required to Report Cases to CDC; New York State to Conduct Thousands of Antibody Tests; Trump Says Deal on Small Businesses Aid Could Come Monday; Boris Johnson Missed Key Meetings, But Officials Defend Him; Germany Eases Some Restrictions as Number of Cases Falls. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired April 20, 2020 - 04:00   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, reopen America rallies. President Trump calls it cabin fever. Others want mass testing first, aggressive efforts on that front about to kick off in New York.

A deal to lock in another round of funding for small businesses in the U.S., could be clinched soon. And for the 22 million Americans who have recently filed for unemployment, it can't come soon enough.

Plus, terror in Canada. A gunman goes on an hours' long shooting spree with multiple crime scenes leaving many dead.

Well, 40,000 lives lost to the coronavirus in the United States, and more than 3/4 of a million people infected. The U.S. now has almost 1/3 of the world's cases, far more than any other country, but President Donald Trump is praising his administration's response. At the coronavirus briefing Sunday he said states are getting critical supplies and that a company will be compelled to make swabs, a critical item for testing, under the Defense Production Act. However, Mr. Trump also said widespread testing is not a federal responsibility.

Meantime, Sunday saw more protests against restrictions in some U.S. states. This one in Denver. They got praise from Mr. Trump. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People feel that way. You're allowed to protest. They feel that way. I watched the protests and they were all 6 feet apart. It was a very orderly group of people. But, you know, some -- some have gone too far. Some governors have gone too far. Some of the things that happened are maybe not so appropriate. And I think in the end it's not going to matter because we're starting to open up our states and I think they're going to open up very well.


CHURCH: But I want you to look at this. An image taken by Denver journalist Chase Woodruff. He said, it shows two hospital workers standing amid the demonstrators to remind people were restrictions are necessary.

Well, on Sunday President Trump again touted his own record and lashed out at the media. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump briefed reporters on Sunday in the White House briefing room, and the President in large part was focusing on the accomplishments of his administration. 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.

So the President reading at one-point clips from the 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.

DIAMOND: The clip that you played and what you read earlier was praising you and your administration.

TRUMP: All I played today was Governor Cuomo saying very positive things about the job the federal government has done --

DIAMOND: With 30,000 Americans who have now died.

TRUMP: Those people have been 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 anything better. Because you don't have the brains that 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 a job --

DIAMOND: The question is why now? Not why you're doing it.

TRUMP: I'll tell you why now? Are you ready? Because these people are right now in hospital, 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 health care 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. The President in recent days has sought 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 the 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.


CHURCH: Well, the Trump administration will now require nursing homes to report coronavirus cases directly to the Centers for Disease, as well as to patients and their families. The move is designed to improve tracking of the virus and containing its spread. Families have complained they haven't been given information about their loved ones. A tip last week led police to 17 bodies in a holding room at a New Jersey facility.


At least 36 people have died from the coronavirus there. In New York, data shows the virus has killed more than 1,100 nursing home residents.


ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Nursing homes are still our number one concern. The nursing home is the optimum feeding ground for this virus. Vulnerable people in a congregate facility, in a congregate setting, where it can just spread like fire through dry grass. We have had really disturbing situations in nursing homes and we're still most concerned about the nursing home.


CHURCH: And California is struggling with a surge of infections in its nursing homes as well. CNN Paul Vercammen has the latest.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The mayor of Los Angeles delivering an evening address, a state of the city address and saying that Los Angeles is grieving but not broken. It's grieving in part because of what has happened at nursing homes. Breyer Oak, East Hollywood, 80 residents have tested positive for coronavirus, 62 staff members.

Throughout the state, more than 3,000 cases linked to nursing homes. In central California, Redwood Springs has had 107 residents test positive, 10 have died, 54 residents have tested positive including one we spoke to over the phone. She wanted to keep herself anonymous. She said she came down with COVID-19, passed it on to her daughter. She told tales of working with just a paper mask and said that nobody wants to do a job that requires people to be very close to those residents, including giving them baths.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody wants to sign up for it.

VERCAMMEN: Tough work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's back breaking work. It's rewarding to see like, you know, your patients getting better at certain points, but it's -- we're putting our own lives on the line as well.

VERCAMMEN: The Redwood Springs facility in a statement, saying it did provide N-95 masks to the caregivers and also saying it was vigilant in trying to protect them.

California going through a surge in cases tied to nursing homes. Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen, now back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks so much for that. And meantime New York state is launching what it calls the most aggressive antibody testing campaign in the country. Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state will be able to conduct as many as 14,000 of these tests per week. He says the massive effort will help officials determine the actual number of infections across the state.

Well, Dr. Peter Drobac joins me now. He is an infectious disease expert and is with us live from Oxford, England. Good to talk with you.


So let's start with the antibody tests in New York. Governor Cuomo plans to test 14,000 people a week after a trying but failing to get more extensive COVID-19 testing from President Trump. Who has told the states it's up to them to get it done. They're on their own. How important could antibody tests be in helping New York state turn the corner?

DROBAC: Well first, let's understand that there are two different kinds of COVID-19 tests. We've often been talking about antigen tests, which are the ones that test for the active infection that you can actually detect the virus in someone's respiratory tract.

Antibody tests are different. This is measuring antibodies that the body produces in response to infection. So that's telling us that someone has had past infection and also may have some degree of immunity to it.

So the survey that Governor Cuomo announced is an attempt to try to get a clear picture for the first time of how much of the population has actually been infected. This has been a challenge for us because so many infections may go undetected because people have minimal or no symptoms. And so, getting that clear picture of the population level spread is going to be one key part of helping us to get out of this. It does not replace the important need for antigen testing as well so we can be detecting new infections and breaking those chains of transmission. CHURCH: Right, and Governor Cuomo was inspired by an antibody testing

sample that was done in Germany which help determine the percentage of the population that's immune to the novel coronavirus. How does it work exactly? And what percentage of the population would you expect is immune at this time now that we are learning that more and more people think that they were sick with this back in February?

DROBAC: Germany's been a real leader in many aspects of the response and have been among the first to roll out these so-called sero- surveys. Which are surveys of the population with antibody tests.


So really, it's a random sampling of the population and then you extrapolate from that sample the population level of past infection or presence of antibodies.

So in one locality in Germany, that was relatively hard hit, there was a report that about 14 percent of the population had demonstrated some antibody suggesting past infection. It's probably lower than that across the country, but countrywide surveys in Germany are still ongoing.

This is going to vary a lot. In New York state there's good reason to believe that 250,000 reported infections might be much, much higher. It could easily be a million infections. In a state of 20 million people, that would be approximately 5 percent. That's of course, just speculation until we have the results.

CHURCH: Right, and I wanted to ask you this. Why do you think President Trump has been so eager to open up the United States but not so eager to ensure everyone gets access to extensive COVID-19 testing to see if they have this? Especially with the world's highest death toll from the pandemic. Why would he be resisting that capability for expansive testing?

DROBAC: I can't speak to the President's motivations. But really the two things go hand in hand. Everyone has a desire to begin to open up the country but to do so safely. One of the most important things we need to have in place before we do that is widespread testing at a much greater level than we have right now. We need to be able to detect every new case, trace their contacts and then be able to get people into isolation as we begin to open things back.

If we don't have testing, we'll be really operating in the dark as we open things back up and we risk a second surge of infections that we might detect too late to be able to interrupt and then we end up back in a kind of lockdown phase. So the President's stated desire to open up the country is really in contradiction with the lack of effort to increase testing.

CHURCH: Yes, Dr. Peter Drobac, thank you for answering our questions and do take care.

DROBAC: Thanks, Rosemary. CHURCH: Well, some news for millions of Americans out of a job or

struggling to keep their businesses afloat, President Trump and the Treasury Secretary both say they are nearing a deal to provide a second round of small business loans. That's after the initial relief program with $350 billion ran out of money less than two weeks after it was launched. The President said Sunday, an agreement could be coming as early as today.


TRUMP: A lot of good things are happening. Some very good negotiations. Just got off the phone with the Secretary of the Treasury and we have some very good negotiations going on right now. And I think you could have a nice answer tomorrow, but we'll see.


CHURCH: Well, U.S. investors will be watching progress on that deal very closely. They will also be keeping an eye on a flood of corporate earnings reports coming out this week. And you can see U.S. stock futures slightly down right now.

CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now from New York. Always good to see you -- Christine.


CHURCH: So President Trump says a deal on topping up aid for the small business program could very well come Monday. That's just in a few hours, in fact. What are you hearing about that? And what impact is this delay having on some of those small businesses?

ROMANS: Well, they really need to get this money out there. The sooner the better. You know, that first big pile of money ran out pretty quickly. And we've never pushed this much money out the door to try to help save small businesses in history. So a really historic event here, and there needs to be more money. A lot of these small business owners simply found themselves still waiting in the lines, essentially, with their banks before they could get the money and the money ran out.

So we think it will be about $300 billion more. The President and others around him are saying that there could be some money in there for hospitals and rural hospitals. That's important. That had been a sticking point. Democrats want more help for some of the hospitals because they are really grappling with so much of this as well.

But for these small business owners, Rosemary, this is really the end of the line for many of them. There's not much more money in the rainy-day funds for these companies. They need to get this money immediately so they can keep their workers. And remember, these are loans that turn into grants, that turn into free money if they keep their workers. If 75 percent of that loan is used to pay for payroll, they get to be forgiven that loan. So it's really an important lifeline here. CHURCH: Yes, and for some of those small business owners, it took a

long time to actually get a call back so that they knew whether they did or didn't get that money. Will it come to a point where all of these small businesses will get some money or will some be left out?


ROMANS: I don't know. I'm worried that some are going to be left out of it. You know, I talked to a small business last week and if they don't get the money soon, like today or tomorrow, they're going to have to lay off 12 or 15 people. So, you know, there just isn't any more time, especially since these unemployment benefits are enhanced. So they feel like they maybe are in better -- in some cases in a better shape to just lay off their workers, put them on the unemployment lines and then work it out later, maybe hire them back if they can. But just forego this loan program altogether.

The money is incredibly important. It's been a little clunky -- it's been more than a little clunky getting this money out. We've never spent this much money so quickly, taxpayer money so quickly. You know, you just hope it gets a little more smooth this week.

CHURCH: Yes, and I mean, let's go more global now. Because, you know, many people asking where this is going for the tens of millions of people across the world terrified about a global recession and where that could potentially lead them. What would you say to them? .

ROMANS: You know, I think there's pretty much no question, no doubt that we are already in a global recession here. The question is how quickly and how strongly can governments and central banks stabilize the situation and how quickly can the medical the experts get testing underway and therapeutics and a vaccine in the works. Because this is an on purpose global recession. We're putting the economies around the world in recession on purpose to fight this other virus. There's no playbook for it.

McKenzie, the consulting firm, found that one in four jobs in the U.K., rather, and the EU will either face fewer hours or furloughs or outright layoffs. That's one in four. That's 60 million people. So this is certainly something that is -- we've just never experienced before. My hope? My hope is that we start learning good from what's working and we can get an economy up and running again by the fall or by the end of the year, but that's going to take a lot more hard work and patience, frankly, from workers and consumers and citizens around the world.

CHURCH: Yes, and there's a lot of restlessness right now.

ROMANS: There is.

CHURCH: CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans. Always great to chat with you, thank you.

ROMANS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still to come -- Boris Johnson's government in damage control mode. Admitting the Prime Minister missed five key meetings in the early days of the pandemic.

Plus -- Germany begins to ease some of its coronavirus restrictions as the rate of new infections folds. We will take you to northern Germany with a live look at the situation there. Back in a moment.



CHURCH: Wrong. Ridiculous. Sloppy. That's how a government spokesman describes a damning report on the U.K.'s early coronavirus response. The "Sunday Times" reports that Boris Johnson was missing in action and that the government missed opportunities to slow the virus in late January and February.

The U.K. government released a point-by-point response saying it's normal for the relevant secretary to chair cabinet meetings. The Prime Minister has been at the helm and the government took the right steps at the right time.

So CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is in London. He joins us now live. Good to see you, Nic. So like the United States, the U.K. is being criticized for its slow response to this coronavirus pandemic. How damaging is all of this and how is the U.K. government pushing back? We described a little bit of it there, but just go into some depth what they're saying about this report in the "Sunday Times."

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, "Sunday Times" is a widely read, respected newspaper with a long history and tradition of investigative reporting. And it does show the fact that the government has gone to the lengths of a point-by-point takedown that the article -- the more than 10 points the government takes on to take down that this is very sensitive.

The thrust of it, of course, is that there was time earlier this year that the government did not use wisely. It plays into the broader understandings of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's temperament, that he can work very hard, that he is very smart but at times he slacks off.

The article claims there were times earlier in the year, in January and February, where he was number one focusing on Brexit. He was being criticized at that time because there were heavy floods in the U.K. but he wasn't out there, sort of dealing with that. That he was cloistered in the Prime Minister's house in the countryside with his partner at the time trying to figure out how to break the news to his family and to the nation that his partner was expecting a baby. So all of these things play into the perceptions about the Prime Minister here in the U.K. so potentially it's damaging for him.

Last weekend, well, he was the darling of the country, he had survived coronavirus, now he's taking political heat. But this weekend, too, you have evidence, extreme evidence of the lack of preparedness of the U.K. with personal protection equipment for front line doctors and nurses. The all-important and fluid recurrent aprons were expected to run out in some hospitals this weekend. The government on Saturday said, don't worry, we've got supplies coming from Turkey over the weekend. Well, that didn't happen.

So the government's credibility is sort of on the line over this. So it doesn't help the government, hence the strong pushback to have articles saying the government hasn't been strong enough and hasn't been focusing on this enough since way back earlier in the year. The government's push back, simply not true. And the Prime Minister's been at the helm all the while.

CHURCH: It's certainly becoming a very familiar story line, isn't it? Nic Robertson bringing us that live report from London. Many thanks.

Well, in the past 24 hours Germany has reported one of its lowest rates of the new coronavirus cases and virus-related deaths. It comes as the country is starting to relax some of the restrictions it imposed to fight the pandemic.


Over the weekend a crowd of people in Berlin protested some of those restrictions. At one-point police moved in to break up the gathering telling protectors they had failed to follow social distancing rules. So let's get the latest now from Germany from with CNN's Fred Pleitgen. Good to see you, Fred. Nice looking day there. And some shops will be opening up. What is the feeling in Germany as some of these restrictions are lifted?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Rosemary. We talked to some shop owners over the past couple of days as they were gearing up to open up. And a lot of them are obviously quite relieved to see that this is now happening. A lot of the especially smaller businesses were really afraid that they would go out of business and possibly not be able to get back online simply because these measures were actually dragging on for quite a while.

They are receiving government help, which is what we're hearing, it actually gets paid out very, very quickly. And now finally some of them can reopen.

So the small town that I'm in right now, we did see say about half an hour ago that some stores did reopen. You can see there's sort of a retail store for clothing that's opening right here. I'm doing something very bad right now, I'm going from a very light place into a very dark place which is very bad. But some shops are opening up. Again, we have seen some customers who are also going into these shops. And you can see that things are going back online. But I think a lot of people still have the feeling, Rosemary, that it is going to take quite a while for things to get back to normal -- for the amount of customers to come back before, for tourism, for instance, to come back to a lot of places, because, of course, you do have a lot of borders that are still closed back in Germany.

So there is some anxiety. But at the same time I think people here do feel that the German government has done the best it could in this situation. A lot of the help, as I said, was paid out very quickly. And now a lot of these businesses are hoping that not only are they going to be able to reopen their doors, which they can do today, but that customers will actually come back. From what we're seeing, there are customers who are coming back. There are people who are coming, not the masses that some might have expected. But certainly, you can see that this country is easing back into normal life once again.

And one of the things that's very important though for the German government is they're saying, look, all of this is very, very fragile. Right now in Germany there are fewer people being infected with coronavirus that are overcoming the coronavirus. So the virus does seem to be receding, but Angela Merkel has warned that could go in the other direction at any point. People do have to be careful. And that these measures, like, for instance, being able to reopen some of these shops can be taken back if it does take a turn for the worst -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, and so many countries watching Germany to see what it does, seeing as a blueprint, really for the rest of us. We're hoping it is our future. Fred Pleitgen bringing us that, the experience from across Germany. Many thanks.

Well, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Social distancing deniers are growing louder across America, and the American President, well, he's egging them on. We take you to the protests. That's next.

Plus, Mexican officials are once again downplaying the threat of the coronavirus and their message is having a big impact on public opinion. Back in a moment.