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White House Sends Mixed Messages to the Public; States Are Reopening Weeks Before It's Safe; Oxford Ramping Up Its COVID Vaccine; Wuhan after Lockdown Ends; Worldwide Incidents Of Harassment Against Health Workers. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 23, 2020 - 02:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, new timeline for a pandemic. The confirmation the coronavirus was in the U.S., early as January, possibly December and spreading by community transmission, raising the very real possibility the infection is much more widespread than first thought.

Return to Wuhan, CNN's David Culver heads back to the birthplace of the coronavirus but was it born in a wet market? Or did it escape from a lab?

And if saving lives or staying healthy wasn't enough to be concerned about, health care workers around the world are increasingly becoming the victims of violence.


VAUSE: With each passing day, it seems the regular White House briefing on the coronavirus becomes more confused, befuddled and, at times, even surreal, like the president's claim he doesn't know the name of the person leading the U.S. effort to develop a vaccine.

Up until this week, it was Rick Bright, who claims he was ousted from his position after raising concerns about using an untested antimalarial drug to treat COVID-19. The drug was hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump has been pushing for weeks. At one point calling it a gift from God.


TRUMP: I've never heard of him. You just mentioned a name. I never heard of him. When did this happen?

JONATHAN KARL, ABC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This happened today. TRUMP: Well, I never heard of him, but if the guy says he was pushed out of a job, maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. You'd have to hear the other side. I don't know who he is.


VAUSE: Then the president made a baseless claim that, by the end of the year, only embers of the virus would remain. One of his senior advisers promptly corrected the record.

Then the president took issue with Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, furloughing gyms, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, bowling alleys and massage therapists to reopen their doors this coming Friday.


TRUMP: I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities, which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia.


VAUSE: All of this comes as we are now learning the first COVID-19 death in the U.S. came weeks, maybe months earlier than we first thought. CNN's Erica Hill has more on that.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): As Americans wait for the next step, new information reveals the earliest recorded COVID-19 death in this country was not on February 29th in Washington state, but in California, more than 3 weeks prior.

DR. SARA CODY, SANTA CLARA COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT: That indicates that the virus was probably introduced and circulating in our community again far earlier than we had known.

DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: There is a lot of recalibrating we have to do about what this tells us but also reminds us of what we have to look forward and be much more aggressive about testing going ahead.

HILL (voice-over): North of San Francisco, researchers are focused on the town of Bolinas, testing as many of its nearly 2,000 residents as possible.

MARC SANCHEZ-COREA, BOLINAS RESIDENT: Fifty percent of us are over 60 and they're all feeling very vulnerable. And I think this is a good idea to squelch that, give everybody a little bit of hope.

HILL (voice-over): They will begin testing people in San Francisco's densely packed Mission District this weekend for comparison.

DR. AENOR SAWYER, UCSF: We know very little about how the virus moves through a community and behaves in a community setting. So that is really our motivation for doing this.

HILL (voice-over): New York City is launching its own test and trace initiative.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NYC, NY): This is how we ultimately defeat this disease.

HILL (voice-over): Wile the state is joining forces with Connecticut and New Jersey, for a contact tracing program in partnership with Michael Bloomberg and Johns Hopkins University.

In Waterloo, Iowa, all employees from a pork processing plant will now be tested; 90 percent of the cases in that county linked to the Tyson facility, which has now closed. Although the mayor says it came too late.

MAYOR QUENTIN HART (D-WATERLOO, IA): I understand the impact that this has on our national food chain but in order to stop the spread, this was the best course of action to support the workers that prepare our food.

HILL (voice-over): As the virus continues to spread, new warnings about a resurgence.

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, U.S. FDA: The whole task force set of doctors is concerned about the second wave.

HILL (voice-over): An updated model often cited by the White House recommends a dozen states, including Georgia and Oklahoma, now wait until at least June before relaxing current measures. Oklahoma, today, announcing certain businesses can reopen there on Friday.


GOV. KEVIN STITT (R-OK): Our plan is a measured approach and we will continue to watch the data, each day and we will pull back if we need to.

HILL (voice-over): While Montana will lift its stay at home order this Sunday. Some schools could go back in early May.

Across the country, officials offering vastly different plans and messaging.

MAYOR CAROLYN GOODMAN (R-LAS VEGAS, NV): I want everything back. We have never closed down the United States, we have never closed down Nevada, we have never closed down Las Vegas, because that is our job. We have so many close to 900,000 that are out of work because this wonderful city has been shut down.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This is no time to act stupidly, period. I get the pressure, I get the politics. We can't make a bad decision and we can't be stupid about it. This is not going to be over anytime soon. More people will die if we are not smart.

HILL: The governor was also asked about those folks in the state who are pushing for the economy to reopen and stressed again that each person here has a responsibility, not only to themselves but to the greater community.

While hospitalizations are down in New York state, the governor says the number of people needing to go to the hospital each day is still, in his words, "troublingly high." Back to you.



VAUSE: Dr. Jonathan Reiner is a cardiologist a professor of medicine at George Washington university. It's good to have him here with us, this hour.

Dr. Reiner, good to see you.


VAUSE: On Wednesday, health officials in California confirmed that the cause of death for a 59 year old woman on February 6 was the coronavirus. Two weeks after that an elderly couple also died from the virus and not seasonal flu, so initially the first death in the U.S. was believed to have happened at the end of February.

What do you draw from this?

What are the conclusions, the ramifications about this in terms of community transfer and just how contagious this disease actually is?

REINER: So I think what we are learning is that the virus was here earlier than we thought and what we have learned over the last few months is that the virus lives in asymptomatic people.

A lot of the reservoir for the virus in humans is asymptomatic people. So the virus probably came to the U.S. quite early in January and spread through parts of the West Coast and then came to the East Coast.

VAUSE: This virus essentially lives on in someone who's asymptomatic and that is kind of how that -- the state of health remains that way?

REINER: We are seeing studies from all over the world. There was a study done in a small town near Padua and they sampled people at the beginning of their lockdown, about 6 weeks ago and then the sampled most of the town at the end of the lockdown.

The consistent finding on both sides of testing, where they tested almost everyone in the town, 80 percent of the folks in town was 45 percent of the people in the town who tested positive for the virus were asymptomatic.

And that is almost exactly the same finding as they found when they sampled a huge proportion of the entire population of Iceland, about 40 percent of the folks who tested positive for the virus were asymptomatic.

The authorities in Boston tested a large homeless shelter and found that about half the residents of that homeless shelter were actually positive for the virus and none of them had symptoms. So we know there is really an immense reservoir of infection in folks with really no symptoms at all.

VAUSE: At Wednesday's White House briefing on the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, he was adamant this virus will be back. Here's what he said.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We will have coronavirus in the fall. I am convinced of that because of the degree of transmissibility that it has, the global nature. What happens with that will depend on how we are able to contain it when it occurs.


VAUSE: If you could just speak there with what Dr. Fauci described as a degree is transmissibility.

What does he mean by that?

REINER: Every virus has a different degree of a sort of the ability of the virus to infect someone else. This particular virus has what's called an R nought or reproductive capacity of over 2, which means an infected person on average infects more than other two people, highly infectious.

And because when this virus came to the world, no one had seen it before, no one had immunity to it. And instead of reaching fire breaks like the flu does sometimes, where it infects one person but the next person is relatively immune to it and it stops, this virus went from person to person to person.

So this virus is widespread in the community. So I think Dr. Fauci is acknowledging, is that while we are going to suppress it now with social distancing and testing, it will not be eradicated and it will remain in low levels in our community throughout the summer and probably re-emerge in hotspots in the fall.

VAUSE: It's interesting you say that about the level of infectious nature of this transmission, because "The Washington Post" puts it like this.

"The vast majority of Americans are still believed to be uninfected, making them like dry kindling on a forest floor. Barring a vaccine or treatment, the virus will keep burning until it runs out of fuel."

So this is the invisible enemy that Donald Trump talks about. So the way to reveal that enemy is with widespread testing and then you know who has it and who doesn't. So if everyone is tested, the virus becomes visible and if he goes into quarantine, the rest of the world goes on.

REINER: Right. Think about what we are doing now. We are isolating the entire population to try and keep those who are infected out of circulation.


REINER: But if we were to widely test the population in the United States, both symptomatic folks and asymptomatic people, you could then simply isolate the people who are infected.

The Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Romer (ph) has suggested testing up to 30 million people a day to do this and then only isolating those who are sick. The recommendation from the Rockefeller Foundation just published yesterday calls for ramping up U.S. testing capacity so that we can test 30 million people a week.

Right now we only test -- we have only tested in total about 4 million people, so an immense increase in testing capacity.

VAUSE: Very quickly, touch on the herd immunity. We hear a lot about it and if enough people have this virus, become immune, they act as a protective buffer to those who do not have immunity.

The other side of this is that a lot of people will have to get sick first, right?

REINER: Right, or immunized eventually, hopefully. So it's not that perhaps in order to have effective herd immunity, you need about 60 percent of the population to have antibodies to the pathogen.

But if you think about what those numbers would mean, that would mean in the United States something like 200 million people being exposed to the virus. We don't really know what the true case fatality rate is from this virus, because we don't really know the denominator.

But if we used the most optimistic number, which would maybe be a mortality rate of around 1 percent, although if you look at the raw numbers in United States, it is more like 5 percent. But if you used a very low number of 1 percent and 200 million people are exposed to this virus, that means 2 million people will die.

So, yes, we could all go back to work and just go for herd immunity and hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people will die. That's not my option.

VAUSE: And that's what we wanted to avoid at the beginning of the year. The doctor overseeing development of a vaccine in the United States claims he was ousted from that job because he questioned the use of hydroxychloroquine, which is the miracle drug that the president has been touting. Donald Trump denied he even knew the doctor but he also said, well, maybe he was ousted for questioning the use of hydroxychloroquine.

The views expressed by the doctor was simply medical scientific opinion. What is your reaction to someone losing their job over that?

REINER: You know, I train younger doctors. And the first thing I tell them at the beginning of the year is that if I ask them a question while we are doing a procedure, I want to hear what they think, not what they think I want to hear.

And I think any leader, particularly government leader at the highest level, needs to encourage people around them to be able to come to them with thoughts that might counter what the leader wants to hear, speak truth to power.

We are seeing this split between the science people in our government and the spin people in our government. The concern has been that if some of the science people don't really follow along the party line, that they could lose their jobs, it's a scary thought because this is science.

This has nothing to do with politics, except here, you see when you run afoul of a politician's belief, you can get fired.

VAUSE: Which is just, at any other point in time, would be unthinkable or unbelievable but it is believable at the moment. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thank you for being with, us we appreciate.

REINER: My pleasure, good night.


VAUSE: Now to the latest on a vaccine, two promising clinical trials in Europe are making significant progress. Joint authorities are testing a candidate developed by the German company, Biontech. And this testing will be phase I involving 200 volunteers.

Just hours from now, researchers at Oxford University in England will begin testing their vaccine also on humans. It's based on a weakened version of the common cold virus found in chimpanzees. CNN's Nic Robertson is following this live from London.

And Nic, what is kind of startling is just how quickly these various programs are moving, especially the one at Oxford.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's startling by necessity, the government says it is throwing everything at this. It's given 24 million to this trial and it's also given about $27 million to another trial, starting at Imperial College in London later in the year.

What is the trial in Oxford all about?

The first phase of it is a safety test. It's expected to involve maybe as many as 500 different people. And the first thing you have to check with the vaccine is, is it actually safe?

So they will do that first. If it proves to be safe, then they can scale it up in the fall and then they can really begin to test its effectiveness as a vaccine against the virus. That is the plan.

I have to say there's another important track that the government announced today as well and this is another type of test that they are launching. This is a test against -- to see and track infection rates and immunity.

The government's going to invite 20,000 homes, up to 300,000 people, to be involved in this long term 12-month trial to try and track the virus across the country. Who it affects, how it affects, can it re- infect, all those things.

So both these vaccine tests, the very important on in Oxford, to find out if they can find a cure or some kind of preventative as well as trying to understand more about the virus happening.

The stakes are really high, we heard the government's -- the English chief medical officer saying yesterday that without an extension and adequate vaccine, social distancing measures or something similar, could remain in play here for the next 12 months or so, John.

VAUSE: Or even longer, which is a horrific thought.


VAUSE: There is also a familiar story playing out right now in Britain when it comes to personal protective equipment, clothing for medical professionals who are dealing with those who have been infected with COVID-19. Gowns, masks.

What is the government doing to try and secure more?

And are they guaranteeing that they won't run out?

ROBERTSON: The government is trying to sound credible on this and there have been recriminations since the weekend, when they said -- one government minister said on Saturday there will be a delivery of supplies from Turkey.

We are hearing now that the health secretary and his department had warned other ministers about making such statements. When we hear things like that, you understand that there are differences and tensions within the government, natural at anytime but they are coming to the surface in a number of different ways.

So the government's difficulty at the moment is to be credible on when it says it can deliver, what it can deliver and the people it needs to be most credible with. The doctors and nurses who need this equipment. And the recent surveys of doctors' associations indicating that up to a third don't have masks, up to half don't have the adequate surgical gowns that are required.

The government are trying to fill this gap but it is being ineffective so far. They are trying to procure more from within the U.K. but even that seems to be stumbling at the moment, John.

VAUSE: Nic, thank you. We appreciate that. Nic Robertson live for us in London.

Even now months after the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, there is an ongoing controversy over where it came from.

Was it a wet market or was it a high security lab?

CNN's David Culver has returned to Wuhan for the first time since January, when government officials imposed the draconian lockdown on the entire city.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: CNN back at the original epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Wuhan, China and it's more than 11 million residents navigating this post-lockdown uncertainty. Among them, American Christopher Suzanne.

Let's switch out masks, that's your preference here.

He suggested we upgrade our protective equipment before going for a stroll. It's a city he knows well.

CHRISTOPHER SUZANNE, WUHAN RESIDENT: So, this place is, you know, I was married here, I had a baby here. I've been here for the past 10 years.

CULVER: This is home.

SUZANNE: Yes, this is home.

CULVER: Christopher's home is slowly emerging from a brutal 76-day lockdown. He returned to Wuhan in the midst of it.

SUZANNE: I'm really happy to see like people, at least, you know, keeping their distance, getting around going about their day.

CULVER: But just two weeks after the reopening and some here are closing the gap on social distancing. Many stores and restaurants keeping people from coming inside, but that's not stopping crowds, like this one from standing shoulder to shoulder waiting outside for their orders.

In places like our hotel, there are noticeably stricter measures. Staffs spraying us down each time we walk in and checking our temperatures inside, even the elevators telling you where to stand. And offering you a tissue to touch the buttons. But will it last?

Like we are afraid that there is going to be the second wave, I think everybody here knows.

CULVER: You think it's coming?

SUZANNE: Absolutely.

CULVER: Yet, there is growing skepticism over where the first wave actually originated. So, this is where Chinese health officials believe the source of the novel coronavirus is. This is the Hunan seafood market, of course, they believe other things have been sold here, hence, the transmission from animals to humans of this virus.

But you can see it's all closed off still. This has now been since January 1 that they shut it down.

However, I want to take you now to the lab where U.S. intelligence is looking into the possible origins of this virus having come from there.

We drove to the lab inside China Centers for Disease Control, just down the street from the market.

This is one of the labs within Wuhan, not too far from the market either. It's an origin theory Chinese official quickly dismissed. They also pushed back at claims that their reported number of cases and deaths is far less than reality, even as numbers have repeatedly been revised upward to account for previous undercounts.

Just last week, another 50 percent was added to the Wuhan death toll alone.

SUZANNE: You know, whether or not they want to share that information with the public, it doesn't really concern me. I'm really more concerned about my family and what we can do.

CULVER: Others, like this convenience shop owner more worried about resurrecting their businesses.

"I'm a bit worried, I don't know when we will resume completely."

As China claims to get the virus under better control, in places like Wuhan, there is now greater concern of those coming in from elsewhere. From our arrival in the city to this interview out in the street, we were questioned repeatedly.

SUZANNE: I'm from -- I'm from the U.S., but I live in Beijing.


CULVER: A group of uniformed police growing increasingly uneasy with our being there, a reflection of both their fear of imported cases and a mounting distrust of foreign media.

SUZANNE: Yes. We'll walk in the car.


SUZANNE: We'll go.

CULVER: David Culver, CNN, Wuhan, China.


VAUSE: Around the world, health care workers are mostly being lauded and honored but in some places, they're being attacked.

Plus some European automakers ready to return to the road. How the production line has changed because of the pandemic. That's next.




VAUSE: At 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm most nights in cities across the U.S., health care workers are cheered. Thank you for their heroic efforts during this pandemic. A familiar story in many parts of the world.

But in India, for example, health care workers are coming under attack. The government issued an executive order discouraging violence against health care workers. The mob stoned some of those working on the front lines.

And doctors in Spain have received hate messages, like this one, calling a doctor, quote, "a contagious rat," who was, of course, overwhelming support for health care workers despite these incidents.

Attacks on health care workers are also taking place in Mexico. There have been dozens of incidents reported. Among them, a doctor doused in bleach, a nurse soaked in hot coffee at the hands of those they promised to help. CNN's Matt Rivers reports.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Argentina, they clap for health care workers. In the U.K., even the youngest come out to say thanks and in the U.S., police departments do the same. But in some places, like Mexico, it is very different. Inside one Mexico City hospital this month, angry family members assaulted a nurse for not letting them see their loved one. His face, later, swollen and bruised. And he is not alone.

DR. ALONDRA JOVANNA TORRES, DOCTOR WHO WAS ATTACKED: They attack us and it's only frustrating.

RIVERS: Dr. Alondra Jovanna Torres was walking her dog last week while wearing her medical scrubs. Someone screamed and threw bleach on her face and neck. Her vision went blurry and her skin burned.

Where you scared?

TORRES: I think shocked but then I was kind of scared and angry.

RIVERS: Five days earlier nurse of 40 years, Ligia Kantun was in a parking lot. She heard someone scream infectada -- infected, that person then threw scalding coffee on her back.


RIVERS (voice-over): "We were scared for our lives," she says, "but we have to go to work because we have to help people."

Mexican officials say there have been at least 44 attacks against health care workers since last month, authorities say the common motive is misinformation. People lashed out because of rumors that doctors and nurses are actually the ones responsible for spreading the virus. Health officials have begged people to stop the violence.

It hurts to talk about what is happening to my colleagues, said the head nurse in Mexico's public health system, we are also people. We also have families.

Melody Rodriguez works as a nurse in a hospital about 15 minutes from her home in (inaudible). But when she came home after her recent shift, these men blocked her from entering her town. She could get everyone sick, they said. Now, she is staying with a friend near her hospital.

Most Mexicans don't feel that way, they support health care workers and for every attack, there are far more examples of people trying to do some good. Donate protective equipment, or send a thank you card. But that doesn't change the fact that many doctors and nurses aren't wearing their scrubs in public anymore because they say it makes them a target.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let us do our job without fearing an attack.

RIVERS: In Mexico, there is more than just a pandemic to worry about -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


VAUSE: Please join us Thursday for a special coronavirus global town hall. Alicia Keys joining CNN for the world premiere of her new song, dedicated to the everyday heroes of the front lines of this pandemic. That is Thursday, 8:00 pm Eastern time in the U.S. and Friday 8:00 am in Hong Kong.

So how soon is too soon to start reopening for business?

The governor of Georgia thinks this Friday, that should be good but he is at odds with mayors across the state and apparently also with President Trump.




VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Now a warning to remain vigilant when it comes from the World Health Organization as many countries consider easing up on those stay-at- home orders.


DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Make no mistake, we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time. One of the greatest dangers we face, now, is complacency.


VAUSE: The director general, was also defensive, insisting the WHO raised the global alarm about the outbreak at the right time, despite criticism that it came too slow. He says he is hoping the U.S., which means Donald Trump, will reconsider the decision to freeze funding for the organization.


Those complacency warnings from the WHO could be a reference to the governor of Georgia in the United States. That's the Republican Brian Kemp, who's rolling out what might be the nation's most aggressive plan to reopen after a shutdown.

Businesses statewide like gyms, bowling alleys, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors will be allowed to see customers on Friday. That's despite experts warning that Georgia should not start relaxing social distancing until the middle of June at the earliest. The plan has baffled and angered a number of mayors around the state. Even President Trump, he says it's too soon.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you have spas, beauty parlors -- and I love these people. I know that people from spas and beauty parlors, tattoo parlors, bikers for Trump, a lot of tattoos. I love them. I love these people -- and barber shops, these are great people. But you know what, maybe wait a little bit longer until you get into phase two.

So do I agree with him? No. But I respect him and I will let him make his decision. Would I do that? No. I'd keep them a little longer. I want to protect people's lives. But I'm going to let him make his decision. But I told him, I totally disagree.


VAUSE: Kelly Girtz the mayor of Athens-Clarke County in the great state of Georgia. He joins us this hour from Athens, home to REM, the B-52's, and Widespread Panic. The band is not the city's residents. Mr. Mayor, thank you for being with us.

MAYOR KELLY GIRTZ (D-ATHENS-CLARKE COUNTY, GA): Glad to be with you. Yes, we're known for many things and our culture is one of those.

VAUSE: Yes, it's a great -- it's a great town, a great city. But what is your biggest concern now come Friday, when the nail salons and the tattoo parlors and I don't know if any bowling alleys but if you do, they'll be allowed to reopen. GIRTZ: We do have all those businesses. And fortunately, local proprietors have to a person indicated to me that they're not going to open on Friday, even if they were among this assortment of kinds of businesses that the governor has indicated can open now under his statewide directive.

My concern really is for the broader region. While we're a relatively small municipality of 130,000 people, our hospitals serve as the catchment for a 17-county region in the northeast part of the state here for closer to three-quarters of a million people.

And so, I worry about those folks who are in small or rural communities 30-minute or a 45-minute drive from here who have not had this on their mind and maybe allowed to reopen some of their businesses and potentially overwhelm our medical apparatus.

VAUSE: Yes, because the coronavirus does not respect county lines. If another county opens everything up, you'll just as likely be inundated as anybody else, right?

GIRTZ: That's exactly right. And I think that's one of those things that I hope is an endearing lesson of this challenge in this crisis is that we've all got to be in this together when it comes to our healthcare infrastructure.

VAUSE: On Wednesday, the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp tweeted this out. "Earlier today I discussed Georgia's plan to reopen shuttered businesses for limited operations with the President of the United States," who as we've noted, was very critical of this.

He goes on to tweet, "I appreciate his bold leadership and insight during these difficult times, and the framework provided by the White House to safely move states forward. Our next measured step is driven by data and guided by state public health officials. We will continue with this approach to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians."

Well, the leading voice in this nation on infectious diseases and public health had this advice to Governor Kemp. Listen to Dr. Fauci.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, you know, if I were advising the governor, I would tell him that he should be careful. And I would advise him not to just turn the switch on and go, because there is a danger of a rebound. And I know there's that desire to move ahead quickly. That's a natural human nature desire. But going ahead and leapfrogging into phases where you should not be, I would advise him as a health official and as a physician not to do that.


VAUSE: So that's the advice from the number one guy in the country, possibly the leading guy in the world. And add to that, the government isn't even following the White House guidelines on this, even though he says he is.

GIRTZ: I couldn't agree with Dr. Fauci more, or with the advice that we're getting out of places like Johns Hopkins. You know, all of them have said that whatever ramping happens, has to be very carefully structured. And again, it has to occur after this downward decline in active new cases.

And so the governor's list of businesses they're going to open on Friday would have been my fifth or sixth or seventh step. And so, to hear Dr. Fauci mentioned, leapfrogging, I think is exactly the right metaphor here.

VAUSE: You know, the President as we mentioned was very critical of this decision to reopen the state come Friday. But the head of the governor's Coronavirus committee said this to CNN. "It's not an issue for me that the governor and President agree. We don't make policy of what the president says in a press interview. You should not pay attention to the President's shiny buttons, but more to his pen." What do you make of that?


GIRTZ: It's hard to know what to make of that. But I can say for myself as a governor, he's very much -- excuse me, as a mayor, he's very much on the ground in Athens, my community. When I speak to other mayors across the state, that they're situated in the same position I'm in.

They are caring about the health of their very dense communities. And they don't want people to come into contact with others in these kinds of businesses that we've been describing nail salons, hair studios, bowling alleys, where you've got all these surfaces that people touch again and again and again.

And so I certainly hope the governor listens to the wisdom of this array of similarly situated mayors in this state.

VAUSE: Very quickly. Do you have any insight into how he came up with this list of businesses? It's almost like he asked someone to go away and come up with a potential list of the most contagious areas of service in industry that you could possibly put together and that would be the ones he decided to open.

GIRTZ: No. It's mystifying to me. Certainly, again, we've thought, you know, what does a structured reopening look like? And a first step may be something like having those non-essential retail businesses able to provide curbside service.

And then maybe a next step is that there's businesses can have some very limited number of people in their showroom or retail floor space. But again, the nail salons, hair studios, massage parlors, these would have been way down the road.

VAUSE: Mayor, thank you so much for being with us. Mayor Kelly Girtz there, the mayor of Athens-Clarke County. Great to have you with us. We really appreciate it. GIRTZ: Good to be here.

VAUSE: And then there's the mayor of America's gambling capital Las Vegas. She's reportedly called for the city's businesses reopened but hasn't explained exactly how that should happen safely. CNN's Anderson Cooper asked her about social distancing at a casino, for example, in what could potentially be a gamble with your very life.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, hundreds of thousands of people coming there in casinos, smoking, drinking, touching slot machines, breathing, circulated air and then returning home to states around America and countries around the world. Doesn't that sound like a virus petri dish? I mean, how is that safe?

GOODMAN: You know what? You're being an alarmist. I'm not. I've lived a long life. I grew up in the heart of Manhattan. I know what it's like to be with subways and on buses and crammed into elevators.

COOPER: I'm being an alarmist?

GOODMAN: I think you are by saying what you have just said.

COOPER: So you don't believe there should be any social distancing? You don't believe that --

GOODMAN: Of course, I believe there should be. Of course. I'm a rational --

COOPER: But how do you do that in a casino?

GOODMAN: That's up to them to figure out. I don't own a casino. I don't know anything about building a casino.

COOPER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.


VAUSE: Anderson Cooper, alarmist there, speaking to the mayor of Las Vegas. But Nevada's governor is at odds with the mayor telling CNN the state is clearly not ready to open. Well, the U.S. president has tweeted a bellicose threat to Iran saying he has ordered the Navy to shoot down and destroy any Iranian gunboats, harassing U.S. ships.

The threat comes on the same day that Tehran claimed to have launched its first military satellite in orbit. Iran's space program uses the same technology needed to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says this move violates a U.N. Security Council resolution and Iran needs to be held accountable.

U.S. oil prices jumped after that threat from the president. John Defterios is live in Abu Dhabi with more on that. And you know, John, nothing like a bit of geopolitical tension in the Straits of Hormuz, be it real or imagined to get the price of oil a bit of a boost. JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, it needed it if you will, John. And it is gunboat diplomacy that has actually literally affecting the market today. And we've had a response to the President's gesture from the spokesman from Iran's mission to the United Nations saying they have the right to defend their territories. And they won't be intimidated by the United States.

So obviously, this will have an impact. Anything that happens around the Strait of Hormuz which handles about a fifth of the supplies globally of oil exports would have an impact. And that's what we see today with WTI and Brent, we have to keep in mind we were trading on the U.S. benchmark around $10.00 a barrel. The Brent benchmark was at $15.00 a barrel.

So we're looking at gains of what nine to 11 percent so far this morning. And we have to remind the viewers that in January, after the killing of the Irani general Qassem Soleimani by the United States, we had the price spike up to nearly $70.00 a barrel. So this always has an influence in the region, and it has the Gulf states on edge.

And I would add here, John, that the inventories in the United States continue to rise. So the glut doesn't change. It's the political tensions here and the military tensions around the region. And I would only add within the parliament in February in Iran, we had a big shift to the hardliners and we have Hassan Rouhani facing elections and going out in 2021, the U.S. elections in 2020. It is right for these sorts of tensions right now. And of course, Donald Trump is stoking the fire with his tweets yesterday.


VAUSE: And pure coincidence, I'm sure. The U.S. president has ordered Chevron to shut down oil operations in Venezuela officially, all that starving the Maduro government of cash. This has nothing to do with a record oversupply of oil I'm sure.

DEFTERIOS: They're already hurting though. And this will put the final blow to Venezuela. And this kind of goes in the category, John, of kick them while they're down. Chevron has had a 100-year relationship in Venezuela with PDVSA, the state oil company. And this is support for Juan Guiado, the opposition leader that the U.S. has just been trying to put into power.

To give you context of what has been taking place under Nicolas Maduro, though, the president, if you go back 10 years, Venezuela was one of the major players within OPEC in production about three million barrels a day. That dropped to about 600,000 barrels a day in the last month, partially because U.S. sanctions. But to be frank here, it is mismanagement by Maduro and Venezuelan the assets that he has on board.

It's Chevron and four other oil service companies that are being told to ramp down their activities till December. Then you could see if there was a change of power, they could come back in. But that's not the case right now. And as you said, with the glut, and the U.S. producers suffering, they're hitting Venezuela at the same time. VAUSE: John, thank you. John Defterios there in Abu Dhabi, trying to like put some calm there on my conspiracy theories. Thanks, John. Yes, well, Europe's auto industry came to a sudden halt when the Coronavirus hit. Production stopped, so to sales. Fred Pleitgen reports though, now big automakers are starting back up but demand is uncertain.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The machines are humming again at the Volkswagen plant in Kassel in central Germany, making transmissions under strict hygiene rules trying to avoid coronavirus infections.

We put up signs and barriers, one of the heads of this production line says, and we check the workplaces to see if we needed to install any protection. All this to ensure that the safety of every employee is guaranteed.

Volkswagen says it has 100-point program to ensure strict hygiene. Workers are constantly reminded to physically distance from others. Where that's not possible, they wear masks or the company has altered the production line.

The plant management says it's extremely important for the workers here to maintain physical distance. Now, of course, on a production line like this, that's not possible everywhere. So for instance here, you have this plexiglass window to make sure that the workers keep enough distance.

Volkswagen is opening two European plants this week alone, but it has dozens around Europe. With complicated supply chains and cross border logistics, getting Europe's largest automaker producing at full capacity will take time the head of production tells me.

ANDREAS TOSTMANN, HEAD OF PRODUCTION AND LOGISTICS, VOLKSWAGEN: It takes a couple of days to prepare everything in it goes through the whole logistic chain. But we do this plant by plant. That's when all together created this step by step approach where we started already in our Slovakian factory in Bratislava this week, and it will take us probably two or three weeks before we back to normality.

PLEITGEN: VW is not alone. Toyota is reopening some European plants this week, and Mercedes Benz says it will start a phased return next week. But the carmakers will return to a drastically different market with a global economy in recession that could force them to downsize and possibly even lay off workers, one of Germany's top automotive experts tells me.

FERDINAND DUDENHOEFFER, CENTER FOR AUTOMOTIVE RESEARCH: Then we came up with a problem of the demand. So of course, they could produce cars, but if there are no customers for that cars, that's a pity. So they have to adapt its capacity.

PLEITGEN: While hard times may be looming, for now the staff at VW's plant in Kassel are happy to simply have their production line running again, churning out transmissions for cars they hope there will be demand for. Fred Pleitgen, CNN Kassel, Germany.


VAUSE: Well, out of jobs and out of food, across the U.S. that means unprecedented numbers pertaining to food banks for help. More on that in a moment.



VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Millions of Americans have suddenly fallen on hard times like they could never have imagined. And with depression, eerie levels of unemployment, many are now turning to food banks for help. Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. Come on.

RANDI KAYE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was the scene in Hialeah Gardens, Florida. Cars stretching for miles, all of them waiting for free food. Before dawn, organizers say, more than 1,000 cars were waiting. What time did you come this morning?


KAYE: 4:00 a.m.


KAYE: Some came as early as 2:00 a.m., sleeping in their cars for more than six hours before the food line open. More than 60 volunteers showed up to help distribute potatoes, fruit, pickles and chicken. Lots of it.

KAYE: How much chicken you think you've given away today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, but it's a lot.

KAYE: Much of the food gathered by the nonprofit group Farm Share was purchased from farmers so it wouldn't go to waste.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we've seen probably the biggest need in the history of Farm Share during this pandemic.

KAYE: Are you hungry?


KAYE: Many who came to pick up food told me they've lost their job and are running out of food at home. No job, no money? So you're coming for the food. He told me he's been out of work for weeks and has no food at home. Same story for this man.

Do you need food badly? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'm not working in this moment.

KAYE: You're not working so you need food?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. No working. I need food for my family.

KAYE: And the fact that it's free, so that helps?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. It's good. Good idea.

KAYE: Because you don't have the money to pay for it right now.


KAYE: Each family takes home about 15 pounds of food. During this pandemic, Farm Share has given away nearly five million pounds of food to families in Miami-Dade County, one of the hardest hit.

When they first started doing these food giveaways in early March, they were serving about 400 families. Here, they expect to serve about 1,400 families. So clearly the word has spread and so has the desperation for food. Cesar Borrelo is a flight attendant. He's barely working and has much less money coming in.

CESAR BORRELO, FLORIDA RESIDENT: Now, we have three adults and two kids.

KAYE: So that's a lot of mouths to feed.

BORRELO: Oh, yes. Yes, it is.

KAYE: Some people tell me they're rationing and not eating as much at home. Are you doing that?

BORRELO: Yes, we're doing that. We organized the menus. And you know, kind of with this all the time.

KAYE: Still, despite his cut and pay, he thinks it's a mistake for neighboring Georgia to start reopening businesses later this week to get the economy going again.


BORRELO: It's too soon. Keeping -- you know, staying at home at the moment, keep distance.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Hialeah Gardens, Florida.


VAUSE: The Walt Disney Company has been in the firing line after theme park employees were furloughed during the pandemic. That's not unexpected, except perhaps the criticism coming from within the family, the Disney family.

Abigail Disney slammed the company for failing to care for hundreds of thousands of workers while paying dividends to shareholders and big bonuses to executives. Her father Roy was Walt Disney's brother. We should note though, the company's chairman is not taking a salary during the pandemic and the CEO took a 50 percent pay cut.

Well, millions of students have been forced to stay home during this pandemic. In fact, nine out of 10 around the world, leaving parents to juggle work with homeschooling. When and how can they expect schools to reopen? More on that, stay tuned parents, it's up next.


VAUSE: Well, Germany may soon make it compulsory to wear masks to contain the spread of the coronavirus. They'll be mandatory on public transportation across the country. Nearly all states will require them for shopping.

Some stores were allowed to reopen Monday under strict social distancing and hygiene rules. Germany has over 150,000 coronavirus cases. That's the question Johns Hopkins University. About 5,300 people have died.

The (INAUDIBLE) has forced more than 9,0 percent of students around the world be stuck at home. Some have returned to their classrooms in Denmark but with schools closed in about 190 countries, the process to reopen will vary wildly. CNN's Isa Soares reports.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Encircle the number.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Parenting in a whole new light. The coronavirus pandemic has transformed our lives more quickly than anyone thought possible, and that includes me. As I like so many others, balance the demands of doing my job as a journalist and schooling my four and two-year-old sons.

A shocking 91 percent of the students around the world are out of the classroom because of school closures according to UNESCO. So when will it end and how will schools reopen?

Here in the U.K., we're still not sure when schools reopen, when our children will eventually go back to schools and nursery. But it's a very different story in other parts of Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they come home from school, that's why they all are hungry.

SOARES: Mica and Soren live in Denmark. So as of this week, their daughters Kirsten, three and Edith, seven are now back in school. Across Europe, some schools are open, some opening soon, some closed indefinitely.

SOREN, JOLLMANN, DANISH PARENT: They've divided the playground into five areas where -- and then they've divided the kids into groups. While they're sitting in the classroom, they're sitting somewhere apart. They don't have as many -- as many desks and chairs as they usually have. So they're sitting like --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's space two meters apart each.

JOLLMANN: Two meters apart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of focus on hygiene and hand sanitizing or washing their hands. That's what they do a lot.

SOARES: The young parents said they were surprised that primary schools reopened so quickly, but then no children are less vulnerable to severe cases of the virus and are just happy that they can be with playmates of their own age.


JOLLMAN: I think they can basically feel that there's something different and then -- but not necessarily that they can't really reflect so much about what and why.

SOARES: Mica and Soren, of course, have good jobs in a rich country. And the pandemic is exposing our societal fault lines. In New York last month, students form long lines to pick up laptops for remote learning. A 2018 Pew survey found that 17 percent of teenagers in the U.S. couldn't finish homework because of a lack of reliable internet connection.

And that number was even higher for students of color and low-income families. The virus clearly bringing to the surface all the inequalities that already played our societies.

JOHN KING, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE EDUCATION TRUST: This COVID-19 crisis is going to have a very detrimental effect. It is clear that there are families that don't have the devices, don't have the bandwidth access. It is clear that there are districts that because of the pace at which they had to move to distance couldn't provide the professional development that teachers need.

SOARES: When and how to get students back into school will be about weighing risks. Here in the U.K., authorities have made clear they're not reopening until it's clear that the crisis has eased. Geoff Barton whose union represents school principals and administrators agrees that this is not something you can rush into.

GEOFF BARTON, U.K. ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL AND COLLEGE LEADERS: You're not going to be able to have all of your staff there because some of the staff are going to be vulnerable to the virus anyway, that might be diabetic. Some of them are living with people who are vulnerable.

SOARES: What that safety means, all a work in progress. In Denmark, parents drop their kids off outside, inside the masks come off. In the Netherlands, they split the week, so only half the students are in on any given day. So how do we open schools? Well, it's a learning process. Isa Soares CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Quite a flash out. Well, CNN and Sesame Street are teaming up to host a special Coronavirus townhall for kids and parents are invited as well. Big Bird will be there with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Erica Hill talking about how all of this is affecting kids. The ABCs of COVID-19 at CNN-Sesame Street Town Hall will air Saturday morning at 9:00 in New York, 2:00 p.m. in London. You will see it only here on CNN.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. The news continues with Rosemary Church right after this.