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CNN Goes Inside Wuhan, China, 3 Months After Lockdown; New Plan Calls for 30 Million Tests Per Week Before Reopening; U.K. Begins Human Trials of Vaccine and a Nationwide Survey. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 23, 2020 - 07:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: With the IG, and this just sounded really similar to the story that you brought us weeks ago of that first doctor who became a whistleblower and tried to sound the alarm in Wuhan for what was happening with the government and with this disease. So your thoughts this morning?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is interesting to hear this, Alisyn. And I've seen this brought up now several times on social media, and people saying, well, if China is two months ahead of where the U.S. is, go back two months and you're right, we can go back to that time frame. And that's when we brought, I think it was actually right here on NEW DAY with you, talking about Dr. Li Wenliangs' story.

And he spoke with us exclusively as foreign media and a foreign TV network just less than a week before he passed away. This is a doctor who was one of several early whistleblowers here in China. This is a guy who did not want to be a hero. He simply wanted to share with his friends that there was a SARS-like illness going around, and in late December he sent out a message, police got that message.

They brought him in, they reprimanded him, they said you are to stop spreading rumors and they sent him back to work. It's then he contracted the virus and he later passed away. But in the midst of that, he has become a national hero, but it's become heavily politicized as well, Alisyn, because what we have seen is a lot of the folks in the west will look at that and say, that is somebody who was trying early on to speak out and to share what was coming, and could have perhaps even prevented where we are today with how far this outbreak has gotten.

And even the Chinese Supreme Court weighed in posthumously to say that Dr. Li Wenliang could have been somebody who stopped all of this from getting as bad as it's gotten. But then you see here in China, they're saying, oh, that's simply the west's take on it. That is not how it's perceived. In fact, this is somebody that we even recognize as a national hero. They have called him a martyr here in China.

And so, they are desperately trying to hold on to that narrative and maintain it, though they have faced opposition even amongst Chinese social media and they have had to use heavy censorship to keep that message straight. So, it is very interesting to hear that now coming out of the U.S., but certainly here within China, the silencing of whistleblowers is something that is quite familiar.

JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: The virus doesn't care about politics, David, in the United States or China. I think we know that and it is interesting that whistleblowers being silenced is something that happens in China, we'll see how it's handled here in the United States. I do want to ask, here in the United States also, in Georgia, we're seeing tattoo parlors, barber shops, massage parlors, nail salons, they will be open tomorrow in Georgia.

If as you say, Wuhan is two months ahead of us, what's happening there with these types of businesses? Are you seeing them open and what's the result been?

CULVER: Yes, when I saw that in the U.S., John, I decided to kind of spend the day with my team and go around and get a feel for how businesses were operating here. I want to show you some video because as you drive through some streets, which you're going to notice is that, for every store that's open, you've got one, maybe two that are still closed. They've got the still garage door-like shutters coming down.

And they have remained closed from the lockdown three months ago until this day. And then you do have some that have found a new way of opening. So those businesses will be like fast foods for examples or those restaurants, even Starbucks or McDonald's to Burger King. What they're doing is they are keeping customers out of the physical store, they've set up a table in front of their store-front, and even some local convenience stores have done the same thing.

Where you can go up, you don't touch anything, you point out what you want, they'll bring it to you because of how electronic payments work here, everything is done on the phone, so you're not handing over a credit card or cash. It's all done at a safe distance as how they proceeded. But they also even have markings on the ground as to where you're not to encroach going into the stores.

I think also though, you contrast that with the sense of normalcy that is coming back in some places. So while you have places like gyms and cinemas that aren't going to be opening in the near future here in Wuhan, you have certain procedures that have changed, and even yes, I could tell you, a hair salon for example, they have decided to buffer each customer, one person comes in an hour and then the next person comes in.

And in that hour between, they do a full sanitation. So, that's how some of these places have decided to reopen under this new normal as some have said it. But going to a park today, if you can see some of this video, this was interesting for us to see. You saw people who were out really just enjoying each other's company, somewhat keeping a close -- a safe social distance.

But some are getting rather close, I mean, they just wanted to, I think to take in a nice Spring-like day, and I think for some, it's reassuring to see that. But then you have these levels of complacency as I've kind of assessed it, where you have some who are extremely complacent and have even pulled down their masks to enjoy a meal outside and will touch their masks a good amount.


And then you have others who will still wear the full PPE gear from head to toe. The scrubs-type and then covered in the hazmat suit, wearing the goggles, wearing the masks, wearing the gloves.

CAMEROTA: Hey, David, yesterday you showed us the process of you getting tested. So, have you gotten your results back yet?

CULVER: Oh, yes, we actually -- we just picked those up. I can show you what that video looked like, and folks were wondering, that was when we made a really easy appointment actually, it was pretty straightforward. As soon we got here, the hotel helped us make it, and we were able to connect with a local hospital, go in there and for me, it was just a throat swab as the same for my whole team, and then they told us within 24 hours we'd get the results.

And it was very efficient. We were in and out within 10 minutes, and we did get our results. And so, it's nice to know that we're negative. That's great to have, and it's reassuring for us as a team because if any one of us had gotten a positive result, the reality is, we all likely would have been in government quarantine because we would have been around confirmed cases, right?

So, you've been exposed to that. So, they would have had reason to quarantine all of us. So, this will allow me for the next seven days, no more than that, to move pretty freely within certain parts of China. So for example, if I already go back to Shanghai, I could do that without too much trouble.

CAMEROTA: Wow, we're happy to hear that. We're happy to hear that you're healthy and have gotten --

CULVER: Yes --

CAMEROTA: The all clear on your test results. And David, thanks so much for sharing all of your reporting, it's really helpful for us to see.

CULVER: All right, thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: OK, so experts say the U.S. needs to do millions of coronavirus tests every week just like you just saw David get, in order to reopen safely. A Nobel Prize winner details his plans to do that very thing, next.



BERMAN: A new proposal by the Rockefeller Foundation allows it -- lays out a three-step strategy to reopen the U.S. economy. It includes increasing testing to 30 million tests a week, hiring 300,000 contact tracers and launching a digital platform to track cases. It comes with a price tag of $100 billion. Joining us now is one of the authors of this plan, Nobel Laureate economist Paul Romer. Professor, thank you so much for being with us. Thirty million --


BERMAN: Thirty million tests a week is a lot. It is significantly more than we're at right now. We're at 175,000 or so, maybe more than that at this point. Initially, you want to start with 3 million a week, but why so many?

ROMER: We need to test everybody because then everybody will have the information they need to be safe. Am I at risk of infecting my children, am I at risk of infecting my colleagues? Are my colleagues at risk of infecting me? If we knew who was infected, then we'd take the protections to stop the spread of the virus.

BERMAN: You say everybody. The president and Dr. Birx specifically say we won't and can't test everybody. So how do you get there?

ROMER: We can't test everybody this week. But if we invested in the capacity to do more tests, we really could test everybody every week or every two weeks, and we'd be safer if we did. We'd be safer from this current pandemic. We'd be able to protect ourselves from the next virus that comes down the pike, and the next one could be even worse.

So, we just have to make the investment to be ready to find out who is infected, isolate them, keep everybody else safe.

BERMAN: What's the risk if we don't?

ROMER: I think the risk right now is that we will go through episodes of letting go of lockdown, but with no plan for stopping the virus as it starts to grow again. We get new outbreaks. Then we'll go back into lockdown and this cycle of tentative opening up, then locking down will leave everybody uncertain, afraid and it will make investors wait.

They will not want to invest when they don't know what's going to happen. So opening and closing will leave us, I think, in the worst of all worlds. People will still get sick when we open, but it won't revive the economy.

BERMAN: It's so interesting the way you answered that question, and it should be obvious to our viewers here. You're not a medical doctor, you're an economist, a Nobel Laureate economist. But your answer as to what is the risk of not testing enough people, you gave an answer that was the economic risk of reopening --

ROMER: Yes --

BERMAN: Too early. And I think that's significant.

ROMER: Oh, yes, and it's underappreciated right now. People think, oh, if you just kind of sign a bill that says everybody can go out and go back to work, then first, that people will do that. But if people are afraid, if people don't want to get sick, they know people who have gotten sick and seeing how bad this can be, they're not going to go back to work if they're afraid.

BERMAN: You're talking about consumer sentiment here and workers sentiment here. And we've seen in poll after poll that there is concern about reopening --

ROMER: Yes --

BERMAN: Too early. And so it's a bottom-up approach you're looking at here as opposed to a top-down approach, yes?

ROMER: Yes, we need -- there's no tradeoff here. We need to fight this virus effectively. That will protect lives, but that will also give people the confidence to go back to work, go back to the store and to make new investments.

BERMAN: As an economist, when you look at some of the things being discussed right now, how do you measure the risk to health here? How much health risk is acceptable? I think people do need to understand that opening up before, there's a vaccine and things will be open to an extent in places everywhere, to an extent before there's a vaccine.


ROMER: Yes --

BERMAN: How much risk do people need to be able to accept, and what's the right way to measure that economically?

ROMER: OK, well, the first thing is that, the plan we're talking about is not one where we take on new risks. It's actually one where we shift from locking everybody down to locking down the people who we know are infected. That will actually reduce risks because we'll be able to stay with that second plan as long as it takes to get a vaccine or a cure.

So we can reduce the risks and get the benefit of letting many people who are not infectious go back to work. So this isn't a trade-off thing that economists are always talking about. This is a switch to something that's better for health, it's better for the economy.

BERMAN: Do you have an understanding about why we are not testing at the rates you think we should be testing right now? I understand 30 million is aspirational. I can understand why we're not at 30 million yet. But do you understand why we're not testing millions at this point?

ROMER: Yes, well, you know, these reports are compromised documents. Let me be clear, I personally, I'm advocating for 30 million tests a day, not 30 million a week. So, I think we need to go even farther than the Rockefeller report asks. But then, let's think about whether that's feasible. Look, this nation produces 350 million cans of soda every day.

If we can produce 350 million cans worth of soda a day, we can produce 30 million tests a day. Now, what does it take to get all that soda? Pay the people in the soda industry about 45, $50 billion a year to produce all that soda. If we just spend as much money on tests as we spend on soda, we could have all the tests we need.

BERMAN: Professor Paul Romer, where were you when I took at ten? Thanks so much for being with us this morning, I really do appreciate your time.

ROMER: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK, John, we want to take a moment to remember some of the nearly 47,000 Americans lost to coronavirus. Seventy-year-old Cresencia Colletti worked at the Star Market grocery chain in Belmont, Massachusetts, for 25 years packaging produce. Friends say the Filipino immigrant was always smiling, laughing and making jokes. She leaves behind three children and six grandchildren.

Donna Dare's(ph) children could not be with him during his final hours at the hospital. But a nurse offered to put the hospital phone next to his ear. He was unable to speak. But for 30 hours, the four siblings who were located in Denmark, Texas, North Carolina and New York shared memories, sang songs and told their dad they loved him. Abby Adair Reinhard tells CNN having some of sort of closure with her dad was a blessing.

Edward Singleton was the second Chicago firefighter to die from coronavirus. His funeral service yesterday had to be conducted by live-stream because of social distancing rules. The 55-year-old father of two had planned to retire in November after 32 years with the department. We'll be right back.



BERMAN: As of this morning, there have been at least 2.6 million confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world, in more than 184,000 deaths. CNN has reporters across the globe to bring you the latest developments.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I'm Nic Robertson in London. Today, the first human trials of a potential new vaccine begin, a study by Oxford University involving perhaps hundreds of people in the first phase which will be a safety phase, scaling up, if successful, by full this year. Also beginning today, 20,000 homes, the government says will be contacted across the country to learn more about the virus.

And infection and antibody scheme here that could reach as many as 300,000 people, the government says.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Scott McLean in Madrid where the last ice rink being used as a temporary morgue has now closed, and children will get their first taste of freedom this weekend after six weeks under lockdown. The rest of Spanish society, though, is coming to grips with the reality that things will not go back to normal anytime soon. The running of the bulls has been canceled, so has the annual tomato fight near Valencia.

The Spanish parliament has approved an extension of the stay-at-home order for another two weeks, only then the Prime Minister says will Spain gradually enter the de-escalation phase, which will rely on personal responsibility to keep the virus at bay.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matt Rivers in Mexico City, where officials tell us they've recorded at least 44 attacks against healthcare workers since last month. These workers enduring everything from having bleach thrown on them to being punched in the face. Authorities say the motive here is misinformation, rumors that it's actually healthcare workers that are spreading this virus.

It's not the majority opinion here in Mexico, most Mexicans will tell you they support healthcare workers, but doctors and nurses are afraid. One doctor told me that when she goes to work, she only wears street clothes, she doesn't put on her scrubs until she gets to the hospital because she fears she's a target.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm David McKenzie in South Africa. Noah Trevor is getting his test here with a swab for COVID-19. He looks pretty uncomfortable, but it's critical here because we're in a community where people just cannot self-isolate. We've been out with community health workers, they are trying to test for symptoms, we also hear where they're screening people for possible symptoms of this disease.

In South Africa, they have one possible advantage. They've been battling HIV/AIDS for years here, with a huge amount of U.S. government support. And those boots on the ground and that experience could give them the upper hand.



CAMEROTA: Our thanks to all of our correspondents around the globe. So stay at home orders around the world have kept people from driving and flying for weeks now. And that appears to be having a positive impact on the climate crisis. Pollution levels are down dramatically in major cities. But will that have a lasting effect on the environment? Well, CNN's Bill Weir joins us now with more. So Bill, what's the answer to that?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, you know, it's kind of hard to say happy Earth Day these days without some ironic dread and, yes, we're seeing more wild critters coming to the streets and, yes, city dwellers are noticing stars they didn't know were up there before. But this is far from a silver-lining when it comes to fixing the climate crisis.


WEIR (voice-over): On a golden anniversary of Earth Day, it's as if mother nature has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we've done and to give us a glimpse of life without us. The penguins of Cape Town had the streets to themselves, while wild pigs used sidewalks in Corsica. Kashmiri goats are helping themselves to the shrubbery in Wales and a sea turtle hatch in Thailand is reportedly setting modern records.

A normally shy Puma ran a stop light in Santiago, with no visitors to Kruger National Park, a pride of South African lions can snooze in the road and with no wall of course to navigate, Yosemite Park rangers are seeing more bears than ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the most part I think they're having a party.

WEIR: And while they aren't unheard of in New York City, these days it's hard not to be shaken by vultures, circling over the Navy's floating hospital, the Comfort.

(on camera): Man, it will be a great day when the only big Naval ship docked in New York City is a museum, when the Comfort finally sets sail, surely those vultures will fly away and we can finally come out of our homes, surely all those wild critters will go back to what's left of theirs.

But what about the effects that are harder to see? What is this pause in the industrial revolution doing to the chemistry of our sky?

(voice-over): Locals in northern India say they can see the Himalayas for the first time in decades. And before and after satellite imagery shows how nitrogen dioxide pollution over North America's big cities is down by as much as 30 percent. But the blanket of heat trapping gases around our planet is still thicker than ever.

(on camera): And there seems to be this perception that maybe the virus has helped humanity buy some time when it comes to global warming. What's wrong with that assumption?

JONATHAN FOLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROJECT DRAWDOWN: We would have to keep doing this even more, and do it for the next 30 years to really begin to bend the curve on the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It's kind of like having a really huge bathtub in the sky filled with pollution, and we have the faucet pouring more in. And all we've done is kind of turn down the faucet a little bit, but it's still filling up.

WEIR (voice-over): Thanks to the current oil crash, when the lockdown is lifted, we'll see the lowest gas prices in generations, and with Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency gutting dozens of regulations, experts say a spike in pollution seems inevitable. Both the EPA and Earth Day were born when the air and water got too foul for everyday Americans to ignore.

Fifty years later, science is warning that the storms, floods and fires of the climate crisis are growing too frequent and too severe to ignore. Saving what's left will take everyday folk everywhere, deciding that their planet deserves more than one minor holiday like a dead president deciding that to save life as we know it, every day should be Earth Day.


WEIR: Virologists for years tried to warn us that an invisible enemy would come out of the jungles if we just kept cutting all of them down, and they were right. So, if any good can come of this, Alisyn, maybe it's an understanding that the climatologists who were warning about the invisible enemy up in our sky and in our seas, maybe we should take them seriously too.

CAMEROTA: We hope more understanding is the silver-lining here. Bill Weir, thank you very much for that report. Well, the government's top vaccine researcher is speaking out, NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The director of a key federal agency says he's been pushed out of his job because he resisted efforts to widen the availability of a drug that was pushed by President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If a guy says he was pushed out of a job, maybe he was, maybe he wasn't.

ROBERT REDFIELD, VIROLOGIST: It's important to clarify this. I didn't say that this was going to be worse. I said it was going to be more difficult.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Redfield's concern is that there also might be flu at the same time. And the whole taskforce is concerned about the second wave.

TRUMP: It is estimated it might not come back at all. It may not come back at all.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We will have coronavirus in the Fall. I am convinced of that.


BERMAN: All right, good morning, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. Coronavirus doesn't care about what drug you want to work. The virus doesn't care whether you don't want it.