Return to Transcripts main page


Some U.S. States Reopen amid Criticism; Trump Faces Backlash over Injecting Disinfectant; Brazil Faces Political Crisis as Justice Minister Resigns; Widow Shares Details of Husband's Last Days; Nigerian Singer Davido Releases Video for COVID-19 Research. Aired 3- 3:30a ET

Aired April 25, 2020 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am Michael Holmes.

As of right now, there have been almost 2.8 million cases of coronavirus reported worldwide, killing almost 200,000 people. Against that backdrop, the World Health Organization launching a new program to speed up the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.

The WHO director-general saying, quote, "We are facing a common threat which we can only defeat with a common approach."

The United Kingdom says that it will host a global vaccine cement in early June as a way for countries to support vaccine development, pointing out that diseases have no borders.

Here in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first at home test for COVID-19. It would require a doctor's referral.

Several types of businesses are now open again in the U.S. state of Georgia just 3 weeks after their stay at home order went into effect. One influential model says that Georgia is opening 2 months too early to be safe. But Governor Brian Kemp, going his own way, some other states are following suit as well. CNN's Erica Hill with a look.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An unprecedented experiment, now underway in Georgia. Salons, tattoo parlors, gyms, all have the governor's blessing to reopen. The mayor of the state's largest city, urging residents to stay home.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: Nothing has changed. People are still getting infected. People are still dying. We do not have a cure to this virus. The only thing that has helped us is that we have stayed apart from one another. And I am simply asking people to continue to do that. HILL (voice-over): Customers weighing health concerns as owners must

also confront mounting bills.

TARA GLYNN, HAIR SALON OWNER: I'm going to try it. I just feel like, us as a country, we are going to have much bigger problems, financially, if we do not.

HILL (voice-over): Meantime, about an hour south, cars line up for food at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Neighboring North Carolina is not easing up yet.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): We love our friends in Georgia but we are really concerned about how quickly this is happening and we want to make sure that we keep our numbers as low as possible.

HILL (voice-over): Oklahoma moving forward with a plan similar to Georgia's. The mayor of Tulsa noting cases in his city are still on the rise and expects that will continue.

MAYOR G.T. BYNUM (R-OK), TULSA: Waiting on those cases to decline as people for 100 miles in every direction are being encouraged to ease social distancing would be futile.

HILL (voice-over): Golf courses open in Wisconsin Friday; libraries and craft stores can offer curbside pickup, the state reporting 23 people who voted in person or worked the polls at the primary there earlier this month have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Curbside pickup is available today in retail stores in Texas, Colorado stay-at-home order will end Sunday, though not in Denver.

MAYOR MICHAEL HANCOCK (D-CO), DENVER: Nothing will change until maybe 8:00 or at least midnight on May 9th.

HILL (voice-over): Tennessee state parks have reopened, more Florida beaches will soon and diners can now eat at restaurants in Alaska, though capacity is limited to 25 percent, a patchwork response unfolding as experts warn, the country is not out of the woods.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EMORY UNIVERSITY: People keep talking about the peak like there was the end game, it's not the end game, it's simply a model.

HILL (voice-over): California announcing a new partnership to get restaurants back online and deliver meals to at-risk seniors.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): it is not just about the meals, it's about a human connection. It is about someone just checking in as they are delivering those meals and making sure that people are OK.

HILL (voice-over): A chance to reconnect and to help as this crisis continues.

HILL: Also in California, for the first time since World War II, the California State Fair and Food Expo has been canceled. Typically, some 700,000 people attend the event which runs from mid-July to early August. The venue, where it is held, is also currently being used as a drive-through testing site in the state -- back to you.


HOLMES: Erica Hill, our thanks.

Now stunning statements yet again at the White House. You remember Thursday that the president of the United States actually floated the idea of injecting disinfectant to rid the body of the coronavirus.


HOLMES: On Friday, he tried to scrub all memories of that by lying. CNN's Kaitlan Collins with the details.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump started Friday by signing that replenishment fund for that small business loan program that they've started since the coronavirus outbreak has shuttered so many of them.

But the president ended Friday with what was one of his shortest briefings of his administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak where he took no questions. The FDA commissioner spoke briefly and took one question but other than that, the president did not engage with reporters.

And that came after earlier in the day he tried to say that his comment the day before, where he suggested that potentially you could use bleach or sunlight inside the body to cure coronavirus, were widely panned by doctors.

The president had said on Friday that he was just being sarcastic when he suggested as much during a briefing the night before.


QUESTION: Can I clarify your comments about injections of disinfectant?

TRUMP: I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you, to see what would happen. I was asking the question of the gentleman who was there yesterday, because when they say that something will last 3 or 4 hours, 6 hours but if the sun is out, if the use disinfectant, it goes in less than a minute away. Did you hear this yesterday?

I was asking a sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside.


COLLINS: You'll remember in that briefing on Thursday night, a senior DHS official came out, was laying out the findings of a study that they had done that talked about sunlight, ultraviolet rays and disinfectants like bleach and alcohol killing coronavirus on surfaces, not in the human body as the president later suggested that medical experts should look into, despite his claims later on that he was just being sarcastic.

The president said sarcastic but his press secretary said earlier in the day that he was being taken out of context. And then Dr. Deborah Birx in a briefing that she had taped before the president made those remarks about it just being sarcasm, said that the president was just processing information he had just received in real time, which of course was in front of the cameras and that later led to the CDC issuing a statement saying that household disinfectants should be used as is marked on their labels and, of course, not ingested.

The surgeon general ad tweeted that people should consult with their doctors before taking any treatment when it came to coronavirus and of course many more of the president's critics were saying he should not have been speaking and just ad libbing at the briefing after that presentation -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: Earlier, I spoke with Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA, and asked her how President Trump's comments about disinfectants and also hydroxychloroquine affect messaging about the dangers of the virus.


ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA: It is very complicated when you have mixed messaging or misinformation being espoused by a president and having mixed messages to the public.

All of this disparate messaging between different authorities and different groups is leading to a lot of confusion. And what that does is it creates a lot of distrust in the health system. And this is very damaging.

It is going to make it even harder for all of us to do what we need to do to be able to attack the virus. So instead of --


RIMOIN: -- we need to fight or fighting misinformation. And that is a really big problem.

HOLMES: Yes, well put, excellent point. Here in the state of Georgia, where I am right now, you have barber shops reopening, massage facilities, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors. Next Monday, restaurants will be able to reopen.

How worried are you about too much too soon?

RIMOIN: I am very worried. I think we are going to be losing all of the gains or many of the gains, that we have made of the sacrifices made by so many. And it is a real problem for all of these organizations. Nobody has worked out what that means to reopen. What about the liability?

Who is going to get into trouble?

Who is going to be sued for exposing people to coronavirus?

Who is going to be able to deal with the safety concerns to the staff that are forced to go back to work when they may not feel safe to go back to work?

Nobody has guidelines about how to be able to go back to work. So I think that we are in a real problem here. We don't have the testing, we don't have the therapeutics. We do not have a vaccine. We are not any closer to a vaccine right now. So this is all very dangerous.

HOLMES: What do you, as you look at the landscape, what do you think is ahead of us in the short to medium term?

RIMOIN: I can say what I think needs to happen in the short and medium term.


RIMOIN: We need to ramp up testing, we need to double down and make sure that we have -- that we reap the benefits of the social distancing that has gone into place.

We need to start working on specific recommendations for what will happen when things open back up, to help all of the businesses, the individuals, figure out what they are supposed to be doing.

If we do not do those things, what I see in the short and medium term is that we are going to have an increase in number of cases, increase in mortality. We will have to go back to where we were to flatten the curve.

HOLMES: History has shown that 2nd and 3rd waves are often worse than the first in pandemics, especially with the reopenings going on and starting around the country.

How big of a concern is that 2nd wave?

RIMOIN: We can look to the 1918 influenza pandemic. We can see that is exactly what happened. We relaxed and we had rebound in cases, places that close early, they stayed closed, they did better. I would imagine that we could be seeing the same thing.

Waves of an epidemic, a pandemic, they are real. It's something that we should be very concerned about. We don't know exactly how the virus is going to behave, it is a novel virus, new to humanity. We are still learning about it.

But there is ample evidence from past pandemics of respiratory illness that could give us some clues as to what we could see going forward.

HOLMES: What are you seeing at the moment as an epidemiologist in the training and developments that maybe gives you some hope going forward?

The U.K. is doing a vaccine trial for example.

Is there anything that makes you feel better about the future?

Or is it too early for optimism?

RIMOIN: Well, there should be optimism. There should be optimism because what we are seeing is some progress. It is not the kind of progress that maybe we would hope for. We could all do better. But there is progress.

We know so much more about the virus that we did. There are vaccines in the pipeline. There are therapeutics in the pipeline. There are diagnostics in the pipeline. We just need to be pushing harder.

The problem is, there is never enough money for research, never enough money for development of diagnostics. We are losing time by not investing wholeheartedly. We need a Manhattan Project to be able to really attack this.

We should not be penny foolish, pounds short, so to speak. We need to throw all resources at this, to tackle it. Half measures will avail us of nothing.

HOLMES: Well put, as always. Anne Rimoin, thank you so much, we appreciate you coming on.

RIMOIN: My pleasure.


HOLMES: Now the British government's new website to book coronavirus tests for essential workers is already overwhelmed. The site went live early Friday; by late Friday morning, visitors got a message, saying that capacity was reached, try again tomorrow.

The department of health tweeted an apology, saying that there is a high demand for the service, clearly, and assuring more tests will be available Saturday.

A widow from Connecticut found a goodbye note on her 32-year-old husband's phone after he died from coronavirus. The loving message he left behind for her and their 2 young children, when we come back.





HOLMES: There is turmoil in Brazil, two government ministers are out in as many weeks. Last week you might remember Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro fired his health minister, Luis Enrique Mandetta, after they disagreed on a strategy to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Then on Friday, the justice minister resigned in protest, accusing the president of political inferference. Journalist Shasta Darlington has more for us from Sao Paulo.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brazil's justice minister Sergio Moro resigned on Friday, citing political interference from the president and sparking a massive political crisis.

Moro is a hugely popular figure who led a fight against corruption when he was the judge is in charge of the car wash investigation.

When Bolsonaro took office last year, Moro joined his government. His departure on Friday was prompted by Bolsonaro's decision to fire the head of the federal police. According to Moro, Bolsonaro was breaking his promise to give Moro complete autonomy to choose his own people to fight corruption and violent crime.

In a press conference, he also accused Bolsonaro of wanting to replace the police chief with someone he could, quote, "call directly" to get information and intelligence reports and suggested pending cases in the Supreme Court were also behind the decision.

Moro's departure from the government, a week after the health minister was fired, further isolates Bolsonaro as he faces an unprecedented health and economic crisis. Bolsonaro took to the airwaves on Friday night to defend himself against the accusations, saying that he is allowed, by law, to name the police chief and has done nothing wrong.


JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Mr. Minister, you will not call me a liar. There is no more serious accusation for a man like me, a military man, a Christian, a president of the republic, to be accused of than this.


DARLINGTON: He accused Moro of being more committed to his ego than to Brazil. Around the country, Brazilians banged pots and honked horns in protest against Bolsonaro in what is being seen by many as a move to force the minister out -- Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.


HOLMES: A new medical study paints a bleak picture for coronavirus patients who are required to use a ventilator. The study in the Journal of the American Medical Associations looked at around 2,600 hospitalized patients in the New York City area.

Overall around 20 percent of the coronavirus patients died but for those who required ventilation, 88 percent died. The study also showed that even the most common symptoms of coronavirus are far from universal. For example, only a 3rd of those admitted had a fever. I think we have

all heard about that. And less than 20 percent were breathing at a faster rate than usual.

Jonathan Coelho had won the battle against cancer but tragically lost his battle with coronavirus this week. Just 32 years old, the father of two from Connecticut wrote a letter to his wife before he died, a touching message of love seen now the world over. CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke to Katie Coelho, who lost her husband and is still obviously hurting.


KATIE COELHO, JONATHAN'S WIDOW: I spoke with a nurse Tuesday at 9:00 and she said he did fantastic and he did tired at the end and that they gave him a little bit of sedative to sleep and I asked if I should face -- if I should FaceTime him or let them rest and she said, you know what, why don't we let them rest and I'll tell him you called and if he wakes up, I'll call you.

But I just didn't want to set him off and 2:04 Wednesday morning I woke up to my phone ringing and it was the hospital. And I before I even answered it, I just said, oh, God.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: He wrote a note that he -- that he left in his phone.


A. COOPER: And part of it reads, I love you guys with all my heart and you've given me the best life I could have ever asked for. Sorry.

COELHO: It's OK. Jonathan is good with his words.


Do you have friends and family around you?

COELHO: I've been able to have -- because my kids tested positive and I was never tested. But they said it was safe to assume that I was positive because my entire family was -- we've been able to have people come and help us as long as there.

They were masked and gloved and they've just helped with the kids greatly because the last two days have been really hard and I'm, I'm really trying, but I don't think I'm doing as good of a job as I wish I could.

A. COOPER: I mean, obviously your kids are so young. They don't really know what's going on.

COELHO: No, I think that's the double edged sword in it. I'm glad that they're so happy and they're loving and getting played with and they think it's so much fun. But it's also -- they don't know that they are lost them greatest human being. And they'll only ever know their dad through pictures and memories and

videos and there's no -- and to me I feel like that's the worst part of this is that they won't feel the love that I felt for the past 10 years with my husband.


HOLMES: And if you would like to help the Coelho family, obviously deeply suffering, a GoFundMe stie has been set up. They would certainly appreciate anything you can do to help them out and pay some of the bills they are facing. We'll be right back.




HOLMES: The Nigerian singing star Davido is working to raise money for coronavirus research with a new music video release. Have a listen.


HOLMES: Named "Dolce & Gabbana," Davido is teaming up with the fashion brand in the new single which will donate its earnings to the coronavirus research fund. CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas has more.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I got a chance to speak with internationally known singer Davido about why he is donating the proceeds from his new music video Dolce & Gabbana to coronavirus relief efforts.

DAVIDO, SINGER: (INAUDIBLE) at the time and we're doing this campaign with Dolce & Gabbana because (INAUDIBLE). We heard that (INAUDIBLE) doing a funding for research (INAUDIBLE) vaccine for the virus. So we brought up the great idea. We're like, you know what, that's not the (INAUDIBLE) video.


DAVIDO: Just because we spent money on the (inaudible), you know what I'm saying, and why don't we just give all the proceeds to the cause as well?

Because everybody is affected. We are affected here in Nigeria, you over there as well infected.


DAVIDO (voice-over): All over the world so we just felt like that was the best thing to do. It's just the first time something like this has caused the whole world. Like people can't go to work. A lot of people out here make money from day to day, like surviving day to day pain. And that's not possible because we all have to stay inside.

MELAS: So tell me a little bit about the fact that you are in an apartment right now away from your fiancee because she actually contracted coronavirus and I know she is on the mend. Tell us about that.

DAVIDO: Yes, that was crazy because it was all overseas. I was on tour. She was in London with my son. She just had my son. So when we all came back to Nigeria, it was just like, you know what, because we have travel history, I think it's best we get tested.

We had no symptoms. Nobody in the house had symptoms. We just felt like it's something we should do. (INAUDIBLE) I got tested, she was the only one that came out positive, which was crazy to us.

But I think -- I read on that a little bit and she just had a (INAUDIBLE) her and me (INAUDIBLE) kind of weak, we hope (ph). But she had no symptoms. Today she has tested negative twice now. And she still had no symptoms. I get to go back home tomorrow, so.

MELAS: Davido also told me that his family has donated over $1 million to the Nigerian federal government in the wake of this pandemic as well as over 6,000 pounds of rice across the Osun state where he is from -- back to you.


HOLMES: Chloe, thanks.

This one is for the kids now, a CNN town hall featuring some pretty big TV stars. Have a look.


HILL: Big Bird, this next question is for you.

BIG BIRD, MUPPET: It's for me?

HILL: Yes, 3-year-old Connor from Atlanta, Georgia, has this question.

CONNOR, 3-YEAR OLD: Hey, Big Bird, what are you doing during this stay-at-home order?

BIG BIRD: Hi, Connor. Thank you for your question. I have been reading and drawing pictures of my nest. And, oh, I drew a picture of my friend, Oscar the Grouch. And I'm going to give it to him when it's OK to have a playdate.

And oh, I have also had video playdates with my friend, Snuffy. It's kind of hard to see a whole Snuffleupagus in a small video chat screen, though.


HOLMES: CNN and Sesame Street host a special coronavirus town hall for kids and parents. "The ABC's of COVID-19," a CNN Sesame Street town hall. That is Saturday morning, 9:00 in the morning in New York, 2:00 pm in London, 9:00 pm Hong Kong.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I am Michael Holmes. This has been CNN NEWSROOM. "AFRICAN VOICES CHANGE MAKERS" up next.