Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Faces Backlash over Injecting Disinfectant; Some U.S. States Reopen amid Criticism; U.K. to Deliver Medical Supplies by Drone; Homeschooling under Lockdown; Mixed Messages in a Crisis; WHO Works to Speed Vaccines; Learning from the 1918 Pandemic; Italian Doctors Dying from Coronavirus; "The Road to Change: America's Climate Crisis". Aired 4-5a ET

Aired April 25, 2020 - 04:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The state of Georgia reopens for business despite warnings that it is too much too soon. We'll get into that this hour. Also --


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.


ALLEN (voice-over): Changing his tune: the U.S. president walks back dangerous statements about injecting disinfectants, prompting several states to take action.

Also this hour, lessons learned: the Spanish flu a century ago.

What can we take away from the catastrophe that forever changed humanity?

We'll talk with the woman who wrote the book about it.

Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: Thank you so much for joining us.

Friday's coronavirus briefing at the White House was notable for what did not happen. U.S. president Donald Trump, for a change, refrained from dispensing dangerous medical advice. You recall on Thursday he suggested killing the virus by injecting toxic disinfectants, comments on Friday he claimed were sarcastic.

But he's been brushed back by harsh criticism ever since. We'll have more on that in a moment. But meantime, the global coronavirus pandemic is now exceeding 2.8

million confirmed cases and almost 200,000 deaths. That is the latest from Johns Hopkins University. The World Health Organization with support from many international leaders on Friday announced an all-out effort to develop and distribute a vaccine as quickly as possible.

Realistically, though, that could still be many months away. Johns Hopkins University now reports the United States has surpassed 900,000 cases, far more than any other place in the world. At least 51,000 people have died in the U.S. so far.

Yet some states, like right here in Georgia, are itching to get their economies up and running again but against the advice of disease experts. CNN's Kyung Lah with the latest now.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the U.S. death toll crosses 50,000 lives lost, some businesses reopening. Donning masks, barbershops are back. Defying public health warnings, Georgia and Oklahoma allowed doors to open at some businesses like salons. But some businesses refuse to open, saying's too soon.

KIERA JOHNSON, OWNER, STEEL MAGNOLIAS RESTAURANT: I don't want to take chances for my people. Most my chefs have children. And we all have to know that what we're going home to at the end of the night is safe.

LAH: In Texas, curbside retail is open.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I walk out to their trunk, put them in there and go on the front seat, thank you so much for your purchase for helping us.

LAH: The state pushed to restart the economy, happening from the South, the Midwest, to Alaska, a real time experiment of the virus versus state policies.

In South Carolina, department stores are now open with some restrictions. Wisconsin, golf courses and some retail open curbside. Alaska, restaurants allowed to open at a quarter of capacity, into the weekend and next week, more states open up.

Tennessee will be allowing restaurants to open at half-capacity on Monday, saying it's time.

GOV. BILL LEE (R-TN): Our approach to rebooting the economy, it must be steady and methodical and empower opening in a way that doesn't jeopardize all of the strides that we've made so far.

LAH: Atlanta's mayor predicts it may be the end of local progress against the global pandemic.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: What I expect is that in a couple of weeks, we will see our numbers continue to rise in the state. LAH: New York's governor warned the country must learn from our very recent history, as testing continues to be inadequate, says the National Governors Association.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): So what is the lesson? An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.

LAH: That's why Michigan's governor, facing small but vocal right wing protests to reopen, is extending the stay-at-home order for her state until May 15th.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): So as hard as this moment is for us right now, as isolated as we feel and as stressed as we are about getting back to work, reopening up businesses.


WHITMER: We know that if we do it too fast, a second wave is likely and would be even more devastating.

LAH: In Los Angeles, California, a grim announcement that highlights the toll of this virus.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-CA), LOS ANGELES: And another dark threshold that we crossed is that COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in Los Angeles County. Deaths are doubling every seven to eight days here in Los Angeles still.

LAH: CNN was across the state of Georgia as businesses came back to life today. But that reopening was actually quite sporadic. A lot of businesses did not open. They couldn't find the beach, supplies, the wipes or it was simply too expensive to try to meet the state guidelines.

If businesses did open, we saw lines as people were getting their temperature taken before they went in. But people were indeed getting their haircut and bowling -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


ALLEN: As we mentioned, doctors, scientists, government agencies and manufacturers are denouncing President Trump's suggestion that disinfectants could be injected as a possible coronavirus treatment. And as CNN's Jim Acosta reports, this isn't the first time President Trump has contradicted medical experts.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cleanup in the oval office. President Trump is finding it hard to explain away his dangerous suggestion that Americans could inject themselves with disinfectants as a cure for the coronavirus.

TRUMP: I was asking a sarcastic -- in a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. That was done in the form of his sarcastic question to the reporters. ACOSTA (voice-over): But the president is not telling the truth. Take a look at the video and the reaction on the face of Coronavirus Task Force doctor, Deborah Birx, when Mr. Trump made the suggestion. He's not being sarcastic.

TRUMP: And then, I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or -- in some other way and I think you said you're going to test that too, sounds interesting.

And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute and is there a way we can do something like that -- by injection inside or -- or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. It would be interesting to check that.

So that you'll have to use medical doctors but it sounds -- it sounds interesting to me.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Asked for an explanation, the president was still trying to justify his comments.

TRUMP: I do think that disinfectant on the hands could have a very good effect.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president was reminded that he was looking at Dr. Birx as he made the remark.

TRUMP: I was looking at the doctor. I was looking at some of the reporters.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Asked about the president's suggestion that disinfectants or sunlight treatments in the body could fight off the virus, even one of Mr. Trump's own advisers told CNN, "I wanted to hide. It was a tough moment to watch."

Dr. Birx wasn't buying it.


TRUMP: I think it's a great thing to look at.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The head of the Food and Drug Administration tried to be diplomatic.

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: No. I certainly wouldn't recommend the internal ingestion of a disinfectant.

ACOSTA (voice-over): A statement from the maker of Lysol said, "...under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body."

In Maryland's Emergency Management Agency tweeted the same. Noting: "We have received several calls regarding questions about disinfectant use and COVID-19." But there's another speed bump on the Trump traveling medicine show, on the drugs the president has often touted as a cure.

TRUMP: What do you have to lose?

ACOSTA (voice-over): The FDA said in a statement hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19. They are being studied in clinical trials for COVID-19. Mr. Trump was asked about that too.

TRUMP: Well, I never spoke to a scientist. Look, I'm not a doctor. A study has to be done. And maybe it's -- if it helps, it's great. If it doesn't help, don't do it.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president's doctors have been differing with Mr. Trump all week, on testing.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I am not overly confident right now at all, but we are not in a situation where we say we're exactly where we want to be with regard to testing.

ACOSTA (voice-over): On a second wave of the virus.


TRUMP: But they may not even have corona coming back. FAUCI: There will be coronavirus in the fall.

ACOSTA (voice-over): And on whether the doctors are being misquoted.

TRUMP: He was misquoted. Totally misquoted.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I'm accurately quoted in "The Washington Post." As -- as difficult but the headline --

TRUMP: That's not what the headline said.


ALLEN: All right. This comes as the debate intensifies surrounding when and how states across the United States should open. For more about that, I'm joined by Dr. Peter Drobac. He's live for us, a global health expert with the University of Oxford.

Good morning.


ALLEN: It's good to see you.


ALLEN: I'll tell you what, let's take what President Trump said and all of that brouhaha and leave it there and move on with the science. OK, because I don't know what to do with that.

All right, so here in the state of Georgia, the governor has cleared the way for some businesses to reopen. They did so Friday. But here we go again, it always comes back to testing.

Without wide testing to know who has the virus, how risky is opening up now?

DROBAC: Unfortunately, it's extremely risky. Before we get to testing, let's look at where we are with the epidemic in Georgia. In some parts of the states, we are still seeing an increase in cases.

So it is not as if we are even past the initial peak. The White House's own plan for how states should open up, the first criteria is that you have seen a 14-day sustained decrease in the number of new cases.

So really at the kind of height of things, to talk about opening back up seems a bit careless. Then when you get to testing, we know widespread testing, along with the ability to trace contacts and isolate infected people, is really important. And the state is just not there at all.

ALLEN: Right, which makes me think of Japan right now, which is having a second wave. It had its first wave. It tapered off. Schools reopened. Then it got hit again. That shows the caution we should be taking here.

Does history tell us whether second and even third waves could be worst?

DROBAC: If you look at past pandemics, mostly influenza, we see second spikes in infections that can be as bad or worse than the first ones. In Japan and Singapore as well, which I think is humbling because it shows how fragile these efforts at containment are.

The virus is not going to change. So if we go back to business as usual, we would expect to see a second spike in infections that could be as bad or worse as the first. That's why we need to be incredibly cautious.

We are still very early in this pandemic, right?

In most cases, only a few percent of the population has been exposed or infected. So if we ease off the gas now with these measures, we're going to be in a very dangerous place.

ALLEN: We really are just at the beginning stages of this pandemic, aren't we?

I mean, as you said, Georgia hasn't even peaked yet. You can understand why people want to get on with it, start their lives, rekindle their businesses. But it just shows what can happen if you move too quickly.

DROBAC: That's right. And ultimately, to beat this virus, it's very likely we're going to need to try to hold firm and find a way to get through this until there is a vaccine ready. We know it will not be ready any time soon.

So we have been hearing this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. We also need to understand we're just in the first couple miles of that marathon. There's a long way to go. Everyone is concerned about the financial crisis and the economic toll this is having on families.

But the only way to end the economic crisis is to get the virus under control.

ALLEN: Right. One of the key three things is antibody testing. It's underway. However, some are shown to be flawed. That could mean people thinking they are immune when they are not.

How challenging is antibody testing?

What do we know?

DROBAC: It's going to be an important tool for us as it is rolled out further. But we have seen a lot of challenges with quality and accuracy, particularly with the so-called point of care antibody tests.

These are ones that somebody could do in their home for a rapid result. Most of those we have seen really significant problems with accuracy. Then you run the risk of someone having a positive test when it's negative. They are told they are immune when they're not. That is going to be a real issue.

It has been less of an issue with laboratory tests. So we have seen some early results from sero surveys, where you doing a random sampling of the population and test for antibodies to give us a picture of what percentage of the population may have some immunity. That's going to be important but the widespread rollout of point of care testing still looks like it's a ways off.

ALLEN: We appreciate your expertise as always. Thanks for your time, Peter Drobac in Oxford.

DROBAC: Thank you.

ALLEN: Well, as the U.K.'s coronavirus death count reaches a grim number, the government gets creative on ways to outfit doctors and fight back. We'll go to London live again here in a moment with the latest on that angle.

Plus, around the world many schools have been closed for weeks. The effects COVID-19 has had on students.






ALLEN (voice-over): Prince Charles and wife, Camilla, joining countless others in the U.K. in applauding health care workers. This was the heir to the throne's first public appearance since he recovered from coronavirus.


ALLEN: The United Kingdom is approaching a grim number of coronavirus deaths, close to 20,000 now. Officials there are pushing to get medical supplies to hospitals and help workers.

And starting next week, Britain will begin using drones to make those deliveries. Meantime, the British government is assuring citizens its new website for essential workers to book coronavirus tests will be available again today. The site went live early Friday but it shut down just hours later when appointments got fully booked.

CNN's Nina dos Santos joins me live from London with more on this situation in the U.K.

Good morning to you, Nina.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: Good morning, to you, Natalie. The U.K. facing similar questions over the course of the last three or four weeks really without more substantial answers.


DOS SANTOS: One time after another there appears to have been an embarrassment on the testing front. You are pointing out this latest test website that went live yesterday. To the embarrassment of the government, it had to shut down with 16,000 slots that got booked within the first few hours.

And then the site had to close because it couldn't cope.

Why is this embarrassing?

Largely because, despite the fact that the U.K. remained steady at being able to test only 20,000 people at the moment, largely key workers, police officers, people who work for the National Health System, teachers and so forth, people on the front line are ore likely to be exposed to the virus.

And people who could be concerned about passing it on to vulnerable members of the community. There are about 10 million who qualify for these tests but it has been difficult rolling them out, getting them tested, getting them to drive-through centers to be tested.

Now at the moment, the government, despite the fact that they have been doing 20,000 tests consistently every day, they promised they would ramp up to 100,000 tests by the end of the month. That still hasn't happened. We are only days away from the big target and the government hasn't

backed from it. So we have to see how this website fares later on today. There appears to be many disparities between the availability of the tests, whether home tests as you were discussing with the guest before the break or the laboratory tests, where people have to go through sites to have a nasal or throat swab taken by a nurse -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Thank you for that update, Nina.

The pandemic has had a unique affect on students, particularly kids. Around the world nine in 10 students are stuck at home because of school closures, something CNN's Isa Soares is trying to get a handle on with her own sons.


ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Count how many cans there are and circle the number.

SOARES (voice-over): 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 demands of doing my job as a journalist and schooling my 4- and 2- 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 will reopen, when our children will go back to schools and nurseries. But it is a different story in parts of Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I come home from school, that's where they all -- they're hungry and --

SOARES (voice-over): Mike and Sorda (ph) live in Denmark. So as of this week, their daughters Kirsten, (ph) 3, and Edith, (ph) 7, are now back in school. Across Europe, some schools are open, some opening soon, some closed indefinitely.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a space two meters apart each.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 (voice-over): The young parents say they were surprised that primary schools reopened so quickly. But they know children are less vulnerable to severe cases of the virus and are just happy they can be with playmates their own age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they can feel that there is something different but not necessarily that they can't really reflect so much about what and why.

SOARES (voice-over): Mike and Sorda (ph), of course, have good jobs in a rich country. And the pandemic is exposing societal fault lines. In New York last month, students formed 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 plagued our societies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 their districts, because of the pace at which they had to move to distance learning, couldn't provide the professional development that teachers need.

SOARES (voice-over): When and how to get students back into school will be about weighing risks.


SOARES (voice-over): Here in the U.K., authorities have made clear they're not reopening until it is clear that the crisis has eased. Jeff Barton (ph), whose union represents school principals and administrators, agrees this is not something you can rush into.

JEFF BARTON, EDUCATIONAL UNION: 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. They might be diabetic. Some of them are living with people who are vulnerable.

SOARES (voice-over): 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 weeks, 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.


ALLEN: All right. So parents of young kids at home, listen up here. We've got something for you. CNN and Sesame Street are teaming up for a special coronavirus town hall for kids and parents. Big Bird will join Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Erica Hill to talk about how

this is all affecting our kids. "The ABC's of COVID-19" will air Saturday morning at 9:00 am in New York, 2:00 pm In London and 9:00 pm In Hong Kong. We hope you watch with your kids.

Several U.S. states are trying to get back to business.

Can it be done safely?

How it's being done in Georgia, coming up.

Also, the World Health Organization launches an effort to coordinate vaccine development but not every country is signing onto their plan. We'll look into that.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. This is CNN NEWSROOM. We want to bring you the latest developments in the world's coronavirus epicenter.

The U.S. death toll has soared above 51,000 according to Johns Hopkins University. The grim milestone comes as the White House tries to walk back president Donald Trump's suggestion that people could inject themselves with disinfectant to fight the virus.

Mr. Trump now claims his remarks were sarcastic. But he walked out of Friday's daily coronavirus briefing without taking any questions.

Meanwhile, several states have begun to reopen economies despite warnings it might be too soon. Perhaps the most important thing desperately needed in a crisis is clear, concise and accurate information coming from the top.

But in this crisis, many state and local governments across the U.S. are finding that just doesn't exist. CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As states across the country inch toward reopening their economies, there is one thing governors have learned they could count on. Mixed messages from the White House.

TRUMP: We're starting to open our country again.

ZELENY: That much may be clear, but the question is how and when? In the absence of clear and consistent direction from President Trump, a messy patchwork of state by state rules are now emerging of what is open and what is closed in America. A case in point is Georgia where Governor Brian Kemp is leading the way by allowing several businesses to reopen starting today -- from gyms and salons to tattoo parlors and bowling alleys. He thought he had the President's blessing until he didn't.

TRUMP: I wasn't at all happy because -- and I could have done something about it if I wanted to but I'm saying let the governor's do it. But I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp. Spas, beauty parlors, tattoo parlors, no.

ZELENY: The contradictions from one state to the next, you can get a haircut in Georgia, for example, but not in South Carolina. Or the culmination of weeks of confusion over just who is calling the shots. First Trump said it was him.

TRUMP: Well, I have the ultimate authority.

ZELENY: Then it was not.

TRUMP: Governors will be empowered to tailor an approach that meets the diverse circumstances of their own states.

ZELENY: But the President's condemnation of Kemp could offer the clearest signal yet for what other governors should and shouldn't do in trying to bounce back from their coronavirus fight.

TRUMP: I told him very distinctly, I said, Mike was there, I said you do what you think is best. But if you ask me, am I happy about it? I'm not happy about it.

ZELENY: But the Presidential rebuke is reverberating in state capitols across the country where governors are deciding just how far and fast to go.

GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): I'm as eager as anybody to get our economy back open, spinning on all cylinders again, but again we have to be careful and cautious in what we're doing.

GOV. HENRY MCMASTER (R-SC): We want to go as quickly as we can, as

safely as we can to restore our economic vigor while also restoring our personal health.

ZELENY: It is a complicated balance of studying health models, the rate of new cases and even anticipating the President's own reaction.

TRUMP: A lot of the governors have done a really terrific job. Some I don't think have to be honest.

ZELENY: But he's far from consistent. In Oklahoma, Governor Kevin Stitt also allowing personal care businesses like barbershops to open today. A decision that did not draw the President's ire. One unquestionable dynamic at the center of navigating politics of the pandemic is pleasing the President.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has made clear from day one that he's eager to be in Trump's good graces.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Make America great again.

ZELENY: And that loyalty could now play a role in deciding how fast to start up the Florida economy. With some beaches already partially reopening in his state, the Governor has made clear he's itching to move quickly in the face of some public criticism.

DESANTIS: For those who try to say you're morons, I would take you over the folks who are criticizing you any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

ZELENY: Governors are watching and listening to the president's words very carefully, hoping to avoid a rebuke that Brian Kemp received.

But this is a challenge as well. The president, of course, has been all over the board. No question the road to reopening is a bumpy one and will play out for weeks and months to come -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: The World Health Organization is spearheading an effort to develop and distribute vaccines and treatments for the virus. It announced a global partnership on Friday.



DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The COVID- 19 pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis that has been met with unprecedented global response. We are facing a common threat which we can only defeat with a common approach.


ALLEN: Some world leaders were there but the U.S. was noticeably absent. A week ago President Trump suspended U.S. funding for the organization. He blames the WHO for not doing enough.


TRUMP: Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China's lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at the source with very little death.

Very little death and certainly very little death by comparison. This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided economic damage.


ALLEN: Mr. Trump's moves have drawn widespread criticism but others have also questioned the organization's response to the crisis. Let's talk about this now with Laura Spinney in Paris, a science journalist and author of the book, "Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World."

One would imagine it is being sold quite a lot these days. We hope so. Good morning to you.


ALLEN: You write in your book how the Spanish flu led to greater global cooperation in fighting epidemics and the creation of the World Health Organization. Let's talk about how Spanish flu changed the world.

SPINNEY: The Spanish flu was a pandemic that struck in three waves between 1918 and 1921. It infected one in three people on Earth and killed at least 50 million. And I think the world emerged from it with a realization that the only way to fight a global health crisis like that was with a globally coordinated response.

So you see the birth of international health agencies, from the League of Nations had a health branch dedicated to fighting epidemics. And the WHO came into being in 1947.

ALLEN: Well, you are seeing pictures from way back then. We see people with their faces covered in masks. We know social distancing was encouraged as well. Even though it was so long ago, it is reminiscent of what's happening now.

What was learned as far as encouraging people to do what they can to make sure they don't get this?

SPINNEY: I think you hit on something really important there. Governments play their part but people have to do their individual part as well. And there has to be a bottom up response, too. That means everybody wearing their masks.

The response was that not much different then to now before we have a vaccine. And so it means everybody obeying public health measures, staying at home, avoiding mass gatherings, wearing their masks. If everybody does it, we can control or at least spread the slow of the disease. And if only some people do it, we do a less good job.

ALLEN: All right. As you say, it is a biological issue. This certainly is a social issue as well. You also write, Laura, there was a third wave to the Spanish flu. Talk about that because right now you are seeing states are itching to get on with it, to get people back out there when, really, we are still at the beginning stages of this in some respects.

Someone's seen you on CNN, saying, hey, you're doing a good job.

SPINNEY: Hang on.

ALLEN: All right. We can wait. These things happen.

All right, so talk about the fact that there was a third wave way back in 1918. Here we are, early on and some economies, some leaders are itching to get on with it. We understand the desire for that. But what about it?

SPINNEY: So actually the worst wave in 1918 was the second wave. But yes, it is really impossible to know what's going to come after the first wave, how the pandemic would evolve and to know when you can lift the restrictions. Obviously we are seeing that now.

But the difference today, is we have mathematical modelists who will tell us what will happen next. I think the key point is it really depends on human behavior. We know it mutates less than the flu virus. So if there is a second peak, it will probably be because of us, because of how we behave from now on.


SPINNEY: What is critical is that countries coordinate their response, that they come out of lockdown in a coordinated way. That means they speak to each other, they follow the same playbook. And it will be great if the WHO's playbook is that playbook.

But it means that every country listens to the WHO.

ALLEN: Right. And they have been warning about this for years and years. The president of the United States said, oh, we didn't expect this to happen. But if you were listening to the WHO, you would expect it to happen. Talk about the response or the lack of response by some leaders.

SPINNEY: So I mean, I think we have been -- experts have been predicting another pandemic for a very long time. We thought it would be flu. We didn't expect it to be a coronavirus. But that doesn't mean our pandemic preparedness plans such as they are aren't useful.

They are extremely useful. Again, it is about realizing this is a global problem and we need to act together to solve it. Your previous report was about the response between the U.S. states has been uncoordinated and that's bee unhelpful. The same operates at the global level.

ALLEN: Let's talk quickly about the function of the World Health Organization. It lacks funding today. We know the United States, President Trump pulled funding recently. There's criticism it's become too bureaucratic.

Is it still vital?

Is it needing reform?

SPINNEY: I mean, that's a good question. It is actually going through a reform at the moment. It went into a reform process sort of the year before this started. I think a lot of people would agree it is far from perfect. It is big, bureaucratic, sometimes slow moving.

But I don't think anybody would suggest we didn't need some kind of global health agency to coordinate a response in a crisis like this. So something is needed in its place if we don't have the WHO. I think it has done a pretty good job in this pandemic so far. Given that nobody on Earth today can predict when a pandemic will declare itself or how bad it will, I think it has handled it pretty well.

ALLEN: That's what we've got right now. Last question for you.

When the Spanish flu finally ended, what did it do to people's mental health?

There was depression certainly and today we are all dealing with uncertainty. And that's all we know.

SPINNEY: So the difficulty about seeing what happened after the pandemic in mental health terms is there was also a war at that time. So people were reacting to the war as well, four long years of a terrible war.

But we do know, this is the difference possibly between the flu virus and the coronavirus. The flu virus can affect the brain. It can inflict depression on people. and there was, it looks like, from what we can tell, a wave of depression that passed over the world in the wake of that pandemic.

How much was to do with bereavement, with social upheaval, with the effects of the war, how much of it was down to the pandemic, it's very hard to say. But you're right, the uncertainty, fear, stress over a long period is not good for us, for any of us. And confinement itself is known to have adverse effects on a lot of people.

ALLEN: At least here in 2020, there is a good part of social media and it's connecting us all and encouraging us all to talk to each other and support one another. We really appreciate it, Laura Spinney, she wrote the book, "Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World." Thank you, Laura.

SPINNEY: Thank you.

ALLEN: For weeks, Italy was the deadliest epicenter for the coronavirus but even as its new cases are dropping and hope is increasing, there's a disturbing report on the impact it is having on Italy's health care workers. We'll have a live report coming up here.





ALLEN: Coronavirus is taking a staggering toll on health care workers in Italy. The Italian Association of Doctors says at least 150 doctors there have died from the virus. And it says health care workers constitute 10 percent of all coronavirus infections.

But after weeks of being the deadliest epicenter in Europe, Italy's number of active cases continues to drop. That's the good news, now totaling just over 106,000.

In the midst of the pandemic, Italy on Saturday marks a major national holiday, Liberation Day. But this year the celebrations will be scaled way back. Let's bring in CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau in Rome.

Good morning to you, Barbie. There is nothing really liberating about a pandemic. But today is indeed a holiday.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, which means there are even fewer stores open, reason for people to go outside. But the mood here is very optimistic. It continues to be so as the number of active cases drop.

The death toll is still very high. Authorities say it is a little bit behind the decrease in cases. But we are still expecting May 4th to enter phase two and people will be able to leave their homes. More and more people will be able to go back to work.

I think that is giving people optimism. But on a day like today, normally, April 25th, you would have a celebration in the morning, a flyover by the military and then everyone would go to the beach for a lovely lunch on the seaside. None of that is happening.

ALLEN: One can understand. We are seeing pictures of people in the hospital. When I read that 150 doctors had died from the virus, even though there is some optimism that Italy may be headed in the right direction, that must be putting a terrible pall over the country still.

NADEAU: Oh, yes. The effect on the health care system here, the total number of deaths in this country is something, even when the pandemic is over, even when people go back to some sort of new normal, that will weigh on them.

These people died without funerals, their families can't celebrate their lives, can't gather to mourn them together. The aftereffects will last many, many, many years as people realize how much they have lost in this pandemic, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Barbie Nadeau, out and about in Rome. It looks like a lovely day to social distance. Thank you, Barbie.

Coming up here, a cosmic wonder, it is stellar nursery. We will have more on this remarkable and view and why we are getting to see it.





ALLEN: For more than a year, CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir has been criss-crossing the United States, documenting how the global climate crisis is transforming life as we know it. This weekend, Weir and his team unveiled their journey in a 90-minute special documentary report, "The Road to Change: America's Climate Crisis."

Here's a preview of Bill's visit to the country's northernmost corner where the impacts are simply jaw-dropping.


BRIAN BRETTSCHNEIDER, UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA: The whole lake was -- there was no lake in the early 1950s.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: So the ice went all the way down to the --

BRETTSCHNEIDER: Right, to the end of the lake.

WEIR: -- end of the lake down there.


WEIR (voice-over): This is what is left of Alaska's Spencer Glacier. What took thousands of years of snow to grow has melted away in mere decades.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: The ice that we're standing on is probably about 5,000 years old. Once this water melts off and goes into the ocean, as long as we have all this carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it's not coming back here.


WEIR: And if you count Greenland and the polar caps, since 1961, Earth has lost the equivalent of a block of ice the size of the United States, 16 feet thick.


ALLEN: And that is just a snippet of a revealing report. Be sure to watch it Saturday, "The Road to Change: America's Climate Crisis," 10:00 pm Eastern, 10:00 am Sunday in Hong Kong.

We are celebrating the anniversary of the Heavenly Wonder.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one and liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery with the Hubble Space Telescope, now a window on the universe.

ALLEN (voice-over): It has been 30 years since the Hubble was launched into orbit on the space shuttle Discovery. Hubble has shown us some of the most spectacular sights in the universe since. That's a lot of time to be working up there.

To commemorate, astronomers released the stunning view of the cosmic reef, coral-like structures of dust and gas clouds, in which new stars are born. They are in a galaxy that orbits our Milky Way, a few miles away from us.

The giant stars at their cores have blown away the glowing red hydrogen and blue oxygen gases that once surrounded them again. Picture compliments of the Hubble.


ALLEN: I covered the launch of the Hubble from Kennedy Space Center 30 years ago. Feeling a little old right now. But I'll be back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.