Return to Transcripts main page


Some U.S. States Start to Reopen Despite Warnings; White House Officials Discuss Plans to Replace Health Secretary; Trump Launches Familiar Attacks against Media; Satellite Photos Raise Questions about Kim Jong-un; Boris Johnson to Return to Work Monday; U.S. Government Working with Companies to Get Medical Supplies; Retail Shops Open in Texas for To-Go Orders; Some Businesses Reopen in Oklahoma; Japan's Health Care System Overwhelmed; Everyday Heroes Stepping Up to Fill Equipment Void; Some Beaches Reopen in California; Superhero City Workers Spotted in Lisbon. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 26, 2020 - 00:00   ET



ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

The United States has the most reported coronavirus infections and deaths in the world. Now citizens, health experts and politicians are all watching nervously as some states ease rules designed to keep people safe.

Georgia has the most aggressive approach so far. The governor has allowed businesses like tattoo parlors, salons, gyms and bowling alleys to reopen on Friday. Monday, restaurants will be able to seek customers with restrictions.

Health experts and President Trump warned it is too soon. Savannah's mayor says there is not enough testing in the state to safely reopen. Dr. Anthony Fauci from the White House Coronavirus Task Force says the U.S. needs to double the number of tests it is doing now.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We do not want to get fixated. Right now we are doing about 1.5 million to 2 million per week. We should probably get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks and I think we will. Testing is an important part of what we are doing but it is not the only part.


COREN: The number of virus related deaths in the U.S. is approaching 54,000 according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 938,000 confirmed cases. The Trump administration is considering some major staffing shakeups, namely in the country's top health office. Jeremy Diamond explains.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There are discussions underway at the White House about potentially replacing Alex Azar. He's the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

A senior administration official tells me that at this point nothing is imminent but there are discussions among White House officials about replacing Azar. These discussions are coming following a spate of new stories that are quite critical of Alex Azar's role in managing this coronavirus response of the Trump administration, particularly in the early days of the response.

You will recall that Alex Azar was actually in charge of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in the early days. It was him and his department who really handled the response in January and in February to coronavirus.

Even as the president was publicly downplaying the seriousness of this threat, Alex Azar was working with other officials in the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, to really manage this response.

The White House's deputy White House secretary press secretary has a response.

"The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the president's priorities. Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole of government response to COVID-19."

Again, just to stress, this is not something that is happening imminently. But the fact there are these discussions within the White House certainly is notable, particularly because we know the president has really been trying to blame others for the slow response.

He has looked towards the World Health Organization, he's looked towards China, so it is possible that Alex Azar could become the next scapegoat as the president moves forward -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Washington.


COREN: Ron Brownstein, a senior CNN political analyst and senior editor of "The Atlantic," he joins us from the Los Angeles.

I want to start with your reaction to reports that the White House is looking to replace Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar. What is your take?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: First the amount of turnover in the cabinet and the White House of the Trump presidency is unprecedented. His view is that anyone whose last name is not the same as his is disposable.

What is striking about this is how much of the reporting on the slow response of the Trump administration to the coronavirus outbreak has focused on a few anecdotes in which the secretary of HHS repeatedly tried to reach the president and convince him that this was a big wave that was rolling toward the country and his own political prospects.

The president responded that he was overreacting and that he was being alarmist.


BROWNSTEIN: You do wonder if he pushes him out, how much more reporting like that may follow.

COREN: Absolutely. I mean he's obviously being made a scapegoat if this is true to counter the criticism that the White House is copping (ph) for its handling of the crisis.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. You know there are two strains of public opinion on the way the president has responded to this. In most polls, he's pretty close to 50-50, slightly under, when people are asked how he's handling it now.

Consistently, two-thirds or more of the country, over 70 percent in some polls, say he did not take it seriously enough at the beginning. He did not react quickly enough. He did not prepare the country for what is to come. I think many political strategists are asking the same questions.

Which one of those verdicts will matter most at the end?

It is likely that this week we will pass the number of deaths in the U.S. will exceed the number of deaths in the Vietnam War. There is no's line of this slowing down. We're plateauing at a very high level of 30,000 new cases and 2,000 deaths a day. This is going to continue to get worse.

You do wonder how much that question of whether it needed to be that -- whether it would've been that bad if the administration had reacted more quickly, how much that will overshadow the election in the fall.

COREN: Ron, I'm very interested to get your take on what the president suggested on Thursday, injecting disinfectant could cure the coronavirus.

Is this Donald Trump self-destructing before our very eyes?

BROWNSTEIN: It is interesting. Yes is the short answer. I think it will be a moment that will be very difficult for him to live down. What is interesting about this is right from the beginning of his presidency, even during the campaign in 2016, only about 40 percent of the country say they think he's honest and trustworthy, that he was someone who would kind of tell the truth.

The consequences of that dishonesty until now were not that severe for most Americans. He lied about his crowd size at his inauguration, he lied about what he has done on a variety of policy issues, such as climate change.

But here is a case where the president's willingness to say things that simply are not true, whether it is promoting the malaria drug or this kind of utterly bizarre suggestion, I think what is happening is there has been a long-standing vulnerability that is becoming more concrete and tangible.

In polling in "The Wall Street Journal," only 36 percent of the country said they believe they can trust what the president is saying about this. That may be one reason why he has pulled the plug on some of these briefings at least for the time being.

COREN: This is spreading false and dangerous information so how does the president walk back from this?

BROWNSTEIN: I don't think he can. I think this is an indelible moment. Obviously the president has an incredibly sturdy and reliable political base that has stuck with him through many travails that previously would have sunk a president.

But he does face a broad sense, particularly among a lot of comfortable white-collar people who are doing pretty well and have had doubts about his personal fitness on being president on many fronts, his values, his volatility, his honesty.

I think this is a moment for many of those voters who can now look at this and say, is this more than I bargained for in the beginning?

Can I accept this level of just sheer unpredictability and irrationality from a president?

I do think it crystallizes a lot of the questions that we were talking about before, the idea that the president would not grapple with the magnitude of this for weeks, would not even deal with the evidence of it for most of February.

As a result, the country is facing just enormous, really unimaginable consequences; 26 million people out of work, motoring past the number of deaths in Vietnam and no signs of slowing down after that.

COREN: Obviously he has copped a great deal of criticism because of what he said in that press conference. Then in a press briefing the following day and then obviously overnight he tweeted, what is the purpose of having White House press conferences when the lamestream media asks nothing but hostile questions and then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately?

So is this a president who we may not see now take part in those press briefings or not?

Do you think he will not be able to resist the limelight?


BROWNSTEIN: First of all, Donald Trump is very good and making a retreat sound like an advance.


BROWNSTEIN: There are a number of Republicans and pretty unequivocal evidence in the polling that the level of exposure he was creating every day, putting himself in front of the -- in front of the microphone and under the microscope day after day was hurting him politically.

So he decided to he temporarily needed to back off that and cloak it in an attack on the press, which is one of the ways he talks to his core supporters. I doubt that we are keeping him away from a microphone between now and November.

But for the time being, I think he is reluctantly concluding, along with the Republican Party, he was doing more harm than good. His numbers have been declining steadily on the handling of this. That is in part because of the horrific consequences.

But that is also because of the display of the White House. One big point on that, if you look at polling in the U.S. to the extent that he has support for the way he has dealt with this, it is concentrated in the places that have been least affected, the outer suburbs, rural areas, his political base.

The question, as it spreads more widely in those areas, will that hold up?

That is a critical question for November.

COREN: Very good question. Ron, fascinating discussion. Great to have your insight. Many thanks.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

COREN: As we mentioned, Georgia is one of the first U.S. states to ease stay-at-home restrictions. While some businesses are choosing to wait longer before opening doors, others are cautiously welcoming in customers. CNN's Martin Savidge has more from Atlanta.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The governor of Georgia allowed the businesses to open but he also understood that the final decision rests with the business owners and by the end of the first day, there were mixed results.

For instance, at the shopping center where we are now, there were about four businesses that could have opened but in reality, only one of them did, the hair salon and it was definitely not business as usual. In fact, it was business unusual.

There was a strange vibe today. For instance, many of the hairstylist there were dressed up looking more like people in the medical profession. There are extreme safety and sanitary measures that they have to follow.

Social distancing makes the whole situation feel strange as many of the customers have to wait outside and wait to be called in. And there are a lot of businesses That didn't open because their owner said they were afraid. They didn't think it was the right time, worried for their employees, their customers or just worried for themselves. Then there are the problems of finding the right protection equipment that's still in short supply. And in some cases, the businesses have to reconfigure the entire workspace to make it work with the whole social distancing idea.

It was hard for businesses not to open and it was hard for them to open, because many of them still fear for their safety but they're also worried about their finances. Here's what one salon owner told us about that conundrum.

TIM TIMMONS, SALON OWNER: It's not out of greed, it's, it's out of necessity. We're trying to keep our business alive and keep my staff able to survive. So those were the reasons that we decided to go ahead and implement these changes so that we could get back to work.

It's a bit of a challenge but it's going to be something that we all just have to get used to. This is going to be the new normal for quite some time.

SAVIDGE: The governor has never called it an experiment. But in many ways, that's exactly what it felt like.

And the next phase of that experiment will come on Monday, when restaurants which have been allowed to offer a carry out service will for the first time in weeks be allowed to let customers dine in but it will be a whole different world -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.


COREN: Now to North Korea. New questions surrounding the whereabouts of the dictator Kim Jong-un. He was last seen in public on April 11th and missed an unimportant event on April 15th. Satellite photos are raising suspicions that something serious maybe unfolding. Here's CNN's Will Ripley.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is abundantly clear right now that something major is happening inside of North Korea. Ever since CNN's Jim Sciutto broke a story that the U.S. is monitoring intelligence that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un health may be in great danger after a surgical procedure, state media inside of North Korea has been radio silent, business as usual. They've not confirmed, not denied. They haven't said anything.

So we've had to look at clues, including these new satellite images released by the U.S. think tank 38 North. They show what appears to be Kim Jong-un's train at his compound in the North Korean coastal city of Wonsan.

It is a beachfront, luxurious compound where Kim Jong-un spent his summers as a child. It's a place he loves to be. He has also conducted missile tests from that location. But the significance of the train being there now is that it lends credibility to reports that Kim Jong-un is there. But the presence of the train neither proves or disproves his health condition.


RIPLEY: What I do know from my trips to Wonsan, is when he goes there, he prefers to fly. He often flies his own plane. It's faster and more convenient for him. If he is currently unable to fly because of a surgical procedure or another reason, the train could be a way for him to get back more comfortably to a place like the capital, Pyongyang.

We know he also chooses to travel by train during very formal or serious events, such as his summit in Beijing with the Chinese president or in Hanoi with the U.S. president Donald Trump.

We also know that Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il, reportedly died on his train. He was taken back to the capital in a formal way. We don't know why Kim Jong-un's train is at his compound, where it may be going if it decides to leave the station.

Given that there is so much secrecy right now, so much confusion about the health status of Kim Jong-un, every clue that we see from satellites, intelligence, it is significant -- Will Ripley, CNN, Tokyo.


COREN: Dozens of coronavirus antibody tests are on the U.S. market without FDA approval. Some of them don't even work. A shocking CNN report is next.





COREN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

Boris Johnson is supposed to be back at work in a few days now that he has recovered from COVID-19. His absence has left a hole in the British government's leadership as the country deals with the pandemic. CNN's Bianca Nobilo explains.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: British prime minister Boris Johnson will be returning to work at Downing Street on Monday. This is after an after an almost month-long battle with coronavirus. The prime minister tested positive about a month ago and kept working from Downing Street and was admitted to hospital when his condition worsened and finally into the intensive care unit, where he said it could've gone either way for him.

He has since been convalescing at Chequers but it is highly unlikely that the prime minister will come out of this near death experience unchanged.

There has been a vacuum of leadership at the heart of the British government. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has been the man to step into Boris Johnson's shoes. He said all along he was implementing what the prime minister said he wanted and the cabinet were taking decisions collectively.

Now with Britain reaching a wrenching milestone of 20,000 deaths confirmed in hospital and potentially on track to have one of the highest death tolls in the world, when you take into account deaths in the community and in care homes, the prime minister will have many questions to answer.

A lot of the focus will now shift to how the country is going to be able to come out of this lockdown and when -- Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.


COREN: As frontline medical workers continue to need personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and gowns and the federal stockpile continues to dwindle, the U.S. is forming partnerships with private companies to fill the void. Here's CNN Leyla Santiago with more.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're looking at the federal government's answer to solve part of the national crisis. Inside these boxes, protective medical gear, face masks, millions of them from China. The essential products that state hospitals and businesses are fiercely competing to get their hands on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need tests. We need personal protection equipment. We need resources.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been fighting every day for PPE.

SANTIAGO: With the federal stockpile depleted and demand outstripping supply, Trump administration set up a partnership with private U.S. companies to bring in supplies from the global market.

TRUMP: FEMA is working with these companies to launch Project Airbridge to expedite the movement of critical supplies.

SANTIAGO: According to FEMA, Project Airbridge has brought in millions of masks, gowns and gloves to the U.S. It's coming from countries like China and Honduras. FEMA says it's going to prioritize hot spots. Despite our repeated requests for specifics on the final destination of these overseas supplies, FEMA has not released those details.

FEMA is paying $750,000 on average to charter a flight of the supplies secured by U.S. companies into the U.S. and then -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our agreement with the federal government stipulates that half of the supplies, at least half of supplies that are brought in through Project Airbridge need to go to FEMA designated hot spots.

SANTIAGO: But it's the six companies including Medline working with the government to decide which of their client's health systems get the other half of the desperately needed supplies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever a customer typically orders, they'll get a percentage of that based on the inventory that we have available and so by doing that, it ensures that you know one of our larger customers is able to get product but also some of our smaller customers as well.

SANTIAGO: Medline says that Project Airbridge has accelerated deliveries to areas in Illinois, New York, Michigan, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Florida, all on the list of prioritized hotspots established by FEMA and HHS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the dynamic list, it's growing, it's changing.

SANTIAGO: Senate Democrats are now raising concerns demanding to ensure that the companies are not sending supplies according to the highest bidder instead of greatest need.

Are you profiting because of this partnership?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think one of the misconceptions out there is that a company like ours is somehow going gang busters at the expense of this virus and that couldn't be further from the truth. Prices have gone up. We're not passing any of those costs on to our customers.


SANTIAGO: But states, governors in crisis aren't necessarily applauding the federal government or Project Airbridge across the board.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): So what they are taking credit for, the White House is that the distributors have customers in Illinois, that they're sending goods to because those customers ordered those items of PPE. So that's a far cry from delivering to the state so that we can distribute.

SANTIAGO: We should mention the federal government, Trump and Vice President Pence have now said that they have sent notification to every single state with county by county listing of what project average has delivered. We asked for a copy of that notification and have not received it -- back to you.


COREN: Leyla Santiago reporting there. Going against the doctor's advice, why some in the U.S. are hanging the open signs and some are not.




COREN: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Anna Coren, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Let's check the headlines this hour.



COREN: A Downing Street spokesperson says that Boris Johnson will be back on Monday. He has been recovering from COVID-19 at his countryside retreat. He left the hospital on Easter Sunday.

The state of Texas is joining the risky experiment of reopening its economy. Some shopowners say it is important for them to try and save their businesses, even as they worry about a second wave of infections. Ed Lavandera has this report.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Retail businesses across the state of Texas now open for what is being described as retail to go. Customers can come here curbside and pick up items. This is what the governor has described as a phased approach to reopening the Texas economy.

But businesses around the state are scrambling in trying to figure out how to make this work in a safe way. Here at Good Records vinyl records store, we met Chris Penn (ph), who has owned this store for about 20 years. He is apprehensive about opening up.

He has two other employees besides himself. He's not letting them work. He's doing it all because he's worried about the employees getting infected with coronavirus. He is worried about bringing the infection home.

He is wearing a mask, a hat, a bodysuit and gloves as he brings out items to his customers. But he says that he needed to open. He says the opening a vinyl store is not the highway to becoming rich and every day that he can be open is vital to him. But he hopes he is open doing it in a safe way.

CHRIS PENN, VINYL STORE OWNER: I want to take care of the citizens first and foremost. The economy, we can figure it out later. I just don't want to reopen everything back up fully and then we are shut down in a month or two and we have lost more lives.

But if they are smart, if they listen to science and roll things out slowly, then it can work. But we may remain closed until I feel good about it.

LAVANDERA: He also told us that he has applied for the small business stimulus money and so far none of that has come through for him. His application has not been approved. Governor Greg Abbott in Texas is saying that on Monday he will

announce more openings for different types of businesses on Monday. Very similar to what we have seen from the governor of Oklahoma. He has opened up hair salons, barber shops, that sort of thing.

By early May, these governors are talking about movie theaters, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors. Those types of businesses also being opened in the next week or so. A dramatic change is unfolding in Texas, in Oklahoma where many people are concerned that opening up the economy is still too quick.

They are worried that this could cause a resurgence of the coronavirus in states like Texas and Oklahoma -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.


COREN: The U.S. state of Oklahoma is now in a phased reopening. Some businesses were allowed to reopen Friday, including hair and nail salons and pet grooming services. On May 1st, churches, gyms, theaters and restaurants can open.

Clay Clark is cofounder and CEO of the Elephant in the Room Salon in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He joins us now.

Clay, great to have you with us. You are a supporter of your state reopening. Is that right?


COREN: Tell me, why?

What is the urgency?

CLARK: Well, initially when Neil Ferguson predicted that 2.2 American deaths was coming, it was a scary number. Then Deborah Birx that reported that 88,000 predicted deaths were to occur. That is still not good. But less or the same from the flu in 2017, 2018.

Although every life matters, I don't believe in hiding from the virus until every American business is killed from the coronavirus.

COREN: Clay, you are a business owner. Is that correct?

CLARK: Yes. Since the age of 16, my 23rd year.

CLARK: You have employees.

How do they feel about going back to work?

CLARK: I would say about 85 percent of them walk with full faith and excitement about serving customers. I would say that about 15 percent of them are very afraid of the coronavirus. They do not want to return to work.

COREN: It is obviously not out of greed that people want to go back to work, out of necessity. People need a paycheck, people need to pay rent, they need to pay mortgages, for food bills.

What happens if small business owners like yourself what -- happens if your employees get sick?


CLARK: Right now, looking at the data coming out of the CDC as it relates to Italy and New York, somewhere between 94 percent and 99.2 percent of all the deaths related to the coronavirus involve elderly people with an already compromised immune system.

We have a younger employee base, people in their twenties, thirties, forties. Our customers fit that same demographic. If we have elderly people, I would encourage them not to come in. I would encourage employees, customers, not to go to the nursing home after getting a haircut to fellowship with people who have compromised immune systems to our elderly population.

But I don't think that is -- people getting haircuts are going to affect people being most at risk with the pandemic.

COREN: Clay, it is not just the elderly with pre-existing conditions who are getting sick. It is younger people as well. We hope that your employees --


CLARK: I believe that statistically.

COREN: -- can do this safely.

CLARK: I believe statistically --

COREN: -- health professionals like Anthony Fauci. Clay Clark, we appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us.



Japan potentially has a health care crisis on its hands. Hospitals are rejecting the sick, frontline workers say they don't have enough equipment. There is more. The full story is next.




COREN: Japan's health care system is overwhelmed. There is concern over a lack of protective equipment for frontline workers. Hospitals are rejecting patients in record numbers. Many Japanese are ignoring social distancing guidelines.

CNN spoke with a doctor who says that 90 percent of these requests for COVID-19 tests have been declined. Will Ripley has more.



RIPLEY (voice-over): Loudspeakers are blaring amongst Tokyo warning people to stay home. Some are listening. Many are not, packing supermarkets, parks, playgrounds, even a gambling park.

Japanese health experts warn that without social distancing, hundreds of thousands could die of coronavirus. Getting tested remains incredibly difficult. This man's daughter had a 104-degree fever, 40 degrees Celsius for 4 days.

"My wife and I were very nervous. Desperately asking for a test but they kept saying no. They even hung up on me."

Within days, his entire family was sick. They tried to get tested for two agonizing weeks.

"It was scary. Our first daughter also had a fever, then a seizure. We took her to the hospital but it was too late."

She was just 16 months old when she died of flu-related meningitis five years ago. His wife and children were never tested for the coronavirus. A doctor says the same thing is happening to a lot of his patients.

"Only 10 percent of my requests are accepted."

RIPLEY: 90 percent denied?

RIPLEY (voice-over): On average this month, Tokyo is testing less than 300 people a day. Japan's health ministry has repeatedly told CNN widespread testing would be a waste of resources.

Just this week, some areas did begin offering drive-through and walk- through testing. But it is not widely available. Undertesting is not the only problem. Hospitals are turning away ambulances at a rate four times higher than last April.

RIPLEY: Your patient is laying there for up to nine hours, getting no treatment whatsoever and hospitals kept turning him away?

"I have never experienced being turned away by so many hospitals before the coronavirus outbreak."

Japan's medical association warns the public health system is on the brink of collapsing. Running low on ICU beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment.

"We only get one mask per week."

CNN agreed not to use her full name, identify her hospital.

RIPLEY: How is one mask a week possible to keep you safe from the virus?

"It is scary," she says, showing me the cloth mask that she uses.

Experts warn that cloth masks don't protect nurses from coronavirus. Several Japanese hospitals have already become clusters of an infection.

"I am worried about how long this will continue. I am afraid that there is no end in sight."

With case numbers skyrocketing in Japan, this may be just the beginning -- Will Ripley, CNN, Tokyo.


COREN: The U.S. is facing a dire shortage of PPE, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow. In this new shelter in place reality, everyday heroes are making the best of their situation by lending a helping hand. CNN's Fredricka Whitfield explains.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Normally on a Tuesday, 12 year old Vince would be in gym class. Now these are far from normal Tuesdays.

Vince is working his makeshift assembly line in the family kitchen, using a 3D printer that he got when he was 9 and another one donated by the library where his mom works. Vince is making PPE face masks for those fighting the pandemic.

VINCE, 6TH GRADER: So this is the thing that you take off the 3D printer.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): The 6th grader got motivated after a neighbor, who is a nurse, put out a plea for PPE.

KATIE MARR, MT. SINAI HOSPITAL CHICAGO: I put a post on Facebook saying that if you have a 3D printer, if you can sew, we could use masks and eye shields.

VINCE: I watch her dog when she goes on vacations. I thought that it would be another way to help, the least I could do during the pandemic.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): For nearly three weeks now, the printers have buzzed along. At first, it was taking nearly three hours to print each frame.

VINCE: Me and my dad were like, no, that takes way too long.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): A few tweaks to the program and production time was cut to about an hour apiece.


WHITFIELD (voice-over): All over the country, people are stepping up to help fill the critical need for PPE. Philip Schammer (ph) and Eric Race (ph) are high school engineering teachers in Illinois District 214. Along with several colleagues, they took home the school's 3D printers and got to work making headbands for face masks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have four printers. They are running constantly, 24-7.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an opportunity and a moral imperative to help save lives in the community.


WHITFIELD (voice-over): The district partnered with the local community college that has idle laser cutters, good for making masks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact that we have these tools here available to support producing 5,000 PPEs and beyond is a calling that we must answer.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): John Kermen (ph) would normally be teaching welding class but now he is manning the face mask cutting assembly line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's getting to the point where we're just trying to produce as many as we can as quickly as we can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Jeff, how are you?

WHITFIELD (voice-over): Last week they delivered their first shipment to the Buffalo Grove, Illinois, Fire Department.

Some have gone to the ICU unit at Elk Grove Hospital. Some have gone as far as Nashville, Tennessee; Dearborn, Michigan and San Marcos, California.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): And one place very close to home?

VINCE: My grandma's nursing home. They recently had their first COVID-19 case.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): And let's not forget those first ones Vince sent to his neighbor's hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never know who has your back. This little 11 year old neighbor has got my back.


COREN: Such essential amazing work. That was CNN's Fredricka Whitfield.

A trip to the beach looks very different in the new coronavirus reality. When we return, we will find out how they are faring in California.




COREN: Welcome back.

The tourists may be gone in Venice but gondolas are still navigating up and down the city's famed canals. They're just carrying a different type of cargo. The group which normally teaches rowing lessons to visitors is now using their boats to deliver food to the elderly.

The groceries are free of charge and the team wear gloves and masks, as you can see here on their Instagram account but to keep everyone safe on and off the water. Well done.

Some beaches in California were open on Saturday. Now usually with nice weather and soaring temperatures it would be crowded day. Throw in a pandemic and it's a bit of a different story. CNN's Paul Vercammen has more.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With this first case of extreme weather since the COVID-19 outbreak, it was a testing of the waters of sorts. Up and down the Southern California coast, there were beaches that were open such as this one in Newport Beach and then we had closures, all of L.A. County.

That put pressures on the beaches in counties such as Ventura and Orange County where they were open. People came in from out of town. We did observe people were maintaining the rules of social distancing. Nonetheless, surfers can be territorial and they seemed a bit stressed out about these out of county people coming to their beach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like how people are coming out of the county. Stay in your own county, stay home, stay safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do your best to stay away from people but you'll always be too close, I guess. They say 6 feet, maybe people are 6 feet, it's here and there. It's probably better than being at a grocery store.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm upset about the beaches being open in Florida and then I came down here and I saw they were kind of separated from each other. So I think it's pretty safe.

VERCAMMEN: We did observe people were staying away from each other. We did not see the big crowds, organized sports such as volleyball with 10 or more people playing, that type of thing. The lifeguards and the police said they were remarkably impressed with how well people behaved during this experiment.

They said they were under threat, though. They said they'd often walk up to people who seemed too close and ask them, you want to keep the beach open?

The answer seemed to be a resounding yes. San Diego County will open its beaches on Monday. So this is just one step in California where they are easing the social distancing restrictions -- reporting from Newport Beach, California, I'm Paul Vercammen, now back to you.


COREN: One of the things driving people to the beach this weekend is the summer-like weather as we just saw. Temperatures reached into the eighties and nineties in Southern California on Saturday.



COREN: Lisbon is recognizing the heroic efforts of city workers by encouraging them to work as superheroes. We saw Batman picking up the trash and other famous faces like the Flash, Thor and Spider-Man. The city council wanted to show its appreciation for the jobs often overlooked but that keep the city going. And the workers say it's a bit of fun.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is another motivation for us to come to work. And I think the president had a great initiative. We all accepted it with great pleasure.


COREN: Darth Vader was even on hand to deliver groceries as only he can with Princess Leia helping out with the bagging. Making sure the force is with us all in the fight against the coronavirus.

Thank you so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren here in Hong Kong. Michael Holmes will be up next for another hour of CNN NEWSROOM.