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Health Experts Emphasize Need For Antibody Testing; White House Officials Discuss Plans To Replace Health Secretary; Boris Johnson To Return To Work Monday; Spain Allowing Children Under 14 To Exercise Outside; Discontent Grows Over Restrictions In Russia; Some U.S. States Start To Reopen Despite Warnings; Everyday Heroes Stepping Up To Fill Equipment Void; Satellite Photos Raise Questions About Kim Jong-un; Some Beaches Reopen In California; Second Locust Swarm Threatens East Africa. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired April 26, 2020 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. Here's the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic.
In the midst of the crisis, the Trump White House is bracing for a possible shakeup. There's growing speculation that the top U.S. health official could be on the way out. A senior administration official confirms that discussions are underway to find a replacement for U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar. We'll explain what's behind it in just a moment.
Right now, with deaths and infection rising daily, the White House wants Americans to stay home through the end of this month. But a handful of states are already relaxing rules and allowing some businesses to reopen.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a prominent member of the Coronavirus Task Force, warns the U.S. needs to double its testing capacity for everyone to be safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: The coronavirus in the U.S. has now spread to about 940,000 people. Nearly 54,000 of them have died. Those figures from Johns Hopkins University. And there's no clear sign the pandemic is on the decline. Yet the
state of Georgia will allow restaurants to resume dine-in service beginning Monday. CNN's Natasha Chen visited some of the newly reopened businesses in suburban Atlanta.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Businesses like Jenkins Barber Shop opened on Friday for the first time in almost a month.
ERIC GREESON, BARBER: Sterilize your chairs between customers, as you can see we have the benches marked.
These are disposable here.
CHEN (voice-over): Georgia's governor says the state is ready.
KEMP: We will allow gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers--
CHEN (voice-over): Barbers like Eric Greeson, who happens to be diabetic.
GREESON: As was a barber, what we have to do and I definitely would not have opened anything against the health officials' recommendation or the President.
CHEN (voice-over): The president who initially supported states to quote "liberate," pulled a 180, issuing a public rebuke of the Republicans he once endorsed.
TRUMP: I didn't like to see a lot of things happening and I wasn't happy with it and I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp.
CHEN (voice-over): The state won't see a peak in daily COVID-19 deaths until next week according to widely accepted data.
GREESON: Everybody's scared of this basically. But we're also afraid that if we don't open, then the person down the street will. And then we won't have business.
CHEN (voice-over): This barbershop was one of two that were open out of the 10 Donna Whitfield visited on Friday morning.
DONNA WHITFIELD, BARBER AND BEAUTY SUPPLIER: These are our gloves. We'll probably run out by the end of next week.
CHEN (voice-over): She's a barber and beauty supplier in Georgia and Alabama. It was her first day back in the truck in a month. She'd rather not risk bringing the virus home to her husband who has cancer, but she also can't afford not to work.
WHITFIELD: I'm just kind of on the fence. You know, I don't know - I hope we're doing the right thing.
RANDY HICKS, OWNER, SOUTHERN LANES: They paid or not what they have done--
CHEN (voice-over): The right thing for Randy Hicks is making sure his 25 employees at Southern Lanes Bowling Alley could still support their families and he knows people may criticize his decision.
HICKS: I'm sorry for that. I hope they don't hold it against us for no reason. We're not trying to hurt anybody. If you look we just want to get the business go.
CHEN (voice-over): Fellow owner Debra Holland is a cancer survivor.
DEBRA HOLLAND, OWNER, SOUTHERN LANES: I'm conscientious about what we have. The cleanliness that we have, the exposure we have. As I don't want to have to go to the hospital with this virus or anything. I'm missing a half a lung.
CHEN (voice-over): The phone kept ringing with eager customers who all had to do temperature checks before coming in could only use half of the 32 lanes and were limited on the number of bowlers per lane. Even with restrictions there was a strong sense of relief.
HOLLAND: I literally felt the burden being lifted off my shoulders.
CHEN (voice-over): And many of their regulars felt the same like Leon Perpignan who came before doors even opened.
LEON PERPIGNAN, BOWLER: I just wanted to do something I enjoy doing. That I haven't done allow. Besides all the honey to-do lists are all done.
CHEN (voice-over): Natasha Chen, CNN, Douglasville, Georgia.
ALLEN: All the honey to-do lists are all done. That was pretty funny.
The Trump administration is considering some major staffing shakeups namely in the country's top health office. Jeremy Diamond has that for us.
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.
DIAMOND: 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.
ALLEN: We want to update you on a story we told you about yesterday. Researchers who studied coronavirus patients in the New York City area who were put on ventilators say they're updating their figures and it's a major difference.
The report earlier this month in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" indicated that 88 percent of those patients died. The largest health care network in New York has now lowered that figure, saying about 25 percent died. They say the revised number is based on more complete data from more patients.
Let's talk about the latest pandemic news with my guest now, Dr. Nisreen Alwan. She's an associate professor in public health at the University of Southampton in England.
Thank you for being with us.
DR. NISREEN ALWAN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON: Thank you, Natalie.
ALLEN: Good morning to you. I want to first start with the World Health Organization now saying that there's currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies and are protected from a second infection.
How does that complicate trying to move forward from this, from where we are right now?
ALWAN: I think they're right to call this out because we still don't know how much immunity this virus will induce in people. We know it's likely. We don't know how long it is, how much it is.
So I think it's right because the idea of having immunity certificates, for example, is potentially dangerous. And that may mean exposing people to high doses of the virus if they're front line health care workers without adequate protection.
So it has implications. I think it's right that the WHO to announce that. It does complicate matters. But we don't know and time will tell.
ALLEN: Countries in Europe are starting to ease lockdowns. In the U.S., the White House wants people to stay home through the end of April. But some states, as we just reported, are already opening businesses at a time when infections are still rising daily.
Do you have concerns it's too risky to do that right now?
ALWAN: The concerns are really that any easedown of the lockdown should be accompanied by a detailed plan of how you find cases and isolate them. If this is accompanied by such plans, then the lockdown has so many adverse consequences that you would like to ease as much as possible.
If there's no plan, then we are facing second waves. So there needs to be a detailed plan of how you find cases, how you isolate them, how you screen them, particularly to find the asymptomatic and presymptomatic cases.
ALLEN: As far as screening goes. Dr. Fauci is saying that the U.S. should double testing in the next two weeks. Of course the U.K. has lagged in testing as well.
Should it be feasible, doable, to do at this point and how important would it be to reach that goal?
ALWAN: I believe it is feasible because if you really weigh the -- it's complex, a lot of logistics and resources involved in ramping up testing. If you weigh this against all the economic consequences of lockdowns, you know, extensive testing, screening will win in that equation. I'm not an economist but people have done calculations to suggest that it would make it that.
ALWAN: You know, the savings would be huge. So I think it is feasible. And, you know, that's what we should do. There's new modeling showing that if you screen all health care workers, even if they're asymptomatic, you can reduce transmission by about a third.
ALLEN: I want to speak with you -- to another area regarding your expertise. This pandemic also brings up the issue of public health and adverse consequences of the lockdown when it comes to poverty, domestic abuse, mental health. It's not a simple public health versus pick up the economy equation.
Can you explain that? ALWAN: Yes, of course. The dichotomy between public health and economy is not helpful. Public health has been always a consequence of the economy and we got the socioeconomic determining it and now it's similar. The disadvantaged groups of society are massively impacted by COVID and what's happening more than others.
And also the economy now, really, at the mercy of public health, I hope this would make us realize that the economy can only be as healthy as the most vulnerable member of society. So any exit strategy needs to be equitable in terms of who can access the benefits of it.
ALLEN: Very well said. That's an important part of this whole story. We really appreciate your expertise, your insights, Doctor, thank you so much for joining us.
ALWAN: Thank you so much.
ALLEN: Nearly one month after the U.K.'s prime minister announced he had COVID-19, Boris Johnson is finally headed back to work. We'll have a live report about that coming up here.
Also fresh air for the first time in six weeks as Spain's children are now allowed to venture outside. We'll go live to Madrid as some lockdown restrictions begin to ease.
ALLEN: Downing Street says British prime minister Boris Johnson will return to work on Monday. He's been recovering from COVID-19 at his country retreat after leaving the hospital on Easter. Meantime, U.K. health authorities are expanding testing options across the country. Let's go now live to London where we find Isa Soares.
What are we hearing from the prime minister?
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you Natalie. Two weeks after he was released from St. Thomas's Hospital with COVID-19 the prime minister is set to go to work on Monday and we're told that he is raring to go.
He'll be facing pressure from pretty much all sides. First of all, from within his own party, some Conservative donors want to see some of the lockdown measures released, eased or completely -- eased somewhat because of the impact that may have on the U.K. economy.
Others within the opposition party want a clearer strategy from the government. The leader of the opposition, not calling for the lockdown to be lifted but calling for a lockdown exit plan.
And of course, civilians are five weeks or so after being locked down at home, some people feeling restless, of course. But what we have heard from the government in the last 24 to 48 hours is that the lockdown may not happen anytime soon at least, according to what we heard from the home secretary.
She has we have to stay the course and she said it is imperative that we stay at home. The U.K. is not out of the woods. So the prime minister will be looking at this and looking at the numbers as well, Natalie, worth bearing in mind that more than 20,000 people in the U.K. have died.
And worth bearing in mind that behind every single number, it is a name, a family, a loss, a family won't be the same. So no doubt the prime minister having gone through it himself will be weighing out these options.
And it will be a huge decision for the prime minister as he looks at more than 20,000 people whose lives have been lost and whether to ease the restrictions.
ALLEN: And we also mentioned that authorities are expanding testing options across the country.
What can you tell us about that?
SOARES: They are, indeed. What we have heard in the last 24 hours is that mobile testing units for essential workers and for those most vulnerable will be available up and down the country now. This will be operated by the armed forces that will travel up and down the country to police stations, care homes, hospitals, prisons, to really try and test as many people as possible.
These mobile units can be set up in some 20 minutes or so and you can get results in 48 hours. It's fantastic news.
Now alongside these testing units, the governments launched on Friday a website where key workers can go onsite and book a slot for testing. Unfortunately, that website has been completely overwhelmed for the last two days running.
By 10 o'clock, the slots are completely booked. All this is happening as the government is facing mounting pressure to stick, to really try and achieve their target. At the beginning of the month, the health secretary promised there will be 100,000 tests or so per day. So far, despite all the promises, Natalie, that hasn't been met.
SOARES: I can tell you in the last 48 hours, only 28,000 people were tested. We have, what, five days to go until the end of the month. Very far away from that promise that was met at the beginning of the month, Natalie.
ALLEN: Right. The U.S. has fallen short on promises as well. We appreciate it, Isa Soares. See you soon, thanks.
Many of Spain's children are getting some lockdown relief. Starting today, children under the age of 14 are allowed to go outside. This is for the first time in over six weeks. Spain's prime minister is also preparing to present a wider plan for easing restrictions across the country but he warns that it will be a gradual, cautious process.
Let's go to Al Goodman, he joins me now live from Madrid.
I'm sure the children are thrilled and I would imagine the parents are even more thrilled to give their kids a break.
AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: That's right, Natalie. They've been allowed out for just a little more than an hour. We've been following a father and his 6-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son up and down here, just next to the park which is closed. All the parks and the playgrounds are closed.
The 9-year-old boy says he's been very bored for six weeks. And I've seen other kids and parents going out as well. The kids can go out once a day for one hour within half a kilometer with a parent who lives with them.
The prime minister has been under such pressure to do this measure. But he and the health officials didn't want to take this measure until the numbers from the coronavirus case were starting to even out. And that is what's happened here in recent weeks where the death toll has been going down now in the 300s, a tragedy for those families.
But it is down from 500, where it had been before. And the number of people recovered is also going up. Here comes another set of parents who have just come out with their little kids. You can see that people are venturing out here on this Sunday morning.
The prime minister said that if this works and the people can maintain the social distancing that, next Saturday, the adults may be able to go out for an hour at a time. Here's what he told the nation on Saturday night about where the nation is right now of Spain. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEDRO SANCHEZ, SPANISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This first victory against the virus is a partial, modest victory but it is the victory of the whole of Spanish society and teaches us, above all, the path that we have to travel in the coming weeks. It is a victory of all of us and, for that, on behalf of the government, I thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOODMAN: And he is really hitting hard that the parents here need to social distance with their families, not be with other families. Just the family unit is out. And basically if the kids get it right with their parents this time, some workers who were allowed back to try to social distance, more people may get out.
He'll see which regions might be able to get out where the virus has hit less hard. Back to you, Natalie.
ALLEN: Thanks so much, Al Goodman in Madrid. Children certainly enjoying a little bit of freedom right now.
Russia saw a spike of almost 6,000 new cases reported Saturday and the country's restrictions are fueling a growing discontent. CNN's Matthew Chance explains.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the kind of chaotic scene the Kremlin has been desperate to avoid. Hundreds of protesters angered by the coronavirus lockdown, demanding more financial support.
These demonstrations in a southern city were quickly brought under control by riot police. But across the world's biggest country, amid tight COVID-19 restrictions and a growing death toll, patience is wearing thin.
That's a potential threat to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president depends on order and prosperity for his support. This pandemic may be undermining both. Although you won't see him admit it.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): The situation is under total control. Our society as a whole becomes united when confronted with a common threat.
CHANCE (voice-over): And that threat is becoming even more common. Russia's confirmed cases are still well below numbers recorded in the worst affected states but the virus appears to be spreading fast, recently identified in every one of the vast country's regions.
Making the situation harder is the strict lockdown imposed by the authorities; with shops and businesses closed to stem infections, digital passes are needed in Moscow for any trips by road or public transport.
CHANCE (voice-over): It all fuels public resentment, essentially amid job losses and economic hardship.
It's a mood Russia's main opposition movement is trying to tap into, with an online campaign demanding more financial compensation for unemployed workers. The Kremlin says it hasn't even seen this but millions of Russians have already clicked.
ALEXEI NAVALNY, OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): In addition to financial aid, we demand you stop deceiving us with the strange term self-isolation and non-working months. And clearly, call it as it is, quarantine.
CHANCE (voice-over): Russia is, of course, not the only country facing a backlash against measures intended to save lives. But it points to how in this pandemic governments as well as people may be vulnerable -- Matthew Chance, CNN.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: When we come back, back to the United States, the White House touting its plan to get much needed medical supplies to the states. We'll tell you why some lawmakers and governors are raising concerns about that.
Also students and teachers may be out of the classroom and stuck at home but some are finding ways to help out. We'll have that story.
ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Johns Hopkins University reports the United States is rapidly approaching 1 million cases of coronavirus and 54,000 deaths have occurred.
ALLEN: But it's not stopping a handful of states from defying stay-at- home recommendations to get people working again.
After allowing a variety of small businesses to take in customers on Friday, restaurants in Georgia, right here in our state, can offer dine-in service beginning Monday.
And we're now hearing the top U.S. health official could lose his job because of the Trump administration's slow response to the pandemic. A senior U.S. official confirms the White House is discussing whether to replace U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar, although, a decision is not imminent.
As front line medical workers continue to need personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and gowns and the federal stockpile in the U.S. continues to dwindle, the government is forming partnerships with private companies to fill the void. For that story, here's CNN's Leyla Santiago.
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.
ALLEN: With many schools in the U.S. closed because of the pandemic, students and teachers stuck at home are trying to make the best of the situation. And as Fredricka Whitfield reports, they're coming up with ways to fight the virus.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Normally on a Tuesday, 12-year-old Vince would be in gym class. Now these are far from normal Tuesdays.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
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.
ALLEN: OK. How much do you love Vince?
What a remarkable young man. One of the heroes in all of this.
Next here, new satellite images are providing clues about the possible whereabouts of North Korea's Kim Jong-un. Why has he been missing now for more than two weeks? We'll have a report.
ALLEN: The mystery is deepening about North Korea's leader. Kim Jong- un has not been seen in public in more than two weeks, leading to speculation about his health and whereabouts.
This image that you're seeing here emerged Saturday showing what is likely Mr. Kim's personal train parked near his compound but it's not clear he is there. State media also was reporting that Kim sent thanks to a group of workers. CNN, though, cannot confirm that.
CNN's Will Ripley has covered North Korea from the inside on 19 separate trips. He joins us now from Tokyo.
Will, 19 trips inside in North Korea but I'm sure it's difficult to figure out what's going on here.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just as clueless today as I was 19 trips ago, when it comes to the exact details with regard to Kim Jong- un. Nothing is a more closely guarded secret than the health of Kim Jong-un. Even his movements are kept secret.
I will say a couple of things; one, I wouldn't read too much into the fact that there are, you know, announcements in state media that Kim Jong-un is sending a greeting here or there. These are encrypted messages that other people sign off on.
What we need from the North Koreans is either a confirmation or a denial or laying out the facts of what is going on with Kim Jong-un's health. It's been radio silent since Jim Sciutto broke that the U.S. intelligence is monitoring reports that the North Korean leader is in grave condition.
It's unusual that it's gone on this long with no comment whatsoever. So there are all of these conflicting reports, from one end of the spectrum that he's doing well to the other end of the spectrum.
And I think a lot of it is based on secondhand information because I have a number of sources who are very highly placed and even they don't know. And it's very unusual to have something that doesn't leak through over this many days.
And the reason for that is the high level of secrecy. What do we have to look at?
We're reading the tea leaves and looking at the clues, including these new satellite images, showing what appears to be Kim Jong-un's train near his home. He likes to fly there, he flies his own plane there sometimes. It's much more convenient for him to take the train or drive. If he did just have surgery, maybe he can't fly.
The train is used for very serious events such as the summits with President Xi in Beijing and with President Trump in Hanoi. His father reportedly died on his train and was taken back to Pyongyang by train. Protocol would dictate a train for such a procession.
But the presence of the train doesn't prove or disprove anything. We won't know until North Korea decides they want us to know, if they ever decide they want us to know what's going on.
ALLEN: They're very good at hiding. That's for sure. Will Ripley, it's fascinating. Thank you so much for helping enlighten us on this mystery. Take care.
Eastern Africa has already been hit by a massive locust swarm which we have shown you over the past several weeks. The next one could be worse due to the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic. We'll have a report for you after this break.
ALLEN: This is California; social distancing remains a challenge for some. Crowds hit the beaches Saturday, seeking relief from a heat wave, while some folks appear close in these scenes. Police and lifeguards say most people were actually keeping well enough apart. That's good news.
ALLEN: We're going to take you now to Eastern Africa. A massive new swarm of locusts is threatening that region and U.N. officials warn that coronavirus restrictions are making the situation more difficult. CNN's David McKenzie joins me now from Johannesburg to talk with us about why that is.
Hello to you, David.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie. The U.N. has warned that at least 10 countries could face famine in the coming months because of the coronavirus, lack of food supply, lack of funding for relief efforts. One of the issues that this continent is dealing with in the eastern part of -- the northeast and in the Horn of Africa are these massive locust swarms.
Locusts may be this size but imagine if 10 million arrive in your area?
Well, you don't have to imagine. Watch this.
ALBERT LEMASULI, HERDER: Ahh, this is bad.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): This is what it feels like to stand in the middle of millions of desert locusts.
LEMASULI: These swarms are terrifying.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): Terrifying because they can travel up to 80 miles a day, destroying absolutely everything in their path.
LEMASULI: They're eating pasture, they're eating leaf, anything green.
MCKENZIE: What impact does that have on people like yourself?
LEMASULI: We fear for the future.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): Herder Albert Lemasuli knows his very survival is at stake all because this tiny insect can consume its own weight in food every day. Multiply that by millions and millions of desert locusts in one swarm. And across the region, 20 million people in East Africa now face food insecurity.
KEITH CRESSMAN, U.N. FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATION: The potential there to disrupt food security is tremendous. And this year, in particular, in the Horn of Africa, in Eastern Africa, it's an unprecedented threat.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): Forged by climate change affected cyclone seasons, what should be a once in a generation event is repeatedly playing out in horrifying waves that are getting larger and larger.
Wheat farmers in Kenya shared this video of their often futile fight. This generation of insects is hitting them during the planting season. The second major arrival from the north is predicted for the harvest in July, if anything is left.
Still, volunteers like Lemasuli are determined to fight. He tracks the swarms, using community leads and sends in GPS coordinates for targeted aerial spraying, the most effective weapon that they have. And that is at risk from COVID-19.
The U.N. says global shutdowns are delaying critical pesticide shipments and many of their field experts are under lockdown. They warn that the next wave could be catastrophic.
MCKENZIE: Do you fear the second wave coming in?
LEMASULI: We really fear because we also heard there's more, more, more of the waves of locusts coming from Somalia and Ethiopia and they are really, really terrifying because we've been having locusts for the past three months, (INAUDIBLE) so the new phase coming is (INAUDIBLE).
MCKENZIE (voice-over): While much of the world is focused on fighting a pandemic, without many (ph) supplies and attention, this invasion for millions could be far, far worse.
LEMASULI: A really, really terrifying moment.
MCKENZIE: It is quite extraordinary dealing with this pandemic of the virus and that same region dealing with these locusts. That second wave could be far worse coming in, in the next few weeks, and could hit them as they're supposed to be harvesting their crops. I think it's important that the world pays attention to this and the
experts, many of them who did get in there before the lockdowns, are able to do their work and fund it to do their work.
ALLEN: Absolutely. What an incredible story. Really feel for those farmers there who are hurting from all of this. David, thank you so much. David McKenzie for us.
All right. This next story proves some people will go to any length to stretch the rules of lockdown. You see during the lockdown in Spain, people are allowed to walk their pets but you got to wonder, what is a pet really?
Well, let's take a look.
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ALLEN: For this man, it's a chicken. Authorities disagreed and accused the man of violating the restrictions.
Hey, I had chickens. They're pets.
Here's another one, police tweeted this image of a man walking a toy dog. It doesn't even bark. Cops didn't buy it.
And about how about this?
This man's pet: that's it on the bench, a fish in a bowl. I'm not sure how he actually walked it. Police didn't take the bait.
And this T. rex went for a walk all on his own. Police tweeted this image of a person walking the streets, dressed as a dinosaur.
They get marks for trying. Hey, whatever it takes to keep your sense of humor up and have some fun during this time.
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ALLEN: I'll be back for another hour of news right after this. Thanks for watching CNN.