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White House Unveils Blueprint for Increased Testing; Some U.S. States Open, Others Wait; British Prime Minister: Too Soon to Ease Restrictions; New Zealand Claims It Has "Eliminated" Virus; Former Students Making Protective Gear at Closed School. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired April 28, 2020 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.
Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, he's back: after initially canceling his appearance at the regular coronavirus briefing, the U.S. president could not resist the lure of the cameras, announcing plans for nationwide testing, which he says is not a problem.
But it is a problem, at least according to state governors.
Just two weeks after being released from intensive care, a thinner U.K. prime minister returns to work without his usually upbeat enthusiasm. Boris Johnson warning against relaxing a national lockdown too soon.
And in New Zealand, a declaration that the coronavirus is eliminated.
VAUSE: In the United States, now about one in three of all confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, despite that staggering number, some governors are pretty pushing ahead to restart economies, lifting stay-at-home orders.
This is a 2 speed process, some states rushing in, while others fear to tread. But there is a widespread agreement, that there needs to be widespread testing. The White House unveils the blueprint for increased testing with the lion's share falling on the state and local governments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have enough testing to begin reopening and the reopening process, we want to get our country open and the testing is not going to be a problem at all in, fact it's going to be one of the great assets.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Donald Trump's appearance on Monday came something of a surprise, the White House said he would not be part of the regular briefing, presumably because of the blowback, after last Thursday's briefing, when the president mused about injecting disinfectant as a way to kill the virus.
Now reporting from "The Washington Post," says the intelligence community, issued dozens of warnings about the virus, all were included in the presidential daily briefs in January and February, the president is known for not reading the PDB.
So current and former U.S. officials, "The Washington Post" reports there were conversations in the White House with the president, who continually downplayed the threat and the severity of the virus.
As lockdowns are eased nationwide, California's governor, is not pleased so many went to the beach over the weekend and ignored social distancing guidelines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The reality is we are just a few weeks away, not months away, from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order, that is a very optimistic point to emphasize.
However, that is driven by data, it is driven by behavior. And as we change our behavior, we can impact the science, the health and the data. This virus doesn't take the weekends off, this virus doesn't go home because it is a beautiful sunny day around our coast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Missouri is the latest state to lift restrictions on businesses, that starts next week. CNN's Kyung Lah reporting now on states anxious to reopen and some of the others who say it's just too soon.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Our goal of course, is to get those Texans back to work,.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Texas joins a move to reopen, the governor announcing the statewide order will end. Restaurants, malls, theaters allowed to reopen with restrictions Friday.
ABBOTT: Now it's time to set a new course, a course that responsibly opens up business in Texas.
LAH (voice-over): In New York, home to the nation's largest COVID hot spot, the state's governor signaled a pivot is coming, as numbers flatten to a high plateau.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): May 15th is when the pause regulations expire statewide. I will extend them in many parts of the state. Some regions, you could make the case that we should unpause on May 15th. But you have to be smart about it.
LAH: Being smart, says Governor Cuomo, means showing a 14-day decline in cases. That's not exactly being followed in other states, open for some seating in Georgia, with plastic grocery bags over chairs.
LAH (voice-over): Other seats roped off, the new dining normal rolled in. Restaurants and movie theaters, with restrictions, are operating again in Georgia, though it's unclear if any diners are ready.
From Georgia to Montana to Alaska, the national push to reopen expands this week. At least 13 states will reopen some of their major businesses. The mayor of Oklahoma City says he wishes reopening his city could wait.
DAVID HOLT, OKC MAYOR: I'm going to be nervous really at any time when filler is a vaccine or proven treatment, I'm not going to be comfortable about this transition.
LAH (voice-over): Each state's government is calling the shots, leading to an uneven and dangerous national response to the pandemic, warns this Georgia coroner.
MICHAEL FOWLER, DOUGHERTY COUNTY, GEORGIA, CORONER: I think it's like playing Russian roulette. Every time you walk out of the house or go to a place without a mask and then try social distancing, you're playing Russian roulette.
LAH (voice-over): Some state level Republicans now tell CNN they're wary of reopening too quickly after President Trump publicly rebuked Georgia's governor.
TRUMP: I disagree strongly with his decision.
LAH (voice-over): Florida's governor likely taking note, after being criticized for taking too long to shut things down, this morning signaled more caution.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This is going to be slow and steady wins the race. It's going to be very methodical, very data-driven.
LAH (voice-over): The food supply under ongoing strain, as outbreaks continue to close meat processing plants. Stores will not run out of food but farmers warn they are running out of space. At this hog farm in Minnesota, Farmer Dave Mensick (ph) struggles with how to humanely euthanized his pigs, if he can't send them to processing plants.
DAVE MENSICK (PH), FARMER; Very difficult decision to make to put an animal down that we've cared for.
VAUSE: That report from CNN's Kyung Lah. A look at testing and why it is so crucial, last hour I spoke with a specialist.
DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST: We need more testing, because we don't have enough information and it's only with information that we really can do scientifically guided opening of the economy, opening of the country.
Listen, we all want to go back to normal, as normal can be but we want to do it safely. Without knowing how many people are infected, without knowing how serious, for example, being of a certain age can be, we really can't create a plan.
That's what's lacking, a plan. We could probably have a plan to open up the United States and other countries if we knew, for example, that anyone of a certain age it was safe for them to go back to work.
We could say, hey, if you are between this age and we don't have these conditions, let's go back to the workforce. If you are this age, you might have to stay home, you might have to work from your house. But what we need is information to create a fact based plan.
VAUSE: And testing is really only half the solution, right?
You have to do contact tracing?
RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. Just like with every other communicable disease, it's crazy to me that some people wrap themselves around the flag and say it's unpatriotic to know who did this or that or who contacted, that's bollocks.
Because, for example, with tuberculosis, with syphilis, with almost any other contagious disease, it is so important to find out who is connected to who. Listen, that's where Typhoid Mary, right, came about.
If there's one person that might be working in a very important industry that has a lot of people and contact, we need to know that. So this is not invading anybody's privacy. This is about doing the best thing for the community, for the state and for the country.
VAUSE: There's also this ongoing debate about the virus itself among scientists and researchers about whether or not the coronavirus is transmitted, whether it's airborne transmission.
A new study has found that the coronavirus appears to linger in the air in crowded spaces or rooms that lack ventilation. There was a study that COVID-19 can spread through tiny aerosols. The state did not address that they are contagious and it seems incremental, moving closer to the possibility that the virus is spread by airborne transmission.
How do you see this?
Is it still an open question or are we moving to the point, that it can be like TB, that it's airborne?
RODRIGUEZ: I think there is no doubt that it is somewhat airborne and I hate to sound so wishy-washy. But if you are a few feet away from someone and they sneeze, that particle has to go through the air. There's no doubt about it.
Where some people are concerned and I'm not one of, is that the particles are lingering all over and feet away from where someone was. I do believe that if that were the case, we would be seeing mass infections.
RODRIGUEZ: So I don't believe that is the case, a lot of these studies aerosolize a particle in a way that is scientifically important but not reality based.
VAUSE: This study was interesting because it found the virus could linger in bathrooms but not in other areas. Even though they was crowded with people but it kind of differentiated, because of what kind of room it was.
RODRIGUEZ: A lot of rooms have different factors involved in it. A bathroom almost by definition has more moisture and viruses tend to live in humid environments. Usually, dry environments kill a virus. So anything is possible. But my key, in my mind is if something is wet or moist, I would really stay away from that. I clean it down, I dry it off.
VAUSE: Very quickly, the CDC released new symptoms for the coronavirus. They are chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a new loss of taste or smell. Others listed are fever, cough, difficulty breathing.
Is there a combination of those symptoms which should cause more concern than others?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, the shortness of breath is the one that is of the biggest concern. And that is what is usually leading towards death and being placed on a ventilator, which has very small survival.
So if someone is feeling short of breath, if they are gasping for air, they have, what we call dyspnea on exertion, which means you become tired when you walk, even a few feet. That, without a doubt, is the most dangerous of all the symptoms that someone can half.
VAUSE: Dr. Rodriguez, as always, thank you for being with us.
RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, John.
VAUSE: As some countries across Europe are easing restrictions, Italy and Spain, two of the hardest hit countries in the world, they're already loosening their lockdown and they would like to go further.
Al Goodman is live from Madrid.
Millions of kids that have been locked up inside for about 6 weeks they are emerging on the streets to play on the weekend, some blinking their eyes in the sun it seems.
AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a great sight, for everyone who's been locked up, in this very, very strict confinement here in Spain, which is one of the hardest hit countries by coronavirus.
So the government now, with the numbers, getting more stable, in terms of for instance, the latest death toll, 331 people died in the last 24 hours, our latest figures, the tragedy for each of those families. But it's down from where it had been, at 800 deaths per day, at the peak of the crisis.
The recovery of people now, more than 100,000 Spaniards have recovered from this. That is outpacing the number of new cases. So with that, the government let the kids out, on Sunday. The lockdown continues, for a total of 8 weeks, until May 9th but the prime minister's cabinet is expected to lay out a road map for how the transition, back to normality, might be.
It will be a new normality, it won't be the same as it was. They are not going to let people out all at once. He's already announced that this Saturday, if everything goes well with the kids, if the families can stay apart, social distancing, keep the families apart and respect the rules, the government has set down how the kids get out.
Then adults may be able to go out an exercise for an hour, you know a short bike, short run, are very close to their, house and elderly people, might be able to go out. We are waiting to hear what the cabinet has to say, about these short term measures.
Also we have pressure from the regions around Spain, that have not been as hard hit, as here in the capital, you know, which has so many of the deaths and cases. Look at the southern region, Seville, it has not been that hard hit.
They're pushing on the prime minister, let us get out before other parts of the country. That is what we will be waiting to see, as the government is trying to open things up and keep on top of it, with monitoring and with testing and with contact tracing, if there is a problem again.
One top health official here said, the people have to remember now about breathing etiquette. Do not breathe too closely to your fellow citizens -- John.
VAUSE: Good advice, incredible to think that this is the new normal. Al Goodman in Madrid.
Now Britain's prime minister, has warned about the danger of easing up on a nationwide lockdown, Boris Johnson was back at work, five weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. And with this world leader, with firsthand experience to see how punishing this virus can be, his message was, be patient a little longer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: I know it is tough and I want to get this economy moving as fast as I can.
JOHNSON: But I refuse to throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a 2nd major outbreak and huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS.
And I ask you to contain your impatience, because I believe we are coming now to the end of the first phase of this conflict. Despite all of the suffering, we have so nearly succeeded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Live now to London, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.
How difficult will it be to convince the nation, to say they have to keep going with these restrictions, if there are no details of an exit plan, no details of how it's going to end?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Now I think this is essentially the messaging problem that the British government is going to face in the days ahead. They said they may begin to delineate, what the future may look like and certainly, a lot of the broad numbers U.K. officials have been putting, out have suggested a slightly positive trend.
It's important to remember, the lower death toll numbers that we've seen in the past few days, yesterday was 360 dead reported in 24 hours, still utterly shocking, type of plane crash death toll, for one day, significantly lower though than its peak.
The general toll seems to be slowing somewhat and it appears that a number of people who have the disease, don't want to infect someone else. But there's positive information there.
The real issue for Boris Johnson, is to capitalize upon the possible goodwill, he got from the public, seeing him back on the job, after personally suffered and recovered from the disease. And perhaps returning to a degree of direction, rhetorically at least for British government, that has been a little rudderless frankly when he could harness that into somehow fine tuning the response.
Certainly in that message, he talked about this being a moment of maximum risk, he was clear that there was also risk for the British economy, too, this is the balance of many countries, what exactly do you need to do to be sure that public health does not deteriorate and the 2nd wave caused can cause enormous economic damage?
And what do you do to make sure that the economy doesn't deteriorate that it becomes hard to even you know pay for health care through taxation. So deep challenges ahead. None less certainly in the days ahead and the government with its own testing target of 100,000 a day. They're going to fall woefully short.
VAUSE: But if it's at all possible, Boris Johnson seemed more disheveled than usual, seems like he lost weight, the enthusiasm was there but it seemed a bit forced, what is his condition?
WALSH: He has said, on the advice of doctors, to spend time recuperating, to be fit to go back to work. But of course, the entire intimate details of his medical history, are things we may never learn about.
But certainly, you know he was put into the ICU and then he came out relatively fast, compared to the treatment of others, from that condition. But he has been sick and you're right, the hair is tousled but particularly there. Whether this was managed, to make sure he appeared to be somebody still physically an embodiment of how bad this disease can be, we'll never know.
but he faces an extraordinary challenge, because so many people, particularly men of his age, have found symptoms of this disease, linger much longer, that they would like. And he has a grueling physical challenge, in the days and weeks ahead, to embody that energy and the convincing power he requires, to keep Britons adhering to the social distancing.
VAUSE: Yes, it's a long term prognosis, a concern for many who have been through this. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you Nick.
There's a break. When we come back New Zealand leading the world in its battle against the coronavirus but now facing the ultimate test, as the country eases its lockdown, declaring the virus eliminated.
And former students go back to school in London, not to learn but to make protective gear for doctors.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone.
New Zealand may have done what no other country has managed to achieve so far, not just contain the virus but eliminate it. Despite that, a nationwide lockdown is being eased, not ended. The 400,000 workers back on the job Tuesday, as retailers, restaurants, construction sites and schools begin the slow process of reopening.
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live for us this hour in Hong Kong.
A simple question, which I imagine has a complicated answer, how did they do it?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: You could give a lot of credit to the leadership, they acted first and quickly and they respected and relied on science.
But as we heard from Jacinda Ardern, they're not out of the woods just yet. They are just emerging from a 5-week lockdown, strict measures that managed to be effective, this country reporting only 500,000 cases and only 19 deaths, going from level 4 alert, to level 3.
So what does that mean?
Strict guidelines, social distancing measures are still in place; 75 percent of the economy will be opening and operating, about 400,000 additional workers will return to their jobs, joining the essential workers who have been working. Everyone else will continue to work from home.
Students up to year 10, the second year in high school, they can go back to school. But for year 10 students on up, they have to continue with online learning. In terms of social gatherings, up to 10 people can gather but only for weddings and funerals.
Domestic travel restrictions, only essential visits and international overseas visitors still banned from New Zealand. That has been very detrimental for the economy in New Zealand, so reliant on tourism.
But there is an 87 percent approval rating for these strict measures as New Zealand enters the next phase of its battle against coronavirus -- John.
Thanks, Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.
Like many countries, schools across the U.K. have been shut down. But former students from London's upper school have returned to their old classrooms to make protective equipment for medical workers. Here's Anna Stewart.
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A small team, making lifesaving equipment. It's an efficient production line with a difference. This is no factory; it is a classroom, the only busy room in this otherwise deserted secondary school in London.
George Dzavaryan used to be a student here and when the pandemic halted the work of his medical device startup, he decided to put his skills to good use, making face shields.
GEORGE DZAVARYAN, MEDICAL ENGINEER: So far we've delivered to over 40 locations.
DZAVARYAN: And today we are delivering 10,000, which you know should be a huge help, to our frontline workers. STEWART (voice-over): He is joined by former students, all back in
school. They give the visors to hospital for free, with raw material costs covered by crowdfunding.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's nice helping and it's nice being back at school.
STEWART (voice-over): The U.K. government has been criticized for its failure to provide health workers with adequate PPE, equipment that is so crucial in the fight against COVID-19.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're desperate and people are making choices every day about seeing patients and taking considerable personal risks. And we have to be honest about it's not only about our health but the safety and health of coworkers and all the people we look after.
STEWART (voice-over): That's why Dzavaryan and his team say the demand keeps going up. Their first delivery went to a doctor on the front line, who was also once a student here.
DZAVARYAN: She sent us the most heartwarming message. She said they use approximately eight of our shields, which help to save people's lives. It was a very touching moment for all of us, as you can imagine, and it spurred us to work harder and work longer.
STEWART (voice-over): Since then they have helped thousands of health workers across the country and as 10,000 face shields get loaded here today, they will soon be helping thousands more -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
VAUSE: Next up, the pandemic and American prestige, as Donald Trump has tried to lie, bully and bluster his way out of his administration's response to this crisis, the world is watching.
And "humiliating" and "dangerous idiot" among the descriptions in the foreign press.
VAUSE: Of more than 3 million cases of the coronavirus worldwide, about 1 million, a 3rd are in the United States which accounts for about a quarter of the global death toll. The U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the world's population but has more than 30 percent of cases.
That alone is startling. But a weekend opinion piece in the "Irish Times" adds this, "The U.S. went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages. Precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world's best concentration of medical and scientific experience expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity and the most of the world's leading technology corporations.
"Yet it managed to make itself the global epicenter of the pandemic."
The piece is an unrelenting, scathing attack on Donald Trump's response to the pandemic and starts out with this claim.
"The world has loved, hated and envied the U.S. Now for the first time, we pity it."
For more, Stephen Collinson, a White House reporter for us here at CNN, joins us.
So, Stephen you know, it's not just this one piece. You know, you don't go further to find a scathing editorial or news reports in the world, you know, critical of Donald Trump.
Here's an example of headlines in recent weeks from Australia's national broadcast to the ABC, Coronavirus hurting America's place as a world leader while China appears to rise. The International Business Times said this over the weekend. Humiliated Donald Trump backtrack from suggesting disinfectant injections to cure Coronavirus. And the less and subtle left-leaning independent in Britain, Dangerous idiot: Trump says germ is so brilliant antibiotics can't keep up with it in chaotic White House Coronavirus meeting.
So you know, it's not just the daily briefings, it's not the polling response by the administration, but what seems to be the biggest issue here is the U.S. abdication of leadership, global leadership in the time of crisis.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. And I think it's ironic, remember back in the 2016 campaign, one of Donald Trump's big lines was that the world is laughing at us. He was talking about the world taking advantage of us generosity in defense. But what's actually happened during this crisis is the U.S. role as the global leader, the convener of coalitions to fight global crises has been basically abdicated.
And I think the peak of this occurred late last week when there was that famous encounter in the White House briefing room between the President and one of his top public health aides when he started talking about the possibility or musing about you know, if disinfectant could be injected into a COVID-19 patient to cure them. I think that's really was the low point.
And it really encapsulated the President's entire mishandling of this pandemic right from the start. He had weeks of warning that this was going to happen, that it was likely to come from China. And the United States, perhaps more than any other developed nation, the most powerful nation in the world. seems to have been caught very unprepared. VAUSE: Almost every briefing, almost every time we hear the President speak about the U.S. response, he makes this post. On Monday, it was about testing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Other countries are calling to find out what are we doing, and how do you do it, and we're helping them. We're dealing with a lot of countries helping them on testing, just like we did on the ventilators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, why any country would seek advice from the U.S. on testing is hard to imagine unless the question is, what do you not do. And these claims are all part of daily briefing. And to go back to that Irish Times opinion piece, it writes this.
"This is the mark of how deep the trouble is for the U.S. It's not just that Trump has treated the crisis merely as a way to feed tribal hatred, but that this behavior has become normalized. When the freak show is live on TV early evening, and the star is boasting about his ratings, it is not really a freak show anymore. For a very large and solid block of Americans, it is reality."
And There also seems to be with that a sort of head-scratching curiosity about how this man is in charge of the world's only superpower.
COLLINSON: You know, I think what we're seeing here is the product of three years of Donald Trump creating his own reality and narrative to which the conservative media could buy into. It actually worked for him during the Russia investigation when he discredited that investigation. It worked for him during the impeachment period where he was able to hit back the charges that were brought against him by Democrats in the House and keep his support among Republicans in the Senate because there's this kind of parallel universe of the conservative media world.
The problem is when there are now more Americans who have died from the Coronavirus than died during the entire period of the Vietnam War, and only two months ago, it's fresh in everybody's mind that the President said this is a miracle. It's going away. The Trump method has really been exposed here. The crisis has undermined all of the methods that the Trump has used to keep his political support to keep his presidency sustainable.
There's always going to be 41, 42, 43 percent of Americans that will believe the President whatever he says. But if you're a conservative pundit and you're out there on TV, and you're arguing that no, the President didn't think it was a good idea to inject people with disinfectant, that's how big your problem is.
So it's really the Trumpism has been exposed by this crisis. The question now is whether the President can recover politically sufficiently to win over say, five or six percent of the people in the middle who he'll need to add to his base to win the general election. But there are a lot of Republicans who are watching those daily briefings, are seeing what's happening, and are starting to worry that not only is the President going to lose re-election in November, but he could drag down other Republicans and even put the Senate at risk.
VAUSE: A key part of that Trump's strategy is to find someone to blame, Obama, Congressional Democrats, the media, the World Health Organization, and of course, China. Here he is. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're doing very serious investigations, as you probably know. And we are not happy with China. We are not happy with that whole situation. Because we believe it could have been stopped at the source, it could have been stopped quickly, and it wouldn't have spread all over the world. We think that should have happened. So we'll let you know at the appropriate time, but we are doing serious investigations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So here's the thing, China does have some serious questions to answer. But when it's put up a list of almost everyone else, it seems to get lost.
COLLINSON: Yes, and that's right. The problem with the Presidents turning on China belatedly is that he's on camera around 15 times during the months of January, February, and early March, praising Xi Jinping saying he's doing a great job and basically suggesting that the virus will be contained in China, even though we now know that U.S. intelligence was warning him long before, you know, March that this was probably going to be a grave threat to the United States.
So, in a political context, the President is undermined. There's already a big battle going on between vice president -- former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and President Trump. Both are being tough on China. But what Vice President Biden is saying is that Trump rolled over because he wanted to keep Xi Jinping happy and not jeopardize the trade deal that he concluded between the U.S. and China ahead of the election.
VAUSE: Very quickly, the Washington Post is reporting about the warnings that you mentioned from the Intelligence Community. They were January and February that are included in the President's daily brief. The Post reports U.S. officials emphasize that the PDB references to the virus included comprehensive articles on aspects of the global outbreak, but also smaller digest items meant to keep Trump and senior administration officials updated on the course of the contagion. Versions of the PDB are also shared with cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking U.S. officials.
So, not only did the President know that were those within his cabinet who knew, but it seems Trump's reluctance to act was sort of mirrored by those around him. I'm wondering, would that have actually had any impact on other countries around the world, which will often in the past take their cues from the United States in what to do during a time of crisis?
COLLINSON: You know, it's a good point. I think, first of all, it's inconceivable that in a crisis of this scope that under any other modern American president, the United States would not have been playing a convening role, would have been trying to create a national and international response to this crisis.
At the end of the day, this is not going to end until it's gone everywhere else in the world. So ultimately, the U.S. will probably have to get involved. But diplomatically under Donald Trump, the U.S. has already been self-isolating even months and years before this pandemic. So I don't believe that other nations in the world, U.S. allies, who have basically been castigated for three years by the President have clashed with him at global summit were probably taking too many cues from the United States in the run-up to this pandemic.
VAUSE: Stephen, thank you for being with us. It's good to see you. Stay well. Now, U.S. oil prices have continued to plummet falling below $11.00 a barrel in early trading in Asia on Tuesday. That's after a 25 percent plunge a day earlier, which was triggered when the world's largest oil back exchange-traded fund began offloading short term contracts. CNN's John Defterios live in Abu Dhabi with details on this.
And if you look at -- no matter what Donald Trump is trying to do to prop up the oil industry, so far, investors, they don't want to hold on to crude. So why is it just remaining so desperate? Why is nothing working?
JOHN DEFTERIONS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, I tell you, the Trump administration is trying to a little bit of everything, John, but they haven't formalized their plan of a direct loan of $250 million to the small and mid-size players and perhaps even taking equity stakes. That's the discussion because of the desperation. And this is a clear reflection of the COVID 19 crisis because there's demand destruction, and we see prices down nearly 40 percent in two days, John, and no improvement.
So if you look at the indices here, WTI is trading around $11.00 a barrel, you have Brent at that horrendous level. It doesn't work for the international players at the same time. And it got a little bit more complex overnight because the exchange-traded funds that are held by retail investors. They don't want to hold the near-term contract because there's so much volatility in the market right now. Who wants to hold anything that's swinging 10, 15, 25 percent a day like we saw yesterday?
And it boils down to this. You know, it is more expensive to go to a cafe for example, than to hold a barrel of oil, and there's no place to store it. So, we're running out of storage in the United States, probably in three to four weeks, well over half a billion barrels. And we have a record 160 million barrels in supertankers around the world.
Each supertanker, John, holds about two million barrels. There's 80 of them just being used for storage, not to deliver per use now because the demand is down by 30 percent. It's extraordinary, right, to say you can go to a cafe? The cost of a barrel of oil, by the way, was six times this amount in January, right, to put into perspective.
VAUSE: It's incredible when you think that what is approaching, you know, $180-$200 bucks a barrel at one point about, you know, many, many years ago, but yes, how the fall has been. And you know, right now, I was looking at the U.S. and the consequences for the U.S. economy and what it means for the U.S. industry. But in the Middle East, you know, $10.00 or $20.00 a barrel, that doesn't do a lot of good for those oil-producing nations.
DEFTERIOS: No, John. And the range here for a breakeven prices for their budgets because of the spending and they try to keep peace in the region, anywhere from $65.00 a barrel. The extreme case is Algeria at $150 a barrel. And I wanted to bring up this chart of the International Monetary Fund. I was chairing a roundtable, a virtual roundtable yesterday, and they put out their latest forecasts of the negative 4.2 percent this year for the oil exporters which is a deep recession. They're supposed to grow two to three percent. So that's a swing of about seven percent.
And they suggests, you could see a snapback of 4.7 percent next year. But the big giant unknown is the COVID-19. And the IMF Regional Director saying we have to prepare for round two and round three of economic shocks. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIHAD AZOUR, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA, IMF: What is important is to assess really the extent of the shock and try to think about the second and third round of impact. And this is something that we need to keep in mind. There will be a second-round impact. There will be certain issues that we don't see now because in the middle of managing the emergency, we don't see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEFTERIOS: So you don't see what's coming next, John. That's quite an admission by the International Monetary Fund's Jihad Azour. Another panelists we have there, Nasser Saidi, who's the former Minister of Economy for Lebanon said there's a potential for Arab spring two or what he likes to now defined as Arab Firestorm. And overnight, we saw the protests in Lebanon in the north of the country.
And we had a number of states in 2019 jump because of this, the pressure will intensify. They're very dependent on remittances from the Gulf states and their employees here. Everything's drying up. It's slowed down quite dramatically at $20.00 or less for a barrel of oil.
VAUSE: You know, to say nothing about the pressure on Iran as a nation, which is feeling the pinch significantly as well and problems there too. So John, thank you for the report, it's great -- for the updates from the region as well. Thank you. DEFTERIOS: Thanks.
VAUSE: Well, six weeks after imposing a strict lockdown, Switzerland has begun relaxing its Coronavirus restrictions. Hair salons, cosmetic studios, home improvement stores reopened on Monday, the first to do so under the country's three-stage plan. Switzerland has seen the number of new cases falling for the past month. The number of deaths has been dropping for about two weeks as well. Olivia Chang has the very latest now from Zurich.
OLIVIA CHANG, CNN MONEY SWITZERLAND EDITOR: We're in the heart of Zurich, and we're seeing the first signs of activity again as Switzerland begins to loosen its locked down today. Now, you won't be able to dine out but you can still get your hair cut or even pick up a bouquet of flowers.
It won't be business as usual. However, because a lot of these stores will be stepping up their preventative measures. I've just gotten to the flower store right behind me. They already have posters everywhere telling people to respect the two meters of social distancing. They also have disinfectant out at the front of for all the clients who walk in.
Now, hairdressers are also expected to see a big boost in business this week, but some telling me that they already completely booked out. If you just take a look at the one behind me, they have masks for both the clients and the staff. And you can see here lining along their windows, they also have a lot of protective gear and equipment.
One thing you will notice on the streets, however, is that not everyone is going to be wearing a mask. And that's because the Swiss government has made it clear that it is not an obligation for the general public. They say that keeping that distance between you and other people and washing those hands are still the most effective preventative measures.
Now, bear in mind, we're still talking about the very first step of this whole unwinding of the restrictions in Switzerland. The next two phases will come in May and June as we gradually start to see schools and museums and libraries reopen again provided that we don't see a huge spike in the number of Coronavirus cases. Olivia Chang, Zurich.
VAUSE: Well, when it comes to surveillance, few do a better or worse depending on your perspective in China, and Big Brother is working overtime now with eyes on those who might carry the virus.
VAUSE: Singapore has a high tech new (INAUDIBLE) to fight against this Coronavirus. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gatherings on this park is not allowed. Please practice safe distancing at all times and do not loiter at this park.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: This is OR3. The robot has been rolling around public carpets warning people to keep their distance. It can also record and transmit video from its 360-degree cameras. China though already has widespread surveillance all needed to ensure absolute loyalty to the Communist Party. And according to some reports, cameras are being placed inside homes, part of an effort to monitor those with the virus.
The country has eight of the 10 most surveilled cities in the world, already control where people can go using a digital health code system that are in place. But the cameras are part of an effort to ensure that the Chinese stay at home in quarantine. CNN Digital Producer Nectar Gan is following the story for us from Hong Kong.
You know, Nectar, you talk to some people who actually had the experiences with these cameras. So what are they saying?
NECTAR GAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER: Right. So most of the people have actually told me that camera was installed outside their front door. For example, there's this Irish in Beijing who said he found a camera being installed on the wall right outside his apartment door the morning after he returned to Beijing from a trip to southern China.
He was just going into two-week quarantine as required by the Beijing government to control the spread of the virus. But he said he didn't receive any warnings about it. And community workers just turn up at the store and install a camera. She said, she felt like he was a huge erosion of his privacy.
I spoke to a Chinese resident in the city of Guangzhou who said, on the first day of his home quarantine, a police officer and a community worker showed up in his apartment to install camera pointing at his front door, but from a cabinet wall inside his apartment. He really didn't like the idea. And he tried to complain to the mayor's hotline. The officials only told him to try to understand and cooperate the epidemic control measure.
So in the end, he had to live with a camera inside his living room for two weeks during which he was under a home quarantine. And he said, it has taken a huge mental toll on him because he couldn't stop thinking about the camera, even when he went to sleep in his bedroom with the door shut. And he said he tried not to make phone calls so -- because he was fearing that, you know, his conversations could be recorded by the camera.
So it was really, really tough two weeks for him. And at the end of his quarantine, community workers came to remove the camera and said he could keep it for free as a souvenir. But he was so angry that he took out a hammer to smash the camera in front of, you know, community workers face. VAUSE: Good story. It's incredible. China has a lot of laws on the books. They guarantee freedom of speech. They guarantee constitutional rights, you know, to join a labor union, that kind of stuff. None of them are actually ever enforced with a court of law. So are there laws on the books which actually prevent this stuff, and does anyone within authority actually pay respect to those laws?
GAN: Actually, I've spoken to lawyers in China about it. And apparently, it's a very, very difficult question so there's no straightforward answers. And because China does not have a specific national law regulating the use of surveillance cameras, there is a draft regulation made by the Minister of Public Security but it's still waiting to be approved by the national legislature.
However, in recent years, some local government state issued regulations you know, on these cameras, but the language has been very vague. And this lawyer I talked to said, the area outside a person's front door is actually considered you know, a communal space in China. So it's not part of a private residence, although the information that he recorded can be something very personal. So it's really an evil gray area and there's no clear answer about it.
VAUSE: No clear answer. That's just what they like in Beijing. Keep it confusing. Nectar, thank you. Nectar Gan there live in Hong Kong with a very interesting report. Thank you. Well, using the internet for shopping has been popular for a very long time in South Korea. And if there is a winner from this pandemic, it is online shopping. CNN's Paula Hancocks explains.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Staying at home means shopping from home, something says Koreans have done for years. There was no panic buying, no empty shelves. People here know they can get what they need online delivered within hours or at least the next day. Coupang is the largest e-commerce platform in Korea. It saw its next day delivery orders jumped from just over two million to 3.3 million a day when the Coronavirus hit.
BOM KIM, CEO, COUPANG: We saw a surge of demand across all categories. Of course, you would imagine fresh products, milk, eggs, basic necessities surge more in the -- in the short term. Equipment to work from home, educational toys for their -- for the children.
HANCOCKS: South Korea has plenty of options to choose from when it comes to eCommerce. A recent study says last year alone 2.7 billion parcels were delivered. Maybe not that surprising for a country where nine out of 10 people on a smartphone.
KIM: The mobile and internet infrastructure that existed and the ease with which customers are able to access technology. By the way, it's not just eCommerce. When you think about educational, you know, classes online or just consuming media and other services online. HANCOCK: In some way, South Korea has been setting itself up for social distancing for years. This is how a lot of people shop here, myself included. And for the customer at least, it means that from start to finish, there is zero contact with another human being.
Delivery men and women are being praised for being on the front line allowing people to stay home and social distance. Coupang says even before the virus, it was delivering 1,200 products to customers every minute. Delivery men leaving a package outside the front door, a photo and a text to let you know it's arrived. A faceless hero of the crisis.
Do you feel like a hero?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HANCOCK: It's hard to know if this increased demand will stay once the crisis subsides. But it is clear the eCommerce industry made social distancing in South Korea a lot easier. Paula Hancocks, CNN, South Korea.
VAUSE: Right now, as so many feeling very, very helpless, they're finding ways to thank those who are helping. Ahead, sometimes the unusual tributes to the healthcare workers.
VAUSE: How many ways and how often can you say thank you to all those healthcare workers who are saving lives every day during this unprecedented crisis? CNN's Jeanne Moos reports.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tributes to healthcare workers have sprouted like spring flowers from lawn signs to celebrity led sing alongs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's sing our song.
MOOS: Tony Bennett's statue is even masked these days, as San Franciscans paid tribute to frontline workers. But there's another location where the tributes are more concentrated where images are shared of medical workers with Angel's wings, grouped among other masks superheroes, Photoshop with an added cape. #CourageIsBeautiful bubbled up. When Dove soap made it its tagline in a video that went viral.
Showing the marks made by the protective gear medical workers wear, Dove donated some $2 million to the cause and paid to promote the hashtag. Now relatives of frontline workers are adding their own images. My daughter, my beautiful niece, my cousin ICU nurse in Indy praying before shift with no N95 masks. Tributes range from a shared montage of exhausted healthcare workers
to this sand sculpture of a medical worker holding the world in her hand created by a New Jersey couple John Gowdy has won prizes in sand sculpting competitions. But those can't compete with the emotion that went into this one. New Orleans artists Terrence Osborne didn't know his painting front line had been shared on #CourageIsBeautiful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll take it. I mean that's nice. Of course, that's what it's about. So the pieces are notch to the Rosie the Riveter piece. You know that piece from World War Two.
MOOS: Though Rosie didn't face the dangers medical personnel do. The next time you hear, leave a piece of it for those who wear their masks in marks even when they take it off. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: Courage is beautiful. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. CNN news continues with my colleague Rosemary Church after a very short break. You're watching CNN.