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COVID-19 Could Spread for Up to Two Years; Dozens of U.S. States Begin Reopening as Death Toll Climbs; U.S. approves Remdesivir as COVID-19 Treatment; South Korea Urges Caution on Kim Jong-un Reporting; U.S. and China Escalate Pandemic Blame Game; California Governor Closes Orange County Beaches; U.K. Looks at Expanded Testing, Easing Restrictions; Russia Feels Strain of COVID-19 Surge; Biden Denies Sexual Assault Claim; Pets and Owners' Together Time. Aired 5- 6a ET

Aired May 2, 2020 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. approves emergency use of an experimental drug which may help some coronavirus patients get better faster.

This as the debate over how and when to reopen the economy heats up, with protesters venting their frustrations across the United States on Friday.

And after much speculation about his health and whereabouts, Kim Jong- un appears to have resurfaced.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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ALLEN: 5:00 am here on the East Coast, we appreciate you joining us.

Our top story, infectious experts warn the coronavirus pandemic is going to be with us for 18 months or longer. Hoping to shorten that timeline, the U.S. government has given emergency approval for the antiviral drug remdesivir which has shown some promise in clinical trials for treating severely ill patients.

So far, Johns Hopkins University has tracked 1.1 million cases among Americans and more than 65,000 deaths in this country. Yet, even as numbers soar, a huge portion of the country is relaxing stay-at-home restrictions and reopening some businesses. Experts fear, though, it is much too early.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have spent the last couple of months trying to pin down exactly how the coronavirus got a foothold in the United States. And now they know. Here's CNN's Nick Watt. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Limited testing, the continued influx of infected travelers from overseas hotspots and cruise ships and large events like a conference in Boston, a funeral in Georgia and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, all fueled the devastating early spread of this virus here in the U.S., this according to a just released report issued by the CDC's principal deputy director.

Apparently, flu season also made it hard to detect early clusters and the early introduction of this virus into nursing homes, meatpacking plants and dense urban areas like New York City, accelerated transmission.

This virus might circulate among us for another 2 years, says one new study, until 60, to 70 percent of us are infected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to continue to be a rolling situation throughout the world, not just our country, for these months ahead. So, expect many more New York's to occur, it is very likely they will.

WATT: The U.S. death count doubled these past two weeks, one newly updated model from Northeastern University now suggests 100,000 people in this country will die by mid-summer.

This morning, in Katy, Texas, a line at Snappy's Cafe and Grill, today, restaurants, movie theaters, animals can reopen in the state at a quarter capacity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are beginning to see beaches open, beginning to see guests on the beach.

WATT: But up in Dallas County yesterday, nearly 180 new cases, the biggest single day spike they have seen since all of this began.

DR. HILARY FAIRBROTHER, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: We are reopening today and it does feel like a bit of a gamble.

WATT: A partial opening now underway in a least 32 states, but it does not appear any of them meet White House guidelines that states have a downward trajectory of cases within a 14-day period.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There are some states, some cities, or what have you, who are looking at that and kind of leapfrogging over the first checkpoint. I mean, obviously, you could get away with that, but you are making a very significant risk.

WATT: Meanwhile, with ongoing outbreaks of meat processing plant slowing production, some military commissaries now limiting how much meat shoppers can buy.

Down in Florida, they will start reopening Monday with restaurants and retail. But the state's three largest in hardest hit counties are excluded.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D-FL), MIAMI BEACH: I don't know that we're going to be able to open up our beaches, really, before June.

WATT: Meanwhile in Michigan, the governor in the shadow of armed protesters at the capitol extended her state stay at home order through May 28.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Yesterday's scene at the capital was disturbing, to be quite honest.

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WHITMER: Swastikas and Confederate flags, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders.

WATT: In California, we were among the first in the U.S. to be told to stay home. That was 43 days ago. The governor now says that we are just days, not weeks, away from him lifting some of those restrictions. Among the first, businesses in retail and hospitality but, he says, with serious modifications that they are working on right now -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

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ALLEN: More now on that drug, remdesivir. Doctors in the U.S. say it could be a reliable treatment but they stress it is not a cure. You remember, during the first days of the U.S. outbreak, Washington state was at the center of the story.

Well, our Sara Sidner was there then and now she's back, as doctors try to break new ground on treating this deadly disease.

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SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Doctors and scientists certainly do not want to give the public false hope when it comes to a drug that might be able to treat coronavirus. However, this drug is giving them some real hope.

DR. FRANCIS RIEDO, EVERGREENHEALTH: It was now everybody that was potentially at risk.

SIDNER (voice-over): Dr. Francis Riedo is an infectious disease specialist on the front line of the war on coronavirus. From the first confirmed COVID-19 death in the U.S., Reno and EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Washington, are now at the forefront of finding a treatment.

They are taking part in a clinical trial of remdesivir.

RIEDO: This is an intravenous medication that is given for 10 days.

SIDNER (voice-over): After it was administered to the sickest COVID-19 patients, Dr. Reno says it showed real promise. And that was just phase one of the trial.

SIDNER: When you go into a second phase of the trial, what does that mean? RIEDO: So the second phase is going to use this as the backbone. So every patient will receive remdesivir because the first trial, act one, showed benefit. Shortened the course of illness and almost statistically significantly showed a decrease in mortality.

SIDNER (voice-over): In phase 2, some patients will also get a companion drug called bemcentinib, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. But every COVID-19 patient in the trial will now be treated with remdesivir.

SIDNER: Why is that a big deal?

RIEDO: It's huge. This is the first scientifically proven beneficial drug in terms of treatment of SARS CoV 2.

SIDNER (voice-over): Trials of the drug are happens across 68 sites, more than 1,000 people have taken part. The result: patients recovered 31 percent more quickly with remdesivir, that translates to four fewer days of suffering in the hospital.

FAUCI: Although at 31 percent improvement, it doesn't seem like a knockout punch in percent, it is a very important proof of concept because what it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.

SIDNER (voice-over): Remdesivir was originally created as a potential drug to treat Ebola. Dr. Riedo was also on the front lines of that battle, traveling to Africa. He hopes the drug works this time around.

But before the second trial was done, the president, alongside the CEO of Gilead, who makes the drug, announced the FDA's emergency use authorization for remdesivir.

DANIEL O'DAY, GILEAD: We'll be with the government to learn how best to distribute that within the United States.

SIDNER (voice-over): The FDA acting unusually quickly. For now, the drug is being used only in hospitals on the sickest COVID-19 patients. It is not a cure. Some of the patients treated with the drug still died.

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SIDNER (voice-over): But others felt better, faster.

SIDNER: This could be one major tool in the fight against coronavirus.

RIEDO: Correct.

SIDNER: Wow.

RIEDO: But it all has to be proven and we all have to do the science, the careful science.

SIDNER: And we should be very clear that this is still only being given to the sickest of patients who are in the hospital. And it is done intravenously. This is not available right now to the wider public.

But with all the trials going on and the testing going on, there is a possibility that, in the future, they can figure out how to use this drug potentially for much milder cases of COVID-19 -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Seattle, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Well, let's talk about this development with Peter Drobac, he's an infectious disease expert at the University of Oxford.

Good morning, Peter.

DR. PETER DROBAC, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: Hi, Natalie.

ALLEN: How encouraging are these trials, speeding up recovery from COVID-19 in very ill patients?

DROBAC: Well, we should be cautious that it's not a miracle drug. But this is a really exciting development. As your story pointed out, this is the first approved treatment for the treatment of COVID-19. That's tremendously important.

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DROBAC: We haven't seen whether it saves lives. But it does seem to shorten the duration of illness endurance of these patients and it might be effective earlier in the disease before all of the body's own immune system effects come into play where people do get sicker.

ALLEN: All right. Well, we'll continue to watch and see how the trials go with it, because as you say, there's really nothing else out there, is there?

DROBAC: A lot of development but this is obviously one of the first important tools in our toolkit and it's very exciting.

ALLEN: A breakthrough cannot come soon enough. A new report says the COVID pandemic is likely for last as long as two years and won't be controlled until two-thirds of the world's population is immune.

How dire is that report, as far as this being with us this long, Peter?

DROBAC: It's sobering but I think it's realistic. And what's important about this report, like any good model, it does give us a range of any realistic potential scenarios so we can plan for it.

So what they did is say look this virus is beginning to look like a lot of flu pandemics so let's use that information. If we move on through time without a vaccine to halt this pandemic, there are a number of different scenarios.

But in all cases, the estimation is that it will take 18 to 24 months until enough people become exposed to the virus to have some herd immunity. What that means we should plan to live with this for the next couple of years and that's important as we look ahead.

ALLEN: And couple that with what we know now, that some 30-plus states in the U.S. are slowly reopening. And we know that fall and winter, we'll likely see a second wave.

How dangerous is this, without widespread testing, in the United States, Peter, to go ahead and let people out?

We certainly understand the pressures. We understand the economic strain of these businesses. But it seems like each governor is just kind of saying, OK, enough, let's go back out.

DROBAC: Yes, there are a range of different things being tried. I think some states are better prepared than others. Look, there's two ways to slow the spread of a virus like this, right?

The first are the social distancing measures, including the shelter in place orders that we've all been living with. And then the other are the testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine measures to interrupt those chains of transmission.

Both of those things can work. If we ease up on the social distancing and start getting back to normal life without ramping up the testing and isolation, the number of cases are going to go up. That's just math.

So that's one of the risks that we face in places where they haven't been able to ramp up that infrastructure. The one maybe silver lining to all of this is that by a lot of different states going their own way, so to speak, we're going to learn a lot about what works and doesn't work, because there's not really a playbook for how to open back up.

ALLEN: All right. We need a playbook for sure. Peter Drobac, we always appreciate your insights, thank you.

DROBAC: Thank you.

ALLEN: America's most prominent expert on the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is to testify before a committee in the Republican-led Senate May 12th. That's what an aide is telling CNN.

But earlier, we learned that the White House is blocking Fauci from testifying next week to a committee in the Democrat-controlled House. U.S. lawmakers are gearing up for an oversight battle and Fauci is a key figure. He has repeatedly distanced himself from how the Trump administration has been framing the response to this pandemic.

Well, North Korea's Kim Jong-un has apparently resurfaced. We show you the video state television broadcast after weeks of speculation about where he was.

Also coming up, the U.S. accusing China of letting this virus spread, while China blames the U.S. of shifting blame. The war of words has gone up and we'll fill you in.

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ALLEN: There's been speculation for weeks that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been in grave danger or even dead. Well, now state television there has broadcast video of him, saying he spoke Friday at a ribbon cutting ceremony at a fertilizer factory.

This would be his first public appearance in weeks. The report says it happened on May Day also known as International Workers Day. CNN cannot independently confirm when or where, though, the video was taken. Paula Hancocks joins me live from Seoul.

What can we glean from what we're seeing there in North Korea, Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, well, obviously we can't 100 percent confirm the images themselves. There were banners and there were also signs within the footage, which did say May 1st. So we don't have any reason to disbelieve that it happened on the day they say that it did.

But what it would suggest and show is it's been almost three weeks since we have seen Kim Jong-un in public. Of course, we're seeing him walking, we're seeing him laughing with officials, we're seeing him on stage with VIPs that assisted Kim Yo Jong in the ribbon cutting.

This video will be pored over by experts to see if there's any indication he has been in ill health. From what I'm seeing, he's not walking with a limp. When he disappeared back with an illness then, he came back with a walking cane. And he had some kind of foot surgery.

There doesn't seem to be anything different so it raises the question what did happen over the past almost three weeks.

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HANCOCKS: Why was he not in the public eye?

And most specifically, why didn't he pay his respects April 15th on the birthday of his grandfather and the founder of the country, something he's always done?

There's a good chance, Natalie, we will never know why he didn't go and pay his respects at that point. But certainly what we're seeing from North Korean state media is that Kim Jong-un is back.

ALLEN: As you say, not unusual for him to disappear but no one knows where he's been, really. Thank you, Paula. Paula Hancocks there in Seoul for us.

Well, their shared interest in North Korea is just one example of how the U.S. and China need to work together. But right now, finger- pointing over COVID-19 is making that hard, with the U.S. president Trump blaming China for the outbreak and threatening some form of punishment. David Culver looks at how Beijing is responding.

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DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chinese state run media now ramping up its propaganda against the United States, taking direct aim at secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

This week, a near daily CCTV commentary attacks Pompeo for calling out China's mishandling of the coronavirus. One saying, he is turning himself to be the enemy of humankind by spreading a political virus.

On Thursday, the peoples daily, the official newspaper for China's Communist Party, ran an editorial saying that Pompeo's rhetoric makes the U.S. look like it is dealing with a colossal moral deficit. Government controlled Xinhua tweeted an animation further mocking the U.S' blaming of China and portraying it as hypocritical.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you listening to yourselves?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are always correct, even though we contradict ourselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CULVER (voice-over): In the shadows of the coronavirus outbreak, the war of words is creating a deepening rift between the U.S. and China.

TRUMP: China is a very sophisticated country and they could've contained it, they were either unable to or they chose not to. And the world is suffering greatly.

CULVER (voice-over): It is a change from Donald Trump's more sympathetic tone, expressed repeatedly over the past few months.

TRUMP: Look, I know President Xi loves the people of China, he loves this country and he is doing a very good job with a very, very tough situation.

CULVER (voice-over): While still not directly criticizing President Xi Jinping, President Trump is increasingly criticizing China for the virus' devastating and deadly spread, echoing secretary of state Mike Pompeo's hardline stance.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We know it started in Wuhan, China, we don't know from where it started. And in spite of our best efforts to get experts on the ground, they continue to hide and obfuscate. That is wrong and it poses a threat to the world. This is classic Communist disinformation. This is what Communists do.

CULVER (voice-over): The White House now further pushing the origin theory that the virus started in a Wuhan laboratory. Last week, CNN returned to Wuhan post lockdown, traveled to the lab in question, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

We captured a few images from the exterior of the gated campus. Chinese officials dismiss allegations that it started here. In a statement Thursday from the U.S. office of the acting Director of National Intelligence, said that it concluded the coronavirus was not manmade or genetically modified but noted it was still evaluating theories linking to the outbreak to the lab.

CNN's early reporting of this revealed that China's covering up and silencing of whistleblowers. Our reports put into question China's official number of cases, which have been revised repeatedly and is widely believed to be vastly under reported. CULVER: However, China believes that the U.S. and the Trump administration in particular is trying to deflect for its lack of preparedness in battling this virus in the United States.

Until you have this heated rhetoric, this increased blame and the world's two largest economies no longer looking at international collaboration but rather, in the midst of this animosity filled face off -- David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.

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ALLEN: Orange County, California, saw a steep spike in new virus cases Friday. And also a huge protest demanding officials reopen the beaches. We'll show you the scene in Huntington Beach.

Also, the U.K. says it's met its testing goal. And now it wants to lay out a plan for reopening. When we return, a live report on why the actual numbers might not be so cut and dry.

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ALLEN: Welcome back to viewers in the U.S. and around the world, I'm Natalie Allen. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Thousands of people came out to protest beach closures in Orange County, California, Friday, but the coronavirus outbreak there is far from over. Also, Friday, health authorities announced the county's biggest increase in new cases so far. Here's Josh Campbell. He's there.

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JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: We're here in Huntington Beach in Orange County, California, and this beach behind me, essentially closed, following an order from California governor Gavin Newsom, closing all beaches in the Orange County area.

Now that followed those images of just over a week ago that depicted thousands of people flocking to these beaches. It was that congregation of people that was concerning enough to the governor that then caused him to close all these beaches, issuing what he's calling a hard hold on a temporary basis.

Now despite the governor's orders, we did see people out here today. We saw a number of surfers, people out with their families. We talked to one man who said that people are just tired of being inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mentally, it's a lot nicer. You're stuck in your house all day long, with each other, you start getting on each other's nerves. Every little thing starts to aggravate you. We've been going for lot of walks on the beach, to pick up trash, try to enjoy it, do something.

CAMPBELL: As far as enforcement, we saw a number of police vehicles patrolling the beach but no citations issued, certainly no arrests. We talked to one officer on the beach who walked us through his thinking when it comes down enforcing the shutdown order.

There's an order in place closing this beach. We saw no arrests, no citations, why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the decision to close the beach came late last after a emergency council meeting. The governor did issue an order that was effective this morning.

Our council had an emergency meeting last night. And the beach was closed late last night under a municipal code. We'll be going out and educating people, asking for voluntary compliance. After that, we'll be removing people from the beach.

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CAMPBELL: What's your message to the people as they try to weather the pandemic but also these closures?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's critical for our -- people understand, one, we understand the frustration. We do, we all do, we're all at home as well when we're not working.

Our families are at home. Our kids are home. People working from home. Kids doing school from home.

There's a ton of frustration. And I understand that. But really, health is the top priority. We have to listen to the experts. We have to understand this is a global pandemic like never before. And we have to keep our people safe.

CAMPBELL: I should first point out there was a large protest on Huntington Beach on Friday, folks gathering shoulder to shoulder, not against only the beach order but the shelter at home orders. The crowd estimate was 2,500 to 3,000 people, we saw people waving American flags, Trump 2020 signs and a lot of people not happy with the stay- at-home orders.

Even though it was peaceful, these images are running counter to what we hear from experts. You saw people so densely congregating. People not wearing face coverings. We continue to hear from public health safety experts who say those are the guidelines necessary to stop the spread of this deadly virus -- Josh Campbell, CNN, Orange County, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: On other front, Smithfield and Tyson Foods each say they will reopen one of their pork processing plants with limited production. This comes as President Trump this week ordered plants to remain open to prevent a meat supply shortage. The plants are also protected if employees get the virus at work and decide to file a lawsuit.

A top official at the CDC says meat processing facilities are a lingering concern as they try to keep the disease from spreading. Nearly 5,000 workers in more than 100 plants nationwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19. CNN's Miguel Marquez spoke with people worried that reopening the plant too soon could mean more infections.

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MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dakota City, Nebraska, just across the state line from Sioux City, Iowa, Tyson's beef processing plant there. Massive, one of the country's largest, 4,300 employees.

The person I'm speaking to is one of them.

When you hear the number of people getting sick every day, they say, you just wait your turn.

Out of fear for losing their job, we are not identifying this person who said it was clear something was wrong at the plant for weeks.

(on camera): How many have gone missing in the last several weeks?

(voice-over): Three, four or 500 they say.

Tyson has now tested everyone at the plant, but this person says the company could have done more earlier.

(on camera): They only started giving you masks a couple of weeks ago. Only masks. Yes.

No other protective gear?

(voice-over): No gloves, no face shields, no gowns they say.

(on camera): So well into the crisis over COVID-19, this was the only protection offered to employees at the plant in Dakota City. It is something that we also heard from officials at another Tyson plant in Waterloo.

SHERIFF TONY THOMPSON, BLACK HAWK COUNTY, IOWA: We walked out of that plant knowing that we had an enormous problem. MARQUEZ (voice-over): Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson and health department officials inspected Tyson's Waterloo, Iowa, plant on April 10th.

THOMPSON: A third of the staff was wearing masks at that point, some of them had masks but they were dangling around their necks.

MARQUEZ: Thompson says his county is in a full-on health crisis. Black Hawk County has more confirmed COVID-19 cases than any other county in the state.

THOMPSON: Our front line of defense is all kind of fallen back now to the E.R. front doors, to the long-term care facility front doors to my jail front door.

MARQUEZ: And now concerns about reopening parts of the state to regular business and forcing meat packing plants back to work too hastily.

THOMPSON: President Trump does this Defense Production Act telling the Tyson plant they got to open back up. I don't know what that is supposed to say to the citizens here that have contracted the disease or the citizens here that are at twice the risk of catching the virus than anywhere else.

MARQUEZ: And that Tyson employee in Nebraska also has a message for the President.

I just want him to know, they say, we are human and we have families that care about us and we care about them, too.

MARQUEZ: A spokesperson for Tyson says that they did have trouble sourcing masks and protective gear early on, even chartering a plane at one point to fly overseas to pick up protective gear but the company does have 140,000 employees.

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MARQUEZ: With regard to the president and his order to reopen these plants, saying that employee safety will always be first and, to that point, we did speak to a union representative and a health department official in Waterloo, they believe Tyson now understands what is at stake here and what needs to be done. The company will do everything it can to avoid further infections -- back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Britain is shifting its focus to ramping up virus testing with Downing Street promising to reveal a plan to ease lockdown measures in the country. The government said it met its goal to test 100,000 people a day on Friday.

But it later clarified that, more than 120,000 tests had been distributed, not that all of the tests have necessarily been completed. Let's get more about it from CNN's Hadas Gold. She's in London for us. Good morning, Hadas. These numbers are encouraging, at least they're

trying to do more testing.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, that's right, at the beginning of April, the U.K. set this very ambitious goal, 100,000 coronavirus tests per day. As of a week ago, they seemed pretty far off that goal. On Friday they now said they reached, they said they 122,000 tests.

However, there's a bit of a caveat, only 80,000 tests had actually been completed. The rest were sent out to places or were these new home kits sent to test at home. Those may have been dispatched. They haven't necessary with been sent back or completed.

Whatever you say about the actual numbers just of the fact that they have 80,000 tests completed is a huge jump because just a week ago there was also 20,000 to 25,000 tests being done per day.

As we know a lot of the part of an effort to come out of a lockdown involves testing and it also involves, of course, tracing. That is something the U.K. government plans to ramp up. They want to hire 18,000 contact tracers within the next few weeks.

They will call anybody who has tested positive and try to trace who they've been in contact with to try to prevent an infection from spreading even further. All of these will be part of any sort of measures that will be able to lift the lockdown in any sense.

And as we're in our eighth weekend of lockdown in the United Kingdom, all eyes are on prime minister Boris Johnson, himself only recently out of the hospital from coronavirus. On Thursday, he's expected to address the nation and give some sort of timeline, some sort of plan, to let people know how the U.K. will come out of this lockdown.

But, Natalie, recent polling of the British government says, even if the measures are lifted, even if the government says you can go, a lot of people are still worried about contracting the virus and about going back to life as normal. Natalie.

ALLEN: Whatever normal is right now, Hadas Gold in London. Thank you, Hadas.

Russia's health care system is being pushed to the brink. It just reported an increase 9,600 cases, just days after the Russian prime minister tested positive. Matthew Chance has more about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For weeks, Russia insisted the pandemic there was under control. But these startling images from a hospital in the south of the country show just how overstretched its health service has become.

This cold, tiny room was a laundry storage cupboard, according to the narrator. Now it's a makeshift ward for five coughing women. No room for social distancing here. And these aren't even the hospital's patients. They're medical staff, the narrator says, who have fallen ill with symptoms of the virus and with nowhere else to be treated.

We can't confirm they have COVID-19, but a local government official says the women were later moved to a fully equipped ward and several hospital employees were disciplined. Still, it's a grim picture with a toll this coronavirus is taking on Russia's health workers.

This Russian doctor says she believes a large proportion of medical workers are already sick and in current working conditions, she says more infections for just a matter of time.

Across Russia, the plight of essential medical staff has become a major concern. Moscow's main coronavirus hospital is reported to have suffered mass resignations of key workers. Like Natalia Lyubimaya, who complaints on social media of excessively long shifts, lasting days on end, lack of equipment, as well as food and salary shortfalls.

The hospital denies it's using staff, but even the Kremlin is now acknowledging acute shortages of personal protection equipment or PPE despite ramping up production.

[05:40:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In March, 3,000 protective suits for doctors were produced per day. By mid-May, it would be over 150,000. Yes, in comparison with what it was just recently, it is a lot. But in comparison with what is needed now, it is still not enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE: It's been just a few weeks since Russia was exporting assistance overseas to the U.S. and especially Italy, where Russian doctors were shown working side by side with a European comrade.

But at this hospital at home in St. Petersburg, Russia's second biggest city, ambulance drivers said they were waiting up to 10 hours outside just to deliver a single patient.

The numbers, it seems, are already overwhelming and Russia's peak, according to the Kremlin, is yet to come -- Matthew Chance, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden takes to television to address the sexual assault allegation a former aide is leveling against him. We'll bring you his response, next.

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ALLEN: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is addressing sexual assault claims for the first time made by a former staffer. Biden unequivocally says the incident never happened. And he's asking that information related to his accuser be released from the National Archives. U.S. politics correspondent MJ Lee has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No it is not true. I'm saying unequivocally it never, never happened and it didn't.

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: For the first time Joe Biden personally addressing a sexual assault allegation dating back to 1993.

BIDEN: This never ever happened. I don't know what is motivating her. I don't know what - I don't know what's behind any of it. But it's irrelevant.

[05:45:00]

BIDEN: It never happened. It never happened.

I'm not going to start questioning her motives. I'm not going to get into that. I'm not going to start -- I'm not going to go after Tara Reade for saying these things is simple what the facts are?

Do any of the things she said, do they add up?

LEE: The presumptive Democratic Nominee for President defiant and unequivocal denying that he sexually assaulted Tara Reade an aide in Biden's Senate office in the early 1990s.

Reade telling CNN but in 1993 she was ordered to take a duffel bag to her boss in the corridor somewhere on Capitol Hill, Reade alleging that Biden had her up against a wall, spread open her legs with his knee and put his fingers inside of her.

Reade also among multiple women who said publicly last year that she experienced physical interactions with Biden that made her feel uncomfortable. But none of those women including Reade at the time accused Biden of assault.

Reade alleging she complained to multiple colleagues in Biden's Senate office in 1993 about sexual harassment but not about the alleged assault. Biden saying such a complaint does not exist.

BIDEN: I'm confident there's nothing no one ever brought it to the attention of maybe 27 years ago this is any assertion at all. No one that I'm aware of in my campaign at my Senate office at the time is aware of any such request and or any such complaint.

LEE: But three people close to Reade telling CNN they did hear about the alleged sexual assault. Reade's former neighbor Linda Lacoste telling CNN this week Reade told her about it sometime in the mid 1990s saying somebody putting their hand up your skirt that's something you don't forget.

Reade's friend declining to speak on the record telling CNN Reade confided in her in 1993 within days of the alleged assault.

And in 1993, a segment on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE," appearing to feature Reade's mother who died a few years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, hello. I'm wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington. My daughter has just left there after working for prominent senator and could not get through with her problems at all. The only thing she could have done was go to the press and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.

LEE: The anonymous caller not naming Biden or describing in any detail what problems her daughter confronted. Reade telling CNN the voice on the show belongs to her mother and that she told her about the alleged assault the night that it happened.

CNN has interviewed half a dozen Former Biden aides who worked in his Senate office in the early 1990s. All of them said they were not aware of any sexual harassment or assault allegations. Biden seeing Reade's stories should be fully examined.

BIDEN: From the very beginning I've said believing women means taking the woman's claims seriously. When she steps forward and then vetted look into it this is - that that's true in this case as well. Women have a right to be heard and the press should rigorously investigate claims they make. I always uphold that principle. But in the end in every case the truth is what matters and in this case the truth is the claims are false.

LEE: The allegation coming as Biden prepares to take on President Trump in the general election. More than a dozen women leveling allegations against Trump ranging from unwelcome advances to sexual harassment and assault. Trump has denied those allegations.

TRUMP: I have been falsely charged numerous times and there is such a thing.

LEE: Now a lot of questions have been raised about what kind of documentation if any might exist that Tara Reade complained, because, remember, Tara Reade she verbally told a number of colleagues at the time about the alleged sexual harassment. And that she also filed a complaint with the personnel office on Capitol Hill.

And what the Biden campaign is saying all of the records would be at the National Archives. He would like the National Archives to do a search and release anything that might be related to complaints. Back to you.

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ALLEN: And we'll be right back.

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ALLEN: A lot of dog owners would likely say that man's best friend is the one thing keeping them sane during this self-isolation. I mean, a pet does help break up the monotony of social distancing. Jeanne Moos takes a look.

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JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It used to be dogs got upset when left alone. But these days, we humans are the ones feeling separation anxiety.

Maintain 6 feet social distance?

Tell that to a dog. There's nothing like a cuddly pet to make the couch seem less lonely. Even Billie Eilish had an armful of pups.

BILLIE EILISH: They're very tiny. Look at the babies.

MOOS (voice-over): When she performed from self-quarantine, petting as she crooned -- no wonder adoptions went from almost 200 last April to well over 300 this April at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in North San Diego.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was like, you know, I really could use a buddy.

MOOS (voice-over): Anna Fairman (ph) adopted Archie (ph) in mid-March as the stay-at-home order went into effect. He's since gained 10 pounds and now --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Archie is 100 percent my best friend, a huge lifesaver during quarantine.

MOOS (voice-over): He's learned the most basic quarantine tricks that we caught rolling over for Brutus, the pet tortoise.

Dog owners are paying tribute to their pets, spoiling them with chicken pot pie and livening lockdown by throwing a scones and cream birthday brunch for the good boy.

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MOOS (voice-over): Talking dog memes are making the rounds.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fed up. Bored. I've had enough. (INAUDIBLE) coronavirus. My (INAUDIBLE).

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MOOS (voice-over): A Colorado woman trained her golden retriever Sonny to deliver groceries to the next door neighbor in self-isolation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a wonderful thing. Just a sweet thing. MOOS (voice-over): Pet owners ask vets, should my pet wear a face mask

in public?

The short answer, no. Someone forgot to tell Priscilla. Pity the poor dogs isolated from this groundhog, hogging a slice of pizza in Philadelphia.

JIMMY KIMMEL, ABC HOST: You've heard of Punxsutawney Phil?

This is Quarantiny Tim.

MOOS (voice-over): Predicting, Kimmel says, several weeks' more of quarantine. Instead of burying your hand in the sand during the pandemic, let a puppy bury its head in your lap and raise your spirits by levitating your wizard of a dog -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

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ALLEN: Dogs, they can heal anything.

All right. Take a look at Britain's Princess Charlotte, celebrating her birthday week by bringing others gifts. The daughter of Prince William and Kate Middleton delivered packages to isolated pensioners around the family's local area.

The pictures on the screen were shared on the family's official Instagram page to mark Charlotte's 5th birthday on Saturday.

What a cutie. Thanks so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'll see you back here tomorrow. "NEW DAY" is just ahead. Take care.