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New U.S. Report Finds China Concealed Severity of COVID-19 While Stockpiling Supplies; Seven States Band Together to Buy Medical Equipment; Businesses Allowed to Reopen in Much of Florida Today; U.S. Futures Off on Economic Worries, U.S.-China Spat; Beachgoers Say Shutdown is Government Overreach; Trump Administration Releases Small Business Loan Program Results; South Korea to Begin Issuing Emergency Relief Grants Monday; Johns Hopkins: 42,000+ Cases, 1,300+ Deaths in India; Gyms Begin to Reopen Amid Outbreak Concerns. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 00:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Anna Coren. Ahead, on CNN NEWSROOM.

[00:01:12]

U.S. President Trump says China made a horrible mistake in its response to the novel coronavirus. A new report from Homeland Security adds fuel to the fire.

Meanwhile, more than half of the United States is slowly opening back up for business. But will social distancing remain the new normal?

And despite the opening of the economy, investors have their doubts. What we can expect when Wall Street begins its new trading week.

As coronavirus cases surpass 3.5 million worldwide, with nearly a quarter of 1 million fatalities, more countries are getting ready to reopen. Spain, Italy, and Greece are among those loosening restrictions, and more than half of U.S. states are lifting aspects of their stay-at-home orders.

Donald Trump, during a FOX News town hall, admits the U.S. death toll is rapidly rising. He's now estimating up to 100,000 deaths. Nearly 68,000 people have already died. And he's doubling down on claims the virus came from a Chinese lab.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Personally, I think they made a horrible mistake, and they didn't want to admit it. We wanted to go in. They didn't want us there. Even World Health wanted to go in. They were admitted, but much later, you know, not immediately. And my opinion is, they made a mistake. They tried to cover it. They tried to put it out. It's like a fire. You know, it's really like trying to put out a fire. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Well, this comes as a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security report accuses China of intentionally hiding the severity of COVID-19 from the international community, while stockpiling imports and decreasing exports. Well, that's according to a source familiar with the report. No response yet from China.

Well, President Trump also called his predecessors foolish and stupid for allowing so many antibiotics to be made in China and abroad. He says his administration is bringing back the supply chain and estimates that within two years, 94 percent of antibiotics will be made in the U.S.

Well, in the absence of a national program in the U.S. to acquire needed supplies, seven eastern states are banding together to coordinate the purchase of medical equipment and protective gear. They're preparing for a possible second wave of the virus, even as more and more states move ahead with reopening.

Natasha Chen has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared in a virtual show of force and unity today with his fellow northeastern governors to make an announcement.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We're going to form a consortium with our seven northeast partner states, which buy about $5 billion worth of equipment and supplies.

CHEN: Cuomo also cited a new CDC report to seemingly pour cold water on President Trump's oft-repeated boast of the China travel ban being a critically decisive action his administration took early on.

CUOMO: What we have seen in New York didn't come from China but actually is a different strain of the virus that came from Europe. We were looking at China, and the travel ban on China may have been helpful, but the horse was already out of the barn in China.

CHEN: Meanwhile, as the U.S. heads into another work week, more than half of the states are marching toward reopening. But it doesn't appear any of them have met the White House's guidelines of having a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period.

Today, the doctor coordinating the administration's coronavirus task force once again urged the importance of that downward trend.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: As states reopen, we really want them to follow the gating criteria.

[00:05:03]

CHEN: On the medical front, Remdesivir received emergency FDA approval Friday, but Birx stopped short of calling it a silver bullet, instead calling it a first step forward.

As far as Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's ambitious plan to make 100 million doses of a vaccine available by November, Birx struck a more temperate tone.

BIRX: On paper, it's possible.

CHEN: And for some in the states not yet ready to open, restlessness continues to mount. Defying a stay-at-home order, spectators took to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the Blue Angels flyover.

And on a sunny day in New York City, large crowds gathered in Central Park, many flouting social-distance guidelines and without masks, earning the ire of Governor Cuomo.

CUOMO: How people cannot wear masks, that to me is even disrespectful. It's disrespectful.

CHEN: And while Governor Cuomo offered some good news in New York -- hospitalizations under 10,000 for the first time since March -- he cautioned against a false sense of comfort, especially as more nice days lay ahead.

CUOMO: My gut says, the weather is going to warm, people are bored, people want this over, they see the numbers going down, they can take false comfort. Oh, it's going down. That means is over.

No, now. We never said it was over.

CHEN (on camera): Well, you heard Governor Cuomo's strong feelings about people wearing face masks in public, but requiring people to wear masks in other parts of the country has been met with backlash.

For example, in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the city amended its ordinance after store employees were threatened with violence when they tried to enforce it.

Also in Ohio, an order requiring customers to wear masks in stores was reversed. Governor DeWine said today that was a bridge too far. Those storm employees will still be wearing face masks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Natasha Chen reporting there.

Well, in Florida, businesses in all but three counties will begin reopening their doors on Monday. The state's governor says they're taking small, deliberate steps to resume normal life. But researchers say there isn't enough data to know whether Florida is out of danger yet.

Randi Kaye explains what's going to happen next.

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RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today begins phase one in the reopening of Florida. That includes state perks. It will also include some of the largest beaches in the state of Florida, including Pensacola, Destin, and also Clearwater. They will be open from sunrise to sunset. Social distancing, of course, is encouraged.

Also open, as of today, will be restaurants. They will have seating outside, as long as the tables are 6 feet apart. Inside, people will be allowed up to 25 percent capacity.

Retailers also can open their stores up to 25 percent capacity, as well. Elective surgeries can resume, and golf courses will be open again, too.

Some things that will still be closed, though, will be movie theaters, dog parks, salons and spas. The governor met with salon owners over the weekend, and they were pleading with him to allow them to open, but he said he's going to have to take that under consideration. They said they can text customers, have them wait outside, whatever it takes, but he did not commit.

Also still closed are three major counties in southern Florida that were hardest hit, the most populous counties. That will be Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County.

But on bright note, the governor does plan to increase testing in the state. Right now the state is testing about 15,000 people a day. He hopes to ramp that up to about 20,000 people a day by May 15 and 30,000 people a day by June 15.

Also, Walgreens, he just announced, will also be opening some drive- through testing areas at nine locations, and the National Guard will continue to ramp up testing in nursing homes.

Randi Kaye, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Well, joining me now is Dr. Raj Kalsi, a board-certified emergency medicine physician.

Dr., great to have you with us.

The U.S. president, Donald Trump, has just admitted that the virus proved more lethal than he expected, and that the death toll in the U.S. could reach 100,000. Well, it currently stands at 67,000. Do you think the president's figure is conservative, considering this highly- contagious virus is still spreading?

DR. RAJ KALSI, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: I think the number is going to be far greater. I -- I wish I was saying something different right now, compared to what my thoughts were a few weeks ago, a month ago, but look at 1,000 people dying a day in the United States, and this is with social distancing.

Take that away, open the gates, this virus makes no discrimination to any human being on the planet, perhaps not even animals. We don't even know if it goes from animals to humans and back. And I see this number soaring past 100,000, and we still don't have

any really good cure, or any mitigation from a pharmaceutical that would help us in the hospital system.

COREN: Well, you mentioned that social distancing is still in place. Yet many countries, and at least half of America have eased restrictions, or are in the process of easing restrictions. Are you concerned?

[00:10:06]

KALSI: I am. I'm also concerned about an economy that's crumbling, and as people starve, literally, there are other medical problems. And me as a doctor, I worry about people in starvation, and succumbing to social chaos, and injuries associated with that. And neglect from the community, because they can't afford to live.

But I'm also worried about this virus just completely continue to infect the entire population without any real means of us having really dealt with it, other than keeping people inside the home.

COREN: Well, what should people consider when venturing outside into public places where businesses are reopening, where the economies are reopening?

KALSI: I think it's a great question. So the way I look at it, I look at the data. Let's stick straight to the data. And the data says that the more medical problems you have, and the older you are, in particular past the age of 55, you are particularly vulnerable.

Look at the New York City data that came out with 4,000 patients, and they surveyed, and they found that people with multiple medical problems, and over the age of 55, were the most likely to have a terrible course in the hospital, and even die.

Those people should be particularly careful about venturing out, and if they do venture out, they really need to adhere to the mask protocols and hand hygiene and everything in terms of distancing.

People that are younger may want to move forward a bit faster than them, and I think it might be a bit more reasonable, because they're the ones where, if they get COVID, are likely to survive it, or maybe have a milder illness.

COREN: Then of course, if they come into contact with those people in that high-risk group, that is -- that's always the concern.

With the easing of restrictions, Doctor, do you anticipate another surge in two, three, four weeks' time?

KALSI: I see multiple apexes, or the term is apices, more than one apex as we move forward. This apex we're talking about now is only one statistical curve and plateau in time.

When you release social distancing, there will be another surge, because everybody will serve as patient zero again, and then start reinfecting, or infecting, I should say, people that have never had COVID, and you'll see another apex. And that may go down again, and then we'll see another apex as we go back and forth between mitigating, social distancing, as we see the fatality rate go up, unfortunately.

COREN: Doctor, you work in a Chicago hospital. You are obviously on the front lines. How are you coping, and are you seeing improvements where you are?

KALSI: It's -- I'm emotionally and physically exhausted. And when I'm not working, my wife is a mother baby nurse, and she's on the unit, taking care of, now, COVID-positive mothers, some of which are very, very critically ill.

And the numbers in Chicago continue to go up. In the inner city, we're seeing complete hospitals full with all their vents taken up, all their ventilators taken up. And many, many people on this -- on this type of mechanism called ECMO, which is basically heart and lung bypass, which is the last thing they can do before pronouncing someone dead.

And in our own suburban Chicago community hospitals where I work, at four different ones, one of my institutions were almost full of vents with 80 people in-house positive for COVID. It's challenging. And now multiple nurse colleagues of mine in E.R. are either admitted or at home with COVID.

COREN: These are challenging times to say the least. Well, we commend you for your work, and everything that you do. Dr. Raj Kalsi, thank you so much for joining us.

KALSI: Thanks for having me.

COREN: Well, after being shut down for two months, this week, Spain begins to try to reach what it's calling a new normality.

Well, Spaniards were out and about over the weekend amid news that the number of new coronavirus cases is tapering off. The government plans to reopen through a set of phases starting Monday.

The primary focus is on making sure there are enough hospital beds available. Well, Spain has the second highest number of confirmed virus cases in the world, after the United States.

On Sunday, France reported its lowest daily death toll from the coronavirus since late March: 135. Still, the government is set to extend its state of emergency through July 24.

France's health minister said easing restrictions too soon would waste the efforts made by the French people.

Authorities there tell CNN travelers from the U.K. and the Schengen zone -- that includes Spain, Italy, Germany -- are free to move about the country. But visitors from abroad could be asked to quarantine.

Well, Russia is struggling to contain the virus. On Sunday, it reported more than 10,000 new cases. That's the fourth record single- day increase there in a row.

[00:15:06]

Last week, President Vladimir Putin extended Russia's isolation period through May 11, warning the peak is not behind us.

Investors get the jitters as Washington and Beijing ramp up the rhetoric. Just ahead, we'll take a look at the impact on the markets from the blame game.

And beach goers are steamed at California's governor. Why they say he's crossed the line.

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COREN: Well, let's take a look at business. With the opening bell on Wall Street about nine hours away, U.S. futures are down right now. Investors are worried about the reopening of the U.S. economy and the blame game between Washington and Beijing.

For more on that, let's turn to journalist Kaori Enjoji. She joins us now from Tokyo.

Kaori, obviously, China and Japan markets closed for Golden Week. But how is the rest of Asia reacting?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, the futures market looks very, very fragile and -- in this afternoon trading on Monday. Because -- and I think that is because of the comments from U.S. President Trump, hinting at possible retaliation and bringing up the possibility of more tariffs against Chinese products.

[00:20:04]

And I think this reminds everyone of the situation we were in before this pandemic, in the final three months of 2019, where the trade sanctions and the tit-for-tat between the two nations really put the global economies in a precarious situation.

That's why we're so weak going into this pandemic.

So futures now down by about 0.6 percent earlier on in the day here, was down one and a half percent.

So you have to remember that April was a phenomenal month for stocks globally. Globally, it was up 10 percent. But you know what the saying is? The saying is sell in May and go away.

But it's a different situation we're in right now. But the futures are pointing to a weaker start. You're also seeing the markets that are open, including Hong Kong, sell off pretty sharply today. We're also seeing weakness in Seoul, of course, with the troops firing across the DNC, the Demilitarized Zone. And, of course, reports from the North Korean -- North Korea resurfacing by Kim Jong-un and all that is renewing tension in that area, as well.

So I think going into the open for the first full trading week of May, Anna is looking very weak, according to the futures right now.

COREN: Kaori, where you are in Tokyo, Japan has been very slow to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. But the state of emergency is -- is now being extended. Tell us more.

ENJOJI: The state of emergency has been in place, and it's going to expire on the sixth. And the prime minister made it clear that he's going to extend that.

Probably, we'll get the confirmation later on tonight by a couple of weeks to the end of the month. It's kind of a soft lockdown. It's a bit of an ambiguous situation, where people are allowed to go out and some areas are still pretty full.

So I think they're going to take a sort of a two-pronged approach to try and, you know, get people over this corona effect fatigue. After weeks of being cloistered up into -- in their homes.

That doesn't mean the businesses are going to be back to normal. A lot of companies, 400 companies in Japan have delayed their earnings forecast, basically, because they don't know what business is going to be like.

So I think it's going to be far from back to normal, but we probably will get an official announcement, Anna, from the government that they are going to extend this nationwide state of emergency.

COREN: Kaori Enjoji, we appreciate the update. Many thanks.

Well, South Korea will start to relax social distancing orders this week. The guidelines people must follow to keep the virus at bay. That's after the break.

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[00:26:04]

COREN: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Anna Coren. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, California is one U.S. state that's been standing firm on its stay-at-home orders, and there's been pushback. Friday, more than 2,000 people gathered at Huntington Beach to protest the governor's order to close all the beaches in Orange County. Our Paul Vercammen was back in Huntington Beach to take a look.

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PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another day of the hard shut down in Orange County and another day where police seemed to be looking the other way early in the morning when it came to surfers. Let's look at this beach, Huntington Beach.

What we saw was some of the surfers got out early in the morning and rode the waves, and then the officers got on bullhorns and told him to exit the water. These surfers did. All this in Orange County, where they now have 2,743 cases of COVID-

19. That's a population of three million. Many people would argue here that that is not a staggering number. And that would include some surfers that we talk to who feel that this beach shutdown is just overreaching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A governor wasting all these resources on putting cones up, putting caution tape up and driving down the coast and seeing a cop at every light is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's -- it's ridiculous. I mean, like, there's other things that you could be doing in terms of like having people say, Hey, you've got to keep moving on the beach, but don't stop people from enjoying this out here.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Those images are an example of what not to see. People, what not to do. This virus doesn't take the weekends off. And that's why I cannot impress upon you more, to those Californians watching, that we can't see the images like we saw, particularly on Saturday in Newport Beach and elsewhere in the state of California.

VERCAMMEN (on camera): Governor Newsom, of course, stressing that social distancing is important to stop the spread of COVID-19, and he didn't like the idea of people stacked up on the beaches.

Newsom also said that this week, we're going to be able to make announcements that will give some people more confidence in the ability for California to get back on its economic feet. That will be welcomed here in Huntington Beach and all of Orange County, as well as those northern California rural counties where there are zero COVID-19 cases.

Reporting from Huntington Beach, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Well, American leaders are undergoing pressure to ease restrictions and let people go back to work. Tens of millions are unemployed. And on Sunday, the Trump administration released results from its small business loan program. Jeremy Diamond has the data.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: With millions of Americans struggling financially across the United States, President Trump's chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said the Trump administration is going to be taking the next couple of weeks to determine whether additional financial stimulus from the federal government is needed and what form that financial stimulus will, indeed, take.

Kudlow indicating that the White House needs to assess whether -- what kind of impact the current financial stimulus is already having on the economy and how the economy begins to rebound as some of these states begin to reopen their economies. But Kudlow indeed describing this as a pause.

LARRY KUDLOW, HEAD OF WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: There may well be additional legislation. It is kind of a pause period right now.

But I would say to you, at this particular juncture, let's execute the continuation of what we've already done. Let's see what the results are.

The outlook in the weeks and months ahead, directly is not positive as you noted. The unemployment is very, very high, almost 30 million people. We are covering them with generous generous relief packages. Just trying to stabilize things and get folks through this. And then we will see.

DIAMOND: While Kudlow says the White House is making that assessment, here's what we already know. Thirty million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March.

[00:30:00]

And that small business loan program that was approved just over a week ago, in just the last week already, more than $175 billion of that $310 billion of additional funding for that payroll protection program for small businesses, it's already been used up. That's more than half of those additional funds that were already sent out.

So clearly, there is a serious need in the United States for economic stimulus. And while the White House works to figure out what kind of additional financial stimulus it needs, we've already heard from the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. She is urging an additional $1 trillion for state and local economies.

And regardless of which forms this stimulus takes, we did hear earlier this week from the Federal Reserve chairman, Jeremy Powell. He said that additional, direct financial relief for Americans is needed right now.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Let's talk more about the impact the coronavirus is having on the U.S. economy. I'm joined now by Megan Greene. She's a global economist and a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Business.

Meghan, great to have you with us.

Let's start with the stock market. It bounced in April despite unemployments in the U.S. hitting 30 million claims. Is there a disconnect between the market and the real economy?

MEGAN GREENE, GLOBAL ECONOMIST AND SENIOR FELLOW, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: There is clearly a disconnect between the market and the real economy. But you know, that happens often, actually, where economic fundamentals can be terrible and the markets can actually soar, or vice versa.

I would say this time, the rebound has really been led by tech stocks. And I don't think we've probably seen the worst of it for the stock market. So just because we're in the storm, I think the fundamentals, in terms of macro fundamentals, are pretty terrible.

COREN: The market is obviously pricing a V-shaped recovery, but not everyone agrees. What are your thoughts?

GREENE: So I think a V-shaped recovery is pretty much off the table at this point, particularly as we're talking about reopening the economy, and some states have gone ahead and already done that.

I think, you know, there's a great chance that we could end up bringing on a second wave of this virus as economies do open up, in which case we'll have to shut back down and open back up and shut back down. So it will be sort of a zigzag recovery.

I also think if you open up the economy, that doesn't mean that people are going to go out and spend. So a recent poll suggested that out of 70 -- you know, people could go out to restaurants and bars. Seventy percent of respondents just wouldn't do it. You know, 85 percent of respondents wouldn't get on a plane; 80 percent wouldn't go to a large event. So unless there is actual confidence that comes back, spending isn't going to rebound and we can't have that a V-shaped recovery.

COREN: You mentioned the second wave. Experts are talking about third or fourth waves into the future? Is that going to hurt the economy even -- even more so than locking it down for the appropriate amount of time?

GREENE: So it really depends on how severe other waves are. I mean, we saw with the Spanish influenza that it wasn't the first wave that was the most deadly. We had, you know, subsequent waves and mutations that were more deadly. And so that could happen here, but even if it doesn't, you see riots around the U.S., at least. And also in other countries like Italy, there are protests against these lockdown measures.

If you let people out and then try to lock down again, I think that will be more difficult than having locked them down to begin with. So I think in terms of kind of social unrest, it becomes much more difficult, as well.

COREN: I just want to talk to you about the news that clothing giant J. Crew has filed for bankruptcy. Do you think this is the first of many companies that will make these filings?

GREENE: So I do. Analysts have been calling for the death of retail for about a decade now. And it hasn't happened, but I think there's a good chance that now it might.

We already saw kind of a migration from buying retail in bricks and mortar shops towards online shopping. And that's been massively accelerated by this crisis. And so I do think it's going to be hard for a lot of bricks and mortar retailers to come back after this.

And I also think we're seeing a lot of them who were in financial trouble before hand, so Macy's is an example, who are in even more trouble now. It's not clear that they're going to rebound in the same way or that they're really going to come back. So I think J. Crew probably is the first in a line of retailers who are going to have trouble opening their doors and may end up filing for bankruptcy.

COREN: Global economists Megan Greene. Great to have you with us and your perspective. Many thanks.

Well, beginning Monday, South Korea is providing emergency relief grants to citizens impacted by the coronavirus. Those living off basic expenses are eligible to receive cash, while others will be able to apply online for assistance next week.

The country will also begin to relax its social distancing orders on Wednesday as the number of new cases of the virus has stayed relatively low.

[00:35:30]

Our Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul.

Paula, South Korea, as you well know, has done an exceptional job in getting on top of this virus. How are people feeling about the easing of social distancing?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anna, certainly, on some streets of Seoul, it appears as though the social distancing is a thing of the past anyway. There's certainly a lot more people out and about, but the vast majority of them, of course, still wearing masks.

So what we have this week from Wednesday, the prime minister has said that there will be a loosening of the social distancing rules. So things like national parks, museums, art galleries, sporting facilities, they will start to be opening up. That won't all be done on Wednesday. This will be a gradual process. It will be a phased process.

But it is a step in the right direction, to show that officials are acknowledging that -- that the cases are particularly low in giving the -- the officials within these facilities, as well, notice that they do have to continue disinfection and that people should still keep their distance from each other and be sensible about it.

But it really shows that what the policy here in Korea has been, this test, trace, treat has done well. It has been successful. Considering just a couple of months ago, there were a remarkable amount of -- of new cases on a daily basis reported here.

But what we are seeing is that the people are starting to come out a lot more. There was never an official lockdown. There was never a mandated work-from-home policy for South Koreans. It was all recommended, but certainly, that has been loosened. Also, this disaster relief fund that -- that the government has

approved. This could, in theory, go to every single household in the country. It would be $320 for a single person or more than $800 for a family of four, just to help people along.

Now, from today, it will go to the most needy people, those most urgent cases, those who rely on benefits, those who have been hit the hardest, potentially lost their jobs, been furloughed. And that's about 13 percent of the population, so almost three million people should be having the -- the amounts processed from today -- Anna.

COREN: Paula, I just want to turn to North Korea. Obviously, Kim Jong- un was missing in action for three weeks. He reappeared. South Korean authorities, they have spoken out about the state of his health. What did they say?

HANCOCKS: That's right, Anna. And they've had a consistent line all along, saying that they didn't believe there was anything unusual. One of the senior advisors to President Moon Jae-in saying he was alive and well when the speculation was swirling around the world.

So what we've heard from the South Korean side is that they also don't believe that he has undergone any surgery. This was from an official from the Blue House, the South Korean presidential office. And they have acknowledged that there are still reports out there, suggesting that maybe he had had surgery. And they say they simply don't believe that that is true.

They say that that is based on assessment, their assessments, but they can't clarify what assessment that is, because they can't give that kind of information to the public. So suggesting that they're basing it on something a little more concrete than -- than just a hunch.

But this is really something we've seen from the -- the South Koreans consistently from when this speculation first started, when he didn't turn up to pay respects to his grandfather on his birth date on April 15. And South Korea has consistently said that they believe everything is normal in North Korea.

COREN: Paula Hancocks, as always, great to see. Many thanks for that update.

Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue was lit up with several messages on Sunday, urging people to wear masks and use social distancing as cases in Brazil continue to rise.

This is the fourth time since mid-March that the statue has been lit up because of the virus.

Well, meanwhile, Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, attended a rally on Sunday where there was no social distancing. The president has downplayed the coronavirus, comparing it to a little flu.

Brazil has reported more than 101,000 cases and upwards of 7,000 deaths. As coronavirus cases spike in India, the country finds a unique way to

honor those on the front lines, showering them with roses. The latest from India ahead.

Plus, what you need to know about the new workout etiquette as gyms and fitness centers begin to reopen.

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[00:42:42]

COREN: Rose petals fell from the sky in India on Sunday. Military helicopters showering frontline workers with flowers. The gesture of gratitude was one of many tributes over the weekend, thanking healthcare workers for their grace and grit during the coronavirus pandemic.

Well, the act of kindness comes as cases continue to spike in India. New infections jumping by several thousands in the past 48 hours. With a peak yet to be declared, India's government has extended lockdown restrictions for another fortnight.

Our next guest writes that, under a lock down, the city of New Delhi is seemingly frozen, not only in fear but also in time.

Well, Jeffrey Gettleman is the "New York Times" south Asia bureau chief and joins us via Skype from New Delhi.

Jeffrey, great to have you with us. Tell us about that fear that Indians are feeling in the face of COVID-19.

JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, "NEW YORK TIMES" SOUTH ASIA BUREAU CHIEF: Well, I was surprised when this lockdown first started about six weeks ago, how rigorously people were following it. There was basically nobody on the streets. The parks were empty. Nobody was sneaking around trying to exercise or get out, like we've seen in many other places.

And so I began to look into why was it that so many Indians have been following these lockdown rules and, in some cases, even going far beyond that?

And the answer I kept getting was that people were scared. They were scared of getting sick. They were scared of ending up in a public hospital that's under-resourced and doesn't have the level of care that many people need. And they were scared of being able to afford for the medicine that they might have to take.

So that -- that fear was felt across all centers of society. It wasn't just in the lower-income neighborhoods or among poor people, even in fancy neighborhoods like where I live. Everybody was staying inside.

And I think that sense of, we need to take care of ourselves, we really don't want to get sick at all costs, explained why this lockdown has been so thoroughly and rigorously enforced and obeyed.

COREN: So you would say that the majority of Indians are abiding by the rules?

GETTLEMAN: That's what -- that's what we've observed. And even in places where they began to relax some of these restrictions.

Because here, just like everywhere, there's a clear economic cost. There are millions of people out of work. There's millions of people who are going hungry. And the government's aware of that. They know about this trade-off between public health and the economy.

[00:45:10]

So in the last couple of weeks, we've seen efforts to open up the economy in certain sectors. Certain parts of manufacturing, agriculture, other industries, but in many areas, people don't want to go back to work. They say they're scared of getting the coronavirus, or they communicate this peer pressure that they feel that their neighbors and other people around them are going to feel like they're risking everybody's health by going back to work.

COREN: Jeffrey, how would you describe the way that Prime Minister Modi and his government have handled this pandemic to date?

GETTLEMAN: I think a lot of Indians are very happy with the way they've handled it. In the beginning, Modi himself was out front, speaking to the public, holding these television announcements.

The last one, he appeared with the -- with the scarf over his face. And people seemed to really be paying attention. And from our information, his approval ratings were increasing.

In the last week or so, he stepped back a bit. He left it to other arms of the government to communicate the fact that the lockdown is being extended.

And now the thought is, maybe there is less enthusiasm for this lockdown, that as -- you know, as the weeks grind on, as more people are out of work, as more people are getting hungry, as the temperatures increase. You know, it's above 40 degrees here now in New Delhi. And it's hard to stay indoors when it's that hot.

So as that -- as the mood is beginning to shift and maybe there's a little less enthusiasm for following the lockdown, Modi has played more of a backstage role, maybe because he is aware that people aren't so happy with this anymore. But overall, you know, Indians are still following the rules much better than in many other parts of the world.

COREN: Well, the fear, of course, is that, if first-world countries like the United States can't get on top of the coronavirus, what hope do third-world countries like India have? Do you think that the calamity may be on the horizon in India, despite the fact that everyone is abiding by the rules for now?

GETTLEMAN: It's really hard to tell. And, you know, none of us want to kind of be spreading, you know, any more doom and gloom and making people depressed than we have to. So far, India has not reported that many cases per capita. There's

something around 40, 45,000 cases right now in the country of 1.3 billion people. That's nowhere close to what, you know, Spain or Italy or the U.K. or the U.S. has reported per capita.

There's fewer tests, though, done in India, so we don't really know the situation out there, how pervasive this virus has spread.

But the risks here are really high. There are very densely populated urban areas where people live face to face. They can't do social distancing. The public hospitals and the amount of money spent on healthcare here per person is way less than in many, you know, countries around the world.

So the stakes here are higher. And I think people are aware of that, and that goes back to this lockdown, is that the -- is that many people in India know that this country could get hit really hard, so they're doing their best as individuals to prevent that from happening.

COREN: Is there talk of reopening the economy and what that will look like?

GETTLEMAN: Well, funny that you ask that. Just today, we're beginning to see some relaxations. So today for the first time, domestic help is allowed to work in New Delhi. Before, you know, maids, drivers -- there's a large informal workforce that helps people out in their homes here. They had been banned from going to work. And today for the first time, they're allowed to work.

Liquor shops are reopening. Some people are very excited about that. That had been closed for the last six weeks. And several other pieces of the economy are slowly beginning to turn. There's traffic on the roads today for the first time in a long time.

So we'll see how this plays out. I think in a place like India, this -- this calculation of the economic costs versus the public health benefit is really intense, because people, many people here live hand to mouth. They're a rickshaw driver. They work during the day. They make, you know, a few dollars a day, and they use that money to buy food for their family that day. If they can't work, they have no savings. They have no cushion.

So the government's aware of that, and they're trying to open up the economy bit by bit, but at the same time, we're seeing an increase in cases. Just in the last couple of days, the percentage rise has gone up.

So it's a real quandary the government here is facing. But I think most of the people feel like the government has served them well in this crisis. You're not hearing too many complaints so far.

[00:50:05]

COREN: Jeffrey Gettleman, great to get your insight on the ground there in New Delhi. Thanks so much for joining us. GETTLEMAN: My pleasure.

COREN: Well, some people are about to beat lockdown fatigue by going back to the gym, but the rules have changed. Why your work-out routine might never be the same.

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COREN: For some of us, one of the worst things about the lockdown is not being able to pump iron or get a burn. The state of Georgia is now allowing gyms to reopen, but many are choosing to stay closed.

Andy Scholes looks at what one gym is doing to keep weekend warriors safe.

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ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Synergy Fitness, a cross-fit gym in Suwanee, Georgia, will officially reopen its doors on Monday, and when it does, it will look very different.

WILL HAMILTON, OWNER, SYNERGY GYM: This is a 10-by-10 box. The boxes follow the guidelines of the state. They're 6 feet apart. So this could theoretically be somebody's garage, and the idea being, can they come in the door, can they stay in their box. Everything they need is here. They have minimal contact with people, minimal contact with other equipment. And they can clean their stuff and leave with, really, a seamless experience.

[00:55:06]

SCHOLES: Synergy's owner, Will Hamilton, has spent hours on creating a plan to try to make his gym as safe as possible.

HAMILTON: Every station we have here has its own bucket, disinfectant, clean wipes. Not only can the members then clean their own equipment before and after the workout, which are both important. The coaches in between classes -- we'll be staggering classes 30 minutes to give us time not only to get the 10-person crew out and a new crew in, but also give our coaches time to make sure everything is clean. The bathrooms, the floors, literally from top to bottom.

SCHOLES: Dr. Chris Hagenstad, an oncologist and member at Synergy, says he feels safe returning to the gym.

CHRIS HAGENSTAD, ONCOLOGIST: We look at an environment like this that's well-ventilated, that -- that safety measures are in place in terms of the social distancing, and we would consider this environment to be a low-risk environment.

SCHOLES: While other members are not ready just yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do want to see the data. I want to see the trends. And I also want to feel that it's safe for me to come back and that for my family to come back. Because it's not really about me. Yes, I am concerned about getting sick, but I'm really more concerned about some of my high-risk family members.

SCHOLES: Synergy will be following the guidelines set by the state of Georgia when they reopen, and they hope by reopening, they can help bring back a little bit of joy to those who return.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.

HAMILTON: It's can we take that experience that we're safe and contained in our house and bring it back here, to where we get all the culture, we get the music, we get the seeing each other's faces, we get the camaraderie that makes a place like this special? Can we just inject a little bit of that back into these workouts? And that's what we're really trying to achieve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one. Time! Good job, guys. Nice work!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Thanks so much for your company. I'm Anna Coren. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

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