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Some European Countries Eases Lockdown Restrictions; Italians Return to Work; France Extends State of Emergency; United Kingdom to Overtake Italy on Coronavirus Deaths; Austria Onto Next Phase of Reopening; U.S Will Ship Thousands Doses of Remdesivir as Trumps Predicts Higher Deaths; Governor Cuomo Forms Coalition With Six Other Governors to Buy Medical Equipments; Easing Restriction, Warning of New Cases From Experts; U.S. Army Wraps Up at Javits Center; U.S. Reports China Concealed Information from International Community. Aired 2:16-3a ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 02:16   ET




COREN: Welcome back to our viewers. Joining us also from the United States, I'm Ana Coren in Hong Kong. The U.S. government will begin shipping thousands of doses of remdesivir this week. The head of the company that makes the drug says the government will decide where the medicine goes.

Early test results show remdesivir shortens the duration of severe COVID-19 cases. President Trump said Sunday the U.S. death toll from the virus could reach as high as 100,000. Well, that is a substantial increase from his last estimate of 50 to 60,000 deaths. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator offered even higher estimates.


DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: Our projections have always been between 100 and 240,000 American lives lost. And that's with full mitigation and us learning from each other of how to social distance.


COREN: Well meantime, as more states begin to reopen, seven eastern states are banding together to coordinate the purchase of medical equipment and protective gear to prepare for a possible second wave. Natasha Chen reports.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL 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. ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: We are going to form a consortium

with or seven northeast partner states, which buy about $5 billion dollars worth of equipment and supplies.

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

CUOMO: What we have seen in New York did not 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 (voice-over): Meanwhile, as the U.S. heads into another work week, more than half of the states are marching towards reopening, but it does not 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 administrations coronavirus task force once again urged the importance of that downward trend.

BIRX: As states reopen, we really want them to follow the gating criteria.

CHEN (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 it's over. No, no, we never said it was over.

CHEN (on camera): Well, you heard Governor Cuomo strong feelings about people wearing face masks in public, but require people to wear masks and 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, though store employees will still be wearing face masks.


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

RAJ KALSI, BOARD CERTIFIED EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: I think the number is going to be far greater. I wish I was saying something different right now, compared to what my thoughts were a few weeks ago, a month ago, but we are looking at 1,000 people dying a day in the United States, and that 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 pharmaceutic 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 in the process easing restrictions. Are you concerned?

KALSI: I am. I'm also concerned about an economy that is crumbling and as people starve, literally, there is 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 cannot afford to live.

But I'm also worried about this virus just completely continuing 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, the protocols of 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 that if they get COVID are likely to survive it or maybe have a milder illness.

COREN: And then of course, if they come into contact with those people in that high risk group, that is always the concern. With the easing of restrictions doctor, do you anticipate another surge in two, three, four weeks time?

KALSI: I see multiple apex or our 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 that start re- infecting or infecting, I should say, people that have never had COVID and you'll see another apex.

And that might 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: I'm emotionally and physically exhausted. And when I am 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 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 hospital where I work at four different ones, one of my institutions were almost full with vents with 80 people in-house positive for COVID.


It's challenging and now multiple nurse colleagues of mine in the 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: The U.S. Army says it's wrapping up its mission at a New York City field hospital this week.


Health care workers at the Javits Convention Center give a standing ovation to the last coronavirus patient to be discharged. Within 1,000 patients were treated there, well below capacity because hospitals did not run out of beds as much as they had anticipated.

An explosive allegation from Washington, the latest strain in relations with China comes in a Homeland Security report on Beijing's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

And millions of Americans are struggling financially. Could another stimulus package be on the horizon? We'll take a look.


COREN: Welcome back. The U.S. says the Chinese government intentionally concealed the severity of the coronavirus from the international community while it stockpiled imports and decreased exports.

A Department of Homeland Security report says China probably cut its exports of medical supplies prior to notifying the World Health Organization about the contagion. The report does not conclude whether China acted in bad faith.


At a Fox News town hall, President Trump said he believes the origin of the virus was a horrible mistake, but that the blame rests with China.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think there's any question about it. We wanted to go in, they didn't want us to go in, early, very early. You'll see that because things are coming out that are pretty compelling now. So I don't think there's any question.

Don't forget, China tried to blame it first on some of our soldiers. That turned out to not go too far. And I really got very upset with that. That was not right. And then they tried to blame it on Europe.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COREN: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who said the White House will hold China to account for concealing what was happening at the beginning of the outbreak. For more and how the tension between Beijing and Washington is playing on world markets, I'm joined now by CNN Emerging Markets Editor John Defterios in Abu Dhabi.

John, U.S.-China tensions obviously led Wall Street to a sharp downturn on Friday. Is Asia following this downturn?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes. In fact, Friday was universally pretty bad, Anna. And we see some of the markets that are closed in Asia, but the ones that are open or taking a licking. You know, it never helps when you have the clash of the titans, if you will. Don't forget, it's number one and number two economies in the world.

And right now, it's the U.S. pushing the hardest particularly in an election year, and particularly because the sensitivities around the number of deaths in the United States. Let's take a look at those markets and you'll see what I'm talking about. Seoul down around two percent on the day hovering around its lows. And then we had Hong Kong which is coming out later with GDP figures that are going to be down probably around 6.5 to seven percent, down about four percent on the day.

Australia has provided a lot of stimulus. In fact, the G-20 countries overall put in $7 trillion. And that's why we had such a terrific month of April in the markets. And now, the U.S.-China tensions bring that down again because of the worries about tariffs and what's going to happen to the U.S. bond market if China eventually decides to sell.

U.S. futures or been down around one percent the entire time, all three of the major indices so far on light volume, of course. And then the oil futures were right near the low for the day. And again, you see the U.S. benchmark WTI down around seven percent. Brent again, near its low for the day.

The OPEC plus cuts came into effect on Friday. The market wants to see that it's going to be delivered. But there's huge concerns now because China is the number one importer, whether demand there remains low for all of 2020 and then going into the first quarter of 2021.

COREN: John, this latest spat between the United States and China, how is this going to affect the trade deal?

DEFTERIOS: Well, you know, they had this phase one of the deal, Anna, as you know, in January 15th. And it was calling for China over the next two years to spend an extra $200 billion on products. This is particularly sensitive and I'm glad that you decided to note it because in an election year Donald Trump has been saying for the last three years, he's going to open up the Chinese market, particularly for his two bases in the farm belt and the energy belt.

So, $80 billion of the $200 billion is supposed to be for farm products, particularly soybeans, and California nuts, and even pork products coming from the Midwest. Again, those are under strain in the coronavirus, and also the energy market. The U.S. is trying to challenge Saudi Arabia and Russia in China as the number one importer of oil and gas. China is a market that's very precious.

So far, we see China sticking with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf producers like the UAE. Also, Russia is slow to take on the products in the United States. So if that's going to be the position, you can expect the Trump administration to push even harder going forward here as the pressure mounts on the president because of the coronavirus. And perhaps many say he's right to say what happened in Wuhan going forward. But should it spill into U.S. markets and the trade deal as well, that's the real question mark.

COREN: John Defterios, as always, great reporting, many thanks for joining us. On Sunday, the Trump administration released results from its small business loan program. More than half of the $310 billion in additional funding is already claimed. Well, during that Fox News Townhall, President Trump was asked if more help was coming.


TRUMP: We're going to do more and everybody wants to do more. It's really -- it's actually on that aspect of it is very bipartisan. So, the answer is yes, we're going to do more, and you're going to have your job. You're going to get another job or you're going to get a better job. You get a job where you make more money, frankly.

We're not doing anything unless we get a payroll tax cut. That is so important to the success of our country and to the following year because I think that the following year, has a chance to be one of our best years.


COREN: Well, Jeremy Diamond picks up the story from Washington.


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, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE: There may well be additional legislation There's 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've noted. The unemployment is very, very high, almost 30 million people. We are covering them with generous relief packages, just trying to stabilize things and get folks through this. And then we will see.

DIAMOND: Now, while Kudlow says the White House is making that assessment, here's what we already know. 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March. 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 what form this stimulus takes, we did hear earlier this week from the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. He said that additional direct financial relief for Americans is needed right now. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


COREN: Well, 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. Megan, great to have you with us. Let's start with the stock market.

It bounced in April, despite unemployment in the U.S. hitting 30 million claims. Is there a disconnect between the market and the real economy?

MEGAN GREENE, GLOBAL ECONOMIST: There's 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 sore or vice versa. And 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 eye of the storm, I think the fundamentals in terms of macro fundamentals are pretty terrible.

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

GREENE: So, I think the V shape 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 will have to shut back down and open back up and shut back down. So it'll 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 if 70 -- you know, if people could go out to restaurants and bars, 70 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 a V shaped recovery.

COREN: You mentioned that second wave, and experts are talking about third fourth waves into the future. Is that going to hurt the economy even more so than then 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 them 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 interest, 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 has 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 beforehand. So Macy's is an example, who are in even more trouble now. It's not clear that they're going to rebound 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 Economist Megan Greene, great to have you with us and your perspective, many thanks.

The Coronavirus has built the food supply chain ablow. Ranches and meatpacking plants of feeling it. Just ahead, we'll get perspective on this from one Wisconsin farmer.


COREN: Hundreds of workers at a pork processing plant in Missouri have tested positive for coronavirus. Over the last few days, more than 700 people at Triumph Foods were tested. Over half of them tested positive. Health officials there say the workers were all asymptomatic. The Health Department is in the process of tracing any contacts those workers may have had.

Well, meatpacking plants in the United States are under a federal executive order to stay open amid the Coronavirus crisis. But it gets complicated for plant managers, ranches, and workers. Well, CNN's Omar Jimenez explains from Wisconsin.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a farm and it's fifth generation. But one that's never operated in an environment like this.

TERRY QUAM, MARDA ANGUS FARMS: We'll make the changes we need to make.


JIMENEZ: Terry Quam is an angus beef cattle farmer in Wisconsin, and represents the first link in a farm to table food supply chain with segments on the brink of crisis.

How concerned are you specifically?

QUAM: There's no handbook for this. There's no answer of when things are going to come around and be normal, when will people get to go back to the restaurants and eat the healthy beef that we produce at the restaurants.

JIMENEZ: Quam has mostly been affected by the stay at home orders, but he also markets to meat packers, the same types of facilities that are now seeing coronavirus outbreaks across the country, including in Brown County which includes Green Bay, Wisconsin, where more than half of all confirmed cases in that county stem from meatpacking plants.

Filiberto Martinez says he was concerned workers like himself weren't being given enough protective equipment, so he said something about it. And now he's unsure if he's been suspended or fired.

I don't think I did anything wrong, he says. I simply asked for more protection and more safety so that myself and everyone who works there don't get infected or lose their lives.

Martinez says he along with the worker's rights group Voices De La Frontera filed the complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, claiming they were having to work at a faster speed due to less workers being present, and that their PPE was getting so wet with sweat, some was dripping on to the raw meat. One of our co-workers next to us, we saw him sick, he says. And I

said, you know what, if you're feeling bad, why don't you go home and go get checked? He said no, I don't have anything. But like I said, there's a fear that this person had to lose the benefits of his job. It's a balance workers across the country are trying to find.

ERNEST LATIKER, EMPLOYEE, TYSON FOODS: They told me I have a better chance of catching the coronavirus going out to Walmart than in Tyson. Come to work. You're safe.

JIMENEZ: Tyson told CNN they couldn't address the specific situation as described. But that Particular Tyson plant in Iowa closed with over 150 confirmed cases tied to the facility. This as thousands of other workers in the U.S. have either shown symptoms or been hospitalized. And with President Trump's executive order compelling these locations to reopen or stay open, workers are caught in the middle.

Who wants to die, Martinez says, I think no one. And so, it's not the same thing to be in the danger versus when you're looking at the danger.

The effects have been noticed at grocery stores too. Kroger for example, putting limits on some meat purchases tied to shopper demand. Back on the farm, the worries are less about what people are eating and more about finding places to sell.

QUAM: When Mother Nature throws us a curveball, you've got to figure out a way to get around it and work with it and take care of business.

JIMENEZ: And the business of keeping America fed is being tested alongside the health of the many who make it a reality.


COREN: Omar Jimenez reporting there. Well, one U.S. college wants to give the graduating class something to remember. They couldn't have an in-person ceremony, so they got Tom Hanks instead.



COREN: A spectacular sight from a different point of view. Yesterday, we showed you these pictures of the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds over the National Mall. Here's a view from inside the cockpit as the planes flew across Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Atlanta. The special flight was to honor health care workers and first responders on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Well, the graduating class of a college in Ohio got a big surprise during their virtual ceremony, an appearance from Tom Hanks. Well, the A-list actor delivered a video message to the graduates of Wright State University, telling them they are a special generation and their lives have been changed forever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM HANKS, ACTOR: You are the chosen ones because of a fate, unimagined would you began your right state adventures. You started in the olden times in the world back before the Great pandemic of 2020. You will talk of those earlier years in your lives just that way. Well, that was back before the COVID-19. That was before the great pandemic.

Part of your lives will forever be identified as before, in the same way other generations tell time like, well, that was before the war, that was before the internet, or that was before Beyonce.


COREN: Hank and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for the virus while traveling in Australia back in March. They have since recovered and donated plasma to help other patients.

With over a million Americans contracting the coronavirus, people are trying to avoid interacting with others while still taking care of basic needs like shopping. CNN Photojournalists Ken Touhey shows us a small neighborhood market just outside of Washington D.C. that is using robots to make deliveries.


TRACY STANNARD, STORE OWNER: This is the broad branch market, and we're a neighborhood corner store. It's been here for 100 years. I'm Tracy Stannard, and I'm one of the owners. We have a long-running history of providing for the neighborhood.

When the virus first became sort of, you know, in the news, we still had customers in there. It became really clear to us that if any of us got sick, the store would have to close. And it's always here for the neighborhood. We sort of have that reputation that we're always there for them. So it was really important to figure out how we could do that this time too.

What makes us special now is that we have our little robots making our deliveries. The company reached out to us. I think they -- with the closing of college campuses, they had some available robots, and they were looking at places across the country where they could use the robots in communities.

There's a couple of ways people are ordering currently. You can download the Starship app, and then you put all your items in the cart and you send it. And then the pickers, my employees in the store, will fill the orders, and then we'll load the bot and it'll be sent out to you.

The robot sends you a text when it's near your house, and then it tells you on your phone how to open it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. Here's your delivery. STANNARD: And then heads home. People love them. You know, there are

certain people that love them just because they're fun and cute, but there are others that really appreciate the separation.


COREN: A novel idea. Well, thanks so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren. Much more next hour with my lovely colleague, Rosemary Church. But before we go, a beautiful moment serving as a reminder that we are all in this together. The U.S. Air Force Band leading the military bands of six other nations to virtually perform I'll Be Seeing You to celebrate International Jazz Day on Thursday.