Return to Transcripts main page
Most States Across U.S. Are Moving Toward Reopening; U.S. Wants Allies To Join Pressure Campaign Against China; India To Begin Evacuations Of Citizens Stranded Abroad; Ousted Vaccine Director Files Whistleblower Complaint; Venezuela Says It Captured Americans in Coup Attempt; Gasoline Demand Fuels Spike in Oil Prices; Shanghai Disneyland to Reopen on May 11; Unemployment Hits Asian-Americans Especially Hard; The Rise of the "Corona Jerk" in the U.S.; Musicians Play for New York COVID Patients. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired May 6, 2020 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Blame game, the U.S. ramped up diplomatic pressure on China, enlisting support from foreign allies for a united response to allegations Beijing could have done a lot more to prevent the pandemic. And no work and no way home, unemployment migrant workers left stranded and their home government struggling to get them back.
It seems it's only a matter of time but the U.K. has now overtaken Italy in the number of people who have been killed during this pandemic. The death toll in Britain are close to 30,000, the worst in Europe, second only to the United States. Around the world, the number of dead stands at a quarter of a million people.
And against that unrelenting and steady climb in lives lost, researchers in the U.S. have begun human trials of an experimental vaccine. If successful, the makers say millions of doses could be ready by year's end. More than 100 possible vaccines are in the works worldwide.
And with predictions the number of people who will die from the coronavirus could nearly double by August in the U.S. One official has told CNN, the White House is planning to wind down the task force advising the president, and Donald Trump says The time has come to look to the next phase.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not saying anything is perfect. And yes, will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get an open soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Most states are moving on to that next phase by reopening businesses. And as CNN's Athena Joins reports, the approach varies from state to state.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As states across the country lift restrictions put in place to fight COVID-19, some are moving more cautiously than others. Stay at home orders remain in place in Washington until May 31st. But starting today, fishing, hunting, golf courses, and state parks are open.
In Arizona, retailers are now open for curbside pickup or delivery, and restaurants will be allowed to resume dine-in service with physical distancing on Monday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all want to be safe and we all want to make sure that we're going in the right place, but I think we're all ready to support the economy.
JONES: In California, some Orange County beaches reopen today with some limitations. And retail shops including clothing stores, florists, and book shops can begin to reopen Friday. And in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott announced barber shops, hair and nail salons can open this Friday, earlier than he had previously suggested, despite a mixed bag of coronavirus statistics and the state.
Meanwhile, too grim new predictions for telling a summer marked by more death and suffering. Both estimates now predicting thousands more U.S. deaths from COVID-19 than they were just days ago, about doubling previous projections.
ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's the balance of something that's a very difficult choice, like how many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept to get back to what you want to be some form of normality sooner rather than later.
JONES: New York for one is taking a more cautious approach, announcing that at 1:00 a.m. Wednesday, it is shutting down subways, buses, and trains in the city hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic to allow for deep cleaning.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Tonight we're going to shut down the subways for the first time in history. Why? Because they have to be disinfected.
JONES: Meanwhile, there could soon be more progress on the vaccine front. U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer today announcing that with its partner German company BioNTech, it has begun testing a new vaccine and humans in the U.S. They say it could be ready for emergency use in the fall if it works.
But there is bad news for consumers, a meat shortage at Wendy's following the shutdown of meatpacking plants in several states. One analyst estimating nearly one in five of the fast-food chains restaurants is not serving hamburgers or other beef-based items. Grocery chains are now limiting meat purchases. Costco is saying members will be limited to three items of beef, pork, and poultry products. And public setting a limit of two packages per chicken.
One thing we know from all the data we have so far is that those most at risk as the states reopen is unlikely to change. Among them the elderly and infirmed, people who live or work in dense conditions and are less able to socially distance, and also Blacks and Hispanics who the data suggests are more likely to die if they contract the virus. Athena Jones, CNN New York.
VAUSE: Esther Choo is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, and she is with us from Portland. Doctor, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. I just wanted to say, it seems there's an impression in the United States that as a whole, this outbreak has peaked.
But if you look at this graph, which shows the number of new cases in the U.S., it's sort of bounced around at a level which can best be described as a plateau, that since the end of March. And this is how the United States compares to nine other countries hit hard by the virus, places like Italy and Germany and Spain. They all went through this sort of bouncing plateau period if you like before case numbers started to fall. And then came the lifting of restrictions.
So I can only assume those countries had good reason for waiting until there was a real trend line, so then our cases were dropping. Does that mean in terms of ending a lockdown in some ways, the U.S. is now heading into uncharted waters?
ESTHER CHOO, OREGON HEALTH AND SCIENCE UNIVERSITY: Yes. We're really doing an amazing experiment here. I will say that, you know, the disease hit all 50 states, but at different times. So when you take these aggregate numbers and show that it plateaus, that means a lot of different things. I mean, in some states that has truly flattened, in other states, it's going down. and other states, they're just entering their peak.
And so a single curve for the entire country actually means very different things for different states. And the decision making, you would think would be variable as well. But we are, you know, we -- the best practice that's put out there by people who know pandemics is to wait until the case rates are falling before you open.
We are certainly not taking that as a uniform approach and some states are opening up less because of where we are in case rates and trajectory and more because of economic necessity or simply impatience.
VAUSE: And some of those states where there has been impatience and they are moving quickly before there is a decline, part of the strategy there has been to rely on hospitals to deal with what would certainly mean an increase in the number of cases. So someone like you who specializes in emergency medicine, how does that strategy sort of cure over prevention, if you like? How does that sit with you? CHOO: Yes. It's tough. I mean, first of all, when we -- when we rely on what's happening in hospitals to dictate our policy, we're looking at an endpoint that's, you know, that's sort of a two week delayed picture to decide what we're doing today.
You know, some states are really talking about hospitalizations and death rates, and they're saying, you know, that is an indicator of what we should do. But we have to remember that this disease, in particular, has this indolent course where your exposure doesn't really show up as a case in the hospital until two weeks later, and we don't see the death rates until two or three or more weeks after that.
So we're looking at a really distal, you know, downstream endpoint to dictate what we're doing upstream. And then you don't really know, again, if you're relying on that endpoint, not only are you really leaning on the health system to be able to have that kind of capacity, but you're looking at something that doesn't really tell you whether or not what you're doing is safe. It's too delayed.
VAUSE: It also seems to be a very unfair burden to put on health care workers who are at a higher exposure to risk to getting this disease, higher likelihood of dying from it because you're on the front lines of all this. You know, these are the heroes, the people that you know, get clapped every night at, you know, 8:00 in various cities.
CHOO: Yes, I appreciate that. I mean, yes, I don't -- I don't hear the term hero very well. I mean, we're going to do what it takes. Is it ideal for people to have to come to us? No. We are still lacking in things like that PPE you keep hearing about, the personal protective equipment that makes it safe for us to take care of people at large volumes.
And so in this setting, in particular, when there's a lot that you can do upstream to try to prevent disease before anybody gets to us, it's just a shame that people have to get to us when this is manageable and preventable outside of the hospital. So I think that's what it is. There are -- there are safety things, and it certainly is a lot in our shoulders.
But more than that, it's just -- it is always sad and stressful when you see things in the emergency department that never needed to be there because we, you know, we could have done a better job and that -- there's just kind of a psychological stress and a sadness to that. That is really what's casting a shadow over our work every day.
VAUSE: Yes. It seems a deliberate strategy to put all the pressure on the healthcare system as opposed to try to relieve it as much as possible before you get to that point. But you know, in this discussion about when and how to restart the economy, we heard from the Democratic governor of New York State on Tuesday, very stark terms laying out that this is the discussion about the value of human life. Here's part of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): A human life is priceless, period. Our reopening plan doesn't have a trade-off. Our reopening plan says you monitor the data, you monitor the transmission rate, you monitor the hospitalization rate, you monitor the death rate. If it goes up, you have a "circuit breaker." You stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So the counter-argument to that came from the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. And again, here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: We sent our young men to World War II over to Europe out to the Pacific knowing that many of them would not come home alive. And we decided to make that sacrifice because what we were standing up for was the American way of life. In the very same way now, we have to stand up for the American way of life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So you know, is that how -- is that what this has essentially comes down to? Is this what, for doctors who swear to do no harm above all else, that it seems to put them in a very difficult position.
CHOO: Yes, it is. And, you know, it doesn't have to be black and white. It's not either open the economy or choose life for people. You know, it doesn't have to be that stark. I mean, what we're talking about is having a smart approach to this.
And so, you know, having enough testing, that we know exactly where the hotspots are. You know, having a nimble approach so that we can -- when we do reopen, we are testing and we're doing so much surveillance that we know when it's not working, and we know it early before people are going into the hospital or dying. And then we ask people to pull back.
So I think this is -- you know, this can be a sophisticated approach. What we're -- what we're hoping for, at this point, you know, I'm injecting a dose of reality. I realize that reopening is happening, but what we're hoping is that we can at least do it cautiously and smartly, rather than putting a blindfold around our eyes and just marching out there without any information.
So we don't want to do this in a -- in a setting where we're doing it ignorantly and without an understanding. That's very -- you know, an approach to testing and surveillance that's very responsive to everything that we're doing so that we can pull back when we need to.
VAUSE: Dr. Choo, thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate your experience and your insights. Thank you.
Well, the Trump administration appears to be trying to isolate China diplomatically over the outbreak of the coronavirus. Two sources have told CNN, in recent weeks, President Trump, as well as senior White House aides, have spoken to dozens of foreign allies about ways to collectively respond to what the administration says was Beijing's deliberate efforts to conceal the severity of the crisis.
But as CNN's Alex Marquardt reports, some allies are hesitant to back the U.S.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: There is a growing in International assessment about the origin of the Coronavirus that is at odds with the Trump administration which has been pushing the theory that the virus was accidentally released by a lab in Wuhan, China.
Instead, the growing consensus among the Five Eyes intelligence- sharing partners, which includes the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, is that it is highly unlikely that the virus came from the lab and rather highly likely that it evolved in nature jumping from animals to humans. Multiple officials caution that that is their assessment, but that they can't be 100 percent certain without more transparency and cooperation from China.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison has said that there is no indication so far that the virus came from a lab, and the WHO also says that there is no evidence of that. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense here in Washington, as well as the American Intelligence Community, says that they are still looking into both theories. Both that it came from the market in Wuhan, happen and that it may have escaped from a lab. Listen to what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Did it come out of the virology lab in Wuhan? Did it occur in the -- in the wet market there in Wuhan? Did it occur somewhere else? And the answer to that is we don't know. And as mentioned by many people, various agencies, both civilian and U.S. government are looking at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: Milley also said that the release of the virus probably was not intentional, while the U.S. Intelligence Community says forcefully that the virus was not released purposefully. But so far, neither the U.S. military nor the Intelligence Community have released an official assessment. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: Let's go to Bob Baer now, former CIA operative and CNN Intelligence and Security Analysts. Bob, it's been a while. It's good to see you. Right now in the region, the only aircraft carrier there is one which belongs to China. The USS Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan are in port.
You know, we've seen the Chinese military making some unusual and aggressive moves around Taiwan. Is there a chain of events which could realistically lead to this diplomatic crisis escalating to a military one?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, John, I think absolutely. I've never seen relations this bad under this much pressure really since the Vietnam War. We're talking about 50 years here. No one's planning on going to war. But the Chinese as they come under pressure, as they're more and more isolated, and as this administration leads a propaganda war against China and blames it for our problems, I don't see this going anywhere good today.
It's, you know, South China Sea. And let's not forget that China has a lot of influence over North Korea. That's a wild card that it could pull out at any time. But the Chinese are not going to sit still for this beating they're getting from Washington.
VAUSE: You know, a little earlier, we heard from the U.S. Joint Chiefs saying there's no conclusive evidence one way or the other about this virus. The (INAUDIBLE) sort of weighted towards what this virus being natural as opposed to being mad made, but it's still inconclusive.
Over the weekend though, the U.S. Secretary of State spoke with absolute confidence in an interview with ABC News. Here's part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Secretary, have you seen anything that gives you high confidence that it originated in that Wuhan lab?
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: There's enormous evidence that that's where this began.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Yet there's a big difference between enormous evidence and we don't know, which is what's coming from Joint Chiefs. You know, so explain just how difficult would it be and what is needed to gather enormous evidence, you know, something like this, you know, even an intercept, human intelligence, people on the ground. What are we looking at?
BAER: You'd have to have somebody in the laboratory, somebody inside the Chinese government. And Pompeo, as far as I can see, is circulating a conspiracy theory that's been going around the White House for some time in right-wing circles.
And he's clearly not relying the U.S. Intelligence Community which has come out and said, look, the Chinese did not release this on purpose. They're you know -- and as far as the lab goes, the Chinese are going to have to tell us where it escaped, but there's no evidence for that either.
And this, by the way, John, is what's particularly bothering the Chinese is we're just making this stuff up as we go, and it's not helping relations, and especially since we need China to fight the coronavirus. This can't come at a worse time.
VAUSE: Yes. I mean, there are a couple of different threads to all of this. And once again, I want you to listen you once you listen to Mike Pompeo on ABC News. He said, the allegation here is that China delayed releasing information to give it time to hold vital supplies. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: We can confirm that the Chinese Communist Party did all that it could to make sure that the world didn't learn in a timely fashion about what was taking place. There's lots of evidence of that. Some of you can see in public, right?
We've seen announcements. We've seen the fact that they kicked journalists out. We saw the fact that those who were trying to report on this, medical professionals inside of China were silenced. They shut down reporting, all the kind of things that authoritarian regimes do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: This almost kind of rings true. It, you know, translated forming the world to stockpile what it needed. But what was interesting in that answer by Mike Pompeo, he doesn't refer to Beijing or the government or the government of China, he refers to the Chinese Communist Party. I don't want to play it, but it sounds like an attack on the party's legitimacy. And that seems to be playing with fire when it comes to Beijing.
BAER: Well, you're trying to undermine the regime, of course, and you're saying look, it's not you the Chinese people, it's the Chinese government, the Chinese military, but the party and the Chinese leadership. Absolutely. But that's a game you don't want to play with the Chinese is undermined authority in that country because they will lash out. There's just no doubt about it. I mean, really, John, we have to start talking ourselves down off this -- off the shelf very quickly.
VAUSE: The problem though is Trump has been searching for someone with something to blame. And China seems to be working with the American public. The opinion polls show that you know, the U.S. is following his lead, an anti-China sentiment increasingly blaming China for all this.
Take a look at some of these campaign ads for Republicans who are running for office. Listen -- watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: China must pay. America must rebuild.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: China is killing our jobs and now killing our people.
CARL BRIZZI, PROSECUTOR: China lied about the virus, delaying response causing unnecessary American deaths, costing us trillions.
JIM BOGNET, POLITICIAN: The Chinese lied to us. They tried to cover up coronavirus. When I'm your congressman, we'll make China pay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, this may be a great strategy in terms of domestic politics to get elected, but you know, this as you mentioned, this is a time when the U.S. needs to be working closely with China to develop a vaccine. They're the lion's share of the data on the virus. Their economy is set to recover long before the U.S. They seem to be holding a much stronger hand right now.
BAER: And don't forget, they've got more than $1 trillion worth American debt. They can play havoc in the treasury bond, in bond market and a lot of other places. They can do a lot of damage to the United States. But again, you're absolutely right. It's the science. We need to be in Wuhan. CDC needs to get back into China and needs to work with the Chinese in a very polite way to find out.
Because this isn't the end of the virus. We don't know about mutations there. We don't know a lot of things. And only if there's global cooperation, can we beat this. And I understand why Trump's doing this. He's in a lot of trouble. And he's got to blame somebody else. He certainly can't look at his own White House with withheld information, by the way. So he's got to blame somebody and the nearest you know, opponent they can go after is China.
VAUSE: Yes. But with incredible consequences, it would seem, that they have to play out. Bob, thank you. Good to see you. Bob Baer with some good insights into what's happening. I appreciate it, Bob.
BAER: Thank you.
VAUSE: As the U.K. reaches a grim milestone in terms of lives lost, Boris Johnson and his government under pressure over the response to this pandemic. That's still to come. Also ahead, stranded in a foreign country and going nowhere. How India is trying to bring its workers home.
VAUSE: When it comes to the loss of life during this pandemic, the U.K. is now number one in Europe, number two worldwide. Almost 30,000 people have died in the U.K. and Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government under growing scrutiny. CNN's Bianca Nobilo has details.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The U.K. now has the highest Coronavirus death toll in Europe. The figure stands at over 32,000 deaths in Britain of people with Coronavirus. And while the government here cautions against making international comparisons at this stage was beyond any doubt is how hard hit Britain has been by this virus especially in comparison to other countries.
These sobering numbers and the deepening grief here will likely inform what the government does next to make them more cautious in how they unwind the lockdown, especially as their decisions being made in the early stage of the virus outbreak and increasing scrutiny, like a lockdown too late, testing too late, and inadequate PPE.
As these early decisions are being examined, the Chief Science Officer Sir Patrick Vallance has said that while all the focus was on contact tracing from China in the early stages, it now seems that a lot of the early cases in the U.K. were from Europe, not from China. And he also admitted an earlier lockdown may well have made a difference.
VAUSE: Our thanks to Bianca Nobilo for that report. Now, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with state leaders in the coming hours to discuss the next steps in easing the lockdown there. They're looking at schools, restaurants, as well as sport. Germany has moved cautiously and slowly. The number of new cases has declined there for five days now.
The Spanish Prime Minister expected to ask parliament to extend state of emergency powers for another two weeks. Conservatives voted in favor of the first three times. But their leader now says a fourth extension just doesn't make sense.
And with hundreds of thousands of Indian workers stranded around the world, New Delhi will soon begin trying to get them home. Many have been stranded in the UAE. CNN's Sam Kylie is at COVID Walkthrough Testing Center in Abu Dhabi. So, Sam, you know, this is a huge effort for the Indian government trying to get these people home.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a huge effort to try and get the people home. It's been very problematic for the Emiratis especially more than three million Indians, two million at least of other people from impoverished nations around the world, John. And just to give you an idea. You talking -- Bianca was talking earlier on there about the British program for testing. More than a million people here have already been tested in this work through location which is a workers area Mustapha in Abu Dhabi.
They're going to be testing 10,000 people a day. The aim is to test 350,000, three and a half thousand in two other testing locations in this one district alone. The reason for that is that the authorities here want to get people back to work or they want them not so sick that they can't travel home. And the reason for that is that as this report shows, people here have been trapped and impoverished for many weeks.
KILEY: Foreign laborers in Dubai, many of them now unemployed, stranded, feeling hung out to dry by governments struggling to fight the coronavirus pandemic back home.
The Emirates simply couldn't function without these laborers. They keep the wheels of commerce turning. They keep the buildings being built. But the problem is there is no welfare state here. When they lose their jobs, they used to get sent home. Now, they can't even get home.
Foreign workers make up nearly 90 percent of the Emirates population of about 10 million. About 40 percent of the foreign-born workforce is from India. To control the virus spread, the Emirates have imposed weeks of lockdowns and curfews, leaving tens of thousands either unemployed or unsalaried.
He says, I've not received the salary of the previous month, March. And out of that salary, they only gave me 150 rupees, that's $2.00 for food and told us to manage. This construction worker asked not to be named for fear of losing a job that for now doesn't even pay.
He's been unable to get home because as part of the fight against the coronavirus, the Indian government has shut its airspace completely and refuse to repatriate anyone from abroad.
He says, so we want that until the flight start, give us our salaries. If not at least give us food. We'll be happy with that too. But they're not giving that. They're just saying go, just go. But many of these workers just can't. So while about 200,000 Indians have applied to go home. For now, they're stuck trying to make a few cents to get them through the day.
The Emirates are aware that they've got a serious humanitarian problem that also risks undermining the country's glamorous self-image. So they're offering free health care for stranded foreigners during the pandemic. After years of criticism from human rights groups over lack of worker rights here, the Emirates have rolled out an aggressive testing and quarantine campaign to combat the virus.
AMER SHARIF, HEAD, COVID-19 COMMAND AND CONTROL CENTER: There are measures in testing in these labor camps, screening them, and isolating those who are positive. So there's a lot of efforts across the government teams and the non-government teams to make sure that the -- of the well-being of the laborers and the labor camps and high dense areas in general.
KILEY: More than a million people have already been tested. That's about 10 percent of the population. For weeks, India has refused to repatriate its citizens because of the strict lockdown back home. Now, the Indian government says it hopes to start repatriations this week.
But the huge numbers of foreign workers, the dreams of earning enough here for a better life back home is now in tatters.
KILEY: Now, John, here in this testing center, the first stage is a hall of 50 meters by 100 meters nearly where they're screened initially. They then hand in their I.D. cards here. Those that are showing those symptoms, just carry on. Others are selected for red or yellow treatment. Red in particular means that they're going to get tested almost immediately.
And behind this building our medical facilities and ambulances on standby for anybody who's showing up really sick. Anybody goes through red and test positive, goes straight off into isolation. And all of this is paid for by the government. It is free of charge, even to illegal immigrants, John.
VAUSE: Sam, thank you. We appreciate it. They're quite the system they've set up there to make sure that people are heading back without the virus. We appreciate the update. Sam Kiley reporting for us there at the airport.
Well, the official overseeing a vaccine has been booted, the White House virus task force winding down, and the death toll expected to surge in the coming months. This is what the Trump administration says makes it a success story in how to respond to a pandemic. More in a moment.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.
Despite expectations of a rising death toll in the U.S., the White House task force advising the President is set to be disbanded by the end of the month. On Tuesday, President Trump took his first major trip outside of Washington since the pandemic began. He was touring a plant in Arizona making disposable masks and yes, the music in the background was "Live and Let Die".
The United Kingdom has now suffered more coronavirus deaths than any other European country, overtaking Italy on Tuesday. With the government reporting close to 29,500 deaths. This makes the U.K. the second worst hit country in the world, second only to the United States.
Sources tell CNN the U.S. is trying to convince allies to take action against China over its coronavirus response. Washington accuses Beijing of deliberately concealing the severity of the crisis in the early stages.
The Secretary of State claims the virus came from a Chinese lab. He said there's an enormous amount of evidence. But a top U.S. general says that evidence remains inconclusive.
The U.S. Health and Human Services Department says it is deeply disappointed by its former vaccine director in a dispute over his new job. Dr. Rick Bright claims he was punished for contradicting the President. He said he sounded the alarm over the coronavirus early on.
And now as Kaitlan Collins tells us, he is now fighting back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The vaccine chief who was ousted from his job in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic says his early warnings about the outbreak were ignored. Dr. Rick Bright led the government vaccine agency BARDA until a few weeks ago. And in a new whistleblower complaint filed today, he alleges his early warnings about the outbreak were ignored and his caution about a treatment pushed by President Trump led to his removal.
Bright says he raised concerns about U.S. preparedness for coronavirus as far back as January, but he was met with indifference which then developed into hostility.
HHS hasn't commented on his complaint and President Trump has refused to answer questions about Bright.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know he was retaliated against, and that's why he was removed from his job?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ok, next question.
COLLINS: The complaint was filed hours after President Trump left Washington today for his first cross-country trip in months.
TRUMP: So, I'm leaving for Arizona.
COLLINS: Facing criticism over the federal government's response, Trump is visiting a Honeywell facility in Arizona that produces N-95 masks. He opted for a stop in the battleground state instead of a closer Honeywell factory in nearby Rhode Island.
TRUMP: Everybody traveling has been tested. We have great testing and literally they had been tested over the last hour.
COLLINS: As he left Washington, Trump downplayed predictions about a steep rise in cases and deaths from coronavirus.
TRUMP: But that report is a no mitigation report and we are mitigating.
COLLINS: An influential model often cited by the White House now forecast that 134,000 people could die of coronavirus in the U.S. Despite those numbers, President Trump confirmed reports today that the White House is considering winding down the coronavirus task force.
TRUMP: I think that as far as the task force, Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job. But we're now looking at a little bit of different form. And that form is safety and opening. And we'll have a different group probably set up for that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying mission accomplished?
TRUMP: No, no. Not at all. The mission accomplished is when it's over. COLLINS: Trump also confirmed today he won't let Dr. Anthony Fauci testify before the House next week. Though aides said it was because Fauci was too busy, Trump made clear that the underlying reasons are political.
TRUMP: Because the House is a set-up. The House is a bunch of Trump haters. They frankly want our situation to be unsuccessful which means deaths.
COLLINS: The President's Arizona trip came as his intelligence chief nominee was undergoing his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill where John Ratcliffe assured senators that the pandemic would be his first priority.
JOHN RATCLIFFE, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE NOMINEE: I believe the immediate focus of the IC must be directed to the geopolitical and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic as well as its origins. The American people deserve answers. And if confirmed, I pledged that the IC will remain laser-focused on providing them.
COLLINS: If confirmed, Ratcliffe will be thrust into the middle of a battle over where the coronavirus originated. President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo had tied it to a research lab in Wuhan, China though the U.S. intelligence community has not reached a conclusion.
RATCLIFFE: Regardless of what anyone wants our intelligence to reflect, the intelligence I will provide, if confirmed, will not be impacted or altered as a result of outside influence.
VAUSE: CNN's Kaitlan Collins there, reporting from Washington.
While President Trump was touring that plant in Arizona, there was a rather curious choice of background music. I had referenced before but take a listen.
VAUSE: That was the theme song from the classic James Bond movie, "Live and Let Die". The version you hear there by Guns and Roses. "Live and Let Die", a rock classic which could best describe the plan in some U.S. states for reopening their economies.
Gallup's latest tracking polls shows President Trump's approval rating is back up at 49 percent, matching the high point to his presidency.
Disapproval rating at 47 percent. The six-point improvement from the last Gallup poll comes from support from Independents. One note (ph), that is, of the 10 most recent polls that asked about an approval question, only Gallup shows President Trump's approval higher than his disapproval. So this could in fact be an outlier. I guess we'll find out next month.
Venezuela's embattled president says the country has detained Americans for taking part in what he called a coup attempt. Nicolas Maduro blames the U.S. government for the failed attack but the U.S. president is denying involvement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just got information, nothing to do with our government, but I just got information on that. So we'll -- well, we'll find out. We just heard about it. But whatever it is, we'll let you know but it has nothing to do with our government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The Venezuelan government released footage of what appears to show the captured men. The President, Maduro, says they were mercenaries who wanted to unseat him from power.
We get more now Stefano Pozzebon in neighboring Colombia.
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two American veterans are currently detained in Caracas, their precise whereabouts are still unknown as many other aspects in this story.
We know that embattled President Nicolas Maduro has accused the two, Aaron Barry and Luke Denman, two former Green Beret of being part of what he called an international conspiracy, mercenary -- plots that would see invaders come in by the sea to Caracas to topple his government.
He accused U.S. President Donald Trump and Colombian president Ivan Duque as well as Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido of being part of this plot -- being part of these operation. Both the Department of State and the Colombian foreign minister have firmly denied these accusations as well as Juan Guaido who in Caracas on Tuesday said that he had nothing to do with these operation or with the detainees.
But as well as with all these aspects still unclear on the table. The bottom line the real important fact here is that Nicolas Maduro now has the two U.S. veterans, two former soldiers in his hands and he could use them as he tries to jostle between U.S. sanctions, falling oil prices to strengthen his power in Caracas.
And that's why the two of them Luke Denman and Aaron Barry could prove in a very crucial in the upcoming weeks in Venezuela.
For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon -- Bogota.
VAUSE: A massive fire has engulfed a residential high-rise in the United Arab Emirates. The flame tore through the Abbco Tower in Sharjah on Tuesday evening. The cause of the fire is still unknown. Seven people believed suffered from minor injuries.
VAUSE: Well, still to come become some hope for the oil markets as economies reopen and the amount of gasoline around the world is set to rise -- the upward trend could be the start of a big rally. We'll see what happens.
John Defterios live, after the break.
VAUSE: Signs of life for the oil market with a global increase in demand. U.S. crude jumped 20 percent Tuesday.
CNN's John Defterios live in Abu Dhabi with details. So John -- there are now some predictions, you know, that a huge rally could be happening for oil in the months ahead as they move from this oversupply situation to maybe even localized shortages by the fourth quarter. What do you know?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: I think that's an over- exaggeration -- John. I know that UBS, the investment bank was suggesting we could get say $43 a barrel by the end of the year, but we started above $60 a barrel, and for the international benchmark, even closer to $70 a barrel.
But oil is important John -- because it's a sign of demand and economic recovery. And that's why everybody has been focusing on it as of late.
But think about it. We had this conversation on April 20th when oil prices were at zero in the United States because of the glut that was forming particularly in Oklahoma and Texas.
If you take a look at prices now, we're hovering above $24 for the U.S. Benchmark price today. The international benchmark crossed $31 at one point here in Asian trading.
No surprise, President Trump wanted to take a little bit of credit for this, saying that he is happy to see the demand on the rise here and oil prices recovering. Everybody said well, he doesn't like high oil prices but $30 is not high. And it's not enough for the U.S. shale producers going forward. That is the reality.
Demand is up 20 percent for petrol or gasoline in the last month. But a top trading group (INAUDIBLE) which trades commodities was saying he thought this was a head fake right now, the chief executive. That we're seeing the recovery, but because there is so much downward pressure on the economy, he does not think it's going to lasting here in the third quarter as many were hoping for.
At the same time, I'm in the Middle East -- John, as you know. Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter in the world. It triggered the price for that the President had to intervene with against Russia.
Now the signals are coming from the minister of finance. There are painful cuts ahead. There was a number released late last week saying that the net assets of foreign reserves for Saudi Arabia are at $465 billion. It sounds like a lot of money, but if you go back to 2014, that was $750 billion dollars.
So a lot of spending to do. This diversification in Saudi Arabia about the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and all the signals right now John -- are job cuts are coming, salary cuts are coming and even the basic needs will be covered.
But outside of that, there is a big rethink going on in that
VAUSE: Also we have Disney which is about reopen its first park next week. It will be in Shanghai. Still no word when the U.S. will begin operations again but you know, this was a business which was turning crowds away with a stick before the pandemic. They couldn't force enough people into these parks. So demand was crazy.
But now, it's going to be different, very difficult days ahead for Disney.
DEFTERIOS: Indeed. You know, talking about the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it's the magic kingdom that's lost some of its luster here in the first three months of the year.
So the worry I think for investors is that the pandemic really set in, as you know, John -- in mid March when they had to cut some of those parks and shut them down in fact.
We saw their earnings go down 91 percent in the first three months of the year, and they're suggesting that the coronavirus has cost them $1.4 billion. Now, they made a very smart move to launch Disney Plus in this period and it already has 54 million subscribers. This is the online group that is competing with the likes of Netflix and others right now.
It's costing them a lot of money as well, so this hit the bottom line but the timing of home entertainment is a good one because this will pay off for them in the second half. And they could get the double whammy up as the economy starts to open again, for example, in Shanghai.
But I think John -- everybody is overplaying the recovery here and I think that is what Disney was trying to guide everybody for the second half here as well.
United Airlines with layoffs, Lufthansa the German carrier talking to us about the fact it's going to need a bailout. AirBNB had to lay off people -- 25 percent of its staff at the same time.
So it's pretty pervasive, the downturn and the restructuring clearly is not over.
VAUSE: Yes. And one of the issues -- one of the measures they'll have to take is they'll just have to limit the number of people in the park. I mean those numbers will be down by 50 percent before they let can actually safely admit people in and then, you know, that is until they get a vaccine, I guess. So they're in the same position as a lot of other, you know, people operating in the tourism industry.
John -- thank you. Appreciate you being with us. John Defterios, live in Abu Dhabi.
Well, the U.S. job numbers -- the latest ones will be released on Friday. They're expected to be the worst in decades. Even the Trump White House can not spin what is expected to be a horrendous unemployment rate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: My guess right now is that it's going to be north of 16 percent, maybe as high as 19 or 20 percent.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Worst -- wow.
HASSETT: So we are looking at probably the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression.
HARLOW: Wow. Well then --
HASSETT: It's a tremendous negative shock, a very, very terrible shock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Hassett had initially expected a 20 percent unemployment rate in June but he revise that down slightly after 30 million Americans filed for unemployment last month.
Asian American workers have been especially hard hit by the economic meltdown. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For 100 years Nom Wha Tea Parlor has been serving up Dimsum as the oldest restaurant in New York City's Chinatown. But today, it is staring down a different reality.
WILSON TANG, CHINATOWN BUSINESS OWNER: The future looks bleak.
YURKEVICH: That's because hundreds of restaurants in Chinatown have closed due to COVID-19, leading to thousands of laid off or furloughed workers including 40 from Wilson Tang's restaurant.
TANG: The main hub of Chinatown were all pretty empty.
YURKEVICH: The service industry has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19.
ED CHAN, GIG WORKER: This weekend is the fifth weekend since my last paycheck.
YURKEVICH: Ed Chan works several jobs in the industry -- as a school lunch caterer, wine vendor, guest service employee at sports arenas, and as marketing for trade shows.
In March, he lost all four jobs and is still waiting for unemployment.
CHAN: Day after day it's like Groundhog Day, you go onto the system, it's still pending.
YURKEVICH: He is one of more than 30 million Americans who filed for unemployment since mid March, and one of nearly 150,000 Asian- Americans who filed in New York state in the past four weeks. It is a staggering 6,900 percent increase from one year ago, the largest among any one racial group in the state.
WELLINGTON CHEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CHINATOWN PARTNERSHIP: This coronavirus affects severely frontline workers, basically the retail and restaurant workers and the service industry. And so when this thing hit, we were the first one to go down.
YURKEVICH: Tang closed Nom Wha Tea Parlor before the state's stay at home order was announced mid-March and told his employees to file for unemployment, a move he says goes against a proud Asian-American culture.
TANG: It takes really a pandemic for Chinese people to really go seek out additional help.
YURKEVICH: Racial discrimination against Asian Americans has also forced some workers to make a tough choice, staying at home to avoid potential racism, or fear confrontation going to work.
CHAN: There was that brief reference, you know, about the Chinese virus or the Wuhan virus that (INAUDIBLE) term used to be known for, for at least a short period of time. They have since, of course, corrected that but the damage has been done.
YURKEVICH: Meanwhile, Wilson Tang is preparing for an uncertain future.
TANG: I'm going to continue to be a voice for my community, and a voice for my staff. I'm going to do my best to keep them safe.
YURKEVICH: Now, that dramatic increase in unemployment amongst Asian Americans here in New York may not even tell the full story. And that is because there are some 250,000 undocumented Asian immigrants here in New York, many of them working in the service industry. And they are not eligible to file for unemployment and that means they are not counted.
So that unemployment rate amongst Asians here in New York could actually be much, much higher because of that.
Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN -- New York.
VAUSE: The great debate in the U.S., is this a public health crisis or an economic one? The answer often depends on your politics.
VAUSE: Stay-at-home orders, social distancing guidelines, wearing a face mask -- it seems only in the United States have these recommendations for public safety descended into a political fight of left versus right.
CNN's Tom Foreman reports.
TINA JAMES, COUSIN OF SLAIN SECURITY GUARD: This is senseless, over a mask. Over a mask. I don't understand it.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The family of security guard Calvin Munerlyn is in shock after he was killed working at a store in Michigan. Why? Prosecutors say he had asked a customer to put on a face mask as required by the state. The two family members got angry.
DAVID LEYTON, GENESEE COUNTY PROSECUTOR: One of the black males started yelling at Munerlyn about disrespecting his wife. The other black male then walks up to Munerlyn and shoots Munerlyn.
FOREMAN: In Texas, a park ranger is pushed into the water after asking people to socially distance.
In Ohio, the governor quickly reverses a new rule requiring masks after howls of outrage.
MIKE DEWINE, OHIO GOVERNOR: It became clear to me that this was just something that was a bridge too far. People were just not going to accept a mandate from the government.
FOREMAN: Same in Oklahoma. A town passes an ordinance requiring masks in stores restaurants and --
NORMAN, MCNICKLE, CITY MANAGER, STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA: The next morning when businesses opened, they began receiving verbal abuse and threats of physical violence for being -- from patrons being asked to put on a face mask.
FOREMAN: The ordinance is quickly pulled back. People who aggressively reject travel restrictions, social distancing, masks and more are becoming so common the Dutch even have a name for them, "corona jerks".
And some who take the rules more seriously are pushing back, shaming the most militant violators of health codes and reporting others to authorities. In South Carolina, police say a woman was coughing and licking her fingers while handling food in a grocery store. She was arrested. And the distance between the two sides in this battle over how to handle the virus is growing ever less social.
JAMES: This is not the way to do things right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not the way.
JAMES: We need to come together.
FOREMAN: Many outspoken critics of social distancing say they are really just fighting for their freedom. Freedom to go where they want, do what they want, with whom they want even if that freedom makes someone else very sick.
Tom Foreman, CNN -- Bethesda, Maryland.
VAUSE: Well, for the most, the soundtrack for COVID patients stuck in the hospital has been the depressing sound of beeps and tones of lifesaving machines.
But now some in New York have something different to listen to.
Here is Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is not Carnegie Hall, the gowns are a world apart, and yet --
HENRIQUE EINSENMANN, PIANIST: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was playing live in the ICU.
MOOS: Accomplished musicians are playing private concerts for COVID patients over phones placed by hospital beds.
EINSENMANN: And all I could hear the beeps of the machines, which is a scary sound to be hearing.
MOOS: They don't expect applause for these performances. Many patients are unconscious, on ventilators.
MOLLY CARR, VIOLINIST: The ego is left behind, and what is left is I want to be here for this person.
MOOS: The playlist ranges from Beethoven to "What a Wonderful World" to "La Vie en Rose" and almost always, Bach.
This trio has played several dozen private concerts at New York Presbyterian Allen Hospital. The program was the brainchild of ICU Dr. Rachel Easterwood who was a trained musician before studying medicine. She told "The New York Times" how it felt when she helped stream a live concert.
DR. RACHEL EASTERWOOD, ICU DOCTOR: I was sitting there next to this COVID patient. It was so surreal and I thought to myself at that time, if I don't make it through this, then I have done what I was supposed to do.
MOOS: She recruited some musicians from a nonprofit called Project Music Heals Us. The musicians call in.
Most of the time, they never see the patient, but still --
MICHELLE ROSS, VIOLINIST: I felt like I was in the room. Emotionally, I felt so close.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes, this might be the last thing that they hear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have the phone at the bedside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. So we're going to play some music for you.
MOOS: Sometimes they play for staff as well.
But what sticks with the musicians is the beeping, the chiming -- sometimes, overpowering the music.
ANNA PETROVA, PIANIST: The beeping actually starts to react to the music that we play, in a way that we feel that they are breathing gets calmer.
MOOS: As if the patient had joined the trio.
Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.
VAUSE: A good way to end.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm John Vause. Please stay with us.
There is a lot more news with Anna Coren in Hong Kong after a short break.