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At Least 43 States Partially Reopening by This Weekend Despite Continued Spread of Virus; Trump Reverses Course, Says Fauci and Birx Will Continue on WH Coronavirus Task Force; Germany Lifts Lockdown with Caution; The Wuhan Lab at the Center of the U.S.-China Blame Game; New Zealand PM Outlines Next Steps Forward; Brazil Reports More Than 10K New Infections in 24 Hours; Trump Reverses Course on Winding Down Task Force; Packed Planes and Empty Trains: Traveling Across Europe; Virtual Safaris in South Africa See Surge in Demand. Aired 12- 1a ET

Aired May 7, 2020 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, worse than Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Donald Trump's stark assessment for the pandemic in United States. Not bad enough to delay restarting the economy.

Germany's Angela Merkel is moving to reopen businesses and schools, even restart the national football league. The country can be cautiously bold.

Beijing tells Washington enough with the accusations, the response from America's top diplomat, too bad.

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VAUSE: As hundreds of millions of people emerge from nationwide lockdowns, a stark contrast can be seen between countries that acted very quickly to contain the coronavirus and other countries that haven't.

Worldwide over a quarter than 1 million people have died from the pandemic. Countries that have had a slow response are paying a high price in terms of lives lost. The poster child for what not to do in a pandemic has been the United States. That may explain why the president is increasingly lashing out at China.

He's accusing the Communist government of not doing enough to take control of the virus. And in another example of the horrible leadership from the White House, just a day after saying it's time to wind down the task force advising him on the coronavirus, Donald Trump has reversed course. He said he had no idea it was so popular. The German chancellor has announced limits on social contact will

remain for another month but shops are allowed to reopen and the national football league will be the first in Europe to restart in the coming weeks, likely without spectators.

Meanwhile on the medical side, researchers in the U.S. are cloning antibodies from recovered COVID-19 positive patients and doctors report blood thinners may help the most serious patients.

Since the outbreak began in the U.S. more than 73,000 Americans have died, a number that continues to rise every day. All but seven of the 50 U.S. states are planning to allow businesses to reopen, that could see a surge of as many as 3,000 cases a day by June. Here is Athena Jones with details.

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ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: States across the country rolling the dice as they begin to lift restrictions aimed at halting a virus, the data show is still spreading in many places.

New infections rising in 20 states, hotspots include Minnesota, Nebraska and Texas, where Dallas County has seen a jump in cases. In Tennessee, the governor last night announcing businesses like bowling alleys and miniature golf can reopen Friday even as he continues to promote social distancing.

By Sunday, at least 43 states will be partially reopened, despite signs that not only have none all of them met federal guidelines suggesting a 14-day decline in new cases before reopening, but that some in fact are seeing cases rise. This, as experts warn that given the viruses incubation period, we won't know the full effect of this move for weeks and the gains states have made could swiftly be lost.

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GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You have states opening where you are still on the incline, I think that's a mistake.

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JONES: The open is creating a confusing picture for Americans, as recent state and federal actions suggests the epidemic has abated, even amid strong warnings of the risk.

In Atlanta, startling video of people celebrating Cinco de Mayo, many not wearing masks. The mayor says they missed the message.

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MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: They didn't get to the part that said that this is a deadly virus and that you need to continue to socially distance and wear a mask.

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JONES: In New York, where reopening has yet to begin, an unprecedented move to prepare for that day. New York City shutting down the subway system overnight for deep cleaning.

On Governor Andrew Cuomo's orders, the state's health department has issued an advisory to healthcare providers to be on the lookout for a potential complication of COVID-19. A serious inflammatory disease affecting children with as many 64 potential cases being reported.

Symptoms include persistent fever, rash and even cardiovascular symptoms requiring intensive care. A similar complication in the U.K., where researchers have reported eight children showing the rare symptoms.

Meanwhile, with researchers in Britain saying there's genetic evidence the virus was infecting people in Europe, in the U.S. late last year.

The Cook County, Illinois, medical examiner now plans to review previous deaths involving heart attacks and pneumonia for indications of COVID-19 as far back as November. A new study shows the virus is killing more African Americans in the U.S. than any other group.

AMFAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research using data from mid-April finding that while blacks make up just 13 percent of the population, counties with higher black populations account for more than half of the coronavirus cases and nearly 60 percent of deaths from COVID-19.

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GREG MILLET, V.P. AND DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, AMFAR: We were hoping by releasing our study results early, that it could help give some of the state's pause so that they can understand that there is going to be disproportionate impact.

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JONES: Also, disproportionate, police enforcement of social distancing seen leaders like New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries who worries officers are using excessive force in black and brown neighborhoods while handing out masks to sunbathers.

The bottom line is this virus is like a flood in a place with no high ground. It doesn't respect state lines and it doesn't respect opinions or beliefs about how serious it is, or how under control it is.

The hard facts about this virus haven't changed as the daily number showing an increase in new cases in many states are bearing that out -- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.

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VAUSE: Dr. Dennis Carroll is a infectious disease expert, former director of USAID's emerging threats division. He is with us this hour from Washington.

Dr. Dennis Carroll, good to see you.

DR. DENNIS CARROLL, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: Good to see you, John.

VAUSE: OK, so this is what the individual states said now in the U.S. When it comes to the trend in confirmed cases. We are seeing the numbers increase on a daily basis. Add context to that. This is from CNN's medical unit.

Some states could see the set the count rise or because the testing is getting better so they're confirming more cases. But not one of the 43 states has met the four phases within the guidelines for reopening as outlined by the White House.

So when governors claim they're relying on the advice from public health experts and health care professionals, what seems strange to me is who are they and what are they saying to the governors, that is different from the public?

Every time we get a public statement we are told that it is dangerous to move ahead until there is a distinct fall in the number of cases.

CARROLL: I think that it is clear that governors and politicians around the U.S. are feeling extraordinary pressures to reopen the economy. So they are accelerating this process and I think that it's clear that they are accelerating the process in a way that's inconsistent with good public health measures.

We saw just this past week a recalculation of what the likely mortality would be in the United States, based on the relaxing of social distancing measures. We have seen the numbers double in terms of what the projected mortality would be by August 1st, from 60,000 to 130,000.

So it's clear that decisions being made at the state level will be reinforced at the national level. And they are flying in the face of hard reality, that the virus is still circulating, still infecting people and the only protection we have against it right now is maintaining measures of social distancing, which, as we see, are rapidly being relaxed around the country.

So there will be, if not a political price, there will clearly be a human toll, a direct consequence of those actions.

VAUSE: Social distancing is required because we don't have widespread testing in place.

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VAUSE: On Wednesday during a White House press briefing there was ridicule expressed, with the press secretary saying that it would be pointless and nonsensical to test everyone in the U.S. I guess that she's technically correct.

But why don't we listen to this researcher from Johns Hopkins University.

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CAITLIN RIVERS, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Testing everyone once wouldn't work. You have to have a more comprehensive strategy. This is why we talk so much about contact tracing.

With contact tracing, when someone gets a positive diagnosis, the people that they have been in close contact with are alerted to their exposure and asked to stay home.

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VAUSE: There's very little emphasis on contact tracing. What we're hearing from the White House indicates a deep and profound lack of understanding of all of this.

CARROLL: Well, look, let's be very clear. It's not simply contact tracing nor simply testing, it is both that's required. If we are going to bring this virus under control and we can bring the virus under control, it's about knowing where it, is who's infected and who has been exposed to the infected people.

In order to do that, we need to be able to have widely available, at the household level, testing capabilities so people can routinely test whether or not they are infected and for that information to be made available for contact tracing, to be able to track down people that may have been exposed and unaware that they may be infected.

VAUSE: But the testing and contact tracing would not be so crucial if we had a vaccine, on that we have some predictions with millions and millions of doses ready to go.

Is there any evidence that that's possible or probable?

If there's a vaccine available in the near future, how could that be distributed?

How can we get it to people around the world?

CARROLL: First of all, I think we agree that the vaccine is the Holy Grail to really being able to get the virus under control. What you are alluding to is that there are going to be 8 billion people around the world that will need access to the vaccine.

As a vaccine becomes available there is going to be an extraordinary demand for this and just the sheer reality of the manufacturing and production of a vaccine will ensure that there will be limited supplies.

Last week the World Health Organization hosted a virtual meeting of world leaders to talk about a coordinated effort going forward, to ensure equitable, fair and effective access to this vaccine.

Sadly, there was one country not represented at this meeting. That was the United States. It is important to recognize that the United States will be the largest consumer of the vaccine. So we have set in motion a very bad precedent for when a vaccine does

become available that it does not turn into a global political squabble as we try and protect the world's population.

It needs leadership from all countries, including the United States, to ensure that we have a well thought out and strategic operational plan for making this vaccine available when and if it becomes available.

VAUSE: Thank you. It's good to see. You nice to have you with us.

CARROLL: Thank you, John. Appreciate the opportunity.

VAUSE: Stay well.

CARROLL: Stay well yourself.

VAUSE: After passing Italy for the highest death toll in Europe, the U.K. could be easing restrictions by Monday. Boris Johnson says that, after reviewing the latest information, he will encourage a return to work if it's safe to do so. At the same time, the prime minister continues to warn of a possible second wave.

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BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: We are working with the opposition, with unions, with business to ensure that we get the unlockdown plan done. It would be a economic disaster for this country if we were to pursue a relaxation of these measures now in such a way as to trigger a second spike.

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VAUSE: The U.K. has more than 200,000 cases, more than 30,000 dead, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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VAUSE: The German chancellor has announced the first phase of the pandemic, some restrictions will be eased, shops can open. But there will be higher hygiene safeguards in place.

Social distancing guidelines will be in place and masks will be worn in public. The country's football league will return, but restrictions will return if more than 50 new infections per 100,000 residents within 7 days.

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ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): We have very good developments regarding the infection rates. These have made it possible to take further steps. We have to be careful that we don't lose control of the situation. And that is why I have a good feeling about this emergency mechanism.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: As Germany begins an economic restart, Merkel has been praised for her no nonsense, consistent, steady leadership. In many ways, a study in contrasts when compared to the U.S. president Donald Trump. One listened to the concerns of doctors, patients and people on the front lines of the pandemic. The other is Donald Trump.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The PPE has been sporadic.

TRUMP: Sporadic for you but not for sporadic for a lot of other people.

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VAUSE: That was Wednesday, National Nurses Day in the U.S.

One leader did not publicly argue with those they disagreed with. They worked closely with state leaders regardless of political party. The other is Trump.

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TRUMP: It's a 2 way street, they have to treat us well also. They can't say oh, gee, we should get this. We should get that.

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VAUSE: One leader spoke to the country like adults, admitting what was what and it was not, honestly talking about the risks, the dangers, did not support untested medical cures. The other is Donald Trump.

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TRUMP: When I see the disinfectant that knocks it out a minute and is there a way we can do something like the.

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VAUSE: CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas is joining us from Los Angeles.

It's been a while, good to see you.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Good to see you, John.

VAUSE: Here are two headlines, just in the past few hours, which sums everything up in these two countries.

This one, "Coronavirus in Germany, summer holidays on the horizon as Angela Merkel agrees to ease lockdown restrictions."

And from the U.S., "Police say two Oklahoma City McDonald's employees were shot after being told the dining room was closed because of the pandemic."

The Germans are about to head to the beach, enjoy summer at an appropriate social distance while in the U.S. anger over health guidelines is leading people to getting shot.

Is there any other factor bigger than the stark difference in leadership which explains where these two countries are right now?

THOMAS: Well, John, leadership is obviously absolutely key, especially in the face of a global pandemic. I think there are a number of factors, particular to the German situation that can explain the way in which they find themselves now.

One of them that is really important is that, very early on, testing was not only available in Germany as early as February, but it was also free. It's allowed and motivated people to go and get tested and allow the authorities to identify very early on individually who was infected and to isolate them.

And ultimately, what it meant, is the hospitals that were already well equipped with ICU equipment, ventilators, so never ultimately got overwhelmed. Another factor I think that is also important at the 16 states, the lands that make up Germany, also operated in a decentralized system.

They have their own health ministers and were able to respond to local challenges that coordinating with the federal authorities.

The other aspect I think explains the success relatively speaking of the German situation is the fact that there is a very strong and comprehensive social system. The health care system works, unemployment benefits have been extended, furloughed workers have been taken care of and corporations and small businesses have been provided with tax relief.

This has made it economically possible to go into quarantine for people, whereas in so many other areas of the world, that was the fundamental challenge for people and what is driving people to return to work.

VAUSE: Donald Trump has an economics degree from a business school. One woman has a degree in quantum chemistry. She worked as a research scientist before politics. It seems that background has really paid off during this crisis. She understands the stuff. But more importantly, it seems you know she has earned the trust from the German people.

THOMAS: That's key, John, but it's not just understanding. It's actually believing in science. That is what has been lacking, of course, in the response in the United States. She is consistent, she speaks to the German people as a mature audience in a responsible way and is not only able to enlist their trust but also to mobilize them to follow her particular policies.

In many ways, she is a conductor who is producing something more akin to a symphony in response in Germany, whereas across the Atlantic, in the United States, you have competing voices.

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THOMAS: Those of the White House, the various governors, mayors; blue states, red states, that has yielded to produce something more akin to a cacophony and that is the disastrous response to something like this that needs coordination. And Angela Merkel has been able to do that in a very effective way in Germany. And the results are there in the statistics.

VAUSE: There are still challenges ahead. There's this huge economic contraction coming from the E.U., about 7.5 percent for the next quarter. Merkel will be very much aware of that, especially because of Germany's role as the economic engine of Europe.

THOMAS: That's true. I think it's also, and you could argue, a responsible way of dealing with this. There is no doubt about it that we have no idea where this pandemic is going and what the ultimate economic impact will be. Better to prepare the people for the worst and hope for the best and have a realistic expectation as people go along with you and respond to this.

This is a far better and more mature way of dealing with it. And to have the president who is essentially running an economic campaign in a reelection year that ultimately will produce and make promises that he would be unable to prove, to essentially stick to and that would lead the American people to be further disillusioned and disoriented when really, what they need is guidance here.

Europeans know about, this they know about rebuilding after the Second World War, they have been through similar situations and will make their way through this with trusted and responsible leaders.

VAUSE: To finish, up here's part of a story from "The Atlantic," published a few weeks ago.

"Judging by Merkel's approach, her rigor in collecting information, her honesty in stating what is not yet known and her composure, she may someday be remembered not as Germany's greatest scientist but as a scientist in chief, the political leader who executed, celebrated and personified evidence-based thinking when it mattered most."

Has her legacy had a place in German history?

Has it been changed by this pandemic?

THOMAS: It has been changed. It has been further enhanced. She has been subjected to a lot of criticism. She stepped away from the party leadership and German people have been preparing for the fact that there will be a post-Merkel era. I think her legacy is still to be written.

And what the German people are going to realize is that she is going to be extraordinarily difficult to replace, no matter how many people may be opposed to some of her more controversial policies or to her 14-plus years as a chancellor. I think they will realize that the guidance and the stability that

they provided Germany are going to make the person who replaces her face up to, you know, an incredibly difficult task. And her legacy will continue to grow and to be enhanced.

VAUSE: Whoever does eventually take over as chancellor will be a hard act to follow. I guess that's the best way of putting it, especially after the response to this pandemic. Dominic, it is good to see you. We are out of time but we appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

THOMAS: Be safe.

VAUSE: You, too.

Well, the U.S. continues its high volume criticism of China for its coronavirus response, continues to push a theory on how this crisis started. Beijing says Washington should focus on its own problems. The latest on this war of words.

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VAUSE: The U.S. secretary of state keeps pushing a theory that the coronavirus originated in a lab in China, Mike Pompeo says the U.S. can't be certain it's true, he insists that there's enough evidence to support it.

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MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I have seen evidence that this likely came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Happy to see evidence that disproves that. We should get to the bottom of it. We have been asking for months now to give Westerners access to this information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: While China continues to deny the allegation that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab, insists Mike Pompeo has no proof. Foreign ministry telling Washington to focus on its own problems.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We want to urge the U.S. side to once again stop spreading false information, stop misleading the international community, take a good look at its domestic problems and try to find out ways to control the pandemic in its own country as soon as possible rather continue playing the blame game.

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VAUSE: Steven Jiang live for us from Beijing.

This lack of consistency from the secretary of state on Wednesday not entirely sure, then absolutely certain just in a 24 hour period.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: Yes, by overstating their case on this issue, the Trump administration is undermining their own cause. You heard the secretary of state doubling down on the claim that the virus has come from a Wuhan lab.

Wednesday the Chinese foreign ministry directly challenged him to present his evidence. The she said he cannot, because he has none. So the Chinese strategy is to sow doubt and division among government and world leaders. They see these assertions from Pompeo and Trump as well on this issue at odds with their own intelligence community and their intelligence sharing partners.

Remember that many Western and U.S. experts and scientists and officials and government sources have pushed aside this theory. They are saying that this is not very plausible. So the Chinese are trying to isolate the U.S. instead of being isolated themselves.

Now the same spokesman was asked about President Trump's efforts to rally U.S. allies to blame China. She says that the choice is not between the U.S. and China but rather, in her words, between lies and facts, bullying and cooperation. Then she pointed to recent reports from the U.S. about the first batch of cases of coronavirus, suggesting that the virus occurred earlier than the previously thought.

Its origin is still very much unknown, possibly with multiple origins. So I think that you will increasingly hear this kind of rhetoric and these tactics from Beijing. The government here feels they simply can't be blamed for causing this devastating global pandemic, which could lead to the devastating and ominous consequences.

VAUSE: Steven, thank you. We keep talking about the story. Steven live for us in Beijing.

When we come back, New Zealand's prime minister has outlined the next steps for level 2 restrictions. They're on level 3 right now. That after the break.

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JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. It's gone (ph) half past the hour.

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New Zealand's prime president has outlined the next steps in relaxing their coronavirus restrictions. During a news conference, Jacinda Ardern referred to the country as a team of 5 million and said they could be proud of their achievements as they now lower the COVID-19 alert system from level 3 to level 2. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins me now for more on this. So Kristie, you

know, they've had this alert system. It was a four-stage alert system. It's now gone from 4 to 3 to 2. And I guess, you know, how does that -- What does that actually mean in terms of what people will be allowed to do, what will their freedoms be, what are their responsibilities?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that is exactly what we found out earlier today. It is remarkable what we has happened in the last few weeks. In under five weeks, New Zealand has moved from a full-on lockdown to a cautious reopening under a level three alert system.

And today, we heard from the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, about the road map ahead. New Zealand is getting ready to move from a level three alert to a level two alert. That could happen as early as next week. A firm time frame, we don't know just yet. But we do know what that degraded alert would look like.

Now, according to -- a level two alert, we heard from the prime minister earlier today, it would be this. Schools and childcare centers will reopen. Gyms, playgrounds and public pools will reopen.

We also know that public venues, for example, like stores, cafes, or restaurants, they will also reopen under this alert system as long as strict physical distancing measures are respected. We also learned that social gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed as long as -- this is interesting -- contact tracing abilities are guaranteed.

Now, we heard from the prime minister. She laid out these measures in a press conference earlier today. Let's hear more about the tone she set.

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JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: It is very unlikely that we have hunted down every single case of COVID-19. If stray cases start new chains of transmission, we might not find them for a month, so we all have to stay on guard.

Level two has been designed to get as many people back to work as possible and the economy back up and running, but in the safest way possible.

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STOUT: Domestic travel will be allowed in New Zealand. That is after it moves to a level two alert system but with strict social distancing. But that ban on overseas, international travelers, that will still remain in place. We know that the tourism industry is a critical component of the economy in New Zealand. Its economy will continue to get hit as a result.

The cabinet in New Zealand will meet on Monday, and that's when we'll find out the timeline, exactly when this new alert system will be put into place -- John. VAUSE: New Zealand is a wonderful country. It's a small island nation.

A hundred and twenty million sheep. How do they do this? I mean, I know that they're isolated and at, you know, the bottom of the world, but you know, they put in place some very strict measures very early on. Is that essentially --

STOUT: You know, you're right. It's a small nation, 120 million sheep, five million people. But also only reporting 1,500 COVID cases and less than two dozen deaths. And, you know, that's a remarkable achievement. And they were able to do that first by acting quickly and swiftly.

Secondly by testing widely, which is a very critical component as countries all over the world battle this pandemic.

But also, the government was a government that respected and relied on the advice of epidemiologists, of scientists and disease experts. And that is part of this assessment. It's also important to note that they are going it very slowly and very safely, with these gradual alert systems being gradually downgraded. They are saying, as we heard from the prime minister last week, you know, they are not out of the woods yet. They're going it very slowly, very safely.

VAUSE: Yes. And along the way, Jacinda Ardern, this very young prime minister, untested up until her first term in office. There's been a lot of praise for her leadership in this.

Kristie, thank you. We appreciate the update. Kristie Lu Stout there for us, live in Hong Kong.

Brazil has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in Latin America, and it's getting worse. The number of cases has surged by more than 10,000 in the past 24 hours, and with that, the death toll is up dramatically, as well. CNN's Matt Rivers breaks it all down for us.

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MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brazil is the country in Latin America with the most confirmed cases as a result of this outbreak, the most confirmed deaths. And newly-released government data on Wednesday does not change that fact.

A surge of new cases has pushed the confirmed case count in Brazil to more than 125,000. The confirmed death toll now more than 8,500.

This as more sobering news comes out about people who are close to President Jair Bolsonaro. The president's official spokesperson tested positive for the coronavirus back on Monday, although he says he's not experiencing what he calls any worrying system. And he is the second high-profile communications aide to President Bolsonaro to test positive for the coronavirus.

You'll remember it was back in March that the president's press secretary said that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. That was shortly after he had visited Mar-a-Lago where he got his picture taken with President Trump.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian president continues to attend large political rallies, even as he faces a lot of criticism for his response, or lack thereof, to the coronavirus outbreak in his country. But at these rallies that are attended by a whole bunch of people, he continues to call for an end to quarantine measures that have been put in place by other government officials in Brazil.

In Latin America, Brazil has the most confirmed cases, the most confirmed deaths, and yet, its president continues to attend these rallies, saying it's not that serious, and that these quarantine measures designed to protect people should end.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: When we come back, the U.S. president flip-flopping on the future of the coronavirus task force and attempting some damage control after choosing not to wear a mask at a factory that makes those masks.

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VAUSE: Venezuelan state TV has broadcast images of a U.S. man accused of taking part in an attempted presidential coup. The video is heavily edited, and Luke Denman appears to confess to his part in this plot against Nicolas Maduro. But it's unclear if Denman was actually speaking under duress.

The embattled Maduro says Denman and another detained American will be tried for taking part in this plot. Maduro says the U.S. government was also involved. Washington denies that.

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VAUSE: The U.S. president is now backing away from plans to wind down the coronavirus task force. Many haven't understood why he wanted to do that in the first place in the middle of a pandemic.

Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And this is the Oval Office.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a swift reversal, President Trump now says he's not pulling the plug on the coronavirus task force, noting it's too popular.

TRUMP: I thought we could wind it down sooner, but I had no idea how popular the task force is until, actually, yesterday. When I started talking about winding it down, I'd get calls from very respected people, saying, I think it will be better to keep it going. ACOSTA: The president tweeted "the Task Force will continue on

indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY AND OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN. We may add or subtract people."

This is one day after he hinted to reporters he may shut it down, a move that could have sidelined trusted public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

(on camera): Is that a good idea during a pandemic?

TRUMP: Well, I think we're looking at phase two, and we're looking at other phases. The country's starting to open up.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president also appeared to be doing some damage control on his decision to forego wearing a mask while touring a factory where workers were constructing the face coverings in Arizona. The plant even had a sign, urging people to wear a mask.

Workers wore them. Now Mr. Trump claims he did, too, but backstage.

TRUMP: I can't help it if you didn't see me. I had it -- I had it on backstage. But they said you didn't need it, so if I don't need it, and by the way if you noticed, nobody else had it on that was in the group.

ACOSTA: The president also got testy with a nurse who talked about difficulties for medical workers in obtaining personal protective equipment.

SOPHIA THOMAS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF NURSE PRACTITIONERS: PPE has been sporadic, but it's been manageable.

TRUMP: Sporadic for you but not sporadic for a lot of other people.

ACOSTA: The president also acknowledged lives may be lost as the company reopens.

(on camera): Will the nation just have to accept the idea that, by reopening, there will be more cases? There will be more deaths?

TRUMP: So I call these people warriors, and I'm actually calling now, as you know, John, the nation warriors. We have to be warriors. We can't keep our country closed down for years, and we have to do something.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump likened the pandemic to a sneak attack on the U.S.

TRUMP: This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There's never been an attack like this.

ACOSTA: Even though the president downplayed the threat for weeks.

TRUMP: And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done. ACOSTA: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got snippy with a reporter when

he seemed to back away from his own assessment that the virus originated in a lab in China.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't have certainty, and there is significant evidence that this came from a laboratory. Those statements can both be true. Your efforts to try to and find -- just to spend your whole life trying to drive a little wedge between senior American officials, it's just -- it's just false.

ACOSTA: So here's what Pompeo said.

POMPEO: There's enormous evidence that this's where this began. We've said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China.

ACOSTA: As for the search for a vaccine, the senior administration official tells CNN the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will be engaged in the effort, though the president doesn't sound certain researchers can come up with a vaccine.

TRUMP: They're doing really great. Am I convinced? I can't be convinced of anything. But I think that we have a very good shot of having something very, very substantial.

ACOSTA (on camera): An administration official tells CNN the back and forth over the task force has left some of its members confused about its future. But the president told reporters two high-profile members of the task force, doctors Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, will be staying on the team.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: So many hospitals around the world dealing with this pandemic. People working on the front lines are under a big amount of stress. That's day in and day out.

CNN's Erica Hill takes a look at how health care workers are dealing with all of this, as well as the anxieties which have now become far too familiar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. EVELINE GRAYVER, NEW YORK CARDIOLOGIST: Every single time I walk into that hospital, it affects me personally. It affects my family personally. It affects my daughter personally.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Evelina Grayver wasn't supposed to be in the ICU.

(on camera): Is there ever a moment where you can leave it behind?

GRAYVER: In all honestly, I'm kind of afraid of those moments. I'm afraid of the moments that I actually will allow myself to truly think and absorb all that I have just seen.

They are all on ventilators.

HILL (voice-over): When the coronavirus began to spread, she was redeployed overnight --

GRAYVER: This is my (UNINTELLIGIBLE) test.

HILL: -- from the coronary care unit.

(on camera): Did anything prepare you for what you saw on day one?

GRAYVER: Nothing.

HILL: Day one was nearly two months ago. In the weeks since, her parents, and then her grandparents contracted the virus.

[00:45:00]

On April 25, her 99-year-old grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, passed away. She still hasn't been able to see her grandmother. It's too risky.

There has been insomnia, anxiety, and lingering fears.

GRAYVER: I'm fearful. I'm fearful that me being as a high-risk person that I am and being exposed, that I'm going to expose everyone and anyone that I love. I'm fearful of depression. I'm fearful of anxiety. I'm fearful of post-traumatic stress disorder.

HILL: There is no timeline, no handbook for this pandemic.

ALEX STORZILLO, NEW JERSEY PARAMEDIC: Anybody who says they're not scared during this is lying to you.

HILL: As a paramedic, Alex Storzillo is trained to deal with death. But he's never experienced it to this degree. He worries about the toll to come.

STORZILLO: I mean, we may not feel it now, but summer, fall, when the dust all settles, I think that a lot of, you know, first responders might be dealing with PTSD.

DR. ADAM STERN, MASSACHUSETTS PSYCHIATRIST: Mental health concerns are so often stigmatized that it can be challenging, especially in a field like medicine and healthcare workers, and anyone on the front lines of this pandemic are at risk for PTSD and other emotional disorders.

HILL: Hospitals around the country are responding, adding additional mental health resources, including counseling. Emergency medicine has some of the highest burnout rates for physicians. Now, increasing numbers of frontline healthcare workers are dealing with similar unrelenting stress. Their families feel it, too.

KAYLA LEVY, DR. GRAYVER'S DAUGHTER: I miss her a lot, all the time. HILL (on camera): Do you worry about your mom?

LEVY: Extremely. I worry that she can get sick, and possibly infect others and infect me when she comes home.

HILL (voice-over): Dr. Grayver says 13-year-old Kayla has been forced to grow up quickly.

GRAYVER: As a mother, you just feel like you're -- you're not there. You're not there when your child is scared. You just feel helpless and kind of useless. It's a horrible feeling. Sorry. It's -- it really sucks.

HILL (on camera): And as you're really trying to juggle all of that, there are people looking at you and they are saying you're our heroes.

GRAYVER: There are so many times when I hear the sound from work. I just want to be a home with my child, to just be there, and to kind of feel like you're her hero. You're like -- as a mom.

HILL (voice-over): It's those moments as mom that keep her going.

GRAYVER: The silver lining is that, by the quality that we spend, maybe the quantity is not as much, and -- but the quality is just so much more meaningful. We're just us.

HILL: Erica Hill, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, still to come here, another new normal, be it by plane or by train. Traveling across Europe will be forever changed by this pandemic.

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VAUSE: Around the world, this pandemic brought life to a standstill, billions of us forced inside, a collective time-out. It seems the planet was sending everyone to the naughty corner for a long, hard look at ourselves.

For many public officials, that downtime was used to reassess public transportation policies, a recognition that most people should not, and do not, want to be crammed into buses and trains, cheek by jowl.

[00:50:03]

CNN's Nic Robertson traveled across Europe for a look at what may be the new normal, which could be here to stay.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Twenty by 5 in the morning, Athens, checking out of the hotel. It's still dark outside. Long journey back to London by plane, by train from a relative cold zone, COVID 19, to one of Europe's highest hot zones. So it goes. The airport. Sun is rising. Here we go. A lot of destinations. Only two of them are international.

Thank you very much indeed. Good luck.

So that's interesting. Before you can get on this flight, they want to make sure you have a connection to your final destination that you're traveling to, your home country, or have a reason to go into another country.

Last look at Greece, last look.

I'm sure the plane is clean, but these days you want to be doubly sure.

So unlike the flight, when we came in here, leaving on this plane we have to wear the face mask. When you go in the back of the cabin, there's almost zero social distancing. Seats are full, three and three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Brussels. We will let you know when the doors are open.

ROBERTSON: Well, that was quite an odd experience on a flight. Three and a half hours, almost, and for the entire flight, the aircrew stayed behind their curtain. They didn't come out. That's not something I've seen before.

When we get through, we're given this. COVID-19 instructions. Notice to all persons entering Belgian territory. So these are the regulations you get handed when you arrive in Belgium.

In Belgium, they're 1.5 meters. In the U.K. and in Greece, it's been 2 meters. But here, it's 1.5 meters.

The next stop is, well, customs. And a train.

Do you worry when you pick up passengers that maybe the passenger gives you the virus?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can you do? This is life. It's your job.

ROBERTSON: Yes.

Trying to find a somewhere to get a coffee and sandwich. I mean, I know you haven't eaten. We have a coffee in Athens at about 6 a.m. in the morning, and it's the middle of the day now, so a little caffeine would help.

Here we are at Eurostar. Too early. This is the joy of traveling by plane and train, when there are only one or two planes and trains. This is the only Eurostar today. So we'll wait four hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- look after yourself, your fellow passengers and the train crew by spreading out, by respecting social distancing, and by wearing your mask at all times. ROBERTSON: Unlike the plane, the train is really quite empty. We just

learned from one of the staff that there's no service on the train today. It really is bare bones operation.

Fourteen hours to get here to London, but we've made it. Travel definitely has changed. It's slower. There are fewer thrills. Do expect border guards to ask you more questions.

But you know what? Underneath their masks, I have to say, everyone has got a big smile. We're all in this together. This is the new normal.

Nic Robertson, CNN, St. Pancras Station, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: And while we've been locked inside, not polluting the planet, it seems nature has made a bit of a comeback. And with wildlife tourism in South Africa shut down, demand for virtual safaris is skyrocketing. CNN's David McKenzie has this exclusive report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In South Africa, the elephants, at least, are free to roam.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just beautiful. The light is just stunning.

MCKENZIE: But its conservation tourism industry is under lockdown, which means Trishala Naidu and her cameraman are some of the last people left in Sabi Sands. They broadcast animal sightings twice a day for free --

TRISHALA NAIDU, WILDEARTH GUIDE: The trunk seems to be stuck on its tusk.

MCKENZIE: -- that people would normally pay thou of dollars to see in person. It's live.

NAIDU: You still have this feeling like you know what? I can do it. I can do it. Oh, oh, oh, oh.

MCKENZIE: And unscripted.

(on camera): What do you see over there?

NAIDU: Dogs. We see wild dogs. I had a dog feeling today.

MCKENZIE: So there's a pack of wild dogs that have just come in the middle of interview to this small dam, and this is incredible to see. I mean, my entire life of coming to the bush, I've never seen wild dogs like this.

NAIDU: You beautiful puppies. Just gorgeous. I'm going to give them a bit of space.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirty seconds. Thirty. MCKENZIE (voice-over): WildEarth was around long before the pandemic, but now its viewership of Safari Live has shot up fivefold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tamsin (ph), age 6, in the USA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So birds will alarm call at a leopard.

GRAHAM WELLINGTON, CEO, WILDEARTH TV: For our viewers around the world to be able to be here with us, sharing this experience --

MCKENZIE: Graham Wellington never imagined his company's success could signal a collapse of the industry. Across Africa, nearly 8 million tourism jobs are now at risk.

WELLINGTON: That's what we've got to figure out now. We've got to figure out how we can build private safaris experiences, how we can create online experiences that can get revenue, you know, down here to the people, and -- and keep this -- keep this whole conservation engine running.

JAPIE VAN NIEKERK, OWNER, CHEETAH PLAINS: We need people to sustain this nature and to sustain these businesses.

MCKENZIE: Owners here know it's not as easy as locking their front doors and coming back when the pandemic is over.

NIEKERK: Tourism keeps the rhinos alive, keeps the elephants alive, keeps the lions alive, the leopards. Tourism pays for that. No one else will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Came after his own, his own son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this. We've managed to come right with our kitty cats.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Someone stuck in their apartment in Italy or New York, what does this mean, do you think, for them?

NIEKERK: I hope that it means some kind of healing. The whole of our species has been infected or affected by one thing. And there's a tremendous feeling of solidarity. Nature is just doing its thing. Nature just carries on.

MCKENZIE: But for this iconic reserve to survive, we desperately need to adapt.

David McKenzie, CNN, Sabi Sands, South Africa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: We've been told not all superheroes wear capes, but for the street artist Banksy, they actually do.

He donated this new painting to the University Hospital, Southampton, in the U.K.. It shows a child playing with a nurse doll, wearing a cape. Batman and Spider-Man, the usual go-to action figures, they're totally ignored.

The hospital, with Banksy's approval, is calling the piece "A Painting for Saints."

A powerful way to say thank you.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. Please stay with us. I'm John Vause. I'll be right back after a short break with a lot more new. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Hello, everybody. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

END