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CNN NEWSROOM

Coronavirus Reaches White House West Wing; Americans Adjust to New Reality; Drug Cocktail Speeds Up Recovery; U.S. Posts Worst Jobs Report in History; Cases and Deaths Spiking in Brazil; Italy Moves to Ease Restrictions; Spain's Contradictory Restrictions; Las Vegas Magician Roy Horn Dies. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 9, 2020 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

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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, turns out playing down the seriousness of coronavirus does not mean that you will not catch the coronavirus. The White House has confirmed its second case in just a few days.

The cost of a lockdown, Great Depression levels of unemployment in the U.S. and forecasts that the U.K. could see the worst recession in 300 years.

With America's pastime on hold, many fans are turning to professional baseball in Asia, where bat flips are OK, spitting is not and there is respect for all the players.

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VAUSE: As the coronavirus continues to spread across every state in the U.S., claiming at least 77,000 lives, the outbreak has now breached the White House. Two staffers, now among more than among 1 million confirmed cases nationwide. Johns Hopkins counts 4 million cases, almost 275,000 dead.

Turns out when face masks are rarely used, social distancing is mostly ignored and the virus is labeled a hoax, the coronavirus can strike. The White House confirming the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, has tested positive, the second confirmed case. The first, the president's personal valet. Katie Miller is also married to Steve Miller, a senior Trump advisor. He has tested negative.

Despite all of that and warnings of a second wave, at least 47 of the 50 U.S. states plan to partially reopen this weekend.

Driving that push for reopening sky-high Great Depression era unemployment numbers, the latest government jobs report says that more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs just last month.

So confronted by staggering unemployment, dealing with isolation and staring into a future filled with uncertainty and unknowns, pain from the pandemic is being felt across the U.S. Many are anxious, some are becoming increasingly angry and everyone, it seems, is asking, what will our lives look like once the worst is over?

Here is CNN's Nick Watt.

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ARMAN SARIAN, OWNER, CUSTOM ZONE PRINT SHOP: I have two teenagers to raise up, we have to keep up the good spirit but we're all scared.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 20 million American jobs vanished in April alone. The worst jobs report in American history.

In only 15 states, our new case counts consistently falling but still, 47 states are now partially reopening through the weekend. Some restrictions remain, which not everyone likes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a right to buy groceries without being forced to participate in (INAUDIBLE) terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, you need to wear a mask.

Do you understand that?

To come into the store.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) my constitutional --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, well, this is private property.

WATT (voice-over): Today in California, it's some nonessential retail opening, curbside pickup and delivery only.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are still trying to understand what curbside actually means.

WATT (voice-over): Here at the Brentwood Country Mart, it means they've hired runners to bring merchandise to you in your car. But reopening places like this isn't just about retail, it's about life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a community hangout. It's your local that you hit before you go home and put your family to bed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One question is how long are we going to be wearing masks. And I think for a very long time, right. I'm not wearing one right now because I'm talking with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How have you managed to survive?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that is yet to be seen, whether we survive.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Roughly 70 percent of the economy in the state of California can open with modifications into this next phase. I know 70 percent is not 100 percent and it is so important that we provide support.

WATT (voice-over): Tomorrow, restaurants can open in Nevada and campgrounds in North Dakota. In Texas, hair salons now a go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is concerning here is this is an experiment. No one knows what is going to happen.

WATT (voice-over): There is a potential problem with such uneven openings. A new study of cell phone data found that after Georgia started opening earlier than surrounding states, more than half a million people traveled into Georgia every day, a 13 percent spike. There is spread potential.

As this Tyson meat processing plant reopens in Waterloo, Iowa, the number of confirmed cases among workers doubled to over 1,000. One worker, reluctantly returning today, told CNN he has no choice.

"I cannot beat Donald Trump and Tyson. Both of them are billionaires. I'm not a billionaire. I'm broke."

[02:05:00]

WATT (voice-over): The good news, the NFL just laid out a full schedule for the fall, unclear if there will be fans in the stands.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Spectator less sports, that's something we can add to the lexicon with flattening the curve and social distancing.

WATT (voice-over): Social distancing enforcement, clearly a work in progress. This arrest in New York City has sparked an internal investigation and Brooklyn's DA tells CNN that, of the 40 people arrested for not social distancing through Monday, 35 are black, four Hispanic, just one white person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we see disparity, we will address it.

WATT (voice-over): Still no vaccine, of course, and remdesivir, that drug found to shorten COVID hospital stays by about four days?

Well, there is only about 200,000 courses available right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there was that excitement and then there was sadness and disappointment. It's not every day that you get a drug and it means that more patients will potentially do badly.

WATT: California just announced that every registered voter in the state will also get a mail-in ballot for November's presidential election. There will still be in-person voting but any person can do it by mail if they want to. The secretary of state says that this could be the most consequential election of our lifetime -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Along with the two confirmed cases, the White House also revealed, intentionally or unintentionally, that staff close to the vice president and the president are being tested daily. Just this week, the White House press secretary described the idea of testing all Americans, every day, as nonsensical.

While we're at it, why isn't the president and his advisers wearing face masks like everyone else has been asked to do?

Here's Jim Acosta.

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JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the second straight day, the White House is confirming that a staffer has contracted the coronavirus. This time, a senior official. Vice president Mike Pence's press secretary Katie Miller.

TRUMP: She is a wonderful young woman, Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time, then, all of a sudden, today, she tested positive. She has not come into contact with me.

ACOSTA (voice-over): With the potential that the West Wing has become a hot spot for the virus is now real. Miller is married to one of the president's top aides, speech writer and domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller.

Word of Katie Miller's test results came one day after the president acknowledge that one of his military valets came up positive, too.

TRUMP: We know who he is, a good person but I've had very little contact. Mike has had very little contact with him.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Yet, the White House seems to be stubbornly avoiding some precautions like masks.

The president greeted World War II veterans on the National Mall without wearing one.

TRUMP: We were very far away, you saw. Plus, the wind was blowing so hard and in such a direction that if the plague ever reached them, I would be very surprised. It could've reached me, too. But you didn't worry about me, you only worried about them and that's OK.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Neither were Republican members of Congress meeting with the president, though one lawmaker noted that they were tested for the virus before the event.

The virus is hitting home at the White House as the president is grappling with a staggering new unemployment rate, 14.7 percent. The highest on record since the Great Depression. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow noted that Wall Street does not seem to be too worried.

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: If you had told me that I would go on the air, on a day where we lost 20 million jobs and the stock market would go up 400 points, I would've been very interested.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Another economic adviser, Kevin Hassett, says more devastating numbers are on the way.

KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: I'm just want to say how heartbreaking it is to see a report like this. Probably the next number will be higher than this.

ACOSTA: What is the president's plan to get this country out of this ditch?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Yes, you know, this president is the jobs president. This president got us to the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

ACOSTA: What's the plan?

MCENANY: There are a lot of proposals to entertain. I don't want to get ahead of the president.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The administration has another big problem as a federal investigative office found that a top vaccine official, Dr. Rick Bright, may have been retaliated against, raising questions about the White House response to the virus.

Rights lawyers say that they've been informed that the Department of Health and Human Services violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by removing Dr. Bright because he made protected disclosures in the best interest of the American public. The president brushed off the Bright case.

TRUMP: To me, he looks like a disgruntled employee.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But the president is not trying to deny what has become painfully obvious, that the number of dead in the U.S. from the virus will keep climbing, perhaps, by the tens of thousands.

TRUMP: We may be talking about 95,000 people, ultimately, we may be talking about something more than that.

ACOSTA: As for the vice president's press secretary testing positive for the coronavirus, a senior White House official said other staffers who are in contact with Katie Miller have been tested and, so far, all of those tests have come back negative -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

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[02:10:00]

VAUSE: A footnote to all of this, Ivanka Trump's personal assistant has also tested positive for COVID-19. But the White House says that her assistant has been teleworking for nearly two months, far away from the president's daughter, who has tested negative.

Also the head of the Food and Drug Administration is now in a 14-day self quarantine after coming in contact with someone who tested positive. He has tested negative.

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VAUSE: Joining me now from Los Angeles is Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA, specializing in emerging infectious diseases.

Thank you for being with us. Starting with the White House, we now have 2 people, days, apart testing positive for the coronavirus. This seems to indicate how extremely contagious this virus is.

With that in mind, the V.P.'s press secretary, the day before the positive test result was seen well within 6 feet, talking to reporters. They're all wearing face masks, the reporters, which protects not the wearer but everyone else and Miller is not wearing a face mask.

She could easily be spreading this virus everywhere she went. And it's probably just a coincidence at this point but the head of the FDA is now self quarantining for 14 days.

What are the concerns to you now about how the coronavirus is spreading and how it might be spreading within the White House?

ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA: The coronavirus has been spreading by this mechanism, human to human transmission, since the beginning of this pandemic. The fact that it is spreading in the White House, where people are not social distancing, they are not wearing masks and they do not appear to be using the kinds of methods that we are recommending to the rest of the public, is proof positive that if you don't social distance, you do not wear masks, you do not take these precautions, you put yourself at great risk.

So I don't think this tells us anything new, it just tells us something that we already know, is that the virus is very contagious and everyone should be taking this very seriously to protect themselves.

VAUSE: Maybe it's something about the members of the administration more than it does about the virus itself.

On Friday, we heard from President Trump, talking about Miller testing positive and in his mind, he has worked out in some way that it is proof that testing is not so crucial or important, here is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This is why the whole concept of tests are not necessarily great. The tests are perfect but something can happen between the tests where it's good and then something happens, then all of a sudden shoes tested really recently and tested negative. And then today, for whatever reason, she tested positive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Yes, because she caught the virus. This is why you need to test people and why you follow up with contact tracing. This almost seems like it's beyond Donald Trump's grasp.

RIMOIN: I think that he is grappling with the same thing that many people are grappling with, that you can't have a test and that be the end of it. Your test for the day is your test for that day. That is what your status is, that day only. It is not what is going to be tomorrow or the day after and I think this is something that's very complicated or very difficult for people to understand.

It's hard to realize -- we're used to seeing people that had a test and this is my status, this will be good for a period of time and this is not the case here. Every day we are at risk, every day that we do not have a vaccine in place, we are at risk and every day that we don't have good therapeutics we are at risk. We are at risk. I don't know why this is so complicated.

VAUSE: There are some medical developments I want to get to, the coronavirus has turned up in the semen of men that have recovered from the disease.

Should they be worried about sexual transmission?

RIMOIN: This is a new virus to humanity. We learn things about it every day. I will say, finding a virus in semen post recovery is not unusual. We have seen this with Ebola, we've seen this with Zika. This is because the testes are immune protected sites. The brain, testes and then several spots in the body, where you are able to harbor virus.

When we talked about Zika over these last couple of years, this is one of the reasons why we are worried about it, the people can spread it. It's not something completely surprising, I'm certain we will learn new things about this virus all the time.

And, yes, what this means that is very possible, not certain yet but possible, that it could be spread through sexual transmission once one is recovered. It is something we will need to learn a lot more about, as with all things of this virus.

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VAUSE: Also, doctors in Hong Kong reported that a combination of 3 antiviral drugs, plus an immune system boosting drug, seemed to make people recover more quickly from coronavirus. The patients who got the cocktail tested negative after 7 days on average, those who just got the HIV drugs were positive on average for 12 days, rather.

How significant is something like this, find a treatment that will get us well and keeps us healthy?

RIMOIN: This is an interesting study. I think the key is we need rigorous studies that have enough power, the ability to detect a difference between treatments and allow us to move forward based on science.

I think this is very great that there is a lot of research coming out, that there is going to be a lot of tools in the toolbox we hope. But as with remdesivir and with many of these other drugs, we are still in early days of trying to understand where we are, what is going to be effective, what the side effects are and, very importantly, what can really help people who are critically ill and reduce the severity of illness for people, not just the length of illness but the severity, is very important.

VAUSE: That's a good point to end on. It's human nature to cling to any bit of good news, I guess, that we hear and hope it's some kind of breakthrough.

RIMOIN: It is good news, it is.

VAUSE: Professor, thank you so much for joining us here in Los Angeles, appreciate your time.

RIMOIN: Thank you, stay well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Now seems the economic pain is getting real. Just ahead, the April jobs report in the U.S. making history in the worst possible way.

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TRUMP: Those jobs will all be back and they will be back very soon. And next year, we are going to have a phenomenal year.

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VAUSE: A very optimistic American president there but just what those rooting forecasts are based on is not known. What is an undisputable fact, though, on Friday, the U.S. Labor Department reported more than 20 million Americans lost their job last month. Sending the unemployment rate to 14.7 percent, which does not reflect a total number of those out of work.

Regardless, these are the worst numbers since the Great Depression. The past few months have seen a decade of job growth, all of the gains made since the financial crisis, wiped out.

Bringing the U.S. economy to a grinding halt has created immense pain across the country but some states have been hit harder, much harder, than others. Here is CNN's Christine Romans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, the numbers are just unprecedented and the speed with which this job market has unraveled is unbelievable. Look at the job losses the past two months, 21.3 million jobs lost.

[02:20:00]

ROMANS: It took months during the Great Recession to ultimately lose 8.7 million jobs and that was so bad, that recession got its own nickname, the Great Recession.

This single month of job loss, is far and away the worst we have ever seen, certainly a record. And it is 10 times worse than the previous record back in September of 1945; when Japan surrendered and America's industrial war machine wound down.

That's right, our comparisons are to wars and the Great Depression. The difference is, this is something we have done on purpose to try and fight a health problem. No playbook for how we get out of this.

But what we can see, is where the damage is concentrated. Black unemployment was a record low two months ago, it has spiked now to 16.7 percent. Also spikes in the unemployment rates of women and teenagers.

Half of restaurant workers, half of them, lost their job in the month of April. And when you look at the sectors, you can see the pain was widespread. Health care, losing jobs; again, as so many doctors' offices are closed, dentists' offices are closed, hospitals are reserved for emergencies only, not for elective surgeries.

Overall, this is a devastating picture of what American families are going through right now. Every single one of these numbers is someone who has lost a paycheck, struggling to find out how to apply for unemployment, how to teach their kids at home, how to take care of their parents and wondering what the job market will look like on the other side.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Christine Romans, thank you. As bad as 14.7 percent unemployment is, it does not include everyone who is out of work or working reduced hours. The officially unemployed, working part-time for economic reasons, and those who want a job but have not looked for work in the last 12 months, you get 43.2 million. That is north of 20 percent.

That's more than the entire population of California. Still to come, the hardest hit country in Latin America, we'll take you to one city in the Amazon hit hardest of all.

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VAUSE: The virus is hitting Brazil harder than any other Latin American country between Thursday and Friday alone. Brazil recorded more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases and a record 751 dead. Last week, the president said that the worst had passed. Many health

experts fear that for Brazil, the worst is yet to come. There has now been more than 146,000 confirmed cases in Brazil. Just a few hours ago, the death toll surpassed the 10,000 mark.

In the Brazilian Amazon, a city is proven to be especially cruel. Graves are being dug en masse and while president Bolsonaro compares COVID-19 to "a little flu," he continues to pressure local governors to do away with social distancing and end lockdowns.

For the people of this town, the virus has brought massive death, despair and heartbreak. Isa Soares has our report.

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ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Like so many others, the Tokush family will never be the same. Here in this improvised cemetery, the small family unit with some others safely on the phone bid a quick farewell to their 69-year-old father and grandfather. Who went to hospital with a finger wound and came out with COVID-19. His grandson Esron, is in shock.

[02:25:00]

SOARES (voice-over): Tragedy, though, doesn't end with this family. Here in the city of Manaus, northwestern Brazil, excavators are digging trenches or mass. And while they bury their dead, President Jair Bolsonaro compared the pandemic to "a little flu," shaking the hands of his supporters in restaurants and supermarkets and joining massive protests pressuring governors and mayors to loosen lockdown measures.

And knew that could bring even more pain to the people of Manaus. According to the Secretary of Health, Amazon State, ICU beds in Manaus are at 85 percent capacity. And as the city's confirmed case count remains among the highest in Brazil and rising, hospitals buckle under the threat of COVID.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES: For Sandra, it's all too much. Her mom was admitted after having a stroke and now she says her mother has tested positive for COVID.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES: With ICU beds and short supply, many patients have been moved to maternity wards. This undercover video shows expecting mothers sitting face to face with COVID patients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES: It's not just patients who are expose. Several medical professionals say they favor price or for sharing their story with the media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES: Medical staff here say they feel unprotected, abandoned and powerless. On this ward a nurse is working without personal protective equipment. According to a nursing technician at this hospital, mask are in short supply.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES: Understandably it's taking a toll.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES: The nightmare is likely to continue with no end in sight. President Jair Bolsonaro, city believes more than 70 percent of Brazil's population is likely to contract coronavirus. And that the economic downfall will ultimately take a deeper tone on the country than the pandemic.

More than a 100,000 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed. And more than 7,000 people had been killed by the virus according to figures from Brazil's health ministry. Meanwhile the alarming rate in which (inaudible) are taking place, leave no doubt that number to be far higher -- Isa Soares, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: We'll be back after a short break, you're watching CNN.

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VAUSE: Back now to the latest on the coronavirus, which has infected more than 1.2 million people in the U.S., claimed more than 77,000 lives and, yet this weekend, all but three states will have partially reopened their economies. The U.S. has more dead, more confirmed cases than anywhere else.

Worldwide, the number of infections approaching 4 million, the virus killing nearly 275,000 people.

Europe, rightly or wrongly, are past peak lockdown. The urge to go back to work, get outside, have some kind of normalcy, proves greater than the fear of a second wave. We have reports from Max Foster in London, Melissa Bell in Paris and we start with Ben Wedeman, reporting in from Rome.

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BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Italy, prime minister Giuseppe Conte says he is willing to consider accelerating reopening the economy, which has taken a serious beating as a result of the coronavirus.

In April, hotel stays by foreigners plummeted by more than 99 percent. Impatience is growing to get this country moving again. Well ahead of the rest of Italy, the government in the northern province, has voted to allow shops to reopen on Saturday, and bars, restaurants, museums and hairdressers to resume operations this coming Monday.

The president of the Veneto region, where Venice is located, says that conditions have improved to the point where everything should be allowed to reopen immediately -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.

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MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Earlier in the week, Downing Street sources were briefing British newspapers that lockdown could be lifted as early as Monday, at least the first stages of it.

Ministers are very much pulling back from that now, with one saying that we should not expect any dramatic change. Prime minister Boris Johnson will come out on Sunday to give us the final word. He is due to outline his plan to lift the lockdown when the time is right. We should get some sense of the timeline then.

Meanwhile, medics are trying to make sense of new data, which tells us that black people in England and Wales are twice as likely to die from the virus as white people. Even when you take into account age, location and some measures of deprivation. Black men are nearly 4 times as likely to die as white men.

New data coming in all of the time around the virus and, in fact, the data the ministers need to make decisions on the lockdown and when to lift it -- CNN, Max Foster, Windsor England.

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MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Paris, the country is preparing to reopen on Monday, partially, at least, after a very tightly enforced two month long stay at home order. There will be a return in some ways to life as usual, although that crucial part of life, cafes and restaurants, will remain closed.

People are allowed to go about much more freely than they have before, authorities keeping one eye on economics but another eye firmly, they say, on COVID-19 figures, specifically, the numbers of people admitted to intensive care.

They have been dropping off these last couple of weeks and stabilizing but should they rise as a result of this reopening the government says it would not hesitate to bring in a second stay at home order and for this very simple reason, that in places like Paris and around it, doctors tell us that the hospitals simply would not be able to cope with a second wave -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: In Spain, a lonely nighttime stroll, illegal. The crowded commercial flight with passengers, not a problem. CNN's Scott McLean reports about some of the nonsensical rules after a severe nationwide lockdown.

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SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's less than 300 miles between Madrid and the Formentera Island but in the age of coronavirus, it took our crew two flights, a ferry and a lot of bureaucracy to get there.

LAURA PEREZ MAESTRO, CNN PRODUCER: These are CNN authorization forms that we've got to be able to take this flight.

[02:35:00]

MCLEAN (voice-over): It asked if we had any coronavirus symptoms. Amidst the worst outbreak in one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, walking alone at the wrong time of day will surely get you fined. Yet cramming yourself onto a hot airplane next to strangers is still perfectly OK.

So we are on the plane. We have our goggles on, we have our masks because there is not a lot of social distancing going on.

The real crime, we found out, was documenting it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

MCLEAN (voice-over): After we landed, a flight attendant gave my producer, Laura, and I a choice, to leave the videos or he would call the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

MCLEAN (voice-over): Sure enough, a uniformed Spanish civil guard officer was waiting for us on the tarmac. A major airline lobby, the IATA, says there is little evidence of COVID-19 spreading on aircraft, though there is also very little research.

The airline, Air Europa, said there are no regulations applicable to all airlines that require flying with capacity reductions. That is true. Spanish transport ministry told us that it merely encourages airlines to ensure the maximum possible separation between passengers, failing that, everyone else must wear a mask.

On a ferry trip to the island, the paperwork was the same, the rest could not have been more different.

MAESTRO: We have just been told that we have to go to the main port again to get some kind of test.

MCLEAN: Me and the team (sic) just got the coronavirus test, it was just a finger prick and they drew a bit of blood.

Moments later, the results.

Negative. Perfect, thank you.

As Spain slowly moves towards the new normal, the rules seem wildly inconsistent, for now, it seems like safety first on the streets and on the water and a much different experience in the sky -- Scott McLean, CNN, Madrid.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: It has been 44 days since the first pitch was scheduled for Major League Baseball in North America. There is no indication when the season will start but they are playing ball in South Korea.

Sure, the stadium is filled with cardboard cutouts instead of fans. But as Don Riddell reports, American TV viewers are warming up to the only game in town.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may be America's pastime but with Major League Baseball still on hold, U.S. fans of the sport are tuning in to the start of the new KBO season in Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say it is best summed up as being really joyful. It's a ton of fun.

There's dancing, there singing, there's cheerleaders, cheermasters, it is a very raucous party atmosphere.

RIDDELL (voice-over): Unfortunately, Korean baseball lost much lot of its razzmatazz because of the coronavirus. There aren't any fans right now. But the hype is real. So much so, sports channel ESPN struck a deal to broadcast the games live, back in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's gone, home run.

RIDDELL (voice-over): Korean baseball has become known for its culture of bat flipping, considered taboo in Major League Baseball.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Korea it's just normal. There is no retribution, it's just a thing that happens and it's fun and they're happy and everyone continues on with their business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a flip.

There is our first bat flip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I suspect that the Korean players, they know it's taboo in the U.S. and a part of me wonders if they are aware it's being broadcast here, which is tremendously exciting to them and they're trying consciously to not do it, knowing that we are looking for it. I hope that's not the case because it is so fun when it actually happens. RIDDELL (voice-over): Bat flips or not, enjoy Korean baseball while

you can, because right, now there is no other sports to flip the channel for anyway -- Don Riddell, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Fans are being wowed into baseball games in Taiwan, just 1,000 at this game in New Taipei. Its quarantine measures have been relaxed. Fans have to wear face masks, sit in designated seats that kept them apart based on social distancing. No food concessions were sold in the stadium. America may be one step closer to watching Major League Baseball next

month. But many are skeptical that there will be a season this year. Former MVP and Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez says America needs baseball and the players want to play.

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ALEX RODRIGUEZ, FORMER MLB PLAYER: America has never been hungrier for sports and baseball. It is America's favorite pastime and I do think that America needs its comfort food and that is baseball.

Players always want to play, fans always want to watch. The key is, follow the science, do the right thing, not just for the short term but for the long term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: There is one kid who will most likely be playing at some point in the future, his name is Asher. He slugged out his first home run and watch the dad's reaction. Here's Jeanne Moos.

[02:40:00]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the home run that hit home, not so much because of the ball going over the fence as for the dad going out of his mind.

Cory Willig himself a former professional baseball player and now instructor celebrated his son's first home run. Celebrated it for longer than it took 4-year-old Asher to circle the bases.

CORY WILLIG, FORMER PRO BASEBALL PLAYER: I was ecstatic because how much went into this. I know how many swings he's taken.

MOOS: During our interview, Asher was the MVP of mugging for the camera, giving a look at his mouth, his teeth, even showing a little shoulder. Father and son had spent quarantine time practicing in front of their home. Asher hitting with such gusto, someone wondered how are the windows still intact?

The home run happened the same day Georgia's stay-at-home order was lifted.

C. WILLIG: He had so much energy built up and he just wanted to get out there and go.

MOOS: Asher has plenty of swagger on deck. He likes to tap the plate. And he loves to flip the bat. This baseball prodigy went viral once before. At 22 months, his bat handling got him invited on Jimmy Fallon's show for a hitting contest with A-Rod. Contest that Asher ostensibly won with A-Rod predicting --

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, FORMER MLB PLAYER: Future Yankee.

MOOS: His react to the slugger few words, pronounced himself.

ASHER WILLIG, 4-YEAR-OLD: Happy.

MOOS: His father's pitching as.

A. WILLIG: Best.

MOOS: And what he wants to be when he grows up?

A. WILLIG: A Junior.

MOOS: That would be Ronald Acuna, Jr., star outfielder of the Atlanta Braves who applauded Asher's home run with emoji. But watch your back, Acuna.

A. WILLIG: Bombs away.

MOOS: It's bombs away all right, even if it's his dad who detonates -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

C. WILLIG: You did it! You did it! You did it!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: We will finish with this, the COVID pandemic has claimed the life of one of the most flamboyant performers on the Vegas Strip. Roy Horn, of Siegfried & Roy, a magic act featuring wild animal illusions, until 2003 when a tiger attacked him, severing his spine.

He never fully recovered and his publicist says that he died at 75 of complications from the coronavirus. His partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, called him one of the greats of magic. He said, "I've lost my best friend."

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm John Vause, please stay with us, I'll be back with more news later, in the meantime, "MARKETPLACE AFRICA," stay with us.