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Coronavirus Reaches White House West Wing; Americans Adjust to New Reality; Drug Cocktail Speeds Up Recovery; France Partially Eases Strict Lockdown May 11; COVID-19 Shuts Down Bollywood. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired May 9, 2020 - 03:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am John Vause.

Ahead this hour, on CNN NEWSROOM, another case of coronavirus in the White House. This time, a senior aide with access to the president and vice president. Despite that, Trump and Pence continue to ignore their own guidelines, refusing to wear face masks in public.

Plus, could COVID-19 be transmitted sexually?

The doctor is in.

All the blockbusters from Hollywood to Bollywood, the coronavirus shuts down movie theaters all across the world.


VAUSE: As the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States with at least 77,000 dead, it has now reached the White House with at least two aides with 100 cases confirmed.

Johns Hopkins confirmed 4 million cases, almost 275,000 dead. The White House has confirmed that the press secretary for Mike Pence, tested positive. Katie Miller is the second confirmed case in the administration. The first is the president's personal valet.

Miller is married to Stephen Miller, a senior Trump advisor and he has tested negative. Despite warnings of a second wave all but three U.S. states will see partial reopening by at least this weekend. Driving the push to restart the economy, unemployment numbers, the latest government reports more than 20 million Americans lost jobs last month.

Confronted with staggering unemployment, a future full of uncertainty, the pain is being felt across the U.S. Many are anxious, some become increasingly angry and everyone it seems is asking what our lives will look like when the worst is over. Here's CNN's Nick Watt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 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.


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."

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: Spectatorless 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.


WATT (voice-over): 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.


VAUSE: The Trump administration is apparently carrying out daily tests for the coronavirus on everyone working close to the president and the vice president. But earlier this week, the White House press secretary said the daily testing for all Americans was nonsensical.

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

Here's Jim Acosta.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.

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.


VAUSE: How significant is something like this, finding a treatment that will get us well and keep 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.


VAUSE: Good news is always good to hear, we will take a short, break back in a, moment, you're watching CNN.




VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.

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.


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.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 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.


BELL: 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.



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, where German chancellor Angela Merkel is now saying that they are past the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic and they can further ease restriction to push the virus back.

Here in Germany, that means larger stores can also open, as well as restaurants, bars and cafes, which will be opening fairly soon.

Also, Germany's soccer's league will soon start playing once again. However, Angela Merkel is saying that, if they take this too loosely, there could be a spike in infections and there is a snapback provision here in Germany that, if there is a certain number of new infections, the lockdown comes back.



SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Scott McLean in Spain, where, on Monday, one of the strictest lockdowns on Earth will be relaxed, just not everywhere. In most of Spain's 17 regions, stores, churches, restaurants terraces will be allowed to reopen and limited capacity but the 2 biggest, Madrid, Barcelona, and large swaths of the country will be stuck in what the government is calling phase zero, which means that the stay-at-home order is still in place with the exception of specific times for people to go outside to take a walk or to exercise.

Almost half of the country will be stuck under lockdown orders, under stay-at-home orders, for more than eight weeks. Each region will only be allowed to relax restrictions once the central government is confident there won't be a second spike in cases.


VAUSE: That was Scott McLean, finishing off there.

Now to Syria, where worshippers return to mosques for the first time in more than a month. Mosques had been closed because of coronavirus restrictions. But on Friday, people formed queues in the capital, Damascus, as temperatures were taken before worshippers were allowed in. Only men over the age of 16 are permitted, everyone must wear a mask, maintain a distance of at least a meter between each other, not always easy during prayers.

Bollywood is big business and big culture in India but the coronavirus has shut down movie production. We'll tell you about the blockbusters on hold. And the messages that the stars are sending out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).





VAUSE: Russian president Vladimir Putin marking the 75th anniversary of World War II Victory Day. Just moments ago, he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow. Mr. Putin had planned to hold a parade on Saturday, with the French president Emmanuel Macron, and the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, are scarce.

These are live pictures right now but the whole big event was postponed because of the pandemic. A much more scaled back memorial.

It could be some time before movie theaters worldwide reopen, even longer before anyone feels entirely safe to sit in a darkened room next to a stranger who may or may not have the coronavirus. Blockbusters scheduled for release over the North American summer have all been postponed.


VAUSE: In India, a powerhouse of films production has been completely shut down costing Bollywood more than $330 million of lost revenue. As Vedika Sud reports, there are many movies and audiences in India will have to wait to see.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Has all the makings of a blockbuster but moviegoers in India will have to wait until the lockdown is lifted to see this mega action movie.

They were just days away from opening when theaters across the country, roughly 9,500 of them, closed down because of the virus. Bollywood, known worldwide for its splashy music and dance films has gone dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a black swan event for our industry. We have not seen anything of this scale or this intensity in our business ever.

SUD (voice-over): Almost all film production has halted, not just in Mumbai's Bollywood but in film production centers in other languages, around the country. It's an industry that normally makes 1,200 films a year but experts say that it could potentially take two years to get back on track.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am very emotional and upset and (INAUDIBLE) --


SUD (voice-over): Some films are releasing online, like the final film of this actor, who recently died of a rare cancer.

Other films are being pushed back, like this film about India's World Cup win. The film's director says it is disappointing but unavoidable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole planet today (ph) is on standstill. So then I think watching a film becomes a much lower priority.

SUD (voice-over): Mumbai, the heart of Bollywood's film production, makes up about a fifth of the country's coronavirus cases.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SUD (voice-over): While some figures famous faces may no longer be on the set, some are still using smallest dreams to help fight the coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So don't be scared, don't panic, be safe, this too shall pass

SUD (voice-over): A shuttering of India's film industry that will have to remain on pause until theaters reopen and cameras roll once again -- Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm John Vause, "AFRICAN VOICES CHANGE MAKERS" is up next.