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Johns Hopkins: Coronavirus Tops 4 Million Worldwide; Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield and Dr. Stephen Hahn Quarantine After Virus Exposure; 47 U.S. States Reopen; Son in Ecuador Searches for Father's Body; Prisons Becoming Hot Spots for COVID-19, Sex Offenders Released Early; Spain Relaxes Lockdown Rules; U.K. Study: Drinking on the Rise; Colombia's Flower Industry in Danger of Collapse. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired May 10, 2020 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am Michael Holmes.
Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, virus in the White House. 3 top public health officials are under some type of quarantine after potential exposure to the virus.
Also, where are the bodies, as deaths rise in Latin America?
Missing remains mean no peace for the grieving.
Hotspots for coronavirus: prisons, as more and more prisoners are testing positive for the virus so do the questions on how to keep those inside safe.
HOLMES: Welcome, everyone.
The new week is bringing a disturbing new milestone in the spread of the coronavirus. Johns Hopkins University reporting the number of cases around the world has topped 4 million. Nearly 280,000 people have died. It did not take long to get to this point, although it may have felt a long time.
You can see how steadily the number has climbed since the first million cases were confirmed. That was just over a month ago, if you can believe that. About one third of those cases, 1.3 million, are in the U.S., with more than 78,000 lives lost.
As these numbers rise, more nations are taking steps to emerge from their lockdowns. We are expecting to hear from British prime minister Boris Johnson in the hours ahead about his plans to ease the U.K.'s lockdown measures.
On Monday, more than half of the people in hardhit Spain will move into what is being called phase one, where places like restaurants and museums can reopen under social distancing rules. Madrid and Barcelona will not be included in that phase.
Almost every state in the U.S. will be partially back to business in the next day or so at some level, including California. More people being allowed to play golf for example.
As the U.S. balances opening back up with staying safe, the pandemic is hitting close to home for some of the most prominent doctors working on this crisis. CNN's Jeremy Diamond with more on that.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Three top doctors on the White House Coronavirus Task Force are now going to be teleworking, working from home and carrying out some form of self quarantine for the next 2 weeks after coming into contact with someone at the White House who tested positive for coronavirus in just the last week.
That is Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration; as well as Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become one of the most public faces of this White House's response to the coronavirus.
All of them announcing that they will be working from home for the next 2 weeks. Dr. Anthony Fauci telling our colleague Jake Tapper that he will be undergoing a, quote, "modified quarantine" for the next 14 days, working from home and wearing a mask at all times of the day.
Though he does note that if he is called to the White House from Capitol Hill, that he will go but will take every precaution necessary.
A similar message we are hearing from a spokesperson for the CDC, saying that Dr. Redfield would go to the White House if he had to fulfill any responsibilities with regards to his role there. But he would be wearing a mask.
Of course, very notable that we are seeing these 3 top medical experts on this Coronavirus Task Force, all of which are undergoing some form of self quarantine. What we have not seen is a sort of unified, centralized approach from the White House as to how to deal with this.
Earlier this week, a White House spokeswoman, Katie Miller, she tested positive on Friday. A couple of days before that, we saw one of the president's personal valets also testing positive, a Navy official.
Again, no message from the White House about whether anyone who's come into contact with them should go into self quarantine. It seems to be much more of a piecemeal approach.
What is clear, though, is that, as the country begins to reopen and many workers are being asked to come back to work, even here at the White House where there are the most strict protocols, officials coming into contact with the president now being tested daily.
DIAMOND: Temperature checks being conducted for anyone coming on to the White House grounds. Even here, the coronavirus is seeping in -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.
HOLMES: New York is still the American pandemic hot spot. The governor calling the death rate quote, "infuriatingly constant." Although the number of new cases does appear to be going down, there is a disturbing new twist. An illness that might be linked to COVID-19 has struck dozens of children. For a few of them it was fatal. Here's Polo Sandoval with more.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: New York's governor Andrew Cuomo calling these recent pediatric hospitalizations as not new but as disturbing, particularly for parents. At least 73 children in and around New York that have been hospitalized with symptoms that, according to the governor, are similar to toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease.
The governor being very clear that these are likely or possibly related to COVID infections. Still many questions relating to these recent hospitalizations, including 3 children that have not survived.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Now these are children who come in and do not present the symptoms that we normally are familiar with, with COVID. It is not a respiratory illness, they are not in respiratory distress. But the illness has taken the lives of 3 young New Yorkers so this is new and it is developing.
SANDOVAL: These hospitalizations are certainly getting the attention of health professionals, not just here in New York but across the country, especially since, from the beginning, we had heard that it was perhaps some of the younger people who were possibly not as vulnerable to this illness.
But now this new information that is being released by governor Andrew Cuomo is suggesting otherwise.
We should finally mention that the CDC is working with the state of New York. Their main goal is to try and develop some kind of criteria that would be applied across the country as they continue to look into these illnesses -- reporting in New York, I'm Polo Sandoval.
HOLMES: Joining me now from New York is Kent Sepkowitz, he's a CNN medical analyst and deputy physician chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Good to have you back, Doctor, always a lot to talk about. Multiple times in recent weeks, the president has downplayed the need for widespread testing. And yet, here we are with what is really a cluster at the White House. The vice president's press secretary, her husband is close to the president, a valet close to the president, Secret Service agents, so on. You have the head of the CDC, the FDA, Dr. Anthony Fauci, all quarantining.
Most of these cases would not have happened without testing because most were asymptomatic.
What do you say about the president downplaying the need for testing when you look at what is happening?
DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think testing is only part of the strategy to keep people safe. If you do not wear masks and you do not socially distance, you can test all you want to.
But you're not going to prevent anything. You will detect it sooner and you can adjust according to that. But this shows to me that, without social distancing, masking and discipline, you cannot control it.
HOLMES: I guess the other interesting thing is the White House are using a quick test but it has a 15 percent chance of giving a false negative when someone is actually positive.
Is that a concern about how testing is being handled there?
People could be walking around positive when they got a negative test.
SEPKOWITZ: It's quite shocking that this is the test they are using, given the 15 percent issue of false positives. That is people, who are truly positive, testing negative 15 percent of the time. It's something that certainly needs to be looked at again.
No test is perfect and that is another reason that you can't just test; you have to also do the less scientific approaches, like social distancing, masks and common sense.
HOLMES: With 1.3 million cases, the U.S. is 5 percent of the population and 33 percent of the sick people. Globally, the average death rate is 34 people per million. In the U.S. It's 232 per million.
What has gone wrong?
SEPKOWITZ: Just about everything, I would say. I think, with any pandemic, the first month or so, 6 weeks is going to look pretty clumsy. Things will not go perfectly.
SEPKOWITZ: But I think after that, there is blame to be placed on decision-makers. I do not think there has ever been a decision that seemed like it came based from public health necessity. I think we are having the same conversations today May 9th and 10th, as we were on March 9th and 10th. HOLMES: Yet we have this push to reopen. When it comes to that move
to reopen in many U.S. states and other countries around the world, the thing about this virus is that we are not going to immediately know the results of that.
We are going to be continually looking at lagging data. Today we're seeing the results from 2 or 3 weeks ago.
SEPKOWITZ: Because we aren't testing actively. A very sobering quick report out of South Korea today about a bar that they had reopened. They found 44 secondary cases from an infected person who was at that bar. They closed again all the bars in South Korea and they were able to get it not waiting for everyone to get sick and show up for diagnosis but by testing immediately.
So the only way you can reopen safely or moderately safely is to have a very aggressive testing program, which we do not have.
HOLMES: Absolutely. This is an administration that sort of ignores its own opening requirements in the U.S., states being urged to reopen when they've not even met the administration's own guidelines and the administration shelving guidelines written by the CDC.
The mixed messaging is stunning really. It seems to be a recipe for disaster. SEPKOWITZ: Yes. I think the recent reports about kids getting very
sick from this virus might change the "hurry up and get back to open business" tone. I think we act tough when it is us.
But when it is our 5 year olds who get sick because they need a haircut, I think people might change their decision making some. That might be optimistic. But I think this is an enormously sad but important development with the kids, something that might open the debate somewhat.
HOLMES: Talk about that for a minute from a medical standpoint. Just for background, you have people in that -- New York investigating the death of 3 kids with what could be related to COVID-19, inflammatory syndromes. Kawasaki disease. Goes to show we do not really know what this thing is.
SEPKOWITZ: It keeps throwing us curveballs. This syndrome is very perplexing. It is associated in most of the cases, but not all, with coronavirus infection. The syndrome itself is one of too much inflammation. If I get an infection, I need this much inflammation to normally control it and that is a good thing.
Once in a while, you will get this much inflammation. The whole program goes haywire. And the immune system starts to attack the person himself with the infection. That is what we are seeing.
A particularly ominous problem with this syndrome and with Kawasaki is not that it attacks here or there or wherever; it actually attacks the arteries that feed the heart, the coronary arteries. So 5 year old kids can have heart attacks. It's a devastating disease, as you can imagine. HOLMES: It shows how much we've yet to know about what this virus can
do and what the long term effects are on even survivors. Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, thanks so much, we appreciate your expertise.
SEPKOWITZ: Thank you, Michael.
HOLMES: Millions of Americans are getting a glimpse of the so-called new normal. Most states are easing back some restrictions, despite warnings from some health experts that it is too soon. The country now trying to uplift the economy without upending any progress in curbing the virus. CNN's Natasha Chen showing how people are adapting.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: By the end of the weekend, all but three states will have eased quarantine restrictions in some way, even in once hard hit Rhode Island, where the governor said Friday her state will be the first in the northeast to lift a stay stay-at-home order.
GOV. GINA RAIMONDO (D-RI): If you look at the facts on the ground, the data on the ground, we're doing better. And so therefore we're in a better position so we can start to lift our restrictions a little bit sooner.
CHEN: Restrictions are lifting from coast-to-coast. In North Carolina retail stores have reopened, but at 50 percent capacity. In Delaware, stores can now offer curbside pickup. That goes for California as well, where stores can also now deliver just in time to send flowers for Mother's Day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me as a small shop, I'm not going to let anybody in. But at least I can operate, cannot just open everything, because we will have a second wave and then we will go back to square one.
CHEN: San Francisco has decided to keep businesses closed until May 18th. But the rest of the state has some businesses reopening with modifications.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stay out of the politics. I need to open. We're ready.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what we have right now for takeout.
CHEN: Nevada and Alaska have now joined more than a dozen states to resume dine-in services in restaurants with restrictions. People can also now get a drink at a bar in Alaska at 25 percent capacity. In Arizona, people can get their haircut by appointment only. Same for Texas, with owners eager to open doors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything is ready and my clients are more than ready.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything, I lost everything. Destroyed my business. I lost my business. That's what it has done.
CHEN: In Iowa, people can go back to the dentist, go to campgrounds, the drive-in movies and tanning facilities following special guidelines. Tennessee now joins Georgia in allowing people to go to bowling alleys. Pennsylvania is taking a county by county approach to reopening. Welcome news to this chocolatier in the town of Williamsport.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're hoping that the people, especially those who are, let's say, under age 60 come out more because, again they -- you need to just get out I think.
CHEN: Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.
HOLMES: For many Americans, the reopening cannot come fast enough. The pandemic robbed the economy of more than 20 million jobs last month alone, the worst jobs report in U.S. history. Some workers are feeling the economic crisis more than others. Christine Romans has more on that.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is a low wage worker unemployment crisis. It really is. You look at retail. Millions of jobs lost, hospitality, leisure, travel and doctors' offices. I think those are going to come back quickly when you start to do elective surgeries again. Those are profit centers for doctors' offices and hospitals. They're making moves now to get that part of the economy moving again.
But I'm very worried about low wage job losses. If the 2008 - 2009 downturn was a he session that really hit men, this is a she session. Women really hit hard here, minorities hit very hard, teenagers, people working in the front line, retail, customer facing jobs have been decimated by the shutdown of the American economy.
It has been uneven. It appears to me that Google announced its employees are staying home to the end of the year. Other companies, tech companies, big corporate giants are offering paid leave for their workers to be able to take care of their kids during the rest of the school year, to take care of elderly relatives, their family obligations.
You look at this, the haves and have nots in the job crisis situation. You have some companies taking very good care of workers, they want to make sure people are safe, people are taken care of. Then you have so many people shut out completely. It is a tragedy.
HOLMES: Christine Romans reporting there.
We will take a quick break, when we come back, a city in Ecuador with a staggering death toll. A harrowing story about an overwhelming number of human lives lost, a son searching for the body of his father.
HOLMES: Welcome back.
The coronavirus continues a steady spread in some South and Latin American countries. The region on course to register hundreds of thousands of cases. Peru has more than 65,000 COVID-19 cases, Mexico over 33,000.
But it is Brazil, by far, being hit the hardest. And with the fastest and steepest spikes in new infections every day, Brazil is the Latin American coronavirus hot spot. Once the first infection set in, the virus took off. Brazil's president has pushed back on health officials lobbying for stricter lockdowns.
Today, the country has more than 150,000 confirmed cases. Over the weekend, Brazil's coronavirus death toll surpassed 10,000. Between Friday and Saturday alone, more than 700 people died of COVID-19.
Wuhan, Madrid, New York, Guayaquil: it may not be a household name but Ecuador's second largest city has lived through one of the most horrific local outbreaks of the coronavirus anywhere in the world. The CNN analysis shows the death toll there could be 17 times higher than official data suggests.
That staggering death toll has ravaged the city, roughly the size of Chicago. Matt Rivers speaks to one young man who tells us how he lost his father to the disease and then the morgue lost his remains. Now a strong warning to our video viewers, it is graphic, difficult to watch but we choose to air it because it's a stark reality of what is happening in that part of the world. Here is our story.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are bodies, piled in open shipping containers outside a hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the country's second largest city.
The person who shot this video shared it with CNN and if just watching the video is difficult, imagine going through those containers in person, looking for your dad's body. That's what Arturo Ramos says he had to do.
ARTURO RAMOS, BEREAVED SON: One on top of each other, one crossing each other. It is really devastating.
RIVERS (voice-over): On March 31st, his dad, Flavio, could not breathe. After being turned away at 10 different hospitals because they were full, Ramos says that his dad was finally admitted at the 11th. Flavio was placed in a wheelchair like this one and taken to a room with no bed. There were two dead bodies already inside.
RAMOS: It was like the worst. It was like the worst. There was a lot of people dying and no one was taking care of them.
RIVERS (voice-over): Flavio died the next day. On his death certificate it says he died of acute respiratory failure, likely due to COVID-19.
But like so many others in Guayaquil, Flavio was never tested because the health care system has all but collapsed. The hospital would not comment on his case. But CNN has spoken to multiple doctors, who say that in March and April, hospitals citywide buckled under the weight of the pandemic.
RIVERS (voice-over): Their facilities were overwhelmed almost immediately after the outbreak began, doomed by a lack of staff and supplies. The 3 doctors we spoke to suggested that dozens of patients simply died in their cars outside of hospitals, waiting for treatment.
In this video, obtained by CNN, a man dead in his car was pulled out and laid in a hospital parking lot by his family, the group simply unsure what to do next. The federal government has apologized for its pandemic response and, stating the obvious, said they were not ready for an outbreak with a staggering death toll.
In March and April combined, 2018-2019, an average 2,799 people died in Guayaquil. Experts say that's about what you would expect. But this year, that number spiked to at least 12,350. Of those, the government confirmed just 533 were due to COVID-19.
So what explains the fact that thousands more died over the same 2 month period this year?
RIVERS: There is no doubt that the additional thousands and thousands of deaths are COVID related.
DR. ESTEBAN ORTIZ-PRADO, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Totally. For me, they are COVID unless proven otherwise.
RIVERS (voice-over): Three epidemiologists told CNN Guayaquil's actual COVID-19 related death toll could be higher than 9,000. The government has acknowledged the virus death toll is far higher than what they officially report but they say its lack of ability to test more means that we will never know the exact figure.
When Arturo Ramos went to collect his father's remains, hospital officials could not find them. He says that he had to search on his own both in the morgue and in these shipping containers and after 5 days of looking through hundreds of bodies, he says that he never found his dad.
RAMOS: I could not go anymore. Mentally, I was not 100 percent.
RIVERS (voice-over): The government did not respond when asked about Flavio Ramos or the shipping containers but say many families are still missing dead loved ones. Last month, the attorney general launched an investigation into the mismanagement of remains at hospital morgues.
Anyone can go to this government website and type in the deceased's name to see if there is any news. More than a month after he died, a search for his father ends in no results found.
Arturo grieves for his dad alone these days, separated from his family because last week he tested positive for the virus. The overall case number is dropping in Guayaquil. But for so many, the worst parts of this outbreak will never really end.
RIVERS: Michael, the Ecuadorian government says they have a better handle on the outbreak at the moment. As a result, this week, they have begun to slowly ease off some of these strict quarantine measures that have been put into place.
But the people in Guayaquil that we speak to say that they do not trust the government to handle any reopening properly. They are nervous that, if it is not done right, it can be right back to where they were when things were so bad during the months of March and April -- Michael.
HOLMES: Matt Rivers, thanks, appreciate it. We will be right back.
HOLMES: As viewers around the world join us, I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Nations around the world moving to open back up. The number of coronavirus cases are still on the rise. On Saturday, that number passed 4 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, 1 million new cases confirmed in just the past 12 days alone.
The U.S. hovering around 1.3 million cases, nearly 79,000 people have died, this as almost every state in the nation is easing restrictions to some degree.
Prisons have become hotspots for coronavirus with thousands of prisoners testing positive. More than 800 inmates testing positive at just one California prison complex, as did more than 2 dozen staff members.
In Ohio, more than one in 5 cases of positive coronavirus patients are inmates.
Look at these signs put in windows of the Cook County Jail in Chicago, inmates saying, "We matter, too."
Also, "Save us" as the virus spreads.
Back in April, Chicago's biggest jail released almost a fourth of its population over coronavirus fears, the focus on releasing those awaiting trial and low level nonviolent offenders.
Joining me now from New York is Dr. Homer Venters, a former chief medical officer for the New York City jail system.
Doctor, you are also the author of "Life and Death in Rikers Island." There has been a lot of talk about hotspots in meatpacking plants and cruise ships. But prisons have been a major issue because of close quarters. I've read of 2 facilities in Ohio and California where 70 percent of the inmate population tested positive.
How serious is this issue in American jails?
DR. HOMER VENTERS, FORMER CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, NEW YORK CITY JAIL SYSTEM: This is a grave issue. It is a life-threatening issue for people who are incarcerated and dying. It's also incredibly important for the nation as a whole.
We have 5,000 jails and prisons in this country. Those places are going to drive the outbreak curve straight up for the entire nation. It will place the lives of those incarcerated in jeopardy as well as staff.
HOLMES: As you said, you wrote a book about health issues at prison facilities. You were worried about this well before coronavirus.
What is not in a prison in terms of facilities and supplies to stem off something like coronavirus, basic things like social distancing is impossible, obviously.
VENTERS: Two of the things that are in shortest supply are evidence based practices and transparency. We have spent decades in this country creating a silo around prisons and jails so the health care system in these places is grossly deficient. We do not know when bad outcomes occur.
VENTERS: So when something like coronavirus hits, we cannot just copy and paste our community standards of care onto these places. The people who provide care and those who are incarcerated have not had access to evidence based care before.
So you are correct to say the close quarters create a firestorm for this virus in particular. It's also important to know that groups like the CDC and states' Department of Health have been AWOL from these places for many years. So we have a lot of ground to cover just to get to barebones basics of being able to wash hands with soap and water and paper towels, let alone figure out who is sick and who needs tests and who needs to go to the hospital. HOLMES: I think I read that you wrote about how, when you mentioned
the CDC and major health authorities that look after people in society, it's not the case in prisons. Often it is the local sheriff who is deciding what can be life and death issues of health care.
VENTERS: That is right. To be fair to sheriffs and commissioners in correction, they are not doctors nor health administrators. But we have given them these critical jobs and often not the resources to do those jobs.
But the groups that decide the quality of your care and my care are the community, they are essentially absent from these places and have been for many years.
HOLMES: Of course one of the major issues is just how many people are incarcerated in American jails, more people per capita than any country in the world.
What would you say is an immediate possible move during this current crisis?
What kinds of things can be done, things like releasing nonviolent inmates, what would you recommend?
VENTERS: Sure. I think the first step is to release people who can be released because there are very high risk folks behind bars, people with health problems, if they become infected with COVID-19, will have a higher risk of dying.
Secondly, in order to manage the outbreak behind bars, the facilities need space to move people around, to separate the sick people from the healthy people. Facilities cannot do that basic job if they are at 100 percent or probably 75 percent capacity.
So release is job one. Not just to save the lives of high-risk people but to allow for effective management of the outbreak inside the facility.
HOLMES: You have people who will say, they are in prison, they are there for a reason, they do not impact me. But of course, staff in these prisons have been heavily impacted as well. They go home and go back into communities.
What kind of attitude would you like to see change?
VENTERS: You are right. Many of the people who have become infected with COVID-19 and who have died behind bars are staff, correctional staff. It's also important to remember that when people get sick behind bars, they go to local hospitals when they need higher level of care.
This virus spreads like wildfire when it gets behind bars. So we've seen in multiple places around the country, one single jail or prison can completely overwhelm a local hospital. That is exactly the opposite of flattening the curve. When the rest of us are trying to engage in social distancing and
taking all of these measures to flatten the curve, just one facility can completely overwhelm a local hospital. That is something that impacts everybody in the community.
HOLMES: Just finally, speak to policy changes that are needed for infectious diseases. COVID-19 has highlighted some of these institutionalized issues.
What needs to change after this as well?
VENTERS: Sure. Right now we have some fleeting attention from the CDC and state departments of health and other health structures that we think are evidence based. Those organizations need to stay. They need to help us improve the quality of health care but also the transparency of health services behind bars going forward, not just for COVID-19.
HOLMES: Dr. Homer Venters, great to have you on and your insights into this, it is a important issue into the U.S.
VENTERS: Thank you for having me.
HOLMES: Like Dr. Venters mentioned there, several states have released nonviolent prisoners and that includes California, where a contentious debate surrounds the early release of 7 registered sex offenders.
Orange County officials are at odds over 2 elements of public safety, health and crime. CNN law enforcement correspondent Josh Campbell with details.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: As the debate continues about what to do with prisoners in the era of COVID-19, one Southern California prosecutor is fuming.
CAMPBELL: Orange County's Todd Spitzer writing in an unusual public statement, blasting the decision by a local county commissioner to release 7 registered sex offenders early.
We are told that this decision was done apparently due to concerns of COVID-19 in county jails. We reached out to the court for their decision and indicated they could not speak about matters that are currently before the court.
This comes as CNN has reported on a number of correctional institutions across the country that have seen an uptick in the number of positive COVID-19 tests by inmates. The sheriff in Orange County taking on the notion that his jails are unsafe and writing a public statement that his department has responsibly created the capacity in the jail to house sex offenders and other dangerous criminals. He goes on to say that he is opposed to efforts that excuse criminal
behavior. While the sheriff says the jails are safe, the numbers appear to tell a different story. Figures from the sheriff's department indicate that, as of last Friday, there were 251 positive tests by inmates. That number up 83 cases from just the start of this month.
Another voice we are hearing from in this debate is coming from criminal justice reform advocates. We have spoken to a number of them as we covered these cases. I spoke to an official at the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California, who accuses the district attorney of Orange County of fearmongering, saying he is looking at individual cases and making them sound scary and stoking public fear.
Their concern is that this type of language will lead to mass incarcerations. It is worth noting that among the 7 the district attorney mentioned, one of them allegedly re-offended. He was arrested last week on charges that he publicly exposed himself.
He is one of a handful of cases that we have seen from coast to coast of people who were released early during the pandemic, only to then allegedly reoffend. This debate and discussion continues.
On one hand, you have law enforcement trying to protect the public and keep threats off the street. On the other side of the issue, you have criminal justice reform advocates saying, this is not business as usual. Sending someone into a jail during this era of COVID-19 could very well be a death sentence -- Josh Campbell, CNN, Los Angeles.
HOLMES: One of the countries hardest hit by coronavirus is about to see its new normal. Let's see how that looks. Spain getting ready for phase one of reopening. Some areas are going to stay in phase zero. We will explain when we come back.
HOLMES: Now Spain has the second most coronavirus infections in the world. But Monday more than half its people will be able to take baby steps back to normal as the country starts to relax restrictions. The 2 biggest cities aren't getting ready for the new normal just yet. CNN's Scott McLean reports from Madrid.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Saturday, the Spanish prime minister declared that his country had conquered 99 percent of the coronavirus but also warned Spaniards to be cautious ahead of the first major round of restrictions being lifted. On Monday, a little over half of Spain's population will move to phase
one of the government's reopening plan. Stores, churches, restaurant terraces will all be allowed to reopen at limited capacity.
But Spain's two major cities, Madrid and Barcelona, as well as large swaths of the rest of the country will remain stuck in what they are calling phase zero, the stay-at-home order remains in place.
That is because they have yet to meet the health criteria of having a low caseload, effective contact tracing and a health care system that is prepared for a potential second spike in cases.
Sanchez was also pressed about international COVID-19 testing rankings. He has once boasted about that they do not appear to exist. Last month, Sanchez cited Johns Hopkins University rankings, which showed Spain ranking highly when it comes to international testing rates.
But a Johns Hopkins University spokesperson had no knowledge of said rankings. The Spanish health ministry did not provide them, either. in a press conference on Saturday, Sanchez did not answer CNN's request to have his office provide that data -- Scott McLean, Madrid, CNN.
HOLMES: In the hours ahead, the British prime minister is expected to announce easing of restrictions over there. The press association reporting that Boris Johnson is supposed to unveil a new COVID-19 warning system with 5 levels.
It also reports that he's expected to say that the U.K. is close to moving from a level 4 threat to a level 3.
That may not be enough for all of those suffering from isolation, boredom and anxiety in the U.K. because of those restrictions. A new study shows that more and more people are taking on devastating drinking habits. Nina dos Santos explains.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I first took a drink when I was in my early teens and I remember the feeling of that.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: This 21-year-old student, we call him David, does not want you to know his real name or see his face. Like an estimated half a million Britons, he's battling an addiction to alcohol. What he does want you to know is that it is a fight that is tougher the longer the U.K. lockdown lasts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The life of an active alcoholic, one who is still drinking right now, in lockdown is going to be a very, very difficult one.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): With his AA meetings having moved on line, he is missing the emotional support of those who have kept him dry. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the really important things for me in terms
of getting sober was actually having a room full of people that treated me like I was a human being. But now that room full of people is not there anymore.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): It took David years to admit he had a problem but experts are already warning millions of Britons could be heading down the same path, using alcohol as a distraction from boredom and isolation and developing a dependency.
RICHARD PIPER, ALCOHOL CHANGE UK: Once the drinking will be like a ratchet, it can go up quite easily but it can be very hard to bring down. Home is a place that you associate with drinking and now you in it all day, every day. That has a risk.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The charity Alcohol Change commissioned a survey of post-lockdown drinking habits after seeing a fivefold increase in appeals for help through its website. It found about one in five Brits are drinking more often. But they are drinking differently.
Just because pubs like these are closed, it doesn't mean people are not drinking. It just you cannot always see it. For instance, sales of alcohol in U.K. liquor stores were 30 percent higher than usual for the month of March, as people rushed to stockpile before the lockdown was imposed.
Among those most at risk, says this London doctor, senior citizens, who are also more vulnerable to coronavirus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am particularly concerned about one population, that is the Baby Boomer population. We are seeing a hidden problem in the population of older people who are drinking behind closed doors.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) David had his whole life to look forward to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I try to take it one day at a time.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): By the end of this month, he will have been sober for 2 years. The fear is that when lockdown is lifted, others will be left with lasting, serious consequences -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.
HOLMES: Mother's Day, of course, traditionally big business for the flower industry. And Colombia is the second largest flower exporter in the world. But thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the industry is on the verge of collapse. Journalist Stefano Pozzebon has details from Bogota.
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The flowers are in full blossom in the orchards of Colombia. But business is far from blooming. In the last 3 months, the country has been badly hit by the coronavirus.
Colombia is the second largest flower exporter in the world, an industry that generates $1.5 billion every year. It creates about 140,000 jobs, according to the local association of flower growers.
Flores Las Acacias is a company in the outskirts of Bogota, flies 95 percent of its products to the United States. But half their orders for the past month have been canceled. To make things worse, the virus hit right when the industry was gearing up for one of its busiest days, Mother's Day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Mother's Day is essential for us. Together with Valentine's Day. Valentine was good but having to lose Mother's Day will affect us for the rest of the year.
POZZEBON (voice-over): This company takes the virus very seriously. Workers and visitors alike have to go to a thorough security protocol, including temperature checks and a clinical questionnaire before entering the greenhouses.
POZZEBON (voice-over): Inside, production never stopped to keep the plants healthy, even though it meant many flowers had to end up in the bin. To accommodate losses, they reduced working hours, spreading the staff in several turns, about one in every 10 workers have been kept isolated at home because they are from at-risk environments, such as over 50 or pregnant.
POZZEBON: The flower industry is such an important sector for the Colombian economy that, in February, the president himself went on state television to announce the launch of a big investment plan that will see Colombian flowers exports double in the next 10 years.
Of course, all those ambitions have been put aside as most of the productions in the last 5 weeks or so didn't go anywhere.
POZZEBON (voice-over): Business is only now picking up again with a partial reopening of flower shops in Europe. But the concern in the long term remain strong. Flowers are almost entirely exported by plane, which means as long as air traffic will not return to normal, orders still will be canceled.
AUGUSTO SOLANO, ASOCOLIFLORES: We produce flowers every day so we need to sell them. So we want to see how the markets will open, especially the United States.
POZZEBON (voice-over): But not all of the flowers are going to waste. These bouquets are being donated to workers who are delivering aid to quarantined in town, a gesture for those on the frontline against coronavirus -- Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Bogota.
HOLMES: Thank you everyone for spending part of your day with us, watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. "AFRICAN VOICES CHANGE MAKERS" is up next. Stay with us here on CNN.