Return to Transcripts main page


Forty-Seven U.S. States Reopen; Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield And Dr. Stephen Hahn Quarantine After Virus Exposure; U.K. Prime Minister To Announce Next Phase; Spain Relaxes Lockdown Rules; Son In Ecuador Searches For Father's Body; U.S. To Start Purchasing Farm Goods; U.K. Study: Drinking On The Rise; Funeral Homes Struggle; Little Richard Dies At 87. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired May 10, 2020 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Worries that coronavirus could be spreading in the White House as three top-ranking U.S. health officials enter some type of quarantine after potential exposure to the disease.

Also, as many states ease restrictions, the U.S. caseload continues to grow. Total infections here stand at 1.3 million.

And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reveal his road map to exiting the lockdown today. We'll have a live report from London.

Much news ahead here, we're live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen, this is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: 5:00 a.m. here on the East Coast. Thanks so much for joining us.

And we begin with another chilling number this hour. Well over 4 million people around the world have been infected by the coronavirus since it first appeared in China in December. Almost 280,000 have died.

It was just five weeks ago that the 1 million milestone was reached. Data from Johns Hopkins University show the number of confirmed infections worldwide has been growing by 1 million cases every 12 days or so. Yet more and more countries are looking to end their long lockdowns.

British prime minister Boris Johnson will unveil his plan for the U.K. in the coming hours. Johns Hopkins has tracked 1.3 million cases the in the U.S. alone, far more than any place else in the world. The virus has even made it into the Trump White House and potentially sidelined several key health officials. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has this.


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. 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.


ALLEN: A risky balancing act is underway across the United States. More and more communities are trying to reopen without triggering another wave of infections.

[05:05:00] ALLEN: CNN's Natasha Chen reports.


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.


ALLEN: U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson is set to unveil his strategy for reopening the British economy in a few hours. He'll deliver a televised national address Sunday evening.

Johnson is expected to loosen coronavirus restrictions. He reportedly also will introduce a new COVID-19 tracking system that uses local infection data to rank threats. Let's go live to London and our Milena Veselinovic.

What message is expected from the prime minister today?

MILENA VESELINOVIC, CNN PRODUCER: Well, he's expected to start this gradual ease of coronavirus restrictions and, as you mentioned, he will probably launch this coronavirus alert system that will track the danger of the virus, according to data, on a scale of one to five.

It will initially be happening only in England. What we're also expecting is that that famous slogan, "Stay home, save lives," it will probably be revised.

We're also expecting that that rule which is in place, that you can only go out once a day, will probably be dropped. We're also expecting possibly some further guidance when it comes to the use of face coverings. So far the British government has said they provide little benefit.

But there have been some grumbles that they may recommend the use in small spaces and is that's what the Scottish government has already done last week. But any changes that are made this evening by Boris Johnson will be small and incremental.

Boris Johnson's foreign secretary Dominic Raab has stressed that this weekend he and other government officials have damped down these expectations that on Monday Britain will be returning back to normal.

They say that will not happen because social distancing will remain as core of the strategy of dealing with this outbreak and those people who have perhaps hoped that Boris Johnson will give them the license to have a drink after so many weeks will be disappointed. Reopening pubs and restaurants will not be on the agenda anytime soon, Natalie.

ALLEN: Thank you so much, Milena Veselinovic. Again, he speaks in a few hours.

With us from Oxford, England, is Dr. Sian Griffiths. She is an emeritus professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and led Hong Kong's inquiry into the SARS epidemic of 2003.

Thank you so much for joining us, Doctor.

[05:10:00] ALLEN: Clearly the prime minister is going to give a stark warning that people must proceed carefully as the country comes out of its peak.

Why is post peak such a dangerous time?

DR. SIAN GRIFFITHS, EMERITUS PROFESSOR, CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: The reason post peak is dangerous is that you risk the resurgence of the virus. We have, at the current time, we are using the R number. And the R number needs to be below one before you can release any other measures.

The R number is calculated based on the prevalence of the disease and various other factors, the R number in the U.K. is between 0.5 and 0.9 depending on your locality. It's quite near to 1. If you get over 1, you start the risk of having an increase in the disease again. And you have to go into more lockdown measures.

So I think the government -- or the governments in the U.K. -- are very cautious and don't want everybody to sort of think that they can go rushing back to seeing friends and family and going to the pub and kids will go to school. It won't be like that.

It will be a very measured release of the measure of what's in place at the moment and when I say measured, I mean, they'll be looking for the prevalence, the numbers of tests. They're doing surveillance studies of tests around the country to see the spread of the disease.

They'll look at the people who present with the disease and doing calculations based on those numbers. So testing becomes our number one approach to trying to make sure that the lockdown release is a success.

ALLEN: Right. And he's expected to talk about a tracking system, a warning system.

What do you expect on that regard?

GRIFFITHS: Yes, I think we expect something -- well, France went to red, green and amber and then went to red and green. We're going on a scale of one to five, I believe, and we're thought to be on a scale of number four at the present time.

But I'm not entirely clear how it will work, how it will work in different parts of the country because we know the rates are higher in the cities. We know the rates are higher among hospital and health care workers. We know some of these facts already.

So I don't quite know how it applies, whether it's geographical -- it probably is. And it's just part of an approach.

Because they will start to, for example, open garden centers, garden centers important this time of year because it's planting time of year and they will be open to social distancing measures.

So when things do reopen, it won't be -- it won't just be sort of, here you go, any rush. It will be very much with precautions.

And we have yet to hear about schools. There seems to have been a lot of reticence about reopening the schools to all children. We think it may be for younger children only and we have, of course, had schools open for children of health care workers. But at the same time, some parents are quite anxious.

ALLEN: I can understand. It's got to be very, very challenging.

I want to talk about the U.S. for the moment. The virus has come into the White House, which is now stepping up its prevention efforts. Boris Johnson has already had COVID-19. And now this has come frighteningly close to the U.S. president.

What does that say about the enforcement of strict safety measures?

We know that White House personnel haven't been wearing masks.

GRIFFITHS: Well, as you know, the U.K. line on wearing masks is that the evidence is inconclusive and we have yet to have any official guidance on wearing masks. So wearing masks may not be the most important thing.

The most important thing is still hand hygiene, social distancing and obviously you can pick up the virus anywhere. So you may not be passing it on in the White House. However, it means that within the White House there needs to be very strict measures, social distancing, two meters apart, good hygiene, wiping down of the surfaces.

In the U.K., we've had a lot of our top advisers as well as our prime minister have had COVID. And our health secretary had COVID. So it's easy for it to be picked up. Fortunately, they have all survived and, fortunately, those who went into isolation have been able to come back and provide advice.

ALLEN: That is good news. It certainly shows that this virus can go certainly anywhere. Dr. Sian Griffiths, we appreciate your expertise. Thank you so much.


ALLEN: Lockdown relief for most of Spain is coming. The new freedoms that await as the country prepares to ease restrictions. We'll talk about that next here. Also the pandemic is devastating Ecuador's second largest city in ways few other places have seen. We'll talk about that coming up here.





ALLEN: Spain is a day away from taking a major step toward ending its strict lockdown. More than half of the country's population on Monday will enter phase one of its de-escalation plan. The prime minister Pedro Sanchez is touting the progress made so far but urging people to remain cautious. Journalist Al Goodman joins me from Madrid.

Do you get a sense from where you are that people are heeding what the president is saying?

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Generally heeding the call across the country, according to officials and police. The whole country has been on this confinement order for eight weeks, the state of emergency, which continues.

And the prime minister has said repeatedly that the opening up is not going to be all at the same time, not across the entire territory.

So on Monday, more than 50 percent of the population that is going to get into phase one is going there, the government says, because the health indicators in those regions are better -- lower infection rates, better capacity for the hospitals and health services to respond to a potential second wave.

Just 40 minutes' drive from where I'm standing in the Spanish capital, they will go to phase one. On Monday, people will be able to go out to a restaurant like that, where there will be outdoor tables.


GOODMAN: They'll be able to sit around with friends and family members. There will be a series of other openings up.

But in Madrid and Barcelona, people are able to go out, as you can see, for a walk, a short limited walk once a day near their home or do some exercise in the city where they live.

But this -- the restaurants remain closed. There are no outdoor tables here. Restaurants open for takeaway food only. Stores open by appointment only.

I went to a hardware store, had to make an appointment. These are the kinds of things that Madrid and Barcelona are going to have to wait on a little bit longer. The whole point is to try to make sure there's not a second wave, that people keep their social distancing and Spain keeps going forward slowly rather than fall backward quickly -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Making an appointment makes sense. No one wants to go back. Hopefully they'll take the precautions. Al Goodman in Madrid, thanks.

Brazil has reached a dire marker in the pandemic. The country's health ministry reports 10,000 people have died from the virus. The ministry recorded 10,000 new cases between Friday and Saturday, bringing the nationwide total to more than 150,000 people infected.

Brazil is the only country in Latin America with more than 100,000 known cases. According to Johns Hopkins University, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador all have more than 10,000 each. Guayaquil 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. A CNN analysis shows the virus death toll there could be 17 times higher than official data suggests.

And that staggering death toll has ravaged a city roughly the size of Chicago. CNN's Matt Rivers spoke with one young man about how he lost his father to the disease and the morgue lost his father's remains. The video is graphic and difficult to watch but we choose to air it because it is the stark reality of the outbreak. 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.

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: The Ecuadoran government says it has a better handle on this outbreak at the moment and as a result, this week they have started to slowly ease off some of the quarantine measures that had been put into place.

But the people that we're speaking to simply say they do not trust the Ecuadorian government to properly handle any reopening and they're scared that, if this isn't done right, they could end up where they were when things were so bad in the months of March and April -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Matt Rivers, an amazing report. So, so very horrific. Thank you.

Well, next here we have new research out of the U.K. about people's drinking habits during this lockdown. We'll talk about that.

Plus, we will talk with a mental health expert and hopefully help you cope through all of this with his advice. Stay with us.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen Happy Mother's Day. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

A new program designed to provide much needed relief to America's farmers and ranchers is set to begin next week. The rollout was announced on Twitter, the president writing that the U.S. will purchase $3 billion worth of their goods and give them to food banks.

Many farmers have had to destroy crops and dump milk due to disruptions in the distribution chain. The president of the National Farmers Union says the new program is a step in the right direction.


ROB LAREW, NATIONAL FARMERS UNION: We're certainly encouraged. There's a lot of attention being given right now to not only get the bottlenecks in the system flowing but also to buy up product where possible so that those who are hungry right now and needing food can certainly get it.

Those issues are going to be done, we have plenty of food. It's this conundrum making sure we can connect to food to the people who need it right now. But it's going to take a herculean effort to get farmers the help that they need and keep them on the farms. We have a lot of pressure and it's going to take a lot of help.


ALLEN: We hope they get it for sure.

California is dealing with a ballooning economic crisis. The state's governor said Friday, the unemployment rate is more than 20 percent. Now the governor is allowing some businesses to reopen this weekend. CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Los Angeles.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: California, particularly Los Angeles, jumping right into phase two. The rule now for hikers, you have to wear masks while hiking. They also want you to bring some hand sanitizer and water and observe that six-foot rule.

And golf also opening up in the city of Los Angeles. On the public courses there, we saw people out, also required to wear masks, told not to pay in cash. Also don't touch the flagstick and try to stay six feet apart. Golfers welcoming the chance to go out and play with their friends but also proceeding with caution.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want myself and all my friends around me to be healthy and stay healthy. So that's the trepidation. But it seems pretty evident.

I tell you what, I feel a lot safer coming here under the guidelines that we're doing than I do going to the grocery store. You have four guys walking down the space that's several football fields long and a couple football fields wide. We can easily stay 10, 15, 20 feet apart all day long. So I feel safe for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm happy because all my friends here, we're doing this for the last 30 years. (INAUDIBLE).


VERCAMMEN: Enjoying that round of golf with friends, no insignificant number In the city of Los Angeles, 850,000 rounds per year played on those city courses alone.

Some other developments in California, the governor announcing that people will be allowed to vote by mail in November. That's come as welcome news to people we spoke with.

They will also allow for voting in person but there will be extreme social distancing rules, those yet to be announced by Governor Newsom -- Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen, now back to you.


ALLEN: We're going to talk about how people are or aren't coping through all of this. A leading U.K. alcohol charity recently commissioned research into how the pandemic might be changing British drinking habits.

Alcohol Change U.K. found that more than 1 in 3 British drinkers had either stopped or cut back. But it also found that 1 in 5 were consuming more. Here's more from Nina dos Santos.


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. [05:35:00]

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): 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.


ALLEN: Not just the U.K.; a U.S. public health group warns that the isolation and uncertainty created by the pandemic could cause tens of thousands of additional deaths. Wellbeing Trust as it's called say stress from financial problems and isolation can lead to drug or alcohol abuse and even suicide.

The group calls them "deaths of despair" and says there could be as many as 75,000. They want officials to boost mental health services for people experiencing difficulties. And so many are. Let's get some perspective on this from a mental health expert. I'm joined by Professor Rory O'Connor, the chair in health psychology at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Thanks so much for coming on.


ALLEN: Good morning to you. Even saying "deaths of despair" is something horrific.

What is your reaction to this report about the dangers for many people?

O'CONNOR: I welcome the report. I think we've known from other economic shocks, we look back to the recession 10 or so years ago, that following that economic shock, there were huge "deaths of despair." These "deaths of despair" are deaths associated with suicide, drug and alcohol use.

And the concern I have is the pandemic represents a perfect storm of risk factors, which includes financial uncertainty, this unbearable isolation. If you've got pre-existing mental health problems or you're in a situation where you're experiencing domestic violence or domestic abuse and you don't see a future and your future -- it looks bleak and uncertain.

It's not surprising for many that alcohol and drugs are part of the way in which you manage that distress, that uncertainty. I would really support the calls in this support which is we have to ensure that there are access to mental health services.

But not only are they accessible, they have to be accessible here and now. When you look at what are the ways forward now in this new world, where face to face support is going to be less, less common, people are so vulnerable.

I'm also concerned that the people who are most vulnerable are those who have been left behind. We look at the virus deaths so far, the virus deaths so far have affected the most disadvantaged. And in the next phase of the pandemic, my concern is the most disadvantaged are going to be further at risk.

ALLEN: Absolutely. There's, like you say, so many issues. Fear of dying, no financial security, isolation. It goes on and on. The world just celebrated this 75th year of the end of World War II this weekend. People have endured wars, Mr. O'Connor, 9/11, climate disasters, refugees are living in tents.


ALLEN: Where do you put this pandemic as far as challenges to people's endurance and ability to cope through it?

O'CONNOR: Well, the short answer is we don't know yet. This is such an unprecedented experience because, maybe if you look back to 9/11 or to the economic shock 10 or 12 years ago, yes, that affected the world globally in terms of its impact.

But we have a situation in which you have economic insecurity, personal insecurity and social insecurity. And they're all coming together. And none of us know what the future will hold.

And we know what's for certain, it will not be the same as the past. And how we deal with that uncertainty, how we protect who is most vulnerable. That's the biggest challenge we have. I think all of us have a role to play.

What's been remarkable across the world is there's been an outpouring of community cohesion and support. But alongside that community support, we need government leadership, government resources. And all of us have a role to play to protect the most vulnerable.

When we look back, we can say to our children and grandchildren, we did the best we could to protect those people who needed our support and care, those who self-isolated, those who had mental health problems, those who lost their jobs out of no fault of their own. That's the challenge for us internationally as well as in our own countries.

ALLEN: Right. And the challenge will also be to reach out digitally and remotely and that will be troubling as well. But I guess the upside to this is that, in these instances, neighbors always help neighbors and community support is so important.

O'CONNOR: Absolutely. And I think that has been so heartwarming to witness, that sense of community support, that coming together, recognizing that we're all human beings together and reaching out. That uniqueness of just reaching out and supporting another person, it's so, so -- it's been so incredibly important.

And as we move forward, we need to harness that. You mentioned the digital support and remote support. We published a report a couple of weeks ago in the U.K., in which we're calling internationally to devote more resources to understand what is the research that needs to be done, what types of digital interventions or remote support we need and can deliver to the most vulnerable. And really we need to invest in that.

ALLEN: Absolutely. Very good advice. It's so important right now to stay connected somehow. And thank you so much, Rory O'Connor, we appreciate it.

O'CONNOR: Thank you. ALLEN: Coming up here, we think of health care professionals as the

pandemic's heroes.

What about funeral directors?

We'll hear the stories of some of these forgotten frontline workers next.





ALLEN: As coronavirus deaths rise, there are some frontline workers you might not think about during this pandemic, the funeral directors and the body collectors. Phil Black follows some of these unsung heroes as they try to cope during this difficult time.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We all know this is a time of death, of loss so great it's difficult to comprehend. But Tony Oxley knows what it really means. The numbers of people dying. Their faces, their family's grief.


TONY OXLEY, A.D. OXLEY FUNERAL SERVICES: I was called out last night of dear gentleman. It was his wife of many years who passed away.


BLACK: Tony's job is collecting and moving bodies. He's never been busier.


OXLEY: It can be challenging, but I love it. I haven't had a day off since -- since it started.


BLACK: Tony works a patch of territory along England's southern coats. The job has become a constant race around the clock, chasing COVID- 19's relentless body count.


OXLEY: The day has changed already. We'll now going to collect some of the deceased from various places.


BLACK: The phone rings and Tony moves, dashing between hospitals, private homes, care facilities.


OXLEY: Collected an elderly lady from a nursing home there and have just bought her here. I'm now moving on again to another nursing home where somebody else has passed away.

BLACK: So many people are dying in this area, they aren't enough places to store them. So, Tony's job now includes shuffling bodies between funeral directors with spare capacity.

But it's not only the vast numbers that are challenging those who are trying to ensure dignity in death. These funeral workers in London follow Muslim tradition. It's an intimate, deeply respectful process, washing, and wrapping each person before burial. But safety is now a key concern. Everybody must be treated as a potential COVID-19 risk.

Issa Assam has been a funeral director for 25 years. He says he's needed all his experience to endure this pandemic.


ISSA ASSAM, FUNERAL DIRECTOR: I've watched a few war films, that's the closest we've got to experiencing something like this in our lifetimes.

BLACK: This day brings Issa a new professional and emotional challenge.


ASSAM: There is a request of a very small baby passing away. I need some paperwork from him.


BLACK: A small stillborn baby and the baby's mother, both victims of COVID-19. Once collected, they lie side by side in the van. The baby and the adult size coffin.


ASSAM: I'm very sad. I've never experienced that one ever in my life. Together. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Issa wasn't prepared for this.


ASSAM: It's a tough challenge. It's a tough one. It is for me, it's very, very tough. Very painful.


BLACK: Later, Issa arranges another special request. His hearse is driving by a London hospital so the staff can honor one of their own. They are clapping for Abdul Hafiz (Ph), an ambulance care assistant, another COVID-19 victim.

Only a close few can attend his funeral. They must stand apart to pray and can only approach his grave one at a time. When the ambulance came for Abdul, his family didn't know it was the last time they'd see him.


BLACK: Tell me what it's like to lose your brother this way?

TARIQ GELLALEDIN HAFIZ, ABDUL HAFIZ'S BROTHER: It's like to lose a brother is like to lose half of you. You lose half of you.


BLACK: In this time of death, most of us are shielded from its awful reality. What those numbers really mean. While around us, a committed operation strives beyond its usual limits to ensure every person who couldn't be safe for COVID-19 is respectfully mourned and remembered -- Phil Black, CNN, London.


ALLEN: And we'll be right back.





ALLEN: It is hard to imagine what music would be like today without the influence of Little Richard. The flamboyant singer died Saturday at 87. George Howell looks back at his life and legacy.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Little Richard changed the course of rock 'n' roll history with that iconic song. He sang "Tutti Frutti" with raw inhibition (sic) and it became a hit.

RICHARD PENNIMAN, "LITTLE RICHARD": When I started in the business, I had never heard rock 'n' roll music before.

HOWELL (voice-over): The singer who inspired the evolution of rock 'n' roll was born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia, in 1932. Even though his roots were deeply planted in gospel music, Little Richard signed with Specialty Records in 1955 and began his incredible journey to become a rock 'n' roll icon.

During the '50s, Little Richard made several more hit songs, including "Long Tall Sally," "Good Golly, Miss Molly" and "Lucille."

PENNIMAN: I always felt that I would be a star. HOWELL (voice-over): A star he certainly was. Little Richard even

landed a part in the music comedy, "The Girl Can't Help It" in 1956. His flamboyant persona captivated audiences and his soulful voice, paired with his piercing screams, made him a household name.

However, at the height of his stardom, the self-proclaimed architect of rock 'n' roll quit the music business. He became an ordained minister and traveled across the country as an evangelist and recorded gospel music between 1959 and 1963.


PENNIMAN: I went through those different periods. But I have always loved rock 'n' roll.

HOWELL (voice-over): During the late '60s and '70s, Little Richard returned to the spotlight and began recording rock 'n' roll once again. His influence on many unknown artists at the time proved to be invaluable.

PENNIMAN: The Beatles was with me, they started with me. James Brown was my vocalist, Jimi Hendrix was my guitar player, 18 years old.

HOWELL (voice-over): For a period of time, Little Richard lived a wild life of a rocker but he never lost his faith. In 1985, the 52-year-old singer was involved in a car accident in Los Angeles and thanked God for saving his life.

PENNIMAN: Everything else is secondary. To have God, oh, glory to God.

O'LEARY (voice-over): He experienced a career resurgence in the '80s after landing a coveted role in "Down and Out in Beverly Hills." Then Little Richard became one of the first icons to be inducted in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

PENNIMAN: I'm just glad to be alive at this time. I am glad to be in Cleveland. I am glad that I am the originator and I'm glad that I'm not the death (ph) of rock 'n' roll. I'm glad that God has seen fit through his mercy to let me still be here.

HOWELL (voice-over): In 1993 the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences awarded the fiery performer with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Little Richard, the showman, performed well into his twilight years.


ALLEN: The tremendous, tremendous performer. I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks for watching. And happy Mother's Day. Stay safe. I'll see you next weekend. "NEW DAY" is next.