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Reopening Countries is Not a Straightforward Process; Coronavirus Outbreak End May Be Gradual; Sioux Tribes Running Checkpoints in South Dakota. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 11, 2020 - 10:30   ET



PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, Poppy, we know that there is one particular man, a 29-year-old man, who went to a number of clubs on May 2nd, and then tested positive.

Since then, the updated figure we have is 86 more cases have been confirmed or linked to that one individual. Now, what we know from officials now is that they have 5,500 names that they are scouring through. They believe they have been in that area over a two-week period, and they want to test everybody.

They have already tested more than 3,000 and there are others that they are trying to trace at this point. Now, the Seoul city mayor says the next two to three days is going to be critical, to try and contain this outbreak.

And we know that South Korea can do it because they've done it before. They look at phone records, they look at credit card usage records, they have police cooperation. So they want to make sure that they can try and narrow this outbreak and speak to everybody and test everyone who they believe was in that nightclub area.

As the Seoul city mayor said, if Seoul falls, then the whole country falls. The president, Moon Jae-in, speaking about it as well, saying it's not over until it's over, don't let your guard down.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Yes. Shows the real challenge of how countries, cities open.

Ivan Watson, let's go to China, of course, where this started. After declaring victory over the outbreak in Wuhan, China, these officials, now tracking new traces there. What's the origin of those cases there and how extensive?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that this appears to be community transmission. It's a very cluster, five cases in Wuhan. But the first time that they've found new cases, the authorities say, since the beginning of April, in more than a month.

And recall that Wuhan is the first city where the coronavirus was discovered in December of last year, and it was where the epidemic was at its fiercest in China. That city underwent a very strict 76-day lockdown and despite that, they're seeing new cases, new examples of community transmission.

So they're raising the alert level in one neighborhood so far -- Wuhan was allowing high school seniors to go back to school just last week. And the toll health officials in China are warning people now to be alert and take protective measures to protect themselves against the disease.

One more warning, there's a border city that's under high alert right now, near the border with Russia. That border area, China has had to impose lockdowns on a number of cities. It does seem like there's been some bleeding of the virus across the border from Russia -- Jim, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Thank you very much for that.

Now let's go to Clarissa Ward, she joins us in London. So British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, laying out the road map for reopening. What does it look like?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's actually in the Houses of Parliament behind me now, Poppy, essentially trying to explain his road map forward. There has been a lot of disappointment, a lot of confusion.

I think this headline sums it up for a lot of people: "Ready, Steady, Slow." Essentially, very few meaningful changes taking effect any time soon. As of Wednesday, people will be allowed to go outside for exercise as often as they want, they'll even be allowed to sit on a park bench.

But the part that's getting the most confusion -- or criticism, I should say -- is around who can go back to work. Some workers are being told that they can't work from home, but they can safely work from their workplace. They should go back to work, particularly construction workers and people in manufacturing.

But the prime minister is saying that those people should not take public transport to work if they can possibly avoid it, that they should instead try to cycle or walk or drive, even. Of course, for many people, that is simply not a possibility.

June 1st will be the next big phase. We expect some schools to reopen potentially, primary schools, and even then only two different grades in those schools. But again, still a lot of confusion. Some nonessential retail will open, people should wear a mask but you don't have to wear a mask, and it's that kind of wiggle room in the verbiage that has a lot of people here very confused.

HARLOW: Of course it does. Clarissa, thanks so much. Ivan, to you; Paula, we appreciate all of it.


SCIUTTO: So here's a question I'm sure you've asked yourself. How is this pandemic going to end? Up next, we're going to speak to an expert about what the past can tell us about what comes next.


SCIUTTO: As you watch the news on the coronavirus every day, I can imagine this is a question many of you have. How will this pandemic end? In "The New York Times," our next guest says, quote, "Looking back, we have a weak narrative. For whom does the epidemic end, and who gets to say?"

Dora Vargha, a historian at the University of Exeter, joins me now to explain. I mean, your piece smartly looks at history here, right? And it looks at past pandemics, and it notes that there are a host of different ways for a pandemic to come to an end. With something like polio, there was a reliable vaccine. With HIV, never a vaccine but a host of treatments that made it less deadly. Others are still with us -- TB, in some countries though not others.

I just wonder, what does that teach us about this virus? And when folks imagine a sort of hard ending to this, is that unrealistic?


DORA VARGHA, SENIOR LECTURER IN MEDICAL HUMANITIES, UNIVERSITY OF EXETER: Well, I think we're all hoping for a big exhalation and you know, we're done with it, it's over. But I think that it's quite optimistic to expect that, and one can hope for it for sure.

But even what you mentioned, polio and HIV/AIDS, I mean, there was a vaccine for polio -- two vaccines, actually -- but that didn't mean that it was immediately over. Vaccines, you know, we pin a lot of hope on vaccines sometimes.

But it cannot be separated from vaccination, you know, who gets the vaccine, who has access to it, who pays for it, how it's distributed. So it's all tangled up in that, which can be quite a complex -- complex scenario as well. So it's quite a longer sort of petering out of the disease.

And other --


SCIUTTO: Yeah, I just wonder if -- if folks have an unrealistic view to some degree. Because there's so much focus on a vaccine, one, but also some sort of miracle treatment, right? That's going to treat everybody and save everybody's lives. But the course of medical history doesn't give a lot of realistic precedent for that, does it?

VARGHA: Well, I don't want to paint the future too bleak. I think we can have, you know, reasonable trust that some kind of treatments work and the vaccine can develop that can work. But it's not going to be a magic bullet that works instantly.

And we also have to consider who will be left out of it, who will not have access to this treatment. And not necessarily within the same societies, but you know, once a country gets it under control, how about other countries?

Because it's a pandemic, you can't really look at this or end it within a national context, even, let alone smaller communities, because, as we could see, in what we just mentioned, in Russia and China, it can sort of bleed over borders very quickly --


VARGHA: -- so there (INAUDIBLE) cooperation in that as well.

SCIUTTO: Yes, countries that you think have put it behind them, and then they see -- they see it come back a little bit. I mean, what -- just quickly, so what's our lesson here? I mean, certainly, don't give up hope, but I suppose manage expectations?

VARGHA: I think manage expectations for sure, but also be very aware of -- for whom a pandemic or an epidemic can end. So -- and when we do arrive to that moment -- and I'm certain that we will at some point -- who is left out of that?

And this is also -- take into account people who will have to live with the disease or the effects of the disease for a long time. We have, you know, many diseases in the past -- smallpox, which left visible marks on people's faces --


VARGHA: -- polio that caused disability, or Ebola, that has, you know, some kind of chronic conditions. We can see that already, with this pandemic, that it's really -- takes a long time for people to get over it, and it may cause much longer effects.

So once we --


VARGHA: -- have that kind of exhalation moment, to keep in mind that it doesn't end for everybody at the same time.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. Well, sobering but realistic. Dora Vargha, thanks very much.

VARGHA: Thank you.


HARLOW: Well, a Native American tribe in South Dakota is rejecting the governor's demands to remove coronavirus checkpoints on state highways. We'll take you there live, and explain the standoff, ahead.


SCIUTTO: So imagine being a business owner, told you cannot reopen your business yet but just across the street, other businesses are welcoming customers, making some money? That's happening right now in a town that happens to straddle the border of two states taking different approaches, different speeds: Virginia and Tennessee.

HARLOW: It's fascinating. Our Natasha Chen joins us lives, beginning in Bristol, Tennessee. Natasha, people there, dealing with two sets of guidelines.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, I'm standing in Tennessee on State Street, but the camera I'm looking at right now is in Virginia. On this side of the street, restaurants since April 27th could invite customers inside.

Now, granted, everyone is still pretty much offering curbside and delivery, but this one here on the marquis says, Seating by reservation only, no walk-in tables. And that's because Tennessee restaurants are still trying to be very careful about maintaining that lower reduced capacity.

But as soon as I walk across the street here -- and check for cars -- right now, now I'm in Virginia and the guidelines are extremely different. Here, only curbside pickup and delivery. Here are two Virginia restaurant owners who look at the situation slightly differently.


JOE DEEL, OWNER, BURGER BAR: I did hear him in one of his earlier comments, say he was going to take care of the state of Virginia from Richmond to Roanoke. And I would like for him to know, the states comes about another 150 miles past that.

DEVON CHEN, FAMILY OWNS SHANGHAI RESTAURANT: We're a little envious but at the same time, I think what's important to us is the health of our customers. And if our state thinks that that means, you know, holding off and erring on the side of caution, we're happy to do that.


CHEN: And of course, the "he" that that restaurant owner was referring to is Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia. His office told me today that they will not be going with a more regional approach, despite people here in Bristol advocating for that. They did say that there may be some parts of the commonwealth that may feel like they're not quite ready to reopen yet, and they can be stricter than state guidelines and hold off.


But for places like this, they're going to have to wait until Friday when phase one is expected to begin in Virginia.

HARLOW: That is fascinating, that two sides of the street could be so different in what they're allowing, Natasha. Thank you very, very much.

A standoff is taking place in South Dakota. This is between the governor there and two of the state's Sioux tribes. Tensions are stemming from checkpoints established by tribal governments along U.S. and state highways that run through tribal land. The Sioux tribes say the checkpoints are their best tool to try to stop coronavirus from spreading. The governor calls those checkpoints illegal, and demands they be removed.

SCIUTTO: One of the Sioux tribes is already refusing to obey the governor's demand. Lawmakers, now urging both parties to meet and negotiated. CNN's Sara Sidner is in Timberlake. South Dakota with more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Don't have any of those things.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe says this is their frontline in the battle against coronavirus. If you want to enter their lands in South Dakota, you'll have to answer some questions at their checkpoints.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you traveled to or from an area of reported COVID-19 cases?

SIDNER (voice-over): If you don't answer correctly -- unless you're engaging in essential activity -- you could be turned away, or at the very least tracked closely and quarantined if you have a reason to stay on the reservation.

HAROLD FRAZIER, CHAIRMAN, CHEYENNE RIVER SIOUX: We love our people. You can't replace a human life. And so that's all we're trying to do, is to save our people and the residents on this reservation.

SIDNER (voice-over): But the governor of South Dakota says these checkpoints are not legal because, she says, they're interfering or regulating traffic on U.S. and state highways. She is trying to open up the state, while the tribes are trying to keep their reservations closed off for now. Here, there are even curfews in place.

GOV. KRISTI NOEM, (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: And some of these tribal governments, they're making it very clear they don't want visitors.

SIDNER (voice-over): That's right, they don't want tourists or nonessential visitors, not right now.

FRAZIER: This virus doesn't travel. It's the people with the virus that travel.

NOEM: The state of South Dakota does not have jurisdiction in this area, but the federal government does.

SIDNER (voice-over): The governor said she was concerned about whether medical crews, truckers hauling supplies or roadwork crews would be able to get through. The tribe said of course they would.

But on Friday, the governor gave them and the Oglala Tribe an ultimatum: Remove the checkpoints within 48 hours, or be sued in federal court.

SIDNER: Are you going to take them down as she has requested, or are you going to stay put?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to stay put.

SIDNER: Tribal leaders say if the tribe can't contain the virus here, it faces catastrophe. They did the math. If the virus escaped and tracked similar to other parts of the country, the numbers would overwhelm their hospital.

FRAZIER: We knew that we needed a thousand beds.

SIDNER: How many beds do you have?

FRAZIER: Right now, we only have eight.

SIDNER: Eight beds?

FRAZIER: Eight beds.



SIDNER (voice-over): With eight beds to serve some 12,000 residents, and the closest intensive care unit three hours away, their best bet? Stop it before it spreads.

MOLLY LONGBREAK, REGISTERED NURSE: It would just hurt so bad for our people to get this and it just run rampant and take out our elders --

SIDNER (voice-over): Molly Longbreak and other tribal nurses say the information gathered here helped them find, track and quarantine the very first case of COVID-19 on the reservation before it could spread.

LONGBREAK: So we identified her that way, prior to testing. And because of our daily calls with her, we were able to identify that she was getting sick, and get her the proper help she needed fairly quickly.

SIDNER (voice-over): The tribe set up two separate areas where residents can go into quarantine, all part of a plan to safeguard their people because, they say, if history is their guide, they can't afford not to.

FRAZIER: We've got to stand up and take care of ourselves because they won't.


SIDNER: Now, we're expecting to hear from the governor today. But 17 lawmakers -- bipartisan, a group of lawmakers from here in the state -- have written to the governor saying they actually believe that the tribe is correct. They cite the 1851 and 1868 Laramie Treaty, saying that they should have every right to have checkpoints here on their sovereign lands -- Poppy, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Sara Sidner, thanks so much, on the scene there.


The Trump administration is scrambling to contain a coronavirus outbreak, not just in the nation but in the actual White House. More on the medical and political fallout, ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray --

SCIUTTO: Well, that was a Mother's Day surprise for a grandmother in Michigan. It became a celebration with her neighbors. Rebecca Roy and her family sang "You Are My Sunshine" outside her mother's independent living facility.

HARLOW: That's pretty great. Her neighbors came out -- as you can see -- onto their balconies, they joined in. Roy says she hasn't seen her grandmother in three months, any closer than this, because of the lockdown at the facility.


HARLOW: Thanks so much for being with us today. We'll be back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.


SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. NEWSROOM with John King starts right now.