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States Try To Minimize Risk As More Areas Reopen; Medical Journal Calls For New U.S. Leadership In 2021; Coronavirus Pandemic Triggers Global Food Crisis. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 05:30   ET




MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, TECHNICAL LEAD FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: -- in the pandemic occurs in each country depends on what measures are put in place and how those are put in place.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: In 28 states, the number of new cases reported each day is pointing down. Now, that includes Illinois even though Cook County, which includes Chicago, has surpassed Queens in New York as the deadliest county in the U.S.

In 15 states, the numbers are holding steady. Ohio is among them. A restaurant there reopening today will put seats in the streets to help with physical distancing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rules change by the hours and then we're trying to adapt and then rehire people and retrain people.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: In seven states, new cases are still rising. That includes Texas, which reported the highest single-day number of deaths yesterday two weeks after retail outlets, restaurants, and theaters were allowed to start reopening.

As states remove more restrictions it will take weeks to learn the effects. As of this morning, more than 1.4 million Americans have been infected by Covid-19 and nearly 86,000 have died so far. How high those numbers go depends on how people act with more freedom to be out and about.

ROMANS: Still, a lot of frustration over stay-at-home orders, including several swing states. In Michigan, the state capitol was closed Thursday as demonstrators gathered at the steps. Just two weeks ago, demonstrators -- some of them armed -- entered the building and demanded to be allowed into the Legislative chambers.

Now, cases are trending down in Michigan. Its stay-at-home order runs through May 28th.

JARRETT: A big protest is planned today in Pennsylvania's capital. There's been significant pushback against the governor's order to reopen in phases. Cases are down there as well. Twenty-four of 67 counties are already starting to reopen; 13 more to join the list today.

Division within states is amplifying frustration. Baltimore, for example, extending a stay-at-home order even as Maryland transitions away from it. And, Honolulu is extending a stay-at-home order until the end of June, while Hawaii has already started to reopen.

ROMANS: In an extraordinary move, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals makes the case for new leadership in the United States. In a new editorial, "The Lancet" says Americans must put a president in the White House who understands public health and should not be guided by partisan politics.

"The Lancet" blasts President Trump for quote "chipping away at the Centers for Disease Control," saying quote, "The CDC has seen its role minimized and become an ineffective and nominal adviser in the response to contain the spread of the virus."

JARRETT: Just yesterday, the president again put politics above the data, questioning the need for testing.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It could be the testing is, frankly, overrated. Maybe it is overrated. We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing.

When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn't do any testing we would have very few cases.


JARRETT: OK, but here's the thing. The U.S. has still only tested three percent of the population and the country has the most cases anyway.

The president has said a number of things that concerned the medical community, like floating the idea of drinking bleach.

"The Lancet" has also criticized Trump for leaving an intelligence vacuum in China by reducing staff there just as Covid-19 began to emerge. No response yet from the White House.

Well, first it was llamas and now we're learning cows could play a critical role in developing a coronavirus treatment.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has more now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Laura, we've all heard about antibody treatments. That's where people who've recovered from Covid-19 then donate blood afterwards. Hopefully, the antibodies that they have that fought the virus can then be given to someone who is currently infected with Covid and hopefully, those antibodies will help them.

But we might get some help from some cows. These cows have been genetically engineered so that part of their immune system is the same as a human's. They actually have some human chromosomes. They produce antibodies to Covid-19 that are human antibodies.

So scientists inject a part of the coronavirus -- a non-infectious part -- into the cows, they make antibodies. Then the scientists take blood from those cows, cull out and purify the antibodies, and that gets made into a drug.

Now, they haven't tried this in humans yet but they're hoping to start trying early this summer, and they hope to have a product on the market next year.

Now, of course, as with any treatment, it might turn out that this one doesn't work. However, with so many different treatments being tried out and so many different shots on goal, hopefully some of them will work to fight the novel coronavirus -- Christine, Laura.


ROMANS: All right.

Air travel has been reduced to nearly zero. It's a financial nightmare for airlines and it's causing a bottleneck in global shipping. About half of the world's air cargo is transported by passenger planes.


The International Air Transportation Association says the 95 percent drop-off in flights worldwide has caused an immediate and severe shortage in air cargo capacity.

Shipping companies like FedEx and UPS are flying at maximum capacity. Other companies are bringing more freighter jets into service. United says it has dispatched about 1,300 cargo-only flights since March. Delta expects to start clearing out the cabins on some planes by early June, boosting capacity by about 20 percent.

Delta is dealing with other issues. In an internal memo, the airline said it will have twice as many pilots as it needs this fall. It also said it will permanently ground its Boeing 777 fleet by the end of the year. Now, Delta did not say it will cut pilot jobs but executives have already warned staff it will have to be smaller in the future.

JARRETT: Coronavirus is also leading to a real hunger crisis. Global restrictions and supply disruptions could put the most vulnerable in even more jeopardy. CNN is live in South Africa.



ROMANS: All right, 40 minutes past the hour. Welcome back.

The coronavirus pandemic has also triggered a global food crisis, one that may prove even more deadly in the world's poorest countries.

Back with us this morning, CNN's David McKenzie, live in Johannesburg, South Africa. What's happening there?


Just look at these dramatic images from close to where I'm sitting this week -- a food distribution from a charity at an informal settlement near Johannesburg.

Now, many of the people you're seeing here are foreigners unable to access the safety net that has been put in place by the South African government, so it's really just well-wishers that are giving them food handouts. But you look at the scale of the hunger just in this one area near Johannesburg and you can imagine the scale of the hunger globally because of the impact of Covid-19.

Now, the World Food Program has dramatically increased its warning, saying that up to 265 million people could go hungry in the coming months because of the impact on food imports, transportation of food -- even just agricultural production across the world. Some of the worst-hit areas could be here on the African continent.

Now, many African countries have replicated the very strict lockdowns that you've seen in China and parts of Europe and the rest of the world. But policymakers are being asked by these humanitarian groups to really weigh these lockdowns up with just the survival of their people. There's a fear that hunger and other diseases could be worse than the virus itself as we move through the many months of this pandemic before a vaccine comes.

The World Health Organization, just yesterday, saying that of the 73 million people in Africa that are food insecure, that number could raise dramatically. And they say people who are hungry are also more susceptible to novel viruses like Covid-19.

So it's a very tricky scenario that we see in the coming months and many people going hungry. And if they don't go hungry, well they might get sick.


MCKENZIE: So it's certainly worrying from a humanitarian perspective -- Christine.

ROMANS: Really trying to understand the knock-on effects here of this pandemic.

David, thank you so much for that.

JARRETT: Well, Mexico is coming off its highest day-to-day increase in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. More than 2,400 new cases reported on Thursday. The government just announced plans to slowly reopen parts of the economy starting on June first. But there's growing concern the outbreak is far worse than people in Mexico are being told.

CNN's Matt Rivers is there.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Miguel Garcia Galicia (ph) hasn't slept more than a few hours at a time in weeks. I've been working so much, he says, and the numbers just get higher every day. He's referring to the number of dead.

The funeral home he works at in Mexico City has almost run out of coffins. They've processed seven times more bodies than normal in the last month. The reason, Covid-19.

RIVERS (on camera): So, what he's saying here is on this death certificate there's three causes of death. There's acute respiratory failure, there's atypical pneumonia, and there's also probable Covid- 19. And that's what we're seeing on certificate after certificate after certificate.

RIVERS (voice-over): He had an appointment to pick up a body that afternoon so we went with him. This person probably didn't die of Covid but Miguel says it doesn't really matter -- it's yet another coffin in a seemingly endless parade now on its way to the crematorium.

Mexico has only tested about 150,000 people and confirmed roughly 40,000 cases, but the government has always said that relatively low number is just a scientific sample.

HUGO LOPEZ-GATELL, MEXICAN EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Nobody is able to identify every single case that occurs in an epidemic.

RIVERS (voice-over): The actual number could be well into the millions, says Hugo Lopez-Gatell, the epidemiologist leading Mexico's response. He quickly added that every country around the world has an untold amount of unconfirmed cases. That is why the government shut down the economy nearly two months ago and has urged people to stay home.

LOPEZ-GATELL: The size of the epidemic in Mexico is substantially lower than those in other countries.


RIVERS (voice-over): But funeral home worker Miguel is worried that won't last. He drives all day through places with plenty of people still out and about. If the government gave us the real number, he says, I think we would all go out less. The official death toll is about 4,500. Lopez-Gatell says the actual number could easily be double that.

Miguel thinks it might even be higher but admits he doesn't know the whole picture. All he knows is what's right in front of him and today, that's body number six being pulled from his truck to be cremated. I'm just really tired, he told us outside the crematorium, and this is going to keep happening.

Nearby, earlier in the day, we watched a typical funeral procession go by. Social distancing not a part of this tradition. Amongst those who are seeing all these deaths up close there is genuine fear that the people holding the casket could soon end up inside one just like it.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Xochimilco, Mexico.


JARRETT: Thanks so much to Matt Rivers for that great piece.

Tomorrow night, CNN will honor the graduates of the class of 2020 starting with "CLASS OF 2020: IN THIS TOGETHER" at 7:00 p.m., featuring President Bill Clinton, Gal Gadot, and more. Then at 8:00 p.m., join LeBron James and President Obama for "GRADUATE TOGETHER." The celebration starts tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.

Thanks so much.



JARRETT: Soaring temperatures and severe storms today in the northeast and the potential for a major tropical system near Florida before hurricane season even begins. Here is meteorologist Derek Van Dam.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine and Laura. Today is shaping up to be a rather active weather day across the eastern two-thirds of the country -- chances of severe weather.

First, we focus across central Texas and into much of Oklahoma -- slight risk there. Then across the northeast, the Storm Prediction Center has highlighted an enhanced risk of severe storms, damaging winds, large hail, and maybe an isolated tornado.

Check out the section there highlighted in orange across New York and into portions of Vermont and Massachusetts, even northern Pennsylvania. But notice how the storms fall apart as they reach the coastline. So just a marginal risk of severe weather today for the Big Apple down to Philadelphia.

Now, we're also monitoring the potential for tropical development. This cluster of thunderstorms on our satellite imagery has an 80 percent probability of a tropical storm forming this weekend. And if it does, it will become the first-named tropical system of the 2020 season. But most models taking this just offshore.

Back to you.


ROMANS: All right, Derek. Thank you for that.

OK, of course, Broadway shows have been dark for weeks now and now the first Broadway show has been shut down because of the pandemic.


Scene from "Frozen" -- Disney on Broadway.


ROMANS: The musical "Frozen" will not reopen when theaters turn their lights back on. The adaptation of the hit film was already struggling financially during its two-year run.

JARRETT: OK, she's 108 years old. She lived through the 1918 flu pandemic. Now, she's beaten coronavirus.

Sylvia Goldsholl, who lives in a New Jersey nursing home, was diagnosed last month.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very dangerous.

SYLVIA GOLDSHOLL, 108-YEAR-OLD COVID-19 SURVIVOR: I survive everything because I was determined to survive.


JARRETT: Just amazing. She's believed to be the oldest survivor in New Jersey, if not anywhere.

ROMANS: Wow, good for her, 108.

All right, taking a look at markets around the world right now to end the trading week. You're looking at Asian markets there already closed for the week and they closed mixed. European shares have opened in the last couple of hours. They are up more than one percent.

On Wall Street, futures are also leaning a little bit higher here. Stocks rose Thursday despite another damaging jobless claims report. Nearly three million more Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. That brings the total to 36 1/2 million Americans since mid-March -- just astonishing.

The Dow closed up 355 (sic) points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also finished higher. The New York Stock Exchange will reopen its iconic trading floor to a small group of brokers, May 26th. They will have to follow distancing guidelines.

Apple is taking a leap into virtual reality. The tech giant is buying NextVR, a California-based startup known for streaming sports, concerts, and other events in virtual reality.

Even with millions of people stuck at home, though, virtual reality is still struggling to catch on. Technology there still in its infancy and many people are turning to Zoom and Slack to connect with friends and family and coworkers instead of investing in those V.R. headsets.

Millions of people are working, lounging, and sleeping at home and they need more comfortable clothes than ever before. The Adobe Digital Economy Index says online pajama sales spiked 143 percent in April.

Sales of pants down 13 percent, and bra sales down 12 percent. Demand up for comfy clothes and for electronics like microphones and speakers for working from home. Adobe says prices of electronics are rising for the first time in years.

In a few hours, we'll get the latest retail sales report from the Census Bureau. A record drop in April is expected as Americans, Laura, spend less.

JARRETT: Well, let's finish out this morning on a happier note. A big send-off from Tom Berisha after battling Covid-19 in New York- Presbyterian Allen Hospital. He even got to dance his way out the door after 27 days fighting the virus.


You know, the hospital staff -- it really becomes like family for so many of these patients because --


JARRETT: -- they can't actually have their loved ones by their side when they're battling this disease.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. And for the hospital workers -- I mean, they really root for these patients. They put their blood, sweat, and tears into getting them healthy and well. And so, just for everyone there, what a great moment.

JARRETT: Absolutely.

ROMANS: All right, it's Friday. Thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: By the criteria that we have, we have certain regions that are poised to reopen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the country's epicenter, Covid-19 hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and the percentage of people testing positive for the virus are all down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're starting to take baby steps for Memorial Day weekend. We're going to have beaches open.