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CNN NEWSROOM

More U.S. States Lift Restrictions, Case Count Still High; Georgia Businesses Picking Up Three Works after Opening; Strokes and Other Complications Can Accompany COVID-19; The Dr. Fauci of China; Australia-China Diplomatic Row Turns Economic; CDC Warns about Childhood Illness Linked to Coronavirus; Italy Reports Lowest Daily Death Toll Since Early March; Top E.U. Brexit Negotiator "Not Optimistic" about Trade Deal. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 17, 2020 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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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, by the end of the weekend, almost every U.S. state will have reopened to some degree as they dial back some of their coronavirus restrictions. While Americans are warily watching the numbers of cases, there's a new focus on the U.S. leadership or lack thereof.

And new criticism by president Donald Trump's predecessor, who told new graduates on Saturday that America's leaders, quote, "aren't even pretending to be in charge."

Let's take a quick look at some of the numbers. Worldwide Johns Hopkins University reporting more than 4.6 million cases, more than 300,000 deaths. About one-third of those deaths are in the United States.

The Trump administration firing back, defending the president's handling of the virus, saying that he kept those numbers from being higher. CNN's Jeremy Diamond with more on the war of words.

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JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the second time in two weeks, former president Barack Obama is speaking out against the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, this time speaking out publicly.

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BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: More than anything, this pandemic has fully finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they are doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: That criticism came just after a week after President Obama criticized the Trump administration's response, calling it an absolute chaotic disaster and anemic and spotty.

This time we are hearing from the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She said this in response.

"President Trump's unprecedented coronavirus response has saved lives. His early travel restrictions and quarantines protected the American public while his paycheck protection program and direct payments to Americans got needed economic relief to our country.

"Moreover, President Trump directed the greatest mobilization of the private sector since World War II to fill the stockpile left depleted by his predecessor."

Now the last line about a depleted stockpile is something that President Trump and his aides have been repeatedly bringing up as they have defended their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The truth of the matter is that, while certain items in the national stockpile had not been restocked by the previous administration, it certainly was by no means completely depleted. Of course President Trump had been in office for three years before the coronavirus arrived in the United States.

President Trump, while he has not directly responded to his predecessor's criticism, he has been leveling other allegations, something he has been calling Obamagate, essentially making evidence- free claims against his predecessor, suggesting he has been trying to undermine his presidency.

In fact, over this weekend, President Trump has been in Camp David with some conservative firebrands on Capitol Hill, some of his loyal allies, trying to find a way to advance that latest conspiracy theory -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.

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HOLMES: It has been three weeks since the state of Georgia began allowing businesses to reopen. It was one of the first to take that leap -- that move by the governor controversial at the time.

Since the start of the pandemic, the number of confirmed cases in Georgia has risen to more than 36,000. Some critics warn the state might be opening too soon. Natasha Chen reports from Atlanta.

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NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Atlanta, Georgia, a lot of people are starting to come back out to businesses that have been reopening over the past three weeks. What we're seeing is the good news. There hasn't been a major spike in daily new cases.

But the bad news is there also hasn't been a major decrease in new daily cases, either. What we're seeing is there are some places taking advantage of being allowed to reopen their dining rooms.

The governor of Georgia relaxed some of the rules for restaurants this past week. Now 10 people can gather at a table instead of just six. But not everyone is taking advantage of opening their dining rooms.

For example, this restaurant is doing takeout only at the window with people being able to take their food to a table. So some restaurant owners are taking this very carefully.

And there are people who have been observing this over the past three weeks, also being cautious with their families. We met one family who came out today for the first time in almost three weeks. Here's what they said.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's actually like really scary because it's not like coronavirus is over. And, like, everybody is saying like, I wash my hands. I have hand sanitizer, I'm going to be OK.

But you're still going to be around people that cough and touch everything. And like you and you're actually very vulnerable. And it's actually very scary. But it's kind of exciting and happy that you get to go outside to some places that you enjoy again. But you also have to be very careful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I agree with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When is the last time you got ice cream?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 2019.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?

CHEN (voice-over): Georgia governor Brian Kemp has touted lower hospitalizations and increased testing while some officials in the Metro Atlanta area still caution people to stay home if at all possible, despite the fact that many things are reopening.

We're talking to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce as well. Their president says it's really a mixed bag who is opening and who isn't. This is a long-term change that a lot of businesses have to make.

It's not just having the resources and masks and gloves for the next two to three weeks. This is really for the long term. He said no matter what industry they're in, they're now in the business of health and wellness -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.

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HOLMES: Dr. Anish Mahajan is the chief medical officer with the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and joins me from Los Angeles to talk about coronavirus. Thanks for doing so. It is a good sign that infection rates seem to be

falling in many states. That is undeniable. But the death toll is still high, over 1,500 a day.

I'm curious if you feel comfortable with the reopening that is going on at the moment?

We cannot all be locked down forever but it is a delicate balance.

DR. ANISH MAHAJAN, HARBOR-UCLA MEDICAL CENTER: Yes, it is. As was said in the segment earlier, we have to be very careful. The reason we have seen the case rates and number of deaths coming down over time is because people have socially isolated.

We know we have continued to see clusters and cases in places where people are unable to socially isolate, such as nursing homes, jails and correctional facilities and food processing plants. In those places they were unable to isolate and so we saw infection. So now, as we begin to reopen, the social distancing will be less.

What we have to watch very carefully is how much transmission are we actually seeing in the community. In some communities, we may see a lot of transmission, in which case we will see a lot more disease.

HOLMES: Exactly. We will just have to wait and see. CNN has been reporting on tensions between the White House and the CDC. We saw the president openly disagreeing with the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

From a medical perspective how does that dysfunction impact strategy and messaging for the public which is so important?

At times it feels like politics over science.

HOLMES: Ideally, we would have a highly coordinated federal or national effort around the key things we have to do, such as improving the availability of testing, such as financing and organizing contact tracing and, perhaps most importantly, coordinating between all jurisdictions and states on how they should safely reopen.

What we saw was the CDC's initial reports and guidelines were much more detailed and much more prescriptive in a good way to local jurisdictions to help them make the right decisions.

But it looks like what happened with the White House is that those guidelines were then sort of watered down and changed. They were made much more loose, I would say. So now we have some states who have actually opened up, even as their case rates have not been coming down. And that is very worrying.

HOLMES: Yes. We heard at the White House Friday that early data suggests that vaccine doses by the end of the year are fully approved. Plenty of experts saying that timeline is optimistic, to put it kindly. Some worry about the right precautions not being taken.

Is that a word for you? Do you think the end is realistic?

MAHAJAN: I think it is very ambitious. But there are some reasons to hope. Let me first say that finding a vaccine is hard. You must first discover the science of something that will work. Then you have to decide if it is safe for human populations and find out if it actually works to prevent transmission of infection.

And then you have to mass produce it. The president seems to be placing bets on candidate vaccines by financing their mass production even before we know whether they work. I understand why that initiative.

But as we heard Dr. Anthony Fauci say, 12 to 18 months is a highly optimistic timeline.

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MAHAJAN: That's certainly not by the end of the year. The reasons we have for hope, I would say, is, as you know, there are multiple vaccines in trials already. We are seeing some interesting animal studies showing some effects. Perhaps more than one of those vaccine trials may be effective but it will take time to see if they are effective.

HOLMES: We are seeing doctors, this is something concerning people, seeing doctors treat coronavirus patients with a range of other issues, blood clots throughout the body, kidney failure, heart inflammation, immune complications.

What are your concerns about that?

Also indications of ongoing chronic issues.

MAHAJAN: The virus as you know for most people, 80 percent of people who get the virus, they will have a mild or flulike illness that they will be OK at home. Some 20 percent of patients will end up in the hospital; 5 percent will have very severe critical illness.

Those with severe critical illness with other comorbidities like diabetes and obesity and who are older in age have a high likelihood of passing away.

But if you survive it after being in ICU for 12 to 14 days, you are subject to the same kinds of complications and long term effects that people who have long term chronic illness on a ventilator experience. Those include things like depression and anxiety, cognitive impairments and physical impairments as well. So those are all very concerning.

HOLMES: Just finally. The other thing, this is a debate around the world, on whether the death toll for coronavirus is higher or lower than the official toll. Some in the Trump administration suggest it is an overcount. A lot of countries and experts suggest an undercount, an increase in death numbers compared from last year suggest that is the case. Do you feel there is an undercount?

The toll is actually higher?

MAHAJAN: In my opinion I believe it is an undercount. I think because there is not enough testing as we know. But the way the disease works, it can cause clots. Those clots can cause stroke and heart attack.

I'm afraid some patients may have passed away at home before coming to the hospital of a stroke or a heart attack that may have been coronavirus related. But we may never know because we did not have that patient tested.

HOLMES: Dr. Anish Mahajan, thank you so much. We appreciate you taking the time.

MAHAJAN: My pleasure.

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HOLMES: Turning our attention to New Jersey, where many people spent what was a beautiful Saturday on the beach. Ocean City considered this a dry run of sorts ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer.

A loudspeaker on the boardwalk continuously reminding beachgoers to practice social distancing. Evan McMorris-Santoro is in Ocean City with more.

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EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Several beach communities in New Jersey opened Saturday as part of a dry run for the larger Jersey Shore economic engine. The rest are expected to open on Memorial Day weekend.

Authorities wanted to see what would happen if they reopened boardwalks and parks and asked people to be responsible for social distancing.

On Saturday, state police reported the experiment appeared to be working, saying there was a relatively low volume of people. Here in Ocean City, many attractions remain closed.

On the beach, CNN drone footage captured groups of people sitting apart from one another. The boardwalk was packed. And most people didn't wear masks though they were not required to.

There's a concern if people don't remain socially distant, the summer season could be shut down, creating another blow to the economy -- Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, Ocean City, New Jersey.

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HOLMES: On Capitol Hill, outrage growing over the firing of a fourth federal watchdog in less than two months by the Trump administration. Two committees are now investigating the firing late Friday of Steve Linick as inspector general of the State Department.

In announcing the probe, Senator Bob Menendez and Representative Eliot Engel called the dismissals politically motivated. Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican, also condemning the move. He calls the string of firings "a threat to accountable democracy."

Democrats say Linick was retaliated against for opening an investigation into the secretary of state Mike Pompeo. An aide says the probe centers on whether Pompeo and his wife used a political appointee for personal business. Linick had also played a minor role in the impeachment inquiry.

Some call him China's Dr. Fauci, the doctor who raised the alarm about coronavirus in China.

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HOLMES: Even as some local officials were downplaying it. CNN's exclusive interview with him coming up.

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HOLMES: The expert who saw China through the SARS epidemic has criticized his own country's early response to the coronavirus and sounding yet another alarm. He says China could get a second wave of infections, especially if there's no vaccine. CNN's David Culver sat down with him for an exclusive interview.

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DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is an interview we have been working to get for months, an conversation with the Dr. Anthony Fauci of China. His name is Dr. Zhong Nanshan. He speaks about his concerns that he sees still on the horizon for China. Even though things are starting to open up here, he says they are not in the clear and warns of a second wave. He is also highly critical of how things were handled early on, particularly within Wuhan.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The answer is no and --

CULVER (voice-over): In the U.S., many have turned to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, as that medical voice of reason.

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CULVER (voice-over): In China, it is Dr. Zhong Nanshan, a well-known respiratory expert, speaking exclusively with CNN.

DR. ZHONG NANSHAN, RESPIRATORY EXPERT: I cannot compare with Fauci, who is the adviser of the president, always standing beside the president.

CULVER (voice-over): Perhaps he does not physically stand next to the Chinese president but Zhong has the trust of the central government. His advice sparks near immediate action.

Take, for example, Wuhan's unprecedented lockdown. On January 18th, five days before the city was shut down, Zhong traveled to the original epicenter of the outbreak. He questioned the local health officials.

ZHONG: In the beginning, they kept silent.

CULVER (voice-over): Zhong, who gained international praise for working on SARS 17 years ago, believed this rapidly spreading novel coronavirus was far more devastating than portrayed by Wuhan health officials.

ZHONG: I suppose they are very reluctant to answer my question. The local authorities did not like to tell the truth at that time.

CULVER (voice-over): Publicly, Wuhan health officials as late as January 19th labeled the virus as preventable and controllable. Later the city's mayor acknowledged not releasing information in a timely fashion.

Zhong pressed harder for the actual numbers and then headed to Beijing on January 20th. He briefed the central government. Within hours, he was addressing the nation in a live interview on state run CCTV.

He said that human to human transmission was likely and, as proof of that, he said the virus had already infected multiple medical personnel.

ZHONG: It's very dangerous showing this kind of disease. It's very contagious. So I suppose at that time the central government listened to our comments, objection and advice.

CULVER (voice-over): Within three days, Wuhan went into a harsh lockdown that lasted 76 days. Yet even with China's central government now taking the lead, there is still skepticism over the official numbers. Zhong believes it is partly political and says the Chinese government would not benefit from underreporting.

ZHONG: The government had a lesson from the outbreak of SARS 17 years ago, they announced one (INAUDIBLE) stack (ph), that all the cities, all the government department should report the true number of diseases. So if you do not do that, you will be punished.

CULVER: What do you believe to be the origin of this virus, in particular?

ZHONG: I think the origin is a very difficult to draw any conclusion to the moment. But I believe, this kind of disease has originated from animals.

CULVER (voice-over): U.S. president Donald Trump and secretary of state Mike Pompeo have said they have evidence that it leaked from a lab, namely, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, an origin theory many international medical experts and even U.S. intelligence say is highly unlikely.

CULVER: Now it seems more and more medical experts do not believe that it originated there.

Do you feel that with certainty?

ZHONG: I don't think so. It took up two weeks to make a very close and deep checkup that proved nothing about that. No. I don't think so.

CULVER (voice-over): Zhong's focus now is on preparing China for a second wave of the outbreak. Over the past few weeks, new clusters of cases have surfaced in several cities, including Wuhan.

ZHONG: We are facing a big challenge. It is not better than the foreign countries, I think, at the moment.

CULVER (voice-over): Zhong, like Dr. Fauci, has achieved a celebrity status here in China. His scientific expertise aside, many are impressed with his physical drive.

CULVER: What is it that you have been doing during this period to stay mentally sane, physically fit?

How does Dr. Zhong conduct his days?

ZHONG: I still keep exercising and sports, so all the things. I keep an open mind and eat not too much every time. So that's why it seems to be that I can still do something in my age of 84.

CULVER: Dr. Zhong also spoke about the collaboration he says is ongoing with his medical counterparts in the United States, particularly with Harvard University.

He suggests that, despite things getting highly politicized and tensions between the U.S. and China heightened, the conversations and the collaboration is still underway, at least amongst certain medical professionals -- David Culver, CNN, China.

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HOLMES: Tensions between China and Australia are about to take an expensive turn. Australia has been criticizing Beijing for how it handled the coronavirus pandemic and China's new ban on the country's beef exports is about to make things trickier.

[02:25:00]

HOLMES: Simon Cullen with more.

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SIMON CULLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Australia's cattle farmers have suffered through prolonged drought and devastating bushfires. Now they are caught in the middle of a diplomatic row with China.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I'm really concerned about is this potential for a trade war to erupt.

CULLEN (voice-over): Beijing has suspended imports from four large Australian abattoirs because of what it claims are inspection and quarantine violations. Australia's trade minister is seeking urgent talks with his Chinese counterpart.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM, AUSTRALIAN TRADE MINISTER: The ball is very much in the court of the Chinese government. We have made very clear that I am available and keen to have a discussion.

CULLEN (voice-over): Diplomatic relations between the two countries have soured in the past month following Australia's push for an international investigation into the coronavirus pandemic. China, though, insists the beef ban has nothing to do with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): These two things are completely different things. Please do not put these two things together and make a wrong political interpretation.

CULLEN (voice-over): But the Chinese state-run "Global Times" paper tells a different story. It warns that unfriendly moves have thrown bilateral ties into a deep freeze and that if tensions continue on their current trajectory, it would be delusional to expect trade relations to remain on track.

It's a warning that has Australian farmers worried. Beef import bans like the one announced this week have the potential to impact many thousands of jobs. And given that China is Australia's largest trading partner, local lawmakers are keen to ensure the diplomatic fallout doesn't deteriorate.

But it's not stopping the Australian government from continuing to lobby for a coronavirus inquiry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're very encouraged by the positive feedback that we've had from many international counterparts.

CULLEN (voice-over): With one notable exception -- Simon Cullen, CNN, Australia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now a mysterious COVID-related syndrome is affecting some children and doctors have more questions than answers. One family nearly lost their daughter to the illness. We'll hear their story. We'll also talk to the doctor who treated her when we come back.

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HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

With just a small percentage of the world's population, the United States continues to account for about one-third of all coronavirus cases, more than 4.6 million cases reported worldwide, more than 300,000 lives lost; 1.4 million of those cases are here in the U.S. where about 88,000 people have died.

The World Health Organization says it is essential for doctors to watch out for a serious illness that strikes some children after they've been infected with the virus. It's called multisystem inflammatory syndrome and doctors are scrambling to learn more about it. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.

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JULIET DALY, RECOVERING FROM MYSTERIOUS ILLNESS: My stomach started to hurt really bad. And it felt like my legs were weak and I was pretty tired.

SEAN DALY, JULIET'S DAD: She started having blue lips and her extremities were cold. That's when it was like, hmm, this is not a, you know, normal flu.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sean Daly is Juliet's dad.

(on camera): Did you think that this might be a COVID or coronavirus?

S. DALY: My wife thought it was a possibility. She called to try to see if she could get tested. She didn't meet the criteria. You know, she was more or less a healthy 12-year-old.

GUPTA (voice-over): By that evening, Juliet was nearly dead.

S. DALY: They had my leave the room to intubate her. So, they put her under anesthesia. Then she went into cardiac arrest for a little less than two minutes and they had to perform CPR.

GUPTA (on camera): What was her condition when you first saw Juliet?

DR. JAKE KLEINMAHON, OCHSNER HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN: She was about as close to death as you can get.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Jake Kleinmahon is a pediatric cardiologist at Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans.

KLEINMAHON: Her heart was barely squeezing. She was going into kidney failure, liver failure, intubated emergently and put on a ventilator.

GUPTA: It's hard to believe we're talking about this same beautiful little girl. But it's hard to believe that all of this was possibly related to COVID-19, a disease that wasn't really supposed to severely affect kids. Now, it even has a name. It's called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.

KLEINMAHON: There is a lot of cells and cell signaling in the body that is just going crazy. What that's doing is creating a lot of inflammation. It's affecting the heart, the liver, the kidney and, really, all the cells of the body.

GUPTA: It's been described as a Kawasaki-like disease. That's another inflammatory disease most commonly diagnosed in children. Awful rashes, a strawberry appearing tongue and destructive inflammation, but this is also different.

There are so many questions.

Like why now?

Why months into this pandemic are we first seeing this?

And why is it so devastating to children in the United States and Europe but not so much in Asia, where some of the first children were infected?

DR. JANE BURNS, RADY CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL SAN DIEGO: We have interesting information coming in from Japan as well as Korea and Taiwan that no one there that we have been in contact with has seen this severe form of cardiovascular collapse in children.

GUPTA: Dr. Jane Burns is the director of the Kawasaki disease clinic at Rady Children's Hospital San Diego.

BURNS: No one can tell you for sure that the SARS-COV-2 virus is a trigger for Kawasaki disease. But there's certainly a circumstantial evidence.

KLEINMAHON: We're seeing this in kids who don't have an active COVID infection. Some of them do but a lot of them are testing positive for antibodies.

BURNS: A study published in "The Lancet" on Wednesday found that the number of children diagnosed with the Kawasaki-like disease in Bergamo, Italy, jumped 30-fold after the pandemic overtook the region.

Still in the United States, as frightening as it is, for now it still appears rare.

Juliet was discharged after ten days in the hospital.

(on camera): How are you feeling now? You look great.

[02:35:00]

J. DALY: Well, I am feeling good and there doesn't seem to be any long-term effects.

GUPTA: Are you back 100 percent, would you say, back to normal? J. DALY: I still feel a bit out of place, feel kind of like 99 percent.

S. DALY: We'll take 99 percent.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Joining me is Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, pediatric cardiologist for Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans.

Doctor, thank you so much for being with us.

First of all, I think a lot of parents are worried hearing this sort of news. Give us a sense of what this is.

What are the first signs, the symptoms?

What does it do to the body?

DR. JAKE KLEINMAHON, OCHSNER HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN: So this is a multisystem syndrome that the majority of patients are coming in with abdominal complaints, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, rash. And what basically this is, is the immune system is going into overdrive.

So what's happening is the cell signals in the body are telling the body to really ramp up the response in result to either direct injury from the coronavirus or aftereffects of the coronavirus. And that's leading to patients with heart problems, dilation of the coronary arteries -- those arteries feed oxygen to the heart -- as well as problems with their liver and kidneys.

HOLMES: That just sounds dreadful. And you, glad to have you on because you actually treated a patient with the condition.

As a cardiologist, what went through your mind when this presented?

What were the challenges to you as a physician?

KLEINMAHON: When our first patient presented, there was really no information about this. At Ochsner Hospital for Children we may have been the first case in the entire United States. So it was quite scary because we didn't really have anything to guide us.

And my first thought when I heard her story was, this patient is extremely sick, has a good chance of dying or, if not dying, going on to need a heart transplant.

HOLMES: It's terrifying.

How worrying overall is the development?

There really are so many questions.

Why now?

Why is this emerged this far into the pandemic?

And in some cases so long after the patient has been apparently exposed to COVID.

Why is it hitting kids in the U.S. and Europe but not so much in Asia?

What have you been able to discern out of all of that?

KLEINMAHON: I think that's the questions that all of us experts in this field really have is, why didn't we see it earlier?

Why does it seem like it's in some geographic regions?

Some of us think there's probably certain strains of the virus that may be causing this that where other strains are not. That's why we're seeing a slightly different presentation depending on geographic region.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Correct me if I'm wrong, and there's no firm evidence COVID- 19 is responsible, is it, but a lot of these kids do test positive for the antibodies.

Is the feeling that it is linked?

KLEINMAHON: I don't think anyone is ready to say it's 100 percent linked but the patients we treated have either tested positive for -- being positive for COVID or the antibodies. And the vast majority of patients out there are testing positive for either an active infection or evidence that they had a prior infection with COVID.

So I think there's certainly a lot of us who would be surprised if this ended up not being linked to COVID.

HOLMES: And it's a syndrome, too, which means it's a combination of things, right?

We've been hearing about Kawasaki but it's not quite that, right?

KLEINMAHON: Yes, so it can present similar to Kawasaki. That's another inflammatory syndrome that affects the heart. It mainly affects the coronary arteries of the heart and it can affect heart function but not usually as significantly as we've been seeing it in these patients.

And we also don't see it except in severe cases with the other end or dysfunctional liver and kidneys we're seeing with this.

HOLMES: Yes, it -- I mean, it is still rare and it's important to acknowledge that but you've got a situation here in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world. But here the president pushing for schools to reopen.

I mean, is there concern in the profession that that could help this illness spread further?

KLEINMAHON: There's certainly a concern. But you know, as pediatricians, we also realize that school is important for kids' learning and development and a lot of these kids are going through important developmental stages.

[02:40:00]

KLEINMAHON: So at Ochsner Hospital for Children we've put together a task force to work directly with schools and develop reopening plans, as well as continued guidance when schools reopen so we can make sure that our kids are as safe as they possibly can be.

HOLMES: Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, really appreciate your time.

KLEINMAHON: Thank you. My pleasure.

HOLMES: We'll take a quick break here. When we come back, many countries in Europe seem to have flattened their curve of infections but the U.K. doesn't seem to have hit the peak just yet. It's easing restrictions anyway. We'll see if it's proving to be a safe bet.

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HOLMES: Welcome back.

Italy reporting its lowest daily death toll from the coronavirus in more than two months. The civil protection agency confirming 153 deaths on Saturday. Now that is the lowest increase since March the 9th, when the government first imposed a nationwide lockdown.

Italy has been one of the hardest hit countries in all of Europe with a total death toll above 31,000. Let's talk more about all of this with CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau in Rome.

Great to see you. Let's talk about, you know, I imagine that there's going to be a sense of relief to be able to get back out and going but also a sense of forbearance that it could all backslide.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Tomorrow is a really important day. This is when restaurants open. Hairdressers open. Museums open. All these sorts of things that have been shuttered for so long.

And people are excited to get back out there but very nervous. You've seen over the weekend or last couple of days, people inside those establishments measuring to make sure they've got tape on the floor to give people social distance.

And people are out going for walks or taking their kids out and things like that but there's so much fear it's just going to go back and we'll be back to where we started. [02:45:00]

NADEAU: People are excited but they're taking it very, very seriously here, Michael.

HOLMES: And, of course, Italy is such a big tourism country.

How hard hit has the industry been?

Are they concerned people will even come back?

When do things open up for them?

NADEAU: Well, that is the big question. Museums open as of tomorrow. It's really sort of a trial run. On June 3rd we're going to see the borders, Italian borders open to what will be foreign tourists but not from the United States. Not from Asia. These are only going to be people from within the Schengen zone.

We haven't heard if there will be any quarantine if someone is coming from out of Schengen, if they're allowed to come and tourism is so important here. The summer is not going to be like it was last summer and everybody knows that.

And these industries that rely on tourism have to cater to the Italian tourist. That's something a lot of these people are not used to doing. We've seen that in Venice especially and in Florence and some of these big, big, big draw cities.

And they're just going to have to do it differently. People are kind of not going to write off the season yet but tourism will be back. But probably not in full force until 2021, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, yes, sad reality but it will be back. Such a beautiful place. Barbie Nadeau, thank you. Appreciate it.

London police tell CNN that about a dozen protesters have been arrested after an anti-lockdown demonstration there. People had gathered in Hyde Park to protest the British government's coronavirus restrictions.

Some of them chanting things like shame on you as police officers, notably police officers without masks, asked everyone to move along. And they didn't.

Meanwhile, more than 241,000 people in the country have tested positive so far. That's according to Johns Hopkins University.

There is a deadline, though, that is fast approaching regardless of pandemic. The one for the U.K. to reach a trade deal with Brussels. The E.U. and U.K. are negotiating their future relationship once the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.

Yes, remember Brexit?

The E.U.'s chief Brexit negotiator is bracing for the worst. Nina dos Santos joins me now from London to talk about this.

Yes, remember Brexit, as if it wasn't complicated enough. This.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: Yes, another one of those painful sagas that's reared its ugly head. One made more difficult because the negotiators, you know, they have entrenched positions but those entrenched positions are being communicated virtually now, not over cups of coffee.

You could see that in the latest statement from both sides after this latest round of negotiations that wasn't completely an abject failure but even Michel Barnier and David Frost on the U.K. side acknowledged it was bitterly divided.

So essentially what the U.K. is claiming that it wants is not to extend the transition period beyond the end of this year. What it wants to do is negotiate some kind of Canada-style free trade deal but from the E.U.'s perspective, they say you're asking for an awful lot more exceptions than we gave Canada.

The E.U. says that it wants to make sure that it doesn't sacrifice things that it holds dear like a level playing field on environmental labor protections, also social protections and, of course, there's that (INAUDIBLE) officially (ph) -- which I'll come to in a second, Michael.

They say they'll not compromise on these values just to help the U.K. out economically and politically towards the end of this year. From the U.K.'s perspective, it says there's no point in being outside of the E.U. if they still have to stick to the same rules.

It prevents the U.K. from setting out on its own course and striking its own trade deals with other countries. That's where we stand at the moment. One slight glimmer of hope in Michel Barnier's statement. The E.U. acknowledged perhaps it had taken a maximalist as they put it approach to the subject of fisheries.

Maybe there may be some wiggle room for them to move back on the insistence of adhering to certain types of quotas.

The U.K. feels if it doesn't get enough fish from its own territorial waters and fishing completes from countries like Spain get too much of the fish in these seas.

Now I should also point out there's a couple of deadlines looming, as ever, with the subject of Brexit. The next set of negotiations is set to kick off on June the 1st. But then they've got another hard deadline coming up in the month of July.

And about six weeks from now what we'll see is an official timetable deadline by which the U.K. and the E.U. will have had to have agreed whether or not they decide to extend that transition period beyond the end of this year.

[02:50:00] DOS SANTOS: So the British government getting more and more aggressive and more assertive here to say they don't want to extend Brexit's transition any longer than necessary by the end of this year. Obviously, coronavirus has put a spur into the negotiation with meetings taking place virtually, hence perhaps some of the animosity and intransigence.

HOLMES: Nina, thank you.

We're going to take a short break. When we come back, even a pandemic can't stop the hurricane season and the first tropical storm is ready to prove it. We'll check in with Derek Van Dam for the latest after the break.

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HOLMES: Well, we now have the first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, tropical storm Arthur has formed off Florida's East Coast and the hurricane season hasn't even officially started yet.

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HOLMES: And thanks for your company this hour, spending part of your day with us. I'm Michael Holmes, the much-more preferable Natalie Allen will have more after the break.