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Barack Obama Slams Trump Administration's Response to Coronavirus; Georgia Businesses Picking Up Three Works after Opening; Using Technology to Stop COVID-19 Spread; The Dr. Fauci of China; Italy Reports Lowest Daily Death Toll Since Early March; CDC Warns about Childhood Illness Linked to Coronavirus; Migrant Workers Left Few Options amid Outbreak; U.S. Democrats to Investigate Trump's Latest Firing; L.A. Firefighters Injured in Explosion; Pioneer Sportscaster Phyllis George Dead at 70. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired May 17, 2020 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): In an open attack on the Trump administration, former president Barack Obama says the U.S. lacks leadership on the pandemic.

This as U.S. states slowly reopen, some more cautiously than others. We'll ask if authorities are doing enough to protect against a second wave. Also this hour --


DR. ZHONG NANSHAN, RESPIRATORY EXPERT: The local authorities didn't like to tell the truth at that time.


ALLEN (voice-over): A CNN exclusive with China's go-to man on the coronavirus. His take on how the outbreak unfolded, the future and comparisons to America's Dr. Fauci.

We're live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. 5:00 am Eastern here. I'm Natalie Allen and CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: Thank you for joining us.

Our top story, one of the harshest criticisms to date of President Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic is coming from the man he replaced. Barack Obama has been mostly silent since leaving office, despite frequent attacks by Mr. Trump.

There's a long tradition of U.S. presidents not speaking ill of one another but that was before nearly 1.5 million Americans were stricken with COVID-19, killing 88,000 of them in just a few months; an alarming number of them, people of color. The former U.S. president would stay silent no longer.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Doing what feels good, what's convenient, what's easy, that's how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grownups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way, which is why things are so screwed up.


ALLEN: To be fair, President Trump publicly attacks Mr. Obama on a regular basis and the former president rarely, if ever, rises to take the bait. So it is noteworthy Mr. Obama would choose this moment to speak out. We get more about it from CNN's Jeremy Diamond at the White House.


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.


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.


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.


ALLEN: Let's look now at what states are doing opening up across the United States. Georgia was at the forefront of states pushing to reopen when it began easing restrictions more than three weeks ago. The surge in new cases, some predicted, though, hasn't happened at least so far.


ALLEN: But there hasn't been a major drop-off, either. CNN's Natasha Chen reports on businesses trying to get back on their feet.


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.

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?




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.


ALLEN: Since the start of the pandemic, health officials have been asking patients who they came into contact with to try to track the disease. But now as CNN's Tom Foreman tells us there's a push on to use new technology, including cellphones and other tools, to make contact tracing even better.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A viral hot spot erupts in a South Korean nightclub district. Dozens come down with COVID-19 and quickly authorities trace the origin to one man.

How did they find him?

They analyzed the GPS signal of his phone and so everyone he'd been near.

In China, millions are being watched in a similar fashion and now in the U.S., too, vigorous efforts are underway to expand contact tracing. In New Orleans, anyone eating in a restaurant will be required to hand over their information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Restaurants should retain a name and contact number for over 21 days.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Contact tracing, through electronic apps or interviews with patients, consists of sorting out the physical social network of an infected person and then asking or maybe even compelling exposed people to quarantine. Health officials say it certainly works. In this Japanese experiment,

a group of diners was unaware one of them had an invisible paint on his hands. When a special light was turned on, it was clear how many had been symbolically infected.

Real world studies found the same thing with COVID-19. This professor notes one diner in a restaurant infecting nine others nearby. An outbreak in a call center, jumping from one worker to the next, to the next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to strongly encourage you to participate in the contact tracing program.

FOREMAN (voice-over): So many government officials argue contact tracing is essential.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the next major step in our effort to defeat the COVID virus.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But privacy advocates say the same tool for tracking the virus could be used to discover political activity, religious affiliations, private relationships. A "Washington Post" poll found nearly three in five Americans say they're either unable or unwilling to use the infection alert system under development by Google and Apple.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trust really matters in combating a pandemic and people won't feel trusting of the system if it's not based on a public health need and there is -- are not very robust privacy and security protections built into any tool that we might use.

FOREMAN: Still, while we wait on electronic devices, several states are pushing forward with ambitious plans to recruit tens of thousands of people to be contact tracers.


FOREMAN: In one case, even drawing in members of the National Guard -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.


ALLEN: Let's talk about these developments with Dr. Peter Drobac, a global health expert at the University of Oxford in England.

Thanks for coming on, Peter.


ALLEN: We just heard the next essential step is contact tracing.

Along with hygiene and social distancing to control the spread, Peter, how important is contact tracing?

DROBAC: It's incredibly important and it goes hand in hand with testing, right? Once everybody who needs a test can get a test, we're able to identify a positive case, trace all of their contacts and then get everyone who needs it either isolated or quarantined.

That's how we can break chains of transmission and have really smart surveillance. That allows us to be much smarter in opening up and prevent that dreaded second surge.

ALLEN: I was going to ask you that, if it's accomplished in a major way, it could, you think, prevent a second wave?

DROBAC: I think so. It's certainly the best shot we've got. If you look at the places that have done a good job, first in crushing the curve and, for the most part, keeping it down. Of course we've seen blips here or there in places like China, in places like Korea and Singapore.

But Australia, New Zealand, et cetera, all of them have something in common, which is widespread testing, widespread contact tracing and then measures for isolation and quarantine. I think that has to be at the forefront of all of our efforts right now.

ALLEN: Meantime, we know 48 states are reopening and there were warnings that states were reopening too soon, like right here in Georgia, that we were going to see these massive spikes. We haven't seen that yet. Instead in Georgia, the number of deaths and hospitalizations are actually going down.

What do you make of that, Peter?

DROBAC: Well, those of us who predicted that cases would go up would love to be proven wrong. But it's a mixed picture. So in places like Georgia where cases haven't gone up, you see other places like Texas, Arizona, Minnesota, where in parts you do see the numbers of cases rising as we expected.

Something to keep in mind, in a lot of places we're not doing enough testing, we have to wait for people to become sicker and hospitalized before those cases are detected. That means there's a three- or four- week lag from the time we make a change until we actually see a change.

It may be that we're just too early and we'll have to see what happens over the next couple of weeks. It's a very critical period right now.

ALLEN: Right. The next couple of weeks, the predictions are that some 10,000 more Americans could die.

Meantime, bigger picture here, President Trump launched Operation Warp Speed this week, promising that millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines, that's the goal, they hope will be available by the end of this year. There certainly is merit in working to act fast right now.

Is the president's timeline realistic?

DROBAC: It's an incredibly optimistic timeline. I think that most estimates that I've seen from the scientific community, who are working in the race to develop a vaccine, would give it a longer timeline, even in a best-case scenario.

We have to remember there's never been an effective vaccine against the coronavirus. The timeline for developing a new vaccine normally is years, often a decade or more. We think it's going to be substantially less.

If all of the stars align, everything goes perfectly, they work, there's no speed bumps, possibly early 2021. But I think that's the most optimistic scenario. And we have to also be prepared for scenarios, in which it takes much longer to find a vaccine that's going to be effective.

That's why, while this development is important, these investments in the scientific race are important, we need an Operation Warp Speed to make sure that every American can get a test who needs a test.

We need an Operation Warp Speed to make sure we have armies of contact tracers along with technology in every part of the country because that's what would allow us to save lives and save the economy until that vaccine is ready.

ALLEN: Good point there you make. We'll end on that. Thanks so much, Peter.

DROBAC: Thank you, Natalie.

We are tracking a developing story out of the Middle East. China's ambassador to Israel Du Wei has been found dead at his residence north of Tel Aviv. Police have been at the scene. But we're still waiting on an official statement. Du Wei has been the ambassador to Israel for only about three months.

We'll continue to track this story and bring you more information as we get it.

Some call him China's Dr. Fauci.


ALLEN: The doctor who raised the alarm about coronavirus in China even as some local officials downplayed it. CNN's exclusive interview with him coming next.

Also, Italy will slowly try to get things back to normal next week. We'll bring in our reporter to talk about how Italy plans to minimize the risks.




ALLEN: China's top coronavirus adviser who also saw the country through the SARS epidemic is criticizing China's early response to the pandemic and sounding yet another alarm. He said China could get a second wave of infections, especially if there isn't a vaccine. David Culver sat down with him for this exclusive interview.


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.



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.

In China, it is Dr. Zhong Nanshan, a well-known respiratory expert, speaking exclusively with CNN.

ZHONG: 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.


ALLEN: Now we want to turn to Italy.


ALLEN: Once the center of the pandemic, Italy is set to relax confinement measures starting Monday. Shops, restaurants and hairdressers in the hardhit Lombardy region will be allowed to reopen. The prime minister calls it a calculated risk that has to be done with prudence.

On Saturday, Italy recorded the fewest number of daily deaths since its lockdown began in March. Barbie Nadeau has been covering it from the beginning.

This must be a day that many people have been waiting for and it's almost here.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's quite exciting. People here in Rome have been preparing -- you can see in the shops, the windows are open, people are cleaning, putting down tape to try to mark out the safe distancing.

It's still quite uncharted territory, though. There have been a continuing number of people outside, going for walks, exercising. There's already movement across the country.

But what we don't know what that's going to look like is when restaurants are open, is there going to be Plexiglas separating people?

They're saying it would be better if restaurant tables can be outside.

How are the waiters going to serve the people?

There are so many unanswered questions. And people are worried if they go too fast there will be a relapse and a second wave and we'll go back to where we started. And that's something nobody wants.

ALLEN: Absolutely. Well, our fingers are crossed for Italy. Thanks so much, Barbie. Police in London say at least 13 people were arrested Saturday at a

protest. Dozens of people were met by unmasked police officers when they turned out in Hyde Park. The officers told them to move along. The U.K. will enter its ninth week of lockdown on Monday. The country has 35,000 coronavirus deaths and 240,000 infections.

A new and rare illness is targeting children who also may have been exposed to COVID-19. We hear from Dr. Sanjay Gupta about this worrisome development.

Also, hidden victims of the coronavirus pandemic, migrant workers are losing their jobs and their ability to send critically needed money to some of the poorest places in the world.





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

The World Health Organization is warning parents and doctors about that new illness related to COVID-19 that is targeting children. It's called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more it.


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.

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.


J. DALY: Feel kind of like 99 percent.

S. DALY: We'll take 99 percent.

GUPTA: I want to emphasize again that what you just saw there, I know was frightening but also rare. Thankfully rare.

Even when it comes to Kawasaki-like illness, the disease I mentioned in the piece, there's 20,000 in the children in the United States that may be diagnosed with this. We're talking about 200 children with this new illness. Thankfully, again, rare.

I think the message is for nurses and doctors but also parents, stay vigilant. If your child has abdominal pain that is usual that could be a sign. And after a child recovers from COVID, this still might be a concern. So stay vigilant.

If you would have taken your child to the emergency room last year for something, then you should take them this year as well. On the other hand, if you wouldn't have taken your child to the emergency for something last year, you probably don't need to this year as well also.

Use your judgment, logic and consider telemedicine. That might be one way to get an evaluation at home without having to go into the hospital.


ALLEN: Always good advice from Sanjay. Earlier, my colleague Michael Holmes spoke with the pediatric cardiologist about what more is known about this illness.



KLEINMAHON: 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.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: 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.

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.


ALLEN: Another angle we want to talk about now, the global pandemic has damaged economies across the globe and many migrant workers have lost their jobs. This has a ripple effect across some of the world's poorest regions since those workers can no longer send money back home. Ivan Watson has this from Hong Kong.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When Maria Cristina Y Baolos got fired from her job as a live-in domestic worker in Hong Kong last month, she was also made homeless.

MARIA CRISTINA Y BAOLOS, DOMESTIC WORKER IN HONG KONG: I'm sitting on the floor. All my luggage there. This the life of helper.

WATSON: Maria Cristina used to send a third of her income back home, around 200 U.S. dollars a month to support her family in the Philippines. Four sons, a husband out of work and a sick mother.

BAOLOS: But my mom is sick. You know, it's very hard for me.

WATSON: She says Hong Kong will extend her visa for a month as she tries to find another job. It's the first time in 15 years she's been laid off.

Does your family know you got fired?


BAOLOS: I don't want to give her another problem to worry.

WATSON: Maria Cristina and her family are not alone. Migrant workers around the world are being laid off as the coronavirus' prices triples economies.

The money these workers earn provides a lifeline to their families paying for food, housing and school for their children. Now, that lifeline is being cut off. The World Bank predicts these sorts of payments will fall by 20 percent this year, globally.

DILIP RATHA, LEAD ECONOMIST, MIGRATION AND REMITTANCE, WORLD BANK: The kind of fall that we are expecting in remittances is unprecedented in history.

WATSON: Dilip Ratha from the World Bank says governments need to do more to support migrant workers and their families.


RATHA: We should not ignore the plight of this huge part of humanity.

WATSON: These workers often treated like second class citizens are facing the triple threat of job losses, lockdowns and the risk of virus outbreak in cramped housing. Saiful Islam was working in Bahrain as a construction worker for four years and sending his half of his income home before being laid off a few months ago.

The Bahrain government says more than 7,000 migrant workers have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and says they're providing them with free food and a visa amnesty.

SAIFUL ISLAM, BANGLADESH MIGRANT WORKER (through translator): Now, that I can't send money back home, my family is also suffering and cannot buy food. And my old parents cannot get any good medical treatment.

WATSON: His family back in Bangladesh say they're now struggling to survive.

ROKEYA BEGUM, MOTHER OF BANGLADESHI MIGRANT: My son has stopped sending the money because he doesn't have a job since everything closed due to the coronavirus. So, I've had to take a loan for survival with very high interest.

ISLAM (through translator): When I speak to my parents, they don't even ask me for money anymore, as they love me so much. And they know I'm in this bad situation, too.

WATSON: Migrant workers long operating on the fringe of societies, now hidden victims of a global economic crisis -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: An update on a new story that we're following here. Israel's

foreign ministry says the death of China's ambassador to Israel is not being treated as suspicious at this time. Ambassador Du Wei was found dead earlier at his residence north of Tel Aviv.

Police have been on the scene. The 57-year old had been the ambassador to Israel for only about three months. We'll continue to track the story. We'll bring you any more information as we get it.

Next here, President Trump's firing of another government watchdog ignites a political firestorm in Congress. Some U.S. lawmakers now demanding answers after a fourth U.S. official responsible for keeping the government honest is abruptly dismissed.





ALLEN: U.S. Democratic lawmakers say they will open a congressional investigation into President Trump's latest firing of a government watchdog. U.S. State Department inspector general Steve Linick is the fourth official dismissed by the president in recent weeks.

Republican SENANAYAKE: Mitt Romney denounced the firings as a threat to accountable democracy. We get more about it from CNN's Alex Marquardt.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: In the Trump administration, it is the watchdogs who are being watched closely with suspicion and disdain, now being dismissed at a growing pace.

Friday night, with no warning, the inspector general for the State Department was suddenly fired. President Donald Trump informing the House speaker in a letter, "It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general. That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general."

The State Department's Steve Linick, like inspectors general, was charged with oversight, keeping watch for any wrongdoing and reporting it.

According to the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Linick had launched an investigation into secretary of state Mike Pompeo and whether, according to a congressional aide, Pompeo and his wife had misused a political appointee for personal tasks. The State Department has not responded to that accusation.

Linick had a small but important role in the impeachment inquiry and also had issued previous damning reports about the State Department under Pompeo. It was Pompeo, according to a senior State Department official, who recommended that Linick be fired.

The president has repeatedly shown and voiced opposition to his agency's watchdogs, fixated on getting rid of those as he sees as Obama loyalists, who aren't sufficiently loyal to his administration.

TRUMP: Did I hear the word inspector general?


It's wrong and they'll talk to you about it. It's wrong.

MARQUARDT: It was the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, whose actions sparked what became the Ukraine investigation and then impeachment proceedings of the president. Last month, Atkinson too was fired.

In addition to Linick and Atkinson, last month, the Pentagon's acting inspector general, Glenn Fine, who was overseeing spending on coronavirus response, was removed from the top job. And two weeks ago, the official serving as watch dog of Health and Human Services was replaced after investigators found shortages of testing kits and masks along with delays and coronavirus test results.

TRUMP: Where did it come from, the inspector general? What's his name?

MARQUARDT: Three of the four were dismissed late on Friday night. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted the firing of Steve Linick, saying, it has accelerated Trump's dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people.

Linick will now be replaced by a veteran State Department official, Stephen Akard, who is a close ally of vice president Mike Pence.

Stephen Akard has been serving at the State Department as the Director of Foreign Missions. He's also served in a number of diplomatic posts around the world. He also worked with the vice president in Indiana when vice president Pence was the governor there.

There are now a growing number of Democrats coming out angrily against this move to replace Steve Linick with Akard. With the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs who oversees the State Department calling it outrageous -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: The hurricane season hasn't even officially begun yet but the first tropical storm of the year is churning in the Atlanta. Derek Van Dam joins me next with a look at tropical storm Arthur.



[05:50:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

ALLEN: A large fire and explosion injured at least 11 firefighters Saturday in downtown Los Angeles. You can see the plume of spoke towering into the sky. The fire department says there was a blast as crews were entering the building triggering a mayday call.

It took more than 230 firefighters to extinguish the flames. Four of the injured firefighters have been admitted to a burn intensive care unit. But they are all expected to survive.

We now have the first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, tropical storm Arthur has formed off of Florida's East Coast and the hurricane season hasn't started yet.



ALLEN: A beloved trailblazer in the United States television business has died. Phyllis George suffered for decades from a blood disorder before passing away at age 70. A self-described small-town girl, Georgia's piano-playing beauty and magnetic personality propelled her to the Miss America title in 1971.

She broke ground for women as a commentator in the male world of pro football and later became first lady of Kentucky. Her son and her daughter, CNN's own senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown, confirmed her death. They called her Hurricane Phil because of her boundless energy.

We have this just coming in to CNN, some good news for Spain. The country's health ministry says the number of daily deaths due to COVID-19 fell to 87 for the latest 24-hour period. That is the lowest figure in two full months and the first time in that period it's been below 100.

Thank you for watching this three hours of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen, please follow me on Twitter or Instagram. "NEW DAY" is next.