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White House Says Life Must Go On; Britain Promise to Fund Two Vaccine Programs; Rushing is Not a Good Idea; Italians Learned Their Lesson Well from COVID; Fed Chair Jay Powell Warns U.S. Recovery Could Take Until End of 2021; President Trump to Meet with Restaurant Industry Execs and Travel to Michigan; Japanese Economy Falls Into Recession; Pompeo Backs Away From Theory Virus Came From Wuhan Lab; U.S. Navajo Nation Hit Hard by Coronavirus Outbreak; After Three Elections and Political Deadlock, Israel Finally Swears In New Government; Cyclone Amphan at Super Typhoon Strength. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired May 18, 2020 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers here in the United States, and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom, and I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead, Texas prepares for more reopening measures in the hours ahead, despite some grim new figures. Plus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: The CDC, which had the most trusted brand around the world, in this space, really let the country down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Tension between the White House and the CDC over the agency's response to testing. And automakers prepare to restart U.S. operations. We look at the new safety measures they'll use.
Good to have you with us.
Well, as almost every U.S. state begins to ease COVID-19 restrictions, the number of infections are still climbing by thousands every day. Johns Hopkins University reports more than 1.4 million cases with the number of people killed approaching 90,000.
And new hotspots are emerging, especially in the west and south. But despite these sobering figures, the Trump administration is pushing ahead with trying to reopen the economy. Here is the Health and Human Services secretary on Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY, UNITED STATES HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: There
should not be one size fits all approach is to reopening, but reopen we must, because it's not health versus the economy, it's actually health versus health.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Azar also said that so far, the states reopening hasn't seen a spike in cases, but there are still gaps in testing, and of course, no vaccine.
CNN's Natasha Chen has this look at the difficult road to recovery.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At least 48 states will have partially reopen businesses or ease restrictions by tomorrow. And with it comes some familiar sites. NASCAR held a race with no spectators today. Graceland is inviting visitors back. But also, with it, troubling images of crowded bars, and boardwalks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It feels like a regular summer right now.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Tremendous progress is being made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: President Trump has encouraged reopening the country with or without a vaccine. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar explained.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AZAR: Everything does not depend on a vaccine. We are committed to delivering a vaccine, we're going to put the full power of the U.S. government on our private sector towards getting to a vaccine, but that's one part of a multifactorial response program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: One of the important factors, is expanding testing. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was tested during his live press conference today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): That's it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: New York is now conducting 40, 000 tests a day. Cuomo said, per capita, that's more than other countries. More testing is one of the reasons Texas says it saw the highest single day increase in cases since the shutdown began. And that has some officials in Texas wondering if they are on the wrong path. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D) AUSTIN, Texas: What we do know, based on our last six to eight weeks, is that if we are on the wrong path, we're going to be to react in time to fix it. And if that happens, I sure hope the governor is on board for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Georgia, one of the most aggressive in opening high contact businesses as early as three weeks ago, has not seen a dramatic spike in the seven-day average of daily cases, but there hasn't been a dramatic drop either. Wandie Bethune's family has been watching carefully, and didn't go out before this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANDIE BETHUNE, ATLANTA RESIDENT: It just didn't feel as if we were really ready, and I wanted to feel that the establishment were really taking the proper precautions.
ELAINA BETHUNE, WANDIE BETHUNE'S DAUGHTER: It's very scary, but it's kind of exciting and happy that kids can get go outside to some places that you enjoy again. But you also have to be very careful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: In New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, a fazed reopening did not begin until Friday and only in certain regions. The state seven-day average of daily new cases has been on an obvious downward slide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Total hospitalization is down. Good news. Net changes down. Intubations is down. And, new COVID hospitalizations are down. So, it's a good day across the plate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: California, the first to institute a statewide stay-at-home order, is seeing numbers fluctuate in the same zone but its budget deficit, like in many other states, is skyrocketing due to the pandemic. The house passed a $3 trillion aid package Friday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated would not pass the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The next time they want to salute and celebrate our heroes, our first responders, our police officers, and firefighters, I consider the fact that they are the first ones who will be laid off by cities and counties.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: A reality of uncertainty.
Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.
CHURCH: So, let's take a closer look now at Texas, which as you just heard, had its highest single day bump in positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the outbreak.
CNN's Ed Lavandera has more now on the reasons why.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This weekend, Texas reported its most dramatic increase in the number of new coronavirus cases, more than 1,800 cases reported on Saturday alone. On Sunday, those numbers dropped to 785 new cases, but if you take a closer look, that also came based on less than half the number of tests that were reported on Sunday.
So, if you do the math, it comes out to about the same percentage. And this really underscores this growing concern among especially many big city leaders here in the State of Texas as to whether or not the economy here is opening too fast, too soon.
State health officials say that the reason for the dramatic increase over the weekend was because of testing being done in the Texas Panhandle area, around Amarillo, where there are a number of meatpacking plants and workers who are infected there with the coronavirus.
State health officials say that there has been localized and focus testing on those areas, and that is in large part why we saw such a dramatic increase. Seventy hundred thirty-four of the 1,800 cases reported on Saturday, we are told, came from that Texas Panhandle region.
But as I mentioned, this is still an area of great concern as the governor here continues to push for the reopening of the economy, and it's hard to imagine barring any other jarring medical data that would be coming out here, that this plan to reopen the economy will not continue.
In fact, the governor has scheduled a press conference for Monday, announcing more re-openings on the same day that gyms and workout facilities will be allowed to reopen for the first time as well since this pandemic started.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.
CHURCH: And the United States, by far, remains the pandemic's worst hit country, but President Trump insists on touting his administration's response. One of his top advisers is also attacking the Centers for Disease Control, as CNN's Jeremy Diamond reports.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it would be remarkable at any moment for a top White House official to criticize a government agency, but particularly remarkable when it's a senior White House official who is criticizing the Centers for Disease Control amid a global pandemic.
But this is exactly what we heard from Peter Navarro, President Trump's top trade adviser, who criticize the CDC on Sunday for its early testing failures.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAVARRO: Early on in this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world, in this space, really let the country down with the testing. Because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test. And that did set us back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: Now Navarro is actually right in his criticism here that the CDC made critical mistakes early on, that delayed the release of accurate testing kits across the country for several weeks. But of course, that was just one of several early missteps by the Trump administration, so the question is, why is Navarro singling out the CDC?
But and what we do know, is that it comes as there are rising tensions between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control. Part of that tension stems from some disagreements over how the CDC is tracking data related to this virus.
But then, there is also those detailed guidelines, 68 pages of guidelines, that CDC officials compiled for how businesses and states can begin to reopen. The White House shelved those plans, instead releasing just six pages of far less detailed guidelines last week.
Now, as there is some internal firing in the Trump administration, we are also hearing some criticism from a very prominent voice on the outside, and that is the former President Barack Obama, who we know, just a week ago had been criticizing President Trump's response to the coronavirus as anemic, and spotty, calling it an absolutely chaotic disaster. He offered some more criticism, this time publicly during an address to graduates on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: More than anything, this pandemic is 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: President Trump over the last week has been repeatedly attacking former President Obama, leveling a series of unsubstantiated allegations against him including suggesting that he was part of a conspiracy to try and undermine his presidency in the early days against for which we do not have evidence to back up those claims.
[03:10:01] President Trump did respond directly to that criticism from President Obama on Sunday afternoon, all he had to say though, was that President Obama was grossly incompetent as president.
Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: Joining me now is Dr. Richard Dawood, he is the medical director of the Fleet Street Clinic in London. Good to have you with us, doctor.
RICHARD DAWOOD, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, FLEET STREET CLINIC: Good to be with you.
CHURCH: So, we just heard a top White House adviser accused the CDC of letting the country down on testing, and the CDC did send out contaminated tests that resulted in weeks of delays. But President Trump hasn't shown much interest in providing widespread testing, so why would the Trump administration suddenly turn on its own federal public health agency?
DAWOOD: Well, I don't really know how to answer you. I think over many, many years the CDC has been a highly respected source of medical and infectious disease leadership globally. It has enjoyed the respect of all of us around the globe.
I think if one thought getting into a blame game it would be very reasonable to examine how the Trump administration most, you know, toyed with the funding of the CDC and undermined it perhaps, over time, perhaps, not realizing that global health is really a matter for us all, something that goes on a distant country, eventually comes back to bite us.
And it's very important for health agencies in every country to have regard for good science, good infrastructure, good epidemiological intelligence that's global and not just focused inwardly. So, one could look past the new resources that the CDC had.
The CDC did a remarkable thing in introducing testing and the infrastructure as quickly as it did. And this is mirrored by what happened in many other countries that are set as scientific challenge as soon as the Chinese government, as soon as Chinese scientific researchers released the genome sequence of the coronavirus in the very earliest days and translate that directly from a genetic sequence, a molecular test is actually a remarkable achievement, and it's astonishing that it was done as quickly and as well, as it was done.
And it's not surprising that there must have been a few hiccups along the way. You can't expect a straight-line success in every measure that's attempted.
DAWOOD: However, I think that leadership, a true leadership involves building a team around you and maximizing the inputs and contribution from each member of that team. CHURCH: And increased tension between the Trump administration and
the CDC appears to be due, in part, to how quickly the U.S. is opening up for business. About 48 states are now partially open without extensive testing and contact tracing and place. And with only 17 states or so, actually showing cases decreasing.
So, President Trump insists the U.S. us back, vaccine or no vaccine. How problematic could all this be with more than 89,000 Americans already dead from COVID-19?
DAWOOD: There's enormous global pressure to reopen of the lockdown. And it's totally understandable. We all want to get back to normality that's an economic imperative, there is a social imperative, there's even a health imperative because we are losing lives not just from coronavirus, but from all of the medical conditions that people are holding back from seeking treatment for.
So, what we need to look also not just to coronavirus death, but the years lost through people failing to report symptoms that they might not think are important initially but they're truly are. What we need is for lockdown to be released in a way that allows us to monitor whether there is any increase in the number of cases beyond the ability of a health system to cope.
And so, it needs to be carefully monitored with the ability to scale it back a little or to control the rate of release from lockdown, so that we don't face a much bigger and more damaging peak that would require even more restrictive measures in the future.
CHURCH: Yes, that is the big fear, isn't it? Of course, we will all have to learn to live with COVID-19 until there is a vaccine. But the U.S. business secretary and the WHO are now saying there may never be a vaccine. But President Trump says there could be one by years end. What do you think?
DAWOOD: I think that there is an enormous complexity around creating a vaccine. This is not something that somebody is going to go into a lab with and suddenly come out and say, you know, eureka, I discovered it. You know, here it is.
The process of developing a vaccine normally requires years of effort to come up with something that is capable of provoking an immune response to test its safety, to understand its effectiveness. No vaccine is going to be 100 percent effective, it may not work in people with the reduce immune system, for example.
Then, to scale up its production to -- the production of a vaccine is an incredibly frail and fragile and vulnerable process. We see this every year with problems producing our annual flu vaccine. We see it with vaccine shortages around the globe where it's more like baking a cake than a chemical process where you can churn out, you know, millions of tablets, or millions of doses.
It's a fragile process, it requires good -- many different components, glassware, the needles, the packaging, it needs to be distributed into cold chain, its temperature needs to be maintained all the way through. It is not a trivial task to administer a new vaccine to millions of people that requires creating an infrastructure. It will require massive teamwork across medicine and across many other different disciplines.
It will be important to begin laying that infrastructure from that. It is an enormous challenge. There is going to be difficulty doing it in an equitable way within each country and between countries, we don't know which countries even have to -- well, we do know that many countries do not have a vaccine producing capability that need to be a way of knowing who to target as well for the vaccine.
CHURCH: Let's hope it happens sooner rather than later, but many challenges clearly. Doctor, thank you so much for talking with us. I appreciate it.
DAWOOD: Thank you.
CHURCH: And you are watching CNN Newsroom. Coming up, Britain pledges another $100 million to the search for a coronavirus vaccine. But also, issues a warning, we may never find one. We're live in London.
CHURCH: Hospital workers in Belgium turned their backs on the prime minister's car as she arrived for a visit. They are upset with the government's handling of the coronavirus, as well as budget cuts, personnel shortages, and low salaries.
And a top British government official says it's possible we may never find a successful coronavirus vaccine. Business Secretary Alok Sharma pledged another $101 million of funding to two U.K.-based vaccine programs. This as Britain's death toll rose by another 170 on Friday.
CNN's Isa Soares joins me now live from London. Good to see you, Isa. So, the U.K. government allocating these additional funds for vaccine, but at the same time, warning one may never come. What might this lowering of expectations signal?
ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Very good morning to you, Rosie. That's right. We heard from Alok Sharma yesterday at the coronavirus press briefing and he said that basically the U.K. is throwing everything it can at trying to find a vaccine for COVID-19.
Two programs are working and some are working better than others, the first one is the Oxford University, one that's progressing well. Clinical trials have started that, over 1,000 participants have got their vaccine a week ago or so. So that's going well on that front.
At the same time, we have another Imperial College, London who is also doing well and trying to find a vaccine here. Their clinical trials expected to start around June. Now, the Oxford University trials, they have signed -- the Oxford
University have signed an agreement with the government, as well as with the AstraZeneca, the huge pharmaceutical giant, an agreement, a licensing agreement in fact, which means that if, and it's a big if, if a vaccine is successful, then the U.K. will get 30 million doses of the vaccine by September.
Now, some of the newspapers here are already running with that, getting people's expectations up. Thirty by -- 30 million by September with an agreed plan for a 100 million doses. The CEO of AstraZeneca has said that they should know by June, July, whether these trials have been successful.
But like you clearly said, Alok Sharma really tried to taper down expectations, that while they're every -- they're throwing everything they can at this, that they may not find a vaccine. And this is important. Because people need, of course, they need to tell people, show people that they are pushing hard and trying to find a vaccine in every way possible.
The U.K. is doing everything it can. But it also, of course, the government doesn't want people to get too relaxed, Rosie, and just believe that they have cure up their sleeve. And so, people all ignore some of the measures that's been put in place, Rosie.
CHURCH: Yes, I would have thought the response would be opposite to that, but you know, that's just me. But, Isa, also, a new survey says that half of the doctors in the U.K. are concerned about catching COVID-19. What else are you learning about that?
SOARES: Yes, this is a survey from the Royal College of Physicians here in the U.K., more than 25,000 doctors were questioned, surveyed here over the last several weeks.
And they found half of them, almost half of the, 48 percent, I think we got a graph to show you, 48 percent were concerned, or very concerned about contracting COVID-19. That number rose quite significant, Rosie, when you talked about those of black, Asian, or ethnic minorities to 76 percent. And 16 and a -- 16.5 percent of doctors have found themselves in a situation when they haven't been able to get access to PPE.
Now, the CEO, the president, of the Royal Physicians, basically said while some people believe things are doing well on the front line, things are moving along, the morale is good, this shows that in fact, this isn't the case. Yes, testing has improved but they are still taking time to get access, to get results to the testing.
So, a way to go, but clearly, huge concerns for those on the front line. Worth reminding everyone, more than 100 medical staff at the NHS have died with COVID-19, Rosie.
CHURCH: Yes. They are very sobering numbers. Isa Soares joining us live from London. Many thanks. And Italy is slowly emerging from more than two months in lockdown.
Shops, restaurants and hair salons can reopen today. But they have to maintain strict sanitary protocols and enforce social distancing.
On Sunday, Italy recorded its lowest daily increase in death since early March. The number of active cases is down too. Even so, the prime minister warns that reopening is a, quote, "calculated risk."
So, let's get the latest now from Barnie Nadeau. She joins us live from Rome. Good to see you, Barbie. So, Italy cautiously opening up, what is the mood there as people prepare for their new normal?
BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, there are a lot of people in movement, a lot of people on the streets, there was a lot of traffic this morning, but we're not seeing a huge rush to start right away.
You know, the shops will be opening here in the next hour or so, the coffee bar is you can go inside and take your coffee. Tonight, restaurants will be able to serve at tables. All of those sorts of things which are very, very normal in this country are so daunting right now. People are so concerned about going back to where we were, about a second wave, about contagion.
Italians are very, very aware of what they've just been through, and the sacrifices so many have made economically with more than 31,000 deaths. And nobody wants to go back to that place. So, everybody is very cautious, very excited, but it's a daunting thing to start over like this. And everyone is taking it very, very seriously so far, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes. It is smart to be cautious. Barbie Nadeau, many thanks for bringing us that live report from Rome.
Well carmakers have taken a big hit from the coronavirus pandemic, but now U.S. auto plants are beginning to crank back up. The measures in place as thousands are set to return to work. Back with that in just a moment.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. Federal Reserve chairman is giving a sobering reality check on the health of the U.S. economy. Here is what he said in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: This economy will recover. It may take a while. It may take a period of time. It could stretch through the end of next year. We really don't know.
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Can there be a recovery without a reasonably effective vaccine?
POWELL: Assuming there is not a second wave of the coronavirus, I think you will see the economy recover steadily through the second half of this year. For the economy to fully recover, people will have to be fully confident, and that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump is set to meet with leaders of the restaurant industry, which has been one of the hardest hit sectors of the U.S. economy. Among other things, they are expected to talk about government stimulus efforts.
Mr. Trump is also expected to travel to swing state Michigan this week to visit a Ford manufacturing plant. The company is among several major automakers reopening their U.S. facilities today. New safety measures are being put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
CNN's Anna Stewart joins me now. Good to see you, Anna. It's been tough, of course, for carmakers, isn't it? But now, some are reopening. How are they doing this?
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Very slowly and very carefully, Rosemary. So, we won't see everyone returning to work at the same time. About 80 percent of Ford's workforce will be back to work today and about third General Motors and Chrysler.
As you said, there will be new safety procedures in place. This will be very time consuming. They will slow down production. You can't have as many shifts working at the same time. There needs to be time to do deep cleaning between different teams working.
It goes right through the production process, even to the canteen. You can't have everyone arriving for lunch at the same time, sitting together. It needs to be staggered. People need to sit farther apart. So there will be a huge impact on how many cars they can produce each day, of course, and not everyone is back just yet. It will take a few weeks to get back to normal. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yeah. Of course, that means factories won't be running full capacity. But even if they could, would they be able to sell enough cars?
STEWART: Such an interesting question. Even if you can get everyone back into those factories and even if you can sell as many cars as you would like to, you actually face problems with supply chains. Lots of supplies aren't open yet in the United States and also in Mexico, which is a crucial market.
And then, of course, there is a demand side of things. Could you sell enough cars? Do people want to buy cars? New car sales in the U.S. are down some 50 percent in April, according to some estimates. Not as bad in Europe. In U.K, sales were down 97 percent in April. But the recovery will be slow. You got to take into account the huge surge in unemployment, the very real risk of a prolonged recession. People, frankly, will be unwilling to spend on big ticket items in the foreseeable future. So, it is unlikely we will see demand to recover for some time. This could linger long beyond lockdown. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yeah, that is tough. All right, Anna Stewart, joining us there from London, many thanks to you.
Meanwhile, Japan is also facing a harsh economic reality. First quarter GDP data shows the country has fallen into a recession. For more on that, I'm joined by journalist Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo. Good to see you, Kaori. So, what is the impact of this? What is the plan in Japan?
KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST, CNBC TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF: Well, it means that Japan's economy was doing very poorly, even before the full effect of the pandemic hit. I mean, the first three quarters of this year, the economy was contracting at a pace of 0.9 percent on the quarter. Annualized, that's a drop of 3.4 percent.
The news is going to get worse. Economists are saying that in this quarter, the one we're in right now, the economy could tank 20, 25 percent, I'm hearing from some research houses. And that hasn't happened since the end of the Second World War.
The government is responding and saying, look, we're going throw $1.1 trillion worth of stimulus. They've already announced that and they're probably going to top it up over the next two weeks because they know that it's not just the small retailers that are hurting. The restaurants and so forth have been forced to close, but the big manufacturers, as well.
The numbers are fairly obvious. When you look at manufacturing, when you look at exports, it took a hit because the supply chains were being disrupted all around the world and then demand dried up. And in an effort to try to address a little bit of that, there's been a fine print in the stimulus that says the Japanese government is willing to spend billions of dollars to pay for the cost of moving production out of China and back into Japan.
I think, Rosemary, normal times, there would be a lot of criticism about this kind of news, saying it's naturalistic, it's protectionist. But, right now, we're in a very unusual time and they're arguing this is for the sake of national security.
So I think this is an interesting development given that we're hearing similar rhetoric from the U.S. trying to reduce their dependency on China. I think decoupling is a dream. But, as you know, diversification might be on the cards.
CHURCH: Yeah. As you say, the U.S. has been talking about reducing dependency on China for manufacturing. You're saying Japan has voiced that possibility but how viable is it really?
ENJOJI: I mean, it has made it very clear, that they want manufacturing, some of the manufacturing to come home. I mean, I think talking about auto industry and bringing those factories here is very unrealistic. I mean, you'll never be able to do that kind of thing.
But for specific industries like AI, for example, or 3D printing or robotics, these are areas that there's a lot of technical expertise here in Japan and you don't need a huge facility to make some of those products. So, that could be a possibility.
I'm already hearing some large companies take up the government on this scheme. So, I think an entire decoupling is really not what we're talking about right now, but diversification, I think, definitely could be encouraged when Japanese companies are faced with this kind of situation, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Pandemic has certainly made a number of countries rethink their dependence on China. Kaori Enjoji, many thanks to you for joining us. Appreciate it.
In Washington, the U.S. secretary of state is backing away from a theory he and President Trump pushed, that the virus may have come from a lab in Wuhan, China. Mike Pompeo says the U.S. is still certain that the pandemic began in that city, but doesn't know exactly where it started or from whom. Steven Jiang has more details.
STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: The Chinese government and state media are very much going to seize upon the latest remarks by Mr. Pompeo as further proof that he is, in their words, a pathological liar who is trying to smear China and shift blame away from the U.S. government.
Now, this particular claim that this virus was leaked from a Wuhan lab has been disputed by experts and scientists from around the world. There's not even a great amount of consensus among U.S. Intelligence officials themselves or those from its closest allies.
These are the points the Chinese government has been trying to highlight increasingly. They're also trying to turn the tables on the U.S., pointing to the U.S. own past lapses in biosafety, sometimes going all the way back to the Korean War, and saying it's the U.S. government that should investigated by the international community, especially with reports emerging from the U.S. and Europe about first coronavirus cases in these places may have occurred even before Wuhan.
This kind of rhetoric comes amid growing international calls for independent inquiry on the origin of the pandemic and very much interpreted here as a move against China. That's why Chinese officials have been pushing back very strongly, saying this is not a time to do so as most governments are still fighting this pandemic.
They say the appropriate time for such an investigation is after the pandemic is over. That's when the international community can sit down to review their experiences and shortcomings as well as discuss ways for more international cooperation and to enhance the role of the WHO.
Now, all this, of course, as China continues to report small increase of cases on a daily basis. On Monday, they announced seven more cases in the previous 24-hour cycle.
JIANG: Three of which were locally transmitted, not in Wuhan though. Two of which were in the northeastern province of Jilin where we have seen a new cluster of cases as well as a mystery patient zero in addition to a very draconian lockdown measures now. But the third locally transmitted cases happened in Shanghai, involving someone from Wuhan.
That's why the Wuhan authorities are continuing their very ambitious endeavor of testing the city's 11 million residents with a bit more clarity on this process, saying this is not mandatory, but everyone above the age of six is strongly encouraged to be tested. And if you don't hear from the government, you're fine. If you are positive, then you will be hearing from the authorities.
Although they still haven't said how they are going to announce citywide results, what timeframe and in what manner, this is something obviously the whole world is watching very closely. Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing.
CHURCH: Thanks, Steven. Crowded cities aren't the only coronavirus hotspots. In the Southwestern United States, the Navajo Nation is dealing with infection rates that rival New York's. That story, after the break.
CHURCH: The Navajo Nation in the Southwestern United States has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. After a dramatic spike in infection rates, tribal authorities have posed a strict lockdown in an attempt to control the virus. Sara Sidner is there and has this report.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in the Navajo Nation, masks are required when you're in public and they now have some of the strictest stay-at-home rules in America. They are just finishing a 57- hour lockdown. That means no one was supposed to go anywhere. Stores were closed, including grocery stores and gas stations. Why is that? It is because they are having a serious bout with COVID-1919.
SIDNER: They had a spike this weekend. More than a dozen people reported dead and there are now 3,900 people who have tested positive here. That means that their rate per capita is now higher than New York and New Jersey. But there is another reason for that.
JONATHAN NEZ, PRESIDENT OF NAVAJO NATION: We do have to leave our homestead to get food and supplies and then come back home. And so that's one of the reasons why this virus is spreading like wildfire here on the Navajo Nation.
SIDNER: So the Navajo Nation is aggressively testing, and they are telling people to stay home as much as possible, but it is very difficult because the entire Navajo Nation spans about 27,000 square miles. While it might seem easy for people to self-isolate or self- distance, it isn't because they all have to go shopping at many of the same stores. The resources here are very few and far between.
And there is the issue of resources at home, where 30 to 40 percent of the population does not have running water. And if someone does get coronavirus in a family, they often live with generations of families living in one household. So, it is very difficult to self-isolate. That is what is causing some of the problems with the spread of the virus here.
The president has asked the citizens to take on this very rigid measure. Every night during the week at 8 o'clock, there is a curfew. And on the weekends, they are now doing full-on lockdowns. About 80 percent of the population is complying. He is hoping that many more will to try to stop the spread of this virus. Sara Sidner, CNN, Navajo Nation.
CHURCH: It has taken three elections and a year of political paralysis, but Israel finally has a new government. The question now, will this unity coalition hold? We will discuss that right after a short break.
CHURCH: After three elections in the span of 12 months, Israel finally has a new government. On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in for the fifth time as Israel's prime minister. The vote of confidence for his coalition government ended more than a year of political deadlock. His rival turned partner, Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, was sworn in as alternate prime minister.
Let's get to CNN's Oren Liebermann, who joins us, live from Jerusalem. Oren, how is this new arrangement going to work exactly?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, the idea is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be -- will lead the country for the next 18 months, then he will become the alternate prime minister, and that is when Benny Gantz will take over, and he will take over for another period of 18 months.
There are plenty of political analysts who simply don't believe that Netanyahu will ever give up his seat or will ever leave his seat. But once he is out here, since it is written in the coalition agreement, well, for Netanyahu, he has 18 months to figure that out. Of course, it depends a lot on what the political situation is at the time.
Meanwhile, this is the largest and perhaps most bloated government in Israel's history with 34 ministers and deputy ministers, and that set to go up to 36 fairly soon. This has become an ongoing joke in Israel where, for example, one of the new ministries created for this government is the ministry of higher education and water.
One political analyst joking here that they should make it the ministry of hot water and cold water so that there are even more ministries to dole out. So not all Israelis are happy with the formation and the look of this new government right now, especially with double digit unemployment here.
CHURCH: Yeah, it's been a long time coming, of course, and it comes a week before Mr. Netanyahu is due to appear in court for the start of his trial on bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges. What impact could that possibly have on the new government?
LIEBERMANN: So if the trial goes very poorly for Netanyahu, it could create political pressure within the coalition to topple Netanyahu and perhaps even to take the country to new elections. But Netanyahu knew this trial was coming, of course, he's had years to prepare for it, and the trial itself is expected to last years.
Because of that, he has written into the coalition agreement itself, the agreement with Benny Gantz, a number of protections for himself in this case. So he is quite stable, even with the start of the trial less than a week away. And even if day one is next Sunday, this trial is expected to take years. All of that works into Netanyahu's advantage in this case.
CHURCH: All right. We'll see what happens. Oren Liebermann, bringing us that live report from Jerusalem, many thanks.
Cyclone Amphan is getting bigger and tracking north through the Bay of Bengal. The massive storm is now packing winds of nearly 150 miles an hour or 240 kilometers per hour. According to the latest update from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Amphan is now equivalent to a super typhoon in the West Pacific or a strong Category Four Atlantic hurricane.
CNN's Pedram Javaheri is tracking the storm. He joins us now with the latest. How bad could this be, Pedram?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Rosemary, you said it very well when it comes to the sheer size of this particular storm system. I was just looking at some of the observations across the Bay of Bengal, maximum wave heights with this storm at 51 feet, so if you could imagine a wave five storeys high or 15 meters high.
The storm system is as menacing as they come across the Bay of Bengal. Of course, when you measure the size of it, the cloud field stretches about twice the size of the state of Texas. So it really speaks to the ferocity of a storm system of this magnitude, super typhoon equivalent, as you mentioned, Category 4 or major hurricane equivalent on the cusp of becoming Category 5.
I want to show you where the storm system is headed, because when you look ahead over the next 24 or so hours, the model suggests the storm gradually migrates towards the north, only five mile per hour progressions. A very slow-moving system, which in and of itself is a dangerous track for the storm.
And then you notice the approach. Wednesday afternoon, Wednesday night, approaches the West Bengal region, areas of Bangladesh, Kolkata, one of those areas, home to some 14 million people and extremely vulnerable when it comes to not only a low-lying landscape but very poor infrastructure to be able to take on a storm of any magnitude, especially one as menacing as Amphan at this hour.
JAVAHERI: I want to talk about the population density of Bangladesh in particular. Take the United States population, 328 million. Bangladesh population, by contrast, is 170 million. Now, Bangladesh, roughly the size of the U.S. state of Iowa, so it kind of speaks to, again, how densely packed this area is when you bring a storm of this magnitude.
It certainly has what it takes here to become a major, major developing situation here once it makes landfall on Wednesday into Thursday. Bangladesh, home to some 700 rivers and tributaries, 2,400 kilometers of waterways, and of course home of the seven of the top 10 deadliest cyclones on record have all occurred whether it be in Bangladesh or in Myanmar.
You will notice that the deadliest cyclone ever observed on our planet was a storm by the name of Bhola in 1970, took with it a half a million lives in one night. You think that was long ago. Technology has advanced preparations, certainly advanced not necessarily the case in this part of the world.
Just go back to 12 years ago, Nargis, Cyclone Nargis in 2008, in one night took within 138,000 lives as that storm came ashore, certainly a story worth following here within the next several days.
I want to show you what is happening off the east coast of the United States. By contract, a much, much smaller system here, a tropical storm by the name of Arthur, the first named storm of the season. Season officially starts in a couple of weeks. Six consecutive years, we've had storms move towards the United States before the season officially arrived.
You notice officials take this very seriously, tropical storm warnings in place, but the models do suggest, so push offshore and away from the United States. So, some heavy rainfall, some dangerous rip currents across the coast, but that's about it. It looks to be the case at least for Arthur here across the United States. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right. Well, that ends well, doesn't it? Pedram Javaheri, many thanks to you for bringing us those details. Appreciate it. Thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Do stay with us.