Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Says World Health Organization is a Puppet of China; What is WHO's Role in Coronavirus Fight; Trump Explains Why He Fired State Department Inspector General; U.K. Expands Testing to Anyone Age 5+ with Symptoms; Trial Tests if Dogs Can Smell COVID-19 in Humans; Native Americans Among Most Vulnerable to virus. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 19, 2020 - 04:30   ET




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I think they've done a very sad job in the last period of time and, again, the United States pays them $450 million a year. China pays them $38 million a year and they're a puppet of China. They're China-centric, to put it nicer but they're a puppet of China.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: And now in the midst of this global pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump is threatening to pull the U.S. out of the World Health Organization and he's threatening to permanently freeze U.S. funding unless the group makes major improvements within 30 days. He posted this letter to the organization on Twitter, again accusing the W.H.O. of being too closely aligned with China. Here's a look back at other attacks he's made.


TRUMP: We will look at ending funding, yes. They seem to be very China-centric. That's a nice way of saying it. But they seem to be very China-centric. They seem to error always on the side of China and we fund it.

Had the W.H.O. done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China's lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source.


CHURCH: Joining me now is CNN medical analyst Dr. Celine Gounder. Good to have you with us.


So the opening of the W.H.O. annual assembly Monday, China's President Xi Jinping agreed under pressure to back a W.H.O. led review of the coronavirus pandemic. And China also contributed $2 billion to help World Health Organizations, certainly to help developing nations in their fight against the pandemic. In exchange Taiwan will be side lined. What is your reaction to all of this?

GOUNDER: I think it's important to remember, Rosemary, what the role of the World Health Organization is. It's not the CIA or FBI. It's not meant to be an investigative organization. It's also not an organization that has the capacity like organizations like (INAUDIBLE) NSF and others to actually deploy people on the ground to respond to a crisis. They're really in the business of setting guidelines, analyzing the science, making recommendations, providing technical assistance. And so, you know, I think they're getting sucked into a position that is just not consistent with their mission and their expertise and their capacity.

CHURCH: And what do you mean by that?

GOUNDER: Well, what I mean by that is they're a scientific organization that is meant to analyze the science and make recommendations to different countries about what their response might be, what the standards should be. That's very different from trying to police member nations about what they're actually doing on the ground.

CHURCH: And, of course, all of this comes as President Trump stopped U.S. funding for the W.H.O. this means the U.S. has no voice on these matters going forward. What could be the consequences of this? And particularly when the other side of the equation we see China stepping up with its $2 billion money -- with its contribution.

GOUNDER: Right. Well I think the United States, and not just with respect to the World Health Organization, but in terms of leadership on the world stage has really abdicated its role as a leader and it's pursued very isolationist types of policies. And so, when you do that, you do leave a vacuum for others who step in and you may not like who steps into that vacuum. But unfortunately, we have not been meeting our obligations, whether it's with respect to funding or support for the World Health Organization and other such multi-lateral organizations. And so, that really does mean that we as a country have less of a voice and less of a role in determining the outcome here.

CHURCH: And why do you think the W.H.O. is appeasing China by acquiescing, as it has, to Beijing, not inviting Taiwan to the World Health Assembly?

GOUNDER: Well, you know, you have to look at who's funding their budgets. Who's allowing their business to move on, to do their job. And so if the very person who's paying you to do your work is making certain demands or requests of you, you know, I think most of us understand the psychology behind that, that you may not really have a choice at that point.

CHURCH: So how do you make this work and what do you feel the W.H.O. has gotten right so far? And what has it gotten wrong?

[04:05:00] And how do you stop the W.H.O. from being pulled in all different directions? Because it does need funds from countries that can afford money like $2 billion, like 500 million?

GOUNDER: Well, I think, one, you have to start by recognizing what the mission of the World Health Organization is, what its job is, and if it can't do everything that we want it to do, whose job is it to do those things? I think the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was a great example of that. Where we look to the W.H.O. to really be the service provider on the ground, and that's not what they do. At least not what they do now. And so that would require tremendously more funding to build up that kind of capacity. So I think we have to be very clear about what their job is and if there are gaps, who's going to fill that. And maybe it's them, maybe it's not.

CHURCH: All right, Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you so much for talking with us.

GOUNDER: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Well, President Trump is explaining in his own unique way why he fired a government watchdog. The State Department's Inspector General was investigating if U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a staffer running personal errands for him including walking his dog and picking up his dry cleaning. But here's why the president says he fired him.


TRUMP: So I don't know him, never heard of him but they asked me to terminate him. I have the absolute right as President to terminate. I said who appointed him? They said President Obama. I said, look, I'll terminate him. I was happy to do it. Mike requested that I do it. He should have done it a long time ago in my opinion. He's an Obama appointment and he had some difficulty. I don't know who he is. I really -- I don't know. I never heard his name.


CHURCH: Pompeo was also under investigation over an accelerated arms deal with Saudi Arabia. CNN's Alex Marquardt picks up the story.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been accused of refusing to sit down for an interview in an investigation by the recently fired Inspector General for the State Department, Steve Linick. Linick as far as we know was carrying out at least two investigations into Secretary Pompeo, the one that he was just wrapping up had to do with $8 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Linick was investigating Pompeo role in fast tracking that arms deal to Saudi Arabia.

At the time last year, the Trump administration had declared an emergency in order to circumvent Congress which had blocked armed sales to Saudi Arabia because of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Now Secretary Pompeo was asked about the firing of Linick.

He did not give an exact reason for why it was carried out but told "The Post" I went to the President and made clear to him that Inspector General Linick wasn't performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to that was additive for the State Department.

Now there's also a second investigation Linick was carrying out, one of a more personal nature. He was investigating whether Secretary Pompeo had used a political employee for personal tasks, including walking his dog, making a dinner reservation and picking up dry cleaning. And Democrats in both the House and the Senate have launched an investigation into the firing to determine whether or not it was legal.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: The British government is ramping up testing for the coronavirus and updating its official list of possible symptoms. So who's included under the new guidelines? We'll look at that next.



CHURCH: A bleak milestone for Brazil. The country now has the third highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. And more deaths than any other Latin American country. Brazil reported 647 new deaths Monday bringing the number of people killed up to nearly 17,000. This as Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attended a large rally outside of his official residence on Sunday wearing a mask but stopping to shake the hands of supporters and carry children in his arms.

Well, the U.K. is expanding efforts to test and identify those with for the coronavirus. The British Health Secretary announced Monday that anyone experiencing symptoms whose age 5 or older is now eligible for a test. The U.K. has recruited more than 21,000 people to work as contact tracers manually tracking down those who may have been exposed to the virus. Also, the loss of the sense of smell or taste has been added to the government's official list of COVID-19 symptoms.

So let's go to CNN's Anna Stewart. She joins us now live from London. Good to see you, Anna. So how will this new expanded testing and tracing work exactly? And what about those showing no symptoms? Will they still not get access to testing?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: You're right, they won't get access to testing, not at this stage. So people may have the virus asymptomatically but be traveling around without knowing it, possibly spreading it. However, this is a significant ramp up in testing from the U.K. government. They've come under a lot of fire for not testing enough. Up to this point only those who are very vulnerable, elderly, those on the front lines have been able to get a test if they have any symptoms. Now anyone over the age of five can. The government is directing people to use their website. And they can either get a home kit sent out to them or they can go to a drive through center.

This is really a dual sided strategy. The other side of this, as you mentioned, is contact tracing. Really crucial. So the government knows not only who has the virus right now but who have they been in touch with in the last few days. Now they been developing this app that will enable them to contact trace. They been trying it out in the Isle of Wight. Now that app was meant to roll out nationwide by mid-May but it looks like that is going to be delayed. The app doesn't appear to be ready yet. So ramping up of testing, not yet really ready on the whole contract tracing element. The U.K. is getting there but very, very slowly -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Anna Stewart, many thanks for bringing us up to date on that situation from London. Appreciate it.

Well, Native American communities are being hit especially hard by the coronavirus. So what's causing this? We will hear from some of the people personally affected by this crisis. That's next.


KELLY MANUELITO, NURSE, REHOBOTH MCKINLEY CHRISTIAN HOSPITAL: It's really hard for them to get the care they need if they need to be intubated. They've got to have someone transport them from a facility to like Albuquerque, Phoenix is where we're starting to send people because our ICU is only eight beds.




CHURCH: Well the fight against COVID-19 might look a bit furry in the future. A trial is underway in the U.K. to see is six specially trained dogs can sniff out the virus early before symptoms appear. CNN's Max Foster has our report,


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This dog has been trained to detect prostate cancer. She's presented with urine samples and rewarded when she identifies the correct one. This dog is able to identify the odor of malaria sufferers. The next mission here is to train dogs to sniff out people infected with COVID-19.

DR. STEVE LINDSAY, PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGICAL AND BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES , DUNHAM UNIVERSITY: The way we're going to do that is by collecting using facemasks, and we're asking people to wear these facemasks for a few hours. Then we carefully collect those and the other thing we're going to do is get people to wear nylon socks. That sounds a bit strange, but we know from our previous experience that this is a really good way of collecting odors from people and it's such an easy way to do it.

FOSTER: If the training is successful, one of their first deployments is likely to be airports where dogs are already used to sniff out drugs and other contraband. If they help reopen the travel industry, that could be the boost to international trade that governments everywhere have been looking for.

Max Foster, CNN, outside London.



CHURCH: And we have been reporting recently about a mysterious condition that seems to be affecting children after a bout with COVID- 19. CNN's Don Lemon spoke to 14-year-old jack McMorrow who battled multi-system inflammatory syndrome. Just take a listen to how Jack and his father described the symptoms.


JOHN MCMORROW, SON HOSPITALIZED FOR SYMPTOMS LINKED TO CORONAVIRUS: He didn't express any of those symptoms. I thought it was a slight fever, maybe a slight irritation. He had a rash on his hands and we dismissed it evenly. We spoke to his pediatrician and he gave us some antibiotics. He had a slight fever but within five days it blew up to be a lot more than that. He has everything that you see in the symptoms that they have now for the inflammatory diseases.

JACK MCMORROW, HOSPITALIZED WITH SYMPTOMS LINKED TO CORONAVIRUS: I woke up, I couldn't move anything even for others to move my limbs at all. It was just painful. And the only way I could describe it was that it felt like almost electricity or fire coursing through my veins.


CHURCH: And this new COVID-19 related illness has affected at least 100 children in the United States.

And the coronavirus is ravaging Native American community, especially the Navajo Nation which has the highest infection rate per capita in the entire U.S. With 69 additional cases reported Monday. The Navajo Nation now has more than 4,000 cases. The virus has killed at least 142 people in the community. Limited access to health care, cramped living conditions and a lack of running water in many places have contributed to the devastating impact.

CNN's Sara Sidner reports now from Arizona.


SARAH SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, the Navajo Nation is known for its exquisite landscapes and its resilient people. But their resilience is now being tested because COVID-19 is sweeping their nation.

SIDNER (voice-over): The beauty of the Navajo Nation masks the vengeance coronavirus has exacted on its people, even in the most remote places. In this household --

FELISITA JONES, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: Out of nowhere it came about and just ripped through us.

SIDNER: Felisita Jones is one of five people in her family who has contracted the virus that takes your breath away.

JONES: I would just go -- but I didn't want to go to the hospital.

SIDNER (on camera): How afraid were you when you realized that your mom had it, that your sisters had it, and then you had it?

JONES: I didn't want to leave my kids behind, because it hurt so much to feeling love for them. I have all together nine kids.

SIDNER (voice-over): She didn't want to go to the hospital because too many people she knows never made it back home alive.

(on camera): This is one of the hospitals where members of the Navajo Nation would be brought if they needed to be in an ICU, for example.

(voice-over): The nation's now recording nearly 4,000 COVID-19 cases in a population of 175,000, which means they surpass New York and now have the highest infection rate per capita in the U.S.

This is partly because the Navajo Nation says it's tested more people than any other state, 11 percent of its population. But unlike New York, just getting to a hospital with these kinds of resources can take hours.

KELLY MANUELITO, NURSE, REHOBOTH MCKINLEY CHRISTIAN HOSPITAL: It's really hard for them to get the care they need, if they need to be intubated. They've got to have someone transport them from a facility to like Albuquerque. Phoenix is where we're starting to send people because our ICU is only eight beds.

SIDNER (on camera): The Navajo Nation spans 27,000 square miles. There are no short distances here, which is one of the difficulties with getting resources to all of its people, with the exception of here. I'm standing in the Four Corners, where with one step, you can walk into four different states.

(voice-over): But, with the vast distances, self-distancing might seem easy. It isn't, because mostly everyone shops at the same stores.

JONATHAN NEZ, PRESIDENT, NAVAJO NATION: There are a lot of people living here.

SIDNER: The president of the Navajo Nation says infrastructure and resources long ago promised by the federal government were never realized. And now there's a perfect scenario for the virus to spread.

NEZ: Thirty, 40 percent of our citizens here on the Navajo Nation don't have the luxury of turning on a faucet.

SIDNER (on camera): They don't have running water? NEZ: They don't have running water.

SIDNER (voice-over): Also, generations of families often live in one home. So, if someone gets the virus, isolation is often impossible, never mind frequent handwashing.

NEZ: And we can change that with the help of the federal government.

SIDNER: For now, he's placed the strictness of measures on his people, 8:00 p.m. curfews on weekdays, and, on weekends, a 57-hour lockdown. Not even the gas stations are open. And their lucrative tourism and entire gaming industry are closed down until further notice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking more than tens of millions, not just amongst the gaming, not just amongst the tourism, but also all of our other enterprises throughout the Navajo Nation.

SIDNER: The COVID-19 battle Native Americans are facing is just like the rest of the nation, except, on their tribal lands, the suffering is more acute. Forty percent of families here already live below the poverty line.

So, when the tribal government traversed their nation handing out healthy food and bottled water:


SIDNER (on camera): Why is this important?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me to eat and my family to eat.

SIDNER (voice-over): The lines seemed endless. Many were gathering items to help others survive, like Felisita Jones, still self- quarantining after a bout with COVID.

(on camera): How are you feeling now?

JONES: Right now, I feel great.

SIDNER: She's happy because she survived, as many people will. But there is a real problem with the spread of the virus here and the President of the Navajo Nation had made an all call for help. And there have been organizations like Doctors Without Borders who have responded. They have a small team here. But we should mention, they started their first response to COVID-19 in the United States in New York -- Rosemary.


CHURCH: Thank you. Sara Sidner with that report.

Well a venue in Arkansas took the plunge to host one of the first concerts since the pandemic. And it was done coronavirus style. Everyone was required to wear a mask and have their temperature taken. The six feet social distancing rule was applied to seating. Some concert goers even paid extra for seats around them. And the facility had to be thoroughly sanitized. The owner says other venues from around the world have been reaching out for advice on how to hold a successful and safe event. How about that.

Thanks for your company. Do stay safe. I am Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is up next. You are watching CNN.