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President Trump Threatens To Permanently Pull WHO Funding; President Trump Announces He Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine; California Eases Counties' Reopening Requirements. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 19, 2020 - 05:30   ET



IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're in this strange situation where the U.S. -- President Trump is threatening to possibly withdraw completely from the World Health Organization, a part of the United Nations system that the U.S. played a big role in helping build after World War II.

And now, the Chinese government is defending the WHO from President Trump's criticisms. The spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said that U.S. politicians should stop, as he put it, playing the blame game and criticizing the WHO for trying to cover up for the Trump administration's own mistakes in dealing with the pandemic.

Meanwhile, President Trump, in his kind of point-by-point letter, does single out some real deficiencies that took place back in January when the coronavirus was only really kind of taking root in China and in that city of Wuhan.

There were contradictions. There were -- was a pattern of the Chinese government punishing doctors who tried to sound the alarm while the World Health Organization was celebrating what it described as Chinese transparency in dealing with the coronavirus. President Trump highlights that in his letter.

The World Health Organization director-general, on Monday, did concede that there was a need for a review of those first weeks and months, but at an appropriate time. And that echoes what the Chinese leader Xi Jinping said in an opening statement to the first day of the meeting of the World Health Assembly -- Laura and Christine.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ivan Watson. Thank you so much.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump touted the drug as a game-changer; medical studies said it was not. But the president says he's taking it anyway.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The frontline workers -- many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it.

REPORTER: You are taking hydroxychloroquine?

TRUMP: I'm taking it -- hydroxychloroquine.

REPORTER: When did you start?

TRUMP: Right now, yes.

REPORTER: Yes, when --

TRUMP: A couple of weeks ago I started taking it.

REPORTER: Why, sir?

TRUMP: Because I think it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories. And if it's not good, I'll tell you right --


ROMANS: The president's revelation that he's been prescribed the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine running counter to the scientific evidence. Several new studies have found it won't help and could even cause harm, like cardiac arrest.

JARRETT: The president's use of the drug sends a conflicting message to Americans looking for guidance right now so desperately since scientists are warning the drug could be counterproductive.

Overnight, the White House doctor weighed in. He wrote, in part, "After numerous discussions the president and I had regarding the evidence for and against the drug, the use of hydroxychloroquine -- we concluded the potential benefit from the treatment outweighed the risks."

ROMANS: All right. The United States reaching a number of milestones, both good and bad.

All 50 states now opening for business. The last two -- Massachusetts, where reopening is underway; and Connecticut, which enters phase one of its plan tomorrow. But, the national death rate remains stuck at painful levels.

JARRETT: Ninety thousand Americans have now died and the trend line is bending down very slowly. The cloud hanging over all of this progress, the rate of new cases.

Look at this map. As of last Friday, 28 states were seeing fewer new cases. But by yesterday, that number was down to 18. And as of this morning, just 16 states are seeing an infection rate trending down from a week ago.

ROMANS: Now, among the states going the wrong way, Nevada, where 10 days ago restaurants opened for dine-in service with social distancing. Florida, which expanded to full phase one reopening yesterday. And, South Dakota, which never had a full stay-at-home order. Other states backsliding include Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois, all big population centers either reopening or under intense pressure to do so.

JARRETT: Big moves towards reopening parts of California, and one state will crack down on reopening bars and restaurants that don't respect new rules. CNN's reporters have it covered coast-to-coast.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Nick Watt in Los Angeles.

The governor of California has just eased and tweaked the criteria that counties are supposed to meet before they're eligible to reopen now.

Ninety percent of this huge state is apparently ready to begin getting back to normal. Fewer than half of the counties have pulled the trigger so far, but among them, those counties up around San Francisco that were the first to tell people in this country to stay home -- and that was 63 days ago.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brynn Gingras in Hoboken, New Jersey.

A gym in southern New Jersey will again open its doors this morning going against the governor's stay-at-home orders. And this, as the co- owners of Atilis Gym in Belmar received some summonses for opening on Monday.

The gym says that they're only opening for members, everyone has to wear a mask, and they're practicing social distancing. And I talked to one of the co-owners who told me that they think it's within their constitutional right to open.


Remember, New Jersey has the second-highest number of cases of coronavirus with more than 10,000 deaths.


Another plant worker from the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley, Colorado has died. Now, we've seen in profiles 60-year-old Tin Aye earlier this month. A Burmese refugee, she came and worked at that plant for nearly 15 years.

According to her family, she'd been on a ventilator with Covid-19 since late-March, just one day after her only grandchild, who she never met, was born.

Tin Aye is the seventh meat plant worker from that facility to die. A corporate worker from JBS Greeley has also died bringing the total to eight. More than 300 employees there have tested positive for Covid- 19. AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Amara Walker in Atlanta.

Ohio's Gov. Mike DeWine isn't happy with some reports he's seen over the weekend of customers at bars and restaurants not social distancing. So in response Monday, he made an announcement that a large contingent of law enforcement officers and health officials will be conducting safety compliance checks.

Now, businesses are required to keep parties at least six feet apart and to keep them seated while they are eating and drinking. Violations could lead to administrative citations that could result in businesses losing their liquor licenses and even criminal prosecution for some business owners.

Bars and restaurants with outdoor services were allowed to reopen on Friday.


JARRETT: Thanks to all of our correspondents for those reports.

Still ahead, strongmen leaders cut down to size by Covid-19.



JARRETT: Denmark appears to be a model for Europe's fight against coronavirus. Bars, cafes, and restaurants are back open and the death toll remains low there.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is there.



Yes, absolutely, Denmark is continuing to ease some of those restrictions that it put in place to combat the coronavirus crisis. Just this week, for instance, bars, restaurants, and cafes are opening again. Shopping malls opening again as well. And very soon, professional sports leagues here in this country are also going to start playing again.

Now, the Danes have had a very unique philosophy as far as that's concerned. They went into a lockdown very early on, they shut their borders very early on, and are now able to get out of that fairly quickly. They're considered a role model here in Europe -- but really, around the world, nations are looking at them as well.

One of the other interesting things is that the Danes don't really believe in wearing masks in public. And they also haven't started testing very much for coronavirus until fairly recently.

What they do believe in, however, is washing your hands very, very often, sanitizing, and keeping distance as well. And clearly, that's something that's been working for the Danes. Their amount of coronavirus cases is continuing to go down as is their death toll as well -- Laura and Christine.


ROMANS: Oh, fascinating. Fred Pleitgen, thank you for that in Denmark for us.

A sharp rise in new cases in Brazil, 255,000 in total, putting the country third on the global list behind the U.S. and Russia.

A second health commissioner has resigned over disagreements with the president who is egging on people protesting the lockdowns.

Brazil's president one of several political strongmen who like to look invincible but their response to the pandemic has made them look weak.

Here's CNN's Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Vladimir Putin as he likes to be seen -- tough guy -- but not riding so high now.

Russia, roiled by coronavirus, has raced to the number-two spot behind the U.S. for infections. Indications are Putin's early 'tough it out' stance -- imagining the nation in his own invincible image, even exporting PPE overseas, and late lockdown -- are coming back to bite him.

No clearer indication of his discomfort than Russia's apparent dissembling of the Covid-19 death toll in Moscow effectively underreporting, although the city's health department says the way it's recording death is extremely accurate.

Putin is not the only strongman leader humbled by his handling of Covid-19. Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's so-called Trump of the Tropics -- a populist -- pushes back against lockdowns, actively encouraging public rallies to demand businesses reopen. And has now lost his second health minister this month over Covid-19 differences even as Rio's poverty-ridden favelas teem with infection and national rates rise.

Covid-19 is no respecter for strongman logic -- the reverse. It thrives on ineptitude.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were a few -- there were actually a few coronavirus patients. And I shook hands with everybody, you'll be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Even Britain's rich man's populist, P.M. Boris Johnson, was felled after upstaging the virus. A month later, after he said this, he was close to Covid-19 death in ICU.


President Xi, autocrat par excellence, did what really powerful leaders can do, shutting regions down, stopping the virus in its tracks, and deflecting blame for the spread beyond China's borders.

But even he isn't immune to Covid-19's invisible peril. His outreach of medical aid to the world -- some of it faulty -- too little, too late for many. And that, coupled to China's own crippled economy could downscale his reach.

Belarus' Alexander Lukashenko, Europe's longest-surviving strongman, embodies the blindness of unchecked power, instructed no cowing to the coronavirus -- ice hockey and other sporting events to continue.

When even Putin demurred to Covid-19, canceling his biggest annual power parade this month, Victory Day, Lukashenko went ahead. Thousands marched in tight formation in extreme un-pandemic proximity. So far, though, according to the state's own less than transparent stats, Belarus not ravaged as a result of Lukashenko's monthslong lockdown rejection. And as autocrats like Lukashenko are economic with the truth we may never know the real picture.

Putin, who in his early Covid-19 days had Russia's patriarch overfly and bless the country, still has the worst to come and won't be able to hide from it easily.

Covid-19 may not finish these strongmen off but it may well leave them diminished for years to come.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


JARRETT: Thanks to Nic Robertson for that story.

The FBI has found a link to al Qaeda on the phone of a Saudi military trainee who attacked a military base in Pensacola, Florida, killing three U.S. sailors late last year. The FBI managed to break through the encryption protecting the attacker's iPhones and used information on the devices for a recent counterterror operation in Yemen. The FBI director says the Bureau received effectively no help from Apple bypassing the phone's security.

We'll be right back.



JARRETT: Well, first it was llamas, then cows, now man's best friend could be joining the fight against coronavirus. CNN's Max Foster has more.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This dog is being trained to detect prostate cancer. She's presented with urine samples and rewarded when she identifies the correct one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good girl. What a good girl.

FOSTER (voice-over): This dog is able to identify the odor of malaria sufferers. Their next mission here is to train dogs to sniff out people infected with Covid-19.

DR. STEVE LINDSAY, PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGICAL AND BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES, DURHAM UNIVERSITY: The way we're going to do that is by collecting using face masks. And we're asking people to wear these face masks for a few hours and then we carefully collect those.

And the other thing that we're going to do is get people to wear nylon socks. That sounds a bit strange but we know from 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 (voice-over): 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.

It may 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.


ROMANS: Dogs are so smart.

All right, taking a look at global markets right now, you can see that in Asia, stocks all rallied there. The major averages rallied, probably following through with the big rally we saw in the U.S. yesterday. But, Europe has started its Tuesday down slightly.

On Wall Street, futures right now at the moment, also leaning a little bit lower -- mostly directionless here.

You know, positive news -- vaccine news from Moderna against the backdrop of trillions of dollars of stimulus from the Fed and Congress fueled this big rally in the stock market Monday.

The Dow closed up 912 points. That's the best day in six weeks or so. The S&P 500 also had its best day in six weeks. The Nasdaq finished higher as well.

Uber is cutting another 3,000 jobs. It's now cut a quarter of its staff since the start of the pandemic. Uber's CEO also said it's closing around 45 offices around the world.

The rideshare industry has been hit hard as more people stay at home. Uber said its rides business was down about 80 percent in April.

JCPenney plans to close nearly 200 of its stores this year as it uses bankruptcy to try to turn around its business. The retailer filed for bankruptcy Friday. JCPenney didn't say which stores will close or how many of its 85,000 employees will lose their jobs. It plans to close another 50 stores next year.

JARRETT: Father Timothy Pelc knows how to make the best of a bad situation. The Michigan priest decided to add a little levity to Easter by using a plastic squirt gun to dispense holy water. A month later, Father Tim has gone viral after his church posted photos on Facebook.

Now there are all kinds of crazy memes of the priest online, including one where he is firing at demons in hell. I guess we shouldn't show that one so early in the morning. But, you know coronavirus has fueled the creative juices for people.

ROMANS: Innovation, innovation -- all right.

Thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

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




TRUMP: I happen to be taking it -- hydroxychloroquine. I think it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is in direct contradiction of the FDA's own guidance.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He must have had a quite extensive exposure for them to go ahead and begin hydroxychloroquine.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Gyms in multiple states are open. Seventeen states seeing a rise in new cases over the past week.

BOB CASLEN, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: The University of South Carolina says face-to-face instruction will also end after the Thanksgiving holiday.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: Social distancing with face coverings, you're speeding up the day when we can open up more.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, May 19th, 6:00 here in New York. END