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WHO Reports Largest Ever Uptick in COVID Cases; Russia Now in Second Place with Highest COVID Cases; Brazil Sees Single-Day Spike of Nearly 20K Cases; Taiwan Leader Rejects "One Country, Two Systems" Policy; Columbia University: Earlier Lockdowns Would Have Saved Thousands of American Lives; Tropical Cyclone Amphan's Pulverizing Impact; WHO Reports Most New Cases Since Outbreak Began; South Korean Students Return to a New Normal; U.K. Prime Minister Under Fire for Plans to Reopen Schools; Caring Message to a Family Whose Dad Died from COVID-19; France Scrambles to Save Tourism Industry. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 21, 2020 - 00:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, welcome to our viewers joining us all around the world, I'm Robyn Curnow. Just ahead on the show.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: In the last 24 hours, there have been 106,000 cases reported to WHO, the most in a single day since the outbreak began.


CURNOW: The World Health Organization reports the largest single day increase, as you heard there, in reported cases since the outbreak began and warns there's still a long way to go with outbreak of the pandemic.

Plus a complete reversal: after saying that they have the virus under control, Russia's now getting help from the U.S.

And damage control: a deadly cyclone makes landfall and relief teams now face a bunch of controversies.


CURNOW: So we begin with a wake up call for anyone who thought the coronavirus pandemic was under control. The World Health Organization reported 106,000 new cases of the virus worldwide in the past 24 hours alone. Now that is the biggest one-day jump since the outbreak began.

The head of the WHO says it's a clear indication we still have a long, long way to go. So about two-thirds of those new infections are in the U.S., Russia, Brazil and India. You can see here three of those countries already lead the world in overall cases.

Looking at the global picture, nearly 5 million cases have now been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, new modeling from New York's Columbia University estimates the U.S. could've saved 36,000 lives if social distancing and lockdowns were put in place just one week earlier.

And if it was done two weeks earlier, researchers say more than three- quarters of the nation's deaths would have been avoided. We should note, this research hasn't been peer reviewed as of yet.

And in another, researchers at the University of Minnesota are urging a call to make national testing strategy here in the U.S. They are saying right now it is, quote, "it's a mess out there." And testing isn't accurate enough to make decisions about going back to work or to school.

Now the U.S. president Donald Trump says he's going to end his course of hydroxychloroquine in a day or two, he's repeatedly defended his decision to take the drug, despite warnings about safety.

Meanwhile the president says the head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, is doing, quote, "a very good job" but others in the White House are not on the same page, as Jeremy Diamond now reports.



JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Questions about Robert Redfield's future as head of the Centers for Disease Control. With tensions simmering between the White House and the CDC, a senior administration official telling CNN's Kristen Holmes are informal conversations about Redfield's fate.

Another source said Redfield who privately dismissed concerns about his job security last week is now worried he may have a target on his back after a top White House official took the infighting public.

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: 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 testing. That did send us back.

DIAMOND: President Trump echoing that criticism behind closed doors, taking a swipe at the CDC during a lunch with Senate Republicans, but publicly --


TRUMP: I think they work very hard. I will say they originally, they had no tests and one of the tests had a problem very early on. But that was quickly remedied.


DIAMOND: Other officials pushing back, saying there isn't an appetite for a major shakeup amid the pandemic. The question mark over Redfield coming as the CDC released 60 pages of detailed reopening guidelines without a word from the White House, which initially shelved those guidelines.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: They are saying how come the White House isn't talking about this? That's just false. As opposed to what? I mean, the CDC guidelines are posted. That's -- they are accessible to everybody. That is a White House product because it's a CDC product.

DIAMOND: A lot of fanfare for the CDC guidelines, but not for reopening.

CONWAY: As for the rallies --


CONWAY: -- there will be a campaign, there will be rallies. I sure hope so because people want to do that. I would just say if you are socially distancing at a rally, if you only have two out of every 10 seats filled at a Trump rally, it looks more like a Biden or a Clinton rally.


CONWAY: So that would be odd.

DIAMOND: Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence traveling outside of Washington for the first time since the day that his press secretary tested positive for coronavirus. The vice president heading down to the battleground state of Florida where he had lunch in a restaurant with the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

And as you can see in this footage from Pence's visit down there, nobody wearing masks, not very much social distancing going on. That's despite the recommendation from the CDC that if you are not able to stay 6 feet apart from somebody, you should be wearing a mask to protect other people from yourself in the event that you are potentially infected.

And we should note, of course that while - that it's been 12 days since the vice president had traveled since the vice president's press secretary tested positive for coronavirus. That's less than the 14 days that the CDC guidelines say you should self-isolate for, if indeed you are in close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

The president, meanwhile, we'll see if he decides to wear a mask or not on Thursday when he heads to a Ford manufacturing facility in Michigan. Ford has said that masks are required at that plant.

The president, though, noncommittal so far, on whether he will wear a mask for the first time. -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Russia is second only to the U.S. in the number of coronavirus cases. The country reported more than 8,700 new cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to more than 308,000.

For weeks, Russia appeared to have the pandemic under control. It was even able to send help to other countries. But all of that has changed now. Matthew Chance reports on how things got so bad so quickly.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are the first images of a batch of U.S.-made ventilators being loaded on a military transporter bound for Moscow. Now, it's America's turn to send Russia medical aid.

U.S. Officials say there is 50 in the shipments, another 150 will be sent soon. But a few months ago, it was Russia sending aid, including doctors and medical equipment to Italy at the height of the pandemic there. From Russia with love is what Moscow called it, but for critics, it was mike propaganda from the Kremlin.

Russia was projecting an image of control, even the U.S. got a hand out. A planeload of Russian aid sent to New York as that city became the American epicenter of COVID-19. No matter it later emerged the Russian ventilators were unsafe, the fact that Moscow is helping America in a crisis was a P.R. coup for the Kremlin. With extremely few recorded infections back then, Russia appeared to bask in its performance.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Thanks to the prompt measures taken in the first weeks of the epidemic, we managed to contain the massive penetration and spread of the infection in Russia. Now, despite the potentially high level of risk, the situation is generally under control.


CHANCE: But it wasn't. And it still isn't. Perhaps the first sign was this Putin in full plane garb visiting Moscow's main coronavirus hospital in March. Previously, it appeared unprotected. Soon, Russia had record daily infections.

The grim truth of Russia's pandemic emerging as key figures including the prime minister and Putin's longtime spokesman Dmitry Peskov were hospitalized giving concerns about Putin's own health.

Soon, with the highest number of infections after the U.S., Russia seemed to descend into a coronavirus hell. Images of infected medics, coughing in makeshift wards, exposed hideous conditions.

Here, a doctor is arrested, trying to deliver much-needed medical supplies. She argued the country was in denial about its coronavirus problem.

At least three more critical of the pandemic response mysteriously fell out of hospital windows more out of desperation with their workload said colleagues in a conspiracy to silence critics as two died of their injuries.

It's why this first shipment of U.S. aid to Russia is so significant. Not just the return favor to the next worst affected country in the world, but also an admission by Russia, finally, that it needs help -- Matthew Chance, CNN.


CURNOW: Well, this week Brazil's battle against the coronavirus has seemingly spun out of control with record numbers of new cases and a death toll now close to 19,000 people. Matt Rivers now has the latest on the situation there.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another day and another new daily record for the country of Brazil in terms of its newly confirmed cases. The government Wednesday evening reporting nearly 20,000 newly confirmed cases.


RIVERS: That brings Brazil's overall total to over 291,000, that's third highest in the world. Although, if you see the trend line that's been going on in Brazil for the past 2 weeks or so continue, then it's very likely that we will see Brazil soon pass Russia for second place on that list, at which point it would trail only the United States in terms of newly confirmed cases.

The death toll in Brazil is just shy of 90,000 at this point. As a result of all of this, the lower house of Brazil's parliament passed a proposed law that would make it mandatory for everyone to wear a mask when out in public.

Meanwhile, Brazil's health ministry is passing requirements, new regulations, that are a little bit more controversial. It was Wednesday that Brazil's health ministry authorized the use of both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat patients dealing with COVID-19 symptoms, the latter of which is the controversial drug that President Trump has said he has been taking, despite the fact that, in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has said that both of those drugs should only be used in hospitals and during clinical trials, because they both pose grave risk of serious side effects and even have the possibility to kill -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


CURNOW: Thanks, Matt, for that.

So President Trump for that is once again blasting China's response to the pandemic. He claims its incompetence less to, quote, "mass worldwide killing." This is his latest attempt to shift the blame to China as he faces criticism for his own response. But weeks earlier, remember, Mr. Trump was showering Beijing with praise.


TRUMP: And now we're friends to China. In fact, maybe we have never had a better relationship, and we are working with them very closely on the coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you concerned that China is covering up the full extent of coronavirus?

TRUMP: No. China is working very hard.

We've been working very much with China. I've spoken as you know with President Xi. They went through hell, and their numbers are starting to look very good.


CURNOW: Anna Coren is live now in Hong Kong with more on all of this.

Anna, good to see you.

Have we had any reaction from China about these latest comments from the American president?

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Robyn, not as yet. We're expecting some reaction from the ministry of foreign affairs later this afternoon.

But what I can tell you is that this war of words, blame game has certainly been ratcheting up over the last few months. Now we are hearing from Donald Trump, basically pointing the finger at Xi Jinping, not naming him but certainly pointing the finger.

I want to read the latest tweet he tweeted a couple of hours ago.

It reads, "A spokesman speaks stupidly on behalf of China, trying desperately to deflect the pain and carnage that the country spread throughout the world. Its disinformation and propaganda attack on the United States and Europe is a disgrace. It all comes from the top. They could have easily stopped the plague but they didn't."

That obviously follows on from this incompetence of China and being responsible for this mass worldwide killing. Now, as I say, Trump has been ratcheting up this rhetoric. His critics will say that this is to deflect from his mishandling of the pandemic in the United States, the misinformation between his administration and health officials and obviously the U.S. has the highest death toll in the world related to the coronavirus.

But you know, there's no doubt that this is part of Trump's reelection campaign. It resonates with his base.

But there's also a great deal of scrutiny on China at the moment because that is, of course, where the outbreak originated. But there's a bit more that's been going on in this part of the world.

China reacted quite angrily yesterday when the U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, congratulated the Taiwanese president on her inauguration after being reelected to a second term.

They came out, threatening retaliation. And as we know Taiwan is a very sensitive issue for China. It's an independently governed country with a democratically elected government. And Tsai Ing-wen, the Taiwanese president, in her speech rejected the country's "One Country, Two Systems" policy. Take a listen.


PRESIDENT TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWAN (through translator): We will continue these efforts, and we are willing to engage in dialogue with China and make more contributions to regional security.


TSAI (through translator): Here, I want to reiterate the words, "peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue."

We will not accept the Beijing authorities' use of "one country, two systems" to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo. We stand fast by this principle.


COREN: A very defiant speech from President Tsai Ing-wen. China's furious about Pompeo's statement. And to add fuel to the fire, the United States has approved an arms deal between the U.S. and Taiwan of up to $180 million. They've sold arms to Taiwan in the past.

But as we are saying, this is going to further anger Beijing and placed more tension on the U.S.-China relationship.

CURNOW: This tension is exacerbated not just by words, Anna Coren, good to see you.

Tune in for a CNN special report, "China's Deadly Secret," hosted by Fareed Zakaria, that is on Sunday at 9 pm in New York, 9 am Monday in Hong Kong, right here on CNN.

I want to bring in Dr. Neha Nanda, she joins us now. She's an epidemiologist and the medical director of the Infection Prevention for Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California.

Thank you for joining us. I know you've been busy yourself. But I don't know if you heard the top of our show and the headline in the last hour or so is that America would have saved tens of thousands of lives if they had locked down a week earlier.

What do you make of that?

DR. NEHA NANDA, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MEDICAL SCHOOL: So, as we know, with this virus, some intervention, some tools are key. That's physical distancing and hygiene. So the more physical distancing you practice, you are going to benefit more. So the sooner you do it, the better it is. And I think that answers the question.

CURNOW: Yes, it certainly does.

And then what do you make of the other details coming from the World Health Organization, essentially the globe has had its worst day yet in terms of the number of cases being reported?

Is that an indication that testing is being ramped up?

Or do you think it's more of an indication of just how much this virus is active?

NANDA: So it's a question that is very difficult to answer, given what we know today, like you said, testing being ramped up, being available everywhere, definitely adds to (INAUDIBLE) seeing new cases increasing or is it just testing that's (INAUDIBLE)?

What we do know about this virus at this time is that the rate at which it mutates (INAUDIBLE) that's not too high. So if we have been good about interventions like physical distancing, new cases should not be exponentially rising.

But again with the testing expanding, it's hard to tease it out (ph) at this time. I know I didn't answer the question. But the answer is it's difficult to answer in terms of new case because of lack of interventions or rampant testing.

CURNOW: Basically your message is that we should be social distancing even if regulations say you are OK to go out and have a haircut or go to the beach or a bar. But I want to show you some of the pictures, pictures we're seeing in the U.S., graduations this week. People weren't wearing masks, people were not social distancing.

We have had a number of images of people in bars, also not wearing masks, snuggled up next to their peers and partners.

You know, how is this going to impact life in a month or six weeks?

Do you expect many deaths to be amplified by these experiences?

NANDA: So the number of cases, if we don't practice physical distancing, if we jump too early and drop our discipline, which we've been so good about thus far, we are going to see repercussions. And repercussions could be in the form of simply new cases and some of those cases, hopefully, will recover or there will be more deaths like you talked about.

So I think we have to, again, if that's what's happening, which it is happening, we have to really be good about disciplining ourselves to not do that. And if we are opening businesses, because that's the other piece to it, we have to do it very, very cautiously.

CURNOW: You study viruses, this is your job.

What are the questions you still have about this virus?


CURNOW: And the way it attacks the human body?

NANDA: So I will tell you one big question and that is driving a lot of questions is, we are still defining the clinical spectrum of the disease. We don't really know what it will manifest as.

And every week, if not every 3 days, we identify a new clinical manifestation. And it's exactly for that reason the CDC has had to change its case definition at least 2 times. Until we don't learn more about the clinical spectrum, that would impact our only identification of cases, which obviously is very important to quick isolation or prompt isolation to be able to contain contagion.

CURNOW: But basically what you're saying is it's not just about a respiratory disease attacking different parts of the body and presenting in so many different ways. Dr. Neha Nanda, I really appreciate you taking the time. Thank you for joining us.

NANDA: Thank you so much.

CURNOW: So still to come here at CNN, a cyclone leaves its mark as it marches ashore. We head to India to assess the damage.




CURNOW: Welcome back.

We know at least 12 are dead, thousands of homes destroyed, after cyclone Amphan made landfall in Eastern India on Wednesday. The situation is so bad in parts of West Bengal the head of the national disaster response force said one area had been, quote, "pulverized."

Flash flooding is expected in both India and Bangladesh. Authorities have been working to evacuate millions of people. Those efforts have been complicated by the coronavirus.

Relief teams are trying to get people out safely while also trying to keep them healthy. Vedika Sud is standing by in New Delhi with more on all of this.

The latest comments coming from authorities, saying that West Bengal has been, quote, "pulverized," giving us some sense of what might be happening on the ground right now.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: A lot of West Bengal and Bangladesh has been pulverized. We are seeing this mangrove area, rare wildlife species like the Bengal tiger, that is one that they are calling it pulverized as, well. Also what we do know is that 2 districts of West Bengal have been

affected as well. And out here we talk about the telecom infrastructure that has been completely destroyed. Also what we know at this point is that homes along the coastal area of West Bengal have faced those high waves as well.

They're not just dealing with destruction, they're also dealing with the problem of social distancing at a time when this disaster has hit the coastal area.


CURNOW: Let's talk about that more, I know many authorities were acutely aware of this double battle that they were facing, trying to get people to evacuate but at the same time realizing they have to give up social distancing, as you can see by these images.

What do we know about how this has played out in real time?

SUD: Well, we talk about this area which is very poor, this is where people from villages reside. For them, awareness about the coronavirus as well as this national disaster, it's very difficult to actually digest at this point.

We do know that some of them have left the shelters, they've gone back to their homes to assess the damage. The national disaster response team said that some of them, these villagers, will rebuild their home from scratch, some of these will wait for help to come to the but until then they will do this all by themselves.

But the head of state paints a grimmer picture north of Kolkata, which is seeing huge wind speeds over the last 24 hours or 12 hours. And she says that the impact is worse than that of coronavirus. And she's asking humanitarian help from the Indian government.

CURNOW: To reiterate, so communication isn't great; do we actually have a sense of what is happening on the ground?

SUD: Coms are down in two cases in West Bengal, two districts damaged by the cyclone. So for the response teams on the ground at this moment, it's very difficult to communicate with each other. Even in Kolkata some lines are still down. There's flooding in the areas.

What we do know is that four of the districts in West Bengal will be up and running in the next 4 to 6 days. There's a lot of collateral damage with the falling of trees, so there's a lot to deal with. An assessment will take place in 3 to 4 days. The damage will be assessed but the biggest challenge right now for them, along with social distancing, is the coms are out in some of these areas in West Bengal.

CURNOW: Thank you, we appreciate that.


CURNOW: You are watching CNN. Still to come, some schools in South Korea have reopened but the country has already faced some roadblocks, we're live from Seoul when we come back.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Welcome back. It is 30 minutes past the hour. I'm Robyn Curnow, live from Atlanta here in the U.S. I want to update you on our top story this hour.


The World Health Organization is reporting the single -- the biggest single-day jump in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. We know that 1,600 new infections or positive tests were reported in just 24 hours. Almost two-thirds of those new cases are in the U.S., Russia, Brazil and India.

And then here in the U.S., the virus has killed more than 93,000 people.

A small group of demonstrators gathered outside the White House on Wednesday to protest the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic. They staged a mock funeral, lining a nearby park with body bags.

Now, South Korea's first day of reopening its schools has hit a few setbacks. Dozens of schools outside Seoul had to close right back down when two students tested positive for the virus.

Still, many other high school seniors were able to return on Wednesday.

Paula Hancocks took a look at their new normal.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A temperature check, hand sanitizer, and the wet wipes. Back to school during a pandemic.

These are high school seniors, the first to physically come back, a sign South Korea is trying to return to a semblance of normality. Students queue two meters apart as they wait to enter the building and another temperature check with a thermal camera. Desks in the classroom have been arranged to be at least one meter apart. Masks must be worn at all times.

(on camera): This semester may be starting more than 11 weeks late, but it feels like a milestone in South Korea's fight against coronavirus. Over the next few weeks, younger grades will also be coming back to school in a phased approach. And schools are hoping that by June 8, every student will be back.

(voice-over): Online learning now replaced by face-to-face classes. The cafeteria at this school in Seoul has been disinfected, and plastic partitions put in between where students can sit, many seats left empty.

This will be the one area people students are allowed to take their masks off.

Principal Kim Seung-kyeom has been working for weeks to prepare for this day.

KIM SEUNG-KYEOM, PRINCIPAL (through translator): I'm so happy to see my students back again after a long wait. The students can now begin their school life.

Kim knows the risks involved.

KIM: If we get a confirmed case, the school will immediately shut and return to online classes.

HANCOCKS: Dozens of schools have to close again in Incheon City, west of Seoul, after two students tested positive, believed to be linked to the outbreak in Seoul's nightclub district.

Schools have been fully disinfected ahead of time. Officials say the health of the students is the No. 1 priority. A cluster of cases in Seoul's nightclub district pushed the opening date of schools back by a ways.

Another potential outbreak in a Seoul Medical Center is also concerning health officials. But for some of those in school today, just being here feels like a victory.


CURNOW: Paula Hancocks joins me now from Seoul.

Paula, good to see you. It's a fascinating insight into what the new normal is for where you are and what might be rolling out across the world. But also, you know, the fact that other schools had to shut down because some of the students tested positive, an indication of how this is going to be a very jagged kind of start.

HANCOCKS: Well, that's right, Robyn. I mean, certainly, this was a big test. And at least 66 schools in just one city just west of Seoul did have to close down.

Now, it was because there were two students, high school students who tested positive for the virus. But what officials wanted to do is they wanted to make sure that they could contact trace those two individuals and find out exactly where they had been, who they had been with where they had been before they allowed these -- these other schools in the neighborhood and in the district to remain open.

Now, they're going to make a decision on Friday, whether or not they can reopen.

But those two individuals that tested positive, they had been to a coin-operated karaoke, which is like a singing room, which are very popular here in South Korea. But that particular area had been infected by someone else who had come, who had been infected from the Seoul nightclub district outbreak. So it just shows how quickly this can -- can spread. So what they've done at this point in Incheon City, they've decided to

shut all of these singing rooms. They're shutting, obviously, the nightclubs as well to try and prevent further outbreaks.

And then in the southeast of the country, in Daegu, you might remember the name is that city is it was where there was a massive outbreak in the early months of the virus here in South Korea. They had a school that had to shut down, as well.

So for the majority of schools, it appears the first day went well, but inevitably -- and I think officials were expecting this -- there were some cases where they had to decide to err on the side of caution -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks so much. Paula Hancocks there in Seoul.

So the U.K. is also wrestling with how and when to reopen schools. The British prime minister had hoped to do so by June the 1st, but he's getting some serious, serious pushback. Boris Johnson is also vowing to have a test and trace operation in place by that same date, to raise confidence about reopening.

Well, Max Foster is tracking all of those developments -- Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson coming under pressure on several fronts right now on his plans to start reopening schools. Some teacher unions are expressing concerns about safety while some local authorities are expressing doubts that their schools will be able to open on time. They're just not ready, they say.

So does the prime minister delay or does he find a way of addressing those concerns, continuing with lifting the lockdown, and opening up because the economy, which is at a desperate state right now.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Keir Starmer of the Labour Party pressing the government on why there's no contact tracing system in place in the U.K. right now, as there is in other comparable countries. The prime minister, though, insisting that a world beating (ph) system will be in place next month in time for the schools to start reopening.

(on camera): Then there's this constitutional issue. Some academics are calling it a crisis right now. But the different nations on the U.K. are operating on different timetables with their lockdowns.

So Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland operating separately from the way England is being lifted out of lockdown by the prime minister, Boris Johnson. He's trying to address that whilst leaders in those nations say they need to be bold, consulted more in this whole process.

Cabinet minister Robert Buckland exposing differences on Wednesday when he sees that there may not be a uniform approach to the reopening of schools, for example. So all this unity that existed across society, starting to fray now.

And it's Boris Johnson's biggest challenge, perhaps, to try to keep it together.

Max Foster, CNN, Berkshire, England.


CURNOW: Thanks, Max.

So tune in for the next CNN global town hall, "CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS," much of which will focus on what's actually happening with education amidst this pandemic. That will be interesting. It's hosted, of course, by Anderson and Sanjay; 8 p.m. Thursday New York, 8 a.m. Friday morning in Hong Kong, only here on CNN.

Now, as businesses reopen around the world, the workplace is also getting a radical makeover. It's not just schools. So gone are the days of open meeting spaces, or mingling at the water cooler. In the COVID world, companies are reinventing how colleagues will coexist. And for some, the office of the future is already here.

Here's Clare Sebastian.


STEPHEN ROOT, ACTOR: If they move my desk one more time, then -- then I'm quitting.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This from the movie "Office Space" is what offices used to look. Confined spaces, minimum contact. Over the past few decades, they've evolved to this: open plan social hubs, like the sales force tower in San Francisco.

ELIZABETH PINKHAM, EXECUTIVE V.P., GLOBAL REAL ESTATE, SALESFORCE: We love to come together. We love to collaborate. We love to have face- to-face meetings. We loved it when the offices were crowded.


SEBASTIAN: Salesforce has spent the last eight weeks turning those principles on their head. Inspired by this model from real-estate firm Cushman Wakefield, dubbed the 6 feet office, it's not exactly a return to cubicles, but there are eerie similarities.

PINKHAM: There may be Plexiglass dividers between work stations on the open floor plans. And then even meeting rooms will have big capacity signs, because they are not able to hold as many people as before. It's really about giving people visual clues to help remember about that physical distancing.

SEBASTIAN: Plans are still being finalized, but masks will be mandatory, shifts will be staggered, temperatures checked, elevators in the company's many towers socially distanced.

Across the corporate world, high-rise offices present a particular challenge.

SCOTT RECHLER, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, RXR REALTY: We are changing technology to be able to use Bluetooth to go touchless into the elevators.

SEBASTIAN: Scott Rechler runs RXR Realty, the fourth largest office landlord in Manhattan. He is reevaluating every detail of his buildings.

RECHLER: All of the HVAC systems have been changed so that they have filters, the highest-rate filters that pull -- pick up the small particles. Where possible, we're changing the locations, like, for pantries and printers that usually are in corners where they get congested to more open spaces.

SEBASTIAN: And technology also critical to his plan.

RECHLER: We'll have an app that, when before people come to work, they'll be able to actually look to see what the health index of the building is.

When you go into your space, there's going to be a tool on your app that actually will monitor your extreme social distancing. And at the end of the day, you'll be able to see, was I at 70 percent, 75 percent?

SEBASTIAN: Amidst all that change, there's one part of this new office reality that's already here.

(on camera) And that's working from home. Many companies are planning to stagger shifts. Others are telling staff you can work from home so they can keep going. Twitter has even told its employees that, if they want to, they can work from home forever.

It's clear in this world, where the virus is still a threat, the ultimate trick to keeping offices safe is having fewer people in them.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: Fascinating. Thanks so much for that.

So coming up, a heartbreaking message that touched so many people of you on social. The nurses and the family they were trying to console sharing their story with me in their own words. That's next.



KEVIN JOHNSON, LOST FATHER TO COVID-19: Words can't say enough on what these people did for my father. You know, I really consider them really lucky to be able to hold my old man's hand, and I really wish I could have held his hand and kissed him. They got to do that. So for me, they're the lucky ones, and they're the heroes in this. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Their father was Rene Johnson. He wasn't able to be with his family when he died at the age of 65 from COVID-19. He had five children who would gather every single day outside his hospital window in New Hampshire.

They made signs telling him they loved him. And every day, the nurses at the Catholic Medical Center would wave to them from inside.

Well, after Rene passed away, the nurses put up two signs where they usually waved, and the signs, as you can see here, read, "He is at peace" and "We are so sorry."

Joining me now from Manchester, New Hampshire, Angela, Kevin, and Randy. They are the children of Rene Johnson.

Also joining us are nurses Samantha, Kaitlyn and Lynn who cared for their dad. They're coming to us from the nurses' station in the ICU.

To all of you, thank you so much for joining us. And that image that -- I think it was Kaitlyn and Lynn held up. That one there has gone viral, because it just showed so much compassion.

To -- to the Johnson family, what did it mean to see those images?

JOHNSON: That just meant everything to us. It just meant that these people are just unbelievable, that they got to do what we couldn't get to do, was they got to hold my Dad's hand. They got to talk to him, and they got to hug him. And that's the only thing that I would've wanted in the world. I would have given anything -- I'm telling you anything just to hold my dad's hand or just to tell him that I love him. Or just to -- just give him a hug.

I just really appreciate it, and I just -- I can't just get it out of my head, that it's just unbelievable that these people could just do that, and they did it for me, and they did it for my family. And it's -- I'm just very grateful.

ANGELA DANEUALT, FATHER DIED OF COVID-19: We are truly grateful that if we couldn't be there, these nurses were the next best thing to us, and we'll forever be grateful for them being by his side through it all.

CURNOW: Kaitlyn, Lynn, you were there. That's the two of you holding up those -- those posters: "We are so sorry," "He is at peace." What -- what was that moment like?

LYNN HARKINS, NURSE WHO CARED FOR RENE JOHNSON: Heartbreaking. It's hard to be inside and know the family couldn't be there with him. But we actually had, prior to that picture, we put up signs that let them know that we're going to make him comfortable and hold his hand. And that's what we did. Lynn and I both were holding his hand when he passed and made sure he had had pain meds and he was comfortable. And we just told him how much you guys loved him. KAITLYN KERRIGAN, NURSE WHO CARED FOR RENE JOHNSON: I told him what a beautiful family he had and that he did a great job. And that he tried very hard to make it through this -- this fight, and that his family was out there every single day. And I just told him how much he was loved. And I rubbed his head and held his hand the entire time he was passing.

CURNOW: Samantha, you were also caring for him throughout a lot of this. And you often went to visit the family as they were standing outside in the park. That was also important for you, wasn't it? To make that connection and to thank them.

SAMANTHA JOYCE, NURSE WHO CARED FOR RENE JOHNSON: I really felt that this was uncharted territory. We're not a family that can get to their loved one in the hospital. And I just felt like a family that was willing to wait outside the window for hours and hours, for days on end, deserved an update by a real nurse with a real face, and not over the phone through a respirator.

CURNOW: Angela, Kevin, Randy, just talk us through that decision you made. Your Dad went into hospital. He was at a care home. He went into hospital, and you couldn't obviously come in, so you basically just camped out in the park by the hospital, and you started making these signs out of sheets. Tell us what prompted that.

JOHNSON: I just -- I just wanted to make sure that everybody in there knew my father just meant everything to me. And I was going to make sure that everybody knew that.

You know, my father always had to be, you know, the big dog. You know, he was the big dog to me, and he was the big dog to everybody. And I just -- you know, I just wanted everybody to know that I wouldn't give up, to just -- for him to know how much I loved him.

I got to talk to him on the phone right up until I couldn't talk to him on the phone. He's seen me out in the park. I had binoculars. And he actually called my phone and said, "Kevin, I see you out there with those binoculars. What the hell are you doing?"

And for him to see us, you know what I mean? He knew I was out there. He knew that I wouldn't give up. I mean, like I said, I would have given anything possible to just be able to hold his head. I mean, unfortunately, you know, we can't. And you know, these people, that's what they do. And I just don't understand how they can do that. And it's just unbelievable.

CURNOW: And Angela and Randy, you're still out. You're still out in that park today. You just asked the nurses before they came on air if they'd see you. You really want to still continue this message, even though your dad is gone, that you're grateful and thankful.

DANEAULT: Absolutely. That's our mission through the whole thing. That was exactly why I shared that photo. I truly didn't expect it to go viral, let alone global, now international.

That was truly just a shout-out to the nurses, to show them how truly grateful we were through the whole entire ordeal. I mean, posting notes to us on the windows, you know, holding their hands, touching the glass to us, sending us hearts back.

We'll continue to show how grateful we, not only to them, but you know, we're out there on a daily basis, just showing our love to other COVID patients, other sick patients, maybe that their families aren't out there showing them love.

CURNOW: And to all of your -- all of your nurses there, you're in the ICU unit. You have other patients you're going to go and care for them now. There are other families that are going to have to say goodbye.

How much does this mean, and the fact that this family is trying to raise money for you? What more do you need?

HARKINS: Now, honestly, the families are out there, and that's a great support to us. But we have a great team here. We need each other. We need the people outside of here to wear masks to protect their loved ones.

CURNOW: Well, thank you to you all. This has been a beautiful, beautiful example of compassion in some very difficult times. And thoughts to you, to your father, Rene, and to all the other patients who you're caring for there now. Thank you, everyone.

JOYCE: Thank you, Robyn.

JOHNSON: Thank you guys so much.

DANEAULT: Thank you, ladies.

HARKINS: Thank you, Johnsons.

CURNOW: Johnson's family as you heard there, also trying to give back to those nurses with the help of a GoFundMe page. It's called Frontliners Appreciation Gift for CMC Staff.

So we know this pandemic is crippling the tourism industry, especially in a place like France. Well, next, we'll see how the industry there is helping to survive when so many flights aren't even taking off.


CURNOW: So normally, France is the most visited country in the world. But these, of course, aren't normal times, and the pandemic has crippled the tourism industry there. So many people depend on the summer season, and they're trying to find new ways to survive. Cyril Vanier takes a closer look.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR (voice-over): Stunning views, majestic castles, centuries of history. The Loire Valley is one of the crown jewels of French tourism, drawing six million visitors a year from all over the world. An industry crippled by the coronavirus. After a nearly two-month national confinement, and with borders mostly

shut to outside travel, tourists are now a rare commodity. Chateau Charmant, once owned by the queen of France, is one of the first in the region to reopen.

(on camera): It's so calm, and it's so peaceful here. It's tempting to forget that there's a coronavirus epidemic. But of course, you can't. In fact, the only reason the chateau was able to reopen is because here, too, there are strict social-distancing guidelines. Masks gone, gel on your hands. There's a pre-determined route that you must follow through the domain. And the number of visitors has been capped, in order to avoid crowds.

KARL FOUCHET, VISITOR: It's been a while since we've been out. So it feels good.

VANIER (voice-over): Just a trickle of visitors today, all of them locals. Travel is still limited to a 100-kilometer radius.

Martine and Jean-Marie Harrouet had plans to visit Denmark and Uzbekistan this summer. That will have to wait.

MARTINE HARROUET, VISITOR (through translator): In a way this period is very good. We often forget to visit these beautiful sites in France, but it's a magnificent country.

VANIER: The chateau doesn't expect to see its usual foreign visitors this summer, about a third of its business, they say.

But the domain manager does see a silver lining.

CHANTAL COLLEU-DUMOND, DIRECTOR, CHATEAU CHARMANT (through translator): I hope that the increase in French visitors, who will come because they can't travel abroad, will make up for the foreign visitors who, sadly, won't be able to come.

VANIER (on camera): Here in Paris, however, there's no silver lining on the horizon. The main attractions remain shut. The Eiffel Tower and river boats. Not far from here, the Sacre Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre museum, all closed. Not to mention restaurants and cafes.

And with Paris still considered a red zone for the carnivorous, there's no telling when any of them might be allowed to reopen.

(voice-over): With almost 90 million tourists a year, France is the most visited country in the world. Last week, the French prime minister said saving the industry was a national priority.

The government's bill packages for the sector includes guaranteeing bank loans to businesses and paying 80 percent of the salaries of furloughed workers.

For Yann, owner and manager of two hotels and a restaurant in the heart of Paris, it's a lifeline. His last booking was on March 12.

YANN CHEVANCE, HOTEL OWNER: Scary, huh? VANIER: Thanks to a 250,000 Euro loan, he hopes to be able to survive

the next few months but desperately needs borders to reopen and travel to pick up.

CHEVANCE: We need people to fly again. Tourism is airplanes. No airplanes, it really limits the amount of tourists that we're going to have.

VANIER: Until then, Parisians will have the streets of the capital to themselves.

Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.


CURNOW: Well, the travel and tourism industries are certainly taking a huge hit across the globe from this pandemic. So join us on Thursday for a special look at tourism in crisis. Richard Quest will be speaking with top airline and hotel CEOs, as well as tourism ministers from some of the countries that rely on visitors the most. That's on Thursday at 8 p.m. London time, 9 p.m. if you're in Paris.

So you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Robyn Curnow. I will be back with more news after a quick break.