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Thousands Forced to Flee After Dams Burst in Michigan; Some Churches Reopening Their Doors Despite Risks; Emirates Resumes Passenger Flights to Nine Cities; U.N. Report Says World Education Declining; U.K. Doctors Say Reopen Schools as Soon as It's Safe; New York City Report 147 Cases of Inflammatory Illness in Children. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 21, 2020 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: And right now Michigan is under increased pressure handling the virus and a natural disaster. Days of heavy rain caused breaches in two dams. The resulting floods forcing almost 10,000 people to abandon their home. Our Ryan Young is on the ground in Michigan.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still a lot of questions here in Midland, Michigan. Especially after the devastating 24 hours this area has had. Just take a look at this neighborhood. You can see some of the aspects of all the water that hit this area when two dams burst. In fact, look from above, and that's where you really get an aspect of just how damaging this was. 10,000 residents had to be evacuated. In fact, we talked to one man who we were able to see his home from above. For the first time he figured out that he lost everything by watching this drone video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's heartbreaking but we'll deal with it when we come back.

YOUNG: What did you see in that drone shoot? Because you wanted to see what your house looked like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I just kind of confirmed that I was coming here expecting the worse and then I saw it.

YOUNG: This area is still dealing with power outages. And amazingly despite the two dam breaks, no one lost their life.

Reporting in Midland Michigan, Ryan Young, CNN.


CHURCH: And just ahead, a major global airline is resuming some flights across the world but how many travelers are ready to fly in the midst of this pandemic. We will get the latest update live from Dubai. Back in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Well churches across the globe are slowly reopening, but health officials still caution against crowded events in an effort to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Those concerns on display in the U.S. as new cases force some churches to close again. Our Brian Todd has the details.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, new indications of the dangers of reopening churches during this pandemic. The Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle Church in Ringgold, Georgia, and the Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Houston have closed their doors for the second time.

Several Parishioners and leaders of those churches reportedly testing positive for coronavirus after they reopened in recent weeks. Officials investigating whether a priest at a Houston church who died recently died of COVID-19.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: You bring a lot of people together, you put them in small in close quarters, you have a lot of, you know, proximity, people touching, people saying, you know, saying peace. Bringing people together in religious events where frequently there could be crying, there could be shouting, there could be singing, I think all of those may bring significant risk of infection.

TODD: A church in rural Arkansas -- according to a new CDC report -- was what some call a super spreader. Two people who went to events there in early March initiating a chain reaction which infected at least 30 parishioners and killed at least three of them. But experts are warning it's not just the formal services associated with churches which are dangerous but also their ancillary events.

DR. LEANA WEN, PUBLIC HEALTH PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: There was a case of a choir where one infected individual spread to more than 50 just from choir practice. Birthdays and funerals and other events where people are hugging and touching would also be such types of events, too.

TODD: The state of New York is testing religious communities in New York City for antibodies of coronavirus and is starting to allow religious gathering again but only with a maximum of ten people at a time.

ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK GOVERNOR: The last thing we want to do have a religious ceremony that winds up having more people infected.

TODD: As thousands of churches reopen around the world, our ideas of a typical service are going out the window. This week, Pope Francis celebrated the first public mass in two months in St. Peter's Basilica, but only with a limited number of worshippers. Father Timothy Pelc in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, got creative on Easter Sunday, using a squirt gun to dispense holy water to parishioners driving by.

Health experts are recommending changes like drive-in services in parking lots, virtual services, temporary suspicions of church daycare. But one expert says it shouldn't be doctors or public officials who mandate those changes.

DEL RIO: I think it is not me as a physician who needs to tell them, the community. I think it's -- I work with the leaders of that community who then tell the congregation and the people that go to those churches and those synagogues and those mosques what they need to do.

TODD (on camera): So is this the end of large religious gatherings like on Christmas Eve, Easter, the Jewish and Muslim holidays? The health experts we spoke to say it could be more of a pause but it could be a long one. One expert says there could be recommendations coming that the next large religious gatherings we see should not be held until around Christmas of 2021.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And now to Dubai where one of the world's top airlines Emirates is resuming passenger flights out of the UAE to nine cities beginning today. And these will be the first regular non-repatriation flights out of Dubai since the March 24. The pandemic has crippled the airline industry across the world causing demand for travel to plummet.

And CNN's John Defterios joins me now from Dubai International Airport. Good to see you, John. So Emirates airlines resuming passenger flights, but will passengers be eager to fly at this point? What did you find?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, I was surprised on the upside, if you will, Rosemary. Because Emirates is reporting capacity on the two flights of 30 to 50 percent depending on the class. What we track so far is that a 2:40 a.m. flight that went to Melbourne. And then we had another flight to London, EK 001 and two hours later at 9:45 a.m. local time here in Dubai a flight to Milan.

The vibe is very different here right now. They finished most of the boarding so it's quieter in the check-in terminal. But there's a thermal scan as you come in the door, for example, to check the temperature. Number two, there's plexiglass at the check-in counters here to build some space between the staff and passengers. And social distancing markers throughout the airport. We were airside as well. And then we watched passengers get on the flight to Milan. They could have very little in the way of luggage to take on. In fact, nothing above in the cabin. Just hand luggage or baby items if necessary.

Let's listen to a passenger from Milan who was here for three months and eager to get back home.


PAULA LICALSI, EMIRATES PASSENGER: Excited. Anxious. That's OK. I mean, I think it will be fine and these masks are not really comfortable but gloves are not comfortable either but we have to do it.



DEFTERIOS: And part of the new normal right now if we listen to Paula Licalsi. There was a hygiene kit that she was handed and all the other passengers as well. It has two masks, the mask you have to wear on board, gloves and sanitary wipes to keep your area clean. Also something that's very unusual, one member of staff is assigned to hygiene and sanitation of the washrooms and the rest of the cabin. So this is a big step by Emirates.

But as you suggested, Rosemary, you can't make a business out of 30 to 50 percent capacity. It's a ginger step back into the market right now clearly by Emirates. But they told me, the COO was telling me just over an hour ago, they're trying to rebuild trust here. So they do it with nine destinations. They reestablish the ties with governments going forward to open up more routes. They had 157 before the pandemic started. And it's very important to this UAE economy.

CHURCH: Yes, incredible isn't it. And it will be very interesting to see if other airlines follow this model that Emirates has here. Because it's quite fascinating. Very up to date, very modern circumstances there at the airport. John Defterios, many thanks for walking us through that. Appreciate it.

And you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Coming up, Doctors are warning of a coronavirus related illness affecting children. I'll speak with the doctor who seemed 44 cases of this onus about what parents should be on the lookout for. Back with that in just a moment.



CHURCH: The United Nations has issued a stark warning about education around the world in the wake of this pandemic. It says 1.4 billion children are affected by school closures and 60 percent of children globally are not getting an education at all. How and when to reopen schools has been the topic of fierce debate. In South Korea, some schools have restarted in person classes but then some schools closed hours after reopening when some students tested positive for the virus.

And in the U.K. Boris Johnson is coming under fire for his plans to reopen schools. Teachers are warning they aren't ready to reopen despite the government pushing for classes to restart on June 1. And our Nina dos Santos joins us now from London. Good to see you, Nina. June 1st is just over a week away. How will the U.K. be ready for kids to go back to school when they haven't even got their testing and contact tracing system in place?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the question that many parents have across this country. It's also the question that the opposition and teachers' union want to hear answers to as well in the next 11 days to come.

As you pointed out before, teachers are scared that they may get infected. The children may not be able to be kept distant enough to keep them safe in some of these classrooms. And also remember the fact that local authorities have recently written to the government and said, well you know, some of our schools just may not be able to be ready, up and functional to function to the standard that you are asking us.

Obviously, the government's advice is to try and keep children as far apart as possible. Keep them at a social distance to try and prevent the spread of infection. But in many classrooms, that's just not possible. How can they teach half the number of pupils during the same term time if facilities that effectively haven't changed, the classroom sizes are the same.

So all of these questions are going through people's minds. The government is coming under increasing pressure also for the fact that other parts of the United Kingdom, the devolved administration of Scotland, Wales and also Northern Ireland have deemed it too risky to send children back to school. So you've got different strategies taking place in different parts of the United Kingdom.

But as you pointed out, crucial to getting the economy back up and running is getting children back in school. Because parents, if they have to look after their kids, can't go to work. Also the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has been clear in saying that the U.K. essentially owes it, at least in England, to its children to make sure that they get the good education.

Now one of the key things that could unlock all of this is something that is going on consummately to this and that is the testing and the tracing app as well. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister said in the House of Commons yesterday, that the tracing app will be ready to go. They will have recruited the right amount of people to contact trace those who believe they have symptoms of coronavirus to launch this on the very same day that schools -- at least primary schools -- in parts of the U.K. will reopen.

But again, there's question marks of whether or not that contact tracing app will be properly functional. Whether it's privacy settings will be robust enough for people to want to use it. So many questions still in this country. And again, criticisms from the opposition that this response is too little too late and also being extremely chaotic as well -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: It is a real concern. Nina dos Santos, joining us live from London, many thanks. Well, doctors are warning parents to be on the lookout for COVID-19

linked illness affecting children as more U.S. states report cases of what's being called multi-system inflammatory syndrome. Doctors in at least 20 states who are investigating potential cases of the syndrome. This week Indiana announced its first case of the illness. And a children's hospital has identified three new possible cases. Meanwhile, New Jersey is reporting 12 cases of the illness. And New York City's mayor says there are now 147 cases in the city. Despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor is urging parents to keep going to their pediatrician to seek health care for their children.


BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: We know that anybody with a pre- existing condition can be more vulnerable to COVID. So having pneumonia or respiratory disease makes that child both more susceptible to contracting COVID and more vulnerable to the effect of COVID. And we're all watching this very troubling new syndrome MIS-C. We don't want to see any child contract COVID.


So the pieces unfortunately start to fit together in a way that should cause parents real concern. An unvaccinated child, a greater threat, contracting a disease that could then put them at greater threat of contracting COVID on top of that. That combination is dangerous in and of itself. Also brings up the link between COVID and MIS-C. We don't want to see that happen to any child.


CHURCH: Joining me now is Dr. James Schneider. He is the chief of pediatric critical care at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York. Thank you doctor for being with us


CHURCH: We are seeing more cases now of this COVID-19 complication in children called multi-system inflammatory syndrome. There are about 147 cases now in New York City with one fatality. What more are you learning about this?

SCHNEIDER: Well, our institution, we're a large pediatric intensive care unit and tertiary children's hospital. And we've actually had many children -- we've actually reported I believe now 44 of those cases to New York state -- and they all have a similar presentation. They all have fever, persistent fever for a few days. They have -- almost all of them have symptoms of gastrointestinal complications like belly pain, vomiting or diarrhea. And then very commonly we see conjunctivitis, red eyes, or rashes. So it's a fairly consistent presentation.

CHURCH: And what do you think makes some children more susceptible than others, to this reaction to COVID-19? SCHNEIDER: That's a really important question that I think we are

nowhere actively trying to figure that out. Right now there are not enough data yet to be able to answer specifically. The one thing I can say is that all the children that we've seen so far really have been healthy children without any other pre-existing conditions or co- morbidities and so we're looking into this. I know the department of health is looking at genetic analyses to see if we can identify risk factors. But right now there are really no identifiable obvious risk factors unlike acute COVID infections in adults where we know obesity, hypertension, diabetes, those clearly are risk factors.

CHURCH: And doctor, you mentioned those symptoms that parents should be looking for, the high temperature, the gastrointestinal issues. If they see those at home, should they go immediately to the doctor, to the hospital, what should they do?

SCHNEIDER: That's really important. I think that's the most important message we can send right now is when parents identify that their child has had a few days of persistent fever, and we consider a fever over 38 degrees centigrade or 100.4 Fahrenheit and particularly gastrointestinal symptoms and amongst the others that you mentioned. They really should be evaluated by their pediatrician. Right away there is definitely a time element that's important to this. The sooner children are seen and evaluated, if they do in fact meet criteria for this syndrome, then starting therapy is really important. So going to see their pediatrician is super important.

CHURCH: All right, but just day of that would not sufficient to necessarily take yourself off to the doctor. It's a matter if it's a couple of days for more.

SCHNEIDER: In general, that's true. However, if there's a child with only one day of high fevers and a constellation or combination of these syndromes, it definitely is worthwhile I think to be evaluated by your pediatrician. They may say, we'll continue to watch at home. However we have seen a number of these children already showing up. By the time they arrived at the doctor's office or the hospitals, they already have a fair incidence of cardiovascular involvement anyway. And so, I'd much prefer earlier evaluation. I think we need to keep her threshold lower for evaluating for this current syndrome.

CHURCH: All right, very important point. And doctor, as a result of this pandemic, many parents concerned about exposing their children to the infection. So they're not taking their kids to the doctor for anything. And in some cases, they're missing their required vaccinations. So how dangerous could that potentially be? And what advice would you give those parents?

SCHNEIDER: I'm glad you brought that up because that is a real concern of us as pediatricians and health care providers. Pediatrician offices, medical offices, hospitals, we're all putting a lot of effort into trying to minimize the risk of exposing healthy patients to the infections. So that whether offices are changing office hours for when they see sick children or healthy children or they cohort different parts of their offices, or hospitals, or intensive care units for patients that are infectious or not. [04:55:00]

So it's really important that a lot of safety measures are being put in place to facilitate bringing people, children to the hospital or to the offices. And it's much more important to see the pediatrician when you have these symptoms than waiting it out at home. And that the pediatricians are doing a lot to try to make it safe for you.

CHURCH: Very good advice. Dr. Snider, thank you so much for talking with us and for all that you do. We appreciate it.

SCHNEIDER: Thanks again for having me. I really appreciate it.

CHURCH: And as parts of Spain begin easing a two-month lockdown, one bar in Seville has found a high tech and hands-free way to serve drinks safely. Their newest bartender a robot named Beer Cart is using a giant arm with a pincher to fill glasses of draft beer. The bar's owner had purchased the robot before the start of the coronavirus pandemic to help boost production but found a better use for it.


ALBERTO MARTINEZ, OWNER, GITANA LOCA: Since everything is about avoiding contact between clients, the menu has to be disposable, the oil has to be single dosed. We said, look, the robot, which was going to be used for something else, is very useful. So even with plastic disposable cups, we can avoid contact. So everything has become very self-service.


CHURCH: Parts of Spain have begun phase one of a four-step plan to relax one of the harshest lockdowns in Europe. Bars and restaurants that are reopening must comply with strict hygiene rules.

And we leave you that. Thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Do stay safe. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN.