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Latin America Shows an Uptick in Coronavirus Cases; President Trump Says His Wearing of Mask is Not for Media's Eyes; China's Parliament Aims to Choke Hong Kong; Pharmaceutical Companies Ramping Up Their Development of Coronavirus Vaccines; Coronavirus Pandemic; Gulf Countries Reimpose Restrictions After Case Spike; Saudi Arabia To Reimpose Nationwide Lockdown; Denmark Turns Churches Into Schools; Students Back In School As Denmark Reopens; iPhone Software Update; Cyclone Amphan, Death Toll Rises As Rescue Teams Search For Victims; National People's Congress, Coronavirus Just One Issue As China's Parliament Meets; Chinese Search Engine Baidu Rethinks NASDAQ Listing; U.S. Bill Could Force Chinese Companies To Allow Audits; Millions More Americans File Jobless Claims; Destruction Emerges As Floodwaters Recede In Michigan. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired May 22, 2020 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Also, thanks to those of you who wrote in with your questions. To everyone who joined us tonight if you didn't get you answered the conversation continues at cnn.com/coronavirusanswers. The news continues right now --
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Anna Coren, live from Hong Kong. Coming up, on CNN Newsroom.
Brazil, more than a hot spot. It is the newest hot spot of the coronavirus, its president, downplaying the situation, even as the daily death toll surges to new heights.
Plus, Beijing tightening its grip on Hong Kong. The latest report a controversial national security law that could deal huge blow to the city's freedoms.
And, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is working on a vaccine for COVID-19, where it could be months, or even a year away. We'll hear from two patients involved in the trial.
The number of coronavirus cases worldwide now past the five million mark, a new hot spot is emerging in the pandemic. The Pan American Health Organization says the number of new cases in Latin America and the Caribbean has overtaken Europe and the United States.
Johns Hopkins University reports Brazil, Peru, and Mexico, are being hit hardest. Experts say community transmission is likely in populated areas. They are urging countries to step up containment measures to avoid overloading hospitals, and healthcare workers. While in the United States, the coronavirus death toll has passed
94,000, with more than a million and a half infections. According to Johns Hopkins, cases arising in at least 17 states, falling in 12 others.
President Donald Trump has fired the latest shot in the battle over protective face masks. He refused to wear one in front of the cameras during a visit to a Michigan auto plant, saying he didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Here's why mask, right here. I like it very much, and actually, honestly, I think I look better in the mask. I really do. I look better in the mask. But I'm making a --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you seen it, Mr. President?
TRUMP: -- but I'm making a speech, so I won't have it now, but I did have it on right here, and I think some of you might have gotten a shot.
Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Ford, can you confirm that the president was told it's OK not wear one in this area?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's up to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: A Ford spokesman later confirmed the president wore the mask off camera.
Well, in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the virus as a little plume. But inside hospitals, healthcare workers are struggling with an overwhelming number of patients, and watching their colleagues fall victim to the virus themselves.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh takes us behind the hospital doors to show us the lines of what one doctor calls the worst thing he ever faced.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Sao Paulo, the biggest city in hottest spot for the coronavirus in Brazil.
But definitely quiet outside Emilio Ribas Hospital, no new patients arriving on ambulances is not a good sign. In fact, it spells the worst. Because this huge ICU has ran out of beds.
More startling here is that the peak is possibly well over a week away from hitting Brazil. And already, this enormous ICU is full. And in between the beds there is a growing sense of anxiety, fear really, about what lies ahead. Doctors here have heard President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed the disease
as a little flu. But presidential platitudes haven't protected them. One of their nurses died two days ago, inside this room. It's one of the team's doctors on a ventilator, and another has tested positive this day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAQUES SZTAJNBOK, DOCTOR, EMILIO RIBAS INFECTIOUS DISEASE INSTITUTE: Never before it touches us like this time. Because we have never lost a colleague in this intensive care before. Yes. Definitely, it's not a flu. It's the worst thing we've ever faced in our professional lives.
WALSH: Are you worried for your life here?
SZTAJNBOK: Yes. Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: It's a virus that stifles and silences, but suddenly here there is commotion. One patient, a woman in her 40s has had cardio respiratory failure. The doctor's heavy pulse is the only thing keeping her alive.
But after about 40 minutes, it's clear, she cannot survive. The body is cleaned, the tubes that kept her alive disconnected, and she's wheeled out.
And the space will be needed. It all happened so fast but leave a long scar. A scene so distant from presidential rallies, masks now common much of the time. But wealth, put before health.
"We have to be brave," he says, "to face this virus. Are people dying? Yes, they are, and I regret that but many more are going to die if the economy continues to be destroyed because of these lockdown measures."
The holes here in the hills above Sao Paulo are not dug ready for a recession, though. Endless fresh graves for the dead who also seemed to never stop arriving.
In Brazil, the numbers are already staggering. And it's clear, it's not the entire picture because testing simply isn't as widespread as they would like. But everywhere you go, you see the people understand this is just the beginning.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
COREN: Well, Mexico is also seeing a troubling surge in new cases. The country's ministry of health confirmed nearly 3,000 additional coronavirus cases on Thursday. It's the largest single day increase since the outbreak began there.
Mexico's total number of cases is nearly 60,000, giving it the third highest number of infections in Latin America behind Brazil and Peru. More than 6,500 people in Mexico have died from the coronavirus.
In the U.S., a fresh warning from health researchers in Pennsylvania as the country moves to reopen. A new forecasting model shows the risk of resurgence is high if communities open too quickly, and people don't practice social distancing.
We get more now from CNN's Erica Hill.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Graduate space six feet apart, the stadium at half capacity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I absolutely felt safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Hundreds of seniors accepting diplomas in northern Alabama, while an hour south, hospitals are maxed out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR STEVEN REED (D), MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: Right now, if you are from Montgomery, and you need an ICU bed, you're in trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Montgomery, Alabama has seen new cases double since the beginning of May. It's one of several areas that could continue to see numbers rise according to a new model from a team at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania. Their findings show states that opened early like Alabama, and more populated areas like Miami, are at particular risk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID RUBIN, DIRECTOR OF POLICYLAB, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: I think the value of our forecast is that there is still time to modify behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Governor Andrew Cuomo today says New York is moving in the right direction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): March 20th to May 20th, there is been a period of time that it will go down in history. A lot of pain, unique period but we got through it. We got through it. We got over the mountain. Literally and figuratively.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Campgrounds, in-person dining, casinos, and Graceland, just a few of the new additions across the country today. Michigan, which is grabbed national headlines for its tough stay-at-home measures, announcing in-person retail and gatherings of 10 or less can return on Tuesday.
Universal Orlando has a phase reopening, which could start in early June.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN SPROULS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, UNIVERSAL PARKS & RESORTS: We are going to ramp up, slowly, in terms of making sure that all the procedures and all the practices that we are putting in place actually work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Florida is one of 17 states reporting an increase in new cases over the past week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The scientific evidence clearly states that physical separation has worked, but not completely. If you look at the curves in our country it isn't like everything is dramatically going down. Now is not the time to tempt fate and pullback completely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: A sobering report from researchers at Columbia University finds as many as 36,000 American lives could've been saved if social distancing measures had been put in place just one week earlier.
There are also new questions about testing data after learning that some states have been combining information for diagnostic and antibody tests. Thirty-eight point six million Americans have now filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March. And with each report, concern grows about the businesses that may never recover.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON CHO, OWNER, DAK & BOP RESTAURANT: I never thought that I'd be in a position that I would have to close a successful business due to reasons outside of what I can control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: A number of officials reacting strongly to that research out of Columbia University, while the president brushed it off. The governors of New York and Rhode Island both say they wish they've had that information earlier, as did the mayor of New York City.
In fact, the governor of Rhode Island said if she had known more earlier, she would have absolutely shut the state down sooner.
Back to you.
COREN: Joining me now in Portland, Oregon is Dr. Esther Choo. Dr. Choo is an associate professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. Doctor, great to have you with us.
Let's start with the Imperial College modeling, saying that only 4 percent of Americans have been infected, and that the coronavirus epidemic is far from over in the United States. Does that come as any surprise to you?
ESTHER CHOO, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, OREGON HEALTH AND SCIENCE UNIVERSITY: No. It's a little bit hard to tell exactly what's going on because our testing has been so limited. But certainly, it still feels early in many respects.
I mean, the cities that have been the hardest hit are really on the coasts. There are large areas in the middle of the country that, and in rural areas where the virus still has yet to travel. They are still at verging hot spots. So, it certainly feels like on the ground that we have a long way to go and this is far from over.
COREN: Well, the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama says there is a shortage of ICU beds in his city due to new COVID cases, and some other states that began to open early are showing an uptick in cases. How worrying is this?
CHOO: It's worrying. I mean, we knew that we were opening in many places ahead of what would be best practice standards, which would be to see a steady decline in cases for about 14 days. Many places did not even come near that. There are places in the United States where cases were still increasing when then they made the decision to open doors.
So, you know, it remains this is like a huge natural experiment because states and individual communities are making a lot of individual decisions, and then of course, there is a distinction between saying things are open and having the public feel comfortable enough to go out there.
So, there is a lot of individual behaviors that are driving a ton of variety, but certainly, in some places it's going to prove to have been too early and we will see a delayed increase of cases.
COREN: There are predictions today that a second wave of coronavirus infections could come in the fall. Are hospitals in the United States prepared for that or will they be able to get ready in time?
CHOO: I really hope that we'll use this summer wisely. I mean, this is not a time to say, well, we're declining cases in some areas, we're plateauing in others, we can just take a breath. I mean, there is that temptation because we've been going at 150 percent for many months and people are very tired.
But the truth is we need to go into the summer with renewed energy and prepare for whatever hits us this fall, which will probably it would be a second wave of COVID that also overlaps with flu season. COREN: There is huge controversy over testing in the U.S. just who
should be getting tested for the virus. And you would think that more testing the better, but is that true?
CHOO: In general, the more testing, the better. And also, I think understanding what tests we're using when and why. So certainly, we need it for diagnostic purposes so when patients come into the hospital, we'd like to know who has it.
But even more, we need it for epidemiological purposes. So, we need to be doing more testing, not just of sick people but actually of asymptomatic people in the community and people should have access to tests everywhere.
What concerns me is that, in many communities, entire counties don't have testing site there. If you go into rural communities, especially small ones, there are -- there are many counties that have no capacity for testing.
So we need to be really creative about getting tests to people, using, you know, using the mail if possible and just making sure there is equitable distribution of testing at all kinds that we're really monitoring where the virus could be going and letting people know how safe it is to come up -- to come out of their homes.
COREN: Now, President Trump, surprise, surprise, did not wear a mask during the public tour of that Ford plant in Michigan. He said he did not want to give the media the satisfaction of seeing him in one. And believes it would undercut his message of normalcy. Was this a missed opportunity to lead by example? And aren't mask the new normal, at least for now?
CHOO: That's a huge missed opportunity. And really, any public figure, whether it be an elected leader or a celebrity should -- anybody who has public fame should be out there wearing a mask.
And again, it is not about demonstrating your own virility or health, it really is showing that you value your community and people around you at risk for the worst complications of the virus. When you put on a mask, it's showing you care for others. It's not saying anything about yourself.
And so, there are many reasons to be mask wearing. There are so few reasons actually not to wear a mask. We need to get over our hang ups, I mean, our stigma, and do this very, very simple thing that can really help others and it's really a great stretchy. If we're going to say we're going to open up even before it's indicated based on public health standards, then at least let's do it with things like face mask, frequent handwashing, as much as social distancing is possible. Let's make the best of a pretty bad
COREN: Yes. It's just plain common sense, isn't it? Dr. Esther Choo, great to have you with us. Thanks so much for joining us. CHOO: Thank you.
COREN: Well China's parliament is back in session after a delay of more than two months because of the coronavirus. President Xi was not wearing a mask as he held a minute of silence on those who lost their lives to COVID-19.
Well, this year, China will not set a target for economic growth because of the uncertainty of the pandemic. Meantime, it's increasing its military budget by more than six and half percent.
The Beijing's most controversial move is a sweeping national security for Hong Kong that aims to control political descent and put an end to pro-democracy demonstrations. If passed, it could be the biggest blow to the city's autonomy and civil liberties under the one country, two systems policy.
For more, let's go to CNN's Kristie Lu Stout who joins me from Hong Kong. Kristie, this move caught most of us by surprise. Is this the end of Hong Kong as we know it?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's what we've heard from one opposition lawmaker here in Hong Kong. Look, Beijing is making moves to tighten its grip on the territory. On Thursday, China's parliament introduced this new national security legislation, and today, the National People's Congress has kicked off and they planned to rubberstamp this legislation, which will effectively curb seditions, cessation, and foreign interference in Hong Kong.
What does it exactly mean? Well, we heard from a spokesperson of the National People's Congress. Let's bring up the statement for you translated from Mandarin Chinese, this is what we learned from Zhang Yesui.
He this, quote, "In light of the new circumstances it needs, the National People's Congress is exercising the power enshrined in the constitution to establish and improve at the state level a legal framework and enforcement mechanism for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong. And to uphold and improve institutional framework of one country, two systems. This is highly necessary." Unquote.
Now, enforcement mechanism, Anna, is a key term here. And observers are pointing out that that means that China's ministry of state security will be able to establish themselves here in Hong Kong and to enforce this national security legislation once it passes.
As expected, there is outrage here in Hong Kong, prompting one opposition lawmaker to say, this is the end. Here is Dennis Kwok.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS KWOK, CIVIC PARTY LAWMAKER: I just want to say to the international community that this is the end of Hong Kong. This is the end of one country, two systems. Make no mistake about it. That Beijing, the central people's government has completely breached its promise to the Hong Kong people, a promised that was enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the basic law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: There is and has been a lot of anger directed at the Beijing government, at the Hong Kong government as well, many people here perceive them as being agents of Beijing, especially in the back of recent threats. Hundreds of people arrested for participating in unauthorize flash mob protest, including sing along at shopping centers.
The arrest of 15 high-profile pro-democracy activists including the 81-year-old Martin Lee, the founder of the Democratic Party, as well as controversy over this national anthem legislation being discussed at the legislative council that would make it crime punishable with prison time if one was to insult or mock China's anthem in Hong Kong.
All of this, Anna, plus the national security legislation just setting the stage for another explosive season of unrest and protest here in the city. Anna?
COREN: Well, Kristie, I want to ask you about that, because obviously, this new national security legislation is supposed to stop the protest movement in its tracks. But how Hong Kong is expected to respond?
LU STOUT: You know, there has been this pandemic induced pause in the Hong Kong protests, but the anger is out there already. We've been following of the Telegram encrypted up, there are plans for protests this Sunday.
And as you know there are a number of key and sensitive (Ph) anniversary coming up that will encourage and spur people who are angry about this to go to the streets June 4th. That's the Tiananmen Square crackdown anniversary. June 9th, the anniversary since one million people in Hong Kong turned out into the streets to protest that extradition bill.
June 16th when two million turned out on the streets. July 1, the list goes on and on. Look, the anger is real, the frustration is palpable, and there is growing fear that this is going to be another brutal summer here in Hong Kong. Anna?
COREN: Yes, it really is frightening what is ahead. Kristie Lu Stout, great to see you. Many thanks.
Well, Asian markets particularly in Hong Kong have been sliding on the news from the Chinese parliament. As you can see, the Hong Kong Hang Seng down more than five and a half percent. The Nikkei down a fraction. The Shanghai Composite down almost 2 percent. The Seoul KOSPI down almost one and a half.
Well, a massive new antibody testing plan is announced in the U.K., and British healthcare workers are the first in line. We'll get the latest in a live report from London. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COREN: Welcome back. British healthcare workers will be the first to receive antibody testing under a new U.K. government deal with pharmaceutical giant Roche. Well, Britain's health secretary says Roche will supply millions of tests and they will be free to those taking them. We're expecting more details in the coming hours.
Let's get the very latest from London. And CNN's Nina dos Santos joins us. Nina, this is a long time coming.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is indeed. And it could be a major step forward when it comes to trying to find out how many people inside the U.K.'s population have had this virus, and could therefore get back to daily life.
So, as you said, Roche, this pharmaceutical giant has now had its antibody test approved, but also its U.S. competitor Abbott Laboratories as well. The U.K. will be making this free appointed delivery to NHS workers because obviously what they want to do is make sure that people who are treating people with, you know, vulnerable health conditions don't pass on the virus unwittingly because many people are still asymptomatic to coronavirus.
All of this comes against a backdrop of a study here today which is grabbing the headlines, saying that, for instance, take the British capital of London. One study estimated that 17 percent of Londoners, that one in six people here may actually already be immune to coronavirus and have had it in some form.
But if you scale things up to other countries like say, France and Spain, when it comes to the potential rates of immunity across those types of countries that could be much, much lower. It's estimated only about 4 percent of those countries total populations have had the virus.
Then there's big question marks over whether or not actually having had coronavirus gives you a high degree of lasting immunity to it. People produced two types of antibodies against the virus. One of them in the short term that shows that you've had a recent infection, and one that last for quite a bit longer but they don't know how long that longer one will keep you immune for.
So, all of these types of questions have made the issue of antibody testing, which as I said, is the one where you're trying to find out whether somebody is now immune and has had it really, really difficult in the past.
Some hand-prick tests where you just put a couple of drops of blood onto a little stick that will give you a negative or positive result, those initially appear to be promising and then they were deemed to not be effective enough.
The real question mark for the government here is to try and get something that is deemed effective and trusting enough so that then potentially they can try and consider things like immunity certificates, but they can only do that with tests that they know are actually reliable.
So, the last thing is how much can they scale this up to, Anna. Well, Roche says that it can produce hundreds of thousands of tests per week. Abbott Laboratory says it can make about five million tests available per month. Obviously, the U.K. has promised to test around about 200,000 people when it comes to finding out whether they currently have it.
The bigger question is, how do they manage to scale that up past the NHS workers to the rest of the economy so that things can safely be lifted. That will also include teachers who are going to be going back to work at this point on June the 1st. Anna?
COREN: Nina dos Santos, joining us from London, many thanks.
Well, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca plans to manufacture a coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford once the trial phase is complete. AstraZeneca says it has initial deals to make 400 million doses and has secured manufacturing capacity for one billion.
The first deliveries are planned for September, but that vaccine must still complete clinical trials.
CNN's Clarissa Ward spoke with volunteers participating in those trials.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. But Oxford University may soon be better known for taking a big step forward in the global race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.
Graduate student Dan McAteer is one of more than 1,000 volunteers who signed up to be subjects in the first round of human trials. All participants had to be between 18 and 55, and in excellent health. Half were given the experimental COVID-19 vaccine, and half were given a control vaccine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN MCATEER, OXFORD VACCINE TRIAL VOLUNTEER: I, like all of, us felt very much impotent and powerless in the middle of a pandemic. So, I thought this sounds like maybe I can contribute in some way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: Mother of two, Lydia Guthrie had her inoculation three weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYDIA GUTHRIE, OXFORD VACCINE TRIAL VOLUNTEER: I did have a few moments beforehand of thinking, whoa, you know, I might be injected with this experimental vaccine. That sounds like something out of a science fiction film. But we're all having to make decisions about risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: Guthrie says she experienced some mild side effects similar to a mild flu. Next week she will go back for her first blood test.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUTHRIE: We have an e-diary system, so every day I get an e-mail as a prompt to log in and complete a short questionnaire about my health and well-being. I also complete a questionnaire about my daily activities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARDL The vaccines developers have made some bold predictions, saying it could be mass produced as early as September. But some experts have cast doubt on that optimism, pointing to test results on monkeys, while none of the vaccinated animals suffered from pneumonia after being injected with COVID-19, they did still contract the virus.
Jenner Institute director professor Adrian Hill says the data has been misconstrued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADRIAN HILL, DIRECTOR, JENNER INSTITUTE: We are very confident that the result in these countries is as good as we could've hope for.
WARD: Is the goal of this vaccine to create immunity, or is it simply to prevent the worst symptoms?
HILL: So, I think it will likely be one of the other, it doesn't work at all or it works against infection and disease. That's certainly how vaccines work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: McAteer concedes he will be disappointed if the vaccine doesn't work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCATEER: If you are part of something and you've given it your time and it's been a subject of a bit of anxiety of course because there are risks attached, of course you want your vaccine to succeed.
But fundamentally, we just need a vaccine to succeed or even better multiple vaccines to succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: In the end, the real race is against the virus and time.
Clarissa Ward, CNN, Oxford.
COREN: While many countries around the world are lifting the restrictions they imposed to curb coronavirus, some in the Persian Gulf region are now putting strict measures back into place. We'll show you why.
Plus, students in Denmark are back in school learning unique life lessons in a graveyard outside their church. We'll explain next on CNN Newsroom.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Several gulf countries are now re-imposing lockdowns and social distancing measures after seeing a spike in cases. Many countries in the Middle East had ease restrictions for the holy month of Ramadan which began at the end of April. But you can see here a sharp rise in cases that followed, in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
Our John Defterios joins us from the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. John, should this come really at any surprise considering all of the warnings from health officials.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, they did in fact put out a lot of warnings, Anna, as you suggested here, saying we're easing some of the restrictions, but be very, very cautious. And this is a region that responded quickly to the covid-19 challenge, particularly here in the UAE, putting very strict measures in place, hoping that leading into the month of Ramadan, they could back off a little bit. If people were very responsible in the process.
So now, the clap downs are coming hard, and fast in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia with a quadruplet of the cases that you noted here. It is the home of the two holy sites of mecca, and medina which remains closed. Kuwait saw sudden fold increase of sources there had been telling me that they had flights going via Dubai and charge into Kuwait from Iran for far too long.
And there is also this other issue that we have in place here, Anna. And that is the labor workers from south Asia, whether it's Pakistan, Bangladesh, or India, the housing, the hygiene, and the transport of these workers, right now. It's forcing a rethink. And some of those have become hot zones here, or hotbeds, of course, for the virus snapping back in such a large way.
Even this morning, in the last 30 minutes, we saw the message from both the ruler of Dubai and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, stay at home. We are putting the restrictions in place, we want you to follow them and the fines will be hefty if you don't.
COREN: John, tell us about the challenge of remaining vigilant against covid-19. Obviously Ramadan ending this weekend, and then you got countries that are trying to reopen to business. DEFTERIOS: Yes, it's just push and pull in the region, right. Trying
to find the right balance and I think it's a challenge whether it's in Europe or United States, or Asia, Anna. But case of the E-holiday weekend, it's a time for celebration, there is major sales at the supermarkets and also at the malls who have been -- which had been reopened and sort of adjusted hours, let's put it that way.
And that is not taking place. It is very subdued. So, the couple of cases I witnessed firsthand, Dubai mall, I went a couple of few weeks ago, they did reopen, restricted hours, nobody over the age 60, no children between the age of three and 12, and limited capacity.
But they are not having to push people away because people are being very conservative when it comes to large places. I spent yesterday at the Dubai international airport, they are opening up nine destinations, but they had 157 before. All right, it's just baby steps going back in to the market. So they are trying to find the right balance.
One of the chairman of the major retail group here in the region with 1400 stores throughout the gulf region alone was saying, we wanted a strict measures and we want to reopen for business. We are trying to calibrate what is the right balance. But during the holy month of Ramadan, they gave the message, we will ease the restrictions, be cautious. And also the labor issue with the migrant workers is a big one. And it's going to have to force a rethink in terms of policy going forward, no doubt about it. Anna.
COREN: John Defterios, joining us from Abu Dhabi, as always many thanks.
Well, in Denmark, the government has spent up its reopening plan following a steady decline of coronavirus hospitalizations. Now, children are going back to school, but there are some key differences from the way classes were held in the past. CNN's Fred Pleitgen shows us from Copenhagen.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Math lessons from the pulpit. When the Veksoe School outside of Copenhagen did not have enough space for all kids, because of physical distancing rules, the local church became a classroom. Students don't mind.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's different, but I like it. And we learn a lot.
PLEITGEN: To help with their statistic lessons, they need a place with lots of numbers, so they just move to the churches graveyard. Denmark's government is encouraging, as many lessons as possible outside, the teacher says.
ANETTE DA CRUZ, TEACHER VEKSOE SCHOOL: We have to study to statistics and math, so instead of doing it inside the school, now we can use the cemetery. They can collect data, and we can work with it, and they become much more curious.
PLEITGEN: Denmark is rapidly reopening its schools, under very strict hygiene measures. Arrival times are stagger so there aren't too many kids at school at once. You won't see students, or teachers, wearing masks though. Instead, here at the Hendriksholms School in Copenhagen, they use police tape to make sure children do not cross paths on the stairs, in the schoolyard, children should keep at least 2 feet apart. And, they wash their hands, and sanitize, at least every two hours. A new experience for many.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little hard to get used to, but when you get used to it, it definitely feels more normal.
PLEITGEN: With that concept, Denmark first brought the youngest students back to school, and now, the older ones as well. The head of secondary education at the Hendriksholms School, Jimmy Adetunji says, the key to making it work is trusting the kids to be responsible.
JIMMY ADETUNJI, HEAD OF SECONDARY EDUCATION, HENDRIKSHOLMS SCHOOL: If you follow the guidelines given, if you keep distance, if you make sure to wash your hands, keep sanitizing, coughing in your sleeve, and not in your hand, and so on and so forth, I think we will be safe.
PLEITGEN: With many parents, fearing for their kid's safety, the Danish government worked with parents and teacher's groups, to build support for the plan of the country's education minister, tells me.
PEMILLE ROSENKRANTZ-THIEL, DANISH HEALTH MINISTER: Without that dialog, I think many people would feel that it wasn't safe to send their children to school. I think the guidelines that we would've made would not have hit the target, and then we would have outbreaks in different schools, and that would have made other parents uncertain about the situation.
PLEITGEN: Opening schools does not appear to have led to a spike in coronavirus infections in Denmark, and while some might find math lessons on a graveyard a bit awkward, well, so far, Dane say their way of bringing school back is working. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Copenhagen, Denmark.
COREN: Apple has released a new iPhone software update, IOS 13.5, and you're going to want to make sure you download this one. They made it much easier to unlock your iPhone when wearing a mask. The mask wearing user swipe up, they can immediately input their pin code. Previously, face I.D. would try to recognize your face multiple times, before prompting for your pin. And, that's not all. Apple also added technology for digital contact tracing, and exposure notification apps.
Well, tensions arising here in Hong Kong as Beijing looks to shut down pro-democracy demonstrations, and what could be left of the cities autonomy. A look at the controversial proposed law, when we return.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [03:40:00]
COREN: Rescue teams are scouring parts of coastal Bangladesh, and eastern India, as the death toll from the cyclone Amphan now tops 80. It was the most powerful cyclone to hit the region in more than a decade. With the pandemic also barring down, many were afraid to go to shelters for safety. Sam Kiley has the details.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a fight against the elements that many knew they could not never win. Shoring up dikes, while out in the Bay of Bengal, the biggest cyclone ever recorded in the region, stormed closer. It is a fight two, against the coronavirus, the storm, and immediate threat. The disease, a longer term terror.
RUMKI KHATUN, VILLAGER: There are too many people here. It is impossible to maintain social distancing. I'm very concerned. We could not stay home due to the storm, and here's the tensions of corona. I'm just trying to dodge both.
KILEY: At least 2.4 million Bangladeshi and 650,000 Indians were evacuated from their homes as the cyclone and winds, and rains lashed at them. The need for social isolation, a risk from the cramped conditions of emergency. While others, fear the virus more than the tempest.
SHAFIQUL ISLAM, RESIDENT: We did not go to the shelter last night. When the storm came, we took shelter under the bed when the house was being battered.
KILEY: And from the deep in the Bay of Bengal, but spent much of its energy at sea. Still hitting land with winds of 160 kilometers an hour, tearing into homes, and the fabric of nations. Decades of experience with cyclone has mend that both Bangladesh, and India, were able to prevent a much higher death toll with mass evacuations.
The fragile Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, were largely spared by Amphan. This is a region now well-rehearsed in coping with the greater numbers, and ever more ferocious strengths of cyclones due to climate change. But now, a double fury of storm, and the pandemic, is being unleashed on those least able to bear it. Sam Kiley, CNN, Abu Dhabi.
COREN: Stay with CNN, much more, after this break.
COREN: As we as we mentioned earlier, China is hosting its lavish National People's Congress two months late, the pandemic is high on the agenda, but isn't alone. A faltering economy, Hong Kong protests, and rocky relations with Washington are just some of the items on President Xi's plate. For the news media reporting from such a high- level event has its challenges, especially in a pandemic. CNN's Steven Jiang takes us behind the scenes.
STEVEN JIANG, CNN PRODUCER: Each year, China's ruling communist party underscores its power at the National People's Congress. As the country is rubberstamp parliament endorses the Beijing leadership's political agenda with pomp and ceremony. But this year, the great hall of the people was much emptier. Coronavirus, stripping much of the media fanfare, and social distancing measures physically separating reporters from officials, and delegates, makes an already highly choreographed event even less accessible.
It's 5:30 a.m. here in Beijing. The streets are still kind of quiet. I am up early to cover the country's annual parliament session, now, because of the pandemic, everything is being done differently. So, instead of heading down town to central Beijing, where the meeting venue is, I'm going to head west to a government run hotel.
In the spotlight this year, the party's response to the global pandemic, and this is a showcase of their much touted success. Thousands of delegates from around the nation, coming together, in a packed space. Something impossible, in many countries right now. Still, hundreds of the usual onlookers will not be allowed in, making my ticket highly sought after, but there is a catch.
So, we are on our way to the hotel, and I think we are getting close. Now the reason we are told to get there first is to get tested for the coronavirus. I haven't left town for over four months, and I have no symptoms, and as far as I know I have never been in contact with anyone who is gotten covid-19, but still, you know, in the back of your mind, you are a little nervous.
The small group of journalists I'm with, are all wearing masks. Mandatory for such occasions in China. Where the government of President Xi Jinping has credit its containment of the virus to often draconian measures from strict lockdowns to obsessive health checks.
We just picked up our testing kits here in this plastic bag. So, this is Russian journalist just walked in, and she's the next to be tested. It looks like it is going to be a throat swab. OK, it's my turn, let's see how this unfolds. And temperature checked first.
Six hours later, we all know we passed, because we are allowed on to a bus. The show will go on.
So, after all the health screenings, and security checks, we are finally inside the press box at the great hall of the people.
Down below, President Xi, and other top leaders do not wear masks. Everybody else, does. The national anthem echoes through a less crowded hall. Followed, by a moment of silence, for the victims of covid-19. But, there are big decisions being heard by those here. China's plunging economy, continued protests in Hong Kong, and an increasingly contentious of relationship with the U.S. All issues, that way as heavy as the coronavirus. Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing.
COREN: Well, as we mentioned, Chinese parliament is back in session after a delay of more than two months because of the coronavirus. President Xi wasn't wearing a mask, as he held a minute of silence to honor those who lost their lives to covid-19. Well, this year, China will not set a target for economic growth, because of the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Meantime, it is increasing its military budget by more than 6.5 percent. But Beijing's most controversial move is a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong that aims to control political dissent and put an end to pro-democracy demonstrations. Well, if passed, this could be the biggest blow to the cities autonomy, and civil liberties under the one country, two systems policy.
Well, lawmakers in Washington are cracking down on Chinese companies on the U.S. Stock exchanges, the CEO of Baidu is considering the companies NASDAQ listing, because of the proposals. He said quote, the U.S. government is constantly tightening its control of Chinese companies listed in the U.S.
Our basic judgment is that if you are a good company, there are many options for where to list, and it is not limited to the United States. Well, the U.S. Congress is pushing a bill that would force Chinese companies off of the exchange, if they do not comply with audit standards for three years in a row.
More bad news for the U.S. Economy, 2.4 million Americans filed for first time jobless benefits last week. That means, nearly 39 million people have filed for unemployment since mid-March. This comes as all 50 states are beginning to reopen. Layoffs, and furloughs, continue to plague the labor market.
But there is one bright spot, if you can call it that. New jobless claims have been on a steady decline since a record 7 million at the end of March.
With so many Americans out of work, you think getting people to take an open job would be an easy sell, but that is not always the case. CNN's, Kyung Lah, explains why.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is it going? My name is Angelo, and I'm calling from a (inaudible) staffing.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As businesses look to reopen, job recruiters like Andres Nunes (ph) search for people to take the job. Yet, one out of every five calls he makes --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't want to come out. They don't want to come out because the price isn't right.
LAH: How does unemployment fit into that piece?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People would rather just get the unemployment.
LAH: Because in many cases, it pays more. Unemployment benefits average more than $350 a week nationwide in state benefits, plus, an additional $600 per week in federal stimulus funding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before unemployment, I was lucky to make between 250, and $300 a week.
LAH: This recent college graduate, who asked her name not be used, was laid off from a bowling alley in Ohio in March. Her untaxed unemployment is three times her old take home pay.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been able to pay off my car, three months early.
LAH: You are making more money not working, what does -- so what do you think about that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is lessening the stress of going back to work.
LAH: Exposure to the virus is the biggest concern, she says, as the economy reopens.
If the bowling alley calls, and says they want to hire you back, but you have this option of unemployment, which one do you choose?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See, that's actually a hard question. This is the first time I felt financially stable, in a long time. But then again, I am very much the type of person where I like to feel like I am earning my money in the same way. Like everyone has, in my, mind the right to live comfortably, and not have to worry. And I think this level of unemployment money is allowing that to happen.
LAH: But that doesn't help employers like Josh Sauder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have, you know, employees that who won't return my calls. I had one employee showed up, and quit two days later, to go back on unemployment.
LAH: Sauder runs a Drunken Crab, in north Hollywood California. When we met him at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, he had just laid off 75 employees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm worried about having a heart attack, to be perfectly honest with you.
LAH: Today, his dining room sits empty. Carry out only. Unemployment verification requests are delivered by the handful. A few employees are back, as far as the others.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the amount of money that people were making on unemployment right now, quite honestly, it's more than what we are paying them before.
LAH: Do you feel like you are competing with unemployment?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No question. I don't blame them. But, we do need workers to come back eventually. This is a limited amount of money that you will receive, for a limited amount of time, that will run out.
LAH: The federal stimulus money, the $600 per week, is set to expire at the end of July. The unemployed woman you heard from in our story, she said that this entire experience has taught her that her wages, and the wages of people who might work in a theater behind me, well, those wages simply are not high enough in this country, especially if you consider college loans, and health care. Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.
COREN: The set of damages is becoming clear as floodwaters receded in midland, Michigan. Thousands of people abandon their homes after two dams failed on Tuesday. On Thursday, President Trump issued a federal emergency declaration to free up resources. He said, he will visit the area, at an appropriate time. Ryan Young reports on the tricky evacuation, amid the covid crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of hairy, you know? I mean you're right in the middle of damn pandemic, but you know, you come here.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: About 11,000 evacuated across central Michigan, 100 of those people, forced into this shelter in Midland High School, waiting for the water to go down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen other floods, but not like this.
YOUNG: This is why. Intense rain caused the nearly 100 year old Eatonville and Sanford Dams to breach Tuesday, sending water crashing downstream.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was actually a small house floating in the river, a blue house, that was going down river, and it was just tragic, the amount of people that are affected by this.
YOUNG: Parts of the city of midland Michigan, underwater. Businesses and homes, flooded. Stop signs are below the surface, and kayaks paddle down the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's heartbreaking.
YOUNG: These drone pictures are the first time Lani Mills has seen his houses since the flood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just kind of confirmed to us, come here, expecting the worse and I saw it.
YOUNG: Would you be back? Are you going to rebuild?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to.
YOUNG: But this disaster may have been preventable, the federal government warned for more than a decade, the Eatonville Dam could not handle a massive flood, and in 2018, it revoked the owner's license to operate it. A local task force was given a preliminary permit to take over the dam. But for now, the shelters are trying to keep people who can't go home safe, while avoiding spreading the virus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a very senior population here. So, the consequence, I was not going to become, for lack of a better word, a New York nursing home. When I get on my shift here, and so we are taking extra precautions.
YOUNG: Everyone's temperatures are checked at the door, surfaces are constantly scrub down, and beds are cleaned.
You can see stickers like this one, that's a cleaned, and the reason why, is when they put the vetting together, they make sure they wipe it all down with Clorox, they use fresh sheets, and they want to make sure each one is indicated, so they know it is safe.
So far, shelter organizers have said they have not seen anyone with symptoms of the virus. Though, across Michigan, the number of cases continues to go up, while midland waits for the water to go down. Ryan Young, CNN, midland, Michigan.
COREN: Well, thanks for so much for watching CNN Newsroom, I'm Anna Coren, the news continues, after this short break.