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Study Finds Hydroxychloroquine Linked to Higher Risk of Death; Trump Demands Governors Reopen Churches; Brazil Passes Russia in Number of Cases, Now Second to U.S.; Worst Week for Mexico; Spain to Further Ease Restrictions; Coronavirus Vaccine Reaches Advanced Stages of Human Trials; Syrian Refugee-Turned-Filmmaker Gives Back; NFL Stars to Join Tiger, Phil for Charity Golf Match. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired May 23, 2020 - 05:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): President Trump declares all houses of worship essential and claims he'll override governors to allow churches and places of worship to reopen.

This as millions of Americans prepare to head outdoors for the Memorial Day holiday. Many states say they're open but there are restrictions.

And Brazil reaches a grim point in the pandemic. CNN goes inside one of the poorest areas where cramped conditions make it almost impossible to contain the disease.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and, indeed, all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes, CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOLMES: Thanks for your company, everyone.

This weekend marks a major test in how committed Americans are to containing the coronavirus. All 50 states have begun relaxing restrictions and opening businesses as the U.S. marks the Memorial Day holiday to honor its war dead with strong recommendations about social distancing, hygiene and face masks. Health experts fear new cases will spike if those guidelines are not followed.

And there is plenty of reason to worry. The first COVID-19 fatality in the U.S. was just 12 weeks ago. The country's death toll, now topping 96,000, far more than anywhere else in the world. And it is expected to hit 100,000 by the 1st of June.

President Trump claims he's been taking an anti-malaria drug to avoid catching the virus. Now there is evidence that the drug is ineffective and worse, deadly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new study shows that an anti-malaria drug championed by President Trump may harm coronavirus patients.


COLLINS: This study is the largest analysis done to date. And it reveals that coronavirus patients who were seriously ill and given chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine were more likely to develop abnormal heart rhythms or even die.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: First, this -- I think the FDA has been very clear on their Web site about their concerns about hydroxychloroquine.

COLLINS: Trump has been taking the drug, in hopes of preventing himself from getting coronavirus, despite a warning from the FDA that it hasn't been proven to be safe or effective at treating the virus or preventing it.

TRUMP: Hydroxychloroquine, try it. If things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody.

COLLINS: Trump didn't address the study today, but he did announce that the CDC will issue new guidance declaring places of worship as essential.

TRUMP: In America, we need more prayer, not less.

COLLINS: Trump says he wants churches and other places reopened immediately and claimed he will overrule governors who push back.


TRUMP: Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It's not right. If they don't do it, I will override the governors.


COLLINS: The new guidelines encourage religious houses to promote good hygiene like handwashing, wear cloth face coverings, intensify cleanings and encourage social distancing, while minimizing the use of shared worship materials like prayer books or hymnals.

He left questions about his statement to Dr. Deborah Birx and his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Boy, it's interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed.

QUESTION: I object to that. I mean, I go to church. I'm dying to go back to church.

BIRX: Maybe they wait another week. COLLINS: Today marked Dr. Birx's first appearance in the Briefing Room since late April.


COLLINS (voice-over): Lately, she and other officials like Dr. Fauci have largely disappeared from the airwaves, something Dr. Fauci told CNN will change soon.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: We have been talking with the communications people and they realize we need to get some of this information out.

COLLINS: has most traditional Memorial Day activities have been postponed or altered, Dr. Birx encouraged Americans to maintain distance, but spend time outside this weekend.

BIRX: You can play golf. You can play tennis with marked balls. You can go to the beaches.

COLLINS: The president ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of those who have lost their lives from the virus.

Now the White House hasn't clarified which authority it is that the president is citing when he says he can overrule these governors when it comes to opening up these houses of worship.

But we should note that the governor of New Hampshire was asked about the president's comments. He said, no, it's the governors who will make those decisions about when those places can reopen -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: The long Memorial Day holiday weekend is traditionally when Americans mark the unofficial start of summer. But with the threat of coronavirus just a cough or sneeze away, people who venture out are advised to use extra care. CNN's Kyung Lah reports on that.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: Well, we're about to start a very important weekend.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first summer holiday weekend, a major test of America versus the virus as millions head outside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is nice to have the option to at least come to the beach and just have some fun with friends for once. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it will be very busy and I'm confident

that people are going to want to do this in a safe manner because if things don't work we may go back to a lockdown situation and I don't think anybody wants that.

LAH: Beaches up and down the East Coast will be open with enforced social distancing.

RON WILLIAMS, DEPUTY CITY MANAGER, VIRGINIA BEACH: If we don't get voluntarily compliance to a beach ambassador, then they will ask for law enforcement to come and actually enforce the governor's executive orders for the distancing.

LAH: But different rules depending on where you are.

MAYOR DERRICK HENRY (D-FL), DAYTONA BEACH: I don't think it is realistic or practical to ask people to go to the beach and wear a mask.

LAH: While America dives ahead, data shows this week more states are heading in the wrong direction. In the weekly average of new cases, nine states, here in green, are down. And 24 states are steady. And 17 states, in red and orange, are up. And 25,000 new cases in the U.S. added just yesterday.

Among the steepest climbs, Arkansas. The state saw a 65 percent increase in the rate of new cases compared to a week ago. The state still opening water parks and pools today with restrictions.

And in nearby Alabama, crowds packed beaches today, despite warnings that more cases would stress an already stretched Montgomery hospital system where ICU beds run short.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, SCHOOL OF MEDICINE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA, BIRMINGHAM: I'm quite worried with the Memorial Day weekend coming and the restrictions loosening that this is going to go like a prairie fire. It's been smoldering. We've had a lid on it. But now it really has the potential to get out of control.

LAH: Dr. Deborah Birx says the White House Coronavirus Task Force is still trying to understand why some cities continue to see spikes, despite social distancing orders.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Even though Washington has remain closed, L.A. has remain closed, Chicago has remain closed, we still see these ongoing cases.

LAH: And this is something to keep in mind, as you figure out and plan where to put your beach towel, as you decide where you're going to sit at the bar, this warning from epidemiologists is that, if the trends keep going in this country the way that they are as of right now, the estimate is that the United States will exceed 100,000 deaths at some point this Memorial Day weekend -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


HOLMES: President Trump's push to reopen places of worship could backfire if it leads to new clusters of infections in the weeks ahead. Earlier I asked virologist Dr. Muhammad Munir for his perspective.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DR. MUHAMMAD MUNIR, LANCASTER UNIVERSITY: I think the important thing to understand is that several studies, 50 percent to 90 percent of people are still uninfected. And any change in the social behavior means that the virus would have a chance to spread. And this is particularly important for understanding in the worship places, where segregation and congregation is really high and the visits are frequent.


MUNIR: And usually in the closed environment, where the virus would have chances to sustain and would infect the people.


HOLMES: Sorry, carry on.

MUNIR: -- I think it's also important to mention that lack of clarity has been one of the major issues, in many nations where the virus has been spreading. For example, if there are different rules, this would be certainly confusion within the country that lead to lot more of opening up and that would create some issues as well.

HOLMES: Did you fear that, you know, when you hear the president say open the churches and then you see that there are hotspots in churches, there's a lot of concern about asymptomatic spread, do you -- do you fear that politics is overriding science in some ways?

MUNIR: Certainly. I think, particularly, in America, we have seen very controversial statements from politicians and that is not really backed up by the -- by the science and the evidences.

And these are really a lot more damaging than the virus itself because what we have seen that the data shows different than what we have indicated by the -- by the politicians.

For example, having that if you are not sick, don't go to the -- to the -- to the worship places or where you are allowed. So basically, it's very difficult because 80 percent people who are infected with the coronaviruses don't even notice that.

So it's very difficult to really assess that who is infected, who is not infected, until infrastructure is such that everyone is tested and they know who have the infection or who doesn't have the infection.

HOLMES: You had Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Friday, saying that it is conceivable that the U.S. could have a coronavirus vaccine by December, positive developments. We've seen some in Oxford. We've seen some in China as well.

Given the need for widespread trialing, though, do you -- do you fear that there could be too much of a rush to approving a vaccine too soon?

MUNIR: Well, that's really important aspect of the vaccine research. I think one thing that we need to appreciate, in last five months in this pandemic, there has been a (INAUDIBLE) by the biomedical research to bring in technologies and to really propose solution for this pandemic.

And, by that, I mean, like, within five months, we have over 100 vaccine candidate being tested, at different scale, including one of the vaccine that my group has developed. So this is certainly true that we have power and we have resources to do that.

But one thing that is important is to consider that vaccine is not something that you need to compress against the time. Of course, there is an urgency and we should have vaccine because, probably, that is the only way coming out of the lockdown and coming to the normal.

But if you compress against the time, the safety and the (INAUDIBLE) would be compromised and that's the worst thing I want to see that a vaccine used to prevent the infection would have more side effects.

So it should be taken very cautiously, according to the timeline and the guideline set by the World Health Organization through years of research. Those should not be sabotaged.

HOLMES: Right. And -- and -- and finally, if I could ask you, I mean, it was interesting today that the WHO felt the need to say that fighting against misinformation about COVID-19 is just as important as fighting the virus itself.

I mean, have you seen a lot of disinformation that concerns you?

That people, perhaps, might not be taking this seriously enough because of information that maybe plays down the risks?

MUNIR: Well, certainly, right from the beginning, probably because of lack of certainties, like the disease had been (INAUDIBLE) we didn't know a lot about that in the early days. And also because of the pseudoscience, a lot of misinformation has spurred (ph). And it spread much faster than the virus itself.

And I think there is no best time to emphasize on to the fact that the leading news (INAUDIBLE) resource for the information and the (INAUDIBLE) organization should be the only source for consultation when it comes to acquiring the information.

And I want to emphasize one thing here is that, many countries, especially in Asia, they've been very bold in debunking the misinformation. So I think the media, itself, should take bold steps to really criticize the thing that is not really backed up by the scientific evidences, because this would be a lot more damaging than the virus itself.


HOLMES: Dr. Muhammad Munir there speaking with me earlier.

We'll take a quick break. When we come back, the coronavirus is highlighting the disparity between rich and poor. Just ahead, as the number of cases skyrocket in Brazil, we'll take a look at how it is hitting the country's most vulnerable.

Also, still to come, Mexico reports its highest single day death count since the pandemic began. We'll get the latest update from Mexico City.





HOLMES: A grave new milestone for Brazil. It now has the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, behind only the U.S. On Friday, the country's health ministry reported nearly 21,000 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to more than 330,000.

More than 21,000 people have died from the virus there so far. And the virus is spreading like wildfire in some of Brazil's poorest communities. Cramped spaces and minimal access to sanitizer or soap has turned its slums into a virus breeding ground. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh takes us inside one favela in Sao Paulo.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice- over): Brazil has always had the haves and the have-nots but in Sao Paulo, coronavirus has the poor of its favelas going it more than ever alone.

We follow emergency workers through the dense streets that fuel the fire they're fighting. This is the place people don't want to live in. Yet poverty means it's packed all the same.

(on camera): It's in these densely packed alleyways you can tell the real risk of a high infection rate.

(voice-over): In these tiny rooms, a sickness means kids must look on at those who would care for them.


WALSH (voice-over): Renata says she tests only when her patient has three symptoms. And even those tests are paid for by private donations. Mostly, the test is done, she tells me, when the person is already in an advanced stage of the disease. Cases can be tough.

One obese woman needed eight people to carry her to an ambulance and a man with Alzheimer's, well, we had to ask the family if we could physically remove him from his home. It's hard.

Up above is Maria, 53, who caught the virus, despite being masked up in the market, she says, so she's distancing from up high. Even yesterday, the owner of the pharmacy died, she tells me. Many are losing their lives due to someone's carelessness. Renata is part of a wide operation, medicine but masks here too,

teaching people how to make them and giving them machines to do it and also food, 10,000 meals a day, sent out in small numbers into the community, because lockdown means they can't put food on their own tables.

This is a community, in some ways already isolated economically, saving itself. They have a place where the sick are sent to isolate in, a former school. We can't film patients inside. Everything here is done at a distance and says that the worst is yet to come.

(on camera): It's pretty likely these beds will, sadly, soon be full, a school given over to this purpose by the government but an operation here funded by private donations.

(voice-over): The bigger test here, how this amazing spirit of community holds up when the peak makes these streets seem even deadlier -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Sao Paulo.


HOLMES: Turning our attention to Mexico, the country setting a new record on Friday, too, for the single most deaths in a day, reporting 479 patients succumbed to the virus. The total number of cases in Mexico has now spiked 62,000, almost 7,000 deaths. CNN's Matt Rivers is in Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yet another new daily record recorded here in Mexico. After Friday evening, Mexican health officials reported an additional 479 deaths as a result of this outbreak. That is the largest single-day increase in the death toll since this outbreak began.

And, remember, it was just two days ago that the previous daily death toll increase record had been set. That number was 424; clearly eclipsed, just 48 hours later, by today's figure of 479.

As for the confirmed number of cases, Mexican health officials reporting nearly 3,000 additional confirmed cases of this virus. That brings the overall case number to more than 62,500.

But that is just a lot of numbers. And I want to put into context just how bad the last week has been here in Mexico. Consider the overall death toll, right now. 6,989. Of all those deaths, nearly one-third of those deaths have been reported in just the last seven days.

When it comes to the case total, the case total has increased by nearly 40 percent in just the last week. It is without question that we are seeing the worst days of this outbreak in Mexico so far. And no one really knows exactly where it goes from here.

What we do know, for sure, is that, at least at this moment, the government says it is continuing with its plan to begin to slowly reopen certain sectors of its economy by June 1st -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


HOLMES: Spain is further loosening coronavirus restrictions as the number of new cases there continues to fall. Madrid and Barcelona will move from phase zero, which is the strictest limitation, to phase one on Monday. Other areas that have already had their confinement rules eased will relax further. Journalist Al Goodman is in Madrid.

These protests, tell us what they're about and what we can expect.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michael, I'm at the starting point of what is supposed to be a protest starting in about 30 minutes, organized by the far right party Vox.

You might hear some horns and cars driving around with flags on them. The police are moving them out of this area right here, because they were standing here, the cars, right next to city hall and these are secured zones.

So they're against the government, against the 10-week state of emergency, they're saying it restricts their freedom of movement. They're against -- that was one just driving by, we expect to see quite a lot of those -- also against this socialist government's handling of this crisis.


GOODMAN: This is supposed to be here in Madrid and in Barcelona and some other cities this day. There are also evening protests on the streets with people together. They are now in the few hundreds.

And people are watching to see whether those might get bigger. Clearly an anger level is building with conservatives against the government, against the confinement order. Michael.

HOLMES: And in Madrid and Barcelona, as we said, they were kept back from the relaxation of restrictions.

But that's about to change?

GOODMAN: That is. On Monday, they're going to move to phase one, which means it for the first time in weeks that the 10 people you that don't live with you can get together. And you can do it at outdoor cafes which have been closed.

Half of the country is on phase one. The other half is further along because their health indicators are better, the ability to take on the virus if there's a second wave.

They will be able to meet 15 people, more stores open with some restrictions and even go to the beach with limitations. You can still hear the horns. The protesters are getting ready to makes their voices heard. Michael.

HOLMES: Indeed. Good to have you there, Al. Thank you for covering it. We will take a quick break. New travel rules, when we come back, on

what you need to know if you're heading to Great Britain.


LYDIA GUTHRIE, OXFORD VACCINE TRIAL VOLUNTEER: I just had a few moments beforehand of thinking, whoa -- but you know, we're all making decisions about risk.

HOLMES (voice-over): Participants in coronavirus vaccine trials talk to our Clarissa Ward about why they're willing to face the risks. We'll be right back.






HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

U.S. president Donald Trump has declared places of worship essential during the pandemic and is demanding governors open them back up in their states. This coming as government health officials issued new guidance to help religious institutions keep their congregations safe. CNN's Nick Valencia with more details.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After weeks of anticipation, the CDC finally released what they call interim guidelines for faith-based institutions. The guidelines goes into great detail as to what churches can do to safely reopen, things like modify methods for financial contributions, considering a stationary box or collection methods.

Other things include considering whether physical contact, for example, shaking hands, hugging or kissing, can be limited among members of the faith community.

One of the more interesting things that we noticed in reviewing these recommendations was how they began. The CDC saying that this is information considered nonbinding public health guidance. And we hadn't seen, in the draft or really any of those final documents that the CDC has published, language that is, in any way, similar to that.

We know that part of the holdup for the CDC releasing their 68-page draft document, which eventually came out in a 60-page published report, had to do with a holdup over language specifically that the HHS office of civil rights thought to be restrictive of religion. References to hymnal books, references to also communal cups or

communion cups, sharing those. It's interesting because those details still exist in these interim guidelines.

This comes a day after President Trump spoke to a crowd in Michigan, saying that he had put pressure on the CDC to release these recommendations. And now, they're finally out for the public to know -- Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: The global race for a coronavirus vaccine is on. The WHO says there's 124 potential vaccines in development around the world. And 10 of those vaccines have already reached the clinical trial stage. U.S. Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci says there could be a vaccine by the end of this is year or the beginning of next.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think it is conceivable, if we don't run into things that are, as I say, unanticipated setbacks, that we can have a vaccine that we could be beginning to deploy at the end of this calendar year, December 2020 or into January 2021.


HOLMES: Well, a potential vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford is one of those possibilities that has reached the clinical trial phase. After a successful initial trial, officials are recruiting thousands of adults and children to participate in the next phase.

CNN's Clarissa Ward spoke with two volunteers in the early trials to find out why they think it is a risk worth taking.


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.


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.


GUTHRIE: 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.


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.


GUTHRIE: We have an e-diary system, so every day I get an email 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.


WARDL The vaccines developers have made some bold predictions, saying it could be mass produced as early as September.


WARD (voice-over): 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.


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.


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.


WARD: In the end, the real race is against the virus and time -- Clarissa Ward, CNN, Oxford.


HOLMES: Well, the U.K. is planning to enforce new quarantine rules starting on June 8th and they've already come under fire. The rules are going to require most travelers and that includes British citizens, to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival.

The British prime minister, meanwhile, might have to travel soon. A spokesperson says Boris Johnson could head to the U.S. next month for a potential G7 meeting if it is indeed held in person. Nic Robertson joining me from London to chat about this stuff.

Tell us about this quarantine stuff.

How is it going to work and is there a feeling that sort of the horse has bolted a bit?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You'll get a $1,200 fine if you break the quarantine, which you have to sign up to online before you get to the airport, take the plane or whatever form of transport you're going to use to get into the U.K.


ROBERTSON: -- where you're going to be, one location for two weeks, a space for two weeks. There's contention that this is going to be damaging for business in Britain. There's concern it could also damage tourism, incoming, as some people, frankly, have had so much of lockdown, they really want to get a vacation away from their homes and will be looking to get out of the country if possible.

But some have also been focused over who will enforce it, will it be the police or border authorities. And also, the government when it announced it yesterday, said that it was very important to put in place. But they're not putting it in place until the 8th of June.

Now the government's rationale is quite simple: we didn't need it sooner because the rates of infection in the country were so high (INAUDIBLE) because we want to hold back the possibility of a second wave.

And in the coming weeks, that's when we're likely to see more people coming back into the United Kingdom. So this is like so many issues for the government right now, it is getting criticized all ways around on it, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, indeed a little trouble with the shot there. But we got the gist of that, Nic Robertson, appreciate it in London.

We will take a quick break. When we come back, we'll introduce to you one refugee who is using the pandemic to thank the people who helped him when he needed it.






HOLMES (voice-over): This was the scene in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, where a passenger plane crashed into a residential area. After an hour's long search for survivors, local health department officials say all 99 people aboard the plane are accounted for, 97 bodies recovered.

Two people survived. Pakistan's army is searching for anyone still in that rubble.


HOLMES: The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting people around the world to seek out opportunities to volunteer. CNN's Hala Gorani brings us a story of a former Syrian refugee and filmmaker. He is taking the time to give back to a community he said helped him when he was in need.


HALA GORANI, CNN HOST (voice-over): From a perilous journey from war- torn Syria, to a career as a BAFTA and Emmy-winning filmmaker, Syrian refugee Hassan Akkad

is taking on one of his biggest challenges yet, cleaning COVID-19 wards in his local hospital in East London.

HASSAN AKKAD, NHS WORKER: Since I've been here, I have to say I've been treated very well by the community. I've lived with a British family in

their spare room in south London for a year until I can get back on my feet. I was supported by the community, by the public. So this is my way of

saying thank you, basically.

GORANI: A tweet Akkad posted last month went viral. It showed the 32- year- old in full protective gear in a hospital restroom.

AKKAD: It's mentally demanding because we're cleaning and disinfecting every inch of the wards.

While wearing PPE which makes you sweat, out of breath because of wearing the masks. And mentally because you do, unfortunately, see some patients

passing away.

GORANI: It is a dangerous job handling bags full of COVID-19 contaminated trash, he works five eight-hour shifts a week.

Akkad says he never wanted to leave Syria but says he was detained and tortured after taking part in anti-government protests.

He pays tribute to make of the frontline workers in his coronavirus ward on social media like Gemba (ph) who didn't take a day off even when her own

mother became ill.

AKKAD: I work with heroes. That's all I can say.

GORANI: But it sometimes takes a toll on a man who hasn't seen his own family in a long time.

AKKAD: A guy came to drop some stuff for his mom, a patient in our ward. He was begging to come in and see his mom. No one is allowed in for health

and safety reasons. He said, I really want to see her. For a second, he cried and walked away.

And it hurts because I also haven't seen my mom in years and I know exactly how he felt. Yes. It's changed our rituals.


AKKAD: We no longer -- sorry.

GORANI: After this is all over, Akkad wants to make films again but says he's ready for the next time he might be called on to pay it forward -- Hala Gorani, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Good for him.

China's announcement that it would implement new security laws in Hong Kong rattled markets and inflamed tensions between Beijing and Western countries. As Hong Kong leaders reacted, the Hang Seng index had its biggest daily drop in five years.

The controversial legislation would ban sedition and subversion of the central government in Beijing. Expressions of concern rolling in from governments around the world, including the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: We're, absolutely, not going to give China a pass. You know, all the options are on the table. And I can say, as an economist, you know, if Hong Kong stops being Hong Kong, the open place that it is, then it's no longer going to be the financial center that it is.

And that's going to be very, very costly to China and to the people of Hong Kong. So, yes, I think it's a very difficult, scary move. And that it's something that people need to pay close attention to.


HOLMES: Well, the coronavirus pandemic has brought many professional sports to a standstill, now four of the biggest names in sports in golf and NFL are teaming up. We'll have a preview just after the break.





HOLMES: As we've been telling you, it's Memorial Day weekend in the U.S, the unofficial start of summer in the U.S. Americans usually hit the road. They go to parks and beaches and have outdoor cookouts with family and friends.

But even with everyone taking precautions, this year's Memorial Day weekend comes with risks, of course, as CNN's Peter Muntean explains.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I set out on I- 95 toward Virginia Beach, it along with some beaches in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland are open for the holiday weekend.

(on camera): This is like always the big linchpin in 95. We're breezing through right now. This is easy.

(voice-over): But University of Maryland researchers say road trips are nearing pre-pandemic levels. Last weekend, climbing 18 percent in Maryland and Virginia alone. Travel firm Inrix thinks typical traffic will return in some spots this weekend, a driving holiday that's become difficult to forecast.

JEANETTE CASSELANO, PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIRECTOR, AAA: For the first time in nearly two decades, AAA is not releasing a travel forecast because the economic data is just not readily available for us to do so.

MUNTEAN: Researchers do say that the car is about the safest way to get around right now, but it's when you stop where things get more difficult.

(on camera): We're going to see what this is like.

(voice-over): Rest stops are open in Virginia, but that can vary state-to-state. The CDC underscores wearing a mask and washing your hands when traveling. Here, crews are cleaning bathrooms every hour.

KELLY HANNON, VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: We want people to be reassured that they can come in here and they can have a place that is going to be clean for them.

MUNTEAN: Of course, an essential part of a road trip is a snack. And AAA says be mindful of the buttons that you press on the vending machine, maybe use a card instead of cash, they say especially after you use something like that, make sure you hand sanitize afterward. Weekend gas prices are the lowest in more than 15 years according to AAA.

(on camera): One more thing to think about on your road trip, all of the things that you touch at a gas pump, the nozzle, the keypad, one researcher telling me, maybe use a knuckle to hit these buttons or use it on a touch-screen that's better than your finger tips. They emphasize make sure that you wash up afterwards or maybe touch all of this with a paper towel or even gloves.

QINGYAN CHEN, PURDUE UNIVERSITY: Well, I don't think people understand the risk really well.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): The big concern from health experts that quarantine fatigue will lead to more travel and spread coronavirus even further.

PAUL ROUX, TRAVELER: I think, yes, people are just getting fed up of being closed in with those Winter months and now they're getting out.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Doing any traveling for Memorial Day?


MUNTEAN: No, staying home?



HOLMES: All right. As sports slowly return, four legends of the game are going to be teeing off in Florida on Sunday, we're talking Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and they're teeing one with NFL greats Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

"The Match," it's called, to raise $10 million for charities to fight coronavirus. Patrick Snell looks ahead, produced by Turner Sports and that means you can see it here on CNN International and on TNT.





PHIL MICKELSON, PGA PRO: This is the trophy for the match. I don't know, actually, Tiger, if you know what this looks like. You might have caught a glimpse.

TIGER WOODS, PGA PRO: Hold on a second. I just got out of an ice bath. I'm a little bit chilly.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yes, the banter is most definitely, already, in full swing. The original match, in late 2018, saw longtime rivals Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods go head to head.

And just in case the current Masters champion, Tiger, needed reminding, it was Lefty who tramped on that occasion. Golf's PGA tour is set to resume next month. But this weekend, it's all eyes on Florida's Medalist Golf Club, Tiger's home course, for the record.

NFL superstars Tom Brady, who will team up with Mickelson, and Peyton Manning, another of the sport's legendary quarterbacks, playing with Woods in The Match Champions for Charity, helping those impacted by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.


PEYTON MANNING, 2X SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: A lots of people struggling. I mentioned New Orleans, my hometown, is once again being hit hard by this virus as are many communities around the country.

So you know, I don't think this event would happen if it wasn't going to benefit those people that are hurting and so I think that's why it's a double win.

TOM BRADY, 6X SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: Just a unique moment in time and I think the ability to do good and help others is at the core of what this was all about.



SNELL: Manning was an intense rival of Brady's during a storied career with the Colts and the Broncos before retirement. Brady himself left the New England Patriots after 20 seasons to join the Buccaneers.

MANNING: I'll be honest. I've never played Tom very well on his home turf. And so maybe this is considered a neutral site. I would have loved to have had this tournament in a place where they don't like Tom very much, Indianapolis, Denver, Boston, after he just betrayed them and broke their hearts.

BRADY: I think we're going to have a lot of fun. There's been a little trash talk. You know, as you've seen a little behind the scenes, I'm sure there will be a lot more of that.

MICKELSON: We might even let them win a hole or two and get up early and try to lull them to sleep and then finish strong.

SNELL: And a historic weekend for our parent company, Warner Media, as well, with CNN broadcasting a live sports event for the first time ever. This illustrious sporting quartet may well have 20 golf majors and eight Super Bowl championships between them.

But they are so focused down in Florida, it's going to help play their part in raising a minimum of $10 million, all in aid of COVID-19 relief -- back to you.


HOLMES: Patrick Snell, our thanks. Don't miss "The Match," as I said it's airing here on Sunday for the viewers around the world on CNN International and TNT, 3:00 pm in New York, 8:00 pm if you're in London.

And that's a wrap for this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. "NEW DAY" is just ahead. I'll see you tomorrow.