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European Union Proposes $825 Billion Rescue Plan; China Expected To Approve Security Law For Hong Kong; Protests Intensify Over George Floyd's Death; U.S. Death Toll Surpasses 100K; Remembering Some of the 100K Americans Who Died; Brazil Reports 1,000+ Deaths, 20K+ Cases in One Day. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 28, 2020 - 02:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Thanks for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow here in Atlanta.

Just ahead, a grim milestone: the U.S. hits 100,000 coronavirus deaths, many of them believed to be avoidable.

Plus, overworked, undervalued and mistrusted, Russian doctors open up to CNN about the pressures they face.

Also, protests erupt in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, an African American man, who died in police custody. We will have the latest on that story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: The first known death from coronavirus here in the U.S. came in early February and now, less than four months later, more than 100,000 Americans have lost their lives. It is a staggering toll, not a number; each is somebody's father, mother brother or sister, friend or colleague.

The U.S. death rate is nearly triple that of the U.K. and Italy, the next closest countries. One in every four people around the world who have died from coronavirus is in American and notably the U.S. president, who has repeatedly downplayed the virus, has been silent about this grim new milestone.


TRUMP: By April, you know, in theory when it gets a little warmer it miraculously goes away.

The coronavirus which is you know very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it.

It's going to disappear, what it's like a miracle. It will disappear. We had a lost 2 million a more who did it a different way. But you are

talking about 100,000 more or a little bit less. More?

Who knows?


CURNOW: Experts say it is just that kind of response that has allowed the virus to spread. The head of the ACCESS Health International think tank says better preparation and guidance could have helped prevent many of these deaths.


DR. WILLIAM HASELTINE, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: It's extremely sad. It's something that didn't have to happen for two reasons. He could've prevented it by behavior and had we been prepared, only a handful of people in the whole world needed to have died.

Looking at it where we stand today, it could be 200,000 people or more in the foreseeable future. And that's a tragedy.


CURNOW: And last week, the number of cases has been going up in 14 U.S. states, holding steady in 17 and going down in 19 others as you can see from this map. Now another leading researcher says what happens next is very much in the hands of the people.

Doctor Chris Murray from the University of Washington says there is clear evidence that masks work, with probably 50 percent protection against transmitting the virus.

So what else can we do to prevent a second wave of infections and deaths?

Here is Jason Carroll with this report.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite the president's mixed messaging on mask wearing, the nation's leading expert on the pandemic remains crystal clear: social distancing and wearing masks works to help stop the spread.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I do it when I'm in the public for the reasons that, A, I want to protect myself and protect others and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that's the kind of thing you should be doing.

CARROLL (voice-over): What does not work is this, scenes from a now infamous lakeside pool party in Missouri this past weekend.

FAUCI: We all want to reopen. Everyone understands that. But when you see some of the scenes that were shown just now, that's very troubling because that's inviting there to be an issue.

CARROLL: Fourteen states are still seeing increases of new cases, several of those in the south. Today, the nation's capitol becoming the latest major city to announce its reopening. Starting Friday barbershops, hair salons and outdoor restaurant dining all allowed but with a warning.

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D-DC): Moving into phase one means that more people can get infected.

CARROLL: In Florida, Disney World and some of the surrounding theme parks announce they hope to reopen to the public in July with some new rules.

JIM MCPHEE, SENIOR V.P., WALT DISNEY WORLD: All of our cast members are on social distancing squad understand the policy and are encouraging and persuading just to ensure that they keep their masks on at all times.

CARROLL: And late this afternoon MGM Resorts announced several of its key properties in Las Vegas will be opening, June 4th, including the Bellagio, the hotel New York, New York and the MGM Grand.

While in hard hit Miami-Dade County, the beaches and hotels will welcome people again starting Monday with some restrictions. Restaurants on south beach's famed Ocean Drive have already opened their doors today.


CARROLL: On the other coast retail businesses, churches and pools can reopen in California, again, with limitations and a word of caution.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We stopped and gotten through the first wave.

CARROLL: The numbers continue trending in the right direction in nearly 20 states, including Texas and New York, the epicenter of the pandemic.

New York City still under a stay-at-home order while Long island, just outside New York City, has already begun phase one of reopening with some construction, manufacturing and curbside retail.

Looking ahead many businesses banking on hopes a vaccine will be developed by the end of the year. Dr. Fauci says it may not just be wishful thinking.

FAUCI: I still think that we have a good chance if all the things fall in the right place that we might have a vaccine that would be deployable by the end of the year.

CARROLL: Again, 100,000 lives lost, so many of those victims right here in New York City, which is why that number is particularly sobering to those who live here -- Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: As I said earlier, the U.S. president has yet to say a single word about his country suffering more than 100,000 COVID deaths. Total silence from him on the huge loss of life but he certainly had plenty to say on Twitter on Wednesday, retweeting compliments to himself, promoting conspiracy theories and taking swipes at Twitter itself, all on Twitter.

He's upset with the social media platform for slapping fact checks on some of his false claims about mail-in voting. And he has threatened to shut Twitter down as well.

The White House says President Trump will announce an executive order against social media companies in the coming hours. Exactly what that entails or even if it's legal is unclear.

Just a few hours ago, Twitter explained why it's flagging Mr. Trump's tweets about voting by mail, saying it's part of, quote, "efforts to enforce Twitter's civic integrity policy."

And because it believes those tweets could confuse voters about what they need to do to receive a ballot and participate in the election process.

Meanwhile, the likely Democratic nominee for U.S. presidency did speak out on the coronavirus milestone, Joe Biden's tone dramatically different from Mr. Trump. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of you who are hurting so badly, I'm so sorry for your loss. I know there is nothing that I or anyone else can say or do to dull the sharpness of the pain you feel right now.

I can promise you from experience, the day will come when the memory of your loved, one will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your. Eyes my prayer for all of you is that they will come sooner rather than later. But I promise you it will come, when it does. you know you can make it.

God bless each and every one of you and the blessed memory of the one you lost. This nation grieves with you. Take some solace from the fact, we all grieve with you.


CURNOW: So an average of 900 Americans have died every single day from the coronavirus and it's dramatically affected the overall death rate here in the U.S. Researchers at the Health Care Cost Institute in Washington say more than 10 percent more Americans have died from all quarters compared with the last five years.

Now the institute says it attributes that spike directly to the pandemic. Dr. Esther Choo joins me now. Doctor, good to see you again. I know we have spoken a few times over

the past few weeks and months. But it's still really hitting hard when we hear that number of 100,000 Americans dying. And just in the last few months.

It's staggering to try and process, isn't it?

DR. ESTHER CHOO, OREGON HEALTH AND SCIENCE UNIVERSITY: I have to say it is. It's incredible and many of us are in mourning every day. I have a hard time getting through a single day without at some point breaking down over that number.

And how, if you step away from the computer for a few hours and you refresh it and you're on a statistics site, the number -- to see that number jump up in terms of case counts and death rate, it's just staggering.

It's impossible to wrap your mind around how many individual loved ones that is. And I think it's just what you say, it's very hard to process in the moment. I think we will look back and still never be right about this.

CURNOW: No, and the fact that it's America, which is, you know, the most developed country in the world and there is an expectation that there is you know that citizens should perhaps get more here.


CURNOW: Why are Americans suffering so badly?

Why is America feeling the pressure?

CHOO: I think it's a number of things. Right out of the gate, we made some critical mistakes. We were late to ramp up testing. We didn't have an elimination strategy from the beginning. We were very passive. We were slow as a whole to start closing things down because that seemed so antithetical to the way we live.

There were cultural factors, things like mask wearing is just not part of our norm here, even when you are sick. And there's a lot of stigma associated with it.

So I think, you know we did ultimately do a lot to retreat and stay at home and start doing things like social distance and face mask wearing. But it was slow to come. And so I think those things sort of converged.

In addition, our population has a high prevalence of chronic diseases that make people more susceptible to severe complications of coronavirus. And so I think it was many factors that sort of came together in a perfect storm to create the really high burden of coronavirus that we are seeing.

CURNOW: And the gut wrenching thing is that this is not over. We heard one guest say that it's not unfathomable to think that this could hit 200,000 people. CHOO: It's very odd what's happening right now because we both have

this national mourning over this huge death count and I mean, really, it's not that it's 100,000 deaths but it happened over such a short period of time.

Those deaths from a single cause over just four months and probably it's an undercount because our testing has been so inadequate. And at the same time, we are reopening. You know, like you said, 14 states, cases are still going up,

I think as New York City, which had such a high burden of disease, as the numbers went down in New York City, I think there was this kind of odd celebratory feeling that has come because we are opening to some extent across all 50 states.

And so a bit of a disconnect there and I think that will drive some increase in our caseload as we go into summer. So I mean we are watching, we are going to try and be really responsive to what happens as we reopen across our cities and counties and try to pull back if the case count start shooting up.

But there is no question that we are not done yet, that there are a lot more -- disease and deaths that we will need to face in the upcoming months.

CURNOW: As I reported there, I mean, Disneyland is seriously thinking of opening up in the next month or two, so you know pretty soon and, of course, we've seen people here lying on floaties and stuff. It is jarring; when you talk of a disconnect, there is certainly one here in terms of the death rate and how people are living their lives.

You mentioned that the day doesn't go by when you don't struggle or break down.

How are you coping?

And how are the doctors that you work with and teach with in the emergency room, how are you coping?

How are you going to face another few months of the summer, where the death rate will continue?

CHOO: Well, I mean, there is a number of different things that you touched on there that are all important. I mean, I think it is important to acknowledge as we go, you know?

We have been in this 100 percent adrenaline-fueled stage where we're like, let's just push on and push on and don't stop, don't be sad, we have to deal with this.

But as this stretches into 4 and 5 and 6 months with no end in sight, we do need to take time out to recognize what is happening and to mourn, to feel free to be sad and be shattered for a while.

I'm in a state where we are lucky that we responded relatively early and we flattened the curve. So we have the ability over the next couple of months to actually take a mental break and also to get ready for the next surge of COVID as we head into the fall and need to plan to contend with COVID in addition to other seasonal illnesses.

So we have never faced anything like this and I think we need to figure all of this out, including simply how to cope and continue with a high level effort as we are waiting for this vaccine.

CURNOW: Dr. Esther Choo, I appreciate you and your fellow doctors. I wish we could all give you a hug, but thank you.

CHOO: Thank you, Robyn.

CURNOW: All the best.

So the Pan American Health Organization says Latin America has become the new epicenter of this pandemic. It comes after the region recorded more daily coronavirus infections than the U.S. and Europe. Countries like Ecuador and Peru are seeing some of the highest death rates per capita. But Brazil is seeing the deadliest outbreak by far.


CURNOW: In the past 24 hours, they've recorded more than 20,000 new cases and at least 1,000 more deaths, Nick Paton Walsh reports now from Rio.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: It's startling to see Copacabana Beach deserted. That is what the rules say here in Rio de Janeiro. And the times firefighters have been seen on the beach, getting people off of it.

But still the boardwalk here, at times, busy, sometimes people seen there not wearing masks, exercising. And Rio de Janeiro potentially about, like many of the big cities in Rio, about to see the worst of the peak in the week or so ahead.

Face masks aren't mandatory here and many businesses closed. But the issue, of course, for Brazil is how the federal presidential level guidance has been significantly weaker. Jair Bolsonaro, the president, at times calling this "a little flu," playing down its severity and even now focusing more on the damage to the economy the lockdown measures have been causing and, in fact, insulting the governors in cabinet meeting, the video of which was released by the supreme court as part of a separate investigation, insulting local officials who've implemented these lockdown measures.

So many Brazilians here, frankly, looking to him for what they should do in their daily lives. You have to remember that the lockdown here has been in place for months. And so some pollings in fact suggest a slight increase in the reticence of people to go along with the more severe measures. But this is, of course, at the very worst of times.

The numbers here in Brazil are increasingly bad. They are edging towards 400,000 cases confirmed. And those are just the people who've managed to get a test in a country where on many occasions you seem to need three coronavirus symptoms to qualify for one.

So it's likely the full picture is, in fact, worse. The death toll at about 24,000 or so is bad but modeling from the IHME in the United States suggests it could get to 125,000 by early August. That would in itself would be utterly staggering.

So Brazil here, while, frankly, its natural iconic beauty not lost at all, it's a little more deserted and I think deeply anxious as the weeks progress as to how hard it will be hit by the virus' peak -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


CURNOW: Still to come, Russian doctors are fighting the coronavirus and they are up against another kind of threat: hostility from the very people who depend on them for care.

And then also anger is certainly boiling over in Minnesota, as protesters demand justice for a black man who died while in police custody.





CURNOW: The mayor of Moscow says some coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed on June the 1st. The Russian capital has been especially hard hit with more than 170,000 cases. That's almost half the country's total but doctors in Russia are battling the deadly virus and they are also facing hostility from authorities, the media and the public, as Matthew Chance now reports.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're under pressure like never before. But instead of being applauded like in the West, doctors in Russia say that they're facing mistrust, even open hostility as they battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Doctors like Tatyana Revva, an intensive care specialist, reported to the police after this video about equipment shortages was posted on social media. Now she says she fears being fired, even prosecuted after investigators gave her hospital the all clear.


CHANCE (voice-over): The desperation of Russian doctors and the overwhelming pressure on them has emerged as a grim theme in this country's pandemic. One of these stressed-out medics was questioned by police for spreading false information after complaining about shortages in his hospital.

The other on the left sustained severe head injuries, falling out of a window. Two other doctors infamously died under similar circumstances.

Public disdain may be one factor driving them to despair, not helped by rampant coronavirus current conspiracy theories, some propagated on Russian state television. Analysts say a significant proportion of Russians believe the virus has been invented by doctors to control society (INAUDIBLE) doctors are hiding the true extent of casualties from the public.

Either way, disinformation is corroding public trust in Russia's medical professionals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many people of course see doctors as heroes but for many of Russian society, doctors are traitors or villains because they are participating in this hidden plans for controlling people. People don't believe in state medicine. They only believe in doctors who they know personally.

CHANCE (voice-over): But it's the coronavirus itself that's killing Russian doctors en masse. Official figures put the number at just over 100 so far but health care workers have compiled a list of more than 300.

Even the government admits nearly 10,000 medical staff are now infected, including Dr. Stella Korchinska (ph), an X-ray specialist, who says she was given practically no means of protection at her hospital and had to appeal to a opposition-backed doctors' union for equipment.

That did not go down well with the hospital administrators, who denied any shortcomings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Russian).

CHANCE (voice-over): You know it's bad when infection with coronavirus feels like a lucky escape -- Matthew Chance, CNN.


CURNOW: Thanks, Matthew, for that report.

The British prime minister says an inquiry into his senior advisor would be a waste of time. Cummings has stood up intense backlash for breaching lockdown rules back in March. Boris Johnson stressed the need to move past after members of Parliament pressed him on the issue.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a choice between protecting Dominic Cummings and putting the national interest first.

Which would it be, Prime Minister?

BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: I think my choice is the choice of the British people. I want us all to make it back and as far as we possibly can to lay aside party political point scoring and put the national interest first.

And to be very clear with the British public about what we want to do and how we want to take this country forward. And we come now to an important juncture. We're moving to step two of our roadmap.

And I think that this conversation has, to my mind, illuminated why is so important for us to move on and be very clear the British public about how we want to deal with that.



CURNOW: Nic Robertson is standing by in London with all of this.

The prime minister desperately trying to move on as he says.

But can he?

Can the government do that?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think they are, by definition. I mean, the prime minister's not even expecting an inquiry into the affair, that Dominic Cummings issue.

And the new test and trace program goes into place in a couple of hours here in the U.K., whereby everyone who tests positive, there is now a test and track program in place to find out who they've been in contact with.

And if you are called by the National Health Service tracking team and told you've been in contact with somebody who was recently tested positive, you'd be expected to sit home for 14 days.

So the narrative is moving forward. Today as well, the government is going to look at possibly easing some more of the lockdown restrictions there, the evaluation of the current level of infection across the country. It will be part of that.

So the government is moving forward and I think there is a recognition of that at the moment. This may not be over for the Dominic Cummings issue but as far as Boris Johnson is concerned, it's done.

Although one of his MPs in that question session yesterday said that people would be far less energetic about the conditions of this new test and trace policy that comes into effect in a few hours because what they've see happen with Dominic Cummings.

So the issue hasn't entirely been sidelined but I think we are looking at a situation now where the government does move on and the country does want some of those lockdown restrictions eased. And that's probably where that hope and anticipation lies at the moment.

CURNOW: OK, great to see you, Nic Robertson there in London. Thank you so much.

So you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still to come, a look at the U.S. unemployment situation, just how much worse it could get.

And the U.S. considers revoking a special trade status with Hong Kong as China tightness its grip on the city. We will bring you the latest reaction from Beijing and Hong Kong.




CURNOW: New York's Times Square is known for its bright lights and giant billboards, we all know that.

But on Wednesday night, those went dark, if just for a moment. Take a look at this. This group came together to display a message for insurance companies to secure coverage during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the pandemic is turning out to be more financially painful than expected. Standard and Poor's is forecasting an unprecedented level of credit downgrades. The president of Minneapolis Federal Reserve tells CNN the real U.S. unemployment rate could reach 30 percent before hitting bottom.

U.S. investors are staying optimistic, look at these futures and Wednesday marked the third straight day of Wall Street gains.


The European Commission is proposing a plan to help economies battered in this pandemic. And the block could raise $825 billion on financial markets that distribute most of that through grants and some loans. It will be the first time the Union would raise a large common debt. Take listen.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: We are at a defining moment for the European Union. But I'm confident the past weeks have shown that there is a growing awareness of the need to invest together in the European common good. And to do this by laying the foundations for the well-being of Europe's next generation. And I always think where there is a will, there is a way.


CURNOW: She's positive. John Defterios joins us now from Abu Dhabi with more. I want to talk about Europe in just a moment, but first of all, unemployment number is still expected to be high, but not as -- not as bad as two months ago?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Certainly, not as bad as the dark days of the end of March, Robyn, let's put it that way, when we hit nearly 7 million people finally on a weekly basis. We are probably going to see a number of below 2.4 million where we were last week. So, the key thing that the financial markets and even the economists

that are driving policy for the Federal Reserve banks in the United States are looking at this staircase lower. So you can get below two million, it's a big benefit. But for some context here, that number used to sway 150 to 200,000 claims a week, not 2 million or above, so it's radical.

And we're going to cross 40 million for the first time which will be a shocking number for those who are not going to have an easy time getting back into the workforce. But we almost have this dual world that we're living in right now. The financial markets continue to head higher on Wall Street with the Dow Industrials above two percent yesterday, the broader S&P 500 index up 1.5 percent.

So this is the challenge here. The markets and investors are projecting into the first half of 2021. The realities for those who are trying to find a job in the second half of 2020 do not look very promising. In fact, the CEO of Deutsche Bank and the CEO of BlackRock, the huge institutional fund manager, both were saying the financial market valuations are not matching today's very difficult times. And S&P 500, the index continues to rise. Why the credit rating agency S&P is saying we have 1,200 companies that are seeing downgrades far more than we saw a decade ago during the financial crisis, Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, I mean, there's a total disconnect. That's clear. I want to talk also about perhaps another disconnect. Individual European countries now being put appointing their own stimulus plans. But now the E.U. as we heard there are pushing its own agenda. Why is there so much resistance?

DEFTERIOS: Well, there's both an economic agenda and a political one. The economics are that you need a wealth transfer from the north down to the south specifically for countries like Italy and Spain, who, as you know, took a very hard hit during the coronavirus. And in fairness to those southern states, the European Union overslept through that challenge.

So right now, Ursula von der Leyen is putting forward as you suggested this $820 billion-plus package to have a common pool for the first time for the European Union, not lean on the European Central Bank to help the southern states. There's resistance from the north, as I was suggesting here. But look at the core of Europe. That's what I'm focused on here. The leaders of France and Germany, Chancellor Merkel said this will be a tough fight, but we'll get there in the end.

And Ursula von der Leyen who is the president the European Commission was suggesting the same. If there's a will, there's a way. This is not a simple process right now, but it is the political future of the European Union. You have the U.K. coming out in 2021, right Robyn? So they cannot act in the common will, other members should come back and say, you know what, this is not working for us either.

CURNOW: Yes, sort of an existential moment as well, and a lot of questions there as well. John Defterios, always good to speak to you. Thank you. So in the next hour, China's national parliament is expected to

approve plans for a sweeping security law for Hong Kong which could criminalize acts of sedition and so-called terrorism. Well, the U.S. Secretary of State wants this new law would mean Hong Kong is no longer autonomous in China. If that assessment is made official by the White House, it could jeopardize the city's special trading status with the U.S. Sources tell CNN, President Trump could make a decision on that by Friday.

Well, let's get the latest from CNN Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, Steven Jiang in Beijing. Kristie, I'll come to you in just a moment, but Stephen to you, a lot is going to happen in the next hour or so in China. What can we expect?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, we can expect these 3,000 or so National People's Congress, delegates vote on this decision to enact this law. The actual process of making this law is actually going to take a bit longer by the Standing Committee for the NPC. But the passage and enactment of this law is really not in any doubts.


Now, the Chinese government has not officially responded to Mr. Pompeo's latest assessment of Hong Kong, but officials, of course, having seen for days about the urgency and the necessity to enact this controversial law in Hong Kong, and that they were determined and capable of doing so and asking the U.S. to stop interfering in China's internal affairs and to abandon its so-called double standard on national security.

But today on Thursday, of course, the Beijing leadership's focus is this closing ceremony of the NPC, the country's rubber-stamp parliament. Now after the closing of the NPC, the country's number two leader Premier Li Keqiang is going to hold his annual press conference.

He is undoubtedly going to be asked about Hong Kong, but he's unlikely to reveal any details in terms of the Chinese countermeasures against the U.S. if the U.S. imposes sanctions on China over Hong Kong. Because as you know, Washington officials are still weighing their options, trying to really punish China but not hurting U.S. interests in the city or Hong Kong citizens.

So, so far details are still very sketchy in terms of what they're going to do from Washington. But the media here has already made it clear that the Chinese government has already taken into consideration of these potential consequences, including the U.S. stripping Hong Kong of its special trading status. So they are willing and ready to accept and absorb these consequences in the words of one nationalistic newspaper, The Global Times, Robyn, that the time the era of China being scared of the U.S. is officially over. Robyn?

CURNOW: Yes. The implications of this is huge. Steven, thanks for that. Kristie, to you, just talk us through what the implications of Mr. Pompeo's statements will be. KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No longer autonomous from China. That's what Mr. Pompeo said. That declaration more than just words because it opens the door for significant U.S. action including the possibility that the U.S. will revoke Hong Kong's special trade status.

What does that mean for Hong Kong? Well, you know, it means that it could jeopardize billions of dollars' worth of trade between Hong Kong and the U.S. It means that the U.S. will now -- or could treat Hong Kong the same way it treats China in terms of trade and other purposes. It will also dissuade companies and investors all over the world from investing in and being based here in Hong Kong.

But it would also hurt China because Hong Kong is valuable to China. Hong Kong is a valuable east-west conduit for international finance and trade. A number of mainland Chinese companies have their headquarters internationally regionally-based here in the city.

Now, just hours after Mike Pompeo made that declaration. It was welcomed by pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong including high profile activist Joshua Wong, who took to Twitter to call for international leaders to follow suit. Let's bring up the tweet for you.

On Twitter, Joshua Wong said this. "I also urge U.S., European, and Asia's leaders to reconsider whether Hong Kong Special trade status can still be held since once the laws implemented, Hong Kong will be assimilated into China's authoritarian regime on both rule of law and human rights protections.

Now, protests leaders like Joshua wall may welcome the move, but the question needs to be asked, you know, if in the event that the United States revokes Hong Kong's special trade status, would it actually sway Beijing, or would it end up punishing businesses in Hong Kong? Could it end up punishing the people of Hong Kong? Back to you, Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes. As Steven was saying, you know, there is some sense in China, at least from that newspaper you quoted that Beijing is willing to absorb the impact of this politically and economically. But for the business community where you are, as you say, global business hub, what are they -- what does this mean? Have you had any response?

STOUT: Well, I did receive a very interesting response. It seems to suggest perhaps that international businesses will be willing to absorb any impact as well. I heard from the President of the American Chamber of Commerce here in Hong Kong who said, look, in response to Mike Pompeo's declaration, it's not a surprise. We know that there is this brewing cold war between the U.S. and China and Hong Kong is caught right in the middle.

Also, for quite a while already, American businesses and international businesses in Hong Kong have had to evaluate their positions here because of the trade war, because of Hong Kong protests, because of COVID-19, and now this latest statement.

But this is what I found very interesting. She told me, but in light of compose comments and what could come next, it doesn't mean that they will rush for the exits. The presence here is too big to just abandon ship. Robyn.

CURNOW: Well, that's interesting. OK, Kristie Lu Stout, thanks so much for that.

So even in countries where prostitution is legal, sex workers around the world live on the margins of society. And the coronavirus pandemic is bringing new challenges to one of the world's biggest brothels in Bangladesh, as Anna Coren now reports in today's Freedom Project.



ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A desperate struggle for basic supplies as women jostle in the pouring rain. A kaleidoscope of color among this drab squalid and desperate existence as two months of hunger turns to frustration. These women are under lockdown in Daulatdia, Bangladesh, one of the biggest brothels in the world.

Its doors are close to customers in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. With nothing to eat, and no way to earn money, their only hope is to be one of the lucky ones to receive a bag of rice. Thank God, I got the relief, this woman says. The local government, police, and charities have been bringing in supplies to help them survive including this activist who used to be a sex worker.

I'm trying to help them, she says. I want them to be safe and healthy. But these supplies will only last in a week. for the 1,500 women and girls stuck in this filthy sprawling slum 100 kilometers outside Dhaka, they say this aid is not enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If this continues, women and children will die from starvation. We pray that the virus will go away.

COREN: For 25-year-old Nodi, her world has gone from bad to worse. She arrived at the brothel when she was 14 after she says she was tricked by a broker and sold to a brothel manor. More than a decade after being sold into sexual slavery, Nodi is now facing a new problem, hunger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Because of this pandemic, we are now in trouble. There isn't enough relief for everyone.

COREN: Nodi has a son that lives with family who have disowned her. She says it's better this way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We want our children to be far away from us, so that they can become good human beings.

COREN: Situated on the banks of the Padma river with a train line running next to it, Daulatdia is one of 11 government-sanctioned brothels in Bangladesh. Prostitution is legal here if you are over the age of 18. Before the lockdown, around 3,000 men would visit this brothel every day. Many of them truck drivers transporting goods to the train station or ferry terminal. A study by a local human rights group showed 80 percent of the sex

workers were trafficked or tricked into coming here, and many of them are under age. The local police chief denies there are underage sex workers in the brothel. But he did tell CNN that human trafficking has been a problem and something they're working to combat.

The Bangladesh Home Ministry also told CNN that the law has severe penalties for trafficking and says police are on full alert for this even during the pandemic. Some of the women in the camp are pregnant fathered by men who pay as little as $2 for sex. And of the roughly 500 children inside, many of them were born in the brothel.

22-year-old Shurovi was one of them. Her mother was a sex worker but gave her to a local charity to race. Shurovi received an education, got married, and moved to the capitol until her marriage fell apart. Homeless with no job, she ended up back in the place she thought she escaped. Her dreams of making enough money to buy a plot of land and break away from this existence now drifting away.

SHUROVI, SEX WORKER (through translator): I'm facing a financial crisis which threatens our survival. If I do not have any income, I cannot support my child. The support we are getting from the government is not enough.

COREN: She can't even buy baby milk or diapers for her 10-month-old boy.

SHUROVI (through translator): It seems like we have died before death.

COREN: Now, Shurovi and these other women face an uncertain future inside this living hell. Anna Coren, CNN.


CURNOW: You're watching CNN. Still to come, tear gas, flash bombs, and fireworks. Chaos has broken out in Minnesota with protesters demanding justice for a black man who died.



CURNOW: We're raging well into the night here in the state of Minnesota where hundreds are demanding justice for George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody. Take a look at these images. You can see rocks were thrown as well as bottles and Molotov cocktails. We know at least one store was looted, another set on fire. Officers responded with rubber bullets, flash bombs, and tear gas. The governor has called the situation extremely dangerous.

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis police say one man was shot and killed near those protests. But it's not clear if it's connected to the demonstrations. These protests over George Floyd's death spread all the way though to Los Angeles. Their demonstrators flooded a freeway and some attacked highway patrol vehicles. We know at least one protester who climbed onto one of those cars was injured when the officer drove off.

Meantime, President Donald Trump is calling for an expedited investigation into Floyd's death. Randi Kaye breaks down how we got to this point. And a warning, the video of Floyd's encounter with the police officers is disturbing.


GEORGE FLOYD, DIED AT POLICE CUSTODY: Please, please, I can't breathe. Please, man. Please, somebody help me.

RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: This was the scene in Minneapolis Monday evening. That police officer has his knee buried in the neck of a man named George Floyd.

FLOYD: Please, please, I can't breathe, officer.


FLOYD: I can't breathe. They will kill me, man.

KAYE: Officers have responded to an alleged forgery call and found Floyd sitting in his car. This surveillance video from a nearby restaurant shows officers making contact with Floyd then handcuffing him. Police would later say he physically resisted, though that is not apparent from this portion of the video, nor does the video capture the incident leading up to the arrest.

After police escort Floyd away, bystanders capture this video of Floyd's face down on the ground still handcuffed. The officer's knee forcing his face into the pavement. Listen closely as the officer simply tells him to relax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you got him down, man. Let him breathe at least, man.

FLOYD: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been trying to help him out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him breathe.


FLOYD: Man, I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want?

FLOYD: I can't breathe. Please. I can't breathe here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, get him -- get on the car, man.

FLOYD: I will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in the car.

FLOYD: I can't move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been (INAUDIBLE). Get in the car.

FLOYD: Mama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up. Get in the car right away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They could have tased him, they could have maced him.

KAYE: Floyd struggles on the ground for five minutes. Witnesses on the street plead with the officers to back off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long are you going to hold him down?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's stopping his breathing right there, bro.

KAYE: The officer does not remove his knee from Floyd's neck nor do the other officers do anything to help him. Soon, George Floyd lay motionless on the ground, his eyes closed. Police say Floyd appeared to be suffering from medical distress and that he died at the hospital. The four officers involved have been fired. Their chief pointing out the knee in the neck technique is not approved.


JACOB FREY, MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS: What we saw was horrible, completely and utterly messed up. We watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man.

KAYE: In response, protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis clashing with police who resorted to tear gas and non-lethal projectiles. In the pouring rain, protesters echoed some of George Floyd's final words.

AMERICAN CROWD: I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

KAYE: The FBI in Minneapolis has launched a full investigation, though George Floyd's family is calling for the officers to be charged with murder and they want


FLOYD: Man, I can't breathe. Please, man. Please somebody help me.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.


CURNOW: Very hard to watch. Thanks, Randi Kaye, for that story. We'll continue to update you on any new developments on that. Meanwhile, coming up, more than 100,000 people have been left grieving and leaving families behind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every single day, my husband wrote me beautiful love letters on my lunchbox, not just have a great day, but just beautiful letters about what I meant to him.


CURNOW: We'll highlight some of their stories.


CURNOW: Our top story this hour is not breaking news, it was not a surprise. In fact, we've known it would happen for weeks. 100,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus and we are nowhere near the end of this pandemic. Comparisons can be tried, but the New York Times offers this. 100,000 Americans killed by the coronavirus is equal to 22 Iraq wars, 33 September 11th attacks, 41 Afghanistan wars, 42 Pearl Harbors, or 25,000 Benghazis.

So this devastating toll means this pandemic is affecting many more people who are left behind, families and friends. Pew research finds one in five Americans knows someone who was hospitalized or has died from COVID-19. So here at CNN, we are remembering some of those who have lost their lives. Here's Wolf Blitzer.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Valentina Blackhorse was a member of the Navajo Nation. She won several pageants including Miss Western Navajo. As the pandemic swept through her reservation, she warned others to stay home, wash their hands, and wear masks. She died one day after testing positive for coronavirus. She was 28.

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman worked at the White House under 11 U.S. presidents. He started as a cleaner during the Eisenhower administration. He was promoted to Butler under President Kennedy, a move his granddaughter says was orchestrated by then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In all, he served more than 50 years ending with President Obama.

42-year-old Sundee Rudder was in remission from breast cancer when she became ill with the coronavirus. Her six children said their last words to her through a walkie talkie placed at her bedside. Rudder had been a single mother since her husband's death in 2012. Her six children aged 13 to 24 now left without a father or a mother.


Leslie Leake, her daughter Enekee, and her son, John Leake Jr., all died in the span of one month. Surviving daughter Shanta says her mother always helped others despite being on a fixed income herself. She says her sister was the social butterfly of the family. And her brother John was the chef who cooked it every family gathering.

Ellis Marsalis Jr. was a New Orleans Jazz legend and the patriarch of the Marsalis family. The mayor of New Orleans calls him a teacher, a father and an icon. Ellis Marsalis was 85.

Mary and Wilford Kepler were married for more than 73 years. They went to the same high school in Wisconsin and wed in 1946. They had three children, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Because they both had coronavirus, they were able to stay in the same hospital room with their beds push together. They died within six hours of each other. Their family says in their final hours, they were able to hold hands and say I love you to each other one last time.

Assistant school principal Joe Lewinger was a father of three. In his final moments, doctors handed in his phone so his wife Maura could say goodbye.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every single day my husband wrote me beautiful love letters on my lunchbox not just have a great day but just beautiful letters about what I meant to him. I thanked him. I thanked him. And then I prayed, and then the doctor took the phone and he said, I'm sorry, but there's no more pulse. And then I played our wedding song for him. And then -- and then that was it.


CURNOW: AND you can find more remembrances for the victims of COVID-19 at And for the latest information and answers to your questions about the coronavirus epidemic, stay with CNN. Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta will host a CNN global townhall Coronavirus Facts and Figures and Fears that's at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday in New York 8:00 a.m. Friday morning in Hong Kong,

Well, it was a hard show, wasn't it? It's very, very sad. Thanks very much to all of you for joining us. The news continues. Have a lovely week.