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Trump Defends Police While Ordering Modest Reforms; English Premier League Back In Action With Two Matches; Fed Chair: Minority Communities Hardest Hit In Recession; Soft Lockdown Imposed in Beijing over New Infections. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired June 17, 2020 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers joining us from around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren, live from Hong Kong.
Just ahead, it's been available for decades. A relatively cheap and accessible drug is now being hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly coronavirus. Details, just ahead.
Plus, rattling sabers on the Korean Peninsula. Relations between the North and South sink and tensions grow.
And buckle up, football fans. It has been 100 days since the last English Premier League game. The wait is almost over. We bring you details on how the league is preparing for its first match.
COREN: As the global death toll from coronavirus surpasses 440,000, Oxford scientists are touting a possible breakthrough in the pandemic. They say a cheap and common steroid, dexamethasone, can save many of the sickest patients. But Harvard experts say it is best to remain cautious until the full findings are published.
Meanwhile, in, China where we thought the virus had been contained, authorities are scrambling to stop a new outbreak. A cluster linked to a Beijing market has infected more than 130 people, with nearby communities locked down.
And in the U.S., despite all the warnings, the president and vice president are still refusing to wear masks as they appear in public. Mike Pence writes in a "The Wall Street Journal" op-ed, there is no second wave coming and concerns about a spike or overblown.
Beijing is raising its emergency level as the Chinese capital races to stop the spread of a fresh cluster of infections. More than 130 new cases of COVID-19 have been traced to a local food market, one of Asia's biggest. Beijing residents are now under what authorities have called a soft lockdown. Ivan Watson has the details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the Chinese capital, government announce at a late-night briefing that the situation is very dire. Beijing's coronavirus alert levels are being raised, schools closed, then nonessential travel outside of the city strongly discouraged.
A soft citywide lockdown after authorities say they detected more than 100 new locally transmitted cases in the last five days. Less than two weeks ago, Beijing was easing coronavirus alert levels, but the new cluster of infections has experts worried.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: Over 50 days without having any significant local transmission, a cluster like this is a concern, and it needs to be investigated and controlled. And that's exactly what the Chinese authorities are doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: Most of the new cases traced back to this place. The Xinfadi market in the south of Beijing. The sprawling market and at least two others have now been shuttered, leading to scenes like this where vendors dumped fresh food.
Officials have imposed a strict lockdown on dozens of residential compounds. CNN interviewed a resident of one of these developments who says she's now relying on deliveries of online purchases of groceries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We can actually go outside our building but can't leave the residential community. I've brought my computer home, and I've been working from home these days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: City officials launched a huge coronavirus testing spree. They also say they've tracked down nearly 200,000 people thought to have visited the market in the last two weeks.
The Chinese government clearly doesn't want to repeat of what happened last winter when this new virus exploded in the city of Wuhan and then spread like wildfire around the world. Some residents unhappy with the new restrictions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I am affected. Hugely impacted. There are no customers now. No one even comes into my shop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No, don't lockdown the city, if it's locked down, it would not only impact individual business, but also factories that are just resuming production. The damage would be huge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: The stakes are high. China is now in a race to stop the outbreak. Already infections have spread from Beijing to at least three other provinces. Now authorities say if people want to travel outside of the capital, they need to pass a coronavirus test first -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
COREN: More now on dexamethasone, the widely accessible steroid the WHO is hailing as the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in COVID-19 patients on oxygen or ventilators.
Oxford researchers say the drug could save one in eight coronavirus patients in intensive care all for around $50. The study has yet to be peer reviewed. British prime minister, Boris Johnson, calls it a remarkable scientific achievement.
For more, let's go to Nina dos Santos, who joins us from London.
It is certainly an unexpected glimmer of hope in the midst of this pandemic.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: That's right. There are multiple reasons to be optimistic about this and the results of this trial. This is a drug that was developed back in 1957. It has been approved for use in certain medical conditions by the FDA back in 1958.
People know it well, the hospitals have it in their pharmacy cupboards, readily available. There are big stocks of this and it's relatively affordable as well. That's important for people in developing countries who might contract COVID-19.
A lot of people have been concerned about new drugs coming to the market. There has been a lot of effort plowed into certain new therapies that can be quite expensive to roll out. Turns out people had something in the pharmacy that was extremely effective after all.
This particular drug was tested on 6,000 patients across 175 hospitals in the U.K. The researchers were left extremely convinced that it was very effective in cutting mortality rates for the sickest patients. These are people with COVID-19 and whose lungs and airways were starting to fail and giving them really bad trouble breathing.
So people on ventilators or people who need oxygen support. They are going to be getting that immediately across the U.K. Research has determined that had dexamethasone been administered over the earlier parts of the pandemic, that 5,000 to 8000 lives could have been saved.
The death toll in this country stands at around 42,000, according to some figures, even higher, according to others as well. But what is crucial about this, as I said, is it is something that people know, it is given as a treatment for things like arthritis, certain types of asthma, even certain types of cancer care.
The hope is that this can be rolled out very quickly as they wait for those peer reviewed, official scientific papers to start trickling through. This gives them something they can build upon, they believe, is an extremely, extremely important advance in the therapy of treating COVID-19. Anna.
COREN: Certainly is very hopeful. Nina dos Santos, thank you.
Meanwhile in the U.S., vice president Mike Pence is playing down any concerns over a second wave of the virus as the U.S. pushes forward with reopening. This comes as CNN obtained the audio of a call Pence held with governors, where he urged them to say cases are increasing in some states as a result of more testing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing. In most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rising number, that's more a result of the extraordinary work you're doing expanding testing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: At least 18 states are seeing an increase in cases and an official familiar with the Coronavirus Task Force tells CNN, while testing plays a role, the surge is also due to more infections.
Despite that, some states, especially in the Northeast, have actually turned a corner. In New York, the data from Johns Hopkins University shows the curve is flattening out. In Oklahoma, infections there are climbing.
This is especially significant, because the president and his team are planning his first major 2020 campaign event in Tulsa on Saturday. Officials are expecting hundreds of thousands of supporters to attend. Here is the president's take.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Oklahoma has done very well. I spoke to the governor. He is very excited about it.
Mike, maybe you can speak to this.
He has done a great job. Oklahoma was it a very low number. They have done really fantastic work. They have a new, a pretty new, magnificent arena. As you probably have heard, we have a 22,000 seat arena but I think we are also going to take the convention center next door. That will hold 40,000.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COREN: On Tuesday, a judge denied an effort by a local Tulsa lawyer to block President Trump from holding that rally over coronavirus fears.
COREN: Many in the local community are stunned it's moving forward and are warning people not to go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: What he is doing in Tulsa is criminal endangerment. He is intentionally exposing people to the risk of acquiring a deadly virus just for a photo op.
The president needs a lot of people. He wants a photo op. And he doesn't really care what happens to the people who attend his rally.
I am begging the people in Tulsa, don't go to this. Watch it on television. Watch the president on television. You will be safe at home. Do not go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: For, more I am joined by Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, a physician of internal medicine at Crossover Health in San Francisco.
Doctor, great to have you with us.
What do you make of President Trump wanting to hold this rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma?
And what will it say if people attend this rally and then contract the virus?
DR. SHOSHANA UNGERLEIDER, CALIFORNIA PACIFIC MEDICAL CENTER: Thank you, Anna. Holding a rally in Oklahoma, where infections are on the rise, is very dangerous. Many officials there are pleading with him to cancel or hold the event outdoors.
We know this virus spreads through tiny respiratory droplets and are expelled further from the mouths of people talking loudly, chanting, singing, as they do in a rally. Even though they plan to take temperatures and hand out masks and hand sanitizer, asymptomatic people can spread this virus.
And being indoors like that and closely packed together for a long period of time creates the perfect storm for the spread of COVID. As a physician, I am extremely concerned. I think we should all be worried about anybody planning to attend.
It is undoubtedly going to spread the virus. And it's disturbing, frankly, to me, that the president of the United States is continuing to do this and put people's lives at risk.
COREN: We know the coronavirus is continuing to rise in 18 states, with nine states hitting record highs. And yet, the Trump administration continues to play this down. We just heard from vice president Pence saying there is no second wave coming.
How dangerous is this move?
UNGERLEIDER: And I want to say two things. Cases across much of the U.S., as you have pointed out, are continuing to increase. And we are hearing nothing from the federal government. We are not winning any wars against an invisible virus.
The federal government is just urging us to forget about coronavirus. And this is actually just the first wave. We are expecting to see it, come fall, a second wave of this virus. I think if we continue like this, we will see scenarios like what happened in New York City play out across much of the United States. I'm quite concerned.
COREN: You speak about that second wave. While it hasn't been labeled a second wave, what we are seeing in Beijing, in China's capital, is extremely alarming. Perhaps that's a cautionary tale for countries that perhaps think they have the pandemic under control and suddenly there are new clusters.
UNGERLEIDER: That's right. This shows you that, in Beijing, COVID is still out there. It's a highly infectious illness that can crop up quickly and spread, even in places that were previously deemed safe.
So with a city as densely populated as Beijing, for example, this is significant. And the serious measures that Beijing is taking now, to contact trace, shut down markets and residential areas, are the right things to do. And, frankly, we should be doing more of that in the United States.
COREN: We are definitely in need of good news. To hear the results about that common steroid, dexamethasone, was that music to your ears?
UNGERLEIDER: I would say sort of. This was a study in the U.K., as you talked about. It looked at hospitalized patients and they have reported some preliminary findings that are not yet peer reviewed or published.
They did find the dexamethasone, a steroid that's been around a long time, for 10 days for people who are severely ill, in the intensive care unit, on ventilators, did reduce death by a third. And then folks who are on oxygen in the hospital, it lowered their deaths by one- fifth. So yes, that's positive.
But it didn't look at patients in the community. Therefore, people at home treating COVID in their own homes should definitely not take dexamethasone. With all the retractions of information and the walkbacks that we have seen so far, it is really not a good practice to discuss study results via press release without releasing the actual data.
So we need to see that, I think, before we make any major changes to our clinical practices.
COREN: Sure, doctors wanting to see the hard proof.
COREN: Well, Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, thank you for being with us and giving us your perspective.
UNGERLEIDER: Thank you.
COREN: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still to come, inching close to catastrophe. North Korea warns the destruction of a joint liaison office and the DMZ is just the beginning as relations with the South are spiraling downwards.
COREN: The Indian army says it's meeting with Chinese military leaders to defuse a dispute that has left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead. What India called a violent face-off took place over a disputed border between the two countries in the Himalayan mountains.
A large buildup of troops has reportedly been taking place for weeks on both sides of the border. Sources tell CNN U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is set to meet with Chinese officials in Hawaii on Wednesday. CNN producer Vedika Sud joins us now from New Delhi.
These deadly clashes, the first in 45 years in the border area, are extraordinary escalation intentions. Tell us what happened.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: This is going to lead to heightened tensions in the next few days. We have been hearing from the Indian government and the Indian army ever since May, when the first standoff was reported between the two sides and the line of action control, one of the largest undymarket (ph) borders in the world.
What we got to know from them and the defense minister of India over the last few weeks is that things are being sorted out at a military and diplomatic level. On the night of the 15th of June, things suddenly changed and turned around. There have been 20 deaths as far as the Indian army was concerned.
This has been a huge setback for the Indian army. It comes at a time when there are talks on the two sides. On the 6th of June, the top military representatives from India and China met. They decided they would go ahead and withdraw the troops from the disputed area.
The understanding had taken place nine days before this incident took place. On the 15th night, there was a violent standoff between both sides, according to the army, which led to 20 Indian army personnel, including the commanding officer, dying at the spot.
And, also we do know from the Indian army statement that there were casualties on both sides, something that China has not owned up to yet.
SUD: They have not come out with the casualty figures. This is a huge setback for the bilateral ties between the two countries, especially after last year, when, in October, you saw the leaders of both countries in south India. And that was known as a reset of the Wuhan spirit, where prime minister Modi met with the Chinese president two years ago as well.
So this is a huge blow to the diplomatic ties between the two countries. The opposition within our country of India is now demanding answers from no one else but the prime minister. They say it is time he tells us what exactly happened on June 15th.
Why did we have so much army personnel dying in that disputed area between India and China -- Anna.
COREN: Vedika Sud, joining us from New Delhi, we appreciate the update. Thank you.
Another area of escalating tension is the Korean Peninsula. After blowing up the joint liaison building in the DMZ on Tuesday, North Korea followed up with threats of military deployment along the border. Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, says inter-Korean talks are over, calling South Korea's president "a pro U.S. flunky." So it is pushing back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEON DONG-JIN, SOUTH KOREAN ARMY JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF (through translator): Such a move can immediately thwart (ph) the efforts and achievements made by the two Koreas to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula. And the North will surely pay if these measures are put into action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Our Kristie Lu Stout joins us now from Hong Kong.
Kristie, is this the death knell for relations between North and South Korea?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: The tension is certainly spiking between North and South Korea right now, after North Korea destroyed the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong in North Korea.
This morning, following a flurry of announcements from KCNA, the North Korean state-run news agency, including the announcement that the North Korean military planned to re-enter Kaesong and other DMZ areas, effectively unraveling what was achieved in 2018 during those historic landmark inter-Korean talks.
We also learned that North Korea flatly rejects the offer from South Korea to send envoys across the border to help defuse the tension. There was also a lengthy statement published by Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong-un, in which she slams the South Korean president Moon Jae-in.
She says she, quote, "despises him" and calls him a two-faced liar. In the last two hours, we have heard from the office of the president of South Korea. This is what the spokesperson had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOON DO-HAN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON (through translator) Not only are the North's recent words and actions of no help to the North themselves but they will also result in the North taking sole responsibility for all consequences derived from such actions. We especially hope the North keeps basic manners in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: We have also received a statement from the Blue House, saying this.
Quote, "This harms the trust that the two Korean leaders have built in its roots and we clearly warn that we will no longer endure North Korea's senseless comments and actions like these."
The actions that we have seen North Korea take after the threats is a real slap in the face for the administration of the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, which has been a champion of engagement. It was just two years ago when we saw the historic scene of the South Korean president and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un holding hands as they crossed the border together -- Anna.
COREN: Yes, how times have changed. Kristie Lu Stout, many thanks. We appreciate it.
John Delury is in Seoul, South Korea. He is an associate professor at Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies. He joins us now.
John, great to have you with us.
Why did North Korea do this now?
Balloons with propaganda leaflets have flown over the DMZ for years.
What tipped them over the edge?
JOHN DELURY, YONSEI UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Yes, that is a great question, Anna. And I am not sure any of us really know. My own speculation is that we might be seeing sort of the results of a postponed plan that we would have seen earlier in the year, were it not for coronavirus, which put North Korea on pause, just like it put the whole world on pause.
But if you remind yourself of where we were, back in December of last year, CNN reported on North Korea threatening a Christmas gift. North Korea experts were expecting the year to get off to a very, very rocky start and I do think that COVID sort of set that back. Now we're seeing it play out and really, all of last year, inter-
Korean relations were pretty hostile, making no progress. And I think now North Korea feels ready to really push out on that and act on some of the issues that they feel strongly about.
DELURY: I agree with you, I don't think leaflets are really the key issue.
COREN: North Korea had been making threats since last week. They have followed through with their actions. But surely, that does not bode well for its new threats of military action against South Korea.
DELURY: If you are looking at these North Korean statements, demolishing the liaison office, that's just the beginning. Kim Jong- un's sister talked about a series of actions. So that's the first. They have already started following through on the others.
They are moving military assets into the ironically named demilitarized zone. There will be an increased chance of an altercation between the two Koreas and their disputed maritime border on the West Sea or the Yellow Sea.
And also, we have to consider the possibility that this suddenly shifts back into the North Korea-U.S. channel, because at anytime, we could have a major test of missile capability or nuclear capability. And that sparks that whole fire again, which has been dormant, hasn't it, for quite awhile.
So the signals are very negative in terms of North Korea being ready to go another round. And today, the Blue House response, they are kind of, I guess, trying to match the rhetoric. I am not sure how well that will play out. It could accelerate the process of conflict that we are seeing emerge.
COREN: You mentioned Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo Jong. She's playing quite a prominent role in this.
What do you make of that and why do you think Kim Jong-un is giving her the limelight?
DELURY: The thing about Kim Yo Jong is she has been a key player for years now. She has been steadily moving her way up the ladder. And we have seen her portfolio expanding.
I think experts can have legitimate disagreements about this. But I think there's some misinterpretation that this has to do with succession, because also I think we misinterpreted that something was wrong with Kim Jong-un. So we are conflating all of these things together.
I think Kim Yo Jong has proven herself over many years. She has earned the trust of her brother, maybe of others in the senior hierarchy. And she has been expanding her portfolio. Within North Korean traditions, family members have played very important roles, including brothers and sisters of the leader over the long history, over the decades. So there is plenty of precedent for her role.
And so, she has emerged as a real power player. And obviously, her brother trusts her. It's very important that she is -- Kim Jong-un has remained aloof from this. He is not commenting publicly.
There was a politburo meeting and Kim Jong-un evidently talked about the chemical industry. They was nothing of all this so they are leaving room for him to step in at some point, possibly to de- escalate. But I think we are a ways away from that.
COREN: Together, they are a formidable duo.
John, how much of this is aimed at the United States?
DELURY: That's another very good question. Right now, its focus, North Korea's anger, is focused towards the South, the situation is actually contained when it is purely an inter-Korean context.
As Kristie Lu Stout pointed out, no one was hurt. Compare that to what we are seeing on the India-China border, where 20 people lost their lives. No one was hurt and, actually, not a single South Korean, as far as I know, has been killed in any conflict with North Korea since Kim Jong-un took power.
As long as that's the case, there's a lot of symbolic conflict but it is still symbolic. The situation actually gets more dangerous and unstable is if and when it shifts over to that nuclear and missile kind of threat, exchange with the United States.
The United States is very unstable right now in terms of its domestic politics. I would be very concerned how President Trump would respond to a direct challenge by Kim Jong-un. They are not signaling that at this stage.
At any point, though, I would not be surprised if it suddenly shifts over from the inter-Korean context to a North Korea-U.S. context.
COREN: Yes, watch this space. John Delury, great to have your insight. Many thanks.
Well, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still to come, jumping for joy. The world's most popular football league returns. It's been a long 100 days and project restart can't happen soon enough for the fans.
COREN: Welcome back. Well, President Trump has been meeting with family members who lost loved ones to police brutality, but they were not present when he signed a fairly mild executive order on police reforms Tuesday. During that Rose Garden event, he defended the police and delivered what sounded a lot like a campaign speech. Jim Acosta explains.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Offering up little more than new guidelines aimed at ending police brutality, President Trump let loose on the protesters who have marched in the streets across the U.S. since the brutal killing of George Floyd.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I strongly oppose the radical and dangerous efforts to defend, dismantle, and dissolve our police departments. Americans want law and order. They demand law and order. They may not say it, they may not be talking about it, but that's what they want.
ACOSTA: The president downplays the problem of police misconduct, insisting only a small number of rogue officers are to blame.
TRUMP: They are very tiny -- I use the word tiny. It's a very small percentage, but you have them.
ACOSTA: The executive order signed by the president urges police departments to improve their practices. On the controversial use of police chokehold, the executive order recommends that the state or local law enforcement agencies use of force policies prohibit the use of choke holes, except in those situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.
Despite the fact that his own administration violently cleared Lafayette Square earlier this month gassing and beating protesters, the president argue the country should be more unified.
TRUMP: What's needed now is not more stoking of fear and division. We need to bring law enforcement and communities closer together, not to drive them apart.
ACOSTA: Civil Rights Advocates were disappointed in what they heard.
DAVID HENDERSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I haven't had the chance to take a look at the executive order on paper yet, but based on what I heard, I am disappointed. I think it is a slap in the face of everyone who's been out protesting around the world for the past several weeks.
ACOSTA: The President also used this speech to tout the latest numbers on Wall Street.
TRUMP: The stock market went through the roof. We're getting very close to the level we were before the pandemic and before all of the things that you've seen happen happened.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump also falsely said former President Barack Obama did not attempt to reform Police practices. But that's not true. Obama released his own proposals more than five years ago.
TRUMP: President Obama and Vice President Biden never even tried to fix this during their eight-year period. The reason they didn't try is because they had no idea how to do it. And it is a complex situation.
ACOSTA: The president's event was notable for another reason as few officials wore masks despite the current pandemic. Traveling in Iowa, Vice President Mike Pence also decided to forego a mask as he sat down for lunch inside a restaurant and toured a factory. On a phone call with Governor's this week, Pence tried to dismiss the latest rising Coronavirus cases as a result of more testing, even though public health officials caution infections are increasing as well.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: I would just encourage you all as we talk about these things, make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rising number, that's more a result of the extraordinary work you're doing expanding testing.
ACOSTA: Pence was sticking to the President's talking points.
TRUMP: If we stopped testing right now, we would have very few cases if any. And Vice President Pence has posted an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal declaring there won't be a second wave of the Coronavirus even though public health experts warned it is way too early to say that.
The President is moving ahead with plans to hold a rally in Tulsa on Saturday. But the Oklahoma Department of Public Health wants Trump supporters headed to the rally to take some precautions such as getting tested for the Coronavirus before and after the event. Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
COREN: The death of George Floyd has reverberated in cities and countries around the world including the African nation of Ghana. The country's tourism minister is inviting Black Americans to leave where you are not wanted and come home. Here's Stephanie Busari.
STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN PRODUCER: One African nation is sending a message to African Americans in the wake of George Floyd's death,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We continue to open our arms and invite all our brothers and sisters home. Ghana is your home. Africa is your home.
BUSARI: Ghana recently unveiled a monument to Floyd and is openly calling for Black Americans to move there. The country has quartered the black dollar for some time. Last year, the president launched the year of return initiative, marking 400 years since the first documented arrival of West African slaves to America.
Young and old flocked to the country for a number of cultural events such as Accra Fashion Week, and the music festival Afrochella. Ghana's finance minister hailed the scheme a massive success, saying it recorded as much as $3 billion in added GDP.
The government in Accra is now building on that momentum with another initiative called Beyond the Return, which aims to encourage investment in Ghana.
AKWASI AGYEMANG, CEO, GHANA TOURISM: The clarion call now for the Back to Africa movement to be reignited is really something that is natural. Africa is home and we are hoping to open arms to our kids and kin to come back home.
One African American man he came for business trip in February, says he chose to stay and see the pandemic through there. And he urges others to follow in his footsteps.
RASHAD MCCROREY, FOUNDER, AFTICA CROSS-CULTURE: I really consider moving to Africa. I really considering moving to Ghana, this land, the resources, the riches, everything is here for you to succeed.
BUSARI: A country one central to the transatlantic slave trade now offering a safe haven for those looking to restart their lives. Stephanie Busari, CNN, Lagos.
COREN: Well, they're just hours to go before the world's most popular football league will be back in action, but it won't be exactly as we know it. CNN's Alex Thomas explains.
ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT: After more than three months, England's globally famous Premier League is back. Canceled back in March due to the coronavirus crisis on Friday the 13th no less. And it's been a bit of a horror show for EPL officials since then.
Weeks of tense negotiations with clubs and players unions, the prospect of losing hundreds of millions of dollars in T.V. money, and they had to wait until June before the U.K. Government finally gave the go ahead for the season to resume with 92 games still to play.
One of the first teams back on the pitch will be the reigning premier league champions. Manchester City will face Arsenal here at the Etihad Stadium behind me on Wednesday evening.
PEP GUARDIOLA, MANAGER, MANCHESTER CITY: I think we are ready to play one game, about three days after another one and four days after another one, we are not ready, not I think Man City and all teams. I mean, Germany and Spain that they work five to six weeks, all the teams in the Premier League they have just made it through week three and a half. Of course, we know it's not enough but it is what it is.
THOMAS: Guardiola understands as well as anyone why football has had to take a backseat in recent months. He actually lost his mother to the disease. If he lose to Arsenal here on Wednesday evening, then Liverpool can be crowned England's champions again for the first time in 30 years if they win their next game against Everton on Sunday.
And while the idea of the title race being over within days might seem like something of an anti-climax, actually, there's still great excitement about the resumption of the Premier League. Although like other major European football competitions, it will look and feel slightly different.
There will be no fans inside the stadium. Normally there'd be 10s of thousands milling around here on game day. And also, strict new protocols put in place inside the venue to protect the health and safety of the players, the coaches, and the match officials. Things like no handshakes, no spitting on the pitch, social distance goal celebration as well. And it'll be interesting to see which of those habits will be tough to break. Alex Thomas, CNN, Manchester
COREN: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still to come, a British footballer scores a big win off the pitch. How his pressure campaign on the government will help feed more than a million kids.
COREN: Well, the U.S. economy is starting to pick up as Coronavirus restrictions are lifted. But millions of Americans are still out of work and unable to afford food. CNN Sunlen Serfaty takes us to one food bank that can barely keep up with the demands.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- of the United States.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a striking contrast.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have the greatest economy we've ever had.
SERFATY: As the White House declares that the economy is starting to pick back up --
TRUMP: The greatest comeback in American history.
SERFATY: Millions of Americans are still struggling to afford the most basic of human needs, food.
LARRY THREATT, FOOD PANTRY RECIPIENT: By the time I get the assistance that is needed, I may be found somewhere dead.
SERFATY: This woman in Maryland lost her retail job in April to the COVID and is trying to feed a family of six. CNN agreed not to use her name because of privacy concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time you look at your refrigerator, you don't have that much food or you're missing meals. It's, you know, it's hard. It's not like when I was working, if I don't have anything, I just go to supermarket. Right now, no. If I don't have them, I come here to get the help that I need.
SERFATY: Food Banks are overwhelmed feeding 60 percent more people than they did this time last year, including four in 10 people who have never been to a food bank before the pandemic hit. The Capital Area Food Bank in Washington D.C. has seen a 400 percent increase according to CEO Radha Muthiah.
RADHA MUTHIAH, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CAPITAL AREA FOOD BANK: It's a whole new group of individuals who have been affected by this. People have lost their jobs within a matter of a week or two after the pandemic hitting.
SERFATY: And this food bank could be facing a potential crisis moment of its own due to the enormity of the demand.
The need is so immediate that it is not just sitting on the shelf.
MUTHIAH: It's not. I mean, you can see the empty shelves and the racks here that we have. You know, it's food coming in and then it will go out you know, almost immediately. So our inventory is at the lowest levels that it has been in gosh, decades.
SERFATY: 75 percent of the food donations from retailers have stopped. That amounts to about 60 percent of its food now gone. Muthiah says they've had to purchase hundreds of truckloads of food themselves.
MUTHIAH: In April alone, we purchased about three times what we purchased the entire last year to be able to provide to individuals in our region.
SERFATY: The Coronavirus relief bills passed by Congress in March set aside $850 million specifically to help food banks. But so far, the USDA says only $377 million of that has been given out. A USDA spokesperson admits to CNN that the rollout of funds has been slower than expected, in part because vendors had been low on supplies, but additional food is expected to start arriving at food banks this month. Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.
COREN: Well, the British government is changing course and extending its free school meal program through the Summer. The goal is to create more than a million children from going hungry amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Darren Lewis has more on the footballer who made it happen.
DARREN LEWIS, CNN SPORT CONTRIBUTOR: Marcus Rashford is an English footballer who until now has been most famous for being a superstar for Manchester United scoring goals in the English Premier League and in the Champions League, also for England at the international level.
In the last three months alone, Rashford has become a hero for a very different reason. At just 22, his pool of appeal master class to apply pressure on the English government to ensure 1.3 million children across the U.K. will not go hungry this summer. With a school term ending next month, the government had been planning to end a scheme to feed kids eligible for free meals. But Rashford used T.V., newspapers, his 2.8 million followers on Twitter, and draw in his own experience of using food banks growing up to change the minds of the politicians.
MARCUS RASHFORD, PLAYER, MANCHESTER UNITED: I was hoping to do it as soon as possible where they are -- I know they've mentioned that they usually do this, you know, this time of year, summer holidays, but because of -- because of COVID, the situation has been completely different for everyone in the world.
You know, my mom was a single parent. She's got five kids that was all living in the same house, and that that moment was the most difficult moment. She's working very hard to put food on the table. And then it's the stress on her -- on her shoulders that that affected her after we eat our dinner.
LEWIS: As the excitement builds ahead of tonight's big Premier League restart. Rashford is one of English football's leading voices in terms of athlete activism alongside Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling. All three are part of the new generation who see their jobs as not only to win football matches, but also to fight for change on issues such as football's racism problem, the lack of representation in the boardroom, and the lack of black managers.
Rashford's success means that younger generation outside football no longer prepared to accept societal inequality, and who will most certainly not be silenced. In London, for CNN, I'm Darren Lewis.
COREN: What an impressive young man changing people's lives. Well, the pandemic is battering global economies. Coming up, a look at where the U.S. economic policy is making the recession worse for minority communities.
COREN: The boss of the Japanese beverage giant Suntory warns the Coronavirus pandemic could have significant consequences for Japan's vibrant restaurant scene despite a relatively small number of infections. He spoke with journalists Kaori Enjoji who asked him how many restaurants would survive.
TAKESHI NIINAMI, CEO, SUNTORY: But most 80 percent within six months. So, I'm very much optimistic, but a lot of people say 50 percent. So, because of the number of testing PCR antigen, I don't think that will come back to 100 percent. 80 percent, even 80 percent is optimistic because the people feel so anxious about the future and that they can't live and you know, reactivate their businesses. So definitely, the government has to increasing the number of testing both PCR and the antigen. So, this is a must for us to reactivate our economy.
KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: How are you adjusting production and your business in response to that?
NIINAMI: Supply chain is very famous for just in time. But we have to now changing our policy to just in case. That means that we have the over reliance on certain countries. So, we are shifting to some other countries to produce and plus we are bringing production facilities or supply chain or ingredients to produce in Japan.
We can bring back if we can make use of digitalization much more such as a 3D printing, such as robotics to reduce your labor contents. So, to produce in Japan may be a good option now, instead of just talking about only going abroad to produce products,
ENJOJI: The U.S. and China are at it again. Are you worried that this could impact your business?
NIINAMI: I'm so worried about that. That's why I think Japan business and the government has to work together to develop a more economic zone bigger together with the CPTPP countries. And the CPTPP agreement should attract more members from ASEAN, from maybe Europe like U.K. So, we have to be resilient from the negative impact because of the more tensions between the U.S. and China.
COREN: That was the Suntory CEO speaking to Kaori Enjoji. Well, in testimony before U.S. lawmakers, the Federal Reserve Chairman said the recession is hitting communities of color harder than others. Jerome Powell was asked whether the central bank is partly responsible for racial inequity in the economy.
He admitted economics has a troubled history on racial inequality and promised to study whether Fed policies contribute to systemic racism. Our John Defterios joins us now from Abu Dhabi. John, usually, the U.S. Central Bank chief would be asked about the depth of the recession and monetary policy, but he was pressed on whether U.S. economic policy was discriminatory. How did he respond?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes. It's almost like Economics 101, whether the macro-economic barometers that you use to kind of drive growth and keep inflation under control are too wide to serve the black community. This is the bottom line here.
Jerome Powell was there for the first day of a two-day testimony looking at the fallout of COVID-19. But because of the protests that we see today, obviously there's going to be a radar here focusing on the issue of the wide employment gap and salary gap of 40,000 between whites and blacks and the average household in America.
Powell basically said that economics is not a perfect science, Anna, and they could do a lot better than what they're doing right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: The economic discipline, like every other aspect of our society, does have a troubled history when it comes to issues of race inequality. There's a lot of work left to do both in the economics profession on these issues, and I hope recent events are pushing all of us to try to rally together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEFTERIOS: So look at the unemployment rate for the black community. It would -- it made great strides. It went below six percent in February, something that President Trump was touting, but now we're at nearly 18 percent, so a tripling and it's rising while the overall rate has been coming down despite all the blacks that work in the service sector. So this is troubling.
Powell has also said, we had that surge of retail sales. There was some pent-up demand up nearly 18 percent. But because of the dislocation, the long-term dislocation that we see in the economy and the jobless rate, he's worried about the snapback hitting the economy very hard at the tail end of the third quarter and going into the fourth quarter of this year.
COREN: Yes, troubling indeed. You talked about Powell's comments on long term unemployment. Hilton Hotels, it's being forced to act due to COVID-19 as well.
DEFTERIOS: Yes. Anybody who's in the hospitality sector or in transport for the business community and for travel, like the airlines of course, cruise liners, are really on the front line of COVID-19. And what we see in that sector in particular, all the companies laying off between 15 and 30 percent.
Well, Hilton Hotels came right in the middle of that with layoffs of 22 percent of the workforce. That's equal to 2,100 people, extending furloughs here for their executives for another three months. Chris Nassetta who's the CEO of Hilton was saying, look, never in our 101 year history that we've seen travel come to a virtual standstill across the board, first time. That usually because we have a pocket of the world not doing too well, and you can recover in other parts of the world. That's not the case right now.
And we saw manufacturing output surge in the previous month of four percent. But it's not making up by any stretch of the imagination, Anna, what we lost in March and April. And this is what Powell is talking about. You're seeing the rebuilding of the economy, but we hear Trump White House saying it's the best recovery ever.
COREN: John Defterios, as always, great to see you. Many thanks. And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren. CNN NEWSROOM continues with my colleague Rosemary Church after this short break.