Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Coronavirus' Asymptomatic Spread; Coronavirus Cases In U.S. Rising To Record Levels; CDC Warns Against Fully Reopening Schools; Arizona Teachers Concerned About Safely Reopening; Trump Refused To Wear Mask Publicly Before Hospital Visit; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Not Proceeding With Reopening Plan; Virus Arrives In Idlib, Syria's Last Rebel Stronghold; DNC Warns Campaigns About Using TikTok App. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 12, 2020 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[01:00:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am Michael Holmes.

U.S. president Donald Trump finally seen finally seen wearing a mask, as coronavirus cases grow at an alarming rate.

The happiest place on Earth, Disney, reopens to the public with new safety measures in measures in place, but are they being properly enforced?

Also, the app that has the kept entertained over quarantine could be canceled by the U.S. government, we will discuss security concerns surrounding TikTok.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

M. HOLMES: Welcome, everyone.

The U.S. president Donald Trump now what doing what many people have been doing for months, now that, is wearing a mask. He did it during a visit to a military medical center Saturday. The first time he has been wearing one in front of the cameras.

Doctors and scientists have been saying for months, of course, that wearing a mask a mask keeps the virus from spreading even if you don't know you have it. In fact, there is now a new estimate of how many people may be infected with the coronavirus having no symptoms at all.

The CDC says it could be as could be as many as 40 percent. It might be one of the many reasons explaining this, 29 states now reporting a rise in coronavirus cases, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Georgia all reporting record or near record daily case numbers on Saturday.

The number of lives lost to COVID was above 800 for four days a row in a row. Those aren't the only alarming facts and figures about this outbreak, CNN's Polo Sandoval breaks it down for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: People are infecting other people.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, telling the world that the U.S. is at a historic point in the COVID pandemic.

FAUCI: As you can see from the slide here, my own country , the United States, as I'm sure we will be able to discuss a little bit more, is in the middle right now even as we speak in a very serious problem.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The doctor issued the blunt new warning during this year's international AIDS conference that the coronavirus crisis rages on amid ongoing reopenings.

Florida continues to grapple with skyrocketing daily COVID numbers and hospitalizations . In hot zone Miami-Dade County, the test positivity rate surpassed 33 percent this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FL: We have, 1800 people, COVID patients now, that is the highest by many multiples. We have almost 400 people in intensive care and we're about to hit an all-time high in ventilators.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Despite the apparent height in Florida's pandemic...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We look forward to seeing you soon.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): -- two Disneyland parks are open again this weekend amid criticism from one employee union. Aggressive testing happening in parts of Texas, some regions working with the military to keep up with demand.

In another sign that the pandemic is tightening its grip on the Lone Star State, some hospitals are turning to tents and other spaces to treat the overflow of COVID patients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conference rooms, cell spaces, currently we have ICU patients that patients that are on medical surgical floors. Honestly, we really need closer monitoring. We need equipment. But those are things we simply do not have at this time. Everyone is exhausted and the patients here are very sick.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): California also taking steps to relieve the pressure from record COVID-19 numbers. The state's Department of Corrections plans to release at least 8000 prisoners from across the state. The movement to allow for more social distancing behind bars. As death tolls climb, a troubling new report from the Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention about how COVID is disproportionately killing black and brown Americans. The fresh CDC data showing on average those minority groups are dying from the virus at a younger age when compared to white patients.

One likely factor, many of them filling essential and service jobs allowing little room for social distancing or for staying at home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we need right now in the short term are an equitable allocation of resources to black and brown communities: targeting, testing, contact tracing, PPE and ensuring that the health care institutions in those communities are adequately resourced.

[01:05:00]

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Staying fully stocked has been a big challenge for some hospitals across the country with the virus showing no signs of slowing down -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

M. HOLMES: And with me now to clarify some of this is Dr. Jacob Stephen, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine.

Doctor, we appreciate your time. Rather than just talking about today, I wanted to ask you about the cases of those who died and what they went through. But there seems to be evidence of long term damage for those who survive this.

What are you seeing?

DR. JACOB STEPHEN, CARDIOLOGIST: Thanks for having me, Michael. Yes, as the pandemic is in its fifth month, we're starting to see patients come back who have recovered from the initial illness and they're having lingering symptoms.

These are patients who have confirmed COVID positive, tested negative, have some type of immunity in their blood and now they have persistent symptoms, such as fatigue, some neurological symptoms, difficulty breathing. So I am seeing more of it, talking to my colleagues, and even in my own practice.

M. HOLMES: What has surprised you most in terms of those, what sort of things we do not have expected?

STEPHEN: I really would not expect to see such lingering shortness of breath, especially with light amounts of activity. I really did not expect to see this generalized weakness or fatigue weeks, even a month after it had resolved.

M. HOLMES: Is it surprising how broad the damage can, be?

Not only the, lungs I mean we are hearing kidney damage, liver, heart, brain, nervous system, gastrointestinal, all of these, things -- all of these things were noted, Friday in a review about COVID patients, it's a very broad range of damage.

STEPHEN: Yes, I think the medical community, when the pandemic initially started, was kind of modeling it after flu infections, so primarily lung infections. But unfortunately we're getting a lot of data from autopsies. What it's showing is that people are dying of systemic inflammation, blood clots. It's a much more ubiquitous infection than a traditional flu.

M. HOLMES: Yes, the blood clotting in lots of organs as well, I remember Chris Cuomo and Richard Quest, they talked about who had the virus, they've spoken about things like balance and brain fog and so on.

What are you seeing in terms of neurological impacts, even among patients who didn't have respiratory symptoms?

STEPHEN: I actually read the piece that Richard Quest had put in. And that's a very apropos article. That's exactly what I'm. Seeing I'm seeing a lot of patients who are having chronic fatigue. Can't quite get their breath. Even with light amounts of activity. Generalized weakens, kind of a malaise feeling that does not go away.

And sure enough the pandemic is still young, in its 5th month so we don't know if mostly symptoms would eventually recover down the road. But that's exactly what I'm seeing.

M. HOLMES: Yes, and you touched on, this I mean we obviously what we're showing is how much we don't know. We have a lot to learn, as you say.

What would you like to see done in terms of getting your hands around the wider impacts of the virus and those lingering affects going forward?

What sort of needs to be done to study that and get our heads around that?

STEPHEN: Now that we're getting a lot of data, both here in the United States and around the world, I think the -- we should really focus on creating an international database, classifying these things for better targeted treatment for those that are affected.

I don't think we have enough of an international cooperative database to start looking at these large volumes of patients that we have the benefit of studying.

M. HOLMES: I wanted to touch on this, as well, I was seeing reports of people uninsured, under insured, getting massive treatment bills, given that the U.S. doesn't have universal health.

Are you seeing stuff like that, what could we see in terms of the financial impact on people post-treatment or with ongoing treatment needs?

The U.S. system isn't kind to people who are not uninsured and the unemployment issues only adding to that.

STEPHEN: Yes, I'm starting to see quite a few patients who have ended up losing their jobs and possibly losing their health insurance.

[01:10:00]

STEPHEN: I think it's affected the patients who have critical illness the most, people on ventilators for weeks to a month, they're going home, they recovered, then they're going home and they are being hit with these very large bills.

So I really don't see that changing until Congress starts addressing that particular focus of the population.

M. HOLMES: And just, finally what are you saying regarding non COVID emergencies? I guess in terms of people, perhaps not seeking medical treatment when they should because they are worried about, COVID and those with other conditions heart or whatever, those perhaps having to wait to be seen, is that a problem?

STEPHEN: Well, when the pandemic first started, we had to put off these elective procedures. So fortunately most of them were not, critical. As far as the critical cases people were initially afraid to come into the hospital in case they got COVID-19. So they were putting off symptoms related to heart, attack strokes, they just were not coming in.

And by the time they just couldn't tolerate the symptoms anymore, much of the damage was irreversible. So we have these education programs in our system to make sure patients are vigilant about some of these symptoms and not stay away from hospitals.

We have a lot of protections in place now. We are much better with protection to patients that have come into the hospital and we're better at treating COVID at this point.

M. HOLMES: Much to, learn, much to be concerned about, Dr. Jacob Stephen, we really appreciate, it thank you so much.

STEPHEN: Thank you, Michael.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. HOLMES: The coronavirus also raging through Latin America and the Caribbean. Brazil, the second worst affected country in the world after the United States, of course. It has reported more than 39,000 new cases Saturday, bringing the total past 1.8 million.

And the country's most high-profile patient, the president, Jair Bolsonaro, he's touting a controversial drug. CNN's Bill Weir is in Brazil with the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Here in Brazil, that COVID-19 curve continues to go completely in the wrong direction, averaging over 1,000 deaths a day, now over 1.8 million confirmed cases but with a lack of testing all across this vast country.

A lot of experts believe that number is off by at least a factor of 5- 10. Meanwhile president Jair Bolsonaro, the most favorite COVID-19 patient in Brazil, continues to promote his prescription of chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drugs that he has so fond of.

And I'm in the center of Brazil today, in the geographic center, a big agricultural region where I met a doctor who spent 10 days in intensive care. Now his, boss the supervisor it is, hospital is in intensive care.

I asked him about Bolsonaro's prescription. He said he took those antimalarial drugs and they did not work at all for, him and yet he prescribes them because he has no other choice, they are cheap, they are available, he says, otherwise, what do I give my patients, water?

He also says that for a lot of the patients in this rural agricultural area, the other choice to infection is poverty or starvation. And so it does not take much encouragement from the man in charge for people to get back to work, for people to heed that call.

So that comes down to the only way to protect themselves and to try to flatten this curve here is mask wearing, social distancing, quarantines. We know the president is not fond of that and the president, even though he was ordered to wear a mask by a judge back in June, defied that time and time again through the other states.

Would wade into crowds with hugs and handshakes. We have seen him wear the mask although he took it off the day he announced he had it. It will be interesting to see if he comes through, hopefully he comes through this, whether it will change his mind about those other precautions.

His wife and daughters tested negative for COVID-19, the Bolsonaros. But right now it is just places are bracing for what may be another wave that never really went down as more and more cases become evident all around this country -- I'm Bill Weir, CNN, Brazil.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. HOLMES: The U.S. president putting pressure on the states to get students back into class.

But can it be done safely?

I talked to two teachers who know the dangers firsthand.

Also still to come, Disney World starts to reopen in Florida.

But is the Magic Kingdom still magical with coronavirus skyrocketing in that state?

We will be right back.

(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:15:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Children, in many cases, the immune system is so powerful, so strong. But the young and the healthy to safely return to work and to school. We have to open our schools.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. HOLMES: The U.S. president Donald Trump, there and his relentless push for students to get back to the classroom. But the country's health experts don't seem to be in agreement.

An internal CDC document obtained by "The New York Times" warns that fully reopening schools and universities remains the highest risk for spreading the coronavirus.

It's not known if the president has seen that or not. But it appears to have been distributed earlier this week when the president slammed the CDC's school reopening guidelines.

Schools in Arizona, one of the hardest hit states, are struggling to determine how to reopen safely as coronavirus cases there continue to rise. Now, one school district in Gila County not far from Phoenix is struggling more than most.

[01:20:00]

M. HOLMES: Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd taught an online summer school class with two colleagues in the same room. They all followed the precautions, cleaning, distancing, wearing masks and so on. But all three contracted the coronavirus and two weeks later, Byrd died.

Now her colleagues are mourning her loss and, of course, wondering if they couldn't keep themselves safe, how will they keep a school full of students and teachers safe when they go back in the autumn?

Byrd's fellow teachers join me, now, I'm delighted to say.

Jena Martinez teaches first grade, Angela Skillings second grade.

Thanks so much, it's a tough time, I know.

First of all, Jena, let's start, with you. Tell me about Kimberley, the kind of teacher and, more importantly, the kind of person.

JENA MARTINEZ, KIMBERLEY BYRD'S COLLEAGUE: The type of person she was, she was just a very faithful person and she led her life based on her faith. She was very supportive, she was what I would call a giver, a giver of knowledge, a giver of kindness, a compassionate person, a strong person who stood by her values.

And she was bold when she needed to speak up, if there was an injustice or something that needed to be heard, especially when it came to children, especially when it came to her students or colleagues. She was fun, she was adventurous and she was just a true loving person all the way around. And --

(CROSSTALK)

M. HOLMES: I mean and this story is just so incredibly sad, the loss of her. And now, of course, we are seeing this push for schools to reopen, the president even threatening to pull federal funding from states who don't do what he wants them to do.

And given your own experiences of COVID in the classroom, I'm just curious, what goes through your mind, numbers soaring in many states and you have the president saying, open up or else, Angela?

ANGELA SKILLINGS, KIMBERLEY BYRD'S COLLEAGUE: It is very heartbreaking with what we have gone through. And my main thing is, if we can't stay safe, how are students going to stay safe?

I understand we need to open up America economically. We need to get people back to a normal. But we are no longer in the normal society we've been living in. We are now going to have to switch things around because of the virus.

For our children, we have to think of their emotional state.

If we bring them back to the classroom, children that like to touch things, like to share, they are socializing, what are we going to do to them emotionally if they take that virus home and give it to a family member or a daycare worker or someone they are close to and that person passes away?

We are going to have to support them more emotionally that way.

M. HOLMES: No, I understand, it and it's interesting, as you are speaking we were running some file video of kids in school rooms and it's just striking. When you think about places where cases are skyrocketing, even with guidelines,

I mean, how realistic is it to imagine that you are going to be able to have distancing in corridors, mask wearing, hygiene, when kids are being kids?

SKILLINGS: Yes, in my classroom, you know, I -- last year I had 20 students and I was lucky if they were 6 inches, apart. I can't imagine if they're 6 feet apart. They are constantly, you know, you have small, groups. They tell, you do a lot of student grouping.

And how are we going to do that in a classroom if we have to social distance?

They are going to share everything, they share viruses, they share different illnesses. It's going to happen. And the mortality rate might be low but we have to protect our youth. We have to protect our future. These are the kids that are going to lead us 30 years from now.

M. HOLMES: You both had this.

How are you now, really briefly?

Jena, you start.

MARTINEZ: Today is my best day, yet in about a month, I still have a cough, I'm still taking breathing treatments to relieve the tightness of my chest. The fatigue is still lingering and I tested negative. And I retested.

(CROSSTALK)

M. HOLMES: I'm just going to say to people before we started this interview you were both coughing,

[01:25:00]

M. HOLMES: Angela, really quick, how are you?

SKILLINGS: I thought I was getting better. And yesterday the cough came back, full force. I'll be feeling the worse today than I have in the last month. I retested a week ago, came back positive again. So next week I will go back and get tested, again, hopefully this will be negative and we can push through this.

M. HOLMES: You are both remarkable ladies, our hearts go out to you for the loss of your friend and what you have gone through. Thank you for your courage, thank you for talking to, us, Jena Martinez and Angela Skillings, thank you so much.

SKILLINGS: Thank you.

MARTINEZ: Thank you.

M. HOLMES: The principal of the school where Byrd taught released a statement to CNN, Pamela Gonzalez saying this, quote, "Losing Ms. Byrd in our small rural community was devastating. She was an excellent educator with a huge heart.

"We find comfort in knowing her story may bring awareness to the importance of keeping our school employees safe and our precious students safe in this pandemic. We are as eager to be able to see our students in person. It has been a long wait.

"However we will wait as long as we have to, until we can provide the safest environment possible for our students and staff. It is our responsibility to do so."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. HOLMES: Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, Gen Z made it famous but now the TikTok app is everywhere. Is it really a security risk?

We will get some answers. Also, Australia's second largest city under a hard lockdown. Why officials say it is going to get worse before it gets better. We will be right back.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:30:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

M. HOLMES: Welcome back everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

A new report by Oxfam has a warning about the hunger crisis that has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. It says hunger could potentially kill thousands more people every day, more people than the virus itself.

And the current trends don't seem to contradict that. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide now beyond 12.6 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. continues to rank number one, of course, for confirmed cases and for deaths.

In fact this week, 29 states are reporting a rise in cases, with South Carolina, Texas, Florida and Georgia all reporting record or near record daily case numbers on Saturday.

As we said before, Saturday is the first time the U.S. president has worn a mask on camera during the coronavirus outbreak. He has refused to do so for months despite the urging of his own team or public health experts. Kristen Holmes explains why he's decided to do it now and whether he will stick with it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump wearing a mask for the first time in public Saturday, on a visit to Walter Reed Hospital. There he met with wounded warriors as well as some of those health care workers on the front lines.

And we have learned that this was a result of a begging and pleading by aides and advisers who wanted him to have a photo op to in a mask, to endorse mask wearing. There are some questions to announce whether or not what it will work. It's become incredibly politically.

He made a statement about why he was wearing a mask at this point. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, I will probably have a mask if you must know. I mean, I'll probably have a mask. I think when you're in a hospital especially in that particular setting, where you're talking to a lot of soldiers and people that in some cases just got off the operating tables, I think it's a great thing to wear a mask. I've never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

K. HOLMES: See, here President Trump is giving a very limited setting, he's talking about soldiers coming off of the operating tables and that is not the same message that these health experts are saying.

They're saying wear a mask anytime you cannot socially distance. They want people wearing masks indoors. They're saying wear them in grocery stores. It's unclear that this is going to send the message that his aides and advisers were hoping it would when he has himself limited it to such a small venue of when he believes wearing a mask is appropriate.

And, just to remind our viewers, it's something that President Trump has really been against. He has said he hasn't been. But he said wearing a mask wasn't for him. We know behind closed doors he's said if he's seen wearing a mask, it might send a wrong message to his supporters as he's trying to move away from the virus.

Whether or not we even see President Trump in a mask again, the likelihood of him going to another hospital to visit wounded warriors, that really just remains at this point unclear -- Kristen Holmes, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. HOLMES: Robert Mueller, the former special counsel who invested the Trump 2016 campaign's ties to Russia, says the prosecution against Roger Stone was legitimate and his conviction, of course, stands.

Roger Stone, President Trump's friend and political ally, was found guilty of lying to Congress. He was found guilty of 7 charges in all. Mr. Trump commuted Stone's 40 month sentence on Friday night.

In a rare op-ed in "The Washington Post," Mueller defending his team against the White House cries that the investigation was a hoax and a witch hunt.

He writes in part, quote, "We made every decision in Stone's case, as in all our cases based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false."

Now the governor of hardhit Florida says the state will not be moving on toward the next phase of reopening, at least not for now. And he says he is working with the White House to get more testing capability. Saturday, Florida recorded its third highest daily increase in cases

with more than 10,000 new infections. The governor there, Ron DeSantis, says the packed party situations and bars were not part of the guidelines for reopening but he wants as many low risk businesses operating as possible.

Here is how he explained this situation in terms of numbers.

[01:35:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We started to see more cases. Yes, we have been testing more the last 3 weeks by far then we have before. But you see the positivity goes up to 9.6 percent. Then the next week in June, 12 percent. And then we were at 14.8 percent for the last part of June, beginning of July.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. HOLMES: Disney World has begun to reopen in Florida despite those surging infections in that state. On Saturday, fans were able to visit the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios are set to open their doors on Wednesday.

Everyone had to get a temperature check and face masks were required to enter the park. But not everything went smoothly. CNN spoke to a theme park journalist who was there. She says she got so uncomfortable on a crowded walkway she left. But she says Disney has done a lot of things right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every procedure they have laid out, for the most part, worked extremely well. It is everything in between that. Once you start putting a group of people in the parks, those issues start popping up.

Like what I saw today and a few other things. It's just when, there are lines, people stand in them and it is working incredibly well. It has worked at Universal in Orlando. But if there is a line you don't expect like today and there are not those lines, we don't know what to do because all of us have not been in this situation.

The employees, the guests, everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. HOLMES: Theme park journalist speaking there.

Almost all performances are being suspended at the park for now and character meet and greets are also on hold.

Meanwhile Australia's second largest city back under lockdown. The return to strict restrictions in Melbourne comes amid a surge in cases there and in the rest of Victoria; 216 new cases reported across the state on Saturday. Health care workers are among the infected. Here is how the new measures are going.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

M. HOLMES (voice-over): Weekend number one of a stay-at-home lockdown that the city of Melbourne is being ordered to repeat. Officials say it is the only way to extinguish a new rash of coronavirus cases that have been reported in record numbers across the state of Victoria.

On Saturday, the army manned checkpoints to make sure that the only people on the streets were out for essential reasons and the rest were staying at home.

DANIEL ANDREWS, VICTORIA PREMIER: It is the simple stuff. The common sense. Just doing the right thing, the smart thing, that is how we will get to the other side of this. This is not an ordinary weekend. It is anything but that.

Earlier in the week, authorities closed the border between Victoria and New South Wales hoping to reduce community spread of the virus and fend off a second wave of the outbreak. But they warned, even if people follow the guidelines, the numbers will get worse before they get better.

BRETT SUTTON, VICTORIA STATE CHIEF HEALTH OFFICER: There is absolutely reassurance in the level of testing that we are doing. Because infighting those cases, they can be identified and they will isolate but it is an indication of the transmission that was occurring a week, ago that is showing up in the numbers.

M. HOLMES: Health officials in other states are taking extra precautions; in Sydney, they set up a pop-up testing center near places where people have been infected, though some people complain it is not an easy process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can find this last night and we go to the top of the hill, the information hill.

M. HOLMES: Meanwhile, in Melbourne it's just the beginning of round 2, the fight against the virus that just won't quit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. HOLMES: Well, coronavirus comes to a regional already hard pressed by grief and hardship. We will see show you how Syrians in Idlib province are coping with the brand-new threat.

Also is the clock running down on TikTok in the U.S.?

We'll look at the security concerns surrounding the Chinese owned app. Stay with, us we will be right back.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:40:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

M. HOLMES: There are at least 3 confirmed coronavirus cases in Idlib, Syria, the province is the country's last rebel stronghold, for years has been soaked in the blood of civil war trauma. Now it is facing a new largely invisible threat. Arwa Damon reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How do you explain to a population that has lived through bombs and airstrikes, that has been forced to flee multiple times and seen children die of the cold, that now there is another potential killer, an invisible enemy and that their best line of defense is self isolation or social distancing and handwashing.

Fatima doesn't even have running water when she has water at all.

"The tanker didn't arrive yesterday, so look, this, is all we have left, it is nearly empty," she says.

Soap is expensive. She washes the kids' hands as much as she can with the little they have. She can't go to the store and stock up. Like all other displaced and living like this, she relies on food distribution. Fear has a different flavor in opposition held Syria than for most of the rest of the world.

"We fled from the bombing and the shelling, everything, what now?"

"Are we going to be afraid of this?" Fatima asks.

And that is part of the problem. This is a population that is already resigned to death.

But really what can they do?

Even before COVID-19 illness and disease ran rampant through the camps and the displaced communities, crammed into any space they could find. There is an effort to try to sanitize some areas but the resources aren't there. By Skype, we got in touch with the Idlib health director.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think that the number of people will die in this area will be more than 100,000.

DAMON (voice-over): He fears a coronavirus tsunami. This is the Utma camp, a massive sprawling city in its own right. There is nothing to stop a rampant spread in living conditions like, this. The medical infrastructure has been decimated by years of war that saw hospitals and clinics deliberately targeted.

First world countries are struggling to handle COVID-19 but what they have is a luxury compared to what is, here. There are 600 doctors in Syria's last rebel-held enclave, less than 200 intensive care beds and around 100 ventilators for a population of more than 4 million.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After corona the suffering in this area we continue to see people do what they have to do to stop this catastrophe.

[01:45:00]

DAMON (voice-over): For nine years the international community abandoned Syria to the ravages of war with hospitals already overcrowded, doctors killed and forced to flee, aid slow to come, what can really protect this population from the ravages of COVID-19? -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. HOLMES: Bosnians are marking the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre with prayer, tears and fresh burials. It was an active, genocide the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

In July 1995, Bosnian Serb soldiers who had besieged the city, murdered about 8,000 Muslim men and boys, several Serb leaders were convicted by a U.N. war crimes tribunal, victims are still being identified and the remains of some 1,000 people are still missing. Nine were newly laid to rest on Saturday.

And we will be right back.

[01:50:00]

M. HOLMES: The U.S. Democratic and the U.S. Republican National committees are warning staffers about using the Chinese owned app, TikTok. The video sharing service is facing increased scrutiny since the U.S. secretary of state said Washington was looking into banning it. He said it was a possible threat to national security.

TikTok has already been blocked in India where it also has millions of fans. Joining me now is executive editor for CoinDesk, Pete Pachal.

Pete, thank you so much for being with, us OK, so how does an app for quirky videos end up in this situation? What are the concerns?

PETE PACHAL, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, COINDESK: It's owned by a Chinese, company that's the short, answer so like many apps TikTok has had some sector issues that mostly have to deal with the data it collects.

So like many other social media apps, it's collecting user data and is going beyond the stuff that you have entered into the app. It's also looking at some browser history, some activity outside of the app. It could be using another technology to profile you in some ways.

On top of that they have been shown to be capturing clipboard data, which could actually end up capturing passwords, because that's where a lot of password managers work. They put passwords on your clipboard.

As far as the clipboard issues are concerned, TikTok says they've addressed that and they will stop doing, even though they said so before. But they didn't stop doing it but they said for sure this time.

And the broader data question is sort of -- is a good question. It just applies to all kinds of social media companies that profile. Us

M. HOLMES: Right and from what I'm reading the app's being downloaded more than 2 billion times and that's according to research.

Is it so widely used now that, in terms of people stepping back from using it or can a ban be effective or even legal?

PACHAL: Well, you can always ban an app were already starting to see that now that they have pulled out of Hong Kong, India decided to ban the app, basically you need to get the app providers, Apple and Google, to cooperate, so they will no longer operate.

And on top of that the country in question can block the app because people have already downloaded it. Those people will have to be blocked from using the servers and making sure they don't use it. So that is certainly possible but it's very popular. Two billion downloads is huge.

So I can see there being quite a user revolt if it were ever banned in a particular jurisdiction. But it depends on who has the more convincing case as to whether it is really a security risk or not.

M. HOLMES: I mean, how much of this could be just political?

Donald Trump has a beef with China over a number of, things and could he be using this for geopolitical advantage, some, leverage?

And what are the risks of governments stopping people from using certain apps?

In terms of precedent, they can turn around and do it for whatever apps they don't like.

PACHAL: Exactly, it's almost entirely political or geopolitical. So Trump has chimed in and others have chimed, in but the ban at the end of the day it becomes this situation where China is increasingly becoming a big competitor in tech and geopolitics and all kinds of arenas and is widely seen is an adversary.

So when an app that happens to be owned by a company, by a Chinese, company takes off in huge popularity, it's going to get scrutinized. Whether that's fair or not is another question. If you are buying this, what could potentially happen, there is no evidence that TikTok has shared information for the Chinese government, even these other companies which have come under scrutiny. They are being scrutinized for the potential. That is true but that's a very wide net to cast. That's basically saying any app or service that's based in China or has a Chinese parent is at, risk so that is --

(CROSSTALK)

PACHAL: -- that's what we're saying. Let's just say. It

M. HOLMES: I was going to say every household in the developed world probably has Chinese made electronics, any things that could do to various things as well as any other apps as, well I mean. [01:55:00]

M. HOLMES: Do you think it's political?

PACHAL: I do think that TikTok is going to bend over backwards to show they're not in the thrall of the Chinese government. They're doing this partly by pulling out of Hong Kong, now that the Chinese government has a plant down there. They're going to have an American CEO based in L.A. to continue to insist that their data is kept in the, U.S.

Whether that's, enough we will, see but again, I just think the bar of evidence, you kind of need to go a little bit more, it's a Chinese app, owned by a Chinese company. You have to show where the security risk really is. And that has not really been made.

M. HOLMES: It is political times. Pete Pachal with CoinDesk, thank you so much, a really fascinating issue.

PACHAL: My pleasure, thank you for having me.

M. HOLMES: Some good news for video game lovers, a copy of Nintendo Super Mario Brothers sold at auction for $114,000, that is the most money paid for a video game. The 1985 game was not only still sealed in its original, packaging but it also had indications that it was one of the first variants of the game released.

Thanks for spending your day with, me I'm Michael, Holmes "AFRICAN VOICES CHANGE MAKERS" up next.