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Rate of New Deaths Trending Up in 30 U.S. States; Most Brazilians Not Using Unproven Drug Sent from U.S.; Australian State of Victoria Declares State of Disaster; Mexico to Start Schools Online in Three Weeks; Indiana Student Sent Home from School with COVID-19; Iran: One Person Dies of COVID-19 Every 7 Minutes; North Korea Clams It's COVID-Free & Working on Vaccine; Hurricane Isaias Makes Landfall in North Carolina; Former Spanish King Leaves Country Amid Financial Scandal; Trump Sets September 15 Deadline for TikTok Purchase; Vibrant Central London Now Quiet Due to COVID-19. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 4, 2020 - 00:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, everyone, I'm Robyn Curnow, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from CNN's world headquarters here in Atlanta.

Donald Trump versus his own doctors: the U.S. president slams a member of the Coronavirus Task Force for speaking an inconvenient truth.

And back to school: parents, students and teachers get a crash course on how to keep classes safe during a pandemic.

Tens of millions of people are in the path of a hurricane making its way along the East Coast of the U.S.


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

CURNOW: We begin here in the U.S., where the president, Donald Trump, claims the country is doing very well responding to the coronavirus. But with the death toll climbing, health experts disagree.

There are also lot of new developments across the world. The head of the World Health Organization says the impact of COVID-19 will be felt for decades to come. But he says many countries have shown the virus can be controlled by wearing masks and other measures.


DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: A number of vaccines are now in phase 3 clinical trials and we hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection. However, there is no silver bullet at the moment. And there might never be.


CURNOW: Two new studies from the U.K. and Australia find that testing and contact tracing are vital, specifically for bringing kids back to school safely.

We are already seeing new cases in the U.S. school districts reopening just this week, including here in Georgia, as well as Mississippi and Indiana.

Meanwhile, the U.S. president is lashing out after one of his top experts called the virus "extraordinarily widespread." Dr. Deborah Birx warned that the infections are spreading in rural areas. Mr. Trump tweeted, "Pathetic."

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the news phase of the pandemic has been driven by community spread. He cites nursing homes, meat packing plants and prisons as examples where people without symptoms are infecting others. We get more from Athena Jones.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you have community spread, it's much more difficult to get your arms around that and contain it.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In case you hadn't realized it yet, coronavirus is everywhere.

FAUCI: There are people who are spreading it who have no symptoms at all and we know that definitely occurs. It's difficult to identify it and it's difficult to do identification, isolation and contact tracing.

JONES (voice-over): While new COVID-19 cases nationwide may be leveling off, holding steady in hard-hit Texas and falling in Arizona and Florida, Mississippi has the highest percentage of positive COVID cases in the country at 21.1 percent.

California just became the first state to report half a million infections and daily death tolls there and across the country continue to climb. The CDC now projecting the death toll will surpass 173,000 people in the next three weeks.

CAITLIN RIVERS, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: And we need to look ahead and decide where we want to be in one, two, four, six months and figure out what we need to put in place in order to get to that point.

JONES (voice-over): Parties presenting another challenge for communities trying to slow the spread. An indoor celebration at a bar to honor first responders causing alarm in Los Angeles.

And the New York sheriff's office intercepting a party boat off Manhattan and making arrests after alleged illegal partying.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Really reckless, rude, irresponsible and illegal.

JONES (voice-over): And in New Jersey, where the infection rate, while still low, has ticked up in recent days, Governor Phil Murphy imposing new restrictions, limiting most indoor gatherings to 25 people, down from 100.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): The actions of a few knuckleheads leave us no other course.

JONES (voice-over): Community spread of the virus already causing problems in Georgia's largest school system. Gwinnett County Public Schools reporting some 260 employees have tested positive for the virus or come into contact with someone who has.

But Gwinnett County had been planning to re-open next week with online only classes. Schools in Mississippi and Indiana that just reopened for in-person learning reporting students or staff testing positive for COVID-19, leaving officials scrambling to warn their contacts.


HAROLD OLIN, SUPERINTENDENT, GREENFIELD CENTRAL SCHOOLS: It's not exactly the start we were looking for in that specific school.

JONES: And there is more news on the treatment front. Eli Lilly & Company announcing the beginning of phase 3 clinical trials of an antibody therapy to treat COVID-19 with plans to recruit 2,400 residents and staff at long term care facilities to take part -- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.



CURNOW: Dr. Joseph Varon is the chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center. He joins me from Houston, Texas.

Good to see you.


CURNOW: What we have is a president attacking top health experts incorrectly, saying the U.S. is doing well when it isn't; confusion and disconnection over social distancing and mask wearing.

Do you feel like it's Groundhog Day?

DR. JOSEPH VARON, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, HOUSTON, TEXAS: What's happening is I get to see this over and over again. And I've previously said this on CNN many times, the public are getting confused. The president says something; Dr. Fauci says something else, organizations say something, I say something. Your viewers don't know who to believe.

I am a big believer that we need to believe in science. We have science that actually proves it, having social distancing, wearing your mask and washing your hands may flatten the curve, may make us have a better outcome.

CURNOW: Simple words, simple advice from a doctor who has been in the front lines.

How many days have you worked consecutively, Doctor?

And I know you've certainly been in the eye of the storm at your hospital.

VARON: I've been working 137 consecutive days, 16-20 hours a day, no days off, no vacation, no sleep, no nothing, no time to even pay my own bills.

CURNOW: And why?

How are you managing?

Is it just because of the sheer overload you're seeing in your hospital?

VARON: What happens is these patients are very sick. We get a lot of them and not too many doctors or nurses or older people want to work with patients that have COVID. There's a little bit of a stigma, you're working with patients with COVID.

So only those of us who are passionate for caring for people are the ones that we continue to provide care to (INAUDIBLE). I mean, just like I said, we have ups and downs. It's kind of a rollercoaster.

I'm not seeing any drop in cases like everybody else says. Last week, in one week (INAUDIBLE) we have one day where we have less patients and then two days later we start having another surge. So I'm not sure that we have gotten to where we need to be there.

CURNOW: How many death certificates have you signed in the last few weeks, months?

VARON: I've signed over 15 deaths certificates in just a couple of weeks. To be honest with you, being a critical care doctor and doing this many years and then out of the blue you get a stack this big of death certificates, it's unreal. I've never had to do that in my entire life.

Yes, we have deaths in ICUs but it's sporadic. When you have patients that die every day, you know something is wrong. It's not that we're doing (INAUDIBLE) we have a fantastic outcome in our hospital. But I talk to my friends and they are all having the same problem.

CURNOW: Your friends, your doctors, so when you guys look at these images of people having party boats in New York, old pictures of pool parties in the Ozarks, how does that make you feel?

Particularly because you are there watching and trying to help people who are dying alone.

VARON: Our patients die alone in their rooms. There's no family. There's nothing. And yet I get out of the hospital at 2 o'clock in the morning, I'm heading home and then one morning I see a big party going on, people not wearing masks.

It infuriates me. I feel bad. I feel like people are being careless and disregard what I've been trying to do. I've been killing myself for 137 days to save others. And yet people just don't listen. They don't listen to the point that they think that it's a hoax, that we're just making this one up.

If you don't believe it, just come and spend a day with me in the ICU and you will see it.

CURNOW: Yes, and you have done that. You've brought journalists in precisely for that reason.

As a doctor, as a medical expert, as someone who believes in science, what for you strikes you about this virus?

We know the impact can be felt for decades economically.

What medically troubles you about the virus and how it attacks and lingers in the body?

VARON: This virus -- I've been in medicine since 1980. This virus is a backstabber, it's a virus that will stab you in the back. You will not even know what hit you. Really, I see a new manifestation of the virus. Some days it's the complaint (ph) of pneumonia all the way to a rash. Other days it's a stomach and intestine problem.


VARON: And some days it's an eye problem. Corona is here to stay. In this country, there are two kinds of patients, those who have coronavirus and those who are going to get coronavirus. It's just a matter of time.

Hopefully, we're not going to overwhelm the health care system by everyone getting sick at the same time. That is my goal as a clinician. I hope between now and then we have enough therapeutic options for patients.

CURNOW: Dr. Joseph Varon, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for all of your good work. I hope you do get some sleep tonight. Thank you.

VARON: Thank you, ma'am.

CURNOW: Brazil has been reporting a 5 figure case totals pretty much every day. Monday was no exception, with more than 16,000 new infections confirmed. Among them, the president's chief of staff, the latest top ranking official to contract the virus.

Brazil has contracted more than 2.7 million infections since the pandemic began, it's one of the worst in the world, second only to the U.S. That did not stop large gatherings on Rio's beaches over the weekend. And it's been two months since the Trump administration supplied

Brazil with millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine. The U.S. said the drug would help treat those infected with COVID-19 even it had not been proven effective. Now as Nick Paton Walsh reports, the shipments remain mostly untouched.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: So much of the rhetoric, the noise around this disease focused on one drug, hydroxychloroquine, despite the fact that study after study show it is simply not effective, possibly harmful in fighting the virus.

And here in a country, Brazil, it is still part of government policy, recommended even for mild cases, even for pregnant women. And also a large part of the aid given by a key ally, the United States, to a country whose government often considers a similar mindset to it, that of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Two million pills were given at the end of May, of hydroxychloroquine from the Trump administration to that of the Bolsonaro government here. Here's what happened to them.

WALSH (voice-over): It's a pandemic gift nobody should want. Brazil's president touting the drug he says saved him from the disease, hydroxychloroquine. Unproven, say studies, even dangerous, as his fellow disbelievers in COVID-19 chant, he's a living myth.

In May, the Trump administration sent 2 million doses of it to Brazil to help their ally.

So what happened to the expensive yet useless gift?

Well, CNN can reveal it did get to Brazil but, according to the health ministry, it's still near the airport, probably in this secure logistics center close by, which we weren't allowed into.

WALSH: It's a cold dose of reality that a high-profile gift like this from the American people did not get far from the airport. Perhaps that's good, because study after study has shown it's ineffective in the pandemic and may even be harmful.

Brazilian doctors, many of them, no longer following their government's advice to prescribe it. But Brazil is now overflowing with the drug, having also bought a large amount of ingredients for it from India.

WALSH (voice-over): Former health minister Luiz Mandetta was fired partly over the drug in April.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just false hope. It's just something for people to believe. More like a placebo. Something for people to take and give credit to him. I don't know where they're going to keep so many pills, one years, they're going to have to throw it away. They are just going to have to burn it. WALSH (voice-over): One problem is the pills came in packets of 100. They'll have to be broken down to be distributed which, in part, would eventually happen here, we were told, at an army laboratory in Rio de Janeiro. It's unclear why that has not happened yet.

WALSH: The real problem is the focus on hydroxychloroquine. It doesn't work, says study after study against coronavirus. But that has not stopped the Brazilian government spending huge amounts of money on it. Yet doctors here in Brazil's iconic city say they are lacking in other drugs that could really help in the pandemic.

WALSH (voice-over): One ICU doctor and union rep tells us what they need.

"Midazolam, fentanyl, more adrenaline," he says. "Public health is always running out of these so we have to make do with others. If the U.S. wants to help Brazil, send these, not hydroxychloroquine."

That urgent plea as the numbers rise, perhaps drowned out by the positive glow these two men seek to sell.

WALSH: Now it's difficult to underestimate the impact of this constant talk about hydroxychloroquine. Even a survey of doctors across Brazil recently suggested that half of them felt pressure to prescribe it, despite the growing number of studies globally but also key ones here in Brazil, that say it does not simply work at all and may even be harmful when it comes to treating coronavirus.

But still, as you heard there, so much distraction away from the things that need to be done, the drugs that do work, by the debate around this drug.


WALSH: Where there, frankly, should not even be a debate. And that is continuing to cause here in Brazil the numbers to be horrific on so many days of the week -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


CURNOW: Australia's second largest city, is enduring a curfew to fight the virus. Millions of residents are now facing further containment measures, details come up in a live report.

Plus, a student in Indiana finds out that he is COVID-19 positive on his first ay back to school. We'll speak to the district's school superintendent about plans to keep schools safe.




CURNOW: Australian officials have announced new restrictions in the city of Melbourne in the effort to contain the growing outbreak there. Starting at midnight on Wednesday, local time, the city is expected to close some nonessential industries, including retail and manufacturing businesses.

This of course, comes after the state of Victoria imposed some of its strictest lockdown measures ever. Anna Coren is live in Hong Kong with all of this.

Of course, Anna, you are an Aussie so you no doubt have been keeping tabs on what is happening back home. Talk us through the situation there now.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, the Victorian government needs to bring the number of daily infections down. They have been averaging around 500 a day for the last month. That is not sustainable. The situation in Victoria is clearly out of control.

The premier, Daniel Andrews, has introduced these stage 4 restrictions, a further lockdown to what Melburnians have been going through for the past month, extending it by another six weeks but with much harsher measures.

He made the announcement today, another 439 new cases and 11 deaths, all of those in aged care facilities. We know that there has been major outbreaks of coronavirus in these aged care facilities.

The premier acknowledged that this is going to cause a great deal of pain, financial hardship and it is also going to hurt the state's economic recovery as well as the country's economic recovery. But doing anything less was not an option.


COREN (voice-over): Eerie, empty, lifeless streets in the center of Australia's second largest city, scenes unheard of in Melbourne even during the pandemic's first wave. But COVID-19 has returned with a vengeance. Victoria's capital is now under a six-week curfew with even tougher restrictions, as authorities desperately try to get this deadly outbreak under control.

SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: This has been another heartbreaking day for Victorians, which means it's a heartbreaking day for all Australians. I know that, across Victoria, many today, frankly, would have reached breaking point trying to come to terms with what has happened in this state.


COREN (voice-over): It's the first time in Australia's peacetime history that citizens have had to face such a harsh lockdown. Melbourne's 5 million residents have spent the past month under stage 3 restrictions but the number of daily infections just continue to soar.

Too many people were flouting the rules, refusing to heed medical advice. The government said more than 50 percent of sick people who'd been tested, awaiting results, were still going to work while one in four who had tested positive were not self-isolating.

As of this week, stage four restrictions are in place. Curfew will be imposed from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am. All non-essential businesses will be closed, along with schools and child care centers. And only one member of each household will be allowed to leave the house each day to buy groceries.

DANIEL ANDREWS, VICTORIA PREMIER: This is a very tough day. And there are many more of those to come before we get to the other side of this. But these are the decisions that have to be made. That's why I've made them. We have a plan. We have a clear strategy. It'll only work out if everybody plays their part.

COREN (voice-over): For Melburnians, who've been playing their part and doing the right thing, the premier's announcement was a slap in the face.

MEREDITH FRASER, MELBOURNE RESIDENT: Six weeks is no mean task. It's a really long time when you add it onto the four that we've already had. So it's not just financial; it's mental and I think that is what hasn't been given the spotlight.

COREN (voice-over): Financial assistance will be provided to businesses that must now shut their doors until mid-September. The prime minister also offering a disaster payment of just over $1,000 U.S. to every Victorian who tests positive, saying there is no economic reason for people who are infected to not self-isolate for 14 days.

While the economic impact is terrifying. So is the human toll, with the majority of deaths in Victoria occurring in aged care facilities.

ANDREWS: There is no stage 5, this has to work. Otherwise, we will have to devise a set a rules that will even further limit people's movement.

COREN (voice-over): A move at the moment that's unthinkable for residents at the epicenter of Australia's most deadly coronavirus outbreak.


COREN: Now Robyn, the premier has also announced harsher penalties as of today. The on-the-spot fines, which were roughly $1000 U.S., have now jumped to $4,500. These are designed for people who are refusing to self isolate, those who have tested positive for the virus, who are meant to stay home for 14 days but are continuing to go about their normal days.

The premier said that, of the 3,000 people who had tested positive, who should have been at home when they were door-knocked by the military and health officials, 800 of them, more than 800 of them, were not home. He said this behavior is unacceptable.

And he said that some Melburnians have just shown appalling behavior over the last couple of months. Some have assaulted police officers when they have been told to put on face masks. Others have blatantly refused to give their details.

Police said they had to smash in the car windows of one particular person because they refused to hand over these details. The premier said that everybody has to be on board to try and beat this deadly virus -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Goodness, thanks for that, Anna Coren there live. Appreciate it, Anna.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, a big moment for both parents and educators around the world. They have been anticipating this; schools are beginning to reopen in many areas.

For some public schools, just outside of Atlanta where we are, COVID- 19 is already a problem. Nearly 300 staffers there have been tested positive or exposed to the virus, we understand. America's top infectious disease expert says that there is a way to know if it is OK to reopen schools.


FAUCI: If the infection rate is so low that there is very little chance of there being infections spread, then you should feel OK about doing it but making sure that you do the things that are necessary to prevent spread.

Try and get the early months in because, when you get into the fall and winter, there may be more cases that make it more difficult.


CURNOW: The first schools in Germany have reopened in the country's northeast in a state with the lowest number of infections. Children will be split into age groups and their school hours will be staggered. Staff, we know, will be offered free COVID tests as well.

Officials in Mexico plan to start schools online in three weeks but as journalist Stefano Pozzebon explains, online classes pose a big problem in a region where many, many kids just don't have access to the Internet.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The return to schools, the return of kids into the classrooms, is an issue that is common for every country in Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina.

With the region being currently the biggest hot spot of COVID-19 and with growing rates accelerating both here in Colombia where I am now but also in neighboring Brazil and in Mexico, a little further north, the return for the kids to the classroom seems further and further away.

Most countries, like Mexico and Venezuela, for example, are still in summer recess but official ministries all across the regions have to come up with contingency plan and to start the new school year online unless the kids will stay at home.

And not only through a computer, which in a region that is famous for the logistical difficulties and bad telecom connectivity, can prove an even bigger challenge than elsewhere in the world -- for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


CURNOW: For more now on the challenges of reopening schools, I'm joined by Harold Olin. He's a superintendent in the U.S. state of Indiana, a school superintendent.

Sir, good to see you. I understand that on your first day back at school, one of the students tested positive for COVID, another reminder that this is not going to be a smooth ride.

HAROLD OLIN, SUPERINTENDENT, GREENFIELD-CENTRAL SCHOOLS: No, it's not going to be easy. We certainly think about the preparations we have tried to make in our state over the last three months in preparation for this day. We want to control the variables we can control in our school.

There is another responsibility there, that our parents need to make sure that they are putting their students, their children, through a self check before they send them to school.

The particular student you're referencing actually had had a test taken a few days ago. Before getting the results of that test, the student came to school and so we got a surprise phone call from the health department notifying us that that student had indeed tested positive for COVID-19.

So it really put us in a position where we immediately had to jump into the protocols that we have been writing for the last couple months.

COREN: This is going to be about preparations in schools but also about how families deal with it.

In many ways, are you looking for families to have some sort of code of conduct with the schools?

And making these decisions based on the community and the students, not just their family units?

OLIN: We're just really trying to educate our community, educating, first of all, the parents and then the students. The things that we look for, we require our staff members to go through a self screening every day. We ask families to do the same thing.

We are going to have to find ways to put that in front of families more regularly in terms of, if you have COVID symptoms, if you've been around somebody that has been tested as positive, if you have been tested and don't have your results, stay away from school until you are safe, you are healthy to be in the school. So it is unfortunate that it happened on our first day. I think the

alarm that that triggered, not only in our community but in surrounding communities, hopefully will pay dividends in the long run.

The fortunate thing is through the protocols we had in place, we meet with all the student from class and isolated individual, we checked seating charts to find out who exactly is in a close proximity to the infected student, determining which ones had been within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes.

Then, of course, that did mean we had to make some unfortunate phone calls to some families that evening to let them know that their child would be quarantined for 14 days.

Fortunately for us here, in Indiana, our district in particular, we do have one-to-one devices so we can have virtual learning; 85 percent of our families just choose -- have made the choice to send their kids to school rather than having that virtual option.

CURNOW: That is a conversation that many parents and students across the world are having.

How important do you think it is for kids to go to school when you measure the risk and reward ratio, particular when it comes to teenagers?

I know that many pediatricians that I've spoken to have said that it's actually so much more important in many ways for kids' mental health to be at school even though they potentially are facing a coronavirus risk.

OLIN: I think you bring up a great point. There are inherent risks to many things that we do, whether that is driving a vehicle or coming to school in the middle of this global pandemic.

As a professional educator, I do believe that the best education that we can provide to students is onsite, not only for the academic side but, as you referenced, meeting the social and emotional learning needs that our students have.

For some students, that is having food security; for others, that's having some guidance counseling that they are going to receive at school. Students definitely do best in that environment.

Although I think we are getting much better in the virtual environment, for my own money, my own children, I have a junior in high school. She is on site. I have a wife that teaches, as well, and we have made that decision with our family. But all families aren't there, and we want to make sure that decision with our family.


But all families aren't there, and we want to make sure that we're meeting the needs of people all over the spectrum, whatever their level of comfort is.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: OK. Thank you very much for turning us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having me.

CURNOW: And unlike the rest of the world, North Korea says it has not (ph) cases of coronavirus but that a vaccine is in development. The implications of those claims, that's ahead.


CURNOW: Great to have you along. You are watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow live from Atlanta.

So in Iran, someone dies of the coronavirus every 7 minutes. That's according to state media, quoting a government health minister. Iran right now has the worst outbreak in the Middle East and is now struggling with a resurgence.

Well, CNN's Ramin Mostaghim is in Tehran with more on all of that. That is a startling number. Someone dying of the coronavirus every 7 minutes.

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, CNN JOURNALIST: Yes. And unfortunately, I mean, many young people do not cooperate with the government in tackling COVID- 19, and they don't take it seriously. In public places, sometimes indoors, crowded places, you can see young people without observing the protocols and without any facial masks. And they resist. So they suppose they are strong enough to be safe from the COVID-19.

That is a huge problem from the government, because they don't have the full cooperations [SIC] in tackling the COVID-19. That is one problem.

And the other thing is, I mean, entrance examinations for universities, and the coming Lamentation, Mounts (ph) of Muharram in -- from August 21. So we can expect more outbreak and more -- I mean, an increasing number of death toll in coming weeks, despite the desperate attempt of the government and health ministry to convince people that they should observe the protocols to be safe from COVID- 19. This is the big problems that young people do not observe the -- I mean, hygienics protocols. And social distancing.


CURNOW: And in many ways, you know, we -- you know, America is having exactly the same problem with its young people who are going to pool parties, as well. So there's a similarity there where kids or teenagers, I suppose, young people around the world are reacting to this in somewhat the same way.

You talk about how the government, how the health ministry has struggled to contain this. What can the authorities do where you are? I mean, are there repercussions, perhaps, to not wearing a mask?

MOSTAGHIM: I mean, they are -- they are trying to convince people on TV, even sometimes the health ministry themselves are begging people, and the psychologists are in the streets, just to convince people and to come to some of a term with the people who are resisting and try to say convincing that -- convincingly that, OK, why should they wear the facial mask?

But the problem is that young people are restless, are -- are agile, are sportive. They just want to have their own -- I mean, athletic activities. Even indoors athletic activities are done without wearing masks.

The problem is in Iran that they -- they try to convince people to have the hygienics standards, but there is no punishment. I mean, the police does not give a ticket to anyone who does not wear the facial mask, and this is -- until there is no enforcement of the law. So we cannot expect anything to happen. That is the big problem, that there is -- there is a law, but not -- no enforcement --

CURNOW: No enforcement.

MOSTAGHIM: -- of the law for -- that's a big problem.

CURNOW: OK. All right. Live from Tehran, thanks so much for that report. I appreciate it very much.

MOSTAGHIM: Thank you.

CURNOW: So North Korea insists it is free of the coronavirus and that a vaccine is in clinical trials. Close observers of the secretive state are skeptical of those claims, but they warn if Pyongyang did come up with a vaccine, it could be used as a weapon, as Will Ripley now reports.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): COVID-19 has crossed every border except this one, North Korea says. Days after announcing its first suspected case, state media claims the country is still virus-free, eight months into a global pandemic that began in neighboring China.

North Korea also claims to have a coronavirus vaccine already in clinical trials.

CHAD O'CARROLL, CEO, KOREA RISK GROUP: There's a lot of suspicion that North Korea -- that COVID has already been present in North Korea for many months now.

RIPLEY (on camera): Why would North Korea say that they're developing a COVID-19 vaccine but also continue to deny any COVID-19 cases?

O'CARROLL: There's a remote possibility they would be able to do it. And if they did, it would be a game-changer, obviously, for their global reputation.

RIPLEY (voice-over): And a game-changer for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

BRUCE BENNETT, DEFENSE RESEARCHER, RAND CORPORATION: This year, he has disappeared for more than three weeks four different times, obviously trying to be away from places where the virus might infect him.

RIPLEY: Finding a vaccine may not be Kim's only motivation, experts say.

BENNETT: They would not just be looking for a cure. They would want that, for Kim Jong-un and his concerns, but they might also be looking for weapons.

Blurring the line between science and the military, there's nothing new in North Korea. This 2012 satellite launch used technology, experts say, is similar to an intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea has long been suspected of having biological and chemical weapons. In 2017, Kim's half-brother was killed with a Cold-War-era nerve agent. Pyongyang denies any involvement.

JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: North Korea may have biological and chemical weapons in their stockpile, but we've never really known exactly how much they have. And this is something, certainly, we would have talked about, along with nuclear weapons, if the conversation and negotiations got underway.

RIPLEY: Diplomacy never fully did get underway. Three presidential meetings, little if any progress on key issues.

Analysts say a successful coronavirus vaccine could give Kim new leverage with the U.S., and potentially, a new biological weapon.

Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.


CURNOW: And still ahead, parts of the U.S. are coping with another threat right now. We're tracking a hurricane as it makes its presence felt along the East Coast.



CURNOW: So a massive, massive hurricane is pounding parts of the East Coast of the U.S. It made landfall last hour in North Carolina.

Isaias is a Category 1 hurricane, the least powerful, although it could bring flooding and tornadoes. Thousands of people, we already know, are out of power, and in the coming hours, the storm is expected to really march up the coast.

States in the Northeast of the U.S. are now bracing.

Well, Derek Van Dam has been out in the midst of it all. With months of hurricane season left, he tells us how this year's storm planning must take the coronavirus into consideration, as well -- Derek.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Charleston, South Carolina, was spared the words from Isaias as it continues to move away from the region.

Of course, the Carolinas, no stranger to landfalling tropical systems. They've had several over the past consecutive years, Dorian being the latest, last hurricane season.

Now there were no hurricane shelters opened in the region, because they didn't deem that that was necessary.

However, if they do open hurricane shelters for future oncoming tropical systems, they will be at a reduced capacity, because they need to take into consideration the social distancing that needs to take place within those shelters.

In fact, Charleston County having an 80 percent reduction in their shelter space for the future of the hurricane season, which by the way, we still have 90 percent left to go for the remainder of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

So we had a few minor areas of flooding within the city, but that's being mopped up. A couple of branches that fell over, but it is really business back to normal. And the city is ready to move on from Isaias as some of the nicest weather sets in behind this departing storm.

Back to you.


CURNOW: Thanks, Derek, for that. Well, let's go to Pedram Javaheri. He is tracking the path of this hurricane. It is just after midnight here in the U.S. Talk us through what folks can expect when they wake up in the morning.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Robyn, conditions just going to go downhill here across parts of the Carolinas, and really how fast this particular storm moved is really what's most impressive moving forward.

Still a Category 1, strengthening as it made landfall in the past hour across this region of the borders of the state of North and South Carolina. Winds upwards of 140 kilometers per hour.

But notice the expensive area of tropical storm warnings and tropical storm watches, which at one point, originated down in the southern tip of Florida, stretching all the way towards the eastern tip there of the state of Maine. This is the first time any tropical system since 1960 has been able to prompt such an expensive northern tier all the way to southern tier of the U.S. area of coverage.

And of course, you know, with this feature, it is slated to move right towards portions of a very densely-populated of the northeast. It currently sits 840 kilometers away from where it's destined to be within the next 12 hours. So it really speaks to how quickly it is going to begin to move northward in the next 12 hours. And notice, by 8 in the morning local time, the system pushes in around the Washington, D.C., area, still a strong tropical storm, going to produce powerful gusts of 70 to 100 kilometers per hour.


And then by, say, dinnertime, 5 or 6 p.m. across this region of New York City, potentially, the city of this storm could still move over New York City at that time on Fri -- on Tuesday afternoon across this region, bringing with it, again, winds up around 100 kilometers per hour.

And then finally, into the overnight hours, this time, essentially, tomorrow into Wednesday morning, this storm system is going to essentially fizzle out.

But here we go. Notice now upwards of 100 kilometers per hour on Norfolk, Virginia; 103 kilometer-per-hour winds forecast around New York City into the afternoon hours. That would be the strongest storm felt across New York City since Superstorm Sandy made landfall back in October of 2012.

And of course, the concern is any time you talk about a dense population area, strong winds and an area with an incredible amount of tree canopy here, we know power outages are going to become a concern. And in fact, some of the latest numbers coming out of the Carolinas, nearly a quarter of a million of people, the vast majority of which across portions of the state of North Carolina dealing with power outages right now.

And Robin, of course, you know, when it comes to a pandemic, things don't get done very quickly. So that's another area to watch here when it comes to restoring power in these areas.

CURNOW: OK, thanks for that. Pedram Javaheri there. Thanks for that update.

So Spain's former king, Juan Carlos, has left his country. He delivered the news in a letter to his son. And he's living a scandal in his wake, as Al Goodman now reports from Madrid.


AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The departure of former King Juan Carlos I from Spain was sudden and secretive, coming six years after he abdicated the throne under a cloud of financial scandal, a scandal that now includes investigations in Switzerland and in Spain into his alleged dealings, according to a senior Spanish official with knowledge of the proceedings.

Spain's prime minister address the allegations that had been widely reported in the Spanish and international media.

PEDRO SANCHEZ, SPANISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The Spanish people are witnessing some unsettling news that serves all of us, including me. I'm thankful the royal household is distancing itself from this unsettling and disturbing news.

GOODMAN: The distance grew dramatically late Monday when the royal household published a letter Juan Carlos wrote to his son, Spain's current king, Felipe VI, announcing he was leaving Spain due to "the public repercussions that certain past events of my private life are generating."

His son had vowed more transparency for the royal household when he became king in 2014. Earlier this year, he renounced any personal inheritance from his father and cut off the annual public stipend to Juan Carlos.

A senior Spanish official tells CNN that Swiss prosecutors are examining documents that allege Juan Carlos may have received $100 million from Saudi Arabia's king in 2008. Investigators want to know if that money was related to a contract for a Spanish group's construction of a high-speed can train in Saudi Arabia, the official said. Prosecutors at Spain's supreme court are also investigating.

But no formal charges have been filed against Juan Carlos in any court, his lawyer told CNN. And Juan Carlos, even out of Spain, will still be available as needed to the courts, the lawyer said.

In the past, CNN has contacted the embassies of Saudi Arabia and London and Madrid, but received no immediate reply.

Juan Carlos has widely credited with helping to guide Spain to democracy after the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Juan Carlos ruled for nearly 39 years, saying he wanted a monarchy close to the people.

One constitutional law professor told CNN last month he had expected to see more of a firewall between King Felipe and his father. Now, their own country's border will keep them apart.

Al Goodman, CNN, Madrid.


CURNOW: The U.S. president, Donald Trump, says he'll allow an American company to acquire TikTok, but he has conditions.

Microsoft has said talks to buy the popular video app are continuing. U.S. officials have raised concern that the app, owned by a Chinese start-up, they could a security risk.

On Friday, President Trump threatened to ban TikTok in the U.S. But he's now setting September the 15th as the deadline for a deal to come together.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My personal opinion was you're probably better off buying the whole thing rather than buying 30 percent of it. I think buying 30 percent is complicated. If you buy it, whatever the price is that goes to whoever owns it, because I guess it's China, essentially, but more than anything else, I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the treasury of the United States, because we're making it possible for this deal to happen.


CURNOW: OK, so let's talk more about this with a Eleni Giokos, who's following this from Johannesburg. Hi, Eleni.


I mean, look, it's incredible just to hear President Trump saying that a portion of the deal needs to go through the U.S. treasury. It's a remarkable comment to make.


He also opened the door for other suitors other than Microsoft to seal a deal with TikTok. And of course, a deadline has been set for the 15th of September.

An acquisition of this magnitude, of course, means that you've got to look at valuations. And right now, we're seeing 50 billion dollars for the value of TikTok.

Remember, Microsoft says it wants to buy portions of the business. In the U.S., Canada, Australia and as well as New Zealand. How do you actually separate the business from the global company? That's going to be another interesting one to look at.

And then, of course, you have to think about the national security issue. I mean, you've got TikTok that has basically infiltrated tens of millions of American households and the bedrooms of teenagers, and many say that the big issue is here that the Chinese government, at will, could access the data.

Microsoft says that through a purchase, they will ensure that all information is stored in the United States. ByteDance, which is the parent company of TikTok, says that it is, in fact, still stored in the U.S.

Now, when I look at what the Chinese government has said in response to the latest news from the White House, the Chinese government is saying that this is just going to be plunging another sector in the middle of a geopolitical issue that is playing out between two powerful nations.

And Roby, it's truly remarkable to see two tech giants at the epicenter of trade wars that have been lingering on for quite some time. But again, you've got so many people. I mean, over 100 million people there using TikTok in the United States right now. It's usually the younger demographic. Many say that these are the people that will be going to vote. We've heard anger (ph). So I wonder how the response from the users will be in the next few weeks. One to watch, for sure. CURNOW: Eleni Giokos for us there in Johannesburg. Thanks.

So still to come here at CNN.


RICHIE WICKS (PH), SHOP OWNER: There will be tumbleweed running through it. It will be like a ghost town.


CURNOW: The hustle and bustle of city life replaced by the echo of footsteps. We'll look at how the coronavirus pandemic has changed London.


CURNOW: You'll want to hear about this story. Three sailors from Micronesia are in good condition after being rescued from a remote island in the Western Pacific.

The Australian in a U.S. aircraft actually spotted their giant SOS message in the sand. Yes, take a look at that. They actually did it. And they sent, of course, then a helicopter with food and water.

A patrol ship from Micronesia picks up the men a short time later.

The sailors started, apparently, their 23-nautical-mile journey on Thursday, veered off-course, ran out of fuel, but then had the wits to do this. S.O.S.

I'm sure there's an Abba song about that.

Now, the pandemic is bringing big changes to big cities around the world, and some of those changes could be long-lasting. As Phil Black now reports from the heart of London, and he finds that what people drew to the city could now drive them away -- Phil.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a time not that long ago, vast numbers of people migrated into central London every working day.

Now, they're mostly gone. Their towering officers loom empty without purpose. Streets famous for crowds, traffic, noise, energy are quiet and a bit sad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I miss it. It doesn't feel right. The atmosphere is not here. The vibe isn't here.

BLACK: COVID-19, working from home, endless uncertainty have all teamed up to silence one of the world's most vibrant cities. When office workers stay away, those who rely on them suffer. This

once heaving street market is now just a quiet street. Stall owner Richie Wicks (ph) think it's going to get worse as the pandemic's economic pain bites harder.

WICKS (ph): There will be tumbleweed running through it. It will be like a ghost town.

BLACK: Property industry reports people aren't just avoiding central London. COVID-19 has triggered huge interest in leaving that skyline behind and moving away for all the things London can't easily provide: space, gardens, affordability.

AGATA OLSZEWSKA, MOVING OUT OF LONDON: We thought we were going to say for another two years, but I think the pandemic kind of accelerated our decision to move now.

BLACK: After months of working from home, Michael and Agata have decided to quit London because, well, why not?

Why do we need to be in a city at all at this point? Working anywhere is the same as working anywhere else now. Why not move somewhere where you have a fantastic local community, pretty sites around you.

OLSZEWSKA: Yes, and you can definitely get a huge garden in our price range. So that's good.

BLACK: How London has responded to COVID-19 could reshape the city's social and economic fabric. But not for the first time.

And not as remarkably as the change inflicted by that other notorious source of multiple pandemics, the plague. London's last big outbreak in the 1600s killed an estimated 100,000 people, almost a quarter of the city's population.

(on camera): The Great Plague, great fires, Nazi bomb, extreme crime and poverty. London's long history is a timeline of extraordinary violence, disease and suffering. That long sweep of history tells us when Londoners can afford to flee danger and hardship, they often do.

(voice-over): But the city's current wealth and status also proves they usually come back.

TONY TRAVERS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: These things happen, and it has to adjust to reassert its economic power. Every time before, it has done it. And I don't think this is the one occasion, when the whole world, because it wouldn't just be London, they change to a less urban, a less urbanized form of existence.

BLACK: London, in the time of COVID-19, is a much diminished city. Its story so far suggests it will recover, but many lives and livelihoods will be dramatically altered before it does.

Phil Black, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CURNOW: Well, thanks for watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. I will be back, though, with more news right after this.