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Refuting Trump's Vaccine Timeline; Colleges across the U.S. Deal with Outbreaks; Trump Attacks Military Leadership He Appointed; Two Australian Journalists Pulled from China; Hong Kong Police Officer Tackles 12-Year-Old Girl; Congo Facing Three Health Emergencies; Thousands of Dollars Raised for Evicted Houston Family. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 8, 2020 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, welcome to our viewers joining us around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, from Big Pharma to the WHO to his own health officials, all pushing back against the U.S. president and his promise on a coronavirus vaccine by Election Day.

California has never seen a fire season like this. It is burning out of control at this hour, leaving firefighters exhausted.

Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critic out of a medically induced coma, his long-term progress remains unclear.


VAUSE: Big Pharma is pushing back against the U.S. president and his promise on a vaccine for coronavirus that could be ready by next month.

On Monday, Trump tweeted that vaccines are coming in fast. There is progress on that report but it's not news. On Tuesday he says, nine vaccine makers, including some of the biggest drugmakers in the world, issued a public promise not to seek government approval until they have extensive data on safety and effectiveness.

Pfizer and BioNTech have been cleared to start the next phase of their clinical trial in Germany and is the only vaccine maker which could have late stage results by October and that is not a given.

The World Health Organization also stressing the need for due diligence. It said it won't endorse a vaccine before it is shown to be effective and safe. Also the former U.S. surgeon general says the Food and Drug Administration has no room for error and must learn from past mistakes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: They've got to avoid making the same mistakes they made with convalescent plasma, hydroxychloroquine. They've got to let the science and scientists guide them in their decision-making here.


VAUSE: At the White House news conference on Monday, President Trump claimed the U.S. has, quote, an absolute leader in every way when it comes to fighting the pandemic. He's clearly trying to tie the vaccine to the upcoming election.


TRUMP: We're going to have it soon. So now, what they are saying is wow, this is bad news. President Trump is getting this vaccine in record time. By the way, if this were the Obama administration, you would not have that vaccine for 3 years. You probably wouldn't have it at all.

We are going to have a vaccine very soon. Maybe even before a very special day. You know what talking about.


VAUSE: Yes, we do. November 3rd, Election Day. Joe Biden was asked if he would take a vaccine if it was offered before then. He said he would listen to the scientists but also warned about a lack of trust.


JOE BIDEN (D-DE), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the problems is when he's playing with policy, is he has said so many things that are not true.

I'm worried if we do have a really good vaccine particularly before the election it's undermining public confidence. But pray God we have it. If I could get a vaccine tomorrow, I would do it. (INAUDIBLE). We need a vaccine and we need it now.


VAUSE: Meantime, another federal official familiar with the Trump administration's so-called Operation Warp Speed says, despite the president's promise, quote, "I don't know any scientist who thinks we will be getting shots into arms anytime before Election Day."

Nearly 190,000 Americans have died because of coronavirus so far and another spike could be on the way. The Labor Day holiday is coming to end. And school is starting and CNN's Nick Watt tells us it's a dangerous combination.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is this the spark for another surge? Or this? Or this? We will find out in a few weeks. MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-FL), MIAMI: Things have stabilized. Things are much better. But we have seen, as you mentioned, spikes after long weekends.

WATT: In part due to Memorial Day crowds celebrating the start of summer, new case counts soared from around 20,000 a day mid-May to over 70,000 a little more than a month later. And Labor Day, we're starting from a much higher baseline.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: I don't think it will take much to really bring us back up to op to 70,000 new cases a day.

WATT: This weekend, of course, also marks the unofficial start of fall, when people will be moving more indoors, when infection risk rises and:

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: People are exhausted. That's another challenge, trying to keep up our vigilance, trying to keep up our vigilance at a time when we know that this can spread more aggressively.

WATT: It's also back-to-school time. Colleges now in every single state dealing with outbreaks, 11 Northeastern students just kicked out for the entire semester without refunds after allegedly gathering in a hotel room.


WATT (voice-over): Nine hundred students have now tested positive at Iowa State.

Now, when student athletes first returned after Memorial Day:

HOTEZ: It two about three weeks before it started to spread into the general population. It then got into a local nursing home and 10 people died.

WATT: Twenty-nine states right now seeing 5 percent or more tests coming back positive, a bad sign, the past few days, West Virginia and North Dakota seeing record infection rates, Missouri and Puerto Rico seeing record death tolls.

Meanwhile, as we near Election Day, the president says we have turned the corner.

TRUMP: We're going to have a vaccine very soon, maybe even before a very special date. You know what date I'm talking about.

GOTTLIEB: I think the likelihood that we're going to have a vaccine for widespread use in 2020 is extremely low.

WATT: At least three vaccine potential producers, rivals, reportedly now preparing a joint statement that they will not seek government approval until they know for sure the vaccine is safe and effective, this according to "The Wall Street Journal." HOTEZ: The fact that we're seeing the pharmaceutical companies sort of protecting the U.S. population from the government is something I have never seen before.

WATT: And we are tracking the 101 largest school districts in America. Of them, 16 are starting their new school year Tuesday morning. Of the 16, 14 are online only, despite the president's pleas for as many brick and mortar schools to open as possible -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


VAUSE: Spain is the first country in western Europe to report 500,000 COVID-19 cases. The latest surge is linked to the reopening of schools. The death rate is much lower than the peak expected in March and April.

Also, in Europe, U.K. had hit its highest daily death rate since May. The health secretary says the increase and young people, among those catching the virus, experts warning there could be a return to exponential growth.

Cases in France are also higher. So is the number of fatalities, only just. The country has the seventh highest death toll in the world and there are fears of a possible second wave in the coming months.

Mexico has the world's fourth highest death toll from the virus. It reported nearly 3,500 new cases on Monday, bringing it to more than 630,000. Official numbers don't tell the truth, that's why CNN is here reporting from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some startling new information from Mexico's government. Over the weekend, health officials reported that during the period of March 15th through August 1st, Mexico recorded more than 120,000 excess deaths as compared to the same time period from other years, more normal years, non pandemic years.

We know that of those excess deaths, more than 47,000 have been officially attributed to the coronavirus.

But what about the remaining 75,000 or so deaths?

I spoke to the director of a COVID unit here in Mexico City and a prestigious local hospital. He believes that, of all those excess deaths, the vast majority of them, are directly related to the virus. We know that Mexico's government routinely says that the actual death toll in this country is higher than what is officially reported.

And part of the reason for that is that because many people going to hospitals with COVID symptoms simply do not get a test before they end up losing their lives. Mexico is one of the lowest testing rates in a country with a large population around the world.

And speaking of the death toll, it continues to just steadily march higher. The official death toll roughly 30 percent of the total amount of deaths reported here in Mexico have been reported since August 1st -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


VAUSE: To the White House now. Donald Trump spent Labor Day holiday launching an unprecedented attack on the military's leadership.


TRUMP: I'm not saying the military is in love with me. The soldiers are. The top people in the Pentagon probably aren't, because they want to do nothing but fight wars, so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.

But we're getting out of the endless wars.


VAUSE: This from a president who is also denying he made disparaging remarks about the fallen U.S. troops on a 2018 trip to France. Donald Trump is criticizing leaders he appointed. He continues to tout military spending as one of his biggest accomplishments.

Ron Brownstein is a CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic" with us from Los Angeles,

We begin with a colleague of yours, David Frum, who pointed out a critical factor in this latest Trump controversy.


VAUSE: He writes, "Where are the senior officers of the United States armed forces, serving and retired, the men and women who worked most closely on military affairs with President Trump?

"Has any one of them stepped forward to say that is not the man I know?"

At least one administration official has denied the story; otherwise there's been a deafening silence, especially from people like John Kelly.

What's going on here?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: John Kelly's silence is one of the most striking things in this whole episode. He obviously could deny the story.

Jeffrey Goldberg's account of -- I think four different episodes of the president denigrating military veterans in astonishing language. John Kelly could deny that. He has chosen not to. I think that tells you an awful lot, both about the veracity of the story and what John Kelly thinks of Donald Trump.

VAUSE: The president denials are continuing.


TRUMP: Who would say a thing like that?

Only an animal would say a thing like that. There is nobody that has more respect for not only our military but for people that gave their lives in the military.


VAUSE: Yes, who would say something like the military veterans are losers and suckers?

Good question.

Who would say that?

Here we go. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I never liked him much after that. I don't like losers.


VAUSE: John McCain's a loser. The president has made no secret about his views of those who served in Vietnam.


TRUMP: Dating is like being in Vietnam. You're the equivalent of a soldier going over to Vietnam.

If you have any guilt about not having gone to Vietnam, we have our own Vietnam. It's called the dating game.


VAUSE: So there's no one defending the president. They are his own words from the past. The president has lied 20,000 times since the inauguration saying trust me.

Does any of this actually matter before November?

BROWNSTEIN: It's an interesting question. Obviously, for the vast majority of people who are still with Donald Trump, they know exactly what they are getting. It's hard to imagine what revelation about him could cause them to break away from someone who is presenting himself literally as the human wall between them, many of his voters, and all of the changes in American life, demographic cultural, that they don't like.

But it's really not the right question. The people who are still with Donald Trump today are not enough for him to win. He has to add votes at this point. I think that these kinds of revelations and the fact that he continues to kind of stir this pot just makes it tougher for him to do that.

Among other things, we talked about before, he is on track for the weakest showing of any Republican nominee ever among college educated white voters, including college educated white men, who are usually much more Republican than the women.

Those men pollsters will tell you are the single biggest consumers of current events and news. I've got to think that this is just yet another headwind for him as he tries to reverse that historic deficit that he is facing, which is now too big for him to win.

VAUSE: As a side note, back in 2018, it seems the president had time to kill. (INAUDIBLE) at least according to Bloomberg. Trump fancied several of the pieces in the U.S. ambassador's historic residence in Paris where he was staying.

On a whim had them removed and loaded onto Air Force One, a portrait of ambassador Benjamin Franklin, several figurines, were brought back to the White House.

This wasn't actually illegal but it seems, first of all, classless and trashy but also symbolic of how Trump sees government property as his own or the attorney general as his own personal lawyer. There's no lying here.

BROWNSTEIN: It could be trivial in itself. But it is actually revealing on a much larger, more ominous and more momentous kind of shift, which is, as I had written a few weeks ago, Donald Trump basically is weaponizing every aspect of the federal government into a tool of personal and partisan advantage.

It's one thing to treat the knick-knacks of the embassy as his personal property. It's another thing to act the same way about the criminal prosecutors in the Justice Department, about the inspectors general, about the census bureau, which he is using to try to tilt the census to a Republican advantage or even the Postal Service, which he has sought to undermine as a way to improve Republican position in the election.

I talked to a number of scholars in the federal administration who said we have never seen anything like this ever, to basically view the entire federal government as an extension of your personal will and priorities.

What is perhaps most striking about this, is how little complaint or blowback or resistance any of this has faced from Republicans in Congress, watching these norms get shattered one by one.


VAUSE: Yes, and almost deafening silence from the Republicans on the military issue as well. Ron, good to see you. Thank you so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Another potential clash on the rocky road to Brexit ahead of crunch negotiations Tuesday in London. The British prime minister is reportedly planning new legislation that could override parts of the January withdrawal agreement and that could put the whole treaty at risk. The E.U. is pushing back.


DANIEL FERRIE, E.U. CHIEF BREXIT NEGOTIATOR SPOKESPERSON: I will finally point out that while we are determined to reach an agreement with the U.K., the E.U. will be ready in the event of a no-deal scenario to trade with U.K. until (INAUDIBLE) terms as of the 1st of January 2021.


VAUSE: Yes, Britain did actually leave the E.U. That happened January 31st but talks on a new trade deal have stalled and London have set an October 15th deadline.

(INAUDIBLE) wildfires burning in California being fueled by record heat. By now military helicopters are rescuing with dozens of people trapped in this blaze. Not recent earlier because of heavy smoke. The California state is seeing its worst-ever fire season wildfires scorching more than 2 million acres so far. About 810,000 acres forcing thousands people from their homes.


VAUSE: In Wisconsin on Monday, Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for Vice President, met with family members of a man shot in the back by police. Jacob Blake, who has been left paralyzed, remains in hospital. He joined the meeting by phone.

The shooting sparked protests in Kenosha. Harris says she just wants to show her support for his family.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Really wonderful. I mean they're an incredible family and what they have endured and they just do it with such dignity and grace and you know, they are carrying the weight of a lot of voices on their shoulders.


VAUSE: The protests over Blake's shooting are part of a wave of demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice. They continued this weekend in a number of U.S. cities.

Still to come, two Australian journalists are back home after police in China showed up at their doors, demanding answers. We will explain what happened. That's up next.

Also, the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is out of the coma. We'll get the latest explanation for his suspected poisoning.




VAUSE: Two Australian generalists are back in Sydney after being questioned by authorities in China. Bill Birtles works for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He's based in Beijing. Mike Smith is a correspondent for the "Australian Financial Review" in Shanghai.

Police showed up at their homes last week and told them they could not leave the country. But China relented after both agreed to be interviewed.


BILL BIRTLES, AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION: I'll just say it's very disappointing to have to leave under those circumstances and I'm really glad to be back in the country with a genuine rule of law. But yes, this was a whirlwind and (INAUDIBLE) -- it's not a particularly good experience.


VAUSE: An Australian working as an anchor for Chinese state TV in Beijing was detained last month for reasons which still are not clear. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout follows the developments from Hong Kong.

This was quite the diplomatic standoff for a while. We had one person taking shelter in the embassy in Beijing, another one in the consulate in Shanghai. Diplomats trying to work out this resolution for a number of days. Take it from there.

What happened?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, very dramatic developments. This is another significant setback for overseas media in China. We have these two Australian correspondents pulled out of the country by their own employers after Chinese police demanded to interview them.

The two correspondents are Bill Birtles of the ABC based in Beijing and Mike Smith of the "Australian Financial Review" based in Shanghai. Last Wednesday, seven Chinese police officers went to their apartments in Beijing in Shanghai and told them that they were placed under an exit ban, that they were banned from leaving the country.

In order to lift that ban, they agreed to be interviewed by Chinese authorities on Sunday. They were sheltering inside the Australian consulate and the Australian embassy for days when they finally departed on Monday night and arrived and touched down in Sydney this morning.

They expressed relief. We also have new sound from Mike Smith. Listen to this exchange, especially when he enters the question posed by a journalist about whether he felt threatened when he was in China. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Did you feel threatened at all when you were over there?

MIKE SMITH, "AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW": A little bit, yes. (INAUDIBLE) experience but it's great to be here.


STOUT: Mike Smith answer to the question whether he felt threatened, quote, "a little bit."

Now Gavin Morris, the news director at ABC, issued a statement on the reasons why the network decided to pull Bill Birtles out of the country, we will bring up the statement for you. In the statement,

In the statement Gavin Morris says, "The ABC has brought back China correspondent Bill Birtles to Australia following advice from the Australian government. This bureau is a vital part of the ABC's international news gathering effort and we aim to get back there as soon as possible.

"The story of China, its relationship with Australia and its role in our region and the world is one of great importance for all Australians. We want to continue to have our people on the ground."

The editor and the editor-in-chief of the "Australian Financial Review" also released a statement on its decision, pulling out its correspondent Mike Smith from Shanghai, let's bring up this for you.

It says, "We are glad that Mike Smith, our correspondent, who has been based in Shanghai for 2.5 years and Bill Birtles of the ABC have made a safe return to Australia this morning. This incident targeting two journalists who were going about their normal reporting duties is both regrettable and disturbing and is not in the interest of a cooperative relationship between Australia and China," unquote.

Their dramatic departure comes after the detention of another Australian journalist, Cheng Lei. She was the anchor for CGTN, the state run news network. She was detained last month. The circumstances around her detention are unclear and it's also unclear why these Australian journalists were questioned and why they were put under that exit ban -- back to you.


VAUSE: Kristie, appreciate it, thank you. Live for us in Hong Kong.

The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is out of his medically induced coma. He's being treated in a Berlin hospital for suspected poisoning. Doctors say it's too soon to know of any potential long term effects.

The outspoken critic of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, became violently ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow last. Month. Germany says there's clear evidence that a Soviet-era nerve agent was used in that poisoning.

Russia denies any involvement and doing what the Kremlin does best, deflect blame on to other countries, including the United States. CNN's Matthew Chance reports now from Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're calling it the mysterious poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Russians state television trying to sow doubt among its viewers that the Kremlin's loudest critic was silence on purpose at home.

"We sent Navalny to Germany with no poisons in his body," the anchor says, "the suggestion, if he was poisoned, was by another's hand."

DMITRY KISELYOV, RUSSIA ANCHOR (through translator): Everything looks like a special service's operation, in which a poison Navalny is needed more than a non-poisoned one. The poisoned Navalny is an excellent playing card from the hands of the Americans.

CHANCE: You'd think the poisoning in Russian theory it would be hard to deny, given these disturbing images of Navalny riding in agony as he was stretcher off of a plane in Siberia last month.

Even the testimony of German officials who say the nerve agent Novichok is the cause hasn't convinced everyone. Apparently, not even the U.S. president.

TRUMP: I don't know exactly what happened. I think it's a -- it's tragic. It's terrible. It shouldn't happen. We haven't had any proof yet. But I will take a look.

CHANCE: But doubts in the U.S. add credence to conspiracy theories over here. These were the scenes this weekend in Belarus where popular anti-government protests stoked fears that Russian forces could intervene.

According to the embattled Belarusian president, who wants Moscow's support, the Navalny poisoning was a distraction fabricated by foreigners to keep the Kremlin out.

He even released what he said was an intercepted phone call between unidentified figures in Germany and Poland discussing the plot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I agree, we need to discourage Putin from poking his nose in the affairs of Belarus. The most effective way is to drown him in Russia's problems.

CHANCE: Russia has formed when it comes to making stuff up to explain what looks like overwhelming evidence against it. Back in 2018 after another Novichok poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, the two suspects of Russian military intelligence according to Britain authorities appeared on state television with an extraordinary tale of two men with a shared love of architecture on a short break together.

Unfairly accusing the couple of close friends, or silencing a Kremlin critic at home, for Russian TV there are no lengths its enemies won't go to to make Russia look bad -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: Activists in Belarus are demanding the release of three prominent opposition leaders who they say were abducted on Monday. CNN has been unable to verify the claim but a witness says they have been kidnapped in Minsk.

The European Union has condemned the detention of all political activists, Belarus is gripped by protests for months since the long- time president was reelected. Opposition leaders and monitoring groups say that vote was rigged.

Still to come, Hong Kong police are defending the actions of one officer who tackled a 12-year-old girl to the ground at a protest.

Plus, Congo battling a perfect storm of medical emergencies, some insight from a photographer and filmmaker who has just returned.




Well, he was a grown man in tactical gear and a police officer. She was a 12-year-old girl at a pro-democracy protest on Sunday. Take a look at this video. The girl, trying to run away, an officer, but only makes it a short way before, yes -- boom -- taken down.

CNN's Will Ripley following this live for us from Hong Kong. Big man, huh? What are the police saying about that?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The optics -- the optics certainly are bad for Hong Kong police, John. And they are defending their actions, saying that they were conducting a search operation, where basically, what they do now is, if there's a protest and people around the area, they put up this orange tape and block off a group of people. Then they go through everybody's bag who is present.

So even if you're not participating in the protest, you just happen to be walking by or shopping or whatever, you could get wrangled in there, and then police can go through your items. And if they find something that's in violation of the law, like the national security law, which would be a pro-independence banner or whatnot, you could get arrested and charged under that law.

And then, of course, that opens up, you know, police can go through all of your phone and your history and everything. In the case of this girl, though, her mother claims she wasn't even participating in the protest. She says she was with her older brother going to get some art supplies, and she knew there would be a protest in that area, because the mother said there was a heavy police presence there all the time.

And Sunday was supposed to be the day that Hong Kongers went to the polls. There was supposed to be general elections held in which pro- Beijing parties were expected to do badly. But the Hong Kong government made a decision back in July to postpone the elections by a year, citing public health concerns. People are angry about that, especially because Hong Kong has been conducting the mass testing for COVID-19 of its entire population. They've opened up, you know, more than 140 testing centers. And people have said, if the city can do that, why can't the city hold a vote?

Now, in terms of this young girl's case, she received a ticket for unlawful assembly, because police said that she was gathered in a group larger than two. Right now, the pandemic restrictions limit gatherings larger than two, which protest organizers say is very convenient for the government.

However, the girl's mother claims that she was only with her brother and that some other older gentleman who was kind of shouting at police when they tackled her was just one of the many bystanders, John, who were horrified to see officers in full riot gear run after a clearly terrified young girl and tackle her to the ground.

HOLMES: Unbelievable. Will, thank you. Will Ripley in Hong Kong.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is dealing with three medical emergencies at once. There's the coronavirus, the Ebola, and an outbreak of measles. Now, the coronavirus has registered only 10,000 cases, which is remarkably low for such a large country of about 90 million people. Still, it remains a major concern for many.



GRAPHIC: Coronavirus has the potential to break my dreams and keep me from going to university next year.


GRAPHIC: Because of coronavirus, I am not going to school. Sometimes in this situation, I feel like a prisoner.


VAUSE: Freelance photographer and filmmaker Thomas Nybo has just returned to the United States from Congo. He's with us from Atlanta.

Hey, Thomas, thanks for taking the time. It's incredible when you're thinking of the timeline here, what's actually happening in the DRC. Since early last year, the country has been dealing with the world's biggest epidemic of measles. Then in March, the coronavirus was detected.

By June, what was the world's second biggest outbreak of Ebola officially came to an end, but that was followed by another Ebola outbreak just last month.

This is one of the poorest countries in the world. They're facing three separate health emergencies, but that experience with Ebola is actually kind of paying off when it comes to the coronavirus, right?

THOMAS NYBO, FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER AND FILMMAKER: It really is. Because the people are used to following a certain protocol. Handwashing, they understand how germs are spread. And as you know, the fatality rate of Ebola is much higher than COVID.


So what I experienced on the streets every day, spending hours amongst the people over the past six months, was they didn't really see COVID- 19 as a big threat.

You compare it to Ebola, which of course, gets the headlines, and the world's worst measles outbreak in the Congo, which killed more than 5,000 kids under the age of 5 last year, and you look at the small number of deaths, 260 by last count, by COVID-19.

So yes, Ebola has, in a sense, prepared them for this pandemic.

VAUSE: Interesting, too. You mentioned the children, because they're often spared the worst of the coronavirus. But when it comes to the measles, it's taking a really huge toll on these kids under 5. I think the death rate is nine out of 10?

NYBO: It's unbelievable, and as I said, it's the worst in the world. And what happens, too, if resources are diverted to fight Ebola or to fight COVID, then vaccination campaigns can be halted in their -- in their steps.

And what also -- what also has happened is I witnessed with COVID a lot of different agencies fled the country when the pandemic kicked in, which of course, raises the possibility for measles to get even worse.

And as you saw from the two kids that appeared at the start of this segment, what I really appreciate about what UNICEF is doing is focusing on the children, not just the physical threat posed by COVID, but the opportunity cost. What is lost by keeping them out of school? And one of the programs that I really like to see and that I was proud of was a radio program that was broadcasting lessons to millions of children across the country as the country dealt with measles, with Ebola and with COVID.

VAUSE: You know, those numbers, though, for the coronavirus seem incredibly low. And obviously, there's some doubt if that's what the real numbers are, because there is this lack of testing.

So what are they looking at here? What's the reality? Do they know?

NYBO: The reality is, it's -- it's hard to say. I look at the deaths, 260 which is also remarkably low. It's -- the deaths in the United States were more than 700 times greater.

So what I was thinking was, Oh, there's -- there's just not enough testing. Well, testing has been ramped up. And I'm on the streets every day. I was on the streets every day talking to people, and people weren't dying of COVID, certainly not in the east. Most of the cases are in the west in Kinshasa, where I was not.

I think what you also have to recognize is the median age of someone in the Congo is 17. Compare that to the United States, where it's 38. And young people are escaping, generally, the worst of COVID-19, so that also plays a factor.

VAUSE: It also seems that their -- Because of the Ebola experiences, or whatever it is, they're a lot more proactive. You have to get, like a COVID-19 test before you get on your flight if you're traveling overseas. They test you when you get to the airport. They ask you a bunch of question. They don't do any of that stuff when you come to the U.S.

You get to the hotel, you get sprayed with, you know, disinfectant, and your temperature's taken. And there's -- there's a lot of vigilance, I guess, for the very basic, easy stuff, which isn't happening in -- in many of the advanced countries like the United States.

NYBO: I have to give it to the government of the Congo. In the early days of the pandemic -- I arrived the first week of March. They shut down the borders. They shut down businesses. They shut down commercial air traffic. They cut -- they shut down commercial boat traffic across Lake Kivu.

And that's a great thing, because it's almost impossible to do social distancing in a city like Goma where I was based, you have a dozen people or more crammed into public transport. People don't have the luxury of just holing up at home and, you know, ordering out. They need to work every day. They might have one, two, three days' worth of food if they're lucky.

VAUSE: Yes. Yes, it's tough. It's -- it's amazing how a lot of these countries in Africa have done such a better job of dealing with this pandemic than, you know, the western nations.

But Thomas, we appreciate your reporting, appreciate you going there. Thank you.

NYBO: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Well, a family evicted from their home because of the pandemic gets a chance at a fresh start. Our viewers have responded to a story which you saw only here on CNN. It's a happy ending. It's coming up.



VAUSE: We have an update now on a story we brought you about a young father and his family facing some desperate times in Houston. Israel Rodriguez, his wife and two children, ages 4 and 20 months, were evicted from their apartment last week. The 24-year-old told CNN he was behind thousands of dollars in rent, because he lost his job in the pandemic.


ISRAEL RODRIGUEZ, EVICTED AFTER LOSING JOB IN PANDEMIC: It's mainly the kids' clothes, because me and her just wear the same clothes almost every day. We make sure we've got, you know, toilet paper and a little bit of snacks for the kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to do with all of your stuff?

RODRIGUEZ: That's trash. They get thrown in the trash, because we don't have a car. We don't have help. We don't have nobody that can come, you know, help us out right now. Nobody. We've got ourselves, me and the kids and her. We -- that's it.


VAUSE: OK. Here's the good news. After our story went to air, a former Houston teacher started a GoFundMe page, raising more than $59,000 for the family and counting.

Another GoFundMe page was started by the local police foundation to help evicted families across the Houston area and has raised about $200,000 so far.

Rodriguez was close to tears as he thanked everyone for their help.


RODRIGUEZ: All the help that I have. God, this is the best thing that could ever happen to me. And I wish other people could reach out to other people to help out more.

I've got a better future coming up. It's time to change, because this is a major, major, major change for me. Like I wasn't expecting all the help, you know? I wasn't expecting that.


VAUSE: The kindness of strangers.

Researchers in the Netherlands have completed the first test of a model airplane which could someday -- this is depressing -- carry passengers in its wings. The wings.

The flying V has cabin, cargo hold and fuel tanks in the wings to make the plane more aerodynamic. Experts hope the design will cut fuel costs by 20 percent compared to today's airliners.

The Delft University of Technology is working with Dutch airliner KLM to make this a reality, which plans to carry out more tests. And that will be a miserable flight.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. WORLD SPORT is up next.