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43 States Reopening Despite Not Meeting Guidelines; New Infections Still Rising in 19 U.S. States; Some Places in U.S. Looking for Signs of Virus Last Year; Global Quest Underway to Develop Viable Vaccine; U.K. Set to Ease Lockdown Starting Monday; Trump Says Virus Could Have Been Stopped in China; U.S. Weekly Jobs Data to Be Released; Angela Merkel Lays Out Plan for Germany's Gradual Reopening. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 07, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, the former head of the top U.S. health agency says we are just in the beginning phases of the pandemic as most of the nation starts to settle into new normals.

Britain's Prime Minister is reportedly getting ready to scrap stay-at- home measures as the U.K. reaches 30,000 deaths, second to the United States.

And we asked a long-time health worker what she thinks about the U.S. President contradicting a nurse over the availability of protective gear as he was honoring her on National Nurse Day.

Good to have you with us. Well only a handful of U.S. states are resisting the trend to reopen businesses and public spaces even as the country racks up new cases and more deaths each day. Johns Hopkins University says the U.S. has 1.2 million cases and more than 73,000 deaths. And disease experts warn that not one of the 43 states planning to relax restrictions has met the White House's guidelines for reopening.

Los Angeles will allow many retail stores to reopen beginning Friday albeit with curbside service. Car dealerships will also return. Contrast that with this dire warning from the former head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: It's really bad. In New York City it's on the order of the 1918, 1919 pandemic. More than 20,000 people when you look at all of the excess deaths in the last two months killed in less than two months. That is as bad as the worst phase of the pandemic 100 years ago. Even now with deaths decreasing substantially, there are twice as many deaths from COVID in New York City as there are on a usual day from all other causes combined.

And, sadly, looking at the U.S. as a whole, just calculating forward from the number of people whose infections have already been documented, there will be tragically at least 100,000 deaths from COVID by the end of this month. Second, as bad as this has been, it's just the beginning.


CHURCH: And with a look at the day's other headlines, here is CNN's Nick Watt.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The New York City subway closed overnight, first time in over 100 years. To clean the cars.

ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK GOVERNOR: We have turned the corner and we're on the decline. You take New York out of the national numbers. The numbers for the rest of the nation are going up. What we're doing here shows results.

WATT: Across the country as a whole, the new case count is not falling, hovering somewhere over 20,000 every single day.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I think that we need to understand, this may be the new normal. We may not be able to get transmission down much more. I hope we can.

WATT: But many places reopening anyway. Hot spots now growing in cities like Dallas. Some more rural flare-ups too like those in Nebraska and Minnesota. But better testing might just play into all of this.

DAVE KLEIS, ST. CLOUD, MINNESOTA MAYOR: I don't think there's anyone that didn't know there were more cases out there, they just weren't known because the testing was so low.

WATT: A former CDC director told lawmakers today that the U.S. death toll will exceed 100,000.

GOTTLIEB: As bad as this has been, it's just the beginning.

WATT: Airlines now hoping we'll get back in the air. Average passengers per plane is up to 23 from just 17 last week. All but these seven states are now taking steps to get back in business. On Monday restaurants could open in Florida. On Tuesday cops in Jacksonville had to break up a tailgate party at a taco stand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The risk of the coronavirus is a scam.

WATT: One company working on creating therapeutics using blood from the recovered now says it might have something on the market by the end of the summer. DR. GEORGE YANCOPOULOS, REGENERON: We can clone the best of the

antibodies from recovered humans. We've selected the best ones to create an antibody cocktail we call it.


WATT: And who is this coronavirus infecting? Well, around 90 percent of positives in San Francisco's Mission District are people unable to work from home according to a new study -- 95 percent of them Latinx. Another new study finds that black Americans are 13.4 percent of the population. But counties with higher black populations are home to nearly 60 percent of all COVID-19 deaths

LORI LIGHTFOOT, CHICAGO MAYOR: We're still seeing a disproportionate number of black Chicago as people who are dying as a result of COVID- 19.

WATT (on camera): And some good news for the 10 million people of Los Angeles county, stuff will start reopening Friday starting with some trails, golf courses and some nonessential businesses we're told. Florists and car dealerships among the first wave. But we are being warned that this process will be very slow and no beaches, not yet.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHURCH: So let's talk now with Dr. Marybeth Sexton. She's an epidemiologist at Emory clinic here in Atlanta and also an assistant professor in the infectious disease division at Emory University's School of Medicine. Thank you so much for joining us.


CHURCH: So the Chicago area medical examiner is looking into a possible coronavirus link to deaths as far back as November. Of course, we've heard about the case in France possibly going back to December. Why is it so critical to find out if this virus was circulating late last year? And how much does that change anything that we're dealing with right now?

SEXTON: So I think that it doesn't change a lot that we're doing clinically or a lot that were facing now or how we would handle anything currently. I think where it will be interesting to know how far back it was here is that it will last look at our systems for early warning signs. Ways of doing what we call syndromic surveillance where we can look at medical records and see if we're seeing an unusual uptick in something. And if we do see that going back to, say, December when we compare to prior years, that may help us in the future to build better warning systems so that if there is an uptick in something that is unusual, that might tip us off to a novel virus, we'll have a better idea how to do that.

CHURCH: Interesting. And then science author Laurie Garrett who predicted the coronavirus pandemic says she believes the best-case scenario is that this virus will be with us for three years. Do you agree with that assessment?

SEXTON: I think it's very hard to know for sure but that that certainly could be accurate. Based on what we're seeing right now and the ease with which this spreads and the number of cases that we've seen, I think it will be very hard to eradicate this without a vaccine.

CHURCH: Right.

SEXTON: And even that will take some time to get into place and to get numbers of people vaccinated where we could truly get rid of this. So I think that that's probably a reasonable estimate.

CHURCH: And, of course, there's work at Emory on a vaccine. Are you able to update us on any situation with that?

SEXTON: So I am not part of our team that is working on that, but I know that we have a dedicated team who has been participating in clinical trials and is really committed to seeing what they can contribute to that field as everyone really tries to push towards vaccine availability.

CHURCH: Yes, it's all most people can think about right now, isn't it? And of course, we are learning something new about this virus every single day. And now a study at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital shows that blood thinners may help severe COVID-19 cases. What's the science behind that and how significant could that be?

SEXTON: So we don't know yet why, but it does appear that COVID affects blood clotting, particularly in severe cases that people seem to be more likely to have pulmonary embolisms, blood clots in the lungs, to have deep vein thrombosis, potentially to have heart attacks and strokes and some things that are associated with the blood not clotting the way it should, in some cases clotting excessively.

And so, there's a lot of work going on now about whether in people who are severely ill and who have markers on their lab work, that their blood clotting is abnormal where we may want to give them medications that thin the blood to prevent some of those effects.

CHURCH: And of course, we now know that remdesivir is a drug that could certainly help severe coronavirus cases and the maker of that drug, Gilead, is going to allow other companies to copy that drug.


Antibody efforts are also underway and they are around, what, 100 or so vaccine efforts in the works. About seven or so looking very positive at this time. What overall is your assessment of the progress made so far in terms of fighting COVID-19?

SEXTON: So I think in some ways when you consider that it wasn't until the end of December that we've had an inkling that there might be a new virus. The fact that it's been identified that there's a test for it, that there an antibody tests for it, that there are treatments that have may have some effect. And that people are moving forward on vaccine trials and additional therapeutics is really remarkable.

But I do think that while the remdesivir information may cut the time to recovery is encouraging, we don't yet have statistically significant data about its impact on mortality and there's a lot more to learn. And so, I think that all of that research needs to continue to be ongoing. But we also need to continue to take the other measures like social distancing, with being very careful about things like mask wearing and hand hygiene, to try to prevent case numbers in other ways while that science catches up with us.

Dr. Sexton, thank you so much for talking with us. Appreciate it.

SEXTON: Thanks so much.

CHURCH: And join us for our next "GLOBAL TOWN HALL" on the coronavirus hosted by Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta. Our guests include director Spike Lee, author of "The Coming Plague, " Laurie Garrett and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Well the U.K. is set to ease its coronavirus lockdown next week despite the worst death toll in Europe and another 6,000 confirmed cases on Wednesday. And turn to Isa Soares. She joins us live from London. Good to see you, Isa. So the U.K. will lift some of its restrictions Monday. What might this next phase look like?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Rosemary. That's right. We are expecting the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to address the nation on Sunday. Everyone very attentively waiting for that to happen to get a sense of exactly how much of an easing we're going to see in terms of those lockdown restrictions. Remember, we have been under lockdown for seven weeks now.

What we are hearing, at least in terms of press reports here in the U.K., because the government hasn't announced anything as of yet. Is that the government's going to do away with the stay-at-home slogan, the home message. Perhaps allow people to spend longer time outside. This is what we're hearing via press reports. And those who can work from work given with the social distancing, they will be encouraged to do so, Rosemary. No sign as of yet as to when schools, bars, cafes will open. Suspect that will be phase three.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is meeting with unions and he's meeting with opposition and really looking at the science, at the data before he decides. Take a listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We'll be working with the opposition, with unions, with business to make sure that we get the unlock down plan completely right. And you know, what he says is absolute common sense. It would be an economic disaster for this country if we were to pursue a relaxation of these measures now in such a way as to trigger a second spike.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SOARES: Now, Rosemary, some papers here, newspapers here, are really almost applauding an easing of some of these lockdown measures. One paper calling it magic Monday. Because some of the measures could come into effect as early as Monday. But I think people need to taper their expectations. Perhaps what we will see is not a full lockdown, but baby steps given the precarious situation the U.K. is in. Like you said, its death toll now topped more than 30,000. That's the highest in Europe and second globally behind the United States -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Just incredible. Isa Soares bringing us that live report from London. Many thanks.

Well President Trump is continuing to blame China for the coronavirus outbreak. Now alleging that if China had been transparent from the start, the pandemic would never have happened.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There's never been an attack like this and it should have never happened. Could have been stopped at the source. Could have been stopped in China.


CHURCH: And despite saying he couldn't be certain of the origin of the virus just hours earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now doubling down on his claims the virus came from a Chinese lab.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I've seen evidence that this likely came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.


Happy to see other evidence that disproves that. We should get to the bottom of it. That's why we've been asking for months now to give Westerners access to this information.


CHURCH: China is fighting back saying Pompeo has no evidence or proof and he's making these claims for political gains.

What here's what former U.S. ambassador to China, Max Baucus has to say about the Trump administration's escalating rhetoric towards Beijing. Take a listen.


MAX BAUCUS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: The administration rhetoric is so strong against China, it's over the top. We're entering a kind of an era which is similar to Joe McCarthy back when he was red baiting the State Department, attacking communism. A little bit like Hitler in the '30s. A lot of people knew what was going on was wrong. They knew it was wrong but they didn't stand up and say anything about it. They felt intimidated. And now in the United States, if anybody says anything reasonable about China, he or she feels intimidated afraid his head is going to be chopped off.


CHURCH: Max Baucus there. To the economy now. We are waiting on two rounds of jobs numbers here in the United States. And from all accounts they will be very ugly. In just a few hours we will get data on weekly initial unemployment claims and on Friday the official jobs report for the month of April will be released. To get a sense of what we're bracing ourselves for, let's bring in CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans. Always good to see you, Christine.


CHURCH: So waiting for these two lots of jobs numbers. It's not going to be good, is it?

ROMANS: No, it's a devastating picture. Just truly devastating. Unlike anything we have ever seen before. You know, you've got economists searching for metaphors here. Because we just never had something like this where we have shut the economy off on purpose and sent tens of millions of people to the unemployment lines. Tens of millions of people we know we think this number is going to be another three million jobless claims in just the most recent week. That'll bring 33 million people who have lost jobs over the past seven weeks. You know, leisure and hospitality was the sort of leading edge of this. But this has spread to all corners of the economy -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, just shocking numbers. And, Christine, we're also learning that more than 20 million American private sector jobs were lost last month. What more are you finding out about that?

ROMANS: So this is ADP, and this is a payroll processor. So they see the paychecks. You know, they process these payrolls for all kinds of different companies. And they said that in April 20.2 million layoffs -- job losses in the month. It's just -- I mean, I can't even tell you how odd and unimaginable it is to say a number like that. I mean, this is something that you just couldn't ever imagine could happen. It breaks records of course. These are depression era layoffs. The difference here, however, is that this is not the Great Depression. There is a safety net in the United States.

The U.S. has chosen to go this way where these jobs are being furloughs. Some are furloughs, some are layoffs. People are receiving unemployment benefits. You know, clunky and frustrating to get them, but they're signed up for their states for unemployment benefits. And the federal government, the taxpayer is paying up to $600 a week extra to try to keep people whole here.

However we are now 7, 8 weeks into this and it's just not clear where we are on the other side when all of the jobs come back. Some of them will come back and it will come back quickly when the economy reopens. Some of them like travel and leisure I expect, these are the first people to get hurt, the first industry to get hurt, the last to heal. So there's still some pain here ahead in these coming days and weeks.

CHURCH: Yes, most definitely and unfortunately, no good news to be seen there.


CHURCH: We'll start to see what happens once they start to open up the various states. Christine Romans, nice to see you, thank you.

ROMANS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: You too.

Well on lockdown since mid-March, Germany looks ahead to reopening the country. A live report from Berlin next.

Plus, President Trump tries to correct a nurse about conditions on the front line. We're back in a moment.



CHURCH: The coronavirus death toll in Germany now tops 7,000 with more than 168,000 cases across the country. But Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany has made it through the first phase of the pandemic and has laid out her plan for a gradual reopening.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): If everyone observes the distancing and hygiene rules, then there is a good chance that it will remain this way, otherwise we wouldn't have made these decisions. I said we are following a bold path and we believe that with the present framework conditions, we have a chance. We don't have faith anymore that mayors, health ministers are doing good work, then we might as well pack our bags. That wouldn't be our Germany anymore.


CHURCH: CNN's Frederick Pleitgen joins me from Berlin. Good to see you, Fred. What a success story. Angela Merkel saying Germany has made it through the first phase of the pandemic. How is the next phase likely to look do you think?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well the next phase, as Angela Merkel said, is not going to be going back to normal, but I think that the government will put a new corona normal I think is the way they would put it. Which means that a lot of the economy is going to reopen. Things like stores are going to be reopening. That's one of the things that the Germans have put in place, that larger stores are able to open their doors once again. And then also -- this is pretty important -- restaurants, bars and cafes are going to be opening again as well. However, of course, under the current circumstances in a different way.

There are strict hygiene measures that they all need to adhere to. I was already seeing some reports earlier today in German media about restaurants putting in place separator glass walls between tables, for instance. Also of course, people being required to wear masks.


People when they go to restaurants, for instance, are going to have to give up their contact information in case someone in that restaurant comes down with coronavirus that the German government could trace back how that chain of infection went. So it certainly is going to be complicated. It's not going to be like before, but it certainly is some big steps as Germany continues to reopen as the German government is saying. They are continuing to push the virus back and so, therefore, they can loosen some of these restrictions. But Angela Merkel always has that warning saying people shouldn't get too lenient with all of this otherwise they could risk new infections and could risk a new lockdown as well -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: They have done an incredible job. And of course, as part of the lifting of these restrictions, Angela Merkel also says that Germany's top football league, the Bundesliga, can resume play later in May. How will this be done? And can we expect spectators to be there?

PLEITGEN: Yes, so that was actually a pretty big topic here in Germany. Football, soccer is of course almost like religion here in this country, which is not a surprise considering they won four World Cups. But yes, they are going to be able to reopen. And the Bundesliga actually put forward its own hygiene concept for being able to open once again. Part of that is that there's not going to be any spectators in the game. The Germans call that "Geist Streichholzer" or ghost matches. However, of course, they are going to be on television.

And then also of course, very important is that the regimen for hygiene for the actual players, the coaches, is also going to be pretty strict. It is going to be a lot of coronavirus testing going on there as well. Thousands of tests, possibly tens of thousands of tests necessary. And in fact, in the run up to this there were 10 players and staff who actually were shown to have had coronavirus. So it's something that the league has dealt with.

But meeting that hygiene concept, the league itself is going to decide when exactly the first matches are going to take place. Right now it's looking like the middle of September, possibly the 15th, possibly also all the way back to the 22nd -- Rosemary.

Right, a view perhaps into the future for the rest of us. Frederick Pleitgen many thanks as always. Joining us live from Berlin.

Well the message from one paramedic on the front line, anybody who says they aren't scared during this pandemic is lying to you. Ahead, the fear and anxiety many health care workers are feeling right now.