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Protesters Target Michigan's Stay-At-Home Orders; Women Leaders Praised For COVID-19 Response; U.N. Says Millions Of Children Could Suffer Impact Of Coronavirus Crisis. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 17, 2020 - 05:30   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. It is 5:30, Friday morning here in the U.S. Actually, it doesn't really matter if it's Friday because weekends and weeks seem to be interchangeable these days. Happy Friday, anyway. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So back to our top story, of course. As these stay-at-home orders continue, people all over the world are growing more and more impatient. Some Americans have even taken their frustration to the streets.

We know that conservative groups in Michigan organized protests on Wednesday. Take a look at these images where honking vehicles blocked traffic for miles. And as you can see here, groups of people even got out of their cars and gathered on Capitol grounds.

Well, the protesters claim Michigan's governor has gone too far with restrictions. The crisis has certainly put her on the international stage and also put her at odds with the president and Republicans as her state really struggles to combat a rising death toll.

Jeff Zeleny (audio gap).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- and it's been unrelenting. The losses have been devastating and we've had very few successes to offset that.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is listening, making her daily check-in call with doctors and nurses on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITNER (D-MI): How are you taking care of yourself? I mean, I can't imagine the stress that you're under.

ZELENY (voice-over): Just outside her office window the front lines of another fight -- protesters surrounding the Capitol in a drive-by demonstration sounding off against the strict stay-at-home orders she's imposing to try to slow the deadly outbreak.

On the job for 15 months, Whitmer is front and center in the battle between the nation's governors and the White House.

WHITMER: It's been an incredibly challenging time.

ZELENY (voice-over): She's become one of the most visible Democratic governors in the country, with President Trump dismissively referring to her like this.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't call the woman in Michigan. It doesn't make any difference what happens.

ZELENY (on camera): What went through your mind when you first heard President Trump say "the woman in Michigan?"

WHITMER: I didn't sleep that night, honestly. You know, I'm not looking for a fight with anyone, frankly. I'm looking for help. And when that happened, I was very concerned that it might undermine my ability to get the help that Michigan needs.

ZELENY (voice-over): And Michigan needs help, with her state recording the third-highest reported coronavirus death toll following only New York and New Jersey.

She extended her statewide order until the end of April with some of the nation's toughest restrictions, including prohibiting people from most travel between their residences and visiting vacation rentals in the state. And closing businesses she deemed non-essential, including garden shops. Her actions sparked a conservative group to organize the protest Wednesday.

WHITMER: It looks a lot like a political rally out there as opposed to something that really is about the substance of the stay-home order and why it's important that we take this aggressive stance with COVID- 19.

ZELENY (voice-over): She knows she will be judged by how Michigan weathers the pandemic and rebounds from the economic toll it has taken on the still-fragile manufacturing state, a critical battleground in the 2020 presidential race.

In 2016, Trump narrowly carried Michigan. Two years later, Whitmer was elected. She's now a national co-chair of Joe Biden's campaign and by his own admission, on his list of potential running mates, showering her with praise on his new podcast.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Gov. Whitmer is an outstanding governor. She is one of the most talented people in the country, in my view.

ZELENY (voice-over): For Whitmer, it's created a delicate balancing act. She acknowledges the state's recovery from the crisis depends on a working partnership with the White House and federal government.

ZELENY (on camera): Do you care what President Trump thinks about you?

WHITMER: You know, I -- all I care about is making sure that I'm able to deliver for the people of Michigan, and I will work with anyone who's in the White House in order to do that.


ZELENY (on camera): But you've held your tongue a little bit. You've not perhaps said things publicly that you may otherwise have.


ZELENY (on camera): Why?

WHITMER: Because I've got to get things done.

ZELENY (on camera): Gov. Whitmer and the rest of the nation's governors on the phone with President Trump again. He's urging them to open their economies by May first but governors are saying they will follow their own health statistics in their own states.

Also, interestingly, regional alliances are being formed, including here in the Midwest where two Republican governors in Ohio and Indiana joining five Democratic governors. They say they will take their cues from one another to reopen rather than the White House.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Lansing, Michigan.


CURNOW: Great piece. Thanks to Jeff for that.

So, Michigan's governor just one of the female leaders working to bring this crisis under control. Now when that day comes, the world will learn which strategies worked to protect a population from a pandemic and which failed.

So, CNN's Max Foster now reports these women may have a lot to teach us. Take a look.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the virus spreads beyond China, countries and territories run by women appear to have had particularly effective strategies.

Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen was one of the first leaders to recognize the threat to her island. Her aggressive early response included restricting flights from Mainland China and ramping up production of personal protective equipment such as masks. To date, Taiwan has reported only six fatalities linked to the virus amongst its population of 24 million.

Jacinda Arden, of New Zealand, was even more aggressive as she enforced a national lockdown before any deaths were even reported. And she banned tourists, which are the country's biggest source of income. JACINDA ARDEN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: From 11:59 p.m. tonight, we will close our border to any non-residents and citizens attempting to travel here.

FOSTER (voice-over): When the virus hit Europe, female leaders were similarly proactive.

In Iceland, Katrin Jakobsdottir offered free testing to all citizens whether they were showing symptoms or not. And she used a tracking system so she didn't have to lock down and suffocate the economy.

Compare that to Sweden which has, by far, the highest death rate in the Nordics and is also the only country there that isn't led by a woman.

Smaller nations are perhaps easier to manage but that doesn't explain Angela Merkel's success in Germany, a nation of 83 million. This chart compares Germany's noticeably low death rates with other comparable European states and the U.S.

So what explains the apparent link between low virus mortality rates and female leadership?

SAMANTHA POWER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Each of the leaders you mention brings a combination of compassion and rigor, I think, to the way that they've engaged the public -- you know, fact- based, evidence-based, science-based early, but also really showing empathy and showing -- and speaking to the humanity of what's at stake here in the crisis.

FOSTER (voice-over): Managing a crisis requires recognizing it early on and acting decisively. The international evidence, so far, shows a disproportionate number of female leaders successfully taking that approach to the current pandemic.

Max Foster, CNN.


CURNOW: We all knew that already, didn't we? I'm just leaving out there again. But thanks to all of those amazing female leaders out there. The men perhaps can learn a few lessons here.

So coming up, they're often spared from the most severe symptoms of the coronavirus but millions of children are still at risk for other reasons. Why the U.N. is warning the pandemic could be devastating for children. Stick around for that story.



CURNOW: So, elderly populations are, as we know, one of the groups most at risk of catching the coronavirus, but the head of the U.N. says that doesn't mean others, like children, aren't suffering as a result of this crisis. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONIO GUTERRES, SECRETARY-GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: Thankfully, children have, so far, been largely spared from the most severe symptoms of the disease, but their lives are being totally upended. I appeal to families everywhere and leaders at all levels, protect our children.


CURNOW: This new U.N. report suggesting the impacts of the pandemic could be catastrophic for millions of children worldwide. Some of the areas of concern include interrupted education, missing out on meals provided by schools, a rise in domestic and online abuse, and difficulty for children to access basic health care while medical facilities are overwhelmed.

So I want to get some perspective on this. Shetal Shah is a professor of pediatrics -- of pediatrics and works at a children's hospital in New York. Professor, thank you for joining us. Good to see you.

Just because children aren't getting severely ill as older people doesn't mean they also aren't vulnerable. In the short-term, what worries you?

DR. SHETAL SHAH, NEONATOLOGIST, MARIA FARERI CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Yes, thank you for having me. I think the U.N. report really does a good job of highlighting the downstream effects that the coronavirus pandemic and our social distancing response is going to have on children.

In the short-term, we are, as pediatricians, extremely concerned about children's' access to vaccinations. So here in New York we're still endeavoring to immunize all children who are less than two years of age. However, a lot of parents are extremely concerned about bringing their otherwise healthy child now to the pediatrician for preventive care.

Now, if you expand that over a large population of children, the ability to weaken our public health infrastructure by reducing immunization rates is extremely high.

You know we, in New York last year, are still living with the results of the 2019 measles epidemic, which was the worst epidemic in over a generation. And if there's anything that epidemic taught us it's that immunizations rates really only need to go down slightly to about 95 percent in the community before vaccine-preventable diseases return.

And that is, of course, the big worry. We don't want to (audio gap) an epidemic of vaccine-preventable disease on top of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

CURNOW: So basically, you're saying parents still need to take their babies and their kids to the doctors to get their immunizations. That they mustn't break the schedule.

SHAH: That's correct.


SHAH: The schedule is typically proven and vetted and we want all parents, particularly if their children are less than two years of age, to show up for those timely appointments.

CURNOW: So you talk -- that's one of your main concerns in the short- term. What else are you worried about?


I know that even here in Atlanta there have been real worries about education and inequality, particularly around issues around school lunches and food for many vulnerable children.

SHAH: Absolutely. If this social distancing era that we are living in has taught us anything it is that school for children is so much more than a place where they get educated. It's a source of social support, and for too many children it's a source of two meals a day.

Pediatricians have known about this for years. We've talked for years about what we call the summer hunger phenomenon, which is that when the social support of school is missing, children often miss out on school breakfast and school lunch. And we really have concerns that children are going to be missing those two meals for an extended period of time as our social distancing continues.

And the real concern, of course, is that some states have done a very good job. So, for example, New York City and New York were very much on top of this and really created systems so that children who relied on those school meals were still able to get them while we shelter at home. But we are very worried about school districts in states that are less well-resourced.

CURNOW: And I suppose many places in rural areas where there are pockets of vulnerabilities.

Also, let's just talk -- I know a lot of kids are at home. Whether or not you're a high-income family or a low-income family, many kids need extra help, whether they've got special needs, whether they have disabilities. All of that is certainly complicating life for parents and for kids.

SHAH: Absolutely. Now we're talking more about the intermediate effects --


SHAH: -- of the coronavirus pandemic.

The -- there is already existed wide gaps in access to quality education between higher income and lower-income children, and the coronavirus pandemic has really exacerbated and has the potential to widen those gaps for a significant period of time. So, for example, in well -- in higher-income school districts, children have access to laptops. They already know how to use software like Google Classroom. They were able to convert to virtual school pretty much within a week or two.

However, there are school districts that aren't as well off and children who are lower-income who really still haven't fully gotten the benefits --


SHAH: -- of the virtual school education.

And then on top of that, you think about children who are from higher- income areas -- it's not just the quality of the education they're getting virtually but it's the fact that they have parents who have the ability to work from home and who can layer supplemental education on top of that. Who can give them books to read and talk to them about those books.


SHAH: And that, of course, has the ability to widen this gap over a longer period of time.

CURNOW: And just before we go, last question, just very quickly.

I mean, this is -- we -- children haven't faced this kind of challenge in decades in generations, particularly for newborns, for toddlers. This is -- this is a different way of growing up that many -- you know, I think in over 100 years people have not had to deal with this, whether it's just face masks. The impact on early years is unfathomable at the moment, isn't it?

SHAH: Absolutely. We worry about newborn babies who learn so much from facial expressions. What's it going to be like when they through a period of time where all they see is a parent or a caregiver with a mask?

What about children with special needs and disabilities who require very precise timed physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy? And that therapy needs to be delivered in a very critical developmental window because the improvement that you don't get in a certain period of time might be unrecoverable over a longer period.

Children, as we know, develop up through late adolescence up through the age of even 25. So if we are not hitting all the appropriate developmental milestones and providing the treatments that they need at developmentally sensitive times, we run the risk of adversely affecting them, potentially for the rest of their lives.


Dr. Shetal Shah, I really appreciate your perspective.

And I think your overriding message though, is all parents need to still keep in contact with their pediatricians and primary care doctors and try not to keep their kids away too much, even though, of course, we've been told to social distance. So many mixed messages. It's a difficult time for everybody.

But thanks for all the work that you're doing. I appreciate you joining us here.

SHAH: Thank you.

CURNOW: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Still to come, a World War II veteran's quest to stay active captivates a nation. This man is a rock star. You want to hear the story, next.



CURNOW: So this is one of my favorite stories all week. A British Army veteran has raised millions of dollars for health workers simply by walking in his own garden.

Captain Tom Moore served in World War II. He's also captured the hearts of his country with his garden walk challenge. He even earned a shout out from Prince William, who called him quote "an absolute legend" which, of course, is what he is.

Anna Stewart explains how it all came about.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Many small steps for this 99-year-old man; a giant leap for the NHS. A whole nation rooted for British Army veteran Tom Moore to complete a personal marathon -- 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, raising money for the country's health service. He crossed the finish line with a guard of honor from his old regiment.

Moore set out to raise 1,000 pounds (audio gap).

TOM MOORE, WORLD WAR II VETERAN RAISING MONEY FOR NHS: A fantastic sum of money. It's unbelievable that people would be so kind.

STEWART (voice-over): The money goes to the organization NHS Charities Together, which supports the U.K.'s health workers who are already sending messages of thanks.

His 100th birthday is still days away but social media is already awash with birthday messages to thank Capt. Tom Moore for inspiring a nation.


[07:55:00] CURNOW: And I actually have an update. Donations to Capt. Moore's fundraiser have actually surged since this piece was filed. So he's now raised -- wait for this -- $22 million. An absolute legend, indeed.

So, thanks for your company. I'm Robyn Curnow. Let's help our medical workers by staying at home and staying safe.

"NEW DAY" is next with John and Alisyn. Appreciate you spending the time with me. We'll see you again next week. You're watching CNN.



DR. DEBORAH BIRX, RESPONSE COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: The criteria that you can see the gates (ph) the federal government has recommended are fairly strict.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are basically operating in the blind if you can't do widespread testing. So these are just arbitrary guidelines.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We'll have to wait to see if any of these governors actually start to implement these practices.

TRUMP: But those states that are in great shape already --


TRUMP: -- they will be able to go literally tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that would be really dangerous. We're ramping up the testing. We've got to see what the infection rate is.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Until there's a vaccine, every time things are reopened there will be new infections.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, April 17th. It's 6:00 here in New York.

These questions -- can you start planning to go back to work this morning? That depends. We really don't know.

Should you feel safe if you do go back to work? That depends.