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All 50 States Partially Reopening Or Easing Restrictions By Tomorrow; President Trump Deems Houses Of Worship Essential Amid Pandemic; Holiday Weekend Raises Concerns Of Coronavirus Spike; CDC Publishes New Pandemic Guidance For Religious Worship; USS Roosevelt Back At Sea Following Virus Outbreak; FBI Director Chris Wray Orders Internal Review Of Flynn's Case; Denmark Turns Churches Into Schools. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired May 23, 2020 - 06:00   ET




ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Memorial Day, it's a very important holiday. Hopefully the sun will be out, we'll be having -- people who want to get out there and get fresh air, you can do that. Go out, wear a mask, stay six feet away from anyone just so you have the physical distancing and go out as long as you're not in a crowd and you're not in a situation where you can physically transmit the virus.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In America, we need more prayer, not less. Governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coronavirus patients who were seriously ill and given chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine were more likely to develop abnormal heart rhythms or even die.

TRUMP: Hydroxychloroquine, try it. If things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: I hope you're seeing a beautiful sunrise wherever you are. Thank you so much for being with us as we say hello to all of you in Atlanta and around the world now. For the first time in at least 10 weeks, all 50 states are, in some capacity, reopened now and of course it's Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer. Health experts now concerned that these large gatherings may lead to a spike in cases.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. After weeks under lockdown, millions of people across the country will be allowed to get out and enjoy the weekend outdoors. Across the country beaches on each coast, they're reopening. PAUL: A lot of businesses have opened their doors, but the president, he wants more. Even though the majority of states already allow houses of worship to hold gatherings, he's calling on governors to reopen churches, deeming them essential and said he has the authority to override local governments if they don't follow his recommendations.

BLACKWELL: There's also the new study that's found that hydroxychloroquine, a drug that President Trump has touted and taken, is linked to an increased death in coronavirus patients.

PAUL: Want to start with CNN's Polo Sandoval who's following the latest on the efforts to reopen the country this holiday weekend. Polo, good morning to you.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey. Good morning, guys. You know, even for 6:00 A.M. on a holiday weekend morning, the streets of New York are still relatively quiet, but today, that will likely change.

We'll slowly begin to see a few more people out because as we've heard from authorities, it is expected that Americans across the country will be heading outside and when you hear from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert, it's OK, however, it's important not to throw caution to the wind. This warning coming as the death or the total number of COVID-related deaths in the country near 100,000.


SANDOVAL: President Trump insists the nation's houses of worship must reopen this weekend. On Friday, he deemed them essential before the CDC unveiled new interim guidance for communities of faith. The president also said he would override states that resist, though it's not clear if he has any authority to do so., some of the nation's governors reminding the commander-in-chief that reopening decisions fall on the states.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): It's the governors' decision of course and that's why I think he said, look, when the CDC guidance comes out, take a look at the guidance and see what might be possible. That's the approach we're going to take.

SANDOVAL: This weekend also marking the symbolic start of summer and a major test for beachside communities that have been preparing for crowds. Many beaches are open on the east and west coasts, though you can expect social distancing restrictions and capacity limits to be in place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm excited. I think it's good. I think people need to be outside and enjoying what nature's given us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been cooped up inside for so long and it's nice to get outside and get a little work in.

SANDOVAL: For Florida residents, only beaches in hard-hit areas like Fort Lauderdale and Miami-Dade County will stay closed. As a new study warning some southern states could see a spike in COVID-19 cases, another round of reopenings just in time for the holiday weekend. South Carolina theme parks are open again, as are bars in Texas with limited capacity and dancing discouraged.

ART HARVEY, WESTLAKE BREWING CO.: We have to do a lot of extra precautions we didn't have to do before, increased sanitation, hand sanitizing stations, our staff has to wear masks.

SANDOVAL: Overall, it's OK to venture away from home says the White House's coronavirus response coordinator.

DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Understand you can go out, you can be outside, you can play golf, you can play tennis with marked balls, you can go to the beaches if you say six feet apart, but remember that that is your space and that's a space that you need to protect and ensure that your social distance for others.

SANDOVAL: But the White House is expressing concern over the region seeing a high number of COVID cases, cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, despite stay-at-home orders.



SANDOVAL: Now, New York City has not entered any sort of phase of reopening yet. What you hear from experts it's likely that that will perhaps be the last region to do so based on the numbers that we're seeing here, Victor and Christi. But in the meantime, New York's governor Andrew Cuomo easing restrictions, at least slightly here this week, as he issued this order will allow for Memorial Day celebrations as long as it's no more people (ph).

BLACKWELL: All right. Polo Sandoval for us there in New York. Polo, thanks so much.

PAUL: So allowing religious gatherings is up to states, local officials and religious leaders at the end of the day. A majority of states are slowly allowing religious services to resume in some form already. There are three states that have not, but President Trump says he wants houses of worship back open this weekend and that he will override, he promises, governors who do not do so.

BLACKWELL: Let's go to the White House now. CNN's Kristen Holmes is there. Kristen, listen, we've heard from the president before that he will overstep or override governors if he doesn't like their decision. He hasn't done it yet. What's the weight behind this?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a good question, Victor, and we simply have not been able to find any weight behind this and the White House really hasn't been able to identify any power that President Trump has to do this, but as you mentioned, this is really just the latest in this back-and-forth between federal and state powers between President Trump and governors.

I mean, doesn't it feel like we were just having this exact same conversation a few weeks ago when President Trump said he was in control of reopening the country? Well, of course that ended up not being true and governors have taken it upon themselves to quickly open or slowly open their economies as they see fit, but again, same conversation. Take a listen to how President Trump phrased this when he was talking about these places of worship.


TRUMP: The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now for this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the governors.


HOLMES: Again, same thing, I will override the governors. Very similar language that we've heard before. Now, all this is coming as the CDC is warning of high transmission rates at church events. However, the CDC did put out some guidelines and I want to pull them up here for our viewers as we head into the weekends so they know at least what the top health agency is promoting.

They say promote social distancing, limit sharing objects, clean daily, provide soap and sanitizer. So all things that viewers should be thinking about as they head to those faith services this weekend.

PAUL: So Kristen, I want to talk to you about this hydroxychloroquine study that came out in "The Lancet" journal saying that the drugs are very dangerous if you take them, then we had President Trump yesterday saying what have you got to lose? Go ahead and try it. How did Dr. Deborah Birx, who did get in front of the microphone, try to balance or reconcile two very different and opposing viewpoints on hydroxychloroquine?

HOLMES: Well, Christi, that's right. This has become part of her job really to kind of strike this balance between President Trump and top health officials and I want to note it's not just that President Trump has been promoting this drug. On Monday, he said he himself was taking it, that he'd been taking it for about a week and a half to ward off coronavirus. So here is how Deborah Birx referred to the drug and to the study. And again, just to note here, she joins a sea of public health officials in this statement.


BIRX: I think the FDA has been very clear on their website about their concerns about hydroxychloroquine, particularly when it's combined with a macrolide and I think you see that in the study. There are still control trials going on both for prophylaxis and pre-exposure prophylaxis and as well as controlled trials looking at, in a hospital setting, how these drugs do and I think those are still pending, but I hope everyone looks at those comorbidities.


HOLMES: So clearly here kind of striking that balance saying, well, these studies are still going on, however, the FDA has made clear that there are some serious concerns with taking this drug and of course, again, this comes after that study came out showing that people who took the drug had a higher risk of death.

PAUL: Kristen Holmes, appreciate it so much as always. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Kristen. Dr. Birx also says that everyone should feel comfortable leaving their homes, but take precautions this Memorial Day weekend. Here's CNN's Sara Sidner.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sun, fun and coronavirus. How safe are we as summer pastimes beckon? Even in the great outdoors, epidemiologists warn nothing is without risk.



SIDNER: This month, a report published by the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" said that when it comes to COVID-19, speech droplets generated by asymptomatic carriers are increasingly considered to be the likely mode of disease transmission.

RIMOIN: It does appear that asymptomatic infection is a -- is a big driver of spread of disease and we are still learning things about it every single day.

SIDNER: Anne Rimoin is a virus hunter, a renowned UCLA epidemiologist who has spent decades researching in the Congo trying to suss out the next virus and how it's transmitted. So far, this is what experts know helps stop coronavirus transmission.

RIMOIN: Everybody should be staying as far apart from each other as they can and wearing masks which will reduce spread of droplets.

SIDNER: But is six feet of distance enough? A new computer model suggests it may not be. An engineering professor study of a computer model published in the journal "Physics of Fluids" shows a light breeze could carry some droplets as far as 18 feet.

RIMOIN: Any data is important to be able to consider. We're literally gathering data in real time to understand what we're doing today and tomorrow.

SIDNER: It still isn't known how infectious those droplets could be if the virus is present.

PETER CHIN HONG, UCSF INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: Your absolute risk of getting it when there's like wind and you're outdoors is actually going to be very, very small.

SIDNER: The computer model has not been scientifically tested in real- life scenarios. What has been lab tested, how far droplets can disperse indoors. Think of summer vacation, airports, shopping malls and restaurants. This is the National Institutes of Health's experiment. Normal breathing without a mask under highly-sensitive laser light shows no droplets light up, but when you speak, droplets light up like a Christmas tree.

Ironically, one of the phrases that produces a large number of droplets is "stay healthy."

SIDNER: And a cough indoors? Scientists at Florida Atlantic University showed without a mask, droplets can spread 12 feet. With a simple mask, the droplets still spread, but far less.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be six tonight (ph).

SIDNER: Unfortunately for summer sports fans, enthusiastic cheering can also spew droplets further. The virus may move from one fan to another.

HONG: It loves the nose and mouth. It's like a five-star hotel for the virus.

SIDNER: The cheering and high-fives may defeat the effort to control the virus, which explains the idea for playing in empty stadiums.

HONG: A stadium is like an adult preschool. Sure there are a lot of secretions and slobbering. Depending on what you buy in the concession stands, people lose their inhibitions and that's part of the joy of going to the stadium.

SIDNER: But not all is lost. A dip in the pool, still cool. According to the CDC, there is no evidence the virus can spread through pool water, but self-distancing is still key.

RIMOIN: We're going to be coexisting with this virus for a long time, maybe forever.

SIDNER: There's no doubt that we're all sick of being cooped up and there is an expectation that a lot of folks are going to show up on Memorial Day. We're outside for, example, the Rose Bowl here in Pasadena. This is the loop.

A lot of people are walking and running and trying to get some exercise with the kids as well. The key every epidemiologist we talk to is wear a mask and try to stay as far from people as possible. That is your best bet to keeping yourself safe and others safe, Christi, Victor.


BLACKWELL: Sara Sidner for us. Sara, thanks so much. Another big company is turning to bankruptcy to deal with the economic impact of COVID-19. The rental car company Hertz, it says the drop in travel demand was sudden and dramatic and it's costing them in revenue, future bookings.

Now, this does not mean that Hertz is going out of business. The company says this will allow them to restructure their debt. Hertz has already cut 12,000 jobs in North America and furloughed another 4,000 workers. PAUL: Do stay with us because the CDC issued these new guidelines for religious institutions that want to reopen this weekend. That's despite the growing number of COVID-19 cases. Well, Dr. Saju Mathew has some thoughts on this. He's going to share them with us next.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the USS Roosevelt is back at sea with a new commander after more than 1,100 carrier personnel tested positive for coronavirus. How does he plan to protect the sailors? His response when NEW DAY continues.




PAUL: Eighteen minutes past the hour right now and some churches, synagogues, mosques, other religious institutions are reopening this weekend. Even though they're already allowed to hold gatherings of some kind in most states, President Trump called them essential yesterday and called on governors to reopen the institutions for services.

Now, the CDC has released new guidelines for religious institutions that want to reopen right now. A CNN analysis found there are only currently three states in which houses of worship are closed still. Keep in mind large gatherings like those in houses of worship have been linked to clusters of outbreaks, just to be clear.

Let's discuss this with primary care physician and CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Saju Mathew. Dr. Mathew, always so good to see you, Saju. Thank you.


PAUL: So let's go over these guidelines real quickly so everybody knows, the CDC saying they want to limit the size of gatherings, increase ventilation in these churches and synagogues, consider social distancing, disinfect frequently touched surfaces between services like hymnals and shared objects and then encouraging cloth face coverings. The president just announced this yesterday. What is your level of concern that these houses of worship are prepared to do so?

MATHEW: So Christi, you hit it right on the nail. The big question that I have as a medical professional will be the same question I would have if people walk into an auditorium to watch a sports event, people walking into a salon.


Now, with churches, let's remember every church has a different size in terms of congregation. So what I do worry about is large numbers of people entering tight spaces, you know, singing, talking. Are they going to definitely make sure that people are not hugging, shaking hands? What will the size of the congregations be? Will they hold different services? These are the type of questions that I would have specifically about churches reopening and I think what's important, Christi, like I've said so many times is we have to find what that new normal is, but that new normal should still follow guidelines.

PAUL: So let me ask you this. The CDC guidelines, Elizabeth Cohen yesterday made the point, and she's worked with the CDC for years, that they're usually more direct, they're more pointed with their guidance. So when you hear encouraging cloth masks or, you know, you should consider social distancing, what do you make of that verbiage? Does that stand out to you as well?

MATHEW: I'm uncomfortable, like Elizabeth Cohen said, when you use the word consider. There's nothing about considering a certain activity that must happen. You know, with the pandemic and we've heard about all the guidelines, a lot of states are expecting surges, especially as people go back out there and states start opening back up again.

So I think that the language should be clear so there's no misunderstanding by the church and the members of the church. Definitely for sure six feet or more, wearing a mask absolutely I think should be mandatory and I think the guidelines need to be a little bit more direct and and clear.

PAUL: OK. Hydroxychloroquine. "The Lancet" journal had this published report that there was a large observational study that COVID-19 patients treated with these drugs were more likely to die or develop some cardiac issues, some dangerous irregular heart rhythms, than those who were not treated with the drugs. Let's listen to Dr. Deborah Birx here, of course the White House coronavirus response coordinator, talking about hydroxychloroquine.


BIRX: There are still control trials going on both for prophylaxis and pre-exposure prophylaxis and as well as controlled trials looking at, in a hospital setting, how these drugs do and I think those are still pending.


PAUL: So is this study, from "The Lancet," is this bottom line for you regarding, you know, the indication that hospitals should stop using the drug for the treatment or, as Dr. Birx asserts, is there space for more trial results and therefore some more deliberation about this?

MATHEW: So Christi, this is the first, largest study that came out yesterday that included over 90,000 patients. This is a huge study. The prior studies that we've had regarding hydroxychloroquine have been smaller studies and those studies just said that we don't show that there's any benefit to taking hydroxychloroquine. That's the key word from the prior study.

This latest study that included 90,000 patients are saying that there is harm, that patients who take hydroxychloroquine are at increased risk of having these heart arrhythmias. One specific dangerous arrhythmia is called ventricular tachycardia where you can die. That's sudden cardiac death and also that it increases your risk of death in patients who take hydroxychloroquine with the antibiotic called azithromycin.

So for me personally, I am convinced that this is not a medication that patients should be using and just to mention what Dr. Birx had alluded to, there is a trial that's currently going on for frontline workers, Christi, as to whether there would be a benefit to taking the patient -- to taking the medication as a prophylaxis, meaning can I take the medicine every single day, one pill a day to prevent me getting the infection with COVID-19? Now, that is going on currently.

PAUL: OK. So those are the results we're waiting for. Dr. Saju Mathew, always appreciate your insight and your expertise. Thank you for being with us.

MATHEW: Thank you, Christi.

BLACKWELL: The USS Roosevelt (ph) is back at sea. The ship returns to the open water after more than 1,000 personnel on board tested positive for coronavirus, hundreds of them still in isolation. Well, there is a new commanding officer now. His first interview since the Roosevelt's return to sea is next.




BLACKWELL: The USS Theodore Roosevelt is back at sea for the first time in almost two months during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, you'll remember last month the commanding officer on board the aircraft carrier, Captain Brett Crozier, was relieved of his command after a strongly worded letter he sent to Navy leadership about his concern was leaked. More than 1,100 personnel on that ship have tested positive for coronavirus.

Well, now the man who replaced him, Captain Carlos Sardiello , is speaking to CNN. This is his first interview since taking the role and I started by asking him how he is first making sure that sailors aboard the Roosevelt are -- the principal concern -- are safe, but then also the psychological element. How does he make sure that they're confident in the safety procedures?


CARLOS SARDIELLO, COMMANDING OFFICER, USS ROOSEVELT: To ensure that the sailors are safe to do the mission and to operate in the carrier environment, we certainly have to address the COVID threat.


In that, we have gone through a rigorous process to ensure that every sailor is tested multiple times, that they're free from symptoms, and that we have cleaned the ship from bow to stern, all 1,082 feet, 10 storeys up, seven storeys down, before they got here to provide a clean environment. And we maintained rigorous protocols that require medical screenings by doctors and core-men, at least once a day.

If anyone has even the slightest symptom of a cold, then they're going down to medical and being screened. And we have robust testing capability on board to test for COVID, if that's necessary. And so, here we are at sea with that capability in action. How do they feel about it?

Well, it's messaging. Tell them exactly what is expected, what is the mission? How we're protecting them, and they have a part in this and they understand that, that line of effort is COVID prevention, mitigation, strategy that has been in effect since, you know, day one that I got here.

BLACKWELL: So, we understand that there have been 13 sailors who tested positive who were once positive, then isolated, then tested negative, again are now positive. There's also the concern of social distancing with berthing compartments that are tight, the missiles that are -- that are tight. How do you enforce social distancing and what's the concern of, you know, a single test may prove that they're negative at that time, but how often should there be testing?

SARDIELLO: So, regarding the few sailors that were reported to be positive, they were identified by our protocols and then removed from the ship out of a -- over abundance of caution. Those were previously positive sailors. So I'm to report that today, we continue to have no new positives on board. The social distancing, we're leveraging our situation right now as we build our readiness with pilot-landing care qualifications, we are not required to bring the entire crew out.

And so, we have additional space that we're using to increase that social distancing in addition to our standard measures of spreading out in the dining areas, the common areas, one way traffic around the ship, and then the constant cleaning. So in this care qualification phase, we have a lot of room and we're spreading out. The berthing areas as well.

We've also segregated them by a watch sections, cohorts we call it, so that we're compartmentalized, and if we need to respond, we can identify that quickly and then move, treat, isolate sailors and decontaminate if necessary. But again, other than drills which we've executed frequently and in accordance with our procedures, we stand ready to do that. But again, right on mission and everything is going according to plan.

BLACKWELL: Your predecessor there, Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of command after it was deemed that he exercised extremely poor judgment for a memo, calling for some decisive action when there were a few dozen cases, he called for the ship to be evacuated, eventually there were more than a 1,000 COVID positive cases on board the Roosevelt, 4,000 sailors that were evacuated as you know.

What would be the threshold for you to call for some decisive action. Has there been a number determined if you see 50 cases or 75 cases or 100 cases that you'll have to return to port? SARDIELLO: I'm not going to speculate in the details of our protocols,

but suffice to say they are set up to ensure that if there's even one case that we're addressing that, and it's isolate, quarantine, treat and if the opportunity presents itself to medevac. In that, there are contingency plans from everything from no cases to one case, and then multiple cases so that we can respond.

I think where we are now, with everything that has been learned about COVID, with the equipment and the training that we have, particularly these types of protections that we have on board, sailor-to-sailor transmission, just breaking the chain between each and every sailor, you know, 4,860 that we have, if you can't get from one to number two, it's not going anywhere.

And so that's the foundation, but we can respond and test and isolate people if necessary, and, again, we're drilling and practicing to that on a regular basis.



BLACKWELL: My thanks to Captain Sardiello, and our thanks to everyone on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt for your services especially during this difficult time.

PAUL: So FBI Director Christopher Wray is ordering an internal review into the investigation of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.

BLACKWELL: And in a statement, Wray said the review will look for misconduct and try to find any improvements that could be made to FBI practices. Now, this review is following the Justice Department's move to drop the case against Flynn, he pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI.

PAUL: So re-opening schools and keeping kids safe from the coronavirus. That's a tough balance to make, right? It's going to be a major stress test for the U.S. Well, looking at what we can learn from Denmark, which is one of the fastest countries to get children back to school.



PAUL: Well, in Denmark, the government is speeding up its re-opening plan, following a steady decline of coronavirus hospitalization.

BLACKWELL: So, now students are going back to school in churches and in grave yards. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has the latest now from Copenhagen.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Math lessons from the pulpit. When the Veksoe School outside Copenhagen didn't have enough space for all kids because of the physical distancing rules, the local church became a classroom. Students don't mind.

MARIE ERIKSEN BOEGNER, STUDENT: It's different but I like it and we learn a lot.

PLEITGEN: To help with their statistic lessons, they needed a place with lots of numbers, so they just moved to the church's graveyard. Denmark's government is encouraging as many lessons as possible outside, the teacher says.

ANETTE DA CRUZ, TEACHER, VEKSOE SCHOOL: We have to study statistics and math. So instead of doing it inside the school, now we can use the cemetery. They can collect data and we can work with it and they get much more curious.

PLEITGEN: Denmark is rapidly re-opening its schools under very strict hygiene measures. Arrival times are stagger, so there aren't too many kids at school at once. You won't see students or teachers wearing masks though, instead, here at the Hendriksholm School in Copenhagen, they use police tape to make sure children don't cross paths on the stairs in the school yard.

Children should keep at least 3 feet apart. And they wash their hands and sanitize at least every two hours, a new experience for many.

ANDY CHANG JOHANSEN, STUDENT: It is a little hard to get used to, but when you get used to it, it definitely feels more normal.

PLEITGEN: With that concept, Denmark first brought the youngest students back to school, and now the older ones as well. The head of secondary education at the Hendriksholm School Jimmy Adetunji says the key to making it work is trust in the kids to be responsible.

JIMMY ADETUNJI, HEAD OF SECONDARY EDUCATION, HENDRIKSHOLM SCHOOL: If you follow the guidelines given, if you keep distance, if you make sure to wash your hands, keep sanitizing, coughing in your sleeve and not in your hand and so on and so forth, I think we'll be safe.

PLEITGEN: With many parents fearing for their kids safety, the Danish government worked with parents and teachers groups to build support for the plan. The country's education minister tells me.

PERNILLE ROSENKRANTZ-THIEL, HEALTH MINISTER, DENMARK: Without that dialogue, I think many people would have felt that it wasn't safe to send the children to school. I think the guidelines that we would have made wouldn't have hit the target, and then we would have outbreaks in different schools, and that would have made other parents uncertain about the situation.

PLEITGEN: Opening schools does not appear to have led to a spike in coronavirus infections in Denmark, and while some might find math lessons on a graveyard a bit awkward, well, so far, Danes say their way of bringing school back is working. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Copenhagen, Denmark. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Our thanks to Fred. Now, let's talk about colleges. Presidents of universities and colleges across the country are working with health departments to determine how students can get back to campus in the Fall. Well, one of the most important voices in college sports says that athletes should come back. Why he thinks it will be safer.



PAUL: So Tara Reade's lawyer has dropped her as a client, but says it has nothing to do with her accusation against former Vice President Joe Biden. She claims he sexually assaulted her back in 1993.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the former Vice President denies the allegations. Her former lawyer says that she was dropped a day after CNN published an investigation into Reade's educational background and past statements. It found that maybe she did not get the bachelor's degree as she claimed.

The college football season is scheduled to start Labor Day weekend, and it appears the possibility of having games is, let's say trending upward.

PAUL: Yes, two of the biggest conferences in the country, the SEC and the big 12 have taken the first steps towards that. Carolyn Manno is in this morning. Good morning Carolyn.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Good morning Christi and Victor, yes, that's right. What essentially is happening now is that they're going be volunteer workouts that are set to take place next month, and as it stands, there's about a 100 days between now and the start of the college football season. So, that's good news. But as we know, that time winds down pretty quickly.

The commissioners of both the SEC and the PAC-12 seem optimistic that the season is going to start on time. They told CNN as much when they spoke with us yesterday, they did say that safety for football players who will be looking for ways to get back in game shape is going to be top priority.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In most cases, we feel that student athletes will be in a safer position and a healthier position if they can have access to the world class medical care, supervision, support that they can get on their campuses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, time is an asset. We want to use that wisely. Every day, a little bit of that asset slips away, and our hope is we can return to this activity in a healthy way, people will heed the guidance.



MANNO: Alabama football coach Nick Saban also setting an example for students. The coach, part of a really fun PSA reminding fans that they have to wear a mask, and that includes mascots as well. College football attendance in some capacity hasn't fully yet been ruled out.

Dr. Anthony Fauci also weighing in, saying that colleges should test players to make sure that when they do come back in, they are negative, and also to protect the staff that's associated with those players.

In the meantime, Nick's legend and Georgetown men's head basketball coach, Patrick Ewing is the latest sports star to be diagnosed with COVID-19. According to the school, he is being hospitalized right now close to the school, and he is the only one that has been affected with COVID-19. In a tweet, he thanked healthcare workers and those who are on the front lines of the pandemic as well.

He said he is expecting to make a full recovery. Meantime, NFL teams are anticipating social distancing guidelines to remain in effect this Fall. The Pittsburgh Steelers are only selling 50 percent of tickets for home games this season. The team says that fans can buy up to eight tickets per household for any of the teams' eight regular season home games.

Right now, the NFL is planning for a full season beginning on September 10th with contingency plans that are top of mind, should the pandemic intensify and change things on that end. In the NHL, it's now possible that only 24 teams could come back to finish the season instead of all 31. The Players Association telling CNN that its executive board has given the OK to continue talks with the league about having fewer teams return.

But they do say that several of those details still need to be worked out before anything is finalized there. And lastly, sports fans eagerly anticipating anything live this holiday weekend. This is something really fun. We're so excited about the matches on our sisters of networks, "HLN" included in that, and it gets set today at 2:00 p.m. So, check this out, Christi and Victor.

I know you've heard a lot about this, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, I don't know what could be better than that, that's eight Lombardy trophies, 20 major championships between the four it seems, so $10 million going towards coronavirus relief efforts as well. The trash talk has already begun.


PEYTON MANNING, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK: I think the teams are fair. I think, you know, Phil chose the right partner in Tom together. You know, they have 11 championships, Tiger and I have 17, the way I count it, right, Tiger?

TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, BUCCANEERS: Hopefully, after Phil and I win, they don't go, you know, try to change the rules on us or you know, send the tapes into the NFL. I don't know if Peyton can still do that, now that he's retired and tried to change some of the rules to make it all easier the next time.


MANNO: You can expect a lot more of that on Sunday afternoon. You can watch the match tomorrow across our family of networks. The event tee- ing off at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. And with the superstars being mic-ed up as well, Christi and Victor, this is a really exciting chance to get inside the minds of some of the greatest athletes globally that sports has ever seen. And I think there's going to be a little bit more trash-talk to say the least.

BLACKWELL: That's a good fun four. Hoping to watch that. Carolyn Manno for us this morning, thanks so much.

PAUL: Thank you, Carolyn. So here at CNN, just like a lot of you, we're all working, a lot of us remotely, even our guests are joining us from their homes instead of studio. So online critics, and you might just be a silent critic are raiding everyone's rooms. Wall paper, lighting, nothing is off the table.



PAUL: So, what do fat cats, falling lights, missing pants and a hairy knee have in common. I do not want to be in your living room right now. That's right, answering that question, but they're just a few of the surprise challenges broadcasters are facing during this pandemic.

BLACKWELL: And now, our home studios, the backdrops are being scrutinized. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whether it's a cat on a weather forecaster's lap --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a big cat --

MOOS: Or wall paper.


MOOS: So loud, it makes your head hurt. These dispatches from home give viewers plenty to read into.



COLBERT: You seem to be very smart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going for a prison library. MOOS: Even a prison library wouldn't put up with Bill Kristol's messy


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at that, color books, what should I read tonight. How about something flew.

MOOS: A Chicago weatherman was caught reading with his hairy knee exposed, nabbed at home, wearing shorts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tried to get to Paul in just a little bit and we'll be right back after this.

MOOS: And viewers aren't just watching, room raider at rate my Skype room is judging.


MOOS: The room raider gave Tom Friedman's backdrop 4 out of 10, saying it's like panic room meets after hours club. He gave Governor Christie, zero.


MOOS: Repaint, burn the furniture, make masks from the drapes. Writer Claude Taylor has no interior design credentials. He's just creating --

CLAUDE TAYLOR, WRITER: Light-hearted social distancing content.

MOOS: He picks up on toilet paper and crooked lamp shades, advises repositioned plan to block vent after he suggested to Peter Baker for God's sake, man, hang something on that picture hook. Baker hung two some things, one of them on a door. And when the raider gave Ken Burns a 9 for his attic --

KEN BURNS, FILMMAKER: It's certainty --

MOOS: Ken Burns himself let the raider know it's a barn, everybody is a critic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, does this guy have the same picture of himself?

MOOS: Yes, Chris Cillizza tells us it's a photo of his first appearance on CNN some 15 years ago. All of the home judging is enough to drive a reporter outside to clown around. But even outside isn't safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not exactly clear, politics -- oh, it's a little windy out here, Andrea.

MOOS: We give the lights a 10 for falling so symmetrically. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.