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Tropical Storm Bertha Forms off Coast; Brazil Surpasses U.S. in Deaths; Challenges of Covering Dead Americans; Clashes over the Death of George Floyd; Pandemic Update from Around the World. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 27, 2020 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Has just formed off the South Carolina coast and organized very quickly overnight and will make landfall in just hours.

So let's get right to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers with the breaking details.

Chad, you know, you told us there was a system out there, but all of a sudden a tropical storm.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, it got right over the Gulf Stream, John, where the warmest water is just offshore. And you said it formed just offshore and just now. And that is literally the truth. The center of circulation really not that far from Isle of Palms, somewhere around 20 miles away will be the center, and it's moving west somewhere around 15 miles per hour.

This may be the shortest tropical storm ever, maybe an hour and a half before it moves on shore, but there will be significant rain from Isle of Palms, up to Georgetown, on up to Polly's Island, maybe as far north as Murrell's Inlet. Very heavy rain. Not a lot of surge with this because it really wasn't a storm for really very long. Only about ten minutes now, even at the very least.

But we are going to see a very big amount of rainfall with this. If it keeps moving this speed, somewhere between two and four inches of rain, John. And we always know if these things slow down in forward movement, that's when you really begin to see significant rainfall accumulations and that could be six to eight inches in some spots. So we will watch it for you here.

Tropical storm Bertha, we get b out of the way of the hurricane Atlantic season here. So we'll keep watching it probably on shore in the next couple of hours. Just stay inside. Winds are going to be 45 or 50 miles per hour and that's going to be it.


BERMAN: Yes, as The Grateful Dead likes to say, Bertha, don't you come round here anymore. Thanks, Chad, appreciate it.

So coronavirus cases exploding in Latin America. Health officials in Brazil say the number of daily deaths has now surpassed that in the United States. It's happened twice in the last few days. And the number of deaths there could eventually reach 125,000.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in Rio de Janeiro with the latest in what is really now the epicenter of this pandemic, Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, and extraordinary to be standing here on Copacabana Beach, of all places, in Rio de Janeiro. You can hear the music in the background here. It hasn't really stopped being Copacabana, but it feels so different. The crowds are significantly reduced. People wearing masks here in Rio. This Rio de Janeiro iconic city likely to get hit very hard in the week or two weeks ahead. The healthcare system really isn't as good as some of the largest cities like, for example, Sao Paulo.

The numbers you're referring to do put Brazil really in the focus now. One thousand and thirty-nine dead just over the last 24-hour period, ahead of the U.S. they were just shy of 700 for two days in a row now. And, as you said, too, there's modeling predicting that one of the more likely scenarios possibly is 125,000 dead here by early August.

Now, that is modeling. It's projects based on known data. It could be wrong. And it also suggests possibly the same model. It could be as low as 68,000 (ph). But they're currently round about 24,000 dead here in Brazil. And the major issue, of course, is the political scandal around this. I'm in Rio, where the governor has been mandating face masks, pushing a lockdown. Most of the shops here on Copacabana are basically closed. But that's in stark contrast to the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who's played light of the virus, called it a little flu, and focused on the economy.

Now adding to that mix as well, there has been a raid, a search on the governor's premises here in Rio by Brazilian federal police. They answer to the presidency here, suggesting corruption in the allocation of field hospital contracts. The governor is not mentioned in the probe, but some of his advocates and critics of the president suggest this is all part of the political game playing out here between a president who then says it's OK, focus on the economy, go about your normal daily lives, although they do accept this is a disease at this point that needs to be tackled, and local governors in the main cities like Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Manaus, where we were just yesterday, in the middle of the Amazon, terribly, badly hit, who say it's on us, upon us now, the disease, we need to act immediately and are making all these measures to make them so unpopular with the presidency.

John. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: And the death toll just keeps going up.

Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

Here's what else to watch today.


Soon, House debuts proxy voting.

11:00 a.m. ET, Trump meets with Gov. Cuomo.

4:33 p.m. ET, SpaceX launch.



CAMEROTA: By the end of this week, experts tell us there will likely be 100,000 Americans dead from coronavirus. How has this affected those who are tasked with recording (ph) on those 100,000 individual stories? We have a great story for you of the lives lost and how they have been covered.


CAMEROTA: We want to remember some of the nearly 100,000 Americans who have died to coronavirus.

Eighty-six-year-old Arlene Stringer Queves (ph) was the first woman ever to represent the New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights on the city council. Her son, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, remembers her as a tough single mom who loved her city.

Anne Marie Robani (ph) was born in Trinidad and immigrated to the U.S. in 1973 with her husband Leo. She raised five kids while working in New York City. Her family says she was known for making traditional Trinidadian dishes, like rote (ph). She was 83.

Mike Derosa (ph) of Bellingham, Washington, was known to friends and family as MacGyver.


His wife of 48 years, Peggy, says he had an innate ability to fix anything mechanical. She says her husband often told her, quote, we had such a wonderful life. If I was to go tomorrow, I would have no regrets. Mike Derosa was 64.

BERMAN: Almost every aspect of American life has been turned upside down over the past couple of months, including how the news handles the huge rise in the number of deaths due to coronavirus.

Joining us now is Bill McDonald. He is the obituary's editor at "The New York Times."

Bill, thanks so much for being with us this morning. I really appreciate it. And we just explained the lives of three other people lost to coronavirus over the last several weeks.

Why is it important to you to provide scope to these lives as more than just numbers?

WILLIAM MCDONALD, OBITUARIES EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, they are -- so far we've experienced them as numbers. Every day we hear these numbing accounts, numbing tallies of the latest toll of this terrible pandemic, and we simply wanted to put faces to those numbers. We wanted to understand who these people were, who -- what they -- where they lived, what their names were, what they looked like, and who their families were, what did they do in life. We're just -- I think, as I said, we're numb by the numbers each day and this was an opportunity to, you know, humanize these numbers in effect.

BERMAN: You know, it's so interesting because there is an obituary for Haley Herrara (ph), 25 years old, a therapy student. In the lead of her obituary was, Haley Herrara was that friend you went to when you had a problem. And not only is that just lovely writing, a lovely lead, but it also gives you a sense of this remarkable young woman.

Do you approach these differently now?

MCDONALD: Yes, this one impressed me --

BERMAN: Go ahead.

MCDONALD: Pardon me. I'm sorry.

BERMAN: Go ahead. I'm sorry I interrupted.

MCDONALD: No, I'm just -- I was going to say that I was struck by that one in particular because of her youth. She's only 25. Studying to be a family therapist, specializing in Latino families, where family therapy is something rare, not well, you know, utilized.

And I have a son who's 24. So I could identify with this obituary in a sense because she was so young and just starting out in life and was cut -- so cut short by this out of the blue pandemic.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting, I'm a fan of obituaries, not out of morbid curiosity, but because I enjoy learning about the lives of so many different people.

But one of the first things I look at now in the obituary section of any paper is the first line, did they die of coronavirus? I think it's something we all want to know now.

So are you approaching it any differently now?

MCDONALD: Well, of course, this is completely turned our jobs upside down. It's doubled what we normally would produce. We have written -- in March alone I think it was 194 -- I'm sorry, in April, 194 obituaries where normally, in an average year, we would do 83, 85 in a month.

We've doubled our workforce to accommodate this pandemic. We're trying to cover it in a different way, of course, than obituaries traditionally would appear. We -- in a strange way we're part of the story now. We're -- obituary departments are generally a bit off to the side in general news coverage. We're retrospective. We're looking back a generation or two. We're telling readers, this is how we got to where we are.

Suddenly now we're part of the news coverage in the traditional newsroom covering this pandemic where -- where -- and that's an unusual role for obituaries. It's a kind of one off, I would say. It's not going to be repeated. But -- unless we have another calamity like this. But it's changed our whole approach to the job at this point, yes.

BERMAN: You know, one of the things -- and I think people do know this, is that oftentimes, particularly for people who are more famous, who -- or might be sick or something, you often will prepare obituaries or parts of their obituaries beforehand.

Have there been any during this process that you maybe began writing earlier or in different ways than might be suspected? I'm thinking of Boris Johnson who got very sick.

MCDONALD: Yes, yes, that was a case.

Yes, where we have learned that someone is sick with Covid, we have -- depending who they are, how prominent. A Boris Johnson, of course, is going to get our attention. There have been some athletes, Kevin Durant, actors like Tom Hanks. We've heard about various people like this, famous people, who would -- would traditionally get an obituary if they died of the common cold. But -- so, yes, they -- they mobilized us in many ways when you hear about these deaths. We try to prepare in advance.


In Boris Johnson's case, we did have somebody put together an obituary over in London and we were ready to go and thank goodness for him he survived it and now we have this sitting in a can probably for who knows how many years.

BERMAN: Yes, hopefully for decades to come.

Bill, thanks very much for being with us right now. I always appreciate the work you do. I think right now it's especially important. So, thank you.

MCDONALD: My pleasure. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, protests turning violent in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd in police custody. The four officers involved have been fired, but still no charges. We have the latest, next.


CAMEROTA: Breaking overnight, protesters clashing with police in Minneapolis calling for justice after the death of George Floyd. Video shows Floyd being held down by a police officer with a knee to his neck for several minutes as Floyd repeatedly told officers that he could not breathe. [08:50:00]

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Minneapolis with the breaking details.

What's the situation there this morning, Omar?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, the police here at this precinct are left picking up the pieces of the protests that got violent at times last night, but really showed the anger that is here in this community based on how this situation ended. And for the family, especially, this is their world changed in a literal matter of hours, just as Floyd's life ended.


CROWD: No justice, no peace.

JIMENEZ (voice over): Protests intensifying overnight in Minneapolis. Four police officers were fired after their involvement in the death of George Floyd. Police lined the streets throwing tear gas and non- lethal projectiles to disperse crowds after thousands flooded the streets Tuesday. Anger boiling over in the community when a cell phone video was shot Monday night showing a police officer with his knee to Floyd's neck while he's on the ground, handcuffed. For several long minutes, George Floyd told the officer he couldn't breathe, as bystanders pleaded with officers that Floyd was struggling.

GEORGE FLOYD: I can't breathe (INAUDIBLE).

JIMENEZ: And protesters echoed Floyd's words in the pouring rain last night.

CROWD: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody in the world need to be watching this. The world, please watch this.

JIMENEZ: The officers say they were responding to an alleged forgery in progress and were initially told the suspect was sitting on a car seemingly under the influence. Police said Floyd physically resisted and they placed him under arrest.

FLOYD: My stomach hurts.


FLOYD: My neck hurts. Everything hurt.

JIMENEZ: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey supporting the decision to fire the officers.

MAYOR JACOB FREY (D), MINNEAPOLIS: For five minutes, when you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense.

JIMENEZ: CNN has obtained new surveillance video from a nearby restaurant that shows two police officers crossing the street and approaching the car at 8:33 p.m. Monday night. The officers are talking to the passengers in the car for a few minutes before two passengers emerge from the car. George is then taken from the car by one of the officers and is handcuffed. Floyd is sitting against the exterior of the building on the sidewalk while another police car arrives. Eventually, two cops pull George up from the ground and walk back across the street. Floyd's family is saying they want the officers charged with murder.

PHILONESE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: He's screaming, mama, mama, I can't breathe, I can't breathe. And it's -- they didn't care.

They treated him worse than they treated animals. And I wouldn't treat an animal like that. They took a life, now they deserve life. I don't feel sorry for them. They hurt me and they hurt my family.

JIMENEZ: Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar calling on an outside investigation to be conducted to explore possible criminal charges against the officers.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): This was not a sudden mistake or a procedure gone bad. This was over a period of time. You've got to look at all the evidence, but, to me, this evidence is just crying out for some kind of a charge.


JIMENEZ: And the big question, and this ties into Senator Klobuchar's point there about when we could see criminal charges filed, if any. Well, that largely depends on the pace of the investigation playing out at multiple levels, including the FBI. And let's remember, there's a lot to review in this. One just in the video alone. You have the cell phone video, the surveillance video that is continuing to emerge. And, of course, we do know all of these officers' body cameras were rolling over the course of this event, something no doubt these investigators are going to be working through before (ph).


CAMEROTA: I know that George Floyd's family wants it see those charges.

Omar, thank you very much for reporting for us.

Now to the international report. Mexico is experiencing a huge spike in the number of cases and deaths.

CNN has reporters all around the world to bring you the latest developments.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matt Rivers in Mexico City, where Tuesday evening officials reported the largest single day increases in both newly confirmed cases and newly confirmed deaths. Nearly 3,500 new cases reported, as well as an additional 501 deaths. That means that Mexico has recorded about half of the total number of deaths attributed to this outbreak in just the last 13 days.

Meanwhile, a World Health Organization official tells me that Latin America is swiftly becoming the next global epicenter of this outbreak, if it isn't already.


Authorities in Wuhan, where the outbreak began, have now sampled more than 9 million people out of the city's 11 million residents and they're just complete a 10-day city-wide testing for the coronavirus according to state media. They found 218 new (INAUDIBLE) cases. There are a massive efforts to prevent a second wave meant (ph).


On last Friday alone they ran nearly 1.5 million tests with Chinese media saying they used an unconventional method of pulling up to 20 people's samples together for a single test to speed up the process.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I'm Nic Robertson in London, where later today the British prime minister will face tough questions from senior lawmakers about allegations his chief adviser broke lockdown regulations. Polls over the past couple of days show that the prime minister's popularity on this issue is dropping. They show that the majority of people in the U.K. believe that the adviser did break those regulations and they want him to resign. And one in ten of Boris Johnson's own MPs think that he has handled this badly.


The Italian singer Andrea Bocelli announced on his FaceBook page that he had contracted the Covid-19 , but that now he has fully recovered. He said some members of his family were also affected, all with very slight or asymptomatic symptoms. He said he didn't make the announcement earlier to maintain his family's privacy and not raise unnecessary alarm, but he was doing so now because he will be donating blood as part of a clinical trial to find a cure.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks to our reporters around the world.

CNN's coverage continues after this quick break.