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THE SITUATION ROOM
U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 101,000; Trump Tweets Sympathies, Stokes Culture Wars As 100,000 Plus Die; Rate of New Cases Trending Up Across Most Of The South; Key Model Projects 132,000 U.S. Coronavirus Deaths By August; MN Gov. Activating National Guard Amid Protests Over George Floyd Death; Latin America The New Global Epicenter Of Coronavirus; China Moves Ahead On Imposing Security Law on Hong Kong; Law Enforcement Holds Press Conference On George Floyd's Death. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 28, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. And we're following two major breaking stories right now.
We're standing by for a law enforcement news conference on the death of George Floyd. He is the unarmed African American man who died in police custody Monday after an officer kneeled on his neck for at least seven minutes. All of it capture the truly shocking and gruesome video that led to the firing of four police officers and calls for them to be charged. Also breaking this hour the U.S. death toll in the coronavirus pandemic has just surpassed 101,000 people with health officials out alert right now for a spike in cases as most states are expanding their reopen.
First let's go to the breaking news on the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. death toll once again now surpassing 101,000 people. And as states continue to reopen, we're seeing new cases trending up in 16 states. CNN's Nick Watt is joining us right now, he's out in California. Nick, health officials, they are clearly on alert right now for a new spike in cases.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are. A lot of these reopening plans, Wolf, are designed so that officials can jump on a hotspot if one pops up. Now we just heard from San Francisco, which has been one of the most cautious cities in this country. Good news for parents, they're saying that schools with modifications, we're looking at maybe mid-August. But sporting events, big live concerts, all of that sort of stuff, they haven't even given a date yet.
WATT (voice-over): This morning in Montgomery, Alabama, there were just two ICU beds unoccupied. COVID-19 cases have more than quadrupled in this county since reopening began across the state. MAYOR STEVEN REED (D-AL), MONTGOMERY: We can't fast forward to the end of this movie. And we're trying to do that right now and the way we're approaching this process, and I think that's why we're seeing the spikes, not only in Montgomery, but also throughout Alabama.
WATT (voice-over): In every southern state except Florida and Texas, new case counts are climbing, nationally, taking down slowly for now.
CRYSTAL WATSON, SENIOR SCHOLAR, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: As we reopen, if we relax too much, and we don't take these physical distancing measures and take the precautions that we can, then we may see this start to go up again, not just in the fall, as there might be a fall away, but in the next few weeks as well.
WATT (voice-over): The CDC has posted a model predicting an uptick in hospital admissions around June 10th. It also issued new reopening guidelines for employers. Let lots of fresh air in, no communal coffee pots, no handshakes, not even fist bumps.
And bad news today for big events, the Boston Marathon already moved to mid-September, now canceled. The Wisconsin State Fair which usually draws over a million people, also just canceled. New York City is still trying to make its mass transit as safe as possible. The city is not quite ready to reopen, but very close.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: I think it's time that New Yorkers see their hard work rewarded.
WATT (voice-over): The hope between 200,000 and 400,000 New Yorkers could be back at work by maybe mid-June. Since mid-March, more than 40 million Americans have lost their jobs, that's one in four workers. And reopening won't be the end of that movie, either.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You hear these corporations now talking about well, we're going to take this opportunity to restructure. We're going to get lean. You know what that means? That means you're going to lay off workers.
WATT: Now, the line we got from the White House this morning is that, yes, the second quarter, we're likely going to see the biggest decline since the Second World War, but the third quarter, we might see the biggest increase since the Second World War. But you know, Wolf, there are a lot of experts out there who say that the impact of this is going to be felt for years. Wolf.
BLITZER: That's the concern, the serious concern indeed. Nick Watt, thank you.
And let's go to the White House right now. Our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is on the scene for us. Jim, we've been hearing a lot from the President. Not all that much, though, about the more than 100,000 American deaths in this pandemic.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf. The White House is defending President Trump's delayed acknowledgment of the U.S. reaching 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus. The President took hours to respond to the U.S. reaching that milestone even as he was tweeting about his grievances and other conspiracy theories.
The President is attempting to change the subject to his war with Twitter as White House officials are slamming the social media platforms attempts to fact check Mr. Trump. The President is looking past the pandemic. As administration's sources tell us, he is sidelining his coronavirus task force, the task force. One administration official told us that public health experts on the task force are having fewer meetings and are much less visible now.
ACOSTA (voice-over): It took more than 12 hours after the U.S. cross the gut-wrenching milestone of 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus for the President to reflect on the lives lost. Mr. Trump tweeted, "We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all of the families and friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy and love for everything that these great people stood for and represent. God be with you". As what took the President so long, White House official said Mr. Trump mark the milestone before it was reached.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President recognized that landmark before we even hit it. The President -- that was after all, it was the impetus behind him lowering the flag to have staff. He did that for several days.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Former Vice President Joe Biden posted his own video hours before Mr. Trump.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I know what you're feeling. You feel like you're being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. It's suffocating.
ACOSTA (voice-over): At times during the pandemic, the President repeatedly passed along what ended up being false estimates of the death toll in the U.S. From 60,000 --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're talking about maybe 60,000 or so, that's a lot of people. But that's -- 100,000 was the minimum we thought that we could get to and we will be lower than that number.
ACOSTA (voice-over): -- to close to zero.
TRUMP: -- And again, when you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That's a pretty good job we've done.
ACOSTA (voice-over): President is making time to stir up debate over the use of masks and public, retweeting a post from a conservative website claiming that masks aren't about public health but about social control, undermining his own Surgeon General.
DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: As the country begins to reopen, don't forget to wear a cloth face covering when in public.
ACOSTA (voice-over): New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he'll allow store owners to deny entry to customers who don't wear them.
CUOMO: We're giving the store owners the right to say, if you're not wearing a mask, you can't come in. That store owner has a right to protect themselves. That store owner has a right to protect the other patrons in that store.
ACOSTA (voice-over): As the U.S. hits 100,000 deaths, the White House has sidelined its own Coronavirus Task Force, sharply reducing the number of meetings and news conferences for health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has contradicted the President on his race to reopen the country.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: One of the things that I think the people who are out there frolicking need to realize that when you do that, and you see no negative effect in one week, please don't be overconfident because the effect of spreading is not going to be seen for two, three and maybe even more weeks.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The President is trying to change the subject threatening to take action against social media companies after Twitter added a fact check label to a tweet on voter fraud.
TRUMP: I guess it's going to be challenged in court what isn't.
ACOSTA (voice-over): White House suggested that's not necessary as the President always tries to tell the truth, despite his long history of false and misleading statements.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying that the President the United States has never lied to the public before?
MCENANY: I'm around the President, his intent is always to give truthful information to the American people.
ACOSTA (voice-over): White House did weigh in on the unrest in Minneapolis following the killing of George Floyd who died in police custody, vowing the administration will seek justice.
TRUMP: That was a very, very bad thing that I saw. I saw it last night and I didn't like it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think those police officers should be prosecuted?
TRUMP: I'm not going to make any comments right now. I can tell you I think what I saw was not good, was not good, very bad.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA: Now as for the mixed signals coming from the White House on the coronavirus, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany touted the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine earlier today as a treatment for COVID-19. That came one day after Dr. Anthony Fauci said the drug is not an effective treatment for the coronavirus. As for the President's war with Twitter, Mr. Trump just said a few moments ago that he would shut down the social media platform if he could do so legally. Obviously, he can't do that. And Wolf, he also said, he's not about to delete his Twitter account.
And getting back to the Coronavirus Task Force, one thing we should point out, the taskforce did hold a meeting today and White House officials say that task force is not going anywhere. But when you talk to administration sources about that task force, they say they this task force is much less visible and much less busy just not as active as it once was, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, they're certainly not doing daily briefings for the news media in the American public. Jim Acosta --
ACOSTA: That's right.
BLITZER: -- thank you very much. Let's get some more in all of this. Joining us now, our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash. Sanjay, cases of this virus, they're clearly rising across the south and this new model predicts hospitalizations will actually take up, up by mid-June. Could we actually soon see certain areas of the country go the other direction and shut back down?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think that's a real concern, Wolf. If you look at four of the five states that have had greater than a 50 percent increase in overall infections, they're all states that have reopened early at the end of April or the beginning of May. And we may be seeing now the impact of that, more people out, more people getting exposed, and more people will get sick as a result. So -- but that's going to be the real concern, Wolf, of what you're raising.
We know there's going to be more infections as you start to reopen. Will it surge and start to go into exponential growth in these places, which would then require possibly having to shut things down again? Will it keep at a sort of higher baseline level? We don't know yet. But it is concerning that we're starting to see the correlation between early reopening now and this increase in infection.
BLITZER: And we do know, Sanjay, that that model that the White House Coronavirus Task Force relies on from the University of Washington Medical School is projecting, yes, 101,000 deaths so far over these past three months in the United States, but they're still projecting by early August -- and that's not very far down the road -- it could be more than 140,000 deaths in the United States. That's their assumption right now. GUPTA: That's their assumption. And it constantly changes. I mean, these models are tough. You know, if you look at one point that same model said there might be 60,000 people who would have died by the middle of August, and obviously the number greatly surpassed that. So you got to take these models with little bit of grain of salt.
I think the big question here, Wolf, is that this isn't a bifurcated either you're open or you're shut in terms of these states. This almost is like a policy issue versus a people issue. The policy is these states are reopening. But if people are still being careful, maintaining physical distance, not having long interactions with people which is defined as, you know, around 15 minutes, not being in close spaces together, not gathering in large groups, all those things, that could make a significant difference.
We now have evidence of that here in this country. There's evidence of it around the world. So if opening doesn't mean pre-March 16th, it could, you know, hopefully be a beneficial thing in terms of not letting these infections start to go into exponential growth.
BLITZER: And Dana, these new concerns come as the death toll clearly has now surpassed 101,000 right now, but it took the President quite a while to make any comment at all on this very, very grim and sad milestone. What does that tell you?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He -- it's not who he is. He did eventually put out a tweet and say exactly what a President should say. But it did take longer than perhaps it should have. And he didn't come out and make a statement. And that is the kind of in keeping with the way that he and his administration, but particularly he with his eye towards reelection or he hopes reelection, is doing this now at a distance, at an arm's length.
The time of him being on or about this hour on a daily basis for sometimes 90 minutes to two hours, that seems like ancient history now because it backfired. He wanted to be a wartime President. And for a while he tried to do it, it didn't work, because it backfired because of the statement that he made and he never did it again. But there is a middle ground and that is to be a leader, let Americans hear from the scientists and to not stoke cultural differences when it comes to masks and other things, but he's not doing it.
BLITZER: All right, everybody stand by Sanjay, Dana. We've got more news we're following, an important note, by the way, to our viewers, joining us Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper later tonight for a CNN Town Hall, along with science writer David Quammen, author of the book, "Spillover" who says viruses like the coronavirus will keep happening. Coronavirus Facts and Fears that airs later tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.
The breaking news continues next as we await a law enforcement news conference on the death of the unarmed African American George Floyd in police custody. Plus, much more coming up with a coronavirus pandemic and a new estimate of the number of American lives it will climb (ph).
BLITZER: With the U.S. coronavirus death toll now over 101,000, a key model projects the number will grow by about one-third to about 132,000 dead Americans by early August. The doctor behind that model is joining us right now. Dr. Christopher Murray is the director of the Institute for Health, Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington Medical School.
Dr. Murray, thanks so much for joining us. So the new death toll, it's a little bit less than the previous projection. Give us the information, why are you projecting what about 10,000 fewer than 143,000 that was projected only a few days ago?
DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: Well, that was about a week ago. And the major difference here is that we've been expecting the upsurge in mobility that started at the end of April. We've seen it in the cell phone data, and has continued all the way through May. We thought that would have translated into much more transmission of the virus by now and we're seeing that in some states, but not most. And so it's a bit of a surprise that we haven't yet seen transmission take off.
But there's new data now coming in on how people are behaving, you know, in terms of avoiding contact on their own as well as wearing masks. And so that may be part of the story that's explaining the trends that we're seeing.
BLITZER: Because right now 101,000 Americans have died over the past three months, and you're projecting, and this is your latest model, what 132,000 deaths by August 4th. Do -- What do you make of this other model that we're getting from Columbia University predicting -- actually predicting an uptick in hospitalizations by late June, a month from now?
MURRAY: Well, the -- you know, people forecasting an uptick is really being driven by the mobility numbers and also the trend that we're seeing in cases in a number of states. And so cases are definitely going up. As you mentioned earlier on the program in the south and a number of other places, part of that trend up and it's so -- it becomes very tricky to analyze, is that we're testing more.
We're going in and testing nursing homes in some states, we're finding more cases. And what we're finding is that some of the states out there, you know, Arkansas as an example, Florida as an example, the trend up in cases is probably a true indication of increased transmission. Whereas, in some states the trend up in cases is probably because we're doing a better job of testing.
But when you take it all together, that's why we still see many deaths coming and of course we have to worry post this first way that's a different story. And I worry a lot that we're appropriately fixed focused on the next few weeks but this is going to be a long process and we will start to have to worry about, you know, what's the total going to be in the fall pretty soon.
BLITZER: Yes, people are beginning to think they can go out, sit outside of a restaurant or go to a gym. They think it's almost over. This is far from over this crisis, this awful pandemic is going to continue for months, by all accounts.
And you also say, Dr. Murray, that the evidence shows masks probably give us what, 50 percent protection against transmission. But how big of a difference would it make if more people wore a mask when they're outside their homes, which of course has been the case in South Korea, for example, in Japan early on, in February and March, they were all wearing -- 99 percent of the people were wearing masks. We didn't start that the much, much later.
MURRAY: Well, you know, somebody said, there's a vaccine that protects you 50 percent from getting COVID. I think everybody would be cheering and every -- a lot of people would be really wanting to get in line to get that vaccine. But we have something, we have something as effective as that. We have them wearing masks.
The analyses of published studies and also just the trends in the country of, you know, where people have been wearing masks versus not, all of that tells us that masks are effective, probably about 50 percent reduction. And so people should think of it like a vaccine. It's a powerful tool to protect yourself and protect your family and we should all be trying to do it wherever possible.
BLITZER: Yes, we should. Is it too early, Dr. Murray to have a sense of what the fall will look like September, October, November?
MURRAY: You know, I think we are starting to be pretty worried about that. I think in the, you know, we crunched the numbers almost every night and we try to make sense of them. We're expanding our understanding of how people are responding because, you know, there's two drivers, Wolf, here of what happens. It's what the government does in terms of the mandates and that's what we do as people wearing a mask, avoiding contact, put all that together.
And the third factor that is going to be the big issue in the fall is how much we expect transmission to go back up because of seasonality. If COVID like pneumonia, which is the closest analogy that we think it's like, we should expect transmission to start to go back up in September, and then really pick up speed towards January. And I think that's the part we need to get our thinking around is how do we prevent that, how do we prepare for those cities, those communities where transmission may tip over into exponential growth again, and what are we going to do when that happens.
BLITZER: So, so, so worrisome. All right, Dr. Murray, thanks for all the good work you and your team are doing out of the University of Washington. Appreciate your joining us.
MURRAY: Sure, thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, so there's more breaking news we're following. We're going to go live to Minneapolis for the latest on the unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd including a law enforcement news conference on the case. We're standing by for that. And we'll also have much more on the coronavirus pandemic, including the very disturbing, very disturbing upward trend of new cases in 16 U.S. states.
BLITZER: We get back to our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic shortly, but there's more breaking news we're following. The Minnesota Governor has just activated the National Guard and that protests over the death of George Floyd, the unarmed African American man who died in police custody after an officer kneeled on his neck for at least seven minutes.
Our National Correspondent Miguel Marquez is joining us right now. Miguel, I understand there's new unrest today. What's the latest there?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, there's several different areas around the around Minneapolis where unrest is breaking out or possible. That's why the governor has called out the National Guard into this. We're also at the federal building here in Minneapolis. We expect to hear from the U.S. attorney, the FBI Special Agent in charge and most importantly, the Hennepin County attorney whose office it would be the one that would bring charges against one, two or all of these officers.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): A night of anger turns to rage. Protesters surrounding the Minneapolis Police Department's third precinct. Businesses nearby looted and burned.
CHIEF MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPT.: I cannot allow criminal acts to occur and threaten the safety and also again compound the trauma that already exist.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The trauma from this arrest that left George Floyd dead. The video runs more than seven minutes, Floyd into the ground, a knee to his neck, unable to move or breath.
GEORGE FLOYD, AFRICAN AMERICAN: Please, I can't breathe.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): You can't see every vantage point but the video doesn't come close to what police initially described. But Floyd was resisting. Surveillance video obtained by CNN from a nearby restaurant also doesn't show him resisting arrest. Donald Williams witnessed Floyd's brutal arrest.
DONALD WILLIAMS, WITNESS TO GEORGE FLOYD'S DEATH: There's blood coming out of his nose and I'm noticing it now at the point, his eyes just turned to a different color, you know, and he's talking about his belly hurts, which is pretty much your last movement in your life. And so that's when I started, you know, pleading with the officers. MARQUEZ (voice-over): Courtney Ross was Floyd's girlfriend.
COURTNEY ROSS, FLOYD'S GIRLFRIEND: This is nothing but an angel that was sent to us on earth and we demonize him and we killed him. I just want to get on the phone and call my baby and hear his voice. He cannot die in vain. He can't.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The four police officers now all fired, many calling for them to face charges. The officer with his knee to Floyd's neck, Officer Derek Chauvin, had 18 complaints lodged against him. It's not clear what for, he was punished for two of them. Another of the officers was sued for excessive force in the past, that suit settled by the city.
(on-camera): Do you think that was murder?
MAYOR JACOB FREY, HENNEPIN COUNTY: I do.
MARQUEZ (on-camera): You do?
FREY: But I'm not a prosecutor, but let me be clear. The arresting officer killed someone.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): With businesses looted and burned overnight, Floyd's friends and family are pleading for justice and calm (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won't, you know, everybody to be peaceful right now, but people are torn and hurt because they're tired of saying black man died.
MARQUEZ: So the question is what we saw last night will there be a repeat of that? Has that energy been spent? It is not clear. There are several different hotspots right now where protesters are confronting police. It is not clear which way that will go right now.
A lot will depend on this. We've been waiting for this press conference now for over an hour. They called it about 3:00 p.m. Central Time. It hasn't happened yet. But as soon as it does, Wolf, we will bring it to you.
BLITZER: Yes. The U.S. attorney is going to be there. The U.S. attorney from Minnesota Erica MacDonald, the FBI Special Agent in charge, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner, and the Hennepin County attorney. So a lots of legal issues going on right now. And Miguel, thank you very much.
This morning on CNN's "New Day", our Political Commentator Bakari Sellers had a very emotional reaction to the events in Minneapolis. Watch and listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm raising a son. I have no idea what to tell him. It's just -- it's hard being black in this country when your life is not valued. And people are worried about the protesters and looters. And it's just people who are frustrated who for far too long have not had their voices heard.
For those of us who have a mistrust of the system, it's very hard for us to do anything else other than just to cry this morning. And then hope and pray that we are not sitting next to him one day. That's about all we can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Bakari is joining us right now. He's a former member of the South Carolina State Legislature. He's also the author of a very powerful, very important new book entitled, "My vanishing Country: A Memoir". There you see the book cover right there. Looking forward to that book. I know it's going to be really, really a strong read
So Bakari, what were you feeling in that moment? Because it was so powerful. You got very emotional, and it's totally understandable.
SELLERS: Well, at that moment, I was thinking about being a father of black children in this country. At that moment, I was thinking about George laying down on the ground with a knee to the back of his neck. He couldn't breathe for seven, eight minutes actually calling out for his mother. He was treated like a dog in the middle of the street and those emotions they will up.
But I also want you to understand, Wolf, and I do think you get this that it's not just one incident. It's not just George, it's not just Brianna, it's not just Ahmaud, but it's this continual pendulum of trauma that we have in this country that's inflicted upon people of color. And now we get a chance to see it with our own eyes. That video was devastating. That video was damning.
And even more importantly, people always talk about, well, why don't you just comply? Why don't you listen? Well, he did all of those things. And he still did. And so now we have a life that it's lost. And for me as a father of three beautiful brown children, the question that cracks me up, the question that makes me emotional is what do I tell them? What do I teach them? And how do I raise them in a country where there is a large segment of the population who does not give them the benefit of their humanity?
You can't tell me that those four officers, when they saw this man arrested, face down on the ground calling out for his mother. You cannot tell me that they saw him as human, they saw him as something less than, simply because of the color of his skin. And so that fractures and shakes your faith to the point where you have to get emotional.
BLITZER: And what was so awful, Bakari, is that one police officer had his knee on this guy's throat, on his on his neck, George Floyd, and he was, you know, crying. He was not only calling for his mother, kept saying I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. There were other three police officers standing with them. A lot of spectators, a lot of bystanders were saying let them go, get off of him and they didn't -- and this guy didn't then the other police officers didn't do anything. How do you explain that?
SELLERS: Well, I can't explain it. And to just compound it, you know, we talked about de-escalation policies, we talked about use of force policies. Well, none of that matters in this situation because the chokehold that was used is outlawed, it's banned, and they still did it anyway. But for -- just think about the position that I'm in as a black man in America, Wolf, literally all I have to do is go to my closet and dust off my t-shirt that I was wearing for Eric Garner, that said I can't breathe. And here we are again.
You know, I tell people my father is 75, I'm 35 and we're having many of the same shared experiences. My father was shot in law enforcement. My father witnessed the Birmingham church bombing the four little girls in Birmingham. He live through Emmett Till. And see now I have a Ahmaud Arbery, I have Brianna Taylor, I have Clementa Pinckney, and the other eight individuals who were killed in the Charleston church massacre.
And so, we've made progress in this country, but we still have so far to go. And I think that's the troubling aspect of this whole thing.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right. You know, Bakari, I want to -- I want you to stand by, we're going to continue this conversation. We're watching what's going on on this issue. We're standing by for that news conference from the law enforcement authorities.
We're also standing by for more news on the coronavirus pandemic. We're going to have some of the top headlines coming in right now from around the world. Latin America now the global epicenter for the coronavirus cases, standby. We'll have an update from the worst hit country, we're talking about Brazil.
And later, how science differs from what President Trump is saying about mask wearing.
BLITZER: In global coronavirus headlines, new cases and deaths are surging across Latin America, especially in Brazil. Let's go to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, he's in Rio de Janeiro for us. Nick, what's the latest?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Wolf, Brazil's troubles continue to man (ph) with the IMF predicting that their economy will shrink by 5.3 percent at the end of the year, and this may be behind an extraordinary move taken by the biggest and wealthiest city. Sao Paulo also the hotbed of coronavirus.
They, according to doctors we spoke to there, are about a week to two weeks away from the peak but already the mayor of that city is telling nonessential businesses that if they submit a plan for reopening, they can potentially in the weeks ahead. All about the pressure on the economy here and balancing that with public health but really Sao Paulo so poorly affected in its hospitals. They're about 92 percent bed occupancy, real concerns about what that will mean, as the virus peaks in the week or so ahead, Wolf.
BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh on the scene for us, thank you.
And not only has the coronavirus pandemic hurt relations between the U.S. and China, now the Chinese are moving forward with what appears to be a crackdown on the pro-Democracy movement in Hong Kong. CNN's David Culver is on the scene for us. David, tell us more.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, China moving forward with the highly controversial national security law, the country's rubber stamp legislature passing a decision Thursday to enact the law. It's likely to take a couple of months to write up the precise language and put it into effect, but there is already a lot of concern and fear that this will forever change Hong Kong.
China has been a bit vague, saying it's going to safeguard rights and prevent foreign interference which they impart blame for the months of protests that marked the back half of 2019. But some believe it will give China's State Security Ministry access to patrol Hong Kong. China stresses it's to stop the chaos and protect sovereign territory.
Critics including the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, calling it in a joint statement an unprecedented move and they warn it will erode the territory's autonomy, and that it could lead to the U.S. ending Hong Kong special trade status. Or harsher sanctions against China, which Chinese officials have said will be met with countermeasures. Wolf?
BLITZER: David Culver in Shanghai. Thank you.
Coming up, President Trump's latest stance on mask wearing and how it measures with real science.
BLITZER: Against the advice of his own top health officials, President Trump continues to question the use of masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus and refuses to wear one himself in public. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us. Brian, the science behind wearing a mask is very clear.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is very clear, Wolf. You know, tonight public officials in the U.S. aside from Trump, officials like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo are trying to change America's culture regarding mask wearing. But this does come as President Trump continues to send out messaging on masks, which health experts say is misleading and dangerous.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): Tonight President Trump is seemingly compelled to weigh in on or spark a debate over mask wearing. The President's tweeting today, "So many different viewpoints". While retweeting an article on a conservative website, suggesting that wearing masks or rules on wearing masks put us on a path to the government controlling more of our lives. But while the President claims there are, quote, many different viewpoints on mask wearing, real experts are boiling it down.
DR. CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: There's only really one scientific viewpoint here which is masks work. They work to protect me, they work to protect you.
DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH, METRICS AND EVALUATION: We now have really clear evidence that wearing masks works. It's probably a 50 percent protection against transmission. And so, you know, what happens in the next month or two is very much in the hands of how people respond.
TODD (voice-over): Infectious disease experts lay out the science simply. People carrying the virus, whether they're symptomatic or not, emit droplets of the virus in every instance where they breathe, talk, yell or sing.
DR. MARK RUPP, CHIEF, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, UNIV. OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: Me speaking right now I'm generating droplets. If I were wearing a mask, those would not come out very far and there would not be nearly as many droplets generated.
TODD (voice-over): But experts say masks are also good defensive tools.
GOUNDER: So cloth masks don't just protect other people, they can also protect you just not to the same degree and they're not as protective as and N95 masks, which is what we were in the hospital.
TODD (voice-over): But the President continues to refuse to wear masks in public settings, even while members of his own family wear them just a few feet away.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just don't want to wear one myself. It's a recommendation, they recommend it. I'm feeling good. I just want to be doing.
I don't know somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute desk, the great Resolute desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know, somehow I don't see it for myself.
TODD (voice-over): And he continues to fuel a rejection of the practice among the public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, if he's not wearing a mask, I'm not going to wear a mask. If he's not worried, I'm not worried.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
TODD (voice-over): Experts say that's flat out damaging to public health. A message other officials are trying to counter. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today authorizing businesses in New York to deny entry to people who don't wear face coverings.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: We have to culturalize the masks, we have to customize the masks for New York to get New Yorkers to wear them.
TODD (voice-over): A culture which didn't exist in New York City before this pandemic, but which did exist in Hong Kong. The two cities are very similar, bustling packed in with more than 7 million residents each. But Hong Kong's death toll from coronavirus is dramatically lower because experts say, millions of citizens there started wearing masks right when the outbreak began.
GOUNDER: The government didn't even have to ask them to do this but by wearing masks, they were able to cut the degree of transmission in the city dramatically and save lives.
TODD: Tonight, health experts are hoping for a cultural see change regarding wearing masks here in the United States, but that message is certainly not coming from the White House tonight. Wolf?
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us, thanks very much.
The news conference that we've been waiting for out in Minnesota on the death of George Floyd is beginning right now. The U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald looks like she's getting ready to make a statement. We'll also hear from the FBI Special Agent in charge, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner, as well as the Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman.
This is the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, Erica MacDonald's taking off her face mask.
ERICA MACDONALD, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY: First and foremost, I apologize profusely for the wait that you all had to have. We thought we would have another development that I could tell you about. Unfortunately, we don't at this point, but I am here to talk to you about the federal investigation.
County Attorney Mr. Freeman standing to my right is here to talk to you about state investigation. With me is Rainer Drolshagen, he is the Special Agent in charge of Minneapolis FBI. He, too, will talk about the federal investigation. And Superintendent Drew Evans from BCA will also make a few comments before we open it up for question and answer.
My name is Erica MacDonald, I'm the United States Attorney here for the district of Minnesota. On May 25th of 2020, George Floyd was arrested and detained by Minneapolis police officers. I'm here to talk about and make sure the community and the media is aware that we are conducting a robust and meticulous investigation into the circumstances surrounding the events of May 25th, 2020 and the police officers' actions on that evening,
Really probably don't need this to say this to all of you but Minneapolis, our nation, really the world has witnessed this incredibly and disturbing loss of life. My heart goes out to George Floyd. My heart goes out to his family. My heart goes out to his friends, and my heart goes out to the community. We are grieving and we will continue to grieve.
To be clear, the Department of Justice has made the investigation in this case a top priority. We have assigned highest of the high in my office to investigate and look at the case. FBI likewise has assigned their experienced law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation.
And to be clear, President Trump, as well as Attorney General William Barr, are directly and actively monitoring the investigation in this case. I've had direct communications with Attorney General Barr and his staff, and we'll continue to do so.
The federal investigation in this case will determine whether the actions, the former Minneapolis police officers took violated any federal criminal laws to include any civil rights violations. Federal civil rights, criminal cases have categories and one is called under color of law. In other words, if an officer, whether it be federal, state, local or tribal, is acting under their authority, and asserts or invokes the power bestowed upon them to deprive any person of any right or privilege protected by the Constitution or the laws of the United States, that is a violation of federal criminal law.
It must be proven that the subject took action or did not take action when he or she knew that was wrong, and chose to do it anyway. As with all matters, the investigation in this case will be comprehensive and will be conducted with the highest integrity as the community would expect. For those that aren't aware of my background, prior to being the United States Attorney for the district of Minnesota, I was a judge in Dakota County for over eight plus years. Having sat on that side of the bench and having presided over a multitude of trials, I can tell you, I can tell the community, I can tell everybody interested that it is critical, it is essential, it is imperative that the investigation is done right and done right the first time and that is what we are going to do.