Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Police Clear Downtown Minneapolis Streets; Fire And Fury Spread Across U.S. In Fifth Night Of Protests; Virus Fears Spread As Protesters Crowd Streets; Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Appeals For Peaceful Protest; National Guard Deployed To Los Angeles; Dangers Of The Knee-To-Neck Technique; Remembering George Floyd; Detecting COVID- 19 In Wastewater; SpaceX-NASA Launch. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 31, 2020 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:00:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, I'm Michael Holmes.

Curfews have been imposed in at least 25 cities from coast to coast after days of protests marked by violence, arson and looting. It is a collective outpouring of rage over the death of yet another African American at the hands of police.

We saw cars being torched, building fires as the sun went down. This one in Washington blocks from the White House. And it was eventually brought under control. It's just one of the multiple fires that have been breaking out across the country.

Here a business in flames in Los Angeles. As police are stretched thin, looters have moved in. Here, cleaning out a shoe store. It's the very -- that's the very thing protesters fear could be overshadowing their grievances and message.

Minnesota's governor said he felt compelled to mobilize all of the state's National Guard to prevent more violence and destruction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether it be New York or Denver or Louisville or Las Vegas, there is no mayor in America that has the resources to push back on an organized attempt to destabilize society with no regard for life or property. So I'm authorizing the full activation of the Minnesota National Guard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Right now we want to see the latest from Minneapolis. That is where the gruesome death of George Floyd occurred. Miguel Marquez is there. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So we've had to retreat back to downtown Minneapolis. And I want to show you sort of how police have prepared for what they think might be coming.

This is the 1st Precinct, which is the biggest precinct in Minneapolis. These are barricades along the street here, on both sides.

But the precinct itself, it's that building right in the middle of the street with the American flag. They have four levels of cement blocks, 2,000 pounds each, surrounding the entire building to protect it.

We were with protesters earlier today. Police successfully sort of broke them up, which is what they seem to want to do. They weren't arresting people, weren't certainly trying to arrest people.

But they did fire lots of tear gas to break them up. I spoke with one young protester. It was a peaceful protest. And he explained why it was so important for him to be out there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what I got to say to the people who are destroying things. If you really feel like you have to take an opportunity, like if you're going to be opportunistic, something is wrong with you.

If you cannot stand up and fight the good fight and you want to be a cheater and go ahead and take what we're trying to do, something is wrong with you. Because what we're trying to do is stand up for the basic right of humanity. That's what we're trying to do and we're trying to do it in a peaceful way.

We do not want to go through this anymore, OK?

I want to be able to go in a white neighborhood and feel safe. I want to be able, when a cop is driving behind me, I don't have to clench and be tense, OK?

I want to be able, just to be free and not have to think about every step I take. Because at the end of the day, being black is a crime. At the end of the day, being born black is a crime to them. And I don't understand why because we're all humans. And that's sickening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: This is downtown Minneapolis and this is what a lot of the city looks like right now, just completely shut down, which is the promise that the mayor and the governor made today.

There are enormous numbers of National Guard troops. They are ramping up to about 10,000-11,000 Minnesota National Guard troops for Minneapolis. We were in neighborhoods after the protesters we were with were broken up. And it's disturbing to be in those neighborhoods because residents

now, home owners have blocked off their neighborhoods, put up barriers along the streets, put up bright lights at the end of the neighborhoods.

And along each block, you have people who are holding clubs, golf clubs, bats, protecting their property, protecting their homes. The same thing with businesses.

Not only are businesses boarded up but you have people in their trucks and their cars, parked around the business and sitting at the business, trying to protect their business from any looting.

[03:05:00]

MARQUEZ: They don't want anything else to burn. That may be the one bright spot tonight for all the difficulty that the police and the authorities have had in getting these protests under control. So far tonight, nothing has burned. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Miguel Marquez, thanks.

Rosa Flores reports on the outpouring of pain and anger in South Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm in downtown Miami, where protests have been going on for hours. Take a look behind me. Protesters are taking a knee, which is what we've been seeing all around the country.

At different times throughout the evening, there have been clashes with police. At one time, both the northbound and the southbound lanes of I-95 were closed in downtown Miami because protesters overtook the highway.

At one point we know that at least two vehicles went up in flames. That, of course, prompted the fire department to rush to those areas to put the fire out. But again, very tense moments here in Miami, as protests continue for hours.

The officials in this city and the county have issued a curfew that is mandatory and so we're going to wait and see what happens with these protesters, because the curfew hours have already started -- Rosa Flores, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Protests on the West Coast as well in Los Angeles, amid peaceful marches, there were also fires, damage and looting. The mayor says the National Guard being deployed there and Governor Newsom just declaring a state of emergency in the county.

More than 500 people were arrested in L.A. on Friday night and at least six officer injured in clashes. California senator Kamala Harris spoke with CNN earlier and says unrest can happen if people go too long without equal justice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Look, this is what happens when whole communities of people have not received justice. And the pain is real. And it's legitimate.

You know, in the streets of Los Angeles, 30 years ago, look the same way in terms of the protests around Rodney King. Not much has happened since then to change the circumstances.

It is still a fact in America that we have two systems of justice. You know, when you look at a Michael Flynn or Roger Stone, one pleaded guilty, the other was convicted but they're basically let off.

But yet you have a George Floyd or an Ahmaud Arbery or a Breonna Taylor, their families not receiving justice.

The last big event I attended before the pandemic struck was to be with members of the Congressional Black Congress to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 55 years since Bloody Sunday, where people died for the right for black folks to vote in America.

And there's so much about those days. And my parents marched in the civil rights movement, I was a child in the stroller during those marches.

We romanticize in so many ways about who Dr. King was and his nonviolent protests. But the reality is that he was fighting for the same things that the protesters today are fighting for, that is equal justice under the law.

That has to be acknowledged. The pain and the injustice has to be acknowledged. And so that is how I think about this moment.

And of course, I will never condone vandalism and violence in these protests. But you need to recognize and appreciate the fact that people have a right to feel pain and to feel anger.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Cheryl Dorsey is a retired Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and an author, she joins me from Los Angeles.

Good to see you. Let's start with Los Angeles where you are.

Looting, fires, what is your sense of where this is all headed there?

CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD SERGEANT: Obviously, I'm very disappointed. I lived through 1992 with the riots and I understand the frustration level. At the end of the day, I don't know that this is going to accomplish whatever it is that these protesters are seeking to accomplish.

[03:10:00]

DORSEY: Destruction of property and injury to others is certainly not the way to go. So I'm just very disappointed.

HOLMES: As you said, you were a police sergeant. You supervised riot control. When you look at what is happening, what are the cops doing right?

And what are they doing wrong in the country in terms of containing the violence, keeping the peace?

And we are seeing videos of what could be called overreaction.

DORSEY: We're seeing one end of the spectrum to the others. Officers who are showing restraint and others who understand while they may not condone some of the foolishness going on, they are giving some great latitude in terms of exercising the right to protest, doing it peacefully.

And then we've seen the other end of the spectrum, where in New York, officers plow through a crowd of protesters with their vehicle. And so, tensions are high on both sides.

HOLMES: I think that's probably a good way of putting it.

Do you think the rage among the protesters can be tamed?

People given reasons to believe that substantive change will come?

Because it hasn't in many ways.

DORSEY: Well, no, there hasn't been any change. And I think that's part and parcel of the problem. We've been living this, surely, for at least six years.

I mean, it was just barely six years ago that we started on this spate of deadly police uses of force, with Michael Brown and Eric Garner and John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Ezell Ford and everything that's happened since then, you know, Sandra Bland and Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery. So the death, the murder of George Floyd was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back, I believe.

HOLMES: I'm wondering whether it bothers you that the president injects politics. He blames what he calls liberal Democrat mayors and left-wing extremists without any evidence. It's politically convenient to blame outside forces rather than acknowledge the homegrown organic anger over the death of a black man. And the deeply held distress that the black community has.

He's speaking to his base. And in some instances we hear a dog whistle. And in some incidence we hear a foghorn. We see how he refers and almost affectionately laments of the Nazi, KKK members who were responsible for the death of a young woman in Charlottesville.

Those are good people and men who carry AK-47s to the state capital. And so now he wants to label these that are misbehaving. And listen, I've seen some white folks carrying copious amounts of property out of businesses. I think there are opportunists of all shapes and stripes.

And I think this president encourages this to some extent. And I think the protesters are playing into his hands.

HOLMES: One of the most disturbing things was the inaction of the other three officers.

What kind of perverted sense of solidarity makes an officer look on in that situation and do nothing?

DORSEY: It's the police culture. The wanting to make sure your partners understand you've got their back. Some of those officers that were on scene, at least one of them, an officer that has been involved in a case when he broke a man's teeth.

There are no angels in that group. They do this and they do it with impunity. There's nothing done to deter the bad behavior. Now, since they want to all stand together, I think they should all stand together in jail. That, too, is part and parcel of why there's so much angst.

How can you be a co-conspirator of the murder of someone?

[03:15:00]

DORSEY: And yet you're roaming the streets freely?

It's offensive.

HOLMES: Cheryl Dorsey, thank you so much.

DORSEY: Thank you.

HOLMES: And be sure to tune in, a new CNN special examining race relations and police brutality in America, "I Can't Breathe: Black Men Living and Dying in America." That is Sunday and Monday.

Even as protests rage across the U.S., the country also struggling with the coronavirus. States are moving ahead with reopening even as the human toll continues to climb. A pandemic update, next.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

HOLMES: Welcome back.

The turmoil gripping the U.S. following the death of George Floyd is happening, of course, in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic. In New York, the hardest hit state from the coronavirus, the governor says if they beat that virus, they can beat racism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We beat this damn virus. And if we're smart, we'll continue to beat it.

[03:20:00]

CUOMO: But the way we beat this virus, we can beat the virus of racism, we can beat the virus of discrimination, of inequality, we can beat anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: This map shows the coronavirus deaths across the U.S. and, as protests against police brutality also span the country, civic leaders are urging people to wear masks so they don't spread the virus further.

That comes as states forge ahead with reopening of their economies. More restrictions are lifted this week despite passing another milestone. More than 4,000 people in California have died with COVID- 19.

Peru reporting more than 7,000 new cases confirmed on Saturday. It is the second highest number of cases in the region after Brazil.

Now people in England who are extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus will be allowed to go outside beginning Monday after 10 weeks of isolation. More than 2 million people have had to stay inside this homes and will now be able to enjoy the outdoors with one other person or members of their household.

This comes as advisers warn the government about lifting the quarantine too soon. Hadas Gold is joining us from London.

Fill us in on the plan.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So these more than 2 million people in the U.K. who, when lockdown first started, were warned by the government don't leave your house for anything.

This is coming as the rest of the country is slowly starting to come out of this, as you said, more than a 10-week lockdown. On Monday schools will be reopening. Car room shows and food markets and on June 15th, we are expected to see non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen.

But this is happening as you noted while some of the government's own scientific advisers are warning that we may be moving too fast here. Some of the scientific advisers are saying the incidence rate is too high.

If we are getting a death rate of a certain percentage, we may be seeing way too many deaths per day. And it's made for awkward briefings, where you have a scientific adviser on one side, saying we're not the most comfortable with this and the government minister on the other side, saying they need to open up.

People want to get back into society while also keeping people hem think healthy and safe. The Premier League football will be appearing on TV, which will be a huge morale boost in the United Kingdom.

HOLMES: Hadas Gold, appreciate it.

Let's talk more about the coronavirus and this health crisis. Keith Neal is in Darby, England, a professor at Nottingham University, specializing in epidemiology

I wanted to start with a big issue in the U.S. this weekend, that is these mass protests all around the U.S. You've got thousands of people in close quarters.

What could be the impact of the distinct lack of social distancing?

Could we be seeing super spreader events?

KEITH NEAL, PROFESSOR, NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY: I think super spreaders themselves is not a word I like. People are outside. It's quite clear if someone's infectious, they could infect, because of the number of people they're meeting, although the transmission risk per person is low because there are lots of possible events.

It does present a potential problem. There might be an issue of people meeting before they go out to the streets, where they're meeting up in houses, might be a more significant problem.

HOLMES: Good point about the outdoors and all. Hopefully that is indeed the case. We are seeing a lot of concern, as we were just discussing, with reopening here in the United States and also in the U.K. The London mayor and others worrying it's too soon.

How does one make that calculation?

I mean, strike that balance between economic necessity, social reality and the risk of resurgence?

NEAL: I think we're in a problem where we're in a shortage of data. The models for the U.K. and I suspect many other countries were based on swine flu, which was modeled or mapped. The thing is, that was done without any social distancing whatsoever.

[03:25:00]

NEAL: And it's very difficult to actually model something you've never actually had before because you end up having to make informed guesses. So I think the modeling has become probably the best information we have.

But it actually is really probably being overplayed by some people. In Europe, I'm preferring to look at what we're doing in other Western European countries, Particularly, northern Europe, which is very similar to Great Britain.

They haven't seen a resurgence of cases. I think that's better evidence than what a model can tell you, where we don't know how the parameters have been estimated.

HOLMES: Very interesting on the modeling. Masks in the U.S. have almost become a metaphor for a political divide.

What do you say to people who think masks are infringing on their rights or freedoms?

NEAL: One of the problems is the politicizing of the COVID-19 by both the Left and Right. In Britain, we haven't gone down that line. In Southeast Asia, it is different. The wearing of masks when you're generally outside and can socially distance, I think it's probably a waste of time and gives a false sense of security.

I think masks can play a point because they do, you do know you've touched your face when you've got a mask on. And there's certainly a case for inside shops and possibly on public, particularly and more so public transport, where you can't socially distance.

It might be reasonable that the operator themselves request this to protect their own staff. That takes the freedom element out of it. You do or do not choose to use public transport. And the people running the service have the option to protect their staff.

HOLMES: Finally and quickly, do you worry about complacency?

Are there signs that people are just sort of over this and dropping their guard, even though it hasn't gone away?

NEAL: I think with 100,000 deaths in the United States, I'd be surprised if people are getting very complacent. I think the big issue comes in the very young. People under 45, we've got negative excess mortality in that age group since the beginning of the year, because other causes, mainly accidents, have been reduced.

The other issue is that it may come back in the winter months because of less social distancing and all other winter viruses tend to go up. There is one thing people can do about this and I would suggest that people discuss having the flu vaccine with their doctor, because at least that takes out one wintry respiratory virus.

HOLMES: Interesting. Appreciate it. Thanks so much.

All right, another volatile night in the U.S. You're looking at Sacramento, California. Live pictures coming to you there. And we can see gathering down there, there's anger, of course, over this unarmed African American man's death. And it has descended into violence, destruction and still a hot of sadness.

Still ahead, how a civil rights icon is urging people not to let social justice get lost in the chaos.

Also the world came to know George Floyd through that horrific video shot just before his death. Coming up, we'll hear from some of the people who personally knew and loved him in life. We'll be right back.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:30:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Millions of Americans under curfew right now with pain and fury over an African American man's death has brought violence and protests across the country. There are some snapshots across your screen there from New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington.

But fires, clashes with police and arrests are happening in many more cities across the country. More than 2 dozen cities under curfew in all and several states calling in their National Guard to help with law enforcement.

People who fear the demand for social justice will be lost in the chaos are pleading for peace.

George Floyd was yet another unarmed black man to die in police custody. The list is tragically long.

Saturday, the civil rights icon John Lewis tweeting, quote, "I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has indeed been denied for far too long. Rioting, looting and burning is not the way," he said. "Organize, demonstrate, sit in, stand up, vote, be constructive, not destructive."

One fired officer in the Lloyd case is charged with murder, three others could face charges as well. In Los Angeles, the National Guard stepping in. A CNN crew got video of this group raiding a shoe store pretty openly. And now the governor has declared a state of emergency.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing on Fairfax Avenue, this is a major north-south artery in Los Angeles. And you can see over here, we have mass arrests. This is past the curfew. And everywhere you look, it seems, there are people in some sort of handcuffs, FlexiCuffs, as they're often called.

We can't say if they've been arrested for looting, violating curfew or what. All of this started in Los Angeles not far from here in a park. It was a peaceful protest. And after a while the protesters went down the street and there was a confrontation at Third and Fairfax.

That's where we saw police cars vandalized, damaged, set on fire; that's where we saw police push back, swing batons at protesters. And it devolved into utter chaos. You may know not only there is a curfew in place but the National Guard is being called in. You can hear fireworks in the distance.

[03:35:00]

VERCAMMEN: All because of what happened in this area of Los Angeles when it got completely out of hand, the tension between police and protesters-- reporting from Los Angeles, Paul Vercammen, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Paul, thank you.

As we cover the protests we want to remember what's at the root of the unrest. I spoke to Van Jones to get his thoughts on what's happening right now around the nation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Here's what I see. There's 40 million African Americans in the United States. All of us are heartbroken. All of us are disgusted, many of us depressed in ways we've never been.

This is the first time that you literally, you cannot tell your children how they are supposed to survive that kind of brutality. You always have this imagination, somehow you'd say, well, speak properly, don't run, don't have drugs, don't have weapons, pull your pants up.

This was a complete disaster. And so every African American in the country, 40 million, heartbroken. And there's some tiny, minuscule number of people, who are out there breaking windows and doing stuff. Some of them may well be provocateurs.

So I think it's important for us to have perspective here. The big question of lawlessness is when you have law enforcement not obeying the law. That is the big threat to a democratic republic.

And then the secondary threat is when you have citizens not obeying the law. But the primary threat and the reason you've got people out in the streets tonight is because you have law enforcement now from coast to coast all too often not obeying the law and paying no price. And we should not forget that.

And the 49 million African Americans who are showing restraint should get more attention than the few who are not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: And the full interview is on my Twitter at @HolmesCNN if you want to watch it all.

Now the graphic video of Derek Chauvin leaning on the neck of George Floyd depicts something that many have probably rarely seen before.

A question some might have, is that a technique commonly used by law enforcement?

Randi Kaye with the answer. The video you are about to see is disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is this what officers around the country are trained to do, force their knee into the neck of a suspect who is face down on the ground?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Putting the knee on the neck like that is nothing that I have seen.

KAYE (voice-over): Former police chief Charles Ramsey says, of the 18,000 police departments around the country, he doesn't know of a single one where officers are trained to use the knee-to-neck technique, including his own department when he was chief.

RAMSEY: It would be a violation of policy, violation of training. That's not something that would be condoned, not something we train.

KAYE (voice-over): Police officer turned law professor Seth Stoughton has written a book. He says the knee-to-neck technique doesn't have an official name because it's simply not something departments teach.

SETH STOUGHTON, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: I'm not aware of a single agency in the country that trains officers to put body weight on a subject's neck. It's simply too dangerous.

KAYE (voice-over): So dangerous that departments who employed the technique before no longer do.

STOUGHTON: Medical experts and policing as an industry realized that was a very risky thing. It could contribute to asphyxia and training evolved to change. Tragic events have taught us that you should not do that anymore.

KAYE (voice-over): Not only do police departments around the country train officers not to use the knee-to-neck technique but try to train it out of them, encouraging other techniques.

STOUGHTON: There is a technique where you put a knee to the small of the back or between the shoulder blades when you're trying to put handcuffs on an individual but not the neck. The head and neck are off limits.

The subject may be able to gather enough breath to speak or to gasp but is not drawing enough oxygen to maintain basic life functions.

KAYE (voice-over): Even the Minneapolis mayor pointed out the technique is not authorized in his city.

MAYOR JACOB FREY (D-MN), MINNEAPOLIS: It is not something that officers are trained in on. And should not be used, period.

KAYE (voice-over): Still, a closer look at the Minneapolis Police Department's procedural manual shows they do allow for two types of neck restraint, light pressure on the subject's neck with an arm or leg so they don't cut off the airway.

[03:40:00]

KAYE: And another method that allows for enough pressure for a person to lose consciousness without killing them. Both are only to be used if the subject is resisting arrest or for life-saving purposes. Seth Stoughton says the technique used to restrain George Floyd doesn't fit into either category because it went beyond a simply neck restraint.

STOUGHTON: Policy and training aren't always unfortunately an accurate reflection of what officers actually do in the field.

KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now, of course, I didn't know George Floyd personally or most certainly you didn't, either. We do know some of his last words, though, "I can't breathe."

In Minneapolis, near the store where that now infamous video of his arrest was taken, protesters created a memorial of flowers and candles in his honor.

George Floyd was a father, a son, a brother and friend. Those who knew him best paying tribute to his life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): I love my brother. Everybody loved my brother. Knowing my brother is to love my brother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): He was just a great dude, man, somebody who supported me genuinely, somebody who wanted to be a protector for everyone. Everybody gets along with him. That was Floyd and I'm going to miss my friend, man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): He loved his kids. His family. I mean, he was a real great man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): He was kind. He was helpful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Just a great guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): He liked to chat with the ladies and very charismatic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Faith is something that me and my brother always talked about, because he was a God fearing man, regardless of what he done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): I just want to get on the phone and call my baby and hear his voice. He cannot die in vain. Can't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): He was a very loving person and he didn't deserve what happened to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): He loved my mom. That was my mom's freak of nature. She would say that all the time. I want to see my freak of nature. He's a gentle giant.

(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:45:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

HOLMES: Although many countries are getting ready to reopen after months of stay-at-home orders, COVID-19 is still spreading. According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 6 million cases worldwide and almost 370,000 deaths.

So the race is still on to find some way to detect the virus before it causes an outbreak even bigger. And the answer might be in your feces. CNN's Fred Pleitgen explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Believe it or not, our excrement might be one of our best hopes to quickly detect coronavirus outbreaks. That's because the disease can be detected in feces, even before people get coronavirus tests.

German research institutes and some public works like here in this city of Leipzig are right in the middle of a massive trial. The hope, locating new outbreaks fast by finding the virus in wastewater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it would be possible to have an idea of the concentration of coronavirus in the wastewater, we can calculate the number of infected people and this would be very interesting in the coronavirus strategies.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Germany is among several countries experimenting to see whether sewage could be a COVID-19 early warning system.

Researchers found out very early on during the pandemic that indeed COVID-19 can be traced in feces. But now the big question is, can that be done on a regular, automated basis?

And can it be done in a large area, like, for instance, an entire country?

The biggest problem, finding even small traces of the virus in a lot of sludge like this. At the renowned Center for Environmental Studies, a virologist is trying to do just that, trying to extract parts of the genome from sewage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a high, high volume of wastewaters. And I think it's a challenge to find traces of the virus in wastewaters. So we have to scale it down to get a sufficient amount for our extraction. I think that's a challenge here.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): If they succeed, in the future, sudden spikes of coronavirus in samples from certain sewage plants could tell authorities where new outbreaks are happening and allow them to quickly react, one of the heads of the study tells me. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be the first test line, actually, and

would start with our measurement and then you would know where to go to look for it for the reasons.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): With that knowledge, authorities could then initiate targeted testing for those areas to quickly contain outbreaks. The scientists say their model could be ready for deployment if and when the next wave of the novel coronavirus hits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we can offer something before the next wave, actually. So if the next wave is coming in fall or early winter or so, we should have something.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The scientists acknowledge they still have a long and difficult way to go but they are confident they might indeed find a way to make feces into a natural coronavirus alarm -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Germany.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: An uplifting moment during a weekend of chaos. Just ahead, we'll explain how America is making history with its return to space. We'll be right back.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:50:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five, four, three, two, one. Zero. Ignition. Liftoff. The Falcon Nine and Crew Dragon, go NASA, go SpaceX. Godspeed, Bob and Doug.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: America's long out of space drought is over. SpaceX's Falcon Nine rocket soaring into orbit Saturday, launching two astronauts on their way to the International Space Station.

This is the first time since the shuttle program ended that an American rocket has sent U.S. astronauts into space from U.S. soil. The space pioneers spoke earlier about the mission.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As an American, I'm just proud of what we'll be able to accomplish and fly again on an American rocket from American soil. This is something that we'll have achieved and as an American I'll be proud of it when we've accomplished it

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's certainly a huge honor to get to fly to space one time but to get to be on the last shuttle flight and on the first flight since then, it is a, you know, only in America, I guess I would say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: For almost a decade, NASA has relied on Russia's Soyuz program. This is also the first time a commercial aerospace company has carried humans into orbit at all. SpaceX senior adviser Garrett Reisman, a former astronaut himself, explains why the launch was so important.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARRETT REISMAN, SPACEX: You're about to climb into this rocket and blast off the face of the planet Earth, right?

So that's kind of crazy.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

REISMAN (voice-over): Well, this is a big deal, you know and it's something that we've been working up to for a very long time and this is not just a normal launch. You have all this buzz going on. The significance, NASA returning and the United States returning to the ability to fly people into space. I remember 10 years ago when this was just kind of like a big idea.

[03:55:00]

REISMAN (voice-over): Now here we are today and it's really happening and it's kind of surreal. When I joined the company in 2010, we already had the intention of flying people. The stakes have kept getting higher and the consequences of failure got higher and higher and now we are at a whole new level.

A lot of what we did is was compensating with human manual control for the fact that the computers on the space shuttle were relics of the 1970s. Dragon does all that in software.

Hey, by the way, the pump broke and I turned on the other one, it's all good. Your car does stuff like that. There's no reason the spaceship shouldn't do that.

It relieves a burden. Dragon could be operated by a single person. And, you know, it took four of us to fly the space shuttle. All the comparison between what's happening now and what happened in NASA in the '60s. The country was split in two between the people who supported the war in Vietnam and the people against it.

So we were really cut in half politically, culturally. And then they went around the moon. And everybody lifted up their eyes and saw some hope. And what's happening now in the country with this pandemic, our country is a house divided right now.

I hope with all this bad news that constantly comes, hopefully something like what happened like Apollo 8 will give a future to look forward to.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: We can only hope.

Thanks for being with us. Stay with us, the coverage continues with Natalie Allen after the break.