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Coronavirus Cases Rising in 18 States; Russian Court Convicts U.S. Citizen Paul Whelan; Introduction to Seattle's Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 15, 2020 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: A surge in coronavirus cases is sweeping the country again this morning. Right now, 18 states are experiencing an uptick in cases. Eighteen states, the vast majority of them stretching across the southern United States. Our chief medical correspondent. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with me now.

It's disheartening news because it feels like things are getting better out there, but they're not in a number of states and cities.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, you know, nothing about the virus has changed, Poppy. I mean, you know, the virus remains out there, it is still a contagious virus.

When we decided to go into the stay-at-home sort of mode in this country, there were fewer than 80 people who had died, there were between four and 5,000 people who had been infected. Now, you look at the right side of the screen and obviously, the numbers are much, much higher and we're reopening. Memorial Day Weekend, a few weekends ago, probably had an impact. All the protests out there, people clustered together probably had an impact.


So the numbers are going to go up. I think, Poppy, we look at the sort of day-to-day and it may not even be the right way to follow this, week to week or month to month. We know these numbers are going to go up, for all the reasons I just mentioned.

I think the question largely and increasingly, Poppy, is going to become, What are we comfortable with in this country? Twenty-five- thousand people have been infected over the last 24 hours, 600 people died over the last 24 hours. More people have died in the last 24 hours in this country than in some countries during this entire pandemic. So what are we comfortable with in this country, I think is going to be an increasingly important question that people are going to be asking.

HARLOW: Can you talk about how effective masks are? I say that because, you know, the president's getting ready to hold this campaign rally and we heard the Tulsa health director say that he wishes the president would postpone it. We even heard Larry Kudlow say, yesterday on this network, that it would be a good idea if folks wear masks at these rallies, just like was recommended in the protests.

How much freedom, essentially, do masks bring for people to operate more normally?

GUPTA: I think considerable freedom. You know, and the surgeon general -- I was just texting with him about this as well -- he obviously made the point that masks can get you more freedom as opposed to taking it away.

Poppy, we're all learning together. You know, you and I have been saying this for months now. One of the things we're learning about masks is the effectiveness in terms of decreasing the spread. I think we have some numbers we can show you, but early evidence now shows it can decrease transmission by around sixfold. So someone who's not wearing a mask, potentially 17.5 percent likely chance of transmission. With a face mask, 3 percent.

It's not perfect by any means, but you add into that physical distancing, you add into that being outside, and suddenly, you know, you can start to have a significant impact on curbing the spread.

You know, right now, we say the virus could spread from one person to two or three people, or maybe even more than that. If you can reduce that number, the naught number -- as they call it -- below one, that's when you sort of feel like you've got the virus now on the run. That's when you're not going to see these numbers start to continue to go up, or potentially go up into exponential growth.

We're not there yet. But when you look at some of the positives, you recognize it can have an impact. But, you know, I look at a lot of these images around the country, and you and I go out and about, people -- you know, some places they're wearing masks more than others, but a lot of places they're still not.

If it can become a way of life --


GUPTA: -- for a period of time -- not forever -- it could make a huge difference.

HARLOW: Right. Not forever, because there will be -- our hope is -- a very effective vaccine. But we heard Dr. Fauci say, in that interview over the weekend with a British newspaper, there really is not going to be a real normality until next year. I assume he means, really, until you have a majority of populations that have been vaccinated?

GUPTA: Yes, I think that's exactly what he means. So you need the vaccine, you need to be vaccinating people. That can take time. I mean, as soon as you have the vaccine, doesn't mean all of a sudden everything's fine. Because people need to get the vaccine. And some of these trials I've been following very closely, even after you're vaccinated, it can be, you know, 30, 40 days before you've actually generated enough antibodies in your system.

So there's lots of different steps along here. And keep in mind, again, that's -- there's still a big if the vaccine is actually available at the end of this year, early next year.

Things look very promising, I will tell you, I mean, there's some trials that we're following closely that look very promising. But these are still very early days, so we'll see.

Even with that vaccine though, for a period of time, the masks, the physical distancing, we don't want to be staying at home, so what does not staying at home look like? I think the masks and the physical distancing are going to be with us for a while.

HARLOW: What about in school? I mean, your girls are a little bit older now, but like, I have a four-year-old hopefully going back to school in September, and I don't know how good she's going to be, and her classmates, at wearing masks and staying away from one another. Are masks and social distancing going to be a reality for preschool and kindergarten kids?

GUPTA: I think that, you know, schools are going to try and implement that. I think, you know, they're dealing with the same struggles you're mentioning: the feasibility, the reality of kids being able to do this. I think it's going to be more challenging. Also, I think schools are going to have to have in-plan -- a place in plan -- what happens if you suddenly start to see a lot of people becoming infected?

So right now, we're talking about a potential second wave -- that's not a scientific term -- in mid-September. That's right around the time school starts.

HARLOW: Yes, OK. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you very much. Good to have you.

Let's take a look at the market. OK, the market, off, again, significantly this morning. The Dow, down 513 points, reacting to the real fears here about coronavirus and these cases that continue. Check on that in a moment.


A Russian court sentences a U.S. citizen and former Marine to 16 years in prison for spying. Details on that, ahead.


HARLOW: The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is now demanding that Russia immediately release a U.S. citizen. His name? Paul Whalen. This morning, a Russian court convicted him of espionage, and sentenced him to 16 years in prison. Let's go to our colleague Matthew Chance, he's been following this very closely and joins us now.


So he has been convicted here. And unless something dramatic changes, he will begin serving that 16-year sentence?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. I mean, remember, Paul Whelan's already been held in custody in Russia for about 18 months, and so he's already sort of suffered the indignities of Lefortovo Jail, which is one of the toughest prisons that there is in Russia, where he's been held for the whole -- virtually the whole duration of that period.

He now faces a 16-year prison sentence. Obviously, he's got, you know, the legal possibility of appealing that sentence, but nothing we've heard from the Russians so far suggests they're minded to going back on this judgment.

Just a few hours ago, the Kremlin spokesman, who was asked about this, rejected all the criticism, saying, you know, look, you know, this is somebody who was convicted in a court of law of the charges that were levied against him, and so he doesn't see any reason to go back from that.

That's not the position, of course, taken by, you know, the U.S., and by other observers of this process as well. Mike Pompeo -- U.S. secretary of state you just mentioned -- he said that it was -- he was outraged by what he called a secret trial with secret evidence. He was appalled, he said, at the treatment of Paul Whelan, who was denied medical attention and kept away from his family.

Also, inside the courtroom there, Paul Whelan, accused of -- or found guilty of espionage, remember, and has always sort of said he was innocent, appealed to help for the president of the United States. He called the trial a sham. The U.S. ambassador to Russia was there, and he made some comments afterwards, characterizing this legal process in Russia. Take a listen at what John Sullivan, U.S. ambassador to Russia, had to say.


JOHN SULLIVAN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: it's a mockery of justice. I can't say I'm surprised. This is the direction this case has been headed from the beginning. And I hope all fair-minded citizens here in Russia and around the world would have the same reaction to this. Because if they can do this to Paul, they can do this to anyone.


CHANCE: Well, one interesting line of speculation that came afterwards from his lawyer was that, you know, now the sentence has been handed down, possibly Paul Whelan could be used in a prisoner swap, possibly, to get a U.S. national who's being in a -- a Russian nation, rather, who's been held in a U.S. jail -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, the only way, really, for him to get home. I know he will appeal, but it's the same judicial system there that he's dealing with. Matthew, thank you for that important update.

[10:47:45] Up next, you've probably been hearing a lot about CHAZ in Seattle. We're going to take you inside this area, where protestors have created an autonomous zone, a six-block region overtaken by protestors and police out of their own headquarters there, next.


HARLOW: You have probably seen these images by now, and heard people talking over the weekend about something called CHAZ. So what is it? We take you inside of this six-block zone in Seattle that has become known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ.

A lot has been made over what is going on inside the area. Is it a picture of anarchy or not? The mayor says, listen. The police chief has a different view. Our Dan Simon reports.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So this is what it looks like when you enter CHAZ. You see some of this street graffiti behind me, there might be a security person asking a few questions or just trying to make sure that you're not somebody who's going to try to stir up trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just making sure that there's no violence or, you know, anything against people of color. That's why we're here.

SIMON: Then you walk two or 300 feet, and then you're in the heart of the zone.

This is the main focal point of the occupation zone, the police precinct behind me. People have put up messages, they've made signs and a lot of folks are just coming by and taking in the sight.

How would you describe CHAZ and the occupation?

JAWAN CAMPBELL, SEATTLE RESIDENT: Oh, it's good. There's a lot of people out here, unity, a little try and get this equality thing going. And it's very peaceful out here.

SIMON: One of the more remarkable things about the occupation is the infrastructure. They are incredibly well stocked for the long haul.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See all those plastic bags with cards in it? Those are all individual donor cards. So, like, most of this stuff just comes one bag of groceries at a time from folks in the community who want to help take care of each other.

Yes, we have like so much stuff, we, like, can't get enough people to take it right now.

SIMON: A lot of people are on this field and might be relaxing or having a picnic. You can see this meditation society behind me. Doesn't really look like the picture of anarchy.

What are your immediate impressions? MEGAN JOHNSON, BROUGHT TWO SONS TO AUTONOMOUS ZONE: It seems like it's a great way to demonstrate what's happening. And this is a very revolutionary time in our history, and I think my kids need to see it. And it seems peaceful and under control.

JASON SMITH, T-SHIRT VENDOR: It's a good vibe, it's a good vibe. I mean, you've got a million people here that got different opinions -- not a million, but everybody got a different opinion. So, yes, we can hear some screaming and yelling, but it's only their opinion.

SIMON: We've seen a lot of different groups hold various events here. This is a group of Native Americans behind me, doing a drum ceremony.

Now, is everything Pollyanna-ish here? Obviously not. We have seen some tempers flare, especially when somebody tries to interrupt a speaker. And some folks are openly carrying weapons. Remember, Washington is an open-carry state.


RAZ SIMONE, PROTESTOR: It's only a couple little bullets in this guy right here. It's, you know what I mean? This is not for the police. I'm an American citizen, and my war is not with the police, it's with the system and the accountability that -- the lack of accountability. But, no, this is just for protection.

SIMON: What do you think of CHAZ?

ADAM ONE, ARTIST: This is the most beautiful things. It's so hopeful. I paint a lot of festivals around the world, and what I see is just something very similar, like love and giving and self-organized policing and yes, just a lot of good vibes, rainbows, you know, and it's sincerely hopeful for me.

SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, Seattle.


HARLOW: We'll keep following that very closely, Dan. Thanks for the reporting.

In just a few minutes, we're going to hear from the family of Rayshard Brooks. Of course, he was shot and killed, shot twice in the back following that scuffle with police when he was asleep in a Wendy's parking lot. We'll have an update from Atlanta, next.