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Coronavirus Cases Rising; U.S. Marks Juneteenth; Interview With Houston, Texas, Police Chief Art Acevedo; Juneteenth Rallies As U.S. Confronts Systemic Racism; U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Approaching 119,000. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 19, 2020 - 18:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM with breaking news.

We're following marches and rallies across the United States on this Juneteenth holiday, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, this historic day getting heightened attention as Americans confront systemic racism in this country.

Also breaking, President Trump appears to be threatening anyone who protests his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, tomorrow night, suggesting they will be treated harshly. He's moving ahead with a huge indoor event, despite a record one-day increase of coronavirus cases in that state and warnings that his rally could be a super-spreader of the virus.

Several states are seeing all-time high increases in new cases, including Florida. That reported nearly 4,000 new infections just today.

Let's go straight to the White House.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us.

Jim, the Oklahoma Supreme Court just refused to stop the president's rally tomorrow night. And now he's moving full steam ahead.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. President Trump is moving forward with his plans to hold a rally tomorrow in Tulsa, despite the very real risk that some of his supporters will catch the coronavirus.

Today, the White House press secretary said she will be at the event and will forgo wearing a mask, even as public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci say that's a very bad idea.

In the meantime, the president is threatening some of the protesters who will demonstrate outside the rally, saying they may be roughed up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA (voice-over): With Trump supporters lining up for his rally in Tulsa this weekend, the president is issuing a warning to demonstrators who may show up at the event as well, tweeting: "Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters, or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma, please understand you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene."

An apparent threat the president is ready to unleash the same kinds of brutal tactics used to clear out Lafayette Square earlier this month . White House officials attempted to clarify.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What he was meaning are violent protesters, anarchists, looters, the kind of lawlessness that we saw play out before President Trump came in with the National Guard and calmed our streets with law and order.

ACOSTA: White House officials are trying to downplay the risks of catching the coronavirus at the rally at a time when cases are spiking in Oklahoma.

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany even said she won't be wearing a mask to the event.

(on camera): Will you and other White House officials be wearing masks at the rally?

MCENANY: It's a personal choice. I won't be wearing a mask. I can't speak for my colleagues.

I feel that it's safe for me not to be wearing a mask, and I'm in compliance with CDC guidelines, which are recommended, but not required.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But members of the Trump team aren't on the same page.

KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: If I were at the rally, I would wear a mask. And if I wondered about it, I would ask my doctor for advice.

ACOSTA: Even campaign manager Brad Parscale says he will likely wear one at the event.

QUESTION: You going to wear a mask?

BRAD PARSCALE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Yes. Yes, I will probably be wearing a mask.

ACOSTA: Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS Radio people in large crowds should wear a mask if they cannot practice social distancing.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The best way to protect yourself and to prevent acquisition of and spread of infection is to avoid crowds, to avoid crowds. If, in fact, for one reason or other, you feel compelled to do that, which we don't recommend, then wear a mask at all times.

ACOSTA: The White House is also defending the president's tweet exploiting video of two young toddlers hugging one another to take pot shots at press coverage of racism in the U.S.

In a rare rebuke of Mr. Trump, the tweet, which included phony news graphics, was labeled manipulated media by Twitter.

(on camera): When you share fake videos like that, doesn't that make you fake news?

MCENANY: I think the president was making a satirical point that was quite funny if you go and actually watch the video.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The White House also tried to explain what the president meant when he told "The Wall Street Journal" that he had just learned the history of Juneteenth, the day the end of slavery is celebrated in the U.S., from an African Americans Secret Service agent.

MCENANY: He did not just learn about Juneteenth that -- this week. That's simply not true.


ACOSTA: And an update on a story we have been following.

Pentagon have officials decided to fire the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Brett Crozier, who tried to warn his superiors about the coronavirus spreading aboard his ship. The Navy's decision is a major reversal after a preliminary investigation recommended that he be reinstated.

And one other follow-up, Wolf, and we can show this to our viewers if we have it ready. We have just found out in the last several minutes Twitter has decided to disable the video that was tweeted out by the president of those two toddlers, that video of the president was trying to use to make some sort of point about press coverage of racism in the U.S.


That video, though, has been disabled by Twitter, the social media Web site saying in a statement essentially on the video that has been knocked down that it violates copyright rules of the Web site.

And so for right now this very controversial video that the president tweeted out has been disabled by Twitter -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that is pretty significant as well.

All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Let's go to Atlanta right now. There are new developments linked to the charges against those two police officers involved in the death of Rayshard Brooks. Our national correspondent, Ryan Young, is on the scene for us.

Ryan, this is clearly a challenging time for the Atlanta Police Department for, indeed, all the people in Atlanta. What are you learning?


I continue to look down because throughout the hour I have been receiving text messages through my sources all around the city of Atlanta, especially from police members who are very upset with the charges that have been applied to these two officers.

The reason, they say, is because these officers were not given due process. And how the officers are showing their disapproval with the system right now is they're just not showing up for work. And that's a critical need for this city. You got to think about it. This city of Atlanta has about 2,000 sworn police officers.

So, any time you have major sections of this city that have to shut down because officers are not showing up, it does put a stress on the system. Right now, they're basically working 12-on/12-off shifts. And what we're told in two different sections of the city, very few officers showed up.

In fact, this morning, they had to bring other units in to help staff those units. The Major Crimes Unit, which does homicides and other major crimes throughout the city, they have been put on standby to make sure they may have to answer routine 911 calls.

All this going on despite some major crimes happening in the city. Just last night, they arrested a man they believe killed three homeless people, so you understand the work for a lot of police officers is still continuing, despite the fact that their fellow brothers and sisters are not showing up for work.

I can also tell you the morale is completely low, lower than people said they have ever seen before. One officer telling us, in the last 18 years of his career, this is the lowest he's ever seen morale. They are demanding that the chief of police step forward and actually give them some words of encouragement, get in front of the cameras and say they plan to move forward as one unit. That hasn't happened just year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting, that police officer, Garrett Rolfe, who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, I understand he was moved to a new jail today. We have got some video. Tell us about that.

YOUNG: Yes, absolutely, Wolf.

When you look at this, we learned last night from another source that he was moved from the Fulton County Jail to another jail outside the city. The reason why is because, obviously, if he was in a jail where he may have arrested some suspects, that could have put danger on him and word spread through that jail very quickly that he was there. So they moved him to this jail about 30 miles outside the city to make

sure that he was well-protected. The video conference call he was supposed to have with the judge today, that did not happen. They waved his first court appearance.

COVID is affecting this case. Usually, there is a grand jury that is seated. Right now, there is not a grand jury because of COVID. That's been slowed down. We're told this may extend until January before he has his first court appearance.

Wolf, this is a tangled mess. A lot of people are watching it, but they have to wait for this weekend to see how many officers continue to call out sick.

BLITZER: All right, we will stay in close touch with you, Ryan. Thank you very much, serious developments unfolding in Atlanta.

Joining us now, the Houston police chief, Art Acevedo. He's also the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Chief, thank you so much for joining us.

Let me get your reaction. By not showing up for work, not answering calls, are these Atlanta police officers potentially endangering the community they're clearly supposed to protect?

ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON, TEXAS, POLICE CHIEF: Well, you know, my heart goes out to everybody in Atlanta. It is a tough time for communities. It's a tough time for policing. It's a tough time for police officers.

And I understand there may be some frustration because how quickly officers that were acting under the color of authority, that what people don't understand sometimes that the reason these investigations usually take a little time is because we have to navigate the law.

We have to navigate all the facts. And they moved so very quickly there that I can understand why the officers believe there may not be due process.

Having said that, you know, we're police officers. I would just encourage them, if they made their point, and that's what is going on, the point has been made, let's all get back to work. Atlanta is a great police department.

I was there during the Super Bowl. I knew Chief -- I know Chief Shields, who just stepped down, very well. And their point has been made and it is time to get back to work to keep their fellow officers safe and the community safe.

BLITZER: What message, Chief, do you think the police officers are sending to all the people, not just in Atlanta, but around the country, calling for accountability and for reform?


ACEVEDO: Well, I think that what they're saying is that, you know, rights extend to everybody. They extend to members of the community. They extend to police officers. They extend to everyone.

Everyone is entitled to due process. And I think that, just from the outside looking in, the concern may be that, in their opinion, someone -- I don't want to speak for them -- that they believe that -- not necessarily that they support what happened, not necessarily that they disagree with the charges, but I think there is a perception that before an investigation is even completed that charges are being filed.

So, I don't want to get in the middle of Atlanta. We have got our own issues here in Houston. Every big city department has issues. Every community has issues. And we have to focus on getting through that.

And, quite frankly, we all need to take a deep breath. Everyone wants immediate action. And just realize that there are rules as it relates to investigating police officer misconduct, police officer crimes, that, if you're not careful, you don't follow those well-established policies and procedures, you jeopardize the outcome of a criminal proceeding or administrative proceeding.

So, for elected officials that feel the public pressure, just realize there is a body of work and standards and procedures that have existed for a long time, and if you deviate without excuse or justification, you're putting the final outcome at risk potentially. So you got to be careful.

BLITZER: Yes, good advice.

Your -- let's talk about your city of Houston. You have seen a clear spike in coronavirus cases. But I understand cities in Texas can't go further than state measures when it comes to various issues, for example, like requiring face masks.

Has that now changed in your county? What is the latest en that?

ACEVEDO: No, unfortunately.

Mayor Turner has done a great job. But I have got my mask right here. We're requiring it for our employees. You know, unfortunately, the state trumps the counties and the cities.

And, you know, to the American people, this is just a courtesy. It is common sense. Wear these masks. If we want to reopen our society, it is not about personal choice, it is not about freedom. It is about personal responsibility and responsibility to our fellow human beings.

We can get past coronavirus, we can reopen our economy, we can keep each other safe if we simply wear our masks. So I'm hoping that the American people will start realizing that we have a spike and we owe it to each other to use some common sense.

BLITZER: It is important you say that, Chief, because the White House said today that masks are optional for that huge indoor rally tomorrow night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which the president will attend. It's a political rally. But it is not just the people attending who will be at risk. That also

creates risk for the police officers, others who are working this event indoors tomorrow night. I assume that concerns you.

ACEVEDO: Well, lookit, we -- I mean, I set a bad example during all our protests, because I took off my mask. I apologized to everybody for doing that. But, sometimes, you have to take some risk.

And the reason we did that is, we needed to connect with our community in some very trying times here. But since then, I have worn this. And, quite frankly, common sense in life goes a long way. This is not a time in our nation's history or political dogma for political theater. This is not a time for people to try to take shots at each other.

This is time for us to use some common sense. And I would just urge people. Our own department, because of what went on with all these protests, we have seen a huge spike. We had about 50 or 60 positive tests come back here in a very short period of time.

In a matter of less than two weeks, we have doubled our -- after doing a really good job, because of the close proximity. Take the lesson from us. Please wear your mask. It is the right thing to do. It is not about politics. It is about common courtesy and personal responsibility.

BLITZER: Certainly is. Good words.

Chief Acevedo, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for everything you're doing in Houston. We're grateful to you.

And just ahead, we will have more on the president putting his supporters potentially at risk with his indoor Tulsa rally tomorrow night. Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta is standing by.

We're also following all the breaking news on the pandemic, as multiple states are seeing record spikes in new infections.

We will be right back.



BLITZER: On this Juneteenth, you're looking at live pictures coming in from Nashville, Tennessee, also from New York City.

The rallies are continuing, as the U.S. clearly confronts systemic racism in our country.

We're also keeping a close eye on the situation right now in Tulsa, Oklahoma, just ahead of President Trump's big indoor rally there tomorrow night. The state Supreme Court just refused to stop the event, despite concerns it may produce a new coronavirus cluster.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Tulsa for us, along with our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Ryan, give us the -- given the president's warnings today that, in his

words, any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters, or lowlifes, his words, will be handled much different in Tulsa than they were in other cities, what is the atmosphere like there right now?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Right now, Wolf, what we're seeing is really more of a party than a protest.

And we're in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, this, of course, where the awful Black Wall Street massacre took place back in 1921. Keep in mind, Wolf, that the city was originally not planning on any kind of organized celebration of the Juneteenth holiday because of the coronavirus.


But when President Trump announced his plans to bring his rally here originally for this day, things changed, and this kind of organically sprouted up here in the community.

You can notice a lot of people here, not many of them practicing social distancing, most of them in masks, but we are, of course, outside. And that raises the question about what we're going to see here over the next couple of days, particularly tomorrow.

We know that there are going to be more pointed organized protests of the president's visit here tomorrow by Black Lives Matter and other groups concerned about the increase of police brutality against black men and women across the country.

So, we're waiting to see what happens there. We are -- we do know that some businesses downtown have boarded up, but, so far, at this point, Wolf, everything has been peaceful -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And let's hope it stays that way.

Sanjay, Oklahoma, this week set a record for a number of new cases, including Tulsa County, which is seeing new cases clearly spike up. How ill-advised is this rally, especially indoor, 19,000, 20,000 people crammed inside an arena?

And explain to our viewers once again why there is such a difference between a lot of people, potentially without masks, potentially without social distancing, being cramped inside, as opposed to outside?


Well, I think this is a real concern, Wolf. And I can tell you, you know, on some of the issues we have talked about over the last few months, you know, there is a little bit of back and forth, a nuance among public health officials.

There is no nuance with this. I haven't found a single public health official who can justify what is happening in Tulsa tomorrow, where Ryan Nobles is inside that stadium. We can put up some of the -- the way that the CDC evaluates risk in

terms of these types of gatherings. As you might imagine, a virtual gathering is going to be the lowest risk. But the highest risk is going to be indoors. Wolf, to your question, indoor vs. outdoor, lots of studies.

But, overall, they say it is about 18 times more likely to transmit the virus inside. There is longer airborne time. The virus is circulating more easily indoors, doesn't have as much room to spread. If you can't maintain physical distance, obviously, a concern if there is no masks mandate. That's a concern.

People shouting, that carnival-like atmosphere at these rallies, from a public health standpoint, that means people are putting more virus into the air. So, it is hard to quantify the risk exactly, but this would be considered a high-risk activity.

I would hope, at a minimum, when people leave this high-risk environment, that they would at least go home and quarantine themselves for a while, so as to not spread the virus to their -- within their homes or their communities, Wolf.

BLITZER: Some health officials in Oklahoma are saying they should have been tested before they go into that arena and certainly be tested following their attendance in that arena. Is that right?


No, that is a -- one of the recommendations. But I would say, again, I think the right answer here, to just be clear from a public health standpoint, is that this event, this type event should not happen.

I mean, this is trying to make the best of a very, very dangerous situation. Testing can help. Testing afterwards can help. There is concerns about false negatives. It is still tough to get tested, Wolf, make no mistake. In many places, unless you're already having symptoms of some sort, have a doctor's recommendation, it can be tough to get tested.

In Tulsa, the testing rate has actually gone down over the last few days, whereas the number of cases, as you just showed, Wolf, has gone up. So that's the worst thing, where testing has gone down and you're still having an increase in overall numbers.

BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much. Ryan Nobles, we will stay in close touch with you. Be careful over there in Tulsa. Thanks to both of you.

Just ahead, as we follow the Juneteenth marches and new calls for racial justice, I will speak with the civil rights activist Martin Luther King III. There you see him. He's standing by. We will discuss this important event.

Plus, Florida again sets a single-day record for new coronavirus infections, with nearly 4,000 new cases just today.



BLITZER: Looking at live pictures coming in from Minneapolis right now on this Juneteenth.

The rallies are continuing in Minneapolis, right in front of the Cup Foods in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed nearly four weeks ago.

Joining us now to discuss what's going on, Martin Luther King Jr. -- III, the civil rights activist, the son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Also with us, CNN senior legal analyst former federal prosecutor Laura Coates.

Martin, let's talk a little bit about what's going on. We're seeing these celebrations happening around the country for Juneteenth. People in Washington, D.C., for example, they have marched to the memorial where your father is honored.

What does this tell you about where the country stands, what, nearly a month into these protests?

MARTIN LUTHER KING III, PRESIDENT AND CEO, REALIZING THE DREAM: Well, I think it says number one, there is a consciousness that has never existed around issues that have impacted the African-American community.

And it says that the nation, I believe, is prepared to take immediate action. At least, that is what my hope is. And I am really inspired by the hundreds of thousands to millions of people who have come out and protested in peaceful ways to advance and move this nation forward.


BLITZER: You know, Laura, today, Louisville, for example, announced the firing of one of the police officers in the Breonna Taylor death. We saw charges against the two officers involved in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks. Do you think we're starting to see a shift in how these kinds of cases are handled?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think we are. I think we're seeing sort of the expedience in some respects and some of the shortened delay that we see in normal criminal prosecutions where you don't have the lengthy period. There's no opportunity for there to be an internal disciplinary investigation handed down by the police unit. Otherwise, it is much far more swift it's intended to be when somebody is killed in this country.

It's also very important to know that you have women, black women, black girls, who have really -- sometimes fallen off of the conversation grid when it comes to issues of social justice and the killing of unarmed people in this country. And so Breonna Taylor has lagged behind several other men who have actually been killed as well. And there has been a nationwide cry not to forget about what is happening to women in this country as well. This is another example of that.

BLITZER: You know, Martin, President Trump, he is heading, as you know, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, tomorrow night, the site -- by the way Tulsa one of -- the site of one of the country's worse massacres of African- Americans, the president will be at an indoor rally that was initially set for Juneteenth, it was moved by one day.

He also tweeted this today, let me read it to you and our viewers. Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene. What's your reaction, Martin, to that?

KING: Well, it's traditional and what can be expected, which really shows why we have to really come together, galvanize, mobilize, organize, agitate and vote like never before, because America needs to hear a different tone of leadership.

It's all right to be political but it is not all right to divide people and divide our nation. We are better than what we are seeing, certainly coming out of the White House, and I think the people in the streets who are protesting show us we are far better than what maybe the White House would want you to think.

BLITZER: You know, Laura, the president clearly playing the tough guy once again. And then we also seeing these shows of support from police officers for their fellow officers who are now being held accountable. Some Atlanta officers haven't been showing up for work for days right now. How much does that worry you?

COATES: It does worry me a great deal, because you want public servants to be responsive, not to be reactive and petulant because someone is calling for transparency and accountability, generally speaking, with officers. Remember, we expect our officers to be on the -- not only the front lines of the very difficult atmosphere they're working under, but they should be in tandem with anyone calling out to root out the so-called bad apples among them to restore and perhaps introduce faith for the first time.

But I also say that, remember, this is a very dangerous conflation by the president of the United States to loop in agitators with protesters. The First Amendment guarantees the right for people to be able to petition and assemble and freely speak about the issues that matter to them. That's what our democracy is. And so for him to threaten them is a very odd and worrying and troublesome state that we're in right now.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens tomorrow, Laura Coates, thanks very much. Martin Luther King III, as usual, Martin, thanks so much for joining us. We'll stay in close touch with you.

Just ahead, we're going to get more on the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization is now reporting a single-day record for infections, over 150,000 infections globally on this one day.

And we're also following the Juneteenth rallies and celebrations that are happening around the country right now amid all the calls for racial justice.



BLITZER: Honoring the Juneteenth rallies underway around the country right now. These are live pictures coming in from Washington D.C., as well as Minneapolis, much more on that coming up.

But there is other breaking news we're following as well. The U.S. death toll in the coronavirus pandemic is now nearing 119,000 people. And the World Health Organization is reporting a single-day record for new infections.

CNN's Nick Watt is tracking all the late breaking developments.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Florida, Arizona, California, Oklahoma, scene of tomorrow's Trump rally, all setting records, seeing the most new cases in a day since all this began.

DR. ALI KHAN, DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: We're in the midst of the greatest public health failure in American history and if we're going to continue to open up and not open up safely, we're going to continue to see increased cases.

WATT: These eight states home to roughly a third of all Americans right now seeing their highest ever average new case counts. Apple now closing some stores in Arizona, the Carolinas, and Florida, the Phillies just shutdown spring training in Clearwater after five players tested positive.

This is not over. Masks work. Those are facts. But they are now politicized. Take the governor of Nebraska, reportedly now withholding federal coronavirus emergency money from any county mandating masks and government buildings.


Dallas County, Texas, now mandating masks in the workplace, but the governor of the state won't. Orange County, Florida now mandating masks for all, but the governor won't.

KHAN: It's simple. No vaccine, no treatment, right? All you need is test and trace of good public health, combine it with good personal responsibility, masks, social distancing, hand washing. Put the two together and you can become New Zealand, go to zero cases in this country.

WATT: You heard that right. New Zealand routinely reports zero cases in a day. A small country, sure. So let's take Europe, a steep drop are now fewer than 5,000 new cases a day. Here in the U.S., nearing five times that and climbing. DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: What Europe did differently is they stayed locked down a bit longer, a bit more uniformly.

WATT: Today, Florida started phase one reopening, there were fewer than 1,000 new cases reported in this state. Today, nearly 4,000, a new record-high.

MELISSA MCKINLAY, COMMISSIONER, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: I don't think we can scale back how we opened, but we can simply slow down how we move forward and put these precautions in place, like wearing a mask.

WATT: The governor thinks the spike in cases is down to more testing, so does the president. But even his own adviser disagrees.

KEVIN HASSETT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: There are about 18 states right now where the positivity rates are going up, which means that if the cases are going up, it's not just because you're doing more testing.

WATT: But the northeast is doing well lately. So pushing ahead with reopening today was the New York governor's last daily COVID briefing.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Today, we are seeing the virus spreading in many places. More people will die. And it doesn't have to be that way. Forget the politics. Be smart.


WATT: And, Wolf, more bad news for sports fans. The Toronto Blue Jays have also now closed their spring training facility in Florida after a player showed symptoms. The Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Team has shut its facility after three players tested positive. And a PGA golfer is now tested positive. Clemson Athletic Department just announced 28 student athletes and staff are now positive for COVID-19. Wolf?

BLITZER: It certainly does not bode well at all. Nick Watt reporting for us, thank you.

Let's talk about all of this with Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a former Health Policy Adviser to the Obama White House. He's also the Author of an important new book entitled, Which Country has the World's Best Healthcare. Zeke, thanks so much for joining us.

I want to discuss your book but what's your reaction to these numbers that we're getting? You just heard these numbers, the surge in new cases in so many states.

DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It was all predictable, predicted for five weeks ago when the states had -- did not have declining numbers of cases and decided to open up and open up not in stages, but all at once, some of the riskiest places first. I don't think any public health person is surprised by what we're seeing.

And, you know, we have between 25,000 and 30,000 new cases a day. We had that in March. We had that in April and just where they're moving around in the country, the places that have instituted stringent lockdowns and then opened up in phases, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Illinois, their cases are actually going down and getting very, very low. Places that willy-nilly just opened up without a plan and without cases dropping, they're seeing skyrocketing cases, the exponential part of the growth curve.

BLITZER: You heard one of the experts in, Nick Watt's piece, described this as the greatest public health failure in American history. In your new book, and it's called, Which Country has the World's Best Healthcare, you make it clear that the answer is not necessarily the United States. How is our healthcare system falling short in this pandemic?

EMANUEL: Well, I'm not so sure it's the healthcare system. This is about public health. This is an emergency where what you need is not so much the hospitals and the emergency rooms and the doctors, what you need is actually leadership to institute the public health measures of social distancing, avoiding crowds, wearing face masks, hand hygiene, and not rushing to open the facilities that like salons and tattoo parlors where people have to be close, cannot be separated and it's easy to transmit virus.

You know, the president's rally in Tulsa is a perfect case of everything public health people say don't do, go to an enclosed space, large crowds for prolonged period of time with lots of yelling, shouting, sneezing and screaming. Yes, that's how the virus gets spread and, you know, all you need is a few people in there to have major super spreading event.

BLITZER: I just want you and our viewers to look at these numbers, how the U.S. compares to South Korea, for example, on March 5th, South Korea had 35 deaths from coronavirus. On March 5th, the U.S. had 11.


Today, South Korea has 280 confirmed deaths from coronavirus. The U.S. has 118,991 as of right now.

What does it tell you about their healthcare system as opposed to our healthcare system?

DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE HEALTH POLICY ADVISER: Again, Wolf, I'm not sure it is the difference in the system. It is the difference in the leadership and instituting those measures, the public health measures stringently and having it for a short period of time until you get the cases really low.

We just have never instituted them stringently. It's not clear the president believed in them or think they could control the virus, he seems more preoccupied by getting the stock market up than by saving lives.

The real example is Taiwan. A hundred miles from China, it's had less than 500 cases seven deaths. And it is not because they have some vaccine or better medication or even a better hospital system than we do. It's because they followed the public health measures.

BLITZER: Congratulations on the new book, Zeke. Thanks so much for joining us.

EMANUEL: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we'll go live to some of the Juneteenth rallies that are happening right now across the United States.

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: We're back with more breaking news on the Juneteenth rallies across the country. Looking at live pictures coming in from Los Angeles and Minneapolis right now.

The holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. comes at a pivotal moment for race relations in this country.

Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's in Washington, D.C. for us.

Tell us about the Juneteenth event you're seeing unfold on the streets of D.C. right now.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this has got to be one of the most dynamic celebrations of Juneteenth in this city and I think around the city in several years. This march that has taken place on the 14th and U Street corridor here is just wrapping up. There's people doing a jump rope contest over here. They were led for much of the afternoon over by this truck full of march leaders and musical groups and everything like that.

The crowd has made its way back over to 14th and U Streets Northwest.

Look, this is, as I said, dynamic, energetic, all day. And, of course, it's been galvanized by the killings of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and Breonna Taylor. It's brought thousands more people to the city that they have normally come this day and fewer -- no fewer actually than 20 events, marches, you know, strikes, walkouts, speeches, everything. There's something for everyone in Washington today.

And the messages are varied. Of course, they want to call attention to Juneteenth. They want that to be a national holiday. It is not a national movement yet. So, that movement really is galvanized today. But we've heard chants for food equality, for equality of pay, to defund the police.

Lots of issues getting put forth today, lots of discussions on the streets and elsewhere, Wolf. Very, very dynamic. You know, we talked to protest leaders and marchers all day long. They want the momentum to carry not only through the weekend which it will here in D.C. because there are other events going on. They really want this carry on on Juneteenth every single year because

they say this is the time to seize on that momentum after the killings and protests recently, this is the time they've got to really grasp that momentum and take them. If today is any indication, Wolf, and this weekend is any indication, they might have that momentum going forward. Really, really dynamic crowds.

This is what happened at the Howard Theater right near Howard University. And again, we've seen no fewer than 20 separate events, marches, et cetera here in Washington, D.C. today. And the protests and marches will continue through the weekend -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll watch it together with you, Brian. Thank you.

Let's go to Stephanie Elam. She's joining us right now from Los Angeles.

Stephanie, what are you seeing in Los Angeles?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there's been a lot of emphasis today on exactly what Juneteenth means and that it's not just the day that slaves were freed. It's the day that they found out they were freed.

There were a lot of people here who are actually from Texas, their ancestors, their family members are from Texas. And so, they're speaking about that today and about the fact that it took two and a half years for these people in Texas to find out these slaves, to find out that they were actually free.

So, right now, you can see they're up there talking about it. There has been a march. There are now people attentively listening to these speakers talk about taking control of their communities, owning their communities and also about something we've been hearing about for weeks now, about changing the relationship between police and these neighborhoods and very much making it clear that Juneteenth is something that black people have known about and have been celebrating for decades. And the first one being right after 19 -- I'm sorry, 1865, so in 1866. So, a lot of discussion about the history of today here, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's important as well. Stephanie, thank you very much. Stephanie Elam in L.A. for us.

We're going to have much more news right after this.



BLITZER: This important programming note, we want to tell you about. President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton will join me here in THE SITUATION ROOM to talk about his new bombshell book. That's next Wednesday during our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour. Stay tuned for that here on CNN next Wednesday. Finally tonight, we want to pay tribute to more Americans killed by

the coronavirus.

Jean Morgan of Massachusetts was 77 years old -- a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother who could outpace just about everyone. She was into yoga, swimming, and dancing. We're told she was always on the dance floor teaching friends and family the latest steps.

Allan Seebach Jr. of New York was 62. A few years ago, he realized his dream of opening a model train store after serving with the local fire department for 44 years. A vintage fire truck carried his casket to the cemetery, taking a final ride past the home where he grew up.

May they rest in peace and may their memories being a blessing.

Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.