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Nearly Half Of U.S. States Are Reporting A Rise In Cases; NASCAR Investigating Noose Found In Black Driver's Garage; Trump Fires Powerful Prosecutor Investigating His Inner Circle. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired June 22, 2020 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us as we start the work week. I hope to see you back here this time tomorrow as well.

Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now. Have a good day.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar and I want to welcome viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.

We begin with a dangerous new turn in the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly half of all U.S. states are seeing a jump in new coronavirus cases, 11 states are seeing spikes of more than 50 percent here in the past week. The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. is now at more than 2,286,000 and more than 120,000 deaths.

Officials in states across the south have warned that more young people in their 20s and their 30s are now testing positive. One infectious disease expert comparing the months to a forest fire. Globally, the World Health Organization reported the largest single day increase in more than 183,000 new cases on Sunday. That was driven mostly by spikes in Brazil and also here in the U.S.

CNN's Tom Foreman is with me now on this. Tom, tell us where we're seeing the most increases stateside here.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it is stretching from coast to coast. If you take a look at the current map, remember, everything that's red or dark red, that's where they're seeing an increase. And you can see there are pockets down there in the southeast, the middle of the country and, of course, the west is just getting hammered with the tremendous number of cases out there.

Bri, you and I have been looking at these maps for weeks and weeks now. This is as bad as it's been, I think, to see it spread this wide and in so many place where they thought it would be getting better.

Take a look at Arizona where the president is going for his next rally this week where he's hoping to have a big turnout there. He's going to go down to the border, he's going to have a rally at a church that holds about 3,000 people.

Arizona has been seeing its cases jump up recently to about 2,400 new cases every single day. That is enormous. And it's not just a little bleep of the past few days. If you look back over Arizona's track since early on in June, this has been steadily growing and the number of cases and the number of hospitalizations so much so that Arizona absolutely is a hotspot on this first day of summer with no sign of it getting any easier down there.

They have just enacted a new mask law in Phoenix, where the president will hold this rally. Of course, he has turned away from masks many, many times and many his followers have too. Not clear what will happen at this event, even though the city says they won't be looking for mask enforcement there.

Nonetheless, Arizona absolutely one of the hottest spots in the country right now but look at this. Compared to the top five states, look at the other ones that are in there, terrifically bad numbers in a number of states and leading them all right now is Florida, which really was a place where they hoped it wouldn't be so bad, now it absolutely is. Brianna?

KEILAR: That's right. They had had some high hopes. It seemed to be tracking well for a bit there. Tom, thank you. Good to see you.

An alarming milestone in Florida, as Tom was just outlining, the state now reporting more than 100,000 cases and the big reason for that jump. Just look at the new number of new cases in the last three days here, more than 11,000 since Friday.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in Miami Beach for us. Tell us about how the hospitals are looking there, Rosa.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. Well, it's very difficult to tell how hospitals are doing in relation to COVID-19 patients because the State of Florida does not issue those numbers. However, we have been getting a glimpse of what's going on because Jackson Health, one of the major health systems here in the State of Florida, has issued those numbers. And in the past two weeks, there has been a 75 percent increase.

Now, here in Florida, according to Governor Ron DeSantis, what is driving the uptick in coronavirus cases right now are young people, not social distancing, not wearing masks out and about. So that's why we hit the street to kind of show you what's actually going on.

We are in Miami Beach, we're at a restaurant. And here is what it's like to dine at a restaurant. You get a one-use menu and you can see that the tables are at least six feet apart.

And if you look beyond this restaurant, you will see that restaurants have spilled over on to the street because that gives them a little more room to spread out to allow people to social distance. And you can see that there are multiple layers of restaurants that are doing the same thing.

Now, Brianna, here, you could tell that people are social distancing. You're required to wear a mask, like I am, while you're not sitting down dining. But over the weekend, three restaurants were closed here in Miami-Dade because they were not following the rules and that is the message both locally and from the State of Florida inspections will be going up as the number of coronavirus cases also increase. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Rosa, thank you for showing us what's happening there in Miami Beach.

New York City is now entering a phase two of its coronavirus reopening plan today and this means that offices, hair salons, barbershops, car dealerships and outdoor dining, among other things, are going to be allowed to resume.

CNN's Alexandra Field has more from New York.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this is a big step for New York's comeback. Just behind me, a sight that we haven't seen in the city for months now, people able to eat at restaurants and bars, that is as long as they are doing it outside on the sidewalks.

Along with bringing back the restaurant industry, other big steps we are seeing in-store retail sales now open to people, also the comeback of the real estate market. You can even go to your salon or barbershops, milestones that people in this city have been looking forward to.

This was once the epicenter of the virus, but New York has made remarkable progress. The positivity rates on tests is now than 1 percent across the state. In order to hold the progress that New Yorkers have made, the governor signed executive order that will strictly enforce social distancing. it could lead to the suspension of liquor licenses for bars and restaurants that don't closely follow the guidelines. Brianna?

KEILAR: Thank you, Alexandra.

And a promising new report development from the maker of remdesivir, the antiviral drug that has been effective at treating COVID patients. Gilead Sciences announced it is about to start trials of an inhaled version of the medication, which is currently only available by intravenous infusion. The hope here is that an inhaled version could more easily distributed in earlier phases of infection.

With me now to discuss is June Ellis. She is an Associate Chief Nursing Officer at Jackson Health System in Miami. June, thank you so much for being with us.

Your network is reporting a 75 percent increase in cases, so tell us really what you are seeing in your hospitals there.

JUNE ELLIS, ASSOCIATE CHIEF NURSING OFFICER, JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM: Yes, good afternoon, Brianna. We have seen a significant increase in the last week or so of COVID positive patients coming into the Jackson Health System. At our peak, prior to April, we were seeing about -- or around April, about 167 patients. Today, we spiked to 204, which is really the first time that we have been over 200.

And we are seeing a significant amount of patients in their younger years. in our peak we were seeing more of the over 65-year-old age group.

KEILAR: So tell us about that. Because as you're seeing the spike in cases and people who are in their 20s and 30s, and this isn't just happening in Florida, it's happening in Texas, it's happening in Georgia, why do you think that's happening?

ELLIS: You know, we have to speculate that it has to go hand in hand with the opening and we are seeing a lot of the younger population not wearing masks, getting back to their routine as normal as they can be and not social distancing. We know it is proven that masks and social distancing does help to prevent the COVID virus.

KEILAR: Yes. No, it certainly does, right? It's proven that it saved lives.

I want to ask you about something the president said in Tulsa over the weekend at his campaign rally. He said, when you increase testing for COVID-19, you find more cases. And he claims that he asked officials to, quote, slow down the testing. The White House now says he was joking but it's actually something similar to what we have heard him say many times before.

Even if that's true though, I mean, the deaths don't lie. We're nearing 120,000 deaths. What do you think about this possibility or this joke of slowing down testing?

ELLIS: I think it's important for people to be tested if they are exhibiting any symptoms whatsoever. I don't believe we should slow down on the testing. It's important for us to know the status of patients, our healthcare workers, your father, your mother, et cetera, because then we can quarantine and we can assist with treatments.

If we slow down in the testing, we don't know then exactly that. We're not going to know and we could be sitting next to someone who possibly is positive.

KEILAR: Do you think the spikes are solely attributable to there being testing or are the spikes real and it's attributable to there being more cases?

ELLIS: Obviously, if we test more, you're going to get more information. I think what's important to notice is the more testing is the positivity of the test. So if we're seeing more positives throughout this testing, then that's an important factor.

A lot of people test positive. We have seen it and here at our hospital. They test positive and they're totally asymptomatic.


But they still should quarantine for the 14 days because we don't really know if they are contagious. We assume they are. It's a novel virus. We are not sure what happens with the virus itself.

So it's important for patients to get -- people to get tested.

KEILAR: Yes. All right, June Ellis, thank you so much. We really appreciate your perspective down there in Miami. Thanks.

ELLIS: Thank you.

KEILAR: NASCAR is investigating a noose found in the garage of Bubba Wallace, a black NASCAR driver. Hear who was inside of the building where it was found.

Plus, the NYPD suspending an officer for a, quote, disturbing chokehold on a black man. I'll show you what happened.

And the future of President Trump's rallies are now in question after sources say the president is angry about the turnout in Tulsa.

This is CNN's special live coverage.



KEILAR: NASCAR is now investigating a potential hate crime. Officials say a noose was found inside Bubba Wallace's garage. Wallace is the sport's only full-time African-American driver. Two weeks ago, he drove a car promoting the Black Lives Matter movement and he also led the initiative to ban confederate flags from NASCAR events.

NASCAR has really released a statement saying, quote, we are angry and outraged and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act. We have launched an immediate investigation and will do everything we can to identify the person or persons responsible and eliminate them from the sport.

I am joined by Brehanna Daniels. She is the first African-American woman to work on a NASCAR pit crew, which I can't overstate just how significant that is. Brehanna, thank you so much for being with us.

You learned about this noose in Bubba Wallace's garage. Tell us your reaction.

BREHANNA DANIELS, FIRST BLACK WOMAN TO JOIN A NASCAR PIT CREW: You know, hearing about that just made me very angry because it's sad, you know? As soon as NASCAR was going in a positive direction, something like this happens. But the individual who committed this act, this is an individual who is not with the change that's happening obviously.

And this is not what NASCAR represents at all, because we're a family in NASCAR and we don't do things like this. So I hope whoever is involved with placing the noose in Bubba's garage gets -- you know, they get what they deserve and they're banned forever, from coming to the racing events and everything else because stuff like that is very, very disturbing and it shows you that racism still exists. And at the end of the day you can only pray for people like that.

Like I said, NASCAR, that's not what NASCAR represents, activities like that and people who commit things like that. That's not what NASCAR is about. KEILAR: And, you know, one of the things I think is this was in a garage stall. It's almost like someone, you know, for the uninitiated about how this works, this isn't an area that everyone has access to, right? This is like walking into your office and there is a noose there. So who would have had access to this?

DANIELS: Yes. As everyone knows that fans really aren't -- people who aren't a part of NASCAR, they're not allowed in the racing events right now, which makes it even more interesting to learn about who really is behind this, you know, because of we don't know.

And, unfortunately, there aren't -- I don't think there are that many cameras around in the garage areas to have even seen like who could be behind this. So to know that had to be someone like within who's -- I guess who's a part of some of the teams. It had to be somebody who's in the garage area who's behind this.

So -- but I said, I hope NASCAR finds out who this person was so we can just remove them altogether because that's not what NASCAR is about.

I'm behind NASCAR all the way. This is very -- this behavior is very disgusting. Whoever did this, whoever is involved, and NASCAR is going to do their job and they're going to will find out who did it so they can have them removed.

KEILAR: So this is a big day today, right? Talladega rescheduled, we're expecting to see this at 3:00 P.M. today. This is one of the biggest races of the circuit. It is in the deep south. And I know that you were there at Talladega this weekend. And I want to show viewers something that I actually think you saw, you tweeted on the way to the speedway. Let's take a look at this.

You can see a lot of confederate flags there and there was as well we understand reports of confederate flags across from the speedway and one that said, Defund NASCAR. I wonder if you think that there are actually more flags since NASCAR banned confederate flags and confederate imagery and what message do you think that sends.

DANIELS: NASCAR banning the confederate flags from racing events was the biggest thing to have happen since the end of the civil war. Basically since NASCAR is a southern-based sport and they finally realized that they wanted to get rid of this negative symbol.


Because, NASCAR, we are all about togetherness and we don't need anything, you know, dividing us. And the flag was so much negative history behind it, that's just not what NASCAR is about.

And there are people who are very, very excited about the removal. Like I said, I'm all for the removal of the confederate flag at racing events. There are people who are really, really angry. But, hey, NASCAR had to deal with that flag around for many, many years and they decided to go with the route of going without, and there's nothing wrong with that. And like I said, I fully stand behind them with the removal.

More race fans wanted to join. I had a lot of people contact me, saying they're going to come to racing events now. And like I said, that was another big step for our sport going in the right direction.


So one of the cool things about -- one of the things I think is cool about NASCAR anyway is that you actually see the pit crews and you can see the race car drivers up close if you get into the infield. And so you're actually -- I mean, fans can walk right by you while you're prepping for the race. And I wonder, having had sort of more exposure to fans and, say, other sports, have you experienced racism or discrimination since you joined the sport?

DANIELS: Hey, you already know it's hard being a black woman in NASCAR. And I have had my struggles, I have been through things, but, hey, I'm here in the sport for a reason. I'm here to make a change, make a difference, and NASCAR is my family, you know?

And I'm so behind them, supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement and just basically taking the necessary steps that we need in order to progress the sport and make it a better sport that welcomes all faces, not just one face.

So --

KEILAR: What's your message to Bubba Wallace here on this big day?

DANIELS: I would just tell Bubba to -- I mean, he know what it is for real.

KEILAR: We want to know.

DANIELS: Yes, we go through the same things. But, you know, just for Bubba, you need to be strong, you know? And us being the only few people of color in this sport, it's already tough and you have to be tough to be here. And we both have tough skin and I know he will be good. He's just using this as motivation to keep moving forward.

He just has to block this out because whoever was trying to intimidate him, they pretty much failed because it's not bothering him. He's still going to go out there do what he has to do, what he has to get done, and I'm fully behind him. I support him.

KEILAR: Brehanna Daniels, thank you so much for joining us from Charlotte.

DANIELS: Yes, thank you for having me.

KEILAR: New York is sparking another debate about statues over plans to remove the Roosevelt statue from the steps of the Museum of Natural History.

Also, new reporting on the president's reaction to the smaller than expected crowd at his rally and what Republican donors are saying behind the scenes.

After the powerful prosecutor who's investigating the president's inner circle refused to resign, the president fires him. So what happens to active cases he's been investigating? We'll have that next.



KEILAR: Calls for investigations into Attorney General Bill Barr growing louder after the late Friday night ouster of one of the most powerful prosecutors in the country, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who has gone after President Trump's allies.

House Democrats are now inviting Geoffrey Berman to testify during a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

On Friday night, Barr suddenly announced that Berman have resigned his post. But shortly after that, Berman said, no, he had not resigned. His investigations would proceed unimpeded and he showed up to work on Saturday.

Barr then said the president was firing him, this as the president told reporters Saturday, no, he wasn't involved at all.

And just in, a source familiar says Berman refused to sign a DOJ letter that was criticizing New York's coronavirus restrictions that affect religious institutions. We were told that Barr was not aware of the dispute and it had nothing to do with his ouster.

I want to bring in Senator Mazie Hirono to talk with us about this. Senator, thank you so much for joining us from the Hill.

You were on the Judiciary Committee, which would confirm a replacement for Berman. What is your reaction to his firing?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): I think it was totally politically motivated and this is because of the pattern of this kind of behavior from Attorney General Barr that he is very much the henchperson, henchman to Donald Trump. And he's not the attorney for the U.S. people, he is the attorney for the president.