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Gun Violence on the Rise; Younger People Testing Positive for Coronavirus; Anti-Poverty Organization Helps Amid Covid-19; Florida Sets Record for New Infections. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired June 25, 2020 - 09:30   ET



LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: That is not enough. This bill it is not even salvageable.

Now, we're going to see the House Democrats pass their own proposal along party lines. But I talked to Senator Lindsey Graham yesterday after the Senate vote failed, and this was just a procedural vote to get on to the bill, to have a debate. And I said, what happens next? Are you going to have conversations? He said, I don't think we get this issue dealt with this year.

Poppy and Jim.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It's a shame. It's a shame considering all -- everything.


SCIUTTO: Lauren Fox, thanks very much.

Well, as lawmakers battle over police reform on Capitol Hill, violent crime, sadly, moving up in many places in the country.

HARLOW: That's right, and it's happening in the middle of this pandemic. Some of it is happening in cities where protesters have been out in force, pushing to defund police.

Our Brynn Gingras is with us to explain.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In many major cities across the country, gun violence is on the rise.

In a Chicago suburb, a 13-year-old girl hit by bullets while watching TV. The gunfire outside her window among more than 100 shootings in the windy city last weekend.

In Minneapolis -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw people just shooting, just 30, 40, 50 shots.

GINGRAS: Officials say more than 100 people have been shot in the last month since the death of George Floyd. And in New York City, NYPD crime data shows the number of shooting victims is up 414 percent last week compared to the same time period last year.

Chief of Department Terence Monahan calls it troubling.

CHIEF TERENCE MONAHAN, NYPD: It goes back to 1996 that we haven't seen this level of violence.

GINGRAS: Researchers with the Council on Criminal Justice looked at homicide rates across 64 cities this year compared to the previous three years.

THOMAS ABT, CO-AUTHOR, COVID-19 AND HOMICIDE STUDY: If you see significant, sudden changes in crime trends across the country, you need to look at some type of national shock to the system. Sort of broader underlying structural trends are not going to explain it.

GINGRAS: As part of their study released this morning, the authors cite two major trends, the coronavirus pandemic and the aftermath of Floyd's death. Historically, incidents like the police involved killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, have led to a period of more gun violence.

Now many cities are seeing more violent crime as protesters call to defund police departments and police reforms across the country are put into place.

In Atlanta, a task force is working to rethink training policies for the city's officers.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA: There is a fierce urgency of now in our communities.

DERMOT SHEA, NYPD COMMISSIONER: It will be felt immediately in the communities that we protect.

GINGRAS: Last week, the NYPD disbanded its anti-crime unit, plainclothes officers who combated violent crime, but those aggressive tactics were often met with controversy. Monahan says constant police changes are causing confusion among the rank and file.

MONAHAN: How did the communities want us to police? Quality of life policing in New York was one of the things that got us to where we were. Cops were questioning, what do communities want us to do? And there are people out there taking advantage of it.

GINGRAS: And then there's the pandemic.

ABT: Public resources, police, hospitals, service providers, community based providers, means there's less resources to fight violent crime and the pandemic has placed people under great financial, mental and emotional strain. And so all of those things can trigger more violence.

GINGRAS: The council's research had already found killings in major cities were on the rise this year starting in January and February. Now, a dramatic increase in numbers as cities reopen after shutting down in the spring, a nationwide trend many believe will continue.

ABT: We are deeply concerned that in the months ahead we may see more violence in the future.

GINGRAS: Researchers and members of law enforcement say the burden to bring crime down can't solely rest on the shoulders of police.

MONAHAN: We need to hear from the communities that are living through the gunfire, that have to see it each and every day. What exactly do they want us to do? This is a monumental period in policing.


GINGRAS: And Chief Monahan, along with other NYPD brass, say at least here in New York, they need the help of prosecutors to actually take on cases. There needs to be real consequences for gun violence. They need lawmakers to consider reform that impact the community in a positive way, but also allows police officers to do their jobs. And, Jim and Poppy, you know how complex of an issue this is, but the collective thinking is it really does needs to be a group effort if there's going to be any reverse in this way we're heading right now.

HARLOW: I was so struck, Brynn, by the NYPD chief saying overnight, you know, the storm is coming. You have not even seen the worst of it in terms of crime.


HARLOW: Thank you for that reporting.

We'll be right back.



HARLOW: Well, you have seen what has happened in Florida, very quickly becoming a hot spot, potentially the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. And one of the major health systems there is seeing a rise in younger and younger patients --


HARLOW: Which could lead to some major, major problems.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's something that we've been watching closely, the expanding demographic of those infected.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more on this concerning trend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the last place Jerry Ward thought he'd end up -- in the hospital with Covid-19 at age 29.

JERRY WARD, COVID-19 PATIENT: I went to a house party for a cousin's birthday and three days later everyone started texting and saying that we all wasn't feeling well.

COHEN: Jerry says ten people from that party in south Florida, all in their late 20s and early 30s, have been diagnosed with Covid-19.


COHEN (on camera): What message do you want to get out to people your age?

WARD: They should take it serious. Only go to places that are as needed, such as doctor's appointments, work, stuff of that nature.

COHEN (voice over): But some young people in Florida are gathering in groups and not wearing masks. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis noting that in March the median age of confirmed cases in his state was 65. Now it's 35.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): What we've seen, particularly over the last week, is a real explosion in new cases amongst our younger demographics.

COHEN: Some people, like Jerry, have underlying medical conditions and need to be hospitalized. But most young people recover at home or have no symptoms, but they can still spread the virus.

DR. LILIAN ABBO, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: The message for the young population is, yes, you can get hospitalized and you can get others infected and sick as well. You need to protect yourself and others.


COHEN: So, Tasia (ph) and Jerry, who you just met, both of those people are -- were feeling sick enough to isolate themselves. But the problem is, is that many young people don't have symptoms or they're just mildly symptomatic and they are out and about spreading this virus.

Poppy. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Something to watch closely. We will continue to.

Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

America, right now, confronting two crises, coronavirus and, of course, entrenched racism. How one group is fighting to help vulnerable kids overcome both of those threats. That's coming up.



HARLOW: Well, America, now months into fighting coronavirus, and right now many billionaires are still getting richer and black communities are still getting sicker and dealing with higher rates of fatality. As Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said, this is in part a direct product of years and years of institutional racism that is still happening today.

And my next guest has made it his mission to address the core disparities perpetuating this crisis, both the poverty crisis and the health crisis and assess to strong education.

With me now is Kwame Owusu-Kesse, CEO -- newly appointed CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone.

It is, if anyone doesn't know, Kwame, a remarkable organization. You guys fight poverty from, you know, cradle to career. And even former President Obama has said of your model, it is literally saving a generation of children. So, thank you for what you do.

KWAME OWUSU-KESSE, CEO, HARLEM CHILDREN'S ZONE: Thank you. Thank you for having me this morning.

HARLOW: What are you seeing on the ground in terms in the disproportionate, adverse impact of the Covid crisis of course on the black community, but on black -- black kids, black children?

OWUSU-KESSE: Absolutely.

Covid-19 has been so devastating to -- to our community. We've never seen a calamity like this. And this requires both action because it's a multidimensional threat.

And for us here at the Harlem Children's Zone, we sprung into action both on the ground in central Harlem and also having meaningful impact on a couple cities across America. And what we have noticed is there were five emerging areas that needed immediate need. The first was the need for merge relief funds. We've been able to distribute over $300,000 to our community.

The second is this idea of protecting our most vulnerable, having access to essential goods and information. So we have distributed over a couple thousand two-week supplies of non-perishable food items in addition to launching a public health campaign, hash tag Stay Covered Harlem, emphasizing the importance of wearing a mask and keeping social distance.

The third is this idea of bridging the digital divide. Internet is a fundamental right for our young people and we need to make sure that our families have connectivity and all school age students have the proper learning devices. So we've been able to distribute over 1,000 laptops and 140 mobile Wi-Fi units.

The fourth component was this idea of preventing learning loss. There's a generation of students at risk of losing up to a year of school. So we need to insure to continue to provide high quality virtual supports in addition to having proactive plans for safe re- entry into our school buildings in the fall.

And the fifth and final component on the ground in Harlem is this idea of mitigating the mental health crisis. We know there's a generation at risk of having PTSD due to the massive amounts of toxic stress. So, again, ensuring that our young people have access to councilors, to social workers, and our families have access to proper virtual supports and telehealth. And we have been able to share what we've been doing on the ground in Harlem with partners across six cities in America.


OWUSU-KESSE: And those cities are Oakland, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Newark and Atlanta, who is customizing our five pronged approach for their cities.

HARLOW: That's great that you've been able to spread it as well.

Let's show some of these children. We have some images of kids. You serve about 10,000 plus kids within the 97-block radius in Harlem. You have two charter schools there, Promise Academy. Some of these were taken obviously before the Covid crisis, some of them after.

But I just -- I mean what is happening to kids? We've heard from so many teachers that they've lost access to -- to a number of their children across school systems that have just become disconnected. They don't have access to Wi-Fi. And where are these kids? And what is the impact going to be on them during this crisis when they're not going to school?

OWUSU-KESSE: There's a tremendous impact on our young people who are being in their homes. And a lot of times overcrowded and not having the right environment to be able to further their learning.


There's dire needs. Again, as you mentioned, there's a big lack of Internet access. So it is important that we continue to marshal resources so that our families can remain connected.


OWUSU-KESSE: This idea of social isolation is leading to massive amounts of toxic stress, that is leading to increased rates of child abuse, domestic violence and other tough circumstances that our children have in their home environment.

HARLOW: And that's what I think is so important about what you guys do. It's not just about the time they're in school, it's about checking on them at home. It's about truly every aspect of their life, mental health, physical health, what they're experiencing at home, helping the parents.

OWUSU-KESSE: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Your story, I mean you're a Harvard graduate. You've been incredibly successful. But you came from a single, you know, parent home. You dealt with poverty. And I just wonder, as a black man who personally had to overcome a system designed for you to fail, not designed for you to succeed, what -- what can every person do? Everyone with white privilege right now, what can every person do to help lift these kids up who may -- who don't get to be part of Harlem Children's Zone?

OWUSU-KESSE: Well, my story is the story of the students of the Harlem Children's Zone. And it was folks that invested in me and believed in my potential that allowed me to now be in the seat where I can become the CEO of such an amazing organization that's doing phenomenal things on the ground. And for those that are asking the question of, how can I get involved? We believe the answer to everything that we're seeing playing out in our community is targeting neighborhoods with comprehensive services.

This was a fantastic week that we had at the Harlem Children's Zone with our national partners. And we had a unique opportunity to present to the audacious group, which is a collaborative funding effort that catalyzes capital for social impact efforts that -- that is housed at TED. And we were able to raise $26 million this week.


OWUSU-KESSE: Which is going to be a phenomenal impact on the ground for our communities. But we know more needs to be done. And we're going to be able to help leverage that 26 million as part of our greater $50 million effort to be able to make sure and ensure that our communities have the resources they need to be able to unlock their full potential.

HARLOW: Yes. Your numbers show it all with every student going on to college.

I'll post this on social media as well so people can find the link where they can help, where they can get involved.

Congratulations on becoming CEO, and we wish you so much luck, Kwame. Thank you.

OWUSU-KESSE: Poppy, thank you so much. It was a pleasure to be with you this morning.

HARLOW: Of course.


SCIUTTO: They're doing great work.

Well, millions demanded that Colorado officials investigate the death of a young black man who died after -- this may sound familiar -- being put in a chokehold by police. Why this case in particular is getting renewed scrutiny now, next.



HARLOW: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Today, headed back to the beginning, as coronavirus cases reach record levels once again in parts of the country. Public health experts are warning about a near apocalyptic scenario. Alarming language here. A public health train wreck if current trends hold.

And watch that graph there. It's rising. Yesterday saw the fourth highest nationwide number of cases in a single day since the pandemic began. California, Texas and Florida, the three most populated states in the country are now seeing record rises in their cases.

HARLOW: That's right. And now new models show thousands more dying in the coming months if these numbers continue, while more than 30,000 lives could still be saved, we're told, if 95 percent of Americans would just wear their masks. Wear the damn mask. That is a quote from Marco Rubio, one of Florida's two Republican senators, urging residents to just do it. Just wear the mask.


HARLOW: The president not likely, though, to follow that advise as he visits yet another state today, if his recent trips at least are any indication. We're following all of this.

Let's begin with our correspondent Rosa Flores, who joins us in Florida.

Good morning.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, as you mentioned, the numbers here in the state of Florida continue to rise and yet Governor Ron DeSantis doubling down saying that he is not going to require masks statewide.

Look, an expert put it very simply. She said these increase in cases are due to young people going out, partying, not wearing a mask, not social distancing, and then going back home and intermingling with their parents, their grandparents and then going to work and doing the same thing.

Look, we checked the numbers this morning here in Miami-Dade County. There is a 27 percent positivity rate for just yesterday. Now, the county here, their goal is not to exceed 10 percent. They've exceeded that for the past ten days. When it comes to hospitalizations, Jackson Health reporting a 108 percent increase in the number of Covid-19 patients in the last 16 days. And local leaders here are very concerned.

The mayor of Miami-Dade County saying that there's an outbreak in south Miami-Dade involving farm workers, that live in very close quarters. They don't have a place to isolate, so they -- even though they don't need hospital beds, there's a huge concern. And so what the county is doing, it's stepping in and providing hotel rooms so that these individuals can go ahead and isolate and get better.

The city of Miami upping the ante. They are requiring masks already to be worn. Well, now, they're thinking about imposing fines on people who are out in public not wearing masks.

Again, yesterday, Florida, breaking its record with more than 5,500 cases of Covid-19.


And, Jim and Poppy, Governor Ron DeSantis on that very day had a press conference and he said he is not going to require masks statewide.