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More Than Half Of U.S. States See Increase In COVID-19 Cases; Varied, Confusing Mask Rules Could Be Lethal; Florida Sets New Daily Record With 9,500 New COVID-19 Cases; Rising Infections In Young People Put Everyone In Danger; Sixteen NBA Players Test Positive For COVID-19; Giant Saharan Dust Plume Lands In The U.S.; Bill To Make D.C. The Nation's 51st State. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired June 27, 2020 - 11:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with the coronavirus pandemic hitting another grim milestone as more states say cases are spiking. The U.S. saw the largest total number of new cases to date with over 45,000 reported in a single day, at least five states hit new peaks. And if you're in any one of these 32 states, you are seeing surging infections as the country surpasses 125,000 deaths.

At least 11 states are now pausing plans to further reopen their economies. Arizona, Texas, Florida and others delaying their next phases of reopenings, for example, suspending drinking at bars and limiting capacity at restaurants and other establishments to 50 percent to 75 percent.

But as states grapple with the virus spiking a rather rosy tone coming from the White House. Vice President Mike Pence saying at the first Coronavirus Task Force briefing in two months now that the U.S. is opening, I'm quoting now, "safely and responsibly".


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have all seen the encouraging news as we open up America again. More than three million jobs created in the last job report. Retail sales are rolling. And of course, the extraordinary progress in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans -- areas that just a matter of a month ago were struggling under the weight of this pandemic.


WHITFIELD: We have a team of reporters around the country covering all the latest developments. Let's go first to CNN's Polo Sandoval in New York. So Polo -- are states really reopening safely? Is that the reality, according to Pence?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred -- you certainly have to consider all the stats that you just laid out for our viewers at the very beginning. They are certainly grim numbers here. And when you hear from experts, they suggest that if those continue even today, don't be surprised if the weekend wraps with us basically or at least with us surpassing that 2.5 million coronavirus mark in the country here.

It is certainly alarming, for some but not all, and at this point we do know that there are multiple states that are either stopping or rolling back some of their reopenings.


PENCE: We did slow the spread. We flattened the curve.

SANDOVAL: A rosy national picture painted by the Vice President as several regions experience a new pandemic peak. On Friday, more than 30 states reported seeing in creases in new COVID cases -- Florida among them. The Sunshine State reported nearly 9,000 more COVID cases on Friday --

a new single day record. That, as well as the rising number of positive COVID tests, now fueling fears that Florida may be a new U.S. epicenter of the outbreak.

Still, this Trump-supporting Florida resident says, he's not alarmed.

MARK BUTLER, FLORIDA RESIDENT: Frankly, I think the inconvenience to the general public and the economy is much worse than the disease itself.

SANDOVAL: In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott hit the brakes on reopening and shifted into reverse ahead of the weekend. Ordering the closure of bars and reduction in dining capacity at restaurants.

In Houston, the mayor shared harrowing data about the infection rates now three times higher than they were three months ago.

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER, HOUSTON: The number of hospital admissions is increasing. The number of people requiring ICU is increasing. The number of young people being infected is increasing. So it is real.

SANDOVAL: And while the President is often seen without a mask, more regions are starting to require them including some counties in Alabama, Utah and Palm Beach, Florida.

Then there's this from the House's number three Republican, Liz Cheney, a photo of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney and the hashtag "real men wear masks".

But the nation's current VP remained bare-faced at yesterday's briefing, even as medical experts by his side were covering up. One of them was Dr. Anthony Fauci with a warning that even states going in the right direction aren't immune to a spike.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If we don't extinguish the outbreak, sooner or later, even ones that are doing well are going to be vulnerable to the spread.

SANDOVAL: some U.S. travelers may soon face international travel restrictions. European Union officials plan to ban anyone traveling from countries still struggling to control the outbreak, among them the United States.


SANDOVAL: In the New York tri-state area we're seeing efforts by local officials to try to keep certain numbers down, including the rate of transmission, infection rates and also the number of positive tests.


SANDOVAL: So the answer has been this travel restriction that's been put in place now, this will be the first weekend that will be requiring people traveling into New York, Connecticut or New Jersey from some of the states seeing high rates to quarantine for 14 days.

Ultimately though, Fred -- it's going to be up to each state to try to enforce that, which certainly is not going to be easy.

WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval -- thank you so much in New York.

All right. Let's go live now to CNN's Randi Kaye in Riviera Beach, Florida. So Randi -- as mentioned, you know, yesterday was Florida's worst day ever since the pandemic began. What are the numbers like today and more importantly what are the behaviors like as a result of those numbers?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're still waiting for the new numbers today -- Fred. But if the trend continues they're obviously not going to be good. We hit nearly 9,000 new cases yesterday, the highest number in a single day.

The governor here is saying it's all about testing. That's why those numbers are going up. He points out that we have gone from about 24,000 tests a day to 45,000 tests a day. He calls it a test dump.

But we are seeing higher positivity rates here in the state of Florida even though the governor is saying nothing has changed. In fact in Lee County where Fort Myers is, they're now seeing a 20 percent positivity rate. That's up from 13 percent last week.

The positivity -- positive cases are mainly among young people -- 33 to 35 years old. They are asymptomatic. It's a big reason why the governor did make one move. He decided to close all the bars in the state of Florida. That's where a lot of the young people are hanging out. They're congregating there. The governor was not ok with that.

But the restaurants, I don't know if you can see here behind me, they're still open. People are still sitting at the bars in restaurants and getting close to each other there.

The governor also, Fred -- despite all of this will not mandate masks, he says, in the state of Florida. He says he wants to leave it up to people. He thinks that they will make smart decisions. Not sure if that's happening, to be honest with you.

But around the state, people are taking that into their own hands. There's counties and mayors who are doing it on their own in Miami. They have mandated masks. There's up to $500 civil fine if you're not wearing a mask here in Palm Beach County where I am.

Unless you're exercising outside and can stay at a safe social distance, you do need to wear a mask. It's interesting because Fred -- you know we have a lot of hurricanes here in the state of Florida. They mandate evacuation. They mandate curfews during hurricanes as the Palm Beach state attorney pointed out. And there's never an uproar about that but there is certainly an uproar about these masks.

And one final note, we are learning that Miami-Dade County, Fred, is going to close the beaches coming up for July 4th weekend. They'll be closed from July 3rd to July 7th. That could even be extended. They just do not want people gathering together in large groups. They're not going to have gatherings or parades or fireworks either -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And as a result of that, Randi -- are folks in -- whether it's Palm Beach County or neighboring Broward County say anything about how they are potentially bracing then for a greater influx of people? If people are not going to go to the beaches in Dade County, it's not very far away just going straight up 95 to hit those other counties and those beaches?

KAYE: Absolutely. That's the problem, you know. And many have said that this virus doesn't know borders., right. So those people from Miami-Dade are coming into the other counties. They're certainly concerned and then depending on what they could possibly catch, pick up the virus here then they bring it back to Miami-Dade -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Randi Kaye -- thank you so much. We'll check back with you from Riviera Beach, Florida.

All right. Well, some local leaders in Texas are calling on Governor Greg Abbott to impose tighter restrictions as the case count in that state soars. The spike causing a top official in the Houston area to raise the county's coronavirus threat warning level to the highest level.

CNN's Alexandra Field joining me now from Houston. So Alexandra -- what are you learning there?


Look even the governor cannot deny just how bad the situation is in Texas, getting increasingly dire. You've got this state smashing records everyday for the number of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed.

On top of that you have had an upward climb in hospitalizations over the last two weeks, so much so that the world's largest medical complex, Texas Medical Center, right behind me, announced earlier this week that their ICU beds were at 100 percent capacity. That means that hospitals across the Houston area are now moving up to surge capacity.

Those were the plans that were put in place in order to deal with a possible spike of the virus. But this city, this is an area that thought that they had beat the problem back in March and April only to see a surge again.

Now you've got local officials saying the governor needs to do more and people need to take some social responsibility. Listen to the chief executive from Harris County.


JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: There is no evidence out there to show that anything short of a stay-at-home order will do. We have barely weeks between 10 and 30 days before we hit capacity if we keep going at these rates.



FIELD: That was Judge Lina Hidalgo, the chief executive of Harris County who actually raised the threat level from significant to severe. That is the highest level of threat warning in Harris County.

It indicates to people that there is an uncontrolled outbreak, that there is a strain on testing and tracing. And it comes with an advisory for people that they should stay home, except if they have an essential need to leave their house.

However, the chief executive can't order people to stay home. The governor has done that -- has not done that. He also has not mandated masks statewide.

Instead, he has now agreed with the policy that allows local municipalities to order businesses to force their customers to wear the mask.

So the message is getting out that masks are effective, that people need to put them on but it hasn't been a requirement statewide. And you see the kind of problems that they're having here -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Alexandra Field, thank you so much in Houston.

All right. Medical experts say universal mask wearing could significantly slow the spread of the coronavirus. But not every state, as you just heard, requires people to cover their faces in public. And some governors have even blocked local officials from enforcing rules of their own.

CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Across America, protests and pushback to requirements for people to wear face masks in public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe that it is our body, our choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Violation my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) -- constitutional rights and my civil right.

TODD: In Florida, the state where that outburst occurred at a grocery store in May, masks are not required for everyone to wear in public. Some counties and cities in Florida have mandated it. Personal care employees have to wear them. Businesses are encouraged to require them.

But the governor says it wouldn't be a good use of state resources to try to enforce a rule for everyone to wear them.

GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Ultimately we've got to trust people to make good decisions.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, DIRECTOR OF CARDIAC CATHETERIZATION LABORATORY, THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: What he should have said to the people of Florida is -- I put you before anything else. Everyone who goes out in public must wear a mask.

TODD: But Governor DeSantis isn't alone. According to CNN research, 31 states do not have requirements for everyone to wear masks in public all the time. 19 states and Washington, D.C. do require them for everyone.

In states that don't, the rules go all over the place. Restaurant, retail and personal services employees have to wear masks, but other people don't.

In Texas, where there's no statewide requirement, Dallas County makes businesses require customers and employees to wear masks or be fined $500. Experts say these varied, confusing rules could be lethal.

DR. THOMAS INGLESBY, DIRECTOR, JOHNS HOPKINDS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: Certainly is likely that absence of face coverings is contributing to disease spread in this country. It makes no sense that the policy is so inconsistent around the country.

TODD: In three states which don't require everyone to wear masks in public all the time -- Arizona, Texas, and Florida -- there are massive spikes in new coronavirus cases. California, which is also experiencing a huge spike, made them mandatory in public a week ago.

Experts say it's time for mask wearing to be mandated across the country. For it to be normalized and for that message to come from the President, who has resisted it.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, VANDERBILD UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: We're not getting clear, communication and clear modelling from the highest office. And that's really something that we need.

TODD: But what about the argument many Americans make, that it's their constitutional right not to wear a mask in public?

DR. INGLESBY: It's not your right to drive 100 miles per hour on a local road where school -- where kids are crossing the street.

DR. REINER: Going out in public without a mask is like driving drunk. Even if you don't get hurt, you might kill somebody else.

TODD: Medical experts acknowledge much of the overall information on this virus is confusing and the information often changes. But they say the pure health information on masks is clear. They'll save lives during this pandemic and they say it's not just on the President and the governors to get that message out. Church leaders, principals, school presidents and other community leaders all have to get in on this.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


WHITFIELD: Still to come, if you were hoping to travel from the United States to Europe this summer, think again. The European Union may soon ban Americans to stem the spread of coronavirus.

We're live from London.

Plus, the number of COVID-19 cases in Latin America has more than tripled in just a month's time. What's behind this dramatic spike?



WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

The European Union is about to reopen international travel but Americans may not be welcome. It's expected E.U. leaders will consider the coronavirus case count in the U.S. too high.

As of now, the U.S. leads the world in both cases and deaths. Brazil and Russia number two and three on that list may also likely be barred from travel to Europe. And you can see the differences in the rising cases in the U.S. represented by the green line on this chart compared to countries in the European Union shown in pink. They are trending downward.

For the latest on this, let's bring in Nic Robertson in London. So Nic -- you know, how soon might this ban on U.S. travelers become official?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: As early as Tuesday. The deadline is the 1st of July. That's when the E.U. officials hope to make their mind up about this.

What they're working on at the moment is the criteria. And an E.U. diplomat said to you, look, you can pretty draw up your own list right now knowing the criteria that the E.U. is putting on, you know, the COVID transmissions around the world. And that is that the United States has multiple times ahead of European Union in COVID transmissions. And therefore the United States is not likely to make the cut.

The countries that are include Australia, South Korea, Japan, Canada could also be on the list as well. It could be welcome to visit the European Union.

What E.U. officials are telling us is that very simply their priority is the health of what is half a billion E.U. citizens. That's their priority.


ROBERTSON: So when they make these -- you know, when they look at the criteria and then fine tune the criteria and of course, it's important to them to make sure they're not letting in country's citizens when those countries say, look, our testing figures -- you know, our tests show that we have a low infection rate. E.U. wants to know that they can trust those -- trust the information, the data they're getting.

They do trust the data they're getting from the United States. It's just that it's on the wrong side of the threshold. And that's going to be a problem for the foreseeable future.

The E.U. says that they will reconsider this. They will look at it again. So this is not a done deal, a final answer. But you know, in the short-term, as of Tuesday this week, it does seem the U.S. is not going to be on the list.

WHITFIELD: That's quite extraordinary. We shall see what happens on Tuesday.

Thanks so much -- Nic Robertson. Appreciate it.

All right. So in Latin America, cases of the virus have tripled, surpassing the two million mark in just the past month. The surge is driven by massive outbreaks in the region's largest country such as Brazil which is now second only to the United States in the number of cases.

For more on this, let's bring in Matt Rivers in Mexico City. So Matt -- you know, how is this region coping with these outbreaks? And what's behind them?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes -- Fred. I mean, it's just a very, very tough situation right now in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was about a month ago that the Pan American Health Organization called this part of the world the new global epicenter.

And in that month, as you mentioned, cases have more than tripled. The death toll is now more than 100,000. And, you know, we should point out there's 33 different countries in this region. It's difficult to say all 33 countries are doing the same thing.

But I think when you look at the outbreaks and the two most populous countries, Brazil and Mexico. That gives you an idea of how bad this is. So take Brazil, for example. the new normal there is at least 40,000 confirmed cases every single day. That's what we've seen this week.

Just yesterday it was more than 46,000. It is a massive outbreak and yet places in that country are continuing to reopen, which means that the outbreak might only get worse from there.

And then you take here in Mexico, the number of deaths has more than doubled since June 1st here, more than 25,000 and counting. And it was just this week that Mexico's finance minister announced that he tested positive for this virus. He was standing right next to Mexico's president earlier this week, not socially distancing, not wearing mask.

The President has not said whether he's going to get tested or not but he continues to back a reopening plan here in Mexico. You can see in Mexico City, I mean it is a lot busier now -- Fred, than it has been in weeks past. And that only gives public health experts pause that this outbreak might only get worse despite being in the worst days of it so far.

WHITFIELD: And then Matt -- what about, you know, the simple resources of say, masks. I mean I know you mentioned the leadership, you know, in total disregard to social distancing and all that. But then what about for the general citizenry?

RIVERS: Yes. You know, it's interesting. I think most people that we see out on the streets here in Mexico City are wearing masks. I think that's a very good thing.

But when you look at the President, you know, it's very interesting to draw a comparison between this country's president and President Trump. They refuse to wear masks in public despite every public health expert saying it is the simplest thing we can do to stop the spread. And yet they're not setting examples for their own citizens by wearing a mask, something that is very simple to do and yet they refuse to do it.

WHITFIELD: All right. Matt Rivers -- in Mexico City, thanks so much.

Coming up, the governors of at least 11 U.S. States rolling back reopening plans as COVID-19 cases skyrocket. We'll speak with an expert on what it will take to see these spikes drop.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back with this breaking news now.

Florida is now reporting more than 9,500 new coronavirus cases today. That's a new daily record.

Here with me to discuss is Dr. Carlos del Rio, epidemiology professor and executive associate dean at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. del Rio, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So before we get to that, you know, pretty alarming number, you know, the Vice President Mike Pence, says that all 50 states are opening up safely and responsibly. If that's the case, then why don't we see current numbers that better reflect that? Why don't you see Florida's numbers looking better?

DEL RIO: Well, I think it's just either the Vice President is not getting the right information or his statement is grossly irresponsible. The country is not opening safely. We're going in the wrong direction. And we're seeing a number of cases, number of deaths, and number of hospitalizations going up.

We are in a situation that we should never have been if we had done things safely and correctly, but we obviously did not. And we are in a very, very, very difficult situation right now.


WHITFIELD: What should have been a better approach? What should have been a better approach? Because there was no real national guideline. The White House said, you know, we're leaving it up to states and municipalities to approach this the best way they can. But then the White House would say we're ready for the nation to open up.

So what would have been a better collective approach?

DEL RIO: Well, I think there was clearly -- the how to open America safely document that came out of the White House should have been followed by the states. The governors should have followed the fact that they didn't was bad.

I think there's been terrible leadership. I think the messaging, as you say, has not been correct. I think the absence of clear messaging from CDC and others has not been appropriate. And I think quite frankly governors have not been held accountable.

There really needed to be a much better national leadership and I think we're suffering the consequences of poor leadership.


WHITFIELD: So among the national voices, Dr. Anthony Fauci, he recently told "The Washington Post" that when it comes to the country's testing strategy, and I'm quoting him now, "something isn't working". What do you believe that something is?

DEL RIO: Well, I think what's happening is we're testing people, but we're not getting -- testing is important but not sufficient. You then have to isolate people who test positive. And then you have to do contact tracing in order to prevent outbreaks from happening.

As you're opening the country and you're doing it safely, if you have these things in place, you will have cases but you will not have outbreaks. And I think what we're seeing is simply the testing is picking up what's happening but we're not seeing the connection to isolation and contact tracing that had to be in place in order to prevent outbreaks from happening.

WHITFIELD: And then talk to me about what pool testing is all about, where apparently a group is tested. Does that mean like an entire family is tested?

DEL RIO: So this has been used in blood banking for quite some time. And it's a good strategy for public health purposes.

And what that means, let's suppose there's somebody tests positive in an office. I want to test everybody in that building. Rather than take -- doing 100 tests I can do 10 pools of 10. And if a pool is positive -- if the pool is negative, everybody is negative in the pool. If the pool is positive, then you break down the pool and you test each individual one to which one is a positive individual. But it allows you to test many more people in a more efficient way.

But I think that needs to be still studied and show that it's efficient and it's actually accurate to pick up testing. So I don't think pool testing is ready for primetime. But it's clearly an approach worth looking at.

WHITFIELD: Ok. So one response in south Florida because of the spike in cases, Dade County closing the beaches come this holiday. But South Carolina's public health director says people who have gone to the beach thus far should get tested.

He says that infection rates of groups that have gone to the beaches there are very high, sometimes including everyone in the entire group. Yet he doesn't necessarily recommend closing the beaches like, you know, south Florida is doing in Dade County for the July 4th weekend.

So, what do you make of, you know, that message? Is he really just challenging people to, you know, do the right thing? Or should there be any real enforcement of the testing of people who have been to the beaches?

DEL RIO: Well, again, I think you're talking about the poor leadership and the terrible messaging we're getting. You know, this is a little bit like telling people, well, you know, the freeways are open and you should speed up as fast as you can and, you know, if you happen to have an accident, we'll see if we can take you to the hospital and we have enough bed capacity in our emergency room, so it's ok if you speed.

I think we're just not getting it. Don't wear your seat belt because you have your constitutional right not to wear a seat belt. That was the message you heard -- you were hearing, you would say people have gone crazy.

And that's exactly what we're seeing. I mean I think the message needs to be very clear. There are three things that we have to be hearing. There's a pandemic there. The virus is still around. You can do a lot to protect yourself by wearing a face mask, by social distancing, by washing your hands.

And don't congregate with a lot of people. Don't be in big, you know, in close environments and avoid crowding. And if you do those things, you can prevent getting infected.

And the most important thing I would tell people is don't get infected. Really, this could be -- a lot of people with this infection do fine, but a lot of people with this infection don't do well, have a terrible disease, and quite frankly die. We have seen 120,000 plus deaths in our country. This is not trivial.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Which perhaps it's baffling, at the very minimum that you have people who are still disputing or still having a hard time grasping the seriousness of this. You talk about 125,000 deaths in this country and then there are ongoing debates in so many pockets about whether you should wear a mask or not.

And I mean perhaps you heard one of your medical colleagues Dr. Reiner says, you know, it's like drunk driving. You may not get hurt, but someone else might because you're not wearing a mask.

DEL RIO: That's exactly right. I mean I think to me we are in denial. I know we're all very tired of social distancing and isolation. But I see ourselves, we have to think that this is no different than when we had a world war and we had to do a national response and we had to unite as citizens and we have to have a coordinated sacrifice and response.

And if all the sacrifice that is required is to wear a mask, I don't think that's too hard. Quite frankly, you know, our grandparents went to war for liberty. I think we can wear a face mask for the health of myself and for the health of others. And tot doing it I think is incredibly irresponsible.


WHITFIELD: Dr. Carlos Del Rio -- always good to see you. Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

DEL RIO: Great to be with you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still to come, officials are warning that more young people are testing positive for COVID-19. We'll hear from some of those infected next.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

The breaking news right now. Florida just released the total number of new cases in the last 24 hours. Florida is now reporting more than 9,500 new coronavirus cases today. That's a new daily record.

This comes as the White House task force offers a grim warning, the rate of infection among young Americans is climbing dramatically and it's a trend that could spell trouble for all of us. Here is CNN's Brian Todd.


TODD: At the Trump rally in Tulsa, an air of confidence over coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that I am fully taking on the risk of possibly encountering, you know, or being exposed to it. But as an American, that's my right.


TODD: At this Irish pub in Jacksonville Beach, Florida Erica Crisp (ph) and more than a dozen other women gathered for a night out recently. None of them wore masks and 16 people in the group tested positive for coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think at the time it was more out of sight, out of mind. We hadn't known anybody who had it personally. Governor, mayor, everybody says it's fine. We go out. It's a friend's birthday. It was a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My experience is definitely that, you know, of course regretful. We do feel foolish standing there in front of all those people. We knew we were pushing it.

TODD: in New York City, young people have been seen crowding outside bars recently, several not wearing masks. Now, the price for those risks is coming into focus. The CDC says more younger people in the U.S. are becoming infected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I also want to appeal to the millennials and those that are under 40, it's really important that this group really commit themselves to these practices to protects those at risk.

TODD: Infection among young people is especially acute in states that are now experiencing huge spikes. In Arizona, people aged 20 to 44 account for almost half of all cases. Young people make up the majority of new cases in urban areas of Texas, according to "The New York Times". And in Florida, according to state officials, the median age for people testing positive has dropped way down to between 33 and 35 years old.

Experts say a key factor, younger people, are much more willing to take risks as those states have reopened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the activities they may partake in -- going to parties, going to bars, it's hard to social distancing. So you are seeing transmission in many places linked to attending bars.

TODD: Overall death rates could go down as a result of more younger people getting infected. But experts are still critical of remarks made by Vice President Pence on that front.

PENCE: Younger Americans are less susceptible to serious outcomes of the coronavirus. And the fact that we are finding more younger Americans who contracted the coronavirus is a good thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want young people to hear the Vice President's comments and get from that a false sense of security that for them this infection is a walk in the park.

TODD: Pence did warn young Americans about something that medical experts are also sounding an alarm about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can then transmit that to vulnerable individuals. And in states where hospitalizations are rising, that's likely what's happening that these young people are serving as links in a transmission chain.

TODD: And there are other warnings for America's young people, CNN medical analyst Dr. Seema Yasmine (ph) says some younger coronavirus victims are staying sick longer and it's not clear why. And she warns, contracting the virus when they're young can expose some people to getting chronic fatigue syndrome, which can stay with them for life.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Up next, as the NBA prepares for its return, 16 players test positive for COVID-19. Why the league's commissioner says he's relieved by the results.



WHITFIELD: NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he's relieved after 16 players test positive for coronavirus. The league promising that players will be tested daily as teams prepare to restart the season at Disney World on July 30th. This news comes as we're also learning Florida is now reporting more than 9,500 new coronavirus cases today. That's a new daily record.

CNN Sports Correspondent, Coy Wire joining me now with more on this. So Adam Silver relieved because the number isn't higher?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a great question -- Fred. And those 16 positive tests out of 302 taken in the first set of mandatory tests before teams head down to Disney World, Commissioner Silver said that's roughly the number they expected -- 5.3 percent positive test rate compared to the 7.6 national average according to the CDC this morning.

Those players will self-isolate until they can get back with their teams which will soon travel down to Florida where those cases continue to surge. But still, Commissioner Silver believes that their contained bubble environment there can work. Listen.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: We can't outrun the virus. And that this is what we're going to be living with for the foreseeable future, which is why we designed the campus the way we did and so that we are -- it's a closed network. And that while it's not impermeable, we are in essence protected from cases around us.


WIRE: Now, Fred -- teams will start heading down to Disney World to test that bubble out just 12 days from now.

WHITFIELD: And again, Coy -- when they do play, no audiences -- no one is in the stands, right? And it's just kind of a cycle of teams playing back to back?

WIRE: Yes, that's exactly right.


WIRE: Yes, that's exactly right. No fans in the stands. Another thing that we have to look to is that, look, players in all sports that are starting back up, they have to ask themselves, Fred -- how willing am I to potentially get myself and those around me sick?

You have Detroit Tigers Pitcher Matthew Boyd who has asthma but he tells CNN hey, I'll still play. Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins told us that he'll only feel comfortable Fred -- when the risk is eliminated. You had two more WNBA players yesterday saying they're not playing and Lakers star defender Avery Bradley isn't playing because his six-year- old son Fred -- has a history of respiratory illnesses.

WHITFIELD: Wow. All right. Yes, lots of hard choices that a lot of these athletes have to make and the families.

All right. Coy Wire -- thank you so much.


WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, a massive cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert has blanketed the Caribbean and has made its way to the U.S. Will it last and why is it happening?



WHITFIELD: A giant cloud of dust has made its way from the Sahara Desert to right here in the U.S. Already we're seeing dark skies blanketing parts of the Gulf Coast. And then contrast that with vibrant sunsets like the one spotted in Sand Rock, Alabama.

CNN Meteorologist, Allison Chinchar joining us now.

So how why and for how long is this going to go on?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIEST: Right. So let's tackle the last part about how long. It has already been lasting for the last couple of days. A lot of areas along the Gulf Coast started seeing this dust on Thursday of this week.

Now the good news is today will really be the last day for a lot of areas in the Gulf Coast. Florida really being the exception to that. We still have got another day to really go through this.

But then another wave starts to roll in as we head into next week. So there's not much of a time gap in between. So we will get some additional dust that comes back in, and it is going to look a lot like this. This video taken from Tallahassee, Florida. Again, you can see the very hazy, dusty skies that are out there, making it very hard to really see anything clearly dropping the visibility back.

Here is another interesting perspective. This is from Flagler Beach, Florida. This is what the view should look like, beautiful blue skies. This is what it looked like on Thursday. So again, you can clearly see that dust impeding that view of what it should look like to what it actually looks like over the last couple of days.

Now, we mentioned that limiting visibility. Obviously air quality is going to be an issue, too. You have a lot of these areas that are dealing with poor air quality. This can be a concern if you suffer from asthma, allergies, and it can irritate your breathing. So if you are one of those people, please try to limit your exposure outside.

One bit of good news though is that it does create these beautiful sunrises and sunsets with a lot of those orange, red and even yellow colors that become very vivid. This one here out of Memphis, Tennessee -- Fred. So at least there's some positive aspect to this, creating those beautiful sunrise and sunsets.

WHITFIELD: Wow. This is a real peculiar one, phenomenon. All right. Allison Chinchar -- thank you so much.

All right. For the first time ever the House passed a bill which would make Washington, D.C. the nation's 51st state. The proposed state boundaries would remain the same -- roughly 66 miles but right in the middle the new federal district with the White House as its only resident.

Here now is CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cue the fireworks and patriotic music just in time for Independence Day. Washington, D.C. is closer than ever before to becoming a state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The District of Columbia statehood bill, HR-51 is passed.

FOREMAN: A vote in the house of representatives made it happen and proponents are thrilled.

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), D.C. DELEGATE: For three generations my family has been denied the rights other Americans take for granted. FOREMAN: But hold on. Supporters of statehood still face a long, hard

road. First because the constitution says D.C. should be a neutral ground where lawmakers from all states can meet and govern. The new proposal would carve out the center of D.C. For that purpose but critics aren't swallowing that doughnut.

REP. JODY HICE (R), GEORGIA: Washington, D.C.'s status as the capital of the United States is exactly as our founders intended.

FOREMAN: Second, the balance of power. In 1961 passage of the 23rd amendment gave D.C. residents their votes in presidential contests, but statehood would give the largely Democratic region a voting representative and two senators. Many Republicans really don't want that and many Democrats find their opposition really offensive.

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), WASHINGTON D.C.: People should not look to us and say that we're too urban, we're too black, we're too liberal and we have to justify our American citizenship and representation.

FOREMAN: And, third, demographics. When it was pointed out in debate that Wyoming has fewer residents than D.C., Republican Senator Tom Cotton said, no kidding, "Yes, but those Wyoming folks are miners, loggers, construction workers."

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Wyoming is a well-rounded working class state.

FOREMAN: Reporter: if statehood were approved the new state's initials would still be D.C. for Douglass Commonwealth, a salute to Frederick Douglass, former slave, abolitionist and author.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is the middle ground. We have come a long way in this, right, Mayor?

FOREMAN: But the Republican-led senate and White House have vowed to stop this latest effort, meaning all those proponents who have waited many years will still have to wait at least a little longer, politically that is the state of things.

Tom Foreman, CNN -- Washington, D.C.


WHITFIELD: We have so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right now.

Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me this Saturday.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.


WHITFIELD: This breaking news this hour, as coronavirus cases spike across the country, we have just learned that Florida has set a new daily record for cases. More than 9,500 were reported today, that's 600 more than was tallied the previous day breaking yet another record.