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U.S. Records Largest Single-Day Increase In Coronavirus Cases; Vice President Pence And Members Of Coronavirus Task Force Hold Press Conference; Mayor Of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Gimenez Is Interviewed On Steps Taken To Deal With Spike In Coronavirus Cases In Florida; European Union May Ban Travel From U.S. Due To Coronavirus Concerns; CDC Survey Suggests Total Number Of Coronavirus Cases Six To 24 Times Greater Than Current Levels; Texas Governor: Bars In State Reopened Too Early. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 27, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin this hour with an alarming newest estimate from the Centers for Disease Control according to a recent antibody survey. Doctors estimate the total number of coronavirus cases may actually be six to 24 times greater than current levels. This development as Florida reports that it set a new daily record for cases, more than 9,500 were reported today. That's 600 more than tallied the previous day, breaking yet another record.
This as the U.S. saw the largest total number of new cases to date on Friday 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 reopening, for example, suspending drinking at bars and limiting capacity at restaurants and other businesses to 50 to 75 percent.
But as states grapple with the virus spiking, an optimistic tone is coming from the White House. Vice President Mike Pence saying at the first Coronavirus Task Force briefing in two months that the U.S. is opening, I'm quoting now, safely and responsibly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've all seen the encouraging news as we open up America again. More than 3 million jobs created in the last jobs 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: We have a team of reporters around the country covering the latest developments. Let's begin in Florida with those staggering new case numbers. CNN's Randi Kaye is in Riviera Beach. Randi, how are folks reacting?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not well, Fred. The news is not good, 9,585 cases here in Florida in just the last 24 hours, up more than 600 from the day before, as you said. Not good.
But the governor says it is all about the testing. He says that there's been a test dump, that they've increased testing. In fact, they've almost doubled it from 24,000 to 45,000 tests a day, so that's been what he says is cause for the increase, actually. But we are seeing a higher positivity rate in the state of Florida, mostly among young people, 33 to 35 years old, mostly asymptomatic cases.
So when you look at scenes here behind me and people out and about and going to restaurants, you wonder if any of those young people who he's talking about who are asymptomatic could be part of that group. Still, though, the governor here in the state of Florida saying, you know what, I'm not going to mandate masks. I'm going to leave it up to the local governments. I'm going to trust that people are going to make the right decisions. We saw a lot of people out here all day today without any masks on, even though it is mandated here in Palm Beach County where I am. We talked to a few of them, and here's what one of them told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUFUS MEYERS, FLORIDA RESIDENT: No, I left my mask in the car. But because this social distancing can take place here and you cannot be close on everyone, I haven't worn my mask out here on days most of the time. But I do have it in the car, so when I go to stores and other establishments, when I'm indoors I do wear it. But here on the outside where we're able to social distance and be beyond six feet, then I haven't necessarily worn it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Granted, outside is safer, but even Sanjay Gupta has said that it's better to wear the mask even when you're outdoors, and here now it is mandated in Palm Beach County. Other counties as well, Orange County, Florida, where Orlando is, mandating it, Hollywood, Florida, mandating it, Miami mandating it. So it is a concern.
But so many people have such strong opinions about it. Either some say we should wear it, it's selfish not to wear it here in Florida, or there are others who say I'm not going to wear it, I don't wear one when it's flu season, I don't need to wear about when people have the cold. I can give someone the flu, I can give someone the cold. I don't need to worry about wearing it for coronavirus. Clearly, Fred, this is much more serious than just giving someone the cold.
WHITFIELD: Quite the variation of rationales. Randi Kaye, thank you so much.
Let's go now to CNN's Natasha Chen who is in Pensacola Beach. So Natasha, how is the surge affecting people there, particularly the business owners?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, so yesterday is when the state shut down standalone bars. And so let me give you this example of Paddy O'Leary's here. They now have to transition back to to-go drinks.
And what they've done, because people can't consume the alcohol inside, is that they've set up these umbrellas and stools and tables out here not on their property. They were given permission to set that up so people can take the drinks and the food outside.
Now, at the same time, restaurants that include bars can still operate, and so some of them feel very singled out by this. Here is one of the co-owners of Paddy O'Leary's talking about this shift from reopening June 1st and then having to close down again just a few weeks later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY HUMPHREY, CO-OWNER OF PADDY O'LEARY'S BAR: We can't stand another three months being shut down and just serving drinks, like to-go drinks. That's just not going to pay the mortgage. We've got a mortgage just like you do for a home. We've got a mortgage, too. And our employees have to be paid, and our vendors want paid also. So it's going to be very tough. If they do an extended period of time, it's going to really hurt. We can't survive on it. It's just going to come to a catastrophic conclusion for not only us, but for a lot of other owners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And so we're talking to some other owners as well. Everybody is kind of wondering what's going to happen because there's no date that they've been given that they can reopen, and their employees may have to reapply for unemployment. And speaking of the restaurants with bars that can still operate right now, we were at one of those restaurants last night. A lot of people coming in, of course, they're maintaining social distancing and at reduced capacity, but the bars in those restaurants are still fully operational, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Natasha Chen, thank you so much for that.
Joining me now to talk about the rising case counts, the mayor of Miami-Dade County Carlos Gimenez. Mayor, good to see you.
MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ (R), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Good seeing you, too. How are you doing.
WHITFIELD: I'm doing pretty good. So how concerned are you about these rising numbers? Florida now seeing more than 9,000 new cases in a single day. Your county in particular has been hit hard by the coronavirus as well.
GIMENEZ: Well, what concerns me is not so much the rising number as it is the rising positivity rate. We ran a medical study here probably a couple of months ago that indicated over 200,000 people here had the antibodies. So we know that the official count is probably underreporting really the number of people that have had coronavirus here by a factor of 10 or maybe even 20.
But the rising number of positives, the percentage, is really what is causing me some concern. We were running around eight percent, and now we're running the last two weeks over 14 percent. So that's what's causing me a little bit of concern.
WHITFIELD: What do you think is behind that?
GIMENEZ: Well, without a doubt we've seen a huge spike in the 18 to 34-year-old group and the 35 to 44-year-old group. These two groups have really spiked way up. The older folks like me, I'm 66, we've seen a rise, but nowhere close to the spike and the rise we've seen in the younger population.
Look, in the last 11 weeks, actually last nine weeks, we've seen a decrease in the average age of positives come from 54-years-old down to 43, and we expect that to keep coming down. So that's the problem right now that we're facing, it's the younger people that are getting infected, which may then give it to their parents or their grandparents, which, again, is the age group that we're really concerned about.
WHITFIELD: And you've just taken a really big, bold step, if we can call it that, right. This after the Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, being one of the first governors to begin reopening beaches in May, and now you have said to everyone, hey, Miami-Dade County beaches and parks are going to be closed Fourth of July holiday weekend.
I guess you could have done it this weekend. But what is it that you are saying to people about closing the beaches on what is typically a very busy, popular time in which to go to the beaches, July Fourth weekend?
GIMENEZ: Look, I did that in consultation with the governor. He knew exactly what I was going to do and he was in favor of it. And so he understands that things are different here in Miami-Dade. We expected huge crowds to be at the beach. It would have been very hard for us to control our social distancing and having people abide by the rules.
We've also seen here in the last, let's say, couple of holidays when you have, say, Mother's Day, or when you have Memorial Day, two weeks later we see a spike in the number of cases, and we saw a spike in the number of cases. We thought that the same thing would happen now, and we don't want a spike on top of a spike.
And so in order to be proactive, we took the step of closing the beaches down. We also will close the parks at 8:00 so there won't be any fireworks that people can, you have big crowds. We also reiterated our prohibition on groups of more than 50 people, and also we are now, in the hot spots, we are putting what we call surge teams out, giving out masks and hand sanitizers in those zip codes where we're actually seeing a spike in the number of cases in order to try to bring this positive rate down, down below 10 percent. That's what we want to see.
WHITFIELD: So among those measures, I didn't hear you say anything about mandating of masks, like Miami has mandated that. There's a $500 fine if you're not wearing your mask. And you did say while you consulted with the governor. Have you also been talking to the mayors of any of those beach communities in your county about other drastic measures that you want to take? Or maybe I shouldn't say drastic, just measures you want to take?
GIMENEZ: Listen, I talked to all the mayors, but in actuality what we set as the rules here in Miami-Dade County are the rules for everybody. Cities can do more than what we do, but ours is the base. They can't do less than what we do. And so I speak to what's called the Dade County League of Cities all the time, three times a week, and tell them, and we discuss the things we need to do, what the orders that I'm going to issue. They can, each city has a right to be more stringent, but they can't be less stringent than Miami-Dade.
We have had a policy here in Miami-Dade that you must wear a mask indoors all the time, you must wear a mask outdoors when you cannot maintain a social distance of six feet. That's still the rule here in Miami-Dade. I spoke to our medical advisers. They're OK with that rule. Other cities can be more strict, and I understand that some cities, some coastal cities, Miami, Miami Beach, they have a lot of people walking around.
It would be really tough for somebody to put their mask on and take it off. So it kind of makes sense to say just leave the mask on all the time, and it makes it easier for enforcement. But those are the rules here in Miami-Dade, and those rules have been in place for two months.
WHITFIELD: Are you hearing from people, citizens, people who have made plans to travel there for Fourth of July? Are people mad that they're not going to be able to go to the beach Fourth of July weekend?
GIMENEZ: I'm sorry if they are, but safety comes first. Look, I'm a firefighter, I'm a former paramedic. Again, I speak to my medical advisers all the time. We have seen spikes in previous holiday weekends. We don't want to see the same thing happen. And we've seen spikes in the younger people, which are the ones more apt to go to the beach, party, do all those things.
So we're actually targeting those things that younger people will be doing and want to do it together as groups because that's where the problem is right now. We don't want their contamination rate, their infection rate to increase. They, in turn, can then bring it home to their parents and grandparents. So those are the things we're doing.
And I'm sorry if you're coming to south Florida or coming to Miami and you won't be able to go to the beach. There's still a lot of other things you can do. But I have to look out for the health and welfare of the people of Miami-Dade County first.
WHITFIELD: Mayor Carlos Gimenez, thank you so much. Continue to be well. Appreciate your time.
GIMENEZ: Thank you. Likewise.
WHITFIELD: And still ahead, you're going to see more of this. Why people are honking right in Anaheim, California, not far from Disneyland. We'll explain.
WHITFIELD: This just in, staggering new coronavirus numbers are being reported in California. Moments ago, the state said more than 5,900 cases were confirmed in just the last 24 hours. And as the case count grows, some workers at Disneyland are pleading with the company to keep the park closed.
CNN's Paul Vercammen is following the protests this afternoon. So Paul, this is quite the contrast. You have so many people across the country who are saying open up business, we want to get back to work. Employees here at Disneyland are saying no, we're not ready to come back. What's going on?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Disneyland is saying no, for now at least. So as you look over here, these cars are all part of this protest. Disneyland delaying its opening. It was scheduled for the 17th of July but they saw the coronavirus spike, and Disneyland is saying when it does reopen that it will have reduced capacity, temperature checks for guests before they show up, and temperature checks for employees when they leave their shift at the end of the day, increased cleaning. They also expect to have more social distancing in place.
But union reps are saying we need more routine testing when it does open. And here is one of those union reps. We should note Disneyland has about 20 unions. This is one representing 3,000 workers. And Austin Lynch, super quick, when this park reopens, what do you want Disneyland to do?
AUSTIN LYNCH, UNION REPRESENTATIVE, DISNEYLAND WORKERS: They need a comprehensive plan that begins with testing, which they're saying no to. But they've got to tell us the details. We asked them what happens if a cook gets sick, how are you going to test and protect the other folks in the department? They don't know. How are you going to handle the increased cleaning? They don't know.
Then beyond that, we asked them you need to do comprehensive regular testing. They're not willing to do it. Our members' lives are precious, and when you open the theme parks, you open California to the world. So if we're going to do it, we say do it tomorrow if it can be done safely, but do not do it until you have a plan to keep everybody safe. And they don't have that right now.
VERCAMMEN: We super appreciate your taking time ought. And to Austin's point, Disneyland gets something like 21 million visitors a year, so it is a litmus test for all of California, Fred.
WHITFIELD: It is, indeed. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much. So California is experiencing a surge in COVID cases, and so is Texas,
it's seeing an increase. Joining me right now is Dr. Cedric Dark, assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine. Good to see you.
DR. CEDRIC DARK, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Good to see you as well.
WHITFIELD: And I understand that this is kind of full circle for us. I understand that you may have treated one of my parents, my mom or my dad, at George Washington University Hospital. And now here you are in Texas, and guess what, Texas is the birth state of both of my parents. So here we are again, this time talking COVID.
WHITFIELD: So let's talk about this surge. According to a recent antibody survey by the CDC, the total number of coronavirus cases may actually be six to 24 times greater than current levels. And if that is the case, what should be happening to contain these staggering numbers?
DARK: Well, I would certainly say that's true. One of the reasons why the numbers are probably higher than we're seeing is we can't test everybody. We're still at a point where we're not able to get tests to every single person that we would like to in our emergency departments around the country, and specifically in Texas as well.
One of the things that we need to do is we need to ask the public to wear masks when they're out, to remain physically distant, and we actually need our politicians to listen to health care workers on the front lines of this. If we don't do that, we're going to wind up in a terrible position where the coronavirus rates are going up. And as you can see, hospitalizations are going up, and the next thing after that is we're going to run out of ICU space.
WHITFIELD: And so some would argue that we are there now in some pockets. So how personally frustrating and professionally frustrating is this for you that it seems like a broken record, so many of you in the medical community are saying at a minimum, wear your masks. But then you hear people arguing against it or even just walking around pretty defiant, they're not going to wear the masks.
DARK: Yes, honestly, this is, as you said, both professionally and personally very frustrating for myself and for a lot of my colleagues. When you look at a place like Texas and compare it to a place like Australia where they have a better handle on this disease than we have here, we have similar population sizes, maybe about 25, 29 million people. But a couple of differences.
In Australia, they have universal coverage. In Texas we have about 18 percent of our population uninsured. I think you had the mayor of Miami on before, Florida, 13 percent uninsured. That's one huge reason why we have this problem is that we don't have coverage for patients, and it makes it difficult for them to access care when they need to. The other thing that's very important that our federal government has
failed on is countries like Australia have mandatory paid leave. And so if people want to go to work but are sick, they can stay home and actually be covered for that. Whereas here, people that need to pay their bills have to show up whether they're feeling ill or not, and that puts everybody in society at risk.
WHITFIELD: So in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott admits that he allowed bars to reopen too quickly, but in your view is the damage already done?
DARK: We'll wait and see what actually happens. I've been pretty hard on Governor Abbott because I think he made a huge mistake in terms of reopening the Texas economy a little too fast. I'm happy that he actually admitted his fault and that he opened the bars too fast and other parts of the economy too quickly.
He dialed it back down a little bit to what we call phase two of the Texas reopening, but in my opinion I think he needs to dial it down further to phase one where restaurants are only open at 25 percent capacity, because as we've seen, once we open up to phase two, the number of cases and hospitalizations in Texas started to increase pretty much exponentially, and if we don't get it back down to a slower rate of growth, this is going to get out of hand too fast and we won't be able to control it.
The virus doesn't care what we do about our economy. The virus is just going to infect people willy-nilly if we don't slow things down ourselves.
WHITFIELD: Dr. Cedric Dark, thank you so much. Thanks for all that you and your colleagues are doing, and possibly, most likely, my mom is watching, so she'll be glad to see you again, this time coming from her home state.
DARK: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Thanks so much. We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: Texas Governor Greg Abbott is now admitting that he allowed bars in his state to reopen too soon. This as cases spike across Texas, causing a top official in the Houston area to raise the country's coronavirus threat warning to the highest level. CNN's Alexandra Field joining me now from Houston. Alexandra?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Fred. Look, the reopening in Texas was quick. We're starting to see steps to roll it back. Those are happening somewhat slowly, though, largely targeting bars and restaurants. Now we're hearing from people who say the governor should do more, and if the governor doesn't do more, then it's up to individuals to take greater action to protect themselves, to protect their neighbors. I spoke to one restaurant owner who said he was pleased when Texas
started to reopen, but he said it was the fault of people who didn't act responsibly that led to this surge that we've been seeing for days or weeks now in Texas. He decided, despite regulations that said he could keep his restaurant open, to just shut it down in order to protect his employees. One public health official saying it wasn't just the early reopening in Texas. It was a series of events that also led to the compounding problem here. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. UMAIR SHAH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HARRIS COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH: We've been calling this the effect that as reopening has happened, on top of that you've had holidays or milestone events or activities that generally you see a few weeks after any one activity for you to start to see an increase in transmission and/or you start to see increased cases or what's happening in the hospital system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD: As Texas struggles to contain the spread of the virus, now we are seeing new restrictions being placed on outdoor gatherings. Of course, Fredricka, you've got July Fourth just around the corner here in Harris County, which has been hard hit by this new surge in cases. People are being told if they want to see fireworks, they've got to do it from their car. Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right, Alexandra Field in Houston, thanks so much.
And this just in to CNN, a New York drive-through graduation may be the site of a potential outbreak after a student recently returned from Florida. Details on that next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is launching an investigation into a drive-through graduation which may now be the site of a potential coronavirus outbreak. CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joining me now from New York. So how did this happen possibly?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. This is really a story about that surge in Florida everyone is talking about reaching its way all the way up here to New York where the story of COVID lately has been pretty good. According to the governor's office, there was a person, an individual that went to Florida on a trip, came back to go to a drive-through graduation ceremony and an unofficial field day in Westchester County just outside New York City. That individual had COVID and gave it to some other people, it looks like.
The health organization is now launching an investigation into the incident, both the drive-through graduation and the field day, and asking everyone who attended those events to quarantine until July 5th. So it's another story of just how important it is to keep this quarantine going.
And it's also a story about the end of the school year, which everyone has been trying to make as safe as possible with these drive-through graduations, how difficult that actually can still be.
And another story that comes out of that is how difficult the next school year will be. And I went to Greenburgh, New York, which is right up the road from New York City to take a look at the end of that school district's school year and the coming of the next school year and what that challenge is for them.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The last week of school is usually a time for fun and celebration. But this year at the Greenburgh Central School District just outside New York City, the end of the school year just brings big questions about the next one.
MARY MEKEEL, ENGLISH TEACHER: We left in March thinking we would be back in two weeks, and here it's June, and we're packing up. And do I set up for fall, clean up and set up? I don't know.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Teachers like Mary Mekeel were allowed back inside their classrooms for the first time since the pandemic started.
MEKEEL: When I first came in this morning, I had winter stuff out still because it was cold. So I put snowmen away.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Cleaning out time capsule of the day students left back in March.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To leave things the way they were was a little bit out of a science fiction movie.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: These days, going into a school building means temperature checks and frequent disinfecting. Where people go and what rooms they enter is closely monitored, and it's still not enough. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order in early June allowing schools to open for in-person instruction of special education students on July 6th. After scrambling to make it work, Greenburgh had to take a pass.
TAHIRA DUPREE CHASE, GREENBURGH CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT: One reason is I don't have enough staff. The next reason, I don't have the therapists to provide the services that these children need.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Superintendent Tahira Dupree Chase is now focused on planning for the fall, but that's also a challenge when nothing is certain.
CHASE: We're in the phase of making sure we have multiple plans in preparation for whatever is going to happen in September, but planning is key. What I believe it's going to look like in September if it does reopen is that we're going to have to have a hybrid model.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Under consideration are plans for students to be in class half the day and online at home half the day. But that's not finalized yet. In fact, nothing is. New York schools are still waiting for guidance from the state. The next school year is getting closer by the day.
How long do you have to make a decision about September? When do you have to make the call?
CHASE: Like now. Really, like now.
CHASE: Actually, we don't have much time, because there has to be a point of planning, there has to be a point of then communicating that plan, because we do have parents who are apprehensive.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: With that apprehension in mind, Greenburgh is developing a plan to let parents who don't want their kids at school before there's a vaccine to continue to send them to class completely online.
JOLAOLUWA HUSSEY, PARENT OF GREENBURGH STUDENT: I feel that we would have to wait until possibly February.
MONIFA TIPPITT, PARENT OF GREENBURGH STUDENT: I think we should stay home until February when all of this virus is away so that everyone can be safe.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So this story really illustrates just how difficult schooling is coming up, and right now. And the story out of here in New York, this investigation today into four individuals who caught COVID at a drive-through graduation and the event surrounding it, just speaks to how hard this process is in America's schools, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Definitely. I think so many parents are just at a loss about how to plan, what to do, along with those educators. So Evan, quickly on the drive-through graduation, presumably that person, he or she, didn't know that they were positive before embarking on the drive-through graduation after leaving Florida?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, according to the information that we have from the governor's office, the person was not symptomatic when they attended these graduation events, but then while there spread the disease to four people, and now everyone else there is being investigated. So yes, it looks like one of those situations where an asymptomatic person helped to spread the disease, which is, again, one of the reasons why there's parental apprehension about the next school year, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Right. OK, Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much.
Let's talk more now about how and when schools could start. Joining me right now, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teachers' union in the country. So Randi, oh, my gosh, all of that just underscores the concerns, the worry, the trepidation of educators and parents. So how in the world do we proceed? How do we plan, how do any of us plan for what's ahead?
RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: So let me just say there's four things we have to do right now, and it's complicated and it's a logistical nightmare, which is part of the reason why you see this level of uncertainty and really immobilization. But what is happening right now is we have to follow the science, which means safety and then well-being of kids, and then instruction of kids.
So number one, next year is going to look really different than anything anybody has ever imagined before. Number two, we actually have to follow the safety and the science. And we've learned a lot. We've learned that physical distancing and masks, like this one or any of the others, as well as cleaning a school, those three things really work. And how did we learn that? We learned that from the rec centers that did childcare and where kids and teachers were basically -- didn't get sick.
Number two, we need the money from Washington, because it's going to cost us more, not less. And number three, there needs to be real collaboration.
And so what's happening in Greenburgh and so many other places is, because we don't have the funding yet from Washington, there's a lot of superintendents as well as governors that are really up in the air because you're going to have to have any place where we reopen. And I believe we have to reopen before a vaccine is there. We're going to have to have physical distancing and we're going to have to have masks, and we're going to have to have cleaning, and then we talk about what we need to do for kids, including well-being and instruction.
WHITFIELD: Wow, except Randi, I'm listening to all that you just said. All of that to me sounds like a recipe of there's no way kids could end up in any school this fall, because money, as you mentioned, money is key to have all the resources to put all of those protective measures in place, and to make sure that you have the right kind of educational tools for everybody once they come back, and respecting all of those conditions that you just said.
WEINGARTEN: But this is why if you hear the frustration in my voice --
WHITFIELD: I do.
WEINGARTEN: We put out a plan at the end of April. And we've been actually raising issues about coronavirus since the beginning of February. But part of the problem, Fredricka, is that the federal government is so conflicting in what it has said. But I think what's happened finally is that because the virus has come back with a vengeance in Texas and in Florida and Arizona, all of a sudden people are saying, oh, wow, there really is a virus. So hopefully there at least will be reliance on science. But let me
just say, we learned from the rec centers, from the childcare centers that essential service workers sent their kids to. Even in the height of it in March and April in New York, teachers and kids didn't get sick. We protected them by having the PPE and the physical distancing. That is why I am religious about those two things, and then we'll have to have the accommodations for -- look, I'm 62 and with asthma, you know?
WHITFIELD: Yes, so you are at risk. Randi, I have to have you back probably almost every weekend until school starts because there isn't enough time to cover all of this, and we all have so many more questions.
WEINGARTEN: Of course.
WHITFIELD: Randi Weingarten, good to see you. Be well. I'll see you again soon, I mean it. We want you back very soon because there's still so much more to cover. Appreciate it.
WEINGARTEN: Of course.
WHITFIELD: And this just in now from Princeton University, the board of trustees has voted to remove Woodrow Wilson's name from the School of Public and International Affairs. In a press release, the board writes in part, "We have taken this extraordinary step because we believe that Wilson's racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school whose scholars, students, and alumni must be firmly committed to combatting the scourge of racism in all its forms."
The building will now be known as the Princeton School of Public an International Affairs.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Latin America has more than tripled in just a month's time. So what's behind the spike? We'll talk about that next.
WHITFIELD: In Latin America, Coronavirus cases have tripled, surpassing the 2 million mark in just the past month. The surge is driven by massive outbreaks in the region's largest countries 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. Matt, what is the plan ahead?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There have been some success stories, Fred, in terms of smaller countries in Latin America containing this outbreak. I'm thinking of Belize, Costa Rica, Uruguay. But it's the larger countries, as you mentioned -- Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru, where these outbreaks are really bad and only getting worse.
RIVERS: When the World Health Organization first called Latin America and the Caribbean the world's new epicenter, it's 33 countries counted a little under 700,000 cases. But just over a month later, that number has more than tripled, now at than 2.3 million cases and counting.
DR. MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMMING: The pandemic for many countries in the Americas has not peaked.
RIVERS: The exponential growth has been fueled by horrific outbreaks in the region's largest countries, none of them worse than Brazil. Its number of cases have doubled since the end of May, now at more than 1.2 million, second in the world behind only the United States. at Rio De Janeiro's Copacabana Beach protesters dug a symbolic cemetery to acknowledge the more than 55,000 so far who have died from COVID-19.
And you could call President Jair Bolsonaro Brazil's skeptic in chief as he has routinely downplayed the virus's threat and ignored its human cost. But on Thursday, a rare moment during the president's Facebook Live. He asked the head of his tourism agency to play "Ave Maria" on his accordion to acknowledge those who died from the virus. He went on to say he thinks he might have had the coronavirus and that he might do another test for the disease.
And a test is something Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador should probably consider after his finance minister tested positive for the virus. On Monday the president tweeted this video in which he is standing right next to that minister, not socially distanced, not wearing a mask. He hasn't said if he'll now get a coronavirus test, and he's never worn a mask in public. But it might be a good example to set in a country where cases have more than doubled since June 1st. Mexico's death toll now at more than 25,000, will certainly surpass Spain's in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the virus is relatively under control in places like Belize, Uruguay, Paraguay, but there's a lot more bad news than good. Peru and Chile now have more than 500,000 combined cases, and the Honduras president has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in the hospital being treated for pneumonia. Plus, health experts say the virus could be around for a while.
DR. CARISSA F. ETIENNE, DIRECTOR, PAN AMERICAN HEALTH ORGANIZATION: In the absence of effective treatments or a widely available vaccine, we expect that over the next two years in the region of the Americas, we will experience reoccurring COVID-19 outbreaks.
RIVERS: In the nearer term, the international monetary fund said the combined GDP in Latin America and the Caribbean could shrink nearly 10 percent this year, and a University of Washington model now predicts that by October the regionwide death toll will be near 440,000.
RIVERS: And Fred, just to put Brazil's outbreak in a little more context, Brazil has something like a little more than 100 million less people than the United States, and yet it has recorded more than 40,000 newly confirmed cases in a day three times in just the last week alone. The United States only did that for the first time just yesterday. So it just shows you how bad things are in Brazil when we're talking about global outbreaks, and there is no plan, at least, in that country so far to really substantively make this outbreak much better.
WHITFIELD: It doesn't sound like there are any ideas on how to turn those things around for now. Matt Rivers, thank you so much.
The European Union is about to reopen international travel, but that will likely not include Americans. It's expected E.U. leaders will consider the coronavirus case count in the U.S. too high, and as of now the U.S. leads the world in both cases and deaths. Brazil and Russia, number two and three on that list, and they likely, too, will be barred. And you can see the difference in the rise in cases in the U.S. represented by the green line, compared to countries in the European Union, which you see represented in pink, and they are trending downward.
And a quick programming note, 2020 is becoming a year of historic change in the fight for racial equality in America. For some it is reminiscent of another year. Don't miss the CNN special original series event "1968" featuring back-to-back episodes starting tonight at 10:00 eastern.
And thank you so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We have so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom with Ana Cabrera after this.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and thanks for being with me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.