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Vice President Mike Pence Urges Americans To Wear Masks As Cases Spike; Florida Governor Attributes Surge To Socializing And Backlog In Testing; Trump Deletes His Retweet Of Video In Which Man Chants "White Power"; New York Sees Lowest COVID-19 Deaths And Hospitalizations Since Pandemic Began; CDC Warns Pregnant Women Of Higher Risk Associated With COVID-19; California's Governor Newsom Closes Bars In Seven Counties; House Passes Police Reform Bill. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 28, 2020 - 16:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: In the last hour Vice President Mike Pence urged everyone to wear a mask during a visit to Texas, a state that is seeing its case count soar. Governor Greg Abbott echoing that statement.

Also today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis making a case for wearing masks. Florida is seeing some of the highest increases of new cases there and that's something both DeSantis and Pence saying must change.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We encourage everyone to wear a mask in the affected areas and where you can't maintain social distancing, wearing a mask is just a good idea, and it will -- we know from experience will slow the spread of the coronavirus.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Particularly when you can't socially distance, wearing a facial covering, you know, we've advised that since the beginning of May, including and especially for face-to-face businesses, and I think you have seen that.


WHITFIELD: So far in the U.S. only two states are seeing infections actually drop, Connecticut and Rhode Island. And many other states are breaking new single-day records. The death toll in the U.S. now well over 125,000.

We have a team of reporters on the ground in states seeing some of the largest spikes in the country. CNN's Sarah Westwood is in Washington.

Sarah, this is very different tone that we're getting from the White House by way of the vice president. He said, multiple times, wear a mask. Wearing a mask is a good idea.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. It was the strongest that we have seen the vice president urge people to wear masks since this crisis started. He leaned very far into it repeatedly, telling people to when they go out in public they should be wearing face coverings. And notably the vice president was himself wearing a mask, nearly every time that he appeared on camera, except when he was speaking in that church some other select times.

That is significant because one of the complaints from critics of the administration's response that the tone was not being set at the top, with President Trump and Vice President Pence pointedly declining to wear masks even at times when they're flanked by health experts who were also themselves wearing face coverings.

Another notable point that we heard from the vice president there was him shifting from earlier this week praising the fact that states were making progress towards hitting those milestones through the phases of reopening to praising the fact that Texas is actually closing down some services. Bars, for example, will no longer offer in-person services. Elective surgeries are being suspended.

Governor Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, acknowledged on Friday that perhaps it was in fact a mistake to open bars so quickly because Texas has seen that spike in cases. But it is just a trajectory that the White House has taken away from the victory lap that we'd seen around COVID earlier this month. Just in the past several weeks, the White House when they're talking about COVID, they've talking about the economic revival.

They've talking about the fact that in parts of the country life is returning to normal. Now they are shifting back into talking about how to mitigate the spread. And their focus is on individual behaviors because they want those reopenings to continue to the extent possible. They want people to try to learn how to protect themselves within the framework of those reopenings, that they do still want to see.

So you did see Pence and earlier today Health Secretary Alex Azar saying that the reason that we're not seeing these spikes is not because of premature openings, but it's because people have not been adhering to those social distancing guidelines and both of those leaders pointing the finger at young people for being the primary violators of those guidelines -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much for that.

CNN's Alexandra Field is in Houston, Texas.

Alexandra, the vice president's visit, you know, coming as the state is seeing a huge surge in new cases.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. And you can bet the people in Texas were listening closely to what was said today. The encouraging parts were the reminders of the effectiveness of masks, but you also heard Vice President Pence really deferring to local authorities in terms of mandates to wear masks. And as we know, as we've talked about extensively, there is no mandate from the governor in Texas statewide for people to wear masks. That's left to local authorities. You have had Governor Greg Abbott, however, also encouraging people to

wear masks, encouraging them to take social distancing steps. This is a governor who earlier this week was forced to put Texas' reopening on pause and then started to walk it back.

Here's the picture he's painting of what's happening in the state of Texas right now.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Despite the increase in the spread of the coronavirus, Texas still has the second lowest death rate of the top 27 most-affected states in the country. We cherish the lives of our fellow Texans. We must all come together and all work together to make sure we do all we can to continue to protect the lives of our fellow Texans. And it will take these, worn by everybody, in the coming days to make sure that we will protect those lives and we will slow the spread of COVID-19.



FIELD: The governor clearly calling on people to do their part, to practice the methods that we know work in terms of preventing the spread of this virus, but all we hear from local officials on the ground in Houston area, Fredricka, is that they need the governor to help to really enforce these effective measures. That hasn't been the case necessarily across Texas, you know, when it comes to masks, when it comes to suggestions of staying at home.

The other thing that we're hearing a lot about this morning is the need to increase testing. And that's something that's being reflected on the ground. In Harris County, officials are telling us that there is an exponential demand, increase in the demand for tests. They say that these slots that they have available for testing are being booked up much faster, that the wait times are longer.

Local officials are also, you know, echoing what the vice president and what the governor is saying that people need to work together to do this. But they're really going to be able to make some of these regulations, the requirements mandatory. They know that they are facing a crisis right now as we could be just a couple of weeks away from seeing hospitals totally overwhelmed here -- Fred.

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

CNN's Natasha Chen is in Pensacola, Florida, where the governor, Ron DeSantis, had his briefing there and was also attributing his state's record surge in new cases to young people socializing. He used graduations as one example.

So how is the governor there trying to encourage people to be more responsible at a minimum?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, he talked about avoiding the three C's -- crowded spaces, close contact settings, and closed spaces with poor ventilation. And so, you know, we asked about frankly the Republican National Convention, which is supposed to be in Jacksonville. The president pulled out of Charlotte from that convention because of disagreements regarding whether face masks or social distancing type of requirements would be needed.

And so we asked whether that would be a requirement here in Jacksonville. He said that he hoped the situation would be much better in two months by the time that convention is happening. But what's clear today is that -- is what you said, the median age of people testing positive for COVID right now in the state of Florida, in their early to mid-30s. People -- young people perhaps having graduation parties, perhaps having house parties, in some cases shown to have clustered in settings where they've gone out together.

Here is what the governor said about that young cohort.


DESANTIS: That positivity increase is really being driven by -- a big increase over the last three weeks in individuals testing positive throughout the state of Florida in younger age groups, particularly 18 to 44. And if you look at that 25 to 34 age group, that is now by far the leading age group for positive tests in the state of Florida.


CHEN: And the positivity rate has been climbing. He showed us a graph today where the positivity rate among those tested in the state is about 12 percent. And he did talk about widespread noncompliance when it comes to social distancing rules particularly in the state's stand- alone bars and pubs, and that is one reason why those places, those businesses were stopped from selling alcohol to consume on premises as of Friday.

So this is the first weekend into that dramatic pause. And of course those bar owners tell us they feel a bit singled out because restaurants with bars in them can still operate and have people in them. But still at 50 percent capacity -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Chen, thank you so much in Pensacola, Florida.

All right. More Florida beaches are set to close ahead of July 4th weekend. Broward County says it will follow Miami-Dade's lead in closing its beaches from July 3rd to the 5th. Earlier I spoke to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. Here's what he told me about possibly issuing another stay-at-home order.


MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FL: We just need to send a message unfortunately that if businesses don't comply and if people don't comply, that we may have to look at some dramatic measures. We don't want to look at like rolling back some of the openings, and also potentially rolling back some of the capacity limitations within businesses, and even, God forbid, you know, re-implementing a stay-at- home order at some point in the future. Something we want to do as a last resort and not want to do unless it's absolutely necessary.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Randi Kaye is in Riviera Beach, north of Miami.


Randi, the Miami mayor also spoke in favor of a statewide mandate on masks, but we didn't hear that coming from the governor today.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, we certainly did not, and a lot of people were waiting for that mandate. A lot of people here, certainly in Palm Beach County, that we've spoken to in Riviera Beach, they would like to see a mandate of the masks. They are watching the numbers of more than 8500 new cases today. Not a high, yesterday was the high, more than 9500 new cases of coronavirus.

As we were talking about earlier, they're definitely being attributed to the younger people in higher positivity rates. They have closed the bars but I can tell you that the restaurants here behind me, Fred, all day have been very busy and a lot of people are not wearing masks. Of course when they're eating. But some of the employees, even the bartender behind the bar here working close to close with people -- I won't name the restaurant, but they are not wearing a mask.

People are very concerned about that. They've been telling us about it. We spoke to people about whether or not they want a mask mandate here in the state of Florida. The governor seemed to be inching a little bit closer to it today, certainly encouraging it, but did not go as far as to mandate the mask.

Listen to what one gentleman told me.


VINCE BUNGO, FLORIDA RESIDENT: First of all, I'm protecting you guys because I'm wearing a mask, and I want people to protect me the same way. You know, because I don't want to get it. And it's just selfish to go around without a mask and spread your germs when you're carrying it. It seems very selfish to me.


KAYE: So the governor, without the mandate, has been leaving it up to the local communities, the counties, the local officials. Many of them like here in Palm Beach County, they have mandated it. Even the commissioner of Agriculture is asking the governor, she's a Democrat, Nikki Fried, asking the governor to mandate masks.

And I will leave you with this, Fred. The IHME, which looks at the modeling, says that if 95 percent of Floridians wore masks, they could cut the fatality rate here in Florida by October 1 in half. That's how much they say masks are important -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Randi Kaye, thanks so much.

All right. Still ahead, damage control, President Trump deleting a retweet that showed a video of supporting shouting "white power." The White House is now responding. Stay with us.



WHITFIELD: All right. The White House is in damage control again, this time after President Trump retweeted a video of his supporters yelling "white power." Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White power. Yes. There you go, white power, you hear that?


WHITFIELD: The video was finally yanked from the president's Twitter feed but not until about three hours have passed. The White House's defense, the president didn't see it. The White House sending out this statement saying in part, "What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters."

CNN's Jeremey Diamond is at the White House for us. So, what kind of response are you hearing from Republican, other members of the president's administration following this retweet?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Fredricka. Well, the president didn't just retweet this video. He also attached this comment to it, saying, "Thank you to the great people of villages," where this video was reportedly taken.

We have heard some reaction from some prominent Republicans. Our colleague Jake Tapper had the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar as well as Republican Senator Tim Scott on his Sunday show this morning. And their responses were quite different. Listen.


ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: I've not seen that video or that tweet, but obviously neither the president, his administration, nor I would do anything to be supportive of white supremacy or anything that would support discrimination of any kind.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The entire thing was offensive, certainly the comment about the white power was offensive. There's no question. I mean, we could play politics with it or we can't. I'm not going to. I think it's indefensible, we should take it down. That's what I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DIAMOND: And so, Fredricka, the president did eventually end up taking down the video after Senator Tim Scott called for him to do so, saying that it was indefensible as you heard in that clip there that the president had retweeted this in the first place.

What we do know is that the video was still up for more than three hours, Fredricka. And of course we know that this is not an isolated incident. In fact the president has repeatedly amplified, retweeted, posted in some form or fashion hateful and racists comments, and sometimes from his supporters, sometimes from his own mouth. We know that the president posted that tweet recently about when the looting starts, the shooting starts, a comment associated with racist policing tactics of the 1960s.

Fredricka, as well, beyond that, of course, we know that the president has also talked about very fine people in Charlottesville. That is something that critics have pounced on today, to say that the president's retweet of this video is very similar to when he said that that white supremacist rally that there were very fine people among them.

And of course we know that the president has repeatedly amplified anti-Muslim bigotry on his Twitter platform as well. In this case, though, the difference is that the president ultimately decided to take down this retweet that he posted of this video.

What he has not done, Fredricka, is apologize for it nor has he condemned the footage and the message -- the racist message from this one Trump supporter that he amplified in this video this morning -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Diamond, at the White House, thanks so much.

All right. Coming up, promising news out of New York in the fight against coronavirus. We'll go there live, next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. While the majority of the country is seeing a spike in coronavirus cases, there's encouraging news out of New York. The state is reporting its lowest coronavirus death toll in a single day since the pandemic began.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joining me now. So, Evan, what's behind these numbers?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Fred. I've been listening today and I think I'm your pandemic good news correspondent for the day.


WHITFIELD: That's good to have. MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Here in New -- yes. Yes. Here in New York, the death

toll is the lowest it has been since March 15th. Just another piece of good news, as things have been happening over the past few weeks here seeing that case load come down and that death load come down. So just five COVID-19 deaths yesterday, the lowest since March 15th. And then hospitalizations just down for 54, which is a 24-person drop from the previous day.


This is a state where -- look, I'm in Manhattan right now. People are out and about. There's social distance, there's masks, but things are opening up here. Beaches, retail, all these things that just a few weeks ago when you and I would talk from here in New York were impossible to imagine are back. And that's the story here in New York right now.

WHITFIELD: And it's -- is that a testament to the opposite of the message that we heard out of Florida and Texas, that perhaps in New York people have been very responsible about wearing masks, social distancing, you know, washing their hands, where as we heard out of these press conferences today in Texas and Florida they want to encourage people to do more of that. Why does New York feel like they're getting it right?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, I'll tell you, Governor Andrew Cuomo certainly feels like that's the message. He said in a press release today that today's numbers are very encouraging, but he mentioned that New Yorkers must remain vigilant with things like social distancing and masks and hand washing and all that stuff. He constantly talks about the idea of people who close watch what's happening around the country.

And as you know, last week, he did say that visitors from Florida and other states that are seeing these kinds of increases are being asked to quarantine, mandatorily quarantine for two weeks if they arrive in New York, so the governor is very proud of what this state has been able to accomplish, of course once the epicenter of the pandemic here in the United States, but is wary of these stories from around the country and how they might impact things that are happening here -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank so much. Nice to have a little good news there from New York.

All right. A new kind of appeal to wear masks from one of the country's top doctors. Last hour White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx revealed that wearing a mask is not only for the safety of others, but also for yourself.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We know now there's scientific evidence that masks, both keep you from infecting others, but may also partially protect you from getting infected. I think that's a new discovery and a new finding. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Joining me now to talk about this is Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne, emergency physician at the University of Maryland Prince George's Hospital Center.

Doctor, good to see you, and congratulations, you now join us not as a pregnant, expectant doctor, but now you've had your baby girl in the midst of this whole pandemic. How are you feeling?

DR. ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND PRINCE GEORGE'S HOSPITAL CENTER: I'm feeling great, Fred. Thank you for asking. I'm so excited that yes, my baby girl was born on May 30th, and both her and my entire family are doing well and are very healthy.

WHITFIELD: She's going to be awesome. She's born a day before my birthday.


WHITFIELD: All right. So let's talk about, you know, what Dr. Birx was saying. You know, she says this is a new messaging, new discovery, that wearing a mask not only protects others, but protects yourself? Is that a new discovery?

CLAYBORNE: Well, you know, us as physicians in the medical field we wear masks all the time. So I know there's a lot of controversy sometimes with, you know, whether or not masks are being helpful for others or just yourself. And it's something that is routine in medical practice and it's certainly something that I recommend to everyone to protect others, but also to protect yourself.

There's so many unknowns about this virus right now, I think it is important to be vigilant and do as much as you can to protect everyone in your community, young, vulnerable populations, like pregnant mothers or young children like I have, but also yourself. If you're not going to do it for other people, do it for yourself. And because we're learning more as time goes on, it's worth just making you are, you know, putting safety first and doing what you can upfront.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Is it a feeling that some people are going to be hearing this for the first time? Because, you know, the vice president while in Texas tried to encourage people, you've got to wear your mask. I mean, he said it more, you know, today than we've ever heard him say it, and he demonstrated it as well by wearing a mask. And then you saw the Florida governor today also say, people, you've got to take the responsibility, wear the mask.

Is it your hope that people are hearing this message now as if they've never heard it before and start to have better habits and that might make a difference?

CLAYBORNE: Absolutely. I mean, I do think it's important to lead by example. As someone who's a physician, I try to do what I tell my patients to do. So if I think social distancing is important for my family and for myself, that's what I'm going to do but it's also because I know that people who expect me to be a medical professional and tell them what is best for their families, they'll see me do that and, you know, catch on.

And I think that that's important in a lot of aspects of, you know, what I do as a physician. So I do hope that other people will take it seriously.

WHITFIELD: And there's a picture of you and your baby. Congratulations. So wonderful. I mean, boy, do you have a story to tell, you know, going through this whole pandemic, being pregnant, also being an emergency care physician, also caring for your 20-month- old little girl at home and then having your baby.


I'm so glad we have these pictures. How beautiful. Congratulations. What a beautiful family.

So, let's talk now to about the CDC and its updated, you know, its list of groups most vulnerable to COVID--19. The agency says women who are pregnant may be at a higher risk for severe illnesses caused by the virus. How did you protect yourself? I mean, I know you're a physician. You have access to resources most expectant mother don't, but what's your best advice to other expectant moms, and how did you do it?

CLAYBORNE: Yes. You know, it was a very scary time because, as I said before, there were so many unknowns. And every day when I was going to work, I didn't know what I was exposing myself to and if I was going to become ill, how that would impact my baby, if I was putting my child's life in danger or when I came home, if I was putting my daughter and my husband in danger.

And so, I was very vigilant about my PPE while at work, but I also just made sure that I was prepared. So, as you know, Fred, I'm a big proponent of advanced care plan. And I think going through the whole process of having a baby for moms, it's important that you prepare in every aspect of the words.

So, that means that things could happen. You could become sick. There could be unexpected complications. And if that does occurs, you want to have an advanced care plan. So, I always tell people to think about what would happen to you or your family if you couldn't speak for yourself and you want to document that.

Go to to get advanced care plans that are state-specific or use an online platform like so that you can share the wishes for everyone. So, that would be one thing I would tell expectant mothers to do.

But the other thing is amidst all this negativity that's going on and the concern and fears with the pandemic and just everything that 2020 has brought us, don't forget to enjoy the journey. I also (INAUDIBLE) stop and enjoy my journey as a pregnant mom at the end and expect all those wonderful things that I knew were coming when my baby was born, and be able to celebrate in that positive energy when she, you know, enter the world. And I'm trying to continue to relish in that despite everything else that's taking place right now.

WHITFIELD: Well, that's such great advice because I am sure babies in the tummy can feel all of that good energy, you know, that you try to really hard to exude. So, for the expectant mom, you make it through delivery, and now, you want to nurse your baby. What are the recommendations for breastfeeding and COVID in this age of COVID-19?

CLAYBORNE: Yes. So, breastfeeding is highly recommended by all medical professional societies. I know W.H.O. just published some recommendations concerning COVID and breastfeeding. And basically, they always recommend that mothers breastfeed.

If you are suspected to have COVID or tested positive, they actually still encourage you to breast feed. You can consider doing pumping and just giving the infant pumped breast milk, or if you're going to have contact, a skin-to-skin contact, it's still important to wear a mask and to wash hands and to be very careful when you're around the infant, but they're still highly, you know, encouraging of moms breastfeeding in every situation regardless of their COVID exposure or status.

WHITFIELD: And doctor, before I let you go, our incredible executive producer, Pam Steffey, is an expectant mom. And she is to deliver possibly in August. So, what would be your best advice? I mean, she, thankfully, is working from home, but she is still all hands on deck, and she is super involved. But what would be your advice to her as she gets close to delivery day?

CLAYBORNE: So, I think the best thing that moms can do is to remember to relax and take care of themselves. You have to remember, it takes an extraordinary amount of energy and really a lot of physical demand to have a child. And when you approach your delivery, you want to be as relaxed as possible and you don't want to be stressed.

So again, tap into that expectant mother positive energy and try not to worry. I do think it's important for moms that are expecting that are in situations where they're exposed to others that they stop working at least four weeks ahead of their delivery date to minimize their exposure, and then obviously, afterwards, until the infant is about two months off age. That is optimal if you can do that. But the best thing you can do is to give positive vibes and energy to that baby leading up to their birth and afterwards. So, have her relax and enjoy the ride.

WHITFIELD: OK. You hear that, Pam? Relax. OK. She says she's on it. Great. She's right in my ear. All right, Dr. Clayborne, thank you so much and congrats again to you.

CLAYBORNE: I appreciate. Thank you for having me, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Fantastic. Thank you. All right, still ahead, California just shut down bars in seven counties including Los Angeles County. We're live, next.



WHITFIELD: All right, this just into CNN. California Governor Gavin Newsom has just ordered bars to shut down in seven counties including Los Angeles County. Let's get straight to CNN's Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles. Paul, what more are you learning?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Fred. The governor, citing this increase in hospitalizations among other things, is shutting down bars in seven counties. Let's look at the map; Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin, and Tulare Counties; five of them in the San Joaquin Valley. He's also recommending closures of bars in several other counties throughout the state.

The governor has said that when people go to these bars, sometimes their common sense is, in a sense, inhibited. He says it impairs judgment. Now, I just so happen to be talking to a young man who says that 28 of his family members have contracted COVID-19, and he lost his father, 60-year-old, Vidal, right around "Father's Day". And Richard Garay says, all of this is a cautionary tale on whether it comes to closing bars or putting on masks, everyone needs to pay attention to his family's tragedy.



RICHARD GARAY, DAD DIED OF CORONAVIRUS: If we want to get out of this, then we need to do everything within our power, within your power, to follow those guidelines and help stop the spread of coronavirus. And that's our message. That's what my father would have wanted. That's the type of person that my father was. And I just want people to understand that. And I just want people to grieve with us because we know that we are not the only ones.


VERCAMMEN: And Richard said his family was very cautious, hand sanitizer readily available, wearing the masks outside, but he said they didn't always wear it inside. And if he had to do it all over again, they would have worn those masks inside. They lived with the father, Vidal. Back to you now, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, sad story. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much.

All right. Tomorrow, the four Minneapolis police officers charged in the "Memorial Day" killing of George Floyd will appear in court. This comes as efforts for national police reform continue. We'll discuss, next.


[16:46:09] WHITFIELD: There's a pretrial hearing tomorrow for the former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd. Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree manslaughter and second- degree murder in Floyd's death. Floyd's death was caught on camera by a bystander as the white officer kneeled on Floyd's neck until he lost consciousness sparking weeks of protests in Minnesota and around the country as a result of his death.

With me now is Rashawn Ray. He is in Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland and a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Good to see you.

So, right now, the House and Senate are at odds over a national police reform bill. What do you believe needs to be part of that? What could happen now?

RASHAWN RAY, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK: So, as you know, they will. First, thank you for having me on, Fredricka. As you noted, Dems and Republicans are at a stalemate. And my research suggests that police department insurance policy is a way to deal with qualified immunity.

Of course, qualified immunity gives police officers civil protections, but oftentimes, that's applied is carrying over to the criminal side. And so, we need to bring Democrats and Republicans together to get a police reform bill passed, which is what the public actually wants.

WHITFIELD: Do you believe there should be qualified immunities?

RAY: I think that qualified immunity has a lot of problems wrapped up in it. What's important for people to recognize is that qualified immunity is a legislation that applies to civil culpability, meaning that a police officer who is acting underneath the law cannot be sued financially. Eventually, George Floyd's family is going to get a large civil payout.

The problem with qualified immunity is that it then applies, oftentimes, to the criminal side. So, there are a lot of people; juries, prosecutors, and judges, who don't think that police officers should be prosecuted. And the problem in this case is that Derek Chauvin still qualifies for upwards of about a million dollars in pensions. That's something that Minnesota, as a state, should change and follow suit for other states across the United States.

WHITFIELD: You're also calling for a restructuring of how officers are trained. To what extent?

RAY: So currently, when you look across the country, police officers receive about 60 hours of firearm training, but they only receive about eight hours of de-escalation training. We know that de- escalation training reduces police killings by about 15 percent. However, police officers are training to the exact opposite.

They are training to worst case scenarios. They are training to actually use force and that's not what we need on the street when 9 out of 10 interactions they have, have oftentimes, nothing to do with the violence and simply has to do with the conversation like we seen with George Floyd, and like the way it originally started with Rashad Brooks.

WHITFIELD: Correctional officers of color on the floor that was housing former officer, Derek Chauvin, were reassigned at one point. Is this part of a history of protecting racist in the justice system as you see it?

RAY: Unfortunately, it is. I mean, this is highly problematic if the people don't really realize what happened here. Derek Chauvin was being protected in a prison for murdering someone. And we've seen this throughout history and also more recently when Dylann Roof murdered nine people at an EAME Church in South Carolina.

After they picked him up and he had a weapon on him, officers then took him to Burger King. But yet and still black men's bodies are underneath officers' knees. And when we see minority officers being reassigned to supposedly protect Derek Chauvin, we see the ways in which racists are protected by the state, and these are some of the reasons why people are protesting in the streets.

WHITFIELD: Rashawn Ray, thank you so much, always good to see you. Appreciate it.

RAY: Thank you.

Still ahead, love in the time of coronavirus. How couples are finding new ways to wed during the pandemic.


But first, COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on the world. And now, after the traumatic death of George Floyd, emotions are running high. Experts say the sense of loss and anxiety we're all feeling is grief.

Two CNN heroes; Mary Robinson and Annette March-Grier, have dedicated their lives to helping people learn to cope with loss. This week, they share their thoughts about what everyone is experiencing and how to get through it.


MARY ROBINSON, CNN HERO: Grieving is what we do when we lose someone or something we value. It's not just when someone dies. There's a pandemic of grief right now. We're grieving the loss of our daily lives, of all of our connections, of jobs, and we have no control over it.

PROTESTERS: No justice. No peace.

ANNETTE MARCH-GRIER, CNN HERO: And now, we're facing what has happened to George Floyd, but we can use this traumatic experience as a growth opportunity. The more we're able to act in a constructive way makes more meaning for us so that we can move forward.


WHITFIELD: To hear more about how you can deal with loss, go to



WHITFIELD: All right. This pandemic has impacted just about every aspect of our lives, right, including weddings. For those who had been planned on getting married during the last few months, CNN's Tom Foreman shows us how the wedding industry has been impacted and how couples are finding new ways of saying I do.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They knew that they both loved the "Wedding Crashers", knew what her dress looked like, which colors they'd use. Kelsey Gibson and Alex Ferrara knew they were going to have a perfect wedding. Then in the Michigan cold, the worst crasher of all came calling.

KELSEY GIBSON, WEDDING POSTPONED BY PANDEMIC: It's so crazy. We would have never thought that this would ever happen.

FOREMAN: The pandemic swept away the pomp, the party, and the promise of 200 guests sharing their special moment.

ALEX FERRARA, WEDDING POSTPONED BY PANDEMIC: Then there came the day when the honeymoon got canceled. It just -- it kept progressing. It's like one item -- like dominoes falling.

FOREMAN: They're not alone. Spring kicks off the wedding season each year in a big way, but not this time according to a leading matrimonial website,

JEFFRA TRUMPOWER, SENIOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR, THE KNOT WORLDWIDE: If we look at data, there were supposed to be a little over 500,000 weddings over the course of the last three months. So, tons of couples are rescheduling their weddings, getting married, you know, maybe virtually and postponing their reception for later.

FOREMAN: "The Knot" estimates the average couple employs more than a dozen vendors; dressmakers, florists, photographers, caterers, limo drivers, many of whom rely on the wedding trade. So, the industry is clawing its way back, embracing new, tongue-in-cheek ideas like delay- the-date notices, and supporting small, private services while awaiting the return of big celebrations.

TRUMPOWER: We are seeing, what we're calling, the mini mony right now. Bakeries are sending mini wedding cakes. Florists are sending mini bouquets or maybe some centerpieces that the couple can enjoy.

FOREMAN: I asked for Alex and Kelsey, as his company started making masks and she dove into her work in public health.

GIBSON: We talked to our families about it. We talked to our friends.

FOREMAN: They loaded up a few close friends, some strict disinfecting rules, and their puppy, drove to a lakeshore and got married anyway while their families watched online. The virus made their big reception wait but not their love. And --

FERRARA: Our wedding was perfect in spite of the circumstances.

GIBSON: Our wedding was absolutely perfect even though it wasn't planned.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.


WHITFIELD: And they saved a lot of money, I bet.

All right. People in Italy get a special treat as they deal with an ongoing lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Musicians, like Yo- Yo Ma, are trying to bring happiness through their art.


WHITFIELD: Yo-Yo Ma dedicating the song from "The Legend of 1900" to Italy. He has shared other performances during this pandemic, sharing them under the hashtag, songs of comfort.

And a quick programming note, join CNN's Jake Tapper for a new "CNN Special Report - Trump & The Law - After Impeachment" airs tonight at 10:00.

And thank you s2o much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We've got so much more straight ahead in the "NEWSROOM," next.