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Covid Cases Continue Their Climb In 37 U.S. States; Latin American COVID Death Toll Soar Even Further; Congress Passes Sanction Of China Over New Hong Kong Law; Did Trump Know About Russian Payouts To The Taliban?; Putin Claims Victory In Referendum For Extended Term; National Security Law Tightens China's Grip on Hong Kong; U.S. Jobs Report for June Due in a Few Hours; Palestinians Rally against West Bank Annexation; Young Texas Woman Gets COVID-19 after Venturing Back Out. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 2, 2020 - 01:00   ET


PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Coming up on CNN newsroom.

From mocking to praising. President Trump now claims he's all for masks, after stressing his administration has done everything right in the pandemic.

Plus, young and infected. I'll speak to one 23-year old who got the virus after going to a gym. What she wants you to know about having the coronavirus.

And Hong Kong unrest. Hundreds of protesters arrested while marching against the national security law China has now imposed.

We are live in Hong Kong.

So more than four months into the coronavirus outbreak here in the United States. And the country still seeing a record-breaking number of infections.

Let's think about that for a moment. Record breaking.

Johns Hopkins University reports more than 50,000 new cases on Wednesday alone, that's the fifth record in just the past eight days. More than 128,000 deaths in this country and Donald Trump still seems to be in denial.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that's going to sort of just disappear. I hope.


NEWTON: Now after months of mocking people, mocking people, for wearing masks comes this one-eighty.


TRUMP: I'm all for masks, I think masks are good. I would wear -- if I were in a group of people, and I was close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would wear one?

TRUMP: Oh, I would -- I have. I mean, people have seen me wearing one. If I'm in a group of people where we're not, you know, ten feet away and -- but usually I'm not in that position.

And everyone's tested. Because I'm the president, they get tested before they see me. But if I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the public will see that at some point?

TRUMP: I mean, I'd have no problem. Actually, I had a mask on, I sort of liked the way I looked. OK. I thought it was OK. It was a dark black mask, and I thought I looked okay. I looked like the Lone Ranger.


NEWTON: Now cases continue to climb in 37 U.S. states.

And think about this. Only New Jersey and Rhode Island are seeing declines.

Nearly two dozen states are pausing or rolling back plans to reopen.

California, Texas, Florida and Arizona are being hit especially hard.

CNN's Jason Carroll has more.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CALIF.): The bottom line is the spread of the virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning.



JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: California's governor, Gavin Newsom, announcing new restrictions this afternoon halting all indoor activities and businesses including restaurants, museums, zoos, movie theaters in 19 counties. Which represents 72 percent of the state's population.


NEWSOM: We are now requiring they close their indoor opinions due to the spread of the virus. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Thirty-seven seeing a surge over the past week.

And now results of a new study say the actual U.S. death count might be higher than the official numbers show.

Research published in the medical journal "JAMA Internal Medicine" says the number of excess U.S. deaths from March to May was 28 percent higher than what was attributed to COVID-19.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-N.Y.): There are storm clouds on the horizon.


CARROLL: The alarming rise in cases nationwide prompting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to stop restaurants in New York City from opening indoor dining next.

Cuomo warned if people do not comply the state, which has seen its numbers moving in the right direction, could end up back where it was two months ago.


CUOMO: We're back to the mountain. That is what is going to happen.


CARROLL: Troubling numbers continue coming in from Texas, Arizona, and Florida where that state's department of health reported more than 6,500 additional COVID cases today.

The governor continues to push back on critics who say he reopened too soon and should by now have had a state mandate to wear a mask.


In Texas, 8,076 new cases reported today. A record high, and topping yesterday's total by more than 1,000 cases.

In the face of those numbers, the state's lieutenant governor says he will stop listening to recommendations from the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who cautioned states against skipping over CDC guidelines when reopening.


LT. GOVERNOR DAN PATRICK, (R-TEXAS): He doesn't know what he's talking about. We haven't skipped over anything. The only thing I'm skipping over is listening to him.


CARROLL: Peyton Chesser, a 23-year old Texan blames all of the mixed messages are part of the reason she got infected.


PEYTON CHESSER: If some states are completely locked down and my state is almost operating at full capacity, it was hard to know exactly where the line stood. Just because there was so much conflicting information that I was receiving.


CARROLL: And late Wednesday, Arizona's governor has asked for 500 additional medical personnel to help with the spread of the virus there.

Some other numbers coming out of Arizona. Hospital beds now at 85 percent capacity, ICU beds at 88 percent capacity.

Jason Carroll. CNN, New York.


NEWTON: Joining me now from San Francisco, Dr. Larry brilliant. He's and epidemiologist and CNN medical analyst.

And I've got to say, sometimes when we hear the raw data, right, 50,000 new cases what does that even mean? And I feel like it fails to really put this crisis in perspective.

So help, what does a record-setting day like this mean in this country?

DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Hello, Paula. Well, it's a very sad day. And it means that there are more record-setting days coming. And it's a record that nobody would want to have.

But it's not just 50,000 cases. Today, we reached 980 or 990 deaths, nearly 1,000 deaths.

What I think it means is that some of the states opened early, before Memorial Day, just as the president was saying then he thought that the disease would disappear magically. And they opened too early, and then we had Memorial Day.

We had perhaps 100 million people go out and with the exuberance and the license to go out, many were infected. And now, a month later, you're seeing the effect of that premature exuberance.

You're seeing the 50,000 cases a day and nearly 1,000 deaths. And I'm afraid that Dr. Fauci is right if he said we're on our way to 100,000 cases a day. It's hard to understand how we might not get there.

NEWTON: Yes. It's called exponential growth and it's dire, really. For all Americans.

BRILLIANT: It is. NEWTON: Can Americans, though, turn this around without drastic shutdowns? Is it enough for people to wear masks, to social distance, to stay home except for the essentials? Can that work or do you fear that it's just too late for that?

BRILLIANT: I think it's going to take everything. It's going to take three major classes of activity.

First, yes, I think we're going to have to shut down those places that create a person-to-person transmission opportunity. The bars, the hairdressers, the restaurants where you pull your mask down and you're having a delightful glass of wine with someone.

Those places must be closed down because they are the source of major transmission.

But it's not enough. Every other place, we have to wear masks, we have to practice social distancing, we wash our hands as often as we can. And even that's not enough.

We have to go back to basic epidemiology. Find every case, do contact tracing, do testing. Find those who are contacts who might either have the disease, treat them; those who might be incubating the disease, quarantine them.

If we do that, we could quarantine about one or two percent of the population, leave the rest of the population free except for those highly dangerous activities.

We have to do all in, and we have to do it epidemiologically. Not on the basis of a hope, a wish and a dream.

NEWTON: Yes. There's not certainly been the deference to science that you need to have.

And yet, even those who know the data and know the science in terms of the prescription that you're giving them, there hasn't been a good track record in the last few weeks. Even about the contact tracing.

Do you think places like the CDC can still mobilize and mobilize within these states to try and get done exactly what you've indicated? To track every case.

BRILLIANT: CDC has some of the finest epidemiologists, virologists and scientists in the world. I don't think it's a question of mobilizing CDC. I think it's a question of letting them loose like a bunch of thoroughbred racehorses wanting to get out there.

But they're being suppressed. And they're being suppressed because the data that they have and the information that they have and the truth that they have is inconvenient.

We need to have CDC back again, we need to have WHO fully funded. America needs to be part of the global effort, which has been so successful in parts of Europe.


We need to be humble and learn from what happened in South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan.

There are so many places that we can learn from if we would be humble and we understand we've got a big problem.

NEWTON: I still hear a lot of optimism in your voice, which is good. What are you going to look for in the coming days?

BRILLIANT: I'm going to be looking to see what happens on the 4th of July. I'm afraid -- I've been optimistic so far. I'm afraid I could be pessimistic if the 4th of July turns out to be putting kerosene on the fire that's already raging.

We're hearing many good sounding warnings from even the southern states warning this 4th of July can't be like ordinary 4ths of July. Let's see what happens.

Right now, if the 4th of July is like Memorial Day, and we have 100 million people out, engaging in contact that spreads the virus, by the time we get to the third of the American summer holidays, Labor Day, I'm afraid Dr. Fauci's estimates will be correct.

NEWTON: Yes. And it might be trite but true, right. Patriotic thing to do on July 4th, may be just to stay home.

Dr. Larry Brilliant in san Francisco for us. Thanks so much.

BRILLIANT: Thank you, Paula. Thank you for having me.

NEWTON: Now in Latin America some of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus are seeing their death tolls soar even further.

In Brazil the virus has now killed more than 60,000 and Mexico now the sixth highest number of deaths in the world, just over 28,000.

Yet some countries including Mexico are moving forward with easing their restrictions.

CNN's Matt Rivers has more from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, two new milestones for the countries in Latin America that have reported the most deaths as a result of this outbreak so far.

Let's start in Brazil where cases continue to rise at an alarming rate. And it was Wednesday that health officials there reported more than 1,000 newly confirmed deaths as a result of this virus. That means the overall death toll in Brazil is now more than 60,000 for the first time.

Meanwhile, yet another governor in Brazil has contracted this virus. That means that eight of the 27 governors throughout Brazil have now contracted this coronavirus.

Meanwhile, here in Mexico, and more specifically here in Mexico City, we watched on Wednesday as certain businesses like restaurants, like hotels, were allowed to reopen with limited capacity for the first time in months.

Other businesses throughout this week, places like hair salons and markets here in Mexico City will also be allowed to reopen in the coming days.

This as Mexico reported nearly 750 additional deaths on Wednesday evening.

That pushes the overall death toll here to more than 28,500 for the first time. And that means that Mexico's death toll is now higher than Spain's.

Matt Rivers. CNN, Mexico City.


NEWTON: Now Colombia is also struggling to contain this virus. The government says more than hundred thousand people have now been infected with more than 4,000 new cases reported on Wednesday alone.

Columbia's economy is also taking a hit. The unemployment rate in May soared above 21 percent, almost double what it was last year.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to sanction China over its treatment of Hong Kong.

Now Speaker Nancy Pelosi says in its response to the national security law Beijing imposed on the city, which she says threatens the one country, two systems framework.

The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has echoed those concerns.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States is deeply concerned about the law's sweeping provisions and the safety living in the territory including Americans.

Article 38 of the new law also purports to apply to offenses is committed outside of Hong Kong by non-residents of Hong Kong. And this likely includes Americans.

This is outrageous and an affront to all nations.


NEWTON: Pompeo also says the U.S. is asking companies to evaluate their supply links to Xinjiang, China. It comes after American officials found products from the region that were allegedly made with forced labor. The U.S. says it will not tolerate inhumane practices from China.

Meantime, the U.K. is also blasting the Chinese Government for its actions in Hong Kong. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the passage of the national security law threatens the city's freedoms. And vowed to offer eligible Hong Kong residents a path to British citizenship.

Hong Kong police, meantime, on Wednesday clashed with protesters who were marching against the security law.

The new legislation has broadened Beijing's power to investigate and punish alleged crimes. They include secession, subversion and what it considers to be terrorism.

Officials have defended the law saying it's meant to restore stability in the city.

CNN's Kristie Lou Stout joins me now live from Hong Kong.

And Kristie, as you've watching it all unfold. The law has already had such a profound effect on the city.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Immediately after this law came into effect there have been a wave of arrests across the territory.

According to Hong Kong police, around 370 people have been arrested on a variety of charges ranging from unlawful assembly to possession of offensive weapons to breaching the new national security law.

Of the 370 arrests, 10 people were arrested under this new law including a 15-year old girl. This 15-year-old girl was arrested for waving a pro-independence flag.

Now we're also learning more details about an additional arrest that's been made in the last 24 hours.

An arrest of a 24-year-old man that took place in the early hours of this morning. He was arrested on suspicion of seriously wounding a police officer with a dagger. He was arrested at the Hong Kong international airport, on the tarmac, on a Cathay Pacific flight en route to London.

Now this new national security law criminalizes secession, subversion of state power, terrorism -- including with foreign forces.

It sets up a new Hong Kong government agency, a commission for safeguarding national security. It also sets up a new special unit under the Hong Kong police force for handling national security cases.

Anyone convicted under this new law can face a maximum penalty of life in prison. And this law applies to anyone outside Hong Kong, even those who are not Hong Kong permanent residents. Now on Wednesday, there was a Hong Kong government press conference where we were able to hear from the top leadership of Hong Kong to get somehow more clarity about this new security law.

And this is what the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, said about the purpose of this new law.

Take a listen.


CARRIE LAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF HONG KONG (through translator): I would rather not be able -- not to arrest or prosecute anybody, if everybody abides by the law.

The purpose of this piece of legislation is not just to punish, it is also to deter. To deter people from committing such serious defenses as secession, subverting a state power, terrorist activities and so on and so on.


STOUT: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam there talking about the deterrent effect of this law. The law -- and couple that with the Hong Kong police response definitely have a deterrent effect on the territory -- Paula.

NEWTON: And in so many ways, right, Kristie, really confirming the worst fears. The reason that protesters have been on the streets for so many months there.

Kristie, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

Questions remain on what President Trump knew about intelligence on Russian bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan


KAYLEIGH MCENANEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president does read. And he also consumes intelligence verbally. This president, I'll tell you, is the most informed person on Planet Earth when it comes to the threats that we face.


NEWTON: U.S. lawmakers, though, as you can imagine not satisfied. The pressure for answers ahead.

Then, as the Russian president extends his possible rule, we look at how the U.S. president may have helped make that possible.



NEWTON: So the White House has focused on explaining why they say President Trump was not briefed on intelligence about Russia offering bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. and coalition troops.

But there hasn't been much discussion on the substance of the intelligence or what response there might be.

Now "The New York Times" reports an Afghan drug smuggler now believed to be in Russia is named in the intelligence as a key middle man between the Russian spy agency, the GRU, and Taliban militants.

Raids in one of his homes turned up half a million dollars in cash. Afghan officials told the "Times" as much as $100,000 was offered for each U.S. or coalition service member killed.

In just a few hours on Capitol Hill the so-called "Gang of Eight" lawmakers from House and Senate intelligence committees will now be briefed.

Alex Marquardt has more.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SNR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Trump Administration today scrambling to answer why the White House had the intelligence as far back as early last year that Russia was offering bounties to the Taliban to kill American forces. But the president, they claim, wasn't told about it.

That decision was made by the president's intelligence briefer according to the official in charge of making sure the president hears what he needs to.

The national security adviser, Robert O'Brien.


ROBERT O'BRIEN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: She made that decision because she didn't have confidence in the intelligence that came up. Knowing the facts that I know now, I stand behind that call.


MARQUARDT: But the concern over the intelligence was serious enough that it was briefed to top officials on the national security council including former national security adviser, John Bolton, who declined to comment.

Then early this year, according to a U.S. official, as new intelligence surfaced, it was in the written version of the president's daily brief. Which officials have told CNN the president is not known to fully or regularly read.

The White House insisting though that the president does read his intelligence reports.


MCENANY: The president does read and he also consumes intelligence verbally. This president, I'll tell you, is the most informed person on Planet Earth when it comes to the threats that we face.


MARQUARDT: The daily brief also goes to top cabinet officials, like Robert O'Brien and others across the administration. Meaning they didn't bring up the Russian plot with the president either.

Something that President Barack Obama's former intelligence briefer, Robert Cardillo, called incomprensible.


ROBERT CARDILLO, FMR. DIRECTOR, NATIONAL GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: It just was too important, if and when confirmed, to not give the president a heads up.


MARQUARDT: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today insisted that the reports were handled correctly.


POMPEO: When the threat is sufficiently serious, the scale of the threat is of such importance that there is an action that I think that the president needs to be aware of, and the information that I've seen is sufficiently credible then we make sure that the president is aware of that.


MARQUARDT: The president himself dismissed the stunning revelations on Twitter as "just another hoax."

A U.S. official, however, told CNN that the intelligence assessment was based on several pieces of information.

That information from eavesdropping, interrogation of Taliban fighters and financial transfers from Russia to the Taliban all pointed to Russian military intelligence, the GRU, wanting to see Americans killed by the Taliban.

CARDILLO: Just the substance of it exceeds the threshold of what we call "duty to warn." Meaning lives are at risk.

Alex Marquardt. CNN, Washington.


NEWTON: OK. So no surprise here. Russia says voters are overwhelmingly supporting changes to the constitution that could keep Vladimir Putin in power until at least 2036.

Now Russia's Central Elections Commission says with half of all ballots counted, 76 percent of voters have approved the amendment.

In St. Petersburg and Moscow, demonstrators protested the reforms calling the vote legitimate.

A monitoring group says dozen were detained. Prominent opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, says many people are frustrated and that --


-- "the results they just announced are fake and a huge lie. This has nothing to do with the opinion of Russian citizens. Putin lost this vote before it began."

"After all" -- he continues -- "he refused to hold a real referendum in accordance with all the rules and with observers present."


All that being said, Mr. Putin is likely to label this a resounding victory. And President Trump may have played a role in that.

This report now from Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SNR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: With Putin tightening his grip on the Kremlin, he could point to the U.S. President as one reason for his enduring appeal.


"I'm going to elect him for another 10 years," says Antonina (ph), who's voting for constitutional changes that could keep Putin in power until 2036.


When Trump won in 2016, they celebrated in Russia.


Finally, a U.S. leader critical of NATO and the E.U. who they believed saw the world their way. Putin's way.

Still, few expected him to back the Russian president over his own intelligence agencies on allegations of U.S. election meddling.

Even Putin looked uncomfortable at the 2018 Helsinki summit intervening to insist President Trump had disagreed with him on something.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): President Trump's stance on Crimea is well known and he sticks to it. We have a different point of view.


CHANCE: But apparent bows to Kremlin interests didn't end.

In 2019 Trump announced a sudden pull out of U.S. forces from Syria abandoning Kurdish allies, allowing Russian forces to take over deserted U.S. bases filling the vacuum and a long-standing Kremlin goal.

U.S. officials later clarified some forces would stay to secure the oil.

But in other conflicts, like Ukraine, Trump also played well to the Russian audience. Threats to suspend vital military aid fueled bitter impeachment hearings in Washington that was music to the Kremlin's ears as their forces backed rebels in the country's (inaudible).

Now, as Russians look set to endorse Putin for potentially another 16 years, Trump's apparent soft spot for the Kremlin's strong man -- with allegations of Russian bounties to kill U.S. troops -- is being tested again.

Matthew Chance, CNN.

NEWTON: The White House press secretary's defending president Trump after he called Black Lives Matter a symbol of hate.

Now she claims he was referring to the organization, not the cause. And here's what the president tweeted.


"New York City is cutting the police budget by one billion dollars and yet the mayor is going to paint a big, expensive yellow "Black Lives Matter" sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury avenue.

Maybe our great police who have neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates and disrespects them won't let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York's greatest street."


NEWTON: The mayor of New York says a plan to paint the words "Black Lives Matter" outside of Trump Tower will start in the coming days.

Now despite condemnation from a number of countries, China is tightening its grip on Hong Kong with a new security law.

Ahead, we'll discuss the global impact it could have.

And the latest snapshot of the U.S. economy during this pandemic. A preview of the jobless report.

That's ahead.



PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers around the world.

I'm Paula Newton and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

More than 300 people have been arrested in Hong Kong following protests against a national security law China imposed on the city. Police detained at least 10 people on suspicion of violating that law. Now some were carrying a flag and sign supporting Hong Kong independence.

At least one man was arrested on suspicion of wounding an officer. According to the law he could face life in prison if convicted.

The legislation has broadened China's power to investigate and punish acts of secession, subversion and what it considers terrorism.

CNN political analyst Josh Rogin joins me now. He is also a foreign policy columnist for "The Washington Post".

Josh -- you know, this is monumental really. I mean I called it seismic. And I think really the repercussions are just starting to be felt in Hong Kong. They are incredibly severe and something normally that would really elicit a very bold response from the United States.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, I think you have seen some incremental measures by the Trump administration, public condemnation, some visa bans, some restrictions of exports, and an overall process to rethink the U.S.-Hong Kong relationship and eventually vitiate Hong Kong's special status in the eyes of U.S. economic and trade policy.

Now, that's slower process than the process of Hong Kong being squeezed by China's new national security law. So it looks as if the Trump administration is moving's too slowly. But at the same time this is a process that is not complete and you can be sure that the things that are under consideration inside the Trump administration are much more severe than what we have seen.

The question of course, is whether or not that will actually help the people of Hong Kong or hurt them and also whether or not it will have an impact at all on Beijing's behavior.

NEWTON: Yes. And such an open question right now especially because even when we talk about that special status, right, it needs something very different in 2020 than it would have meant even in 2002 or 2003, let's say.

It's not even clear that China really needs that special status from the United States. And that really, Hong Kong will be governed for all intents and purposes like a Shanghai, like a Beijing.

Do you get the sense that the State Department given where we are at right now -- global pandemic, new election around the corner in November -- that they are ready for bolder steps?

ROGIN: Yes, I think bolder steps are coming. And I think we have a lot of time before the election, and even if Trump loses, a lot of time before we get a new administration. And I think what the thinking is inside the administration is that, you know, if Hong Kong is not going to be treated by Beijing any differently than any other Chinese city, then there's no reason it should be treated by the United States any differently.

And what that basically means is closing off the ability of the Beijing elite to raise money, to use Hong Kong as a highway of capital and investment. And that's really the squeeze. The squeeze is if Hong Kong doesn't have its special status, Beijing will no longer be able to use that special status to feed its economic growth and to feed its national champion companies.

And I think that will have a lot of pain for Beijing. And I think the fact that the U.S. industry is pushing against that is interesting but ultimately will not stop that from happening.

And you know, it's also remarkable that Beijing could take a look at that cost and still make the decision to go ahead with these changes. And they are clearly prioritizing their political and national security interests over their economic interests at this point.

NEWTON: Yes. Josh -- we've said so many times before, right, China is playing the long game right now. and they're not looking at even a generational horizon. It goes much longer than that. And if it's a little bit of pain they might take that for what they believe is the end goal in Hong Kong.

And in the face of all of that, I mean do you feel that the international response has been somewhat impotent really?

And let me even go back to the Obama administration. You know, famously Michelle Obama and, you know, their daughters went over to China. It was supposed to be a charm offensive and yet where are we now?

ROGIN: Right. If Beijing is playing the long game we should take a look at what that long game looks. It looks like a Chinese government that doesn't care at all about the opinion of the international community when it comes to issues of values, human rights, freedom of speech and democracy.

And also a Chinese government that is willing to break international agreements no matter what the consequence. Of course the U.S. and European reactions are impotent, you know, we're all dealing with a pandemic. We're all inward-looking and the tools available in this crisis are less than what they would have been even if the administration was willing to use all of its tools.

Of course the Chinese Communist Party is abusing that scenario in order to push this forward at the worst possible time for the international community. And especially for the people of Hong Kong.


ROGIN: So yes, they are making a long term play but we shouldn't overestimate the cleverness of the Chinese Communist Party. They're locked in to this strategy because they can't bear, you know, backing down in the face of the pro-democracy protests because they know that if those pro-democracy protests are allowed to succeed, they could spread throughout China and threaten their rule.

So they're making decisions for the long term but that long term is not necessarily a long term where Beijing emerges victorious.

NEWTON: Right. And I take your point. They are doing this from a position of weakness, not strength. Unfortunately though the very character of Hong Kong at stake at the moment.

Josh Rogin for us from Washington. Thank you so much.

ROGIN: Thank you.

NEWTON: So somewhat of a bright spot now for the U.S. economy during the pandemic. Yes we will take whatever we can get here.

The government will release its jobs report for June in just a few hours. Experts predict three million jobs were added -- that would be a new record pushing unemployment down to, of course, a still very high point, 12.3 percent.

We want to bring in our John Defterios now, who's live with us from Abu Dhabi. And I mean it when I say we'll take anything we can get.

I mean it seems at this point -- John, that as long as the virus isn't done with the U.S., no matter the record numbers there, the U.S. isn't done with record unemployment.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EWMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes. Historically high -- Paula. But everybody is looking for the silver lining here and the trend line has been down.

So we can say that the U.S. has entered the rebuilding stage in May and June. That is certain. What is uncertain is whether it will last. And that is the huge question.

So if the estimate is right for it today, adding three million jobs would a record. But we have to remember where we came from back in February, remember Donald Trump was touting this idea that we're at a 50-year-low and the unemployment rate is at 3.5 percent.

The expectation is that 12 percent if we have that number come in today -- not only high, but it could remain in the double digits through the second half of this year. So this V-shaped recovery that everybody was talking about does not look like it will materialize with 50,000 cases on a single day and over 2.6 million. It will filter in to the economy.

And then we had Jerome Powell, who's the Federal Reserve board chairman on Capitol Hill Tuesday and he highlighted or underscored the plight of the minorities in America -- the Hispanics, the black Americans and others -- who are in the service sector. They're taking it on the chin even harder. As you know, in the United States there's a very flexible labor market. They have little or no benefits so they can get laid off in a hurry.

So this headline number is one thing, what's happening below to those on the bottom rungs of society in terms of jobs is completely different.

NEWTON: Yes. The suffering they're not about to end anytime soon.

And now, we do have those weekly jobless claims coming out. They are dropping every week. But do they remain historically high?

DEFTERIOS: They do -- Paula. And everybody is focused on this because it's the most up to date snapshot that we can get in the market. And that's why it's very important to get the pulse of the economy and why we talk about it every week.

Let's take a look at the expectations here that the claims go to 1.4 million. That looks like an improvement. It would be a slight improvement over the week before.

But if you look at the total claims that we've had since the pandemic started 47.3 million -- Paula, I can guarantee you won't see that again but it hasn't topped out yet. We will probably get to over 50 million in July. And it depends on the snap back again what the improvement is like.

So it's 12 weeks lower so far. This could be if you will lucky 13. But the challenge is making great improvements after that.

And you have to consider at 1.4 million, this is an interesting number, it is seven times the normal average. And the reoccurring claims is something that we look at because that means people keep on coming back for more unemployment insurance. That's still running around 20 million.

And by the way 47.3 is one quarter of the working population have needed help during the pandemic. It's extraordinary by every measure -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, one in four and the lines at those food banks really tell all you need to know.

John Defterios for us Abu Dhabi. Thank you.

Now you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Just ahead, an Israeli plan to annex parts of the West Bank appears to be on hold. We're live in Ramallah with reaction.



NEWTON: Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank maybe on pause for the moment but that didn't stop thousands of people from protesting Wednesday in Gaza. Many waved Palestinian flags and signs condemning the U.S. president.

Donald Trump's administration has been working with the Israeli government on the annexation plan. Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu calls it extending Israeli sovereignty, Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley.

Palestinians though want the West Bank to be a central part of a future state.

Diana Buttu is a political analyst and human rights attorney. She joins me now this hour from Ramallah in the West Bank. And thanks so much. It is good to have you on.

I know that no Palestinian would consider this pause really a victory of any kind. But still, in your estimation is it significant at all that this deadline has passed?

DIANA BUTTU, POLITICAL ANALYST: No, not really. From the beginning, Netanyahu and Gantz both said that this was going to be the start date, which is to say that it's the first day that they are able to submit legislation to begin the process of annexation. They didn't say that this was going to be the date.

And so I think we still need to keep our eyes on what it is that the Israeli government is doing which is to in effect steal more Palestinian land and formalize a system of apartheid.

So while yes, the deadline has passed I still expect that they're going to continue to go ahead with their plans.

NEWTON: And the timeline there is very important. I mean Benjamin Netanyahu knows the window for whatever he wants to do could soon close if Donald Trump is not reelected.

He's not though as the prime minister, you and I both know, not to be underestimated. He's quite the political survivor. I mean if you had to speculate, what do you think his plan is knowing that President Trump may not be reelected?

BUTTU: I think that he's going to try to push ahead, as much as possible from now until the U.S. elections. There are a few things that have aligned light his way.

One is that we have a U.S. president that is not at all putting the brakes on this Israeli government. It's quite the opposite. It's egging it on and urging it to continue to steal as much land as possible.

And the second is that we are going to be seeing that Germany is taking a lead role both in the European Union and on the Security Council. And so the idea of getting a condemnation from the European states is probably not going to come en masse (ph), that is.

So I think that he's looking to do things from now until November. That being said I think that if Trump is not elected in November, that for much of what he wants, he's already gotten and Biden will not scale that back.

For example, Biden has already said that he's not going to move the embassy back from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv. And I don't suspect that he's going to do anything to really stop any of the settlement activity. When he was vice president he certainly didn't do it.

NEWTON: Yes. And I will say many observers have already predicted this when, in fact, all of these moves were made. Many predicted they would never be rolled back.

I have to ask you something. Those two key words, right? Peace process. I mean it's been nowhere for years. Is there any hope that if there is any kind of a change in American leadership that we could be on another roadmap?


BUTTU: I think that we need to get rid of those two words, peace process.

NEWTON: I knew you were going to say that. That's why I brought those two words up. Sorry -- go ahead.

BUTTU: So having been part of it for such a long period of time, I can tell you that all that it was is a process and it certainly wasn't bringing forward any peace. It actually just brought us more settlements.

And I think instead we have to start looking to a new tool which is to start pushing to hold Israel accountable and whether that through pushing for boycotts, pushing for divestment, pushing for sanctions, or pushing to hold Israel accountable legally -- this is the track that we have to be focused on.

For me the idea that we're going to go back to negotiations when negotiations have failed for 27 years really doesn't make any sense at this point in time.

NEWTON: Yes. Which is, of course, a grim prospect.

I have to ask you something and you have been outspoken about this. I mean you've said Middle Eastern leaders haven't spoken up nearly as much as they should have. And I'll bring it back to this issue of annexation. But let's be clear, right. This has been going on for several years now.

Do you think their silence amounts to complicity? And do you see anything changing there in the months to come?

BUTTU: I think that we really should be taking a look at what the world as a whole is doing, and what the world as a whole is saying. And not just on one region.

I am very disappointed in the fact that the Arab leaders haven't said anything. But these are not superpowers. I think that they certainly can and should be doing more. I also think that the world can and should be doing more.

And I don't think that it just around the issue of annexation. You know, I'd say Paula -- we've got 600,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, making about 25 percent of the population. That's apartheid and so this is where it's incumbent upon every person in the world and every country around the world to start condemning and putting into place sanctions against Israel.

To just ignore it is to simply say to the Palestinians that their lives are meaningless and that Israel can continue to be above the law and that Palestinians are going to be beneath the law.

So I think it's very incumbent upon every country around the world. And while I am disappointed in the Arab states, I think that my greater disappointment lies in those countries that continue to maintain ties with Israel -- particularly Europe and United States.

NEWTON: Yes. And to diverge then to another topic, when we talk about disappointment. You know as well as I do, Palestinians are disappointed in their leadership as well. The fracture in the leadership -- do you see anything changing there in the next few months?

Because at this, point anything changing would be better than nothing changing.

BUTTU: That's a really good question. I think that, at this point in time, when you look back in history -- one of the reasons that there was a division between Hamas and Fatah (ph) was as over things like the peace process and over the issue of serving as Israel's security subcontractor what they call security cooperation.

And now that both of those two elements are gone, we do see that the positions of these various political parties are closer. The bigger issue is whether they can bridge those issues that bring them together, unite them rather than continue to focus on the differences. And so I am hoping that we will see some movement, but I'm also not optimistic.

NEWTON: I don't have a lot of time here, but quickly -- I can't let you go without talking about Gaza for a moment. This has been quite a profound pandemic for everyone to live through. How are things there right now?

BUTTU: Well, you know, we've got a health care system that has remained under occupation now for more than five decades. The inability to bring in ventilators, the inability to bring in medical supplies. And so, we are very worried about what's happening in Gaza. And this is why they've been imposing both in the West Bank and in Gaza some extreme measures where people are not allowed to leave their houses in an attempt to try to at least stop the spread of this virus.

It's dangerous, though because all that it takes is for one or two people to be infected and you will see a health care system that will be on -- that will collapse.

NEWTON: Yes, absolutely scary prospects as that virus continues to make a resurgence in the region.

Diana Buttu in Ramallah -- thanks so much. It has really been interesting again to put these issues into focus. Appreciate it.

Now, a 23-year-old woman from Houston has been diagnosed with COVID-19 even though she says she was careful, extra careful. What could have kept her and so many others like her from getting sick, in her own words.




DAN PATRICK, TEXAS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: He doesn't know what he's talking about. We haven't skipped over anything. The only thing I'm skipping over is listening to him.

He has been wrong every time on every issue. I don't need his advice anymore.


NEWTON: Ok, that was Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick there taking some direct shots at Dr. Anthony Fauci on the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Now, that's because Fauci has been calling out Texas, along with other states, that are now hotspots for outbreaks.

Texas reopened on May 1st even though it hadn't met the criteria outlined by the Coronavirus Task Force. So when Patrick says Texas didn't skip over anything, it's just simply not true. And now infections are spiraling out of control.

Also, Patrick claims Fauci has been wrong about every issue, which of course, isn't true either.

Peyton Chesser is a 23-year-old who thankfully has recovered from coronavirus. And she joins me now from Houston, Texas.

And we are glad to see you looking happy and well, and yet really deadly serious what happened to you. I mean explain what happened because, you know, the feeling right now is that young people are just not being careful enough.

PEYTON CHESSER, COVID-19 SURVIVOR: Right. And so when I got coronavirus, the initial symptoms, I was extremely worried. The anxiety of it all was one of the most overwhelming things that I have felt at an extremely long time.

And so, going into it, knowing that I had coronavirus, it was very stressful to think that I have done something wrong and that the moral stigma that's attached to getting the coronavirus diagnosis is very strong and it's very apparent.

And being transparent with my own experience as far as when I got diagnosed and ever since my recovery and just tracking everything and being a resource to other my age. I mean a lot of people have reached out and told me that they have also tested positive, but that they feel like they can't be as transparent because of the stigma that's kind of attached to getting a positive test.

NEWTON: Wow. So they really feel as if, what, shame? As if you've done something wrong?

CHESSER: Absolutely. For sure. It's kind of like a general motive that if you get it, you have done something wrong. Or if you get it because you went to one nonessential business, then you just deserve it. And it's very aggressive to say that you've been diagnosed with it.

NEWTON: So tell me, what did happen? I mean have you been able to pinpoint exactly how you got it?

CHESSER: Yes. So a couple of days leading up to when I first experienced symptoms, I really wasn't doing much. I went to a local grocery store here in Houston, a gas station, a pharmacy, and then I went to a gym as well. It could very well be any of those.

I mean, one of them is non essential, so is it more likely that I got it there? I don't know. I mean the gym is socially distanced but as far as the other places, I was -- as far as all of them I was, you know, wearing a mask, taking precautions, doing all that. So it could have been as easy as walking past someone anywhere in a parking lot.

NEWTON: And that's the whole frustrating thing about this, obviously. It is incredibly contagious, obviously.

Having said that, I mean just to be clear with everyone you are going to places that were open. You had a perfect right to be there. It's not like the state of Texas was stopping you.

CHESSER: Absolutely. The state of Texas has actually opened up a lot more businesses than a lot of other states that we are seeing here. They had opened up a lot more restaurants, water parks, different types of stores that have been closed, things like that and we are phasing (ph) back into kind of regressing at this point that they have skyrocketed so much.

But yes, the state absolutely said these places are fine to go to and they're fine to frequent, and to take certain precautions if you go to them. But a lot of places down here really weren't following them.

NEWTON: And as you are speaking, we are showing, you know, this video of exactly what you are saying. People just enjoying themselves as if there isn't a global pandemic.

Do you feel like, you know, the state let you down? That they shouldn't have let any of this happen?

[01:54:59] CHESSER: I definitely feel frustrated that we're hearing such

different information from state, even more local, federal -- we are hearing different things. We're constantly being told this is ok to do, a couple days later we are being told it's not ok to do and you are a bad person for doing it.

And so it is really frustrating. It's hard to know what is appropriate, and what's the right thing to do when you hear all sorts of conflicting information from people you're supposed to be able to rely on.

NEWTON: Having gone through the anxiety of being sick and wondering if you're going to get sicker -- what do you think they should have done?

CHESSER: As far as --


NEWTON: In terms of trying to safeguard your health. Do you wish that they had just said look, you know, we are going to stay shut for much longer?

CHESSER: I do think the state did reopen a little too soon, very quickly. It put a lot of people at a very high risk of picking up the coronavirus.

I mean at the end of the day, I made the choice to frequent all of the businesses that I did. And so -- that were open and a lot of places that I went to have been open this entire time.

And so while the state did open too soon, I feel like we can't really blame people for going to places they were told that they could go.

NEWTON: Absolutely. And as you said, part of the problem has been the confusion. Can you, being an old person here, I want you to bring me inside the mind of someone who's much younger because we keep hearing, unlike you, that people your age and maybe some of your friends are like actually just want to get it -- that they just want to get it over with.

CHESSER: I can say having had it and recovered, I'm glad that it's behind me. I wouldn't want to jump in and get it again. I would not -- if I suddenly got coronavirus again, that' would be awful. I am glad it's behind me, and I do have that hopeful immunity that everyone is saying that comes with recovery.

And it is recoverable and I am really lucky that I haven't been hospitalized or walking away with, you know, serious lung damage like a lot of people have and have lost loved ones. And that's really awful.

And so I am -- I am glad that it's behind me. I wouldn't say that I am happy that I got it or that I would want to get it if I hadn't.

NEWTON: Yes. And just from some of the comments we've heard from people your age, some people in your shoes are thinking perhaps it's better you do get it over with.

So much to learn still about this virus. Peyton -- thanks so much for being with us. Just giving us some insight into the virus and how it affected you.

CHESSER: Yes, absolutely. Thank you.

NEWTON: And that does it for us for right now on CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Paula Newton. And I will be back after a quick break.