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Health Experts Urge Caution As Nation Celebrates Fourth Of July Weekend As COVID-19 Cases Surge; President Stokes Culture Wars In Speech At Mount Rushmore; Trump Jr.'s Girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Tests Positive For Virus; Protests Outside Aurora, Colorado Police Precinct Over The Death Of Elijah McClain; Polls Paint Troubling Picture For Trump. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired July 4, 2020 - 09:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We want to wish you a happy Fourth of July. We are so grateful for your company as always whether you're here in the U.S. or around the world. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN HOST: And I'm Martin Savidge. It is Saturday, the 4th of July and this of course is CNN NEWSROOM. As this nation celebrates an Independence Day unlike any we have ever seen before, and that's of course due to the pandemic, health experts say don't let your guard down this holiday weekend.

PAUL: Yes. The concern is big gatherings, the barbecues, the beaches, to watch fireworks. That all could increase the infection rate even more. So states are adding to safety measures that they've already included. They're enforcing rules at beaches from the West Coast to the East, some places are closing them entirely in fact such as Southern California and in New Hampshire, the beach is open. Want to give you a live look at where crowds are already apparently starting to gather this morning and it looks like their weather might be a little dicey for it too, Martin.

SAVIDGE: Well, the U.S. is entering this holiday weekend after reporting more than 50,000 new cases. That is for a third straight day. Thirty-seven states are seeing an increasing trend of new cases and only one, Vermont, is seeing a decline. And then late last night, we learned that someone close to the president's family and his re- election campaign has now tested positive for COVID-19.

PAUL: Covering all the angles with reporters around the country right now. CNN's Boris Sanchez is standing by in Clearwater Beach, Florida, Sarah Westwood's at the White House. Want to start with Polo Sandoval, though, who's in New York's Coney Island.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, guys and Happy Fourth. Here at Coney Island are certainly at least for the most part practicing that social distancing whether they're picking out their spot on the beach or walking on the iconic boardwalk and, you know, the warning that we're hearing from health officials not just here in the New York tri- state region, but really across the country is a warning or at least some advice that we heard back on Memorial Day which is if you're going to celebrate this weekend, do so responsibly.


SANDOVAL: A coronavirus perfect storm could be looming this Independence Day. Several factors are at play, including more people traveling, states reopening and for some, repeated disregard of mask and social distancing guidelines as people gather to celebrate this July 4th.

JOSHUA BAROCAS, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN, BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER: Avoiding places like pools, beaches and even playgrounds, especially this weekend that's going to be high-density traffic outside, are very important.

SANDOVAL: COVID-related deaths exceeded 129,000 this week and Prevention predicting that we could see another 20,000 people lose their lives to the virus by the end of the month. Florida surpassed its previous record for new COVID cases reported in one day, the pressure now on younger people to help lower infection rates in that state.

You see the vast majority of Florida COVID cases affecting those in their mid-30s. Some Florida beaches are open today, though that won't be the case in Miami Beach. The mayor there implementing a curfew and made masks mandatory.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FL: There's nothing more American than making a sacrifice by staying home to keep a family member safe, a neighbor safe or a stranger safe.

SANDOVAL: Texas continues buckling under the surge and saw its highest single-day increase this week. Hoping to reverse the trend, Governor Greg Abbott is requiring face coverings in most Texas counties, though many of Abbott's fellow Republican leaders have resisted similar mask mandates, the president among them.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Anyone who thinks COVID-19 is not dangerous, the numbers are glaring warning signs that this is dangerous, but everybody has the capability of making sure they do not get COVID-19.

SANDOVAL: Out west, Arizona and California continue shattering their own records. Arizona's state health data's showing hospitals are seeing an unprecedented spike in COVID patient admissions and only 9 percent of ICU beds were available by the end of this week. California re-implementing earlier restrictions to contain their outbreak.

Temporary closure signs are back up at beaches, singing and chanting at religious gatherings are temporarily banned and some cities are taking an aggressive approach in enforcing mask policies with a threat of hefty fines. As the nation celebrates together, health officials are hoping they'll do it from home.


SANDOVAL: And it's already shaping up to be a not-so-normal 4th of July across the country, of course, with parades canceled, many fireworks displays as well. Here in New York, particularly here in Coney Island, those famous attractions along the boardwalk, those will remain closed.

Also the big yearly event that many people actually look forward to, of course the so-called Super Bowl of eating events here, Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, that's still going to happen. However, it's going to actually be at a private location televised versus it taking place here at their famous restaurant on the boardwalk, guys.

SAVIDGE: You could sort of eat along from home.


All right. Polo Sandoval, thanks very much. Good to see you.

PAUL: Wont' be eating that much hopefully. Definitely. Listen, I want to get back to what Polo was talking about in Florida because that state obviously urging those beach goers to social distance. Some beaches are reopening or staying open there in Florida.

But let's revisit that number for a second. There were nearly 9,500 new infections reported just yesterday in Florida. CNN's Boris Sanchez is in Clearwater, Florida right now. What are you seeing this morning, Boris? And good morning.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey. Good morning, Christi. Yes. The crowds are starting to arrive here in Clearwater Beach which is still open despite closures in different parts of the state for beaches this 4th of July weekend. I'll get into that in a moment, but first I want to set the scene for you here.

You see a pretty decent group of people just playing volleyball a moment ago. We've seen families arriving here on the beach. They're getting ready for a long 4th of July on the water, on the sand.

Of course, top-of-mind, coronavirus. There's a sign out there. I'm not sure how well you can see if. There's a beach umbrella that might be blocking it, but it states very clearly that there are beach rules for social distancing. They're asking folks who do not live together to stay at least six feet apart. They're asking that folks not congregate in groups and they're keeping folks from gathering in groups of 10 or more from here on the beach.

The question, of course, is enforcement. I've already seen groups of more than 10 people gathering here and of course the situation in the state of Florida clearly almost out of control. As you noted yesterday, we saw some 9,500 cases here. The day before, the state set a record with 10,100-plus cases. The state of Florida leading the nation now when it comes to the national daily average of new coronavirus cases. The governor, Ron DeSantis, effectively leaving restrictions up to local officials and that's created some imbalances.

So while the beaches here in Clearwater are open, in Miami-Dade County, they're actually closed this weekend. As you heard from Polo, there's a strict curfew. There is a widespread mask mandate in that county as well.

I have friends in Miami-Dade County, many of them telling me that they're actually going to drive up north to Daytona, west to Marco Island, to other places to enjoy the beach this weekend. So while some folks are staying home and heeding the warnings from officials, others are very eager to get out, to get to the beach and not follow these social distancing guidelines, Christi, Martin.

PAUL: All right. Boris Sanchez, appreciate it so much. Thank you.

SAVIDGE: The president is preparing to celebrate Independence Day in Washington today after rallying at Mount Rushmore last night, thousands packed in to hear the president speak with very few people wearing face coverings. This after the governor of South Dakota made it pretty crystal clear that people would not be social distancing and masks would not be required.

PAUL: Want to go to CNN's Sarah Westwood who's at the White House right now. Sarah, what are you -- what are you learning about what happened last night and what the headlines are this morning from it?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, one of the top headlines out of last night's event is something that actually took place before it even started and that's the fact that Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of the president's son, tested positive for coronavirus at that South Dakota event.

Now, keep in mind that anyone who's going to be around the president is tested for coronavirus before they're allowed to come into contact with him. That's how Kimberly Guilfoyle learned that she was positive. She is asymptomatic and now self-isolating. Donald Trump Jr. luckily tested negative, both of them cancelling their fundraising events that they have in the future.

But despite that and despite the fact that, as we just heard, coronavirus cases are spiking across the country, the president barely mentioned coronavirus. He was really focusing on a -- on a darker tone and appeal to the preservation of American history, of American heritage and he warned against what he described as a merciless campaign to erase it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITES STATES: Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children. Our children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that were villains.


WESTWOOD: The president using the Independence Day event to wade into the culture wars there. Even though it was an official White House event, it had the look, the feel and even the tone of a campaign rally, but that was technically an official event.

At it, the president signed an executive order that established the National Gardens of American Heroes. That'll be an outdoor park that will have monuments to various figures from American history. So Martin, the president, last night arguing for more statues, not less.


SAVIDGE: Sarah Westwood at the White House in Washington. Thanks very much.

PAUL: So we were just talking about how the coronavirus is surging in Florida. The question is can the hospitals there cope with the spike that they've been seeing in cases. We're talking with a medical expert next about that.

SAVIDGE: Plus, what will it take to get kids back to school safely? We'll look at the concerns from both parents and teachers.

PAUL: And tonight, don't miss CNN's the "FOURTH IN AMERICA," an evening of fireworks and an all-star musical lineup beginning at 8:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN.


SAVIDGE: The U.S. enters a third consecutive day of reporting more than 50,000 new cases of COVID-19. More than 52,000 were reported just yesterday.


Thirty-seven states are seeing an increasing trend of new cases, Vermont the only state seeing a decline.

PAUL: And hospitals across the country are preparing for another surge of patients this week. The director of the CDC said at least 12 states are seeing a rise in daily hospitalizations.

SAVIDGE: Let's bring in the Chief Medical Officer of the BayCare Health System. That's Dr. Nishant Anand. Thank you very much, Doctor, for joining us today.

NISHANT ANAND, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, BAYCARE HEALTH SYSTEM: Good morning, Martin. I appreciate you having me on.

SAVIDGE: So in Florida, Tampa Bay hospitals apparently have less capacity to handle a continued surge in coronavirus cases than they did in April. You told the "Tampa Bay Times" that, quote, "If we see more people getting infected, especially an older age demographic, we will see more hospitalizations and that has impacts for everyone in the community." How confident then are you that your facility is prepared to handle a surge?

ANAND: Yes. It's a -- it's a great question. We've been -- we constantly are in preparation for this. You know, each year we have hurricane season and so throughout the year, we constantly prepare for contingency plans. We have surge plans that are all put into place.

What's interesting if we look at the month -- the month of April, we actually saw a decrease in hospital admissions to the -- coming in. In the month of May, we started to see patients coming in, but it was from one direction. It was predominantly the individuals who were living in nursing homes that ended up with COVID as a condition.

What we're seeing now, though, unfortunately for the community is that we're seeing that people are coming in from multiple directions. We have people coming in from nursing homes, we have individuals who live at home and are starting to come in, we see individuals who are in their 70s, but we're also seeing kids come in too.

And so I'm comfortable. At this time, we are concerned. The trend that we're seeing is very concerning and so we are putting our contingency plans into place. We're working with our other health systems, the county, the state, to make sure that we're prepared to handle the situation.

PAUL: So when you talk about the different sectors of the population that you're seeing now, how that seems to have expanded, I want to show you some pictures that we have from last night of President Trump's rally in South Dakota and they weren't practicing social distancing or masks and they weren't mandated to do so.

I mean, they have the right to choose what they do. When we see pictures like this, does that make it harder to preach that masks are necessary to these other communities and do you sense that there is a fatigue in people in hearing the same directives?

ANAND: Sure, Christi. Great question. You know -- you know, I think there's definitely a fatigue with COVID in general. I think all of us, we wish that we had never heard of it or had to deal with there, especially during holidays like this, but I do think it's extremely important, despite how fatigued people are, we're all in this together. As long as one person in our community is infected, we are all at risk of becoming infected.

Masks work. The science and the evidence and the data behind it prove that it will actually help prevent the spread of infection. The analogy I always give is how many of us would feel comfortable being wheeled on a gurney into an operating room and imagine looking up and your surgeon or the nurses up there not wearing a mask.

I mean, none of us would be comfortable with that and so it behooves us to make sure that we wear masks not just for other's protection, but also our own protection and it will make a difference as we go forward. It's been shown in different study after study.

SAVIDGE: With the supply situation, how are you doing there? And I'm talking about of course things like ventilators, things like PPE, things like the medications that have proven to be at least somewhat effective. Are you well-stocked or are there still shortages on those?

ANAND: Yes. Martin, great question. So between where we were in March compared to where we are now, I have to -- my hat's off to our supply chain team. They have been able to procure personal protective equipment, so we are in much better shape. You never say that we're comfortable with where we are at.

But we at least have enough on the personal protective equipment which includes the mask and the gowns and the gloves. The ventilators, we actually have a pretty good supply of ventilators and we've procured it throughout the years, especially being in Florida, we'd have to have disaster ventilators.

The treatment side is interesting, like you mentioned. I think that, as a community, medical community, we've become much better and much more able to manage patients and I think that's why that people are actually recovering much more than they were before when this first started and so we are watching.

There's a medication that you all have heard of, the Remdesivir. We heard recently that it's starting -- the supply is starting to get a little bit more limited, but Health and Human Services were able to procure it and we're working with our state to be able to get that medication as well ...

PAUL: I want to ask you --

ANAND: -- but so far it's better -- go ahead. Sorry. (ph).

PAUL: I think that -- that's OK. I think that there are -- there's some confusion among people based on some of the numbers that are coming out. We just got these statistics that there are obviously many more cases, but the death rate has not gone up as well.

[09:20:00] Can you help people understand why there would be that discrepancy and could it be in part because maybe emergency rooms and the health community has learned how to handle this virus better?

ANAND: Yes, Christi. That's a great question. So I think a couple things are into play right now. One is that the portion of the population that we're seeing that are infected right now are that 18 to 35 as a higher percentage. That population generally does well. I've still -- I've got cases I can share of people still ending up in the ICU, but they generally do well. It's the people who are 65 and older that tend to have more complications, tend to end up in the hospital and tend to end up in the ICU.

I think we've gotten better. Our treatments are better and one of things we learned, and this is extremely important from our perspective, is that there was a rush to put people on ventilators previously and now what we do is we actually just put them on high- flow nasal oxygen and that actually prevents a lot of the complications and the death rate from increasing.

Now, one word of caution. It's still early to tell. So I think we have to watch the next two weeks. The death rate always lags behind the number of new cases. So I'm optimistic that our treatments are better, but cautious that we're still early in this.

SAVIDGE: Dr. Nishant Anand, we thank you very much for joining us today. We hope it's a really quiet day in your emergency run there in Florida.

PAUL: Yes. Thank you, sir.

ANAND: We hope so too. Thank you. PAUL: So dozens of religious leaders are calling for the right remedy to heal America from what they call the three pandemics that are rocking this country -- the coronavirus, racism and poverty. We're bringing you their message. They're with us next.




SAVIDGE: Colorado police precinct over last year's death of Elijah McClain, another unarmed black man. Police in riot gear stood near the building as demonstrators chanted, "Why are you in riot gear?"

PAUL: Three Aurora police officers were fired yesterday over photos mocking McClain's death. A fourth resigned earlier this week. Here's CNN's Omar Jimenez.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Newly released pictures show multiple officers out of the Aurora Police Department posing gleefully near the site where Elijah McClain was placed in a chokehold back in August of 2019. One of the photos actually shows an officer mimicking a literal chokehold.

Now, the police chief there, Vanessa Wilson, fired three of the officers. a fourth one involved resigned earlier this week on Tuesday. The chief says she was alerted to the photos a little over a week ago, but that they were taken back in October of 2019 and one of the officers that was fired was actually among the officers that responded to the initial interaction with Elijah McClain back in August of 2019. Again, in the chief's words, they don't deserve to wear a badge anymore.

Now, in the wake of this, there are multiple simultaneous investigations going on even before these photographs were released. For starters, the FBI and Department of Justice say they had been looking into this case since 2019 with a review specifically focused on whether a federal civil rights investigation would be warranted. That's also a possibility that we've heard from the family attorney of something they've said they might be forced to file by the time this is said and done.

On the local level, the city of Aurora wanted to make clear that despite the firings of these officers, this is not where the city's response ends, pointing to an independent investigation coming from the city of Aurora that is set to be underway.

Now, the family. Throughout all of this, it has been a tough time as they have had to relive a lot of the trauma that they've been going through since this happened back in August of 2019. They released a statement Friday night saying in part, "Just when you think the Aurora Police cannot get any worse, they reach a new low." They went on to say in a more scathing part of the statement, "APD's conduct is no different than that of white supremacists at the height of the Jim Crow south who snap smiling pictures of themselves at the scenes of brutal, lethal lynchings of black men."

The family lawyer said this was absolutely not acceptable and one of the main points she made is among a similar point we've heard from protesters across the country that despite these officers being fired, one of her main concerns is where they could be hired next. Omar Jimenez, CNN.

PAUL: Omar, thank you. The police officer's union says the investigation into the photos was done in an unprecedented fashion. A statement from the Aurora Police Association criticized the interim police chief and said the probe violated the officer's right to due process. It said, quote, "This investigation is a rush to judgment," unquote.

SAVIDGE: The NFL's official uniform supplier pulls Washington Redskins merchandise from its website amid a controversy over the team's name. This comes as the team issued a statement on Friday saying that it has been having internal discussions about a possible name change.

For years, team owner Daniel Snyder has held firm he would never consider changing the Redskins name, but after mounting financial pressure from brands like FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo, Snyder says that he will conduct a thorough review with input from sponsors, alumni and the team's local community. We'll hear more from former Washington star wide receiver Donte Stallworth coming up in the next hour.

PAUL: The challenge to get children back to school safely, I know that it is on so many people's minds right now. The coronavirus is surging around the country. School districts are trying to figure out a plan to get 56 million students back to class. We're taking a closer look at what's happening now. Stay close.


PAUL: Now you may have some celebrations planned for 244 years of independence but the reality today is that freedom still doesn't extend to everyone equally in this country and this year we have seen that reckoning, haven't we, across the country regarding racism, income equality, coronavirus pandemic that disproportionately affects minorities.

Now, clergies from across the country are calling for policies aimed at healing the country. This weekend's effort being led by the Poor People's Campaign. There will be preachers, rabbis, imams delivering sermons invoking the 1852 speech by abolitionist Frederick Douglass titled "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July."


Well, Reverend Dr. William Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign with us now, as well as Pastor Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, also with the Poor People's Campaign. He's also the author of "Revolution of Values: Reclaiming Public Faith for the Common Good." Gentlemen, we're so grateful to have both of you here. Thank you for being with us.



PAUL: We know you have a lot on your plates this weekend, so it certainly matters. Pastor Wilson-Hartgrove, I wanted to get to something that you told our producer. You said you're an evangelical Christian, you grew up in a white right-wing evangelical household, but when you met Bishop Barber, you described it as he loved you into this new moral fusion movement.


PAUL: What did that mean? And how can that be expanded beyond you?

WILSON-HARTGROVE: Well, it's always a joy to be with my brother, Bishop Barber, and deeply grateful for that friendship that began nearly 25 years ago here in North Carolina. Now, I have to say I was loved well by the people who raised me, but they had been deceived. They had been deceived by the religious right and by millions and millions of dollars that were invested in trying to persuade us that our values aligned with corporate values and the extremism of white supremacy. And my brother Bishop Barber reached out and took me under his wing, taught me the long history of white and black folks working together for justice in this country. And that's really what this Poor People's Campaign is about.

We are all across this country seeing black, brown, white, native and Asian coming together to build the kind of coalition that says, if we, the people, really means all the people then it will be a better country for everybody.

PAUL: So, let's get to some of those statistics that you're talking about regarding the inequalities. On COVID-19 specifically right now, countries with -- or counties rather with higher black populations account for more than half of all COVID-19 cases and almost 60 percent of deaths. Now, when we talk about poverty, this is just amazing. One in four babies is born below the poverty line, more than 70 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and the poverty rate for black Americans is more than double that of whites.

So, Reverend Barber, to you now. What role can faith leaders like yourself play in solving these issues, and maybe reaching people who need to better understand some of this?

BARBER: The number one scripture in the Bible that describes sin is about idolatry. And the number two number of scriptures in the Bible that talk about sin talks about mistreatment of the poor, children, and women. And so, first of all, as Frederick Douglass said 168 years ago the conscience of the nation must be roused, and the propriety of the nation must be startled, hypocrisy must be exposed.

When we have 140 million people living in poverty, 140 million people, 43 percent of this country, we cannot ignore that. And so we have to address these five interlocking injustices, systemic racism from voter suppression to police violence to mistreatment of our immigrant brothers and sisters and first nation indigenous people, systemic poverty as I said that literally you have 62 million people also working every day for less than a living wage. We have to address ecological devastation that creates 4 million families that get up every morning and can't buy unleaded gas and can't buy unleaded water, and creates places like Cancer (ph) Island (ph) that has the highest level of death even before COVID.

And then we have to address this military industrial complex where we spend 54 cents of every discretionary dollar on military contracts and less than 16 cents of every discretionary dollar on helping the education and infrastructure. Our values are off. And these things that continue, they represent what Frederick Douglass called crimes against God and man and they must be changed.

And so our policies, our policies, we must have a time not just of symbolism but of substantive policy that address each one of these issues. And that's what the Poor People's Campaign has done, 2.7 million people joined us two weeks ago to say we can end voter suppression, we can have health care for all, we can deal with ecological devastation, we can cut our military industrial complex and put that money toward things that would change this society.

The problems that we're having are choices. We can make sure that essential workers have the essential things they have, sick leave, unemployment, PPEs. What we're doing is we're making the wrong choices and Trump and his allies have engaged in an unholy rebellion and revisionist history (INAUDIBLE) God or the injustice and fundamental human rights.


PAUL: Now, there are people who support President Trump and will say that they are Christians and they want equality as well. But I wanted to ask you, Pastor Wilson-Hartgrove, some people will also say morals can't be mandated. You can't policy your way out of a mindset that has been established for so long in some communities.

How can you get to that mindset of people and help people understand what is happening to their fellow Americans and how they can help and make them want to help?

WILSON-HARTGROVE: Well, this is why we think it's so important to reach back to Frederick Douglass. You know, Frederick Douglass said that between the Christianity of the slave holder and the Christianity of Christ he saw the widest possible difference. He was trying to teach all Americans, black, white, any Americans that the distortion of systemic racism has impacted all of us and it has diminished our humanity.

I mean you look at that story you all had on just before about those officers out in Aurora. To imitate that sort of abuse of people and laugh at it is a sort of dehumanization that hurts the soul. And this has hurt all of us. It's hurt us in terms of policy and it has hurt us in terms of our deepest soul in our humanity. And what we are trying to do is lift up a vision that can restore the humanity, restore the soul of people in this country.

PAUL: Reverend Dr. William Barber and Pastor Jonathan -- I'm sorry, Bishop Barber, I'll let you have the last word here.

BARBER: Well, one of the things we have to do is show people that this is hurting us all. You notice I said 140 million poor and low wealth people, not just black people, but poor people. It's hurting us, whether it's in the mountains of Appalachian, the farmlands of Kansas, the Delta of Mississippi or fast food workers in the Carolinas. And our movement is bringing all of those people together and saying together we must say we can have a different way and a better way.

And some people can say they're Christian, but Christianity requires that you follow what Christ says. And Christ said how you treat the least of these, the poor, the hungry, the sick and those on the margin, that's what determines whether or not you are actually following Christ or not.

PAUL: Reverend Dr. William Barber, Pastor Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, so grateful to have your voices here with us today. Thank you so much and best of luck to you.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The CDC has guidelines about the opening of schools at various stages of those checkpoints. The basic fundamental goal would be as you possibly can to get the children back to school.


SAVIDGE: That is, of course, Dr. Anthony Fauci there on the need to get kids back to school, not just for the sake of their education but also for the millions of parents that are trying to juggle work and child care. The big question now is how do you do that safely?

PAUL: As Bianna Golodryga reports, with some schools just a few weeks ago, think about that now, from reopening, there's still such a great deal of concern from parents and teachers about getting those kids back in class.


BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (voice over): In what could be described as the country's most ambitious mobilization effort in recent history, school districts across the country are issuing plans for how more than 50 million K-12 students will be returning to school. Some just weeks away.

Officials in Marietta, Georgia, and Nashville, Tennessee, have given families two options for when classes resume the first week in August, in person or distance learning.

The Denver Public School District announced a return to full in-person instruction August 17th, with health screenings provided for all students, teachers and staff prior to arrival. TONY THURMOND, CALIFORNIA STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: We'll continue to monitor. And so we'll be ready for either scenario, in person or staying in distance learning.

GOLODRYGA: California currently experiencing a spike in cases says its 10,000 schools will have a plan in place in time for late August and September reopenings. In the northeast, the governors of the states initially hit hardest by COVID-19, but now seeing a decline in cases, are hopeful that that trend will continue and classes can resume in the fall.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We have every expectation that our kids will return to their schools come September.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): Continued isolation poses very real risks to our kids' mental and physical health.

GOLODRYGA: Even states experiencing the brunt of the virus now, like Texas and Florida, are still planning for an August return to the classroom.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): There's not going to be a substitute for that in-person instruction.

GOLODRYGA: Experts agree.


JOSEPH ALLEN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We've seen massive public health consequences to these school closures, in terms of virtual drop-outs. We cannot afford, as a country, to keep our schools locked down for another year.

GOLODRYGA: Joseph Allen is the lead author of a new report on risk reduction strategies for reopening schools. Among them, distance, hygiene, mask wearing and proper ventilation.

ALLEN: We know these risk reduction strategies work. Even with a full load of kids in the class. Kids are at lower risk of getting this virus. They're at lower risk of serious, adverse consequences. Early evidence looks like they're at lower risk of transmitting to adults.

GOLODRYGA: That may not be enough to convince many parents and teachers that returning to the classroom will be safe.

ERIC MACKEY, ALABAMA STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION: One jurisdiction hits under five percent and another jurisdiction hits about 80 percent or more of parents who say they intend to keep their children home. So you can see how it's so difficult to do a statewide plan when even from community to community people have such varying ideas about how they want school to look.

ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: I think we're going to be in a hybrid situation where some children will be in school some of the time, all children will be learning virtually some of the time as well. GOLODRYGA: With some states issuing guidelines for reopening, while others only recommendations. Much of the decision-making is left to local officials.

DAN DOMENECH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AASA, THE SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION: I'm so glad I'm not in that seat right now. There's the pressure from the community and the staff for the plans to be released, again, but releasing plans at this point with so many unknowns is what makes it such a difficult process.

GOLODRYGA: Bianna Golodryga, CNN, New York.


PAUL: President Trump working to fire up his base in this election year. His poll numbers, though, are falling. We have a closer look at the race for the White House, next.



PAUL: Speaking to a crowd of supporters at the base of Mount Rushmore last night was the president. Now, he didn't focus on the coronavirus pandemic. It's killed more than 129,000 Americans to date. But he tailored his message to his base, warning that the country's history is under attack from what he calls far left fascism.

Is that message resonating with the country at large is the question? A new poll from Monmouth University has the president losing to Joe Biden by 12 points nationally. With nearly three quarters of voters saying the country is headed in the wrong direction.

When it comes to handling the coronavirus, just 40 percent of Americans say President Trump is doing a good job. That number has been on a steady decline for the president since March. I spoke earlier with Axios politics and White House editor Margaret Talev about it.


MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What you're seeing in this poll and consistently in other polls is a real concern that the federal government has not handled this properly. And in this Monmouth poll, you're seeing a couple other trends that track with this also the feeling, you know, that people are not taking the virus seriously enough. The virus -- the reopenings are happening too quickly and that individual Americans are not taking the individual steps they need to do to protect their fellow citizens.

And so, when you see the president messages at Mount Rushmore in a crowd of thousands of people most of whom are not wearing masks, that does appeal to elements of his base, but the real question politically and there are major health questions as well, but the political question is, does this appeal anywhere outside of the president's base? The president is calculating that what he must do is energize and turn out his base. But, nationally what you see in the polling trends is that a majority of the country is really, really concerned about the way the virus has been managed from the president's perspective.

PAUL: Well, not only that, but an age group that really came out for him well in 2016, age 65 and up, now has former Vice President Biden at 59 percent with President Trump at 38 percent. Compare that to June, Biden at 50 percent and President Trump had 46 percent, but then in 2016 it was Clinton at 45 percent and Trump with 52 percent. We're four months from an election, four months. How flexible are these numbers, do you think, Margaret, depending on what happens over the next three or four months?

TALEV: Yes. The senior citizens' vote that you mentioned is really striking and crucial for a couple reasons. But one is that former Vice President Biden has always been popular with seniors. If you look four years ago or five years ago when it was thought that he might be a candidate and then he didn't run in 2016, he led a hypothetical President Trump or hypothetical candidate Trump back then with the senior vote.

So one is that Biden has always been popular with this group, but two, is that the president's popularity has really declined. When you look at the Monmouth numbers, something like five in 10 surveyed said that their mind is made up that they could not vote for President Trump. But about four in ten's mind is made up that they could not vote for Biden.

So the competition here is in a pretty small sliver in the middle and then it is about turnout. And that's why you see President Trump going back to the base again and again because it's really his only option.


PAUL: Thank you so much to Margaret Talev there. One hundred twenty- two days until Election Day. We're going to keep an eye on those numbers as it approaches.

SAVIDGE: Well, a lot of people are hoping for fun in the sun this weekend in a safe, socially distanced manner. But how many will have a chance for it really? Your Fourth of July forecast is just ahead.



PAUL: Strong to severe storms could threaten your socially distant holiday cookout this afternoon.

SAVIDGE: CNN's Allison Chinchar joining us now with more on your fourth forecast. Allison, what can we expect today?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning to both of you.

Yes, we have got a little bit of a mix. Some areas are going to be incredibly hot but they'll have the sunshine. Other areas maybe not as hot but they're going to have some stronger storms mixed in.

So, let's take a look. The eastern half of the country, especially the southern cities, you are going to have some scattered showers and thunderstorms. Places like Little Rock, Memphis, New Orleans and Atlanta all looking at rain chances in the forecast. But New York actually looks relatively nice.

Farther out to the west the best chance for those strong to severe storms is going to be in the northern plains, places like Rapid City and other states like North, South Dakota, Montana all of them again looking at the potential for some of those strong to severe thunderstorms. Out to the west, Seattle looks absolutely gorgeous. San Francisco also very nice.

However, down to the south Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson all going to be very hot. Again, it is summer but do keep that in mind you will have to stay hydrated today. If you have a chance to go out and see some firework displays tonight, some of the best cities look to be Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York and maybe even perhaps around Dallas as well.


So again, guys, the good news is here not everybody is going to be a washout, but we will have a couple spots that may need to take an umbrella with them.

PAUL: All right. Appreciate it, Allison.