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Health Experts Express Concern Public Gatherings For Independence Day Celebrations May Cause Increased Coronavirus Spread; Florida Reports Highest Single-Day Coronavirus Case Count; Mayor Of Hoboken, New Jersey, Ravi Bhalla Is Interviewed On Recent Spike In Coronavirus Cases In His City; President Trump Speaks At Independence Day Celebration At Mount Rushmore. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 4, 2020 - 14:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, again, everyone, and thank you so much for joining me on this July 4th. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Let's call this a rather unique Independence Day weekend, one of many contrasts.

From the northeast to the gulf coast, beaches open, take a look, and teeming with people. And then there is south Florida, beaches in Dade and Broward Counties closed. Look closely. This is Miami Beach you're about to see. Empty. OK, you're not going to see it. We thought we had those images, but we don't. So we're going to try and get them for you.

But that is the serious dose of reality, because Florida has reported its highest case count to date, more than 11,400 new infections in a single day. That number far surpassing any other state right now. But despite all of that, many beaches in the sunshine state do remain open. New cases are surging across the country, in fact once again topping 50,000 for the third state day.

But in the midst of the climbing case count, President Trump holding a campaign-style rally last night in the shadow of Mount Rushmore, where there was no social distancing being reinforced and not a whole lot of people were wearing masks. Much more on what the president had to say there coming up.

But let's start our coverage in Florida. CNN's Boris Sanchez is in Clearwater Beach. Boris, the beach is open there, and folks are there, families are there. And what are they saying about how they are taking precaution?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, some folks are very clearly taking precautions, others are violating some of the rules that are laid out on signs across the beach behind me. There's actually a sign just off to our right that says very clearly that they don't want groups of ten or more people coming here. Just now a restaurant that's off to the right called to seat more than 12 people. So obviously it's not exactly being enforced. They're asking folks who don't live in the same household to stay at least six feet apart, to not congregate in large groups.

A short while ago there was actually a bit of a rainstorm that passed by. We saw some folks going home, and now we're seeing an influx of more families coming to the beach to enjoy the sunshine, to get in the sand, to have a good time this holiday weekend despite the fact that the state of Florida, as you noted, with more than 11,400 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, 30,000 plus for the first three days of July after the month of June, with 100,000 new cases.

I actually spoke to some young ladies who were out here working on the beach earlier. They were promoting an energy drink, and part of that job is interacting closely with people, taking pictures with them. They told me they and their company have taken every precaution they can, but part of their health is mental health and interacting with people. Listen to what Brianna and Erica had to say.


ERICA BEAUCHAMP, BANG ENERGY SPOKESMODEL: To me it's so important, because also I believe fresh air is so important, and for our mental health, too. I truly believe that if you don't have your mental sanity and get to see people and talk like this, also that can't be healthy for you either. And if our minds aren't healthy, how can our bodies stay healthy. That's my view.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. You need Vitamin D.


SANCHEZ: The concern, obviously, Fred, is that we will see a surge much like we saw after Memorial Day weekend when folks ignored social distancing guidelines there. We will likely see a surge in about two weeks. That's the incubation period for the coronavirus. Of course, the governor here, Ron DeSantis, leaving it up to local officials to determine what restrictions they wanted for their local municipalities.

So while Clearwater Beach is open, as you noted, Miami Beach, Miami- Dade County, beaches there closed, Palm Beach County, Broward as well. A serious situation in the state of Florida, one we will likely watch unfold in the coming days and weeks, Fred.


WHITFIELD: We will indeed. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.

In fact, let's talk about what is anticipated in the road ahead. Dr. Seema Yasmin is with us. She's a CNN medical analyst, as well as a former CDC disease detective. So doctor, what are your concerns about what happens after this weekend, particularly in places where people are allowed to congregate?

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So Fredricka, there's always this lag between people being exposed and then actually testing positive and being recorded as a positive case. There's also, there can be a one-week to three or four-week lag between somebody testing positive and getting sick enough where they land in the hospital. So already the numbers are record high, we keep smashing our own sometimes local but also national records.

And I worry that in Florida in particular there are regions in Florida where ICU wards, they're at 82 percent capacity right now. There are three acute care hospitals in southwest Florida where the ICUs are completely maxed out. And two of Florida's largest health care systems have seen their COVID-19 patient numbers just about double in the last three or four weeks.

So as I talked to doctors and nurses on the ground, they're already starting to feel overwhelmed. And I'm concerned that as we do see some people flock to beaches this holiday weekend, what we might see in the weeks to come is actually even worse than the current numbers.

YASMIN: And take a look at -- right now we are looking at Miami Beach. And while you see the dots on the sand, that is not representative of people. We understand that's really the chairs and all that, because Miami Beach in Dade County, and it is closed.

So while this might offer I guess some solace to you, particularly in the medical community who are saying, OK, we're not seeing that people are hanging out together, you just talked about how so many medical facilities are strapped. And you're concerned about what is going to happen two weeks down the line. And we're also hearing that reportedly a lot of the test results, there seems to be a delay in getting that. How is this nation going to be able to catch up, so to speak?

YASMIN: That's the concern, because it's not just Florida that we're talking about. We're also thinking about Texas, California, where I am, Arizona. I've been talking to health care providers in all of these places. But I don't want to paint a hopeless picture, because we can still get a handle on this.

Sure, we've kind of been a bit complacent in the last few weeks, undone some of the progress we made by sheltering in place and making that sacrifice for the last few months. But we can still get on top of this if we have individuals do the right thing, wear a mask when you're outdoors, stay away from others.

And if we have officials who help us, who give us that clear guidance about how to keep ourselves safe and our communities safe, and really ramping up testing, so that everyone who needs a test can get one, and so that our hospitals and health care systems don't continue to become overwhelmed. We really have to look at what's happening, not be delusional about it, not be in denial, and do the testing, tracing and isolating that can help us get a handle on this crisis.

WHITFIELD: How much of a setback is it potentially that, say with the testing in Texas, particularly in Harris County, there are miles long of cars. Many are being turned away because there isn't enough material to meet the demand of testing? Is that a significant setback? And not just harping on Harris County, but there are other jurisdictions that are experiencing the same thing. What does it mean overall? YASMIN: Yes, it's a huge setback. And you're so right that it's not

just Harris County, Texas. We've seen the same images from Arizona and other parts of the country, too. Testing is so important in two regards. One, on an individual level it tells you this person has COVID-19, they need to take these precautions, we need to treat them in this way. But from a public health perspective, testing is one of your most basic pandemic response measures. It really gives you a handle on understanding how bad the crisis is, where the clusters are happening, where the outbreaks are.

And we are in July now, still have not got testing to the place where we need it to be. And as CDC Director Dr. Redfield told us a few days ago, for every one American who is testing positive for COVID-19, there are 10 more who are infected that are not getting tested, not being recorded. So the outbreak is worse even than the official numbers are showing, which is frightening. But ramping up testing can help us get a handle on this.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Seema Yasmin, thank you so much.

Moving north now to New Jersey where the mayor of Hoboken just announced that the city saw its biggest jump in new daily cases since May. Twelve of the 13 infected residents had recently traveled outside the state to areas that are flagged on New Jersey's quarantine list. And this comes as the state grapples with a large number of cases, more than 172,000 as of yesterday.


The mayor of Hoboken, Ravi Bhalla, joining me now. Mayor Bhalla, good to see you. So this is pretty alarming, this spike in cases comes on this holiday weekend. How concerned are you?

MAYOR RAVI BHALLA (D), HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY: We're very concerned here in Hoboken, because we had a very good streak of essentially a flatline of no cases, and now unfortunately we're seeing a trending up to the point where we've had a real spike in the last two or three days.

Luckily, due to rapid result testing where you can get a test within 15 minutes here in Hoboken for free, the city will pay for it, and aggressive contact tracing, we were able to identify that all of these cases were coming from people who had traveled out of state. As you said, 12 of the 13 were from those hot spot states.

And it's really, for us, a teachable moment that this is a window of opportunity where we really need to be cautious about what we do in terms of traveling, wearing a face mask, washing your hands, being socially distant. All of those things are so important to do now. If we don't do them now, we bear exposure to another wave coming into fall.

WHITFIELD: And on that issue of people traveling from other places to New Jersey, so many northeastern states are asking that anyone coming from hot spot areas, particularly in the south and southwest, that they quarantine some 14 days once they've entered any of these northeastern states. Are you able to do that? How are you able to enforce that? Are you just really counting on the honor system, so to speak?

BHALLA: It's almost like a game of infectious ping-pong in this country, where people come from states like New Jersey, travel to some of these hot spot states and then bring back the virus with them and then could be spreading it. So there's no way to really enforce the quarantine other than really to message out to the public through public education that it's important to, number one, quarantine if you are in any of those hot spot states, if you're traveling there this weekend, and also within five days of returning to your home here in New Jersey or Hoboken, that you make sure you get a test. Get tested if you were in one of those hot spot states.

WHITFIELD: So it's back to that personal responsibility, hoping that people are doing the right thing. So all of the newly infected patients, I understand, are under 45 years old, the majority are actually between 20 and 35 years old in your area. So what does that trend say to you, and what kind of message are you now, or even a revised message that you're sending to your citizens?

BHALLA: Well, the good news is that these spikes have not resulted in any hospitalizations, but we don't want anyone to take that for granted to mean that this is not serious. This is actually very serious because any of those individuals in that category can visit people who are compromised, they can visit their parents, their grandparents, and that really, unfortunately, is how the virus spreads. And this is only a small sampling of people who we know proactively took a COVID-19 test after returning to hot spots.

So our concern is that there are other people out there who aren't doing it, which is why we're pleading with people, if you have been to those states, be socially responsible while you're there, but when do return, quarantine for 14 days, get a test, and even after you get a test, make sure you continue to quarantine for that 14-day period.

WHITFIELD: Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, be well. Thank you so much, and all the best.

BHALLA: Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: Ahead of this Independence Day holiday, President Trump using a rally in South Dakota to stoke the flames of division as the country faces a racial reckoning and a growing pandemic. Also ahead, the Atlanta Braves just announced several of its players had been diagnosed with coronavirus. More on that when we come right back.



WHITFIELD: President Trump will take part in a Fourth of July event at the White House later today. This after delivering a divisive speech during an Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore last night. Instead of delivering an inspirational message of unity as the nation battles a growing pandemic, the president chose to make an impassioned culture war speech before a crowd.

And it was a pretty sizable crowd there with no social distancing being reinforced and very few were wearing masks. He railed against the removal of statues and monuments that some believe are symbols of racial oppression.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED 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.


WHITFIELD: Jeremy Diamond joining us from the White House. So Jeremy, was this speech rather a preview of more to come?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, make no mistake, Fredricka, this speech comes at an inflection point in the president's efforts to win another four years. It comes as he is losing in the polls against Joe Biden in nearly every major battleground state, and as many of the president's advisers and campaign donors are urging him to start to modulate his tone, to try to an appeal to more Americans.


And what the president did last night essentially is say that he's not going to follow that advice and make very clear that he is tripling down on these culture wars. The president making clear that he's going to ramp up the same playbook that he used in 2016, attempting to divide Americans along some of these cultural fronts.

The president last night, we heard him trying to create this boogeyman version of the left that is trying to take away everything you love about America, trying to indoctrinate your children. The president using some very, very incendiary language. He talked about a leftwing cultural revolution that he is trying to quite literally, he said, overthrow the American Revolution. Listen to more of what the president said last night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our people have a great memory. They will never forget the destruction of statues and monuments to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, abolitionists, and many others. The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets and cities that are run by liberal Democrats in every case is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DIAMOND: And Fredricka, you can hear the president there talking about indoctrination. It was just one of those incendiary words that he used as he tried to describe the left as trying to take the U.S. in some kind of totalitarian direction, literally describing the left as fascists at one point. So really some extraordinary language.

And make no mistake, Fredricka. While the president there was talking about attempts to take down statues of some of the nation's former presidents, the president has spent the last week talking about the efforts to take down statues of Confederate traitors, people who tried to preserve slavery in the United States.

That is where the president's focus has been. And so his speech last night, even though he didn't explicitly mention those Confederate monuments, can only be viewed through that lens. The president here making a very, very loud dog whistle here to his base, as well as to many racist Americans who want those things preserved. And so that was quite clear, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Let's talk about something else that was quite clear at that event at Mount Rushmore. Very few masks worn. The social distancing was not honored, respected, reinforced. But then everyone kind of knew that going into it. So what does this mean when that's been the president's edict? And now a member of the president's inner circle tested positive for coronavirus, this after a number of other advanced team members, Secret Service also tested positive during and after the Tulsa event.

DIAMOND: That's right. And what's interesting, Fredricka, is that the president is having another event at the White House this evening. The White House has said they're enforcing social distancing at this event to preserve the health and safety of those attending, and yet last night for some reason that didn't apply. So a very strange double standard that this White House is applying.

And yes, as you mentioned, another member of the president's inner circle, at least on his political team, testing positive, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is a top finance official for the Trump campaign and who is also Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend. She tested positive before she was expected to attend that very same Mount Rushmore event.

She was notably at the president's campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma two weeks ago, and over the last several days she's been making a fundraising swing through South Dakota and other parts of the country where she has spent time with campaign donors in close proximity indoors without a mask. So again, this is how the Trump campaign and the Trump White House are handling this virus. And most notably, Fredricka, the president last night, no mention really of that pandemic.

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

So it may be July 4th weekend, but parents are already wondering if the back-to-school season will actually have kids back in the classrooms. Coming up, how some school districts are planning to reopen their doors safely.

And a quick programming note, this Fourth of July, tonight, an evening of fireworks and an all-star musical lineup with Jewel, Barry Manilow, CeCe Winans, Don McLean, and many more. Don Lemon and Dana Bush host CNN's "Fourth of July in America" live tonight starting at 8:00 eastern time.



WHITFIELD: Schools across the country are grappling with the issues of getting more than 50 million kids back to school starting in just a few weeks from now. Even as coronavirus cases surge in almost all states, plans are being hammered out on how to get kids back inside the classroom. And it's causing a great deal of anxiety and concern for parents and teachers. Here's CNN's Bianna Golodyrga.


BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: A message to parents and school administrators from the country's most prominent doctor.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It is very important to get the children back to school for the unintended negative consequences that occur when we keep them out of school.

GOLODRYGA: But with more than 50 million K through 12 students across the country returning to class in just weeks, the big question is how to do it safely.

FAUCI: It really will depend on the dynamics of the outbreak in the particular location where the school is.


GOLODRYGA: That's exactly what local school leaders are debating in many states, especially those currently seeing spikes in infections, like Alabama.

ERIC MACKEY, ALABAMA STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION: In one jurisdiction, it's under five percent, and in another jurisdiction it's 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.

GOLODRYGA: In other southern hot spots, 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. Texas and Florida are still planning for a return to the classroom in August.

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

GOLODRYGA: California also currently experiencing a spike in cases, says its 10,000 schools will have a plan in place in time for late August and September re-openings.

TONY THURMOND, CALIFORNIA STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: We'll be ready for either scenario, in-person or staying in distance learning.

GOLODRYGA: And if cases continue to rise, Dr. Fauci has some advice.

FAUCI: There are things that can creatively be done about modifying things like the school's schedule, alternate days, morning versus evening, allowing under certain circumstances online virtual lessons. Those are the kind of things that we need to consider.

JOSEPH ALLEN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, HARVARD, T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: 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 opening schools. Among them -- distance, hygiene, mask wearing, and proper ventilation.

ALLEN: We know these strategies work even with a full load in the class. Kids are at lower risk of getting this virus.

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

DAN DOMENECH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AASA, THE SCHOOLS 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.


WHITFIELD: All right, thank you, Bianna.

So this week the American Academy of Pediatrics added its voice to those saying kids need to be physically back in school, saying the importance of in-person learning is well documented. And there is already evidence of negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.

So Dr. Tanya Altmann is a pediatrician in Los Angeles, and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Good to see you, doctor. So yes, it's important to get your kids in school, to get all of our kids in school. But the issue is how to do it to ensure their safety. So no one is arguing, right, that they shouldn't be in school. The issue is how do these kids get back in school, and you're not worried about what they could be exposed to and what they could be bringing home?

DR. TANYA ALTMANN, PEDIATRICIAN: Well, I think, Fredricka, those are all great points, and thank you for having me on today. I think the main thing is that we know a lot more now than we did back in March when we closed schools. And as you've mentioned, we've seen these unintended consequences of kids being home. And so many kids not only rely on school for learning, but also for emotional support, nutrition, exercise. We've really seen that this disproportionately affects many underserved areas around the country.

Also we've been hearing a lot about opening the economy. And to do that, for many families, that relies on their kids being in school.


ALTMANN: The important thing to acknowledge is that it's not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach. So not all schools across the country are going to be able to use the exact same plans. And that's why schools need to start working and have flexible plans that they can change on a dime depending on what public health officials recommend.

WHITFIELD: So like you said, not one formula fits all because you have some school districts who might not have the resources, the means to try to put all of these safety measures in place. Not all kids in all school districts are getting the kind of resources they need on a daily basis. So then it's back to that. How do families in varying districts feel comfortable about their kids going back to school, and that their personal safety is paramount?

ALTMANN: So I know there's a lot of concern for both students and teachers. I'm a pediatrician, I have three boys myself, and I think with the increasing numbers in certain areas around the country, that can make everybody feel uncomfortable and wonder, is my child going to be safe. So I think it's also important to note that while new research is coming out every day, it does appear that children are less likely to catch the virus. And when they do catch it, less likely to have severe disease and also less likely --


WHITFIELD: OK, except when you heard about an 11-year-old in Florida who just died from complications from the virus, many of us as parents who may have felt comfortable with the idea that younger kids are less likely to contract the virus, when you hear a case like that, it's like, OK, wait a minute, maybe that's not the case. So how dangerous is it potentially for my kid, who is 10-years-old or 12-years-old or 16-years-old?

ALTMANN: Right, and my heart goes out to that family, everyone who has been affected by COVID-19. We are going to see serious illness in all ages. But in general, the majority of children actually will do OK. And I think that's actually why a lot of the health and safety plans are focused on protecting the teachers and the older students, because those are the ones that actually are more at high risk.

And so by adding different layers of protection depending on what your school's needs and the feasibility of it can help get the majority of kids back in person. And it may not be all students, and that's OK. But we need to be able to have a place where those families that need to send their kids or want to send their kids can send their kids to in-person learning.

WHITFIELD: OK, so now let's shift gears a little bit, because we just learned that the World Health Organization is discontinuing studies of hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. They found the drug produced little or no reduction in deaths, and other treatments may have saved lives. So what is the significance of this?

ALTMANN: Well, I think as we've talked about, things are moving quickly every day, and science is really moving at such a fast pace to keep up with all of the new developments. And so I think it's important that we focus our time and research on treatments that do seem to be working in helping people shorten the course and shorten the severity of COVID-19.

And that's what you're going to see happening around the country as we're trying to -- as time goes on, even if the numbers are going up, if we're getting better at prevention and treatment, then we're going to see an overall improvement in what is happening across the country.

WHITFIELD: Is too much stock being put into hydroxychloroquine?

ALTMANN: I think initially it did seem like one of the medications that could be promising. So we did the research, we looked at the data, and it seemed to be not so much. So now we're moving on to look at other treatments and therapeutics that may be more beneficial.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Tanya Altmann, we'll leave it there for now. Thank you so much.

ALTMANN: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Multiple states are ordering bars to close as coronavirus cases surge. That's because some are crowded with people not wearing masks. CNN's Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A carefree crowd at a bar in Austin, Texas, many inside not wearing face masks. In Jersey City this bar was cited twice in one weekend for overcrowding. Police say hundreds of people were inside not wearing masks or social distancing. At this club in Houston an owner says they required patrons to show they had a mask in order to get in and had the tables spaced out. But he says customers ignored the rules.

BRET HIGHTOWER, CO-OWNER, SPIRE NIGHTCLUB: As much as distance we try to put everyone based on the guidelines, it's not the facility, it's the people.

TODD: These scenes from recent days have prompted America's top voice on the coronavirus outbreak to issue a stern warning about bars.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Bars, really not good. Really not good. Congregation at a bar inside is bad news. We've really got to stop that.

TODD: In Texas, where a coronavirus spike has surged to alarmingly dangerous levels, Governor Greg Abbott admitted he made a mistake with his state's reopening.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT, (R) TEXAS: If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars, now seeing in the aftermath of how quickly the coronavirus spread in the bar setting. And how a bar setting in reality, just doesn't work with a pandemic.

TODD: But Abbott and his state are certainly not alone. Texas is among seven states, some of them experiencing massive spikes in cases, which have either shut down bars completely or have partially shut them or paused re-openings. Experts say crowded bars alone don't account for the recent spikes, but they say the natural social atmosphere in bars is especially dangerous.

DR. JOHN SWARTZBERG, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, U.S. BERKELEY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Bars are places where people are not wearing masks, places where people aren't social distancing, and after some drinks, of course, you lose your inhibitions and you even are less cautious.

TODD: The doctors we spoke to say there's almost no way to make an indoor bar setting safe during this pandemic. Indoors, they say, especially in there's loud music playing at a bar, it's like a petri dish for the spread of the virus.

SWARTZBERG: Inside in the bar, if it's noisy, if there's music playing, the ambient noise is going to make you talk louder. When you talk louder, you expel more droplets from your mouth. Those droplets, of course, can contain the virus and infect other people.

TODD: Another part of this so-called perfect storm of infection, experts say, is the average age of many people who go to bars.

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: They feel invincible because they're young. And, quite frankly, throughout the beginning of this pandemic it's mostly been messaging about older folks and people with preexisting health conditions as being vulnerable.

TODD: So has this pandemic killed the bar scene completely? The medical experts we spoke to don't believe it has. They believe traditional crowded bars will make a comeback. But they say that can't be until we have proven vaccines and herd immunity. And they say that could take another year or so.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.



WHITFIELD: And this concerning news out of Atlanta. several Atlanta Braves, baseball players, have tested positive for coronavirus just days after the season started. More on that straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: Is this a big setback. The manager of the Atlanta Braves has just announced that four team members have tested positive for coronavirus. This comes on the heels of 31 other MLB players and seven staff members contracting the deadly virus.


CNN sports correspondent Carolyn Manno joining me now. So Carolyn, what do we know about these four Braves players, their condition, and all of this happening during what's considered the second spring training, right?

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. So we know that two of the Braves players that were mentioned today were asymptomatic and two were exhibiting symptoms. And first baseman Freddie Freeman was in the second group that's exhibiting a fever. He's said to be down for the count for the foreseeable future.

But you mentioned this resumption of spring training and hopefully, fingers crossed, for Major League Baseball a season, and all of these results are coming after an initial round of testing. They tested just over 3,000 people and, like you said, initially 31 players and seven staff members came back positive.

But this is something that's going to continue to evolve and change. There are privacy issues here. And we're going to hear about more and more cases as they hopefully get set for a season that's set to begin on July 23rd or 24th.

WHITFIELD: Right, and that was an announcement about an abbreviated start of the new season. So now, boy, it seems like a lot is in the air. Carolyn Manno, thank you so much.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, those are the main rights set out in the Declaration of Independence. Hundreds of years later, many are still fighting for those rights. We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. a live view of how many Americans are enjoying the Fourth of July holiday weekend in the northeast, the mid- Atlantic. There's my childhood past time favorite summer beach of Ocean City, Maryland. But then if you look at the lower righthand corner you see what appear to be people. No, those are empty beaches at Miami Beach among the three counties in south Florida where beaches remain closed because of the pandemic. While millions of Americans across the country do commemorate this

country's independence today, we remember African-American author and Abolitionist Frederick Douglass who in 1852 gave a famous speech called "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" In it he explored the tension between the oppression of slavery and ideals of freedom. Sadly, that tension still exists today.

Here now is CNN's Leyla Santiago.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fireworks, parades, ceremonies, the celebration of U.S. independence, once declared by founding fathers that wrote, "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." But the very rights being celebrated on Independence Day are the same rights that millions of Americans say they and their ancestors have not been allowed to enjoy.

What does Independence Day mean to you?

JESSE HOLLAND, AUTHOR, "THE INVISIBLES": I will always be a proud American, but that doesn't mean I don't realize the faults and the flaws that this country has.

SANTIAGO: For historian and author Jesse Holland, that includes the injustice that has led to unrest across the country, the inequalities in communities of color highlighted by a pandemic.

HOLLAND: I think it's fair to sometimes question whether Americans loves African-Americans as much as we love it.

OPAL LEE, ACTIVIST: We can solve these problems if we just do it together.

SANTIAGO: For 93-year-old Opal Lee, independence must commemorate the freedom for all, including Juneteenth, the day enslaved people in Texas learned that all those enslaved in Confederate states had been freed.

LEE: I'm advocating that we have Juneteenth from the 19th to the fourth of July. You know slaves weren't free on the Fourth of July.

SANTIAGO: As Americans face a reckoning over racism, past and present, there's no message of healing from the White House. Instead, President Trump is calling a Black Lives Matter street mural a symbol of hate after New York City announced it would be painted in front of Trump Tower. He's also demanding protection for symbols of the Confederacy at campaign rallies.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The unhinged leftwing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments.

SANTIAGO: During diplomatic visits.

TRUMP: Not going to happen, not as long as I'm here.

SANTIAGO: Even on Twitter. And he's refusing to sign anything changing the name of military bases named after Confederate leaders.

HOLLAND: I am hopeful that we will, as a country, decide that the Confederacy is something to be studied, not something to be glorified, and we're able to actually celebrate who we are when we celebrate Independence Day.

SANTIAGO: And President Trump kicked off the Independence Day weekend standing at Mount Rushmore, in front of a monument of two slave owners and on land that was wrestled away from Native Americans for the national park.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Washington, D.C.


WHITFIELD: Thank you so much for joining me on this Independence Day. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Coming up, Jake Tapper hosts a new CNN Special Report, "Trump and the Law: After Impeachment". That's next.