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Masks Optional, Zero Social Distancing At Trump Event; Trump Campaign's Guilfoyle Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Protests Outside Aurora, Colorado Police Precinct. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 4, 2020 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[02:00:00]

PAULA NEWTON, CNN NEWROOM: In the midst of a pandemic, President Trump packs thousands into Mt. Rushmore not to talk about COVID-19 but to rail against the removal of monuments.

The coronavirus, meantime, is hitting close to home. Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. and the top fundraiser for the reelection campaign, tests positive in South Dakota.

And while infections rate sky rocket in the U.S., how its neighbor to the north is crashing the curve.

Hello and welcome to CNN Newsroom, I'm Paula Newton.

So, as the U.S. sees more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases for the third consecutive day, the virus barely got a mention at President Trump's Independence Day celebration at Mt. Rushmore. There was no social distancing and masks were optional for the roughly 8,000 people there, Friday night. All that, despite the advice of Trump's very own health officials, urging Americans to avoid crowds, mask up and socially distance if they do go out.

Trump mentioned the virus, a grand total of once in a 40-minute speech.

You can see, there, traditional fireworks show were there -- were on to celebrate American independence. That came after rhetorical fireworks from the president, railing against what he called, a merciless campaign by his foes to erase history by taking down monuments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: This monument will never be desecrated. These heroes will never be defaced. Their legacy will never, ever be destroyed. Their achievements will never be forgotten. And Mt. Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NEWTON: So, Mr. Trump also said he will sign an executive order to establish a new monument to the giants of our past, in his words. More on that now from CNN's Joe Johns who's at Mt. Rushmore.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: This visit by the president to South Dakota featured a fireworks display, the first fireworks display over historic Mt. Rushmore in 11 years. It also featured music as well as military flyovers and a speech by the president, himself.

Now, you might have expected the president to talk extensively about coronavirus, which is ravaging the United States right now. He only mentioned it once at the very beginning of the speech and he never came back to it.

But one of the themes he chose to hit hardest in this speech was what the president sees as attacks on historic statues all over the country by people who see them as symbols of oppression. The president said he's not going to let the statues be destroyed. He even said he wants to create some type of garden of heroes, with statues, in the United States, but he's not going to let Americans destroy the statues that now exist. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Those who seek to erase our heritage want Americans to forget our pride and our great dignity so that we can no longer understand ourselves or America's destiny.

They would tear down the beliefs, culture and identity that have made America the most vibrant and tolerant society in the history of the earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: The president will be back in Washington, D.C. on Saturday for, yet another, celebration of the July 4th holiday, though it will be scaled down, compared to the celebration he had there this time last year.

Traveling with the president in Keystone, South Dakota, I'm Joe Johns, CNN.

NEWTON: Now, House officials are criticizing the president for holding that large event you see there as those surge in coronavirus cases continue. The president wasn't wearing a mask and guests weren't required to wear them, either. Take a look for yourself.

As for social distancing, yes, non-existent, one doctor calling it beyond irresponsible.

[02:05:05]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: This is a man who once said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and he would never lose voters. Now, he's asking essentially people to shoot themselves. This is on par with the Jonestown massacre but on a national scale. He's essentially asking his supporters to drink the Kool-Aid or jump off the cliff in a way that's very dangerous, except this is something that can spread to others.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: So, as the president stood in front of Mt. Rushmore, an iconic American symbol, another pointed out even politicians can get sick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Just look at the rocks and look at Mt. Rushmore. Two of the four faces, Washington and Jefferson, on Mt. Rushmore, got small fox. It's a reminder that even the great and the near great that our presidents are vulnerable to this disease.

In the great influenza of 1918, President Woodrow Wilson got the Spanish flu, the great influenza. No one is immune to a novel virus, which has never hit us before, for which we don't have an antiviral or a vaccine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: And so, given that, we now have this news in to CNN, the virus has breached the president's inner circle, and gotten very close to the Trump family.

Kimberly Guilfoyle has now tested positive for coronavirus. She is a top Trump campaign official and Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend. The Trump campaign says she is asymptomatic and now isolated and feeling well.

Now, as we mentioned before, the U.S. has reported more than 50,000 new cases for the third straight day now. Now, the country is closing in on 2.8 million cases and nearly 130,000 deaths.

And as we're learning more about infections in President Trump's inner circle, one group of people is especially at risk, the Secret Service agents, eight agents caught the virus while preparing for Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Phoenix, Arizona.

And the 4th of July weekend isn't going to make things any better, as you can imagine. Nick Watt shows us where the virus is hitting hardest.

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NICK WATT, CNN REPORTER: Florida now leading the nation in new cases, every day, as the U.S. heads into a holiday weekend.

JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: The most important thing I would say to people is if you do go out to a gathering or in public, please wear a face covering. WATT: Beaches will be open again in New York City for the 4th but closing down again in parts of Texas, across much of Southern California, the Bay Area and South Florida, off limits in Miami Beach. And the mayor's message --

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D-MIAMI BEACH, FL): The hardest thing to deal with are these mixed messages coming from the state and the federal government and the president. We're telling people that there's nothing more American than making a sacrifice by staying home.

WATT: Wednesday, more than 50,000 new cases across this country for the first time. Yesterday, it happened again.

TRUMP: We've implemented an aggressive strategy.

WATT: The president says it's just more testing. It's not. So what is it?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What's very difficult to say that this particular demonstration or that particular rally or that particular holiday at a beach did it, but something happened to make the spike go way up like that.

WATT: And different states, different stories. In Arizona, more people are now being killed by COVID-19 than ever before. Vermont hasn't had a COVID-19 patient in the ICU for nearly six weeks. While in parts of Texas, we're told, there are now waiting lists for ICU beds.

GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): If people gather on 4th of July, the same way they did in Memorial Day, it is going to lead to a massive increase in the number of people testing positive and it could lead, once again, to an increase in the number of people who lose their lives.

WATT: He's finally mandated masks for most Texans.

DR. JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, HOUSTON: Well, unfortunately, I think, you know, the cow is out of the barn. I think that we are a little too late. I mean, this is a nation that should have been instituted months ago.

WATT: Still, Texas making that move might be a watershed moment.

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTER FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: I hope that every governor in every state takes notice in says, and one of the most conservative, freedom-loving states that would be the last place you'd expect can do it, then it's really okay to say, let's put public health first.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: And here, in California, for the holiday weekend, a lot of the beaches are closed. You can no longer sing in church or any house of worship. And some cities around here say that they will now start fining people who don't wear masks when they're out and about. West Hollywood, first offense, $300.

A lot of people doing whatever they can to make sure we do not see in the United States a spike after Independence Day, like we saw a spike after Memorial Day.

[02:10:08]

Nick Watt, CNN, Manhattan Beach, California.

NEWTON: And Dr. Joseph Varon is the Chief of Staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, and he joins me now. And a big thank you to you. I know you have been working day and night for months. And so we thank you for giving a glimpse into what's happening in your hospital.

And I have to tell you, I've heard you for the last couple days warn people that the worst is still yet to come in your hospital when you see these cases spiking right across the country but obviously, specifically in Texas. Do you believe it's time for another widespread lockdown or are you comfortable with what's going on right now, more mask wearing, you know, the closures of some restaurants, some bars? What do you think?

VARON: Well, what you see is that the problem that we have is that it seems that we don't have true public awareness. If you were just to go ahead and close down, you're going to have a lot of protesters saying, oh, you cannot close, you know, it's our rights, all that kind of stuff. And, to be honest, I think it's a little too late.

I have said before, we should have locked down months ago and a serious lockdown. I mean, one of those lockdowns where you have the military out there. And you would not have been able to go out. If we would have done that, we wouldn't be where we are today.

At this point in time, the cow is out of the barn. I've said that over and over again. Right now, the only thing that can make a difference is to wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your social distance. And if you don't have to be out, stay home.

NEWTON: What fear do you have that people aren't listening to? Like what specifically do you fear there in Texas? And I know the situation is quite grave in Houston right now. You know, do you even have a sense of why and how you are getting so many people coming in now testing positive of all age groups?

VARON: Well, you know, I mean, yes, we think we have a sense. You know, immediately after Mother's Day, we had a big spike. Then after Memorial Day, we had another spike. Then we have a lot of different mass gatherings and we have a (INAUDIBLE).

My primary concern today is that people are going to go out. They're going to start having a lot of fun because it's 4th of July. And in two weeks' time, I'm going to see a huge spike. And that's what I don't want to see. Because right now, my hospital is almost full. I mean, I'm having to scramble for beds so that I can have places to help those patients that come in. NEWTON: And in terms of what's going on in your hospital right now, I mean, take me inside your hospital and what you're doing to try and cope, and importantly too, what you've learned about how to treat this virus?

VARON: Well, I mean, we've done a lot of things. One thing that we have learned as to how to treat the virus, is that we know that coronavirus kills you by two mechanisms. First, a lot of inflammation, and, second, a lot of clotting. So we have a protocol that we call the math plus protocol, where we use a lot of cortisone. We use a couple of vitamins, Vitamin C and Thiamine. And we also use blood thinner heparin. With that, we're able to get our patients to go home. We have 96 percent success rate for those patients.

But in order for that to work, you need to come early to the hospital. And the problem is a lot of people wait in their homes forever before they come to the hospital. And by the time they come, they are so sick that they end up in respirators and things like that.

NEWTON: Yes. It must be incredible -- incredibly difficult for you to deal with, especially when you have these people arriving in your hospital, and as you've said, they've already come too late.

I have to ask you. And I know it's difficult to have the public-health element of this and the politics collide. But, you know, you heard us there, President Trump only mentioned the pandemic once in his speech. Do you believe that harms you and your hospital right at this moment? Meaning, if you don't have a leader, you know, who's actually admitting that this is a huge problem and, instead, saying, no, everything's under control, do you think that this hurts you and hurts your cause and what you're trying to do every hour in that hospital?

VARON: Well, I mean, the primary issue that we have in the U.S. is that we're hearing conflicting reports. We're hearing conflicting opinions. Even -- whether it's from a politician, whether it's from Centers for Disease Control, whether it's from an institutional organization, like the World Health Organization. I mean, they are giving different information. Your viewers, they are confused. They don't know who to believe.

It is time that we do better as Americans, that we all come together, and have some consensus agreement as to what to do. To-date, that consensus agreement is keep your social distance, wear your mask, don't go to mass gatherings.

[02:15:02]

That would be my recommendation as a physician.

NEWTON: Dr. Joseph Varon, thank you so much. I have to point out how late it is where you are. It is 1:15. You are still speaking to us and I know you've let our cameras into your hospital and you're doing this because you care about people and you want them to get better. Again, thanks so much. I really appreciate your time.

VARON: My pleasure. NEWTON: Coming up on CNN Newsroom. Canada's coronavirus outbreak looks a lot different than its southern neighbor. And there are many reasons for it. We'll tell you about them when we come back.

And pubs, restaurants and other businesses are reopening in England. The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, has a reminder and a warning and how travel is going to be changing in England.

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NEWTON: So with cases spiking in the United States, you might be wondering how its neighbor to the North is doing. In Canada, they have effectively crushed the curve. I have been speaking to dozens of public health experts, doctors, politicians from around the country for five months now, tracking the virus. And the response in Canada was not perfect.

[02:15:02] And to say that it was would be a disservice to the more than 8,500 people who have died there. But there has been a key difference in the response. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: For Canada, it's been a hallmark of the pandemic, empty hospitals. The feared wave of COVID patients never happened.

Canada started out much like the United States. But as the COVID curve climbed, Canada crushed it, now seeing on average, just a few hundred new positive cases a day. That means, right now, the U.S. is reporting more than ten times more positive cases per capita than Canada. And yet, no one here is declaring mission accomplished.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: What the situation we're seeing in the United States and elsewhere highlights for us is that, even as our economy is reopening, we need to make sure we are continuing to remain vigilant, individually and collectively.

NEWTON: Vigilance has been the watchword, early and widespread testing, a free healthcare system, still, building surge capacity, longer shutdowns, slower reopening, social distancing, and there is no controversy over wearing masks. Most see it as their duty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wear it for myself and others. It protects them from me and me from them. Just -- it's just respectable to like being respectful to other people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right from the top down, they are leading by example in terms of their use of masks.

NEWTON: British Columbia's top doctor acted as the country's early warning system, successfully managing the very first outbreaks and proving it could be done.

DR. BONNIE HENRY, PROVINCIAL HEALTH OFFICER FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA: A lot of it comes down to cohesiveness, being able to provide the information that people needed to do what we needed them to do. And that has held up as we have gone into opening up things again.

People still are adhering to the basics to try and ensure that we still keep each other safe.

NEWTON: Dr. Henry points to something else that was critical, keeping politics out of the response. Here is a conservative leader praising the liberal deputy prime minister.

RALPH GOODALE, CANADA DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Chrystia Freeland, what can I say, she's an absolute champion.

NEWTON: It would be like a Democratic governor calling Vice President Mike Pence their hero.

HENRY: In general, we were all coming together. We had the same basic information for people. And the politicians made the right decisions based on advice and that helped us.

NEWTON: Also, critically important, the U.S.-Canada border remains closed to all but essential travel. And anyone entering Canada right now must quarantine for 14 days. And the E.U. has deemed Canadians as safe for entry, unlike Americans.

And yet, here, too, missteps have had tragic consequences. More than 8,500 people have died. The vast majority of deaths linked to crowded and poorly-staffed seniors' homes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've seen a lot of bad stuff happened, but I don't remember anything with this level of sadness.

NEWTON: Prime Minister Trudeau admits it's been a national shame. And, in that contrition, Canadians see a willingness to recalibrate the country's response to the virus based on an unwavering deference to science.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: And now to England, where pubs and restaurants are reopening this Saturday, but that doesn't mean everything will be back to normal. The British prime minister is urging everyone to try and be responsible. He's also warning all those who might defy restrictions that they're letting others down.

Now, concerning travel to England, the British government has a new list. It includes 59 countries and 14 British overseas territories. Travelers from those places will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival. The U.S., in case you were wondering, is not on that list.

CNN's Selma Abdelaziz joins me now live from London. Selma, really good to see you. You know, I know many people watching know this. In Britain, in general, the pub is an institution. And for that reason, this is quite a milestone for Britain and now that people are actually going to be able to go to as they call it their local. How are they feeling about it?

SELMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Paula, people are absolutely over the moon. There's a sense of excitement in this city about it. Three months of lockdown, and as you said, the pub is the cornerstone of British culture. It's where you go to meet your friends to get away from your cramped apartment, to finally get that pint at your local. Everyone is absolutely relieved to see this.

But it's not going to be the same as it was before. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, yesterday, was very careful to warn everyone to make sure they're following the restrictions. Take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, UNITED KINGDOM, PRIME MINISTER: I do want people to feel that it's safe to go and enjoy themselves, to enjoy hospitality. But it's got to be done in a responsible way. You know, the heads of parties got to give their name, contact details to everybody behind the bar or behind the -- to the -- in the -- in the restaurant or wherever, got to be done, got to observe social distancing, wash hands, and this will be a success.

[02:25:15]

ABDELAZIZ: Enjoy the summer safely. That's the message from the government. But this is going to be a massive adjustment. As you heard, there're restrictions there from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Usually, pubs like the one behind me here during the summertime, they are absolutely spilling out into the street with customers. You're shoulder to shoulder with people. These are usually very cramped places. So London and the country, at large, are going to have to relearn going out, Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. And if they can't pack those pubs, you know, we've seen before that a lot of these owners say that, unfortunately, if they can't put people in there to the level they had before, that they're really going to be in dire straits financially. And to that end, what about the economic toll that this is taking on Britain?

ABDELAZIZ: It's taken a huge toll on Britain, as it has everywhere in the world. The hospitality sector is the third-largest employer in this country, 3 million jobs. Of course, many of those people now are furloughed, are at home, not making money. So there's a lot of eagerness to get people out.

But as you said, there is a concern as to whether or not these restrictions will allow people to make money. Will you still be able to pay your overhead costs when you're operating at a much lower capacity because of social distancing? And not only that. Are people going to be willing to go back out to restaurants and bars? Are they going to feel safe enough? Some surveys saying that over 60 percent of Britons don't feel safe enough, yet, to go out.

So it is a massive gamble but one that this country feels must take place in order to reopen the economy. Paula?

NEWTON: Yes. Britain's suffered quite a bit. So the coronavirus says other nations. So a bit of relief there that during the summer, at least there will be some return to normalcy. Selma, thank you so much, I appreciate it.

Now, as the U.S. gears up to celebrate its Independence Day, President Trump delivers a divisive speech taking aim at those protesting racial injustice across the country.

Plus, a new study details how the deadly coronavirus is changing and becoming more infectious. We'll hear from one of the authors of that study.

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[02:30:00]

NEWTON: And I want to welcome back to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton. And you are watching CNN Newsroom.

President Trump kicked off the U.S. Independence Day holiday in the shadow of Mount Rushmore, but the coronavirus pandemic is casting a far greater shadow over the nation. The U.S. has seen more than 50,000 new cases for the third consecutive day. The Rushmore event had no social distancing, and masks were optional.

In the meantime, a top Trump campaign official, Kimberly Guilfoyle, tested positive for the virus before the event. She is Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend. The campaign says the president's son has tested negative. President Trump mentioned the virus only once in his Rushmore speech. Instead he railed against the movement to take down controversial monuments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.

They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive. But, no, the American people are strong and proud. And they will not allow our country and all of its values, history and culture to be taken from them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: Political Analyst, Michael Genovese, is the Author of How Trump Governs, he's also the President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles and he joins me now.

So good to see you, Michael, and I hope you have been well.

I don't have to remind you, do I? We are exactly four months away from an election. The U.S., meantime, continues to break those records, by the hour, really, Michael, for new positive cases. And Donald Trump mentions the pandemic exactly once.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And the speech itself was focused on, basically, a reliving of 1968, about law and order and crime in the streets. The problem is it's not 1968. In '68, there were real problems of crime in the streets. There were real problems with the protest movements getting violent. Law and order was an issue. He's trying to create the issue. Most of the protests that took place over Black Lives Matter were quite peaceful. Given the enormity of those protests, it's really impressive.

But the speech, itself, was dark and it was disturbing and quite incendiary. This is a 4th of July speech. And rhetoricians, they say that this is and epideptic, which means it's a ceremonial speech you insert certain ceremonial things. You bring the nation together. You talk about national unity. He was tearing the nation apart in this presentation, and it was almost like his carnage speech from the inauguration revisited. He's going to play the same cards in this election but the context is going to be very, very different.

NEWTON: And let's get to who the audience is at this point in time, and, I mean, writ large in the United States. But to that speech, you know, he used the term new far-left fascism and clearly pointed to that issue of cancel culture, which he talks a lot about.

I mean, we've learned, right, Michael, never to count out Donald Trump in these elections. Do you think he still believes that igniting, fanning the flames of that culture war is his only winning strategy, four months from now?

GENOVESE: Well, he is facing a series of problems. The pandemic, the economy, the whole issue of is Russia paying people to kill America -- the Taliban to kill Americans. So there's a lot of bad news. And so he is trying to grapple and find something to grab onto.

The problem is that he sounds like he's running for sheriff and not for president. Plus, trying to make Joe Biden into this radical left who wants to tear down America, it's not going to sell. People know Joe Biden. They may not like him. They may like him. But they know he's not some radical, leftist, extremist.

NEWTON: And let's get to that point about who his audience is and who he is speaking to. We look at these cases rising in the United States of coronavirus. And think about it, right? You've got Arizona and Florida, two very important states that are really dealing with record-setting coronavirus spikes.

[02:35:06]

Incredible, right? And the fact that he still doesn't seem to be wanting to reach them, do you think he will have a reckoning with those crucial voters in four months if he doesn't get on board and start talking about what is clearly affecting them in their states?

GENOVESE: Well, you know, there's no federal policy on the pandemic. He's left it up to 50 different states doing 50 different things. And so if it appears to be chaotic, it is chaotic. The president has chosen to sort of bury his head in the sand and play the ostrich. And we know how when you -- when you bury your head in the sand, an important part of your anatomy is left wide open. And that, I think, is what the Democrats are going to be going after, a president who has not faced up to the reality of a pandemic, has not provided leadership, has been, basically, missing in action. So he really has to come back and recapture some of those voters who are concerned, 65 percent or so, that things are getting worse, the pandemic is getting worse and that something needs to be done. He cannot continue to bury his head in the sand.

NEWTON: And you think he will lose voters if he does in those crucial states.

GENOVESE: Well, he already has. We see some not hemorrhaging but we see some decline. He's lost college-age voters. He's lost a lot of women. There's a huge gender gap. It's about 25 percent. That's double what it normally is. Young voters who are against him are really against him now. And even senior citizens are starting to turn against him and worry because they're the ones who are, basically, are the most vulnerable in this pandemic.

So there are a lot of segments of the population, that he needs to bring back, that he's losing every single week by ignoring and not leading on this pandemic.

NEWTON: Yes. It's going to be a quite an interesting month, especially given the trajectory of that virus. Michael, so good to see you with us there live in Los Angeles. Thanks so much.

GENOVESE: Thank you, Paula.

NEWTON: Now, a new global study says there is a new version of the deadly coronavirus that has spread from Europe to the United States. And it is more infectious than previous versions. And yet, the good news is it doesn't appear to be making people any sicker.

Now, the study was published in the journal, Cell, and goes onto say that the new version is now dominant, and one spreading right around the globe. So I'm sure you're wondering, what does this mean for all of us? CNN spoke with Erica Ollmann Sapphire. She is a Professor at La Jolla Institute for Immunology. And she worked on this study. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA OLLMANN SAPHIRE, LA JOLLA INSTITURE FOR IMMUNOLOGIST: Together, we looked at 29,000 viral sequences and thousand patients and multiple laboratory systems. And what we see is that the -- a mutation emerged in the coronavirus at the end of February. And, by one month later, it had become globally dominant. That mutant virus is now the virus that has taken over the planet.

What we found is that it is what we call, fitter. It is more fit. It replicates two to nine times better in the laboratory. And also, better in patients. It grows to higher yields.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Does that mean it's stronger? Does that mean it spreads faster? Does that mean it's more dangerous? SAPHIRE: Yes, exactly. Those are the right questions. We don't know about spread. That's a different kind of experiment. We have to look at transmission from one face to another. We haven't done that yet.

We do know that there's something fitter about it, where it can replicate better or make more copies of itself. And there are a lot of laboratories exploring why.

Now, the other question, is it worse? We looked at the antibodies in the blood of San Diegans. And we found that they could neutralized, the new virus just as well as the older virus. So for those people, their human immune system was up to the job. When we looked at a thousand patients in the hospital, in the United Kingdom, there wasn't a difference between whether they were treated in the ICU or inpatient or outpatient. Their age, their sex, and their underlying conditions were what determined the severity of their disease.

Now, there are a lot of things we don't know. We don't know if the change in the virus could change someone from being asymptomatic to symptomatic. Because if they were asymptomatic, they didn't come to the hospital to be counted.

So it's possible it could transmit better if there were more copies of it. It's possible it could catch hold in your cells better if it's more fit. It's possible it could make more people sick, that were previously asymptomatic. Those are studies we need to do now.

BOLDUAN: And regardless, you need this information to get to any of that, which is so fascinating. And I hope this is not a dumb question. But if the virus has mutated, can it mutate again? Do your findings -- does it mean it's more or less likely to mutate again?

SAPHIRE: Every time a virus replicates, it's a roll of the dice whether it will pick up mutation.

[02:40:02]

Most mutations are bad. We like those. We like the ones that kill the virus. But sometimes it finds one this better.

The ability of the virus to pick up this mutation, and for that mutation to sort of take over the globe within a month is alarming. It could, very well, happen again.

Now, this kind of virus has some proofreading capacity to fix errors in its genome. So, HIV doesn't. Hepatitis C doesn't. This virus does. So it mutates more slowly than other viruses we know. But with 10 million cumulative cases around the world, that's a lot of rolls of the dice.

And we are, indeed, concerned that additional mutations could arise. And so we are all, as a body of scientists, keeping an eye on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: And thank goodness they are, a lot of good information in that.

Now, Mexico is reporting more COVID-19 cases than Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries, early on. And it has almost as many deaths now as France, which now ranks fifth, worldwide. Health officials say it could be weeks until the spread reaches its peak in Mexico.

But that's not stopping many businesses in the capital from reopening.

Still to come in Newsroom, protests over the death of an unarmed, black man in the U.S. state of Colorado, as developments unfold in the story of what happened to Elijah McClain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NEWTON: You can see there intense protests at an Aurora, Colorado Police Precinct over last year's death of Elijah McClain, another unarmed black man. Police in riot gears stood near the building as protesters chanted, why are you in riot gear?

Three Aurora police officers were fired Friday over photos mocking McClain's death.

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The fourth resigned earlier this week.

Now, the interim police chief did not mince words about what she thought of the officers' actions.

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VANESSA WILSON, INTERIM AURORA POLICE CHIEF: While the allegations of this internal-affairs case are not criminal, it is a crime against humanity and decency. To even think about doing such a thing is beyond comprehension and it's reprehensible.

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NEWTON: CNN's Omar Jimenez has more on the photo's, the firings and latest on the investigation into the death of Elijah McClain.

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 place 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 have been looking into this case since 2019 with the review specifically focused on whether a federal civil rights investigation would be warranted. That's also a possibility we've heard from the family attorney of something. They have 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 have 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 reached a new low.

They went on to say in a more scaling part of the statement, APD's conduct is no different than that of white supremacists at the height of Jim Crow South, who snapped smiling of himself at the scenes of brutal, lethal lynching's 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 protestors across the country, that despite these officers being fired, one of her main concerns is where they could be hired next.

Omar Jimenez, CNN.

NEWTON: Now, the Police Officers Union says the investigation into the photos was done in a, quote, unprecedented fashion. A statement from the Aurora Police Association criticized the interim police chief and said the probe violated the officers' right to due process. It said, quote, this investigation is a rush to judgment.

Okay. Coming up, what's in a name, plenty, as U.S. sports teams face pressure to change names, many find racist, hurtful, and offensive. Find out how the teams are responding.

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NEWTON: So, the Washington Redskins from the NFL are reviewing their name in response to demands from major sponsors. Now, the name, as you might have heard before, have long been criticized as racist and offensive to Native Americans. But as Carolyn Manno, reports, calls to scrap it are now gaining new momentum.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: The Washington Redskins released a statement saying they have been having internal discussions over the last couple of weeks, and plan to conduct a thorough review as to whether or not a change needs to be made to the team's name.

The term Redskins has been affiliated with the team since back in 1933 that has viewed by many as racially charged. Team Owner Dan Snyder has said for years that he has no plans to change the name of the team. But in this recent statement, he said something else. Saying, this process allows the team to take into account, not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the NFL and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell quickly added his support to the team's announcement also, saying in a statement, in the last few weeks, we have had ongoing discussions with Dan and we're supportive of this important step.

The mention of sponsors in Snyder's statement is important here, as we've seen Snyder pressured in the past. But this comes after reported investment firms totaling more than $600 billion who were concerned about brands not aligning with their stance on diversity and inclusion. And that is a very loud alarm bell for an owner, particularly in a climate surrounding a global pandemic.

NEWTON: That was World Sports, Carolyn Manno, reporting.

Now, the Washington Football Team is not the only U.S. sports franchise that has faced pressure to change its name. So have the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves Baseball Team. CNN Sports reached out to both franchises to ask about their names. The Indians said, quote, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.

The Atlanta Braves didn't directly address the issue of a name change. Their response those said, quote, the Atlanta Braves, have a meaningful commitment to honor the Native American community. We have much work to do, on and off the field. But the Atlanta Braves are ready to meet the challenge of these times.

Now, as more professional athletes test positive for coronavirus, it's making others more reluctant to play the sports they love. Major League Baseball's Mike Trout said he's uncomfortable taking to the field, in part, because the L:A. Angels Center Fielder and his wife are expecting their first child in August. He spoke with reporters during a Zoom call Friday.

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MIKE TROUT, L.A. ANGELS CENTER FIELDER: Sports is really big for the country right now. But we're -- we're risking -- we're risking, you know, our families and, you know, risking our lives to go out here and play for -- for everyone. You know, my -- my mindset is -- is to play. You know, I want to play. It's just a tough situation. You know, I got to play it by ear.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NEWTON: And NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson will definitely miss the Indianapolis brickyard 400 this Sunday. Why? He, too, tested positive for coronavirus.

Now, the seven-time NASCAR Cup series champion says he hasn't experienced any symptoms, but he got tested after he learned his wife had contracted the virus. Johnson said that it's going to be hard for him to watch from the sidelines. But his first priority, of course, was the health and safety of his teammates.

And that wraps up for this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. I will be back in a moment with more news.

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