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Florida Reports New All-Time U.S. High Of Daily COVID-19 Cases; Texas Sees 8,258 New Cases, Second Highest Day On Record; Hospitals Financially Crushed By Pandemic Coast To Coast; Health Experts Warn Fourth Of July Weekend Could Bring COVID-19 Spikes; Video Captures Large Crowd Of Maskless Partygoers In Michigan; Illegal Fireworks Set Off In LA After Shows Cancelled Over COVID-19; Trump: Most COVID-19 Cases "Harmless", 34 States Report Spikes. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 5, 2020 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:54]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with a grim new number from a state that is fast becoming the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic. Florida reporting nearly 10,000 additional cases today. That's on top of yesterday's dramatic numbers, which set a single-day record for all states with more than 11,400 new infections.

And then there's Arizona and Texas also seeing cases surge despite some new efforts to slow the spread. Thirty-four states in all are now seeing infection numbers rise from week to week. But despite all the evidence, President Trump is downplaying concerns. He used a Fourth of July address in Washington, D.C. to say 99 percent of all coronavirus cases are, I'm quoting now, "totally harmless," a factually incorrect claim.

CNN has a team of reporters tracking the coronavirus in some of the hardest hit states across the country. Let's go first to CNN's Boris Sanchez live at a testing center in Miami Beach, Florida -- Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred. Yes, really staggering numbers for the Sunshine State in the last 24 hours heading just shy of 10,000 new COVID-19 cases. That means that for the first four days of July, Florida has tallied more than 40,000 cases. They had about 100,000 for the entire month of June and they're getting dangerously close to eclipsing that number in a matter of days if not weeks here, Fred.

I want to paint a picture of what we're seeing behind me at this testing site. This is the Miami Beach Convention Center. Just a short time ago, they closed testing for walkups. If you were joining us earlier you saw a line of people that were walking here getting tested. Now it is only open to vehicles. And it appears that that's actually -- that may actually be changing as we speak. They may have run out of the allotted tests for the day for the vehicles, but this line went around the block at one point. It's actually really easy to get tested. I did it just a few hours

ago. We stood in line. All you needed was a government I.D. If you walked over to someone who is a very heavily in PPE protective equipment, you got that swab, there's a moment of discomfort. And in about two or three days, I'm supposed to get the results from that test back.

The other concern here in Florida is not just testing and the rate of infection, which is at over 15 percent. It's also the rate of hospitalizations. The mayor of Miami Beach was on CNN earlier today talking about just that. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: If you go to your hospitalization, we've doubled our hospitalization. Our census has now doubled in the last 14 days. And then you go to the intensive care. And that's also doubled. And even -- and we have 158 people on ventilators right now. And I think two weeks ago it was 64.

So, you know, all these things that they talk about lagging are catching up. And of course, the problem is you can't wait until that problem is in front of you because this thing bakes into the community two weeks before you see it. And so you can't just sit back and wait for it to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: And Fred, I can confirm that it appears that this testing site is done for the day. Probably really frustrating for folks who were waiting in line. Earlier, I heard from one of the armed services folks who was helping to manage this, they were telling me that waiting in line in their car was going to take one to two hours.

A lot of these folks probably frustrated, but they can come back tomorrow. They're doing testing every day here from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. OK. Thank you so much, Boris. Appreciate that.

All right, Arizona is also seeing a huge increase in the number of new cases over the last week. Per capita cases there are rising faster there than any other state, but given the rising numbers we're seeing, some mayors are now criticizing the state's decision to begin reopening in early May.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR KATE GALLEGO (D), PHOENIX: We opened way too early in Arizona. We were one of the last states to go to stay-at-home and one of the first to reemerge. And we reemerged at zero to 60. We had crowded nightclubs handing out free champagne, no masks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[16:05:04]

WHITFIELD: CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is at Saguaro? Is that how you pronounce it? Saguaro Lake, near Phoenix? Haven't been there. It looks pretty but --

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Saguaro, like the cactus.

WHITFIELD: OK. All right. Looks very pretty, but tell me, you know, how seriously people are taking coronavirus?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, yes, Fred, it is a beautiful day on the lake. It's extremely hot because it's Arizona, but it's a nice day. You can see that the lake is very popular today. The parking lot behind me is completely full of people. There's a restaurant there that's been serving all day. You can eat inside in Arizona despite the rising coronavirus numbers. 3500 new cases reported by the state yesterday that 90 percent capacity in ICU beds has been pretty much a steady number for the past few days.

And you can see over here in the marina, there are a lot of boats here. People are out and about in the water, which of course is fine if you're distanced from each other. But it's not so much the concern about being out on the water that people are worried about. It's the cities and the other packed areas where there's not that many social distancing rules we see in other places.

The mayor of Phoenix which is sort of the nearby city that people who come to this lake live in spoke on TV this morning talking about the trouble with testing in her city.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GALLEGO: We are in a crisis related to testing. I was visiting a testing facility this weekend, people waiting still eight hours. It's really, really difficult. I've been spending time begging everyone from Walgreens to open up testing, out-of-state testing companies to come in because it's awful to see people waiting in a car while you're feeling sick. People were running out of gas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So I have to say it was remarkable to hear Boris talk about the testing in Florida because it's the same story we've had here in Phoenix. We were over at a testing site just the other day, and found that people, they had 1,000 available testing slots a day, and those were close within seven minutes of the phone lines coming open.

WHITFIELD: Oh, wow.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: It just helps you explain and describe just how serious the situation is here in other parts of the country right now.

WHITFIELD: Grim, it seems like. You know, it's consistent with what you just heard from Boris, too, and not enough tests consistent with the interest in getting the tests. So, Evan, I know you're in Arizona, but let's talk about Texas because

in Texas we've heard from a variety, medical officials, political leaders, who've said the lines of people trying to get tests have also been around the blocks. And then sometimes they just simply run out. So what can you tell us about the surge of cases in Texas?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, look, Fred, as you noted, Arizona is now leading the nation in per capita new cases. But states like Florida and Texas are now competing for that title, that dark title of new epicenter. And in Texas, we heard a Harris County executive say on TV this morning that hospitals in Houston, which is where her county is, and 33 other cities are now at that surge capacity.

It's fascinating because you and I have been speaking about this coronavirus pandemic for months now, in New York, in other places. And there we heard the stories of the pandemic and of that epicenter. That's the same story that's being told down here now and in Texas. We're looking at that surge number, testing being a problem, and social distancing being a problem -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Right. You were in New York, that was the epicenter for a very long time and now according to some health experts there are four epicenters on the horizon here based on the lower regions, the southern and the southwest regions of the country.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much in Arizona.

So let's talk about Georgia. And overnight a children's camp has closed after at least 30 campers and staff members tested positive for coronavirus. The YMCA Camp High Harbor said it first learned on June 24th that one of its counselors contracted the virus.

That counselor was immediately sent home and parents were notified. But since that first positive test of that camp leader, now other campers and camp staff have tested positive. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health at least 30 cases were confirmed across two of the YMCA camp locations.

Dr. Carlos del Rio is the executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine.

Good to see you, Doctor. So, you know, we don't know all the ages of the kids or even their conditions, just that there were, you know, positive tests. But we do know the campers range in age between 7 and 15, and the staff, the ages are between 16 and 22.

What does that tell you about the severity of the cases or even the changes of the profile of people we're seeing who have been testing positive?

[16:10:01]

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, I think it says two things. Number one is that younger people are getting infected. They are not as immune as we initially thought. They are capable of getting infected. But we do know is that younger people are also less likely to get

sick. That doesn't mean they cannot get sick. There has been very severe diseases in some children including deaths. But in general, children tend to do a lot better than adults.

And you may see a lot of young people being infected and not really having a lot of disease, but the problem is that those young people will then go home and will -- may infect the home, their parents or their grandparents, and maybe that a grandparent or somebody with a chronic condition that ends up in the hospital and the ICU or even dead.

WHITFIELD: Right. Because we just saw the most recent example here, the camp counselor gets it and then under two weeks later, you know, positive tests are coming from other people. It kind of takes time to incubate so to speak in other people who have been exposed. So this outbreak comes as we also just learned that 121 students at the University of Washington have tested positive. And on top of that, more than 750 staff and faculty members at Georgia Tech University are raising the alarm now about the dangers, the potentially dangers of in-person classes in the fall.

What are your concerns? And how do you allay fears out there?

DEL RIO: Well, I mean, I think there's no way to totally allay fears. I think we have to recognize that there is a virus out there, that the pandemic is not over. And I think we should try to do, you know, some classes, we should try to do some activities.

We just simply cannot continue being in total shelter-in-place, but to be the safest thing, but we also have to do it with face masks, we have to do it with social distancing. We have to do it with hand hygiene.

You know, there's no point of saying we're going to go back to classrooms, but then, you know, wear face masks into class, but then the students in the evening go to bars or go to, you know, restaurants, and then they'll use facemasks and then they get infected. We really need to change the culture and we really need to recognize that the enemy is out there. The virus is there all the time and can potentially get us.

And when we're in crowded places, when we're in closed places, we're more likely to get infected.

WHITFIELD: Doctor del Rio, you're here in Atlanta. And more than 1400 Georgia health care workers in this state signed a letter addressed to Governor Brian Kemp this week, asking for him to increase restrictions in the state to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, and you signed this letter. What is it you're asking the governor to do?

DEL RIO: Well, you know, as healthcare workers, we are very concerned, and we see the hospital surge occurring, we see admissions increasing, we see, you know, ICU admissions going up. And we as healthcare workers are very concerned that we're going to be in the same place that New York was back in March or April, and that Texas and Florida are currently in. And we simply don't want to be there.

I think we think that leadership is needed and I recognize that it's a tough political decision, but again, tough political decisions are needed at this time. This is a tough time. This is not normal circumstances. And without the courage to take the strong moves, we're not going to get away from this infection. We know very clearly that encouraging people to wear face masks is not going to make them do it.

You really have to create mandates. You really have to create requirements. And in my mind, maybe you don't do it for the entire state, but there are certain cities, like here in Atlanta, you have to do it. So we really have to -- we're asking the governor to give the mayors the authority to makes decisions in their cities to prevent a catastrophe from happening.

It's simply a desire to really step up and do what I think may be considered very difficult decisions, but this is a time again for difficult decisions. We're over -- we're not in a place that we can continue saying this is a normal time. This is not normal times.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, Doctor, the president is kind of saying everything is all right. I mean, he's downplaying the dangers of coronavirus. Listen to what he had to say at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: OK. So how dangerous, potentially dangerous do you think the president's sentiment like that is?

DEL RIO: Well, I think it's unfortunate because it is not that 99 percent of cases are harmless. It's probably about 75 percent to 80 percent of cases are mild. That doesn't mean they're harmless. They can still transmit to others.

But there's about 15 percent to 20 percent that are severe, end up in the hospital, and we're seeing the surge in hospitalizations. And about 3 percent to 5 percent end up in the ICU, and may -- you know, maybe 0.5 percent die.

So to tell that more 130,000 Americans have died as a consequence of this epidemic, and to tell their relatives that this is harmless, I think it's really irresponsible and inappropriate. If I had a relative that had died, I would not be very happy about this.

WHITFIELD: All right. And today the FDA commissioner was asked to comment about the president's 99 percent comment. And this is what he had to say.

[16:15:05]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: So I'm not going to get into who's right and who's wrong. What I'm going to say, Dana, is what I've had said before which is that it's a serious problem that we have. We've seen the surge in cases. We must do something to stem the tide. And we have this in our power to do it by following the guidance from the White House Task Force and the CDC.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So you called the president's words irresponsible. Does that exemplify irresponsible, in your view, too?

DEL RIO: Well, I think actually the FDA commissioner is saying what he has to say. He obviously cannot criticize his boss. The president is not my boss so I can say the president is wrong and the FDA commissioner is right.

WHITFIELD: But even if it's flat-out wrong?

DEL RIO: The FDA commissioner is right. This is a serious illness and we need to take it seriously. I think that he is in a very tough position. And I think what he's saying is absolutely right, this is a serious disease.

WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Carlos del Rio, we'll leave it there. Thanks so much.

DEL RIO: Thanks being with you.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, hospitals overwhelmed with patients, and now some are facing a dire financial situation. One health care system says it's losing between $300 million to $400 million a month.

Also ahead, doctors treating coronavirus patients without putting their own health at risk. See how robots are helping out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:20:29]

WHITFIELD: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on Americans' health, the nation's hospitals are facing a mountain of financial strain.

Here now is CNN's Sara Sidner.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The dreaded sound of an emergency seemed to be the only sound filling the air in New York City for far too long.

JAKE VITULLI, EMT: The beginning of this whole pandemic was very, very hectic. It was crazy. It was the craziest of my career.

SIDNER: While hospitals were packed with coronavirus patients here, they were also losing staggering amounts of money.

MICHAEL DOWLING, CEO, NORTHWELL HEALTH: We've peaked our hospitals to the tune of about $1.6 billion. So it has been roughly between $300 million and $400 million a month that we have been losing.

SIDNER: From the largest health care system in New York that has treated more than 40,000 COVID patients to the Seattle suburbs where the first known major coronavirus outbreak hit in late February.

DR. JEFF TOMLIN, CEO, EVERGREENHEALTH: Even in this first month of March, we projected a $15 million loss, and that's one small hospital healthcare system.

SIDNER: To hospitals across Michigan, both rural and metropolitan.

ROBERT CASALOU, REGIONAL PRESIDENT AND CEO, TRINITY MICHIGAN SOUTHEAST REGION: Our revenue went down immediately 60 percent, I mean, overnight.

SIDNER: The American Hospital Association estimates that hospitals and health systems will have losses this year of $323.1 billion. The hospitals that saw a surge of patients and the ones that did not, resulting in real-life impact for some health care workers.

ELISE HOLLENBECK, FURLOUGHED NURSE: Being a nurse I never thought that I would be on unemployment ever.

SIDNER: But that is what happened to Elise Hollenbeck, a nurse and mother of two in Empire, Michigan.

HOLLENBECK: I get really emotional about thinking about for my kids. You know, what is their reality now going to look like?

SIDNER: Her reality changed when the hospitals didn't see a coronavirus surge but had to abide by the state order suspending medical procedures and surgeries that kept the hospital in good financial health. Less work meant furloughs even as coronavirus spiked across her state.

HOLLENBECK: I have no idea what our life will look like.

SIDNER (on camera): A harder life?

HOLLENBECK: Yes, yes, different, harder.

SIDNER (voice-over): It seems counterintuitive. But during a pandemic, hospitals would lose money but here is what happened.

DOWLING: And the reason for that are twofold. One is that we cancelled most of the other services including most surgery to be able to accommodate COVID patients.

SIDNER: The other reason, hospitals say they generally lose money treating COVID-19 patients because it requires mounds of personal protective equipment, it's staff intensive and creates the need to retrofit areas to protect everyone. TOMLIN: So we live in very thin margins in the world of health care.

And for something like this, it's really apocalyptic in terms of what it means.

SIDNER: And if that's not bad enough, as hospitals reopen for all manner of emergencies and surgeries --

(On camera): This place looks pretty empty.

DR. KEVIN HANSON, CHIEF OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, EVERGREENHEALTH: Yes, it's --

SIDNER: Is this normal?

HANSON: No.

SIDNER (voice-over): The public isn't showing up even when they need to.

HANSON: That's one of our biggest concerns is we know there's still people having strokes, having chest pain, having, you know, pneumonias, appendicitis, and they are not really coming in.

SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Seattle, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Straight ahead, holiday weekend celebrations adding fuel to the fire when it comes to coronavirus. Could the nation's beaches become the newest hotspots? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:28:21]

WHITFIELD: Nationwide, 34 states are seeing an upward trend of new coronavirus cases. But that's not stopping many Americans from heading to the beaches this weekend. You're looking live at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. Health experts are warning that mass gatherings and Fourth of July celebrations this weekend could produce even higher spikes.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joining us now from New York.

So, Polo, what are you learning there?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, as Americans gathered in the shadow of coronavirus this Fourth of July, there are multiple incidents in multiple states that are certainly getting the attention of health officials, at least a closer look.

I want to start in Wisconsin. Show you some video that's been circulating on social media, some images of a waterpark in Dells, Wisconsin, at Noah's waterpark there in Wisconsin. The management at this location telling CNN that they actually were very cautious about reopening once they were given the green light to actually proceed. That included temperature checks for not just guests, but also obviously the employees as well.

Requiring masks in some of the non-water common areas. Also closing some of those attractions that were not allowed for that social distancing. So there are many locations that did in fact take those precautions in order to try to minimize the risk there, especially since their state basically gave them the green light to operate and of course on a very busy summer weekend.

But then there are also pictures coming out, for example, Missouri, at the Lake of the Ozarks, and at least two restaurants here, showing images of people coming together here. We should point that there's no statewide requirement there for people to wear masks. And then finally, I do want to show these pictures that have come out of a party, a so-called sandbar party at One Lake in southwest Michigan.

[16:30:00]

And in there you can clearly see party-goers, they appear to be clustered together in close proximity. One of the folks who helped organized or at least one of the residents nearby saying that this party organized by residents for residents here has gone on already for decades, at least 30 years straight, these kinds of parties that go on.

We also heard a little while ago from authorities there, a local health official saying they were actually aware of this since it tends to happen every year. I want to read you some of the reporting that we've gotten here recently here, Fred, that health official telling CNN that they actually spoke to the organizer of the party, but said that county officials do not have jurisdictions over gatherings in public areas.

And they also can enforce social distancing mandates like they would be able to do so for example like in bars and actual implement fines for that. It's a very different situation here. So though they can try to educate, they cannot actually require this.

Now, all of this being said, Fred, it's still too soon to say if any of these incidents may have contributed in one way shape or form to any potential spread of the virus that may come later. But what is very clear, obviously, that these are the kind of pictures that health officials did not want to see this Fourth of July, but certainly does not keep people from being able to go out and gather in public, so as long as they do exercise precautions.

That's what we're seeing here in the Coney Island Boardwalk, on the beach as well, most folks staying six feet apart, most folks wearing those masks, and the ones who don't have them, city park employees are handing them out.

WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.

All right. Now, the California, where coronavirus cases are continuing to surge across that state, on Saturday, California reported 2,300 new cases, still very high but a lot lower than Monday's records of more than 8,100 new, daily cases. CNN's Paul Vercammen joining me now from Santa Monica. So, Paul, set the scene for us there.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well --- and let me also tell you, Fred, as we set the scene, this beach is empty because this is all part of the effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, beaches in four Southern California county; Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange, most of them shut down.

You were talking about that number being a little lower. We should note that L.A. County not reporting this weekend because they're revamping their system. They say this will improve better data collection.

Now, because Santa Monica is closed, you see the pier was closed. They didn't have public fireworks. Here in Los Angeles, overnight, some people had their own firework show, a lot of people apparently. Let's look at video from above.

There were people setting off illegal fireworks throughout the city, thousands of contact made to the police departments, some 103 --- they had 103, we should call them tree fires, in the city of L.A. alone, 40 house fires. A house in Northridge caught fire, an apartment complex garden, it caught fire. And let's give you a sense of just what it sounded like at one point during all these explosions.

And at that Northridge garden apartment fire, they had to have 50 people leave and five people suffered from smoke inhalation. So, that was an interesting side effect of all of these closures. Right now, Santa Monica Beach still closed. Most of these beaches reopening at 5:00 tomorrow morning, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. I know a lot of people can't wait for that. All right. Thank you so much, Paul Vercammen. Appreciate that.

All right. Up next, decision day at the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices have already ruled on DACA and LGBTQ rights and they could make more news this week. A preview of what's to be expected next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:37:46]

WHITFIELD: The U.S. Supreme Court has already handed down some pretty big decisions in the past few weeks including a DACA ruling and one on LGBTQ rights. But the court isn't done for the summer just yet. In a rare July session tomorrow, the court is expected to hand down new rulings on everything from presidential powers to religious liberty.

CNN's Ariane de Vogue is with me now. So, what are the cases that we're expecting to hear involving President Trump?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right. Under normal circumstances, Fred, this term would already be over. They like to get out by the end of June. But because of COVID, the court is delayed. The justices are still writing. We think that next week will be the last week of the term. That's still an open question. But keep in mind, there are eight cases that remained. And as you said, two of the most important cases have to do with President Trump's bid to shield his financial documents. Both of these cases have to do with the financial documents, but they're actually two, really, separate legal questions.

One case is brought by House Democrats. They're investigating the president for his financial disclosures, his relationship with foreign actors, and some of his lending practices, and they sent a subpoena to his accounting firm and a couple of his banks. He hired personal lawyers. He says that this is harassment. It's an illegal fishing expedition. And that these subpoenas shouldn't go out. So, that one is a big separation of power's case.

The other case has to do with a New York prosecutor. He's actually looking for the tax returns because he's looking into alleged hush money payments. Here, President Trump's lawyers once again went to bat on this. They want to block this subpoena. And they say he is immune from such broad investigations, but those aren't the only two cases of the term.

There is a big religious liberty case having to do with that so-called contraceptive mandate. And there's a big case on the Electoral College. And of course, that's going to come down right now while we're in the heat of the election season.

And the last thing, Fred, of course, this is always retirement season at the Supreme Court. Lots of people think sometimes that there will be a retirement at the end of June. You've heard President Trump talking about this a bit on the campaign trail. He uses the Supreme Court often on the campaign trail. But this year, Fred, I think it's a slim chance that we're going to see a retirement.

[16:40:08]

WHITFIELD: All right. Ariane de Vogue, thanks so much for that update. Busy week ahead.

Coming up, well, this sign says it all, a resident asking for help. One of 3,000 people trapped in their apartments because of coronavirus.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:05]

WHITFIELD: Officials in Australia are locking down nine massive public housing towers in Melbourne in the state of Victoria after an outbreak of the coronavirus swept through. "Nine News" correspondent, Carrie- Anne Greenbank, has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARRIE-ANNE GREENBANK, NINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The Victorian premier has described the hard lockdown of nine public housing towers as not punishment but protection as Victoria reports another 74 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Four of those are in public housing, bringing the total across these nine towers to 27 people infected.

As hundreds of police ensure no one comes out, no one goes in, health officials are going door to door to test residents. The state government wants every resident tested before the five days is up. This is the first lockdown of its kind in Australia. Residents cannot leave their homes under any circumstances. And for the next five days, the 3,000 residents will be totally reliant on the state government for food, medical supplies, and other needs.

DANIEL ANDREWS, VICTORIA PREMIER: This is not going to be a pleasant experience for those residents. But I just have a message for those residents. This is not about punishment. This is about protection.

GREENBANK: The premier has promised no rent for two weeks, a $750 payment for households that are unemployed, and $1,500 payment for those who now cannot go to work.

ANDREWS: We will meet all their needs of each and every one of those residents.

GREENBANK: There have been a chorus of voices against this lockdown including, this morning, the police association, which says police had barely any notice before this lockdown came in and officers on the ground only have the basic level of training for this kind of health emergency.

WAYNE GATT, POLICE ASSOCIATION VICTORIA: The boys have had little more training than the rest of broader community with respect to coronavirus. Let's be honest, we don't have magic wands and we're not invincible.

GREENBANK: The lockdown will be in place for five days, but the state government does have the power to extend that out for 14 days.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. That was "Nine News" correspondent, Carrie-Anne Greenbank.

All right. Meanwhile, police in Martinez, California are asking for the public's help identifying a man and woman seen in this video painting over a "Black Lives Matter" mural. The Martinez police chief says a group of community members obtained a permit by the city to paint the mural.

So, it was allowed to be there. Once it was finished, the man and woman, as you see right there, painting over it while making insightful comments about racism, slavery, and the "Black Lives Matter" movement. Anyone with information should be contacting the Martinez Police Department.

More news in a moment. But first, CNN "Hero", Harry Grammer is empowering incarcerated youth in reducing recidivism in Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HARRY GRAMMER, CNN HERO: On July 4th, 1776, 13 colonies claimed their independence from England. My ancestors never lived in England. On a Fourth of July keynote address, Frederick Douglass wrote, "The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that has brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. I must mourn. You may rejoice."

Back then black Americans were seen as unfit for the fruits of freedom. Nearly 250 years later, the scales are still tipped to one side making it hard for us to subscribe to something that Dr. King would still call a dream. It's not until we balance the criminal justice system, root out systemic racism, and provide equal freedom to all that we become a truly free country. And maybe then, we'll have a day we can all celebrate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Go to cnnheroes.com to hear more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:53:35]

WHITFIELD: All right. This just in to CNN. The spread of the coronavirus showing no signs of slowing the traveling Trump campaign. We're now learning the campaign will host another rally Saturday night. This one will be outdoors in Portsmouth, New Hampshire at the Portsmouth International Airport. And just like the Tulsa rally on June 20th, attendees are, once again, required to agree to a liability waiver when signing up for tickets through the campaign website.

One hundred twenty-one students from the University of Washington have tested positive for coronavirus. One hundred twelve of those students are residents of fraternity houses located in the Greek Row just north of campus. This is all according to the university and the city's public health department. Last week, a pop-up testing site was set up near campus where, so far, nearly 1,300 tests have been administered.

And in sports, the MLB is reporting more confirmed cases across the league. This time, it's the Chicago "White Sox". The team announced today that two of its players have tested positive for COVID-19. Both players have been asymptomatic and have been placed in quarantine, and this comes on the heels of yesterdays' announcement that four Atlanta "Braves" teammates have also been infected.

One of those players is Freddie Freeman, the team's 30-year-old first baseman. His wife took to Instagram yesterday to warn people how dangerous coronavirus is, writing in part -- he has had body aches, headaches, chills, and a high fever since Thursday. He is someone who literally never gets sick and this virus hit him like a ton of bricks.

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Of course, we're wishing him everybody infected, all the best. It's obvious that nobody is immune to this pandemic and that includes health care workers.

For those doctors and nurses who are high risk themselves, they face an unprecedented challenge. How to care for their patients without putting their own lives at risks? And that's where the robots are coming in to help.

At the University of Maryland School of Medicine, one physician, Dr. Neal Reynolds, has set up a robotic telehealth program. It's allowed many doctors to still care for their patients remotely without risking infection. And Dr. Reynolds is joining me right now. Good to see you, Dr. Reynolds. So, first, tell us how effective this is.

DR. NEAL REYNOLDS, PHYSICIAN, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND MEDICAL CENTER: Well, you know, it's one of the best face masks you can ever have. My face mask is about 22 miles thick. Anyway, this absolutely keeps me, a person at high risk because of my age, away from the patients.

It allows people who don't want to get near the patient to actually do so and do so safely. We don't have a lot of statistics yet about people turning positive or not turning positive, but it's no question that reducing your exposure would have similar effects to wearing a good face mask.

WHITFIELD: So, tell us how this works, Dr. Reynolds, because most -- everybody has become familiar at this juncture about telemedicine. You're talking here doctor via your Facetime on your phone or via computer. But with this kind of robotic configuration, we're looking at this in the hospital. So, this means you're in the hospital. You're in a medical facility getting care and you might get a visit from a robotic doctor like that, right, and on the other end is the human doctor.

DR. REYNOLDS: Yes, that's exactly correct. You know normally, we walk into the room, we shake the patient's hands or whatever, we introduce ourselves. Now, I roll into the room and I look kind of humanoid.

I'm about the same height, well, 5 feet and a half inches --- five and a half inches --- try again -- 5'5" tall of face that looks like a computer, and we talk real time. So, it really very much simulates normal patient care. And patients react to this just immediately. They accept it and we just move right on --

WHITFIELD: Interesting.

DR. REYNOLDS: -- with it.

WHITFIELD: Well, that's cool. So, how many of these are there? And is this just the beginning?

DR. REYNOLDS: Well, you know, this technology has been around --- telehealth has been around for a long, long time. I've been using these robots since about 2004. That's a decade and a half or more. We just started having it at the University of Maryland Medical Center around April of this year. These devices are all over the country, all over the world. And so, this is not really new. What's new is the driver for this in the sense of now we're trying to protect the healthcare worker. Usually, what we're trying to do is reduce the barriers of distance and time with telehealth. Now, we're thinking totally different. How do we protect ourselves and still deliver good patient care?

WHITFIELD: So, maybe at the beginning, the advent of it was about efficiency, and now it's about safety for both the patient and healthcare providers. Dr. Reynolds --

DR. REYNOLDS: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: -- thank you so much, really appreciate it, and thanks for introducing so many of us to something very new.

DR. REYNOLDS: My pleasure.

WHITFIELD: I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thank you so much for joining me today. The NEWSROOM continues right after this.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello on this Sunday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us. You are live in the CNN NEWROOM, Fourth of July weekend, not the first one during a national emergency, but the first one in 100 years during a deadly pandemic, one that is still very much not under control.

Beaches and parks open and busy this weekend, but not everywhere. Officials are being much more cautious and states where new coronavirus infections are popping up like wildfires, literally tens of thousands of new cases every day.

Now, these are the states reporting cases going up, not down, all of the states in orange and maroon, 34 in all. The so-called infection curve in most of the country is going up right now.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wow. Are you having a good time?