Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Delivers Divisiveness on Independence Day; Florida Hotspots Celebrate at the Beach; Australia Calling for a Pause in Easing Coronavirus Restrictions; Iraq Struggles with COVID-19; America Celebrates Its Birthday; Grim Coronavirus Statistics in Latin America; Sport Deals with Racism. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 5, 2020 - 02:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, welcome to our viewers here in United States and all around the world, thanks for joining me, you are watching CNN, I'm Robyn Curnow.

A celebration of independence in the U.S. The gathering is muted, though, due to the pandemic. But the message on the 4th of July, not a festive one from the U.S. president.


TRUMP: We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters.


CURNOW (voice-over): In a second divisive speech in as many nights, President Trump compares the fight against Nazis and terrorists to his effort to defeat the radical left.

Another spike, another record of daily coronavirus cases here in Florida, while many of the States' southernmost beaches were closed, people flocked to the sand and surf as experts waved the warning flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: Disarray and disunity, Americans are marking a very different kind of Independence Day weekend. The traditional fireworks filled the sky over the National Mall in Washington on Saturday night.

This though as a nation faces a troubling surge in the coronavirus. States and even local governments are going their own way in dealing with the virus. Some beaches in California were closed to keep people from gathering in large numbers.

This beach in Florida was packed and Florida is of course one of the nation's hotspots, reporting the most cases in a single day so far on Saturday. You can see from this map that case numbers are rising in most states. They are declining in only one, Vermont.

Some people went to the beach, others took to the streets. They spent the holiday rallying for social justice and exercising the right to protest, which is at the very heart of America's democracy. U.S. president Donald Trump railed against those very Americans whose country he leads.


TRUMP: We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample on our freedoms.

We will safeguard our values, traditions, customs and beliefs. We will teach our children to cherish and adore their country. So that they can build its future.


CURNOW: Just to emphasize again, this is a holiday about how Americans actually came together to gain independence. But you would not know that by the president's remarks, even at this critical time, as Jeremy Diamond now explains.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, on 4th of July, most American presidents typically aim for unifying remarks. But President Trump this evening, for the second night in a row, focusing his Independence Day remarks on exploiting cultural divisions among Americans, particularly at this time of deep division in America, with two crises, both the coronavirus pandemic and these protests over a national reckoning on racism in America.

President Trump delivering these divisive remarks, in which he even compared his current political fight against leftists in America, radical leftists, as he called them, to the fight against Nazis in World War II.


TRUMP: American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the Earth. We are now in the process of defeating the radical left.

The Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters and people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing.


DIAMOND: Now President Trump on Saturday also said we will not allow anyone to divide our citizens by race or background. Those remarks, fairly remarkable, coming from this president, one that started his campaign by decrying Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. A president who called for a total ban on Muslims entering the United

States. A president who said that a judge who was of Hispanic origin could not be impartial in a case involving him.


DIAMOND: This president claiming on Saturday that he will not allow others to exploit people by racial divisions.

Now President Trump sought to recast himself as a protector of American history and heritage. That was a theme of his remarks on Friday at Mt. Rushmore and on Saturday at the White House.

But the president, for the last week, hasn't focused on protecting statues of founding fathers, as he has claimed in this speech. Instead, he's focused on protecting Confederate namesakes and monuments. That's been the heart of the president's focus over the last week.

Yet now, he is trying to recast that battle. But certainly, these remarks from the president, on a 4th of July where America is facing these crises, divisive and certainly not unifying for this country -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


CURNOW: Thanks, Jeremy, for that.

Now statues of Christopher Columbus have often been targeted during anti racist protests here in the U.S. We have video of demonstrators tearing one down in Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday.

The statue had stood in the Little Italy neighborhood for more than 30 years. Witnesses say about 300 people gathered in the downtown area before marching to the statue. They said the statue broke into pieces as it was toppled and then protesters dragged it to the harbor.

More on President Trump's Independence Day speech. One CNN expert was shocked by the divisive tone. He said the president has gone against the spirit of Independence Day. Take a listen.


DOUG BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: This is a day to fortify the morale of all Americans and to really try to build a community that is the United States of America. One may have thought at Mt. Rushmore he was doing it as a Friday night speech, maybe a weird one- offer from the campaign trail.

But to come back and double down on it today, it deludes (sic) from the majesty we're seeing with the aerial show and the wonderful aircraft that saved our democracy in Korea and the Berlin, you know, airlift in World War II and the like, because Trump's message is about himself. And it's about dividing the nation. He has zero sense of history. I once got to talk to Donald Trump at Mar-a-lago. He told me he never

read any books on American history. He told me he never read a book on Lincoln or Washington, not even a kid's book. He told me, he said he's a visual guy and he gets it from the gut and he kind of knew about Nixon and Kennedy just from watching TV, clips on it.

This is not the way a president should behaving at the time of a pandemic when we need to be pulling our country together and using oratory the way Jack Kennedy or Ronald Reagan would, to talk about the greatness of America, our comeback story.

And there will be 4th of Julys to come where we can take to the public squares and have a good time and celebrate and hug each other. Baseball parks will be filled, kids can go to amusement parks, beaches will be packed. It's just not the summer of 2020.


CURNOW: Well, that was presidential historian Douglas Brinkley there.

So this summer, the coronavirus has America in its grips, as Douglas Brinkley was saying there. Florida has seen yet another record of new cases. Many beaches were filled with people.

While over in New York, people mostly heeded to the warnings to social distance, even as they celebrated Independence Day in familiar ways. Polo Sandoval has more.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Families were certainly present on the beach and on the iconic Coney Island boardwalk, though certainly not in the numbers we are used to seeing, especially for the 4th of July.

From the families we did see, many taking precautions and keeping their groups about 6 feet apart. Also wearing those masks. Those people did not have facial coverings, there were volunteers and workers who were handing out those masks, which is really the main recommendation right now.

But nationally, when you look at other parts of the country, certainly you see that sharp increase that has been seen not just in Arizona but California, Texas and, of course, Florida continues to see high numbers.

In fact, on Saturday, the number of daily COVID cases hitting what is really a record number, at least 11,400 cases there, when you compared to the numbers than New York saw, for example, when it was seeing the largest numbers back in April. It is almost in line.

So it is certainly concerning for authorities in the Sunshine State. So much so that some of the beaches were closed over the 4th of July weekend.

But here in the New York tri-state area, there is also one disturbing trend that authorities in the neighboring state of New Jersey have noticed, specifically in the city of Hoboken, New Jersey, where they saw a significant increase in the number of COVID cases.

Many of those are young individuals who had traveled back from states in the Southeast and also out west, those areas of concern. That is one of the reasons why authorities in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey are requiring anyone who is traveling from some of those affected regions to quarantine for at least two weeks, even if their COVID tests come back negative -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, Brooklyn, New York.



CURNOW: Joining me now is Dr. Carlos del Rio, professor of medicine at Emory University, which is right here in Atlanta.

Doctor, good to see you. Thank you for joining us. So we've been seeing a spike in cases across the United States.

Can it all be accounted for just by increased testing, as some have suggested?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EMORY UNIVERSITY: No, Robyn. I think that increased cases is because there's increased transmission. Diagnosis, testing is simply telling us there's cases out there. But in fact, in some of the states that have the highest increase in testing, in cases, we actually have seen a decrease in testing, which is the case in Florida.

So unfortunately not, this is not just testing. This is really a lot of transmission and a lot of uncontrolled transmission of this virus and that's what worries all of us, because we're seeing more cases and we're seeing an increase in hospitalizations.

Here in Georgia alone, we saw over 1,600 hospitalizations today. That's only three weeks ago, in June 7th, we only had 700 patients hospitalized. So we've seen a dramatic increase in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.

CURNOW: Yes, that's certainly worrying. Across the U.S. many of these cases, as we say, are rising but we're not seeing as many deaths.

How do you explain that?

Is it just a lag?

DEL RIO: Part of it is a lag. Part of it is also that we're seeing younger people. You know in the first phase of the epidemic, we had a lot of older people coming in and older people died a lot faster. Younger people tend to die less. Our median age in the hospital has dropped from about 62 to about 48.

So younger people are less likely to die. But the other thing is that we also have gotten better at treating this disease, not much better but we've gotten somewhat better. And finally, it's because, you know, deaths lag about two weeks with the increase in testing.

So in some states like Florida, you are seeing an increase in deaths and an increase in cases.

CURNOW: You talk about what you've learned.

What have doctors and medical professionals learned over the past few months in terms of treating COVID patients?

I know some have suggested less ventilation in some cases and, of course, still a lot of experimentation in terms of drug combinations.

DEL RIO: Well, the most important thing we've learned is the value of a drug named remdesivir. It clearly has a role in patients that are needing oxygen. It helps them decrease the number of days they need oxygen and it does have slight improvement in survival.

We've also learned from a recovery study conducted in the U.K. that the use of a drug called dexamethasone also improved survival in a dramatic way in people who are needing oxygen.

So we are learning better ways of ventilating people, we're learning about prone ventilation, we're learning about the use of anti- coagulants. So we've learned a lot of things that actually are helping decrease mortality in patients with severe COVID disease.

CURNOW: But as an epidemiologist, there's still so many questions, aren't there?

Particularly the range of symptoms that, the way this virus attacks the body. It seems to be quite wide-ranging.

Does that concern you still?

DEL RIO: Well, it's concerning but it's also fascinating from a research standpoint.

Why do some people get so sick and others don't?

How can we predict that?

Is there anything we can do to prevent disease, getting disease worse when somebody gets infected?

And we are embarking on a variety of different studies, including the use of convalescent plasma, including the use of monoclonal antibodies, some new research studies that are going to try and address some of those issues.

CURNOW: I know you worked a lot in the field of HIV/AIDS over your career, a very distinguished career.

Do you see any similarities, particularly when it comes to behavior and changing people's behavior?

DEL RIO: You know, absolutely. For many years, as you well know, we have been telling people about how to have sex with condoms, how to protect themselves and simply it just does not happen as much as we would like it to.

It makes a lot of sense; if you tell somebody, hey, wear a condom, practice safe sex. But the reality is, it's a lot harder to implement. So knowledge doesn't necessarily translate into behavior.

Well, we're seeing the same thing here with this virus and we're seeing the same thing with people being reluctant to use masks, being uncomfortable using masks.

But we also have seen something that is also very concerning, which is the politicization of certain behaviors. You know, we have never heard, for example, people saying, well, you know, I'm a liberal and therefore I wear a seat belt when I go down the freeway but you're a conservative and it's against my freedom to move in my seat to wear a seat belt so I'm not going to use a seat belt.

Or a governor telling people, well, we encourage you to use seat belts but we're not going to mandate it because we don't want to impinge on your rights. That to me is the part that has been really hard to deal with.


DEL RIO: Which is the fact that we have made political and we have made partisan things that should not be, which is trying to save lives.

CURNOW: And that's very much being seen in the USA. Mexico, just next door neighbor, has been really hit hard in the last few weeks, last few days.

What do you make of the infection rates there?

DEL RIO: Well, you know, it's not surprising. Mexico has many large cities, like Mexico City, which could be another New York. Mexico City has a lot of people. A lot of people ride the subway. It's very hard to isolate if you are, you know, poor. You need to go to work every day.

So I'm not surprised that there's a lot of transmission. I think, again, Mexico has to do three things that we have been saying in the U.S. Face masking has to really go up. We need to -- Mexico has to test a lot more people. Mexico has very, very low testing rates.

And really do contact tracing, because the reality is, in this disease, one of the only tools we have -- and we're not doing very well here in the U.S., either -- is you have to test people.

And after you test people, you have to isolate them and very rapidly do contact tracing, because you need to stop transmission at its root, right there, in that person that got infected. Don't let that person transmit to other people.

And something that is very important to remember, Robyn, is, if you don't do that one infected person, over the next two to five days, infects another probably 2.5 to 5 people. And those individuals that infect more people and by the end of one month, 30 days, that one infected individual leads to over 400 infections.

CURNOW: Goodness me. That's sort of sobering data and certainly a reminder that all of us need to pay attention to these warnings that doctors like you are giving us. Wear a mask, it's as simple as that.

Dr. Carlos Del Rio, thank you for joining us for all of your expertise.

DEL RIO: Good being with you.


CURNOW: OK, so the Australian Medical Association is calling for a pause in easing coronavirus restrictions there. Melbourne is currently seeing spikes in new cases. There are 108 new cases on Friday, which led to a new stay-at-home order for the area. Journalist Angus Watson joins us now from Sydney.

Angus, hi, good to see you. Talk us through this turnaround in many ways.

ANGUS WATSON, JOURNALIST: Yes Robyn, Australia has been held up as a place that is doing very well in the fight against coronavirus. In the last few weeks, there has been a spike in Melbourne and Victoria.

And dramatically last night, the premier, Daniel Andrews, was forced to put 3,000 people on hard lockdown. That means they cannot leave their house for any reason. Those 3,000 people live across nine public housing units in the city's north. They joined 12 post codes, which is already on a softer version of the lockdown.

And those people in those post codes are actually allowed out of their house to exercise and buy food in the same sort of way lockdowns have been conducted elsewhere. But these nine public housing units, the premier said this morning have people in them which have poor health already.

Many are vulnerable; 23 cases of coronavirus have already been found in those public housing blocks. Therefore, those people need to remain indoors.

Police are going to be guarding them and there's a huge logistics effort going on to feed them and provide them with the support they need. The premier thanked them for being on the front line of the COVID-19 fight in his city. Take a listen.


DANIEL ANDREWS, PREMIER OF VICTORIA: This is not about punishment, this is about protection. We cannot have a cohort of people, many of whom, not all but many of whom, are in poor health to start with.

We cannot have this virus spread. We have to do everything we can to contain the virus and that's why staying in your unit, staying in your flat, is absolutely essential.


WATSON: Now, Robyn, as I mentioned, there are 12 post codes which are on a much softer version of that lockdown. Most people are allowed out of their house for certain reasons. And a lot of people in society are wondering, why are these 3,000 people across these 9 public housing estates being treated a little bit differently?

And Daniel Andrews says, in these densely populated buildings, the disease could transmit very rapidly. And he is very worried about tests in the future -- in the next couple of days, I should say, finding many cases. So there's a big concern about that in Victoria. And that is why there has been this very drastic decision taken last night.

CURNOW: It certainly has. Angus Watson there live in the city. It looks like a beautiful afternoon in Sydney. Thanks so much for updating us on those events in Melbourne.

So still to come here at CNN.


CURNOW: Coronavirus strikes in Iraq and there are fears that the country's battered (ph) health care system is not up to the fight. Stay with us for that story and more.




CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So Iraq's battered health care system is struggling with a huge spike in coronavirus cases and deaths there. On Saturday, officials reported more than 2,000 new cases, bringing the total to more than 58,000. And they say the death toll rose by more than 100 to stand at 2,300. The pandemic is sweeping across the whole country but it is hitting the capital of Baghdad especially hard. Arwa Damon explains.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They wait to verify the names of the dead. Their sorrow is silent, much like the enemy that claimed those they love.

Yousef al-Hajami (ph) lost his parents and his sister to COVID-19, one after the other. They underestimated the virus. They did not understand how to protect themselves from the spread.

"We are terrified now. We are 100 percent convinced," he says.

The burials happen at night in Iraq's largest cemetery, when the country's brutal summer heat dips. Final prayers are carried out by strangers.


DAMON (voice-over): Teams from the country's paramilitary force, the Hashd, initially formed to fight ISIS.

"We are getting around 70 to 80 bodies a day," (INAUDIBLE) Ibrahimi (ph) says.

And it is expected to get much worse across this country, whose medical infrastructure was already decimated by decades of sanctions, war and corruption.

Medical workers report a prevalence of the virus among hospital staff due to a lack of proper measures and PPE.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was with my family when the head manager of the hospital contacted me to inform me that the result of PCR is positive for COVID-19.

DAMON (voice-over): Dr. al-Etapani (ph) filmed the moment he told his children he was sick, promising them that he would be back, not knowing if it would be a promise he would keep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For any person, it's a painful moment that you say goodbye to your children and your family and you do not know whether you will return back or not.

DAMON (voice-over): Luckily, he did and is now recovering.

"We were so worried about Mommy and Daddy because of corona," one of his daughters says upon his return. But the others chime in.

But al-Etapani (ph) fears for the worst for his country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With coronavirus cases now jumped due to government default in providing protection measures, the people and opening the markets and malls.

DAMON (voice-over): This video shows people scuffling over oxygen tanks outside a hospital in the south of the country, trying to secure a supply for their sick loved ones.

In the same city, health workers beg their ministry for help. Iraqis know loss on a mass scale all too well. The bitter pain of consecutive wars that bled into each other.

A member of Iraq's security forces apologizes for his inability to keep his emotions in check. It's his mother who died -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.


CURNOW: So coming up here on CNN, a flash of tradition and normalcy in a year that had little of either as Americans observe a national holiday during a pandemic. (MUSIC PLAYING)




CURNOW: Welcome back to CNN, I'm Robyn Curnow, here live from the CNN Studios in Atlanta.

On this Independence Day weekend in the U.S., Americans are making a choice: stay at home and minimize their risk of spreading or getting infected with coronavirus or take their chances and celebrate the summer holiday with others.

As you can see here, Washington D.C., had one of the few big 4th of July events that were not canceled over pandemic concerns, although the crowds were certainly smaller this year.

New York City also with a big fireworks display. That's pretty impressive. You see them lighting up the Empire State Building there.

Florida is one of the biggest U.S. hotspots right now. They are reporting a new record number of new cases on Saturday. They are surpassing the worst day for new cases in New York. That is not stopping some people from celebrating the 4th of July the way they always do, by hitting the beach. Here's Boris Sanchez.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yet another record-setting day for the state of Florida. More than 11,000 new coronavirus cases reported here in the last 24 hours. That means that, in the first three days of July, the state has seen over 30,000 new COVID cases.

To give you some perspective, the state of Florida saw about 100,000 new cases in the month of June alone. Local leaders, the state's governor, Ron DeSantis, leaving it up to local officials to determine what restrictions they wanted to put in place.

But here on the western part of the state, just outside of Tampa at Clearwater Beach, folks were coming all day to enjoy the waves, to play sports, to enjoy the sand and surf as well.

There are signs out that are warning people to try to stay socially distant, six feet apart from people who do not share the same household. They are also asking groups to not congregate. Groups of 10 or more are not allowed here.

Though, throughout the day, we did see groups of much larger than 10 people enjoying the beach.

Actually spoke to one woman named Kathy (ph), who told me that she moved from Alabama to Florida in the middle of the pandemic. She says that she's concerned about the risk of coronavirus but that she wanted to enjoy the holiday weekend on the beach. Here's more of what she shared with us.


KATHY (PH), NEW FLORIDA RESIDENT: I just think that we all should wear masks and protect ourselves as best as we can, you know and keep, you know, keep the social distancing going on and, you know, that's it.

If we're going to get it, we're going to get it. I'm happy to be here. I really am. I know that the numbers are going up and I hope it drops but it doesn't seem like it is, so why stop enjoying life?


SANCHEZ: Of course, the big question is, what these numbers will do two weeks from now. Remember, that, after the Memorial Day weekend, when we saw so many large crowds ignoring social distancing guidelines, soon after that, we saw a surge in coronavirus cases nationwide.

Two weeks is that incubation period for the coronavirus, so all eyes will be on the numbers, about 14 days from now -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, Clearwater Beach, Florida.


CURNOW: So from beaches to bars now. America's pubs have certainly been hard hit as many states have reversed course on reopening plans. Brian Todd looks at why they pose such a big problem for officials trying to stem the spread.


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-TX): 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.



CURNOW: Joining me now is Erin Bromage, a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and a CNN contributor.

Good to see you, Erin, thanks for joining us. We see this spike in cases across the U.S.

Can it all be accounted for by increased testing as some have suggested? DR. ERIN BROMAGE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely not. Increased testing is part of it. But if we increase the testing, we would expect the number of tests that come back positive to start to decrease as those tests ramp up.

And that's not what we're seeing in many states. We're seeing the numbers of tests going up and the test positivity going up. And that's two really concerning measures of spread of the infection in the community.

CURNOW: And we also understand, I mean, just break down the data for us. There are not as many deaths perhaps. But there are many more younger people getting it and that perhaps explains the disconnect between the death rate in some areas.

Are you concerned that that will change?

BROMAGE: Certainly, I am concerned. We know, while younger people are getting infected, that they do have better outcomes than people with age and co-morbidity. But at some stage, those young people with infections intersect with those people that are not so fortunate with their health or a little bit older.

And so it only becomes a matter of time before those two populations join together and we start to see more deaths in the older populations. But we also need to point out that it's not a free pass for people that are under the age of 40 to get to this disease.

We're seeing one in 25, one in 28 people under the age of 40 end up in hospital and 5 percent of those people, if you're in Florida, 5 percent of those people die. So it's not a free pass for young people.

CURNOW: We've heard the president say 99 percent of coronavirus cases are, you know, are harmless.

Can you explain that biologically and unpack that statement?

BROMAGE: I don't think there is an explanation biologically or any other way for that other way for that particular number that he's pulled out.

What is harmless, a lung transplant?

Yes, they survive but their life is completely altered. We know the lung damage people have. We are seeing this already. We're starting to understand the damage to the heart and to the kidneys, the neurological damage. These are the things we don't know yet.

So this death rate is one thing.


BROMAGE: But those long-term problems that comes from infection, we really have no idea just how bad it's going to be. That number is just completely fictitious. CURNOW: You talk about the wide range of symptoms here, the spectrum

of symptoms, the way this virus can affect a body, whether it's from your toes to your heart to your lungs.

Does that confuse you still as a biologist?

We still have a lot of questions about that. As a biologist, as somebody who analyzes the way viruses attack bodies, human bodies.

BROMAGE: The way that this virus can just get through into so many different tissues, we're finding it in the intestine, they're seeing in the heart, they're finding it in the epithelial cells of the lung, in the brain. It seems to have no bounds in where it can go.

And its tentacles get into the blood and we're seeing clotting like, it's insane. So just from a biologist point of view, not from a medical scientist, it is both intriguing and frightening at the same time.

CURNOW: We've heard that there was a slight mutation.

Does that also concern you?

Explain that to us. Apparently a mutation that makes it potentially more infectious?

BROMAGE: So there is a mutation that has arisen that seems to have taken over the number, most of the positive cases that we're seeing in the United States and Europe. And it's just one small change.

But it's in the receptor binding domain of that spike protein, what it needs to get hold of the ACE-2 receptor on our cells. So it certainly has become dominant. Whether that actually translates into being more infective or more virulent, more dangerous, we don't know at this stage.

There are a lot of things that could be driving this happening. But we're not certain that this is more concerning at this stage.

CURNOW: OK. Still more unanswered questions.

So we've been seeing folks celebrating Independence Day, Independence Weekend here in the States. We also know this weekend pubs are opening in the U.K. You speak a lot about wearing masks and how, if you go into a pub, wear a mask.

But still, the face-to-face conversation you might have over a much- needed long pull beer in a pub in London is potentially life changing.

BROMAGE: Right. So we know masks work. The highest risk of transmission is those face-to-face interactions with people, where you're talking with them for an extended period of time. It could be a few minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes. That is risky.

But also just breathing and talking puts out a lot of respiratory droplets that hang in the air for an extended period of time. If we can stop those droplets from ever leaving the front of your face, from your mouth, and capture them in a mask, we can stop them getting in the air, which stops other people being infected.

The number of infections we're seeing at bars in the southern half of the United States, now that they're open, is just staggering. People are in there. They're having a good time. They're talking. They're getting close to each other. They're yelling because of the music.

And it's leading to enhanced transmission of this virus. Masks aren't reasonable inside a bar. If you go into a bar, you're there to socialize and have a drink. So those two don't work together. There is no safe way to run a bar and stop transmission.

If you've got something like this, be a brewery and be outside, that way you can create physical space. The virus doesn't build up in the air. And when you're moving in amongst a group of people, you put a mask on to stop it.

CURNOW: Dr. Erin Bromage, professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, thanks so much for sharing your expertise.

BROMAGE: Thank you, Robyn.


CURNOW: So just ahead here at CNN. Coronavirus may be skyrocketing across Latin America but one country in the region is certainly flattening the curve. We will see how Uruguay have succeeded.





CURNOW: So health officials are painting a grim picture of the coronavirus in Latin America. The WHO, the World Health Organization, says in the last week of June, Latin America and the Caribbean averaged more than 2,000 COVID deaths per day.

Saturday marked Brazil's 50th day without a health minister. The last man to hold that office left less than a month following criticism from president Bolsonaro. Meanwhile the country has confirmed more than 1.5 million infections.

And while coronavirus rages across Latin America, Uruguay is certainly standing out as a success story. It has seen far fewer infections and a smaller death toll in many of its South American neighbors. Patrick Oppmann takes a look at what the country is doing right.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Elementary school students return to classes in Uruguay. It may look like an everyday scene but, in Latin America, now one of the hardest hit regions by the coronavirus, it's near miraculous.

Schools were reopened in June in Uruguay and attending classes remains voluntary. But officials say, with a few changes, it is now safe.

"We had to take everything out so they don't have a lot of contact," this teacher says.

"It doesn't look like the school we had before but we have to adapt."

With less than 1,000 confirmed cases and only 28 deaths reported, Uruguay has adapted to the peril of the coronavirus better than most countries in the region, if not the world.

The country didn't wait for the virus to hit to close schools and shut borders. People who live on the border with Brazil, where the coronavirus rages unchecked and has taken over 60,000 lives, are regularly tested.

Health workers in mobile medical units visited people at home believed to be ill with the coronavirus so they didn't need to venture out and potentially infect others. And unlike many other countries in Latin America, health officials asked people to stay home but didn't order them to. Quarantine became an act of patriotism rather than a punishment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was, at the beginning, a little bit surprised. However, the population responded properly, saying they complied with all the measures and they stayed at home without any enforcement.

OPPMANN: Uruguay has a comparatively strong public health system and less urban density than much of the rest of Latin America.


OPPMANN: In addition to those advantages, officials say the government acted quickly, with a comprehensive plan that focused on testing and contact tracing that has worked, at least so far.

"We've a tied 0-0 score," he says.

"We're pretty happy but they could still score on us."

Uruguayan officials have warned the countrypeople there could be further outbreaks and setbacks. But for the moment, surrounded by so much failure and despair, Uruguay has shown it's possible to overcome this virus -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN.


CURNOW: Still on CNN, finding solace in sport during the pandemic. Fan favorites are still providing thrills even if the seats are empty. We will take a look at some of the action.



CURNOW: So sport is well underway in Europe. Even without fans in the stands to cheer on their favorites, athletes are showing what they think about the issues of the day as competition kicks into higher gear. Here is Patrick Snell with a roundup of some of the highlights.


CURNOW: Thanks for watching. I'm Robyn Curnow. Natalie Allen is up next.