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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Delivers Divisiveness on Independence Day; Florida Hotspots Celebrate at the Beach; England's Pubs Reopen; Australia Calling for a Pause in Easing Coronavirus Restrictions; America Celebrates Its Birthday; Citizens Honor the British National Health Service; Iraq Struggles with COVID-19; Sport Deals with Racism. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 5, 2020 - 03:00   ET

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


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

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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Fireworks flying everywhere in Washington, D.C., as the president of the United States throws verbal jabs at his detractors, coming at a time when Americans face a raging pandemic.

We are seeing another day of record high cases in places like Florida.

And pumping the brakes on reopening in parts of Australia. Thousands living in public housing put on sudden and strict lockdown. We'll have a live report from Melbourne.

We're live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome, viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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ALLEN: Thank you for joining us.

It has been a 4th of July unlike any other in recent American history.

Yes, there were plenty of fireworks, official and otherwise. This was the view near the White House. But at a time when Americans traditionally renew their national bonds, the U.S. president is stoking a culture war in the middle of a pandemic.

For the past two days, his speeches has portrayed Americans as deeply divided and locked in battle over controversial monuments, like this one, a statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore, toppled by protesters and dumped in the harbor.

Mr. Trump is portraying it as a battle between those who want to preserve the country's heritage and those, in his words, who wish to destroy it.

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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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: The president's outrage may appeal to his supporters but critics say it is misplaced in the face of a disease that killed nearly 130,000 Americans in four months. Still, it didn't deter everyone from celebrating the holiday.

While many beaches around the country were closed, those that were open had plenty of visitors.

The 4th of July is a time to celebrate how Americans came together to gain independence. But that is not the tone President Trump used to mark this holiday. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more.

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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.

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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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 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.

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

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.

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ALLEN: The coronavirus has scarcely been mentioned in President Trump's recent speeches although he did falsely claim that 99 percent of all cases are, quote, "totally harmless." There is no medical evidence to support that. But as far as Mr. Trump is concerned, the pandemic is under control.

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TRUMP: We have made a lot of progress. Our strategy is moving along well. It goes out in one area and rears back its ugly face in another area. But we have learned a lot. We have learned how to put out the flame.

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ALLEN: Florida is one of the biggest U.S. hotspots right now, reporting more than 11,000 new cases on Saturday alone and surpassing the worst day for new cases in New York. But that is not stopping some people from celebrating the 4th holiday weekend the way they always do, by hitting the beach. Boris Sanchez has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 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.

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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?

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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.

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ALLEN: Now to England. Pubs famous the world over there are open once again. For all those who waited in line to get those first fights, Super Saturday as it was called, couldn't come soon enough. Those in Scotland and Wales will have to wait a bit longer but pubs in Northern Ireland already reopened on Friday.

Social distancing means it's not quite the same, of course, as compared to when they were last all gathered with family and friends in March. CNN's Anna Stewart is watching these developments and she joins me now live from London.

It has been three months so I'm sure it is a welcome time for many people there.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Morning, Natalie. The national haircut in England is now well underway. Hair salons opened at midnight on Saturday to try to get through the enormous backlog of over three months. I was not lucky enough to make it to a hair salon, I did make it to one of the many pubs that have reopened.

And you are right, it does not feel back to normal at all. All the new COVID-19 safety measures have to be in place.

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STEWART: And that has been quite tricky for some businesses. Not many actually did reopen. Lots of restaurants decided to stay shut, cinemas and bars. And also in part because they are worried about consumer appetite. I was asking people yesterday what they feel safe to do now in England?

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not risking going into a pub immediately. I think having a beer outside, which we've been doing for weeks anyhow, is fine. And it's actually quieter here today than it has been, because pubs are open. Not in a rush to go to cinema. A restaurant would be nice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't go into a pub or a restaurant myself. But takeaway, I'd do because I don't want to be around lots of drunk people, probably batting into you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excited for a bit of brunch, a few restaurants and things, it would be really nice to get back to a little bit of normality. But obviously, we still do need to be safe and trying to keep that distance from everyone as best we can.

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STEWART: The U.K. government had cautioned English people to really act responsibly. There were concerns there would be overcrowding and overindulging in alcohol yesterday. There were some reports of that in Central London in SoHo.

But generally speaking, people did seem to be able to keep to social distancing measures. Perhaps that is in part due to some very British weather. Not a great day for sitting out and drinking -- Natalie.

ALLEN: OK. We hope it continues to go well. And to reiterate, you did not go to the hair salon but you did go to a pub. It's a good call. STEWART: I went to a pub, Natalie. I have to wait another three weeks

before this gets cut.

ALLEN: I'm with you on that. Anna Stewart, thank you so much.

In October 2019, an international panel created a scorecard of sorts ranking countries by their ability to handle a major health crisis. It was called the Global Health Security Index and it concluded that the United States was best prepared in all the world to handle a major disease outbreak. The U.K. was number two.

But months into an actual pandemic, both of those countries have had the highest number of excess deaths, over and above what would be seen without a crisis. As of June 2020, the U.S. has had more than 122,000 excess deaths. The U.K. nearly 66,000.

I want to talk about this now with Clare Wenham, she is in assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She joins me now live from London.

Good morning to you, thank you for coming out.

DR. CLARE WENHAM, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE: Good morning.

ALLEN: First up, regarding that scorecard. The U.S. was ranked first out of 115 -- I'm sorry -- 195 nations. The U.K. was ranked second. And by June, they are two of the world's biggest failures in tackling this pandemic.

How did that scorecard get it so wrong?

WENHAM: The scorecard, what it did was it looked at policies that were written to implement in the case of an epidemic or health emergency. It looked at all sorts of capacities that governments had to detect an outbreak.

So what surveillance systems they had in place, what surge capacity they had in their health systems and how they would be able to respond. However, what the scorecard did not account for was political decision-making and how governments were going to react.

Thus, what we are looking at here is this difference between policy and actual implementation. What is going to happen when it hits and (INAUDIBLE) and Gavin Union (ph) and I, who wrote this piece decided that we need to figure out how to engage this political decision- making in how we measure how prepared countries are for an outbreak.

ALLEN: Right. We know that the U.K. has just come out of a three- month lockdown; in the United States there's really no federal program. It has been left up to states and many of the governors have left it up to cities.

As far as Boris Johnson goes and his leadership there and Donald Trump here in the United States, are there commonalities in how they approach the pandemic and the government's response? WENHAM: Absolutely. The governments around the world are all faced with the same decision. It fundamentally came down to if they were going to prioritize population health or their economy.

What we see in the U.S. is a prioritization of the economy. What we see in the U.K. is somewhere mixed between the two. But this led to certain policy pathways that made governments somehow, particularly the U.S. and the U.K., feel they were exceptional, that this was not going to be an issue for them.

We see these distinct tensions between not setting up track and trace systems, not using the time advantage they had when this outbreak was mainly in East Asia, to prepare.

We see a questionable relationship between policymakers and political decision-makers and science and the role of what they consider to be legitimate science.

And then, you know, we see these distinct tensions in both countries between who is being affected. In the U.S. it is high infection rates among black and Latinx communities. Here in the U.K., it's amongst black and Asian and minority and ethnic communities.

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WENHAM: So we see this distinct tension that needs to be taken into account. These are political decisions and political prioritizations.

ALLEN: Even in the United States we hear our president saying the U.S. has made a lot of progress in controlling the pandemic. Yet cases continue to rise in 36 states. Hospitalizations are hitting record numbers in Texas and Arizona.

Houston, Texas, had two counties even send out an emergency alert because the hospitals were full.

Can the United States get this under control if the president continues to characterize the situation as like, well, it's going well?

In fact, he even falsely claimed that 99 percent of all cases are totally harmless.

WENHAM: You can't make progress, you just need decisive action. What this virus needs is for people to be separated. If people aren't separated, it cannot spread between the 2.

So perhaps different states or different counties need to re-integrate and really put these lockdown policies back into place. Or at the federal level. But the problem that is political suicide to implement a lockdown having come out the other side of it. But I think we really need to ask the administration, what is more important to them?

Because actually the short term lockdown is going to be better in the long term for the economy. Population health, it is fundamental to a functioning economy. You need people going out and buying. If people are not well enough to go out and do that, it is a false

dichotomy. So I think they just need to get a grip on it now before it gets even more out of hand.

ALLEN: Right. And we know that there are people that are wearing masks and social distancing and there are people who do not heed health experts advice to distance and quarantine when necessary.

Where could we be if and when a second wave comes in the fall?

WENHAM: I think it's far too premature to talk about a second wave. We are still very much in the first wave, particularly in the U.S. and most of the Americas. So I think it's a bit premature.

I think what it has shown us is a difference between how populations engage with government. In East Asia, where people, when governments suggest people wear face masks. Everyone did it because everyone recognized the risk to their health and their communities.

That showed a much better outcome than in the U.S. with the same advice being issued or mixed advice being issued. But actually, you know, there is this tension between how people trust in government. We really need to have trust in government at a time a crisis, particularly when it requires individual behavior change.

ALLEN: Clare Wenham, professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, we appreciate your expertise. Thank you.

WENHAM: 'Bye.

ALLEN: Next here, details on the drastic measure Melbourne, Australia is taking to contain the virus as cases there begin to rise.

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ALLEN: We're going to take a look now at how countries around the world are faring in this pandemic and right now we look at Australia.

The Australian Medical Association is calling for a pause in easing coronavirus restrictions there because Melbourne, Australia, is currently seeing spikes in new cases. There were 108 cases Friday, which led to new stay at home orders and drastic lockdown measures in some public housing blocks.

Joining me more to talk about it from Sydney is journalist Angus Watson.

What do officials attribute the rising cases in Melbourne to?

ANGUS WATSON, JOURNALIST: The big worry, Natalie, is there is a lot of community transmission. People aren't sure of authorities, aren't sure where the new cases are coming from and it's led them to take drastic action; 3,000 people living in nine housing community blocks now on total lockdown as of last night.

They're not let out of their homes for any reason. Police are guarding them, making sure nobody believe leaves. Police in Australia have weapons. So that's a little confronting for people who were told they wouldn't be able to leave their homes for five whole days.

Many people heard about it on the 6:00 news, Natalie. It was very quick the way that the authorities brought it in. And that's because of the severity of the situation there, 108 cases on Friday. Over 70 cases detected on Saturday and 23 in these very highly densely populated housing blocks, where authorities feel that transmission could spread very quickly.

Everybody in there is going to get tested and -- I'm sorry -- Daniel Andrews saying today he is very grateful for the people who are making the sacrifice. Take a listen.

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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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Now those 3,000 people joined over 300,000 people that are already on a much softer version of a lockdown in Melbourne at 12 post codes, over 40 suburbs within those post codes, (INAUDIBLE) that people are allowed to leave their homes for some certain reasons, like going to the shop to buy food, exercise or give care to someone else.

But the people obviously as I said in the public housing commission blocks aren't allowed to leave for any reason.

People here in Australia are wondering why there has been that kind of difference in treatment for people, the Victorian premier saying because of the severity that people are (INAUDIBLE) could catch coronavirus in this and that could lead to obviously deaths potentially.

ALLEN: All right. We appreciate your reporting, thank you. Angus Watson for us in Sydney. Thanks, Angus.

[03:25:00]

ALLEN: Mexico keeps seeing new daily records in COVID-19 infections. More than 6,900 cases were reported Saturday with more than 520 new deaths. That raises the nationwide case total past 252,000. More than 30,000 people have died from the virus in Mexico. But Brazil remains Latin America's worst hit country. It has more than

1.5 million cases. It has also gone more than 50 days without an official health minister. The position is temporarily filled by an army general with no previous medical experience.

The last person to formally hold the office left after less than a month amid criticism from president Jair Bolsonaro. This after Mr. Bolsonaro fired the previous health minister in April. That minister backed wearing masks and social distancing.

Well, what might the McCarthyism of the '40s and '50s in the U.S. look like in America today?

A presidential historian quotes President Trump and breaks down the similarities. Coming up.

Also, the U.K. is paying tribute to a much loved institution, the National Health Service, as it turns 72. There is a special thank you this year for all those working tirelessly on the front lines of this pandemic. And we'll have a live report about that.

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ALLEN: 4th of July fireworks right there in the Big Apple. This was the scene earlier in New York City to celebrate America's Independence Day. This was the first year the fireworks show was launched from on top of the iconic Empire State Building. Looked pretty good.

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ALLEN: Beautiful, actually.

Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

The United States observed its 245th birthday Saturday as the coronavirus pandemic forced much of the country to cancel or curtail the usual public celebrations but not in Washington, D.C.

The nation's capital went ahead with a traditional concert and beautiful fireworks show, hosted by the president and first lady. CNN's Alex Marquardt says the show was big. The crowds, though, this year were smaller.

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ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The smoke is still settling here after what was a spectacular fireworks show here in Washington, D.C., not at all a muted celebration during this time of coronavirus and social unrest.

People gathering all along the National Mall to watch a show that was billed as one of the largest ever, 35 minutes. It included some 10,000 fireworks shot off from two main locations. The first at the Washington Monument, the second a mile long stretch between what is essentially Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.

People out here did have plenty of room to social distance. There were far fewer people out here than normal. The crowds were, indeed, much thinner. The National Park Service, which helped coordinate the celebration, they were bracing for large crowds. They had asked people to spread out across what is federal land here.

They had prepared some 300,000 masks to hand out. Now it's important to note that this was a celebration that was called for by the Trump administration, by the White House.

The mayor of Washington, D.C., had canceled the city's celebrations, asking people to stay at home, to celebrate in or around their homes. But of course, this celebration went forward. People came from far and wide, from as close as Virginia.

I also met families from Florida, from Georgia, from Chicago and elsewhere, as well as families from overseas, from Brazil, from Argentina, from South Africa, all of whom wanted to come see America celebrate its birthday -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

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ALLEN: This 4th of July will not just be remembered for coronavirus and fireworks because of divisive rhetoric from president Donald Trump. With me now to discuss the president's stance over the holiday is Leslie Vinjamuri, the head of the U.S. and Americas program at Chatham House, a think tank based in London.

Good morning, Leslie. Thanks for coming on.

LESLIE VINJAMURI, CHATHAM HOUSE: Good morning, Natalie.

Well, first up here, the president has used dark and divisive language over this holiday addressing the country. He framed the hundreds of thousands of protesters demonstrating over race issues as, quote, "nefarious left wing mob" that intends to end America.

What do you make of his words and his message that we've heard in the past two days?

VINJAMURI: So I think we're seeing a president, who is grasping for straws, who is desperate to hold on, who sees a country he is leading respond to a pandemic, a health crisis and economic crisis on a scale that we haven't seen in decades, respond very poorly because of his leadership.

And it's showing up in the polls. So President Trump is doubling down on his racist narrative. He is looking to probably a hard core of his base to mobilize them, to energize them.

But Natalie, it's not working. If you look at the data that's coming out on, for example, the number of Americans who engaged in the protests surrounding the Black Lives Movement after the brutal killing of George Floyd, people are estimating between 15 and 26 million Americans have participated in these protests.

They've been peaceful. The call out from Americans is very clear, for unity, for equality and for reform. So the president is pushing back. And he is targeting a very, very narrow segment of the population.

Unfortunately, it's tremendously divisive. And if you sit where I sit in London, in Europe, looking back at America, it's just devastating. It's devastating and, quite frankly, it's shocking to watch.

ALLEN: And on that, the "shocking to watch" part, I do want to elaborate a bit, because a former U.S. ambassador to Russia called the president's Mt. Rushmore speech as the most U.N.-American speech ever given by a U.S. president on the 4th of July. The words he is using have raised concern.

I want you to listen now how a noted presidential historian said earlier on CNN about what he is hearing from President Trump this weekend. Here he is.

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DOUG BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Donald Trump is showing us how Joe McCarthy would have acted if he had become president.

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BRINKLEY: McCarthy was obviously just a senator from Wisconsin but who raised havoc with his anti-Communist crusade.

And here you have a President of the United States on July 4th, in the middle of a ceremony on the National Mall, TV cameras around the world, using the opportunity to divide our nation, to call his opponents "radicals" and "good for nothing anarchists" and the like.

This is appalling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: And as you said, Leslie, it's shocking as well.

Is there any surprise, though, that this president is taking this approach?

Or is this his same playbook that appeals to his base?

VINJAMURI: It's the same playbook, Natalie. You know, the words that we just heard are exactly right. It's the same playbook but he is taking it really in a darker and more dangerous way.

If you go back to the beginning of his presidency, he was speaking out against immigrants, against foreigners. It was very divisive, very problematic. But now he is turning that inwards. And he is dividing Americans against each other by attacking a certain segment of the American population, which, frankly, doesn't exist in the way that he portrays it.

So it is devastating. It is a bad move. This is a president who can stand up. He can call for unity. He could ask people to wear those masks. He could double down on testing, on contact tracing and help to pull the country back and drive the economy alongside the public health response in a positive direction as he leads up to November.

He is doing exactly the opposite. He is preventing the country from coming back together, from responding as effectively as it could. But he is pushing back against so many extraordinary people at the state level.

He is losing some of his Republican governors, who are actually taking a much firmer line on the health crisis, in line with what Dr. Fauci has been calling for, for a very long time.

So I think the president is on a losing strategy. But it's creating in these months a very divided platform. He's using a platform to create division.

And as we run up to November in the election, it's going to be extraordinarily complicated, just simply at the operational level. Just holding an election, having a president who isn't calling for unity on July 4th of all days in the face of these protests is unconscionable.

ALLEN: Right. In 2016, it was "build a wall" and subsequent ban on Muslims. It's now protect our Confederate heritage. As you mentioned about the mood of the American public, recent polls indicate most Americans and more whites than ever believe the country needs to come together over racial issues.

Can he win a second term, Leslie, if he ignores that?

VINJAMURI: You know, Natalie, so much is going to happen between now and November. You know this more than anybody. We're going to wait and see what happens with the economy, the virus, the development of a possible vaccination. There is a lot of news yet to come.

But I -- we've seen those polls. You're right. Americans want to see unity. And I can tell you anecdotally, watching people on my Facebook page, on either side of the electoral aisle, in the Midwest, on the East Coast, across the country, people want unity.

They're not -- they're not buying into this line of division. So I think it is a losing strategy. But time will tell. And it's going to be a very, very difficult few months and a difficult election.

ALLEN: And as you say every week, there is something different. So it's hard to predict right now. Leslie Vinjamuri, we always appreciate your time and insight. Thank you.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

ALLEN: So many countries are slowly starting to reopen now. But that would not have been possible without health care workers on the front lines and, boy, have they been put through it. So many have died.

For the 72nd anniversary of the British National Health Service, NHS for short, the U.K. is pulling out all the stops to celebrate them. London landmarks have lit up in blue, including 10 Downing Street. Also a nationwide clap is scheduled for Sunday. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more about it in London.

Good morning to you, Salma.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Good morning, Natalie. It's hard to overemphasize just how beloved the National Health Service, the NHS, is in this country you. You see behind me here a mural for them.

And in this pandemic, the declaration of love has been all over this country. You can see billboards, posters, signs, even little crayon drawings in the windows of homes popping up saying we love the NHS. Save the NHS.

It's the least political, least controversial organization in this country. If you hear a politician talking about it, he is probably talking about funding it more, about giving it more resources. Even prime minister Boris Johnson himself, when he contracted coronavirus.

[03:40:00]

ABDELAZIZ: He was admitted to an NHS hospital, St. Thomas' Hospital. And he literally put his life in the hands of NHS workers. When he came out, he said, "They saved my life, no question."

So you can see there just so much love for these health care workers, because, of course, they are the ones who have been fighting this pandemic now for months. Dozens of them losing their own lives to the virus.

There have been accusations leveled against the government for failing to provide adequate PPE, for failing to protect especially minority health care workers, who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

But today is going to be about commemorating the sacrifices they have made. At 5:00 pm London time, there is a clap scheduled. This is inspired by the Clap for Carers, which has been happening every Thursday in this country during this pandemic.

In its more than seven-decade history, perhaps there is no more difficult chapter than the one the NHS is facing today and this country wants to honor their tireless work -- Natalie.

ALLEN: They certainly deserve it. All right. Thank you so much, Salma Abdelaziz in London for us.

The coronavirus is spreading at an alarming rate in the Middle East. Next, hear how Iraq is grappling with the spike in new infections and bracing for more.

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ALLEN: Sorry about that. Iraq is bracing for a tough fight ahead as the coronavirus is surging there. The country's health ministry reported more than 2,000 new infections on Saturday. That brings the total number of known cases there to more than 58,000.

Fears are growing that Iraq's hospitals could soon reach full capacity. The International Rescue Committee says the country saw a 600 percent rise in new cases during the month of June with no signs of slowing down. CNN's Arwa Damon is following developments for us on this story from Istanbul.

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ALLEN: And we know, Arwa, that Iraqi society was already deeply fragile before this pandemic and now this.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Natalie, and its medical infrastructure never really recovered from the decades of sanctions under Saddam Hussein nor the consecutive wars that took place afterwards.

Plus there is also a great problem with corruption as well as just general hospital management. All of this is causing cripples of fear throughout the population.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON (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. 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: And, Natalie, the rise in cases is one of the factors that contributed to that oxygen shortage, where you saw that short clip of people scuffling. In response to that, the World Health Organization managed to secure and send in around 300 oxygen concentrators.

And the country is starting to convert some dormitories and schools into isolation units. But experts are warning that, if Iraq wants to get a handle on this pandemic before it's too late, that they really need to redouble their efforts on every single level.

ALLEN: We hope that can happen. The Iraqi people have been through so much, as you have reported very often in the past. Thank you so much, Arwa Damon for us in Istanbul.

Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, sports, social distancing and social upheaval. Fan favorites are still providing thrills, even if seats are empty. We'll take a look at the latest action from around the world.

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ALLEN: The return of sports got an earlier start outside the United States and now athletes in Europe are taking a public stand on the issues of the day as competitions get underway. Here is CNN's Patrick Snell.

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[03:55:00]

ALLEN: Have you heard this one?

Rapper Kanye West celebrated Independence Day by talking about a 2020 presidential bid. West sent a tweet Saturday that ended with, "I am running for President of the United States and the #2020Vision."

He offered no details. West would have to be a write-in candidate in many states. He has already missed the independent candidate filing date but he could still make the ballot in some areas.

That's our first hour. There are two more to go. Please stay with me. I'm Natalie Allen. I'll be right back with our top stories.