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Brazil Reopens As Coronavirus Cases Rise; Spain Orders Lockdowns; 32 States See Coronavirus Spikes; Five Children Killed in Weekend Violence; Remains of Missing Army Specialist Identified. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired July 6, 2020 - 09:30   ET



BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The state of Sao Paulo, where we are here. The governor, the mayors of these cities, are trying to keep their people safe and are often at conflict with the federal government as things are going on.

The congress here in Brazil, the lower house, trying to pass a law that would make masks mandatory in bars, in restaurants and churches and schools. President Bolsonaro vetoed that. He vetoed a provision that would provide masks to the poor. His entire political future is based on this economy. They're already struggling and he sees gambling the lives of his own citizens it seems to be worth that risk to open up and get the economy churning once again.

But it is really interesting to see most of the people on the street are masked up. Most people are taking the precautions in the common sense recommendations, Erica, right now, even as their own president is at odds with all of them.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: And so -- and you mentioned those -- those states that were pushing back and, you know, frankly, just how political this is, which is, as you point out, we can relate here to in the U.S.

Beyond people wearing masks there in Sao Paulo, I don't know if you've had a chance to just get a sense of, you know, how the people on the ground, the citizens who are directly impacted by all of these decisions, how they see them.

WEIR: Well, it's interesting. In the bigger cities, it's just like the wealth gap in the states. We're seeing there, in the favelas, where people live three to a room and they don't even have clean water, much less disinfectant and masks, there's much worry about that. There's worry about Amazonia, where illegal timber and gold miners could be bring coronavirus into indigenous communities whose resistance is already low there as well.

But what's interesting is Brazil's health care system was really the envy of Latin America, one of the best in South America certainly. They went through the HIV crisis here, the Zika crisis, and Bolsonaro actually ran on a platform to privatize the national health care system here so another layer of politics on top of this.

But this is a country that's really capable of massive sort of health crises like this. They've proven it before. But right now, the man in charge seems to be the one thing standing in the way of them pulling through this and flattening the curve.

HILL: Incredible.

Bill, great to have you there on the ground this morning. Thank you.

Let's take a look now at Spain, where two regions are being locked down for a second time due to a rise in case there.

Journalist Al Goodman has more for us from Madrid.

Al, good morning.


These are the first lockdowns since Spain's national confinement, the state of emergency, ended on June 21st, after three months. Now, the largest of these lockdowns right now is happening in the northeastern Catalonia region.

That's about a two-hour drive from Barcelona. A farming area affecting 200,000 people in a certain county. It -- the outbreak, according to officials there, basically has started with seasonal farmworkers, many of them African migrants that are there to pick pears and peaches and other fruit. They live in very close conditions. So the regional authorities have circled the perimeter of this county. Nobody in or out. They've got police checkpoints around.

The other outbreak is in the -- clear across the other side of the country in northwestern Spain, along the Atlantic Ocean. A series of smaller towns affecting 70,000 people. Officials there saying that was due not to farmers but to bars, people going out and having a good time in bars. So they've locked that area down. More than 100 people in quarantine there.

Now, Spain, one of the hardest hit countries by the coronavirus in Europe with more than 28,000 deaths, more than 250,000 cases, just as the country is starting to open up again with outdoor terraces, they're not full right now, it's the middle of the day, really hot, but they will be filled later, just as the country is opening up for movement and for tourism, important coasts, the beaches of Spain, so well-known. The last thing the national government or the regional governments want or the people want is another national lockdown.


HILL: Yes, absolutely.

Al Goodman with the latest for us from Madrid.

Al, thank you. Well, speaking of flocking to beaches, Americans flocking to beaches over the holiday weekend. How could that impact coronavirus numbers? We're going to speak with the mayor of a popular summertime destination about what she saw in her city, next.



HILL: Thirty-two states seeing an increase in new coronavirus cases. But if you really want to get the virus under control, is a national plan what's needed? That's what New Jersey's governor thinks, even calling out vacation hot spots.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We're starting to see a small spikes in reinfection from folks coming back from places like Myrtle Beach, and as well as in Florida, other hot spots. To me it says we need a national strategy. We're only as strong as our weakest link.


HILL: Well, this was the scene in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this weekend. You see the signs there to practice social distancing. The city also implementing a mask order just before the Fourth of July holiday.

Joining us now is Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune.

Madam Mayor, great to have you with us this morning.

So you just heard what Governor Phil Murphy said, calling out your state. What's your response? What did you see over the weekend?

MAYOR BRENDA BETHUNE, MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, what I saw was really people complying with the mask order. And such a drastic comparison to what we saw Memorial weekend where we had a huge influx of people coming down for the weekend and not following social distancing, not wearing masks. That is not what I saw this past weekend.

HILL: So you -- so they -- you say they were complying with it -- with the mask order. And just for social distancing as well. I know that had been an issue.

Did you see a real improvement in the social distancing on the beach as well as on the boardwalks?


BETHUNE: Well, on our beaches in Myrtle Beach, now, Horry County is a huge area and Myrtle Beach is 2 percent of it. So, on our beaches, our beach patrol and our life guards actually did a great job controlling the social distancing, spreading the umbrellas apart so that people had to social distance, and we did see a huge improvement. Of course, there's always room for more, and we will continue to strive for that. But I was very, very pleased with what we saw this weekend.

HILL: So that's good news, right, that's what you want to hear.

I now you've said too just a few days ago, just prior to this mask order going into effect, that it is the people, not the places, that spread the virus. But a lot of people have been coming and going to Myrtle Beach.

Has there ever been, though, a point where you would consider limiting visitors? I know how important this is economically. But if you see cases spike, would you consider limiting visitors from other hot spots around the country?

BETHUNE: Well, I think that comes into play with coordination and collaboration with our state, with neighboring mayors, because the Grand Strand (ph) area is 60 miles. Myrtle Beach is a small piece of that. So I think if we do something like that, it really has to be done collaboratively together to make any sense, and to actually be effective.

HILL: Has that ever come up in conversation with your fellow mayors?

BETHUNE: Not yet. Not at this time. We are monitoring this virus daily, as is everyone across our nation, and I believe everybody's doing the best that we can. So, just education, enforcement, encouraging people to wear the mask, follow all safety guidelines, that is what I believe is going to make a difference.

HILL: One woman from Myrtle Beach told "The Washington Post" that tourists in her building were cramming into elevators, they weren't wearing masks. When you hear that, are you concerned at all about enforcement in other areas, in hotels, in apartment buildings, in condos?

BETHUNE: Oh, absolutely. And our regulatory unit, that is what their focus is going to be on, going into businesses and hotels, retail establishments, and ensuring that we are getting that level of compliance. Our restaurants are actually doing a very good job so far, but that is because they are still at 50 percent capacity. So there's always room for improvement, and it's something that we will continue to focus on.

HILL: I want to ask you, too, about contact tracing, which we know has really lagged in most areas, partially because there aren't enough people to do the job. People may be resistant to answer the questions and the sheer number of cases that need to be traced.

Are you confident that in Myrtle Beach and more broadly in South Carolina, contact tracing, the numbers of tracers and actually the systems are in place for that to work effectively?

BETHUNE: No, I'm not confident in that. And I think it's very hard, with an area like Myrtle Beach, where we see so many tourists from other areas. And that's part of it, because if you are a visitor to this area, and you test positive while you are here, we don't even know that. That positive test result gets reported back to your home state. So I think that is something that definitely needs improvement, and I'm hoping that DHEC and our state is working on it.

HILL: Mayor Brenda Bethune, appreciate it. Thank you.

BETHUNE: Thank you very much.

HILL: God has another angel in heaven now. Those words from the widow of Broadway star Nick Cordero after he lost his month's long battle with coronavirus. The Tony nominated actor died last night in Los Angeles. Amanda Kloots says her husband battled the virus for 95 days. He had several ups and downs. His leg was amputated at one point. She describes her husband as a bright light and everyone's friend. The couple have a one-year-old son. Nick Cordero was just 41 years old.

A wave of gun violence over the holiday weekend hits two of the nation's biggest cities, claiming the lives of several children. Details, ahead.



HILL: At least five children died in a wave of gun violence across the U.S. over the holiday weekend. In New York and Chicago alone, nearly 150 people were shot.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is in New York, but we start with Omar Jimenez in Chicago.

So, Omar, the rise in violence, this comes as cities across the U.S., of course, are debating the role of policing and also wrestling with the coronavirus pandemic all at once.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erica, here in Chicago, that public safety ecosystem, as it's being described, has been complicated as it's tried to operate at the intersection of coronavirus and gun violence.

This is now a third week in a row where we have seen children shot and killed here. Children as young as 10 years old, three-years-old, one- year-old and even this past weekend a seven-year-old shot and killed as part of a weekend where we saw more than 60 people shot and over a dozen people killed.

And part of the challenge that officials have described to me here is that they're dealing with the typical challenges of summer violence here, combined with the fact of months of people being cooped up at home. First responders, including police, have gotten infected with Covid or either died.

Hundreds of detainees at the Cook County Jail, at one point or another, have been injected or dead. Courts have had to close and all of it piles on top of each other and complicates the situation as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tells me they're all factors contributing to this grim reality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMENEZ: Compared to last year, shootings up 40 percent. homicides up more than 30 percent. So, just point blank --



JIMENEZ: What is happening right now?

LIGHTFOOT: All of these forces are coming together at the same time and making it very difficult.

The ecosystem of public safety that isn't just law enforcement but is local, community-based, they, too, have really been hit hard by Covid and are now just kind of coming back online and getting their footing.


JIMENEZ: And what makes it almost doubly impactful in the worst way imaginable is many of these same communities that were being hit hardest by the coronavirus are also being hit hardest by gun violence. The way one family put it to me of a three-year-old who died, we now have the children carrying the caskets of children.


HILL: It's just -- it's just so awful. There are no words.

Omar, thank you.

Meantime, Shimon, here in New York City it was just as bad over the weekend.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was. And just to put it into context, Erica, I've been talking to senior NYPD officials who say they have not seen a weekend like this since 1995, right? New York City has seen record decline in violent crime for years, for decades, and to have a weekend like we did over this weekend is just completely abnormal.

When you look at the numbers, we had 63 people victims of shootings. There were 44 shooting incidents and 12 homicides.

Now, the police commissioner this morning, he took to the airwaves. He spoke to local media saying that part of what's going on here is that people are not in jail.

People who should be in jail are now on the street in part because of the coronavirus, but also because of the laws here now in New York state and New York City, which is allowing a lot of criminals to remain on the street, even after they're arrested and they see a judge. It's basically saying that half the population of the notorious prison, that jail, Ryker's Island, half of the population is now out on the street and he's blaming some of that on the rise in violent crime. The other thing just quickly, he notes that the police officers just

don't feel supported. They're concerned given the rash of violence against some police officers, given some of the protests and some of the laws that a lot of police officers are worried they're going to wind up being arrested if they take certain type of action. And so that is -- as a result of that, they are being handcuffed. They are not performing as they would normally do. He's asking for local leaders to give support, and he's also asking for some changes to be made to the current laws.


HILL: Shimon Prokupecz, Omar Jimenez, thank you both.

Well, one of the victims of this weekend violence, an eight-year-old girl in Atlanta. Secoriea Turner was shot and killed Saturday night when someone opened fire on the car she was riding in with her mother. It happened near the Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was killed last month. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says she wants people to have the same passion for ending community violence that they have for police reform.


MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GEORGIA: The reality is this, these aren't police officers shooting people on the streets of Atlanta. These are members of the communities shooting each other.

We're fighting the enemy within when we are shooting each other up on our streets.


HILL: Police are still searching for the shooter.

Army investigators say they've now identified the remains of a missing solider from Fort Hood. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen disappeared in April. Investigators now say her killer beat her to death on base and then moved her body.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us now.

This is just a terrible end to a really awful story, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A very disturbing, story, Erica. And over the weekend, we saw vigils and protests in several locations across Texas in memory of this 20-year-old American soldier, Vanessa Guillen. She had been stationed at Fort Hood and went missing back in April. So many people now remembering her and calling for justice in her case.

She had been missing since April, and it was just a few days ago that her remains were found in a shallow grave in Texas not far from Fort Hood, where she had been serving.

Her family's attorney spoke about the difficulties now in even trying to identify her remains.


NATALIE KHAWAN, ATTORNEY FOR GUILLEN FAMILY: They couldn't identify with their dental examination. They couldn't confirm her -- whether it was her with the dental because her -- Vanessa's face was bashed in so badly there was no teeth for them to identify.


STARR: But, you know, it just gets worse and worse if that's even possible. Apparently she was bludgeoned to death on Fort Hood and it was only, again, two months later that her remains were found.


So the Army has an awful lot of questions to answer still in this investigation. It was reported that she was going to identify someone that had been sexually harassing her.

Now, another solider, Aaron David Robinson had been found dead by suicide. When investigators approached him, he pulled out a gun and shot himself. Another woman in custody for allegedly helping move her body.

Now, if this soldier had been killed aboard Fort Hood, as it is now believed she was, the Army not only has a lot of questions to answer, but the Army inspector general already has a team at Fort Hood looking at the sexual harassment reporting program on that base because this soldier was apparently going to report she was being sexually harassed. They want to find out exactly what happened and see what needs to be done to protect other soldiers, of course, going forward.


HILL: Yes, as you point out, Barbara, a lot of questions that need to be answered.

Thank you.

Coronavirus shows no sign of slowing down. One state setting the national record now for the highest number of new cases in a single day.