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THE SITUATION ROOM

Coronavirus Surging In At Least 32 States; President Trump's Efforts To Inflame Racial Tensions; Interview With Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy; Officials In Hotspots Say States Reopened Too Soon; At Least Six Children Killed In Weekend Wave Of Violence; NFL's Redskins, MLB's Indians Considering Name Changes. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 6, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:23]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The breaking news tonight: another awful milestone for the coronavirus pandemic here in the United States. More than 130,000 Americans have now died, as the official U.S. case count nears three million. The virus is surging in at least 32 states.

But the White House is doubling down on President Trump's baseless claim that 99 percent of cases are totally harmless, his words, and making the dubious claim that the rest of the world sees the United States as a global leader in fighting the pandemic.

Also tonight, the White House is defending the president's efforts to inflame racial tensions and refusing to denounce the Confederate Flag after he tweeted a false attack on a black NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace.

Let's begin CNN's coverage this hour with CNN's Jason Carroll, who is joining us from New York,.

Jason, we just learned that the Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has now tested positive for the virus. Give us the latest.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. She made that announcement a short while ago, Wolf, made that announcement on Twitter, saying the following: "COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had no symptoms and I have tested positive."

Of course, we're wishing her and her family all the best. All this tonight as Dr. Fauci has also come out with a number of alarming statements tonight, namely saying that the current state of the country is not good, in part because he says the country reopened too soon.

He went on to say, Wolf, that the nation is still knee-deep in the first wave of this virus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): What pandemic?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We get complacent. We get cocky. We get a little arrogant. That is a real threat.

CARROLL: Across the country, July 4 gatherings with no social distancing or mask wearing, like this party in Diamond Lake, Michigan, at a water park in Wisconsin, this speedway outside Denver, and on Fire Island, New York, where crowds gathered on the beach during the day and at a pool party at night.

CUOMO: I don't know how else to say it. Actions have come consequences.

CARROLL: In all, coronavirus cases surging in 32 states.

In Florida, where they shut many beaches to discourage holiday crowds, a record for the most coronavirus cases in the United States in a single day on Saturday, and more troubling numbers.

In Miami-Dade County, the state's hardest-hit, the positivity rate is at 26 percent. The goal is 10 or lower, hospitalizations up 88 percent, ventilator use up 119 percent. The mayor there today signing an emergency order rolling back reopening, closing restaurants for indoor dining and other businesses starting Wednesday.

FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MAYOR OF MIAMI, FLORIDA: We have seen that some of these orders work. But the question is, what happens next?

CARROLL: Texas saw its second highest day of new cases over the weekend.

The mayor of Austin says his city is two weeks away from running out of hospital beds.

STEVE ADLER (D), MAYOR OF AUSTIN, TEXAS: We opened up in ways that were not sustainable. And now we're having to turn that curve.

CARROLL: And California reaching new dangerous levels, averaging over 7,000 new cases a day over the last week, its highest average since the pandemic started.

Health experts warned for months that more attention needs to be paid to how the virus transmits in the air. Now 239 scientists have signed a letter addressed to the World Health Organization, asking them to be more up front in explaining that. Currently, the organization does not call COVID-19 an airborne virus.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: The bottom line is very, very clear. Yes, there is aerosolized transmission. And people absolutely need to be wearing masks, and they need to be wearing masks particularly when they're indoors.

CARROLL: And now some potentially encouraging news on the treatment front. The biotechnology company Regeneron announced today it is in phase three of clinical trials on a drug to prevent and treat coronavirus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And, Wolf, another late development today.

International students who are studying here in the United States will have to leave the country, or risk deportation, if the school where they're studying decides to go to online-only classes in the fall. This is according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

As you know, Harvard already decided to switch to online classes. My alma mater, USC, out there in the West Coast going to online classes in the fall. This is something that's going to affect scores upon scores of international students studying here in the United States, who are soon going to have to make some very quick decisions -- Wolf.

[18:05:08]

BLITZER: And, Jason, getting back to what you were reporting, Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, now testing positive for coronavirus. She's 50 years old, has four children.

I will read once again the tweet she just posted: "COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had no symptoms, and have tested positive."

We wish her, of course, only the best. She will be a guest, by the way, later tonight on "CUOMO PRIME TIME" 9:00 p.m. here on CNN. Anxious to hear what she has to say.

CARROLL: You bet.

BLITZER: And we wish her, of course, only the best.

All right, Jason Carroll, thank you very much.

Let's get some more now on what's going on. Let's go to our White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.

Kaitlan, the president, the White House put out a lot of misleading information about that pandemic today. Give us the latest.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president has continued to downplay it for months, so it's no surprise that's something he repeated over the weekend during the Fourth of July festivities here at the White House, claiming that 99 percent of the cases of coronavirus are totally harmless.

That's something that his chief of staff and press secretary both defended today. But, yesterday, Wolf, in a very telling interview, his own FDA commissioner would not back up the president or correct his claim.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): With infections surging across the country, White House officials spent the day insisting President Trump isn't downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.

MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I don't even know that it's a generalization. When you start to look at the stats and look at all the numbers that we have, the amount of testing that we have, the vast majority of people are safe from this.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president isn't downplaying the severity of the virus.

COLLINS: The chief of staff and press secretary argued instead that President Trump was referencing the fatality rate when he wrongly made this claim Saturday night, that 99 percent of coronavirus cases are totally harmless.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless, results that no other country can show, because no other country has testing that we have.

COLLINS: The FDA commissioner refused to back up or correct what the president said, despite being pressed multiple times.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Is the president wrong?

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: So I'm not going to get into who's right and who's wrong. What I am going to say, Dana, is what I have said before, which is that it's a serious problem that we have.

COLLINS: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo accused Trump of enabling the virus.

CUOMO: He makes up facts. He makes up science. He is facilitating the virus. He is enabling the virus by statements like that.

COLLINS: Despite continuing to dismiss the record number of new cases, the pandemic got closer to Trump's inner circle this weekend.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: Let's welcome Donald Trump Jr.!

COLLINS: Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fund-raising official and his son Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, tested positive for coronavirus ahead of his speech in Mount Rushmore.

When the White House was asked why the South Dakota governor, Kristi Noem, was allowed to fly on Air Force One after being seen hugging Guilfoyle, McEnany punted to Secret Service, which does not decide who flies on Air Force One.

MCENANY: I have to refer you to Secret Service on that.

COLLINS: During her briefing, the press secretary also struggled to answer questions about Trump's tweet calling on NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace to apologize and wrongly claiming that NASCAR's Ratings are down after the sport banned the Confederate Flag. McEnany could not explain why Wallace needed to apologize for an

investigation he didn't initiate into a rope he didn't find that the FBI later described as a noose.

MCENANY: In aggregate, what he was pointing out is this rush to judgment to immediately say that there is a hate crime, as happened in this case.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: He's saying he has to apologize. That's what we're trying to ask you, Kayleigh, is, why should he have to apologize about that?

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: I'm not going to answer a question a sixth time.

COLLINS: McEnany refused to say if Trump agreed with NASCAR's decision to ban the Confederate Flag, and instead insisted that he had no opinion on it at all.

MCENANY: He said he was not making a judgment one way or the other. The intent of the tweet was to stand up for the men and women of NASCAR.

QUESTION: Does he think it was a mistake for NASCAR to ban it?

MCENANY: The president said he wasn't making a judgment one way or the other. You're focusing on one word at the very bottom of a tweet.

COLLINS: In his response, Wallace said: "Always deal with hate being thrown at you with love, even when it's hate from the president of the United States."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Wolf, also today, the chief of staff said he does not think there is going to be any kind of national mandate to wear a mask.

But we are increasingly seeing more Republicans break with the president by forcefully pushing and advocating for people to wear one. One of those people is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was home in Kentucky today, and said there is no good reason for people not to be wearing a mask.

[18:10:07]

He said -- quote -- "No good argument, because this is going to take a while to get a vaccine. And this coronavirus, as we have discovered, is not over."

BLITZER: He's absolutely right. It is by no means over at all.

All right, Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much. He's also right that everyone should be wearing a mask when they're outside. Let's get some analysis from the former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek

Murthy.

Dr. Murthy, thank you so much for joining us. As you now know, more than 130,000 Americans have now died over the past four months alone from this virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci warning today -- and I'm quoting him now -- "We are still knee-deep in the first wave."

As you watch the number of new cases grow exponentially across the country, what do you fear lies ahead?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Wolf, it's good to be with you today.

And this is a dire moment for our country, given this stage of the epidemic we're in. And perhaps what is most frustrating and painful, Wolf, is that it didn't have to be this way, is that we had an opportunity to respond forcefully and effectively to this virus months ago.

And the truth is that we missed that opportunity, because, even though we knew what to do, we did not execute properly as a country. And that is deeply unfortunate. We're paying the costs in terms of lives lost, in terms of the economy that is still largely shut down, in terms of schools that are uncertain about their reopening.

And now what we're seeing is that cases like -- states like Florida are hitting all-time records in terms in new cases, hospitals are being overrun in multiple states, or at least that are in threat of being overrun. And we're also seeing that we have more states in which the virus is increasing than decreasing.

And so the good news, though, is that we actually still know what to do. The focus that we have been talking about for months that has to be on expanding testing capacity, on putting contact tracing in place, on ensuring that we have enough protective equipment, not just for health care workers, but for the larger public, these are still as important as they were several months ago, if not even more so.

And communication is absolutely essential now. There cannot continue to be mixed messages from our government telling us, on the one hand, this is concerning, on the other hand, it's not. It is in a failure to speak with one unified voice that is guided by science that has led to much of the confusion, unfortunately, that we see today.

And the numbers tell the story of that.

BLITZER: Yes, the numbers are awful. Hundreds -- hundreds of Americans are dying every single day.

Yet, Dr. Murthy, the White House doubling down on the president's claim that 99 percent of coronavirus cases, in his words, are totally harmless, 99 percent totally harmless. The virus is certainly not harmless to the more than 130,000 Americans who have lost their lives, certainly not harmless to the many Americans who are going to have lasting health issues as a result of these aggressive infections. They might not die, but they could have long-term ramifications and very serious implications for their lives.

MURTHY: Well, that's absolutely true, Wolf.

And I wish that only 1 percent of people were affected adversely by this virus. I wish it was even lower, but wishing doesn't make it so. And what we know is that there are many more people who are hospitalized and who have complications of the virus than who pass away.

And so while we should be looking, absolutely, at the fatality rate and the lives lost, we should also be thinking about the many, many more who are hospitalized and who -- and, initially, we thought that this is a virus that primarily affected the respiratory system.

What we have since learned is that it also affects the heart. It directly affects the kidney. It affects the nervous system. The more we learn about this virus, the more we learn about the adverse impacts it has on people.

So we have got to be absolutely cautious about trying to minimize this virus. We should be leading with science. And science tells us this is a very, very concerning virus.

BLITZER: And it's also true that, even if you're a younger person, let's say, in your 20s or 30s, and you get a positive coronavirus test back, and you have no symptoms at all, it's still not 100 percent, 99 percent harmless, because you could pass on that disease to people who are very vulnerable, including your parents, your grandparents, other loved ones, including strangers, that you might not even know you have the virus.

MURTHY: That's absolutely right, Wolf.

And while we're still learning more about this virus, we do know now that up to 40 to 50 percent of people can be asymptomatic, that people even without symptoms can pass on this virus. It's one of the reasons that universal masking is so important.

And this is something we public health experts have been saying for months and months and months. But the truth is -- and we don't talk as much about this as we should, but, several months ago, when we began an effort as a country to produce protective equipment like masks, we should have been producing that at a scale that allowed both health care workers and the public to make use of those masks.

[18:15:07]

And the failure to do that will stand as yet another missed opportunity to constrain the spread of this virus.

BLITZER: Yes, it's an awful situation that's unfolding right now, with no end in sight, at least not now.

Dr. Murthy, thanks, as usual, for joining us. MURTHY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And just ahead: The White House is defending President Trump's incendiary tweets about the Confederate Flag and false attacks on the black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.

Stay with us. Much more news coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As President Trump openly embraces some racist symbolism, the White House is refusing to denounce the Confederate Flag and defending his inflammatory rhetoric.

[18:20:03]

Listen to the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Does he think NASCAR made a mistake by banning the Confederate Flag?

MCENANY: So, he said he -- I spoke to him this morning about this, and he said he was not making a judgment one way or the other.

The president said he wasn't making a judgment one way or the other. You're focusing on...

QUESTION: But what is his position on it?

MCENANY: ... one word at the very bottom of a tweet that's completely taken out of context, and neglecting the complete rush to judgment on this.

QUESTION: Why is the president so supportive of flying the Confederate Flag?

MCENANY: So I think you're referring to a tweet this morning. Is that right?

QUESTION: Correct.

MCENANY: Well, I think you're mischaracterizing the tweet.

The president never said that. Again, you're taking his tweet completely out of context.

QUESTION: The president said that NASCAR saw bad ratings because they took down the Confederate Flag, banned the Confederate Flag. Does he believe NASCAR should fly the Confederate Flag? And why don't they fly it here?

MCENANY: The whole point of the tweet was to note the incident, the alleged hate crime that, in fact, was not a hate crime.

At the very end, the ban on the flag was mentioned in the broader context.

QUESTION: Why can't this White House unambiguously state whether or not it supports displays of the Confederate Flag and...

MCENANY: No, I said...

QUESTION: ... Confederate monuments, which are much more...

MCENANY: I said in his...

QUESTION: ... a part of this question than Gandhi?

MCENANY: Yes, I said that he was -- his tweet was not to indicate approval or disapproval of that particular policy of NASCAR. It was in aggregate to stand against the rush to judgment to call something a hate crime before the facts were out, when clearly the media was wrong about this.

The president has made clear he was not taking a position one way or the other in that tweet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, let's discuss what we just heard.

CNN's Don Lemon is with us. CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, the White House correspondent for "The New York Times," is with us as well.

Don, what do you make of what you just heard from the White House press secretary?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Well, I think it's nonsense. I think it was total avoidance of the question. The media didn't get it wrong. Neither did Bubba Wallace.

He was told by someone at NASCAR on his crew that there was a noose in his garage, and then the FBI investigated and NASCAR investigated, and they came up -- they came up with the idea to bring in the FBI and to investigate, it to call it a noose.

It wasn't Bubba Wallace. Bubba Wallace has nothing to apologize for. He was simply following the guidance that he had gotten from other people, from NASCAR, from the FBI, and so on and so forth. The FBI finally determined that it wasn't necessarily targeting him.

That's a completely different story. So I don't think there's anything for him to apologize. I think that, obviously, Kayleigh McEnany should be embarrassed that she cannot spin or make an excuse for the president in this moment and chose to just avoid answering the question.

BLITZER: I read your excellent article, Maggie, that you just posted in "The New York Times" on this whole issue.

Has stoking racial division now become part of the president's reelection strategy?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So I want to reject two things that you just said, Wolf, as part of the premise.

One is "now become" and the other is strategy. This isn't a strategy. This is what the president prefers doing and what he wants to talk about and what he has consistently talked about for several years, in fact, several decades.

The reason it stands out so much now is, it is so out of step with where the rest of the country is in this movement, which is one of the biggest civil rights movements in decades, that comes against systemic racism in policing, but in other areas of American life.

And he is choosing to talk about other things. He is choosing to talk about the Confederate Flag. He is choosing to demand an apology from the one black NASCAR driver, a level of benefit of the doubt that he very rarely gives people of color, but that he almost always gives people who are white.

And so I think that he is playing into white grievance politics that did get him elected in 2016, in part. I think he thinks this will help him again. This is a very different election. And Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton.

It is very hard to re-run the same race. That is what he's trying. But I just don't think it's a strategy. I just think it's what he wants to do.

BLITZER: Well, that's an important point.

Don, Maggie is right. The decision to embrace division, rather than unity, is not new for this president at all. But are you seeing signs that he's embracing racism in more frequent and overt ways as we get closer and closer to the 2020 election?

LEMON: Yes, but he's -- Maggie's right. He's always done that.

Here's -- this is what I think, Wolf. I think we cannot fall -- I think that smarter Americans and well-meaning Americans on all sides of the political spectrum cannot fall for this division. This president is trying to divide and conquer.

And I don't mean divide liberals and Republicans. That's what he's trying to do. That's not what I'm saying. I think that we can't fall for this division, if we're all going to be Americans and if we're all going to live in this country.

[18:25:00]

We have to face, all of us, and especially white people in this time, some uncomfortable truths about history, and about the propaganda that has been taught in schools or what has not been taught in schools about American history.

And we have to reject this president trying to divide us, and listen to each other, and try to learn from each other, and learn the real history of this country.

I have heard people say today and starting last week that, well -- on both sides of the political spectrum, on both sides of the political aisle, well, we need to learn about history, it needs to be taught, we need to learn more about history.

I'm not sure Republicans or the people who are following Donald Trump really want to open that can of worms, because the more you learn about the history in this country, the more you're going to realize that you have been taught a load of B.S. A lot of it is a load of B.S., and it is propaganda.

And many people, especially white folks in this country, they're not who they think they are. And our founders aren't necessarily who they think they are. Yes, they were some great men who wrote the Constitution, and who did, in the end, end up doing good things, but it wasn't like they just came out and said, I'm going to sprinkle freedom and liberty and I'm just going to release the slaves.

There were a lot of people who fought very hard, including slaves, to be emancipated and to have freedom. And perhaps those are the people we should be thinking about erecting statues for, instead of the losers.

Churchill said that history is written by the victor. And then we have Bill Barr come out just a few weeks ago and said, history is written by the winners. If history is written by the victors or the winners, then why is Donald Trump and his ilk, why are they embracing the losers?

Why are they on the treasonous, traitorous, white supremacist losers, losers' side of history, if history is written, as they say, by the victor or the winners? It doesn't make sense.

BLITZER: Maggie, the president has also been posting some inflammatory tweets about racial tensions in professional sports, including NASCAR, the Washington Redskins. Why is he wading into these conversations right now?

HABERMAN: Because he's watching television, and he's reacting to what he sees on TV more often than not, or he's saying things that he thinks his supporters want to hear.

No, I'm not being funny. We tend to try to imbue a lot of strategy into what he does. And, very often, it's just not that complicated. He is reacting to events as he is seeing them on a screen in front of his television, sometimes as he's reading a newspaper, sometimes as he's having a conversation with someone.

He does think that there are -- especially around sports, that these are cultural issues that he can play to his base of supporters on. But I really think that there is an overstatement as to how much of this is some deliberate attempt than to just him reacting to what's in front of him.

And, again, he is not where much of the conversation is right now, even amongst some of his advisers, who do think there is a conversation to have about statues, think that there is a discussion that could be had about questions around George Washington or around Thomas Jefferson.

There are some of the president's advisers who think that there are voters who would respond to that. The president comes out and delivers the message by touting the Confederate Flag. So, this is not a strategy. This is just what he's comfortable doing.

BLITZER: That's an important point as well.

Maggie, thank you. Don, thanks to you as well.

An important note to our viewers. Don, of course, will be back later tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern, "CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON." I recommend it highly.

Just ahead, we will have more on the spiking coronavirus outbreak in Arizona. The Phoenix mayor, Kate Gallego, is standing by. She will take our questions.

And later: a disturbing surge in crime over the holiday weekend. At least 14 people were killed by gun violence in Chicago, including two children. I will speak with the mayor, Lori Lightfoot, about the awful situation.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: Arizona has emerged as one of the worst hotspots for new coronavirus cases in recent weeks, a very disturbing trend in a state that was among the first in the nation to reopen.

Let's discuss with the mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. Do you blame Arizona's relatively early reopening for this current surge in cases?

MAYOR KATE GALLEGO (D), PHOENIX, AZ: What I've been told by epidemiologist is they contract this surge to our reopening, and not just the fact that we reopened but the way we reopened.

On day one of reopening, bars and nightclubs were open with no masks. So people were out drinking free champagne and celebrating. Casinos opened, really dense indoor environments where people were unlikely to wear masks.

The spread began with people in the 20-44-year-old age bracket. So young people out having a good time not worried about COVID. But now it's hit heartbreaking levels. Today, my county reported a positivity rate of 28.8 percent. BLITZER: Wow, that's really serious. And half of all coronavirus cases in Arizona, I understand, are with people, young people ages 20 to 44. That age group might be relatively low risk, but these cases certainly represent a potentially very significant threat to the communities, don't they?

[18:35:04]

Because they could pass on this virus even if they are asymptomatic.

GALLEGO: Right. People -- and it's my own age bracket. We have parents and grandparents who are vulnerable. And I've actually heard from many young people who didn't realize what it could do to their health. So people who have been told they'll have scarred lung tissue forever, lasting impacts for the rest of their lives. We have not seen as many fatalities in the 20-44 age bracket but lasting damage that is important, and they wish they had avoided.

BLITZER: Yes. I mean, it's a very, very serious indeed.

I understand you're requiring masks in Phoenix right now. The governor has rolled back reopening efforts. Do you need to take further action right now, Mayor, to combat this new outbreak?

GALLEGO: My top request right now is more aid from the federal government for testing. I mentioned that 28 percent positive rate. If we had sufficient number of testing, you would expect to see positive rate around 2 percent. But we are only testing the sickest.

This weekend, I was out at a testing site where people were waiting eight hours to get a test in a 110-degree weather. They feel sick, terrible and they're aching while they sit there and watch the gas tank go towards empty. It was a terrible situation.

So I would love to see the federal government step up to help us. The City of Phoenix does not have a public health department but we've been pushing to do more testing. Our librarians, our parks workers, our public works are doing great work, helping get testing out there. I am so thankful for them. A librarian can solve anything, but wouldn't it be nice if that librarian had help from the federal government and public health experts.

BLITZER: So when you ask the federal government for help, Mayor, what do they say to you?

GALLEGO: What they tell me is they're trying to go away from these community-based testing sites. They're going to be in two weeks closing down the sites that they did give to Houston.

If you look at what Houston is facing, it's very similar to what I am facing, overburdened hospitals, terrible rates of spread. The federal government should not be moving away from testing, it should be doing more.

BLITZER: Yes. You are absolutely right. Mayor Gallego, good luck to everyone in Phoenix. We'll stay in very close touch with you. I appreciate you joining us.

GALLEGO: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, a holiday weekend marked by tragedy. At least six children lost their lives in gun violence across the country. I'll speak with the mayor of Chicago where a seven-year-old little girl and a 14-year-old little boy were among the victims.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: At least six children ages 6-14 were killed in gun violence across the country this past weekend, including in Atlanta, where the Georgia governor is activating as many as 1,000 National Guard troops in response to an increase in violent crime. And, in Chicago dozens of people were shot this weekend, at least 14 fatally.

Joining us now is the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot. Mayor Lightfoot, thank you for joining us.

As you know than anyone, a seven-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy, were among those people killed in your city this weekend. You've said it feels personal, but you also say sorrow itself is not enough. So what is enough, Mayor? What needs to change as we hear this weekend shootings and killings, including these little kids in Chicago going on and on and on?

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO, IL: Well look. I think we've got to make sure that we continue be focused on what are what are the root cause is of the violence because if we lose sight of all of that, we're not going to solve the problem for the long-term.

Unfortunately, what I think we're seeing is a manifestation of literally decades of neglect in certain neighborhoods where literally young boys turn in to men on the streets and feeling like their only career path is going to the corners instead of college or career.

So we've got to continue make in a investments in these communities. We've got to strengthen the vibrancy of these communities through making sure that we've got mental health available. We've got to make sure that we've got access to healthcare and a pathway to the legitimate economy so that our young men don't believe that the only way that they can take care of themselves and their families is to get in meshed (ph) in the insidious and cancerous illegal drug trade.

We've also then go to make sure that we are continuing the hard but necessary work of building authentic relationships between the community and the police. We've got to support our community-based organizations that are doing the Lord's work through interventions supporting families. So this has got to be all hands on deck holistic approach.

But, yes, this is tragic and sad. But we've got to remain committed and focused on what we need to do to build safe communities.

BLITZER: So what's your message, Mayor, to all of the people out there who are simply fed up with this senseless loss of life?

LIGHTFOOT: Well, I certainly understand that. I feel that way myself. To see and witness a Thursday that was pretty good, a Friday that was pretty good, a Saturday day that was pretty good.

[18:45:04]

And then from 10:00 p.m. on Saturday night until 3:00 in the morning, seeing this surge in violence. It is unbelievably frustrating and it makes me angry and it makes me sad. I'm a mom and I can only imagine the level of heartbreak and of sorrow that these mothers and fathers and grandparents and neighbors are feeling for the loss of life, particularly the loss of our children. We have got to do better, everyone.

BLITZER: Well, there's a lot of work that needs to be done. I totally agree.

Before I let you go, Mayor, your fellow mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who I know you. You appeared with her in a CNN town hall just a few weeks ago.

As you know, she announced just a little ago that she has now tested positive for coronavirus.

I wonder what's your reaction to that? What are you doing to make sure that you don't, you know, God forbid, test positive for coronavirus, given the nature of the business being a mayor of a huge city?

LIGHTFOOT: Well, listen, I love Keisha. She is an incredible person, a great leader and also, you know, managing her city through very difficult circumstances. As I understand it she learned of her condition through routine testing that's being done for her and her staff.

And really it's a message for all of us. You know, as a mayor, you can't sit in your office and try to govern. It doesn't work. At least, it doesn't work for me.

And I go out into the communities, but I try to take every precaution. I make sure that I wear a face covering. I'm constantly practicing the hand hygiene and social distancing. But what it tells you is how insidious this virus is. It doesn't care. It doesn't care who it claims.

And, you know, I wish her the best and a speedy recovery. But all of us need to make sure that we are conscious of how deadly and how dangerous this virus is and we're particularly focused on our younger people, 18 to 39. There are 36 percent of the cases in my city.

So, we've got to keep hammering home the message that COVID-19 is still here. It's very much part of our present. It will be part of our future and we've got to do everything that we can to keep people safe.

BLITZER: And we wish Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms only the best, a speedy recovery. She's got four kids. We hope we're going to be, of course, OK as well. She's 50 years old. So, we'll watch her very closely.

And as I noted, she's going to be on later tonight on "CUOMO PRIME TIME", 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. Anxious to hear what she has to say.

Mayor Lightfoot, I know you got going on in Chicago, thanks as usual for joining us.

LIGHTFOOT: No, thanks, Wolf. And I appreciate what you do every day. Thanks for having me on.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. Good luck to everyone in Chicago. It's a great city.

Just ahead, under growing pressure, the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians are appearing to be taking steps now to change their much-criticized names.

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BLITZER: President Trump is slamming the Washington Redskins and MLB's Cleveland Indians for considering changing their team names.

Let's bring in New Orleans Saints player and CNN Contributor, Malcolm Jenkins.

Malcolm, thanks for joining us.

The president says these team names, in his words, show strength, not weakness. What's your opinion?

MALCOLM JENKINS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, thanks for having me.

I'm answering (ph) -- my opinion that there's nothing strong about, you know, something that is offensive to native Americans. Not only the name, but in caricature. I think it's important that -- and as long as I've been in the league, which this will be my 12th year if we get to a season, there's always been dialogue around changing the name of the Washington Redskins and other teams like it.

And I think it's important that we address that now, obviously, in the racial climate that we're in as a country. But I think it's a good step. I hope these teams are bringing in members of the Native American community to make sure as they move to a new name, new low logo, that it's one that only represents the legacy of these ball clubs but honors the legacy of Native Americans.

BLITZER: Yes, I think you're right. What message would it send, Malcolm, if these teams were to change their names right now?

JENKINS: Well, I think it at least shows that they're listening. And I think that's what everybody wants, is to see not only in statements and in your posts in social media, but we want to see action. I think this is a first step. That has been something, like I said, people have been clamoring about for decades, and I don't think, you know, the fan base and people around the country want to see them really take some real action.

BLITZER: Yes, it's time. It's overdue, I should say. It's well past time to do that.

Let me also ask you about the coronavirus pandemic. Professional sports leagues are struggling with how to restart. The NFL and you're a player, what do you think? How should they restart?

JENKINS: Well, I think one of the things we're doing as a league in the NFL is watching closely what the MLB and NBA are doing and seeing how those things work. We understand that some of their protocols won't necessarily fit for our sport, but we are watching. But I know there's huge things, you know, that we arguing about as a player union with the NFL, especially about preseason games.

You know, our position as a union is that not only want to start the season, because anybody can start the season, we want to get to the point where we can finish it.

[18:55:02]

And we -- it's our opinion that preseason games are an unnecessary risk --

BLITZER: All right.

JENKINS: -- and we are due to report July 28th. And the first game is September 10th.

BLITZER: We'll see.

JENKINS: First regular season games. So, there's a lot to -- you know, we got to figure out between now and then.

BLITZER: There's a lot you guys have to figure out. We'll see if it happens.

Malcolm, thank you so much. We're going to have much more news right after this.

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BLITZER: Finally tonight, we share more stories of Americans who died during the coronavirus.

Isidro Mindiolaza of New York was 74 years old. A loving father and grandfather, we're told he enjoyed going to the park with his grandson and teaching him to play sports.

Mary and George Schneider of Pennsylvania were 91 and 88 respectively. They were married for 63 years before dying within three days of each other.

May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

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