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U.S. Passes Three Million Cases, More than 132,000 Deaths; Pence Says CDC Will Issue New School Reopening Guidance; Pence: National Hot Spots Have Enough Hospital Capacity and Personal Protective Equipment; M.D. Gov. Condemns Toppling Of Christopher Columbus Statue; Trump Threatens To "Cut Off Funding" If Schools Don't Reopen; Brazil's President Pushes Reopening Despite His Own Infection; Trump & Mexican Pres Sign Joint Declaration On Trade Deal. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 8, 2020 - 17:00   ET



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.

We're following breaking news. The U.S. has now surpassed 3 million known coronavirus cases, as the death toll here in the U.S. approaches 132,000 people. Right now, fatalities are on the rise in Florida, Arizona and Texas, and seven states are seeing record numbers of hospitalizations.

Also breaking just a few moments ago, the White House was asked if President Trump has confidence in Dr. Anthony Fauci. But the Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany wouldn't say whether he does.

As the pandemic rages, the President and his team are increasing pressure on schools all across the United States to reopen with the President tweeting that he may actually cut off funding to schools that don't reopen. Vice President Pence says the CDC will be changing its school reopening guidelines after the President publicly criticized them as too tough and too expensive.

Let's begin with the breaking news out of California right now. CNN's Nick Watt is in Los Angeles for us.

And Nick, I understand the governor just announced some very disturbing new numbers.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He did, Wolf. And they are the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19. You can't argue with it. It's a fact. You can't just say it was more testing.

And in the past two weeks, the number of people in the hospital here in California is up 44 percent. Here in L.A. County, they just told us they are concerned, death rates will rise as well.

And they are telling school districts here listen, it's going to be prudent of you to get a learning distance plan in place just in case. And that's a very different tone than we're hearing coming out of Washington D.C.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's absolutely essential that we get our kids back into classroom for in person learning.

WATT: Absolutely essential. But is it safe?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is important to remember that some kids get very, very sick?

LILIY ESKELSEN GARCIA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: We're talking about putting children, their families and their teachers at risk.

WATT: Ultimately, it's up to districts and local government. Will they open schools?

MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ (R), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, if things are the same as they are today, no. We'll see what happens in August when the schools are supposed to open.

WATT: Remember, most schools closed in the spring and --

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We are in a much worse place actually than we were back in March, because at that time there was one epicenter. Now we have multiple epicenters all around the country.

WATT: In eight states from sea to shining sea record numbers now of COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

MAYOR KATE GALLEGO (D), PHOENIX: Our medical professionals are already feeling exhausted, asking for reinforcements. And they tell me the worst is yes -- yet to come.

WATT: The US has a little over 4 percent of the world's population, yet right now a little over 24 percent of the world's COVID-19 deaths. But the Vice President is upbeat.

PENCE: We are encouraged that the average fatality rate continues to be low and steady.

WATT: Although the death toll is now starting to climb in Florida, Arizona and Texas. And the number of new cases nationally every day, well, yesterday was a record, over 60,000.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT: Just a few days ago, we were aghast that we'd hit 50,000. Without a national strategy and a roadmap will quickly accelerate to 100,000 cases.

WATT: There, the Vice President also sees a silver lining.

PENCE: We're actually seeing early indications of a percent of positive testing flattening in Arizona and Florida and Texas.

WATT: There, that blue line is what he's talking about flattening in Florida above a 15 percent positivity rate on tests, well above the WHO guideline to flatten under 5 percent before reopening.

Today, Dr. Deborah Birx asked everyone in surging spots basically to return to strict phase one recommendations.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We're asking the American people in those counties and in those states to not only use the face coverings, not going to bars, not going to indoor dining, but really not gathering in homes either.


WATT: Now the mayor of Houston has basically just forced the Republican Party in Texas to cancel their in person convention plan for the city next week. He says Houston is in the middle of a global health crisis.


It is global, but this was, interesting yesterday in Germany, 10 people died of COVID-19. In France, 11 people died of COVID-19 here in the United States 1,195 people died yesterday of COVID-19.


WATT: Wolf.

WATT: As I say, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, not just numbers, let's remember all of them. Thanks very much Nick Watt for that report.

Let's go to the White House right now. Our White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is joining us.

Kaitlan, so where was Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, where was he today?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, he was noticeably absent as the taskforce held its first briefing or its -- excuse me, its second briefing in just about two months now. And the reason was the Dr. Fauci was not asked to be there at that briefing. Instead, he was told to participate in the taskforce meeting beforehand remotely via teleconference here at the White House at THE SITUATION ROOM, therefore Of course, preventing him from attending that briefing afterwards since we were at the Department of Education about a mile and a half down the road.

Now, the press secretary just held a late night or late day briefing, she was asked about his absence. And she said, that's up to the task force. But then she was asked if the President still has confidence in Dr. Fauci. And this is what she said, Wolf.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the President still have confidence and Dr. Fauci?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President has confidence, confidence in the conclusions of our medical experts, but it's up to him to determine what to do with that information and to take what we hear from Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and others, and take what he values in their opinion and come to the ultimate consensus that's best for this country.


COLLINS: So you see, that is not saying that the President has confidence in Dr. Fauci. And, of course Wolf, it comes just one day after the President unprompted, criticized Fauci in an interview.


COLLINS: The CDC director on defense after President Trump publicly attacked his agency's guidance on reopening schools.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: I want to make it very clear that was not the intent of CDC guidelines is to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed.

COLLINS: Dr. Robert Redfield sought to defend the guidance, but hours after President Trump publicly complained that it was too tough, Vice President Mike Pence said that's why the CDC will issue new guidance next week.

PENCE: The President said today we just don't want the guidance to be too tough. And that's the reason why next week CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that have been giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.

COLLINS: The original guidelines include refitting classrooms so students can social distance, closing shared spaces and updating ventilation systems, though it's not clear what Trump disagreed with.

Asked if he was changing the guidance to appease the President, the CDC director said this.

So are you going to change that guidance because the President said that he does not like it?

REDFIELD: We will continue to develop and evolve our guidance to meet the needs of the schools in the states that we continue to provide that assistance to.

COLLINS: The President has said publicly that he'll pressure governors to put kids back in classrooms this fall. And today he threatened to cut funding if they don't. The Vice President described that as a sign of leadership.

Can you explain why the President is threatening to cut funding from schools at a time when educators are saying they need more so they can safely reopen?

PENCE: Kaitlan first and foremost, it's what you heard from the President and it's just a determination.

To provide the kind of leadership from the federal level it says we're going to get our kids back to school because that's where they belong.

COLLINS: While Trump has little control over the majority of school budgets, the federal government could withhold emergency relief funding that educators have said they desperately need to safely reopen. The Education Secretary said she agrees with the President.

BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: They must fully open and they must be fully operational.

COLLINS: The administration has said it's up to schools and local governments to decide how they reopen. But they struggled to explain why that doesn't also include when.

PENCE: It's just as the President said early in this pandemic that he wanted to get our places of worship back open again.

COLLINS: New York City's Mayor appeared to ignore Trump's threat today and announced that the nation's largest school district won't fully reopen this fall. New York's governor said Trump's threats have no legal basis.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: And you're not going to bully New Yorkers. That's not going to happen, right?

Threatened me, threatened me, threatened me, how many times have we been through this? I'm still here, right?

COLLINS: At the second taskforce briefing in months, Dr. Anthony Fauci was noticeably absent. Yesterday, Trump openly criticized Fauci during an interview.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, Dr. Fauci said don't wear a mask. So now he says wear them and he said numerous things, don't close off China, don't ban China and I did it anyway. I sort of didn't listen to my experts and I ban China we would have been in much worse shape.



COLLINS: Now, Wolf, I just asked the press secretary, what exactly was it in that CDC guidance that the President didn't like so much that he publicly attacked it on Twitter.

They only listed one reason, this guidance urging all students to bring their lunches to school, which the White House noted just wasn't feasible because so many kids do rely on schools for lunches, but that was the only reason they offered. They did not disclose anything else that was the President has a problem with. They said he's on the same page as the CDC, despite that tweet attacking their guidance.

And she defended the President not attending a taskforce meeting since April, saying that he's briefed on what goes on.

BLITZER: All right, Kaitlan, thank you very much. Kaitlan Collins reporting from the White House.

Let's get some more in all of this. The former acting CDC director, Dr. Richard Besser is joining us.

Dr. Besser, thanks so much for joining us.

As you know, there are now more than 3 million cases of coronavirus here in the United States. When you see numbers that high, what do you fear the next few weeks and months here in the U.S. are going to look like?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: What worries me, Wolf is that even those states that have been able to turn the curve around and see major declines in the number of cases are going to be really stressed to try and keep that that progress going forward.

You know, as we think about trying to get the schools open, you have to get community transmission under control. And in so many states, we're seeing just the opposite. We're seeing areas that were having low rates of transmission now seeing much higher rates of transmission. And that's a very dangerous situation when you think about school reopening.

BLITZER: Some of the White House Task Force experts are actually saying they're seeing encouraging signs from the country's current hotspots right now. Do you see any evidence of that?

BESSER: Well, I mean, when you see leveling off in terms of the percentage of tests that are positive, that's a good sign. But I worry, Wolf, that some of the delays we're seeing or some of the lack of any increases in hospitalizations will be coming. Much of the increases in states around the country are from younger people. And thankfully most young people will do well with this.

But young people don't stick with young people. They will expose older people, they'll expose people who have medical problems. And so over the next few weeks, I would expect to see increases in in hospitalizations.

And unfortunately, among those who are hospitalized, some will end up needing to go to the ICU. So you know, I don't see signs that tell me it's time to declare victory or to lighten up. I think it's a time to start to think about putting on more stay at home orders in places where it's out of control.

BLITZER: As you know, the taskforce was about to come out for this briefing earlier in the day focusing in on the reopening of schools, when all of a sudden just before the briefing, the President tweeted it was actually slamming the CDC's own guidelines on schools. At one point he said I disagree with the CDC. You served as the acting CDC director during the Obama administration.

Did President Obama ever weigh in publicly to contradict your own public health advice?

BESSER: You know, it's so critically important that all of the decisions that we do are based on the best public health science. And you never want to get in a situation where the science and what goes into a guidance is politicized. It may be that policy decisions aren't based solely on science, but the science itself needs to be separated from the political process.

You know, Wolf, I'm a pediatrician and a parent, and I think it's critically important to get children back to school, but it has to be done in a way that's safe. And not just for the children, but for the staff, for the teachers, for the rest of the community. And that means following the science. That's the blueprint. That's the roadmap to get there.

BLITZER: You know, Dr. Anthony Fauci. I know Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's been here in THE SITUATION ROOM over the years on many occasions. What do you make of the fact that he was prevented from showing up at that taskforce briefing earlier today, they kept him off camera over at the White House? And later in the day, the White House press secretary refusing to say whether or not the President actually has confidence in Dr. Fauci.

BESSER: Well, you know, when I think back to the, to the four years that I ran emergency response at CDC, and then during the period where I led response, led the agency during H1N1, Dr. Fauci and I would often be side by side, in the briefings. And the briefings were every day.

What you want to see is public health science leading the way and that's having CDC out there to talk about public health response. It's having Dr. Fauci, or someone else from NIH talking about the science around the virus and vaccine development. We're not getting that. And because we're not getting that we're seeing confusion amongst the public in terms of what should be done. And that's not a position we knew we want to be in.

We need to come together and have an American way where we're all doing these steps of wearing masks, keeping apart from each other, washing our hands, staying home when we're sick.


We need to be providing people with what they need to be able to isolate and quarantine, providing people with economic supports so that they don't feel forced to go back to work at a time where it's not safe. These are the things we need to do as a nation.

BLITZER: And what's clear, we need to hear from Dr. Fauci every single day. He needs to speak to the American people on what to do and what not to do. He is the leading expert in all of this.

Dr. Besser, as usual, thanks so much for joining us. BESSER: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, can the President for schools all across the United States to reopen during a pandemic. We'll talk about that and more with the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. She's now been tested positive for the coronavirus. We'll discuss that a whole lot more. That's coming up later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories here in THE SITUATION ROOM including the coronavirus case count here in the United States now surpassing 3 million just moments ago, the death count went above 132,000.

Joining us now the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan. He has a new book coming out later this month. It's called, there you see the cover, "Still Standing: Surviving Cancer Riots, a Global Pandemic, and the Toxic Politics that Divide America."

Governor, thanks so much for joining us. We're definitely going to have you back later this month, assuming you'll want to come back when your book comes out. I want to talk about that. You've got some really compelling stories.

But let's start with this very grim milestone right now. More than 3 million Americans, 3 million Americans all across the United States have now been infected with this virus and the death toll could reach actually 200,000 plus by November 1, according to the latest projections. Has the United States failed in its pandemic response?

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, look, there's no question that we've turned a corner in the past couple of weeks in the wrong direction. We're seeing these states all across the country spiking. And it's of great concern I can tell you to, to most of the folks across the country.

Our state, luckily, so far, has been doing pretty well and trending in a better direction. But by no means are we ready to do any victory laps, I can tell you that. We're watching. Very -- we're being very cautious. We're reminding people to continue to remain vigilant because this virus is not going away anytime soon. And we can't take it lightly.

BLITZER: Yes, it's life and death issues at stake.

The Vice President said the country's hotspots have enough personal protective equipment and hospital capacity right now. You're the head of the National Governors Association, is that what you're hearing from these governors? Do they need more support? Or are they happy and satisfied?

HOGAN: But look, I didn't hear what the Vice President said, I can tell you that the federal government is doing a much better job than we were at the beginning of this crisis as far as working together with the states and ramping up some of these things like personal protective equipment. But I don't know, we don't know how bad the surge is going to get and whether or not we are going to have enough of PPE, whether we're going to have enough ventilators or whether we're going to be able to have the ICU bed.

So, look, I think it's -- to underestimate this virus is a big mistake. But I think we've made great strides to improve or a lot better shape on those things than we were back in March or April. But with a big comeback, we could still be in trouble again.

BLITZER: When it comes to getting kids back in school and all of us want to see the kids back in school. We want to see them studying and learning. The President is now actually threatening to cut off funding if schools don't reopen. Do governors see this as an empty threat? Is there a real fear, let's say some of the counties in Maryland, Montgomery County outside of Washington, D.C., if they decide is simply too dangerous, I should -- the folks here feel that the federal support for schools is going to dry up?

HOGAN: Well, look, I really can't say what was in the President's mind when he made that statement, but I don't believe it was a serious statement. And I don't think the governors are taking it seriously.

Look, we had a great call with the governors, the Vice President just the other day, two days ago with Dr. Robert Redfield, where he talked about the CDC guideline -- guidance for states. We were talking about how do we safely reopen schools while being -- making sure that we're protecting kids and teachers.

And so, the threats today and the talk about not following the CDC guidelines, it just came out of nowhere. It makes no sense. It wasn't part of our discussion.

Dr. Redfield gave a nice update and the Vice President did. And all of the governors were appreciative of the guidance from the CDC. And we're all looking at these issues in our states to make sure -- we all want to get kids back to school, but we want to make sure we do it in a safe way. And I thought it was good that the CDC put out some safety guidelines.

BLITZER: Yes. And apparently the President didn't like those guidelines, and he's complaining about it, and now the CDC is going to have to go revisit those guidelines. It's all very, very disturbing.

Before I let you go, Governor, on a very different topic. I want to get your thoughts over the weekend, protesters in Baltimore topple the statue of Christopher Columbus, they threw it into Baltimore Harbor. The mayor of Baltimore views this as part of the national what he calls reexamination of what these statues represent. You've called this the antithesis of democracy. What exactly did you mean by that?

HOGAN: Well, look, I agree that we ought to have a discussion and then a refocus on which of these statues we -- who we ought to be recognizing, which statues we have to reconsider.


We need to have a major discussion of racism in America. But we can't allow just every -- any mob to make a decision mob rule cannot take over the cities where they -- just whatever group decides they can tear down whatever piece of art or piece of history or whatever kind of state or county or city property they can just vandalize. And we've got to go about the process in a more thoughtful way and follow the law because just breaking the law is not the way to go about, you know, really accomplishing systematic -- systemic change.

BLITZER: You've got a lot going on and we're grateful for the time now you're sharing with us. Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland thank you so much for joining us.

HOGAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up by President Trump in odds nation's top health experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci. I'll speak later this -- here in THE SITUATION ROOM with the mayor of Atlanta who's announced she's tested positive for the coronavirus.



BLITZER: Among the hour's breaking stories, just a short time ago over at the White House, the Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany specifically declined to say whether President Trump has confidence in Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Joining us now CNN's Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash, and Dr. David Shulkin, the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs during the Trump administration. Dr. Shulkin, Dr. Fauci is the nation's top infectious disease expert. As all of us know, you served, as I pointed out in the Trump administration, what does it tell you that Kayleigh McEnany wasn't able to answer a very simple question if the President has confidence in Dr. Fauci?

DR. DAVID SHULKIN, FORMER VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: Well, Wolf, what it says to me is, it's not getting any easier to serve in public service. And we need people like Dr. Fauci that know the science and that people have confidence and have the confidence of the people in the White House and people throughout the country because at times like this, that we need that type of leadership.

And we need to know that we can trust the people that are giving us that type of guidance. And certainly Dr. Fauci has stayed true to his principles to talk about science, not to get involved in the politics. And we need to make sure that he supported from the top down.

BLITZER: Yes. I've often called him a national treasure to the United States. Dana, the message from President Trump and Dr. Fauci could not have been more different over these past few days. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well I think we are in a good place.


TRUMP: We're almost up to 40 million in testing and 40 million people, which is unheard of.

FAUCI: This is the thing that is a little bit concerning. Well, we now have 37 million tests have been performed. The question is when you get on the phone and talk to the people in the community, there are still lapses there with a dots are not being connected.

TRUMP: If you're looking at the chart of deaths, deaths are way down.

FAUCI: It's a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death.


BLITZER: 1,100 Americans, by the way, died yesterday from coronavirus, 1,100 plus in one day. So Dana, how are the American people supposed to sort through this?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, that was just a unbelievably vivid illustration of what Dr. Shulkin just talked about, which is how difficult it is, increasingly difficult, which is kind of hard to imagine that it could get any more hard to serve in an administration where you have a president, a commander in chief, a leader, who makes your job very difficult, especially at a time like this during a pandemic.

And the fact that Dr. Fauci is still trying to just tell it like it is as much as possible, despite the fact that it's quite obvious given the fact that he was very notably absent from the first press conference that the task force did today in quite some time.

That, you know, he's -- those comments that candor is not playing well with the President of the United States, but it's important to listen to him. And the fact that he is still getting out there as much as he can and we can play for people. The real deal with what he is saying is really important.

BLITZER: It certainly is. And this was, you know, the President, by the way, I want to point out, has not actually attended, participated in one of these taskforce meetings since April, since April.

Secretary Shulkin, earlier today, the President publicly criticized the CDC's guidelines for reopening schools across the country and other White House says the CDC will actually issue new guidelines next week. As someone who served in the Trump administration, does it surprise you at all to see this?

SHULKIN: Yes. Well, Wolf, you can't tweet away good medical science and good health practices. That just isn't any way that we should be running a pandemic in this country. And in order to lead successfully in this administration, but really, to do your job and public service, you have to be willing to stand up for what you know is right, and not compromise your values.


So, the CDC recommendations it's a very important organization with a long history needs to stick to what they know is going to protect our children and protect the safety. And they should not be changing the recommendations because of political pressure. This is really unprecedented. And it is -- this is the time that we need people to stand up and tell us how we can keep our children safe.

We all want schools to reopen, that is essential, but we can't do it if we're going to have children getting sick and teachers getting sick. And so this is really important that we not yield the political pressures.

BLITZER: Yes. And Dana, you know, the -- everybody wants the kids. You've got a young boy, everybody wants the kids to go back to school. But what kind of message does this send to schools that want to make sure that everyone who goes back to school, the teachers, the principals, everyone involved, and especially the children are safe?

BASH: It sends a mixed one. That's the kind of message that it's sending. It's already very hard, even in the best of circumstances when it comes to the federal government's guidance, and that, of course, is led by the CDC, for these school districts to make decisions and individual schools to make decisions about the best approach, balancing the need for children to not only have proper education, but also socialization, never mind in many cases, sustenance.

And all the things that go along with going to school and many places in this country, but it is, as Dr. Shulkin knows far better than I, it is a very, very difficult balancing act and it makes it much harder. We'll see what the CDC guidance is when they revise them to see how much it changes based on what it is today.

BLITZER: That's pretty extraordinary developments. Dana, thank you very much, Secretary Shulkin, thanks to you as well.

Coming up, we're going to get an update from Brazil. Its President now is infected with the coronavirus after completely downplaying it's dangerous for months. And later, I'll speak with the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance bottoms, who along with members of her family, have tested positive for the coronavirus.



BLITZER: In coronavirus headlines from around the world, Brazil's President confirmed he's infected with the virus but he isn't letting up at all and pushing his country trying to get back to business as usual. CNN's Bill Weir is in Sao Paulo for us. So what's the latest there?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, big cities like Sao Paulo continue to open up today, just as the President of Brazil continues to treat his COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine and other vitamins, part of a regimen he is now using himself in his own case to promote. Also arguing that young people are really not at rest, so they really wants the economy to keep humming.

In the meantime, the Association of Brazilian journalists is threatening to sue the President for removing his mask during his COVID-19 positive announcement. He said they also accused him of behaving in a criminal way but there's tension there that goes back to when the Brazilian government stopped reporting COVID-19 infection and death rates in the same way and went to the Supreme Court.

Also, there are corruption investigations swirling around this President, impeachment buzz as well. So COVID-19 and his decision to Medicaid in this way, just one complicated thread. In the political nest of Jair Bolsonaro these days. But meanwhile, the death counts are reaching four digits a day. 1,200 yesterday, were close to 1.7 million infections. No sign of the curve being flattened, Wolf?

BLITZER: Bill Weir, reporting from Brazil. Thank you.

Mexico's President is meeting right now with President Trump over at the White House even though the coronavirus pandemic is far from under control in either Mexico or the U.S. Let's get the view for Mexico City right now. CNN's Matt Rivers is on the scene for us. Matt, tell us more.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Lopez Obrador of Mexico, smack dab in the middle of his first international trip since taking office back in 2018. He spending the afternoon and the evening with President Trump just a few hours ago.

They held a ceremony at the White House where both men signed a joint declaration commemorating the implementation of the USMCA. That's the new free trade deal negotiated between the United States, Mexico and Canada that is now officially replaced NAFTA.

Both men gave remarks, both said how this new deal would be good for their respective economies. And it was very cordial ceremony overall. And that's interesting, given what both men have said in the past. For President Trump's part, you know, part of his political playbook has been, you know, demonizing both Mexicans and immigrants overall with his rhetoric.

And for President Lopez Obrador, he spent years calling President Trump a racist. But clearly both men putting that aside today, putting at the forefront what they believe to be their own country's respected economic interests.

And remember, Canada is also a part of this deal. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined an invitation by the White House to attend this event in part because the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage not only in the United States, but also in Mexico. Wolf?

BLITZER: Which is pretty smart. Matt Rivers, thank you very much for that. Coronavirus cases are also surging right now in Israel, where the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under enormous pressure to try to balance public safety and a struggling economy. CNN's Oren Liebermann is joining us from Jerusalem. Oren, what are you hearing?


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it wasn't all that long ago that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was a model to the world and how to contain coronavirus and he hoped it would become a model and how to reopen and restart the economy. Well, there's certainly a lesson here, but not the one Netanyahu intended with top health officials saying Israel is very much in the second wave of coronavirus.

For the first time since the beginning of the outbreak, Israel has seen two straight days with more than 1,000 new cases a day. That's a 50 fold increase from mid-May when there were only 20 new cases a day or so for about a week there. Now, the government is struggling to contain the coronavirus, closing down gyms, pools, pubs, event halls and more and using localized lock downs instead of a general lockdown in the entire country because of the state of the economy with unemployment at more than 20 percent.

As we've seen, coronavirus cases skyrocket. Netanyahu's approval rating on handling coronavirus has plummeted from 74 percent in mid- May to 46 percent. Now, with more closures it seems coming soon. At least that's what the government is considering. We're seeing the same situation the Palestinian Authority with cases skyrocketing in the West Bank as well. Hundreds of new cases there a day, that is a record there as well as both Israel and the P.A. try to contain coronavirus, once again. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very disturbing indeed. All right, Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem, thank you very much.

Coming up, President Trump is ramping up pressure on schools all across the country to reopen. I'll talk about it with an education expert, that's next. And also coming up, the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, she'll update us on her health right now, after she has tested positive for the coronavirus.



BLITZER: Breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We've just learned that the Ivy League is canceling all college sports for the coming fall season. It's the first division one conference to scrap football for the fall and this could obviously influence major conferences as they decide whether to move forward with college football, basketball and other sports during this pandemic. So no college sports in the Ivy League over at Harvard or Yale or Princeton or some of the other -- all the other members of the Ivy League.

Meanwhile, there's some more we need to get to right now and President Trump's growing pressure on schools all across the United States to reopen despite the coronavirus pandemic, including his public threat today, to cut off funding to schools that don't reopen.

Let's get some more from Sal Khan, he's the founder and CEO of the Khan Academy. Sal, thanks so much for joining us. As you know, educators often remind us there's not a one size fits all approach to education. But is it fair for the federal government to pressure schools publicly like this to reopen in the fall some as early as August, September, if they don't feel safe?

SAL KHAN, FOUNDER & CEO, KHAN ACADEMY: Well, you know, I think a lot of times we forget that actually the federal government has a very limited role in what goes on in the day to day schooling. Usually, that's a state or it's a local level. And obviously, you know, politics are what rules the day and maybe some of what it's -- some of these announcements we hope that it's more science. But the reality is whatever the recommendation is, at the federal level, there's a reality on the ground in schools and districts and educators. People are going to do what makes sense just from a common sense point of view.

You don't have to be an epidemiologist given what the case count is, the per capita case count in various regions to know that if you're a teacher, it might not be safe especially if you're in a high risk group. There's going to be a lot of families regardless of what said at the federal level that are going to say this just doesn't make sense for our family. It's just not safe.

BLITZER: That's an important point. You're on the forefront cell of online education you have been for years. Are there solutions politicians are missing that would help students continue to learn while also limiting the health risks to the students, the teachers, other faculty members?

KHAN: Yes, that's what everything we're focused on right now as a not for profit. You know, there's kind of these two extreme camps right now, there's one extreme camp where, you know, everyone goes back to school all in and for health reasons, that's probably not the best thing to do, given what we know today. The other extreme, there's a lot of pressure to go to, you know, all in virtual schooling, et cetera and that's not healthy for a lot of levels.

Our ideal is, can we support teachers, can we support families with tools so they can do something hybrid? And hybrid means they're able to use say a tool like Khan Academy students can work at their own time and pace. Teachers can monitor that work, but then they're able to get on video conference two, three times a week per subject. So teachers can go a little bit deeper, they can have a sense of community.

And if the biology of the virus allows for it, maybe they can meet up for shorter time periods that, you know, outside in the playground and instructors like that. On top of that, there's another skunkworks project I'm working on. Once again, this is all volunteer driven not for profit called, where we're trying to match up students who need help, who need support, who need tutoring, with live volunteer tutors. And everything I'm talking about is free and not for profit.

BLITZER: We know schools are important for far more than just education. They provide socialization, safety, food, a lot more. What are you hearing from your partners in a large school districts across the country about how they can best provide these resources for the students during this pandemic?

KHAN: We're hearing a huge variety. The last I've heard from New York City public schools, largest school district in the country, they're going to do a shift-based model where some of the kids come on each day. Kids will spend on average one to three days. I don't think they figured out things like social services like school lunches.


Even during the spring, a lot of them actually were able to distribute lunches even while schools were closed. The schools were essentially the distribution center.

BLITZER: Sal Khan, thanks for everything you're doing. Thanks for joining us.

KHAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, there you see here. She's about to join us live. We're going to talk about her positive coronavirus test, and more right after this.


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