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Trump Wears Face Mask On Visit To Walter Reed Medical Center; U.S. Coronavirus Cases Total More Than The Population Of 21 U.S. States; Dodger Stadium Hosts Baseball And COVID-19 Testing; U.S. Sees Record Day Of New COVID-19 Cases, Totaling 66,000-Plus; Bolsonaro Pushes For Economy To Reopen As Brazil's Cases Soar. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired July 11, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: In the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
Our breaking news, off the top here. For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, President Trump finally wore a mask in public. This was just a short time ago at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
The President telling people close to him that wearing a mask in the hospital is quote, "a very appropriate thing." But our CNN reporting said it took more than a week of aides, practically begging him to get this photo-op to happen so that he could set an example for the country at a time when we are seeing record coronavirus cases.
Nationwide, in just one day more than 66,000 people tested positive -- a staggering number, one we've never seen in a single day. Several states also reporting alarmingly high same-day infection numbers, Florida with more than 10,000 new cases and just in to CNN in the last couple of hours, Texas health officials there with the grim news that more than 10,000 people were also confirmed infected, the highest ever seen in a single day in that state.
A few minutes ago, I talked to an exhausted -- just exhausted and angry emergency room doctor in Arizona who says he is sick and tired of the politics and the finger pointing, he just wants people to follow the medical guidance to keep themselves and others safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MURTAZA AKHTER, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, VALLEYWISE HEALTH MEDICAL CENTER: Listen, if people aren't going to distance, you know, I'm not a constitutional scholar, but this is an emergency and the Executive Branch has the ability to declare emergencies, if people aren't going to distance, aren't going to wear masks, maybe they haven't been told that they need to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I want to get straight to CNN's Kristen Holmes at the White House. Kristen, tell us about the President's visit to Walter Reed. KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are told right
now, he is behind closed doors with wounded warriors. That's from a senior administration official, but I think the really striking image here is the one that you've continued to talk about, which is President Trump in a mask.
This is the first time that the President has allowed the press, the press pool who gives access to the public to see him in a mask. They actually let the cameras in for that shot of him walking down the hallway here. He is meeting again with wounded warriors as well as the men and women who have been on the frontlines, those healthcare workers.
And as you said, this was a long time coming and it was not easy. Aides, advisers pleading with the President to do this photo-op particularly at Walter Reed saying that it was time for him to get on board with wearing a mask.
Many of them, we hear, were unsettled when they saw those images coming out of the Tulsa rally with so many of his supporters in a crowd close together, not social distancing and not wearing a mask.
But there are some larger questions here because President Trump has made it clear that this is a limited setting that he will wear a mask and he was asked about it, and you mentioned this, but he said that this was an appropriate setting and even gave more detail saying that it was a good time to wear a mask because he was meeting with soldiers who had, some of them, just gotten out of surgery, just off the operating table.
But again, as you said, these aides were hoping for a larger image here of President Trump endorsing masks, setting an example as the Commander-in-Chief and the leader of this country, as many of his health experts have.
They have continued to say that wearing a mask in public when you can't social distance is the right thing to do. So, this idea of wearing the mask just in this limited setting, it's unclear whether or not that message of him full, wholeheartedly endorsing mask is actually getting out there -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right, Kristen Holmes at the White House for us. Thank you wearing a mask has become more of a political statement than a fashion statement. The President's refusal to embrace the mask has left state and local officials hanging in the balance to come up with their own plans and trying to convince their residents to follow them.
Joining us now is Mark McKinnon. He is the co-host of Showtime's, "The Circus" and a former McCain campaign adviser. Bill Kristol is the Director of Defending democracy and the editor-at-large of "The Bulwark," and Howard Dean is the former chairman of the D.N.C. The former Governor of Vermont and also ran for President in 2004.
Gentlemen, good to have all of you with such great experience and wisdom to share with all of us. Let me start with you, Governor Dean, you went to medical school before becoming governor. This is an impossible question, but is it fair to wonder how many lives would have been saved if the President had just been willing to wear a mask back in March?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER D.N.C. CHAIRMAN: Well, we don't know how influential the President is, except that he is obviously influential among his own followers, and there have been some estimates that perhaps as many as 30,000 lives would have been saved had the President decided that he wanted to be responsible and listened to his advisers.
CABRERA: Bill, why do you think it has been so hard for the President to wear a mask in public?
BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: I don't know, we need to take psychoanalyze him for that. He is still not wearing a mask though. Let's not overdo -- I'm glad he's at Walter Reed visiting our wounded soldiers and that's terrific and, of course, I am glad he is wearing a mask rather than not wearing one in the hospital.
But if you go to a hospital, if you go to a doctor's office, of course, you are supposed to wear a mask, you have to wear a mask as you should.
But the key message here is to wear it elsewhere and to social distance and generally to be serious about this pandemic and there, the President's message so far as I can tell hasn't changed at all.
KRISTOL: Look at what he is saying about schools, totally cavalier about the health threats there. Look, in terms of rallies, in terms of everything, in terms of his supporters, turning this into a political matters. That doctor you had on from the emergency room, a doctor from Arizona is that it's a total disgrace and I don't give him honestly much credit for wearing a mask when he's visiting wounded soldiers, some of whom have come out of the operating room.
Of course, that's so minimal, so low a standard. It is hard to even imagine really.
CABRERA: We're still waiting for him just to tell the facts of the coronavirus. He keeps spinning them, some people say he is lying about what's going on. I think that's fair. The President and his top infectious disease official haven't spoken since early June.
Dr. Fauci has done what few others have by publicly correcting the President. Here are just a few examples.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have some areas where we're putting out the flames or the fires and that's working out well.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Right now, if you look at the number of cases, it's quite disturbing, and we're setting records practically every day of new cases.
TRUMP: What we do have is we have perhaps the lowest, but among the lowest, but perhaps the lowest mortality rate -- death rate anywhere in the world.
FAUCI: It's a false narrative to take comfort, in a lower rate of death.
TRUMP: We are going to be in two, three, four weeks by the time we next speak, I think we're going to be in very good shape.
FAUCI: I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.
TRUMP: I think we are in good place.
FAUCI: I think it's important to tell you and the American public that I'm very concerned because it could get very bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Mark, what sort of signal is this mixed messaging sending to Americans and to voters?
MARK MCKINNON, CO-HOST, SHOWTIME'S "THE CIRCUS": Well, that's an amazing string of clips right there, because you have one guy who's has a medical background, knows the fact and has a 70 plus approval rating, and the other guy has 67 percent of the country think he is handling this poorly.
There's a reason why because Fauci is embracing tough facts, and leadership is about making tough decisions and embracing the uncomfortable at times, and it's also about doing things that are hard to do.
And the fact is that Donald Trump should have been wearing a mask four weeks ago -- four months ago. And the reason that we're having problems in the country now with COVID, as bad as they are, is because he encouraged states to open up earlier because he thought it was holding back the economy.
And now the irony of all of that is that the economy is going to be worse because he pushed states to push ahead.
So what the country needs is facts and hard decisions from the -- you know, and that's what we get then from Fauci, but not from Donald Trump.
CABRERA: What do you think about that, Bill?
KRISTOL: Yes, no, look, it's right. I mean, it's good -- the overall handling of the President and I say, as someone who worked in the White House, and I'm aware of how difficult these things are, and I actually --
You know, when it first hit, you can imagine a lot of wishful thinking, some disorganization. There were some bureaucratic failures at the C.D.C. and elsewhere.
For him in the last two or three months, though, to continue to be this irresponsible, I don't think -- I'm not sure we've ever seen anything like this. Maybe during Vietnam when Lyndon Johnson refused to face facts for two or three years and punished people who tried to tell the truth.
Ironically, H.R. McMaster wrote a very good book about this -- President Trump's brief National Security Advisor, to quote "dereliction of duty."
This is a dereliction of duty in my opinion by this President more than comparable to tough decisions Lyndon Johnson faced. This is totally unnecessary.
I mean, he could have really -- he could have and should still be a responsible leader, but I've given up hoping honestly for anything from him. I do think others like Dr. Fauci can play an important role.
CABRERA: The President can look the other way. He can try to downplay what is happening and the reality of it, but the science doesn't change.
People getting sick, don't change. In fact, it could be even getting worse, right, because people aren't getting the messaging that they need to hear.
Governor Dean, the R.N.C. is continuing to move forward with plans with its in-person convention. The President is expecting to give his speech in Jacksonville, Florida.
As someone who has chaired the D.N.C., how long does it take to plan a convention? Is it too late to make big changes for safety?
DEAN: No, I mean, they've already wrecked their convention because the Governor of North Carolina rightly said no, you will not come here and spread coronavirus all over my state. Good for him.
You know, the reason this is such a disaster is Trump terrifies the Republican Party. What we see here in this country is a failure of the Republican Party to stand up to a President who is incompetent and is frankly, crazy, and that is really dangerous.
DEAN: The reason that Texas and Arizona and Florida are the among the hottest, worst spots in the country right now is because their governors slavishly followed Donald Trump and opened their economy before they weren't ready. And that is why they are leading the country in fatalities.
So, this is insane, and I do think even the mayor of Jacksonville finally has said, please, I don't know that we can do this. Now, they are talking about trying to rent an open air stadium to have all of these people in there. Look, the Republicans statistically are about 25 years older than the
Democrats. I've been to a Republican convention because they have the opposite chair go to the conventions. They are really old.
And this this is the prime age group at maximum risk from coronavirus which is principally spread indoors by people who aren't masked and who don't have proper social distancing.
This is insane for the Republicans to do this, and I just don't think they are going to do it. Today, the Texas Republicans decided they would not have the convention in Houston. They canceled -- actually, the mayor cancelled it and stopped it and he probably saved a lot of Republican lives even though he's a Democrat.
CABRERA: Well, Republicans tried to legally take him to court in order to get that convention back on in Texas, but that didn't work. So it wasn't for lack of effort, though, for it to be canceled, even after the mayor did that.
So let me ask you, Mark, about this poll you referenced which was this ABC News/IPSOS poll that 67 percent disapprove of the President's handling of the pandemic.
Those obviously aren't pretty numbers heading into the fall and "New York Times" polling analyst, Nate Cohn tweeted, "Sometimes American politics is complicated. Right now, it is extremely simple." He wrote, "The public has reached a harshly negative judgment of the President's handling of the most important issue facing the country, and the issue is so paramount that there's little room to wiggle out of it."
How does he wiggle out of this one?
MCKINNON: Well, it's interesting because you know, so often, elections have traditionally been about the economy. James Carville's famous mantra, "It's the economy, stupid."
But when there's a national crisis or emergency like this, now it's cold -- and get this under control and show some leadership on the COVID crisis. He is clawing his way to the bottom really fast. And it'll be tough to be re-elected, because this is the issue that is at the forefront of everybody's mind.
They're concerned, they're fearful, and it's not getting better, and that's the problem. You know, we thought things were headed in the right direction, but because of poor leadership decisions, it's now headed the wrong way. And that's why we see the terrible numbers for Trump.
And so he's got a short time to get that turned around and it may not even be possible at this point because of the bad decisions previously.
CABRERA: The President commuted the prison sentence of his friend, his former adviser, Roger Stone. Stone was convicted of lying to Congress, to tampering. Bill, your group, Defending Democracy Together as behind the
Republicans against Trump and quickly released this ad in response to the President. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Donald Trump's America, a criminal who lies to protect Trump goes free. A war hero who testifies truthfully about Trump's conduct gets fired and smeared.
This is Trump's law and order. This is Trump's Banana Republic. This is Trump's America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Bill, what feedback are you getting and how big of a group is the never Trumpers?
KRISTOL: We are getting a lot of people saying they agree. I do think people do understand this isn't just Pat Toomey, the Republican senator of Pennsylvania, who said this was a mistake.
A mistake is when you have a tax bill that, you know, doesn't work as well as you hope for or a policy that doesn't succeed quite. This was -- commuting the sentence of someone who refused to testify truthfully about Donald Trump. I mean, it's the worst kind of pardon; it's not just a mistake, it is corrupt.
And I think people really do understand that what's really been amazing for us, we started this Republican Voters Against Trump and asked people to send in, you know, videos, testimonials, of why they were now not voting for Trump, many of the Trump voters from 2016 and it's really been quite moving, I think and if you people watch them.
And I've been very struck by how -- I think there are more than people think. And, you know, Trump is at Walter Reed today, I'll say a lot of them have served in the military, a lot of them -- some of them veterans, some of them military spouses, some of them older veterans who served you know a while ago and retired.
And for them, I mean, country came first and comes first, and they look at Trump and they can't -- they voted, for some of them in 2016, and he seems a little pro-military. Maybe they didn't like the Obama administration much.
But now they just can't believe that we have a President who routinely puts his own personal financial political interests ahead of those of the country.
CABRERA: Outrage on both sides of the aisle on this one, the Roger Stone commutation. Senator Mitt Romney called it historic corruption. Senator Pat Toomey did say it was a mistake. Governor Dean, what is your reaction? And does this hurt the President's law and order message? DEAN: Well, it hurts more than the President's law and order message.
I think it's going to win the Democrats the Senate and I think the senators are starting to get nervous, but they had their chance.
You know, I'm sure Susan Collins is terribly dismayed and disappointed. She is the reason Trump is in office right now, along with three or four other Republican senators, so I can understand why Republicans are worried.
And I give Mitt Romney full credit. You know, I didn't vote for him and I'm a Democrat, a proud Democrat, but somebody in the Republican Party has got to stand up and speak for America. And there's not anybody that's doing that right now, except for Mitt Romney.
In other words, the other ones are terrified and a lot of -- we're going to pick up seats in places like Kansas, Iowa, and I think we're going to win South Carolina. Lindsey Graham is in real trouble. It's tied at 42-42. And Lindsey is just despised by a whole lot of the people that Bill Kristol is talking about, Republicans who have a sense of honor who cannot vote for people as torpid and servile as Lindsey Graham.
CABRERA: Former Governor Howard Dean, Mark McKinnon and Bill Kristol. Thank you, gentlemen, for being part of the conversation.
Up next, we're going to take you to Arizona where hospitals warn they are running out of beds and nurses say they are having to reuse masks, gowns and gloves again.
Plus we're going to speak to one man with a view sports fans can only dream of, like literally only dream off. CNN's Paul Vercammen is live inside Dodger Stadium, where the team had an inter-squad game, right, Paul?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Ana, and we're going to show you how they're dealing with this COVID-19 crisis and playing baseball. We're even going to show you the game winning homerun. They're making a lot of adjustments as we get ready for professional baseball in less than two weeks -- Ana.
CABRERA: This is the situation in one of the states being hardest hit by this pandemic right now. Arizona, it saw more than 4,000 new COVID- 19 cases Friday alone. It has the country's highest positivity rate at more than 27 percent.
And there's this, Arizona health officials say there are fewer than 1,000 hospital beds available in the entire state. CNN's Evan McMorris Santoro is joining us from the Grand Canyon, one of the state's main tourist attractions.
Evan, Arizona leads the country per capita in the number of COVID cases. What are you hearing from tourists there? EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Ana, as you mentioned,
this is one of the most important tourist spots in Arizona, which is one of the new epicenters of the pandemic in this country.
And as you can see behind me, it looks like a great place to hang out. It is very open. But over here on the South Rim you can see, it is actually full of tourists and people are concerned about some of the gathering and things like that.
I spoke to people today, and basically what they're saying is they're trying to avoid the situation we are looking at now, which is the sort of gathering and spend more time in the park -- part of the park.
The idea is that you can take a place like this, and you can find a way to social distance. But when you're in these parts of the park, the officials here urge you to wear a mask and to stay apart from each other -- Ana.
CABRERA: And the cases are also rising in Texas. What can you tell us about that?
SANTORO: That's right. So this whole area of the country is now becoming the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, and we have new numbers just in to the CNN NEWSROOM very recently, that say that Texas has crossed the highest number of new cases that's ever had -- 10,351.
The last time it had 10,000 cases in a day was on July 7th, so not that long ago. But what that means is that the hospitals are being strained.
There are 10,000 cases or more, more than 1000 cases currently in the hospitals, and the state is now seeing a decline in its ICU bed availability.
Now, less than a thousand ICU beds available across that entire gigantic state. It's a similar problem that we've seen here in Arizona as this pandemic continues to climb. You're seeing those ICU beds and the hospitals get strained -- Ana.
CABRERA: Okay, Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you for the update.
Next door to Arizona, here is the situation. California has now surpassed 300,000 coronavirus cases. The bulk of those are in Los Angeles County, which has ramped up its testing in recent weeks.
The area's largest testing site is just outside Dodger Stadium. But that's not the only news happening at that iconic park today. Baseball is back.
Paul Vercammen is giving us a rare live look inside the stadium and Paul, the Dodgers are playing an inter-squad game. You've pretty much got the stadium to yourself, I see. How is the team adjusting to this new environment?
VERCAMMEN: Well, we'll show you many of the adjustments. It was surreal. One, there's just no fans here at Dodger Stadium and they just concluded the game, Ana.
And when the game ended, you could hear Dodger manager, Dave Roberts sort of laughing yell, Dodgers win, meaning they won their inter-squad game, but lots of adjustments to be made.
Look behind me. You can see the groundskeepers, they're all wearing their mask as they clean up after the stadium and then peer off into the dugout, you'll see that they want the players to stay away from each other by six feet.
They've got these X's on the dugout benches. Lots of other rules being put in place by Major League Baseball. One of them, the players will have their temperatures taken twice a day. Two, you will also have a situation where the players are getting tested for COVID-19 every other day.
There's a lot of rules that are coming into place where they might not be exactly firm, but they sure are preferred and what we saw in the day was, when it was time to celebrate, they don't want any fist bumps. They don't want any high fives. We saw somebody sort of walk by his teammate and sort of have an air fist bump. It was classic.
And then a moment that everybody just enjoyed, it seemed like they're waiting for baseball here in Southern California. Justin Turner of the Dodgers comes up and again, it's extremely eerily quiet here.
VERCAMMEN: And we'll show you what happened. Turner blasts on the left field, homerun. And from here you could actually hear the homerun land and hit metal out there. It ended with a clang.
So this is going to be something, Dodger Stadium without fans. We were pointing out earlier they draw almost four million fans a year.
We should also note that one of the Dodgers, David Price is not going to play this season and news out of New York now, Aroldis Chapman is the closer for the New York Yankees. He has now tested positive for COVID-19.
So, so many developments as Major League Baseball becomes the first major sport to go through its test runs and get ready to start that season.
Again, it starts here at Dodger Stadium, and just 12 days against the Giants. Back to you now -- Ana.
CABRERA: As we just all began a new part of what is massive national experiment right now, as we make our journey with the COVID pandemic.
Thank you, Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles.
Now, President Trump just left Walter Reed. You see him getting in his helicopter, we've got video of it. We saw a sight we've only seen one other time during this entire pandemic. He wore a mask.
We'll have more on this visit when we come back. Stay with us.
CABRERA: Today, the President of the United States finally did the one thing he had been resisting for weeks, he wore a mask publicly. A photo op that CNN has learned his advisors practically begged him to do. And this is how absurd it got, those advisors who wanted him to do this one simple thing had to find a venue where it would make sense for him to appear masked without it seeming like he had changed his mind, apparently, a hospital fit the bill, Walter Reed Medical Center to be exact.
Dr. Peter Hotez is the Dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and joins us now. Dr. Hotez, is it fair to wonder how many lives could have been saved if the President would have set this example earlier?
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, first of all, I am glad he visited Walter Reed National Medical Center. Paul Begala in the last hour pointed out what an inspirational place it is and he's absolutely right.
I had the privilege of giving medical grand rounds there back in January. It's not just the wounded warriors who are amazing, but also some of the most extraordinary doctors and nurses and healthcare professionals and (inaudible) you'll ever hope to meet, so it's an amazing place.
So I am glad the President did wear a mask. I think the point is, this should not be a lead story in the news. May be back in February or March, it would have been a lead story, but not now. We're way past that. We have this terrible public health crisis right now and the fact that we're still even discussing masks is ridiculous. We have to do so much more right now to help slow this terrible onslaught that we're facing now from COVID-19 with a steep acceleration, we're going to hit 70,000 cases this week.
CABRERA: It's not far off. We hit over 66,000 yesterday. You say we are heading into one of the most unstable times in the history of our country. Explain what's behind that ominous assessment.
HOTEZ: So here's the deal. So the numbers will quickly rise to about 100,000 cases as Dr. Fauci predicted. Back then it sounded like an apocalyptic prediction, it just took a few weeks. We'll get there very soon. And it will exceed a hundred thousand very quickly as well. We're on that kind of trajectory.
And it's a steep rise number of hospitalizations and in ICU admissions across the hospitals in the south, we're seeing hospital staff get exhausted, donning and doffing PPE and all of the death and destruction that's very demoralizing and now hospital staffs are starting to get sick, we're not going to have enough hospital staff.
And as terrible as what's happening in the south, it's now starting to happen in other parts of the country. We're seeing a rise in Tennessee in the northern Midwest. A few months ago, people thought I was ridiculous saying we're going to have multiple areas in the country that looked like New York did back in March and April. And tragically that's becoming true and it's happening because we have no national plan, national road map how to deal with this and how to stop it even though I think we can do this very, I wouldn't say easily, but it's very doable.
CABRERA: I've heard you say on our air, the situation we are seeing in places like Arizona, like Texas are near apocalyptic. What does apocalyptic look like in your mind and when will we know if we've hit that?
HOTEZ: Apocalyptic, especially in our low income neighborhoods, I think the story that you're going to hear very soon is devastation among low income communities, Hispanic Latino communities. We're already seeing this now on the border of Mexico and Texas with people in the streets, dying in the streets.
And we are now seeing this incredibly accelerating situation now unfolding and I think it's going to be people living in low income communities who are going to bear the brunt of it. And apocalyptic means we can't manage it, we can't handle it and the destabilizing effect of this is not to be underestimated.
Within a few weeks as we exceed a hundred thousand. Practically speaking, what that means is every American will know someone who's been very sick or hospitalized with COVID-19 and that will have ramifications that go beyond just public health. It will have economic implications. We'll see it affecting the economy yet again and it will have destabilizing effects as people feel that no one's looking out for the national security of the country.
And this is why the White House has to respond that has to act. It cannot proceed as usual, having the states in the lead and they're providing PPE and other FEMA support. They have to take the bull by the horns and implement a national strategy urgently and now.
And if we do take those measures and bring the country back to containment mode or something that resembles it by the fall, the nation will change. We can open up schools again. We can open up college universities. We can potentially even have sporting events. You can't do that now. You can't open up schools, for instance, in places like Houston and Dallas and Phoenix.
HOTEZ: Because teachers are going to start to get sick within a couple of weeks.
CABRERA: Dr. Peter Hotez, we've covered a lot of ground there. Thank you very much for being here.
HOTEZ: Thank you. CABRERA: Florida is the new New York, cases there are surging.
Hospitals are overwhelmed and yet Disney World reopened today. So how is this supposed to work? We'll check in next.
CABRERA: New today, Disney World and the Magic Kingdom in Florida reopening for family visits as that state sees more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases just a single day again.
I want to bring in CNN Natasha Chen. Natasha, you've been tracking Disney's big reopening, what is the most magical place on earth like amid a pandemic?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Ana, they're trying to preserve that magic while going through all of these stringent new procedures and they are stringent. We're talking about very careful temperature checks and social distancing. The passholder previews in the last couple of days seemed to go very smoothly. Here's what that was like inside.
CHEN (voice over): Disney theme parks may be an escape to a fictional bubble, but no amount of pixie dust can wipe away the realities of a pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERICA M. WALT, ANNUAL PASSHOLDER, WALT DISNEY WORLD: It does feel a bit surreal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN (voice over): It's a whole new world of temperature checks parties separated on rides, touchless payments and entry required face masks that must loop around human ears. There are also far fewer people in the parks due to significantly reduced capacity and a required advanced reservation for people wanting to go in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALT: I do feel a bit nervous when trying to do all the things I love and enjoy doing again, but also remembering to do them as safely as I possibly can. Wearing an N95 mask to the parks, social distancing from other park goers, packing Clorox wipes, packing hand sanitizer, keeping my hands clean, all of the different hand washing stations --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cool. I just washed my hands in the (inaudible) --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN (voice over): For locals and theme park bloggers in Orange County, Florida where COVID cases are rising rapidly along with the rest of the state --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG WILLIAMS, PRODUCER, "THE DIS UNPLUGGED": We feel safer at theme parks than we do at any other normal store or restaurant. It feels safer at the theme parks because they're putting in that extra effort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN (voice over): He says the extra effort is more visible at Disney than he seen at other theme parks that reopened in the past month. Rides frequently Stop so employees could sanitize them, plexiglass especially in tight queues and something he doesn't always see outside Disney property.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It really blew me away that everyone was following all of the rules. So I definitely didn't expect that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN (voice over): Orange County officials were asked Thursday if they've seen COVID cases stemming from the theme parks that are already open.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RAUL PINO, ORANGA COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER: I will be lying to say that we have not seen a case here and there that mention one of the parks. But we have not seen an outbreak in any of the parks that are open so far that we are aware of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN (voice over): Disney's Chief Medical Officer said in a blog post this week, "We have reimagined the Disney experience so we can all enjoy the magic responsibly." And that includes the many restaurants on Disney property like Chef Art Smith's Homecomin', which has a new patio and spaced out tables.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHEF ART SMITH, OWNER, HOMECOMIN' FLORIDA KITCHEN, DISNEY SPRINGS: Everyone wants to enjoy their time here but safely and I think together we're doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN (voice over): He says people need a safe way to get a little comfort food and magic right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: How we are in good times is how we are in challenging times, OK? (END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And there are more people there today for the public reopening compared to the passholder preview. One passholder told me she returned to Magic Kingdom today and immediately turned around and left because she caught herself in this crowded walkway with a line that suddenly formed in front of guest services.
She said for the most part, Disney has thought of everything and people follow rules pretty well there when there are markings. But inevitably when you have people back in the parks, unexpected situations arise. She just felt uncomfortable in that moment and she said to be fair, when she was leaving, she did see that employees were taking care of the situation, Ana.
CABRERA: OK. Natasha Chen, thank you for your reporting.
Up next, to Brazil, the country's second only to the U.S. in number of cases and deaths.
But first a quick programming note for you from the farms of Oklahoma to the beaches of Miami, W. Kamau Bell is taking on injustice and inequality across America. It's an all new season of "United Shades of America" with W. Kamau Bell starting next Sunday, July 19th at 10 pm Eastern here on CNN.
CABRERA: Brazil surpassing yet another grim milestone, more than 1,000 people died today alone from the coronavirus, pushing the country's death toll pass 71,000 and the caseload to more than 1.8 million in Brazil. This surge comes as Brazil's President who is currently infected with the virus himself continues to push for the country's economy to reopen.
CNN Bill Weir is in Brazil for us. Bill, President Bolsonaro remaining defiant in this fight against this deadly pandemic.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, it's very much in keeping with his personality from the very beginning. He has downplayed this. He has said, given my athletic career, if I get it, I'll be fine. We're going to figure out one way or another whether that is true. But yes, and he continues to preach the glories of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that he's taking along with vitamins and other remedies.
I actually met with a doctor here. We're sort of in the geographical center of Brazil right now, Barra do Garcas, a doctor who has been in intensive care with COVID-19 for a couple of weeks, he says it didn't work for me. That treatment the President is using didn't work for me. It doesn't work for some, a lot of the patients we have here. But what other choice? Water?
He says we're trying everything we can and he also had a very poignant point about the economy in this country that was struggling before the pandemic hit. He says a lot of my patients are choosing between the threat of infection and starvation. So the force to get people back to work, especially in rural areas, agricultural areas, places where the indigenous tribes live is really high, even at the local level, so it's this really tough balance that's happening these days in Brazil.
CABRERA: So the President is urging these mayors and the governors to reopen their economy. Does it seem like they're on board or they in agreement?
WEIR: It really depends on which of the 26 states you go to. I think 20 of them politically are opposed to those policies of opening up too fast. It's interesting that in Brasilia, the state that hosts the capital, a judge, a federal judge ordered the President to wear a mask back on June 26th. But in the days following, he flew to other states and is seen in crowds hugging people on July 3rd. About 108 employees of the presidential office all tested positive and yet, President Bolsonaro continued his business as usual without the mask, lots of hugs and handshakes right now.
We'll see if he comes out of this on the other side, if that affects things. It's kind of stunning to see President Trump wearing a mask after all these months of this pandemic. We'll see if President Bolsonaro is a man converted by science after his brush with this or if he continues to go full steam ahead to try to open the country as fast as possible.
CABRERA: What travel restrictions or other restrictions are in place for the people of Brazil?
WEIR: Well, it's very much like the United States. There's no restrictions on traveling within the country. They shut the borders with their neighbors, eight neighbors back in March when things started to look bad and of course, it's tough to travel anywhere as a Brazilian, even outside of South America.
But I'm in a place right now and this is why it's so hard to contain. This is a place where if you remember the book or the movie The Lost City of Z, it was thick jungle. So thick that a British explorer disappeared here looking for that lost city.
Now it is mostly soybean fields and cattle ranches with a lot of trucks. It was a trucker bringing soybeans that first brought the infection into this state. And now it is spreading like wildfire in a lot of places and that's just so hard to shut that down unless you do a complete national shut down, which is of course the debate that's happening in the United States.
CABRERA: Bill Weir, thanks for being there for us and being our window into that part of the world. Much appreciated. Thanks for the reporting.
WEIR: You bet. CABRERA: We have some breaking news, I do want to get in here. Former
Special Counsel Robert Mueller breaking his silence this evening to defend the prosecution of Roger Stone. A day after President Trump commuted the sentence for his longtime friend and political adviser.
Mueller writing in an op-ed in The Washington Post saying in part, "I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."
He went on to say, "We made every decision in Stone's case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law.
The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false."
And Wolf Blitzer is going to have much more on this when he takes over at the top of the hour. For now, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for spending your Saturday afternoon with me. I'll see you back here tomorrow starting at 4 Eastern in the CNN NEWSROOM.