Return to Transcripts main page
GOP Senators Mitt Romney, Pat Toomey Call Out Trump For Commuting Roger Stone's Sentence; Coronavirus Cases In U.S. Rising To Record Levels; Florida Governor Wants More Testing; Tourists Risk Arizona's Surge To See Nature; Violent Anti-Government Protests Rock Belgrade; Virus Arrives In Idlib, Syria's Last Rebel Stronghold; Bosnia Marks 25 Years Since Srebrenica Massacre; Poland Votes In Presidential Runoff Election. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired July 12, 2020 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New cell phone data indicates the U.S. coronavirus crisis could get much worse, thanks to July 4th holiday travel.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller says Roger Stone is still a convicted felon for good reason.
And Election Day in Poland, why it is so important. We'll take you live to Warsaw and a closely watched election.
We're live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. And this is CNN NEWSROOM.
ALLEN: 5:00 am here on the East Coast, thanks so much for joining us.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began in the United States, more than 3.2 million people have contracted COVID-19. It is a huge number. Just for perspective, that's more than the individual populations of 21 U.S. states.
And right now it is not slowing down. Take a look at the states in red and orange. They're all seeing increases in infections. Single day case records were broken Saturday in Texas, Wisconsin and South Carolina Saturday. The mayor of Austin calls Texas a cautionary tale.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TX: I'm watching what's happening in cities around the country that have gotten their numbers low and now they're relaxing and it looks like too many of them are going to try to redo what we did in Texas when we reopened.
And Austin is a cautionary tale. Cities cannot open in any way that looks like what they used to do before the pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: And it could still get worse. Cell phone data shows Americans traveled more during the recent Independence Day holiday than they did at Memorial Day, even though the virus was surging.
Health experts predict an uptick in cases the more people are mobile. Concern about transmission of the virus prompted the nation's top infectious disease expert to issue a warning. Our Polo Sandoval has that and more.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: People are infecting other people.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, telling the world that the U.S. is at a historic point in the COVID pandemic.
FAUCI: As you can see from the slide here, my own country , the United States, as I'm sure we will be able to discuss a little bit more, is in the middle right now even as we speak in a very serious problem.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): The doctor issued the blunt new warning during this year's international AIDS conference that the coronavirus crisis rages on amid ongoing reopenings.
Florida continues to grapple with skyrocketing daily COVID numbers and hospitalizations. In hot zone Miami-Dade County, the test positivity rate surpassed 33 percent this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FL: We have, 1800 people, COVID patients now, that is the highest by many multiples. We have almost 400 people in intensive care and we're about to hit an all-time high in ventilators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Despite the apparent height in Florida's pandemic...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We look forward to seeing you soon.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): -- two Disneyland parks are open again this weekend amid criticism from one employee union. Aggressive testing happening in parts of Texas, some regions working with the military to keep up with demand.
In another sign that the pandemic is tightening its grip on the Lone Star State, some hospitals are turning to tents and other spaces to treat the overflow of COVID patients. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conference rooms, cell spaces, currently we have
ICU patients that patients that are on medical surgical floors. Honestly, we really need closer monitoring. We need equipment. But those are things we simply do not have at this time. Everyone is exhausted and the patients here are very sick.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): California also taking steps to relieve the pressure from record COVID-19 numbers. The state's Department of Corrections plans to release at least 8,000 prisoners from across the state. The movement to allow for more social distancing behind bars.
As death tolls climb, a troubling new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about how COVID is disproportionately killing black and brown Americans. The fresh CDC data showing on average those minority groups are dying from the virus at a younger age when compared to white patients.
One likely factor, many of them filling essential and service jobs allowing little room for social distancing or for staying at home.
DR. UCHE BLACKSTOCK, CEO, ADVANCING HEALTH EQUITY: What we need right now in the short term are an equitable allocation of resources to black and brown communities: targeting, testing, contact tracing, PPE and ensuring that the health care institutions in those communities are adequately resourced.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Staying fully stocked has been a big challenge for some hospitals across the country with the virus showing no signs of slowing down -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
ALLEN: Joining me from Toulouse, France, is Sian Griffiths. She led Hong Kong's inquiry into SARS in 2003.
Thank you so much for joining us. Good to see you. Good to have you on again.
DR. SIAN GRIFFITHS, EMERITUS PROFESSOR, CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: Thanks.
ALLEN: As of Saturday, the United States has 61,352 new cases and we keep setting new records every day.
What does that tell you about the situation we are in here?
GRIFFITHS: From an external perspective, it shows that you're not really in control of the virus. The epidemic is increasing, the numbers keep -- as you say, keep breaking the records, which is a really unfortunate record to keep breaking.
And it is a very serious situation because obviously COVID is running rife, particularly in those states that show red on your map.
ALLEN: It is hard to fathom, isn't it, how quickly states like Florida and even West Virginia now, Louisiana, South Carolina, are surging and so rapidly.
What should states do to try to turn this back?
GRIFFITHS: I think they need to get public messages out. This is a serious disease. There is a sense that it doesn't seem to matter if you get COVID, I read about COVID parties. But that's just ridiculous to think this isn't a serious disease.
It can affect any of us. It is more likely to affect older people, more likely to kill people who are older with a pre-existing condition. At the same time, young people can also contract it and there are long-term consequences of having the disease.
So really it is a matter of saying what can we do as individuals and what can we do as authorities.
And so for individuals, it is remembering social distancing, remember social hygiene and I would advise face covering from mask wearing.
And for the states, they need to think about what lockdown measures should be in place to stop the spread of disease. It seems to be increasing, increasing, increasing. And we head -- as we head toward winter, we add in flu and the (INAUDIBLE) population is poor.
ALLEN: We also now have seen this new development from the CDC, which estimates 40 percent of people infected don't have any symptoms.
How does that complicate the situation?
GRIFFITHS: It means that if -- you don't feel unwell, you think, I haven't got it. But in fact you can be infectious. If you're close to somebody who is vulnerable, then they will get the infection or they may well get the infection.
What you need to do is remember that each and every one of us needs to take those hand washing precautions, wear face coverings, needs to remember social distance and remember that, when we go shopping, when we go out for a meal, remember when with friends, we need to remember that, though we have no symptoms, we could be infectious.
ALLEN: And how long could it now take, do you think, for the U.S. to get out from under this?
GRIFFITHS: It will depend on what measures are taken. And I think, you know, I think that people -- that's why I'm really emphasizing it is the measures you take. We -- we can hope there is going to be a vaccine.
But the vaccine isn't with us yet.
And then the question is, who gets the vaccine? Having a vaccine is not necessarily the answer. We're getting better
at treating people. But a lot of the hospital system is under pressure. So don't rely on the hospital system. It is going to be about the public health precautionary measures, which will, you know, if you get symptoms, get tested, go into isolation, make sure your contacts are also tested and are in isolation and so that we can break the chain of transmission.
That's what we need to do and we need to do it many times over when you have such a huge surge in so many places.
ALLEN: Yes, and the threat here is hospitals being overrun, Florida, Miami-Dade County, is seeing over 100 percent increase in ventilators. There are a lot of very sick people in these hospitals. And even manpower could be short at some point. And that would put the United States in a situation that could be, well, quite frankly, historic.
GRIFFITHS: Well, the unfortunate thing is that we saw, in Wuhan, where the disease started in January, it was those pictures of overwhelmed hospitals, healthcare staff, who were getting sick and finding themselves -- because we know that they're at risk because they're closer to the virus.
GRIFFITHS: It is the fact that the healthcare system can be overwhelmed. It was overwhelmed in northern Italy and so the States have plenty of time to look at these messages. That's what is so unfortunate.
And we -- you will start to run out of protective equipment. You will start to run out of ventilators if you can't stop the -- curb this disease and prioritize who gets care. All these things are (INAUDIBLE) so it is very serious that people think hard about how we can prevent the disease and think hard how we can best intervene.
ALLEN: Really important that you stress that people in these states must get proper information, you know. This has been a very much a conflict here in the United States. Young people, as you mentioned, haven't taken it seriously.
I saw one report today where a young woman, who was 30 years old, in a hospital died and. The last words to the nurse was, I got this wrong. I thought it was a hoax. That just goes to show you how far we are to getting the message straight.
GRIFFITHS: You really have to get the message straight. This is not a hoax. It can affect young people. It can also affect children.
So to think it doesn't is incorrect. And sometimes they can get an extremely severe reaction. So it is a serious disease. It will -- it can be controlled if we all take it seriously. But if you think of it as a hoax, it is not a hoax. It is a real disease. You look across the world.
You look at Brazil, Mexico, you look at Indonesia, Pakistan, India, they're all seeing increases in numbers of cases, increases in deaths. And the deaths are among the most vulnerable and the elderly. So you know, young people, it's your granny you're protecting when you take the measures, if not yourself.
ALLEN: We always appreciate your expertise, Sian Griffiths, joining us from Toulouse, France, thank you so much.
GRIFFITHS: Thank you. Thank you.
ALLEN: For months, U.S. president Donald Trump has resisted wearing a face mask, despite medical guidance that they slow transmission of coronavirus. On Saturday, he wore one in public for the first time. Kristen Holmes explains why he decided to do it and whether he'll stick with it.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump wearing a mask for the first time in public Saturday, on a visit to Walter Reed Hospital. There he met with wounded warriors as well as some of those health care workers on the front lines.
And we have learned that this was a result of a begging and pleading by aides and advisers who wanted him to have a photo op to in a mask, to endorse mask wearing. There are some questions to announce whether or not what it will work. It's become incredibly politically.
He made a statement about why he was wearing a mask at this point. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I will probably have a mask if you must know. I mean, I'll probably have a mask. I think when you're in a hospital especially in that particular setting, where you're talking to a lot of soldiers and people that in some cases just got off the operating tables, I think it's a great thing to wear a mask. I've never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: See, here President Trump is giving a very limited setting, he's talking about soldiers coming off of the operating tables and that is not the same message that these health experts are saying.
They're saying wear a mask anytime you cannot socially distance. They want people wearing masks indoors. They're saying wear them in grocery stores. It's unclear that this is going to send the message that his aides and advisers were hoping it would when he has himself limited it to such a small venue of when he believes wearing a mask is appropriate.
And, just to remind our viewers, it's something that President Trump has really been against. He has said he hasn't been. But he said wearing a mask wasn't for him. We know behind closed doors he's said if he's seen wearing a mask, it might send a wrong message to his supporters as he's trying to move away from the virus.
Whether or not we even see President Trump in a mask again, the likelihood of him going to another hospital to visit wounded warriors, that really just remains at this point unclear -- Kristen Holmes, CNN, the White House.
ALLEN: Former special counsel Robert Mueller is making a rare statement, defending his indictments of Roger Stone. That is because Stone's loyalty to the president may have been what has just saved him from a lengthy prison sentence. We'll discuss this story next.
ALLEN: Also, incredible scenes from Belgrade, Serbs angry with their government's handling of coronavirus risk catching the disease to protest.
ALLEN: Two Republican senators have broken ranks with U.S. president Donald Trump after he commuted the prison sentence of his long time friend and ally, Roger Stone. Senators Mitt Romney and Pat Toomey both denounced clemency for Stone, even though most other Republican lawmakers have remained quiet on the matter.
Stone was convicted of seven felonies, including lying to Congress and witness tampering. The president on Saturday doubled down on his action, defying what the attorney general said about the Stone case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Roger Stone was treated horribly. Roger Stone was treated very unfairly. Roger Stone was brought into this witch hunt, this old political witch hunt and the Mueller scam, it is a scam, because it has been proven false and he was treated very unfairly.
What I did -- what I did, I will tell you this, people are extremely happy because in this country they want justice.
TRUMP: And Roger Stone was not treated properly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, as you know, the Stone case was prosecuted while I was attorney general. And I supported it. I think it was established, he was convicted of obstructing Congress and witness tampering. And I thought that was a righteous prosecution. And I was happy that he was convicted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Most thought it was a righteous conviction there, prosecution of Roger Stone. The former special counsel of the Russia investigation, Robert Mueller, made a rare, reacting to Trump' action.
In "The Washington Post," he wrote this, "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."
Let's get more perspective now on this. Joining me from London, Inderjeet Parmar, a visiting professor at the London School of Economics.
Thank you for coming on.
INDERJEET PARMAR, VISITING PROFESSOR, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Thank you, good morning.
ALLEN: Good morning to you. There has been no shortage of outrage over this move by President Trump. A CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, called the president's move the most corrupt and cronyistic act in perhaps all of recent history.
What are your thoughts?
PARMAR: Well, it is within his constitutional remit. On the other hand, the -- a commutation of a sentence doesn't mean a pardon, doesn't mean the person is not guilty.
But what it does show, if you like, is that President Trump is continuing to declare war on what he would call the deep state and he wants to wear again the mantle of the champion of the people, who is draining the swamp and so on and still fighting that war.
But what he shows is that now something like seven of his advisers who are convicted of various crimes, some of them are serving sentences. But President Trump wants to try to exonerate himself by exonerating the people who basically acted on his behalf, even if not necessarily with his own knowledge.
So he's basically doing the opposite of draining the swamp, as a promise he made to the American people.
ALLEN: On another topic involving the president, he finally wore a mask in this pandemic. Took a minute. Who knows if he'll continue because he doesn't like the look of it but he bent to pressure from his team.
What could be the significance when you consider he has staunchly rebuffed recommendations from top health officials as cases surge in the U.S.?
And he does impact his supporters. His country has had serious conflicts over mask wearing because they just haven't gotten that leadership from this president.
PARMAR: Yes, I think what it suggests is that President Trump's recent strategy of -- that there is no pandemic, there is no problem, people will get used to it, it won't make any impact and so on, has been basically contradicted by facts on the ground.
There is an objective reality about a pandemic. You can't just wish it away. And as it moves closer to his political heartlands, it effectively has had massive political effects. And there is a great fear among the GOP leadership that they're going to lose the Senate and possibly quite badly.
The number of states which are safe, Republican states like Iowa, for example, now appear to be coming into play. And from what reports that I've read, it suggests the GOP leadership is putting pressure on the Trump administration to take this a lot more seriously, handle it better.
And effectively he's got until about Labor Day to save the day. But he's sinking in the polls. He's behind in key states which he won in 2016 like Florida, for example and battleground states as well and also nationally.
And he also appears to hit a low of 17 percent loyalty approval among his GOP voters as well. So there is a kind of massive shift going on, which is sort of taking the rug from under his feet. And the GOP leadership is keeping a good eye on this now.
And they're even casting around for other candidates in future elections as well. So I think they're losing a little bit of confidence and giving him a deadline to get it right by Labor Day or you're done. So the mask wearing may be a signal of a change of strategy.
ALLEN: Perhaps. We'll wait and see.
You recently co-wrote an article stating that mismanagement of the COVID crisis on behalf of the president, coupled with racial upheaval we have seen over police brutality and the president's response to that, have contributed to a terrible but perfect political storm.
Can you elaborate?
PARMAR: Yes, any storm of this character will take me a long time in the making. So President Trump, if you like, is the person in charge. He's responsible and he's got to take responsibility for a large amount of the outcomes.
But if you like, a long-term shift has been occurring. And the Floyd killing has taken away the kind of support for the police and his ideas about white nationalism and minorities are the problem and so on.
That has brought that home, that's taken the rug from under his feet. The pandemic hit minorities and workers very, very hard, much harder than most other people, that's taken a big hit on that front, too.
But also it's hit the economy, which is a second area he was going to give America back to the ordinary people, his people, and he's going to kind of strengthen the economy. That -- those two things together have actually removed the ground from under his feet and he's lost his two main kind of planks that he stood for.
I think he's, therefore, floundering. The majority of public opinion in America thinks race and racism and police brutality are major problems. And the economy is in a terrible situation.
And I think those two things combined have made the current position of President Trump rather desperate. It is a terrible but kind of perfect storm, too.
ALLEN: Inderjeet Parmar, thank you for your time.
PARMAR: Thank you.
ALLEN: There are some dark days ahead for the Sunshine State. Next here, what newly released figures show about COVID-19 and hospitals in Florida.
Also, Arizona's coronavirus cases are on an upward spiral, so why are tourists still willing to go there for a vacation?
ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. This is CNN NEWSROOM. Let's get you the latest on COVID-19 news here.
U.S. president Donald Trump finally wore a face mask on Saturday as he visited wounded troops at Walter Reed Military Hospital near Washington. This comes after he's refused for months to wear a mask in public.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States now accounts for more than a quarter of the world's 12.7 million plus cases. South Carolina, Texas and here in Georgia all reporting their highest numbers of daily new cases yet. CNN's Randi Kaye has this look at the crisis in Florida.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in the state of Florida, we are getting word that the numbers just keep going, up more than 10,360 new cases in the last 24 hours and 95 deaths in the last 24 hours here in the state of Florida.
We also know finally the number of hospitalizations here in Florida. Reporters have been pressing the governor's office for weeks to release those numbers of those who have COVID-19 and are in the hospital.
We now know more than 7,200 people are hospitalized with COVID here in Florida; more than 560 of them are in Orange County, where Orlando is, where Disney World, and more than 1,600 in the hardhit Miami-Dade.
And the news just keeps getting worse for Miami-Dade County in southern Florida, that is the hardest hit county. We are getting word today that 44 county bus drivers have tested positive for the coronavirus. One of them has died. It's unclear if that driver was symptomatic or what route that driver had taken. The others are quarantining at home.
The numbers just continue to jump, since the state reopened on May 4th. We have seen more than a 1,200 percent increase in the average number of daily new cases here in the state. Back on May 4th the average number was about 680; now it's more than 9,000.
But the governor did say he was going to get more self swab testing in place to try and get faster results. He said that would be about 36 to 72 hours instead of several days that it's taking now -- I'm Randi Kaye on Singer Island, Florida, back to you.
ALLEN: Randi mentioned Disney World, it has begun to reopen despite surging infections in the state. Saturday, fans were able to visit the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are set to open their doors Wednesday.
Everyone had to get their temperature checked and face masks are required to enter. Not everything went smoothly. CNN spoke with a theme park journalist who was there, she says she became uncomfortable on a crowded walkway, so she left. But she says Disney has done some things right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every procedure they have laid out, for the most part, worked extremely well. It is everything in between that. Once you start putting a group of people in the parks, those issues start popping up.
Like what I saw today and a few other things. It's just when, there are lines, people stand in them and it is working incredibly well. It has worked at Universal in Orlando. But if there is a line you don't expect like today and there are not those lines, we don't know what to do because all of us have not been in this situation.
The employees, the guests, everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Almost all performances have been suspended at the parks for now and character meet and greets are also on hold.
Arizona's healthcare system is buckling under the pressure of its coronavirus surge. Health department officials report more than 3,000 new cases on Saturday. The state has fewer than 1,000 in patient hospital beds available and more than half of its ventilators have been used this entire week.
For a month, Arizona has led the nation with the highest seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people. The state is having to shut back down some of its reopenings.
So why are tourists still flocking to the Grand Canyon State?
Evan McMorris-Santoro went there to find out.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the Grand Canyon, nearly a mile deep and 8 to 10 miles wide, depending on where you're standing. Should be a place where it should be easy to social distance.
But it's also the south rim of the Grand Canyon, one of the most important tourist destinations in Arizona -- hotels, gift, shops gathering places, other places that officials are worried the pandemic could spread.
There are new rules here about masks and socially distancing that they're hoping will help to keep things controlled.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Vacationers say it's worth the risk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Basically because it's the safest thing to do right now with COVID-19. You can still enjoy a good vacation. You are out with family, friends, still outside, a great view, good times.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: What's it like to go on a vacation in the middle of this?
You are coming from one hot spot to another one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Basically everything is different. Normally on vacations you are looking for the ability to go out, sit down, eat. Now it's kind of getting everything and bringing it back to your rooms. And you have to wear a mask and you wear it in this heat, that can be difficult.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Let me ask you about that mask thing, yours is pretty direct, you read this, you're too close?
I walk around here I see some people not wearing them.
What do you say about that?
What do you think about what you're seeing in terms of people doing the mask requirement?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To each his own. I personally believe we have to think beyond ourselves. I'm not just wearing a mask for myself, I'm wearing a mask for the next person. And I don't want them to take anything back to their house and infect their family.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The story in Arizona remains one of the governor, who wants to keep things open versus local elected officials in the largest cities, wanting to keep things closed.
Last week the governor kept the indoor dining capacity at 50 percent, which he said was enough to curb the pandemic. Local officials said they want more -- Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, the Grand Canyon.
ALLEN: Up next here, it is not as loud as a bomb or as visible as a rifle but coronavirus now threatens wartorn Syria with even more deaths.
Also, Serbia's response to COVID-19 is triggering violence protests. We'll have the latest on the unrest there.
ALLEN: With more than 3 million coronavirus cases, Latin American and Caribbean countries are now a major epicenter. Colombia reported a record of almost 7,000 new cases Friday, more than 200 deaths as well. It is the fifth hardest hit country in Latin America.
And in Brazil, the health ministry reported more than 1,000 deaths Saturday, bringing the country's death toll to more than 71,000. More than 39,000 new cases also were reported, bringing the nation's total to almost 2 million. Brazil has the second highest number of cases in the world behind the United States.
Serbia has its own problems battling coronavirus and people are angry about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN (voice-over): Things were calmer Saturday but violent protests rocked the capital Belgrade on Friday. There were dozens of arrests and at least one stabbing as protesters squared off with riot police.
The unrest began over anger at the government's handling of the pandemic but demonstrations have evolved now into wider dissent over the rule of the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: CNN's Milena Veselinovic is tracking this story from London to tell us more about what's behind this and what is the latest from Saturday riots.
MILENA VESELINOVIC, CNN PRODUCER: Good morning, Natalie. As you said, things were calmer on Saturday with around 1,000 people gathered around the parliament in Belgrade and in other cities across Serbia.
The protests initially started on Tuesday, when president Aleksandar Vucic announced a curfew to try to combat a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases in the country. But after two nights of rioting and a lot of tear gas, the government was forced to scrap that plan.
However, the protests continued, really evolving into a wider discontent with the leadership of President Vucic. What many protesters allege the reason why the virus is surging now is because he lifted restrictions too soon in early May in order to facilitate a parliamentary election, the first national vote in Europe during the pandemic and the party of President Vucic won while most of the opposition boycotted the vote.
Serbia went overnight from a strict lockdown and daily curfews to bars and night clubs working at full capacity, thousands of spectators at soccer matches and at political rallies. The president denies he did anything wrong, he denies these allegations and he's saying the reason why he lifted lockdown was because, at the time, the virus situation in Serbia was favorable.
He's blamed his political opponents and as well something that he called foreign agencies for staging these protests. However, the situation with coronavirus in Serbia is actually getting increasingly dramatic. Health authorities are saying the system is about to collapse. It is about to burst.
There aren't any spaces in hospitals left, for example, in the capital, Belgrade. The health minister has appealed for these protests to stop because they say -- he says it will make the situation even worse.
But what protesters are asking is, why those warnings weren't given when thousands of people attended campaign rallies in the run-up to the election. Natalie.
ALLEN: All right, thank you. We'll be watching this for sure. Milena Veselinovic, thanks.
There are at least three confirmed coronavirus cases in Idlib, Syria. The province is the country's last rebel stronghold. And for years it faced civil war, trauma and enormous upheaval. Arwa Damon shows us how people are there dealing with a new, largely invisible threat now.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How do you explain to a population that has lived through bombs and airstrikes, that has been forced to flee multiple times and seen children die of the cold, that now there is another potential killer, an invisible enemy and that their best line of defense is self- isolation or social distancing and handwashing.
Fatima doesn't even have running water when she has water at all.
"The tanker didn't arrive yesterday, so look, this, is all we have left, it is nearly empty," she says.
Soap is expensive. She washes the kids' hands as much as she can with the little they have. She can't go to the store and stock up. Like all other displaced and living like this, she relies on food distribution. Fear has a different flavor in opposition held Syria than for most of the rest of the world.
"We fled from the bombing and the shelling, everything, what now?"
DAMON (voice-over): "Are we going to be afraid of this?" Fatima asks.
And that is part of the problem. This is a population that is already resigned to death.
But really what can they do?
Even before COVID-19 illness and disease ran rampant through the camps and the displaced communities, crammed into any space they could find. There is an effort to try to sanitize some areas but the resources aren't there. By Skype, we got in touch with the Idlib health director.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think that the number of people will die in this area will be more than 100,000.
DAMON (voice-over): He fears a coronavirus tsunami. This is the Utma camp, a massive sprawling city in its own right. There is nothing to stop a rampant spread in living conditions like, this. The medical infrastructure has been decimated by years of war that saw hospitals and clinics deliberately targeted.
First world countries are struggling to handle COVID-19 but what they have is a luxury compared to what is, here. There are 600 doctors in Syria's last rebel-held enclave, less than 200 intensive care beds and around 100 ventilators for a population of more than 4 million. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After corona the suffering in this area we continue
to see people do what they have to do to stop this catastrophe.
DAMON (voice-over): For nine years the international community abandoned Syria to the ravages of war with hospitals already overcrowded, doctors killed and forced to flee, aid slow to come, what can really protect this population from the ravages of COVID-19? -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.
ALLEN: India has reported its fourth consecutive single day record for new COVID cases. The country just posting more than 28,000 new cases. You can see on this graph the sharp rise in the numbers this past month. And it climbed so fast in India's high tech hub in the south that authorities there have just ordered a week long lockdown.
India has the world's third highest case count, behind only the United States and Brazil. It has recorded almost 850,000 cases and more than 22,000 deaths.
And Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan is listed in stable condition now, hours after being hospitalized with coronavirus. The hospital says he has mild symptoms. Both he and his son were admitted late Saturday after testing positive.
He took to Twitter to break the news to his legions of fans and also pleaded with anybody who has been near him in the past few days to get tested.
Voters in Poland are casting ballots now in a runoff race for president. Next, why observers say this could be the country's most consequential election in decades with the message it might send to the rest of Europe. CNN is live in Warsaw. Coming up.
ALLEN (voice-over): Bosnians here marking the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre with prayer, tears and fresh burials. The genocide that happened there is considered Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.
It was during the Bosnian war in July 1995 that Bosnian Serb forces murdered more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica. Nine newly identified victims were buried at the site on Saturday. But some 1,000 others remain missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Voters in Poland are casting ballots right now in a runoff race for president in what could be the country's most consequential election in decades. The populist president faces a challenge from the more liberal mayor of Warsaw. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is at a polling station in Warsaw for us.
The question is, which way will the country go in this much watched election?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is a very much watched election, very important election. We have been here for the past couple of days. When you speak to folks here in Poland, you see they're very much aware of how important this election is going to be.
Also for the future of this country in Europe and indeed in the world. And, of course, at the same time, it is an election being held under these pandemic conditions. You can see I'm wearing a mask. You can see that the folks -- the volunteers here, who by the way, we have been here for the past couple of hours, have been absolutely professional at doing their jobs under these very difficult circumstances.
Of course, with the coronavirus pandemic, not just here in Poland but ravaging around Europe and around the world. So you do have those conditions where people need to socially distance, they need to wear masks and at the same time they need to be able to pull off an election.
And this is one polling station in Poland, there is 27,000 of these. You can imagine what a difficult logistical enterprise this is. People come here, they get their ballot, they go over here, to actually put the X on their ballot.
Very simple, it only has two names on it, Andrzej Duda and his liberal opponent and they cast their ballot. And it is one as we have been saying that is extremely important to a lot of people here. And extremely important to the course of this country that is also such an important player now in Europe and in the world as well, Natalie.
Can you speak more to that, Fred, how important this election is and the impact that it could have on Europe?
PLEITGEN: Yes, I think there is going to be a lot of leaders in Europe and around the world watching what is going on here very closely to see what direction Poland goes into, especially if you look at the European Union.
Poland's economy has been growing a great deal. Poland has become a lot more powerful politically as well within the European Union. Many will wait and see what direction this country is going to go into, depending which president it has.
PLEITGEN: Then there's something we have been talking about for the past decade or so, this country has also become a more and more important key ally of the United States here in Europe, probably the most loyal and most important ally of the United States right now.
We saw that just a couple of weeks ago when we had President Trump invite Duda to the White House, the first foreign head of state to be invited since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. So this is a country with importance, has grown a great deal over the past decade and especially over the past 10 years or so and continues to grow.
That's one of the reasons why I think European leaders will watch closely what happens here and world leaders as well.
ALLEN: We'll wait and see. We appreciate your reporting on this, very interesting. CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Warsaw for us, thanks.
For past three hours I've been mainly giving very bleak news about the coronavirus. So here is a good one for you.
Thanks to social distancing, a New York institution is doing something it has never done before in its, get this, 132-year history: offering customers outdoor seating.
We're talking about Katz's legendary deli, featured in movies and famous for its generous pastrami sandwiches and aisles of indoor seating. But now to comply with health guidelines, the tables are outside.
The owner says they have been able to keep all the staff employed, despite the virus. And be sure to have a sour pickle with that sandwich when you go to Katz's. They're open for business. Good to see.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. Follow me on Instagram or Twitter. I'm Natalie Allen. "NEW DAY" is next.