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CNN NEWSROOM

Soon Trump Speaks in Atlanta As Cases Spike in Georgia; Florida Reports 300,000+ Cases as Hospitals Struggle to Keep Up; Selma Schools Will Start Fall Online Classes As Cases Surge; Kansas State Resumes Football Workouts After Team Hit with Outbreak; CNN Views Police Bodycam Footage of George Floyd Arrest. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 15, 2020 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It limits the number of people who can gather in public places to 50, it also puts restrictions on businesses, assisted living facilities, and those who are the medically fragile community. The governor has said that he's going to take some kind of action. But we don't know what that is at this point. And if he doesn't, they will expire at midnight.

Now the President, again, expected to come and talk about infrastructure here in a state, Kate, that has been crippled by COVID- 19. One of the earliest ones to open up and has continued to struggle and increasingly struggle to the point where they have had to open an overflow hospital in the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta in the past couple of days in anticipation of these increase in hospitalizations.

But the President's going to talk about expediting the things for these highway projects at this point, that's all that we know he's going to address.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: All right. Diane, thank you.

As you've been talking, we've been watching live the President leaving Air Force One, speaking with local officials, some members of Congress there as well as you can notice, as Diane is talking about the mask -- the conversation over face coverings in Georgia. They are all wearing masks as you can see. The President once again not wearing a mask as he leaves Air Force One and off to the event he'll be heading shortly.

Let's turn to Florida though where the state is reporting over 300,000 confirmed cases overall and more than 4,400 deaths and most startling perhaps is that CNN has learned 54 hospitals in the state have run out of beds in their ICUs. CNN's Rosa Flores is in Miami as she has been for us. Rosa, what are you hearing there today?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, there's a lot of worry here in the city of Miami and in Miami-Dade County. The positivity rate here is 31 percent. Just process that for a moment. That is a third. The city of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez saying yesterday that he's getting pressure to shut down the city in the next week to two weeks and that they need to turn this around in the next week to four weeks.

Again, it's not just the positivity rate. Look at hospitalizations. The number of hospitalizations in Miami-Dade County up in the past 13 days by 56 percent. The number of ICU units up 65 percent, ventilators 92 percent. Jackson Health reporting an increase of 226 percent when it comes to the number of COVID-19 patients in the past month.

Now we learned from officials yesterday that this surge is, of course, being led by young people like they had said in the past. But now, Kate, what we're learning is that there is an uptick in the number of cases in individuals who are 65 and older.

Not just cases, but also hospitalizations. That is, of course, a sign that this is family transmission and the mayors that we talked to and have been talking to for months now have said that that is their worry. Young people going out and about in the community, not social distancing, not wearing masks and then going home and spreading the virus to their parents and their grandparents.

BOLDUAN: Rosa, thank you, thank you so much.

And as you could see, as we're talking about Florida, it is worth noting that CNN has invited Governor Ron DeSantis on our air multiple times, his office has declined all of those requests so far. He has been and will continue to be welcome on my show, on this show and others to answer many of these important questions that linger about Florida, it's response and where it goes from here to get control of this spread.

Up next for us, President Trump says keeping schools closed is a quote, terrible decision. We're going to talk to one school superintendent who just made that decision.

[15:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Alabama today is joining the growing list of states now requiring face coverings in public. The governor says the mandate will remain in effect through the end of this month.

Just as that state and every other is still struggling to figure out how and what to do with schools that are set to reopen in just weeks from now. President Trump continues to pound his message that there is no excuse in his mind to not have students back in classrooms, just listen to how he put it yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Los Angeles School District is the latest in one of the largest in the country to say they're not going back to school in the fall.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you tell parents and teachers who feel that it's unsafe to go back.

TRUMP: I would tell parents and teachers that you should find yourself a new person, whoever is in charge of that decision. Because it's a terrible decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: A terrible decision. My next guest has had to make what the President just called a terrible decision. Avis Williams is the Superintendent of Public Schools in Selma, Alabama, where the school board just voted last night that all classes will be online only to begin this school year.

Thank you so much for being here. I could only imagine how busy your day is at this moment. This move by the school board came on your recommendation. What were you seeing that forced to you make this call?

AVIS WILLIAMS, SUPERINTENDENT, SELMA, ALABAMA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Well, first of all, thank you, Kate, for having me. And you're absolutely right, it's a difficult call to make. But we use all available data including the CDC and our Alabama Department of Public Health and we also surveyed all of our families, as well as our teachers and staff.

[15:40:00]

Just to get an idea of their comfort level with returning to school and the vast majority of our teachers and staff were not comfortable with returning to school during the midst of this pandemic. And we also found that many of our families were also uncomfortable with sending their scholars to school under these conditions. And then in addition to that, our numbers have continued to rise with community spread over the last few weeks.

BOLDUAN: They're not students, they are scholars. I like that very much. I was actually struck by when you talk about the survey of the school community, the numbers that I saw was that 4 percent of the teachers said they were comfortable coming back and just 24 percent of parents felt the very same way.

With that kind of concern that is in your school system, how would you open schools even if you wanted to? I mean when you saw this survey, did it really leave you no choice?

WILLIAMS: Well, we grappled with a number of choices. And we looked at ways to bring our scholars back to school. Because, you know, in a perfect world we would have face-to-face instruction and especially for our youngest scholars and most vulnerable scholars where that interaction with the teacher is so important.

So, we looked at a number of different options and I met with my leadership team weekly, sometimes several times a week. And stayed in contact with them on a daily basis as we reviewed a number of data points and continued to research to determine how we will move forward with opening schools. Initially we even looked at the idea of our pre-K through third grade

scholars returning to school twice a week and everyone else starting out virtually and -- but as numbers continued to rise and I continued to listen to our teachers and our families we did decide to make the tough decision to make the start of our school year remote and virtual learning.

BOLDUAN: So, you are going to re-evaluate the situation after the first nine weeks. What are you looking for at that point? Is there one thing that's going to help you get to a place of when you'll know it is OK to reopen in any fashion?

WILLIAMS: Well, the most defining factor will be what the data say as it relates to the COVID-19 spread. If our numbers are starting to decrease and we feel like we're at a safer, healthier place within the community, then that will absolutely be a driving factor.

But in addition to that, we will continue to survey our families and survey our teachers and staff as well. I'm having a virtual chat and chew with all of our employees tomorrow and I'm very interested to hear what they have to say, and we also plan to do the same thing with our scholars as the next few weeks progress so that we can hear from them as well.

So, all of that intel will be used to make decisions. Right now, we're looking at beginning virtually and staying that way at least for that first quarter of the school year. And what happens after that will just depend on what the data say at that point.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, and every school district is grappling with their own challenges with this. With the number of children that don't have access to internet at home. The actual physical buildings that they have, what kind of social distancing they can pull off.

And because of that, and I know you don't speak for every school superintendent, but I want to hear your opinion very clearly because the President just said yesterday that the decision to close a school is a terrible decision. And anyone who makes that decision essentially, you should get a new person in charge and he's kind of talking about you would be that person in charge.

WILLIAMS: I would be that person.

BOLDUAN: What do you say to that?

WILLIAMS: Well, it's a difficult decision. And it's different for every community. And I applaud all of the superintendents out there who are grappling with this issue. But we have to make a decision that fit our community and for the Selma community, this was the right decision and it is the right course moving forward. So certainly, I don't agree with his statement and I empathize with all of the other superintendents and leaders who are having to make similar decisions.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for your leadership and coming on and your candor in this. I appreciate it. Good luck with the start of the school year.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We will check in with all of you and your scholars. I'm going to be using that at home now very much, thank you.

WILLIAMS: I love it. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Ahead for us, college football programs are getting ready for a fall season, but can it really happen? The athletic director at Kansas State University joins me next.

[15:45:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED ORGERON, HEAD FOOTBALL COACH, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY: We need football. Football is the lifeblood of our country in my opinion. It gets everything going, the economy going, the economy of Baton Rouge, the economy of the state of Louisiana. And, you know, these young men need this chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That was LSU's football coach at an event with the Vice President just yesterday.

And, yes, everyone wants college football back. But is it safe, and when will it be safe?

Look no further than Kansas State University to see how complicated this really is. The Kansas State football team brought back players for summer workouts, then had 14 players test positive for COVID, and then eventually had 29 test positive. The team had to shut down workouts last month and is now getting back to practice just this week.

Joining me right now is the man who is making these tough calls, Kansas State Athletic Director Gene Taylor. Thank you for being here. Talk to me about this decision. How do you know it's safe to bring these athletes back?

GENE TAYLOR, KANSAS STATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: OK, thanks for having me on. You know, it's a great question, and we have great support from our medical team, our doctors, our athletic trainers. And they've done a great job kind of setting the tone for us and setting the things that we needed to follow to be able to start.

[15:50:03]

And then they obviously were the ones that said, hey, this is something we need to consider shutting down for a while to get things back under control. So, we've got a great medical team. And when everybody came back, we retested. They felt comfortable that we could start the process over again.

BOLDUAN: How are the athletes that have tested positive doing? Are they ready to get back on the field?

TAYLOR: Yes, you know, they are. Of the 29, 27 are recovered and very few of them had any serious complications. The two that are positive are still isolated right now. And, you know, they're doing their voluntary workouts and some of the stuff and they're excited to be back.

And what's been interesting and really, I'm glad to see is every time they're coming in and out of the building, they're wearing masks and they're doing all the things. Their strength coaches are keeping them distanced while they are doing their workouts. And so far, it's going very, very well.

BOLDUAN: That's setting the tone from the top. So that's coming from you as well that they're following that mask-wearing.

You have said, and I thought this was interesting and candid that you said you know you can't keep these student athletes in a bubble. They have to go to their dorms. They will see their friends. Knowing how easily this virus spreads, how likely is it, Gene, that you're going to have to shut the program down again and other programs?

TAYLOR: Well, we certainly hope that doesn't happen. But obviously, you know, we're making plans for every scenario. Once we get into the season, you know, right now they're not having a lot of physical contact in practice, which they will here in a few weeks. And we want to make sure that we're doing everything we can in terms of testing weekly. And making sure those that are positive we contact trace and sit the ones that have had contact with the positive cases.

But, you know, again, we're just, you know, encouraging them on a regular basis. So, they're out in public to social distance, to wear their mask. When they go to class if they have classes in person, which there's going to be a combination of those, to wear their mask in class, when they're with their friends to social distance, and wear their masks.

So I think we're doing everything we can to keep them as safe as we can. And if there is a positive case, we're going to take care of it, isolate them and give them the chance to recover.

BOLDUAN: You can imagine if it means their season and their eligibility, you can be sure some of those players are going to be the safest people on campus probably coming up.

Gene Taylor, it's great to have you. Thanks for being here.

TAYLOR: Thanks for having me on, I appreciate it very much.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate it. Good luck with the season.

Ahead for us, new video of George Floyd's death. How this evidence is likely to impact the investigation now. That's next.

[15:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: For the first time since George Floyd was killed in police custody, CNN has gained access to view video from the police body cameras worn by the Minneapolis officers now charged in Floyd's death.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Minneapolis. Omar, you were able to view this body cam footage. What did you see?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it really gave you insight to the emotion behind the words that we have seen come out and the speed with which things escalated. Remember, this all began with calls to officers over a fake bill being used. While less than 40 seconds after finishing conversation with a store employee, one of the officers, Thomas Lane is literally -- has his gun drawn on George Floyd saying put your "f-ing" hands up after knocking on the window with his flashlight there.

After repeated asks to get out of the car, Floyd is actually seen literally sobbing with his head on the steering wheel at one point saying he's sorry, and adding --

Please don't shoot me, Mr. Officer. Please don't shoot me, man. Please, can you not shoot me, man.

Lane says -- Step out and face away, I'm not shooting. Step out and face away,

It's a little bit after that that Floyd is literally forcefully pulled from the vehicle, again, based on video we've reviewed. And the next big struggle happens across the street as they try to get Floyd into the squad car.

At one point literally Keung is trying to push Floyd in from one side while Lane has gone around the other with the door open and is trying to pull Floyd in there. Eventually Floyd falls into, as the other officers arrive, into a now infamously familiar position, notably under the knee of Derek Chauvin.

And minutes later Floyd, says.

Please, please, please.

Each please seemingly weaker based on the video we reviewed.

Thomas Lane says -- Should we roll him on his side?

Chauvin -- No, he's staying put where we got him.

Now Chauvin's attorney has declined to comment. But part of why we're seeing these transcripts and part of why we've been given the opportunity to review this body camera footage comes from the fact that the attorney for Thomas Lane filed the motion to dismiss the charges against his client, in part, arguing that his client, Lane, deferred to the senior officer on the scene, Chauvin.

And the reason the video hasn't been released publicly is the judge only agreed at this point for private viewing to members of the public. I should note that CNN and other outlets have filed a motion to further release and publicly release the video. But we haven't seen that communication yet, Kate.

BOLDUAN: So different, Omar, I'm sure from seeing a transcript and hearing and seeing the footage.

JIMENEZ: Of course. Of course, definitely. There were few things that were in the video that you couldn't even see in the transcript.

BOLDUAN: So thankful that you were there. Omar, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

Thank you all so much for joining us today. I'm Kate Bolduan.