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Moderna Keeps Its Fingers Crossed for Phase Three Trial; Healthcare Workers Trying to Stay Afloat in Overloaded Hospitals; Spain Remembers 28,000 Souls Taken by COVID-19; Attacks on Dr. Fauci Boomerangs to His Critics; China Pissed with Gangster-like Moves by U.S.; Twitter Accounts of High-Profile People Was Compromised; Centuries Old Statue Replaced with BLM Protester. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.

Just ahead. Hospitals across the U.S. are running out of space for COVID-19 patients as the pandemic worsens and some state leaders take it upon themselves to mandate masks.

A state ceremony in Spain to honor the more than 28,000 people there who have died from the virus.

And a major security lapse at Twitter after prominent Twitter accounts were hacked in a bitcoin scam.

Good to have you with us.

Well, U.S. health experts warned this would happen and now it has. American hospitals are on verge of overrun with COVID-19 patients.

In the weeks since many governors rushed to reopen the virus has exploded in all but a handful of states. Well over half a million Americans have been infected since July 4th.

Florida now has more confirmed cases than the U.K. with 300,000.

More than 50 hospitals in the state say they are out of beds, and yet some famous theme parks plan to reopen. Texas is another state in crisis, nearly 11,000 new cases on Wednesday. A local hotel in the border town of Laredo will be turned into a COVID hospital as medical facilities there reached capacity.

And face masks now becoming more common across the United States. Alabama and Montana on Wednesday joined three dozen other states in requiring face coverings in public.

And we begin our coverage in California, which set records on Wednesday for hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

CNN's Nick Watt is in Los Angeles.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Los Angeles, we have been told that they returned to stay at home is now a possibility, that we are in an alarming and dangerous phase of this pandemic.

Now, California still is having issues with testing. We are here at Dodgers Stadium, booked solid two days and the state is now saying that if you are asymptomatic but really have a fear that you might be currently infected, you can't get a test right now because they are trying to speed up the time between test and results, they want to get it within 48 hours. And until they do, if you are asymptomatic but think you might have it, you cannot get a test here in California.

Now the rose parade, the world-famous rose parade held in Pasadena every New Year's Day will not be held New Year's Day 2021, only the fourth time in its 132-year history that it will not happen.

CHURCH: A promising vaccine for the coronavirus is about to begin a phase three trial with 30,000 test subjects. Drug maker Moderna says an early and limited trial with 45 patients resulted in everyone developing antibodies without harmful side effects.

Now those results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the company's chief medical officer spoke with CNN about what happens next.


TAL ZAKS, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, MODERNA: We believe that the chances of this working are pretty good. And the reasons are that the ability to neutralizing antibodies to mediate the right immune response I think has been demonstrated for other similar viruses and in pre- clinical models.

We've shown now that this vaccine can induce levels of those antibodies and the levels that can even exceed what you see with natural infection, and so, on balance, we are both cautiously optimistic but fully dedicated to seeing this through.



CHURCH: Moderna's phase three clinical trial is set to get underway later this month, if successful, the company believes it can have a vaccine ready by early next year.

Joining me now is Dr. Mark Supino, an emergency medicine physician at Jackson health system in Florida. Thank you, doctor, for being with us and for all that you do.


CHURCH: So intensive care units in 54 Florida hospitals are now full, the whole of Miami-Dade County has run out of ICU beds. So, 26 patients will now have to be moved to converted ICU's and ventilator use is up 92 percent. It is a COVID hotspots, and you are working on the front line there in Miami, what is happening in your hospital? What are you seeing?

SUPINO: We are full. I don't have many other words to describe the situation. We are wall-to-wall filled with patients. We have a lot of COVID patients of course. We have a lot of patients who come in with other illnesses and in some of those patients with other illnesses, we discovered that they have COVID as well. They just happen to be asymptomatic carriers.

Because of the hospital being full, a lot of those patients do stay in the emergency department, waiting for beds and that does include patients that are waiting for ICU beds as well.

CHURCH: And how worried are you -- are you where this is going?

SUPINO: You know if there's anything that we've learned in 2020 it's that it's difficult to predict, and so I think my immediate thoughts are day to day, and just to not necessarily know what to expect when we walk into the hospital on a daily basis.

And when I think about what to expect, it's really a great unknown. I think right now we are just trying to keep our heads above water. And it's either sink or swim, and we are all trying to swim. And we are really unsure about what to expect in the next few weeks to months.

CHURCH: And doctor, Moderna's chief medical officer was on CNN earlier and he talked about the published evidence of antibodies in all 45 participants in phase one trials of the biotech company's vaccine and he said the stage three human trials will get underway this month, they don't yet know how long those antibodies will last, but how much hope does this give you?

SUPINO: Incredible amount of hope. I think that that's been kind of what we've all been looking forward to and not knowing when that vaccine will be available, so having read about that myself, I feel extremely hopeful.

I'm hoping that even if we can get a vaccine that gets us through the next six months or 6 to 12 months, kind of similar to a flu vaccine, that that gets us over this hump, that gets us through this terrible period we are enduring. And it gives us sort of a new future to look towards, and really makes me feel that I really feel hopeful, I really do feel hopeful.

CHURCH: Doctor, I did want to ask you this too, because we learned Wednesday that hospital data will now be sent directly to the Trump administration instead of the CDC. What's your reaction to that decision to divert COVID-19 hospital numbers to Washington?

SUPINO: Yes, I read that myself. I'm a little unclear as to what that means, what's the intention behind that is. I think in the face of something like this it's really important for us to know numbers, and to know how many people are sick, how people are getting sick and how many people have recovered.

Whatever method is available to have those numbers available to those of us who are on the front lines, to the people behind the scenes, to the people working towards these solutions, those numbers matter, and those numbers are important.

I can't really speak towards the thought process behind the information we learned today, I'm just hopeful that we continue to think of this as an everyone issues, and we all continue to be in this together.

CHURCH: Dr. Supino, thank you for talking with us and again for everything you do. I appreciate it.

SUPINO: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: America's leading expert on infectious disease is pushing back against White House officials after multiple efforts to discredit him. The latest attack on Dr. Anthony Fauci is from Peter Navarro, the president's top trade adviser.

In an opinion article Navarro claims Fauci has been wrong about everything during this pandemic and here is Fauci's response.



ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It is a bit bizarre. I don't really fully understand it. I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that. But I mean, I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do because it's only reflecting negatively on them. I can't explain Peter Navarro. He's in a world by himself. So, I don't even want to go there.


CHURCH: CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more on the attacks against Dr. Fauci.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was just an extraordinary day yesterday, where we saw Dr. Anthony Fauci pushing back on what has been now several days of criticism from the administration that he is working with to deal with this pandemic.

And Dr. Fauci calling it nonsense, saying that people need to stop focusing on what's going on there and start focusing on what is happening with the pandemic and how this White House is going to respond to these emerging hotspots and rising infections that we're seeing around the country.

And he said something pretty frightening saying it had been a bizarre few days where not only he went through that op-ed from the president's top trade adviser attacking him, but also, that anonymous memo from the White House press shop criticizing him. And Fauci said he believes the White House realized it was a mistake,

that it was having a negative response, negative effect on them, and not being portrayed in a good light.

And it came as the president himself was distancing himself from what Peter Navarro said, saying that Peter Navarro made that statement on his own, that it was not clear through the White House typical process, that it goes on when you publish an op-ed and the president saying he did not agree with what Navarro said.

Now that comes as the president is insisting his relationship with Dr. Fauci is fine, though we know they have not spoken in about six weeks.

But what seems to be a pretty pointed remark from the vice president's office was that after that coronavirus task force meeting happened yesterday, the vice president posted this photo of Fauci having a prominent seat at the table and clearly speaking up during that meeting.

So, it's really to be determined where it goes from here, but it does seem that Fauci is trying to tamp down the drama and the tension of what's going on.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tells CNN Brazil he has again tested positive for COVID-19. The president though says he is feeling well and anxious to get back to work.

Mr. Bolsonaro continues to take the controversial antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, he posted a video to Facebook about his experience with the drug, but he acknowledges there is no scientific evidence that proves it's effective in treating COVID-19.

Well this hour, Spain is honoring the more than 28,000 people who have died from COVID-19 in that country. King Felipe is leading this public remembrance ceremony in Madrid, and many high-level European and World Health Organization officials are in attendance.

Journalist Al Goodman joins me now live from Madrid. So, Al, you are there at the ceremony. That's honoring the coronavirus victims in the country, what is the latest from there?

AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: Hi, Rosemary. This state ceremony is not a funeral, officials say, it is to honor the more than 28,000 Spaniards who died from the coronavirus, and also to honor the doctors, nurses, police officers and other essential workers who carried on during the pandemic to keep the country going.

So, of the 400 people who are the invited guests here, about a fourth of them are people who lost relatives to coronavirus. And we are about to -- we've just heard from the man who lost his brother, a journalist to the coronavirus, and we are soon to hear from a frontline nurse who works at a major hospital in Barcelona.

Then this flame here in the center, the officials accompanied by one of these frontline workers or the family member who lost someone, will lay roses. So, this is a ceremony that's designed to send a message to the Spaniards the officials say. With the presence as you say of the top leadership of the European Union, including the president, Ursula von der Leyen, the director general of the WHO.

So, a lot of, a lot of attention this day, trying to keep the focus that the pandemic is still on, this is where the country is.

Now, the people are socially distance down there. The seats are five feet or one and a half meters apart, everybody wearing masks. I've taken mine off because up here at the Royal Palace we're up on a high perch overlooking.

But there are problems in other parts of the country like in the island of Majorca in the Mediterranean where authorities have cracked down on a series of bars that mainly younger British tourist go to, saying that there was no social distancing, masks were not being worn by the tourist, not by the bar operators, insisting on that. So, they've shut that whole thing down.

There are things like this going on across the country trying to take precautions to make sure Spain doesn't get into another big problem with the pandemic. Rosemary?


CHURCH: Yes. We cannot let our guard down. Al Goodman, joining us there from that ceremony honoring the victims of coronavirus there in Madrid. Many thanks.

Well, still to come, two superpowers not seeing eye to eye. The U.S. is lashing out at China's tech companies, and Beijing is accusing Washington of gangster behavior.

And one of the biggest security attacks in the history of Twitter. More on the hack that took control of some of the platforms most popular accounts. That's when we come back.


CHURCH: Welcome, back everyone.

Well, the U.S. State Department is taking a new swipe at Chinese tech companies. America's top diplomat Mike Pompeo announced visa restrictions on employees of some Chinese tech companies including Huawei. He said the company's provide material support to regimes that violate human rights. It's unclear how many employees would be affected.

This comes a day after the U.K. announced it's banning Huawei from its 5G networks. Earlier, the chief security officer for Huawei USA told our Richard Quest he wants the U.S. and China to fix the tensions behind the crackdown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDY PURDY, CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, HUAWEI USA: I certainly don't think there should be any escalation. I don't think there should be any retaliation by the China government. I think escalation in these situations is a huge mistake.


CHURCH: Well, the Chinese foreign ministry is not happy about a new U.S. law that would punish China for its actions in Hong Kong. Beijing summoned the U.S. ambassador, and now its top office in Hong Kong is accusing the U.S. of gangster logic and bullying behavior.

Kristie Lu Stout is following this from Hong Kong. She joins us now live. Good to see you, Kristie. So where does all this leave China- U.S. relations?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another new low, or diplomatic fallout in the back of Donald Trump's latest moves signing the Hong Kong Autonomy Act into law which places sanctions on companies and individuals being responsible for eroding Hong Kong's autonomy, as well as signing that executive order which erodes and takes away Hong Kong's special trading status.

As you mentioned moments ago, ministry of foreign affairs in China has summoned the U.S. ambassador to talk about what's going on. We also received a strongly worded statement from Hong Kong government saying that they firmly oppose these measures. And of course, a statement from the Hong Kong liaison office as Beijing's top body in the territory accusing the United States of using gangster logic and bullying.

And on top of that, this additional pushback from the Chinese spokeswoman of the ministry or foreign affairs, Hua Chunying. Take a listen to her pointed words directed squarely at America.



HUA CHUNYING, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): The United States should think carefully about its policies, but speaking about sanctions, China is not afraid. If United States wants to stir up trouble then let the storm rage with the greater force.


LU STOUT: Now Donald Trump's actions will also a deep economic impact on Hong Kong, China, and even the United States itself. By signing that executive order effectively ending Hong Kong's special trade status in the eyes of the United States it jeopardizes tens of billions of dollars worth of trade between Hong Kong and the United States.

It also causes major headaches and uncertainties for the over 1,300 American companies who operates here, and it also dissuade people from investing here, effectively tarnishing their international financial reputation of Hong Kong. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Kristie Lu Stout, many thanks. I appreciate that.

Well, U.S. President Donald Trump has shaken up his reelection campaign staff as he struggles in the polls. Bill Stepien has been named as the new campaign manager. Mr. Trump was demoted Brad Parscale, he played a crucial role in the 2016 campaign, but last month, Parscale took heat when the president's rally in Oklahoma drew a lower than expected crowd. He will now serve as senior adviser.

The announcement comes as presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden widen his lead over the president to 15 points in a new national poll.

Well, Twitter is blaming the takeover of multiple high-profile accounts on Wednesday on what it calls a coordinated social engineering attack. Accounts belong to Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, and others were involved in the hack, promoting a cryptocurrency scam.

And CNN's John Defterios joins me now from Abu Dhabi with more. Good to see you, John. So, it is the biggest hack against Twitter in its 14-year history. What sort of access to accounts are we talking about here?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, this was surprising, Rosemary, both in the level of sophistication and the scale of it, right? In terms of the number of the people it did hit. It's basically penetrated the security fortress of Twitter.

The company said that the hackers targeted key employees who had access to their internal tools, and I think the best analogy is almost like getting the bank combination to the volt and kind of marching right in. That's what happened here.

To bring up the names of those that were hacked yet again, from Joe Biden to Jeff Bezos, it's a common theme here, the mostly progressive political and business leaders.

The cryptocurrency followers and this was a lot of displays here of actions on behalf of cryptocurrencies because there's $100,000 taken before these accounts were shut down. They don't like an incursion on their privacy, they don't like regulation, they like freedom, they don't like central banks, or like the U.S. Treasury Department putting rules on top of them.

So, we'll have to see how this plays out in that essence. Twitter suggested that this was not their first hack, but it was the most severe one. And Jack Dorsey basically said, at the end of the day, on Twitter, it's a tough day for us at Twitter, we all feel terrible what happened.

Now two intelligence sources told CNN this could be done by a nation state, or actors on behalf of the nation state. This is kind of no man's land for Twitter right now, and the public is expecting more.

I mean, this was $100,000 act on behalf of cryptocurrencies. Most people don't load up any financial information on Twitter, but the breach is substantial, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, John Defterios, many thanks as always.

Well, someone has cut off the head of a statue of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes in Cape Town. A South African National Parks official says it was vandalized earlier this week. Rhodes, a businessman, and politician in the 19th century had exerted British control over Southern Africa.

Last month, protesters in England called for the removal of a Rhodes statue at Oxford University where he studied, and where the scholarship named after him is based.

Well, many controversial statues have been torn down around the world during the black lives matter protests. In England, the toppled statue of a slave trader had been secretly replaced with the sculpture of a black lives matter protester.

And CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins me live from Bristol where the new black lives matter sculpture had been installed. Salma, since it was secretly installed, it has now been removed by the council, but talk to us about the back story of all of this.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, Bristol is waking up to yet another surprise day. That column behind me is of course empty now. The statue that was there, statue of a black lives matter protester, it never had actually received permission from the authorities to be built up.


This was a guerrilla style act of defiance. The artist installed it under cover of darkness, and he told us he never meant for it to be permanent. What he wanted to do was to spark a conversation.

Now, the mayor has taken to Twitter on this, in a statement he said that the statue has been removed, it's been taken to a museum to either be donated or collected by the artist, and what will be on this column will be democratically decided by the people of Bristol. But that hasn't changed what this moment was for this city.

We were here yesterday speaking to people who were overjoyed and shocked, and excited to see that a slave trader was replaced with the image of a strong black woman. We asked John Reid why she took up to the statue. Her fist up in that in the air. Here's what she told me.


JEN REID, PROTESTER: When I climbed onto that statue, and I raise my fist, I raise my fist for all the slaves that died at the hands of Colston. I raise my fist for George Floyd, given them power, I raise my fist for every black person who's facing injustices.


ABDELAZIZ: Now, the artists Mark Quinn saw that image on social media of Jen, she had taken that picture shortly after protesters had torn what was here which was again that statue of Edward Colston, the 17th century slave trader. They pulled it down off this column, dragged it through the streets, threw it into the river.

That's when that picture was snapped, and that's what inspired Marc Quinn and Jen. But I don't think they are going to be upset about the statue being taken down because the conversation has already been started, Rosemary.

CHURCH: It certainly has, and we'll see what ends up being in its place. Perhaps they will return that statute they just took down. We shall see.

Salma Abdelaziz, many thanks for your report. I appreciate it.

And thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. The Global Energy Challenge, the new normal is up next. Then I'll be back with another hour of news. You're watching CNN. So, stay with us.