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Civil Rights Legend Rep. John Lewis Dies At 80; Civil Rights Leader Rev. C.T. Vivian Dies At 95; Trump Silent On Rep. Lewis' Death As Tributes Pour In; Gov. DeSantis Gives Update On COVID-19 In Florida; Trump Rips Niece Mary Trump In First Comments About Her Book. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired July 18, 2020 - 12:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin this hour with the monumental losses of two civil rights icons, both gone within just 24 hours.

Long-time Congressman and freedom fighter John Lewis passed away overnight, just six months into his battle with stage IV pancreatic cancer. News of his passing came within hours after learning that Rev. C.T. Vivian also died. His daughter tells CNN he passed away of old age and natural causes. Both men are credited for their non-violent commitments to what Lewis described as a lifetime struggle in achieving equality.

President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have ordered flags at both the White House and the U.S. Capitol building to be lowered to half-staff. However we have yet to officially here from the President on the passing of the civil rights icon, John Lewis, a 17-term U.S. congressman.

Our correspondents are standing by with reaction to Lewis's death. Let's get started with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux in Rockville Maryland. Suzanne, this is an incredible loss for the country.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is Fred and when you think about it, I mean so many people of all walks of life you have former presidents, you have world leaders, you have a people who work with John Lewis and just complete strangers, people who didn't know but were so inspired by his lifetime of achievement and his courage and his fight for justice.

And it was just the past couple of weeks Fred that it was Congressman Lewis who called forward and made those phone calls to people who meant a lot to him, those members of the congressional black caucus, the staffers, those he spent a lifetime with and even just a new young people to try to inspire them to continue on and at the same time he was saying his goodbyes.

Fred, I have to show you these very special pictures. These pictures were taken, this is March 2 of this year at his Atlanta office, obtained by the National Bar Associations incoming President CK Hoffler and it shows what he was doing till the very end. What he was doing was planning with Reverend Jackson and Xernona Clayton, three power house civil rights icons to get together and to celebrate the National Bar Association in just a couple of weeks, an online affair.

And so you can see these two men, these two leaders, really leaning on each other, really planning for a future ahead and this was just typical Congressman John Lewis. Never stopping, never giving up, that was a time when he was going treatment back and forth from Washington to Atlanta eventually having to stop that treatment in just the last couple of weeks or so.

We heard from the Senior Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta who talked again about what it was like to be with him in those final days.


REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, PASTOR, EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH: I received a call several days ago from the family, asking that I make my way to the home and I was there at his bedside. I exchanged a few words with him, told him how much I loved him and he said I love you too brother, somehow mustered the strength to say that.

But I have to say that even in his weakness, there was a deep sense of resolve and strength, courage and dignity, the kind that we have come to associate with the likes of a John Lewis. We lost a true hero yesterday but work is left up to us.


MALVEAUX: And Fred, it was very surprising to cover the Washington DC protests, 'Black Lives Matter' protests and to see Congressman Lewis show up. He was there at the Black Lives Matter Plaza, those big letters in front of the White House with the DC mayor and the message was very, very clear here.

I mean 'Black Lives Matter' and the DC mayor have not always seen eye to eye in what those big symbols mean. They want to push for more action. Congressman Lewis also sharing one of his favorite stories, saying that he too had to compromise with the elders' civil rights leadership in that speech that he gave in the march on Washington but nevertheless that this was something that was important, that the fight for justice would continue. Fred.


WHITFIELD: Right and it really underscored I mean his mantra, just never give up and I just spoke with Rev. Jackson the last hour who - who right in step with your picture said, he had just seen him a couple weeks ago and they had a very special time together and now we see the pictures you know, that also help back up those words. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

Right and just in the past hour, President Trump has ordered flags at the White House and other federal buildings to fly at half-staff for the rest of today in honor of the passing of Congressman John Lewis but other than that proclamation, the President has been silent on the death of Lewis.

Kristen Holmes is at the White House for us so Kristen, what do we know about the President's schedule today? Any kind of plans, he is making to pay tribute in any way to Congressman Lewis and C. T. Vivian?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now President Trump is currently at his golf club in Virginia. He arrived at around 9:10 AM and the press pool spotted him there with Senator Graham. He was wearing his white polo and red hat. Of course the White House will not confirm he was golfing but it is a warm day and sunny day in DC.

Now the only thing that we have heard from the White House really officially is that proclamation. I want to point out one line of it. The only reference to the civil rights icon John Lewis and his public service entire life was dedicated to is just a sentence that says, "His memory and long standing public service of Rep. John Lewis of Georgia."

Essentially that's the reason that he is lowering the flags but that was it. Longstanding public service of Rep. John Lewis, nothing personal, no story anecdote and we don't know if there's something planned. We have reached out to the press office. We have not gotten any sort of formal statement. We did see that the Press Secretary tweeted something out. I want to pull it up for you because it's unclear whether or not this is supposed to be an official statement from the White House.

It says, "Rep. John Lewis was an icon of the civil rights movement and he leaves an enduring legacy that will never be forgotten. We hold his family in our prayers as we remember Rep. John Lewis' incredible contributions to our country."

And notably there Fredericka, there is no reference to President Trump or the White House at all. I do want to point out one quick thing which is that the two had at times a contentious relationship. We do know that Lewis boycotted the inauguration back in 2017, saying that he wasn't sure the President Trump was a legitimate President.

President Trump lashing out on Twitter as he often does but again, this is to mark the memory of someone we also know that Lewis boycotted George W. Bush's funeral- excuse me inauguration and we saw that beautiful statement from him as well.

So nothing here. We don't know if there are any plans to commemorate him or offer words of condolences.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kristen Holmes, keep us posted. Thank you so much. All right, for more now let's go to CNN congressional reporter Lauren Fox in Washington so Lauren, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are mourning the loss of Congressman John Lewis today.

I mean he was known to cross the aisle, really make friends, make plans with everyone about a better future for everyone.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, that's right Fredricka. You know he was in Congress for 33 years and that's three decades of really being the moral compass for an institution that's so often divided and I think the tributes that you see pouring out from not just the Democrats, members of his own party or his own leadership but also Republicans.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a statement immediately following the announcement last night. We also have this statement from Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, someone who has at times stood up against President Donald Trump when it comes to issues of racial justice.

What Romney said here is "With the passing of John Lewis, America has lost not only a man of history but a man of our season. O how we need such men of unwavering principle, unassailable character, penetrating purpose and heartfelt compassion."

Last night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also had a statement, saying that "he was a type of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation." And she has ordered the flag at the capitol to be flying half-staff for the next few days but of course, John Lewis never gave up on that activist spirit that he had.

He brought that with him to Capitol Hill. If you remember, back in 2016, Democrats were fighting to get a vote on gun legislation to prevent what he viewed as all these deaths that were happening around the country, he stood on the floor for hours and that was the kind of activist that he was, the kind of activism that he led on Capitol Hill. Fredricka.


WHITFIELD: One of a kind. All right, Lauren Fox, thank you so much. Former President Barack Obama weighed in on the passing of John Lewis saying such an exceptional and courageous figure would quote continue even in his passing to serve as a beacon.

I'm joined now by former President of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks as well as a former Head of the Congressional Black Caucus Congressman G.K. Butterfield.

Good to see both of you, gentlemen.


REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD (D-NC): Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Congressman, you first. What are your thoughts on the passing of a John Lewis after this six month battle with Stage IV pancreatic cancer.

BUTTERFIELD: Well, thank you Fredricka for bringing us on today to celebrate a wonderful human being. I want America to know that John Robert Lewis was the undisputed moral leader of our time and so we in the Congressional Black Caucus and the House Democratic Caucus mourn his passing but we know the world is better because he lived.

I had the privilege of talking and interacting with John Lewis almost every legislative day for the past 15 years and I knew the man, I knew him very well. I would walk with him from the capitol back to our offices. Never ever did he meet a stranger, never would he refuse to stop and take a selfie or picture with young people who were visiting the capitol. He would be courteous to their - to the custodial staff and the capitol police and all of those who work in support of our work in Washington.

He was a wonderful human being and we will miss him dearly. I recall so many things. One the stands out in my mind was during the debate on the Affordable Care Act. You may refer to it as Obamacare. The Tea Party had assembled outside of the capitol and we were advised by the capitol police and by Mr. Lewis' Chief of Staff that we should not exit the capitol but should go underground.

But it was John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver and Andre Carson and myself who made the determined decision to walk right through the crowd and as we did that, we did it boldly and we followed John Lewis right back to our offices. I missed all of the acrimony that was taking place. We will miss John Lewis. He meant so much to the Congress.

WHITFIELD: So Congressman, tell me about you know, Congressman Lewis' comfort level seemingly with anyone, everywhere, no matter what the circumstances, you just painted a beautiful picture there. You know from Capitol Hill to the White House, you know out on the street to I mean to be part of this comic book.

You know a few years ago with these young men and then actually go to Comic-Con you know, tell me about how his - just his adaptability and - and just the way he found comfort no matter where he was and engaged with people of all walks.

BUTTERFIELD: I'm not suggesting that he would casually and occasionally speak to people every day. It was his passion to walk up to people and introduce himself and to take pictures with them and so often on the visitors to the capitol were just in awe of the fact that John Lewis came up to them and introduced himself.

As we would walk through airports from time to time and I traveled with John overseas several times, wherever we would go, he would stop and say a kind word to everyone that he would meet. John would often talk about his passing.

I remember showing him a picture when they have all of the participants at the 1963 march on Washington and he just shook his head that day and said you know, I'm the only one who is still living but my day will come too. I remember that so very well.


BUTTERFIELD: I remember him telling me that African-American museum was his dream and that he could not leave this planet, could not leave the Congress without seeing the full realization of the African- American museum. WHITFIELD: Wow and - and that happened and just hearing you talk about

how just even in the airport, I wasn't going to tell a story but it now makes me remember. I was on the plane and I just heard this voice as I was trying to take my seat in coach and I heard this voice, hey Ms. Whitfield.

And I turned around and it was Congressman Lewis also flying in coach and he would say to me, you make us proud. And I would think to myself, this is from Congressman Lewis. I mean, I was at that moment thinking, wait a minute, I make you proud. I mean you are Congressman Lewis but then I remember that voice of my mom in my head saying, when any - whenever anyone gives you a compliment, you know you accept that compliment.

You know and be proud of that compliment but that was an example of just making someone else feel good. We hadn't met before that moment and he would take the time to do that and - and you know just give me the highest compliment I could ever you know enjoy from someone like him.

BUTTERFIELD: I remember one day he came to the House floor and said, can you believe, they're naming a submarine the U.S.S. John Lewis or an aircraft carrier, U.S.S. John Lewis.


He was so thankful that - that this carrier would be named after him and I would fuss with them from time to time about going to the west coast for the weekend to make two and three speeches and back in Washington on Monday but he was happy to do that.

WHITFIELD: Cornell, I see you nodding. You are full, I'm sure with so many you know anecdotes and stories and thoughts about Congressman Lewis. What - what are you anxious to share with us?

BROOKS: You know he meant so much to me as a civil rights lawyer and to so many. I recall as President and CEO of the NAACP standing right behind him as we symbolically crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge and thinking to myself, I will forever walk in his shadow and thinking about the fact that when we - trying to stand in his moral lineage and legacy, we march from Selma, Alabama to Washington DC.

A 1000 miles for voting rights and when we get to Washington who greets us but John Lewis who laid down his life for the right to vote and I think about the time, when I went back to my alma mater, Yale Law School, to give a speech. I wrap up the speech. I'm walking across the campus. I see this very familiar looking face, very friendly looking face of a black male calling at you.

And he says to me hey, do you know where the bookstore is? I want to get a T-shirt. And so I say hey, my name is Cornell. I'll walk you over. He said my name is John and then he added Lewis is though he had to distinguish himself.

WHITFIELD: From all the other Johns. BROOKS: From all the other Johns. Extraordinarily - extraordinarily

humble, kind and the thing I think about is as a professional leadership, is that John Lewis was a leader prodigy so when you think about him writing letter after letter to Dr. King as a high schooler.

WHITFIELD: Wait a minute, start again. 15 years old.

BROOKS: That's right. Leading demonstrations at 18. At 21, sit-ins. Speaking at the march on Washington at age 23 and as an elder statesman, standing on Black Lives Matter Plaza wearing a mask, carrying a cane in the middle of a pandemic, inspiring activists and demonstrators around the globe.

As my young son Hamilton said to me dad, he's a real one and he's the realest among the real ones meaning a stand-up, courageous, brave man who just inspired so many people still.

WHITFIELD: All of it. So true. Oh Cornell Brooks, Congressman Butterfield, thank you so much.

BROOKS: Thank you Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Really beautiful. Oh, he was about to say something. Congressman so sorry for that, it made me tear up. That was just so lovely. Thanks to all of you. We'll be back.




WHITFIELD: A new step in the fight against the coronavirus, the FDA just reissued an emergency use authorization to speed up testing in the U.S. The measure allows Quest Diagnostics to use pool samples with up to four swab specimens and it comes as the CDC predicts that by August 8, at least 157,000 Americans will have lost their lives to the disease.

That's another 18,000 deaths just three weeks from today. Meanwhile, states are fighting to slow the spread as hospitalization and death rates increase. Florida, Louisiana and Arizona now lead the nation in per capita Covid-19 cases. Let's go to Florida now. CNN's Rosa Flores in Miami, one of the state's biggest hot spots. Rosa, local leaders say they are running out of hospital beds.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, you're absolutely right. Here in Miami Dade County, ICUs are running at a 119 percent capacity. The goal for Miami-Dade is not to exceed 70 percent. The good news is that according to the county, they have more than 400 beds that they can start converting into ICU beds as needed.

Now here in Miami-Dade County. This county accounts for 24 percent of the nearly 340,000 cases and the positivity rate according to the county is 27 percent, just this week. An expert here comparing Miami- Dade to Wuhan, China just a few months ago. Despite all of those metrics, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez says he's not ready to impose more restrictions, he's not ready to shut down and he's going to be focusing in on hospitalizations and monitoring that number.

City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said that some of the restrictions that have been imposed are actually working, specifically he says that the mask the mandate is working. That's why he and city officials are ditching the warnings and now imposing fines, starting on Monday a $50 for the first offense. Take a listen.

I believe we don't have that sound bite but in essence the Mayor says and reiterates that he has evidence, the city has evidence that the mask mandate is working, the other things that he says that are working are the curfew that have been imposed by the county and also that curfew allows restaurants to shut down earlier which he says that at some point they were seeing that restaurants were turning to night clubs and that was the issue.

Too many people gathering together and then those young people without wearing masks, not social distancing, then going home and spreading the virus to their loved ones at home.


Now, just a few days ago Fred, Mayor Suarez said on air that he was days away from shutting down the city. Now he said that he's not there yet but if that does happen, that he would collaborate and work together with other cities in this county and with Miami-Dade County as well. Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Rosa Flores in Miami, thank you so much. Let's talk further. Let's bring in Dr. Vivek Murthy. He's a former Surgeon General under President Obama. Dr. Murthy, good to see you. So who are you most concerned about out there, who could potentially help spread this disease?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FMR SURGEON GENERAL: Well thank you very Fredricka. It's good to be with you today and you know right now given the extent of spread we're seeing around the country, I'm concerned about everybody being a source of spread. We have learned enough about Covid-19 in the last few months to know that you've got to know how much we don't know.

And what we've seen is that older people can be sources of spread. We know that people in middle age can be sources of spread and even though we think children are less likely to get infected and have symptoms, it's very likely that they are also sources of spread.

So we have to be cautious with everyone and that is why if we look at the trajectory of this epidemic, we have to recognize that things got better for a little while, earlier in the year but they've now gotten suddenly worse and we are approaching the number of hospitalizations in this country that we had back in April at the peak.

That is very, very concerning. That means even though we have more younger people who are getting sick, we are going to see more deaths and we've already seen over the last week an increase in over 200 deaths per day and sadly that will continue to go up.

What this means is we've got to be aggressive on pulling back on the measures that many states were taking to open back up. It's not enough to say we're going to pause reopening. We have to pull back. We've got to make use of masks mandatory and we've got to emphasize to people that we're in this for the long haul and this is going to get worse before it gets better. And we all have to take precautions to protect ourselves and our families.

WHITFIELD: Has it been your feeling that the reason why it seems to have gotten worse in so many states throughout the summer is simply because people let their guard down? They weren't honoring mask wearing. What do you believe is at the crux or is it simply reopening too early? What's at the crux of why this kind of resurgence has happened?

MURTHY: Well, when you look at the timeline, there there's one thing that's important to understand which is that there's a time lag here between when people actually start to go out and have more contact and when you see deaths increase and these are the intermediate steps.

People go out and they have more contact. Then sometime after that, you will see them develop symptoms, usually around five days or so after that and they'll go and get tested and you can take anywhere from three to four to five days for tests to come back.

Now almost a week or longer. Then after that at some point, ER visits and hospitalizations and ICU capacity will start to be impacted and then a week or two after that you'll see deaths rise. So from the point where people start engaging in more activities to the time when deaths rise could be a month and potentially a little bit more.

We did reopen too early. We had a failure of leadership in this country to speak clearly and consistently about the measures people needed to take, particularly around masks. And we had an effort to I think be deliberately - I think, inaccurate about the portrayal of this virus.

It was downplayed by many leaders to the great detriment of the public health response and even the guidelines from our agencies, from the CDC in particular were either watered down or were withheld.

All of that worked against us when it came to addressing this virus but it's not too late. It's not too late to do better and to put the right regulations in place for all of us to take steps in our lives and we see people stepping up all over the country. We just got to do that faster.

WHITFIELD: All right, we're going to leave it there. Dr. Vivek Murthy, thank you so much, appreciate it.

MURTHY: Thank you so much. Take care.

WHITFIELD: All right, tributes are pouring in for Congressman John Lewis. Coming up, we'll introduce you to a boy who traveled seven hours to meet Congressman Lewis and they shared a memorable moment, caught on camera.



REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): We were beaten. We were tear gassed. I thought I was going die on this bridge. But somehow in some way, God Almighty helped me here.

CROWD: Yes, yes, yes.


LEWIS: We cannot give up now.

CROWD: No, no.

LEWIS: We can I give in.

CROWD: No, no.

LEWIS: We must keep the faith.


LEWIS: Keep our eyes on the prize.


WHITFIELD: That was the late civil rights icon in Georgia, Congressman John Lewis speaking on the Edmund Pettus Bridge earlier this year in Selma, Alabama. And despite his battle with cancer, Lewis muster the energy to speak on the 55th anniversary of the bloody Sunday march where he and other protesters were tear gassed, attacked, and beaten in 1965.

With me now to talk more about the life and career of John Lewis, CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. And Dana, you know, someone who has covered Capitol Hill for such a long time, tell me about your interactions with the Congressman and how he lived up to that reputation as the conscience of Congress.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was very well aware of it. And that was true when it came to his service in Congress for all those years representing where you are in Atlanta, but also about his own personal history.

And he made it a point every year of bringing a bipartisan group of lawmakers of his colleagues to Selma, Alabama and other places in the south, on the civil rights pilgrimage. And Fred, a couple of years ago, I had the privilege of joining that pilgrimage. And the two of us talked on the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge about what happened to him. Listen to that.


BASH: You marched across this bridge in a peaceful protest, and you were met with the billy club on your skull. Do you have memory of that moment that you got beaten almost to death?

LEWIS: I remember so well the moment that I was beaten and left to further the bridge. I thought I was going to die. I thought I saw death. I thought it was the last march, 53 years later. I don't know how I made it back across this bridge.

But apparently, a group of individuals literally took me across the bridge, back to the church where we live from. But I do remember being back at a church and someone asked me to assess something to the audience. And I stood up and said something like, I don't understand it how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam and cannot send troops to Selma, Alabama, to protect people who only desires to register to vote.


WHITFIELD: Powerful recollection. And then Dana, you know, we finally just got a statement, this though from the Vice President, Mike Pence, not necessarily from the President of the United States. But in this statement, Mike Pence says, John Lewis will be remembered as a giant of the Civil Rights Movement whose selflessness and conviction rendered our nation into a more perfect union and his example will inspire generations of Americans.

But again, this is coming from the Vice President, not from the President, which one would think if it is going to come from the Vice President, it would be in addition to or following the President of the United States. What's going on here?

BASH: Well, first of all, Mike Pence was a member of Congress served with John Lewis. And my understanding is that the two had a good relationship at the time pre-Trump administration.

As for the President himself, the White House issued a proclamation, the flags are ordered in his honor, in his memory at half staff. But you're right, the President himself hasn't said anything. And the two of them had a -- to say testy is an understatement. That is their relationship.

If you remember, John Lewis was one of the first members of Congress to announce that he was going to boycott President Trump's inauguration. He didn't -- he said he was not a legitimate President. And that gave us sort of a green light to other members of Congress at the time to do the same.

Look, John Lewis had the power to forgive in a way that is almost hard to wrap your mind around, he forgave George Wallace. He forgave a man with the KKK, who beat him senseless and came to his office decades later to apologize. But he was also a very strategic politician. And he had -- there was no love lost between him and this President.

WHITFIELD: It's almost as if the Congressman always felt like, even if it were an adversary, there is a way in which to try to teach or help. But we didn't see or perhaps there aren't as many examples of what kind of effort there may have been as it pertains to this President.

BASH: Yes, you're right. I mean, look, he just might not have seen him as teachable. And that's very unfortunate. I mean, he also had a pretty rough relationship with George W. Bush, who we have seen a statement from today. He didn't think he was very legitimate after the Supreme Court decided that election either.

But one of the things, Fred, that has been so remarkable in people seeing now unfortunately, after the passing of John Lewis, but we got to see in so many ways through his life is his effect on young people. And when I was on that civil rights pilgrimage, we met a 10-year-old boy who's asked his grandmother to drive him seven hours from Tennessee to Selma in order to get the potential, have the potential to meet John Lewis. The two connected and I want you to see part of what happened then.






BASH: So you see their Tybre Faw, he traveled all that way. If you can see his face when he got to meet his hero, he was telling John Lewis that he read his books, one of the books about preaching to the chickens which John Lewis said he used to do. John Lewis, you see there, invited him to Washington to the Capitol.

But before that, he asked him to march. He marched with him right across that bridge, and made that boy's dreams come true. And he said, after visiting John Lewis, that he never even thought about the notion of being a public servant himself. This is a 10-year-old boy, except that John Lewis gave him that inspiration.

WHITFIELD: Right. And, you know --

BASH: If that doesn't make your heart melt --

WHITFIELD: Oh, it does.

BASH: And if you understand the effect that that, that this man had on people across races, across generations.


BASH: It was a wow moment.

WHITFIELD: Incredible. If you're underscoring --

BASH: -- including me. WHITFIELD: Yes, oh my gosh. I mean, underscoring, you know, how Congress Lewis sees potential and everyone at every age, I mean he was only 15 when he wrote a letter to Dr. King. And then look at what would happen.

I mean, Dr. King actually responded to him. And then he would be, you know, one of those disciples, one of those foot soldiers, so, boy, wow, what an inspiration on so many levels. Who knows where that young man is going to be just years from now.

Dana Bash, thank you so much for your memories, your moments with the Congressman and bringing us again his voice. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: We want to take you straight to St. Augustine, Florida where Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is talking. Let's listen.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Most of the ones I've spoken with have had positive results with the Remdesivir. And so when we got word that they were running low, we were able to get another shipment expedited that arrived last Saturday, which is very, very significant.

But then, you also had other hospitals saying this is good. But we're looking at we're going to need more before the next shipment is scheduled to arrive. So I worked with the White House, Vice President Pence, the White House Chief of Staff. And we are getting 30,000 more vials of Remdesivir sent to the state of Florida, actually sent directly to the hospitals from the Gilead distributor.

And those will be arriving within the next 48 to 72 hours. So there's 30,000 more vials and that's probably about 5 to 6,000 additional patients. And so we want to make sure that the physicians have what they need to be able to prescribe for their patients. And I think its shortened hospital stays. I think it's probably taken patients who may have ended up in the ICU, but for this, and it's probably had a positive effect on mortality as well.

So when there's options to be able to help, you know, we're going to move to do all we can to get the help down to the people here in the State of Florida. So but I do want to thank the President, I want to thank the Vice President, I want to thank the White House staff for really hitting our calls and they understand that this is something that's important, not just in Florida, but in other states around the country.

Another type of treatment that is also proven to have a positive impact is the use of convalescent plasma. So this is people donate blood who have the antibodies for COVID-19 and then that can be used as a treatment for patients who are suffering under the illness. We have an opportunity to really step up our game and the State of Florida in terms of blood donations. Yesterday, we had -- we have antibody testing in a lot of our drive through test sites. And for most of May and June, that testing was for health care workers and first responders, law enforcement, which is great and appropriate.

We recently expanded that to the general public. And so if you want to get an antibody test, and I've actually recommended if you're not symptom, you don't have symptoms but you think you may have had this in the past, you've been exposed in the --


WHITFIELD: All right, we're listening to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis there talking about the encouragement he sees in what will be some new shipments of Remdesivir which helps to expedite or some of the research has shown it's helped to expedite the healing of some of the patients who have been testing positive with Coronavirus.

And he's hopeful that there might be better on the horizon. And we'll continue to monitor his briefing there coming out of St. Augustine, Florida and as we do, we'll bring it to you.


We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: President Trump is attacking his niece, Mary Trump, over her tell-all book that delves into the President's upbringing and family life. "Too Much and Never Enough" is the title of the book, "How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man" sold nearly a million copies on its first day of release.

It's number one on Amazon right now and speaking with our Chris Cuomo, Mary Trump dismissed criticism that she wrote the book to get revenge.


MARY TRUMP, NIECE OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This is not a vendetta. This is not revenge. This is not a settling of scores. If Donald had continued to be a private citizen, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

You've seen what's been going on with COVID-19. You've seen what's been going on with racial strife in this country. The problems are getting exacerbated every day. We are in serious trouble here. And a large part of that is because Donald is incapable of leading. And he's being enabled by people who apparently are only interested in using him towards their own ends. And I'm afraid that those ends are not the best interests of this country.


WHITFIELD: The President went after his niece on Twitter last night comparing her to his former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who also recently published a very critical book about the President.


As Latin America struggles with Coronavirus, CNN 2016 hero of the year is giving young people with disabilities in Colombia, hope.



ARISTIZABAL (through translator): This is their second home and they really, really miss the foundation. We're supporting the families and the children, first of all, with food.


ARISTIZABAL (through translator): We're providing in home therapy and home medical attention, school via the internet. We provide virtual classes.

CROWD: Kwatro, singko, sais.

ARISTIZABAL (through translator): The emotional and psychological part has really affected them. We have an entire team of professionals who give emotional support.


WHITFIELD: Wow incredible. For more, go to