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Florida And Texas Report Alarmingly High Number Of New Coronavirus Cases; Interview With Gov. Ron Nirenberg (I), San Antonio, TX; NYT: White House Push To Reopen Undercut Mitigation Efforts; Rep. John Lewis, Titan Of Civil Rights, Dies At 80; CDC Issues New Guidelines On Isolating If You Test Positive; Unidentified Federal Agents In Camo Arresting Protesters In Portland. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 18, 2020 - 21:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.

Now, we begin with alarming new numbers from the coronavirus pandemic coming out of the state of Florida. Right now, the latest from the state health officials today, more than 10,300 new infections and 90 deaths. Once again that's just a one-day set of numbers in Florida.

Texas, meanwhile, also reporting shocking numbers, more than 10,000 people tested positive in that state once again just today. And globally, the number of new coronavirus infections, confirmed infections is also dramatically on the rise. The World Health Organization reporting today more than a quarter million new confirmed cases worldwide.

And as I just said, shockingly high numbers of new coronavirus cases being reported in Texas. The mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg is joining us right now. Mayor, I know you've got a lot going on, five straight days of 10,000 new cases or more statewide in Texas. Why are things so apparently out of control right now?

GOV. RON NIRENBERG (I), SAN ANTONIO, TX: Well, Wolf, thanks for having me. And, you know, the trend continues in Texas where we're seeing a dramatic acceleration of cases, not just in the urban communities but also in the rural areas. And the combination is making for a lot of stress on our hospitals, in every part of it, from, you know, the beds on the floor, to the ICUs, to the ventilators. And then, of course, end of life, even in the morgue.

So we're in a serious situation here. And as we load balance the hospital, it's putting stress on every other part of the medical system that treats people even for non-COVID.

BLITZER: You and I have spoken before, you've called it a perfect storm since around Memorial Day. Governor Abbott of Texas did reverse himself and order most of Texas to wear a mask starting at the beginning of this month. Do you see that making any difference, at least so far?

NIRENBERG: You know, we're beginning to see a little bit of a slowdown in the hospitalization rate but, unfortunately, a lot of what has been done is baked in, because we're also seeing, at the same time, a rise in the severity of cases. And that's really at all levels and all ages, and all demographics even with otherwise apparently healthy people.

I noted the other day that a good 30 pecent of our hospital admissions now are people who have no other underlying health conditions, and even the mortality as well. And we're even seeing pediatric patients, who the majority of, which do not have any underlying health conditions. So the severity is rising at the same time we're seeing a slowdown in the hospitalization rate.

BLITZER: The Governor of Texas is refusing to budge on ordering another shutdown in the state. Let me play what he said. Listen to this.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: People are panicking thinking I'm about to shut down Texas again. The answer is no. That is not the goal.

I have been abundantly clear. I've been saying exactly what the head of CDC said today. What the head of CDC said today and that is, everyone can adopt the practice of wearing a face mask for the next four weeks. We will be able to get COVID-19 under control.


BLITZER: I'm anxious to get your reaction. What will that approach mean, let's say in the weeks ahead for the folks in San Antonio?

NIRENBERG: You know, it still means that there's a tremendous amount of mixed messaging that's happening. You know, without proper state and federal support, and a clear message about what we need to do to slow this thing down, we're given the choice between, you know, letting people get sick or letting people starve.

This is a false choice. We all need to get back to the health professionals' guidance, which is wear masks and limit social gatherings, limit mass gatherings indoors especially, and eliminate all of these exceptions that you can drive a truck through. If we're able to do that, we can start to slowly get back to life again.

But right now, it's a myriad of messages that comes from the state and federal government that gets people to think, you know, what should I believe and creates this kind of environment where people let their guard down.

BLITZER: Mayor, would you try to force another stay-at-home order or shutdown in your city?


NIRENBERG: You know, the epidemiologists and public health professionals that I talk to on a daily basis are concerned that a shutdown won't actually change what's going on. What we're seeing more and more of are cases that are going from house to house with extended family gatherings and dinner parties in people's homes.

So we're asking for a rollback, the very targeted. Reduce or eliminate the exceptions to mass gatherings and other social gatherings, reduce the amount of interaction that we're having, and be very clear about the guidance with regard to physical distancing and enforcement of the mask orders. Right now, there's an opt-out of this mask order that's happening all across this state.

So we need to get back to the proper health guidance. And if we can do that together, we can slow it down. But right now, there's too much of a mishmash of enforcement and regulation throughout our state.

BLITZER: And that's a real problem. Mayor Nirenberg of San Antonio, you've got a great city. Good luck to all the folks in your city. Good luck to everyone in Texas right. I know all of you are all going through some very, very rough times. Thanks for joining us.

NIRENBERG: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Now, there's some new reporting today about what's going on inside the White House when the country was largely shutdown and the President was very eager to get the economy up and moving again. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us from the White House right now.

Jeremy, there's some new reporting from the New York Times today, a very lengthy report. What did their investigation find out?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, so much of what we are seeing today in terms of the surging coronavirus cases across the United States can be traced back to what President Trump was doing in mid-April. And that is encouraging the country to reopen, putting pressure on governors to reopen their economies. Some of them before they had even hit those benchmarks laid out by the White House itself

Buts as the President was making that decision, White House officials were discussing whether or not it was prudent to move forward with this reopening. And the New York Times is showing very interestingly, Wolf, that Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus coordinator. She was actually a central voice in terms of this decision to focus on reopening.

In large part it appears, because she was overly optimistic about some of the modeling they were seeing about the trajectory of coronavirus in the United States. Believing that the US would be -- follow the similar trajectory to Italy, meaning a very rapid peak and then cases coming down. Instead, the United States saw a much higher plateau and now this latest surge in coronavirus cases.

Now, according to the Times, they actually call her the chief evangelist for the idea that the threat of the virus was moving on. And it appears that one of the things that they may have underestimated was the extent to which the President's focused on reopening rather than on these mitigation measures may have in fact contributed to what we saw across the United States, which was governors and also many Americans relaxing some of their mitigation efforts.

Now, of course, Dr. Birx is just one of the players in all of this decision-making, and we should note, Wolf, that the President in recent weeks even as it has become clear that the trajectory has not followed that path that was initially projected, he has continued to focus on downplaying this threat, saying recently that 99 pecent of coronavirus cases were harmless. And even today, in an excerpt from an interview that the President is doing, he's contradicting the CDC, going against this idea that if all Americans wore masks for the next four to eight weeks, coronavirus could go away or certainly be mitigated. The President, even today, going against that idea, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting because we're just getting word now, and I know you've got some new information that the Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, has been hospitalized. What do we know?

DIAMOND: That's right, Wolf. A Commerce Department spokesperson confirming to me that Wilbur Ross has indeed been hospitalized. The spokesperson is saying that it was for minor non-coronavirus-related issues. The spokesperson also said that Ross, who is 82 years old, is doing well and that they hope he will be released from the hospital soon.

We have asked for more details so far, the Commerce Department has been unwilling to provide those. But certainly, we wish the Commerce Secretary well for whatever recovery he is dealing with here. Wolf.

BLITZER: We certainly do. We hope he is released from the hospital quickly and has a speedy, speedy recovery. Thanks very much, Jeremy Diamond, reporting from the White House.

We'll have more on the pandemic in just a moment. But first, we should note the passing of an American giant. John Lewis died yesterday at the age of 80 years old. It's impossible to sum up his legacy in just a few words. He was one of the most important civil rights leaders of our time, and a congressman who served in the House of Representatives for 33 years.

I was fortunate to have spoken with him here in "The Situation Room" on several occasions. I'm going to share one of those moments with you later this hour here in "The Situation Room." Much more on this coming up.


Also new tonight, the CDC releasing new guidelines for those who have tested positive for the coronavirus and how they should be isolating. Our medical panel is standing by to break it all down. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offering new guidance on people who have tested positive for coronavirus, whether they have symptoms or asymptomatic. Let's get details and analysis with Emergency Room Physician, Dr. Megan Ranney and Epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed.

Dr. El-Sayed, let's start with people who are symptomatic. The CDC now saying they may quit isolating ten days after symptoms first appeared as long as 24 hours have passed since last having a fever, without use of any fever meds, or if a fever has passed without use of meds, and two tests taken more than 24 hours apart come back negative. How significant potentially is this change? What's the bottom line?


DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, the bottom line is that if you have symptoms, stay away from folks. And we're starting to get a better picture of just how long people may be shedding virus after their symptoms are subsiding. And what the CDC is giving us is a better sense of the calipers around when that period is.

But, you know, the same points that the public should understand remain clear. Number one, everybody ought to be masking and staying socially distant because you may not know that you're spreading it even before you have symptoms or without symptoms. But if you do have symptoms, after those symptoms subside, we have a better sense of when, then you can assume that you're not shedding virus. And this is really what the CDC is explaining to the public now.

BLITZER: Because people who are totally asymptomatic may not even know they have coronavirus. They can easily spread it to their parents, their grand grandparents, or strangers on the street for that matter if folks don't wear masks.

Dr. Ranney, the CDC also updated some guidelines for asymptomatic people who've tested positive. It's recommended that they also wait 10 days after the first positive test if they haven't developed symptoms or if two tests taken more than 24 hours apart come back negative.

Do we have any indication at all of how many people might be asymptomatic, completely without symptoms, but still able to spread this potentially deadly disease?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: So, Wolf, this is one of the big questions that we're exploring right now within public health and medicine. And just to break it down, what asymptomatic means is that you have no symptoms. No sore throat, no fever, no cough, no fatigue, nothing. There's also mildly symptomatic and pre-symptomatic, which means it's a day or two before you're going to develop symptoms.

Depending on how it's measured, studies say anywhere from 15 pecent to 50 pecent of people who are infected may be asymptomatic. What that means for you and me is two things. First, as Dr. El-Sayed said, it is critically important for us to always behave as if anyone who were around could be infected and asymptomatic. That's why that mask wearing and physical distancing is critical, no matter how much you trust a person. The second place that it really matters is around testing, because if we're only testing symptomatic people, it means we're missing the folks who are super spreaders. There have been a bunch of reports in the news about those asymptomatic people sickening whole churches or choirs. And so, as we move forward in this pandemic, we have to start thinking about having enough tests to test for asymptomatic people who may be spreading the virus.

BLITZER: You know, Dr. El-Sayed, the guide relies on testing in some cases, yet unfortunately, it's still so hard for a lot of people to get tested and get results back in a timely fashion, within let's say two or three days. Some folks have to wait a week, ten days. How useful is that information and why are we still lagging so far behind a whole bunch of other countries in testing and reporting capabilities?

EL-SAYED: Well, I'll tell you, what this really shows is that, we could get such a better handle on this virus if we had the testing to be able to do that. And the fact of the matter is, is that we just not have had the federal leadership that we've needed to be able to clear the way to get all of the components of a test together at the scale that we need to be able to provide it to the general public.

And this is frustrating because, of course, we've been dealing with this virus now in earnest since March. And frankly, we should have been dealing with it in earnest since January. So we got behind from the jump and haven't caught up. Meanwhile, you have very well meaning protocols coming out of public agencies. The problem, though, of course, as you've noted is that we just don't have the testing available to be able to activate those for enough of the people who may in fact be exposed and potentially ill.

And just to put an exclamation point on Dr. Ranney's excellent point, we don't know if we are carriers of this disease. And so, it is absolutely critical not just to pay attention to what happens when you have symptoms but to assume that even if you don't have symptoms, you could be one of those people who spreading it.

BLITZER: Yes, that's really important as well. Dr. Ranney, what are we learning now, some new information about reinfection rates? Are people getting coronavirus more than once?

RANNEY: It is too early for us to see for sure whether people are being infected by coronavirus more than once. There are a few anecdotes or case studies of people who have been infected, gotten better and then been infected again. There are other studies showing that somewhere around two-thirds of people develop antibodies or immunity to COVID-19 and that about half of those, their immunity disappears within a couple of months.

Those studies are concerning to us, but there's no definite evidence one way or another whether people can be re-infected at this point. It is simply too early in the course of this virus for us to know for sure.

[21:20:07] Time will tell, and we hope to goodness that people will not be able to be infected more than once, but we're waiting and seeing and watching.

BLITZER: Yes. The doctors, the medical experts, the scientists, they've learned a lot about this virus, but they all acknowledge there's still a whole lot more they still have to learn. To both of you, doctors, thank you so much for joining us. Dr. Ranney, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, appreciate it very, very much. Stay safe out there. Thanks for all the good work.

EL-SAYED: Thank you for having us.

BLITZER: A crisis unfolding in Portland, Oregon, right now. The city's attorney general is demanding an investigation after video surfaced online that showed masked and camouflaged federal agents detaining peaceful protesters, but are there legal issues for these kinds of arrests? We'll discuss that and have much more on the coronavirus when we come back.



BLITZER: We'll have much more on the late-breaking coronavirus developments in just a few moments. But there's other important news we're watching right now unfold. Imagine this, armed unidentified federal agents in full camouflage snatching protesters off the streets and hauling them off in unmarked civilian cars. Sounds like something out of an authoritarian regime, but scenes like that were actually witnessed in Portland, Oregon, and the President hints that more cities could see the same tactics.

CNN's Josh Campbell is in Portland for us right now. So what are you seeing, Josh? What's going on?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Wolf, it's starting to get tense here where we've seen some of the protesters arrive. We've also seen a small group of counter protesters. And we're here at the epicenter of this, federal building behind me where you can see they've erected this metal barricade. You can see why, behind that is a federal building that has been completely defaced. You have graffiti, there's destruction on the far end where people actually tried to make their way into the building.

Again, this has been the epicenter where there have been largely peaceful protests during the day, at night sometimes turning violent with these confrontations between protesters and police. Just last night here, we know that in three instances they had police actually deploying dispersants and tear gas trying to push the crowd back.

Now as you can see over here, behind me, there is a group that's starting to gather. This is kind of on the fringe area of this area where protests have started. There were a lot of people that are kind of around this area. And at night, again, a lot of them move in. Last night, Wolf, there were over a thousand people that were here in this area. And again, it's yet to be seen with police setting up this barricade and this presence that we've seen what will happen tonight.

I do want to tell you one other thing, we saw just a while ago, a very tense moment where if you look on the far ending, you see a man who's holding an American flag. Now, this gentleman here is a former US Marine Corps veteran. He tells us that he's a proud American. He came out to actually put American flags up, which were quickly torn down by protesters, which are leading to this very confrontational tense exchange.

At one point, you had one of the protesters climbing over him to rip down one of these American flags. Interestingly enough, Wolf, what we learned is that, it was basically a lesson in assumptions. The protesters that showed up assumed that he was on the far right in their words.

He actually said that, no, he doesn't support the President. He doesn't support the federal presence here in Portland, but he also supports the country and is trying to bring the country together.

A lot of the protesters here that were -- they weren't buying that, were saying essentially that that flag is something that they take great exception to right now, especially in this moment of heated tension. Growing tension here in Portland that's continue to just happened for well over 50 days, Wolf. We know that there's been this division between local leaders and federal leaders, local officials telling the feds to get out of the city.

President Trump and the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security saying they're not going anywhere. As long as that this building remains threatened, they're going to have this infusion of federal resources, which again, Wolf, it's circular. That is the reason why so many of these protesters are here, trying to call for this largely, this very aggressive federal presence to leave the town.

These tensions continues, Wolf. We don't know when it's going to end. We suspect more protests here tonight here in the city of Portland. Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll stay in touch with you, Josh Campbell, in Portland. Thanks very much.

Joining us now our Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. His new book, by the way, "True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump." That is out August 4th. There you see the book cover right there. Looking forward to getting that book, Jeffrey, thanks very much.

So let's talk about what's going on in Portland right now. Are these actions that we're seeing unfold legal?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what I think a lot of people don't know is that, the federal government doesn't have to have the permission of local authorities to send in police force, you know, federal police forces. Here we have a bizarre situation where the governor of Oregon doesn't want these federal police.

The mayor of Portland doesn't want them, the two senators don't want it, but the president feels it is important to have a federal presence in this situation. The question is, are they doing more harm than good? But the local authorities, state and municipal, they don't have the ability to tell the feds to just go home. So they have to deal with the fact that the feds are there. And the question is, are the feds provoking more outrage, provoking more protests, or are they serving to quiet things down?

I don't have the answer here and I don't think anyone knows the answer at this point.


BLITZER: So the protesters are, you know, obviously protesting, but let's say they're going through and breaking down that fence around that federal building in Portland. Does that justify that a local police doing something about it or does that justify federal armed personnel coming in? And we've seen the pictures.

TOOBIN: Well, according to the President's executive order, federal authorities, including these federal agents there, do have the ability to arrest people for interference with federal property. They do have the legal right to do that. The question is, is it wise? Is it a -- is it an appropriate use of federal force? Are they doing it as something the President is trying to prove that these democratically run cities and states are outlaws or are they actually trying to keep the peace.

I think as a technical legal matter, the feds have the right to do this, the question of whether it's wise or not is very different.

BLITZER: In the case where a protester was injured, let's say, how can that protester or other protesters seek justice or compensation when it's unclear who did what was going on?

TOOBIN: The short answer, Wolf, is that it's almost impossible. In the first place, it's almost -- it's extremely difficult to sue any governmental agency, whether it's state or federal, for any sort of traditional tort claim. I mean, there are laws about local immunity, which are quite controversial now, especially coming out of what's gone on in Minnesota. There is a lot of controversy about whether these laws about, you know, the way -- it's how difficult it is to sue municipalities, whether those laws are appropriate.

But those laws are on the books now and so it's very hard to sue to get damages. Plus, you have the question of causation. It's not clear, as far as I understand it, who or what caused these terrible injuries, so I think the chance of a civil lawsuit based on these injuries is pretty remote at this point.

BLITZER: And remind us, Jeffrey, what's the federal government claiming is the justification for all of this?

TOOBIN: Well, the federal government, the President has issued executive orders saying he has the right or the federal government has the right to protect federal interests in localities where there might be these sorts of disturbances. They have the right to protect federal monuments. They have the right to protect federal buildings. That is certainly true.

The question that is raised by all this is, is the federal government through these actions just protecting their interests, their buildings, their property, or are they being more aggressive than that, seeking out conflict with protesters where the local authorities could do a better job or even in a more sinister way, are the federal authorities provoking more violence and more outrage than if they had simply not shown up in the first place.

Those are the questions that are raised. That's why the local government, state of Oregon, the city of Portland, the two Democratic senators from Oregon are so outraged because they think that these federal authorities are actually just -- even if they have the technical right to be in Portland, are doing more harm than good.

BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin helping us, appreciate what's going on in Portland. Thank you very much, Jeffrey, for that. And once again, we'll look forward to your new book coming out in a few weeks. Appreciate it very much.

TOOBIN: All right, Wolf.

BLITZER: Despite new cases surging across Georgia right now, the governor there, Brian Kemp, is suing the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over her city's mask mandate. The battle continues. We have new information when we come back.



BLITZER: While Texas and Florida certainly have emerged as hot spots here in the United States, coronavirus cases are also sharply rising right now in Georgia. And in that state, the governor and the mayor of Atlanta are at odds over how to handle the pandemic. CNN's Natasha Chen is joining us live from Atlanta right now.

Natasha, what's the latest on this feud between Governor Brian Kemp and the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms?


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this has really escalated. And in the last few days is when Georgia Governor Brian Kemp actually sued the Atlanta Mayor and Atlanta City Council over their rollback to phase one. And that's a set of recommendations where the city of Atlanta would like businesses like restaurants to go back to curbside pickup and delivery only. Atlanta is only one of several Georgia cities with a mask mandate. And all of that was mentioned in this lawsuit filed by Kemp.

Mayor Bottoms fired back on Twitter saying reading is fundamental, pointing out the fact that Kemp was suing over a set of recommendations. And Kemp on the other hand has said that he is doing this on behalf of Atlanta businesses who were struggling and who need to put food on the table.

When we talked to some Atlanta businesses, restaurant owners in particular, they said the real problem is that there's no clear guidance here and they feel like they're children caught between two divorcing parents. Here's one restaurant owner and what he said.


KEVIN CLARK, CHEF AND CO-OWNER, HOME GROWN: We're not getting answers, so it's like, you know, we're having to make decisions on our own on how to do this. It's a political game, I call it a political pickle that we're in, that we don't want to be in, because I don't want people to see us as choosing sides.


CHEN: His restaurant, Home Grown, has decided to stay closed because if they were to stay open just for delivery or curbside, they would be operating at a loss. But others around him have all stayed open, paying attention to the governor's comment that these city orders are unenforceable.

According to Kemp, no local jurisdiction can make any rules that are more or less restrictive than the statewide executive order. So the restaurants are really caught in a situation here and they feel like whatever decision they're making is a political one now because of the local and state feud here between the leaders.

Just to recap on the cases here in Georgia, in the past couple of weeks here, we've seen the trend of new COVID-19 cases climb steadily upward with more than 3,000 Georgians who have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and more than 100,000 here in the state who have tested positive, including the mayor herself. Wolf.

BLITZER: Natasha, all this Georgia as you point out, near the top of the country in daily cases. The hospitals there in Georgia, how are they holding up?

CHEN: Right. Well, Governor Kemp has made it clear that he's working to improve, to enhance the capacity for hospital beds and to expand testing. That's been something that they're keeping an eye on, given the numbers increasing. He actually reactivated the makeshift hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center about a week or two ago, just to make sure there is enough capacity for that, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Natasha, thanks very much. Natasha Chen reporting.

Let's get some more now on the Georgia crisis. The Mayor of Augusta, Georgia, Hardie Davis, is joining us right now. Mayor Davis, thanks for joining us. Georgia reporting, what, more than 3,000 new COVID cases, almost 2,000 of those, what, in your city, Augusta hospitalizations, deaths, I take it, they're really soaring. So what's your reaction to what you're hearing from the governor as he's trying to impose his will on your city? MAYOR HARDIE DAVIS (D), AUGUSTA, GEORGIA: Well, Wolf, one, it's no secret that cases are arising at an extraordinarily high rate in Georgia. In the last 24 hours, we've had almost 4,000 new cases with an additional 60 in my city alone of that almost 4,000, which brings us to 2,165 cases, 63 deaths in Richmond County. And what we're finding is that, again, if people were to wear a mask, wash their hands and watch their distances, we could have done an even better job of stopping or slowing the spread of the virus.

With the governor's efforts around trying to mandate that we couldn't enforce our local executive orders, many of our cities across the state of Georgia enacted them anyway, out of an abundance of caution and concern for our cities.

I'm a border city. South Carolina's numbers are surging at the same time Georgia's are. And our neighbors are South Carolinians. So with the governor in South Carolina, McMaster, allowed local governments to put in place local orders and ordinances for masks, we are here in Georgia having a debate about whether we have the ability to do that.

Here in Augusta, we have moved forward with mandating that masks are in fact required not only in government buildings but in public spaces as well. We think it's the appropriate thing to do. In consultation over lengthy number of days with our local public health officials and our hospitals, we believe it's the right thing for us to be doing if we're going to be slowing the spread of the virus.

I heard that, again -- go ahead, Wolf.

BLITZER: No, no, finish your thought.


DAVIS: Yes. Here in the last few days, we've had almost a dozen restaurants and bars close not because of masks but because of employees testing positive for COVID. And so we've got to do more if we want the economy to come back at a steady pace. We've got to make sure we're taking these appropriate steps to wear a mask, wash your hands and watch our distance. And we're not getting that absent having these requirements in place for people to put these masks on.

BLITZER: Yes, these are not hard things to do and they will save a lot of lives if folks just start doing it. Governor Kemp was also slow, I think, to issue stay-at-home orders, quick to open things back up. Do you think he's responsible for the conditions in your state right now?

DAVIS: Well, I think, you know, again, the governor is leading the state. We share responsibility in terms of how we do that. Local governments move very quickly to close things down and the governor followed that. We found ourselves now at a place where there was an effort to move Georgia to the top of the list in terms of opening quickly, and now we're seeing the effects of that.

This is the time for us to be prudent in our leadership around how we provide for the health, welfare and safety of all of our citizens and without question in the state of Georgia, as one of those 18 states just listed in the White House report as those red zone states, with 30 cities in the state of Georgia being listed, Augusta happens to be one of them. We've got to be more deliberate about our approach to what we're doing, particularly in terms of wearing a mask.

All of the CDC guidelines, all of the Coronavirus Task Force requirements or recommendations coming from the White House say that masks should be mandated, if not at the state level then at the local level. And that's where we are in the state of Georgia. And I think that's what needs to happen as opposed to us looking for opportunities to find ourselves in a lawsuit with the state of Georgia. We need to take care of the citizens of the state of Georgia.

BLITZER: Yes, you certainly do and you've got a tough, tough mission. These are life-and-death decisions that have to be made. Mayor Hardie Davis, thanks for joining us. Good luck.

DAVIS: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're following another big story tonight, a titan of the civil rights movement has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. We're going to pay special tribute to the life of the Georgia Congressman John Lewis. That's next.



BLITZER: The Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed she is under going chemotherapy as a treat of recurrence of cancer. In a statement on Friday, the 87-year-old justice said the treatment is yielding positive results and that she remains fully able to continue her post. Our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, sheds some light on Justice Ginsburg's latest health battle.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, over the years we've certainly gotten to know Justice Ginsburg in terms of her tenure on the Supreme Court, but also her medical history, something that we had followed very closely as well.

Going back to 1999, she had colon cancer surgery at that point. In 2009, she had pancreatic surgery and treatment at that time, we were told, it was for early stage pancreatic cancer. She's had a coronary stent placement, she's had nodules removed from her left lung. And then, it's this most recent medical history that has become sort of most relevant again.

Last yea in August, again, she started therapy for her pancreatic cancer, which seemed like it was either a recurrence or a new type of pancreatic cancer. We're still not entirely clear. But what we do know now, from her statement, just as a statement and also her most recent medical history is that, she started a form of immunotherapy at that point, back August of 2019.

And we also know that it really didn't work for her, really didn't have much of an effect. In May of 2020, she had this non-surgical treatment for her gallbladder and what was now revealed, just revealed, was that at that time she also started another form of chemotherapy known Gemcitabine.

Now, this type of chemotherapy, the Gemcitabine, she says, Justice Ginsburg says, it seems to be working. She seems to have a response to it. But I will tell you, it is concerning this type of chemotherapy as typically thought of more as a palliative therapy rather than a curative chemotherapy. It is to reduce symptoms and to maybe hopefully prolong life, but not necessarily something that you give with the hopes of a cure.

People always asking, every patient is different, so doctors don't like to answer the question about what does this mean overall in terms of survival. But average survival after someone starts Gemcitabine is around a year. But again, the emphasis is that everybody is different.

She's 87 years old. She's been through a lot, so we'll see what happens. It is a tough course certainly, and I'm sure it's something that we will hear about, hopefully from her and her office, and we'll certainly keep an eye on it and wish her well.

BLITZER: We certainly do wish her only, only the best. Thanks very much, Sanjay, for that. I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Washington. To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'll be back tomorrow night for another special edition of "The Situation Room" tomorrow night, 8:00 pm Eastern. Up next Jake Tapper and a special report "The Pandemic and the President."


But before we go, we want to take a moment to mark the passing of a truly wonderful and great man, John Lewis. As Atlanta's mayor said in a statement, there are no words to describe the loss of Congressman Lewis. She's, of course, right. He was certainly an iconic civil rights activist, a leader who worked his whole life to make our nation a much better place.

Few years ago, Lewis tweeted a picture of a mug shot right after his 1961 arrest for using a so-called white rest room in Mississippi. Describing why he was smiling in the picture, Lewis noted that even though I was arrested, I smiled because I was on the right side of history. Yes, he was.

Personally, he was always, always a pleasure for me to speak with Congressman Lewis. He was a real, real gentleman, such a nice guy. And we need more leaders like John Lewis.

Our deepest condolences to his family, his friends, may he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.