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Global Deaths Surpass 600,000 As Trump Downplays U.S. Surge; Florida Sees Hospitalizations Spike; Atlanta Mayor Bottoms Slams Gov. Kemp Suit, Implies Sexist Or Racist Motivations; Trump Says, Fauci Has Had Some Mistakes, He's A Bit Of An Alarmist; Today's Texas NASCAR Race Allowing Fans At 50 Percent Capacity; Russia Touts Vaccine Development But Faces Accusations Of Stealing Research. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 19, 2020 - 14:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:15]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday.

I'm Fredericka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with an escalating battle between the President of the United States and the facts.

Right now, there are more than 600,000 coronavirus deaths globally, a new grim milestone, 140,000 of those happening right here in the United States. The startling spikes happening in two states in particular that have become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet the President is downplaying the extent of the crisis.

Here are the facts. First, Florida reporting another 12,478 new cases today. This as the state says hospitalizations have risen dramatically in recent days. More than 9,000 are now being treated.

In Texas, new cases and deaths have seen a dramatic rise. The capital of Austin says a third of the city's coronavirus deaths have happened in just the last two weeks. The U.S. Navy is now going to south Texas to help fight the spread of the disease. Projections from the CDC say 150,000 Americans will have died from the virus by August 8th.

But even as cases and deaths continue to rise, President Trump is downplaying the data, arguing in an interview on Fox News this is morning that the numbers are being skewed, citing European CDC models rather than official data from Johns Hopkins University.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: We have the seventh highest mortality rate in the world. Our mortality rate is higher than Brazil, it's higher than Russia and the European Union has us on a travel ban.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. I think what we'll do, well, we have a travel ban, too. I closed them off. If you remember I was the one that did the European Union very early.

But when you talked about mortality rates, I think it's the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates.

WALLACE: That's not true, sir. We had 900 deaths in a single day --

TRUMP: We will take a look --

WALLACE: -- this week.

TRUMP: Ready?

WALLACE: You can check it out.

TRUMP: Could you please get me the mortality rate. Kayleigh's right there. I heard we have one of the lowest, maybe the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world. Do you have the numbers please? I heard we have the best mortality rate.

(CROSSTALK)

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Dr. Birx points out and this is --

TRUMP: Number one low mortality rate. I hope you show this on air because it shows what fake news is all about.

WALLACE: Ok. I don't think I'm fake news.

TRUMP: There you are.

WALLACE: We'll put our staff on --

TRUMP: You said we had the worst mortality rate in the world and we have the best.

WALLACE: I said you had --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. We have reporters covering all the coronavirus hotspots across the country and we've got response to all of that.

Let's first talk about some of the President's questionable claims on the pandemic from that contentious interview.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House, Dr. Seema Yasmin is an epidemiologist and a CNN medical analyst, and David Swerdlick is a senior editor for "The Washington Post" and a CNN political commentator. Good to see all of you.

Boy, there's a lot there. So Jeremy, you first. The President defending his handling of the coronavirus crisis and continuing to downplay the steep rise in cases and really disputing the numbers. Do we know the source that he is citing? JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you say,

Fredricka, as we see these surging numbers of cases of coronavirus across the United States we can see in this interview what the President is focused on. And it is bringing all of us who live in the real world into his reality, his version of the facts as he sees them as it relates to coronavirus in the United States.

And the President was very focused on defending his handling of the coronavirus while deflecting blame on to others. We saw him at some point falsely suggesting once again that rising coronavirus rates are due to increased testing, something that has repeatedly debunked and was debunked in fact in that interview by Chris Wallace. And the President also going on to blame China.

And notably we heard the President continue to downplay what we are seeing across the country which is a startling rise in coronavirus cases. In particular we heard the President once again referring to this as embers. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Do you still talk about it as quote "burning embers". But I want to put up a chart that shows where we are over with the illness over the last four months. As you can see we hit a peak here in April, 36,000 cases --

TRUMP: It's cases.

WALLACE: A day.

TRUMP: Yes. Cases.

WALLACE: Then it went down and now since June it has gone up more than doubled. One day this week -- 75,000 new cases, more than double.

TRUMP: Chris, that's because we have great testing. Because we have the best testing in the world. If we didn't test, you couldn't be able to show that chart. If we tested half as much, those numbers would be down.

WALLACE: But this isn't burning embers, sir. This is a forest fire.

[14:04:58]

TRUMP: No, no. But I don't say, I say flames. We'll put out the flames and we'll put out in some cases just burning embers. We also have burning embers. We have embers and we do have flames.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And the President was also presented in that interview with the fact that yes while testing has risen in the United States, the percentage of positive cases and the number of cases has risen much faster than testing which completely contradicts this notion that the President is trying to put forward that this is a one to one ratio here where testing rises and therefore cases rise. But I think what's most notable in this interview is what you see the President focus on here is not just spinning reality but defending his administration's handling of this situation and trying to put a positive spin on the situation rather than doing what public health experts are doing right now which is urging Americans to take those serious mitigation efforts to try and get those case numbers down across the United States.

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk further on all this.

Dr. Yasmin, the President claiming the surge in cases across the country just embers, that the U.S. has it under control.

This nation has been setting daily records this past week. And when the President says the number of cases is as a result of more testing, why is he not looking at it as there are more cases because of the spread of the virus?

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Absolutely, Fredericka.

So there's two things, at least two things misleading about his statement. First off, the U.S. is not first in the world for testing. In fact, right now we're doing an average of 715,000 tests a day in America. That's less than half the national minimum target which should be two million tests done every day.

Speak to Texans, speak to Arizonans -- people who are lining up in intense heat for up to 9, 10, 11 hours and still being turned away and not even being able to get a test.

And then of course, we're seeing that because of the surge in cases and the increased demand for testing people are not waiting a day or two to get their COVID-19 test results back. They're waiting more than a week. They're waiting eight to nine days.

So first off let's just get that straight. Testing is not where it needs to be at in America.

WHITFIELD: Right.

DR. YASMIN: The second thing here --

WHITFIELD: Go ahead.

DR. YASMIN: -- but the second thing here, Fredricka, is that what we should be seeing is a ton of testing and then low rates of positive tests coming back because that would say to us we've got this under control.

We're seeing the exact opposite in America. We're seeing the positivity rate and the number of the percentage of tests that come back positive as being double what the World Health Organization says it should be.

So across the U.S. About 9 percent to 10 percent of all our COVID-19 tests are coming back positive. They should be less than 5 percent if we were to have this under control.

And just lastly in places like Arizona, the positivity rate is 27 percent. So that is an indication this is out of control. We do not have this handled at all.

WHITFIELD: Right.

And (INAUDIBLE) because I want to jump on that point where you said if it's eight days until you finally get the results of your test and if you are positive, you have had eight days of feeling pretty rotten potentially which means there's been a huge delay in any kind of treatment you may have gotten before finally getting the results of that test?

DR. YASMIN: Absolutely. It is so frustrating and in some cases, I have talked to people where it's been 9, 10, 11 days before they got their result back. So they're waiting and wondering exactly what they should be doing.

From a clinical perspective, it makes it so hard to know, do I need to wear PPE for this patient. What kind of treatment do I need to give this patient?

From a public health perspective, anything beyond a three-day turnaround really gives you a massive lag in terms of getting an idea of where the country's at, what the magnitude of this crisis is. The numbers are bad. We're talking about astonishingly awful metrics but actually they could be a lot worse and the future looks very uncertain and like it could be going in the wrong direction, too.

WHITFIELD: Wow.

So David, the President, you know, was also confronted in that interview about his administration's efforts to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci. Listen to what was said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Dr. Fauci's made some mistakes but I have a very good -- I spoke to him yesterday at length. I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.

WALLACE: But Sir, this week, this weekend your White House put out a series of statements, so-called mistakes, that Dr. Fauci had made. One of your closest aide, one of your a right-hand man, Daniel Scavino put out this -- have you seen this, the --

TRUMP: Well --

WALLACE: "Dr. Faucet", it shows him as a leaker and an alarmist.

TRUMP: I don't know that he's a leaker.

WALLACE: Why would he do that?

TRUMP: He is a little bit of an alarmist. That's ok. WALLACE: He's a bit of an alarmist?

TRUMP: Well, a little bit of an alarmist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So David, you know, the President says, you know, he has a good relationship with Fauci. You know, you say he's blaming others as being an alarmist. He has been trying to throw Dr. Fauci under the bus for a while now but Dr. Fauci has been digging in, you know, backed by the science.

[14:09:55]

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Good afternoon, Fred.

Dr. Fauci has the reputation that allows him to dig in. Look, isn't it good that there's someone there who is a little bit of an alarmist when, as you just reported, we're pushing toward 150,000 deaths from coronavirus in the United States?

The President there did this little switcheroo with Chris Wallace where at one point in the interview he said we're not trying to discredit Dr. Fauci and then immediately followed that up by going through those talking points that were in that Peter Navarro op-ed in USA Today that running Dr. Fauci to the ground.

So you have the White House trying to at the same time suggest that it is not the President who's been making the mistakes and giving the bad guidance when he is speaking in public. That it is some of his advisers who have been wrong, up to and including Dr. Fauci who everyone knows by now.

And at the same time, trying not to act like they have actively tried to discredit him even though there's been reporting this week in "The Post", in "The Times", CNN, elsewhere that says yes, White House aides are doing this.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And intentionally and also trying to place blame, Jeremy, on states by, you know, refusing to have a national plan that some of the reporting and instead deferring it the states but then now turning around and criticizing states them for what they have and haven't done.

DIAMOND: That's right. And to what David is talking about there, it wasn't just Dr. Fauci who the President was going after and discrediting. Perhaps he did so most vocally with Dr. Fauci. But you also heard him at several points looked to discredit what's coming out of the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, you know.

The President was presented with Dr. Redfield's statement that if all Americans wore masks for the next four to eight weeks the United States could get a serious handle on this pandemic. And the President rejected that idea and continuing to try and downplay the effectiveness of masks. And we heard do so, as it relates to the CDC at other points when he talked about again this notion that coronavirus is going to be worse in the fall in particular because you're also going to see seasonal influenza colliding with coronavirus.

And the President again saying, oh, I don't know if it's going to be worse in the fall. So this all falls under the broad category of the President here trying to downplay or discredit the science and he's done so repeatedly, of course, with Dr. Fauci but it is much broader than that.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And clearly not letting up either.

All right. Thanks to all of you -- Jeremy Diamond, Dr. Seema Yasmin and David Swerdlick. Good to see all of you this Sunday. Thank you.

All right. Still ahead, cases on the rise and hospitals overflowing. We take you to the new epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak, mostly in Florida.

And a legal battle over masks in Georgia. The governor sues the Atlanta mayor after she makes masks mandatory. Why she says she is being targeted over other mayors in this state.

[14:12:50]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: This just in to CNN.

Arizona is now reporting its highest death rate since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The state says on Saturday, 147 people died from this disease.

This as the positivity rate for new infections in the state remains incredibly high. 39 percent of those tested for coronavirus on Saturday were infected. Despite all of that Arizona officials say hospitals are reporting slightly lower case counts.

Florida's coronavirus problem is growing more dire by the day. The state reporting today another 12,478 new cases, bringing the total to over 350,000 infections.

But it's not just the new cases, hospitals are quickly running out of room. The state says more than 9,500 people are now hospitalized, surging drastically over the last week.

CNN's Randi Kaye is in West Palm Beach this afternoon. So Randi, what is the state, you know, saying about handling all of this?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're doing their best, Fred, to try and o control this. And the governor certainly says that the positivity rate here in the state has stabilized. He continues to say that. He's also spreading the good news that 30,000 vials of Remdesivir, which treats COVID-19, are on their way to hospitals here in the state of Florida. But as you mentioned more than 12,000 new cases in the last 24 hours. That is the fourth time since the pandemic started that we have seen the daily case count above 12,000 and all of those days have been in the month of July.

I should note, that's up from 10,300 new cases as of yesterday and 89 new deaths. So now we have 4,982 deaths in the state of Florida. The state is seeing a positivity rate of 18.2 percent and 9,300 hospitalized at last check.

In Miami-Dade though, Fred, that is really -- that's the county that's really having the worst problems here in the state, the most southern county. ICU count there is at 127 percent capacity so they're out of ICU beds. And if you look at the numbers they have 507 COVID patients needing ICU beds and they only have 398 beds. So they're converting regular hospital rooms to those ICU beds.

The governor says there's about 20 percent of hospital beds left in the state, more than we had in March. So that could be good news for certainly Miami-Dade County. But still no mask mandate from the governor despite all the troubles that certainly the southern counties are seeing here in the state of Florida.

But some counties are taking action on their own such as Broward County, also one of the hardest hit here in South Florida. Broward now has an overnight curfew from 11:00 p.m. To 5:00 a.m. Everybody has to stay off the streets, off the sidewalks for at least the next two weeks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Randi Kaye, thank you so much in West Palm.

In Georgia, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is doubling down as she faces Governor Brian Kemp's lawsuit over her city's mask mandate. Bottoms questioning the true motivations behind Kemp's lawsuit as cases continue to spike across the state.

[14:20:04]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GEORGIA: There were other cities in our state who instituted mask mandates and he did not push back against them. I don't know if it's because perhaps they were led by men or if it's perhaps because of the demographic in the city of Atlanta. I don't know what the answers are. But what I do know is that the science is on our side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Natasha Chen joining me now from Atlanta.

And Natasha, I talked to the mayor of Athens, Georgia yesterday who has a mask mandate in place and he too, wondered why isn't he being sued by the Georgia governor. What are you learning?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, right. Well, this lawsuit is more than just about masks. This is about the

Atlanta mayor and city council trying to roll things back to phase one. And of course, statewide that is not the case.

So when we talked to Atlanta businesses about this, the disagreement has really created a situation where each restaurant owner, each business owner is having to make their own decisions here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHEN: The politics of how to fight COVID-19 have played out on all levels of government. From the White House to state houses to county commissions and city halls. But now in Georgia, a high-stakes battle between the state house and Atlanta city hall has turned into something of a food fight, at least for some Atlanta restaurants.

GOVERNOR BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: Mayor Bottoms' mask mandate cannot be enforced but her decision to shutter businesses and undermine economic growth is devastating.

CHEN: Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has sued Atlanta's mayor and city council over its roll back to phase one, which he says is unenforceable while the Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has instituted a mask mandate and is calling on the city's restaurants to return to curbside pickup and delivery only as cases of COVID-19 soar.

BOTTOMS: It is a complete waste of time and money to file suit against the capital city of this state in which he is supposed to lead.

CHEN: Kemp says no local mandate can be more or less restrictive than statewide executive orders. He said he filed the suit on behalf of struggling Atlanta businesses.

But if his lawsuit is a dish best served cold, some Atlanta restaurant owners say it is just feeding the fire.

KEVIN CLARK, RESTAURANT OWNER: Grow up. Be adults.

CHEN: Kevin Clark and his partner Lisa Spooner (ph) own Home Grown, an Atlanta restaurant that was cited in Kemp's lawsuit as an example of a business suffering from the mayor's actions.

LISA SPOONER, RESTAURANT OWNER: We would benefit more if they came together and made a universal decision together on their own as adults working together to help this community, not a lawsuit that to me just makes it further apart as opposed to closer together.

CHEN: They decided to close Home Grown again since they said they would operate at a loss doing only takeout. But without concrete guidance from local and state leaders, others have stayed open.

CLARK: It is just the wild west is what a lot of people. You know, it's like the wild west, you do what you want. Like build a patio. You're closed. You're open.

CHEN: Chef Zeb Stevenson of the Atlanta restaurant Redbird said just the act of shutting down and reopening again costs thousands of dollars.

ZEB STEVENSON, CHEF AT REDBIRD: We feel like a child in between two parents who are going through a divorce right now. And I say we, as normal people and businesspeople, one of them is saying this and one of them saying that. And we are not sure that either one of them is sending the message because they think it's what best for us. We kind of feel like they're sending the message because they feel like it's what's best for their political career.

CHEN: Stevenson has kept Redbird open for now with strict protocols to protect people's health because he said his customers have demanded the experience of sitting down inside.

He also had some customers calling to cancel reservations after the mayor's roll back, but either way there's no winning.

STEVENSON: It feels very unsafe to make statements right now because the population is so divided about the best way that anybody should be doing anything.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHEN: And the escalation just continues. Mayor Bottoms just today tweeted, citing a part of the lawsuit she says is stopping her from speaking publicly to the press. When we asked the governor's office about that, his spokesperson said to us, you know, this is again Mayor Bottoms mischaracterizing the truth and that was really about her not confusing the public about the restrictions and rules in place, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Gloves are off. Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

All right. A number of false claims by the President of the United States today as he denies and distracts from the coronavirus pandemic. A former senior adviser to President Obama responds, next.

[14:24:47]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, the President today claimed the U.S. has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world, which according to Johns Hopkins University data is not true. And the President went on to call Dr. Anthony Fauci an alarmist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: One of your closest aides, one of your right-hand man, Daniel Scavino put out this -- have you seen this?

TRUMP: Well, look.

WALLACE: "Dr. Faucet". It shows him as a leaker and an alarmist.

TRUMP: Well, I don't know that he's a leaker.

WALLACE: Why would he do that? TRUMP: He is a little bit of an alarmist. That's ok.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:29:47]

WHITFIELD: A little bit of an alarmist.

All right. Joining me now is Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Obama.

Good to see you, Valerie.

Even if it's a little bit of an alarmist, is that appropriate? Should the President ever downplay a threat, even if the intent is to prevent the country from panicking and to undermine the country's leading scientist, Dr. Fauci, in so doing?

[14:30:10]

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, of course not, Fredericka. We expect the president to follow the science. And I know Dr. Fauci very well. He helped us through a series of crisis when President Obama was in office. We averted the threat of Ebola, H1N1.

The impact was greatly reduced to Zika. He has decades of experience. He is world renowned and I would hope that the president would follow his wise counsel and certainly wouldn't have people within his administration mocking somebody who has the credentials.

And that doesn't mean that scientists always have it exactly right but what Dr. Fauci does do is evaluate the information that's available. And if it changes, then he was going to change his advice and counsel. But mocking him is actually quite irresponsible and it continues to erode the confidence that the American people have that the federal government is working for them. And at a time like that, that's the very least we should be able expect from the president and his entire administration.

WHITFIELD: And, clearly, this is not going away overnight, right? I mean, but we've got another four months before Election Day. So what does all of this and the president's handling look like over the next four months? Because when asked about, you know, the election of 2020, the president, you know, wouldn't say in the end if you would even accept the results in November.

JARRETT: Well, that's what he did last time, when he --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Are you a good loser?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm not a good loser. I don't like to lose. I don't lose too often. I don't like to lose.

WALLACE: Are you gracious?

TRUMP: You don't know until you see. It depends. I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election. I really do.

WALLACE: Are you suggesting you might not accept the results of the election?

TRUMP: I have to see. Look, Hillary Clinton asked me the same thing.

WALLACE: No, I asked you the same thing in the debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So what's your response to that?

JARRETT: Well, first of all, there's absolutely no evidence, no evidence that there is vote fraud from mail-in ballots. It's been done historically in several states, the military have always done it and it also shows that the evidence shows that it doesn't favor one party over the other. And so, in a sense, what he is using is the same playbook he used with Hillary Clinton, when he thinks he is falling behind, then he calls into question the integrity of the elections.

And what I think he should be doing, the federal government should be doing, secretaries of state all across our country should be doing right now is getting their house in order so we don't have what we saw in several of the primaries where people were standing in line for hours, putting their health in jeopardy when they should have been able to vote in a safe and fair way.

We should expand early vote. We should increase the safety of vote by mail without no additional cost to the taxpayer. And we should be allowing people to register to vote online. And the challenges that we have to undertake in order to have our house in order by November are great, and that's really where the focus should be, not calling into question the integrity of a tried and true way of voting in our country.

WHITFIELD: The president had a lot to say about a cognitive test that he claims to have aced. And in that interview he's calling for Joe Biden to take one as well. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let's take a test. Let's take a test right now. Let's go down. Joe and I will take a test. Let him take the same test that I took.

WALLACE: Incidentally, I took the test too.

TRUMP: Yes, how did you do?

WALLACE: It's not the hardest test.

TRUMP: No.

WALLACE: The picture (INAUDIBLE), and it's an elephant. TRUMP: No. See, that's all misrepresentation.

WALLACE: Well, that's one that is on the web.

TRUMP: It's all misrepresentation. Because, yes, the first few questions are easy but I'll bet you couldn't even answer the last five questions. I bet you couldn't. They get very hard the last five questions.

WALLACE: Well, one of them was count back from 100 by 7.

TRUMP: And let me tell you, you couldn't answer -- you couldn't answer --

WALLACE: All right. What's the question?

TRUMP: -- many of the questions. I'll get you the test. I'd like to give it. But I guarantee you that Joe Biden could not answer those questions.

WALLACE: Okay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Oh boy. Okay. So what are your thoughts? And why is this a barometer of presidential fitness?

JARRETT: Oh my goodness. Look, this is the same playbook of questioning whether President Obama was born in the country, asking for his transcripts from college and from law school. It's just nonsense and it's a distraction.

And when we are in the middle of a global pandemic when we are dealing with both our lives and our livelihood being at risk, when we are grappling with the racial tensions that have been boiling up in our country for a very long time, and when we are trying to figure out how to bring our economy back and make sure everybody is healthy, we need a president who's going to pull us together.

And that person, I believe, is Vice President Biden. He is smart, he is experienced, he wants to really reengage Americans to find what we have in common, and not polarizes and pulls us apart.

[14:35:01]

And he has demonstrated, as I saw every single day for eight years, his ability to lead under very challenging circumstances. And that's where the focus should be, not nonsense challenges like some -- about some intellectual test. That's just -- it's a waste of our time and not where I think the president's focus should be right now, where so many Americans are suffering, people are dying in our country on his watch and that's where his focus should be.

WHITFIELD: This weekend, you know, hearts have been really heavy with the passing of two civil rights icons, C.T. Vivian, as well as Congressman John Lewis, and particularly on Congressman John Lewis. You know, what are your thoughts on his towering legacy and how closely he worked to get President Obama in the White House and how they continued to work together?

JARRETT: Fredericka, both men were iconic leaders of the civil rights movement. I had the honor of knowing them both very well. President Obama bestowed on of them both the highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom. I have a photograph that I put in my book where C.T. Vivian was saying to President Obama how important the presidency was to our country, how important it was to C.T. Vivian personally.

And I remember fighting back the tears while C.T. Vivian was talking. It was so deeply moving. And I looked over and Congressman Lewis was sitting next to me and he was just crying openly and wiping away his tears. And I thought, well, why am I holding back the emotion?

WHITFIELD: Let it all hang out, right?

JARRETT: He can do that. So, yes, his endorsement and his support of President Obama's candidacy was important.

WHITFIELD: Incredible. Oh, my gosh, we just lost the signal. So sorry, Valerie Jarrett, but I'm so glad we got in all of your thoughts that we could in this time. Thank you so much, Valerie Jarrett, again, the author of an incredible book talking about some of those experiences and beyond in her eight years in the Obama White House.

All right, still ahead, masks, face shields and cardboard fans? The bizarre new normal for baseball, next.

A quick programming note, in an all new Shades of America, W. Kamal Bell examines how the idea of white supremacy shapes American laws, language and societies to this day. Here is a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: United Shades of America has always been a space for difficult conversations. This season, it's more important than ever.

What would you say to the people in power about your situation and how to fix it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to dismantle the system, work outside of the system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slave labor laid the groundwork for the American economic success and I benefit from that success.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Racism makes you illogical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have got to really start being more honest about what white supremacy looks like. You don't have to be wearing a Klan robe to be a white supremacist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: United States Department of Agriculture, the last plantation. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does it mean that a zip code can tell you so much more about where a child is going to end up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me, reparation -- I have to pay you for some -- I never owned slaves. You didn't have to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This system is not just not built for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's built against us, and it's not broken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to build a people's movement that's so powerful you shake the roots of America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:40:00]

WHITFIELD: Coronavirus cases continue to soar across Texas with more than 10,000 new cases reported for at least five days in a row. And a short time ago, Governor Greg Abbott said the Defense Department is deploying five U.S. navy teams to provide hospital support.

Meantime, fans will be back in the stands for today's NASCAR race in Ft. Worth. But things at the Texas Motor Speedway are far from normal. Among the restrictions, they are only allowing a maximum of 50 percent capacity in the stands there.

CNN's Ed Lavandera joins me. So are you seeing fans show up? And how prepared are they? What's going on?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Fredericka. Well, we are about 20 minutes away from the beginning of this NASCAR race here just north of Ft. Worth, Texas. And this is a venue that on a normal day in the grandstands and in the infield of the racetrack would normally fit about 130,000 spectators. We are going to see a fraction of that today.

Already, speedway officials say that the track would be limited in capacity to 50 percent of the grandstand. So at most, they are saying that only 50,000 people would be allowed in here but it is not clear at this point whether that even that number of fans will be showing up here today.

We have spoken with a number of people here as I approach the speedway here in Ft. Worth and asked them if they're concerned about spending the afternoon inside this speedway with perhaps thousands of others.

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JEFF PETERSEN, NASCAR FAN: It is real, but I think the hype is overblown.

I'm really not worried about it. It's probably, to me, just I'm not used to big crowds and just the crowd itself probably makes me more nervous than the coronavirus. LISA SNOW, NASCAR FAN: Feel secure and safe. I think everything is good. I'm not going to stop my life because of this going on. We'll do what we have to do.

LEAH, NASCAR FAN: I'm very excited. I mean, I am a little nervous about what the crowd is going to be like. But I'm excited to be able to see it again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: And, Fredericka, state health officials on Friday were urging people to stay indoors as much possible throughout the weekend. This is the first major sporting event with spectators in Texas since the pandemic started. So that is why there is so much attention on how exactly this day is going to play out. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All eyes will be watching, for sure.

[14:45:00]

Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.

Meantime, Major League Baseball didn't have any fans in the stands for its first exhibition games, at least not real fans. While players wore masks and bandanas and umpires wore face shields, the stands, look at that, had cardboard cutouts of fans in the seats, even a little puppy dog there.

CNN's Carolyn Manno is with me now. So, Carolyn, we're also learning more about Braves First Baseman Freddie Freeman's battle with coronavirus, so there's a lot there. Help us out.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Fred. Well, Freeman really detailed a harrowing couple of days the beginning of July when he contracted COVID-19. It served as a stark reminder just how random this virus is. His wife contracted coronavirus. Her symptoms were significantly more mild than his.

But it also underscored the fragility of a return to sports, particularly in a sport like baseball, where you don't have the luxury of being inside the bubble. As you know, Fred, and as many people know, Freddie Freeman is a very healthy guy, professional athlete, 30 years old, four-time all-star, but he really fell victim to this.

He initially spiked a fever and then he said he felt fine when he woke up on Friday, July 3rd. But by 2:00 P.M. that afternoon, the symptoms hit him like a ton of bricks, he said, and then continued to get worse from there.

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FREDDIE FREEMAN, ATLANTA BRAVES PLAYER HAD CORONAVIRUS: Friday night, that was the scariest night for me. I spiked to 104.5 fever. I said a prayer that night because I have never been that hot before and my body was really, really hot. So I said please don't take me. I wasn't ready. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MANNO: Freeman said after losing his sense of taste and smell for four days, he is now symptom-free. He returned to the field on Friday after some additional testing for Major League Baseball and said that there were some carryover soreness from that, Fred. And he hopes to play when the season opens up.

But, as you can see, he's wearing a mask and he underscored that as well that he is going to do everything he can to protect his teammates and everybody in the clubhouse moving forward after a very scary experience.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And it's so powerful to hear that kind of detail. It really hits home. People need to know the variation of experiences that come with the variation of conditions of people. Carolyn Manno, thank you so much.

So much more straight ahead in the Newsroom, but, first, here is this week's Staying Well.

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RENEE, GOTHAMISTA BEAUTY BLOGGER: Mineral sunscreens have come such a long way. So I actually find myself reaching for them a lot more than I used to.

So I'm a skincare blogger. A lot of viewers ask me about mineral sunscreens because mineral sunscreens have a reputation of just being less problematic.

DR. MELISSA BABCOCK, DEMATOLOGIST: Mineral sunscreen is applied and it stays on top of the skin, so it sort of floats on top, whereas a chemical gets absorbed into the skin and works that way. A mineral sunscreen works to reflect the rays and divert sun whereas a chemical sunscreen absorbs the rays, dissipates them into heat into the skin.

Mineral sunscreens have definitely improved with the technology. They're micronized now, which means very small particles. That means they're easier to apply, they go on thinner and they're not quite as white and chalky as they used to be.

RENEE: You're supposed to apply until you see a sheen, just to make sure that you have it evenly dispersed when you have it all over.

BABCOCK: There are some people who are sensitive to the chemicals found in the chemical-based sunscreens, so the zinc and titanium sunscreens are much better tolerated. So someone with a history of rosacea, sensitive skin or young children, absolutely, the mineral sunscreen would be a fantastic choice.

Some people are concerned about safety with chemical sunscreens. There have been a few studies to show that with the absorption, there might be risks, although that hasn't really been proven. Studies have found that when people love a sunscreen love the application, they're going to wear it more, and that's what's most important, is to get the patient to wear the sunscreen consistently.

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WHITFIELD: Russia is among the many countries racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine. But while Russia touts the pace of its program, it also faces accusations of stealing research. Matthew Chance has more on that.

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MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For Russia, the search for a coronavirus vaccine is a global race. It's at this research lab in Moscow where it hopes to win.

Access to the Gamaleya Institute is tightly controlled. No CNN cameras were allowed through these doors. But they did give us exclusive footage of the sensitive scientific work taking place inside, a unique glimpse of Russia's rapid push for a coronavirus vaccine.

They even sent recorded comments from their director who controversially injected himself before human trials officially began.

ALEXANDER GINSBURG, GAMALEYA INSTITUTE DIRECTOR: It has been become a task of unprecedented complexity. In a very short time, we have to create a vaccine against this disease.

CHANCE: But that need for speed in Russia means corners may have been cut. Russian soldiers, all volunteers, according to the Defense Ministry, were used in the first phase of human trials.

And now allegations denied by the Kremlin that Russian spies have been hacking U.S., British and Canadian labs to steal their coronavirus secrets, allegations also rejected by the head of the organization funding much of Russia's coronavirus research.

Russia desperately needs to develop and wants to develop a vaccine. Isn't that one reason why the Kremlin would try to get ahead by stealing other nation's vaccine secrets?

[14:55:01]

KIRILL DMITRIEV, CEO, RUSSIAN DIRECT INVESTMENT FUND: Well, first of all, Matthew, we are very surprised by timing of this because, basically, it happens the next day after we announced that we expect approval of our vaccine in August.

CHANCE: Sure. But how do you explain that extraordinary speed? I mean, other countries are working flat out. Why would Russia be so far ahead? I mean, there are allegations or concerns that this country has been cutting corners when it comes to its research.

DMITRIEV: Our vaccine is based on a proven vaccine platform. It was a vaccine against Ebola. It was a vaccine against MERS. And our scientists just substituted Ebola and MERS codes with the spike of the current virus.

CHANCE: Adjusting an old vaccine to work with the new coronavirus instead. Details remain sketchy but it's that clinical strategy, not hacking officials say, giving this Russian lab the edge.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, the coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 600,000 around the world, 140,000 of those deaths right here in the U.S. So why does the president of the United States continue to downplay the reality of the virus? That's next.

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