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Home Attack in New Jersey; Protests in Portland; L.A. Contemplating Stay-At-Home Order; Athens Issued Mask Mandate; Daycares Provide Model for Schools. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired July 20, 2020 - 09:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, a very tragic story breaking overnight. Both the FBI and U.S. Marshals are now investigating after a gunman opened fire on a federal judge's home in New Jersey, killing her son and injuring her husband. The shooter has not been caught yet.

Let's go to our national correspondent Brynn Gingras. She's there this morning.

It is so tragic. What happened?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean this is an area neighborhood that is in disbelief this morning, Poppy. We've seen U.S. Marshals here on the scene. You can see the crime scene tape up behind me. This is still very much an active investigation.

Two major questions here, a motive and who exactly was targeted inside this federal judge's home.

Let me give you what we're hearing from initial reports from sources is that a gunman arrived at the front door of this house. The door was opened by the son of this judge, Judge Esther Salas, and the gunman basically was wearing a FedEx uniform.

Not sure if it was a disguise or if he actually worked for FedEx. But then opened fire, killing the son and injuring the federal judge's husband, who we know now is in the hospital. The son, Daniel, just 20 years old, and it's just devastating.

Again, this is a massive investigation now being taken over by the FBI and the U.S. Marshals trying to figure out who was targeted, if this house was targeted, what is the motive behind all of this. A lot of questions still this morning.

We know that there was a lot of high-profile cases that Esther Salas was, you know, over -- presiding over. She essentially was a part of the sentencing of Teresa Giudice and Joe Giudice from "The Real Housewives" in their case several years ago.

Just a couple years ago the federal judge was a part of a sentencing of a major gang -- a gang basically -- notorious gang member in Newark, New Jersey. And then just a few days ago was appointed to basically a civil case that's against Deutsche Bank for, you know, many reasons, but one of them being how the bank handled their high- risk clients, including sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Now, another thing to note is that her husband, who, again, is in the hospital, he was a criminal defense attorney. So these are sort of the things that investigators are going to be looking into with their history of the cases that they covered and was someone actually targeted.

But talking to neighbors around here, people are shook up, Poppy. There is someone who lives right across the street from this home who basically put the pieces together this morning, hearing the gunshots yesterday, seeing someone get away in a car, and realizing that this family now across the street who was loved by this neighborhood has been broken apart into pieces.


HARLOW: Completely broken apart.

Brynn, we're glad you're there. Thank you very much.

In Portland, Oregon, overnight, another night of violence, but really an escalation last night. For more than 50 days now, protesters have clashed there with law enforcement. Over the weekend, federal agents used tear gas and flash grenades to push them back. Now there are growing calls for an investigation after heavily armed really unmarked federal agents were captured on video patrolling the streets and arresting protesters.

Josh Campbell is live in Portland, Oregon.

Good morning to you, Josh. I'm glad you're there.

These have gone on, as I said, for now, you know, 50-plus nights. Tensions flaring in recent days. Explain what happened and what the federal response has been.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, another night of protests here in downtown Portland, Poppy. This is the epicenter, this federal building. And last night in what has been so common since this infusion of federal resources, we've seen protesters come out, most of them peaceful, but there are a subset of rioters who were throwing projectiles at this building.

Authorities had erected a metal fencing outside this facility, trying to push people back. You can see what happened to that. It's here on the ground. You know, pieces of that were taken down and really a tit- for-tat. Police would come out -- outside, try to put the fencing back up. Protesters would again tear it down.

You can see behind us, a lot of the defacing here, some of the graffiti. Again, this being that federal building, which has been the focal point of so many of these protests since this infusion of resources.

It's interesting to note that although the protesters are calling for federal resources, this surge to go home, to get out of here, they're not alone. In fact, some elected officials in Portland are also calling on the federal government to leave. Just this weekend, the Portland mayor spoke to our colleague Jake Tapper on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION." Take a listen here to what he said.


MAYOR TED WHEELER (D), PORTLAND, OREGON: What's happening here is we have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city. And what they're doing is they are sharply escalating the situation.


Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism. And it's not helping the situation at all. They're not wanted here. We haven't asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.


CAMPBELL: Now, as this standoff continues, Poppy, it's also worth pointing out that Portland police are distancing themselves from the feds here. They put out a statement overnight saying that they weren't involved in any of the clashes between protesters and law enforcement.

Now, as this debate continues about what to do with federal resources, we know that there are state officials here that are taking action. The attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security regarding some of the tactics that have been used by officers here as they've gone out and arrested protesters.

We also now know that over the weekend, Poppy, lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Washington, three very powerful Democrats, committee chairs, are calling on the inspectors general at DHS and DOJ to launch investigations into the accusations of officers here in Portland. The feds, by the way, continue to say that they're just here to protect property. There are others who are calling into question a lot of the activities we've seen night after night.


HARLOW: Yes. Josh Campbell, we appreciate the reporting. We'll see where those lawsuits go from the -- from the AG there in Oregon against DHS. Appreciate it very much.

Well, college students are -- and some universities weeks away from the start of their new semester, but for those heading back physically to these college towns, are the towns ready as the pandemic continues?


[09:40:47] HARLOW: All right, welcome back.

The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, is warning that he may reimpose stay-at-home orders there. That's how bad things have gotten. Yesterday, health officials in Los Angeles County reported a record number of hospitalizations, more than 2,200 people.

Our Stephanie Elam joins me now.

Good morning, Stephanie.

And, I mean, the -- just the fact -- I know I always sound surprised, but the fact that California is the state that instituted so many of these things, like mask mandates, like stay-at-home so early on, and then we're back at this point.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's very true, Poppy. And a lot of people are wondering how we got here when you see this record number of hospitalizations here.

The mayor, Eric Garcetti, saying that we are on the brink of a stay- at-home order again here because we're seeing this record number of hospitalizations, also noting that of the ones that were announced yesterday, the majority of them were people who were under the age of 41 years of age.

So just think about that. This is different than what we saw earlier in the pandemic. So things are changing here. And it's -- he also blames the fact that there's a lack of national leadership and he also says that people are getting complacent.

I can tell you by talking to people here, I think that's also it. People are fatigued of the virus, even though the virus is still rampantly spreading. So that's affecting the numbers here, and as well for California, which is now saying because of Governor Gavin Newsom speaking on Friday, he said that now, looking at schools reopening, that in these counties, 32 counties that we are monitoring right now, the -- on this monitoring list, none of them can have in-person school until they are off that monitoring list for 14 days. So counties like here in Los Angeles, public and private schools will be online when school starts in the fall unless they can get out of that monitoring list, Poppy.

HARLOW: OK, Stephanie Elam, thank you very much for that reporting this morning from Los Angeles.

With me now is Kelly Girtz, the mayor of Athens, Georgia, of course it's the home of the University of Georgia. He issued a mask mandate two weeks ago. Now the state's governor says local leaders are banned from this, you know, because of what's going on with Atlanta.

It's good to have you, Mayor. Thanks for the time.

MAYOR KELLY GIRTZ (D), ATHENS, GEORGIA: Good to be here, Poppy. Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: OK. So you issued this mask mandate on July 7th.

GIRTZ: That's right.

HARLOW: The governor, Kemp, is suing Mayor Bottoms in Atlanta for doing the exact same thing as you did. Have you been sued yet?

GIRTZ: I've not been sued yet. And we are maintaining our mask mandate. The courts have not issued a cease and desist. And we believe we were well within our rights. And, in fact, well within the healthcare guidance that we've been receiving nationally and internationally. In addition to being host of 40,000 University of Georgia students, we're a city of about 130,000 totally. And so it's not just the university students who we have to be concerned about --

HARLOW: Right.

GIRTZ: It's the 30 percent of our population living in poverty who are clerks at grocery stores, who are cleaning homes, who are maintaining facilities. And so we're all in this together. And so if we have a level playing field with a mask mandate, whether you're in a small business or a large, that maintains that level of order, in the same way that a residential speed limit of 25 miles an hour does the same in front of your home and mine.

HARLOW: So just one -- one note before we move on to the University of Georgia because I'm very interested in what this is going to means for all the kids in that whole -- whole community as they come back to school. You called this a strange game of political Twister. And, you know, Governor Kemp is actually from Athens, Georgia.

GIRTZ: Yes. Yes. He was --

HARLOW: But he's only -- but he's only suing Atlanta right now.

Have you talked to the governor's office? Do you have any idea why that is?

GIRTZ: Not over the last two weeks. The governor and I communicated throughout the pandemic. In fact very early on we were the first community in the state to issue shelter-in-place. And I encouraged him to do so statewide because people move around.

Small communities that are outlying of Athens are impacted by the health care apparatus here and certainly impacted because people come for grocery shopping, for dining, and for employment. And so we want to make sure that people are safe everywhere in the state. Ninety percent of the counties in Georgia right now are on the rise, so it's not just cities like Athens and Atlanta and Augusta.

HARLOW: Right.

GIRTZ: It's small towns like Milledgeville and Demorest that are seeing these spikes. And so we've got to hang on to each other and we've got to do it with the good health care guidance that's available to us.


HARLOW: OK. But no indication from him why you guys aren't being sued.

All right, let's talk about the University of Georgia. You've got about 40,000 students. Most of them are going to come back it sounds like to campus. There's not sort of this online mandate at all in terms of learning.

The board of regents has mandated masks there inside totally. I know they've ordered a ton of masks. I think enough for two for each student and faculty member, 150 --

GIRTZ: Students are getting a little care package.

HARLOW: Yes, OK. Let's hope they use it.

But you're really worried. Why are you worried? What have you seen?

GIRTZ: I certainly am. I mean, listen, I've worked with high school students for 20 years and I know that young people think of themselves as invulnerable. But the reality is that they are not. We're seeing health care indicators that suggest that even those who don't have to be hospitalized may be suffering some later lung damage. We don't want to see that in a generation of young people. And we certainly don't want to see them infect their professors and their neighbors and their parents and their grandparents.

Yet young people are, by nature, again, loosey-goosey. I think we can all look back to being 20 and 22 and think, I wish I had done things a little bit differently. I can certainly say that for myself.

But what we want is for everyone to take this seriously, deeply seriously, because in order for us to come out of this pandemic, we are going to need to all be practicing the best behavior possible. And, frankly, when I ride down some of the college occupied streets in this town, I don't see the best behavior right now. And we are going to need to step up our game.

HARLOW: We wish you luck. We hope the students are watching and listening.

Mayor Girtz, thanks very much.

GIRTZ: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Well, thousands of children are going to daycare, right, especially those children of essential workers as the pandemic continues. The lessons learned keeping them safe for the -- over the past few months. We have reporting on that next. And it can certainly help guide schools as they try to figure out a way to reopen. You'll want to see that.

Also tonight join our Fareed Zakaria as he investigates why President Trump believes in so many conspiracy theories. This is a new CNN special report, "Donald Trump's Conspiracy Theories." It airs 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


HARLOW: Welcome back.

New York City, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic here in the United States, is entering the last phase of its reopening plan today, but schools and parents are still grappling with whether to open physically this fall. And, if so, how can they do it safely? There may being something to learn for emergency child care centers that have cared for children of frontline workers throughout the pandemic without a single Covid-19 cluster or outbreak.

Laura Jarrett is here to explain.

I am on -- I really want to hear about this because, you know, all parents are wondering if the same can be true for schools?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Yes, well, sure, that's the big question, Poppy.

And when I went to this child care center in Queens, I wasn't exactly sure what I would find. Would the kids actually be able to keep a mask on all day? And they did. This place really shows the art of the possible when you think about hygiene and sanitation. But, at the same time, the kids don't come in at the same time every day and there's just a staggering of them when they're getting their temperature checked. It's all very different from regular school.


JARRETT (voice over): PS-IS 128 has been closed since March, but every day, at 7:00 a.m., its doors open to over 130 kids in Queens, New York. It's now a child care center like others that have stayed open since the beginning of the pandemic for the kids of frontline workers, everyone from corrections officers to nurses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's basically been a godsend.

JARRETT: The YMCA local daycares and child care centers have managed to watch over tens of thousands of kids across the U.S. with schools closed, using strategies that could prove instructive for school districts now coming up with their own plans to keep kids safe in classrooms this fall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We worked in partnership with our communities to create this culture of safety.

JARRETT: The local Ys have used space to their advantage and gotten creative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We use hula hoops to distance ourselves.


JARRETT: At PS-IS 128, as soon as children walk in the door, their temperature is checked as they tell their parents good-bye.

Masks, once only worn by adults, are now required for everyone throughout the entire building. Classrooms are also limited in size to only nine kids at a time and sprayed down with an industrial strength cleaning solution.

JOSEPHINE RAMAGE, SITE SUPERVISOR, P.S. 128: We taught the kids how to hand wash. As soon as they came in, they hand wash. Whenever they change activities, they hand wash. When they leave the classroom and come back from the gym or from the playground, they hand wash.

JARRETT: If a child becomes sick at some point later on in the day --

RAMAGE: Then we have isolation rooms where we put -- bring them immediately. They've given us Covid kits. And so the nurses will, you know, garb up in the gowns and the extra protection, we'll call home and the student will stay in that room until the parent comes and pick them up.

JARRETT: And, so far, their plan is working.

RAMAGE: We have not had one Covid case in the whole time that we've been here. Not one.

JARRETT: The model is working so well, it's led some school districts to turn to child care centers for guidance. But officials on the ground caution that getting kids back in classrooms for a regular school day comes with its own challenges.

RAMAGE: We had families coming at all different times.


That doesn't happen in schools. They all come at the same time. So image the line that would be out the door trying to keep them distanced and checking their temperatures. So while the safety protocols are awesome, the cleaning products and just the procedures are a model, it's not the same as school.


JARRETT: Poppy, touring the center there in Queens, the other thing you notice is that the classroom monitors aren't necessarily teachers. And so kids aren't getting the same level of instruction that they would get in a regular school, obviously. But as you heard that one mom who I interviewed who is a nurse at the V.A., this place has been a godsend for patients who are working right now.

HARLOW: I -- of course it has. That was fascinating. Laura, thank you for doing that report and bringing it to us.


HARLOW: Well, as Covid cases are soaring still across more than half of the states in the country, some cities, big ones, like Los Angeles, considering potential new stay-at-home orders. Much more ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)