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Battle Over Georgia Mask Mandate Takes Toll on Businesses; Enhanced U.S. Unemployment Benefits Expire July 31; Portland Has Seen More Than 50 Days of Protests; Democrats Want Investigation Into Use of Federal Forces; Pompeo to Meet with U.K. Leaders Amid U.S.-China Tensions; People Flout Guidance and Crowd Beaches in Barcelona. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 20, 2020 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone.

Well, across the United States, coronavirus' numbers just keep rising. In California, Los Angeles is reporting its highest number of hospitalizations in a single day since the outbreak began. And there are no ICU beds available in at least 49 Florida hospitals. As of Sunday evening, Johns Hopkins University was reporting more than 3.7 million cases in the U.S. and 140,000 deaths.

Two southern U.S. states both reported record highs for new daily cases of the coronavirus over the weekend. That's here in Georgia and in neighboring North Carolina. Just take a look at Georgia and you can see the 14-day trend of new reported cases. At least 3,000 new cases have been reported each day for the past six days.

And how to respond has turned into a political fight between the governor and the mayor of Atlanta. Now CNN's Natasha Chen reports business leaders say they feel caught in the middle with no clear guidance for the pandemic.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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, high stakes battle between the statehouse and Atlanta City Hall has turned into something of a food fight, at least for some Atlanta restaurants.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Mayor Bottoms' mask mandate cannot be enforced. But her decision to shut businesses and undermine economic growth is devastating.

CHEN (voice-over): Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has sued Atlanta's mayor and city council over its rollback 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. MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D) ATLANTA, GEORGIA: It is a complete waste of time and money to file suit against the capital city of the state in which he is supposed to lead.

CHEN (voice-over): 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's just feeding the fire.


CHEN (voice-over): Kevin Clark and his partner Lisa Spooner owned 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, CO-OWNER OF HOME GROWN: 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 (voice-over): 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's just the Wild West. It's what -- you know, a lot of people (INAUDIBLE) it's like the Wild West, you do what you want. Like you have a patio, you close, you're open.

CHEN (voice-over): 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 in business and business people, we -- one of them is saying this and one of them is saying that, and we're not sure that either one of them is sending the message because they think it's what's 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 (voice-over): 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 rollback. 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.

CHEN (voice-over): Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: And earlier, I spoke with Republican Georgia State Senator Chuck Hufstetler about the political division over the coronavirus and masks in Atlanta. And he has unique perspective as a medical professional as well. Take a listen.



CHUCK HUFSTETLER, REPUBLICAN GEORGIA STATE SENATE: They both want people to wear masks. One wants to use a carrot, the other one a stick. And I don't think it does me any good to get in the middle of that. But I do think people should wear masks.

I have seen the 15 states in the District of Columbia that mandated them, they've had a slower growth rate. So however we get it done, I know he's even said, you know, there won't be University of Georgia football trying to build some people not got season tickets there. So, it appeals to me but we need to get compliance and 80 percent compliance would flatten the curve and 95 percent were just about eradicated I think. And whichever method works, we need to do to get compliance in this state.

CHURCH: Well, Senator, you seem to be the voice of reason here. So, why do you think we're seeing politics drive this health crisis instead of science because the reality is with the seatbelt issue the analogy us there? We made it that you had to. It was against the law not to wear a seatbelt otherwise people wouldn't wear seatbelts and that's what we're saying with masks. If they're told they don't have to, then they won't for the most part.

HUFSTETLER: Yes. And it was difficult. I think pickup trucks in Georgia just last year that we finally got the seatbelts in the backseat. That's been a tough battle too. But it makes a huge difference and it's really disappointing to me, you know, to see the people out there that are trying to run some story that says mask don't work. Or they will say that masks are bad for your health. I mean, a lot of us in medicine been wearing masks for decades and they do make a difference. And I think we're still healthy in spite of it. I know one guy was running at 10K to prove the point.

And why people are choosing this to, you know, to draw a constitutional issue. I don't understand. I mean, to me, it's really adolescent behavior to not do this. You know, with freedom comes responsibility. And people are forgetting about the responsibility part and they're reading too many fake stories. It's really clear that that they make a difference to those of us in medicine.


CHURCH: And many things there to Republican Georgia State Senator Chuck Hufstetler for his perspective.

Well, more than 50 million Americans have filed first-time unemployment claims in the past 17 weeks, and the enhanced government benefits that many of them rely on to help pay for food, housing, and other essential items is set to expire at the end of the month. The timing couldn't be worse as COVID-19 cases surge across this country and some states are rolling back their reopening plans. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are hashing out the details of a new stimulus bill. The White House chief of staff says negotiations will begin in earnest today.

Well, CNN's John Defterios joins us now live from Abu Dhabi to discuss more of this. Good to see you, John. We heard how the state of Georgia is contending with COVID-19 challenges right now. President Trump and Republican lawmakers are convening this week to finalize their supplemental package. What are we looking at here? And how might it impact states and also help those most in need because people are hurting?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, these are key -- yes, in fact, these are key questions you're raising, Rosemary. This is a sizable supplemental package. Let's put it that way.

Remember, during the heat of the pandemic that it was a $3 trillion federal government bailout, if you will, for the economy and for healthcare systems. The Chief of Staff for the White House Mark Meadows is suggesting that it'll be around a trillion dollars. Senator Mitch McConnell is the majority leader on the U.S. Senate side and his Republican counterparts are going to be going to the White House to see President Trump and Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary.

For the states, and a state like Georgia, it needs additional funding for medical systems which are under strain because we've seen that case surge that the state senator has been talking about particularly in Florida, Texas, and in California. For schools, something of controversy, the president says there's $70 billion on the table with a caveat, you have to open the schools and this runs in the face of medical advice, even from his advisors as well.

And then the president wants to have a payroll tax. This is something he says he may not sign as a bill if it's not included. And many see that as a corporate handout. And because he's been cutting taxes since he's been in office, is it really necessary to prompt the re-hiring.

And as you talked about here in your lead-in, Rosemary, 51 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits, but the additional funding to pay for food and other necessary supplies, for example, pharmaceutical supplies for households at this stage runs out at the end of July and some of the additional funding phases out in September.


So this is a critical, critical 10-day window to get the package done.

And the final thing I'll say here is we need to mind the gap. There's a $3 trillion package in the House being led by Nancy Pelosi and a trillion dollar package here from the U.S. Senate. They have to close that within a week or they're going to be kind of at loggerheads going forward.

CHURCH: All right, we will watch very closely to see what happens there. John Defterios, many thanks.

Well, to Portland, Oregon now, local police say more tear gas was used overnight to disperse protesters, and at least some of the gas was used by federal officers. And this comes as President Trump and state officials face off over who's to blame for unrest.

CNN's Josh Campbell has more on the protests and the politics.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Another weekend of protests here in the city of Portland, both downtown outside of federal building that served as the epicenter for well over 50 days of protests. But over the weekend, we also saw an incident take place here behind me. We're at a police union building in North Portland where protesters were outside demonstrating peacefully, rioters came and set this building on fire.

Now police tried to push back number of demonstrators to get them out of this area. As this blaze was burning here behind me, downtown outside the courthouse, another protest was going on. Authorities had erected a metal fence outside that building trying to keep protesters back. The protesters were able to disassemble that fencing in a matter of minutes. That causing the police to come out in full force launching crowd dispersants, coming out using batons and tear gas. Our team was tear gassed along with some of our local media colleagues who have been here on the ground reporting on this since all of this began.

One thing that we're hearing from them is that there's been a noticeable shift in the tone of some of these protests which occurred after the Trump administration had ordered an influx of federal resources into the city of Portland. Now the president, his administration says that they're doing so to protect federal property. The protesters say that that is agitating them, that is fueling a lot of their frustration, a lot of their anger.

Now the protesters aren't alone in calling for the feds to leave. Some local city officials here in Portland are also doing the same. Our colleague Jake Tapper spoke over the weekend on CNN State of the Union with the mayor of Portland who had some very critical words for President Donald Trump.


MAYOR TED WHEELER (D), PORTLAND: 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. And what we're seeing is a blatant abuse of police tactics by the federal government, by Trump administration that's falling in the polls, and this is a direct threat to our democracy.


CAMPBELL: Now the standoff continues between federal officials and local officials as well as the protesters with no end in sight. As that takes place, we're also learning that three very powerful members of the U.S. House of Representatives, three Democrats who chair a very powerful committees are calling on the top watchdogs at the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department to launch independent investigations into the actions of federal officers both here in Portland, as well as in other places where we've seen protests and we've seen police using what they claim are very aggressive tactics. Still yet to be seen whether these independent watchdogs will be complying and looking into their actions.

As that continues again, we continue to see here in Portland, this standoff between federal officials and protesters. Protesters tell us that as long as the feds are here, they're not going anywhere.

Josh Campbell, CNN, Portland, Oregon.

CHURCH: The family of late civil rights icon and U.S. Congressman John Lewis is honoring his memory. From being violently beaten in the civil rights march later dubbed Bloody Sunday to being a congressman for more than three decades. Lewis worked most of his life to assure equal rights for all Americans. Here was his brother speaking on Sunday.


HENRY GRANT LEWIS, BROTHER OF JOHN LEWIS: He fought until the very end. That was my big brother. He was a fighter with a tenacious spirit but he was also gracious and kindhearted. A great man and public servant.


CHURCH: But now, Democrats here in Georgia are left without a candidate and the deadline to replace Lewis on the ballot for the November election is fast approaching. The party hopes to announce a nominee by Monday.

Well, as tensions mount between the United States and China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on his way to London to discuss the situation with British leaders. We'll have a live report next.



CHURCH: Well, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in London to discuss China COVID-19 and the economy. The meeting with Mr. Johnson looks set for Tuesday and it comes just days after the U.K. announced it would ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G telecom network. That marked a major victory for the Trump administration.

And now, Nic Robertson is following the story. He joins us now live from London. Good to see you, Nick.

So once Mike Pompeo arrives there, what all is expected to come out of that meeting? NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, you can expect a certain degree of alignment in thinking about China and about Hong Kong. Both of those will be discussed. And it's expected that by the time Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has that meeting with Boris Johnson and also expected to meet with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. That the Foreign Secretary here will have announced the results of a review into the extradition treaty between The United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

And the expectation at the moment ahead of that -- the secretary of state's announcement later this afternoon is that he will review it in such a manner that Britain will shell for the time being its extradition treaty with Hong Kong because of the concern that human rights activists, democracy activists from Hong Kong here in the U.K. could be extradited back to Hong Kong and face severe punishment. There's also mounting pressure as well by some conservative backbench MPs on the prime minister, on the foreign secretary for Britain to take a stronger line with China over its human rights abuses of Uyghurs. The Chinese ambassador speaking on British television over this weekend said that there would be a strong response, really implying in connection to British businesses if that would have happened.

And I think this is going to be some of the context that will be surrounding the discussions between Secretary Pompeo and Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson here when they talk about China and Hong Kong.


Obviously, a big deal for the prime minister and this is something that he's going to want to sort of see some strong, positive language from Secretary Pompeo on will be the future free trade agreement with the United States that had really become very much hung up on Britain's position over Huawei 5G which, of course, now that Britain has said that all Huawei's 5G equipment should be removed from the network by 2027.


CHURCH: CNN's Nick Robertson joining us live from London, many thanks.

And still to come, in Spain, people are flocking to the beaches despite pleas from the government to stay home. We'll have details on how this is impacting the coronavirus case count.


CHURCH: Well, people in northeastern Spain are defying stay at home advice. Tourists have been crowding Barcelona's beaches despite a steady rise in COVID-19 cases. And police officers are having to patrol the area to ensure social distancing.

Atika Shubert joins us now live from Barcelona, Spain. Good to see you, Atika. So, what's the latest on this and how bad are those numbers?


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well -- I mean, it's Monday morning and we're already seeing people starting to come to the beach. It's pretty busy yesterday. There were so many people here that police were actually called in to turn people away and do some crowd control.

Now, officially, the local government is recommending that people stay home. It is not mandatory, however, and so what that's meant is that a lot of people are coming here, they're still out and about shopping or they've left for summer holiday homes. And the whole point is to try and control the outbreaks that are happening in this region. And it's looking pretty bad.

There have been more than double the number of cases in the last two weeks in the Catalonia area. We saw a very severe outbreak in the town of Lleida among seasonal agricultural workers. And that now -- and now we've seen an increase of the cases here in the Barcelona metropolitan area. And according to one epidemiologist to see in the data, 78 percent of the cases in the region are community transmission, an uncontrolled. Meaning they don't know how they contracted the virus. That is very concerning for government officials here and that's why they're asking people to stay at home.

At the same time, they want to try and keep the economy afloat. And that's why they've made this a recommendation and not mandatory. Unfortunately, it does seem like people are still going out, still going out about their business, and it's not clear if that will be enough to keep this outbreak contained.

CHURCH: All right, Atika Shubert, many thanks for that report.

And thank you for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Early Start is up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a great day.