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Interview with Savannah Mayor Van R. Johnson about Teaming Up With New York Governor; California May Be on the Brink of New Stay-at- Home Order; Secretary Mike Pompeo Meeting with U.K. Leaders in London; Gunman Kills Judge's Son, Wounds Her Husband; Testing Delays Hinder Virus Response. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 21, 2020 - 04:30   ET




RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have nothing left. At Miami-Dade, they are looking at a positivity rate of 28.1 percent, the county says, although the state has also tabulated that and they say that the positivity rate in Miami-Dade County is 22.6 percent, so clearly much lower than the county has calculated. We've asked for a clarification. We're still waiting on that.

Meanwhile, there is still some good news here in the state. The governor has said that 50,000 vials of Remdesivir which we know is a proven treatment for COVID-19 has been distributed throughout the state. Certainly to hospitals in Miami-Dade County. The governor believes that this could help treat about 8,000 patients. So that is some good news. He knew we're in need of more supply and he went to the White House to get that.

Still, though, despite that, despite the rising numbers here in the state, there is still certainly no statewide mask mandate. But Disney World is changing its policy for the masks. You used to be able to take your mask off and have something to drink or have something to eat inside the theme park, and walk around and stroll the park, and see the sights, that is no longer allowed. If you want to eat or drink and you want to remove your mask, you must be stationary.

You cannot stroll around. You must stay put. And you must keep a safe distance from others while your mask is off, at least six feet. So the public relations for the theme park says that this is not a new policy. It's just a clarification of the policy. We'll see if there are more clarifications ahead.

I'm Randi Kaye reporting in West Palm Beach, Florida, back to you.



As of Monday, at least 39 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico all have some form of mask requirement in place, but here in Georgia the state's governor is trying to block the mayor of Atlanta from requiring masks. Brian Kemp is suing Keisha Lance Bottoms over her city's restrictions which go further than the state's. A court hearing is expected in the coming hours.

Atlanta is not alone in Georgia with mask requirements. Other cities like Savannah have taken the same steps. The mayor there has teamed up with New York's governor to get personal protective equipment for Savannah. Andrew Cuomo encouraged everyone to wear a mask to save lives.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Somehow the masks became a political statement. The mask is not a political statement. The mask says, I understand science and medicine, and I listen to doctors and professionals. That's all the mask says. And the mask will save lives. Why would you not wear the mask? And why wouldn't you? Two years from now when we look at the numbers and it says 40,000 more people died because they didn't wear a mask, how do you possibly explain that?


CHURCH: Joining me now is the honorable Van R. Johnson, mayor of Savannah, Georgia.

So good to have you with us, sir.

MAYOR VAN JOHNSON, SAVANNAH, GEORGIA: Thank you, Rosemary, for the opportunity.

CHURCH: And Mr. Mayor, as we just heard, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo met with you Monday bringing with him much needed PPE for your health care workers along with a very strong message to wear masks. How desperately did you need that PPE and what are the biggest challenges your city is facing right now in the midst of surging numbers?

JOHNSON: Well, we were so excited to have Governor Cuomo and his talented team of professionals visiting us in Savannah today. When you want to win, you follow winners and certainly Governor Cuomo and the state of New York has shown the nation how to stare coronavirus down and to beat it successfully. So we were very interested in what they had to say.

To that end, they brought thousands upon thousands of pieces of PPE, gloves, masks, face shields for a community that still does need it. For us, this was a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas, to be able to discuss what is happening in Savannah, and to get the advice -- the sage advice of the good people in New York state about how to better focus our efforts.

CHURCH: And Mr. Mayor, you went ahead and mandated the wearing of masks for the city of Savannah. What impact do you think that has had so far on your numbers? Because of course we know that other cities and states that did the same, mandated masks, they're starting to see improvements. JOHNSON: Right. On July 1st the city of Savannah was the first city in

Georgia to actually mandate the wearing of masks. We think it's had an improvement. And sometimes people just need (INAUDIBLE). They need a regulation. Of course, as you know, that kind of thwarted when the governor came up with this emergency order that restricted the city's ability to be able to order masks within their jurisdictions.

At that point people became very confused because at one end you have the state is saying one thing and the cities saying something different. It's like a child, mommy is saying one thing, daddy is saying something different. Who do you follow?


It's left people very, very confused. And I think it might have thwarted some of our progress that we've been making thus far.

CHURCH: Yes, and I wanted to ask you about that because you announced that mask mandate, but when Atlanta's Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms did the same, Georgia's Governor Brian Kemp hit back, overriding her mandate, even suing her, and he's trying to prevent the mayor from issuing press releases with stricter rules than his own.

Why do you think he went after Atlanta's mayor and not you? And why would he do this when he has said himself that wearing masks is the right thing to do?

JOHNSON: I do not have the slightest idea, Rosemary. Governor Kemp has flown around the state emphasizing the importance of masks. Savannah was the first city, I think Atlanta might have been the fourth, and of course he has now filed suit against the city of Atlanta against Mayor Bottoms personally and against the members of the city council.

This is a time when the state of Georgia should be unilaterally focused on beating COVID-19, not on politics, not on personalities, not on principles. We should be fighting COVID-19 together. Yet we have a state that's cannibalizing on itself. This is not the look that we should have for the rest of the nation nor is this the most effective way to fight this terrible virus.

CHURCH: Mayor Van R. Johnson, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Rosemary. I appreciate the opportunity.

CHURCH: Well, for the fourth time in one week Los Angeles County is breaking its own record for the number of people in the hospital with the coronavirus which also means California is inching closer to surpassing New York's record of having the most case in the country. So what went so wrong in California.

Sara Sidner has our report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you're sleeping you're on your belly? OK. Good.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The staff at this California hospital is nearing exhaustion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every breathing minute I think about COVID-19.

SIDNER: In a video diary from inside Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage, Nurse Catherine Davis says she's used to seeing one death a year in her unit. With 700 COVID patients treated here so far, she's now seen 40 deaths.

CATHERINE DAVIS, COVID UNIT NURSING DIRECTOR: We would ensure that a patient did not die alone so, you know, we would take turns spending time with them and holding their hand and talking to them.

SIDNER: Doctors knew they had the beds to treat the surge but not the staff.

DR. ANIL PERUMBETI, PULMONOLOGIST: When we heard that the next, you know, wave of relief might come in in two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, you know that's when things become a little bit desperate.

SIDNER: They asked the federal government for help and it arrived. An Air Force medical team of about 20 helped shoulder the unending load. The stress here repeated all over California.

So how did we get here? The state was the first to announce a stay-at- home order. That was March 19th.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: This is a moment we need to make tough decisions.

SIDNER: Seven weeks later the governor reopened the state on May 8th.

NEWSOM: You have bent the curve.

SIDNER: But that wasn't to be. By early June the seven-day average for new daily coronavirus cases was more than 2600. By July 11th it peaked at more than 9400. More than a 250 percent increase.

(On camera): Anne Rimoin, you are a renowned epidemiologist, what went wrong in California?

ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA EPIDEMIOLOGIST: You know, we opened up too soon. We didn't have the virus totally under control.

SIDNER (voice-over): Experts agree residents and local governments got complacent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be back on the field now.

SIDNER: Case in point, three suburban counties near L.A. all lifted their mask requirements under heavy pressure from angry residents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: None of this is based on science but rather a nefarious political agenda to silence the people and strip freedoms from hardworking Americans.

SIDNER: Now hardworking Americans in all three counties are seeing a COVID surge. And hospital beds are filling up.

DAVIS: And that's frightening because where do we go from there?

SIDNER (on camera): Are patients telling you how they might have gotten it.

DAVIS: Yes. Well, some of them are partiers. Some of them have gone out and gone to parties, no masks.

SIDNER (voice-over): But Los Angeles County did and still does have strict mask requirements. Ticket are even being issued if you don't comply and yet it's still the epicenter of the California surge.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: How much worse does it have to get in Los Angeles before you feel compelled to issue another stay-at-home order?

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Well, I think we're on the brink of that.

RIMOIN: People are not following rules. They're not wearing masks, they're not social distancing.

SIDNER: Among them, California's 40 and under who make up more than half of the state's new cases. Also hard hit, the Latino community which makes up a third of the state's population but more than half of COVID infections.

DAVIS: Sometimes it's mom and dad's work experience that has brought them into contact with it and then it goes through the whole family.


SIDNER: Experts say fixing all this comes only one way.

RIMOIN: You have to just shut down for now. I think that that is our only way out.

SIDNER (on camera): Pulmonologist Perumbeti and Nurse Davis both saying that they are seeing in their hospitals 20- and 30-year-olds regularly who are so sick they can barely turn themselves over, even having difficulties sipping water. They are telling people it doesn't matter your age, do what is right, wear a mask, self-distance, so we can finally get back to normal at some point.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles County, California.


CHURCH: America's top diplomat is in the U.K. to discuss growing tensions with China and other issues with British leaders. A live report from London, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in London preparing to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other U.K. leaders in the coming hours. They're expected to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Hong Kong.

And our Nic Robertson is following the story from London and joins us now live.

Good to see you, Nic. So what all can we expect to come out of these meetings?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I think it's going to be for the British prime minister at least a tradeoff between how much pressure to absorb and accept from the United States to toughen their response on China. At the same time wanting a strong and quick at least preliminary free trade agreement with the United States because Britain is leaving the European Union.

And at the moment a trade with the E.U. doesn't look like it's on the card so that trade deal with the United States gets bigger significance, bigger importance for the prime minister.

Look, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this morning will visit with a couple of policy influencing think tanks that are very hawkish on China. Adding to that, we know the United States has just put additional sanctions on Chinese companies for the human rights abuses of Uighurs by Chinese authorities.


So I think we can see that the United States' Secretary Pompeo is going to have those kind of discussions with Boris Jonsson whereby he's going to say, look, very pleased and happy with what you've done to exclude Huawei's 5g components for your 5g network, but we need you, want you to step up more behind us on your response to China's human violations which the British Foreign secretary this weekend called egregious.

Chinese officials have said well, you know, had warned Britain, cautioned Britain about going that road. The prime minister himself has said that he wants to continue a policy of engagement with China. So I think at the crux of it, that's how these discussions will go. Very important for Boris Johnson I think to try to get something that shows there is positive progress being made on that free trade agreement and that he's also not caving to U.S. pressure to accept some of the agricultural standards that the United States has on beef, for example, and chickens which we've touched on issues here.

CHURCH: Right. I know you'll be watching very closely to see what comes out of this.

Nic Robertson joining us live. Many thanks.

In New Jersey, authorities say an attorney suspected of fatally shooting a U.S. federal judge's son over the weekend has apparently killed himself. They say Roy Den Hollander posed as a delivery man and opened fire at Judge Esther Salas' home.

CNN's Alexandra Field has more on the crime that has rocked the U.S. legal community.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Sunday afternoon Judge Esther Salas and her husband Mark Anderl were at home in North Brunswick, New Jersey. Esther was working in the basement according to the "New York Times" while Mark and their son Daniel were upstairs. A gunman wearing what appeared to be a FedEx uniform approached the house. Danny opened the door with his father right behind him. That's when the gun man opened fire shooting both of them before fleeing.

Judge Salas was unharmed in the attack but Daniel died from his wounds. He was their only child. Mark Anderl is now in the hospital in stable condition.

MAYOR FRANCIS WOMACK, NORTH BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY: It's a stomach punch not just for me but for everybody who lives in this town. It's a horrible and terrible thing, and it could not have happened to a nicer family.

FIELD: Esther Salas is a U.S. District court judge and Mark Anderl is a prominent criminal defense attorney.

So who is the target in this attack? According to law enforcement, there were no prior threats to the family and they don't yet have a motive but they do have a suspect. The body of Roy Den Hollander was found today about two hours north of the attack. The FBI says he is the primary subject in the shooting. He appears to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was an attorney who argued one case before Judge Salas.

A FedEx package addressed to the judge was also found.

JUDGE ESTHER SALAS, U.S. DISTRICT COURT, NEW JERSEY: Here is my husband Mark Anderl, my son Daniel Mark who's really excited.

FIELD: Judge Salas is the first Latina U.S. District court judge in New Jersey. She has presided over a number of high-profile cases. Her son Daniel wanted to study law just like both his parents. Friends and family say he was a good kid who's often seen playing basketball in the driveway with his dad. He was a rising junior at Catholic University. He was only 20 years old.

(On camera): That suspect Roy Den Hollander has described himself as a men's rights attorney. He has prolifically espoused anti-feminist views. He's been part of a string of failed lawsuits at one point targeting bars for their lady's nights. At another time the federal government for its Violence Against Women Act, and even Columbia University for their Women's Studies Program.

But it was in 2015 that he crossed paths with Judge Salas, arguing against an all-male military draft. At the time the judge agreed with some of his arguments, rejected others of those arguments. However, he went on to write about the judge on his own Web site highly sexist and racist terms.

In North Brunswick, New Jersey, Alexandra Fields, CNN.


CHURCH: And still to come --


SARA POLON, HAS PROBLEM GETTING COVID-19 REST RESULTS FOR EMPLOYEES: I'm spending all this money. I'm doing everything possible to keep my team and my customers safe, and I can't.


CHURCH: A small business owner's frustration with the COVID testing backlog in the U.S. as laboratories struggle to keep up.



CHURCH: In the United States people could be waiting for two weeks before they get their coronavirus test results. A delay is frustrating many small business owners who are trying to keep their doors open during this pandemic.

CNN's Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the start of the pandemic Sara Polon was worried about her 30 employees. The founder and owner of Supergirl, a successful plant-based soup company in the Washington area hired a private doctor to test her employees every week. For a while it worked well, she says. Then --

POLON: The test results started taking longer and longer, and so it got to the point where I was getting results after the CDC recommended isolation period for asymptomatic carriers. So I'm spending all this money, I'm doing everything possible to keep my team and my customers safe, and I can't.

TODD: Medical experts say people who get tested who think they might have coronavirus should self-quarantine while they wait for their results, but Polon says she can't shut down her business while her employees wait.

POLON: If I shut down waiting for test results for 13 days, I'll go out of business. It's hard to put into words the amount of stress that's on us as small business owners.

TODD: Polon's frustrations are reflected across America during a coronavirus test crisis that has reached alarming levels. It's not just that patients are waiting a long time to get tested, sometimes compromising their health in the process like waiting in long lines in the Arizona heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are people waiting in line to get tested and are fainting literally while waiting to get a test.

TODD: But America's top health officials as well as the companies which run diagnostic labs are also acknowledging that as the demand for test grows during the spike in cases, the wait times for getting test results back are getting longer and longer.


CNN has reported that results can take from a couple of days to as long as three weeks to get back.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: You send it off to a central laboratory. There's a time there in order to do the delivery of the sample, then they have to do the testing. They're kind of backed up. It takes a while to come back.

TODD: The problem experts say is that people can spread the infection to others while they're waiting for their test results.

DR. RACHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: We generally know that people who transmit do so in their first two or three days before symptoms and then two or three days after symptoms. So if you're getting test results six days after you have symptoms, you've already transmitted it to all the people you otherwise going to.

TODD: Experts are also worried about the ramifications of delayed test results. It delays contact tracing and it means the entire system could be clogged.

WALENSKY: There are so many components to the test. You need the personnel to do it, you need the PPE to do it, you need the swabs, you need the reagents, you need people on the lab. And it's not entirely clear where in the whole system if not everywhere in the system there are delays.

TODD (on camera): Dr. Rachelle Walensky also says it breaks her heart to see that getting test results back quickly often depends on how much money or power you have access to. Anyone close to President Trump can get tested and get results back almost instantly. The same for professional athletes whose leagues can arrange for tests and results very quickly, while people in the most vulnerable communities often have to wait for weeks.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is coming up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a great day.