Return to Transcripts main page


Debate Underway on How to Distribute a Vaccine; Despite Increasing Cases, Doubters Persist in Mexico; Nearly 25% of Delhi Residents May Have Contracted COVID-19; China to Launch Rover in Country's First Mission to Mars; Summer Olympics Set to Return to Tokyo in One Year. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 23, 2020 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. president stands alone, describing an America which does not exist while the nation is losing the fight against the coronavirus.

Waiting for China to strike back after the U.S. orders its Houston consulate closed, accusing them of spying.

And after 30 years and a 3 month pandemic delay, Liverpool finally lifts the Premier League trophy.

I'm John Vause, a lot to get to this hour right here on CNN NEWSROOM and we will begin with a growing number of American states seeing record numbers of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including the latest epicenter, California. Nearly 13,000 new cases in one day.

Nationwide, nearly 4 million infections have now been confirmed. An increase by about 1 million in just 2 weeks. Globally, the case count has passed 15 million with Latin America and the Caribbean making up more than a quarter of the tally.

Despite the record number of fatalities and infections, the U.S. president insists schools are ready to reopen but he has yet to offer any strategy which will keep students safe. He continues to defend his response to the pandemic, pointing to more than 15 million tests which will be carried out.

But many remain waiting, days or even weeks for the results.


TRUMP: We will get to the other end of that tunnel very quickly, we hope. The light is starting to shine. We've been doing it properly, cases remain low and very stable.

As far as the coronavirus, as you say, I think we've done some amazing things and I think you will probably see that if you compare our statistics to other countries and if you look at death rates, et cetera, you will see and especially into the future with what's happening, you are going to see some very, very impressive numbers.


VAUSE: But the U.S. leading expert on infectious diseases has a more sobering message. He says the world might never eradicate this virus and there could be more pandemics in the future.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Certainly, we are not winning the game right now. We are not leading it.

You know that it will happen again, it certainly will.


VAUSE: Meantime, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force says the latest surge is likely the result of reopenings and holiday travel back in May.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This was an event that we think can be traced to Memorial Day and opening up and people traveling again and being on vacations. We are really tracking this because what hasn't happened yet is our Midwest and our Northeast that was so hard hit in March and April.


VAUSE: Despite whatever Donald Trump says, whatever positive spin he has, the reality is America's outbreak is heading in the wrong direction. The former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services says she is alarmed by the president's response.


KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF HHS: We just exceeded 1,000 deaths yesterday. It's likely we will do it again today. That is on the uptick, it's not a very good job.

Once again, the president declares we are doing a very good job. We have a cure around the corner. I can't imagine who is suggesting that is even a possibility or what in the world that means. So I'm really alarmed.


VAUSE: U.S. says it will pay pharmaceutical giant Pfizer nearly $2 billion to produce and deliver millions of vaccine doses if proven safe and effective. We have more details now on the deal from CNN's Athena Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the nation battles to get coronavirus under control, signs of progress on the vaccine front, the federal government reaching what's being called a historic deal to buy tens of millions of vaccines from pharmaceutical company Pfizer, if it's approved.

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We can acquire 100 million doses of this vaccine as early as December of 2019 -- of 2020 and have the option to buy an additional 500 million doses.

JONES: Pfizer, in partnership with German firm BioNTech, just the latest vaccine maker in recent days to issue a promising report.

JOHN BURKHARDT, PFIZER: Preliminary data from the study shows a good immune response from patients vaccinated and we plan to start the large-scale clinical trial before the end of July involving 20,000 to 30,000 patients.


JONES: Calls for volunteers to try out vaccine candidates from Pfizer and others have been met with an overwhelming response.

FAUCI: We have well over 100,000 people that have already signed up as volunteers.

JONES: Meanwhile, at the rate the virus is spreading, officials say, if you don't already know someone who's been infected, that's likely to change in the coming weeks.

California now surpassing New York in total confirmed cases, many in hard hit-Los Angeles county driven by young people, infection and hospitalization rates painting a bleak picture in the South.

With hospitals overwhelmed in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott now backing a curfew in the Rio Grande Valley, while stopping short of support a shelter-in-place order issued by a county judge.

JUDGE RICHARD CORTEZ, HIDALGO COUNTY, TEXAS: What I have told him and others, if I can even simply get 10 percent of our people to follow it, I'm 10 percent better than I am today.

JONES: Hospitals also under pressure in Florida, where more than 50 ICUs have reached capacity and health officials say just 15 percent of ICU beds remain available statewide.

ICU capacity in the state's hot spot, Miami-Dade County, now tops 132 percent. Still, the governor projecting optimism.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I think we are on the right -- right course. I think we will continue to see improvements.

JONES: Even as experts warn of a long road ahead for the U.S.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: I think we ultimately will get control of it. I don't really see us eradicating it. JONES: But officials say getting it under control will require people to follow basic public health guidelines.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: We're not defenseless. We have powerful tools. Probably the most powerful tool that we have is a simple face mask.

JONES: One more thing about the simple face masks Dr. Redfield was speaking about there, the University of Washington's influential model is now projecting 5,000 fewer deaths in the U.S. by November 1st.

That's in part because more and more cities and states have issued mask mandates and also because more people are wearing face masks and keeping their distance from others, even without mandates. According to this model, deaths would fall by another 34,000 if the U.S. universally adopted mask wearing -- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: Tune in to CNN for a CNN global town hall, "Coronavirus Facts and Fears" hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, special guest Bill Gates. That's Thursday 8 pm in New York, 8 am Friday in Hong Kong.

Now to get the big headline of the day, the Trump administration abruptly ordering China to shut down its consulate in Houston, Texas, after being accused of years of illegal spying.

There's also this, images of what appears to be officials inside that compound burning documents after the eviction order came. CNN's Alex Marquardt is looking into what triggered the U.S. to order the consulate closed.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): China has a significant diplomatic presence in the United States that includes 5 consulates around the country and the embassy here in Washington D.C.

So far, the Trump administration has not said why the Houston consulate was singled out to be shut down. But the most senior national security official, the Department of Justice, says it wasn't one particular thing but rather a slow build up of things.

China has been engaging in economic and cyber espionage against the United States for several years now, the pace of which has picked up during the coronavirus pandemic as Chinese hackers target American researchers who are looking into a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.

The senator Marco Rubio, who's the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says that this consulate was shut down because it was, what he called, a central node of Chinese spying here in United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): This consulate is basically a front for -- it's kind of the central node of a massive spy operation, commercial espionage, defense espionage, also influence agents to try to influence Congress.


MARQUARDT: On Tuesday, workers at the consulate in Houston were seen setting fire to documents in piles and in barrels in the courtyard of the consulate there and then later extinguishing them with a fire hose.

All of this comes as the Trump administration is ratcheting up the pressure against China, of course, just 4 months before the presidential election. We have seen a series of strongly worded speeches against China by the attorney general Bill Barr, the director of the FBI as well as the national security adviser.

And all of this coming before Thursday, when secretary of state Mike Pompeo, is also expected to deliver his own speech against China. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Well, China has condemned the U.S. move to close the consulate, urging the Trump administration to reverse that decision.


VAUSE: CNN's Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong with more on this.

It seems unlikely U.S. will reverse that anytime soon. In fact, it may be expanding the closures.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: It may be and we will get to that in a moment. This is a significant threat to the diplomatic relationship between U.S. and China. And China is vowing to retaliate.

The first signs of trouble came when police and firefighters descended on the Chinese consulate in Houston over reports that papers were being burned in open barrels. They ordered closure of the Chinese consulate and it was confirmed by China's ministry of foreign affairs.

The spokesman condemned the move and called it illegal under international law. Urged the United States to overturn the decision. Warning that China could close one of America's consulates in China.


WANG WENBIN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): The U.S. side is deliberately sabotaging U.S.-China relations which is unreasonable. China strongly condemns the decision and urges the U.S. side to recall the wrong decision, otherwise China will take legitimate and necessary counter measures.

(END VIDEO CLIP) STOUT: The State Department said in order to close and protect American intellectual property and private Americans' private information, this come days after 2 Chinese hackers have been charged with espionage.

It's unclear whether these 2 events are linked. We're also closely following events in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, where we've learned that the FBI said that a biology researcher from China lied about her connections. She's being harbored at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. Tensions are ratcheting up and we're waiting to see how China will strike back.

VAUSE: The question is what will they do in response to all this. Kristie, thank you, live for us in Hong Kong.

Richard McGregor is a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute and former Washington bureau chief for the "Financial Times." He's with us this hour from Sydney.

Richard, good to see you. How China retaliates could have a big impact. We should note there are 5 U.S. consulates spread across Mainland China. So tell us how the message could be completely different than getting Wuhan to close.

RICHARD MCGREGOR, LOWY INSTITUTE: The staff Wuhan consulate is on the 47th floor of an office building so it's going to be hard to find a courtyard there to burn documents, if that what happens.

By and large, the Chinese response has been proportionate or less than proportionate in its reactions to the U.S. I think this will be another test as to whether they want to do something like Shanghai, which is obviously the biggest U.S. consulate in China or a smaller one.

Houston was maybe not the biggest but it was very symbolic, it was the first consulate when relations were open. It will be interesting to see what China does publicly.

VAUSE: Also with Wuhan, I didn't know it was on the 47th floor, but because of the pandemic closing it would be easy. State media in China is reporting the closure in Houston as part of election year politics in the U.S.

"The move shows that lagging behind his presidential election opponent in the polls, the U.S. leader is going all out in his attempts to portray China as an agent of evil."

And the "Global Times," "The November presidential election is driving Washington mad."

It may be true but it doesn't mean that the allegations of spying by Chinese diplomats are not true as well.

MCGREGOR: Politics is always with us especially in a election year and this does have a Trumpian razzmatazz about it. I think it would be wrong to say the U.S. and China relationship is spiraling out of control. It's just related to the election. It's part of a bigger trend.

I don't know if the Democrats approve of this but they want to get tougher on China in some areas that Trump hasn't taken on, he's mainly been focused on trade. They could focus on national security issues. So it's about the election but it's not only about the election, I think it's wrong to say that.

VAUSE: The court documents show that the FBI believe this diplomat has ties to the Chinese military taking refuge in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. She's been here for more than a month. Earlier two Chinese nationals were charged trying to steal research about the coronavirus vaccine.


VAUSE: The State Department says there's been a marked uptick in this spying of China over the past few years.

What is driving that?

Is this what the dawn of a cold war looks like?

MCGREGOR: It's fascinating, the researcher hiding inside the consulate. After '89 and the crackdown on protesters in China and other cities, a Chinese astrophysicist was in the U.S. embassy.

It took many, many months to negotiate getting him out of there. The fact that the FBI wants someone inside the consulate, that in itself means that this has a long time to run.

The uptick of spying, I don't know. I think it's perhaps a response of China to the kind of pressure that U.S. has been putting on, is to increase cyber attacks and the like. There was a pause on this for a little while, at least on commercial material negotiated between Mr. Obama and Xi Jinping in 2013 or 2014.

But that's long gone and this is a favorite tactic of China's. And perhaps that explains it if there has been an uptick.

VAUSE: Listen to the former national security adviser, John Bolton.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think the statement from the government about why the consulate in Houston has been closed to protect our information tells you about what the Chinese consulate was doing.

I don't doubt that they will respond in kind. But from the U.S. point of view we need close consultation with all of China's other trading partners and those that could be affected by it, because while we may be the leading edge, everyone is also affected.


VAUSE: All that's sensible but how difficult would that road be given that Trump's managed to insult his way almost to the point of diplomatic isolation with allies and friends?

MCGREGOR: It's happening anyway. There's a lot more cooperation between the Five Eyes intelligence group, U.S. Canada, U.K., Australia, New Zealand, on China. Five Eyes finance ministers are talking now regularly about securing supply chains and the like.

Japan wants to be involved in that as well as other countries. I certainly think that Trump was reasonably effective with China at the start. The problem is that he wants to do everything one off. There's a massive constituency around the world, in Europe for example, which is a big swing state to work with America on China.

Trump simply doesn't allow that. So to have a cooperative relationship in all issues, not just in terms of intelligence, I think America needs to elect a new president.

VAUSE: We have 100 days to go. Richard, thank you. Good to see you, too.

Two years after a probe landed on Mars with the United States and China wanting missions to the Red Planet. This is adding to the rivalry between the two nations.

Also President Trump deployed federal agents into more Democratic run cities as he ramps up his law and order campaign. Reaction from local leaders and they're not happy. More on that in a moment.






TRUMP: The effort to shut down policing in their own communities has led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders, and heinous crimes of violence. This bloodshed must end. This bloodshed will end.


VAUSE: In Donald Trump land that's happening in the cities around the nation and that's why he's justifying sending federal agents to places like Chicago and Albuquerque. Critics believe it's an election year ploy to boost his law and order status, painting Democrats weak on crime.

Many of the cities are being led by Democrats. This announcement comes a day after 15 people were injured in a drive-by shooting in Chicago, at the funeral for the victim of another drive-by shooting.

The president has already ordered federal agents to try and bring under control protests in Portland, Oregon. That did not work out so well because it sent protesters into their thousands that led to rising tensions and violence.

There is growing concern among local leaders over the deployment of federal agents. Chicago's mayor spoke with CNN earlier, saying she will not stand for officers coming into her city without coordination and cooperation.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D-IL), CHICAGO: There is a big difference between increasing existing FBI, ATF, DEA assets from sending in unknown, unmarked DHS forces in fatigues to drag people off our streets. We don't want that.


VAUSE: Meantime, the mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico, tells CNN he is concerned that federal agents will incite violence.

MAYOR TIM KELLER (D-AZ), ALBUQUERQUE: We are very concerned about this concept where it's a real bait and switch. And we hear one thing and then, like in Portland, all of a sudden, it is secret police trying to round up protesters.

I think every mayor in the country wants to never see what's happening in Portland in their city. And for us, right now, because of the president's own words, when he says he's going after Democrat cities as part of his reelection strategy, we are very concerned. It's about inciting violence.


VAUSE: CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem joins me now Jamestown, Rhode Island. She's also a former U.S. assistant secretary of Homeland Security for intergovernmental affairs.

It's been a while, so it's good to see you.


VAUSE: It's not the first time the federal government has been involved in domestic unrest. Back in 1992, to the L.A. riots, the California governor requested help, president George H.W. Bush sent thousands of troops back in 1965, LBJ used federal authority to activate the Alabama National Guard, sending federal officers and marshals to protect civil rights marchers because they've been attacked by local and state police at Selma.

What we have seen the last few weeks is nothing like what happened in Selma or L.A. or anything that we have ever seen before in this country.

KAYYEM: That's absolutely right. In all of those instances there was an operational need for an increased federal presence either because the state was ignoring the Supreme Court law as it was in the desegregating instances or because a governor and mayor had lost control of essentially law and order in the city of Los Angeles and requested federal support.

Here you have, at best, some violence, some vandalism, not normally in the sense of good but normal in the sense of that's not that surprising. This is not rising to a federal interest.

And you have President Trump invoking authorities that reside in the Department of Homeland Security to essentially unleash federal law enforcement in cities where there is lawful protests and in cities that do not want him.

So that is -- don't want those troops or those law enforcement agents. That is in fact the scariest part. We have almost never had an instance in which local and state capacity can deal with whatever is on the ground and you have federal agents being deployed by president purely for political symbolism, essentially. He wants to go into urban cities.


VAUSE: There are times when federal assistance is needed and asked for.


VAUSE: Yes. And here is the mayor of Kansas City. Listen to this.


MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS (D-MO), KANSAS CITY: We'd like having support from federal law enforcement to do things like investigations of unsolved murders, investigations of ballistics, those sorts of things that are distinct where our police department is still leading.


VAUSE: I just don't think the guys with the camo and in the riot gear are down for ballistics and unsolved murders.

KAYYEM: That's exactly right. The mayor was correct in saying that, you know, there's always federal support to support state and local capacity. Federal government has probably better technology, more resources.

And we envision that at the Department of Homeland Security there, whether it's Customs and Border Protection or a smaller unit, the Homeland Security Investigatory Unit. They come in and do what the law allows them to do, which is support local and state capacity.

This is an instance in which there is no need and no request, so then you are asking, why is President Trump doing it?

And it's solely to create a mythology of sort of unruly urban cities and, i.e., African American, Hispanic, you know, the racial ,issues to try to get support as he has actually specifically said, in the suburbs. So that's basically what it is. We have to treat this less of a how do I explain this operationally and more the political explanation, which is all that this is.

VAUSE: I want you to listen to how the administration is trying to explain the legal justification for their actions in Portland. Here we go.


KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: We're acting, first of all, at the president's insistence --


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Well, I believe that.

CUCCINELLI: -- to protect this area of the community. Let me finish. But it's only within the boundaries of our federal jurisdiction. That doesn't cover all of Portland.

CUOMO: But he's not talking about buildings.

CUCCINELLI: -- these areas.

CUOMO: He's not talking about buildings.

He's saying "I don't like what's happening in these cities" --

CUCCINELLI: But in each place -- each --

CUOMO: -- "that are run by Democrats."

CUCCINELLI: That's true. We're staying within the boundaries of that federal legal authority --


VAUSE: OK, that's doubtful. But as a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security yourself, the agency established in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack to protect the country against the horrors of graffiti?

KAYYEM: Right, it's the war on graffiti. No. There are things that are dangerous and might even be a crime that do not rise to a federal level. In fact, most crimes do not, not all of our crimes are federal crimes. The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows or requires that public safety and public health reside with local and state governments. The federal government is welcomed to support when asked.

So you saw DHS try to parse or pretend that Trump was not saying what he was saying. Trump is saying he is unleashing troops or paramilitary enforcement agents into the cities, in camouflage, often armed and often unidentified. And you know the department is trying to say, no, no, we are doing it for federal interest to protect federal courts or to protect statutes (sic) of Confederate soldiers. That is a bogus argument and the department actually knows it.

There is internal documents that have been released that have shown that internally the department knows that there are people that are getting deployed, that are not trained nor authorized for most of these activities.

VAUSE: Juliette, thank you, it's so great to have your perspective. We appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Thank you. Be well.

We will take a short break and we come back, China hoping to clean its first mission to Mars, maybe the second time is lucky. Comes just as the U.S. tries to launch its latest mission to the Red Planet. We will take a look at why this matters.

Joe Biden's condemnation of the president so far, we will also have Donald Trump.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.


Wearing a mask is now mandatory in Melbourne, Australia. This comes on a day when the country reported its highest number of daily cases since March. The vast majority of new cases in the state of Victoria, which saw its third highest daily increase in new cases.

The state premier is calling on those who test positive isolate to avoid spreading the virus.

The U.S. government has reached an agreement to pay Pfizer nearly $2 billion for large-scale production and delivery of a coronavirus vaccine. The agreement provides for delivery of 100 million doses in the U.S., with an option to acquire another 500 million.

While researchers race to develop a vaccine, there's a long list of questions about what happens when one is approved.

The White House is trying to head off concerns that politics will play a role in the vaccine's distribution.

We get more details now from CNN's Sara Murray.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After bungling everything from testing to personal protective equipment, the Trump administration is aiming to prove it can roll out a coronavirus vaccine to millions of Americans as soon as one is ready.


MURRAY: The debate is already underway over who should get the first doses. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: I think that

people are a little uneasy about the government calling the shots here.

MURRAY: To reassure a skeptical public this decision will be apolitical, the NIH director called the National Academy of Medicine, an esteemed non-governmental organization, and asked them to advise who should be first in line.

A second group of CDC advisers are also asking who counts as an essential worker? Should race and ethnicity factor in? And where do teachers fall on the priority list?

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: But clearly, the vulnerable are going to be, if not the top priority, one of the top priorities.

MURRAY: The Trump administration is tapping top health officials and industry experts to lead vaccine plans, rather than politicians. But the administration's vaccine effort, Operation Warp Speed, is shrouded in secrecy.

DR. MATT HEPBURN, OPERATION WARP SPEED: Certainly, ask for both your latitude a bit in terms of my lack of ability to provide a lot of specifics about what we're doing.

MURRAY: Vaccine developers already have contracts with the government to stockpile their product, and the administration hopes to have 300 million doses available early next year, a timeline vaccine experts believe is overly optimistic.

VIJAY SAMANT, VACCINE EXPERT: This is a big task. Even if you have a vaccine, getting these people vaccinated is a humongous step. Humongous step. Because you need to convince people.

MURRAY: The distribution alone is a monumental challenge.

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We're right at the beginning of Operation Warp Speed. Work to lock down full finish capacity, as well as syringes, the needles and glassware. So we've secured that to be able to ensure that we'll be able to vaccinate the American people.

MURRAY: The federal government has shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars to companies like Corning for glass vials needed to transport a vaccine.

BRENDAN MOSHER, CORNING INCORPORATED: I think the U.S. is going to set a bar. Glass will be the critical bottleneck, and there will be plenty to go around at the point a vaccine is -- is ready.

MURRAY: Hundreds of millions of syringes are on order, too, from companies like BD, though contracts and industry experts suggest the government may come up short.

ELIZABETH WOODY, BECTON, DICKINSON AND COMPANY: It is, I think, the beginning of the process. The U.S. government is preparing for two shots of -- of the vaccine. And so, you know, assuming a population of approximately 350 million people, we're looking at, you know, a total of 750 million. Or excuse me, 700 million syringes, at least.

MURRAY: Once a vaccine is available, it could take a year to inoculate enough Americans to slow the spread. And that's is Americans agree to get the vaccine at all. Safety concerns, politics, and fears among minority communities that they may be exploited or left out are all contributing to Americans' hesitation.


(on camera): Now, I spoke to a senior official with Health and Human Services who acknowledged that they do have a transparency problem and said they know they need to win over the American public. They have a big P.R. campaign planned, coming soon. It will feature a number of the doctors we've gotten used to seeing in the U.S., like Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield of the CDC, as well as the surgeon general.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Well, the numbers coming from Latin America and the Caribbean are rivaling those in the United States. They've recorded more than four million cases there as of Wednesday. Nearly 175,000 people have died.

Brazil reporting nearly 68,000 new cases on Wednesday, high -- highest daily increase since the outbreak began. Even so, the health ministry says the situation seems under control.

President Jair Bolsonaro spoke with his supporters outside the presidential palace after testing positive for the virus a third time.

Despite the growing numbers of cases, many in Mexico's biggest cities refuse to believe the virus is all that severe. Others don't believe it even exists.

Matt Rivers reports now from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Umberto Montes Cruz (ph) sings at funerals for a living, so you might think he'd take this virus seriously. But he doesn't.

He says, "The truth is, this virus doesn't exist. I don't know if I'm ignorant or if it's the faith I have in God. To me, it doesn't exist." He says, if it existed, he'd have gotten it by now.

(on camera): And living and working in Mexico throughout this outbreak, I've consistently heard people like Umberto say that this virus doesn't exist. And so have others.

In May, a funeral home director told us people constantly tell him relatives died of the flu, not COVID. In June, paramedics told us they encounter skeptics on nearly every call. And just a few weeks ago, a crematorium worker told us he's amazed how many people tell him the virus isn't real.

So the question is, why?

(voice-over): Mexican sociologist Jorge Galindo says that's a tough one to answer, but he started with a fundamental lack of faith in institutions.

JORGE GALINDO, SOCIOLOGIST, UNIVERSIDAD AUTONOMA METROPOLITANA: There's a mistrust in general, because the government is always kind of lying or trying to control the narrative.

RIVERS: So when officials say take the virus seriously, some do the opposite. He also points to some officials, like the Mexican president, downplaying the virus early on; low education levels and a lack of understanding about where this all comes from.

GALINDO: You (ph) want to believe that there's something intentional about this, but this happened just because a virus suddenly happened. I mean, and that is something difficult to believe.

RIVERS: In Mexico City's crowded central district, we quickly found Jorge, who says he doesn't really believe in the virus. "I've seen so many things in the media that don't exist," he says. "I don't know anyone who's got it."

But he's in a growing minority, as swiftly-rising cases and deaths means the threat is getting harder to ignore.

Martha says, "I didn't believe in the virus at first, but with everything happening now, I have to say it exists."

And Abigail says, "I didn't believe it was true, but now I have family in the hospital, there's more cases. So I'm scared."

A recent newspaper poll found 86 percent of Mexicans do believe the virus exists. Only 14 percent either don't believe it exists or aren't sure. And that seems like a small number, until you consider that 14 percent of Mexico's population is about 18 million people. Are those 18 million socially distancing? Washing their hands, staying at home? We don't know. But if they're not, it doesn't bode well for a country already with one of the worst outbreaks in the world.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


And to India now, where nearly one in four residents in New Delhi may have contracted COVID-19, according to one government study. There are about 125,000 reported cases in the capital, but the study, which surveyed about 21,000 people suggests infections in New Delhi are much more widespread than the number of confirmed cases indicates.

CNN's Vedika Sud is in New Delhi. And that makes sense, when you look at the situation around the world. The number of confirmed cases seems much lower than, you know, the number of real-world cases, from what officials have been saying in places like the United States and U.K.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: Absolutely, John. And that doesn't take away from the fact that the 77 percent that is left in Delhi of the population is not exposed to COVID-19. And that's the worrying factor. We have numbers for Delhi. You've spoken about the random sampling that took place, which points out to at least one in four people have been infected.

Now, these are worrying numbers. And this was basically, you know, 23.48 percent of the people were found with symptoms for antibodies being found them.

Now, this is at a time when Delhi is facing lower numbers than before as far as the 24-hour daily jump is concerned. In fact, this week, we had less than 1,000 for the first time in many months. But these numbers could be worrying, because I'm talking about the 77 percent of the other people who haven't been tested, and a lot more.


This is a very small sample, just about 23,000 people in a city that has over 16 million people and maybe more. The last census that India conducted was in 2011, so you can just imagine, post that, how the numbers have gone up. So officially, we don't have a number for Delhi yet, ever since 2011.

Also on the other hand, numbers have just come in from the government of India, where it talked about cases going over 1 (AUDIO GAP) million. (AUDIO GAP)

VAUSE: I think we're having some audio and transmission issues there with Vedika. But I think we got most of the report there from her out of New Delhi.

And with that, we'll take a short break. Back in a moment.


VAUSE: China is about to try a second attempt to send an orbiter, a lander and a rover to Mars. This will be the second try to get to the red planet. The first shot in 2011 on the back of a Russian rocket failed when a booster did not fire.

This time, if all goes to plan, the probe will orbit Mars, land a rover early next year, then gather information about soil, the environment, atmosphere, and search for signs of water.

CNN's Ivan Watson covering this live for us from Hong Kong. Ivan, you will also know the U.S. is planning to launch a Mars probe later this month. The UAE did it earlier this month. But this is the big launch, between the U.S. and China, setting the stage for, you know, even more rivalry between Beijing and Washington.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. And we're trying to get confirmation about the possible launch of this rocket from Hainan Island in China, carrying the Tianwen-1 Mars probe and orbiter and rover that it has, in fact, launched.

And as you pointed out, there is going to be a lot of activity, if all of these missions succeed around Mars on the long journey to the red planet.

The Tianwen-1, this is China's second attempt to get a probe to Mars. There was a previous attempt that took place in 2011 in a joint mission with a Russian rocket that then failed. So that probe didn't make it.

Here, the Chinese engineers have set an ambitious goal. They don't want to do what the U.S. did with its first missions, which was initially to send probes and then to try the much more challenging landing in subsequent missions. They want to do it all in one go. First, get an orbiter that's going to be attached to a lander, that will be carrying a rover and will then be able to collect data from the moon's surface while the orbiter is still going to be orbiting around Mars.

And this is just the latest in a flurry of activity that the Chinese have done in space exploration. Last year, landing a probe on the far side of the moon for the first time in humanity's history. Something that was actually applauded by the administrator of NASA, a Trump appointee, who said this was a real accomplishment.

But yes, it's hard not to see this in terms of the rivalry between the U.S. and China, because in about a week's time, we're expecting NASA to launch its own Perseverance mover.

And the reason why there's so much activity and so many probes headed to Mars at the same time is that this is one of the times in the year when Earth and Mars are at their closest in their varying orbits. So it makes it easier to try to send these missions to the red planet. But as you point out, the United Arab Emirates, they launched their probe just a few days ago. China expected to have launched its probe at some point today. And then, in a week's time, we're anticipating that NASA will try to launch their own probe, which will mean an awful lot of activity around Mars, if all of these missions succeed.

VAUSE: Ivan, we know you're on the story. You'll continue to follow it. We don't know exactly when the launch will take place. China has been unusually silent about that, but we're getting the time because of the advisory to international shipping and aviation.

And believe it's something -- well, it's just happened, I'm just being told. So we know that that's, I guess, actually happened but they did not actually announce the precise timing of that, but it's underway. And I guess we'll get more details of that in the coming hours.

We'll talk to you then. Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson, senior international correspondent, in Hong Kong.

WATSON: Thanks. VAUSE: The British opposition leader is grilling Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the delayed release of a report into possible Russian interference in U.K. politics.

Labour's Keir Starmer told Mr. Johnson that national security would always be the party's top priority while he was in charge. Questioning the 10-month delay of the release of the Intelligence and Security Committee's report. This was their exchange.


KEIR STARMER, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: The prime minister received that report 10 months ago. Given that the threat is described as immediate and urgent, why on earth did the prime minister sit on that report for so long?

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We've been taking the strongest possible action against Russian wrongdoing, orchestrating, I seem to remember, the expulsion of 130 Russian diplomats -- 153 Russian diplomats around the world while the Right Honorable Gentleman opposite sat on his hand and said nothing while the Labour Party parroted the line of the Kremlin, when people in this country were poisoned at the orders of Vladimir Putin.

STARMER: I was involved in bragging proceedings against Russia on behalf of the Litvinenko family. I spent five years as director of public prosecutions working on live operations with the security intelligence services. So I'm not going to take lectures from a prime minister about national security.


VAUSE: The Democratic presumptive nominee for president, Joe Biden, took sharp aim at his rival on Wednesday, calling Donald Trump a racist.

Joe Biden said this remark at a virtual town hall with employees union.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: What President Trump has done in going -- his spreading of racism, the way he deals with -- with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they're from, is absolutely sickening. No sitting president has ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this. No Democratic president. We've had racists, and they've existed, and they've tried to get elected president. He's the first one that has.


VAUSE: But in the past, what, 270-something years, there were 12 U.S. presidents who owned slaves, and others had made racist remarks. None in living memory, though.

President Trump responded, saying he'd done more for black Americans than anyone, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.


TRUMP: Prior to the China plague coming in, floating in, coming into our country and really doing terrible things all over the world, doing terrible things, we had the best African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American -- almost every group was the best for unemployment. The unemployment numbers were the best.


VAUSE: No matter who wins the election, former national security advisor John Bolton says the Republican Party must consider its future.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I think whether Trump wins or loses, there's got to be a big conversation about the -- the direction of the party. I'm still a Ronald Reagan Republican. I don't think that's what Trump is. I don't think he's truly a conservative.

And I think many people in the party are concerned, if he wins reelection, what direction he will take after November the 3rd. Even if he -- if he wins, the race for the 2024 nominations begins immediately. But certainly, if he loses, this conversation about the future of the Republican Party needs to take place.



VAUSE: Bolton left the Trump administration after 17 turbulent months and wrote a book about it. Mr. Trump recently called Bolton a low-life dummy.

The summer Olympics are just one year away. That's the Olympics. But many are worried that it will have to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. An interview with the games' sports director when we come back.


VAUSE: It took 30 years, just 30 years, but Liverpool are finally hosting another English championship trophy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest lift for Liverpool. Back on top in England.


VAUSE: Nicely done. The Reds actually closed the Premier League title almost a month ago, the earliest in top-flight history. But they did not get their hands on the trophy until Wednesday. But all the partying in the bubble, the festivities were somewhat muted because of the coronavirus. Fans were urged to stay home and not gather outside the stadium.

Manager Jurgen Klopp says there will be a proper party when it is safe.

In a world with no coronavirus, the summer Olympics would be underway this week in Tokyo. They're now scheduled to start a year from Friday.

A (UNINTELLIGIBLE) news survey actually found that not even a quarter of Japanese support having the Tokyo Olympics next year because of the pandemic.

Journalist Kaori Enjoji joins us now live from Tokyo.

This is -- it's hard, though. Once you've been set for the games to begin. They've been delayed for a year. The virus isn't getting better. It's hard to have the enthusiasm. Right?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Absolutely. The mood is completely different today, one year to go ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, than it was the same time this year. And there are questions being asked among the public, among athletes about whether or not these games should and can go ahead.

Japan has done a much better job than many other countries in containing the coronavirus. But still on Thursday, yesterday, it saw nearly 800 new cases. This was a record high. It's not just in Tokyo. It's spreading to other cities, as well.

So one year to go you. You would normally have a big event. But there is no public event scheduled to mark the date in the calendar today. Instead, we're heading into this long weekend with a message from the governor that says, Please stay home.

You can see a lot of people are ignoring that message. That's also worrying, as well.

One of the big problems is going -- one of the big questions is whether or not they're going to get all the athletes over. I mean, Japan has a travel ban with more than 100 countries. And even if they do, what's going to happen to the training process, the qualification process, as well?

So right now, I think, John, there are one more questions that are left unanswered than there were when they announced the postponement back in March. People are concerned with whether or not they can contain this virus when you have thousands and thousands of people coming in.

And of course, the monetary cost of this, as well. They've spent billions of dollars building these stadiums that have basically been idle throughout all this time. And this multi-million-dollar national stadium today is going to be just open to the media. No public are going to be allowed in. So I think right now, the mood right here in Tokyo is whether or not these games should and can go ahead in a year's time -- John.

VAUSE: Kaori, thank you for that. And as far as some of those answers and questions, I spoke with Koji Murofushi, a former Olympic champion and sports director for the upcoming summer games. Here's what he had to say about potential logistics as the coronavirus continues to spread to many parts of the world.



KOJI MUROFUSHI, SPORTS DIRECTOR, TOKYO OLYMPIC GAMES: We are working very hard for our athletes and all the spectators coming into Tokyo for next year. So we are -- we'll see. We're taking every measurement that we can to protect the health and the safety of athletes and spectators. But you know, still a year to go, but yes, we'll do our best.

VAUSE: So, you know, assuming the summer games actually do go ahead, and obviously, everyone is hoping that happens, here's part of a report from "USA Today."

"Experts said the notion of holding the Olympics as normal, with packed stadiums and typical grandeur, is unfathomable, given the trajectory of the pandemic and scientists' growing understanding of COVID-19. A vaccine, even if discovered in the coming months, would likely not be widely available by next summer."

So I guess this raises the question. What will the Olympic Games look like? Will there be fans in the stadiums? The head of the IOC says maybe not. Will we see an opening and closing ceremony? How many sporting events will be cancelled? What's being talked about over there in Tokyo?

MUROFUSHI: So it's still a year to go, and we cannot foresee the -- you know, a year to go, but we are now preparing what kind of measure we can take it, together with Tokyo metropolitan government, and the national government, you know, athletes, and spectators coming into Japan and going out, how the tests are going. We are now preparing for that, and -- and I think these answers are coming around a fall, how we're going to conduct more precisely.


VAUSE: Catch the rest of the interview next hour, right here on CNN.

Now, in the U.S., the National Football League will make its long- awaited return in just a few weeks. The league says every fan who attends the game must wear a face covering as part of an effort to contain the coronavirus.

Some teams are still trying to decide if they'll even allow fans in the stadiums. Some organizations are offering limited seating. Others are leaning towards a total ban. The new season set to begin September 10.

I'm John Vause. Stay with us. I'll be back with more CNN NEWSROOM after a short break. See you in a moment.


VAUSE: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Studio Seven, at CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.