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China Launches Mars Probe Amid Space Race With The U.S.; Zimbabwe Arrests Critics Ahead Of Planned Protests; Summer Olympics Set For Tokyo A Year From Now. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 23, 2020 - 02:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm Robyn Curnow, you're watching CNN live from CNN's world news headquarters here in Atlanta.

Just ahead this hour, more encouraging news in the race for a coronavirus vaccine just as the world crosses a grim milestone.

Also tensions between the U.S. and China go from bad to worse following what's been described as an unprecedented escalation between the 2 countries.

Donald Trump so-called surge: the U.S. president threatens to deploy federal officers to some of the country's largest cities whether there mayors like it or not.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: A growing number of American states are seeing record numbers of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus. For the second day in a row, the virus claimed more than 1,000 American lives. Nationwide nearly 4 million infections have been confirmed, about a quarter of the 15 million cases reported worldwide.

The U.S. has reached a nearly $2 billion deal with Pfizer to produce and deliver 100 million doses of its experimental vaccine.

And despite the record number of cases, the U.S. president continues to defense his response to the pandemic, pointing to more than 50 million tests. However, many people are waiting days or even weeks to get results.

In his latest briefing, the president again tried to paint a rosy picture of the crisis.


TRUMP: We're working with very talented people, very brilliant people, and it's all going to work out and it is working out. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: More on the deal between the U.S. and Pfizer. CNN's Athena Jones has this report.


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.


CURNOW: The Brazilian health ministry says the country's coronavirus outbreak seems under control despite breaking the daily record for new infections. Brazil reported nearly 68,000 new cases on Wednesday, more than 16,000 just in Sao Paulo, and more than 1,800 new COVID-19 deaths.

President Jair Bolsonaro met with supporters after testing positive for the third time within two weeks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says multiple tests on someone who already has tested positive are now worthwhile.

The Australian state of Victoria has been trying to stem an outbreak for weeks but the situation is not improving. More than 400 cases were confirmed Wednesday, the third highest since the pandemic began. Masks there are now mandatory in public in Melbourne.

Anna Coren is following this from Hong Kong.

You're an Aussie and you've been no doubt getting reports from home. But why is Melbourne back in control, even with borders closed?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are struggling and it seems the reason for the rise in numbers is due to complacency. This is basically a public health crisis and people not self-isolating is seen as the reason.

Today 403 cases were reported, down slightly from the record of 484. Daniel Andrews said this lockdown could be extended if the numbers don't drop and if people don't take this seriously. He gave some data, showing that 9 out of 100 people getting coronavirus, between testing and showing symptoms, were not self-isolating.

Those who were tested and were found positive were also not self- isolating. It seems that Victorians are happy to get tested but then continue about their normal lives. People can still go out, can exercise, it's not as strict as in other place. But people are being complacent and that's why the numbers are rising.

CURNOW: Thanks, Anna.

Here in the U.S., the Trump administration has ordered China to shut its consulate in Houston, Texas, after being accused of years of illegal spying. Local media are sharing this video of what appears to be officials burning documents after the eviction order.

The U.S. State Department said growing disputes between the countries led to the decision to shut down the consulate. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo declined to offer details but said this.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're setting clear expectations for how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave. And when they don't, we're going to take actions to protect the American people, protect our security, our national security.


CURNOW: Kristie Lu Stout joins us now in Hong Kong with this.

What more can you tell us?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: The diplomatic relationship between U.S. and China are under threat and China is vowing to retaliate.

We're following developments at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. U.S. prosecutors are seeking a Chinese researcher who they accuse of visa fraud. They say she lied about her links to the Chinese military and is currently hiding out in the consulate there.

On Wednesday Beijing vowed to retaliate after the closure by the U.S. Chinese state media have pointed to the possibility of China ordering a shutdown of one of America's consulates in China.


STOUT: Listen to the spokesperson for the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs.


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 immediately recall the wrong decision, otherwise China will take legitimate and necessary counter measures.


STOUT: The State Department says it acted to close the Houston consulate in order to protect American intellectual property and private Americans' private information, this come days after the indictment was sealed, charging 2 Chinese hackers with espionage and a cyber crime campaign.

They say it was ordered by Beijing, aimed at stealing COVID-19 research. It's not clear whether these two events are linked but tension is ratcheting up and we're waiting to see how China will respond, how it will strike back.

CURNOW: OK, thanks so much, Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

Let's go to Beijing. David Rennie is the Beijing bureau chief for "The Economist."

David, good to see you. This is an abrupt order, another example of the sharply escalating tensions.

DAVID RENNIE, "THE ECONOMIST": That's right. And I think if viewers have watched the last couple of years of sharp rhetoric and trade war disputes, the next months are going to be much bumpier as we near the American presidential election.

CURNOW: That's what many are asking, Trump's poll numbers are down.

Does a tough anti-China message play into his campaign rather than a serious look at China's behavior?

What are Beijing's options?

RENNIE: Here in Beijing, talking to senior officials on the record, they have a clear view of what's going on, a cynical view. They distinguish between Trump's tough anti-China comments, which they think are aimed at scapegoating China for his own failures with the COVID-19 pandemic, and people who are sincere anti-Communist China hawks, like Mike Pompeo and members of Congress.

They don't think Trump really cares much about Chinese human rights or the disputes over democracy in Hong Kong. They think he's focused on his own reelection. The phrase they often use is "he'll be kidnapped" by the real hawks around him.

If those hawks think this is their last few months in office because they see his poll numbers, I guess Beijing is braced for those hawks to show some real conscience (ph).

CURNOW: You talk about this being a rocky road.

What do you expect, what are the options?

RENNIE: There's a lot that could be coming. We've already seen rounds of tit-for-tat, expulsions of American and Chinese journalists. We're braced for more of that. We've seen China's foreign ministry ratcheting up its rhetoric, not just toward America but toward U.S. allies.

We've seen trade boycotts of countries like Canada or Australia, who've sided with America, the disputes over Huawei. Not only is the spiral of tit-for-tat likely to get worse, but everything is framed now by the looming presidential election. China will be a real issue. China hawks want to throw punches and Trump likes to play a China hawk on TV.

All that is incredibly combustible.

CURNOW: Do you see a severing of diplomatic relations?

RENNIE: There are other American companies that make a lot of money in China, General Motors and Apple.


RENNIE: So there are voices behind the scenes trying to reach Trump, saying we can't afford a cold war.

We hardly traded with the Soviet Union during the real Cold War. China is a very different relationship. We're in uncharted territory because we're in a very sharp ideological and security confrontation with a country that's also the West's major trading partner.

We've never tried that before so we don't really know how that works. But all of those forces are tugging policy in different directions.

CURNOW: Finally, looking at Houston, the issue of Chinese spying has been brewing for a while. Some might say the administration needs to be tough, the scale of the problem is too big and it's genuinely state sanctioned.

RENNIE: You are right, this was a big issue in President Obama's time. He changed an agreement with the Chinese. Everyone knows countries spy on one another but the deal was that countries shouldn't steal commercial secrets and hand them to their favorite company to make money.

That was a deal that President Obama thought he had reached with Xi Jinping. The Americans are very clear they think on a massive, industrial scale, China is breaking that promise and is stealing American secrets, including potential vaccine research.

So you're right; there will be retaliation so we are kind of waiting to see what's next, which American consulate here in China is potentially closed down in retaliation. There's a long of way to go in this part of-for-tat.

CURNOW: It's good to have you perspective, thanks so much, David Rennie there, live in Beijing.

Still ahead here on CNN, President Trump is deploying federal agents into more Democratic-led cities as he ramps up his law and order campaign promise. Reaction from local leaders is next plus.

Police in Zimbabwe have arrested critics of the president ahead of planned protests next week and now a nationwide curfew is in place.





CURNOW: President Trump is sending hundreds of federal agents to Chicago and Albuquerque in what he says is an attempt to crack down on crime. Federal agents are already in Portland, Oregon.

Local officials say it is actually causing a rise in tensions and violent clashes and on Wednesday the president described some Democratic-led cities as rife with crime and violence, saying he had no choice but to get involved.


TRUMP: In recent weeks, there's been a radical movement to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police departments. Extreme politicians have joined this anti-police crusade and relentlessly vilified our law enforcement heroes.

To look at it from any standpoint, 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.


CURNOW: Meantime, some critics say the move is merely a ploy to bolster the president's law and order campaign promise and paint Democrats as weak on crime as many of the cities are led by Democrats.

With growing concern among some city mayors, Chicago's mayor slammed the president, saying she will not allow legal action to stop any unconstitutional actions.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D-IL), CHICAGO: What he cares most about is trying to change the subject from the failure of his leadership on the issue of a pandemic of our lifetime, where people are suffering.

If he cared about cities, if he cared about Chicago, there are meaningful ways that the president could actually help. Instead, it's denigrate, divide and disparage. That's not leadership.


CURNOW: Joining me now is Garrett Graff, a CNN contributor.

Garrett, good to see you.

What is the legality, the constitutionality of this?

Bearing in mind, the tension between Washington and the states.

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think what we are seeing play out right now is 2 different questions. It seems that at the most technical reading of the law, the Trump administration is within bounds. But in the spirit of the law, it's a clear violation.

And that may actually matter when you get into the constitutional questions that these type of actions by the federal government make up.

In some, ways we are seeing the same type of legal fig leaves at play on the streets of Portland as we did with President Trump's Muslim travel ban earlier in the administration, which was repeatedly struck down by the courts, even though the president had the technical power to do it.

The justification he was using was not accepted.

CURNOW: The so-called surge, promising for those images that we are seeing in Portland to be playing out in other places, what are the implications of that for Americans; in particular, Democratic cities and states?

GRAFF: This is something that's going against decades, if not centuries, of American federalism and democratic practices, which -- it is a very rare thing to see the federal government sent in law enforcement against the wishes of state and local leaders.

Policing in the U.S. is primarily a local matter and a state matter. And the times in our history where we have seen that done, for instance, President John F. Kennedy deploying U.S. Marshals to protect civil rights marchers in segregated states in the South, that -- those actions took place with a very careful negotiation even with the segregationist governors.

CURNOW: We are hearing -- and this is not limited to the Illinois governor, who basically suggested in comments today that civil liberties and civil rights are being threatened in Portland and that they would push back against the sort of scenes in Illinois.

What are we going to see if we see the states pushing back on the streets?

GRAFF: The states have a very limited ability to push back on this. Where I think you are going to see immense pressure on Capitol Hill. One of the very open questions is how the Trump administration is actually paying for these actions.


GRAFF: They are doing much of this through a very complicated legal maneuver that is taking federal officers and federal agents from one agency and sort of re-inventing them as officers from another agency with a separate set of powers. But it's not clear where the money for that is coming from. And, of

course, the money is controlled by Congress and is allocated and appropriated in very specific ways, of which is presumably we consistent with how these funds are not being used.

CURNOW: And why is the president taking the steps?

Some are accusing him of authoritarian tendencies, others are saying this is classic political wag the dog distraction tactics.

Why is he doing this now?

GRAFF: And this is where the pretext of the federal government is using to send these militarized police units into American cities begins to fall apart. The president is saying these streets are lawless, that law and order has broken down.

But this very simply seems to be a campaign tool to stoke fear and bolster his reputation as a tough law and order president. The center of the dispute in Portland is basically about graffiti on a federal courthouse. And there isn't anyone at any level of the U.S. government who thinks that Donald Trump generally cares about the Mark Hadfield Federal Courthouse in downtown Portland.

CURNOW: Garrett Graff, always good to get your perspective and analysis, thanks so much for joining us.

GRAFF: My pleasure.

CURNOW: Joe Biden took his sharpest aim at the president on Wednesday, directly calling him a racist. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee made the remark out a virtual town hall with an employees union. Take a listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What President Trump has done in going -- his spreading of racism, the way he deals with people, based on the color of their skin, 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 have racists and they've existed and they tried to get elected president. He's the first one that has.


CURNOW: It should be noted there were 12 U.S. presidents who owned slaves and others who have made racist remarks. But President Trump responded with a snipe at China before pointing to pre-virus unemployment numbers.


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.


CURNOW: Mr. Trump also said he had done more for Black Americans and anyone with possible exception for Abraham Lincoln.

And coming up, China is hoping to complete its first mission to Mars and it comes just as the U.S. is about to launch its latest mission to the Red Planet. We will take a look at why this matters.



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back. Let's take a look at these images. Just a short time ago China launched what it hopes will be its first successful mission to Mars. A probe is supposed to reach the red planet in February of 2021. And this comes just days before the U.S launches its own mission. Ivan Watson joins me now live from Hong Kong with more on all of this. Hi, Ivan. What can you tell us?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Robyn. That's right. A little bit less than two hours ago, a Chinese rocket took off from Hainan Island carrying this probe that is now beginning its long seven-month voyage to the red planet. And with its ambitious space program in the last decade, China is joining a long history of space exploration and competition that dates back to the Cold War.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Space, a final frontier.

WATSON: For more than 60 years, nations have competed to see who can be first to go where no one has gone before. The country that leaps ahead in the great space race gets bragging rights and so much more. The Soviet Union shocked the world when it launched Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the Earth in 1957, and follow it up with an even bolder feat in 1961, putting the first human in space, Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

The Soviet successes, embarrassing for the United States already in the throes of the Cold War with the USSR. Gagarin's accomplishment prompted U.S. President John F. Kennedy to famously declare his vision of putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

NEIL A. ARMSTRONG, ASTRONAUT: A small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

WATSON: And go to the moon they did in what would be the defining moment that led to U.S. dominance in space exploration for more than 50 years. It may have been late to the game, but China is now hoping to change that as part of its 13th five-year plan that singles out space exploration as a top research priority.

Under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program. And in 2016, Wu Yanhua, Deputy Chief of China's National Space Administration declared our overall goal is that by around 2030, China will be among the major space powers of the world.

Now, just 40 years later, and fresh from the success of being the first nation to send a rover mission to the fore Side of the Moon, China is looking to raise the competitive bar with its first mission to Mars. The scientific team behind China Tianwen-1, which means quest for heavenly truth, say their probe is different because it is, "going to orbit, land, and release a rover all on the very first try and coordinate observations with an orbiter."

This is unlike NASA which launches its Mars missions in stages, and plans to send its seventh Mars mission later this month. If successful, China's Tianwen-1, NASA's perseverance, and the United Arab Emirates hope the Arab world's first interplanetary mission will all three reach the red planet in February 2021.

And while scientists look to work together to uncover the planetary secrets of Mars, China and the U.S. have put their space programs into overdrive signaling, more competition between these rival superpowers, each hoping to pull off the biggest breakthrough in space exploration, such as putting a man or a woman on Mars, perhaps as early as the 2030s. Both hoping to be the first --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To boldly go where no man has gone before.


WATSON: Robyn, the Tianwen-1, it is taking off and we're expecting in a week's time that NASA's perseverance rover will take off. It's not a coincidence that you have a UAE Mars mission, a Chinese, and American Mars mission all taking off within roughly three weeks of each other if, if all goes according to plan. It's because you're in this biennial window when the two planets are closer together to make the long journey to the Red Planet shorter. As it is, each of these missions it'll take them some seven months to try to reach Mars.

CURNOW: OK, that's fascinating. Thanks, Ivan. I appreciate that live report there from Hong Kong. Thank you.

So, Zimbabwe has imposed dusk to dawn curfew and limited public gatherings to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. But some say it's to take the focus off of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and allegations of corruption. On Monday, police arrested prominent journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, who won the CNN African Journalist of the Year Award a few years back, as well as an opposition leader.

Police say the two have been urging citizens to participate in public violence. Amnesty International says the arrests were made to send a chilling message to journalists and whistleblowers. I want you to take a look at this video. Hopewell actually have the foresight to film himself while he was being arrested. These images went out on Facebook.

Well, David Coltart is a Zimbabwean senator and the country's former Education Minister. He's on the line now from Bulawayo. David, hi. Obviously, Hopewell filming there his arrest. We understand that there is a bail hearing this morning in Harare. What else do you know about what happened and what is -- and why it happened?

DAVID COLTART, SENATOR, ZIMBABWE: Well, Hopewell has been revealing actually corruption that go to the very highest level of Zimbabwe over the last month. He clearly has some very good sources, including documents which has exposed the Minister of Health who's very close to President Mnangagwa. It's been deeply embarrassing to the regime, and they've not turned on him.

They broke into his house as the video shows. They smashed a window and arrested him. They spent most of yesterday searching his house. And they've now charged him with this -- a very serious charge of promoting violent protests. He hasn't promoted violent protests. It's clear that they after him simply because of these deeply embarrassing revelations that he's made.

CURNOW: We know that Hopewell in particular has a pretty large social media following, although I seem to see that his Twitter account is now apparently been deleted. But he was a Harvard Nieman Fellow, a friend of CNN, as I said earlier, he's written articles for the New York Times, he went to Oxford. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee even tweeted that his arrest erodes democracy.

So why is the Mnangagwa government targeting him even though he has uncovered a corruption? What message does that send?

COLTART: Well, I think the two things have played here, Robyn, the first is that they must fear what else is going to reveal. He clearly has the resources and this is a deeply corrupt regime, Robyn. And I think that they must fear what else he's going to expose.

Secondly, as you say, he has this widespread following, not just internationally, but also within the country. He has called with others for protests on the 31st of July. And I think that they fear that he's going to be the spark which will result in hundreds of thousands of people turning up in the streets and undermining Mnangagwa's grip on power. So they trying to intimidate him, to shut him up, but also to have a chilling effect on the -- on the whole nation.

CURNOW: So would you say then that this is -- this arrest -- these arrests are a sign of weakness rather than strength?

COLTART: Oh, absolutely. There's no doubt that this is a paranoid, fearful regime. It's been -- I repeat, these revelations of being deeply embarrassing. They have shaken the very core of karma. And of course, that comes on the top of a dramatically worsening economic situation. Inflation is running up at nearly 1,000 percent and there's great dissatisfaction even within the military and the police. And so, they're just turning -- striking out whoever they pursued is undermining their position. [02:40:20]

CURNOW: David Coltart live there from Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. Thanks very much for joining us. Thank you, David.

COLTART: Thank you.

CURNOW: So in Mexico, a stubborn refusal to take the Coronavirus seriously despite the growing number of cases. A look ahead, that's next.


CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta. It's 43 minutes past the hour. So in India, nearly one in four residents of New Delhi may have contracted coronavirus. That's according to a government study. There are about 125,000 reported cases in the city. But the study suggests that infections in New Delhi are much more widespread than the number of confirmed cases indicates.

Well, let's go straight to Vedika Sud who's in New Delhi. That's an astounding number. Just talk us through the data behind the study.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: Very quickly, I'm going to do that. So just sample this. We have a survey we conducted across Delhi. These are random samples that were collected. About 21,000 blood samples were taken, and that showed that almost one in four people have had COVID- 19 symptoms in the past.

That means, what you just mentioned was that in Delhi, there are about 125,000 cases. But if you go by this sample, there should be already over 4 million cases in Delhi. And that's the worry. As far as government of Delhi is concerned, the number stands at about one-third of what is being projected by the survey.

And this is extremely worrying at this point in time because that means that about 77 percent of Delhi's population is too vulnerable because of which containment areas have to still be in place, according to the Delhi government. Now very quickly, I'm also just giving you the nationwide numbers today. 1.2 5 million cases is what India has reached today. Once again, we've had one of the highest jumps in the number of cases in the last 24 hours. Also, the second- highest number of deaths reported in the last 24 hours.

So clearly the cases are going up and the survey once again brings the focus back to Delhi that has seen a few less cases than the last few weeks. In fact, it was just this week that we saw less than a thousand cases being reported for the first time in six weeks in the last 24 hours. But this number and this survey has brought back the spotlight to how Delhi still has 77 percent of its population, which is vulnerable to COVID-19 presently, and the numbers that have been officially stated seem to be much less than what the survey attempts to indicate, Robyn.

[02:45:28] CURNOW: OK, thanks for that. Keep safe. So, despite the growing numbers of cases, many people in Mexico's biggest cities refuse to believe the virus is that severe and others don't believe it exists at all. As Matt Rivers now report from Mexico City. Here's Matt.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Umberto Montez Cruz sings at funerals for a living, so you might think he would 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, but to me, it doesn't exist. He says if it existed, he'd have gotten it by now.

And living and working in Mexico throughout this outbreak, I've consistently heard people like him Umberto say that this virus doesn't exist and so of 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?

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: There's some 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: She wants 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. 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.


CURNOW: Tune in to CNN for CNN Global Townhall Coronavirus Facts and Fears. It's hosted by Anderson and Sanjay with a special guest, this time it is Bill Gates as you can see there. That's Thursday at 8:00 p.m. in New York, 8:00 a.m. Friday if you're in Hong Kong.

So the Tokyo Summer Olympics just a year away now, but many are worried they'll have to be canceled because of the pandemic. We'll take you to Tokyo.



CURNOW: Allegations of racist and sexist remarks by the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. has triggered a watchdog investigation. Robert Woody Johnson is a billionaire owner of an NFL team and a generous Republican donor. He's also accused of trying to benefit the President's Personal business in the U.K. Here's Kylie Atwood with more on that.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Ambassador Woody Johnson has been investigated by the State Department Inspector General, that's the State Department watchdog, due to allegations that he made racist and sexist remarks to staffers at the U.S. Embassy in the U.K. and also that he sought to use his government position to advocate for the President's personal business. So, I want to tick through some of our reporting.

On the racist allegations, Ambassador Woody Johnson allegedly questioned why the black community would want a specific month to celebrate Black History Month. And as embassy officials were working on an event to commemorate Black History Month, he asked if the audience would be filled with black people.

With regard to the African American community, he said that the real challenge is that they do not have fathers who stay in the families. And one official who overheard those comments said that they were stunned.

With regard to the allegations related to sexism, Ambassador Johnson is said to have hosted official gatherings, official events at a men's only club in London. And he was told by another official at the embassy that he couldn't do that. Obviously, that would prevent women who worked at the embassy from attending official events.

And were also told that he made sexist comments to women about their looks, about what they were wearing at the embassy. And he questioned why they should hold a feminist event to commemorate International Women's Day.

Now, the other part of this is that there are also sources telling us that he was seeking to use his position to advocate for the President's personal business. So, after a trip to Washington in 2018 where he met with the president, he returned to the embassy and told them that the President wants to host the Open, that's a prestigious British golf tournament at his golf -- at his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland.

And so, we are told that he was then met with some pushback from embassy officials. They told him that he could not mention that request with British government officials, but he did so even though they told him he shouldn't. And we're told by a U.K. spokesperson that there was no request made about the Open or any other sporting events, but that official didn't say that the Turnberry course did not come up in that conversation that we are reporting on.

So, we are now hearing from Ambassador Johnson. I want to read you a tweet that he sent out yesterday afternoon, claiming that these allegations are false. He said, "I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times. These false claims of intensive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values."

Now, this is markedly different from the response he initially gave CNN when we told him about the story that we were reporting saying, nothing about the specific allegations in our story. So, this is an update to his initial response.

We are also getting responses from the football world given that Woody Johnson is the owner of the NFL team, The Jets. Jamal Adams who's a star player on The Jets tweeting yesterday "We need the right people at the top. Wrong is wrong." in response to our reporting. And we know that members of Congress are also asking the State Department for specifics for a report on these allegations and this investigation.


CURNOW: That was Kylie Atwood there reporting. Now, the Summer Olympic Games were supposed to start this week in Tokyo. But the pandemic, of course, changed all of that. So now they're scheduled to start a year from Friday, and Japan has just broken its own record for the number of COVID cases reported in a single day. So what does that mean? Kaori Enjoji joins me now from Tokyo. Is it wishful thinking that the Olympics will take place a year from Friday?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Robyn, there are still a lot of maybes although we're one year to go ahead of the post phone games here in Tokyo. And you mentioned the record number of cases. I can update you that today Tokyo logged the record number of cases for a single day 366 new cases and we're still waiting for the national tally to come out.


And in this climate, a lot of people here are wondering whether these games should and can go ahead. You have a situation where coronavirus cases are raging in many parts of the world where athletes and visitors will try to come here for the games. We have a situation where the borders are still closed. Even in Japan, it has closures with more than 100 countries. So the mood has changed significantly, Robyn, over the last three months.

When it was first postponed, there was great disappointment. But this week, poll after poll has come out showing that the majority of the Japanese public thinks that these games should be canceled or postponed and because that's -- because they want the government to focus instead on fighting COVID-19.

They are deeply concerned whether these games can go ahead. I mean, look behind me. Today is the start of a four-day weekend here, Robyn. And the Governor has said please stay home because we're seeing record cases and we don't want this to spread to the elderly population here, but very few people are heading that caution.

And I think that shows the limitations of what we have here in Japan where you can't institute a severe lockdown as you can in many other countries. So, in that climate, I think people are very, very nervous and wondering whether these games can in fact, go ahead.

I mean, today, one year on, usually you would have fireworks or some kind of big public event, but organizers say that is not happening. The National Stadium, which they spent millions of dollars to build, will not be open to the public today. Instead, they're just showing us a short 15-minute video to the media.

So, I think there is a lot of doubt and a lot of questions and I think that to answer your question, it's still a big maybe whether these games can go ahead. Robyn?

CURNOW: Thanks so much, Kaori, for that. Keep dry. So, it only took 30 years -- we're staying with sport -- but Liverpool are finally hoisting another English championship trophy. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biggest lifts for Liverpool. That's on top in England.


CURNOW: The Reds actually clinched the Premier League title almost a month ago, the earliest and top-flight history, but they didn't get their hands on the trophy until Wednesday. Despite all the partying in the bubble, the festivities was somewhat muted due to Coronavirus. Fans were urged to stay at home and not gather outside Anfield Stadium.

Manager Jurgen Klopp promises they will be a proper party when it's safe. It looks like they gave it a good go though, isn't it? So I'm Robyn Curnow. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Rosemary Church right after this. Thanks for watching.