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Memorial Services Begin For Civil Rights Icon Rep. John Lewis; Florida Reports 12,000 New Cases, Deaths Rise By 124; McConnell Warns Stimulus Package Could Take A Few Weeks; Brazil Reports 56,000 New COVID-19 Cases Overnight. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 25, 2020 - 11:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour remembering a true champion of civil rights whose courage, honor and sacrifice to our country could not be overstated.

At any moment now a public memorial service for Congressman John Lewis will begin in his birthplace of Troy, Alabama. It's the start of six days of ceremonies and tributes in cities that shaped the civil rights icon's life.

Tomorrow a U.S. military honor guard will escort Lewis' body across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma one last time. That's where Lewis helped lead a march to Montgomery for voting rights in 1965 where he was beaten, skull cracked. Much more on the memorial in a moment.

But first, another tragic day in America as the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of slowing down. Johns Hopkins reporting the fourth straight day of over 1,000 deaths in the U.S. This, as the number of cases rise to more than 4.1 million.

And now the FDA is announcing a new tool to combat the virus. It's authorized its first test to positively identify COVID-19 in people who show no symptoms. The significance of that coming up.

All right. Let's begin this hour with the disturbing upward trend of coronavirus deaths in this country.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is standing by for us. So Polo, we just got new troubling numbers out of Florida that are only exacerbating the national crisis. What more can you tell us?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Fred, that certainly suggests that each day seems to bring another grim milestone across the country. Of course, the last couple of weeks we certainly have been talking quite a bit about Florida.

So Florida health officials there releasing the latest updated numbers now indicating that at least another 12,000 new cases and at least another 124 deaths. You do the math, you look at the numbers that we have seen in the past now showing that at least 409,000 Floridians have been confirmed to have the coronavirus at one point and then also now the death toll now close to 5,700 people.

Look at a more national picture now, not just Florida, but California as well also surpassing 400,000. And Texas close behind now with 380,000 which means these are really the states that are now hardest hit by COVID-19.


SANDOVAL: Six months into the pandemic and some of the nation's coronavirus stats are going from bad to worse. As the nation surpassed four million COVID cases and over 145,000 deaths this week, California beat out New York as the state with the most infections to date.

GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): When we began to reopen our economy, we so -- we focused so much on when, but we didn't focus enough on how to not only do it but to educate individuals.

SANDOVAL: On Friday, California recorded its highest number of COVID deaths in hard-hit L.A. County. Health officials are warning the virus may soon become a leading cause of death among residents.

COVID cases seem to be plateauing in some of Texas's largest cities. But in one small south Texas border county patients may be sent home to die if a hospital, ethics and triage committee deems them too sick to recover. The local county judge says their hospital is at capacity.

That's also a common struggle for health facilities in Florida which saw a nearly 84 percent increase in COVID hospitalizations since July 4th. As statistics hit record-breaking highs in the south and west, parts of the northeast are experiencing lows not seen since March.

On Friday, New York recorded its lowest number of hospitalizations in nearly four months. And with the approaching school year just weeks away, parents and teachers facing uncertainty about when or if in- person classes will resume amid a push to open schools.

MAYOR LENNY CURRY (R), JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA: Kids ought to have the option to learn in person and virtually. I believe they ought to have choices. If teachers have vulnerable immune systems, they ought to have options as well. But we have to get our kids back into a school in a safe way.


SANDOVAL: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert urging school districts not to rush to any decisions.

DR. FAUCI: There are a lot of people with underlying conditions out there, so I think when you talk about forcing teachers to come back to school, you better be careful about that and make sure you pay attention to, a, keeping them safe and, b, keeping them healthy.


SANDOVAL: Fauci not ruling out outdoor teaching as a way to get students back to school --

DR. FAUCI: I wear this all the time.

SANDOVAL: -- and recommending face coverings be worn in the classroom.


SANDOVAL: Back here in New York we mentioned those dropping hospitalization numbers, also ICU rates throughout New York state also showing significant signs of improving in some of the latest -- some of the lowest that we have seen since March.

What is slightly concerning though right now, Fred, for New York officials is a significant increase in COVID cases for people in their 20s, all the way up to their 30s.

Governor Andrew Cuomo saying that part of that is because of these large groups that we have seen congregate outside of restaurants and bars. So you can expect today a special task force that's been appointed by New York state to be out in full force trying to implement not only social distancing but also mask wearing as well.

WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval. Thank you so much. We'll check back with you.

Georgia now reporting its highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic. The state reporting nearly 5,000 new infections Friday as Governor Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms continue to spar over coronavirus restrictions.

CNN's Natasha Chen joining me now from Atlanta. Natasha, what more are you learning?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, the good news is that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp have been ordered to go through mediation and they are supposed to do that before Tuesday.

And of course, Mayor Bottoms on Thursday said during a virtual press conference that they are trying to work out, trying to iron out their differences. She also mentions that they had a good conversation on a phone call Wednesday between her and the governor. She said the two of them are in agreement that masks save lives.

However, within the last 24 hours, Governor Kemp did tweet a list of accomplishments that he has done for the people of Georgia and one of those things on the list was that he filed this lawsuit to stop businesses from closing.

And of course, when he filed this lawsuit, he mentioned he did this on behalf of Atlanta businesses who were frustrated with the city's rollback to phase 1. But keep in mind this rollback is a set of recommendations for businesses like restaurants, to go back to curb side pickup or delivery only. In fact, many restaurants have decided to stay open any way knowing that the statewide rules allow them to be open.

Governor Kemp also listed some other things he's been doing, such as signing a new contract to ramp up testing, continuing a partnership with hospitals to expand bed capacity, securing millions of masks for local government and, as he says, launching the "Four Things in Four Weeks Campaign.

So he's asking the people of Georgia to do four things: to wear a mask, to socially distance, to wash hands and to follow local health guidelines. And he says that if this is done for four weeks, that that can really help curb the spread of this virus which as you mentioned, Friday saw a record in the state. More than 4,800 new cases reported. That breaks a record that was set just one week ago, Fred.

WHITFIELD: So, now, what about parents in Gwinnett County, which is a suburb, you know, of Atlanta which that county also has now Georgia's highest coronavirus rates. These parents are protesting to get kids back in school. What are their demands?

CHEN: Well, I think what we're hearing is that the parents want options. They say that they fully support the other parents who would like to keep their kids at home with virtual learning. But that some of these parents who perhaps have to go out of their homes to work at this point have no options as far as who is going to watch their children who have to stay at home doing this virtual learning.

So there were a couple of hundred parents who gathered outside the school district yesterday to ask for that option. Gwinnett County schools had actually given that option up until recently when they changed to start the school year instead on August 12th virtual only because of the rising numbers that they're seeing in their area, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Lots in flux. Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

All right. Coming up, honoring a civil rights icon.

Right now mourners are remembering Congressman John Lewis at Troy University in Alabama. His siblings are among those expected to speak publicly for the first time since his passing.

And we'll have more from the service and a live interview with the president of the National Urban League straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: Celebrating the life of Congressman John Lewis. And right now memorial service for Congressman Lewis is under way in his hometown of Troy, Alabama.

You're looking at live pictures right now inside Trojan Arena at Troy University. And at any moment now, we're expecting to hear from Lewis' siblings.

The late civil rights icon died last week after a six-month-long battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in Selma, Alabama where there will be another service this evening. Martin, Alabama is where it all started in so many ways for the congressman, the late congressman.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Fred. I mean, Selma, of course, is synonymous with the civil rights movement and the Voting Rights Act. Inside the church behind me here, the Brown Chapel is where Dr. King and where John Lewis planned and worked on those marches to Montgomery including Bloody Sunday which John Lewis became famous as a part of being beaten nearly to death.

But now we're in Troy, his hometown, as you point out. Many people know him as an icon of the civil rights movement, known as, of course, and congressman from Georgia for decades.


SAVIDGE: But he is a son of Alabama, born to sharecroppers on the outskirts of town. And he knew very quickly growing up the injustice of segregation. He experienced it, which is why he fought against those his entire life.

And he's back home one last time. And his family and friends and that neighborhood there are all gathered to pay tribute inside

And his family and friends and that neighborhood there are all gathered to pay tribute inside Trojan Arena, that's on the University of Troy there.

I should point out one of the problems that they are dealing with is there are more people who wish to attend than can under the safety rules that are being applied due to the pandemic. So there were about 800 tickets that were made available. You can see in the imagery, the social distancing that's taking place.

After the service that will include family members, then there's going to be a public visitation for about two hours and then of course John Lewis' body will be moved here to Selma. There will be another service tonight and another public viewing and then tomorrow, one last trip over the bridge that was made famous on the road to Montgomery.

It will be a powerful moment, as you point out, that this is the celebration of the life of the boy from Troy. That is a nickname that was given to John Lewis by Dr. Martin Luther King when he met him for the very first time and it's a nickname that John Lewis has proudly carried throughout the rest of his life.

So many people want to pay tribute. And so many will not be able to. So remember, we carry it live for you. It's also live streaming online for those who wish to participate. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.

A tribute to someone who spent really his entire life, I mean since the age of 15 with this commitment to try and improve -- to improve the lives of everyone.

Thank you so much, Martin. Appreciate it.

Joining me right now to talk more about the life and legacy of the late Congressman Lewis, Marc Morial with me now, president of the National Urban League and former New Orleans mayor. Marc, good to see you.

MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Good morning, Fred. Good to be with you. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: So this is a day -- it will be six days of celebrating the life of the late congressman. And as these funeral services for John Lewis get under way there in Troy, what are some of the thoughts that come to mind for you?

MORIAL: I think what's so appropriate about the week of celebration is that it will touch his birthplace, Troy. It will touch Selma, where so much of his important work took place. It will touch Washington, D.C. where he became an icon and the conscience of the nation. And then he'll return home to Atlanta where he was a council person as well as a member of Congress for more than 30 years.

I think in Selma, people should take a step and understand that in Selma while there's great focus on what happened on Bloody Sunday and that was pivotal, the Selma campaign and the campaign to register voters in Alabama actually started in early 1963.

And John Lewis then with SNCC, the Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee and the Dallas County Voters League which is the county in Alabama in which Selma is located and at that time it was a majority African-American county where less than 1 percent of the African- American voters were registered.

That campaign met with the resistance for several years of Jim Clark, this outrageous, violent segregation sheriff in Dallas County. So before Bloody Sunday, there had been beatings. There had been killings. There had been an out and out effort by the officials in Alabama to prevent African-Americans from registering to vote. And it continued, continued after the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

John Lewis was involved in that effort early. And it is notable that as a student activist, the SCLC which Dr. King led was not initially involved in the efforts in Dallas County, not initially involved in Selma but came in later on.

The beating of John Lewis was pivotal in that it dramatized once again the violence that African-Americans were facing in the South for the simple act of seeking to register to vote. In those days, it was so bad that there was an injunction in place for many, many months, and maybe years that prevented a civil rights meeting from taking place. This was out and out oppression of the worst kind. You can't meet. You can't register to vote. So when Dr. King got involved it was against the backdrop of moving in and bringing SCLC on board because there had been so much resistance. And the events of Bloody Sunday and the campaign in Alabama prompted President Johnson to introduce the Voting Rights Act.


MORIAL: And importantly people should recognize that the right to vote was contained in the original drafts of the Civil Rights Act of '64. But it was deleted because Johnson felt he couldn't pass it in '64 and ultimately it passed in '65. So John Lewis' role in this not only in Bloody Sunday but as a strategist and as an organizer prior to Bloody Sunday is so important to understand. He didn't just show up or march. He was involved in a deep campaign in that area and in that county.

WHITFIELD: Right. Through his dedication and then consequently through his sacrifice. I mean, look how he became such a catalyst in change as you just so aptly described.

And isn't it something that as he would become an elected leader in Congress much later on, and throughout his political and civil rights career and dedication, he would be a mentor to so many along the way.

Just as he reached out to Martin Luther King when he was just the age of 15 years old and the next thing you know he was really part of this whole movement, he has been a mentor for you along the way as well. So tell me what that relationship was like, how it was built and how he shaped or influenced you.

I asked him to support a fundraising event that was being held for me in Atlanta in 1990, the first time I ran for public office. And he said yes. And he and Andrew Young and Mayor Jackson and a number of others in Atlanta came together to help me raise money very early in my political career.

I didn't know John Lewis except the icon, the congressman, the civil rights leader. And he was very quick to say yes. I was in my early 30s at the time -- very, very young. Very much, I think, wet behind the ears in politics. And he said, yes.

And all throughout my time here as president of the National Urban League, there's never an instance where we called and invited him to come and speak, to spend time with us, wanted a moment of his time where he ever said no. The man was gracious. He was down to earth. He was relatable and reachable in a very special kind of way.

I think that's what makes an icon. He walked with kings. He challenged kings and queens, but he never, ever lost this common touch -- this real man image, this humility, this humanity. And I think that is, I think, a true role model for leaders of these times that you've got to be able to walk with kings, speak truth to power but never lose the common touch.

WHITFIELD: Marc Morial, thank you so much. All of those things so beautifully describe, you know, his legacy and then bottom line if it's succinctly -- there was one word for him, it also meant being accessible and you described how he did that.

Thank you so much.

MORIAL: Thanks, Fred.

The celebration of John Lewis' life and legacy will continue over the next six days. And we'll be there every step of the way.

Meantime, today's services will conclude at Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma where he will lie in repose tomorrow morning. A military honor guard will accompany Lewis' body across the Edmund Pettus Bridge one last time.

And then later on in the week the Congressman is set to lie in state in Montgomery, Alabama, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta before he is put to rest.

Live pictures right now out of Troy, one of his brothers about to speak.


HENRY GRANT LEWIS, BROTHER OF REP. JOHN LEWIS: To our special guests, Dr. Hawkins, welcome everyone but on behalf of the family, I would like to welcome and thank each of you for coming.

I had took the time to plan this long, I would say, list of accolades that John had accomplished. Then I said to myself, they knew about all of that. I need to tell them some things about John that they might not know.

The John Lewis that I knew, the John Lewis that I want you to know about, is the John Lewis that would gravitate towards the least of us, would drop by his four-year-old nephew's birthday party. He would feed the hungry and homeless on Thanksgiving Day. He took the time to go by a young man's house in Troy that had portrayed a young John Lewis in his black history class.


H. LEWIS: Asking his younger brothers to be part of his special guest list while receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. Making a surprise visit to his great nephew's fifth grade class at Charles Henderson (ph), always attending family functions, even if he could only stay for an hour or so because of his busy schedule.

He was always concerned about the health and well being of his family and members of others. To sum up the life of John Lewis, I would say he worked a life time to help others and made the world a better place in which to live.

And on a personal note, I talked to John on Thursday, the day before he passed, and we would always have these interesting conversations. He would always ask me, how is everybody doing, no matter how bad he felt.

So we exchanged the love we had for each other Thursday -- Thursday night rather. And his last word was, how is the family doing? How is everybody doing? And I said they're doing fine. He said, will you make sure to tell them that I asked about them?

And on a little bit of a humor side, when John was first sworn into Congress, I think I got my year right, 1986. I was there. And during this swearing-in ceremony, right before the swearing-in ceremony, he looked up. He knew where I was sitting. And he looked up and he gave me the thumbs up. And I gave him the thumbs up back.

So after the event was over, we was together. And I asked him, I said, John, what were you thinking when you gave me the thumbs up? He said I was thinking, this is a long ways from the cotton fields of Alabama.

And those are the memories that I have with my brother. We would have these late night conversations and early morning conversations where he would call me 11:00, 12:00 at night and he'll ask me were you asleep? And I say, "No, I'm not asleep, John." But actually I was asleep.

And he'll say, have you heard from Freddie or Debby lately? I said, yes, talked to them a few days ago. I think I'll call them. I said don't call them tonight. Call them tomorrow, I said, because it's late.

But that's the John Lewis that we grew to love. And our family naturally will miss him. But he was at peace. He was at peace and he was ready to meet the Lord. Thank you.


CROWD: Good morning.

BREWSTER: My name is Jackson Lewis and Congressman John Lewis was my uncle and my hero. And it's up to us to keep his legacy alive. Thank you, guys.

ROSA MAE TYNER, SISTER OF REP. JOHN LEWIS: Good morning. John Robert Lewis, my big brother. Humble man. Simple man. And a man of God.

He always wanted to improve the lives of others without any concern for himself. His deep faith in God made him extraordinary. He was fearless by trusting in God because he was chosen. He lived with a never ending desire to help others.

He often told us if you see something wrong, do something. His actions showed us just that. In a time when going to jail was perceived as trouble, he reminded us that it was good trouble, necessary trouble. See something, say something, do something.

Thank you.

[11:29:47] ("WIND BENEATH MY WINGS")

ETHEL MAE TYNER, SISTER OF REP. JOHN LEWIS: Good morning. Writing a tribute to a person whom you have known all of your life was hard for me. But I'm thankful for the treasure of memories that we shared with him. Preaching to us under that old pecan tree. He would preach and he probably did the praying also.

But you know, Robert -- most everyone called him John -- but he always been just Robert to us, family, our brother. Robert been preaching injustice and equality even at a young age, as one of my brother's mentioned in the cotton field.

We was farmers, our father, everybody was farmers. And I remember so long ago when the clouds would come over the sun he would start singing and preaching. And at the start, he would always start with "There's a dark cloud arising. Let's go home. Let's go home."

And he was also afraid of the thunder and lightning, but he stood by. He always was a fighter. And you know now when I look at all of the accolades, the pictures that I see all the time, and I think about where he came from -- humble means. Humble. Always.

And you know, and no one mentions all of his accolades, because you already know them. You all know these. You already do. But he came from a humble beginning, always humble and respectful to others.

So to my brother, Robert, this is not a good-bye. It's just a different kind of hello.

And you know when we talked, he always said, how are you doing? And he had this I'm well. So, rest well, Robert. Rest well.

Thank you.

FREDDIE LEWIS, BROTHER OF REP. JOHN LEWIS: My name is Freddie Lewis. And like my sister said, he was just Robert. We all known him by Robert.

And I'm from Michigan. I stayed in Michigan. And John had a speaking engagement at some college in Michigan, way up north. And I drove, you know, a good distance to hear him speak. He spoke a different things he did to the college.

When it was over with he asked if there were any questions. So I stood up. I stood up and said, yes. Robert, he said anybody call me Robert from way up here? He said they got to know me personally. I said I'm your brother Freddie. He said I got a brother that drove all the way up here to hear me speak. I want to hear like brother Grant. (CROSSTALK)

Every time he come closer to Michigan, anywhere else, I was there, you know, to hear. Like I said, he's our brother. Brother Robert. He was no John. He was just Robert. And I loved him. Thank you.

[11:40:10] SAMUEL LEWIS, BROTHER OF REP. JOHN LEWIS: Good morning. I told my

pastor I wasn't going to preach. But I am going to talk about my dear brother John.

What can I say about Congressman John Robert Lewis. Well, he was a congressman to most, John to others. Robert and uncle Robert to family was the most important role he played for me was being my older brother.

I can tell you so much about John Robert Lewis, but we would be here all day. And his work over the years has spoken for him. One of my childhood memories is when we was younger. Our mother would call me Robert and call Robert me because we looked so much alike even though we were nine years apart.

I remember the day when John left home, mother told him not to get in trouble, not to get in the way and be particular. But we all know that John got in trouble, got in the way. But it was a good trouble.

John was different from the rest of the family. And he would have thoughts that all other troubles he got himself into would change the world. I'm so honored that John was my brother. And he will live forever in all our hearts.

So keep John's legacy alive. Let's get out and vote. And in doing both, keep your eyes on the prize. I love you, brother. Rest on. And I will see you again one day.

That's it.


WHITFIELD: Young brother there Samuel Lewis saying, you know, urging everyone to remember the late congressman and that he'll forever live in our hearts. We heard from all of the siblings of the late Congressman John Lewis here in Troy, Alabama, the birthplace of the late congressman.

We'll continue to monitor the memorial services. And again, this tribute, this celebration of life that will span now six days.

We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

Just as federal unemployment benefits are set to expire, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are at a standstill on a new stimulus package. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now warning that a new deal may take a few weeks. The standoff and uncertainty is leaving millions of Americans with jobless aid on edge.

For the very latest, let's bring in Sarah Westwood at the White House. So Sarah, where do things stand?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, right now things stand in limbo, even though Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin emerged from talks with Senate Republicans on Thursday saying that both sides had reached a fundamental agreement. A GOP aide tells CNN that that deal the framework of it might not be released until Monday now. There are still some details being worked out.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said White House negotiators still need to look over some of the fine details of this agreement that they're hashing out, but he said that the name of the game for this deal is going to be immediate relief for families. Take a listen.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: In my view, it ought to be very much frontloaded toward immediate help, immediate help. If you're looking for the theme: send kids in school, jobs, health care and liability protection.


WESTWOOD: Now, one of the holdups appears to be what happens to that unemployment enhancement, that extra $600 that people out of work are getting right now that officially expires on the 31st. But this will actually be the last week that people get that extra help unless Senate Republicans in the White House agree to some way to extend that and Senate Republicans have expressed interest in doing so.

But keep in mind that this is just an opening bid that's being worked out right now between the White House and Senate Republicans. Then the real hard work starts, right? Then they take it to Democrats in the House, Democrats in the Senate and they have to get some sort of bipartisan agreement.

Democrats in the House and Senate have already panned what Republicans are working on right now. The Republican White House plan is set to be around $1 trillion. Democrats want something in the neighborhood of $3 trillion.

So a lot of work ahead, Fred, until a real agreement can be in place and passed by Congress.

WHITFIELD: All right. Some ways to go, still. Thanks so much Sarah Westwood at the White House.

All right. Still ahead, Brazil reporting nearly 300,000 new cases of coronavirus in just seven days and the country's president tested positive three times. We'll have more information on his status.

We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

Health officials in Brazil reporting 56,000 new coronavirus cases overnight. With Friday's new cases, Brazil has added a total of nearly 300,000 new COVID-19 infections in just the last seven days.

And this comes as the country's president Bolsonaro said a short time ago that he tested negative for the virus, but it was just Wednesday when he announced that he had received a third positive test for the virus.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Sao Paulo, Brazil. So Nick, give us the update on the president. What is going on?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, this morning, a tweet emerged with a picture of him. The words saying that, essentially, I'll paraphrase here, in a PCR (INAUDIBLE) test he tested negative. And then good day to all.

Now he's seen sat in a chair, clearly having just enjoyed breakfast holding up what seems to be the box of hydroxychloroquine that he's been brandishing while, in fact, he was testing positive for the disease. It's a pixilated picture so you can't be sure exactly what that box is.


WALSH: It looks like the medication he's been showing people that he has been advocating in the past that scientists, doctors, pretty much universities say is of no use in fighting coronavirus. May in fact be harmful to some degree. In fact they were joined by a Brazilian study here, a large one, agreeing with that recently.

Then after he's released, the fact he's now tested negative after that two weeks of being positive, he was seen at a Facebook Live video meeting some motorcyclists, in fact discussing with them the possibility of easing restrictions off highways in some parts of the Brazil traffic code.

But an interesting morning here where clearly his -- perhaps his take that the disease isn't that serious, he's called it a little flu in the past. Moderate his language to some degree focusing on the need for the economy to be revived. And also, too, recently saying in fact it was between a doctor and a patient as to whether you take hydroxychloroquine.

But it's advocated strongly by Brazil's ministry of health over the past months under his administration. This possibly show of his recovery may well be used by those who advocate his physician to suggest that in fact it is possible to recover reasonably quickly from this disease.

But all of this focus on one case, of course, is a distraction from the 56,000 cases that in the last 24 hours were reported in this country and those are the ones we know of. Remember, Brazil's testing is rare. You have to have quite a few symptoms often to get a test. It has changed over the past months or so. But still an epidemiological study which has been done across the country with government funding has, in fact, begun to stop getting that money to continue. It showed that perhaps testing may be showing about a sixth of the number of cases here in Brazil.

So it's surging here being no doubt. The number of deaths are about a thousand a day normally and the fact that President Bolsonaro, a man who played it down has now emerged with frankly a positively negative result here. That will surely add to the drums here that beats just life that's trying to go back to normal here. It isn't. It's awful here.


WHITFIELD: Yes. And it sounds awful. It's an amazing that surge, but to hear that even that may be understated is pretty significant.

Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

People waiting hours for their coronavirus test results while others wait weeks. A closer look at the frustrating process straight ahead.