Return to Transcripts main page


Coronavirus Cases Continue Rising In States Across U.S.; CDC Releases Guidelines For Reopening Schools; Georgia Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Jon Ossoff Announces Wife Tested Positive For Coronavirus; Coronavirus Testing Site Set Up In Underserved Community In Southern California; Survey Indicates Effects Of Coronavirus For Those Infected Can Last Weeks; Memorial Service Held In Alabama For Late Rep. John Lewis. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 25, 2020 - 14:00   ET



CHUCK MORGAN, ANNOUNCER, TEXAS RANGERS: We're trying to make it sound like there's 40,000 people here.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chuck Morgan, the Rangers P.A. man, is bracing for a lonely seeing looking out over an empty ballpark.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Arlington, Texas.


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

We begin this hour with more devastating numbers as the coronavirus surges in states across the country. The U.S. death toll now sits at over 145,000 and counting. More than 4 million Americans have been infected with this disease, and that includes record new cases in Georgia, California reporting its single largest day of deaths to date, and Florida has now surpassed New York in the total number of cases.

All of this as we learn the symptoms of the disease may linger in many people for weeks. A new study from the CDC says some patients can experience symptoms for up to three weeks after testing positive, and that includes young, healthy people without underlying conditions.

Despite that, the CDC's guidance on reopening schools is getting support from the nation's top infectious disease expert.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I do. I think the CDC has put some good guidance down. I just took a quick look at them before I started in on the program, which was sent to me by my colleagues at the CDC. So I think it's a sound set of guidelines. A recent study came out that showed children up to 10-years-old, it

looks like they don't necessarily spread infection as readily as adults do, whereas children 10 to 19 appear to be spreading infection to adults as equally as well as adults spread to adults.


WHITFIELD: Let's start our coverage in New York. CNN's Evan McMorris- Santoro is there. Evan, the state has seen its numbers drop drastically, but that isn't the case in so many other states today.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, that's exactly right. And if you look at the map that we've been showing on CNN, for days now you can see the story across the country, the southwest, the south and Florida, places like that are really having a hard time, while New York has had basically nothing but good news for a while now.

But the thing is, those two different story lines could be linked, and that's kind of what's going on here in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo has warned about an increased infection rate among younger people in New York lately, which he said could possibly be attributed to a loosening of restrictions on things like bars and outdoor dining. Now, his entire focus lately has been trying to keep the bad news outside of New York from getting into New York and changing the good news in New York.

And weekends like this one are the concern. It's nice out, people want to get out. We've all seen pictures of people crowded around outdoor drinking spaces in New York. Cuomo has ordered stepped-up enforcement of the rules here, with state officials conducting more than 1,100 compliance checks over the course of just two days last week. That resulted in 84 violations for establishments that could really have some hefty, hefty fines.

All of that is about trying to keep the virus in check. But restaurant and bar owners say the rules keep changing here, and that means that they might not be able to stay open, which of course puts jobs at risk. So the real story here is about trying to keep the economic damage down while keeping the good news about the virus up.

I talked to one bar owner at a bar in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan named The Otheroom, the bar owner's name is Jeff Peze, about the challenges that he's facing trying to remain open, but also obey the rules to keep everybody safe while he's open.


JEFF PEZE, NEW YORK BAR OWNER: If we knew about the most recent changes, we may have not necessarily invested several thousand dollars in other kinds of improvement and investments to be in compliance with the other coronavirus rules. The governor and his team really need to understand the day-to-day real world impact on a lot of small businesses. It is a big burden right now. And for many of us, we're just not going to survive it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, look, Fred, as it has throughout the pandemic, New York may be an insight to the rest of the country about what the future is going to look like. A lot of places in America right now are going through the toughest times of this pandemic.

But they're going to come out of them and they're going to be faced with the same situation that New York is facing. For now, the virus is under control in New York, but the economic impact of keeping it that way is still a huge challenge. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Yes, an understatement, indeed. Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much.


Meantime, Georgia now reporting its highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day, with nearly 5,000 new infections Friday. The record number of new cases coming as the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in the state of Georgia, Jon Ossoff, announces that his wife has tested positive and he is now awaiting his own test results. CNN's Natasha Chen joining us from Atlanta. What more can you tell us, Natasha?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, Ossoff, was tweeting about this today, saying that his wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer, is an OB- GYN at Emory here, and that she started developing symptoms this week, tested positive last night, and that he now, as you mentioned, is awaiting the results of his COVID test, and that he also feels some symptoms.

The campaign has stated that Ossoff has not held or participated in any in-person events in more than a month, and that he and his wife will be in isolation until they're cleared by a medical professional. So they're just the latest of really high-profile politicians to test positive for COVID, and that includes Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, her husband, and one of their children, that the numbers just keep climbing.

If you look at the seven-day moving average of new cases across the state, you can see the steep climb, especially in the first half of July, and unfortunately a similar situation with the trend in new deaths as well.

And meanwhile, all of this is happening as leaders are sort of battling out how they are supposed to really respond to this virus. In Atlanta here, the mayor rolled the city back to phase one, recommending that businesses like restaurants go back to curbside or delivery only, asking people to stay home unless there's an essential trip to make outside. Again, recommendations.

The city also has a mask mandate. And that's when the Georgia Governor Brian Kemp sued the Atlanta mayor and city council for the rollback and for the mask mandate, stating that no local jurisdiction could go any stricter than the statewide rules. A judge has asked Kemp and Bottoms to go through mediation before next Tuesday. Bottoms has said that she is trying to work out, iron out the disagreements that she has with the governor, that they had a good phone call on Wednesday, and that the two of them agree that masks save lives.

But of course, there's a different approach to how to combat this virus, how to help the state of Georgia really go through this experience of the pandemic, and s Evan was reporting, the economic as well, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And then Natasha, do we know how the Atlanta mayor's husband and child are doing? Where are they in their battle with coronavirus?

CHEN: We haven't heard a recent update about that. They announced that they had tested positive a few weeks back. But the mayor has been making appearances virtually, making a statement as late as Thursday about the fact that she would like to try and iron out some of these disagreements that she very publicly has with the state's governor.

WHITFIELD: Yes, because she has publicly said in terms of her testing positive that she was asymptomatic, but her husband and child, besides her husband being very tired a lot, it would be curious to know how they're doing thus far. Natasha Chen, thank you so much. Of course, we're wishing everybody from Ossoff's family to Keisha Lance Bottoms' family the best.

Let's go now to California, a state with the highest case count in the country at over 440,000. CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Los Angeles. So Paul, what do officials there attribute these recent rise of new cases?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're going to hear from an expert on that in just moments. I'm right here in front of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. And one of the things they look at, Fred, is when they opened the bars, when they reopened the bars in California, that seemed to have a huge factor.

Let me bring in Dr. Debra Prothrow-Stith, she's the Dean here. And asking you about that, we discussed this off camera, once that day hit and they opened the bars, we started to see a skyrocketing of numbers.

DR. DEBORAH PROTHROW-STITH, DEAN, CHARLES R. DREW UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE AND SCIENCE: Well, it's estimated that about half-a-million people went out that night, and certainly in bars, you can imagine without masks and with conversation, the virus was spread. And it seems that that's part of the reason why we had this surge.

VERCAMMEN: And it's three-pronged with the bars because people were letting their masks down, violating the six-foot rule, and also projecting a lot, which is a big factor in the spread.

PROTHROW-STITH: Right, because there's music, you've got to talk over the music. And you hit it on the -- the nail on the head. If you're drinking and you're pulling down your mask and you're talking and you're in that environment, there's a closed room, the air circulation is not something that always allows filtering. So that does seem to be one of the factors.

[14:10:04] VERCAMMEN: Now, something to counteract that, you and your colleagues should be commended for setting up this testing site in a predominantly underserved community of 80 percent Latino. And we noticed, we've got people walking up and driving up this morning. But you had a challenge, you had to get the word out for people to get tested. Tell us how you approached that.

PROTHROW-STITH: Well, I think this site really says it very clearly, that black and brown people in under-resourced communities will come out and they will get tested. But you're right, we had to get the word out. So we had volunteers out leafletting and letting people know that we were here.

We also had to make sure people understood that it was free and that they didn't have to have insurance. That was another big factor. Here in Los Angeles it's important for people to know that they don't have to be documented, and nobody is going to come after them once they come for a test. So those were some of the big issues.

But the thing that I think was the most innovative is that we did allow walk-ups. It's a myth that everybody in Los Angeles has a car. Everybody in Los Angeles does not have a car. And allowing people to walk up, and also to get same-day appointments and register, rather than having to go online and register ahead of time, those are the things that I think really made a difference. And we've gone from testing like other sites, a couple hundred people a day, to now 1,000 people a day. And we've tested over 65,000 people.

VERCAMMEN: Well, thank you so much for sharing that. And it really has been humming here. We super appreciate your insights. And one thing I would just like to add, you might have heard the latest L.A. County numbers. The number that has the most concern is hospitalizations.

It's just under 2,000. We're going to track that. And county health officials are saying they expect the numbers to come back up again because there's a little bit of a lag in testing. So we want to thank the Dr. Prothrow-Stith for joining us. And back to you now, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Paul Vercammen and Doctor, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Dr. Esther Choo, a professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. Dr. Choo, good to see you. So you've been very vocal about the lack of adequate testing and long turnaround times for results in so many places around the country, going back to early March. Have you seen any improvement over recent months?

DR. ESTHER CHOO, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, OREGON HEALTH AND SCIENCE UNIVERSITY: Oh, boy. We continue to have a lot of restrictions on testing, as you know. And there are just so many bottlenecks that haven't changed much since March. Certainly, we have more testing, but there's still so many delays.

And I think the issue, too, as I think we've discussed, is it's really without any central coordination. We've gotten into this horrible situation where institutions, cities, counties, states are kind of competing against each other to pay the most so that we can get access to testing.

So improved, but we're really just still so far behind where we need to be. And in particular, we're still mostly testing people who are symptomatic or who have had close contact, really a narrow indication for testing, rather than doing the proactive community-based testing of asymptomatic people without risk factors that we should have been doing for a long time.

WHITFIELD: Does it seem like there's been an even greater slowdown, where people were talking about four days delay in getting test results, and now we're hearing cases of 10 days and more. Is it because of the volume, the increase of testing, and so there's a backlog essentially?

CHOO: It is. There's higher expectations for testing, and just in the last day or two, FDA has approved testing for people who are not symptomatic in any way and who don't have any established high-risk contacts.

And so as indications widen and as people are trying to implement testing aggressively in places like camps and schools so they can open safely, which is what they should be doing, but as our aspirations for testing broaden while we have these fixed limits on testing and turnaround time and materials for testing, that creates a dilemma, and it actually can worsen things, particularly in places that don't have the ability to pay two or three times the usual market rate for testing. So we're in a pickle, and we really need to accelerate our ability to test and to test efficiently.

WHITFIELD: And then let's talk about what we're learning from those who have had coronavirus. We're learning now that 35 percent of people who took part in a recent CDC survey say they still weren't even back to their usual good health, weren't feeling good, even two or three weeks after testing positive for coronavirus. So how important is it for people to understand that even younger, healthy adults can suffer from symptoms for weeks?


CHOO: This is such an important part of the message to get out. I feel like sometimes we get stuck in this trap of saying, did you die from coronavirus? If you didn't, then you're fine. And in fact, there's this big middle range where we're seeing so many people -- so the CDC study, looked at people who had a positive test, and also reached them between two and three weeks after that positive test.

So I think even that, and that was a striking finding, so as you said, 35 percent still had symptoms, and one in five of people in the younger age category between 18 and 35 who had no medical problems also reported having these delayed symptoms.

Now, that study capped out three weeks after their test. If you continue to follow that population a month, two months, three months after their positive test, I'm convinced we'll still see a significant number of people who experienced ongoing symptoms and disability, cannot go back to work. And people need to understand they're not weird. This is actually part of this disease course, which is very different from, say, our usual seasonal flu.

WHITFIELD: Right, and that's what makes this so frustrating for the general populous and for you medical and scientists as well, because so much is still being learned. We don't know everything there is to know about coronavirus, and here it continues to spread. But we don't know everything about how to get ahead of it, how to always treat it, and how long it's going to stick around. So Dr. Esther Choo, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

CHOO: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Some local television stations are giving air time to a completely discredited conspiracy theory involving Anthony Fauci. We'll explain the controversy ahead in the CNN Newsroom.

And next, Congressman John Lewis's hometown remembering the boy from Troy.



WHITFIELD: Memorial services for Congressman John Lewis are under way in Alabama. Earlier today we heard from Lewis's five surviving siblings in his hometown of Troy. Here's how one of his sisters described his towering legacy.


ROSA MAE TYNER, SISTER OF REP. JOHN LEWIS: 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.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Martin Savidge is in Selma, Alabama, where another service will be held later on today. So Martin, all of his brothers and sisters seemed to paint the same picture of this man, who was not only humble, but very generous and kind, no matter what.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did. What I loved about the ceremony, and by far it's likely to be the most intimate that we are going to hear, because of course it was held by his family, and it was held in his hometown. It was John Lewis's last time going back home. And though today marks the first of six days of remembering his legacy and his life, this one is the one where you heard from those who knew him best. And the first thing I learned was they all called him Robert. We know him as a civil rights icon, we know him as a congressman, but Robert is how they all knew him.

And so you began to hear these personal reveals, and they decided intentionally not to go into his record that everyone knows the history that many of us had memorized. Instead, they went into the parts we didn't know about his personal life. So again, here's one of his brothers, it's Henry Grant Lewis, recounting a story.


HENRY "GRANT" LEWIS, BROTHER OF REP. JOHN LEWIS: When John was first sworn into Congress -- I think I got my year right -- in 1986, I was there. And during the swearing-in ceremony, right before the swearing- in ceremony, he looked up. He knew where I was sitting, and he looked up and 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 was a long way from the cotton fields of Alabama.


SAVIDGE: That is so very true, and so telling about his life. He was born to sharecropper parents on the edge of town on a very small farm, grew up in Jim Crow south, had to endure the pain of segregation, of injustice. And all of that proved to be the foundation of his life and everything else that was to come.

There was a public viewing after that, and now private time with his family. And then he'll be transported here to Selma, which is the next important step in his life. Of course, Selma involved with the Civil Rights movement, and it was a key moment that took place on the Edmund Pettus Bridge which will, again, be looked at tomorrow as his casket in a horse-drawn carriage is led over that bridge once more on Highway 80 heading up to Montgomery.

So much history, so much of a remarkable life, and we all get to share in the journey once more as the public is allowed to participate. In many cases it will have to be by live streaming due to the health concerns at coronavirus. But here at Brown Chapel Church they're preparing tonight for another service, another viewing, and again, this was such a poignant part of that history. Dr. King and John Lewis here organizing inside that church back in 1965 the march to Montgomery.


WHITFIELD: Wow, remarkable. It was so nice to hear from his brothers and sisters, because even though they had just very small little kernel-like stories, it said so much. The stories said so much about him, about his simplicity, how humble, but at the same time how generous of others, always thinking of others in his generosity. It was really, really so special and nice. Martin Savidge, thank you so much.

SAVIDGE: It was.

WHITFIELD: So the celebration of Congressman John Lewis's life and legacy will continue over the next six days, in fact. The ceremonies will be held in cities that shaped the civil rights icon's life. Tomorrow a U.S. military honor guard will escort Lewis's body across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma 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, Georgia, where he will also be laid to rest, Atlanta.

And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: As coronavirus cases and deaths surge across the country, a group of local television stations across the country are set to air a baseless conspiracy theory this weekend over the origins of the virus. That discredited conspiracy theory suggests Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, was responsible for the creation of the virus. CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy joining us right now. So Oliver, what is this conspiracy theory all about? And why would these television stations air it, and in what way are they airing this?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes, Fred, who needs Russian disinformation when you have United States companies willing to poison their own audiences with conspiracy theories that have been discredited like this. So what's happening this weekend is local stations across the country owned by Sinclair are going to be airing a segment with a discredited medical researcher who was the star of this viral "Plandemic" video that came out earlier this year.

And in the segment, she suggests that Dr. Anthony Fauci is supposedly responsible for this coronavirus. And her lawyer, on air as well, backs up her claims and says that the origins are in the U.S. Obviously, this is not true, but it's going to be airing on Eric Bolling's Sunday show, which is broadcast to the stations owned by Sinclair.

They're one of the largest network of local stations across the country, so there's a good chance that it's going to be airing in a lot of our own viewers' communities. Now, I talked to Bolling, and Bolling said that he didn't even know that this person he invited in on his own program, what was the star of this viral video earlier this year which was banned from Facebook and banned from YouTube, he said he was unaware of that. But he said he still felt comfortable going forward with the segment.

And I should note, Fred, that this isn't occurring in a vacuum. Dr. Antoni Fauci, I think we have some sound of this, he talked to David Axelrod, our colleague, and basically said that he's under a lot of threats lately, him and his family. Why don't we take a listen to that?


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Back in the day of HIV when I was being criticized with some hate mail, it was more people calling me a gay lover and what they hell are you wasting a lot of time on that, things that you would just push aside as being stupid people saying stupid things.

It's really a magnitude different now, because the amount of anger, as much as people, inappropriately, I think, make me somewhat of a hero, which I'm not a hero, I'm just doing my job, there are people who get really angry at thinking that I'm interfering with their life because I'm pushing a public health agenda. The kind of not only hate mail, but actually serious threats against me are not good. I don't really see how society does that.


FAUCI: It's tough. It's tough. Serious threats against me, against my family, my daughters, my wife. I mean, really? Is this the United States of America? But it's real. It really is real.

AXELROD: Have you had to take on security measures?

FAUCI: Yes, yes, yes. I've been given security.


DARCY: So these conspiracy theories obviously have a real world effect. You can see Fauci is receiving a lot of threats.

Sinclair has put out a statement this afternoon, and they're standing by the segment. I'll read part of it. It says "We hear your feedback regarding a segment on this week's "America This Week." At no juncture are we aligning or endorsing the viewpoints of Mikovits or Mr. Klaymanthe or endorsing the "Plandemic" documentary. Full stop.

We also interviewed medical experts who debunked Dr. Mikovits' claims as conspiracy theories. We're a supporter of free speech and a marketplace of ideas and viewpoints, even if incredibly controversial."

That characterization that they had a medical expert debunk these as conspiracy theories I think is a bit generous. The expert also suggested that this was manmade perhaps in a lab. But that's what Sinclair is saying. As of now, they're planning on going forward and running this conspiracy theory segment this weekend.


WHITFIELD: Yes, which, Oliver, it's still potentially influential, because when you say Sinclair owns and operates local TV stations to the tune of more than 200, so that's a pretty significant piece of the pie. Oliver Darcy, thank you so much.

Expanded unemployment benefits are about to run out, and it could be weeks before Congress passes another stimulus plan. We'll get the latest from Washington next in the CNN Newsroom.


WHITFIELD: Right now the White House chief of staff and the Treasury Secretary are meeting on Capitol Hill to try to hammer out differences among Republicans on a new coronavirus stimulus bill. And with the clock expiring on federal unemployment benefits, the future of those $600 weekly checks for millions of jobless Americans is now in limbo.

Lawmakers are at a standstill on a new stimulus package that could extend the payouts and address other financial needs. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now warning that a new deal may take a few weeks.


Let's bring in Kristen Holmes in New Jersey where the president is spending the weekend. So Kristen, what is the status of this new stimulus package?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the status of the new stimulus package, Fred, is incomplete. We know, as you said, that Mnuchin and Meadows are up on the Hill, and all of this is surrounding the Republican proposal. We have not even gotten to the point yet where we're talking about Democrat negotiations with Democratic senators and House members. This is all in-fighting between the White House and these Republican senators over what exactly this proposal is going to look like.

And just to give you a little bit more context here, we just heard from Mark Meadows, he spoke to reporters on the Hill, that said that in terms of where they stand right now, that they're just trying to make sure they've identified all legitimate needs that are out there. The president has been very clear about one thing, if there are legitimate needs, he wants to make sure there's enough money to take care of those needs.

Now, McConnell had said that they were hoping to put this bill, their proposal, forward last week. Now they're saying early next week with some of the components rolling out on Monday. A lot of this is centered around what you just mentioned, that $600 a week that is going as federal enhancement for unemployment money, that is going to 20 million people. Both Senate Republicans and the White House believe it's time to reduce that amount. But the question is how exactly they're going to do that.

Now, Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin also stopped by to talk to reporters, and he said that they were prepared to move very quickly on this extension of unemployment insurance, but they want to make sure there's a technical correction so that people don't get paid more money to stay at home than they get paid to work.

But as you mentioned, we have seen more and more layoffs, the economy started to bounce back, then we started to see more layoffs as those surges continued around the country. There are people who are depending on this money, and it expires at the end of the month. And even with some components coming forward on Monday, that is July 27th.

That's four days from the end of the month, meaning that for all of this to happen, it would have to be four days between Monday and the expiration for them to get something going. It's just impossible right now. So there's going to be the a lapse in some of these critical funds.

One thing I do want to point out here is that we have been asking White House officials, Senate Republicans, for weeks now what this would look like. Many of them telling us that it was on pause, or they were just going to start to have the conversations. They said they wanted to see the last stimulus package fully go through the economy before they started considering this next one. But again, we're considering it here up against a deadline, a deadline that is critical for so many Americans.

WHITFIELD: Critical indeed. Kristen Holmes, thank you so much.

So as president moves forward with his plan to have federal officers on standby in some of the largest Democratic-led cities, we're seeing another night of clashes between police and protesters in Portland, Oregon. Here was the scene last night.


CROWD: Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!


WHITFIELD: So the protests began peacefully, but Portland police say late last night protesters began shaking a fence outside the federal courthouse, and then suddenly they launched fireworks, and that's when the clashes began with federal agents launching tear gas into the group. Authorities tell CNN at least one person was stabbed. They have a suspect in custody.

And around the country there are fights over facemasks. Store and restaurant workers are among those bearing the brunt of attacks by people who refuse to wear masks. Much more straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: A disturbing nationwide trend, vulnerable frontline personnel like bus drivers and grocery store workers, are being attacked for trying to enforce mask requirements. Here is CNN's Pete Muntean.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lily Damtew's Coffee shop in Alexandria, Virginia, is now lined with messages of support. But it's when she delivered the message to a customer that masks are required that things got ugly.

LILY DAMTEW, COFFEE SHOP OWNER: I told him, you need to wear a mask to get service. He said, no, I don't have to. I said, yes, you do. He spat on my feet and he went up the street. It was just sad. It was very upsetting.

MUNTEAN: Her story is just one from across the country of those in the service industry now on the front lines of enforcing new rules. Damtew was harassed one day after she reopened after being closed for months.

DAMTEW: If I knew things like that would happen, I wouldn't be open.

MUNTEAN: The Trump administration has not instituted a federal mask mandate.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I leave it up to the governors. Many of the governors are changing, they're more mask into, they like the concept of masks. But some of them don't agree.

MUNTEAN: Thirty-nine states have made some sort of mask requirement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about you just leave? Please leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you smart enough to --

MUNTEAN: In California, bartender Rebecca Hernandez found herself on the receiving end of a customer's racist tirade. Hernandez says he refused to wear a mask.

REBECCA HERNANDEZ, BARTENDER: It comes down to whether or not you want to risk your safety or not. And that's a really hard place to be. But definitely a federal nationwide mandate or a law would be incredible.


MUNTEAN: More than 20 major retail chains, including The Gap, Best Buy, and Dollar Tree, wrote on that states must pass laws requiring masks. Dr. Anthony Fauci is also putting the onus on state and local leaders.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Be as forceful as possible in getting your citizenry to wear masks.

MUNTEAN: A message that Lily Damtew (ph) hopes comes through loud and clear for her sake and all those facing fights over face coverings.

DAMTEW: I'm not going to give up. I'm still going to ask you to wear a mask if you come to my store. Without a mask, I'm still going to ask you to wear a mask. I'm not backing down.

MUNTEAN: Pete Muntean, CNN, Alexandria, Virginia.



While a number of researchers are working on a coronavirus vaccine, others are working on another treatment to prevent people from getting infected. Details next.



WHITFIELD: The first phase three coronavirus vaccine trial in the U.S. is expected to begin next week. It's one of 25 potential coronavirus vaccines in clinical human trials around the world, according to the World Health Organization. But before a vaccine can be successfully deployed, there may be another way to treat COVID-19 patients. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: If there's one thing most humans on the planet want right now, it's antibodies. Your body can produce them if you're infected. A vaccine can also provide you with them. But there is another way. It's called antibody therapy. That means taking the antibodies from the blood of someone who has already been infected and recovered from COVID-19.

DR. MARSHALL LYON, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: We've used it for rabies for hundreds of years. More recent history in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, people tried something called convalescent plasma.

GUPTA: Dr. Marshall Lyon is an infectious disease physician at Emory University. He also treated some of the first Ebola patients in the United States.

LYON: And so plasma is the part of the blood which contains all of these antibodies.

GUPTA: Within the plasma, you are likely to find antibodies which specifically attach to this part of the virus that's called the spike protein, and it's the key to entering human cells.

DR. BARNEY GRAHAM, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, VACCINE RESEARCH CENTER, NIH: If an antibody binds this little finger part, that's obviously going to block the attachment to the cell. That will neutralize the virus.

GUPTA: Dr. Barney Graham is deputy director of the Vaccine Research center at the National Institutes of Health.

GRAHAM: There's other spots that you combine the protein that disrupts its function.

GUPTA: What he is describing are called neutralizing antibodies. They work to block the virus from actually infecting cells in our body.

GRAHAM: Having an antibody, or the plasma from convalescent patients, allows you to accomplish, at least temporarily, what we're trying to accomplish with the vaccine. So you can just give the antibody, we call it passive immunization, and then you can give the antibody ahead of time and create temporary immunity.

GUPTA: Taking antibodies in that plasma and giving that to somebody, either to help protect them against becoming infected or even possibly as a treatment, how effective should that type of antibody therapy be, convalescent plasma?

GRAHAM: I think it's very important that the serum therapies and plasma therapies and even the globulin therapies are tested both as treatment for serious disease, but maybe also intervention in the early phase of the infection so that it doesn't progress to serious disease.

GUPTA: The hope is that these antibodies can do a preemptive strike, preventing more serious disease from developing in someone who is infected, or maybe even blocking infection altogether in people who are at high risk, like health care workers. Some have even called it a bridge to the vaccine. Companies like Eli Lilly and Regeneron are now trialing therapies using neutralizing antibodies found in recovered patients, but then manufactured in the lab. They're known as monoclonal antibody therapies.

GRAHAM: To be able to put them to good use in therapy or prevention is really an exciting new technology.

GUPTA: But there is an issue. Some recent research that found that COVID-19 antibodies may wane after several weeks, and it was those who were sickest who tend to produce the most antibodies. Keep in mind, the majority of people with COVID experience just mild symptoms.

How does that compare to how long the antibodies should last from a vaccine?

GRAHAM: For antibodies, the typical half-life of an antibody in humans is around three to four weeks. And so those antibodies, if given at a high dose, would last for a couple of months.

GUPTA: These are all considerations in developing a COVID-19 treatment, as well as a vaccine.


WHITFIELD: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much for that.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thank you so much for joining me today. The CNN Newsroom continues right now with Bianna Golodyrga.