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WHO Reports Record Increase in Global Cases; Medical Experts Urge Shutting Down and Starting Over; Some U.S. States Seeing Steady or Falling Case Counts; PPE a Precious Resource as Doctors Adjust to New Reality; Bolivians Using Disinfectant as Treatment; Protests in Portland amid Rise in Tensions; Money and Power Causing Disparity in U.S. Virus Testing; U.S. Agents Secure Chinese Consulate in Houston. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired July 25, 2020 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Worldwide coronavirus cases setting a record high while here in the United States, several states set a record of their own.

Also --


HOLMES (voice-over): Eighteen people face federal charges after another week of protest in the U.S. city of Portland, Oregon, as President Trump says that he will send federal officers to other cities as well.


HOLMES (voice-over): Down comes the coat of arms, the U.S. seal removed from the consulate in Chengdu, as American authorities secure the former Chinese consulate in Houston.

Hello, everyone, welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, I am Michael Holmes.


HOLMES: Our top story this hour, coronavirus numbers going in the wrong direction again. The World Health Organization says that the global tally rose by more than 284,000 in just 24 hours. That is actually a new record and it comes to almost 200 new cases every minute.

Let that sink in. In the U.S., experts say the number of new cases is starting to plateau in some hardhit states, including Arizona and Florida. Others are reporting record high numbers of new cases and deaths.

All of this as a new CDC study finds that COVID-19 symptoms can linger for weeks, even in otherwise healthy young adults. Top experts are skeptical about claims that a vaccine could be available by the end of the year.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think as we get into 2021, several months in, that you would have a vaccine that would be widely available to people in the United States.


HOLMES: One big question that causes a lot of anxiety across the U.S. is whether schools should reopen and when. While the federal government can and does weigh in and exert pressure, that decision is ultimately left up to states and counties although there has been a lot of administrative pressure. Athena Jones with the latest on the debate.



DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The school calendar is not the pandemic calendar.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new front in the back to school debate. The CDC is out with long-awaited guidelines making the case schools should reopen in some cases, arguing children suffer in a remote learning environment.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: There really are have been substantial public health negative consequences for children not being in school.


JONES (voice-over): And stressing they appear to be at lower risk for serious complications from COVID-19 and are less likely to spread the virus than adults. But the science on that still isn't settled.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: What I can't tell you for sure, despite the South Korea study is whether children under 10 in the United States don't spread the virus is the same as children over 10.


JONES (voice-over): One reason there's so much concern, particularly in hotspots like Florida's Miami-Dade County.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-FL), MIAMI: You're talking about 350,000 students plus another 40,000 teachers. So, you're putting a tremendous amount of people back into the economy in a way that could end up being a super spreader event.


JONES (voice-over): Exactly what doctors at overwhelmed hospitals there are worried about.


DR. AILEEN MARTY, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: It is way too dangerous here right now to have face-to- face schools and we're drowning. We're absolutely drowning here.


JONES (voice-over): The CDC also advising local authorities to take into account the level of virus transmission in the community before resuming in person classes.


REDFIELD: When you look at the hotspots, I think most of us right now are looking where the percent positivity rate within the community is greater than 5 percent.


JONES (voice-over): Many of the nation's school districts pressured to make a decision before the CDC guidance came down. Some deciding to hold online only classes in the fall, others postponing the start of the school year. And after new daily deaths nationwide past 1,000 for the third straight day, signs new infections may be leveling off in some of the hardest hit places like Florida, Arizona, Texas and California.

Still, seems like this one, a mask less crowd of hundreds that in Northern California worship service are worrying. Meanwhile, more than 150 medical experts and others in an open letter urging political leaders to shut down the entire country again and start over.


JONES (voice-over): This time following the kinds of public health guidelines that helped dozens of other countries get the virus under control.

Dr. Anthony Fauci only partly agrees.


FAUCI: I'm not so sure you need to all of a sudden everybody go back to a complete lockdown. It could come to that. You always got leave it on the table. (END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: One of those public health measures that experts like Dr. Fauci and others support is of course wearing masks. Now McDonald's and Chipotle restaurants are joining a long list of companies that are requiring customers to wear masks. The rules are already in effect at Chipotle and will begin on August 1st for McDonald's -- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: As local leaders debate whether to reopen schools in person or online, Arizona's governor is changing his approach, now basing it on health benchmarks. The state reported more than 3,000 new cases on Friday. But as CNN's Miguel Marquez reports, there are also some promising numbers.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, there are some encouraging signs in Arizona. The rates, overall rates of cases, every day, it's coming down, has been coming down, in the last 24 hours.

The most recent reporting by the state, up over 3,000 again, fairly high but it had been down below 2,000 cases a day over the last week or so.

That rate of transmission, if I get, it how many do I pass it on to, has been trending in the right direction for the state as well.

But the problem and the big sticking point for the state, that rate of positivity. The number of people getting tested and the rate that come back positive, that is stuck at about 25 percent.

That indicates to epidemiologists and to health officials that there is a lot of virus out there, a lot of community spread. And that is complicated things for, say, opening up schools for in-person instruction.

They wanted to start on their traditional date of August 1st; the governor pushed that back to an aspirational date for the 17th of August. Now they're waiting and the governor has we're going to scrap all that, come up with metrics to figure out what the virus rate in the community needs to be before schools can open up for in-person instruction.

Many schools already pushing back in person to October, possibly into 2021 for some of them.

Arizona is unique, because it is this time of the year, when school starts again, it's a snowbird area, for people who live in very cold climates to come here for the winter. It is also the time of year when the flu strikes.

And the hospitals typically in October, November and December, get very full with people suffering the flu. If you have lots of COVID out there at the same time and you have those patients, on top of flu patients, it is going to be extraordinarily difficult for the state to cope with that many sick people.

That is what the state is looking at right now. They are trying to get this back into the box right now but it is very hard. When the governor opened up the state in May, there were about 500 cases a day being reported. Now you are in the 2,000 to 3000 number a day. Back to you.



HOLMES: Joining me now, Dr. Murtaza Akhter, an emergency medicine physician in Phoenix, Arizona.

Good to have you on, Doctor. I wanted to start, rather than talking about the facts and figures, what you are seeing in the emergency rooms. How bad has it been?

DR. MURTAZA AKHTER, VALLEYWISE HEALTH MEDICAL CENTER: Thank you for having me on. The emergency departments have this issue, where anytime we have patients who need to be admitted, namely the sickest patients, they are waiting for long periods in the emergency department.

I'm sure you've heard about the bed capacity issues we've had and the staffing issues we've had. When there is a patient who we can turn around quickly we've actually done a pretty good job. I think as emergency physicians being able to handle that.

But the patients that need to be admitted, which sick patients need to be, they end up staying there for long periods of time. This last week, a couple weeks back to back, I went home, came back the next day, and a patient admitted the previous day was still in the emergency department.

That is not typical for an ER. We had a similar scenario, where a patient waited so long, she decided to go home. We talked to her and said, no one said you've been admitted and she said, listen, I'm think I'm going to die. I want to die at home, not at the hospital.

So that gives you an idea of what it is like in the emergency department.

HOLMES: Wow, that is just heartbreaking stuff. One thing that has struck me, the social media is still full of those who resist taking this seriously and abiding by the sensible precautions and so on.

What should the public know about what is happening in hospitals around the country, in your hospital, the stark reality of that?

AKHTER: I don't know why they've turned this into a social media game. If they want to post selfie pics, that's one thing. But if they want to do something that's harming people by spreading false information, it literally is dangerous.


AKHTER: Masks are clearly very effective. They're a great -- (INAUDIBLE) for it. All the other countries in the world that don't wear masks just for fun, they're obviously onto something. They've dealt with pandemics before. And even with COVID-19, a new pandemic, even within this pandemic, we've got very good data for how effective masks are.

Obviously, distancing is helpful; hand hygiene is very important and so the people who are turning this into a social media game, think of it this way. Our hospitals are very backed up. Obviously, heart disease still exists.

So, whatever you think about COVID or masks, heart disease still exists, trauma still exists, stroke still exists.

If you end up in a car accident or your loved one has a heart attack, how good do you think his or her care will be if there are no beds in the hospital?

HOLMES: To that point, give us a sense of what it's like for individual doctors, nurses and therapists, having to deal not with just the volume but with those sick people the dying people one-on- one. Take us into the emotion of that. It is unthinkable to most of us.

AKHTER: Obviously there are things I can say on air and things we say as colleagues. When we are open about it there are a lot of emotions. Sometimes there is anger but a lot of times there's almost desperation.

We can handle sick people, especially as emergency physicians. That's what we're trained for. My intensivist colleagues are there every day, working long, long hours, calling people and telling them their loved ones are dying.

They've been doing this for their lifetimes. That part we are used to. What's really demoralizing is how the patients keep coming in. Despite how full we are, despite how much the news is telling people how bad it is in hospitals, despite what the health experts are saying, people are still treating it like it is a game.

They are still partying, they are still not distancing, they are still not wearing masks. There are a lot of people doing the right things, but it really takes everybody to do the right thing because it's very easy to spread germs.

So, it's very frustrating for us, when we are doing our utmost to save lives, that's what we do, right?

But then to go home and on our way home, we see people who are clearly not following guidelines. It's like I said, it is infuriating for some and very -- it's almost a desperation, demoralizing, for others. And it makes it hard to come to work every day, knowing that other people are just being apathetic about it.

HOLMES: Infuriating is the word that leaps to mind, as you put it.

Finally and briefly, according to "The New York Times," I think 10 U.S. states are reporting U.S. states per capita than anywhere in the world.

Why do you, as a medical professional, think that is?

Why, when compared to other major nations in Europe in Asia, has the U.S. done so badly?

AKHTER: It is really appalling and really ironic because we had this information. Some countries didn't know what was going to happen, but we knew, because of other countries and even now, we saw what happened in New York. We knew the ways to prevent it. We knew how important distancing was, lockdown and staying at home, we knew how effective masks could be.

Despite all of that, we decided, you know what, it will be OK. I don't know why we thought that. Now there is something to be said about the fact that there may be some countries who are maybe not as testing as often, but Europe clearly is, a lot of Eastern nations we talked about clearly are.

And despite how densely populated they are and despite the fact that a lot of them have fewer resources than we do, they were able to control it. I think a lot of it is a cultural difference. People listen to their health experts and their governments in other countries. People are OK wearing masks.

I don't know how this became such an issue here, especially in a pandemic, especially when you have seen your own country men and women die in large numbers. Why this has become political, why people are not wearing masks, is really appalling. I think we need a big cultural shift here to bring this control onto the pandemic.

HOLMES: I think that's well put, as you say, the U.S. had a huge heads-up, given what was happening in other countries and then kind of blew it.

Dr. Murtaza Akhter, thank you so much, I really appreciate it.

AKHTER: Thanks for having me, Michael, stay safe.


HOLMES: CNN's own Dr. Sanjay Gupta is also having to adjust to the new normal and to the fact that the equipment he uses to protect himself and others in the hospital where he works is now more like a precious resource. Check out this quick report he sent from the hospital locker room.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: OK, giving you a special video diary from the hospital today. Doing brain operations and spine operations today. Got to tell you, one of the hardest things has been wearing one of these N-95 masks because you see it really digs into your face quite a bit.

And they are really hard to get. We're basically told to reuse the same mask as long as we can until it becomes too soiled. You have to take good care of it.

So what I do, in addition to the mask, they put another mask on top of it.


GUPTA: And I basically have this above, and that is basically what I'll do to operate. That is the COVID world inside the hospital.






DR. HUBERT MINNIS, BAHAMIAN PRIME MINISTER: Starting tonight, at 10 pm, a weekend lockdown will be implemented for all islands of the Bahamas, excluding Grand Bahama, who is currently under a national lockdown.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, they will be allowed to operate for the public during this weekend lockdown from 7 am to 6 pm.


HOLMES: The prime minister of the Bahamas, himself a doctor by the way, warning that the country of about 400,000 people is in, what he, calls a grave health crisis. COVID-19 cases there have spiked since the Bahamas reopened on July 1st, not that long ago.

Johns Hopkins reported the country has had more than 300 cases, at least 11 deaths.

The coronavirus continuing its destructive tear through Latin America, some leaders send mixed messages, like Brazil's president. Seen here, strolling the grounds of his official residence, to greet supporters, despite testing positive for coronavirus, 3 times.

That country recorded nearly 56,000 new cases on Friday, more than 1,100 deaths. In Mexico, things also going badly. Rafael Romo gives us the details.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: The morning after his country broke a new daily record in coronavirus cases, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador raised eyebrows in Mexico with a comment about his own face mask use. "I do not need a face mask, as long as I keep a healthy distance," the

president said. Adding, he will still use one when it is mandatory. Critics say, this statement sends mixed signals to the population in a country still reeling from the effects of the pandemic.

Mexico has the world's fourth highest COVID-19 death toll, behind the United Kingdom. The disease has already claimed the lives of more than 42,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In Latin America, only Brazil has more COVID-19 cases than Mexico. President Jair Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the virus, was seen chatting with a cleaning crew Thursday at the Alvarado palace, the presidential residence. He was not wearing a mask.

In neighboring Bolivia, people are so desperate for a cure, hundreds now stand in line for a chance to get some chlorine dioxide, even though the country's health ministry has already said that ingesting the bleach-like chemical is potentially harmful.


ROMO (voice-over): "It could have adverse effects on people with pre- existing conditions, especially those with, liver and kidney problems," this epidemiologist says.

This man says the chemical is his only hope, since the health system has collapsed and getting access to a hospital is nearly impossible.

ROMO: The pandemic has hit the South American country so hard, that Bolivia has suspended its presidential election for a second time. Bolivians were supposed to go to the polls on September 6th but the election has now been re-scheduled for October 18th.

ROMO (voice-over): Back in Mexico, a ray of hope.

Foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard told Mexicans it is very likely the country will be able to get a vaccine before the end of the year. Only time will tell whether the promises will be fulfilled in a country where people get mixed messages from the top while hundreds die daily -- Rafael Romo, CNN.


HOLMES: Just ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, 18 people facing federal charges in Portland following fiery protests. We will go there, live, when we come back.




HOLMES: Welcome back. On Friday, a U.S. federal judge ruled that the state of Oregon cannot force federal Homeland Security officers to identify themselves when they arrest protesters in Portland. A week ago, the state took the Trump administration to court over its

handling of the protest there. The American Civil Liberties Union calling the ruling "disappointing." CNN's Lucy Kafanov is live for us in Portland, joining us from the protests, keeping an eye on the social media feeds of the folks there.

And tear gas has begun. Fill us in on the situation there.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Michael. Before I answer the question about the lawsuit and the reason I have the goggles on and the mask on, is we have seen a bit of tear gas being thrown by the federal agents protecting the federal buildings behind me.

A lot of the folks here moved out of the way so we were trying to get out of the tear gas situation.

But yes, the Oregon attorney general filed a lawsuit against several federal agencies on July 17th, basically requesting a temporary restraining border that would force these (INAUDIBLE) for example identify themselves when arresting protesters, not to detain protesters without probable cause, in response to several incidents that we saw here of people being put, for example, in unmarked vans, detained and later released.

The judge in this ruling today basically said, denied the request and explained his reasoning, why he was not able to grant this request is the plaintiff was not a protester and the state does not have the legal standing to request this.

He also says, they aren't trying to address something that was done in the past but rather, prevent future incidents from happening and, therefore, the state of Oregon does not have the legal standing to prevent these federal agencies from acting out in the way they have been.


KAFANOV: This ruling has been, as you've described, disappointing, by the ACLU as well as the attorney general. It is one of several legal challenges that are now underway in response to the way the federal agencies have basically reacted to protests here.

Again, just to emphasize, this is heading into nearly 60 days of Black Lives Matter protests, largely, having been peaceful. This new element of the strong federal response has certainly riled protesters here but a lot we're talking to are working hard to make sure the message stays on point.

This is really about Black Lives Matter and this is really about protecting Black lives in the United States. While there has been a lot of disappointment in the use of excessive use of force, the protesters, the attorney general, frankly, has described the response here as being a bigger message and that's the one they want folks to take home right now.

HOLMES: That use of force has become -- what have the protesters been telling you about that?

There has been a lot of concern about federal officers in military style uniforms, whisking people off the streets.

What are the protesters telling you about that?

KAFANOV: People understand that federal agents may have a role, for example, in protecting federal property. But there is the impression among many folks who you talk to that it simply goes beyond the mission.

It's possible (INAUDIBLE) federal agents in the role of an investigator, for example, you don't necessarily have to wear the military fatigues to take an adversarial stance toward the protesters. (INAUDIBLE) on the ground. And even just briefly from what we saw today, there were some (INAUDIBLE) rogue actors, I guess, for the rocking fence the back and forth that was put in place to protect the federal building.

A few people lobbed fireworks into the area. But then, again, you see this tear gas response and the forceful response to push them back and that just aggravates a crowd that's already really frustrated with what they describe as illegal (ph) tactics by both the police force and federal forces.

So it certainly does not de-escalate tensions. That is one thing to say for sure -- Michael.

HOLMES: Lucy, thank you, Lucy Kafanov live there in Portland, Oregon, for us.

We will stay in Portland. I want to go now to freelance journalist Sergio Olmos.

You have been tweeting up, I've been following you on Twitter and as things have escalated, you've been there throughout. Give people a sense of what it has been like on the ground, particularly this past week.

The president said he dealt with the situation, but government actions have escalated things, right?

SERGIO OLMOS, JOURNALIST: Yes, it is now 11 days since the president said he very much quelled protests in Portland. And for weeks, protests here were quite large. They were dying down a bit. And then, when federal officers arrived here, including the ones in military type fatigues, protest numbers swelled to 1,000 to 2,000.

I think today, we have something close to 3,000 to 4000 people out in the street, just before midnight.

HOLMES: Tell us more about that, what people make of these men in military camouflage with very few identifying markings, not identifying themselves, taking people away in unmarked vehicles.

What do the protesters say about that? A lot of people feel that this is the sort of thing that happens in countries the U.S. criticizes.

OLMOS: Exactly. That is partly why the protest numbers have swelled to 3,000 or 4,000 people. You are now seeing moms in helmets and we just had an R.N., a nurse, with a leaf blower, blowing back tear gas.

What do people think about fellow officers in military fatigues?

There is outrage, definitely in the city. Just before they got here, I think a lot of the conversation was, do we support these young protesters, who are throwing water bottles at police officers?

There was a real debate on whether that was appropriate. Now that conversation is over. The entire city is really talking about these federal officers, including last night, the mayor was here with the protesters.

Excuse me.

HOLMES: Take your time, Sergio. I've been tear gassed a few times myself and it really gets down in the throat.


OLMOS: Protesters here call it -- they call it spicy air.

HOLMES: Yes, yes, exactly, some of it can be pretty nasty.

I was going to ask you, how the flavor of protest.


HOLMES: It began and still is, in some ways, a Black Lives Matter protest.

Has it now morphed into being anti-government in the sense of the actions of the federal agents?

Has it worsened things?

OLMOS: I would say the coalition of protesters have definitely gotten larger. People who were not initially out here for the Black Lives Matter movement are now definitely out here. They are still championing Black Lives Matter, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd.

But it has to be said, the president's federal (INAUDIBLE) has totally added a subject matter in which the protesters (INAUDIBLE).

Right now, while there is still a lot of talk and narrative about police brutality and local problems with the police, defunding local police, there is just about equally as much talk right now about, we're not allowing federal officers to snatch people off the streets. The mayor has called this an occupation and a threat to democracy.

HOLMES: Right. Very quick, Sergio, we are nearly out of time, just give people a sense where these protests are happening. The president basically said the entire city is under attack, total chaos, anarchy and all that.

But that is not the case, is it?

OLMOS: Not at all. If you were to go on your phone and go on the Maps support link, the space in which these protests exists is about the size of half your pinky. It's very tiny.

This building here is the Justice Center and that is where protests were, it's where local police. But now at the federal courthouse down there, they are protesting very much the federal response.

When they closed down this area, it is about eight square city blocks. Most of Portland, which is quite large, does not look like this. But people do come down here where there is not a residential area here, it's all business and government buildings. So this is where the protests takes place.

HOLMES: It's good to get that geographical sense. Very much appreciate it, Sergio, almost there in Portland, covering that from the side, thank you so much.

OLMOS: Thank you.

HOLMES: We will take a quick break, we will be right back.




HOLMES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I am Michael Holmes.

The ability to get a coronavirus test in the United States sometimes depends more on who you are, rather than where you live. While professional athletes and government officials often get tested daily with rapid results, ordinary Americans can wait for hours for a test and sometimes, do not get results for up to three weeks.

Here's Brian Todd with the details.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For some people, coronavirus test results come quickly.

TRUMP: You do a test, boom and you have it in five minutes.

TODD (voice-over): But experts worry that during this horrific spike in coronavirus cases, the effectiveness of testing is in some areas of the country a matter of the haves and have nots. DR. JEWEL MULLEN, ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR HEALTH EQUITY, DELL MEDICAL SCHOOL AT UT AUSTIN: When you have resources, when you have power, when you have access, when your insurances is able to pay for it or you're able to pay out of pocket, it's much easier to get the testing that you need.

TODD (voice-over): Early in the pandemic, it was reported that movie stars could dial up their so-called concierge doctors and get tested during a period when much of the country didn't have that access.

In April, comedian and MMA Commentator Joe Rogan was criticized when he revealed he'd been tested multiple times a week and got a friend tested to.

JOE ROGAN, COMEDIAN, MMA COMMENTATOR: I've been tested twice already. Tested yesterday and I got tested two days before that.

TODD (voice-over): Months later, that same power dynamic is still at play, like with professional athletes. NFL, NBA players and others are being tested every day. Their results coming back within hours. While CNN has reported this week that some people, especially in communities of color, are waiting as long as three weeks to get test results back

MULLEN: Which means we're even farther behind in being able to minimize the impact with regard to disease and death in those communities.

TODD (voice-over): Experts say Blacks and Latinos are not only more vulnerable to the virus, but also often have less insurance coverage, lower incomes and less testing availability in their neighborhoods.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: It does break my heart to see folks who are able to pay for these tests and pay to get them quickly, have rapid access, rapid turnaround and yet the most vulnerable communities who are the ones who are suffering are the ones waiting 14 days. And, in fact, maybe the ones that are transmitting in the interim.

MULLEN: Good afternoon, everyone.

TODD (voice-over): Dr. Jewel Mullen's case illustrates sometimes it's not only a matter of who you know, but where you go. Mullen and her husband Herb Knight, both doctors, had to get tested recently in Connecticut. She went to a prestigious hospital and got her results back in eight hours. But as for her husband --

MULLEN: My husband went to a drive thru at one of our local pharmacies and it took him nine days to find out that his test was negative.

TODD (voice-over): Experts say given the disparity, it's time for new guidelines from the federal government on down to move only symptomatic people and those most at risk to the front of the testing lot.

MULLEN: Given the inequities that we're talking about, yes, we need to take into consideration who's most vulnerable and make sure that we prioritize the testing that's being done there.

TODD: Now, some cities and states and even some individual doctors on their own are ramping up testing for underserved communities.

In Boston, mobile testing labs will soon be moving throughout the city.

In Philadelphia, at the start of the pandemic, one doctor on our own, rented a van and moved through predominantly black neighborhoods giving free tests.

But medical experts say that even in those areas where testing has been ramped up, that takes way, way too long sometimes to get test results back -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: It has been less than a week since the Trump administration ordered Chinese diplomats to clear out of its consulate in Houston, Texas.

On Friday, U.S. federal agents secured that compound and officially changed the locks. The U.S. Justice Department claims that the consulate was part of a larger Chinese espionage ring involved in stealing American intellectual property.

As you might expect, China has responded in kind by ordering the U.S. consulate in Chengdu to shut down. Here, you can see a worker removing the U.S. insignia from the building. Beijing says it was a legitimate and necessary response.

Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong for us.

You've been following this all along.

Where is this headed, what's next?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Diplomatic tension just continues to rise between the U.S. and China, as we follow these dramatic and fluid developments, in Houston, in San Francisco, as well as in Chengdu.

Let's take you to Houston, where the U.S. State Department has confirmed to CNN, the Chinese consulate in Houston has been closed. On Friday, we saw U.S. agents, local law enforcement, even blacksmiths entering the compound Wednesday, that was when the U.S. State Department ordered the consulate closed saying it wanted to protect American intellectual property as well as Americans' private information.

Beijing called that talking nonsense. In the last few moments, the Chinese consul general to Houston, Cai Wei, posted an open letter onto the state news agency, in which he said, "The friendship between the Chinese and American people will not be interrupted. No one can undermine the bright prospect of Sino-U.S. friendly cooperation."

[02:40:00] STOUT: Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the Chinese scientist who was holed up inside the Chinese consulate there in the city, is now in U.S. custody. She was accused of visa fraud. U.S. officials said she lied about her links to the Chinese military.

The circumstances surrounding her arrest are unclear at this moment. She has not been charged with espionage.

We are closely following events in Chengdu, where at the U.S. consulate, the insignia has already been taken down on Friday.

China's ministry of foreign affairs says that, in order to retaliate against U.S. actions, it ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate there.

Why the U.S. consulate in Chengdu and not in other cities?

Listen to this from a spokesman of the ministry of foreign affairs.


WANG WENBIN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Some people of the U.S. consulate general in Chengdu have engaged in activities that are incompatible with their status, interfering in China's internal affairs and damaging China's security interests.


STOUT: Now the question is this.

When will the U.S. consulate in Chengdu close?

According to the editor in chief of the nationalist newspaper, the "Global Times," he is suggesting it will close by Monday morning. All eyes on the anticipated closure of the U.S. consulate.

Also, just how far this diplomatic-for-tat will go. Michael?

HOLMES: Another aspect of, this, apparently a Singaporean, admitting to being a spy for China in the U.S.

So what do you know about that?

STOUT: An incredible new development, a Singaporean national has pleaded guilty for acting as an agent for China. U.S. officials say he was working as a spy for China for 4 to 5 years, using a political consultancy in Washington D.C., as a cover to gather intelligence for the Chinese intelligence in regards to artificial intelligence as well as the trade war.

This is part of the ongoing, very sweeping crackdown by U.S. officials on Chinese corporate espionage as well as cyber espionage. It is also very important to know this involves a non Chinese national. Back to you.

HOLMES: Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, thank you so much.

And thank you for watching the program everyone. I am Michael Holmes. "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is coming up next, I will see you in about 20 minutes with more of CNN NEWSROOM. I will see you then.