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THE SITUATION ROOM

Legendary T.V. Host Regis Philbin Dies At 88; Fifty Florida Hospitals Have Reached ICU Capacity; Texas Seeing Fourth Highest Number Of Cases In US; Houston Mayor On COVID-19 Crisis In His City; At Least 16 Arrested, Three Officers Injured In Seattle Protests; Daycare Centers Could Be Model For Reopening Schools; New CDC Guidelines Strongly Favor Opening Schools; Hanna Makes Landfall As Category 1 Hurricane; Polls Show Biden More Trusted To Handle The Pandemic. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 25, 2020 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:00]

ALAN ALDA, AMERICAN ACTOR: It seems real with somebody whether we know them or not. I mean, there are gaming podcast where people just play video games, but they interact with each other, and kid each other and break each other over, and that gets millions of viewers. They are not saying anything important. But the ability to connect with the audience directly is something that I think we all treasure. And he had that. And the great broadcasters have it. If you pardon me for saying so, I think you have it.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Well, Regis is. We all loved, loved Regis. He was really amazing and we're so sad that he has passed. Alan Alda, thank you so much for sharing some thoughts on this day, appreciate it very much. And, of course,2 our deepest, deepest condolences to Regis' family and friends, may he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.

ALDA: Goodbye, Wolf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.

More and more Americans newly infected with the coronavirus as the pandemic accelerates its spread in several states. Nationwide, a horrific upturn in the number of people who passed away from the virus. Today marks four days in a row that more than a thousand Americans have died from COVID-19 in a single day.

In the epicenter of new cases in the east, Florida. The number of people being hospitalized is up a staggering 79 percent since the July 4th holiday. But leading the nation in confirmed coronavirus cases, California. And just yesterday, 159 people died of the coronavirus in California, the most deaths there in a single day.

One international update this from Brazil. That country has the most virus cases after the United States, and their figures are sharply rising every single day. Brazil's president even contracted the virus. He tested positive earlier this month and has since recovered. Worldwide right now, just shy of 16 million people are confirmed, probably many, many more to have the coronavirus.

Let's go to Florida right now where 50 hospitals today are reporting they've reached ICU capacity despite that and surging case numbers. Get this, there's actually a push to reopen bars in the state.

Our Rosa Flores is in Miami for us. Rosa, we're learning more heart breaking details about Florida's youngest victim, so sad, just 9 years old when she died last week. What more, Rosa, can you tell us?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is just a heart breaking story. Let's show her picture. This is Kimmy Lynum, 9 years old. According to her family, they don't know how she contracted the coronavirus or when she contracted the coronavirus. They say she wasn't attending school, she was not going to camp, but she started getting a very high fever last week.

Her family took her to the hospital. The hospital sent her home. And then after that, at home, at some point she collapsed. And according to her family she had no detectable heartbeat.

Now, her family describes her as an amazing young lady, always happy, always wanting to make others happy. We should add that her mom was tested for COVID-19 and she's still waiting for her test. Of course, our condolences go out to the family.

This, as we learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic here in the state of Florida and how it's impacting this state. We've learned that hospitalizations in the past three weeks have increased by 79 percent. When you look at the positivity rate across the state in the past two weeks, it's ranged from 13 percent to 18 percent.

Here in Miami-Dade County where I am, the epicenter of this crisis in the state of Florida which accounts for 25 percent of the more than 400,000 cases in this state. ICUs are operating at 137 percent. That means that there are more patients than there are ICU beds.

This county is converting regular beds into ICU beds to make due. The positivity rate here in this county 19.7 percent. The goal is not to exceed 10 percent. And, Wolf, as you said given all these facts and figures we're learning today from a state official who posted on Twitter that the state of Florida is thinking about reopening bars. Wolf.

BLITZER: It's hard to believe at a time like this. Rosa Flores, thank you very much.

[21:05:00]

While Florida now tops New York in cases, Texas now sits close behind New York with more than 380,000 victims of the coronavirus. The Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is joining us right now. Mayor Turner, thank you so much for joining us, especially on this very busy Saturday in your beautiful city.

Texas, this afternoon, reported more than 8,100 new cases, 168 deaths confirmed. So what does the situation, mayor, look like in Houston right now?

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON, TEXAS: Well, for us, in the city of Houston, in terms of the hospital numbers, our admissions and positivity rate are slightly down, which is good news. However, today, I reported 811 new positive cases and 16 more people who have died as a result of COVID-19. That's the highest number or it equals the highest number of death I've ever reported since the beginning of this pandemic.

Even though our hospital numbers appear to have plateaued at very high level and we're starting to see a decrease, we still have a great deal of spread, community spread, within our city. It's still running rampant, still uncontrollable, and we need everybody to stay on top of it.

BLITZER: Yes, the numbers clearly going up in Texas, in terms of cases, hospitalizations and sadly in terms of deaths. What needs to be done, mayor, to bring the numbers down?

TURNER: Let me just say this, Wolf, to put it in context. We have reported 386 people who have died in the city. Not the county but in the city of Houston. 151 of those deaths came just in the month of July. We have had more people to die in July than in March, April, May, June combined.

At the same time, we've had a little over 20,000 people that have tested positive in the month of July. And that compares for example in May, it was about 3,700. In June, it was a little over 13,000. So you can see each month the number goes up and up and up. So even though the hospital admissions seem to be going down, the amount of that community spread is still very rampant.

And what I've said repeatedly, if we're going -- the mask order, the requirement is good. We're seeing some positive results as a result of that. The question is, will -- is it enough to bring down these numbers, for example, for July, August as we approach school in September?

And I think in part what I would propose and would have proposed for quite some time is to reset, to put in place like a two-week stay home order or at the very, very minimum return to phase one so we can reset and then, gradually, based on the numbers, move forward. That has been my proposal, and I think that's what we're going to need to do in order to really get control and manage this virus within our community.

BLITZER: You announced, mayor, on Friday along with the Harris County judge, the top executive in your county, that schools will delay reopening until at least September 8th. Yet, the Harris County judge admits even that date is likely too soon. Likely too soon, those are her words.

So why September 8th? Update our viewers on when it's realistic that schools will reopen with in-class teacher?

TURNER: Well, what we do know is that to open schools, for example, in terms of on-campus learning in the month of August, would be too soon. The community spread is too rampant. Too many people are testing positive, and too many people are dying as a result of this virus.

And so, we have to bring the numbers down. And it's not about plateauing and then, gradually, coming down. It's about bringing the positivity rate down certainly below (inaudible).

BLITZER: Mayor Sylvester Turner, unfortunately we've got a couple of technical issues right now but we got the gist of what you're saying. I just want to wish you and everyone in Houston the best. You guys are going through a really rough situation in Texas right now also Florida, Arizona, California, other states as well. We wish you the best and we'll stay in close touch. Thank you so much for joining us.

And we're going to have much more on the coronavirus pandemic here in the situation room. But we're also covering developments in Seattle, Washington, right now where protesters are facing off big time with police. It's ugly. We'll have a live report when we come back.

[21:10:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Much more coming up on the coronavirus pandemic here in the United States in just a few moments. But we're also covering protests unfolding this hour in Seattle, Washington where police have declared a riot after confrontations with protesters.

Our Lucy Kafanov is monitoring the situation. She's in Portland, Oregon where there have also been some angry demonstrations unfurling. Update our viewers, Lucy, on the very latest.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. I mean, we've seen this unrest all over the Pacific Northwest. In fact, in Seattle, police say they've made at least 16 arrests so far this Saturday evening. At least three police officers injured, two of them received treatment at the hospital and were able to return to duty. One officer was hospitalized with an injury to their leg caused by an explosive. This was according to police.

[21:14:57]

Now, while some protesters are clashing with police, you see those rather violent images there. Police have declared this protest a riot, they say. They do say that protesters continue to throw explosives and other items at the officers, a large group also remaining peaceful.

These protests, in fact, are over a number of issues. Of course, the underlying motive is this is still a racial justice protest to respond to the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans killed at the hands of police in recent months and years. But this is also in response to what they're seeing on the streets of Portland, where the Trump administration has sent a number of federal agents to the streets of Portland to defend ostensibly the federal properties here.

And then, we saw those officers behaving in ways that have, in fact, galvanized the crowds. For example, pulling people over without probable cause, whisking them away in unmarked vans. We now see the Trump administration sending federal agents for standby to the streets of Seattle, and this is not likely helping to calm the tensions here.

You know, another interesting thing is that on Friday, a federal judge in Seattle, in that state, issued a temporary restraining order that basically blocked Seattle's new law prohibiting police from using tear gas. And so, we saw police say that they are going to be carrying pepper spray and blast balls but not tear gas.

So this is, in fact, something you're seeing both here in Oregon, both in Seattle. People taking to the streets originally, again, motivated by the Black Lives Matter Movement. But this is something turning into something of a standoff between federal agents, local police and protesters who feel their right to express, their first amendment right, is being overstepped on in these sort of forceful responses by police officers.

But, again, the images you're seeing there in Seattle clashes back and forth between both sides. Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a tough situation. Very, very angry demonstrators out there and the police have already declared it a riot. Lucy Kafanov, we'll stay in very close touch with you as well. Thank you.

A quick programming note for our viewers, make sure to join Frederica Whitfield tomorrow night for a look at the ways unconscious bias impacts our lives, even how we die. "Unconscious Bias, Facing the Realities of Racism" live tomorrow night, 8:00 pm Eastern right here on CNN.

And even as we see surges of new coronavirus cases across the United States, right now the President and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are pushing for schools to reopen, and to reopen quickly. But is it safe for the children? We'll take a closer look when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:22:10]

BLITZER: With the new school year and so much of the country less than a month away, families and communities are weighing whether to send children back for in-person learning. And day care facilities could provide a model of sorts for how to do it. CNN's Laura Jarrett examines how some emergency child care centers have looked after the children of front line workers without experiencing any COVID outbreaks among the kids.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: PSIS 128 has been closed since March, but every day at 7:00 am, its doors open to over 130 kids in Queens, New York. It's now a child care center like others that have stayed open since the beginning of the pandemic for the kids of front line workers, everyone from corrections officers to nurses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's basically been a God send.

JARRET: The YMCA local day care and child care centers have managed to watch over tens of thousands of kids across the US with schools closed, using strategies that could prove instructive for school districts now coming up with their own plans to keep kids safe in classrooms this fall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We worked in partnership with our communities to create this culture of safety.

JARRETT: The local wives have used space to their advantage and gotten creative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We distance ourselves.

JARRETT: At PSIS 128, as soon as children walk in the door, their temperature is checked as they tell their parents goodbye. Masks once only worn by adults are now required for everyone throughout the entire building. Classrooms are also limited in size to only nine kids at a time, and sprayed down with an industrial strength cleaning solution.

JOSEPHINE RAMAGE, SITE SUPERVISOR, PSIS 128: We taught the kids how to hand wash. As soon as they came in, they hand wash. Whenever they change activities they hand wash. When they leave the classroom and comeback, from the gym or from the playground, they hand wash.

JARRETT: If a child become sick at some point later on in the day.

RAMAGE: Then we have isolation rooms, where we bring them immediately. They've given us COVID kits, and so the nurses will, you know, garb up in their gowns and the extra protection, we'll call home. And the student will stay in that room until the parents come and pick them up.

JARRETT: And so far their plan is working.

RAMAGE: We have not had one COVID case in the whole time that we've been here. Not one.

JARRETT: The model is working so well it's led some school districts to turn to child care centers for guidance. But officials on the ground caution that getting kids back in classrooms for a regular school day comes with its own challenges.

RAMAGE: We had families coming at all different times. That doesn't happen in schools. They all come at the same time. So imagine the line that would be out the door trying to keep them distanced and checking their temperatures.

[21:25:03]

So while the safety protocols are awesome, the cleaning products, and just the procedures are a model, it's not the same as school.

JARRETT: Laura Jarrett, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thanks, Laura, for that report. As we watch cases and deaths spike nationwide, we're also seeing a massive push to get kids back into the classrooms come fall. The CDC has new guidelines just out coming down, hard in favor of reopening schools with in-class learning.

Dr. William Schaffner is a Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. And Dr. Abdul El- Sayed is an Epidemiologist, former Detroit Health Commissioner. He's also the author of the book "Healing Politics: A Doctor's Journey into the Heart of our Political Epidemic." Thanks to both of you for joining us.

And, Dr. El-Sayed, give us your take on the CDC's latest guidance, just out. Are you surprised by it given the caseload, the death toll in the country right now, for four days in a row, more than a thousand Americans have died from COVID each day?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: There are a couple of thing to say here. A, there are some really good recommendations that would mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among children in schools. And that's the CDC's job. The problem here is that, that comes after a large diatribe about something we already know, which is that school is good for kids. We get that. And we want to send our kids back to school, but this is not a political football.

And that here is the challenge that this is lot of politics that is leading the public health when actually the public health should be driving the situation. And the last thing that I'll say on this is that, the number one determinant of whether or not our kids go back to school is not what happens in the schools.

It's what happens outside the schools. If we still have run away spread in communities, it's going to be very hard for those communities to open up their schools. And that has to be the main understanding here, that if folks want to open up schools we've got to do the things to get things under control.

BLITZER: We certainly do. And, Dr. Schaffner, critic say, the CDC has actually been politicized through this crisis. Do you see them bowing to the Trump administration's pressure to reopen school?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, Wolf, I'm over here in Nashville. The CDC is in Atlanta. It's true. I speak to friends there frequently. And yes, there has been white house influence, I'm very sad to say.

But nonetheless, we are going to be opening up the schools, and the trick is to do so as carefully as possible. There are lessons from those day care experiences but we're learning more about this virus as we go along. And one of the things we're starting to learn just recently is that, children under 10 are the least apt to get infected.

But once they get a little bit older than 10, they start to behave more like adults and they're more able to transmit this virus. So it may be safer for the youngsters to go. The older children I think are going to have to be particularly careful in managing their school experience.

BLITZER: Because even they're asymptomatic, they can clearly transmit this disease to their parents, their grandparents and others. Dr. El- Sayed, what's your biggest concern right now about schools fully reopening if they do it too soon?

EL-SAYED: Well, of course, you've got to center of the children. I'm a father of a 2-year-old and I think every day about the risk she faces. And as Dr. Schaffner said, her risks are quite low because she's 2. The probability of her having a serious illness and then passing it on is quite low. But, you know, like every parent out there, she's the most important thing to me. And so, if something would happen where we had major outbreaks in schools, it could be devastating.

The second thing here, though, is that for parents, it's really important to prepare, to know where your kid is going to go every day. If we have to dial back on that, like we did in the spring. This could be really devastating for parents.

And so, we want to forecast with the best possible knowledge of what the future is actually going to look like rather than what an administration's political priorities are for what they want them to look like. And this is how we ought to be planning, putting the public health before the politics.

BLITZER: Yes, the politics stay out of this. Let the public health experts deal with this. You know, Dr. Schaffner, I just want to press on this, is it OK then for the kids under 10 to be in school, but over 10 they have to be a lot more careful about going back to school? Is that what I'm hearing from you?

SCHAFFNER: Well, I think there is a difference in risk but nonetheless we're going to have to be careful with every child who goes to school. And we're not just talking about school, we're talking about universities too, because they're opening up.

So every educational institution is going to be opening up in a new way trying to be as careful as possible. Every school district won't do it exactly the way every other one does, but spacing the children apart, the disinfectants, the temperature checks.

[21:30:02]

Sometimes they'll have their lunch in class rather than going to the cafeteria, working in small groups. All of those strategies are being employed across the country, and I hope the parents who do send their children to school collaborate very closely with the teachers and the school board.

We all need to cut each other a little slack because we're all sailing in somewhat uncharted waters here. So let's work together to make this work as well as we can.

BLITZER: And, Dr. El-Sayed, in your medical opinion, is safe to resume in-class, in-classroom learning as early as, a lot of schools want to resume in early August, mid-August, end Of August or early September. If were you still the Detroit Health Commissioner, what would you be advising the folks of Detroit to be doing right now?

EL-SAYED: Well, I would say this. It really depends on the place and, as Dr. Schaffner mentioned, it depends on the students. In a community like Detroit, we still have more cases than we're comfortable with. And I'd be worried about sending kids particularly the older kids whose transmission probabilities look a lot more like adults back to school under these circumstances.

But in communities where there's low transmission, given the CDC recommendations that those are followed, then it's a bit safer. It really depends on the place, it depends on the students you're talking about, and it depends on how rigorously we follow those recommendations to keep children and their educators, and staff safe.

BLITZER: Situation like this, everyone has to err on the side of caution. Too much is at stake right now. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, thank you. Dr. William Schaffner, thanks to you as well. We appreciate you joining us.

The President right now is making a series of head snapping reversals on the coronavirus as cases across the country are surging, and his poll numbers are sinking. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:36:08]

BLITZER: A quick update for our viewers on some of the breaking news we're following right now. In the past couple of hours, Hurricane Hanna made landfall as a category one storm on Padre Island, Texas with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour. Hanna is expected to produce rainfall totals between 6 to 12 inches, with some areas seeing close to a foot-and-a-half of water through tomorrow night in South Texas and Mexico. We'll watch this development closely.

I also want to bring you the latest now from Seattle, Washington, where protesters are facing off with police. Police have already declared a riot and say protesters threw explosives and mortars at police officers. At least 16 people have been arrested so far, and at least three police officers have been injured. We'll continue to monitor this, bring you updates on the breaking developments.

The coronavirus on a ruthless streak right now here in the United States, more than a thousand Americans dying daily for the last four days. Parents waiting for answers on how schools can open safely, and $600 a week federal employment programs will expire at the end of this month.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is joining us now. Kristen, President Trump spending the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster. You're out there in New Jersey watching all of this unfold. You're nearby Bridgewater right now. In the middle of this crisis, how did the President spend this day?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, according to the White House he played golf today with Brett Farve, NFL Hall of Famer, and then had an event with some of his supporters. The White House actually sent a picture of him and Brett Favre together on the golf course, smiling, giving a thumb's up.

Now, while they were having a good time on the golf course, back in Washington, Republicans are still fractured on what the proposal will actually look like for that next stimulus deal. And, Wolf, you heard me right. This isn't some negotiation between Democrats and Republicans. This is still going on within the Republican Party. White House administration officials split with Senate Republicans over details of this bill.

We know Secretary Mnuchin was up on the Hill today along with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. They were there for what they're describing as a check-in meeting because there are still various aspects of this bill that the parties have not all agreed to. And as you've said, there are unemployment benefits that are set to expire by the end of the month. But actually, a viewer reminded me after the last time we spoke that if they weren't extended today, that $600 a week, that there was going to be a lapse. So they're done right now. They got their last payment.

This is critical to millions of Americans. Right now, 20 million Americans are getting that $600 federal assistance for unemployment, so a lot at stake here. And that's not the only thing that is set to expire by the end of the month.

Now, Steve Mnuchin spoke to reporters while he was on the Hill. And he said that we want to do an extension but we just want to make sure that we do it technically right, saying that we don't want people to make more money to stay at home than they would make to work.

Now, there's a lot of complications over this. How exactly they would make sure that everyone was making the right percentage. A Senate Republican saying that the way the White House wants to do it would put too much stress on the state systems right now. I mean, keep in mind, there are tens of millions of people who are unemployed and, again, relying on assistance from the states and this federal assistance.

So this is still being hammered out. Mitch McConnell saying he hopes there will be a new stimulus deal within the next couple of weeks but that is critical time. We were talking about kids going back to school. We're seeing more unemployment. We're seeing the economy going down after we saw it bounce back a little bit because of these surges in certain areas, people need this money.

[21:40:10]

They are reliant on this money, and now it is looking like there will definitely be at least a several weeks lapse for those families. BLITZER: Yes, that's so sad. And just last week, in one week, another

1.4 million Americans lost their jobs, have applied for unemployment, first time, benefits. 1.4 million, just last week, I think for 16 weeks in a row, more than a million Americans have applied for unemployment. And those numbers keep going up, and up and up. Kristen Holmes, thank you very much for that report.

So a hundred days out from the election, President Trump is changing his tune on the coronavirus as polling numbers reflect growing disapproval in his handling of the pandemic. Conceding the virus will likely get worse before it gets better, and this week canceling the Florida portion of the Republican National Convention set for next month.

Our Senior Political Writer and Analyst, Harry Enten, is joining us right now. Harry, a lot of Americans are deeply worried about polls given what happened in 2016, but is it different this time? Those polls suggesting that Hillary Clinton had a good chance, obviously, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. That was then, what is happening now?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes, Wolf. You know, going to the state of Florida, right, there was a Quinnipiac University Poll that came out this week that had former Vice President Joe Biden up by 13 points and over 50 percent. Compare that to where those same exact polls were back in 2016 at this point, and what did you see? You saw Hillary Clinton was actually behind the now President Donald Trump and was well below 50 percent.

And if you expand it out, you know, the Great Lake battleground states, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, what do you see? You see in those states that Joe Biden ahead by at least 9 points, and in all of those states, he's at or near 50 percent. So right now, the polling picture is just significantly different than it was in 2016. Joe Biden much further ahead of Trump than Clinton was at this point.

BLITZER: Yes, those are key battleground states for sure. You see this, Harry, as being emblematic of other problems the President is facing right now heading into the election just 101 days from today.

ENTEN: Yes. I mean, take a look at this. If you were to essentially look at the Electoral College, right, take a look at the electoral map, what do you see? You see that if you assigned in each of the states, that person was ahead in the polls right now, those states electoral vote, you would see that Joe Biden would be leading in states with 352 electoral votes to just Donald Trump's 186. It's not close.

Now, of course, we still a hundred days to go, but at this particular point, there's no doubt in my mind the President is behind the eight ball.

BLITZER: And, of course, coronavirus, we see Americans dying, hospitalizations going up, cases exploding. It's certainly a driving factor in this upcoming election. It appears to be at least for right now, helping Biden. Explain that. ENTEN: Yes. I mean, look, there are a lot of elections where it's about the economy, stupid. This election is not one of those. You know, if you take a look at the latest Fox News National Poll, they ask which is the most important issue. And you see coronavirus at 29 percent, blowing away the rest of the field, the economy, at only about half of that, at 15 percent.

And so, the big question is who is this coronavirus pandemic boosting in the polls, and what you see is you see that on the question of who you trust most on the coronavirus, Joe Biden overwhelmingly out ahead. And he's not only out ahead but he's expanding his margin since May. And, of course, during that same period, what have we seen? We've seen Biden's margin in the horse race match-up also expanding.

BLITZER: As we approach the election, Harry, what's the biggest signal you're seeing right now in the data that's coming in that points to the potential outcome, I just want to point out, still got 101 days to go.

ENTEN: Yes. You know, we still got a hundred days to go or so. And, you know, oftentimes the horse race polls don't necessarily tell us all that much. But what's so important is that, Donald Trump at this point, his net approval, right, net approval rating minus his disapproval rating, it is negative right now. It's at negative 15 points.

And if you look at President in July of an election year, since 1940, you see his net approval rating looks a lot more like those presidents who were not re-elected, very close to average at minus 14 points. Those who reelected plus, 23 points.

President Trump is not anywhere close to that. Indeed, no president at this point who went onto be re-elected had a net approval rating as bad as President Trump's is currently.

BLITZER: And I just want to point out, when you said it's the economy, stupid, you weren't referring to me as being stupid, were you?

ENTEN: No, of course not, Wolf. I think you're a genius, you know. It takes one to know one.

BLITZER: That was James Carville back in 1992, saying it was the economy stupid. He was working for Bill Clinton, and he was right. Harry Enten, excellent work as usual. Thanks so much for joining us.

ENTEN: Be well, my friend.

BLITZER: All right. And go Bills as we like to say.

[21:45:00]

We'll have much more on the coronavirus pandemic just coming up. We're also following the breaking news, sad news, the legendary TV host Regis Philbin has died at 88 and the tributes are pouring in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Today, the late civil rights icon and Georgia congressman John Lewis was honored in his hometown of Troy, Alabama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER (voice-over): Tonight, a memorial service has been taking place at the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, concluded just a little while ago.

[21:50:00]

At this morning service, members of his family paid tribute and revealed what Congressman Lewis was most concerned about in his final moments.

HENRY "GRANT" LEWIS, BROTHER OF JOHN LEWIS: He was always concerned about the health and well-being of his family, and (inaudible) of others. His last word was, "how's the family doing? How is everybody doing?" And I said, they're doing fine. And he said, "Will make sure to tell them that I asked about them?"

BLITZER: Today's memorial services began six days of events to honor Congressman Lewis. He passed away last week at the age of 80 from pancreatic cancer. This afternoon, his hearse was driven across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the same bridge where he marched more than 50 years ago on what became known as Bloody Sunday. Tomorrow, his casket will be carried across that same bridge in what is sure to be an emotional final crossing.

And CNN will have special live coverage starting tomorrow at noon Eastern, anchored by our own Fredricka Whitfield and Victor Blackwell. We'll be watching that closely.

Also tonight, our nation is mourning the loss of a true television pioneer, Regis Philbin. He was known by generations as the co-host of the daytime talk show "Live" with Kathie Lee Gifford and later Kelly Ripa. And he was the primetime host of blockbuster game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."

But his six decade career first reached the national spotlight as Joey Bishop's late-night side kick and his popularity extended years later to regular appearances with David Letterman. He held the world record for most hours on American television.

We're pleased this evening to welcome another TV legend, the longtime former "Good Morning America" co-host Joan Lunden. Joan, thank you so much for sharing a few moments with us. Tell us about the Regis Philbin, you got to know and the Regis Philbin you remember.

JOAN LUNDEN, FORMER CO-HOST, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Well, you know, Regis came to New York in, I think, 1983. I was hosting "Good Morning America." He took overall local talk show. And then, I was also hosting the Walt Disney Easter and Christmas parades. So, he came on with me there and we hosted those parades for years and years. I think about ten years. But it was Disney World, so we would bring our families. And enjoy bringing his two girls, JJ and Joanna. And when we were out anywhere, Wolf, people would always stop, because he was lovable. He was just, this lovable guy that was approachable. He wanted to be approachable. He never ever didn't have enough time for someone.

He would stop and ask them where they were from. He was -- and I got to tell you, he was so spontaneous. People would ask me, what's he like? And I would say, just say hi to him and you'll see, because he was exactly the same off the air as he was on the air, which was totally spontaneous and unedited. And he was just this consummate performer that always wanted to be on for everyone.

BLITZER: Yes. I met him a few times and it's absolutely true. What you saw on television was exactly what you saw in real life, face-to-face. You worked with him, as you point out, on a professional basis. So, what was he like to work with?

LUNDEN: You know, he wasn't the kind that you said, all right, we need you to be on. You're going to be on for 20 minutes. He wouldn't say where's the script. He would just say, where's the camera? I mean, he and Kathie Lee did that show "Live" every single day, the first 20 minutes of the show was unscripted. No writers. Like everybody (inaudible) imagine waking up and you know you're going to go on and you're going to have 20 minutes to just talk.

And he was this kind of guy. He was so spontaneous and funny. And he also liked to poke fun. I mean, he did shows with Don Rickles over the years, but when Don Rickles would poke fun, you weren't sure you should laugh. But Regis is a class act, and he was kind and he had a big heart. And he would poke in a way that you kind of give the viewer permission. It was OK to laugh.

And Joy, his wife, was like such a good sport, because sometimes it would be about going out to dinner the night before, and they didn't give him the best seat in the house, or a little squabble he might have had with Joy. And Joy is, you know, was always 100 percent supportive.

But, you know, I think about when I was in Disney World with him, all those times. I don't know how many times. And I would have my little girls, and they were little then, they're in their 30s now. He would always start conversations with them. Where did you go today, what did you do, you know.

And I talked to my daughter Lindsay just a little while ago. She's now in her 30s. And she said, you know, mom, you worked with so many big stars but Regis was different. Like, if I ran into Regis in the street, it would be like running into an uncle.

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Like we'd stop and embrace and talk about, you know, catch each other up. That's the kind of guy he was. He just had this incredible, big personality but at the same time, he was like every man's man.

BLITZER: Yes.

LUNDEN: He wasn't just entertaining for the people, he was kind of always wanted to be of the people. So, he was a pleasure, but also sometimes hard to work with, only because you didn't know what was coming next.

BLITZER: Yes. He was -- everyone who watched him on television loved him and I must say, everyone who worked with him loved him, as well. Joan, thank you so much for sharing a few thoughts about Regis. And I just want to point out, our deepest, deepest condolences to Regis' family and friends. May he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing. Thanks very much for watching.

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