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Memorial Service Honoring John Lewis; COVID-19 Cases Top 16 Million Globally, US Cases Over Four Million; CDC Pushes For Schools To Reopen In New Guidelines; Nine-Year-Old Girl Becomes Youngest To Die Of COVID-19 In Florida; Rep. John Lewis Makes Final Journey Across The Edmund Pettus Bridge; Daycare Centers May Provide Model For Reopening Schools. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired July 26, 2020 - 12:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. You're watching these very powerful pictures of the caisson carrying the late Congressman John Lewis, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Hello, and welcome to CNN's Special Coverage of Congressman John Lewis's memorial services. Thank you so much for joining me.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. You're looking at these pictures right here. This caisson made its way from the Brown AME Church, which is the place of history in and of itself in Selma, traveling about a half mile to crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. One last time for John Lewis, a place where Lewis, who was just 25 years old at the time in 1965, cemented his towering legacy after he helped lead a march to Montgomery for voting rights more than five decades ago. It is also where Lewis was brutally beaten by officers.

And today is day two now of a series of ceremonies over the next five days now in cities that helped shape Lewis's life. And later on today, Lewis will lie in state at Alabama's state capitol in Montgomery.

And that's where we go to right now. Victor Blackwell is there in Montgomery. And, Victor, you know, this tribute, in totality six days, beginning yesterday in Troy, Alabama, that's the birthplace of the congressman and now Selma, where some of his history was made and history of Selma made, and the Voting Rights Act history was sparked and made. And then, to Montgomery.

So these memorial services are taking us on this journey through Lewis's life. Tell us about what is expected there in Montgomery. How people are feeling? And I imagine there, people are riveted with these ceremonies and this moment, just like all of us are.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Fredricka. And after Montgomery goes on to Atlanta, where he served as a congressman in the fifth district for 17 terms and, of course, he will sit on Lion State at the rotunda in Washington. But here alongside along Dexter Avenue, we're starting to see some people come. The mayor here, Mayor Reed, has asked people to line the streets to welcome Congressman Lewis. And we're starting to see people do that after watching that tribute at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

We know it is 42 miles here, and once he arrives, Governor Kay Ivey will receive him at the Capitol Building where he will lie in state, and the public is welcome to come and visit. A very different reception than he received early on, even before Bloody Sunday in 1965.


In 1961, when he came here as a Freedom Rider, when that bus arrived at the Greyhound Terminal, not far from where I am, those freedom riders Before Bloody Sunday in 1965 in 1961, when he came here as a Freedom Riders, when that bus arrived at the Greyhound terminal not far from where I am. Those Freedom Riders including John Lewis, they were beaten and bloodied, but they did not stop there.

Of course, Freedom Summer happened and they went on to Mississippi. When they, in '61, went to Rock Hill, South Carolina, there was a man, Elwin Wilson, Fredricka, who beat John Lewis. He was a member of the KKK. Decades later, Elwin Wilson came to apologize to Congressman Lewis, and he accepted that apology.

What we've not talked about yet in this tribute to the congressman is the element of forgiveness, which he offered to those people in the late '50s, early '60s, who beat him as he went along, trying to register people to vote, and to get equal accommodations at public companies and businesses. But when he comes here today, we're expecting this crowd to grow. We're expecting a long line, as we saw in Selma yesterday, for people to come and pay their respects. And the governor here will receive the state's favorite son, Congressman John Lewis.

WHITFIELD: And I wonder, you know, Victor, in talking to people in Montgomery, what have people expressed to you about their personal thoughts on the late congressman, because he was so accessible. I mean, immediately following his death, he would see on social media and beyond, people would just start posting their pictures with him, which really helped underscore how he understood his importance to people.

He would take the time to converse, to take a photograph. He knew what his place in history. And I wonder that people there Montgomery, they know about the place of history that Montgomery has made and that he has made. And I wonder how they are feeling, what they have expressed over the last few days.

BLACKWELL: Listen, what we've heard from so many people who knew him personally, and only knew of his public persona. I've heard so many people say that was a good man. He was a good man, those who knew him through television and from his place in history, but those who knew him for decades.

It is the consistency paired with the humility, that he simply said, when you see something, say something, do something and we've talked a lot about good trouble. We should remember that John Lewis, Dr. King, Hosea Williams, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, these were revolutionaries. And in the context that we speak about them today they are exalted, but 50, 60 years ago they were not.

So when we speak with people here, they know what he put on the line for equality, for dignity, in a time in which it was a revolutionary act. But in the scope of history, in the context of the last, 50, 60 years, they know that he suffered not only physical injuries as he was beaten at these different stops. We know what happened at the Edmund Pettus Bridge at Bloody Sunday. But that he went to jail and would stay there, part of the philosophy, part of the strategy of this hidden movement was to fill the jails.

And he would give of his time and energy leaving Troy, working with Dr. King, and gave his life to the mission of dignity. Not just for black people, but for all people who felt themselves out of reach of the American Dream, out of reach of the dignity and respect, and honor, and equality that some in this country have experienced and has not been afforded to all.

So when we hear people say he's a good man, that's what they're talking about. In simple words, that they honor and respect and understand what Congressman Lewis sacrificed for this generation and future generations.

WHITFIELD: A good man who loved good trouble. What we're looking at right now in Selma, it appears as though the casket of John Lewis is being moved into another vehicle for its journey to Montgomery, for that more than 40 mile journey as you put it, Victor.

Let's go to Martin Savidge who has been there at the foot of the bridge, where the street, Broad Street, was lined by a number of people who came out. Of course, the numbers far smaller than would typically be expected for this occasion but because of COVID, and even the family of the Congressman, really imploring people to maintain social distance as best they could.

Lonnie Bunch also with us, who's the Secretary for the Smithsonian Institute. Bunch also the founding Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, and will be able to speak very personally about his relationship with the congressman, and how the congressman worked so hard, diligently for yours to make sure that museum would come to fruition.


And again, we're looking at these images right now from the casket, making its way from the caisson, which made its way from Brown AME Church to the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, over the bridge one last time for late congressman, now entering a hearse on its way to Montgomery.

Martin Savidge, to you first, and what people have witnessed there this morning, this midday.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, this was obviously a moment that many people felt they had to come and see in person. It is true, the crowds would have been much larger. The family had stressed that they did not want people to travel because of the concerns for their health. That said, there were still people that came along way.

I talked to a woman who came from almost a thousand miles. She drove from Texas, took her two days, but she was adamant she had to be here. She had made her lifelong dream to meet John Lewis. Unfortunately, that did not happen. But she was here to wish him well as he crossed over.

And then, there was another family that had decided late yesterday afternoon, they had to be here. They drove from Gainesville, got here at 3:30 in the morning, set up on the side of the road to be able to watch the procession go by. On and on, and on, there are lots of people from Selma that are here, who cross that bridge every single day, several times a day to go to work or to go to Montgomery. But today, crossing that bridge meant something far stronger than just a commute.

So every person who is lining the street, every one of them could tell you a personal reason why they were here. John Lewis was the man but he changed all lives. And so, many people just wanted to pay their respects as the casket went by. There were people that were saying thank you. There were others that broke out in hymns. There are others who simply wanted to capture the moment with a photograph.

It was interesting. It was a diverse crowd, black, white, Hispanic. It was also diverse by age. There were a lot of whole families, younger people that were here. So important to John Lewis because many see this as a moment where a torch has to be passed. And it's clear that the young people understood who John Lewis was, because in many ways, he was young when he did so much, such as go across this bridge and face the danger he did with those who went with it.

So for so many reasons, people wanted to be here and bear witness, and watch it for themselves. And they did. And I will point out compared to yesterday, which was a very personal kind of farewell that we saw in his hometown. This was a very poignant moment on that bridge, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Indeed. Lonnie Bunch, as you look at these images and you think about the journey of Congressman John Lewis, the journey of the fight for equality, what are the thoughts that come to mind for you?

LONNIE BUNCH, SECRETARY, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION: I think on a day of such said, I think how blessed we were as a nation to have someone like John Lewis, who basically dreamed of an America that was yet to be. And I think what is so powerful about the congressman is not only did he dream of an America, but then he thought strategically how to help America make that change. And then to actually do it himself, risking his life crossing Edmund Pettus Bridge and being arrested nearly 40 times.

In some ways, John Lewis symbolizes the best of what America can be, which is a place that really strives for fairness, and recognizes the challenge to be the country to embrace everyone. And I take such great joy from spending time with John Lewis.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And I can't wait to hear more about the kind of time that you were able to spend with Congressman Lewis, Lonnie Bunch. And Cornell Brooks, Cornell William Brooks also with us now, former President of the NAACP.

So, Cornell, I understand that the NAACP is planning to hold virtual march on Washington next month similar to the one Lewis led back in 1965. Explained to me the importance of the organization doing that, and particularly at this time.

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, FORMER PRESIDENT, NAACP: What's so important is that the NAACP is representing the legacy of John Lewis that yet lives, that speaks to the present and speaks to the future. So to march in Washington in the name of John Lewis, in the name of his sacrifices, in the name of the blood, he literally said, that baptize the Edmund Pettus Bridge that literally created a pathway to freedom of speech to now with the past, the present and the future. So it's critical.


I hear that the Voting Rights Act was regarded as the most effective civil rights statute. It was brought into being within, literally within days, within months if you will, of John Lewis nearly laying down his life on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. So to march in Washington for the right to vote in 2020, recognizing what John Lewis did in 1965. And the years between 1965 and 2020 is such a wonderful testament, such a powerful testimony and witness, bearing witness, to his ongoing legacy.

WHITFIELD: It represents the journey, the setbacks, and the continuation of how much further the road has yet to go, and the hiccups along the way, roadblocks, if you will.

And then, Victor, you know, so much of Lewis' life really was shaped by his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in which Congressman Lewis sent him a letter when he was, you know, just a teenager. Just sharing how enamored he was and fascinated with, and then next thing, you know, there would be a relationship that would be struck. And so now, we're seeing these parallels, now even in the passing of Congressman Lewis.

His body, his casket on a caisson, modeled after the very one Dr. King had for his funeral. And similarly, one can't help but also think about the late president John F. Kennedy as well and the caisson. Talk to me about the significance there.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You know, when Congressman Lewis told the story of how he initially met Dr. King, he sent that letter to Dr. King and Dr. King sent him a round trip bus ticket. And when he showed up, he stood there and Dr. King said, are you the boy from Troy? And he said, yes, sir, and he said his full name.

And from that moment, just 17 years old, started a relationship that went until the end of King's life. But, of course, his work in the Senate, his work across -- the House I should say, his work across the country, he brought that legacy with him. He brought those credentials of having put shoe leather to the ground, and having gone across the Mississippi Delta trying to register people in the early '60s, in the mid-'60s to vote as well.

And when you talk about the imagery, there's also the relationship with Robert F. Kennedy as well. Congressman Lewis talked about being in RFK's hotel room, when he was shot at the hotel in the ballroom there while campaigning in California. And it was at that moment he thought that potentially he could serve, he could run for office.

His first run was unsuccessful but then worked in the Atlanta City Council. And, of course in the early '80s, ran against his friend, fellow civil rights activist Julian Bond for the seat on the fifth district of Atlanta. And then, he has held that seat ever since. So, yes, the imagery is the same, the commitment was the same. And the way that these men will be remembered, likely will be the same as well.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And, Lonnie Bunch, you know, fill in some other blanks for us, you know, in between, all those moments, those milestones, you know, those markers of history. And, you know, Victor touches on the death of Bobby Kennedy and, you know, help us, you know, put us into the place and the mind of the young Congressman Lewis at that moment. Because he had such great hope in Bobby Kennedy. He was so inspired by him.

And after that assassination, Congressman Lewis was nearly despondent. I mean, almost losing hope about all that he had envisioned and what had roped him into this cause. But then, sort of an epiphany, a moment where he said, OK, yes, I can see my place, perhaps, in public service.

BUNCH: I think one of the great strengths of John Lewis is his resilience, is the fact that at a moment of despair, he recognized, however, that there were still work to do, that there were things that he could do that he could carry on the legacy of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy. But most importantly, what he recognizes that he had to commit to think of strategically, how do you change a country. And his involvement in Congress was so powerful because it was both about ensuring that the African Americans got the rights they need.

But also he realized that his job was to see that Americans embrace this law. And so therefore, he became a champion of women's rights and gay rights. And in some ways, what was so powerful that as he was near the end of his life, that he's standing with protesters at the Black Lives Matter Square in Washington, DC, in essence, passing the baton, saying that this next generation is right, that the struggle continues and that he was grateful to be part of it. And now to pass that on to a new generation was satisfying for him.


WHITFIELD: Wow, really satisfying and so emblematic of really the start of his journey, right? I mean, Martin Luther King essentially passed the baton to him by inviting him in. And then Congressman Lewis would understand the gravity of his position his place in history and do that.

And he's done that along the way many times, right, Lonnie, passing the baton. But that -- there was something very cementing about doing that, on that Black Lives Matter Plaza, knowing that his fate, you know, was -- he was soon, you know, to be reunited with Dr. Martin Luther King and some of the other foot, civil rights foot soldiers.

BUNCH: Well, in some ways, what was so powerful about the Congressman is that, he understood history. He didn't look at it as something to nostalgic. But as rather a tool that you use to motivate people to inspire if you're teaching people to struggle ahead. So the fact that he stood on that Black Lives Plaza, recognizing his own connection to the past. And he wanted that new generation to recognize, bring your own vision, your own ideals. But you're standing on the shoulders and you have a commitment to fulfill those dreams of so many generations.

WHITFIELD: Martin, we're looking at the images again of that caisson making its way across this Edmund Pettus Bridge moments ago. I mean extraordinary imagery there. And, you know, it takes you full circle. You can't help but think about that March date, 1965, and John Lewis on that bridge. And now, the correlation with his last journey, in a casket, in a caisson, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

If you could, Martin, kind of replay for us as we are looking at the images being replayed for us, what that moment was like for the crowd that did show up there on that Broad Street at the foot of the bridge.

SAVIDGE: First of all, everyone knew where that caisson came from, that had left Brown Chapel AME Church, and that is the church where the marches have been organized. So the direct connection back to history that day, March 7, 1965. They all got it.

And then as it came around the corner from Alabama, I believe on a Broad Street, heading now to blocks towards the bridge. The crowd initially got quiet because this was that moment. It was John Lewis, and it was his final crossing. A lot of people had come to travel, to get a photo, to get one last look at the man and reflect upon what he met upon their lives.

And then, as they got to the very Burma, the bridge, the very beginning of it. People actually broke up and sung, there are others that began waving, saying thank you. It became a personal farewell. And then, of course, after that, the carriage moved on and began to cross the bridge. And it was, for the most part silent because this was then John Lewis's moment. This was the moment of the ages, and he is crossing over.

So symbolism in so many ways. Of course, recognizing 1965, recognizing 2020 in his passing, and the life that has gone and the changes in America since. But we all have bridges to cross. We all have to face dangers on the other side at times in our lives, so everyone could feel a connection to John Lewis. What he did, what he has done, and why they will want to remember him all, Fredrick.

WHITFIELD: And, Cornell, let me get your thoughts on yet what seems to be another apex. You know, a moment where there is a push, there are petitions in which to have this Edmund Pettus Bridge name, renamed John Lewis Bridge. And the late congressman, had been asked about that, you know, several times, you know, along the way and didn't see that that was necessary or fitting. Is that because, as his brothers and sisters mentioned yesterday in a memorial service time and time again, he was so humble?

BROOKS: Right. I think it had everything to do with his -- not just his political humility but a moral humility. Because John was understood profoundly that the sacrifice of Selma was more than the sack of the heroic sacrifice of a person with the heroic sacrifice and many people, a community, a race, the foot soldiers of Selma. He was mindful of Amelia Boynton sacrificed on that bridge, and Jimmy Lee Jackson and so many others who lost their lives for the right to vote.

So it's a measure of his humility, but when we think about we naming the bridge, we also have to think about the renaming of the Voting Rights Act, the renewed Voting Rights Act, a restored voting rights act. So this moment of recognizing his legacy in the present is more than putting names on schools, on bridges, on legislation.


It's about recognizing his legacy in the present is more than putting names on schools, on bridges, on legislation. It's about naming and claiming his legacy in the present for the future. So in other words, securing voting rights. In other words, getting into good trouble in his name, like those schoolchildren in Virginia who change the name of their school, from Robert E. Lee, to John Robert Lewis. That's what this moment is about.

And so, if his name is important, his name is most important when is it is on our lips, speaking to our ideals, speaking to our aspirations, speaking to the future. And that's a measure of his humility, the magnitude and measure of his life.

WHITFIELD: And his name attached to change, because that is what John Lewis is emblematic of. Lonnie, talk about change. I mean, you know, the late congressman was able to twist a lot of arms, do a lot of lobbying, convincing to get that African American Museum of culture and history in that very place where it is. That's where your relationship really took on a whole new level. Describe that experience and what those memories have been like.

BUNCH: Well, I think there was something amazing about John Lewis' resiliency. I mean, he introduced legislation to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture for nearly two decades. And he worked the political system. He finally got the support that allowed President Bush to sign the legislation in 2003. And yet for 14 years beyond that, he worked with me to help to create that museum. And I mean he worked.

One of the things he said, as you know, you're a historian, so I want you to feel the past. And I didn't understand what he said. Then he said to me, go with me on one of my pilgrimages through Alabama and Mississippi. And the walk the civil rights movement with John Lewis, to see it through his eyes, gave a historian a sense of how important this was not just because it happened, but because it has a continuing relevance and relevancy.

And one of the things that is so powerful to me was that, John Lewis really was committed to building a museum that would help America remember all of its history, in a way that was sometimes painful, but that other times it was rife with resiliency and optimism. So working with John Lewis for 14 years was a gift, because every time I needed something, he would come over and say to me, brother, what do you need?

And you forget, in one way, this is John Lewis. I was so, my god, it's John Lewis. He was somebody who said, I'm a worker for change. And part of that change is building this museum, so let me help you craft the place that will change America forever. And that's what I think he is.

WHITFIELD: What a legacy. Victor is in Montgomery and that will be the next stop for the casket of the congressman. So, Victor, what will happen? Can you paint a picture a little bit more on what will happen in Montgomery?

BLACKWELL: So as the motorcade travels from Selma, the 42 miles to where I am now, it will travel up Dexter Avenue, which is the same road at which in 1965, on March 25, the thousands of people who walked for the second March after what happened the Edmund Pettus Bridge, on Bloody Sunday, where that same path, that same road. And it will come here to the Alabama State Capitol.

The governor, Kay Ivey, will welcome. There will be a short ceremony once the congressman's casket arrives here, and then there will be currently scheduled for four hours of people who have come here to the Capitol to pay their respects to pass through. Of course, there will be social distancing and mass required because of the mass mandate here in Alabama, but also because of the general pandemic that's happening here.

Right across the street, we know that there's Dexter Avenue, now King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. King was a pastor before he went to Ebenezer in Atlanta. There will likely be some people who were there -- be there as well to celebrate the congressman.

But in this building, there is so much history that talks about, right, at least, highlights illuminates the progress that this state, this country has made, but still in the conversation about Congressman Lewis. We know that even in his last days, he was telling people who were speaking with him. I spoke with Xernona Clayton yesterday, also with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who spoke with him.

And they were saying talking about him saying, do not give up, do not give in.


Keep up the fight, keep the faith. We know that after the weakening of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, his focus was there as well. He died believing that one day this country would become the beloved community. But still there was work to do.

So, in the honoring of Congressman Lewis, as we're seeing people now start to come out and start to wait, as they've watched on television, what happened in Selma, and they know the travel will come here. We know that that will be on their minds, that there was a lot done in his life, and he contributed too much of it. But he's still tells all the people who are here that they cannot rest on this moment, that there is still work to do. That will be part of the tribute to the late congressman.

WHITFIELD: Yes. The late congressman's contributions and accomplishments in the legislature are immense, and we're going to delve into some of that a bit later. Thank you so much, everyone.

We're going to take a short break, but stay with me as we continue to watch these incredible moments from Selma, Alabama where Congressman John Lewis, his casket makes a final procession over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. All of this during our special coverage continues after this.



WHITFIELD: Let's talk now about the coronavirus pandemic. It has hit another grim milestone as cases and deaths continue to surge globally, over 16 million people have now been infected by the disease. The US is responsible for a quarter of those cases, another 900 Americans lost their lives on Saturday alone, marking the first day in nearly a week that deaths did not top 1,000. But new models project 175,000 American deaths by mid-August.

Still, there are some new signs of hope. Tomorrow trials for phase three of a potential coronavirus vaccine will begin. Volunteers from across the country are expected to take part. But it comes as lawmakers in Washington scramble to come up with a new relief package. A $600 unemployment benefit expires on Friday. It has been a critical lifeline for millions of Americans who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. CNN's Polo Sandoval was tracking the latest for us. Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, we can give you our, at least, start our national look in the Sunshine State or the state of Florida, adding an additional 9,200 deaths today. That now bring the total to about 420,000 in almost 6,000 deaths in Florida. But it's clear that Florida is in crisis mode right now.

This weekend, it surpassed the numbers that we saw play out here in New York when we were getting hit hard. And now Florida second only to California.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): Florida on Saturday became the US state with the second highest official coronavirus case count, passing New York, once the epicenter early on in the pandemic, number of people being hospitalized in Florida up a staggering 79 percent since the July 4th holiday. Nearly half of Florida's COVID-19 deaths are linked to long- term care facilities. At least 50 Florida hospitals, Saturday, reporting they reached ICU capacity

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Every day in Miami-Dade County right now, about 200 people go into our hospitals because they're too sick. Twenty to Thirty of them will likely die, a good portion of them, will end up two weeks in ICU and then another portion will be on ventilators and survive.

SANDOVAL: Despite that and the surging case numbers, there's a push to reopen bars in Florida. We're also learning heartbreaking details about Florida's youngest victim, Kimora "Kimmie" Lynum. She was just nine years old when she died last week.

Florida now tops New York in cases. Texas now sits close behind New York with more than 380,000 cases of the coronavirus. Texas Saturday afternoon reported more than 8,100 new cases and 168 deaths.

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON: 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 March, April, May, June combined.

SANDOVAL: Leading the nation now in confirmed cases of COVID-19, California. And Friday, 159 people died of the coronavirus in California, the most deaths there in a single day.

Arizona hits its second highest daily death toll on Saturday. Meantime, thousands, not only in that state, face a cut off and critically needed unemployment benefits, as Congress fights over the details of a relief bill. That could cause pain for many people in Arizona and other states.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: We're all about making sure that the working class of this country are taken care of. And we're not going to stick to strict ideology, and in the process somehow destroy family incomes and family stability. So, of course, we will look at some compromises.

SANDOVAL: As cases and deaths spiked nationwide, a massive push to get kids back into the classroom come this fall. The CDC has new guidelines coming down hard in favor of reopening schools. With the new school year just around the corner, families and communities are weighing whether to send their children back for in-person learning.

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, EPIDEMIOLOGIST AND PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERT: 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, 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 administration's political priorities are for what they want them to look like.


SANDOVAL: All of this is new CDC analysis showing coronavirus symptoms can stick around for weeks, even in those who are otherwise healthy.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SANDOVAL: So the question now remains what to do about these increased numbers. Well, for example, mayors in Los Angeles also in Houston, they're considering a second stay at home order to try to at least drop some of these numbers. But then that leads to the other ongoing debate, Fred, is many of these local municipalities, the orders that they're issuing their unenforceable because of basically, what they're getting from their capital, their capital city, from the government. Fred.

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

All right. Let's talk more about all of this. Joining me right now is Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. He is an Epidemiologist and former Health Commissioner for Detroit. He is also the Author of "Healing Politics: A Doctor's Journey into the Heart of Our Political Epidemic." Doctor, thank you so much for being with us.

EL-SAYED: Fred, thank you for having me on such a somber day.

WHITFIELD: It really is, but at the same time it is a celebration of a magnificent life in Congressman John Lewis.

So let's talk about Florida right now. This last week a nine-year-old girl died from coronavirus. And she was the youngest to die from the disease in that state. But her death comes as many are pushing for schools to reopen in just a matter of weeks. So, do we know enough about this disease and how it affects young people?

EL-SAYED: Well, it's a tragic reminder that we still have a lot to learn. It is also a reminder of what's at stake when we think about sending our kids back to school, in circumstances where they potentially could get a very, very contagious and deadly disease. What we're all forced to be thinking about right now is, how do we protect our young people while also doing the obvious thing of helping them to secure a cognitive social, emotional future through education, which is why we send our kids to school in the first place.

But one of the things that one folks have to remember is that, this is less about what happens inside school districts, and has a lot more to do with what's happening in the communities in which people live the highest probability --

WHITFIELD: The interaction between people.

EL-SAYED: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: White House Coronavirus Taskforce member Admiral Brett Giroir said, when it comes to reopening schools, it's not a one-size- fit-all approach. I mean, you have to agree with that. But should districts or I should say how should districts assess whether schools should be open or not?

EL-SAYED: Well, there are two sets of considerations here, what students you're talking about, because we know that the risk of transmission gets a lot higher after the age of 10, and where you're talking about. It in communities where there is high spread, the likelihood of being able to open and open safely is substantially lower. And when you're talking about young children, it's a bit lower risk.

And so communities have to really set a standard and say above and beyond this transmission rate, we're not going to have open classrooms. And below this transmission rate, we'll be thinking about it and potentially different protocols for kids of different ages.

WHITFIELD: There's also a lot of talk about testing in the US. While it's true, the US is testing more than it has in the past. Results are taking days, sometimes more than a week. Listen to what Admiral Giroir, you know, said about that this morning.


BRETT GIROIR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE MEMBER: We are never going to be happy with testing until we get turnaround times within 24 hours, and I would be happy with point of care testing everywhere. We are not there yet. We are doing everything we can to do that.

What can we do? We can test everybody in a hospital within 24 hours so they can get the new treatments that we developed. We our point of care testing in nursing homes or prioritizing all nursing homes, because that's where 50 percent of the mortality are, where there's an outbreak. We're surge testing there. We're supplying the public health laboratories.

I work with ACLA every single day. I call their CEOs. Those are the big labs, the quest in the lab course. They have pooling that was just improve -- that that was just certified last week.


WHITFIELD: What do you think still needs to be done on testing?

EL-SAYED: Well, let me say this to. Admiral Giroir's point, it is important and critical to be able to test folks in places where people are actively sick in their hospitals and clinics, and then also, of course, in nursing homes. But the big picture question here is, why can't we get testing in the community?

Because if we know that this virus can be spread by people who don't have symptoms, then it's so critical that we're not just testing people who have symptoms, but we're testing people who don't have symptoms. Because then, we can do the contact tracing that is so critical to being able to bring transmission down.

And one point that I just want to make, that I think is critical here is, we don't talk enough about the disparity in the burden of this disease, the deaths and the transmission in the black community. And it reminds us that the legacy that we are celebrating a day of Representative Lewis that it has to continue even as this disease marks itself in disparities on black bodies.

[12:45:05] And so, I hope that we keep that in perspective, that there's so much more work to do to not just continue even as this disease marks itself in disparities on black bodies. And so, I hope that we keep that in perspective, that there's so much more work to do, to not just bring down this virus but also to address the disparities that it's showing us in our society.

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much for that, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. Appreciate it.

EL-SAYED: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, as Congressman John Lewis, the casket of the late congressman, cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge one last time. We will look back at Bloody Sunday and remember a moment in time that became a turning point in the civil rights movement.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Moments ago, Congressman John Lewis, the casket of the congressman, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the last time. Since its first pilgrimage in 1965, Lewis would return many times, every year, to mark Bloody Sunday. He would call it like a renewal. And the bridge would become a symbol of Lewis's lifelong fight for civil rights from that first crossing 55 years ago to his final journey today.

CNN's Abby Phillip looks at the decades long connection between Mr. Lewis and the bridge he nearly died on.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John Lewis's skull was broken by white police officers as African American activists pushing for voting rights cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in March 1965.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: This is sacred, this is hollow. This is where people gave some blood. I gave a little blood on this bridge.

PHILLIP: Participants were attempting to march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol of Montgomery. Seventeen people were hospitalized, including Lewes. This would become known as Bloody Sunday. And Lewis would always show the same commitment and fight he demonstrated on the bridge that day.

Fifty-three years after you all marched on this bridge, why is it so important to come back and to keep coming back every year?

LEWIS: This is the place that gave us the Voting Rights Act, made it possible for hundreds and thousands and millions of people to be able to participate in a democratic process. You cannot give up. You cannot give in. We will make it, they will lead us.

PHILLIP: This past March while suffering from stage four cancer, Lewis as determined as ever traveled to Selma twice to mark the march's 55th anniversary, and was still pushing decades later.

LEWIS: Fifty-five years ago, a few of God's children attempted to march on Brown Chapel AME Church, across this bridge. We were beaten, we were teargas. I thought I was going down this bridge for some high and some way, God Almighty helped me. We must go out and vote like we never ever voted before.


WHITFIELD: Every poignant moment every step of the way. Abby Phillip, thank you so much.

Coming up, how do you bring millions of children back to school safely? Well visit a daycare center that could serve as a model for schools nationwide.



WHITFIELD: It's the big question right now for educators and families across the country, how do you bring millions of kids back to school safely? CNN's Laura Jarrett takes us inside one childcare center in New York that could be a model for schools.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: PS/IS 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 sent.

JARRETT: 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 PS/IS 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, PS/IS 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. So while the safety protocols are awesome, the cleaning products, and just the procedures, our model, it's not the same as school.