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Florida Reports More Than 9,200 New Daily Coronavirus Cases For 23rd Day; Interview With Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) About The Late Congressman John Lewis; Coronavirus Testing Czar Admits Turnaround Times Still Too Long; Inside George Hospital's Fight Against COVID-19; Tensions Continue Between Law Enforcement, Portland Protesters; A.G. Barr To Testify Before House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 26, 2020 - 16:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Bianna Golodryga in for Ana Cabrera.

New records being shattered in the coronavirus crisis, with more than four million cases here in the U.S. The state of Florida surpassing New York in the number of cases, now second only to California. The state reporting more than 9,000 cases in a single day, something it has done now for 23 days this month. Currently hospitals in Miami-Dade County are at 146 percent capacity. And a troubling statistic out of Maryland, where 60 percent of the new cases being reported are people under the age of 40.

And while coronavirus rates across the country differ, one thing millions of Americans have in common is an increasingly urgent economic emergency. The extra $600 unemployment benefit runs out this week.

Plus, the big question for parents -- when and how can my kids children return to school safely? Well, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar making clear this morning that is not something the federal government is prepared to handle at the national level.


ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Each community is going to have to make the determination about the circumstances for reopening and what steps they take for reopening, but the presumption should be --


AZAR: -- we get our kids back to school.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Understood, Mr. Secretary.

AZAR: And we figure out how to make that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GOLODRYGA: Well, let's begin this hour in Florida. Police in the Miami-Dade area are cracking down on people not wearing masks in public. Hundreds have been issued citations, which can run as high as $500.

CNN's Randi Kaye is in Palm Beach County.

Randi, we've also learned that nearly 100 residents and staff at a term care facility have now tested positive? What more can you tell us about that?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're just getting more information on this, Bianna. We know now that nearly half of all deaths here in the state of Florida did take place at long-term health care facilities, so we've been looking into this one. It's the Ocoee Health Center. It's in Orange County, Florida, near Orlando. And we now know that nearly 100 residents and staff have tested positive.

I spoke with the Orange County Health Department just a short time ago. And they were telling that 66 residents at this facility did test positive, 22 of them are hospitalized. Plus on top of that another 30 staff members have tested positive. So that's a total of 96 people at this facility testing positive. The Orange County Health Department here in Florida is on the scene looking at infection control there, so certainly alarming given the number of deaths at these facilities here in the state.

But I don't know if you can see this behind me, Bianna, but life goes on here in the state of Florida despite that and the rising numbers in health care facilities. This restaurant here, of course, they're mostly seated outside. But very, very crowded. Live music going on. That's despite the fact that we have another 9200 cases here in the state of Florida. More than that another 77 deaths, bringing the total to more than 5800 Floridians here in the state of Florida, the second highest number of COVID cases in the country right here in Florida.

Meanwhile, still about 9,000 hospitalized, Bianna, in the state, and just about 18 percent of the adult ICU beds are left in the state. And you mentioned those mask issues in Miami-Dade County, which is just south of here, the hardest-hit county in the state. They've issued citations now for 150 businesses, which is a $500 fine, and for 174 individuals, which is a $100 fine.

People just not wearing their masks, not social distancing. You're supposed to do that indoors and outdoors in Miami-Dade -- Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: You're standing so many feet away and I can hear that music blaring and you're reminded that when music is so loud that people tend to talk and sit closer to each other, once again being at greater risk of transmitting any virus.

KAYE: Absolutely.

GOLODRYGA: All right, Randi Kaye, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

You are looking at an image that is now written forever in U.S. history. An American fighter, who devoted his adult life to human equality, and the iconic bridge where that fighter nearly died for that cause decades ago.

Well, this is the body of Congressman John Lewis crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, for the last time. It's a place of deep meaning in the storied life of John Lewis, an important part of the journey to his final resting place. Right now he is being honored by the state of Alabama and the city of Montgomery.

I want to bring in the House Majority Whip, Congressman James Clyburn. He's a friend of John Lewis.


And I appreciate you joining us. I know this must be a very emotional day for you, Congressman.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, thank you.

GOLODRYGA: What was going through your mind as you saw your friend in that casket travel across the Edmund Pettus Bridge one last time?

CLYBURN: Well, thank you very much for having. This afternoon, as the services started at Brown Chapel, and I sat with my three daughters. And the four of us watched the service there. We watched the horse- drawn carriage being taken across the bridge, and we all talked about it. One of them, my oldest had been to Brown Chapel and marched across the bridge with me and John. And we just talked a little bit about John, the sacrifices he made, and whether or not we were going to see this time with Black Lives Matter, the kind of success which eluded us back in the '60s.

As John and I talked about quite a bit before we went home to Atlanta for the last time, and he expressed fear of the sloganeering that was developed, and like defund the police, that that slogan could do the same thing to this movement that "burn, baby, burn" did to us back in the '60s. And so John spoke out forcefully against that. And so did I. Because I really believe that the Black Lives Matter movement has really made a breakthrough.

And it behooves all of us to rally (PH) behind this movement, do what we can to make this year a dedication to John Lewis. We ought to vote this year like we've never voted before. And so all the people who want to honor John, I can think of no better way than to turn out and vote in big numbers. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to take the floor of the House and I'll be introducing a piece of legislation to name a new voting rights act, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020.

And that is going to be to ensure that we have fair and unfettered elections this year, and do that in honor of John Lewis. So I'm calling on the Senate to pass it. I'm sure the House will, and the president to sign it, and let your deeds speak as to what you really felt about John Lewis.

GOLODRYGA: What a powerful message that would have, his name attached to that voting rights legislation, something that he had been fighting for up until his last day.

Congressman, my husband and I last night watch the CNN documentary "JOHN LEWIS, GOOD TROUBLE." You contributed to the film as well. And you obviously have so many memories with John, but what stood out to me when I was watching that was when you called almost meeting him at the South Carolina bus stop at Rock Hill only to be talked out of it by your wife, who reminded you at the time that she was pregnant and you weren't a college student anymore.

But you said that you wouldn't have been able to handle nonviolence as well as Congressman Lewis did. Talk about the strength that that took on his heart.

CLYBURN: Well, John was a disciple of nonviolence. I keep a likeness of Mahatma Gandhi on the wall of my whip office and I do that, really, because John Lewis to me personified the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy. You know, Martin Luther King, Jr. adopted nonviolence as the way to go. John adopted it and many of us did.

But John was the only one in the group that internalized it. And that's why I can't do what John did. I don't know that I could absolve the indignities, the beatings, and still tell them move forward. I don't know that many people could do that. I certainly know enough about my personality that I don't think I can't do that.

GOLODRYGA: And at such a young age that he was able to withstand that. And what's interesting is that you just said that when you were talking to him about the Black Lives Matter movement and then what came out of it, and some of the defund the police, you said some of these things made him fearful. And that is a bit surprising because he had said after being beaten nearly to death at such a young age that the fear was beaten out of him.


So that really tells you something about where we are as a country right now, that at his final days, some of that fear started to come back in him.

CLYBURN: Well, the fear that John spoke of is a little bit like the biblical fear rather than what we might see in emotions. John wanted so much for the Voting Rights Act to be restored. He wanted so much to see all of those efforts that he fought for back in the '60s come to fruition. And he remembered, when he woke up and saw the "burn, baby, burn" was a headline. He remembered what that did to that movement.

It destroyed it. It dethroned him in 1966 as president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. It is when John and I turn our attentions to voting rights. He became the director of the Voter Education Project down in Atlanta and I was living in Charleston, South Carolina, at the time. And I became the chair of the Charleston County Voter Education Project. And we went all over the south registering people to vote because we knew that that's what it would take to change things.

He spent about four, five years doing that before he ran for the Atlanta city council then for the U.S. Congress. So his fear was that these kinds of headlines could undercut the movement. So it wasn't fear for his own personal being. He just did not want to see this movement get undermined the way ours did back in the '60s. And I'm still hopeful that we can get this done. I'm hopeful that the Black Lives Matter movement will get beyond law enforcement, into housing, into education, into health care.

All of those things that it takes to make a person whole. What it takes to make a community stable. What it takes to make families what we intend for families to be, and that is a nurturing place for all, and to go out into the world. So that's what John was all about. And that's what he was fearful of, that once again we would get undercut. I'm hopeful that it won't happen.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Congressman, it must be something quite special to be watching that today with your family there with you, and carrying his legacy going forward. We will continue to tell his story of his fearlessness, his bravery, his love for this country, and his hope that we can come together as a united country. Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you, Congressman. And we will be right back.



GOLODRYGA: The Trump administration official overseeing critical coronavirus tests admits that turnaround times are still too long here in the U.S. He acknowledged that to CNN's Jake Tapper this morning.


ADM. BRETT GIROIR MD, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH, HHS: 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.


GOLODRYGA: Let's turn to Dr. William Schaffner. He's a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Doctor Schaffner, thanks so much for joining us. Bill Gates said that during a CNN coronavirus town hall that any test results taking longer than 24 hours are, his quote, "basically uses." What is the reaction to that knowing that the average turnaround time is four day but obviously anecdotally you hear so many people having even longer experiences?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: YES, Brianna, it's still very different. There are many tests that take much longer to get back and of course the utility of those tests, their usefulness, is really very much in question. Both for public health and for clinical reasons to take care of that individual patient.

We still have a long way to go with testing. We would like to make testing more widely available and of course those turnaround times really do have to improve in order to make the results of the test as useful as we would like.

GOLODRYGA: And to conduct contact tracing as well. Let me ask you because in addition to testing delays, the U.S. is conducting less than one million tests per day. Now this comes as the administration and the CDC are pushing for school to reopen. Does this heighten your concern about safe reopening? Obviously we all want kids back in schools. That's the ultimate goal here.

SCHAFFNER: Yes, we sure do want the children back in school. And it will be opening up school in a new way, not the old way. But testing is part of that because if there are children who become sick, or parents, or teachers or custodians who work in the schools, anyone, we would like to be able to know the answer to that very, very quickly, so that public health can go in, as you say do the contact tracing, and decisions can be made about whether the schools ought to change what it is that they're doing.

Should they close down one particular classroom or do one or a number of other things? So we need the information as quickly as possible.

GOLODRYGA: Do you think that another shutdown, at least in parts of the country experiencing sharp increases in cases especially in the southwest? Do you think another one is warranted today?

SCHAFFNER: Well, Brianna shutdown means different things to different people. I mean, lockdown the way it was, I doubt that we'll do that probably. But various things along the way, closing the bars early, asking everyone to wear masks.


Those are things we certainly can do, and recommending sheltering at home for many people, particularly older people, people with chronic underlying illnesses. That for sure. And I'll come back to it, wearing masks by everyone all the time really is fundamental. And we don't see that happening yet.

GOLODRYGA: So as a medical expert, I don't know if you go to watch earlier in the hour when I was talking to Randi Kaye in Florida. She was talking about masks, the fines for not wearing a masks were up to $500. People are still not wearing masks. And there's talk about reopening bars in Florida of all places. How does that make you feel as a medical expert and are you concerned about the ramifications that may have on the state being able to bring their numbers down?

SCHAFFNER: Well, you said the right word. Concern. It makes me very concerned because it's those very bars where many people go. They're close together for prolonged periods of time, whether indoors or outdoors, unmasked. That's exactly the circumstance that the COVID virus enjoys and it's been demonstrated repeatedly now. Those bars, those circumstances are accelerators for the spread of this virus. So doing that now seems very unwise.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, it seems crazy, I would also say. I do want to ask you about the vaccines because the Trump administration as we know is spending a lot of money on vaccine development and we're potentially months away from one, but you know that there's another debate under way over who should get those first doses, who should get the first vaccines. Are you worried about politics playing into that decision- making at all?

SCHAFFNER: Concern is the word I would use once again, sure. The National Academy of Sciences and Medicine has a committee. The Centers for Disease Control has a committee of which I'm apart. They are working on prioritization. And we don't know what the warp speed mechanism is doing in that regard. So it's a little bit uncertain at the moment who will help establish that. But there are good people working on ways to prioritize the vaccine as it becomes available because we can't all have it at once, right?

So we're all thinking very carefully about who ought to be first, second, third, et cetera, in line to receive this vaccine. And then we'll have to persuade many people to get the vaccine because there are some already who have expressed a little bit of skepticism about receiving the vaccine and of course once we have an effective and safe vaccine, we would like as quickly as possible to have as many people take advantage of it as we can.

GOLODRYGA: Which is why now many medical experts are concerned, to use your word, about the name "warp speed" and what the impact they may have on people being a bit nervous about getting the vaccine right away.

All right, Dr. William Schaffner, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you.

SCHAFFNER: Thanks, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Well, doctors and nurses in some hospitals are struggling to handle the resurgence of the coronavirus. Ahead, Gary Tuchman takes you inside one Georgia hospital that thought it had the pandemic under control until the cases again.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



GOLODRYGA: Doctors, nurses, they are all constantly reinventing the medical emergency playbook as the coronavirus throws new challenges at them. You're about to get a look inside a Georgia hospital that is being slammed with new coronavirus patients and taking extreme measures to try to keep people alive.

Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is not doing well, a female COVID patient, being transferred from her room to the intensive care unit at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Georgia, a state where COVID deaths have nearly doubled since earlier this month.

KRISTINA HABEN, REGISTERED NURSE: It's exhausting. It has pushed me to my limits. It has shown me that I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was.

TUCHMAN: Kristina Haben is an RN at this hospital, which is in a part of Georgia that was a hot zone early on in the COVID crisis, but numbers started dropping, the state started reopening leading, experts say, to what's happening now.

HABEN: Just when you think that we might be getting ahead of this thing, it's going to come back and we're starting all over again.

TUCHMAN: This used to be a corridor for regular hospital in-patients. It has now been transformed into an additional intensive care unit just for COVID patients. Dr. Stephen Morgan is treating many of them.

DR. STEPHEN MORGAN, NORTHEAST GEORGIA MEDICAL CENTER: Yes, I have to admit I thought we were probably in the clear. You know, I think a lot of us did.

TUCHMAN: Dr. Morgan says the rising COVID numbers make the job more difficult, more fatiguing. He checks on a middle-aged COVID patient, and is gratified by his progress.

MORGAN: A real strong guy, got started out on some Remdesivir as soon as he came to the hospital.

TUCHMAN: But it's a very different feeling as Registered Nurse Haben walks into this room. This is being treated in a specially designated COVID unit. This is not the ICU but there is worry that he might end up going there.


(On camera): This patient has been here for two days. There's a lot of concern obviously for anybody in the COVID unit, but particularly for this man because he's very old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go darling.

TUCHMAN: He is being given sugar water to keep his blood sugar up as well as insulin.

KRISTINA HABEN, REGISTERED NURSE: One of the hardest things is knowing that the last time that that patient's family saw them could possibly be the last time that they get to see them. TUCHMAN: This medical center is prepared for more and more patients being admitted. This unusual-looking structure sits in a hospital parking lot. Patients will soon start getting moved inside.

This rapidly constructed hospital addition consists of 44 shipping containers pieced together. There are 22 rooms for COVID patients.

BETSY ROSS, NURSE MANAGER: Everything that you would get in a traditional hospital room inside the hospital we are capable of doing here in this unit.

TUCHMAN: Everyone we talked with here expresses pride at what they are doing, but as the numbers go up so does the concern, and some cases, fear.

TAMIKA JOHNSON, CHARGE NURSE: Well, I guess you know what posttraumatic stress -- that's how it feel. I mean, it's like I feel like something that we should be able to prevent from happening. It's like we have no control over it in reality, and then the patients pass away. It's almost like we get so close to them. It's like losing a family member.

TUCHMAN: These doctors and nurses also consider each other family members, people they work with, fight this virus with for as long as it takes.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Gainesville, Georgia.


GOLODRYGA: Those doctors and nurses are true heroes. God bless each and every one of them.

Coming up, fire, smashed windows, and pepper spray. Protesters in Seattle face a line of police after marching in solidarity with demonstrators in Portland.



GOLODRYGA: Protest continued for the 59th day in a row in Portland, Oregon Saturday as demonstrators continue to protest for racial equality and against the presence of federal officers in the city. This was part of the scene there earlier this morning.






GOLODRYGA: As you can see, federal officers detained a protester and you can hear him screaming after his mask was removed.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov joins me now from Portland. Lucy, you were there last night. I have to say, when I look at these scenes, every day now, 59 straight days, it's hard to recognize that as an American city.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is. I mean, I've spent over a decade working in various Middle East conflict zones, and it's a little bit disturbing to see what's been happening on the streets, the intensity of the clashes. But I have to say, Bianna, this is by and large a peaceful protest movement.

We came out here early yesterday evening. There were over 5,000 by some estimates, people here holding hands, chanting slogans, chanting "Black Lives Matter" with protest signs, the so-called "Wall of Moms" came out. They were joined by fathers wearing orange t-shirts, wearing leaf blowers to sort of push back the tear gas towards the federal agents and away from the crowd.

And also, as we spoke about yesterday, the wall of veterans, there was this beautiful moment when about two dozen or so former U.S. military veterans marched into this area. They lined themselves up in front of the federal courthouse, standing in formation, in position to try to lend their bodies to the "Black Lives Matters" protest movement.

We had a chance to speak to one man. He's a retired U.S. Navy veteran. Take a listen to what he had to say.


DON THOMSON (ph), U.S. NAVY VETERAN: And I was off the coast of Iran, 50 miles off the coast of Iran, during the Iranian hostage crisis. I watched the helicopters crash on radar. Why would I do that if I didn't believe in the constitution of this country? We were all born here. This is our streets. That's our fence. It's on our property. Take it down. It's already been ruled illegal. Take it down and leave our town. Our police were doing a fine job and they're still doing a fine job.


KAFANOV: So, that was earlier in the evening. Later in the evening, the picture changed completely. The federal paramilitary forces effectively came out. They started shooting tear gas. The protesters started trying to pull down that chain-link fence, that metal fence behind me. They succeeded in doing that and that's when things really got hairy.

We saw nonlethal munitions tossed to them. Federal agents actually came out from behind the barrier. They stormed down towards the streets pushing the protesters back. The whole event was declared a riot at around 1:00 a.m. local yesterday evening, early hours of this morning. And it's quite similar to the scenes that we saw actually in Seattle.

In Seattle, thousands of people came out in solidarity with the protest movement here, especially in reaction to the federal agents being deployed to city streets where they were deployed in Seattle as well, at least on standby, and things got pretty hairy in Seattle as well, the police declaring that situation a riot earlier as well. Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Really insightful to hear that veteran's perspective and talk about his time in Iran akin to what you had said about spending time covering war zones overseas as well. Question for you -- are protests expected to continue tonight as well?

KAFANOV: I don't imagine how this will somehow come to a close, Bianna. You know, the placing of the fence behind me -- if we pan the camera over this way -- people have been gathered here day after day. It's usually really quiet in the daytime hours, but in the evening, that's when the families come out, that's when the protesters comes out, that's when the singing and the chanting begins. I don't see this backing down because neither side seems to be backing down. Bianna?


GOLODRYGA: Well, Lucy, I know you will be covering it for us as well. Thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

Well, it's all but certain that the issue of federal officers in Portland and other cities will be a topic of discussion on Capitol Hill when Attorney General William Barr testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

This past week, Barr said some of the reactions to the death of George Floyd were, quote, extreme. That comment came at the same event where President Trump said he will be sending more federal law enforcement officers to certain cities.

And that brings me to your weekend presidential brief with CNN National Security Analyst and my good friend, Sam Vinograd. Great to see you, Sam.

She's here to breakdown the most pressing national security issues facing the U.S. and she's helped prepare the daily presidential brief for President Obama. Sam, let me ask you -- there are many topics that could come up during this Barr testimony, a lot of questions people have for him. What are you going to be looking for specifically?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Bianna, the Department of Justice is billing this hearing as a general oversight testimony by the attorney general, but that's selling the intent of the hearing woefully short. We need to remember that Chairman Nadler has not taken impeaching Bill Barr off the table based on Barr's alleged politicization of the Department of Justice.

We should expect the chairman to question Bill Barr about a litany of alleged abuses including Barr's role in the dismissal of charges against Michael Flynn, the Stone sentencing debacle, the events that unfolded in Lafayette Park against peaceful protesters and more. And this is one of the scariest things I've ever said on television, Bianna, but we can't trust the attorney general to be honest. Time and time again, he has proven that he is more focused on placating POTUS than he is about actually representing reality.

We saw that with his mischaracterization of the Mueller Report findings, his mischaracterization of the role of Antifa in fomenting violence and protests, and other incidents. And for that reason, while oversight is a core tenet of democracy, from a global perspective, this testimony may do more harm than good. If Bill Barr continues to misrepresent reality, it is likely that he will further undermine the credibility of our institutions. That's a major win for people like Putin.

GOLODRYGA: That is true. And today, speaking of Putin, today mark the 100 days until the 2020 election and it looks like deja vu, the election security outlook now in question. We have intelligence officials who issued a warning, Friday, that China, Russia, and Iran were expanding their influence effort. Was that warning urgent enough? Because I do recall that it was also a Friday when there was a warning that came out in 2016 from intelligence officials that basically fell on deaf ears.

VINOGRAD: Well, the key take away from this intelligence warning is that Donald Trump has failed. Donald Trump has failed to deter threats to our elections. China and Iran were not listed as threats for our 2016 election. So, either our intelligence has gotten better or other actors, namely China and Iran, decided to join the fray when it comes to attacking our elections, based on Donald Trump's open-door policy to Putin's attacks on our democracy.

Now, it's notable that this statement from the intelligence committee has come under criticism. Democrats have claimed that this statement really painted a false equivalency between the efforts of China, Russia, and Iran. These nation states differ significantly in terms of the scope, scale, and tactics they are using to attack our election. You cannot compare the scale of China's attacks against our elections with those of Russia.

And finally, this statement is so vague, Bianna. It doesn't, for example, indicate which candidate these countries prefer, and it really begs the question of why this administration is either misinforming us or under informing us when it is so critical that the public has as much information as possible.

GOLODRYGA: And we also the president recently spoke with Vladimir Putin. And from their readouts, this wasn't brought up. The bounties on U.S. soldiers wasn't brought up as well, so a lot of unanswered questions, but I agree with you. These are very urgent issues. Samantha Vinograd, thanks for joining us. Great to see you.

VINOGRAD: Good to see you.

GOLODRYGA: Have a happy weekend.

Well, some big names in entertainment are teaming up to convince Americans to wear face masks. Actor John Leguizamo joins us to explain his role in this coming up next.


GOLODRYGA: New York has a message it would like to share with the rest of the country -- "Mask Up America". That's the name of a new initiative launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo reminding everyone that wearing a mask saves lives.


MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR (VOICE-OVER): I may never have met you. We don't go way back. Maybe we wouldn't be friends if we did. But when you wear a mask, you have my respect because your mask doesn't protect you. It protects me. I wear my mask to protect you. Be in New York tough (ph), "Mask Up America".


GOLODRYGA: As narrated by Morgan Freeman there. And joining me now, actor John Leguizamo. He's part of the star-studded entourage along with Morgan, who you just heard, and others who are putting together these public service announcements.


John, thanks so much for coming on with us. It's been a while since I last saw you. One constant message that we've been hearing from a lot of medical officials is that we need more PSAs from influencers and celebrities like yourself to change the calculus in this country. Is that what convinced you to participate?

JOHN LEGUIZAMO, ACTOR: Yes, absolutely. I feel like, you know, it's all our responsibilities to help out and to help this message come across, especially being a Latino for Biden. I felt like maybe I could do that better, you know, because New York was the first state to pass a law to wear masks because we saw that it worked because some people are asymptomatic and they could infect people unwittingly.

So, why risk that when you can just wear a mask and protect your neighbors, your community, and especially with Latin people being one of the biggest ethnic groups that are dying of COVID, especially in New York City in Elmhurst where I grew up. It devastated that whole community. So, I definitely felt like a responsibility, and I had to do something.

GOLODRYGA: Let me ask you about the Latin community because you talked about the impact and how hard-hit it was here in New York. And now, we're seeing what's taking place in Texas at the border with Mexico and Star County -- it's just one example -- where there's one hospital there that's being inundated with patients, with Latino families, and the national government is having to step forward, and the Pentagon is sending in troops to help, and sending more trucks as well. What is your message to the Latino community to Americans, as a whole, to really put a light on this particular issue, in this particular community that's been so hard hit?

LEGUIZAMO: Well, one of the reasons Latino community is so hard hit is because we're essential workers. We're first responders. And we feed you. We clean you. We keep America moving. But we put our lives at risk for that. And I don't -- you know, the only thing I can tell my community and everybody out there is please wear your masks, keep distancing, you know, wash your hands as often as you can, and help us survive, you know. Help us all survive because that's the only way we can do is to help each other.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. If they're essential employees, they're essential citizens, and which means, we have to take care for them and make sure that they survive this. Are you surprised that after the hell -- and that's what it was -- the hell that New York and New Jersey went through early on --


GOLODRYGA: -- that other states that are being hard hit now seemingly weren't as prepared as many would have expected they would be seeing what happened here in New York? I mean, you're talking about fines of $500 in places like Florida for people not wearing masks, and they're still not wearing masks.

LEGUIZAMO: I know. And they're still going to parties, and going to the beaching groups. I mean, I don't know what it takes to help them understand that this is a real thing and you need to protect the elderly, the vulnerable, those who have immune-compromised systems. I don't know. I mean, there's so many -- the problem is that there's mixed messaging going on. Obviously, Cuomo promotes wearing masks and distancing, and DeSantis doesn't. And he says you don't need it and it doesn't matter, and then he changes his mind.

And then, the president also says, you know, it doesn't matter. You know, we'll save it light or disinfectant, and then he says you do. I mean, the leadership is just not working and he's not -- Trump is not giving the proper message to protect people. And if you don't do that, nobody is going to listen. Nobody is going to do what they have to do.

GOLODRYGA: Well, John Leguizamo, we really appreciate your service and making your voice a part of this conversation, and hopefully bringing back some normalcy to this country. We need you on Broadway. Broadway has been dark.


GOLODRYGA: There's so many things in New York --

LEGUIZAMO: Yes. I got to go back.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. We got to get back.

LEGUIZAMO: Thank you, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: And that requires everyone taking care of each other. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

LEGUIZAMO: Stay healthy and stay safe.


Well, this week, CNN hero went the extra mile to keep more than a million kids fed during the pandemic. Meet Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow.


MAGNUS MACFARLANE-BARROW, CNN "HEROES": We've come up with models that allow the community leaders, the parents to come in a very careful way to the schools and to collect the food that we deliver there to bring it back home to make sure that those most vulnerable children in the whole world are still getting enough to eat every day, because there sometimes is a very good reason to suspend schools. There can never be a good reason to suspend the feeding of children.

Nearly all of those 1.6 million children are still being fed by many of these meals. If someone would have asked me whether that would be possibly even a few months ago, I wouldn't have believed them, but here we are at that point having found this way to keep our promise.



GOLODRYGA: We thank Magnus for all his work. And to learn more about what he is doing to make sure that more than a million children continue to be fed, go to


GOLODRYGA: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Bianna Golodryga in for Ana Cabrera. We begin with the unrelenting coronavirus crisis. Now, more than 16 million cases globally and more than a quarter of them are in one country, the United States.