Return to Transcripts main page


Florida Officials Discuss How to Reopen Bars; ICUs Struggle with Flood of Patients; Hanna Makes Landfall as Category 1 Hurricane; Brazil's Bolsonaro Says Isolation is Worse than Virus; North Korea Reports First Suspected Case of COVID-19; Washington State Death Toll Rising Rapidly; New COVID-19 Cases Soaring across the United States; Military Veterans Face Off with Federal Officers in Portland; Parents, Drivers Face Bus Dilemma when U.S. Schools Reopen. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 26, 2020 - 02:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The coronavirus continues its ruthless march across the globe. Brazil and the United States lead the world with another day of soaring numbers.

Protests in Portland show no signs of stopping. Now a wall of veterans have joined the front lines. We'll take you there, live.

Also --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get a lot of calls from drivers that ask me, what is the plan for starting September 10th?

And it's really bad to say we don't know anything.

ALLEN (voice-over): More questions than answers. Hear from American bus drivers trying to prepare for a safe return to school.


ALLEN (voice-over): It's all ahead this hour and we are live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers, here, in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: Thank you for joining us.

It has been months since the coronavirus reached the United States. And instead of things calming down, several states are breaking records in numbers of cases and deaths. Overall, the country has recorded more than 4 million cases and rising. And more than 146,000 people have died. Florida is recording big new numbers. It now has the second most

infections in the country. It just passed New York, which was an early epicenter. Hospitals are getting overwhelmed now. And positive test rates are rising.

But as all that is happening, Florida officials are thinking about when to reopen bars, of all things. The mayor of Miami Beach explains why that is the wrong focus, right now.


MAYOR DAN GELBER (D-FL), MIAMI BEACH: Every day, in Miami-Dade County right now, about 200 people go into our hospitals because they're too sick; 20 to 30 of them will likely die. A good portion of them will end up two weeks in ICU. And another portion will be on ventilators and survive. That's -- I mean, we're normalizing something that should never be normalized.


ALLEN: CNN's Rosa Flores is in Miami with more details on the battle there.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Florida governor Ron DeSantis maintains that the number of COVID-19 cases in his state have stabilized. Look, if you look at the numbers this past week, for at least four days, the number of cases hovered at or around 10,000.

But in the past two days, they've exceeded 12,000. I asked an infectious disease expert for her take. And she says it is too early to claim victory.

She said, Rosa, you've got to look at the hospitalizations. You have got to look at the number of ICUs being used. And we did. Across the state of Florida, the number of hospitalizations have increased by 79 percent in the past three weeks. This is according to state data.

Now I am in Miami-Dade County, the epicenter of this crisis in this state. It accounts for 25 percent of the now more than 400,000 cases in this state.

And ICUs right now are operating at 137 percent. What that means is that there are more patients than there are ICU beds. What the county is doing is they are converting beds into ICUs.

Now we've got to look at ventilator use. The use of ventilators has increased by 62 percent in the past two weeks. As for the positivity rate in this county, it's at 19.7 percent. The goal for the county is not to exceed 10 percent. Well, the 14-day average, right now, is 19.4 percent.

Now this week, we also learned that the state of Florida has a shortage of nurses. We learned from the state that 51 hospitals from across the state have asked for help. They're asking the state of Florida to deploy more than 2,400 nurses.

Now despite all these facts and figures, we also learned today in a tweet that Florida is thinking about reopening bars. Take a look at this. This is from the Florida secretary of business and regulation.

He tweeted, quote, "Next week, starting Friday, I'm going to set meetings throughout Florida with breweries and bars to discuss ideas on how to reopen. We will come up with a safe, smart and step-by-step plan, based on input, science and relative facts on how to reopen as soon as possible."

I'm not sure what relative facts are.


FLORES: But here are the relevant facts involving the state of Florida right now and the reopening. Florida closed bars a month ago. That's when cases exceeded 9,000.

Well, that record has been broken. It was broken, two weeks ago, when the state of Florida, in one day, exceeded more than 15,000 cases.

And the other important data point is to look at the positivity rate because that indicates spread. In the past two weeks, the state of Florida has had a positivity rate ranging from 13 percent to 18 percent -- Rosa Flores, CNN, Miami.


ALLEN: On the other coast, California has the most official COVID-19 cases, having passed New York a few days ago. The coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said Friday that rates were beginning to plateau in California. But the state is scrambling to get the situation under control. CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Los Angeles.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here, in Los Angeles County, they are testing, fast and furiously, including, here, at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. They move people through in cars and on foot.

And the numbers in L.A. County, rising. This new batch shows that 3,628 new people have tested positive for COVID-19. There have been 53 new deaths.

Now we need to clarify that L.A. County was warning, all along, that they expected a spike in cases because there was a backlog in the system. They just hadn't counted all the cases, due to a glitch.

And the 10 percent positivity rate is, also, better news. But there's still this sort of underlying thing that haunts people in the medical profession and that's when some people talk about hoaxes or, perhaps, this is just the flu. Well, let's talk to the dean of this university.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. DEBORAH PROTHROW-STITH, CHARLES R. DREW UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE AND SCIENCE: We can stop this pandemic. We can definitely slow it down. We could probably stop it, by doing a better job of personal responsibility and hygiene, washing your hands, using sanitizer, wearing your mask, social distancing.

Those things work. They absolutely work. And we just need everybody to do it. This is not a political issue. This is a health issue. And it's just something we all need to do.


VERCAMMEN: And the hospitalizations, steady, here, in L.A. County. They are just above 2,000. And Mayor Garcetti has threatened further shutdowns if these numbers do not improve -- reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen, now, back to you.


ALLEN: So of course, as these cases rise, intensive care units across the United States are feeling the strain as the numbers keep going up. Many of these medical teams can't keep up, they are so strained. Gary Tuchman spent time with health care workers on the front lines in a small city in Georgia.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll be with y'all in a second.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN 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 (voice-over): Kristina Haben is an R.N. at this hospital, which is in a part of Georgia that was a hot zone early on in the COVID crisis. The numbers started dropping. The state started reopening. Leading experts say to what's happening now.

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

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This used to be a corridor for regular hospital inpatients. 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 (voice-over): Dr. Morgan says the rising coping numbers make the job more difficult, more fatiguing.

MORGAN: Let's move.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): 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 since he came to the hospital.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But it's a very different feeling as Registered Nurse Haben walks into this room. This man 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 that particularly for this man, because he's very old.

HABEN: There you go, darling.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): He has been given sugar water to keep his blood sugar up, as well as insulin.


HABEN: 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 (voice-over): 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.

(on camera): This rapidly constructed hospital edition consists of 44 shipping containers pieced together. There are 20 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 (voice-over): Everyone we talked with here expresses pride in what they are doing. But as the numbers go up, so does the concern and in some cases, fear.

TAMIKA JOHNSON, CHARGE NURSE: Well, I guess you know what post traumatic stress, that's how I 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 (voice-over): These doctors and nurses also consider each other family members, people they work with, like this virus with for as long as it takes -- Gary Tuchman, CNN, Gainesville, Georgia.


ALLEN: It's just hard to put into words the remarkable efforts and work that these frontline health care workers are doing for all of us.

Texas is rapidly becoming a hot spot for coronavirus in the U.S. The state ranks fourth in overall case count. The virus has taken a terrible toll on Houston. Here is yet another view of what these healthcare workers are up against in the ICU.

Nearly 400 people have died in there. The mayor spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer about the loss his city has suffered.


MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D-TX), 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. Each month, the number goes up and up and up.


ALLEN: And now they have this to deal with in Texas. Some of the hardhit areas in the state now are dealing with a hurricane. Hanna made landfall Saturday with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour.


ALLEN (voice-over): This was the scene in Port Mansfield, Texas, as wind knocked down trees and tore roofs from buildings. The governor has issued disaster declarations for 32 counties after more than a foot of rain fell in some areas.

Storm shelters are being set up. And with coronavirus rampant in the state, authorities are taking every safety precaution.




ALLEN: At this hour, protesters in Portland continue to rally for justice. But with federal agents in the city, there are tense moments. We'll update you on the situation there.

Also, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, North Korea indicates it has a case of coronavirus. We'll have more on that, coming up.





ALLEN: Just out of quarantine, Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro took his motorcycle for a spin Saturday. A top health expert said the president is setting a bad example for the rest of the country by interacting with people without a mask, even though he tested positive coronavirus three times. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Sao Paulo.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: So much of the focus on coronavirus in Brazil here over the past two weeks on one man, his name, President Jair Bolsonaro, who many accuse of putting statements out that, frankly, have exacerbated Brazil's pandemic.

Early Saturday morning, he put out a Twitter post, saying that he had tested negative for coronavirus after three tests over the past two weeks that said he indeed had the virus.

In that tweet photograph, he was seen brandishing, as he has done over the past weeks, what seemed to be a packet of hydroxychloroquine, a medicine that doctors and scientists say, frankly, is useless in fighting coronavirus, may even be harmful.

But he's still been advocating for it, possibly, even still in that post as well. Afterwards, it seems he went off on his motorcycle to visit a repair shop, where he talked to fellow motorcyclists and was seen briefly not wearing a mask, although he was wearing a visor and a motorcycle helmet.

At the same time it may have made that difficult but he also talked, familiar talking, quite frankly, about how the damage that the lockdown does to stop the virus mustn't outweigh the damage the virus does itself.

And in fact contradicting earlier statements that he had experienced a fever, he said that he wouldn't even have known he had the virus unless he had a positive test.

Startling comments, frankly, to hear from a man who, later, went on Twitter to talk about a freedom of speech case in the country here, a distraction from the terrifying numbers being seen in the country every day.

Over the past three days, every day, we have seen over 50,000 new cases; 51,000 in 24 hours, reported that ended in Saturday. And that's according to one study that was government funded. They cut the funding just this week.

Those numbers may only be a sixth of the full picture here because to get a test, you have to have pretty bad symptoms here, in Brazil. It's bad in the south. Yet still, through all these increasingly bad numbers, the positivity of president Jair Bolsonaro many say has exacerbated the problem.

And many fear that his light symptoms and now positive-negative diagnosis, coming through this with good health, it seems, may in fact encourage him to continue to play down the damage as far as it's doing to Brazil -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN Sao Paulo.


ALLEN: Travelers from Norway and Britain are getting a nasty shock if they're coming back from Spain. Both countries are imposing a quarantine on all travelers returning from there. For Brits, they will have to spend 14 days in isolation. And Norwegians, a total of 10 days. Both Norway and Britain have advised against nonessential travel to mainland Spain.

One country that hasn't reported any coronavirus may now have its first case. The patient is said to be a North Korean defector, who came back. CNN's Paula Hancocks looks at how the government is responding.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the closest that North Korea has come, so far, to admitting that coronavirus is within the country. Now we know from state-run media KCNA that Kim Jong-un, the leader convened an emergency politburo meeting.

And, within that, he and his elite agreed to enact a maximum emergency system. Now according to KCNA, Kim Jong-un said there had been, quote, "a runaway," what we know as a defector, who had left North Korea about three years ago and then, back on July 19th, had crossed back into North Korea across the DMZ.

Now the South Korean military say that they are looking into this, to try and confirm whether or not that was the case. But according to KCNA, this particular individual did show symptoms. Uncertain results was from a medical checkup.

And so, the individual was put into strict quarantine, as were many others, according to this article, in Kaesong, which is a border city just along the DMZ. Now up until now, North Korea has claimed they have zero cases within the country. This is something that authorities and officials around the world, simply, did not believe.

They did close off the border, very early on. And they are one of the very few countries in the world that can completely isolate, in this respect. But this is really the first time that we have heard any indication and it's coming from the top, from Kim Jong-un, that coronavirus is in North Korea -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.



ALLEN: Continuing to give you a look at cases around the world. Now the rate of infection in South Africa is rapidly escalating. And it's forcing officials there to take drastic action. CNN's David McKenzie is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Freshly dug graves in Soweto, the death toll in South Africa has been low. But COVID-19 is getting a second chance.

CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: The coronavirus storm has, indeed, arrived, as we said it would.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Coronavirus cases in South Africa are surging, with more than 400,000 confirmed infections, a number that's been steadily rising since the country reopened parts of the economy nearly two months ago after a strict lockdown and one that's accelerated by more than 20 percent, in just the past week.

The spike is forcing the country to take measures to try and regain control of the virus, by shutting down schools again, reimposing a nighttime curfew and banning the sale of alcohol for a second time this year.

Health officials worry it's not the only country on the continent that will have to reverse course because of the pandemic.

DR. MICHAEL RYAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: I think what we're starting to see is a continued acceleration of transmission, in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa may unfortunately be a precursor. It maybe a warning for what will happen in the rest of Africa.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Experts say the rate of increase is alarming. Within the last week, the WHO says Madagascar's cases have increased by half. Namibia jumped by 69 percent and Botswana rose by 66 percent.

Positive cases in Kenya have doubled in just two weeks. Workers at a COVID-19 field hospital outside Nairobi say they are taking no chances and expanding the facility to care for a possible new wave of patients.

BERYL NEGESA, SENIOR NURSING OFFICER: It's temporary and it's the best -- I think it's the best decision because it's an open air space and it's a big space, where you can accommodate up to around 400 people.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Despite the increase in cases, the Democratic Republic of Congo is just beginning to reopen.

But that didn't stop the celebratory mood at this bar in Kinshasa, with one employee saying he is ready to welcome back his customers.

"I am putting the beer in the fridge," he says. "It's been nearly four months. Because of the state of emergency, our business was stuck. And today, I am very happy to start working again."

A grand reopening, with an uncertain future if South Africa's example is any indication of what could be next for other African countries -- David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Earlier this year, Washington state, you'll recall, was the scene of the very first coronavirus case in the U.S. The state went into lockdown soon after. Next, we look at what it's like in the original epicenter and why concern there is mounting, again.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Washington State is seeing a significant spike in coronavirus deaths in the past week. This, after the state appeared to have the virus under control. So what went wrong?

Dan Simon looks into it.


ROBERT CORDOVA, SON OF CORONAVIRUS SURVIVOR: They came and picked her up and they put her in the ambulance.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seventeen-year-old Robert Cordova called 9-1-1 when his mom's coronavirus symptoms became severe.

CORDOVA: We didn't know if that was the last time we were going to see her.

SIMON: The single mother was hospitalized in Yakima, Washington, for nearly a month on a ventilator.

CORDOVA: When she was in the coma, we didn't know what to do.

SIMON: Now home, Bertha Cordova believes she contracted COVID-19 while working at a fruit packaging plant. All three of her children and her mother were diagnosed with more mild cases. They're among the nearly 50,000 Washingtonians to get COVID-19 since the state's first outbreak in January.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The first case of a deadly coronavirus has reached the U.S., it's in Washington State.

SIMON: Washington was the country's original epicenter. Governor Jay Inslee's stay-at-home order seemed to bring things under control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have a good day.

SIMON: And like other current hot spots, it began to reopen in May.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): Three months to the day after we have declared a state of emergency, we're successfully moving forward.

SIMON: But despite its head start, crowded working conditions, opposition to masks and general quarantine fatigue have helped set the state back with confirmed cases rising since early June.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The virus is going to do whatever it's going to do and all it needs is a little bit of help to kind of go crazy.

SIMON: Brandy Wiltermuth is a nurse practitioner using this makeshift medical tent to serve a food distribution center in Yakima County. Agricultural workers here like Bertha are considered essential.

BERTHA CORDOVA, CORONAVIRUS SURVIVOR: They were only separated like she said about this distance with plastic screen, with them and masks and gloves.

SIMON: Rural Yakima County now has the second highest number of cases in Washington, yet state-mandated masks wearing has been slow to catch on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It would be different if everybody did everything that they possibly could, but we haven't seen that.

INSLEE: Our suppression of this virus is not at the level it needs to be.

SIMON: Governor Inslee is now reinstating restrictions on social gatherings, hitting already struggling businesses hard.

GRANT HARRINGTON, SPECIAL EVENTS PROMOTER: You can only go through this so many times before people just throw up their hands and are like, what's the use?

SIMON: Special events promoter Grant Harrington says he's lost up to $400,000 in revenue this year.

HARRINGTON: There's a lack of morale. There's a lack of like motivation. And I think that we've got to find ways to be proactive in safely opening business, so we can have time to prepare, so we can do it safely.

SIMON (on camera): The mother you saw there in the piece, Bertha, she has a message for anyone willing to listen and that is to wear a mask. Washington again is one of the states they thought they had things under control.

Now, health officials there worry that it could become the next California or the next Florida. That's why Governor Jay Inslee instituted these new restrictions and why he updated the mask policy.

Bottom line, if you leave your home, you have to wear a mask. The question now is one of compliance -- Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.


ALLEN: Globally, the number of people infected with the coronavirus has just crossed the 16 million mark.


ALLEN: More than 640,000 people have died. Earlier, my colleague, Michael Holmes, talked with a viral specialist about the situation, here, in the United States.


DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE AND VIRAL SPECIALIST: I think we haven't been testing enough. We haven't done a good job in educating people. We haven't done a good job in motivating people to try to prevent this from spreading.

So you know, I vacillate between getting mad and getting sad, just because, sometimes, it appears so overwhelming a task. So obviously, we need to test more. We need to know where things are going.

But more than that, we need to, somehow, flick that switch to make people realize that this is a problem that we all face. And it has been said, it's not political, not at all.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: There's even talk, I mean, in Florida of reopening bars. I mean, which just is mind boggling. What are your thoughts on suggestions of a total reset, regarding closures, in some parts of the country, as some are suggesting?

RODRIGUEZ: Listen. I think, in the best of all possible worlds, that would be ideal. But unfortunately, we don't live in the best of all possible worlds. In this country, we have four things lacking.

One is inspirational and clear leadership, at the federal level, starting with the president. And without that, we're not going to accomplish anything. We don't have a Churchill, we don't have a Roosevelt in order to tell the people to do this because we will succeed. That's number one.

Number two, the scientific infrastructure has failed us from the beginning, where we don't have enough testing. And even then -- even now, I mean, it has not been corrected.

Thirdly, if you are going to close up, you need a financial plan so that people do not lose their livelihood, can feed their families.

And, fourth and most sadly, I don't think that the -- part of the United States -- has the resolve to do this.

Listen, in Europe and Asia, I think it's different because several countries have gone through decimation, through war and they know that they have to pull together to succeed. Unfortunately, there's a portion of the population of the United States that, in order to sacrifice, to them, that's way too inconvenient. So we have --


RODRIGUEZ: -- you know? HOLMES: Yes. And infringes on their freedoms. It is. I mean, I see it in my own -- in my own area. I wanted to touch on this, before we go. This wide-ranging debate on the reopening of schools in the U.S.

I mean, the education secretary basically says returning to class should be the default for schools to reopen as normal, which is extraordinary. The president's been pushing it for weeks.

But you got a lot of polls out there showing a lot of parents are reluctant. You know, I think more than twice as many cases today as we did a month ago; 38 states seeing increases.

Does that sound like the right time to send kids back to classrooms and teachers, for that matter?

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. And we are seeing, now, children that are starting to get this infection. And the reason we haven't seen them is they haven't been going to school. There are some places in the United States where it might be safe to do it, in an organized fashion. But certainly, not in Florida. Certainly, not in Texas.

Why should we embark on the national experiment of using our children as guinea pigs?


ALLEN: Next here, saying goodbye to a civil rights legend. Memorial services for John Lewis begin in his home state of Alabama. That's where he began his lifelong crusade for civil rights.





ALLEN: In Seattle, Washington, Saturday, more violence and chaos as protesters and police clashed. Police say they have arrested at least 45 people. They say more than 20 officers have been hurt. Most of them have returned to duty.

Police and protesters continue to face off in Portland, Oregon. This, after federal agents used flash bangs and tear gas to try and break up a crowd outside the federal courthouse late Friday night. CNN correspondent Lucy Kafanov is in Portland. She's there, live, for us, right in the thick of things.

What are you seeing right now, Lucy?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, it's somewhat of a repeat of yesterday evening. This -- this night began with a very large, over 1,000 crowd of peaceful demonstrators. People coming out to chant Black Lives Matter. To chant, say his name, George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. And the names of so many Black Americans who have been killed at the hands of police.

We then saw a repeat of some of the clashes that we saw yesterday evening. My crew and I had to move away from the federal building, which is sort of back there and around the corner because it wasn't clear what actually sparked the confrontation. But we did see federal agents emerge from the building. Behind the barrier, that they had erected.

They started lobbing tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. Some of the demonstrators threw fireworks over the fence, at the federal agents. And so, this confrontation ensued.

As this was happening, we still saw this so-called wall of moms, the women in yellow T-shirts, who have been coming out, nightly, linking arms to try to put their physical bodies between themselves and the federal agents to protect protesters -- pardon my language -- we, also, saw other demonstrators with leaf blowers trying to blow the tear gas back towards the federal agents, away from the crowd.

As happens with these confrontations, protesters then began to move away from the federal building to get away from the tear gas. We caught a big whiff of it ourselves and I have to say it's a very uncomfortable, unpleasant experience. It burns your eyes. It burns your nose, your throat. Everything starts to water.

We saw some people actually nursing injuries. Perhaps they were hit by some sort of shrapnel. It wasn't really clear what it was. But at least one person I saw had some blood on his forehead, a demonstrator.

But another thing we saw this evening, a powerful image, another human wall, this time, military veterans, joining the movement to protect Black Lives Matter. They lined up in front of the federal building, when things were still calm, to try to put themselves between the federal officers and the demonstrators.

We had a chance to speak to one, Don Thompson. He is a retired U.S. Navy veteran. Take a listen to what he had to say.


DON THOMPSON, U.S. NAVY (RET.): 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: And again, Natalie, the focus here is racial equality, racial justice. But you see just how inflammatory the federal presence has been.


KAFANOV: It has now shifted, in some ways, the focus to the federal presence on the ground. And that has inflamed tensions here -- Natalie. ALLEN: Absolutely. We can appreciate the people's resolve in this

situation. Lucy, we really appreciate you being out there for us, Lucy Kafanov in Portland. Thank you.

It was a day of laughter, tears and plenty of stories about the man who became such a towering figure in the civil rights movement. Our Martin Savidge has more on the emotional outpouring, as loved ones gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of John Lewis.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Today was the first of what will be many days of goodbyes for former civil rights icon and congressman, John Lewis. It began in his hometown and it started with his home family.

Troy, Alabama, is a rural community, not that far away from Montgomery, Alabama, the capital. And it's where John Lewis grew up in a very segregated Jim Crow South at the time. But a lot has changed, in his life, since then and has changed in Alabama.

So in that community, they gathered today, as family and those who knew him, to remember the boy from Troy. That's actually a nickname that the reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave to John Lewis when they first met in 1958. It was a nickname that John Lewis was always very proud of.

This memorial was special, not just because it was the first and not just because it would be his last time going home, it was also special because it was very personal. Five of his family members, his brothers and his sister, all spoke not about the icon that we know from history not about the powerful congressman, but about the boy named Robert.

That's what they called him, John Lewis's middle name. And about those personal stories only they could tell. Here was his brother, Grant Lewis, telling one of them.


HENRY GRANT LEWIS, JOHN'S BROTHER: When John was first sworn into Congress, I think I got my year right, 1986, I was there. And during this swearing-in ceremony, right before the swearing-in ceremony, he looked up. He knew where I was sitting. And he looked up and he gave me the thumbs up. And I gave him the thumbs up back.

So after the event was over, we was together.

And I asked him, I said, "John, what were you thinking when you gave me the thumbs up?"

He said, "I was thinking this is a long ways from the cotton fields of Alabama."


SAVIDGE: After the service, there was a public viewing. And then, John Lewis was transported to Selma, Alabama. This is another historic milestone in his life and the life of civil rights in America.

Inside the Brown Chapel, the same church where he and Dr. King had worked together to organize the famous marches from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, including the first, March 7th, 1965, that led to Bloody Sunday.

That almost led to the death of John Lewis after several protesters were beaten by the Alabama State Police that descended on them.

For John Lewis, this is a trip going back over his life. And in every one of those places where he stops, people come to pay their respects and remember the man who changed, not only their lives but a nation -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Selma, Alabama.


ALLEN: Regis Philbin was a part of American television for decades as a talk show host and host of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." He died Friday night, at the age of 88. Longtime co-host Kathie Lee Gifford posted this on Instagram.

"There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis. I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift. We spent 15 years together, bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly."

CNN NEWSROOM will be right back.





ALLEN: The CDC released new guidelines for American children returning to school but there's another question out there.

What about school buses?

CNN's Bianna Golodryga has more about that.



LUCY FORBES, SINGLE MOTHER: Honestly, it was, what?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lucy Forbes was shocked when she learned that her 13 year old daughter won't be eligible to take a bus to and from her Houston middle school.

The city's acting superintendent recently announced that in order to meet CDC social distancing guidelines, only a fraction of its 60,000 students who regularly ride the bus will have an available seat. GRENITA LATHAN, HOUSTON SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: Only special

education, homeless and priority students will be transported.

FORBES: We have to make alternative --

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Forbes, a single mother, works full time. Her hours at the office make it nearly impossible for her to drive her daughter herself.

FORBES: For me, it will require a two-hour commute a day. I have a greater spectrum of options and I'm worried about the families who don't.

LATHAN: We have normally anywhere from 76, I think, to 83 students per capacity. As you can see, we've labeled our seats so where we would space students out.

GOLODRYGA: And is this required configuring every school bus in the city?

LATHAN: We're working through that right now.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Refitting buses is a challenge for school districts already facing budget pressures. Austin, Texas, announced buses will have a capacity of 12 students and, like Houston, only eligible students will be provided with initial seating.

Atlanta will be limiting bus ridership to 60 percent. Philadelphia Public Schools plan to limit each bus to 11 to 15 students.

Smaller cities are also feeling the pressure.

RON WILSON, IONIA, MICHIGAN, SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: It's more of a rural school issue. Many of your bigger metropolitan schools, where -- they may have more students but quite often have smaller geographic districts.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): The Ionia school district covers more than 132 square miles across Michigan, where over 1,500 students rely on bus transportation. Superintendent Ron Wilson is running out of options when schools will open their doors August 26th.


WILSON: I would not have enough buses to socially distance the kids. I would basically need six buses to complete a single bus route.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): It's not just about keeping kids safe. Many school bus drivers are concerned about possible risks to their own health, too.

ROBERT SALLEY, BOSTON SCHOOL BUS DRIVER: As you can see, they haven't done anything to these buses. We should have a partition, something that will block us from the kids as they board the bus.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Robert Salley has been a school bus driver in the Boston area for 39 years.

SALLEY: I get a lot of calls from drivers. They ax me, what is the plan for starting September 10th?

And it's really bad to say we don't know anything.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): There are currently few solutions at hand. The school bus industry has introduced a $10 billion relief plan that Congress may or may not take up. Social distancing will make carpooling less appealing. And according to the CDC, less than 10 percent of U.S. students walk or bike to most schools.

FORBES: It's great to say that schools are open but if we don't have a way, a reliable way, that's organized and structured to send our kids there, it will trickle down into nothing else happening, either.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Bianna Golodryga, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: It is so complicated, figuring this out.

Thank you for watching the first hour, I'll be right back with our top stories. Stay with us, please.