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Mexican President Refutes Scientific Reasoning Behind Masks; Florida Officials Discuss How To Reopen Bars; ICUs Struggle With Flood Of Patients; Military Veterans Face Off With Federal Officers In Portland; New COVID-19 Cases Soaring Across The United States; Brazil's Bolsonaro Says Isolation Is Worse Than Virus; North Korea Reports First Suspected Case Of COVID-19; South Texas Hit Hard By COVID-19 Spike; Remembering Regis Philbin, Legendary TV Personality. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 26, 2020 - 03:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Coronavirus cases surge worldwide. California now with more confirmed cases than any other U.S. state. But Florida is close behind. We look at how each state is handling the crisis.

Protests in Portland continue to escalate as veterans join a wall of moms who refuse to back down. We'll tell you what the veterans have to say.

And the latest on Hurricane Hanna and its track from Derek Van Dam.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: Our top story, the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins show that there are now more than 16 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide. We begin with Brazil. It recorded more than 50,000 new cases Saturday for the fourth straight day. The country already has the second highest case count in the world.


ALLEN (voice-over): But that is not stopping the always-defiant president Jair Bolsonaro from taking off his mask in public. That's him in the middle, riding a motorcycle. We'll have more from our Nick Paton Walsh shortly.


ALLEN: And Mexico's president says a mask isn't scientifically proven to help, so he won't wear one. Health experts disagree. Mexico just reported more than 6,700 new cases and has the fourth highest death toll in the world. But it is the United States with more than one-fourth of all cases

worldwide, seeing the biggest jump in absolute terms, 64,000 new cases Saturday.

Months into this pandemic, individual states are still setting daily records for infections and deaths. Florida now with the second highest case count in the U.S., behind California. And it's not just infections that are climbing. In just three weeks, hospitalizations have jumped 79 percent there.

Yet state officials say -- are you ready for this?

They are discussing how to reopen bars. CNN's Rosa Flores talks about all of that. She's in Miami.


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. But here are the relevant facts involving the state of Florida right now and the reopening. Florida closed bars a month ago.


FLORES: 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: Now to the other coast, California has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases now, having surpassed New York a few days ago. The coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said Friday, 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 for us.


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.


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: As the cases rise, intensive care units across the country are feeling the strain. And the small city of Gainesville, Georgia is no exception. It's known as the poultry capital of the world because of its processing plants.

And the Latino community in the region has been hit especially hard. CNN's Gary Tuchman spent time with health care workers on the front lines there.


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.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Of course the race is on worldwide to develop a vaccine. Actually getting it is still months away. Now experts have yet another concern that many Americans will have access to the vaccine but they may reject getting it. Here's CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's what millions of us have been hanging our hopes on to get past this crushing pandemic, to return to work, to school, to go back to our favorite restaurants and bars, to work out at the gym, a deployable vaccine for coronavirus, which experts say could arrive late this year or early next. But experts are now worried that when it comes, many Americans will reject the vaccine.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Already, surveys are showing us that nearly half of people are not inclined to take a COVID-19 vaccine, even if it was available today. That's a shocking number and it's deeply concerning.

TODD: In May, one poll from "The Associated Press" and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed only about half of Americans said they'd get the vaccine. Twenty percent said they wouldn't. Thirty-one percent weren't sure.

Other polls from CNN and "The Washington Post" and ABC news showed about 2/3 of Americans said they would get the vaccine.

Still, experts are worried about any significant numbers of people rejecting the vaccine.

DR. PAUL OFFIT, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: If a large percentage chose not to get vaccinated, then we would never get herd immunity.

TODD: Experts say there are several reasons people don't trust a potential coronavirus vaccine.

ED YONG, SCIENCE WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": A lot of people are going to resist the very idea of getting it because they've been told for months, years now, not to trust experts.

TODD: Until recently, President Trump went against the advice of his own task force experts and rejected mask wearing. And during the pandemic, he's questioned the guidance of America's top scientists on reopening the country.

TRUMP: Dr. Fauci has made some mistakes.

A little bit of an alarmist.

TODD (voice-over): But the mistrust of a vaccine cannot just be placed only at the president's feet. Experts say the very name of the project to push the vaccine through fuels skepticism.

DR. PAUL OFFIT, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: I think when people hear the term, Warp Speed, they assume that steps are being skipped. They assume that there are corners that are being cut. And therefore, this may be a vaccine, because it's being made so quickly, it's less than optimal, that may have poor safety qualities or poor effectiveness qualities.

TODD: Doctors acknowledge the vaccine likely won't be a magic bullet for coronavirus, that even after it comes out, it could be several months before we know how effective it is.

But they have a simple stark message tonight for those who are rejecting it.

OFFIT: The choice not to get a vaccine is the choice of taking the real and very serious risk of being infected by this virus and being asked to suffer or be hospitalized or die from this virus.

TODD (on camera): Dr. Paul Offit says a crucial part of this vaccine program is for the president, the task force, any leader involved in this to be as transparent as possible with the public about the vaccine even before it rolls out.

And that means being honest with the Americans about what our leaders know and don't know about the vaccine every step of the way -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: We turn to other news next. From Portland to Seattle, protests are intensifying in the Pacific Northwest. Next, why Seattle police are calling what happened Saturday a riot.

Also, saying goodbye to a civil rights legend. Memorial services for John Lewis began in his home state of Alabama, where it all began for him as a young leader. We'll have more about it next.






ALLEN (voice-over): You're looking at the aftermath of what police call a riot in Seattle, Washington. Flames and smoke shooting up in the sky after intense clashes between protesters and police.

At first people gathered peacefully to support Black Lives Matter and their fellow protesters in Portland, Oregon, but police say things turned violent and they had to use tear gas to clear out crowds.

On top of the fire, police say an explosive injured at least three officers. Cars were attacked and by the end of the day, officers made at least 45 arrests. That was Seattle. (END VIDEO CLIP)


ALLEN (voice-over): And this is Portland, Oregon. Another late night of police facing off with protesters here and something new. What you're seeing here, a wall of veterans arrived, vowing to protect protesters against federal agents, who, on Friday, used flashbangs (ph) and tear gas to break up crowds outside the federal courthouse.


ALLEN: And that is where we find CNN correspondent Lucy Kafanov. She's been there for quite some time now.

Lucy, in the thick of the things, what is the situation right now?


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, we're standing very close to that fence that has been erected to protect the federal courthouse building where federal agents are located. The crowd is right up at the fence.

We've been seeing a repeat of the clashes on Friday, where protesters began to shake and rattle the fence. We saw a very small group trying to cut through the fence. That meant to elicit a response from the federal agency. (INAUDIBLE) pepper balls, so-called (INAUDIBLE).

People (INAUDIBLE) fireworks into the (INAUDIBLE). I have my gas mask because there's quite a lot of (INAUDIBLE).

There were so many demonstrators with tears pouring out of their eyes. It's been very interesting watching the protests. During the day, it's a large, largely peaceful protest, very well focused on racial equality, (INAUDIBLE) Black Lives Matter.

As the hours get later and later, the focus becomes on the federal presence here, the inflammatory federal presence here. A lot of people heard chanting "Feds go home," (INAUDIBLE). By and large, the demonstrations have been peaceful. But this is around the time of night when you see things get a little bit more tense and more hairy, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, we appreciate you watching it for us. Their resolve is certainly apparent there on the streets. Lucy Kafanov outside the federal courthouse there in Portland. We thank you.

U.S. civil rights legend John Lewis certainly knew what upheaval and unrest were like. Now he is remembered not just as a hero and respected congressman but as a humble family man who never forgot his roots. Martin Savidge reports on the first of six days of memorials and tributes to honor his life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 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: He certainly did.


ALLEN: And through it all, he remained so incredibly kind to everyone.

Next here, Europe is taking notice of Spain's increasing virus cases. It is causing some countries to reverse course on easing travel restrictions.




ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Within the past couple hours, somewhere in the world, someone contracted the 16 millionth coronavirus case. We are looking at the impact around the world, turning now to Brazil, just out of semi- quarantine.


ALLEN: That's president Bolsonaro taking 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 for the virus three times. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Sao Paulo for us.


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.

[03:30:00] WALSH: 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: Now we move to Europe. Spain's growing virus count is causing other European nations to reimpose travel restrictions. Both the U.K. and Norway are requiring anyone who arrives from Spain to self- quarantine.

This comes after Spain reported its highest daily case increase on Tuesday in more than two months. Simon Cullen joins men from London.

Seems I was just doing live reports weeks ago about Spain being so much in the clear and what a setback, Simon.

SIMON CULLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. What we're seeing in Spain is what we've seen in other countries where restrictions have been eased. But in Spain's case, it's substantial spike in cases and in particular, it's in two northern regions, Aragon and Catalonia.

Catalonia, of course, encompassing the major tourist city of Barcelona. What has happened as a result is that authorities in Spain have had to reimpose some of the coronavirus restrictions that had been eased.

So things like bars, night clubs, gyms, restaurants, things that had been reopening are now having new restrictions put on them and in some cases are being closed. People in Barcelona are urged to stay inside if they don't have to leave.

Broadly speaking, the idea is to limit mobility in those regions and try to curb community transmission. But the situation has clearly deteriorated to the point where other countries, as you say, U.K. and Norway, have now reimposed quarantine or self-isolation requirements on travelers from Spain.

And in the U.K.'s case, this was announced just on Saturday, yesterday, and it came into effect first thing this morning. So many holiday makers who had gone to Spain in the hope of a quarantine-free holiday are waking up to this news this morning.

It's worth pointing out, Natalie, that Spain is a major tourist center for British holiday makers, especially this time of year. So not only is this a major inconvenience for British holiday makers, it's also a significant blow to the struggling Spanish economy, which is heavily reliant on tourism.

And so even though the Spanish government is, you know, saying that they have these local outbreaks under control, they're putting in place new rules and until the country is safe, clearly, Natalie, other countries are taking a very different approach.

ALLEN: Yes, understood. You know, one country thinks we did such a great job. We're out of the woods and then it doesn't take long for this virus to say, not so fast. It's so, so unfortunate. Thank you so much, Simon.

One country that has not 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.


HANCOCKS: 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: A rare move for North Korea. The country is acknowledging its alleged first coronavirus infection. According to state run media, Kim Jong-un called an emergency meeting after the case was confirmed.

They also reported the infected person entered the country illegally last week and was placed in quarantine. The government says it has put some isolation measures in place.

With so many countries dealing with spiking cases, the race for a vaccine is urgent and highly competitive. Nations are already gambling and buying potential doses. Melissa Bell visits a lab working to bring a vaccine to the public. She's in Paris.


FABIEN PERUGI, VALNEVA: We have taken virus from patients after we have purified the virus.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The race for a vaccine has never been so fierce. Across the world, 166 potential COVID-19 vaccines are being worked on like Valneva's here in Western France. The European pharmaceutical company has just sold 60 million doses of its potential future vaccine to the United Kingdom.

PERUGI: The aim is to provide by end of 2021 60 million doses and after to increase the capacity.

BELL (voice-over): Valneva is hoping to be ready for clinical trials by the end of this year; 24 other companies developing vaccines are already in that phase and for now many governments are hedging their bets.

FRANCK GRIMAUD, VALNEVA: All governments are absolutely aware that the preorder (ph) they are placing today is fully at risk. They place ultimately 5-10 preorder (ph) on different programs and they know that, at the end, most likely, only three will be successful.

BELL (voice-over): Which is why the British deal with Valneva comes as part of a broader agreement with other companies. In July, the United Kingdom opted out of a new E.U. vaccine alliance. It was created by four European countries to make up for the lack of coordination at E.U. level. European negotiations with Valneva continue.

GRIMAUD: I think it was Kissinger saying Europe which is the full (ph) number and it's exactly a little bit the same here. In U.S. there is one agency, BARDA. A lesson to learn from this crisis, is that if we could have one centralized E.U. BARDA, let's say, would make it next time very more efficient in terms of dealing with these kinds of diseases.

BELL: The four-country strong European alliance has now reached one deal, for 400,000 vaccines with AstraZeneca. But it has yet to build the sort of portfolio announced by the United Kingdom on Monday and Valneva's first vaccines will now go not to European countries but to the U.K., their former E.U. partner -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


ALLEN: Back here in the U.S. now, the state of Texas is dealing with storms on two fronts. It's feeling the impact of Hurricane Hanna. It made landfall on Padre Island several hours ago, lashing the coast with winds of 90 miles per hour. We'll have more on that in a few minutes.

But communities in that same area have also seen a spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. In Texas alone, more than 8,000 new infections and nearly 170 deaths were reported Saturday. CNN's Ed Lavandera has been talking with doctors and families of patients. He's in Dallas.



ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the daily routine for Dr. Federico Vallejo. A critical care pulmonologist, when he gets dressed it looks like he's getting ready to be launched into another world. That's exactly what it's like to work in the COVID-19 unit of a South Texas hospital.

DR. FEDERICO VALLEJO, CRITICAL CARE PULMONOLOGIST: It's overwhelming. It's a tsunami what we're seeing right now.

LAVANDERA: Coronavirus patients have filled the hospital where Dr. Vallejo works. On most days, Dr. Vallejo says he's treating about 70 different patients. Four to five times more than he usually sees in a single day.

VALLEJO: I have never had to sign these many death certificates that I have been signing the last couple of weeks. Talking to these families has been very, very difficult.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Can you describe the suffering that you've seen among these patients?

VALLEJO: This is a disease that affects the lungs. And they would have trouble with their breathing. And when it happens it's heartbreaking. It is so difficult to watch them. Many saying goodbyes to their relatives by picking up the phone and saying, I'm having more problem, I'm having more trouble, I don't know what's going to happen next. I see nurses crying all the time. I see the doctors breaking down all the time. But then, again, that is what we do.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): South Texas is the COVID-19 hotspot inside the Texas hotspot. Health officials are warning that hospital bed and ICU space are running out. Nursing and doctor teams are stretched to the limit.

LAVANDERA: Do you feel when you walk into these COVID units that it's like a parallel universe?

DR. IVAN MELENDEZ, HIDALGO COUNTY HEALTH AUTHORITY: It's definitely a parallel universe. If they only knew what lurked behind those walls. If they could only have x-ray vision and see the feign and suffering.

LAVANDERA: Dr. Ivan Melendez is the Hidalgo health authority based in McAllen, Texas. He says the COVID units are filled with the sound of patients gasping for air. Many needing ventilators and gut-wrenching conversations.

MELENDEZ: So you have people telling you, you know, doc, please, don't put me on that. Don't put me on that. And you struggle because, you know, that's what they need. And then finally they just give up and they say go ahead, but you know, you may be the last person that I ever talk to. So please tell my family, tell my parents, tell my kids that I love them and that I fought hard.

LAVANDERA: Jessica Ortiz says her twin brother, Jubal Ortiz, fought the virus for almost two weeks. The 27-year-old worked as a security guard at a jewelry store.


LAVANDERA: Jubal died on July 3rd. At the funeral friends and family paid their respects through a plastic shield over the casket. There was a fear his body still might be contagious.

ORTIZ: He meant the world. I just wish it wasn't him. I wish I had (INAUDIBLE).

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Jessica is left with this last image of her brother, a screen recording of one of their last conversations. Jubal Ortiz waving good-bye.

LAVANDERA: You saw that shield over that casket of Jubal Ortiz. We should point out that medical experts have told CNN there is no evidence that people are still contagious after they passed away but it really speaks to the fear and uncertainty that so many people have. And one of the other themes that stuck out as we interviewed the people for this story is that they're all dealing with a sense of frustration and anger as they're living the nightmare of this pandemic.

They say what bothers them most is looking around and seeing so many people living their lives as if everything were normal and they're urging people to take this far more seriously -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.


ALLEN: That is so incredibly sad. And to think that so many families are experiencing that very same thing throughout this country.

Well, as we mentioned, Texas isn't just fighting a raging coronavirus, it is being hammered by a hurricane right now. We'll have the latest in a live report from our weather center. Derek Van Dam will tell us more about what's happened





ALLEN: China's decision to force the closure of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu is not only in retaliation for the U.S. shutting down Beijing's consulate in Houston, it is also creating an unlikely photo- op. CNN's David Culver reports.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The enclosure of a U.S. consulate here in Chengdu has become a tourist attraction. This street, according to shopkeepers, normally quite quiet. You can see now, you have got a lot of crowd, a lot of people with cell phones out, just wanting to pass by to see what exactly is going on.

Really not much, just a lot of security; a lot of police have cordoned off the area. They're making sure to keep people moving along.

But they're stopping to get pictures. You get this gentleman right here, one of many, just trying to snap a photo. It's history here. And throughout the day, they've seen a lot of people going in and out, moving, trying to finalize the closure, which really is happening within just a few days.

This, of course, is in retaliation to what the U.S. did with the Chinese consulate in Houston, giving them 72 hours to close up. The U.S. officials are claiming it was a front of sorts for illegal spying.

Chinese officials have said U.S. personnel here were engaging in activities that were harmful to China's national security interests, apparently trying to equate the two. They, likewise, gave the U.S. personnel here 72 hours to get out.

That was on Friday, meaning by Monday morning, U.S. officials here local time must be out of this consulate here in Chengdu -- I'm David Culver, CNN, Chengdu.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Back now to Texas. Facing more than the coronavirus pandemic, Hurricane Hanna is slamming into the state right now. It is the first hurricane of the season in the Atlantic.

The governor has issued a disaster declaration for dozens of counties. Officials say the response to the storm has been complicated, as you might imagine, by the pandemic.



ALLEN: OK. Nobody, nobody had the gift of gab quite like Regis Philbin. The popular TV host has died. And ahead, we remember a master of the art of amusing conversation.





ALLEN: U.S. television may never be quite the same now that Regis Philbin is gone. He died Friday at the age of 88. He left a hilarious legacy as a talk show and game show host and as a comic sidekick. Philbin had a razor sharp wit and was quick with one-liners.

Long-time co-host Kathie Lee Gifford posted this poignant message on Instagram, saying, "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." Before Kathie Lee, there was former co-host Sarah Purcell.


SARAH PURCELL, FORMER PHILBIN CO-HOST: He was a warm, loving guy. He just really was. He was generous to people that he saw that were trying to make their way in show business. He was generous to me in so many ways where -- we've lost a good one, we really have.


ALLEN: Philbin's family says he died of natural causes a month shy of his 89th birthday.

Thank you for watching this hour, I'm Natalie Allen. Kim Brunhuber will be here in just a moment with more news for you. See you soon.