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Brazil's Bolsonaro Says Isolation Is Worse Than Virus; ICUs Struggle With Flood Of Patients; New COVID-19 Cases Soaring Across The U.S.; South Texas Hit Hard By COVID-19 Spike; Military Veterans Face Off With Federal Officers In Portland; Brazil, Mexico, Peru And Chile Worst-Hit Latin American Countries; Memorials Begin For U.S. Congressman And Civil Rights Icon John Lewis; North Carolina City Offers Reparations For Black Residents; Remembering Regis Philbin, Legendary TV Personality. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired July 26, 2020 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN HOST (voice-over): We've reached another milestone in the number of people worldwide now infected with COVID-19, a quarter of those in the U.S. Alone.
Brazil's president accused of setting a bad example after announcing he tested negative. We're live in Bogota, Colombia, with that and more from Latin America.
And the standoff in Portland as veterans form a human wall on the front lines of the ongoing protests.
Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber.
BRUNHUBER: Sixteen million people worldwide have now been infected with COVID-19. According to Johns Hopkins University, that's 1 million new cases in less than a week.
Even North Korea is reporting its first suspected case. State media says it was someone who entered the country illegally from South Korea in recent days.
But the biggest drivers of the global pandemic remain the United States, India and Brazil. For the fourth day in a row, Brazil recorded more than 50,000 new infections. Rio de Janeiro canceled the annual new year's celebration on Copacabana Beach.
In the United States, California leads the nation with nearly 450,000 confirmed cases. And in hard hit Los Angeles, the mayor warns another shutdown might be needed. Here's CNN's Paul Vercammen.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
BRUNHUBER: Now of course, it is not just California. On the East Coast many Florida hospitals feared they will soon run out of beds and there is a critical shortage of nurses. CNN's Rosa Flores has the latest from 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.
FLORES: 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. 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.
BRUNHUBER: That brings up so many issues, so to discuss them, I'd like to speak to Mark Jit, professor in infectious disease and vaccines at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Thank you so much for joining us. You heard that report there. Here in the U.S., we seem to be living in two different worlds. In one world people, are suggesting the COVID crisis is so bad, we need to shut down and start over.
And then the other world in which a governor in one of the hardest hit states feels comfortable with the idea of reopening bars.
So I want to ask you, how is it possible to form a coherent public policy with such divergent views of the problem?
MARK JIT, PROFESSOR IN INFECTIOUS DISEASE AND VACCINES, LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL MEDICINE: Well, I think it is very important for messages to be joined up between what -- in every country between government, public health officials, the media, scientists, for common public health messages to go to people to say this is the state we're in.
This is what to expect and these are the measures that we need everyone to take in order to control this epidemic.
BRUNHUBER: But people aren't accepting those measures in large part. I was driving to work here through downtown Atlanta, I could see, you know, late night restaurants with young people all over, you know, spilling out of doorways altogether as if they never heard of the coronavirus.
Nothing seems to convince many young people in particular.
Is this 18 to 49 age group the key to lowering the case count?
And if so, how do you reach them?
JIT: Yes, that's interesting, because this has been a relatively recent phenomenon in the U.S. and some other countries, where we see the decrease in the average age at which people get COVID.
And the early part of the epidemic was mostly older people. But one important message is that young people are not immune. The very most severe cases, the people who go to ventilators, the people who die are mostly older people.
But young people are just as susceptible. And getting mild and moderate disease, I mean those are a bit misnomers, because someone with so-called mild disease can be knocked out in bed for two weeks, have debilitating symptoms that persist for many months. It is really unpleasant.
And they also have the risk of transmitting it to other people, including their, you know, parents or grandparents, who might be at risk of very severe disease.
BRUNHUBER: You speak of the risk of transmitting, we're hearing more and more about the so-called super spreaders, people with high viral loads that seem to infect, you know, everyone around them.
What do we know about the biology of their infections?
JIT: Well, I think it might actually be more useful to think about super spreading events. Most of the events we have seen have been linked to, for instance, someone attending a party and meeting lots of people or being in a dinner or, you know, well, in South Korea there is a case of someone who went from club to club in one night and infected probably hundreds of people that way.
So I think we know they're linked to those events where someone has contact with lots of different people in an environment where it is very easy to transmit.
BRUNHUBER: Now we're hearing a lot about, you know, people who are skeptical about vaccines and so on. But there is also another population that are skeptical about vaccines; they're not deniers, they're scientists. There have been several studies now that have found that antibody levels nose-dived two to three months after infection.
And that's led to, you know, some researchers with the conclusion that a vaccine isn't really worth pursuing and the mission changed focus to -- focusing on treatments.
What do you make of that argument?
JIT: Well, I don't think this is an either/or. We're going to need both in order to have any chance at all of, well, reducing the COVID threat into something that is more manageable.
So we'll need vaccines to prevent this from spreading and then we need treatments so that people who do get infected, especially if it is not a highly effective vaccine, as might be possible.
Still -- we can still prevent them from getting the most severe outcomes. So I think we need to pursue both and that is what the world is doing at the moment.
BRUNHUBER: Are you hopeful?
JIT: Well, we have seen some positive signs from trials of vaccines. But as you said, these are very early stages in the trials. All we can measure is the antibody responses, the immune system responses.
We really haven't seen any data yet on whether these vaccines prevent people from getting infected in the first place. So we're going to have to wait a bit before we see those results.
BRUNHUBER: All right, patience is required. Thank you so much, Mark Jit, with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. We appreciate your time.
JIT: You're welcome.
BRUNHUBER: The U.S. state of Texas is dealing with crises on two fronts right now. Hurricane Hanna made landfall there several hours ago, packing strong winds and heavy rain along the Gulf Coast. So we'll have more on that in a moment. But Texas health officials reported more than 8,000 new infections and
nearly 170 deaths from the virus on Saturday. CNN's Ed Lavandera spoke with doctors, who say the pain and suffering inside COVID units is unlike anything they have seen before.
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.
JESSICA ORTIZ, BROTHER DIED FROM COVID-19: It hurts. For someone
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.
ORTIZ: I just wish it wasn't him. I wish I had him with me (ph).
LAVANDERA: Jessica is left with this last image of her brother, a screen recording of one of their last conversations. Jubal Ortiz waving good-bye.
(On camera): 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.
BRUNHUBER: Just heartbreaking.
And many of the communities in Texas hit hard by the coronavirus are now in the path of Hurricane Hanna.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): This was the scene in Port Mansfield, Texas. The first Atlantic hurricane of the season knocked down trees and tore roofs from buildings. The governor issued disaster declarations for 32 counties after some areas were inundated with rain.
People are gathering in storm shelters but officials say the response to the hurricane has been complicated by the pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Protests are ramping up in America' Pacific Northwest. And in Seattle on Saturday, they got out of hand. We'll have the latest on what the police are calling a riot.
Plus the protests began over racial injustice but the director of Portland's NAACP warns their message is being co-opted. Why he says the protests are becoming a spectacle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): What you're seeing there, that's the aftermath of what police are calling a riot in Seattle, Washington. Flames and smoke shooting up into the sky after intense clashes between protesters and police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Now at first people gathered peacefully to support Black Lives Matter and their fellow protesters in Portland, Oregon. But police said 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.
And down the highway in Portland, another late night of federal agents facing off with protesters. CNN's Lucy Kafanov was out in the middle of it a short time ago.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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.
KAFANOV: 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAFANOV: The focus here is racial equality, racial justice. But you see just how inflammatory the federal presence has been. It has now shifted, in some ways, the focus to the federal presence on the ground. And that has inflamed tensions here
BRUNHUBER: The president of the Portland branch of the NAACP wrote an "Washington Post" op-ed about the protests. He warns the demonstrations are turning into a spectacle and being co-opted by people with their own agendas. The reverend Ed (sic) Mondaine spoke earlier with my colleague, Michael Holmes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
E.D. MONDAINE, NAACP, PORTLAND: Those protests were sparked by a video of a death of a man -- we all know his name, we ask people to say his name, George Floyd-- at the hands of police.
For the first few weeks, we were chanting his name at the rallies and holding up the mantle (ph) of Black Lives Matter. Now while myself and the NAACP has denounced the involvement of federal law enforcement here in Portland, it seems to be the Feds who are being protested, not state violence against Black people. And that has kind of turned this into the spectacle that we see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Brazil's president has now tested negative for COVID-19. But health experts say he's been setting a bad example of behavior in a time when the virus is infecting tens of thousands of Brazilians every day. That story just ahead.
BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber.
One of Brazil's top infectious disease experts says president Jair Bolsonaro is setting, a, quote, "bad example" for the rest of the country. That's because Mr. Bolsonaro, who has tested positive for coronavirus three times, has had several interactions with people without wearing a mask. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more.
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.
BRUNHUBER: Other Latin American countries like Mexico, Peru and Chile have become major centers of the pandemic. So for the latest from the region, Stefano Pozzebon is live in Bogota, Colombia.
Stefano, the situation in Colombia seems worse where you are in Bogota. We're hearing reports of health care collapse, where hospitals can't treat any more patients, though some officials dispute those claims.
What can you tell us?
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, exactly, Kim. Colombia is definitely going through its darkest hour. Its most critical time seems to beginning of the pandemic. Let's remember that the government declared a health emergency here in Colombia as early as in mid-March.
It has been almost five months that we have been preparing for these moments. That's why perhaps authorities are confident that, even though Bogota, the capital, where I'm at, is the main hot spot in the country, with more than 30 percent of cases, the system has been prepared and will hold at these critical moments.
ICU unit recuperancy (sic) rate is well over 90 percent. That means that indeed in some hospitals in Bogota there are not enough beds for the patients. But at the same time authorities are trying to strike a positive note and to avoid panic to spread through Colombia and saying, we're not in as bad a situation perhaps as other countries in the region such as Brazil, Kim. BRUNHUBER: Let's turn to the rest of Latin America then, as you say,
Brazil, Mexico, of course, the largest hot spots.
But what other countries are you most worried about?
POZZEBON: Yes, Peru is definitely a critical situation -- in a critical situation especially because Peru has already had a surge earlier in the year, May and June. And now it is experiencing a second wave and especially in rural areas of Peru.
Resources are running thin. Let's remember the complex difficulties, logistical difficulties that many Latin American countries have to overcome in order to deal with COVID-19. Transport in the region is not as smooth as in the West, in Europe or the United States.
It is harder to reach countries when most of the flights are canceled here in Colombia. For example, there are no flights at the moment in Peru. The same situation for a positive picture, perhaps for the south. Chile and Argentina seem somehow to be on the way out of the (INAUDIBLE) the whole world has gone through with COVID-19.
BRUNHUBER: A little good news then, all right, thank you so much, journalist Stefano Pozzebon in the capital, appreciate it.
U.S. military commanders are now trying to contain a disturbing outbreak of COVID-19 among American service members in Japan. And it's raising tensions with Japanese officials who fear that those infected troops could spread the virus into the local population. Kaori Enjoji has this exclusive report from Okinawa.
KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST (voice-over): Hundreds lined up at this community center in Okinawa to be tested for the coronavirus. All of them work inside the two U.S. Marine Corps bases hit hardest by COVID- 19.
This man mans the food court at Camp Hansen. He tells me he's scared that so many servicemen are testing positive.
By the time he hands over his saliva sample, the parking lot is full of worried people just like him. There are more cases inside the ranks of the U.S. military in Okinawa than there have been on the whole island during the course of the pandemic.
Local residents say they want the bases locked down. They fear servicemen arriving from the mainland, where virus that is raging could spread the virus further.
COL. RAY GERBER, CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA: The rotation of personnel in is a tremendous concern for us here at Camp Hansen and the Marine Corps at Okinawa writ large. It's why we have some very stringent measures in place. Anytime someone lands on Okinawa via military chartered aircraft,
they're taken directly to a residence, where they spend two weeks in isolation. Their symptoms are monitored; they're checked up on and they're also completely isolated to prevent the transmission of potential COVID from the United States.
ENJOJI (voice-over): Still, the possibility of contagion permeates through Chatan town, a popular hangout for off-duty service men and their families before the pandemic hit. It is also a short drive from Futenma air base, the site of another cluster outbreak among the Marines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): From experience, we feel the U.S. service men are, in the end, always protected by the status of forces agreement. They do not follow Japanese laws nor do they work within our system. That is the biggest reason we do not fully trust each other.
ENJOJI (voice-over): This hotel symbolizes the latest mistrust. The military has rented it out to find space for personnel rotating out en masse at this time of year. With more than half of Chatan's land already taken up by U.S. bases, many resent having to give away more and risk being exposed to a virus they had under control until July.
ENJOJI: Japan has depended on the U.S. for its security ever since it lost World War II. And half of all of the U.S. military bases in Japan are located on the island of Okinawa. Futenma air base is one of them. It has long, long been controversial with plans to relocate it over decades.
And residents say they bear an outsized burden and want some of the bases relocated somewhere else.
ENJOJI (voice-over): The Okinawans want more information than just the number of cases. With infections among service men rising in the U.S. and around the world, their pleas this time may resonate far beyond its shores -- Kaori Enjoji, CNN, Okinawa, Japan.
BRUNHUBER: A week of memorials is now underway for a towering American civil rights figure. How the country is honoring the life and legacy of John Lewis next.
And one of U.S. cities is in a heated debate over reparations for the descendants of slaves. We'll have the details of that after the break.
BRUNHUBER: America is saying its farewells to the late civil rights icon and congressman John Lewis. From Alabama to Georgia and Washington, D.C., he's being honored with memorials in the places he impacted most. Martin Savidge has the details.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: After the service, there was a public viewing. And then, John Lewis was transported to Selma, Alabama.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): 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.
BRUNHUBER: The civil rights fight to which the late U.S. Representative John Lewis dedicated his life is far from being resolved. Before his passing earlier this month, Lewis was still marching with Black Lives Matter protesters, demanding an end to police brutality.
The latest movement, you'll remember, was sparked by the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minnesota police officer in May. But his death is one of many.
And in a way, these recent protests across the U.S. and the world are a continuation of the struggle for racial equality that the U.S. faces, the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and what many argue is the systemic disenfranchisement of Black people in this country.
Now one controversial aspect of that reckoning is the debate over reparations or proposed payments to the descendants of slaves. CNN's Abby Phillip explains how Asheville, North Carolina, is re-examining the arguments.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tucked away in the deeply conservative Blue Ridge region of North Carolina --
PHILLIP (voice-over): -- Asheville is a liberal oasis.
JULIE MAYFIELD, ASHEVILLE CITY COUNCIL: Asheville is by far the bluest dot west of Charlotte.
PHILLIP (voice-over): But even here, this summer has been different.
MAYFIELD: The demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd's murder really were different. The momentum is like nothing we have ever felt before. PHILLIP (voice-over): Black Lives Matter signs are unmistakable in store fronts across the city and in the heart of downtown.
(On camera): So, what is this?
SHENEIKA SMITH, ASHEVILLE CITY COUNCIL: This is a confederate monument and it looks this way because we decided to shroud it until a task force decide exactly what we are going to do with it, remove it or repurpose it.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Recently, the city council of this predominantly white city pledged to tackle its dark past, passing resolution promising to work towards reparations, but not without controversy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): We are not responsible for what happened 200 years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): I find this wrong in so many ways and I strongly oppose it. The Black people are not the only race that had been enslaved in America and around the world.
PHILLIP (voice-over): But it is not just slavery, which the city apologized for when it passed the resolution. It is also something far more recent.
PRISCILLA NDIAYE ROBINSON, ASHEVILLE RESIDENT: Before urban renewal was implemented, all down the street were homeowners.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Urban renewal, which many Black Americans called "urban removal," played out in Asheville and cities all across the country in the 1950s and 60s.
ROBINSON: The red are the areas that were acquisitioned by Asheville Housing Authority. Those are properties, homes and businesses that were taken, towed, however you want to put it.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Yes. So, all of these are (INAUDIBLE) that would have been owned by --
PHILLIP (voice-over): -- Blacks.
ROBINSON: African Americans, yes.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Houses in poor or (INAUDIBLE) neighborhoods like the one Priscilla Robinson grew up in, were acquired by the city, marked to be demolished or renovated.
ROBINSON: I can remember as a young girl seeing everyone dragging furniture. As I describe it, it was like a wagon trail. People were carrying chairs. It was a community breakdown.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Black residents were moved out and into public housing, told that they would be able to return. But for many, that promise was never kept. Today, nearly 60 percent of people who live in low-income public housing in Asheville are Black, though Black people make up just 12 percent of the city's population, a legacy of urban renewal and discriminatory policies like redlining.
ROBINSON: What we see now is a result, this public housing, what could have been still homeowners up and down the street.
PHILLIP (voice-over): The reparation's resolution is vague. But the city council's hope is that they can create program that will help balance housing inequity and rebuild generational wealth that was stripped from Black residents during urban renewal and in the decades before it.
PHILLIP (voice-over): As for cash payments --
SMITH: The language in the resolution did not directly speak to cash payments, but it did not exclude that as an option.
PHILLIP (voice-over): That's the part that has made reparations a flash point in Washington.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Yet cities like Asheville, Evanston, Illinois and Providence, Rhode Island are facing the controversy head on.
MAYFIELD: As white people, we wake up every day and benefit from the systems that exist, that keep people of color at an economic, educational and health disadvantage and give us a straighter track in the world. Our world in this country is built for white people.
PHILLIP: The issue of reparations is by no means settled. But what Asheville does could hold some lessons for national lawmakers looking for ways to address systemic inequality and not just through cash payments, also through long-term programs aimed at addressing the economic and social well-being of Black Americans -- Abby Phillip, CNN, Washington.
BRUNHUBER: Well, nobody and I mean nobody had the gift of gab quite like Regis Philbin. The popular TV host has died. So ahead, we remember a master of the art of amusing conversation.
BRUNHUBER: Tributes are pouring in for one of the greatest hosts in the history of American television. Regis Philbin died Friday night of natural causes. He left a legacy as a talk show host and a game show host and comic sidekick.
Long time co-host Kathie Lee Gifford posted this poignant message on Instagram, saying, quote, "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 media analyst Bill Carter spoke to Wolf Blitzer about how Regis Philbin touched American audiences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: More than anything, the guy was authentic. That was a real guy, you know. If a guy had this explosive enthusiasm, which he did, and it wasn't real, people would sort of repel backwards from it.
But they went for it because he was real. Everything about him was genuine. Nothing was scripted. It was always spontaneous. And I think people just felt this guy is a guy I know and I really like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Friends and colleagues of Regis Philbin have been speaking to CNN. Here's how his former co-host, Joan Lunden, remembered him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOAN LUNDEN, FORMER CO-HOST, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": people would always stop, because he was lovable. He was just, this lovable guy that was approachable. He wanted to be approachable. He never ever didn't have enough time for someone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Regis Philbin, beloved fixture of American television, was 88 years old.
Well, that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back in a moment with more news.