Return to Transcripts main page


23 U.S. States Report Jump in New Cases; U.S. Official: Turnaround Times for Testing Still Too Long; Cases Rise and ICU Beds Fill Up in Florida; ICU Nurse Describes Emotion of Working Through Crisis; Brazil Records More Than 2.4 Million Infections; Brazilian President Accused of Crimes Against Humanity; Travelers From Spain to U.K. Must Quarantine; Hurricane Hanna Downgraded to Tropical Depression; Hurricane Douglas Threatens Parts of Hawaii; American Consulate in Western China Shut Down. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 27, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, as more coronavirus records are broken across the U.S., a top Trump administration official says testing delays are still too long. This as millions of Americans may soon face a financial emergency with the extra unemployment benefits, they've come to rely on, is ending. A new rescue package is in the works but not everyone agrees the proposed plan is enough.

And the U.S. consulate in the Chinese city of Chengdu is now officially closed as tensions worsen between Washington and Beijing.

Thanks for being with us. Well, the United States is fighting an accelerating coronavirus as lawmakers consider a knew relief package to help Americans. John Hopkins University reports there were nearly 60,000 new cases confirmed nationally on Sunday and at least 470 Americans died from COVID-19. With more than 4.2 million people infected, the U.S. has more than 1/4 of the world's 16 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Florida, for example, reported more than 9,000 new cases Sunday and 77 additional deaths. This marks the 23rd day this month that the state has reported more than 9,000 new cases in a single day. The Trump administration says it is working to get the hot spot states under control but testing is still an issue. The U.S. official overseeing testing conceded Sunday to CNN the turnaround times are still too long.


ADM. BRETT GIROIR, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH: What is true now is that anyone who needs a test can get a test. We are not in a situation, and I want to be really clear, whether it's Mick Mulvaney or anyone else, I feel like going somewhere so I need a test. That is not where we are. We are in the middle of a serious pandemic that we are trying to control, and we are starting to control all of those hot spot states. We are never going to be happy with testing until we get turnaround times within 24 hours and I would be happy with point of care testing everywhere. We are not there yet and we are doing everything we can to do that.


CHURCH: Senate Republicans and the White House are finalizing the next stimulus package set to be revealed in the coming hours. The Republican proposal would offer many Americans another check, the $1,200, but it would not renew the full federal unemployment benefits that Democrats are calling for.

With nearly 419,000 confirmed cases, Florida surpassed New York over the weekend to become the state with the second highest number of infections, only California has more. Intensive care beds in the state are filling up and despite that officials are looking for ways to reopen. Randi Kaye has the details.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in the state of Florida another 9,259 new cases and 77 deaths bringing the total number of deaths for Floridians to more than 5,800 now and Florida now has the second highest number of COVID deaths in the country.

Meanwhile, statewide still about 9,000 people are hospitalized and there's about 18 percent of adult ICU beds left in the state. Meanwhile, in Miami-Dade, one of the hardest hit counties here in southern Florida, they're looking at a daily positivity rate there of 18 percent and the ICU beds are also running low. They are at 146 percent capacity. So now they are converting regular beds to -- regular hospital beds to those ICU beds so they can help treat those patients with what they need.

Meanwhile, people in Miami-Dade still not paying attention to that mask mandate and social distancing. They're supposed to wear a mask when they can't safely socially distance inside and outside. Miami- Dade Police Department telling me that they've issued 150 citations for businesses. That's a $500 fine and also another 174 citations to individuals. That's a $100 fine.


Meanwhile, bars and breweries could soon reopen in the state. Here in Palm Beach County, the restaurants are already open. They are open to 50 percent capacity. But the bars and the breweries were closed at the end of last month. So now, the chief business regulator is saying that they could open soon. He's looking for a safe and smart way to do so. Meanwhile, the Florida brewer's guild certainly on board with that. They say that they represent about 300 breweries. They wrote a letter to the governor and business regulation chief saying that 100 of those will close if they don't reopen soon. And they also say that the industry gives about 10,000 jobs to the state and 1/3 of those jobs could be lost. I'm Randi Kaye reporting on Singer Island, Florida. Back to you.


CHURCH: Well, Texas has faced a crisis on two fronts over the weekend. Hurricane Hanna brought strong winds and the threat of flooding after making landfall all the while the coronavirus crisis is raging. More than 5,000 people have died in the state with nearly 400,000 people infected overall. The mayor of Austin says local communities need to be given more control.


STEVE ADLER, MAYOR OF BOSTON, TEXAS: What's happening right now in South Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley is horrible to watch. They're making forced choices about who gets care in hospitals. They really need to be able to make rules and orders that convey the message to their community that they really have to be vigilant about masking and distancing. And their inability to be able to have that order locally confuses the message.


CHURCH: Joining me now is Kim Smith, an intensive care nurse at Doctors Regional Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. Thank you so much for being with us and everything you do.

KIM SMITH, ICU NURSE, DOCTORS REGIONAL HOSPITAL: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: So, Kim, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths are surging in this country. PPE supplies are running out and health care workers are stretched to the limits. So tell us what your experience on the front lines, what your experience is and how does it make you feel every day when you have to deal with this?

SMITH: I can definitely see here -- I've been in nursing for going on 23 years and this is the most stressed I've ever seen my fellow nurses in my whole career. You know, just emotional impact as well as the physical toll day in and day out. You know first, they worry about their own safety, we worry about the safety of our fellow co-workers, our families. Trying to keep our patients safe. So definitely the stress level is higher than I've ever seen it. And then you add on too, concerns about, you know, the safety factor, on how much protection I'll be getting with our PPE. I have never felt more undervalued as a nurse when I look at the level of protection I've been given.

CHURCH: Yes, totally understood. And what about the level of PPE, access to N-95 masks?

SMITH: There's one style of mask, they call it the duck bill, it's the orange mask. And we have that one style available to us. There's another blue N-95. It's teal color, that they say it's the BYD. They say isn't as effective, it's not as safe, but it feels safe. I mean, you put it on you get a nice seal what it. But most of my fellow nurses, we bring our own PPE. We've actually gone out now and bought our own T-100 masks, the plastic ones with the two. We've purchased our own just because we want to feel safe.

CHURCH: You had to purchase your own PPE. That is incredible. And, Kim, despite the surging cases, some Americans still refuse to wear masks. Many of them ending up in hospitals and ICUs putting the lives of health care workers like yourself at risk because they refuse to wear a mask. What is your message to those people?

SMITH: For me, the virus doesn't care how we feel. The virus has no feelings and it's killing people. It's already killed over 140,000 Americans. This isn't a made up -- I have seen people die. So this is not made up. This is real.

CHURCH: Kim Smith, thank you so much for everything you do and for talking with us. We do appreciate it.

Well, in Brazil, many health professionals are accusing the President of crimes against humanity for his handling of the crisis. Jair Bolsonaro now says he has tested negative after having the virus for at least two weeks. As anything Nick Paton Walsh reports, more than 2.4 million people in the country have now tested positive.



NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: A slight respite, perhaps, in the numbers Brazil recorded in the 24 hours that ended on Sunday, only 24,000 new cases. I say only because in the three days previously every 24 hours it had seen over 50,000 new cases. Terrifying numbers, frankly, for a country whose President tested positive for two weeks despite playing down the severity of the disease. And emerged on Saturday morning on Twitter to say that he, in fact, tested negative. Essentially giving himself a clear bill of health.

But brandishing like he has done over the past months, particularly during his illness, the medication hydroxychloroquine. Now that's according to doctors and scientists globally useless if you have coronavirus and possibly even dangerous. Yet still he continues to taut it particularly here in the seat of government, the capital of Brasilia.

And the day, Saturday, in which he declared himself negative, he went to a motorcycle shop. Talked about how he wouldn't even have known that he had the coronavirus had he not tested positive, the stark contradictions to his earlier statements. And in fact, he had felt he had a slight fever and has seen more focused of a long going battle of the freedom of speech on social media in the country than necessarily fighting the virus that's sweeping across the country.

Stark criticism leveled against him though by medical professionals who have put together a 64-page document that they are sending to the Haig, to the international courts there to essentially accuse President Jair Bolsonaro of crimes against humanity. Suggesting that his rhetoric playing down the disease, the failure of his government to act decisively may well have contributed to so many of the deaths still surging here in Brazil. A slight respite to those numbers on Sunday, only 24,000. Well that's after a horrifying week frankly, where many days saw 50,000 new cases. The surge still continuing here.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Brasilia, Brazil.


CHURCH: India reported close to 50,000 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, its highest daily record. That increase takes the country's total infections soaring past 1.4 million. The health ministry says 485,000 of those are still active. The country also recorded more than 700 additional deaths Sunday bringing the total amount of people killed by the virus to almost 33,000.

Well, vacationers from the U.K. enjoying the beaches of Spain right now were facing a new COVID-19 headache. The British government is requiring them to quarantine for two weeks once they get home. The new travel rule is due to Spain's spike in new cases. The move could not come at a worse time for Spain. It's a major holiday destination for British tourists and right now is peak season. So let's turn to Atika Shubert. She is at the Valencia airport in Spain. And Atika, talk to us about what people are saying to you, what British travelers who are going to be heading back home are saying to you about this sudden decision.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of people are tried, shocked and very frustrated, frankly. You know, this is a very sudden decision. It came Saturday night. Sunday morning a lot of people woke up to the news. Britain's transport secretary who had only arrived in Spain for his holiday. So now all of a sudden there has to be a big change in plans. Listen to what some tourists told us yesterday reacting to the news.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the spike here is quite big, I kind of get it, but if it's only minor then I don't see the point, really, because there's more measures here than there is in the U.K. at the moment, anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being here almost a week now, everybody wears masks everywhere. And this is really helpful. I don't -- I feel really safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Spanish this is OK to be here. And I'm very disappointed in our own government. They are not asking us why we are out here.


SHUBERT: Now you can hear the frustration of many British tourists. And you know, keep in mind that more than more than a million British tourists came through Spain last year. So it is hugely popular destination. It will have a tremendous impact on the economy here. And that's why Spain is trying to broker some sort of exception at least for the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands where Ibiza and Majorca are. Because those islands really have very low rates of infection.

And even though the surge of infection numbers here in Spain is definitely going up, it's really happening in very specific areas. Aragon for example but also Catalonia. And perhaps that's what's particularly concerning because Catalonia, of course, is where Barcelona is. It's the second largest city. It is a major tourist destination. It does have an outbreak there at the moment.

But Spain insists most of the country is still safe to visit. It is finding it hard however to convince countries like the U.K. but also Norway which has also installed a quarantine for anyone arriving from Spain.


And France next door has warned its citizens not to travel to high risk areas. So Spain will have to do a lot of, you know, really negotiating and talking to convince people that it's still safe to come here.

CHURCH: Absolutely, Atika Shubert bringing us the very latest. Many thanks.

Well, there are also concerns France may be heading towards a second wave of cases. We'll explain why in a live report from Paris shortly.

Also coming up, the U.S. is watching two major storms this week. Our meteorologist will be live with the latest developments.

Plus, Beijing has shut down a U.S. consulate in China. A live report and reaction from both sides when we return.


CHURCH: We are watching two storms in the U.S. right now. Hurricane Hanna is a tropical depression after making landfall in southern Texas on Saturday. But a flash flood emergency remains in some areas. And in the Pacific, hurricane Douglas threatens parts of the Hawaiian Islands. The governor is urging residents to shelter in place.

So let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. The problem of course, Pedram, is this comes in the middle of a pandemic.


So they are dealing with so many things here. What is the worst that you see ahead?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, over the next couple of hours here the closest this storm system is going to be to land is happening right now and this is when we see the highest storm surge, the heaviest rainfall potentially and of course, any threat kind of it making landfall would happen within these hours, Rosemary. This is a category 1 hurricane. It has begun to display some weakening

within the past couple of hours. I wouldn't be surprised if the National Hurricane Center drops this down to a tropical storm as it skirts past Kauai. But you'll notice the rarity of getting hurricanes to make landfall across the Hawaiian Islands, only two since 1959. We had Iniki in 1992 the strongest category 4 there and Dot back in 1959. Both of them, again, impacting that same island, the island of Kauai which is where the Douglas is poised to potentially skirt past.

Annual notice again, the radar imagery is showing it weaken rather significantly in the last few runs there, but two to four feet. That's what we're looking at as far as storm surges are concerned. That's the biggest concern on the immediate coast. The good news is that this is to be the overnight hours, so less likelihood that you'll see people on the shores there, on beaches going into the early morning hours across the Hawaiian Islands. And in the system does skirt past this area into cooler waters and eventually weaken. But the heavy rainfall and the storm surge become the primary concerns as it moves past Hawaii and the next couple of hours now.

That's not the only storm. We know remnants of Hannah also in place along with Gonzalo back behind it, another system in the works. And here's where tropical depression Hannah is at this hour. Across the northern tier of Mexico, near the city of Monterey. That is where it is raining itself out in the state of Nuevo Leon.

Notice portions of Texas, they picked upwards of 300 millimeters of rainfall. Reports of tornadoes, even some water spots across this region. All of that finally beginning to taper off in the last few hours.

And then notice back off towards the Atlantic, we go where a 90 percent chance exists here for a tropical system to form within the next five days. I want to show you the model projection on this, Rosemary, because pretty good confidence here given how far out this is taking you towards the late portion of this week, potentially into early next week, a lot of confidence is that this will head towards the Leeward Islands, potentially skirt in and around Puerto Rico and then onto the Turks and Caicos and then beyond that potentially towards the Bahamas. And of course, if any interest across the United States, you notice the tail end of the model right here, puts that precisely in that general area. So this is a very concerning depiction here because the models have been rather confident on their track and the potential path of this storm as we go into the first week of August late this week -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Too many horrible things going on at the same time there. Pedram, many thanks bringing us up to date on that situation.

All right, now to the growing tensions between China and the United States. Just a short time ago Beijing officially shut down the U.S. consulate in the Chinese city of Chengdu. China ordered the U.S. to close the site after the Washington made a similar move last week when it forced Chinese consulate in Texas to shut down. Both sides have accused each other of endangering national security. So let's turn to CNN's Kristie Lu Stout. She joins us now live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Kristie. So what more are you learning about this U.S. consulate closure in China and the impact it could have on relations?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've been following developments since the beginning and especially events today. It was 6:18 a.m. when the U.S. flag was lowered at the U.S. consulate in Chengdu. A very powerful symbol, yet another symbol and the downward spiral in relations between these two nations, the U.S. and China.

10 a.m. this morning, that was when it was confirmed that the consulate was closed. CNN's David Culver and his team were there on the ground. They weren't able to get up close to the diplomatic compound itself because of the heavy security that was surrounding it. In the hours leading up to the closure, staff were seen leaving the building with boxes, with files, with garbage bags. And local residents had been seen surrounding the diplomatic compound waving Chinese flags and even taking selfies.

It was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that confirmed the closure of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu. First by Chinese social media platform Weibo and then by Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency. Let's bring up the statement for you. In this statement Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this, quote --

At 10 a.m. on Monday as required by China, the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu was closed. Relevant authorities then entered through the front entrance and took over the premises.

On Twitter the U.S. mission in China sent out a farewell tweet that accompanied by a 39 second emotional video. The tweet was written in Chinese, translated into English it simply said one sentence.

Today we bid farewell to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. We will miss you forever.


And in this 39 second video there is a photograph of then U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush in Chengdu at the U.S. Consulate opening the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu back in 1985. And the video also underscores and emphasized the number of regions they have served and covered in China, including Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan, as well as Tibet. Of course, it was on Friday when Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the closure of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in retaliation to U.S. actions including the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston.

Last week the U.S. State Department said that they made the statement to close the consulate in Houston in order to protect American intellectual property. Beijing called that talking nonsense. And at this moment after the official closure of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, we are awaiting any fresh U.S. reaction, we're waiting to see if this diplomatic tit-for-tat will go on and on -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, we will see what happens next. I did want to ask you about the reaction there in China. There has been some anti-American sentiment popping up online in China. What are you seeing? STOUT: Sure, I mean, there has been anti-American sentiment for years

now that's been flaring up in particular during this moment of unprecedented friction between the U.S. and China. Anti-American trolling playing out online. There were calls online, immediately after the announcement of the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston for China to strike back really hard to close the consulate in Shanghai or to close the consulate even here in Hong Kong but that didn't happen. Ultimately it was the U.S. consulate in Chengdu that was selected and many people have seen that as a sign of restraint on the Chinese side -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Kristie Lu Stout bringing us the very latest there from Hong Kong. Many thanks.

Well, the coronavirus pandemic is crippling California's restaurant industry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were to drive down a Sunset Boulevard or a Melrose and you thought four out of five might not be there, right. That collateral damage is almost incomprehensible.


CHURCH: How even one Michelin starred restaurant has been forced to shut its doors. We'll take a look at that on the other side of the break. Stay with us.