Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Exceeds 147,000; Trump Tells Governors To Reopen; Moderna Begins Phase Three Trials; Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) Is Interviewed On Maryland's Surging Coronavirus Cases; Biden Paying Respects To Rep. John Lewis At U.S. Capitol; Chinese-U.S. Relations Deteriorating Amid Pandemic; Brazil Testing Possible Vaccines From Britain, U.S. & China; South Korea Allows Fans To Attend Baseball Games; Google To Let Employees Work From Home Until At Least Next Summer. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 27, 2020 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:00]

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I will tell you, Joe Biden and Mike Pence are both expected though to come and pay their respects later today.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. Thank you so much. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thank you for watching. I'll see you here tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're following breaking news.

The U.S. coronavirus death toll now topping 147,000 people with the country now averaging 900 deaths each day over the past week. And with more than 4.2 million confirmed cases, the U.S. accounts for one- quarter of all the cases worldwide.

Also, a major development on the vaccine front. Today the first phase three trial in the United States is now underway. Dr. Anthony Fauci says researchers hope to have 15,000 adult volunteers enrolled by the end of the week. Dr. Fauci will be joining us later here in "The Situation Room" today.

Meanwhile, President Trump is defending his pandemic response and urging governors across the nation to reopen their states after his own national security adviser Robert O'Brien tested positive for COVID-19.

Let's first start our coverage this hour with our national correspondent Athena Jones who's joining us from New York. Athena, we're seeing what an average of 900 American deaths from coronavirus each day over the past week. Update our viewers on the very latest developments.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. That's exactly right. And those are numbers we haven't seen since the beginning of June, the numbers of deaths that we're seeing nationwide. And there's so much concern in these states where we're seeing this virus continue to spread uncontrolled.

Florida is one example. There, the teacher's union which is already suing the governor and others to try to stop them from re-opening schools. They are now calling the recent surge in COVID-19 among children "alarming."

The union's vice president wants the governor and other state officials to start reporting on how many students and staff are testing positive in each school district, saying parents have a right to know.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELISSA GREEN, PHASE 3 VACCINE TRIAL PARTICIPANT: I'm really excited, I could barely sleep last night.

JONES (voice-over): Nurse practitioner Elissa Green among 30,000 volunteers taking part in a critically important vaccine trial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fastest vaccine prior to this took about four years. So, I mean, to have this, we have the sequence of this virus on January 10th. To have a vaccine up and running in a phase three trial in just six months is truly extraordinary.

JONES (voice-over): The large-scale trial for a vaccine developed by biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, one of 25 human trials underway around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just have to protect people from infection of coronavirus and that's the real question.

JONES (voice-over): The news coming as the country reported the lowest number of new cases nationwide in nearly three weeks on Sunday. Still, total hospitalizations remain at peak levels and 29 states are reporting more deaths last week than the previous week.

The country averaging more than 900 deaths a day for the past seven days. The highest such number since the beginning of June. With Florida surpassing New York now second only to California in the number of COVID cases, hospitals are strained.

ANDREW PASTEWSKI, ICU MEDICAL DIRECTOR, JACKSON SOUTH MEDICAL CENTER: So we just got a bunch of nurses from the government, which is very helpful. The bed situation is dicey.

JONES (voice-over): The state seeing a 34 percent jump in COVID infections among children in the last eight days. And the rate of positive COVID tests statewide remains high at 19 percent.

The positivity rate also ticking up in California as hospitalizations rise. Thirty-seven of the state's 58 counties with significant infection rates remain on a watch list.

Meanwhile in Texas, the weather adding to the challenge, as hurricane Hanna bore down on the coast over the weekend.

GREG ABBOTT (R), GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: It is sweeping through an area that is the most challenged area in the state for COVID-19.

JONES (voice-over): Medical staff in hard-hit southern counties force to battle a surge in cases in the midst of a storm.

IVAN MELENDEZ, HIDALGO COUNTY HEALTH AUTHORITY: When the storm was coming in at 1:30 in the morning, I was placing a tube in someone's chest when water started coming in through the retrofitted negative pressure rooms.

JONES (voice-over): This as some companies are beginning to brace for a pandemic that could drag well into next year. Google extending its work from home policy until at least July 2021. A move that could prompt other businesses to follow suit.

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: So what we're seeing here is potentially a sea change in the way not only how businesses around the world work during this pandemic but also how they could work, you know, for the foreseeable future.

[17:05:02]

JONES (voice-over): And just days after an abbreviated baseball season began, two games set for tonight now canceled including the Miami Marlins' home opener against the Baltimore Orioles after several Marlins players and staff tested positive for COVID-19 while playing in Philadelphia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES (camera): So this baseball season already shortened and delayed. And now seeing the first cancelations highlighting the challenge of playing a team sport during a pandemic. Still, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred made no mention of canceling the season in a call with team owners, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very sensitive issue indeed. All right, Athena, thank you very much. Let's go to the White House right now. Our White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is now with us.

Kaitlan, the president's national security adviser Robert O'Brien is now the highest-ranking administration official to test positive for the coronavirus. Tell us what's going on.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. This is probably as close as it gets to President Trump with Robert O'Brien testing positive. And it comes as the president is trying to turn the page on his COVID-19 response trying to focus on vaccines and therapeutics.

But then today when he was in North Carolina, he made this comment saying he believes there are some governors that are not doing enough to open their states that he believes should be doing more to reopen, even though there are cases surging across the nation and it's making some of those governors rethink their re-opening plans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS (voice-over): COVID-19 breaching President Trump's inner circle tonight after his national security adviser Robert O'Brien tested positive for coronavirus.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I haven't seen him lately. I heard he tested. Yes, I have not seen him. I'm calling him later.

COLLINS (voice-over): Trump didn't say when he last met with his national security adviser, whose office is in the West Wing. O'Brien is the highest-ranking official to contract the virus. And in a statement with no name on it, the White House confirmed that he's self-isolating and working off site.

Shockingly, O'Brien's own staff was never formally told about his diagnosis and found out that their boss had tested positive from the press. O'Brien was last at the White House on Thursday when a source familiar said he got a call and abruptly left campus.

O'Brien recently returned from a trip to Paris where he met with his counterparts from the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy. He was photographed on multiple occasions not wearing a mask or social distancing.

The president is in North Carolina today to tour a facility helping manufacture key elements of a possible vaccine candidate. It's part of a larger effort to course correct after several polls showed voters rejected Trump's handling of the coronavirus.

TRUMP: I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they're not opening.

COLLINS (voice-over): Trump recently went two weeks without a single COVID-19 event on his public schedule. But after a round of golf with NFL star Brett Favre this weekend, he announced he won't throw out the first pitch at the Yankees' game because of his "strong focus on the China virus."

On Capitol Hill today, Republicans unveiled their $1 trillion coronavirus relief proposal after a tense weekend of negotiations with the White House. The GOP wants to cut enhanced unemployment benefits from $600 to $200, allocate billions for testing in top federal health agencies, and put $105 billion toward re-opening schools. But there's no sense that all Republicans will support it.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Half the Republicans are going to vote no to any phase four package. That's just a fact.

COLLINS (voice-over): Benefits from the last bill are set to expire in a matter of days. And the White House has even suggested passing a smaller bill that would temporarily extend jobless benefits.

MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Perhaps we put that forward, get that passed as we can negotiate on the rest of the bill in the weeks to come. COLLINS (voice-over): But Democrats are adamantly opposed to that idea

and have put forward a bill of their own three times the size of Republicans.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I have never, never, and this is so frustrating because so many people are suffering, seeing a party in such total disarray in the midst of a huge, huge crisis.

COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight, Vice President Pence is scheduled to pay his respects to civil rights icon John Lewis as he lies in state at the Capitol. The president told reporters he won't be joining him.

TRUMP: No, I won't be going, no.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (on camera): Now, Wolf, just shortly after Republicans formally unveiled their version of the bill, now we are told that the chief of staff and the treasury secretary are going to go meet with Democrats on Capitol Hill tonight. We will see where that goes and keep you updated.

But before I let you go, Wolf, I do want to point out something else the president was asked about when he was in North Carolina and taking questions from reporters today.

He was asked about that intelligence that reportedly showed that the Russians had offered bounties to the Taliban for the lives of U.S. soldiers. The president was asked if he brought that up during his call with the Russian president Vladimir Putin last week.

He wouldn't say. He only said he doesn't discuss what they say. Though, of course, Wolf, the president has old us what he has told the Russian leader before.

[17:10:02]

BLITZER: Interesting. Very interesting indeed. All right, Kaitlan, thank you. Let's get some more on all of this. Professor Peter Hotez is joining us, professor and dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Thank you so much, Dr. Hotez for joining us. I want to begin with your thoughts on Moderna now launching the largest phase-three vaccine trial in the world, launching it today. What's the likelihood this vaccine will prove to be safe and effective?

PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, that's the reason why we do the phase three trial. So, this Moderna vaccine is going to be the first of several "Operation Warp Speed" vaccines entering phase three clinical trials.

Moderna's scheduled to be the first. We'll see about three or four others enter into phase three trials in the course of the next few months. And these are important studies because the evidence so far that any of these "Operation Warp Speed" vaccines actually works was mostly done in phase one trials using two doses of the vaccines.

Those are the ones where you got enough of the antibody, the neutralizing antibody in T-cell responses. But that was given on very few patients. Remember, the Moderna vaccine and the two patients and the two doses was given, I think the 15 patients, the AstrAzeneca Oxford 10, the Pfizer 12 patients.

So these are tiny, tiny studies showing a glimmer of promise. But this is where crunch time comes. The big phase three studies, 30,000 patients and hopefully over the next year will accumulate enough evidence showing that the vaccines actually work, that is protect against infection with the virus or at least reduce disease, and that it's safe.

And that's why it's really important not to get overly optimistic or as Dr. Fauci always used the term cautiously optimistic. I share that cautious optimism with him. And hopefully by the middle of next year, we can get enough exciting results to start rolling out some of those vaccines.

BLITZER: One problem as you know, Dr. Hotez, a bunch of Americans out there, a lot of Americans are basically skeptical about vaccines to begin with. Is that a serious problem for any vaccine that eventually does get approved as safe and effective?

HOTEZ: Yes. We have actually both sides -- we've got two different sides of this. One, there's this misunderstanding that the vaccines are practically already in hand, it'll be ready by the end of next year. That's not the case.

And then you've got the other extreme that you've pointed out that people are skeptical. They don't trust the government that they think the vaccines are being rushed. That's also not true and that's why we're talking about the middle of next year.

But we have now got two big studies by Reuters and the "Associated Press" showing that up to half of Americans will not take COVID-19 vaccines even if they are made available.

So, I think the problem in both instances is that we do not have a good communications public health plan around these COVID-19 vaccines, what they'll actually do, why they're safe, and how they'll work, and what the world will look like when we have these vaccines available.

And this is really urgent. And I've been having discussions with the White House and NIH that they've got to put out a communication strategy around these vaccines. Otherwise, there's going to be this continual misunderstanding.

BLITZER: Let's say the optimists are correct, Dr. Hotez, and there is a safe and effective vaccine, the FDA approves it, the CDC approves it by the end of this year. When could we see actual widespread distribution to 100 million, 200 million, 300 million Americans?

HOTEZ: Well, again, remember these are just starting phase three trials now. It's hard to imagine we can accumulate that much data by the end of the year. So let's say quarter two of 2021, then we can start rolling out the vaccines.

And I think that's going to be pretty exciting. And, again, we'll have to see what the performance of these vaccines looks like. In some cases, they may actually prevent infection with the virus so you don't get the virus.

In other cases, they may reduce the severity of illness. So think of it this way. We have vaccines like measles that actually prevent the infection and if enough people get vaccinated with the measles vaccines, it stops transmission.

That would be the ideal situation or it may be like an influenza vaccine in a year where there's not a good match between the virus and the vaccine, in which case, it will reduce the severity of symptoms and prevent you from going to the hospital.

Still really important, but you see the difference and the nuance and how that has to be communicated to the public so the people really understands what they're receiving.

And if it's one that just reduces disease without necessarily transmission, it also means that we may still have to continue some of the ongoing public health measures like masks and some degree of social distancing.

All of that needs to be communicated, and it's going to be a very complicated process. It's got to be iterative between the White House and the public to go through all of these different scenarios.

[17:15:05]

BLITZER: Yes. First they got to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective. Dr. Hotez, thank you so much for joining us.

HOTEZ: Thank you so much.

BLITZER: All right. Up next, the latest on the growing number of cases in the state of Maryland. The governor there, Larry Hogan, he is standing by. We will discuss.

Plus, my one-on-one interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci. He will be joining us live for more on the breaking pandemic news. That's coming up later right here in "The Situation Room."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:24:58]

BLITZER: Coronavirus cases are trending up in the state of Maryland with almost 85,000 now confirmed and more than 3,400 confirmed deaths in Maryland. Joining us now, the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan. He's also written a brand new book out this week entitled "Still Standing: Surviving Cancer, Riots, A Global Pandemic and the Toxic Politics that Divide America."

Congratulations on the new book, Governor. We're going to discuss it in just a moment. But let me get your thoughts on the latest developments in Maryland right now. It looks like coronavirus, once again, unfortunately, trending up right now in your state. What's driving the rise in new cases?

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, the good news is that we're doing a dramatically more testing than we were. So we're about 350 to 400 percent more testing than we were doing about 30 days ago, which is the primary reason for the additional cases.

But there are few things we're watching and we're concerned about. While our positivity rate is still continuing to decline, which is a great thing, unlike many states where it's ramping up dramatically.

And our cases among people over 35 is declining. We're concerned about people under 35 is starting to gradually trend up. And we're starting to see a slight increase in our hospitalizations and among younger people.

So those are things that we're keeping an eye on. But the increased cases, is not nearly -- we're down 90 percent from our peak back in April and the slight increase is mainly due to going from less than 10,000 tests a day to over 30,000 some tests a day.

BLITZER: As you know, the president --

HOGAN: So you obviously get more cases as you identify them.

BLITZER: Right. As you know, the president said today, and I'm quoting him now. He said, "I really do believe a lot of the governor should be opening up states." I know you've been very cautious in dealing with the health, life and death issues of the people in Maryland. Is Maryland ready right now to open up at this point?

HOGAN: Well, no. We've had a very safe gradual and effective cautious re-opening plan that was based on the best advice of the scientists. We're in a holding pattern. We have been for the past 30 days. We're continuing to pause. We're not ready to reopen anything, open anything further.

And 22 states are now rolling things back that they had already reopened. We're not in that position either, but you know, it's the same kind of messaging that the president had previously. And I think it's a mistake to return to that kind of messaging as we're seeing flare-ups around the country.

BLITZER: As you know, Dr. Deborah Birx from the Coronavirus Task Force, she flagged Baltimore in Maryland as an especially concerning city seeing a rise in new cases. Baltimore just tightened face mask regulations to include all indoor and outdoor public spaces where people might not be able to stay six feet apart.

That goes even further than the order you issued in April. Are you going to tighten up the statewide mandate that everyone in the state of Maryland if they're going outside, if they can't social distance, if they can't social distance inside, must wear a mask? HOGAN: Well, we were one of the first states to have a masking order.

And we're continuing to try to get our local governments to enforce that if we feel that we are seeing changing numbers. So far we haven't on a statewide basis, but if we feel that we need to take any more additional steps, you know, I won't hesitate to do so.

I've been very aggressive in that regard. But, again, Baltimore's increasing cases is mainly because they weren't doing enough testing, and now they have dramatically ramped up testing in Baltimore.

BLITZER: They've got to be really, really careful and masks are so important, as you know, governor.

HOGAN: The masks are absolutely critical.

BLITZER: Yes. As you know -- let's talk a little bit about your new book "Still Standing: Surviving Cancer, Riots, A Global Pandemic and the Toxic Politics that Divide America." You're right about the president's response to the pandemic, and let me quote from your book.

"Instead of listening to his own public health experts, the president was talking and tweeting like a man more concerned about boosting the stock market or his own re-election plans. Thank goodness we had governors who are willing to step up and be counted."

What lessons could the president learn from American governors like yourself and you're the chairman of the National Governors Association others from both parties? You're a Republican, and of course he's a Republican.

HOGAN: Well, I've been really proud of the governors on both sides of the aisle for really stepping up and taking this pandemic seriously. I talk about that in the book. And I'm not just out trying to criticize the president, but I talk about the early stages of the pandemic when he wasn't taking it seriously enough.

There certainly were a number of people like Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield, and others, who were making very serious arguments within the administration about why we needed to take certain actions.

[17:25:00]

The governors were paying attention to that advice. And the president, I think we wasted some time early on for a couple of months kind of downplaying the virus and not taking actions that needed to be taken like developing a nationwide testing strategy, ramping up the production and availability of PPE and, you know, developing a contact tracing program.

So, you know, I think are there have been some improvements. But in the early stages, there's no question that some of the governors took it a lot more seriously than the president.

BLITZER: Well, there still isn't a national program on a lot of that stuff, is there? HOGAN: That's true. Some of the things that we're continuing to push

for, we're going to have another call with the White House tomorrow. I think it'll be -- I think it might be the 46th or 47th total call that we've had in four months among all the governors, many of which have been with the president and/or vice president and their team.

And we're continuing to push for some of the things. We have made some progress and convinced them to do some things like the Defense Production Act for the production of ventilators and swabs. There are a number of things we continue to fall short on and we're going to keep pushing to get the help that we need in the states.

BLITZER: And you're right about a lot of this in your new book. Let me put the book cover back up on the screen. It's an important book. "Still Standing: Surviving Cancer -- and you survived cancer -- Riots, A Global Pandemic and the Toxic Politics that Divide America." Governor Hogan, good luck to you, good luck to everyone in Maryland. We'll stay in close touch. Thanks for joining us.

HOGAN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, two major league baseball games postponed after one team is hit with a coronavirus outbreak.

Also ahead, we'll speak live about all the breaking pandemic news one- on-one with Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's standing by. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:31:35]

BLITZER: A coronavirus outbreak involving 11 Miami Marlins baseball players and two coaches has forced two major league baseball games to be postponed tonight. CNN's Randi Kaye is joining us right now. Randi, there's rising concern, a lot of concern right now about how safely baseball players can deal with this health crisis right now. What's the latest?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we know that here in Florida, the Miami Marlins home opener is now canceled for tonight because 11 Marlins players have tested positive.

And there's even fallout in Philadelphia because of this, because the Marlins played there over the weekend and the Yankees were supposed to play the Philadelphia Phillies there now and so that game has been canceled as well. There's no talk of canceling the whole season but the home opener here for the Miami -- for the Marlins has been cancelled.

Meanwhile, more than 8,800 new cases of coronavirus here in the state of Florida and other 77 dead, now nearly 6,000 dead in the state. In Miami-Dade, the hardest hit county, Wolf, ICU capacity now at 140 percent. So they're converting regular hospital beds to those ICU beds. Statewide, still about 9,000 people hospitalized with COVID.

And as you know, schools are set to open next month but the Florida Department of Health is reporting that there's been a 34 percent increase in children testing positive and a 23 percent increase in children being hospitalized in just the last eight days, Wolf.

BLITZER: So disturbing indeed. All right, Randi, we'll stay in close touch with you as well.

We got some news coming into "The Situation Room" right now. Looking at live pictures right now, the former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, they came into the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol to pay their respects to the late Congressman John Lewis. The Bidens did not attend this afternoon's memorial service in the rotunda.

We do expect the Vice President Mike Pence to come to the Capitol later to pay his respects. President Trump, as you know, has said he's not going to be going up to Capitol Hill to pay his respects.

Joining us now to discuss a lot that's going on, our Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod and our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. Let's -- Gloria, start with you. You can see the former Vice President, you can see Dr. Jill Biden, they're paying their respects. Nancy Pelosi is there. This is a sad moment for the country right now given the critically important role that John Lewis played in making our country a better place over these decades.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And what was particularly sad also was the fact that there's such limit to the number of people who could be at that service today. The Vice President is going to pay his respects, the President is not and -- but he will be represented by the Vice President. But there are so many people who would have liked to be there today. And of course, due to COVID, they could not be.

BLITZER: David Axelrod, when you see this picture and when you see what was going on today, yesterday in Selma, Alabama, what goes through your mind as someone who used to work in the government, and obviously you work closely with Congressman Lewis?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I work closely with Congressman Lewis, I had the honor of sitting down with him for one of my Axe Files TV shows and talk about his extraordinary life. But the thing that really was so moving about him was through everything that he's been through, despite all of the suffering and the sacrifice that he made, he had a fundamentally positive view about America and a fundamentally positive view about people and the possibility of changing hearts.

[17:35:18]

And so what you see across the political spectrum is a lot of affection for John Lewis, because he appealed, as Lincoln said, to the better angels of our nature. And he exuded that. And that is something that we need more of in our politics today.

BLITZER: You know, Gloria, it's -- I think it's sad that the President decided when he was leaving the White House earlier today to get on Marine One to go over to Joint Base Andrews fly off to North Carolina. He was specifically asked if he would go up to Capitol Hill and pay his respects and he said, no, he was not going to do so. But at least the Vice President Mike Pence, who used to serve in Congress, he's going to be up on Capitol Hill paying his respects.

It would have been nice, though, I think a lot of people agree for the President of the United States to make that physical appearance there and to express some solidarity with what John Lewis was up to over all these years.

BORGER: Sure, yes. A picture's worth 1,000 words, Wolf. And it would have been nice for the President of the United States to pay his respects in the same way to John McCain when he lay in state.

I don't know what to say about this. Maybe there were reasons related to COVID. But it seems to me that, you know, the President released the statement on Sunday, and that was about it. Other members of his party have been much, much more effusive about the leadership of John Lewis and how important he has been to this country.

And as David pointed out, what an optimistic person, what an optimistic politician, something that optimism we don't see an awful lot of.

BLITZER: What we do see, you know, David Axelrod, is the Vice President, his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, Nancy Pelosi, they're all wearing masks as they pay their respects to Congressman John Lewis. And that sends a powerful message out there, doesn't it?

That at a time of the coronavirus pandemic, when hundreds of hundreds of Americans are still dying every single day, and many more thousands will be dying over the next weeks and months, at least they're making -- they're showing how important it is a simple thing to do just go out there and wear a mask.

AXELROD: That's absolutely true, Wolf. And, you know, just as the President could have, I think sent them a larger message about himself in the country by paying his respects to Congressman Lewis. He could also send an important message that would help him as well as the country if he wore a mask, if he was consistent in following the guidance that his own government is issuing.

And one of the problems that he has is that he has not been willing to do that. He's sent other messages. And yes, this is a time when national leadership cries out for those kind of examples that we saw on the Capitol today.

BLITZER: A great man indeed, John Lewis. We miss him. Those of us who got to know him a little bit truly admired him. And among everything else, even though he was heroic in his civil rights activities, he was simply such a nice man.

All right, Gloria and David, guys, thanks very much.

Coming up, we'll have more on the trouble between the United States and China right now and it's very serious as coronavirus cases are climbing around the world. And stay with us in a little while, I'll be joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci. He'll be taking our questions much more when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:43:25]

BLITZER: In global coronavirus headlines, China is reporting its highest number of locally transmitted cases since early March. And it comes amid worsening relations between China and the United States.

CNN's David Culver is on the scene of a U.S. Consulate in western China that's just been shut down in retaliation for the U.S. order closing a Chinese Consulate in Houston. David, tell us more.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm standing in front of what is now the former U.S. Consulate here in Chengdu, China. You can see a lot of the signage has been covered up. You may have seen people walking around me. This has become a tourist attraction of sorts here.

It is the latest in the round of back and forth between the U.S. and China. Chinese officials closing this and giving U.S. diplomats 72 hours to get out. The same amount of time that the U.S. officials gave Chinese diplomats in Houston, Texas to leave that conflict when they closed it last week.

This is just the latest round back and forth between the U.S. and China. The two -- the world's two largest economies, Wolf, going back and forth with retaliation and heated rhetoric. Wolf?

BLITZER: David Culver reporting, thank you.

As we've reported, a large scale trial of a possible coronavirus vaccine is getting started here in the United States. Other vaccine trials already are underway in Brazil. Let's get the very latest from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, he was there on the scene. Nick, what are you seeing?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Wolf, Sao Paulo in Brazil is one of the worst hit cities in the world, frankly, where health care workers have been risking their lives for months fighting the virus. Now they're putting themselves on the front line again, in the urgent global hunt for immunity here.

[17:45:03]

Vaccine trials by the Oxford University, by Chinese firms Cinovec and by U.S. pharma giant Pfizer are getting underway there. Now, we will with one of the first contributors to the Oxford trial putting herself at great risk every day cleaning the mouths of coronavirus, patients as a dentist startling the way they're putting ourselves on the front line here again.

The hope is that because they're so close to infection all the time, they're a good way of testing if the vaccine is efficient or not. And they hope to get results in the weeks or months ahead. But this deeply political because it's essentially America versus China versus the U.K. trying to see who gets there first. Brazilians say they just want to help humanity and try and get access to the vaccine early. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Nick, thank you. Nick Paton Walsh reporting.

While major league baseball games here in the United States are being played in empty stadiums, no fans, South Korea just reopened its stadiums but with major changes for the fans. CNN's Paula Hancocks went to a game. Paula, what was it like?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is what a baseball game looks like in South Korea during a pandemic. As of today, 10 percent of fans are allowed into the stadium to watch live. But, of course, there are rules. You've got the markings on the ground to make sure there's social distancing within the queuing itself.

And then as you come in, go on to the days of flashing your ticket and walking in, you have to have a temperature check to make sure you have no kind of fever. And if you do, there is actually a quarantine area just outside of a stadium in case there are those who have a high temperature.

So the next part of the process is the Q.R. codes. Now this is to make sure they know exactly who was inside in case they need to do any kind of contact tracing. Now the fans are scattered throughout the stadium. No food or alcohol is allowed in the stands. Fans have also been asked not to shout as much in order to try and prevent saliva droplets.

Now there's no doubt that it is not safe. Very little is these days. But for the fans here, this is a very (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: All right, Paula Hancocks, thank you very much.

Coming up, Dr. Anthony Fauci standing by. We'll discuss all the breaking coronavirus news. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:52:10]

BLITZER: Millions of Americans are working from home during the pandemic and for some returning to the workplace, maybe a year or more away if they return at all. CNN's Brian Todd is working in that part of the story for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A bold announcement from Google sends rumblings through workplaces across America. The tech giants CEO in a memo obtained by CNN telling employees Google will let employees work from home at least until July of next year.

DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: I think another indication that they believe that we're in for the long haul on this pandemic and I certainly, as an epidemiologist, agree. TODD (voice-over): Google had previously said most employees would be working remotely through the end of this year, with some employees being allowed back into the office sooner. The tech industry has gotten ahead of other sectors regarding work at home policies. Twitter and Facebook will let some employees work from home indefinitely, with new coronavirus cases rising in at least 22 states. Health experts say these decisions have obvious health benefits.

DR. SHARI ROSENBAUM, INTERNIST, MDVIP PRIMARY CARE NETWORK: This is one of the most contagious viruses we know. It spreads from droplets, from face-to-face contact in the air. So to be able to prevent infecting our co-workers, infecting our loved ones, working from home can protect us.

TODD (voice-over): But experts say tech companies are uniquely suited to having a lot of people work from home. Other companies simply aren't. And many businesses tonight are having to navigate new pandemic adjusted environments.

At CNN, with the exception of a few hundred employees who are needed to put programming on the air, the vast majority of employees have been working from home since March and will continue to work from home for the remainder of this year.

Experts say there's another danger which major corporations thinking about reopening their offices for in-person work have to take into account.

BRILLIANT: If you have a workforce that is global and that people are on airplanes traveling all over the world, you will be constantly importing into your office, the highest viral load from any of the places that people are going to.

TODD (voice-over): But the work from home wave during the pandemic has taken its own toll. According to "The Wall Street Journal", an online conferencing event firm called OpenExchange, sensing its employees needed some face-to-face interactions is renting a house in the English countryside. So members of its European team can live and work together while distancing.

A Holiday Inn Express in North Syracuse, New York has been renting out rooms for people to work in a day at a time just so they can get away from home.

CONRAD STRUZIK, GENERAL MANAGER, HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS, NORTH SYRACUSE, NY: We're here to take care of you to make your life easier to find what works for you. Even if it's a getaway because you are stuck at home.

TODD (voice-over): Experts say there's growing evidence of isolation and other emotional setbacks people are basing from working at home during the pandemic.

[17:55:02]

ROSENBAUM: When I have a video call with my patients or a telemedicine visit, one of the things we talk about is anxiety and depression. People aren't able to perform their best right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: One epidemiologist, Dr. Larry Brilliant, told us he is also worried about millions of people who have to work from home who may not necessarily have the personal space at home to work from their own study or their own bedroom. Overcrowding in homes, he says, is a big potential danger. A major factor in the spreading of this virus right now is transmission within families, many of them with multiple generations living together. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting, thank you.

And my live interview with Dr. Fauci, that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)