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First Phase-3 Vaccine Trail Begins in U.S.; Trump Claims Internal Polling Shows Him Ahead; Could a Vaccine Help Trump Win the Election?; U.S. Attorney General Set to Testify Before House Committee; Portland Mayor Demands Meeting with Homeland Security Chief; Miami Marlins' COVID-19 Outbreak has Baseball on Edge; Google Employees to Work from Home Until 2021. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 28, 2020 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone.

Well, a return to anything close to pre-pandemic normal rests on an effective vaccine, and there is good news on that front. On Monday two companies began phase three clinical trials in the U.S. Elizabeth Cohen was there when the first volunteer was injected for Moderna's vaccine.


DAWN BAKER, TV HOST, VACCINE TRIAL PARTICIPANT: And I'm Dawn Baker, we have that breaking news we're following out of Hinesville tonight.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dawn Baker usually delivers the news. But Monday morning this television anchor in Savannah, Georgia, made news, made history as the first person in the United States to participate in a Phase III clinical trial for a vaccine against COVID-19.

(on camera): Big day.

BAKER: Certainly is. It's really exciting to me that I could be a part of saving lives eventually. I mean, instead of just being scared and praying.

COHEN (voice-over): After Dawn's injection, study leader Dr. Paul Bradley called Moderna, the company that makes the vaccine.

DR. PAUL BRADLEY, VACCINE STUDY LEADER: Donner, I have amazing news, we dosed the first patient!

COHEN: The National Institutes of Health is collaborating on the trial. Dr. Anthony Fauci marked the day on a call with the media.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I can tell you absolutely the first one was at 6:45 this morning in Savannah, Georgia. Indeed, we are participating today in the launching of a truly historic event in the history of vaccinology.

COHEN: There are nearly 90 study sites across the country for this vaccine. And Phase III trials are underway for four other vaccines, three of those in China and one in the United Kingdom.


COHEN: Scientists hope that results of Moderna's trial will be clear in a few months and a vaccine on the market by the end of this year or the beginning of next. But that's if the vaccine is proven safe and effective, which is not a given.

(on camera): Let me explain how the Moderna vaccine trial works. This is the vaccine and about 15,000 people nationwide will get injected with this during the clinical trial. Now, this looks similar to the vaccine but actually it's a placebo. It doesn't do anything. It's just saline and another 15,000 people will be injected with this. And then afterwards doctors will compare who gets sick with COVID-19 and who doesn't.

(voice-over): Doctors are recruiting study subjects who live in communities where they're most likely to get COVID so they can see if the vaccine truly works.

BRADLEY: We want people who are going to be exposed out there in the community living their lives, whether they're, say, a health care worker where unfortunately we get exposed frequently, maybe they work in a grocery store, but we want people that are at, unfortunately, at risk.

COHEN: That's why doctors are recruiting heavily among the African American and Latino communities where COVID rates are especially high. But it's a challenge because historically those communities have been abused in medical research.

BAKER: They're suspicious. So maybe, you know, since I was at least bold enough to come forward right now that might change that.

COHEN: Coming forward to play a part in ending a pandemic that has brought the world to its knees.

(on camera): You are the first person in the United States to get a shot in a Phase III COVID trial. What does that feel like?

BAKER: It is very exciting. I'm very anxious about it. I just hope that there are really, really good results. I know a lot of people are doing a lot of different vaccine trials and things are going on, but I feel one, I feel so proud.

COHEN (voice-over): Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Savannah, Georgia.


CHURCH: Well, with less than 100 days until the election, the U.S. President insists his own polling shows him ahead in swing states. The most public polls show Donald Trump trailing or tying with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

A new NBC Marist poll in the battleground state of North Carolina has Biden up 7 points. The President's handling of the pandemic is costing him support with more people trusting Biden when it comes to the coronavirus.

So here to talk more about this is Larry Sabato. He is the Director of the Center for Politics of the University of Virginia. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, Larry, 98 days to election day and state and national polls show Donald Trump trailing his Democratic rival Joe Biden. But we have learned not to trust polls given what happened back in 2016.


So how much comfort should the Democrats take from these numbers and where do you see all of this going?

SABATO: Over confidence can kill. So actually Democrats are better off not focusing on the polls. And the polling actually is more accurate this season than it was four years ago because they made changes in the methodology of the polls. But we need to remember always, it's just about late July. It doesn't tell you anything about early November. That's another reason to discount it in your mind.

CHURCH: And of course, Larry, Florida is a key state for the President and it's currently battling surging coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. What would you expect the outcome to be there as well as in other critical states like Michigan, Pennsylvania?

SABATO: Michigan and Pennsylvania are clearly leaning to Biden, and they're leaning in a way that makes me suspect that in the end it probably will carry.

Florida is another problem for the Democrats despite what the current polls show. Democrats have done very poorly have really blown several recent elections that they should have won. So, you know, on the whole I think the Florida polls are misleading, but I do think the ones in Michigan and Pennsylvania are closer to the mark.

CHURCH: Right, and how possible do you think it is that the President could announce an October surprise in the form of a COVID-19 vaccine? And if that happens, could that turn his luck around, do you think?

SABATO: I think the chances are excellent, nearing 100 percent that he's going to announce a COVID vaccine very close to election day. A week away or ten days away, I don't know. It will help him in part because the psychology of the vaccine will also boost the economy. So, whether people will sense it enough before election day is really the question at hand there.

But, all in all, given his persuasiveness with his base and with Republicans generally, and we're talking about 45, 46 percent of the population, given Trump's salesmanship, my guess is within a week most of them will think that Trump personally invented the vaccine. That will help Trump.

Democrats are ready for that. They've worked out scenarios to combat it. One thing, people are cynical about explanations that are a little too simplistic, especially coming from Trump.

CHURCH: And Larry, what is truly mystifying is that Donald Trump could turn his fortunes around right now if he took this COVID-19 pandemic seriously by mandating masks and increasing the speed and extent testing. Why can't he meet this moment, particularly when science proves that masks can reduce infection and help open up this economy? It seems simple.

SABATO: It really is true that good policy is good politics. And the problem for Trump is almost from the beginning his policies have been bad, the ones that he's chosen by ignoring science and ignoring scientists. And therefore, the politics is also bad.

If he had done the right thing from the beginning, he might be soaring because he would have been seen to combat a major national and international crisis. But he's done the opposite. So the question I have is even if tomorrow he announced that he wanted everybody to wear a mask 24 hours a day and socially distance, would that make up for the fact that he led so poorly for so long and inevitably led to additional deaths, probably tens of thousands of them.

CHURCH: We'll be watching to see what happens. Larry Sabato, many thanks for chatting with us. Appreciate it.

SABATO: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: The University of Notre Dame says it will no longer host the first U.S. presidential debate due to concerns over the pandemic. The debate between President Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden will now take place at Ohio's Case Western Reserve University on September 29th. This move marks just the latest adjustment of the 2020 election schedule as the virus grips the country.

Well, the U.S. Attorney General will testify in a judiciary hearing later today. Coming up, how he's out to prove that he's not a puppet for President Donald Trump.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. U.S. Attorney General William Barr is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee for the first time today. In his opening statement, which was provided to CNN, Barr says Democrats have sought to discredit him by portraying him as someone who performs any task the President gives him.

Barr is expected to be questioned on his investigation into the FBI's Russia probe and intervening in the prosecution of allies of President Trump. The Judiciary Committee will also question Barr on his decision to forcibly remove peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square in early June.

And the decision to dispatch federal officers to Portland, Oregon, may also come up at today's hearing. This as Portland's mayor demands immediate talks with the Department of Homeland Security to discuss a cease-fire and the removal of federal forces.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov looks at how their presence is increasing tensions with peaceful protestors around the U.S.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anger, outrage, and frustration across the country as some cities see clashes, violence and destruction. In Portland, Oregon, this weekend demonstrators ripped down a fence surrounding a federal courthouse.

That city the focus of a controversial decision earlier this month by the Department of Homeland Security to send in federal officers to arrest and detain protestors. A decision President Trump has repeatedly defended as necessary to restore law and order.

Tweeting, their leadership has for months lost control of the anarchists. We must protect federal property and our people.

President Trump has been pushing the law and order messaging for weeks as his poll numbers have slipped.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Americans want law and order. They demand law and order.

KAFANOV: This morning he defended the deployment of federal agents.

Tweeting, federal forces are little involved in Seattle, other than we have a long stand by team in case of emergency.

Seattle police say they arrested 47 people Saturday during what they called a riot that left 59 officers injured.


A peaceful march turned violent with barricades outside of police headquarters being knocked over in Oakland, California. The mayor of Oakland warning the community they may be playing into the President's hands saying, quote, vandalizing our downtown gives Donald Trump the image he wants and the justification he seeks to send federal troops into American cities.

Many demonstrators believe the presence of those agents in their cities are like an occupying force. The protests and violence not limited to the West Coast. In Austin, Texas, a man shot and killed during a Black Lives Matter protest Saturday identified as 28-year-old Garrett Foster.

In Aurora, Colorado, a terrifying scene when someone drove a jeep into a crowd of protesters. Fortunately, no one was injured.

The violence only seeming to fuel President Trump's verbal attacks on the protesters, even calling them terrorists last month.

On Sunday he tweeted, the protesters are actually anarchists who hate our country, the line of innocent mothers were a scam.

Those mothers, the so called "wall of moms" are real and they, along with military vets in Portland, formed barriers around the protesters to shield them from authorities.

VICTORIA, HEALTH EDUCATOR: Having the "wall of moms" step up with a way to refocus attention, but the most important thing is that we are only lending our bodies to the important work that the black community has been doing.

KAFANOV (on camera): The presence and actions of federal paramilitary troops in Portland against the wishes of city and state leaders has very much inflamed tensions. It has brought out a small group of rioters. But keep in mind there are hundreds if not thousands of ordinary citizens who come here day after day to demand racial justice. Their message, Black Lives Matter.

Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Portland.


CHURCH: Well, the public viewing for the late civil rights icon and U.S. Congressman John Lewis is set to resume in the coming hours. His body is lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda. The Georgia Democrat is the first black lawmaker to receive that high honor. Members of both parties paid tribute to Lewis as a colleague and a leader in fight for equality. And Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife also visited the casket to pay their respects. John Lewis was 80 years old.



CHURCH: Nearly every aspect of the sporting world has been affected by COVID-19, and now 11 major league baseball players and two coaches on the Miami Marlins have tested positive for the virus. That is according to ESPN.

The Marlins aren't the first team to have players test positive, but they are the first organization to have an outbreak of this size. Major league baseball has postponed at least three games. The manager of the Washington Nationals says he's worried about the fate of the Marlins and the rest of the league.


DAVE MARTINEZ, WASHINGTON NATIONALS MANAGER: My level of concern went from about an 8 to a 12. I mean this thing really can -- you know, hits home now that, you know, you see half a team, you know, get affected and go from one city to another. So you know, I've got friends on that Miami team and it really stinks. I'm not going to lie. I'm not going to sugar coat it. Seeing those guys go down like that, you know, it's not good for them. It's not good for anybody.


CHURCH: And while baseball struggles with the virus, the National Football League has decided to cancel all 2020 preseason games due to the pandemic. Commissioner Roger Goodell made the formal announcement on Monday. The season will officially start in September. Players and coaches will be regularly tested for the virus and must follow rigorous health and safety protocols. Goodell says the NFL has a shared goal of playing healthy and completing the 2020 season.

Well, one company's decision to keep employees working from home until mid-next year suggests a belief the pandemic won't ease any time soon. While working from home has clear health benefits, there are some down sides.

Brian Todd reports about how companies are trying to strike the right balance.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A bold announcement from Google sends rumblings through workplaces across America. The tech giant's 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 BRILLAINT, 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: 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 coworkers, infecting our loved ones, working from home can protect us.

TODD: 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 work force 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: 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 Open Exchange sensing its employees needed some face-to-face interaction 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: 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: Experts say there's growing evidence of isolation and other emotional setbacks people are facing from working at home during the pandemic.

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

TODD (on camera): One epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant also told us he's 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 bedroom.

Overcrowding in homes he says is a big potential danger. A major factor in spreading the virus right now is transmission within families. Many of them having multiple generations living together.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. EARLY START is up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a great day.